Celebrity Wines Grate on Me In the recent past, covers of the Wine Spectator have included
celebrities who are an owner or partner in a wine label. The lineup has included pop music star Jon Bon Jovi,
star basketball player Carmelo Anthony, actor Brad Pitt and pro golfer Christie Kerr. Wine Enthusiast has had
covers featuring model Christie Brinkley, professional basketball player LeBron James, and actor Kate Hudson.
Professional basketball players who have launched their own wine brands include Dwayne Wade, Channing
Frye, Amar’e Stoudemire and CJ McCollum. There are numerous other examples including former professional
football player Drew Bledsoe. Basically, these big names are wine enthusiasts with plenty of money to indulge
their interests, but in many cases, they are simply providing financial backing and act as ambassadors or
endorsees of the brand with no significant role in winegrowing and winemaking. There is absolutely no
connection between notoriety and wine quality. You won’t find any celebrity Pinots in my cellar.
Garagiste Wine Festival This festival, which launched in 2011, returns to Paso Robles on November
12-13 to celebrate its 10th anniversary with two days of events, including the tasting of wines from over 50
small production wineries from California. The Garagiste Festival is the nation’s first and only festival to
showcase the wines of commercial, micro-production (under 1,500 cases annually) ‘garagiste’ winemakers.
This is not a Pinot Noir festival, but some participating wineries do produce Pinot Noir. For further information,
World of Pinot Noir The Ritz-Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara will again be the site of the World of
Pinot Noir. The 22nd annual event will be held March 3-5, 2022. Tickets go on sale on October 15 and
attendance will be limited. Many of your and my favorite Pinot Noir producers will be pouring including
Bernardus Winery, Black Kite Cellars, Calera, Clarice Wine Company, Etude Winery, FEL Wines, Gary Farrell,
Goldeneye, Hyde Vineyard, Joseph Phelps Vineyards (Freestone), MacRostie, Maggy Hawk, Morgan, Paul
Lato, Pisoni Family Vineyards, Roar Wines, Saxon Brown, Sea Smoke, Talley Vineyards, Details of guest
experiences including the Grand Tastings will be announced when tickets go on sale. Visit
2022 IPNC Next summer world-renowned Champagne and Sparkling wine producers from all over the
world will participate at the 36th Annual International Pinot Noir Celebration July 29-31, 2022. This year’s
theme is “Through Rosé Colored Glasses” and will feature twelve highly-regarded Champagne and Sparkling
wine producers in addition to over 70 of the world’s finest Pinot Noir producers. Nearly 75% of the available
weekend tickets have been sold. Visit www.ipnc.org.
Two New Labels from Winemaker Greg La Follette Noted veteran winemaker Greg La
Follette has launched two new well-priced labels. GLF Wines offers Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier
using many of his favorite sources from his Alquimista Cellars days. The 2019 GLF North Coast Pinot Noir is
priced at $28 and the 2018 GLF Van der Kamp Vineyard Pinot Noir is available at $50. The second label,
Marchelle Wines focuses on old vines (mostly 100 years plus) including Zinfandel, Carignan, Cinsault and
Colombard (fantastic values at $28-$40 for old vine wine). Visit www.glfwines.com and
Goldridge Soil: Moon Dust Besides the fog, the most distinguishing feature of Russian River Valley and
Sonoma Coast vineyards is that many possess Goldridge soil, a well-draining loam that also has enough clay
to retain some water. A recent article at www.winemag.com titled “Russian River’s Goldridge Soil Has the
Midas Touch” details all you need to know about Goldridge soil. This is an article by Virginie Boone that I
wanted to write but never got around to it. The photo below shows the Goldridge soil at Wayfarer Vineyard.
Going Overboard The new Matheson Restaurant in Healdsburg offers 130 wines by the glass, most
available from self-serve dispensers. Russian River Valley Pinot Noir dominates the selection. Some wines
offered are highly allocated. Wines are available by the taste, by the half glass and by the full glass, and
markup is significant (those dispensers are expensive!)
Diminished, Smoke-Free 2021 Harvest in California’s North Coast The lower-than-average
grape harvest is being attributed to the second year of a drought. Preliminary data (74% of Pinot Noir
as of October 1) picked indicate some vineyards that need water may have yields that are down 50%. Younger
vines and drought-tolerant rootstocks seem to fare better. The full report in February 2022 will tell the tale.
Rhys Sparkling Wines The current release of the 2021 Rhys Vineyards Perpetual Reserve Sparkling
Wine is the inaugural bottling representing over five years of collaboration with renowned Champagne
producer Rodolphe Peters of Champagne Pierre Peters. Rhys has selected reserve lots of Chardonnay and
Pinot Noir from several vintages at Bearwallow and Mt. Pajaro vineyards, and aged them in the cellar prior to
bottling. In the tradition of Reserve Champagne. Each year new wine is added to the “Solera” or blend of all
prior vintages, and a portion is bottled. The remainder continues to age until the following year when the
process repeats. This methodology produces a sparkling wine with distinctive aged complexity and a great
consistency of character. After lots from 2016, 2017, and 2018 vintages were combined, it was clear this
was an outstanding first Rhys Perpetual Reserve MV. In addition to the Perpetual Reserve, Rhys will offer an Mt.
Pajaro Vineyard vintage Blanc de Blancs, a Bearwallow Vineyard Vintage Ultra Brut, and a Bearwallow
Vineyard Vintage Rosé. All of these sparkling wines will have significant cellaring capability. Visit
Healdsburg Crush: Pouring on the Plaza Premium Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and sparkling wines
from 60 participating wineries on October 17, 11:00 AM-3:00 PM. All proceeds benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of
Sonoma-Marin. Pouring wineries include Hirsch Vineyards, Alma Fria, Peay, Gros Ventre, Wayfarer, Banshee,
Littorai, and Ernest Vineyards, General admission tickets ($90) available at www.bigticket.com.
Michelin Stars Two restaurants in Sonoma County won Michelin stars in the recently announced Michelin
awards: one star for Barndiva in Healdsburg and three stars for Single Thread, also in Healdsburg. Despite
being open for 17 years, this is the first Michelin star for Barndiva. Barndiva has an excellent wine list that
includes domestic Pinot Noir from Williams Selyem, Drew, Ceritas, Cobb, Hirsch, Littorai, Occidental, Peay,
Raen, Soliste, Arista, Freeman, Porter Creek, Rhys and Melville. Besides Silver thread, only five other
restaurants in California have received the same honor: The French Laundry (Yountville), Atelier Crenn (San
Francisco), Benu (San Francisco), Quince (San Francisco) and Manresa (Los Gatos).
Pinot Noir in some California regions may become extinct due to global warming
Will we see large shade covers over Pinot Noir vineyards or tented indoor Pinot Noir vineyards in the future?