Posts Tagged With: wine industry

After a full day of wine, I’m here

iIMG_8209n the home office writing about wine, wine stories and wine visions, tasting today at a Healdsburg tasting room that was started by a guy who blogged his whole cellar experience.  Bought one bottle of Pinot then left.  Since home, or since finishing dinner, I’ve been writing and editing pieces for clients, finishing my final glass of Sanglier SB, and into my writings.  Alarm will be set for 5AM and there’s no way I can ignore the sound, no matter how annoying it may come off.  My coffee arsenal replenished by Ms. Alice, and I think more of making wine and living in wine and writing about it, everything I discover from fermentation strategies to oak regiments to bottling, to ‘do I use foil or not’, to what do I pair this with (which I think is totally overblown.. I mean why do you have to stress or excessively deliberate over pairing?  Why pair at all?).  So my wined thoughts get away from me then come back, and I would love to go to sleep right now, having been up just after six, with little Kerouac charging me as I lay on the couch only from him calling me out of bed to go get him and walk him back to our bed which he then would annex.

Again waiting for technology to cooperate.  I’ll tell you honestly reader I’m getting tired of this dependency and this waiting.  Quite through with it if you must know, which you probably already know.

Have to email a winemaker friend of mine, see when he’s back in town, want to interview him about his new projects and see if he’ll taste me on the new releases of his, all of which I love the concept, of the rebellion and being “proof” of something, or rather, immune to something, not phased by it and what be.  The airconditioner comes on and I wonder why, not that hot in here, or down here in the study but maybe it is upstairs in Jackie’s room, so then I don’t fret with its whooshing and light hum.  My desk a mess but I’m making it through my checklist, the one I started at the winery on on the back of one of the tasting menu cardstocks, if that’s what you call them.

Ready to post last piece for client 2, then I can entertain going to bed early.  Told Ms. Alice in a text earlier today from work that I had so much writing to get done and that I’d be up at 12AM, no later.  Could be earlier, I’m hopeful…  But who knows, who knows with me and wandering attention but tonight I’m quite well fairing.  But then I tire and think about sleep, and waking up early as I want to (reminds me I need to cue the coffee, get everything in position for my early session).  10:40 the time now, and I definitely feel the hours catching me, funny, thought I would be able to stretch till midnight no problem, but there’s a problem: I’m Human.


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Wine Chap in his Chapters

7:53, and Alice out for her walk, me drafting 450-something words for a spotlight piece on IMG_8175Boekenoogen, that Pinot I last night studied very much still in sensory memory, with the revolving wild berry rumbles and songs…  Could have easily had another glass, but refrained as I wanted to be alert and able for little Kerouac, who’s now on the floor to my distant left (living room, me here in kitchen, at counter/island), singing new songs learned in school.  “How are you today, sir.. very well, I thank you.. run away… run away…” And he repeats, looking over at me and smiling.  I think then immediately of a family business, that is my sole mission with all this, one that will sustain us as a family, provide us what we need and maybe a vacation here and there, and that farm or vineyard, put my babies through college.. and what be.  And maybe this is expanded and emboldened by the Boekenoogen family and story, I don’t know.  But I’m thinking.  About my family and what I want for us, for my kids– or at least to give them the option to come work at the vineyard, tasting room, ranch or what be.  But I need to get the startup off the ground first.. material material more MATERIAL.  The goal today.. take at least one postable picture every hour.. starting here in home then when I get to Arista.

8:02.  Not letting time get to me this morning, and it’s funny I didn’t think I was scheduled for today but I am and I’ll make it work for me and the novel, my books and this business I’m starting for my family– now little Kerouac wants me to watch how he arranges and lines the cars, like he’s on stage and like I’m to offer some sort of feedback but I have no interesting but only to praise and encourage him.

IMG_81868:03–  “Hey, Daddy.. look a’ what I making for you!” See?  How can can do anything but smile and laugh and prompt him to keep going?  Like my friend Chelsea said recently, “Wine business is a family business.” Indeed.  Which reminds me I need to write something for her as well..  Where’s the time to do that?  I’ll find it somewhere, maybe after I drop those cases of Mendo off at the Healdsburg spot.. a restaurant, whatever it’s name is– well, I know, just not how to spell it and it’s not important, all that matters now is the writing and getting through this semester and starting the startup faster than any other startup out there or that’s ever been conceived of being conceived.

This has to stem from my reconnection to the Boekenoogen story, reading their history and tasting the Pinot last night and the new vision I have of everything.. timing, timing.. ah the music and poetic pulse of it all, the iambs and dactyls, trochee and melody sprees…


8:12.  Jackie continues to arrange his cars and I stay with eyes revolving from this screen then back to him.. I can already see him, in the office with me then out in a vineyard, walking as Dad I used to do in Big Basin park just by our Santa Cruz home.. discovery and more poetry, narrative and self-education and the lectures compile deliciously.. need to see what other Bookenoogen wines I have in the closet behind me, but no matter what I count I’ll more order, that much I know, that much I write..


