Welcome to Wine Writer Confidential, where I spill, thrill and chill you with all the news unfit to print about my world of wine writing.
Yes, the title pays homage to Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential” (2000, Bloomsbury Publishing). But here all similarities end, except the spirit of unpretentiousness. And unpredictability. Because I honestly don’t know how often I’ll be posting this series, nor where it will take us. But I do know that we’ll be taking the ride together.
As a highly reserved person by nature, you can be sure that I’ll be kicking and screaming in the background throughout. However, in a world incessantly competing for our attention, I feel we all need this place – a refuge where we can all decompress, peruse, and leave the site thinking, “Hey, life’s not so bad after all.”
Indeed. Not while we have wine to share, the redThread™ that binds us all.
Some highlights from the past few weeks:
February 21-24 2017: Professional Wine Writers Symposium Meadowood Napa Valley
Held at luxury resort Meadowood Napa Valley, this attendance-by-invitation only allows wine writers worldwide the opportunity to meet with peers and premier industry editors, publishers, and writers for three days of well-paced seminars, wine tasting, and gourmet fare.
As one of the fortunate attending fellows, I appreciated the themed program schedule (“Arrival and Recharge”,”Craft of Writing,” “Career Advancement,” “Wine Knowledge), as well as the intimate-yet-utterly-universal-in-tone keynote by legendary Kevin Zraly, creator and author of “Windows on the World Complete Wine Course.” The man survived 9/11, lost a number of his co-workers, not to mention the restaurant he’d worked at most of his adult life – and still continues to inspire others. My personal takeaway? Life involves ‘resiliency,’ ‘perspective,’ and ‘chutzpah.’ The general takeaway? Life goes on – with a little help from friends, family – and wine.
The general symposium theme “Wine Writing Goes Digital” proved both provocative and bemusing, given the conference allowance for brief, 15-minute ‘digital breaks” throughout – enough time to check social media, but not enough time to get sucked into its vortex. A win-win situation all around.
Most of all, I treasure the friendships, mentors, and professional connections established in such a magical setting.
Many thanks to Julia Allenby and team Wine Writers Symposium 2017, Meadowood Napa Valley, The Culinary Institute at Greystone and Copia, and Napa Valley Vintners for their graciousness and hospitality.
March 13 2017: Made in New Zealand Trade Tasting | Gallery 308 – Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
The best part about living in Northern California is proximity to San Francisco’s vibrant wine industry events. And as a student of Burgundy, the recent “Made in New Zealand” trade tasting held at Gallery 308 in Fort Mason Center (with gobsmackingly gorgeous views of the marina and Golden Gate Bridge) expanded my understanding of terroir – and my palate.
Organized by island, north to south, standouts include a sparkling wine by huiavineyards.com giving Champagne a run for its money, a ‘wild-ferment’ Sauvignon Blanc 2014 by Greywacke.com of unusual nuance, and nervy Marlborough winery hillersden.com, a family willing to literally going out on ridge to make their wines.
As always, great to taste through my usual suspects villamaria.co.nz and mtbeautiful.co.nz. – here’s a previous profile of Mt. Beautiful winemaker Sam Weaver, who also makes his own label.
You’ll hear more from me about New Zealand’s enervating, envelope-pushing, culturally respectful approach to wine making in future posts.
Thanks to David Strada and New Zealand Wine for hosting.