The Swiss spend just over $492 per person on wine every year, reports MoveHub. The main reason is the price of wine is a few dollars more than other European countries. As far as consumption is concerned the Swiss are the 6th biggest global consumers of wine per capita drinking the equivalent of 53 bottles per year. That’s behind the French in 4th place but well above Germany (16th) and Spain (30th). The U.S. is also far behind at just 10 1/4 bottles consumed per year per capita. The Vatican continues to top the list drinking just over 72 bottles of wine each year. Think of all the visiting dignitaries and sacramental wine consumed in an area less than a square mile.
We all know that beer can create a beer belly, but wine does not affect your waistline at all. In fact, recent studies showed that “women who routinely drank moderate amounts of alcohol, totaling about one drink per day, carried almost 10 pounds less body fat than women who did not drink at all.” Experts believe that the calories in alcohol are not metabolized in the same way as calories from carbohydrates, fats or protein. So if you are about to start a diet to lose weight, then you should consider having a glass of wine instead of chocolate pudding for dessert.
Not long after college, and with a degree in French Language, Michaela Rodeno talked her way into getting hired as the second employee at Moët & Chandon’s new American winery, Domaine Chandon. It was 1973 and the office was in a garage on Mt. Veeder. After 15 years of helping Chandon become a success, she left as a V.P. and became Napa Valley’s first female CEO at the newly established St. Supery Vineyards and Winery. While there she formed Women for WineSense with Frog’s Leap Winery’s Julie Johnson, to combat the rising anti-alchohol movement of the 1990s. Michaela is now retired from the industry and focuses on the family’s Villa Ragazzi Wines, while Women for WineSense has continued to grow across the country. When you hear this interview you’ll understand why she is a beloved member, if not an icon, of the Napa wine industry.
Did you know California produces about 85% of all U.S wine? That generates more than 300,000 jobs in the state, and nearly 800,000 nationwide. $35 billion dollars in wages are paid nationally. Local and national governments receive $15.2 billion in taxes. California wine exports exceed one billion dollars annually, and more than 20 million tourists visit California wine regions each year. Think about the money that brings in. Fortunately, for those of us who live in this bountiful state and don’t have to travel far to enjoy our exceptional wine.
You’ve likely heard about the positive effects of wine consumption, now there’s more proof. The University of Cambridge has announced that 1 to 2 glasses of red wine per day is associated with a 9 percent reduced risk in suffering an ischemic stroke, while women who drink just one glass or less of wine per day were 12 percent less at risk. Ischemic stroke accounts for about 88 percent of all strokes. Also, compared with those who don’t drink at all, people who drink a moderate amount of wine every day are less likely to die of Alzheimer’s or heart disease. However, they are once again confirming that more than 2 glasses a day increases the risk of all types of strokes. It’s a fine line but one worth noting.
Surprise! 53% of the grapes harvested are for table grapes and raisins. As far as wine goes Chardonnay is the most planted wine variety at 29%, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon at 22%, Pinot Noir comes in at 18%, Merlot is 14%, Zinfandel is about 9% and Sauvignon Blanc is a mere 4% but growing steadily. Of course, these numbers are constantly changing.
About 16 years ago a DNA test showed that Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Vine breeding wasn’t well understood when Cabernet Sauvignon showed up in the 17 century so it’s likely it was unintentional. The result of cross breeding Cabernet Sauvignon has been linked to other varietals. A cross of Cab Sauvignon and Grenache produced a French wine grape called Marselan. With cross breeding it’s no surprise there are over 10,000 varieties of wine grapes in the world.
It represents the region or varietal to some degree. A Bordeaux varietal, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, is narrow and has a defined shoulder where it quickly slopes out from the neck. The Burgundian varietal of Pinot Noir is fatter and gradually slopes from the neck to the body. There’s no definite spot where the neck begins and the body ends. These two bottle shapes evolved out of tradition from Europe. Most winemakers continue to honor their European ancestors.
I had a feeling of great anticipation before meeting this international wine icon. Agustin Huneeus began his career by saving Concha y Toro in Chile, a brand now recognized across the globe. He also worked for Seagram’s, eventually overseeing their international brands. That position brought him to Napa Valley which led to his decision to get back into running his own winery again. He’s done very well and continues to do so at Quintessa and with other successful wineries here and in Chile. Like me, I’m sure you’ll be captivated by his voice which resonates with the wisdom he has gained and the miles of dusty roads he has traveled.
