Recent Blog Posts

WANNA GET RICH? MEET OUR PANELIST MASTER CICERONE RICH HIGGINS

WANNA GET RICH? MEET OUR PANELIST MASTER CICERONE RICH HIGGINS

Meet Planet Grape Guest Panelist/Contributor Rich Higgins, Master Cicerone and Brewmaster. Rich was the third person in the world to earn the Master Cicerone distinction, the highest of four levels of certification. He is also a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. His consulting practice includes Restaurant Beer Program Implementation, Beer Dinners and […]

ZINFANDEL FANS ENJOY WINE AND MUSIC AT ZAP CELEBRATION IN SONOMA COUNTY

ZINFANDEL FANS ENJOY WINE AND MUSIC AT ZAP CELEBRATION IN SONOMA COUNTY

By Liz Thach, MW, Planet Grape An energized group of Zinfandel fans gathered at Trentadue Winery in Sonoma County this past Sunday for ZAP’s Simply Summer Celebration. ZAP, which stands for “Zinfandel Advocates & Producers” is one of the most active grape varietal organizations in the US, hosting many exciting events for members and guests […]

BEACH WINES AND EXOTIC BURGERS

BEACH WINES AND EXOTIC BURGERS

Please indulge me and let me start out with a little story from my days as Wine Director/Sommelier at a famous Bay area restaurant. One day a new owner appeared, a French Chef who had his own Somm coming in a few months. I felt obligated to stay on, though it became more challenging by the […]

MONTEPULCIANO THE GRAPE VS MONTEPULCIANO THE REGION

MONTEPULCIANO THE GRAPE VS MONTEPULCIANO THE REGION

By Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis With so many clonal names like Brunello, Sangioveto and Prugnolo Gentile, in Italy, and around the world, Sangiovese is still Sangiovese. The grape is the grape. So wouldn’t it make sense that across to the Adriatic coast in Abruzzo, Montepulciano the grape would be the grape in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano back […]

CELEBRATE SUMMER WITH MADAME LILY BOLLINGER

CELEBRATE SUMMER WITH MADAME LILY BOLLINGER

Rose is chic and easy when it comes to sunny summer entertaining, but to take it up a notch, add Champagne. After all, the ultra chic Madame Lily Bollinger famously said, “I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with […]

ROCK THE BOX

ROCK THE BOX

Summertime, and the living is easy. What better time than now to try a few wines in that portable package, the box? Today’s box wine is everything from organic French Chardonnay to premium Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Pick up a few different boxes just for fun. Write down the name of the wine and price, […]

24 0F 72 PASS ADVANCED SOMMELIER EXAM IN PHOENIX

24 0F 72 PASS ADVANCED SOMMELIER EXAM IN PHOENIX

After a grueling three days of exams, including a timed blind tasting of six wines, a practical tableside service exam with multiple tables to attend to, a Business of the Sommelier written exam and spirits tasting and finally a theory exam, 24 of 72 candidates made it through to become Advanced Sommeliers last night at […]

THE MONTEFALCO CONSORTIUM ANNOUNCES IMPORTANT CHANGES IN WINEMAKING REGULATIONS

THE MONTEFALCO CONSORTIUM ANNOUNCES IMPORTANT CHANGES IN WINEMAKING REGULATIONS

July 2016, Italian Ministry of Agriculture  The 2016 harvest will bring with it new bottling and blending opportunities, as well as a wine with a brand new name Authenticity and territorial recognition have always been the key elements ​​for the promotion of the distinct and unmistakable wines from Montefalco. An important turning point in the […]

MELVILLE – ALL NATURAL BEAUTIES IN SANTA BARBARA

MELVILLE – ALL NATURAL BEAUTIES IN SANTA BARBARA

by Fred Swan Kurt Amman, GM of Melville winery in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, leans down to show me their new under-vine weeder. Not every winery tour begins this way. But Melville is serious about organic growing and, especially, about avoiding stuff like Round-Up. Cover crop is necessary to do organic right in this […]

THE FATHER OF PROSECCO

THE FATHER OF PROSECCO

  Glass of Bubbly Issue 12 May June 2016 by Catherine Fallis Antonio Carpenè is often referred to as the father of Prosecco, founding Carpenè Malvolti, the first modern winery in the Veneto and the winery that created the style and character that is Prosecco today. He also founded the Istituto Conegliano, now the largest […]

MALBEC – MAKE MINE FRENCH

MALBEC – MAKE MINE FRENCH

Cahors has a soft, supple style all its own. Planet Grape  The SOMM Journal April/May 2016 Malbec is a rock star in our industry. That is if it is from Argentina. There, the transformation from shy, sensitive, earthy and awkward to rich, ripe, super clean and beautifully balanced was so spectacular the wine drinking world took […]

FROM TUSCANY TO SONOMA – MARTINELLI WINERY & VINEYARDS

FROM TUSCANY TO SONOMA – MARTINELLI WINERY & VINEYARDS

The Martinelli family has been growing grapes in the Russian River Valley since the 1800’s, when Giuseppe Martinelli and Luisa Vellutini eloped and moved from Tuscany to Sonoma County. In the 1970s third-generation vintners Lee Martinelli Sr. and Carolyn Martinelli assumed leadership and began developing vineyards on family properties throughout Sonoma County. In 1992 they brought on […]

WRATH – A DAILY WALL OF FOG & WIND ROARS INTO SALINAS VALLEY

WRATH – A DAILY WALL OF FOG & WIND ROARS INTO SALINAS VALLEY

By Fred Swan Wrath’s San Saba estate vineyard is not in the Santa Lucia Highlands. It’s darned close though. The vineyard is located at the junction of Foothill Road and River Road, but on the wrong side of Foothill to be within the AVA. The boundary isn’t arbitrary in this case. There is a difference […]

