Crush

Botrytis? Here?

"But this really is Cailles en Sarcophage!” — General Lorens Lowenhielm, Babette’s Feast The general is shocked when he says this. He is shocked because he has just finished describing a dish he once enjoyed ...

Nothing but Berries

My last visit to Fallbrook Winery was in 2006; longtime restaurateur Ed Moore had invited me up to listen in on a blending session for the winery’s 2004 Merlot. But one blend led to another, ...

A Visit to Carruth Cellars Winery in Solana Beach

In 1998, Carlsbad native Adam Carruth was “kind of a life student — just [kept] going back to school.” He’d studied botany at UC Riverside, so for a change of pace, he headed north to ...

Who Is This Winery in Ramona?

Dennis Grimes spends the first half-hour of every day “tending to Twitter, being a cheerleader” for Ramona Valley wine. From September 6 of this year: “94F today, 47F low & 83F tomorrow Ramona Valley AVA ...

Beer Background

Ryan Baker was happy. Living by the beach in PB at the dawn of the millennium, working at Stone Brewing, and attending San Diego State. “I was, like, ‘Why would I go anywhere?’” he recalls. ...

Let the Fruit Speak

That’s Matthew Richards of Matthew Richards Wines over there in the picture, and while it’s a decent enough head shot, it’s not really the right pic to accompany this piece. The right pic would be ...

Blends Up There, Down Here

This story starts around 20 years ago, when Peter Van Alyea fell in love with the Sonoma Valley. And, he notes, “If you want to move to that valley and buy property, then you better ...

No Joke

On Saturday, February 6, Mike and Linda McWilliams celebrated their one-year anniversary as owners of San Pasqual Winery. The brand itself dates back to the early ’70s, when a lawyer, Mickey Fredman, and a judge, ...

Burgundies on the Block

I have no idea if it’s any kind of leading economic indicator, but according to Amanda Keston, director of client services for the newly formed Spectrum Wine Auctions, “The wine-auction market has turned the corner. ...

Close to the Source

Born to Americans living in England, Marc Hashagen grew up in Great Gidding, a farming village in Cambridgeshire. “A hundred houses, one pub, one butcher,” he recalls. “The public bus would come through on Wednesdays; ...

A Charmed Life

Anthony Terlato — importer, distributor, marketer, and now winery owner — never intended to write a book about his life in the wine business. He was content being the guy in the background who made ...

Hedonistic

The line, maybe 400 people long, ran back along Seventh Avenue from the entrance to the Hillcrest Whole Foods. An unusual sight for a winemaker bottle-signing, which made sense, because it was an unusual winemaker ...

Rebel to Vintner

I can't tell you how it came to pass that the Italian winemakers Mario Schiopetto, Giacomo Bologna, and Maurizio Zanella joined Italian gastronomic giant Luigi Veronelli on a trip to America in 1981, a trip ...

Look How Cool It Is!

The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival turns five this year and continues to draw light from ever-brighter stars in the foodie firmament. This year, the headliner is Ted Allen, who is, among other ...

Raise the Bar

"I figured there would be a lot of riesling. That’s why I brought a chardonnay – but it’s a different sort of Australian chardonnay, the Bindi Composition.” You don’t often hear sentences like that – ...

Reviving Merlot

“I’m not drinking any fucking Merlot!” — Miles, a Pinot Noir fan, in the film Sideways. Miles was that reviled thing: a tremendous, unabashed wine snob. And yet, people listened. Pinot Noir sales in America ...

Enter VinVillage

For Rob Barnett, the long and winding road to VinVillage is finally coming to an end. The technical snags for his wine-based social-networking site — devoted to “creating locally based social wine groups and connecting ...

For Love

The San Diego winemaker tour continues. This month, Costa Brava in Pacific Beach played host to Spanish winemaking icon Alejandro Fernández and his representatives from Classical Wines. “I was working as a retailer in the ...

Seven Sensualities

San Diego’s social status is ascendant. Of course, you knew that already — you live here. You’ve eaten in the new restaurants, drunk in the new nightclubs, partied in the new hotels. I mention it ...

Wine Machine

There is perhaps no finer marketing machine in all the wine world than the one that operates out of Champagne. (You don’t get to be the world’s official party wine without doing something right.) And ...