As a Frenchman in Napa, Yannick is on a mission to introduce Tannat to wine drinking Americans. It’s very popular in the Madiran region of France and is now the “national grape” of Uruguay. Aside from Tannat he’s also educating us about Colombard. Known more as French Colombard to most of us he says with a chuckle, “that’s redundant.” He crafts other wines as well and does a superb job. I love the images he uses for his wine labels as well which you’ll see below. Y. Rousseau Wines’ tasting room is worth a visit in south Napa at 902 Enterprise Way, Suite O.
To hear my interview with Yannick and Christian Wylie of Bodega Garzon about Tannat click here.
On this podcast we’re going to challenge your belief in mystical talent. Marc Mondavi is not only a long time winemaker from the iconic Mondavi family, he is also experienced in the fine craft of dowsing, divining, yes they even call it water witching. Go ahead, scoff if you will, but Marc is paid handsomely for this talent and he wouldn’t have been for decades if he wasn’t successful. It’s no wonder his other wine project, aside from the family’s Charles Krug winery, is called The Divining Rod Wine. You’ll walk with me as he demonstrates his talent and as he talks about his other craft, fine wine. Ex Aqua Vinum.
It’s time to veer off the Wine Road a bit and chat with a brewer. After all, the modern era of the craft beer industry began here in the heart of Northern California Wine Country. Don is an icon among brewers beginning with New Albion Brewery, kick-starting Mendocino Brewing Company, and now calling Napa Smith home. He’s been working on his craft as long as some of the winemakers I’ve interviewed. Hear about his past, present and likely future.
This is the second of three harvest I’ll be participating in this season. This time I join winemaker Ashley Herzberg of Amista Vineyards as they pick Syrah for sparkling wine in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County. You’ll learn how picking for sparkling differs from still wine. After harvest we head to the crush facility for the second segment where you’ll hear how the juice gets it’s red color. It’s a specifically timed process. Tag along with me, won’t you?
Last year I had the pleasure to work a bit during harvest. This year I’ve chosen to work and record during three harvests. The first one was at Bucher Vineyards in Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. The Buchers are wine grape growers but have been bottling their own wine the last few years. I’ve heard their wines compared to Kistler, a highly respected ultra premium producer! In this podcast I talk with John, his wife Diane, and their winemaker Adam Lee about this year’s harvest and their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. (Did I mention they also run a dairy farm?) There’s not much sleeping going on this time of year.
There is much to do at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds Friday, September 30th through Sunday, October 2nd in celebration of harvest. You can find the Events schedule here. For a list of the Professional Wine Competition get yourself a glass then click here. You’ll find a list by Medal or by Company. You’ll notice there was a broad list of winners this year. You’ll see many of the regulars yet a good number of lesser known wineries as well. Congrats to all the winners!
There is so much to do when you visit San Francisco you may not consider the fact that there are wineries and tasting rooms in the bay area. In this podcast I’ll focus on Treasure Island Wines and Winery SF (part of the Winemakers Studio group) on Treasure Island, and Bluxome Street Winery in San Francisco. Their offerings are on par with the wines you’ll find in wine country to the north as they all source their grapes from Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino and Napa counties. Listen in as I talk with those in the bay area.
You don’t meet many Scotsmen in Northern California. There aren’t many Scottish winemakers in the U.S., especially those who focus almost exclusively on Syrah but Steve Law of MacLaren Wine embodies all of those characteristics. He’s doing it well having been lauded by Sonoma Magazine and Wine and Spirits magazine. This inspired me to join him in his tasting room after hours to learn about his passion and wine making.
We’ve been fans of Seghesio Family Vineyards for a number of years now. A recent article in Wine Spectator gave me the impetus to reach out to Ted to discuss the exceptional vintages of Zinfandel we’re experiencing. If you love Zinfandel, or would like to learn to, now is a good time to put Northern California Zins on your list. Also, I couldn’t pass up the chance to talk with Ted about his family’s 121 year grape growing and wine making history. They’re one of only a few who made it through Prohibition and are still in business today.
This episode is my full radio show from our recent trip to Lake County, Napa Valley’s more peaceful neighbor to the north. You’ll hear my conversations with Six Sigma Ranch, Hawk and Horse Vineyards, Steele Wines, and Shannon Ridge Family of Wines. It’s a rural area with many wineries near one another yet the region is quite spread out from Lower Clear Lake to Upper Lake. The warm days and cool nights lend to exceptional wines in the hands of the areas experienced wine makers. This episode may, and should, inspire you to visit.
Tim Fish has an article in this month’s Wine Spectator that hails the incredible vintages we’ve had since 2012 through 2014. You can find a synopsis here: California Zinfandel
WS also offers a list of all the Zins they tasted from these vintages and share the points scored and pricing in alphabetical order. You may find something that hits your sweet spot! California Zinfandel Reviewed