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Barrel and Narrate

The half-marathon done, and I just scraped some time together to post– or write then post, a piece for client 1.  Now I wait for the day to further evolve and progress, the week to start, have to wake early tomorrow if I can, feeling quite tired from the half and not enough time I feel to get anything done.  Lectures to write, blog posts to finalize.. only way to stay ahead I feel and fear is to wake at 5AM, every morning.


Alice leaves for school, to get some work done before her week lifts off and my son still asleep upstairs, very much with Time’s invitation to finish projects and brainstorm, and consider reality.. I’m creating all this content for other people, which I’m more than happy to do, but what if I dumped all gathered content, written and visual, and short videos, to one spot.. my site.. and the purpose?  Wine education?  Not so much.. just a telling of wine life, then maybe sell, I don’t know, ads or ad space, or whatever.  Truly get it monetized and have WILD wine-woven startup.. consumers and DTC and advertising, and blogging and letters and reviews.. everything that wine is and is meant to be, fun and Human and inviting.. if I’m sipping wine, what are the first words that me accost?  The other day I was thinking of odd or obscure words to describe the Arista Zin, that 2012 they’re pouring in the TR, and I wrote “Roman”.  I had to laugh at what I wrote, and I wasn’t sipping anything, it just made me laugh, but there was purpose and pertinence to the words.  Like a Roman soldier, something grandly-themed, something historic and history-shifting/making.

I need to move and write with everything as I ran the half this morning.  My best time ever for a half-marathon.  Not by much, but I did well.  That needs to be my momentum with this site, this startup.. and what to call the idea?  Not sure, but I need to think about it.  One thought was “enoguistix” but I hate that ‘ix’ sound.  And I’ve used ‘eno’, or ‘oeno’ too many times already.

Think I hear Jack upstairs stirring a bit.  Good.  Need to shower before Mom and Dad’s and decide what wines I’m bringing up there, or wine, singular.  Have to drive back, remember, and I don’t want to be slowed or with wandering attention as wine and beer seem to do now with my thinking and scribbled conceptions.  Must be a mark of aging, I don’t know.  But even if it’s not, it still reminds me that so much has to be done and there’s not much allowance for idleness, or even a mere moment of still.  M2’s arrival approaches and everything has to be set, scenic, empyrean.

‘fermentopia’.. no, don’t like the ‘topia’.  UGH!  Then what?  How about…  Don’t want to write it here.  Or at all.  Not now.  Going to let the ideas bounce around with each other till something adheres.

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8/15/15 walk

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MOCK SOMM: Benevolo Wines, Knights Valley, Merlot, 2010

IMG_7546I’m partial to Merlot, and always find myself eager to defend it, but this bottle doesn’t need my ardor, nor my soapbox.  And Knights Valley, no less, one of those I feel under-appreciated AVA’s that when treated properly boasts a vocality that others cannot, and should spastically envy.  This Merlot screams conviction and candor with all its palate elements; poetry and a certain syncopated palate saunter that even those vowing Merlot diffidence would embrace and in which suddenly become confessional and effusive.  This Merlot oration teaches the sipper not just about varietal, but about time, to stop or at the very least slow and enjoy, that life is curt at best and when you meet bottles like this you should throw yourself to its meditative ebb.

Initially, I’m greeted by darker more roaring fruit than I habitually see in the varietal, then a pattering calm that won’t leave, then continues its bewitching sensory jargon.  And as a IMG_7545Merlot follower, I’m smitten.  But even those with the for-whatever-reason aversion would want to listen to, taste, sip again and collect.  I’m at an intersection quite interesting with this 2010 Merlot, and am caused to collect my thoughts and perspectives on wine in general; where am I going and what I see and how I think about the Merlot across intangible and immediate treks.  It forces me to metaphysicality.  I confess to it and myself and the later suggestions that pleasantly confront me later in evening, after letting the full bowl take what oxygen it can, here at the writer’s desk, the glass surrounded by papers and notebooks, and camera cords.  I build a story with this Merlot, that was gifted to me from Liam, owner of Benevolo, and now I look at the bottle and all-the-more tussle with my wined vision, and my past with Merlot, how it was the varietal that brought me into wine’s scape.  And Benovolo has cemented that sensibility; with me, with wine, with Merlot, and at this table writing now with a bowl barren.