INMAN FAMILY WINES GO NATURAL

INMAN FAMILY WINES GO NATURAL

  Often referred to as “the barometer of Russian River Valley” as she is one of the earliest to harvest her grapes, owner and winemaker Kathleen Inman is quietly making natural wines that feel alive on the palate. This self-proclaimed “grape groper” picks by taste and feel, not by brix, the accumulation of sugar in […]

STEVEN SPURRIER CELEBRATES 4OTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE JUDGEMENT OF PARIS IN SAN FRANCISCO

STEVEN SPURRIER CELEBRATES 4OTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE JUDGEMENT OF PARIS IN SAN FRANCISCO

By Fred Swan In 1976, a competitive tasting of French and American wines was held in France. Steven Spurrier, an English wine merchant based in Paris created the event, now known as The Judgement of Paris, to highlight progress made with French grape varieties in the United States. To everyone’s great surprise, the French judges […]

BIEN NACIDO VINEYARDS – SANTA BARBARA’S GRAND CRU

BIEN NACIDO VINEYARDS – SANTA BARBARA’S GRAND CRU

By Fred Swan In Burgundy, vineyards which have proved to be the very best over an extended period of time are designated Grand Cru. They also have distinct personalities, making it possible for experts to identify their wines when tasting blind. The United States doesn’t have any official designation of quality for vineyards. If we […]

IF ONLY ADDS MASTER SOMMELIER CATHERINE FALLIS AS LUMINARY

IF ONLY ADDS MASTER SOMMELIER CATHERINE FALLIS AS LUMINARY

    IfOnly, a San Francisco start up founded by Trevor Traina, is a marketplace for incredible experiences. From unique everyday offerings with local experts to once-in-a-lifetime connections with lauded luminaries, IfOnly provides access to a curated selection of extraordinary experiences that benefit worthy causes around the world. Members enjoy amazing experiences that help them do […]

Women for WineSense Winemaking Roundtable Hosts Sommelier and Buyer Relations Expert Catherine Fallis, April 20th at Chimney Rock

Women for WineSense Winemaking Roundtable Hosts Sommelier and Buyer Relations Expert Catherine Fallis, April 20th at Chimney Rock

NAPA, CALIFORNIA: The Napa | Sonoma chapter of Women for WineSense’s (WWS) Winemaking & Viticultural roundtable welcomes Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis, with a long industry history as a salesperson, sommelier, distributor, critic and supplier to discuss how winemakers and viticulturists can best relate to and communicate effectively with sommeliers and wine buyers.   The roundtable […]

THE AGEABILITY OF NEW ZEALAND SAUVIGNON BLANC

THE AGEABILITY OF NEW ZEALAND SAUVIGNON BLANC

I love former West End actor Oz Clarke’s description of New Zealand’s brash, pungent Sauvignon Blanc, an iconic style created by Cloudy Bay winemaker Kevin Judd. He calls it a“cloudburst, thrilling, shocking, lime zest, capsicum, love me or leave me” style of Sauvignon Blanc. Kevin Judd, who produced the winery’s first 25 vintages and who now […]

SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS WINE ARTISANS

SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS WINE ARTISANS

On February 23, 2016 the Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans presented a tasting of their appellation’s wines at Fort Mason in San Francisco. This trade tasting is one of the highlights of the year, with principles and winemakers pouring their rare Santa Lucia Highlands appellated Pinot Noirs alongside the more widely available Chardonnays and Syrahs. […]

SANTA MARIA’S RIVERBENCH FINDS ITS RHYTHM

SANTA MARIA’S RIVERBENCH FINDS ITS RHYTHM

Riverbench Wines Sing to Me by Fred Swan People often ask me what kind of wine I like. I taste so many different ones, very good ones, that I can’t narrow answer with a particular variety, region or style. In the end, the wines I gravitate toward and really want to drink are those that […]

MASTER SOMMELIER CATHERINE FALLIS LAUNCHES WINE REVIEW

MASTER SOMMELIER CATHERINE FALLIS LAUNCHES WINE REVIEW

Prime Women, March 19, 2016   Food & Wine by Tricia Conover   The First Women-Led Wine Rating Panel Aims to Take the Guesswork out of Wine Purchasing (KA-thuh-rin FAH-lis) Catherine Fallis, MS, the 5th woman in the world to be named a Master Sommelier, has launched a new women-led wine-rating panel. In a Q&A last […]

VALLEY FIRE RELIEF AUCTION AT THE VINTNERS HALL OF FAME

VALLEY FIRE RELIEF AUCTION AT THE VINTNERS HALL OF FAME

A Message from Paul Wagner, President, Balzac Communications and Debra Sommerfield, President, Lake County Winegrape Commission We’d like to ask a favor of you—in the hopes that you might be willing to help the people of Lake County whose homes and families were destroyed by the Valley Fire.  Would you please check out this link and look at all […]

AUSTRIA’S WALTZING VARIETAL – THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF RIESLING

AUSTRIA’S WALTZING VARIETAL – THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF RIESLING

Planet Grape  The SOMM Journal February/March 2016 Benchmark old world Riesling is one of the world’s great vinous treasures, and Austria delivers it in spades. Supremely intense, rich, pungent and dry, quite different from the lacy, low alcohol, delicate, minerally, acidic and lightly to very sweet German Rieslings, and the corpulent, tangy, often sweet Alsatian […]