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Field Notes from a Wine Life – Wine Mistress Edition

Odds and ends from a life lived through the prism of the wine glass …

Wine Mistress

As I’m fond of saying, I look at life through the prism of the wine glass.  Lately, with my lowest post output ever happening in February (about a 1/3 off the pace) and just one post in the last week, I have to say that I’ve been looking at the world through the prism of life’s glass and that glass is overflowing.  Simply, by need, I’m neglecting my wine mistress.

Despite this, it is somewhat de rigueur for an online wine site to die its death in public—atrophy by lack of use before the tide of progress washes over it.  My slowdown definitely hasn’t been for lack of desire or motivation.  In fact, if anything, it is a necessary tool for me – a proverbial, “Mother’s Little Helper” creatively and intellectually.  Just to be sure it is said and not wondered:  This site isn’t going to go the way of others – death by benign neglect with a footnote, if lucky.  Circumstance will allow me to get back into the groove very soon.  Until then, “Thank You” from my very deep well of gratitude for reading Good Grape:  A Wine Manifesto.


Through a Different Looking Glass

In the course of a very demanding period of time both personal and professional, I’ve been engaged in a global project at work, my first such project that isn’t completely U.S.–centric.  It has been a good experience working with people in the U.K. who work with people throughout the world, including Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim, with requirements for the global village.

What I’ve learned through this process is that I speak in a very Anglo-American way with clichés, malapropisms, metaphors and other dialectical patterns that don’t translate internationally.  What I’ve also realised is true empathy from a worldview isn’t something I often see in the wine world amongst, particularly, American wine writers.

No, American wine writers tend to view things through a learned POV that is distinctly American in sensibility and insularity—an insularity that is even more palpable if it comes, as it mostly does, from inside the confines of the West Coast.


For this reason, I’m enamored with The Finest Wines of California, the new book from the University of California Press and their Fine Wine series.  Written by Stephen Brook, the London-based Contributing Editor for Decanter magazine and the author of 15 other wine-related books, The Finest Wines of California is a worthy read on a well-trod subject simply based on the outsider perspective.

How refreshing and interesting it is to read about familiar wineries from a voice who views them with a detached inquisitiveness in order to tell their story anew.  Brook brings an objectiveness that forsakes the subtle domestic fawning that occurs from others.

Liberally dappled with rich, striking photography of both the California landscape and the books subjects, the writing and the photography make for a winning combination.

You won’t uncover a little known winery gem in this book, but you will look at familiar wineries from a different perspective.  Highly recommended.


Posted in, Good Grape Daily: Pomace & Lees. Permalink | Comments (8) |


On 03/05, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

While I appreciate and respect Mr. Brook’s perspective, the book should have been called “The Finest Wines of Napa Valley.” Also stale tasting notes are not a treat, except to the extent which they attempt to define a winery’s style.

On 03/06, Jeff wrote:

Hi Dennis,

thanks for commenting.  You’re right in that Napa Valley (and Sonoma to some extent) get the lion share of attention.  there’s not too many small, emerging wineries listed,either.

Interesting, though to see CA wine through the filter of a non-US native.  To him and many others Napa is California.


On 03/06, Thomas Pellechia wrote:

“To him and many others Napa is California.”


Isn’t that the same as saying that non-American wine writers “...tend to view things through a learned POV…”?

On 03/06, Jeff wrote:

It is, Thomas.  But, it’s interesting nonetheless in that I don’t share that same POV—that of an outsider from Europe looking into the U.S. marketing.

I guess my point is, it’s an interesting read because so much of our perspective is 180 degrees and not 360.  To that extent, rounding out my other 180, as much as possible, is good fun.


On 03/06, Thomas Pellechia wrote:

Glad you are having fun, Jeff.

On 03/30, Roger Sleigh wrote:

In the UK we have a derath of US wines so its going to be interesting to have a look and see how what we do get is rated and to get some idea of what to look out for when I am in the US, albeit a limited range geographically.

On 09/24, porna wrote:

No, American wine writers tend to view things through a learned POV that is distinctly American in sensibility and insularity—an insularity that is even more palpable if it comes, as it mostly does, from inside the confines of the West Coast.


On 10/20, computer games wrote:

My parents have one in PA and I have been to a few tasting.  I did one tasting in Aspen CO and it was really cool.


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