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Glass Memory

When you learn in the wine world it’s different and much more punctuated I feel, than in other extensions.  The soil, the rootstock, the varietal clone the microclimate the trellising style, the adds (if any).  So much to it.  And listening to him speak of the ripening and the clones of Pinot and everything that’s to be considered as a grower/winemaker, has me considering and reconsidering everything.  I feel tireless, just like him.  Wanting so much to work those endless harvest hours.  but I pause and just watch again, seeing if I really could do that– well of course I can, if I put as much of myself into it as he did, does–


And I walk another block, staring at the hills and again realize there’s so much to this wine story of mine, of ours, all of ours in this world and business.  And the story that’s being told and narrated is not ending, ever.  Back in Bennett Valley, just up the Road from where Alice and I used to live, in that condo, which I find completely Literary in all its suggestive angles, and I still feel tireless, like I could write all night about wine and what I plan to do with it.  I’d pace back and forth, up and down that row if I could.


I follow.  Just a student again.  And I love it.  More than I can here tell you and certainly more than I have time to tabulate.  So I follow Glenn some more around the rows and look at the clusters, and one thing I do notice which he confirms is the uneven ripening, which could be negative or not.  But who knows, I guess.  It all depends on how the juice tastes, right?  So I want to study the business more and see what I can do as a winemaker, maybe, or just a wild wine writer that I already be.  My head’s everywhere, and I credit and blame the day, in those blocks.


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MOCK SOMM: Stewart Cellars, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012

IMG_7293Enclosed in this new Cabernet translation, one from Napa which I don’t explore enough and I don’t know how more I need to go over there now, I can simply flurry and fly to a computer and order.  But I slow in my sips and remember what it was like with the first sensory landing; the chocolate and toasted oak, blackberry and cherry and whatever spice that is, nose; then the palate is irrevocably kaleidoscopic in its current and webbed ebb.  Just charming and musical, jazzed from first measure to last.  I look for jazz in wines, as you might know and here I have it, a newly voiced Cabernet beat and snare sound; soft but not passive, assertive with no encroach.  Just a bedazzled figure, me, speechless and only writing what notes I’m capable; the coma-coding charm of this bottle, texture and rhythm, me thinking and writing something down that I check later only to laugh as it doesn’t make sense.  And why don’t I be more technical, why not go more into those descriptors and what wine publications would publish, what a half-faced clack-dish sommelier would say, in that low all-knowing octave.  Because I can’t, no pulse of that angle; what this is, candid adoration of a wine, this Stewart Cabernet, Napa.. Napa and I reconnecting and I have this to thank, but I’m afraid to try others.  And I don’t think I will for a while– need to order more– and the recalls of the jazz I sipped the other night and right now again grip me, have me bobbing my head, not knowing where the wine’s profile and note syncopation will next go.  I don’t need to know.  Just years ago, I was just discovering Cabernet, and I’ve learned a bit since then, but this bottle, as Ginsberg said, “doesn’t hide the madness”.  It teaches me more than I could have called.  It shares its “inner moonlight”.  And this madness, make me mad to keep sipping, in want of more notes, more music from its nuclei, more discoveries and answers but I don’t want it to answer them all; I love its dark mystery, from visual to texture how the sip summarizes itself.  I need another.  Sip.  Bottle.  Case.  So I’m in scribble till the night’s over, till the jazz arrests.


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MOCK SOMM: Highway 12 Vineyards & Winery, Sonoma County, Sonoma Red Blend, 2013

IMG_7063Again, delivered by dark reaches and suggestion– towering chocolate, symphonic spice, and an argumentation to its pervasive balance that I haven’t recently seen in a Merlot-centered blend.  Soft encompassing novelette of a pour, with its smokey dark fruit and dark chocolate shadows and hauntings.  I’m very much halted by this, one of the most convincing and directed, coherent red blends I’ve in months sipped.  This is my plain and preferred oeno-plateau, the Bordeaux-built blend.  Indeed, I’m here writing, more than just “inspired” but reactive and more crEATive than I’ve felt all day– with this soulful seductress of a dark phantasm, this layered palate performer.  Leather and plum, depth and ferocity to its form, just what any consumer hopes for in a wine.  But there’s more than the mundane humdrum mediocrity of a pull-and-pour bouteille de vin you get from the everywhere-market.  Distinction and accuracy.. sweet ember, royal, and refined, bulldozes any hesitation with blends that overlap regions, bordeaux and Rhône, and wherever.IMG_7065

I always fly and form to wines with a musical quality, and from the multiple varietals encased in this project, I experience several types, voices (not going to dumb myself or this bottle to “genre”).  It’s jazz, electronica, the chilled trip-hop I listen to on lunchtime writing rushes– I bob my head and maybe a bit jig in chair, but I’m eased and equalized, relaxed with sanity retained.  Thinking of all the blocks along Highway 12, the wine life here in Sonoma and its overarching generous narrative kiss to writers like me.  I can only be selfish with her, as the last glass is poured, no one will connect to her and listen to her song like me.  So, again with her piquancy, scent to tongue.. slow, ignoring time– just us.  So, I sip. 

