Italy’s dismal harvest news: my report for @WineSearcher

From the department of “ne nuntium necare”…

best barolo monforte alba 2014Above: Ferdinando Prinicipiano in Barolo (Monforte d’Alba) remains optimistic about his harvest despite the extreme challenges of the rain-soaked, “bizarre” 2014 growing cycle.

Even before I began contacting Italian winemakers for my 2014 harvest report for, I kept hearing the same refrain: the 2014 growing cycle has been “bizarre.”

A “non-existent” winter and a cool and extremely wet summer have made for a nail-biting roller coaster ride for Italian producers this year.

“Rain, rain, rain, and more rain,” said Ferdinando Principiano in Monforte d’Alba (in the Barolo appellation, above, left) when I spoke to him by phone on Tuesday. He still holds out hope for his 2014 Nebbiolo, including his single-vineyard wines. But he’s one of few growers who remain optimistic.

The good news is that there will be exceptions to the overall bleak outlook. Barbaresco, it appears, will have a good to great vintage and Chianti Classico also fared well.

Click here for my report for

“It could be a ’72, which was horrible,” said Gaia Gaja in an interview that Antonio Galloni filmed in late August and posted on his site this month (I highly recommend it to you). “Or it could be a ’78,” which was one of the greatest vintages of the decade, she adds, citing her father, who worked both vintages.

She gives a great overview of the challenges faced by growers in Barolo and Barbaresco.

In other news: Houston, “Wine City USA”…

A confluence of prosperity, expanding wine education, and ambitious wine professionals is making Houston one of our nation’s leading wine destinations.

I wrote about new wine trends here this month for Houstonia magazine and the piece is now available online.

I’d already filed the article when I met with California winemaker Jasmine Hirsch in late September. But the fact that she and Rajat Parr are bringing their In Pursuit of Balance tasting to Houston in early 2015 is yet another sign of Houston’s growing allure in the U.S. wine scene.

From the oilman’s cafeterias to the hipster wine bars, it’s never been a better time to be a wine lover in the Bayou City.

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