Six California’s and What that Would Mean to Wine

There is a movement currently to break the state of California into six separate states. Read more about the plan here. I could see some positives to the plan such as bringing law creation to a smaller group of people. Let’s face it what works for Napa doesn’t always work for San Diego and bringing this hugely fragmented demographic into agreement takes equally huge amounts of negotiation.  I highly doubt that this will get much farther than it already has but it definitely got my wheels turning thinking about the consequences of such a movement on our industry.  If one only considers the ramifications to the wine industry one quickly realizes the impossibility of this plan.

1) Say goodbye to “California” Appellated wine. This is by far and away the most important issue that this plan will bring up.  Political AVAs are defined by political boundaries therefore anything grown in the Central Valley would have to be listed as “Central California”. You also can not blend wines from multiple states without losing all appellations and just calling it American. Gone would be the days of mixing Central Valley and Central Coast wines (split into two states, Silicon Valley and West California) and it probably would drive further industry out of the Central Valley.

2) What happens to regional AVAs that span multiple states? Under this plan, both the North Coast and the Central Coast will be spread over two states.  Will they end up like Carneros and be defined as the AVA only or will you have to say North Coast – Jefferson or North Coast – North California, which in a way kind of defeats the purpose of the North Coast appellation.

3) Water. Some of the most populated proposed states don’t have their own water sources. Water has already become a huge issue between counties. What would the motivation be for states with water to share it if their own people needed it?

4) Distribution. With six states brings opportunity for six new different distribution laws. Maybe one of the states decides to go to a control state like Pennsylvania.

On the positive side, maybe we can petition to change the name of the state currently suggested to be called Northern California into Wineland? It might be more appropriate considering Silicon Valley gets to keep its pop culture name.

Seriously, this is a crazy plan. Hopefully calmer heads prevail.

Vintage 2014: Veraison

While we enjoyed a much needed vacation something was happening here in Napa. The very start of Veraison came about while we were gone. We also had some fire issues in the Northeastern part of the county so I’m hoping we don’t see any smoke taint in the reds this year like we did in Sonoma in 2008. This picture was taken the day we came back on July 3rd and is the table grape in my back yard a full 2.5 weeks early!

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I knew I needed to get out and see what was happening in the vineyards and sure enough, I saw the flowing picture walking into the winery last Monday.

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That is Cabernet Sauvignon at To Kalon. Granted that these are young vines planted in in 2011 so they are ahead of the average vine this year, but the general progression is moving very rapidly. Pinot Noir in Carneros is moving right along as well with
some blocks well through 50% Veraison. Right now it looks like mid August for the start of harvest. It’s coming on fast!
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On The Road Again!

It’s been a while since I’ve done any serious winemaker travel. This week I’m back in Georgia. I love the Southeast. I was born here and lived here until I was 19 when I moved up to New York. The people are friendly, the air is soft and amazingly spectacular thunderstorms happen everyday at 4 pm. I spent 9 days working the Atlanta market a few years ago when I was making Emma Pearl, which was very well received here, so I felt at home now that I am back. We first hosted a consumer event at The Cloister at Sea Island, GA. It was an amazing place.

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The food was amazing including Tarot, Duck, and a novel take on Shepherd’s pie followed by an amazingly stunning dessert. Of course I forgot all about taking foodie pictures because I was enjoying the experience too much. I did save the menu though.

The next day before we drove to Atlanta we stopped for Southern BBQ at Southern Soul. It was amazing and highly recommended.

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I LOVE Carolina BBQ sauce (not surprising given that I grew up with it!) but the traditional sweet BBQ sauce was excellent as well. You can’t go wrong with the classic pulled pork.

Yesterday and today I’ve been in Atlanta. I stayed at the St. Regis last night which has never failed to impress me with their attention to detail. Their lobby is amazing.

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Also, if I could move the bathroom to my house, I totally would!

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Dinner was at Hal’s on Old Ivy last night and was quite possibly the best steak I have had in a VERY long time. For sure a top five of my life! Today we are visiting some accounts introducing our new Robert Mondavi Winery Oakville BDX, a Bordeaux blend that Genevieve and I came up with that is unlike anything the winery has done previously. It’s SO exciting to be introducing it to the buyers here. I’m off to South Carolina after this to spend time with friends and family and get some much needed R&R. >