With closed





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MOCK SOMM: Handley Cellars, Anderson Valley, Chardonnay, 2012

IMG_7008And the Handley Chardonnay, more than just a stream of me being proven wrong about the grape, the varietal, that problematic genre in oenology– no, this has its own -scape, and diction, and curvature with its apple-ized code and symmetry from scent to acidity to tactile ebb to its overriding message.  And I get the sense it wants me to survey its entity and scene, how it intends on greeting all my senses and receptors– the bottle, and this last glass, knows I’m writing about it– it uses me as a translator and courier of its thesis, and it says, like Amy Tan, “It’s a luxury being a writer, because all you ever think about is life.” And this bottle and its producer and the Anderson Valley AVA bring life with it to everything it contacts.  I’m smitten, enamored, befuddled, and seized by its synecdoche of notes and plays on my perception.  Yes, it’s Chardonnay, but so many, especially sommeliers, talk about “varietal integrity”.  Well here it is.  What more could a wine chaser demand?  Seriously, this writer wants to know. This is more than Handley at their best, this is the AV producer being what I would note equitable, candid, conversational– speaking through the Chardonnay varietal and showing what it wants us to know about its feel and voice, and tone, octave, beaming character oscillation.

I’m now more open to Chardonnays as you may know but this one teaches me even more than I ever expected to learn about the Burgundian loop-grape.  This is more than just “stylistic”.  It’s honest.  Declarative.  Instructional and comedic in how it appears to mock other Chardonnay attempts and projects.  “This is Chardonnay, real Chardonnay,” I say to myself, here at the kitchen counter, staring at an empty glass.  And I’m not “scoring” it as I don’t have to.  This is just a note denoting and connoting that I respect this wine and the producer and how it makes me envision the Road and what I’ll write about so many tomorrows from now.  Fantasized glass apparition presence–


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MOCK SOMM: Handley Cellars, Anderson Valley, Pinot Noir, 2012

IMG_6979Not at all coy with its confident composition– cherry and some plum-esque suggestion coupled with ripe earth and softly-sequenced black spice– but again I find a Pinot far beyond the simplification and convenience of descriptors or some obscure adjectives.  I’m with that Literary shape of Pinot that loves its dance and its beat and the valley it calls home, most notably shown in its finish– chocolate chant and cherubic chime.  Everyone knows I love Pinot and that I follow it and when I find one I love I become childlike.  And now I’m childlike, again, but more than I was with the last Pinot I tilted into my talking, whatever it was…  This glass’ song folds my introspective bend to something which screams for more connectedness to Pinot, but also warns me that most of them aren’t this coherent and convincing.  Cummings said that “Kisses are a better fate than wisdom.” This Pinot kisses over, over, over and places me in reflective maelstrom, spinning till I can only hope to land for another kiss.

Gentle put persistent texture and a terrific turbulence about the concluding curves to the wine’s IMG_6980measures.  And that has to be the winemaker’s love for 2012, and Pinot, and Anderson Valley, and all stories connected to narrative wines like this– I’m bedazzled by how the oxygen just pushes more from the glass, a step-by-step calculation of the wine itself, taking on cognitive actions and orations of its own– this is what makes it obvious, convex and complicated.

You might read this and think, “So Mike just writes about wine and drinks it and drinks more and that makes it easier to write.” At times, maybe, but not with this wine.  It’s codified and inviting; defensive and seductive; sealed lips, but still eager for kiss next.  I’m challenged by this evasive dark dancer, and I follow her.  Wherever.  A coherent contradiction.  And that’s why it lasts and echoes and has the tremolo’d traipse about my IMG_6981Now.  And my fate, better than any sagacity, or kiss– it’s this, this moment, the standalone second about how I scribble and sip, and sip…..  Tomorrow I’ll fall or roll or stumble from the sheets thinking about that color, the darker-than-I-estimated shade of Burgundian beatific syncopation.  I hear and taste the music again, carry it with me through the day, and I thank my favorite AV winery, and know I need to get back up there, someday, when I’m not writing.  All wine writers or critics should write about wines they love to this extremity.  “No you have to be objective,” says some wine mag galoot.  But I don’t care, proud and posted in my partiality.  Corking the bottle, sad as I sit, like that last kiss on a date, only to drive home remembering the meeting over, over…  So I write a letter as soon as I’m home, to Pinot, to Handley, to AV, to anyone who’s had a wine like this.  And hope I hear back.  And if I don’t… then… then……..

I sip, write, imagine the kiss.  Again, again…



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