Earthquake (!), pre-Prohibition cocktails and the Grapes perform tonight

Above: The pre-Prohibition cocktails at the newly opened Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town, San Diego calmed my nerves after a 5.4 magnitude quake! The San Diego Kid (that’s me) arrived in San Diego from Austin, Texas yesterday only to be greeted by a magnitude 5.4 earthquake. Having grown up here, I’m relatively accustomed to such […]

Debut of my new band THE GRAPES (and New England giant bluefin tuna)

From the “man cannot live by wine alone” department… Above: The Grapes, me on guitar and vox, Andrew Harvey drums, John Yelenosky guitar and vox, and Jon Erickson bass and vox. We’ll be playing our first gig in La Jolla on Thursday July 8. We named our new country-rock band “The Grapes” after the legendary […]

Angelo Gaja: “Genetically modified vines will be Italian wine’s salvation.”

The following is my translation of an open letter by Angelo Gaja (above) that was distributed to and reposted by countless Italian wine blogs and media outlets this week. “Genetically modified vines will be Italian wine’s salvation.” It’s time to break the taboo around genetically modified vines: they will be Italian wine’s salvation. Modifying plants […]

The “real scandal” in Friuli: Nicola Manferrari of Borgo del Tiglio on allegations of adulterated Sauvignon Blanc in Friuli

Among leading Italian wine professionals and their American counterparts, Nicola Manferrari (above, photo courtesy his Borgo del Tiglio estate) is widely considered to be one of Friuli’s greatest winemakers. In the wake of allegations that some of Friuli’s top wineries have been adding prohibited additives to their Sauvignon Blanc to enhance the wines’ aromas, I […]

Sauvignon scandal: leading Friulian agronomist Giovanni Bigot speaks out

On Sunday, Italian wine writer Carlo Macchi, editor of, published the following interview with Giovanni Bigot, an agronomist and winery consultant who has been working in Friuli since 1998 (translation mine). In 2004, he began working on experimental techniques for the cultivation of Sauvignon Blanc in Friuli. He’s widely considered by his peers to […]

Sangiovese research breakthrough

At Bush on my way to NYC today. But wanted to share a small breakthrough I made in my ongoing Sangiovese research last week. It’s well known that Baron Bettino Ricasoli grubbed up his vineyards and replanted his Brolio estate (mostly) to Sangiovese in the second half of the nineteenth century. His decision to embrace […]

Harvest 2014 begins in Italy, a challenging vintage

Above: the village of Coccaglio as seen from a vineyard owned by Franciacorta producer Arcari-Danesi; photo taken in April 2014. According to a press release issued this week by the Franciacorta consortium, growers in Coccaglio (Brescia province) began picking Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, and Pinot Nero grapes on Monday. They are among the first in Italy […]