Serendipity

I spent the 4th of July with close friends and family at the winery. It was a lovely day full of laughter and wine and food.

And just as the sun was setting we made our way to the top of Sachau Vineyard, one of our pre-eminent sites for world-class Cabernet. The heat of the day had mellowed, a soft breeze came in from the Bay, fireworks winked like fireflies down below in town.

We watched from the bed of a pickup – drinking great wine – the kids race the dogs up and down the hill. The full and beautiful moon then rose like a spotlight behind the hills to the east and we all lost our breaths and were compelled by the same otherworldly synchrony of being there at that place at that time with that group of people knowing the specialness of the moment and knowing that it was likely those young kids would recount (like my grown kids do the magic of Lake Powell or the simple shoulder-loosening wonder of the beach at Capitola) forever, that glorious night when the troubles of men were washed away by the soft, nursing hands of nature and love was abundant.

America’s Myth

I want to raise a glass to celebrate the birth of my country. America’s myth has always been greater, more inclusive, and stronger than its reality.

The myth would not resonate, as it still does, if there weren’t some grain of truth there. Here’s hoping that the next year will find the myth and the reality cleaved closer together.

Premier Perfection!

Steve Heimoff, esteemed wine critic, just gave The Premier Cabernet Sauvignon a perfect 100-point score, writing:

The result is, in a word, stunning. I would stand it next to any Cabernet Sauvignon in the world; it’s that good. I could give this wine 98, 99 points and hedge my bets, but why bother? It’s perfect. Score: 100 points.

One of the many wonderful things about wine is that it is always changing. Like every other living thing, it has a life-cycle. The best wines, those meant for long-term aging, start out as rebellious teens, have a long and glorious adulthood, then slowly descend dirtward.

For this critic, at this moment, this wine…The Premier Cabernet is perfect. You can click here to purchase and make up your own mind!

Livermore Arise!

It would be different if the Livermore Valley appellation didn’t promise such potential.

If our Valley weren’t oriented the way it is — to the cooling mouth of San Francisco Bay — and if it didn’t have such an ideal diurnal temperature range, and a wealth of different soil types and micro-climates; the early history of excellence (the first International gold medal for a California wine was awarded to a Livermore wine, and in the 1880s more acreage was  planted to Bordeaux varieties than Napa), and a core group of vintners intent on pushing the envelope of quality, you could forgive the lack of attention the Valley gets from the critic and high-end wine consumer. But it does…and you can’t. Or you shouldn’t, and neither should any of the producers here in the appellation.

There is too much quality inherent in the land and weather and history here to settle for producing less than terrific wine. For any number of original motivations, the winemakers who are in the Livermore Valley have been called here. But that is not enough; the Livermore Valley makes demands and it is up to us to step up and answer them. And while much has improved on the wine-quality front in recent years, everyone making wine here needs to do a better job if we are to be taken seriously by the larger world.

There isn’t always a precipitous event (like the Paris Tasting) that thrusts a place into the limelight. Much more often than not, it is the steady and quiet accretion of quality that eventually tips over past notions, and — in the words of my father  — 20 years later you’re an overnight success.

Not to put too fine a point on it…that’s your daddy’s paradigm. Information moves too quickly these days and focus is lost easily as new opportunities for wine consumers are offered, seemingly, on a daily basis, and new appellations come to the fore.

If the Livermore Valley is going to ascend to a level it should, the heavy work needs to be done now and needs to be done constantly. This is a call to arms!

It may be cute to be second place, but it sure ain’t pretty.