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After a brief hiatus, the Sunset International Wine Competition—the one competition that truly reflects the unique character of The West—is back, and in very capable hands.
Jim Rickards grew up in San Francisco, a city kid. But he always knew he had the farming gene. “When I got out of the military after Vietnam, I did three things: grew my hair, grew my mustache and got out of Dodge,” he says. “I got into the cattle business and was looking for my home ranch.
The North Coast Wine Challenge is the only competition where we truly focus on the Best of the Best. Only wines rating 90+ points are awarded gold medals and they are the only wines that are eligible to move on to the 'Best Of' Category.
Anybody growing grapes in the Santa Cruz Mountains has heard the name Prudy Foxx. If they have a true love of the vine and all it stands for, they’ve hired her to help them grow the best grapes possible. Foxx is a well-known, well-traveled, and well-schooled viticultural consultant, helping vineyard owners decide the best varieties to grow and how best to grow them in their particular microclimate. And here in the mountains, everything is microclimate.
Some see Tom Wark as an advocate for the wine industry, given his role as the Executive Director of National Association of Wine Retailers since 2007, but he prefers to think of himself as an outspoken voice for the “little guy.” Since 2004, he’s been unapologetically airing concerns over the three-tier distribution system and lack of consumer choice in the marketplace, lambasting what he terms “rent seeking, special interests and other self serving groups.”
When the results of the 2018 North Coast Wine Challenge were announced, and the 2013 Domaine Carneros Brut, Napa, was declared the Best Sparkling, it was cause for celebration at the beautiful chateau where Eileen and her colleagues make their widely lauded wine lineup.
Isabelle Adams of Soda Rock Winery chooses her wine competitions very carefully. The 8-year-old winery produces about 6k cases yearly, and relies on direct to consumer sales for most of the production.
Winning “Best of Marin” at the 2018 North Coast Wine Challenge with the 2015 DeLoach Marin Pinot Noir made it four years in a row that Brian Maloney, Director of Sonoma County Winemaking for Boisset Collection, claimed the honor.
Cache Creek Vineyards, located in eastern Lake County off Hwy 20 near Clearlake Oaks, got its formal start as a winery in 2005, but first and foremost, was a vineyard known for excellent fruit. It all started with the family patriarch, Bill “Poppo” Van Pelt, father of the present-day owner, Don Van Pelt. When “Poppo” first set foot on the land in 1997, he encountered a herd of Tule elk, and vowed to make the land a preserve for them.
Ask Mick Schroeter how the Late Harvest Chardonnay project came about at Sonoma-Cutrer, and the well-versed Aussie, who began his career as a red winemaker in the Barossa Valley with the iconic Penfolds brand, says simply, “Chardonnay and Pinot Noir just don’t cut it with dessert. We were doing all these wine dinners, and we’d get to the dessert course, and nothing would be quite right. So, we decided it was time to do a Late Harvest.”
When winemaker Erik Miller got the call informing him that his 2015 Gopher Hill Pinot had just garnered a 100-point score, and oh, by the way, it took Best of Show at the 2018 North Coast Wine Challenge, he didn’t quite know what to expect.
There aren’t many of Jed Steele’s contemporaries still making wine. Most have hung up their hoses and gone fishing, or passed on to the great vineyard in the sky. Few have as many stories to tell as this man. And far fewer have made as many wines from as many different places. And fewer still can claim to have been at the forefront of the creation of two powerhouse AVAs: Mendocino and Lake County.
Cindy Lauper said it best: girls just want to have fun. And women pretty much want the same thing. Women in the wine industry just want to make wine fun. Women winemakers mostly want to make wine that’s fun, and have fun doing it. Otherwise, what’s the point? And in general, we wine women are just like other women: we mostly want to drink wine that’s fun.
As we gathered for the judging of the sweepstakes wines at the Dan Berger International Wine Competition earlier this month, the suspense was killing us. Did any of the wines we loved on our panel make it? Not that it really mattered. We trusted all the wines would be great. And we knew there would be some Berger ringers: we anticipated a Gamay Noir, as he mentioned it the night before at the judges dinner, graciously hosted by the generous Cline Family at their stunning Jacuzzi facility, where they served grass fed beef from their Meadowbrook Ranch accompanied by a panoply of produce from their Green String Farms. The meal was as memorable as the bottle of 1978 Ahlgren Zin brought by long-time judge Tom Bohr.