Back in Time

The La Mesa library recently placed California Wine a Sunset Pictorial, published in 1973 and edited by the estimable Bob Thompson, in a cardboard box outside the building’s front door. A visual history of the ...

Finely Aged, Well Engineered

Erica Martenson is not a scientist. Rather, she is a gardener. In her big backyard in Napa, she says, she has “several fruit trees and a small area where I have a vegetable garden. At ...

Frankenyeast

File Under: Fiction Is Good for You. I was reading Peter May’s crime novel The Critic, which took as a dramatic starting point the murder of a famous wine critic, one Gil Petty. The hero, ...

Ordinary Mortals

‘When you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” That line, from the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, serves as part of the epigraph for Peter May’s crime novel The Critic. The novel ...

Exotic Fraternity

Oh, now this is a fun idea for a story: an American wine critic — one of those make-it-or-break-it critics in the mold of Robert Parker — winds up murdered, pickled in a vat of ...

Up with Riesling

‘Why don’t you write a book about wine?” You write about a subject long enough — nine years here at “Crush” — and you’re bound to hear it a few times. And every time I ...

Team Blend

Don’t misunderstand — Robert Baizer is glad he went to Sundance. He had a lovely time — made even lovelier by the happy reception accorded Bottle Shock, a film he helped to finance. By festival’s ...

Riskiest Money

J. Todd Harris is a movie producer. That means that he gets films made. “I’m just like any other guy that goes and tries to find projects and tries to find financing and a director ...

Thin Skinned

By now, most people with even a passing interest in wine have heard of the Sideways effect: a movie takes Pinot Noir as a central metaphor for its thin-skinned and temperamental protagonist, and hey presto, ...

Jarhead Red

"First to Fight for Right and Freedom," reads the title of the big military print on the tasting room wall at Carlsbad Wine Merchants. The painting depicts a group of Marines moving along a ruined ...

Underserviced

Portland didn’t agree with marketing VP Kathy Bankerd. Her employers at the tech company InFocus had moved her up north and bought her a house, but she still hadn’t sold her home in sunny SoCal. ...

Boutique Bubblings

The hills across the road from Steve Chapin’s Temecula vineyards — situated out past the tourist-friendly wineries and a short hop from Lake Skinner — are fallow now. Chaparral grows where vines once stood — ...

Improve on Nature

‘Cork is random,” observes Michael Friedman, CEO for Oneo Closures North America. “It’s a plant. When you punch a cork out of a piece of bark, it’s very unusual to get one that’s absolutely perfect, ...

At the Cusp

“These are people who are established. They’re well known for writing books.”

Genius Oddballs

"People ask, 'After Sideways dies down, do you think it will go away?'"

Power + Elegance = Balance

"I mean, you put one drop in your mouth and it explodes... Our wines are identifiable!"

Double-Edged Sword

"You would be smarter to look to South America than to most parts of the United States."

Crush

'I was in bed this morning, thinking about chocolate," said Foppiano Vineyards representative Susan Valera. "Back in the '60s, when it came to wine, you had Burgundy, Rosé, and White Sauternes. And back then, my ...

Foodie Appeal

"We want everyone to have a fighting chance to get exposure."

Born to Host

"I was built to bartend. It's what I was put on this planet to do."

Blue Streak

"I've been on every day since April of '78 & five original shows a week."

The Naked Sommelier

"The people at Saturday School are my people; I keep it to groups of 12."

Tool Kit

"I paired wine with mac-n-cheese, Tater Tots, PB&J, and gooey chocolate cake."

American Dream Come True

"They say in Napa Valley, 'The best fertilizer for the vineyard is the owner's footsteps.'"

Great Palates

"Women are a bit more adventurous when it comes to trying different varietals."

The Joy of Aging

"We go back to '59 on Burgundy, '61 on Bordeaux, '74 on California."

The Moon Makes the Earth Breathe

"If you're filling the vines with chemicals they become lazy. They don't explore the soil."

Garden Project

"Send the chicken into the vineyard and let nature take its course."

Saucy Upstart

"In the early evening, at least, most sales were half-bottles of Beaujolais to solitary ladies."

Imbiber's Bible

"Perhaps the Merrie Englanders and the Puritans are not so far apart as each imagines."

Magic in a Bottle

"We have to get back to the visceral love, pleasure, seduction, sensuality of it."

France Meets California

"Old school vs. new school, Bob Hope vs. Adam Sandler, dirt vs. fruit."

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