Vol 4 No 9 Tarrytown and Beyond

Tarrytown sits right on the Hudson and is a quaint town but also is home to Marymount College, and the Rockefellers who have clearly left their mark. Dobbs Ferry, established in 1698 is there and from it you can see the entire Manhattan skyline and to the north the Tappan Zee Bridge. There is also a non-denominational church there, the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, a tiny church funded by the Rockefellers and built of river stone. Originally it had no windows but then they attempted to commission Henri Matisse to come and do a glass window. Due to his age (82) and health, he declined however, he did create the forms for the window in his bedroom. Those were then made into glass and shipped to Tarrytown for assembly. It isn’t an impressive window, about a three-foot oval over the altar, but Matisse died two days after finishing it. Over time, seven windows were installed in memory of various members of the Rockefeller family. All were creations of Marc Chagall, and they are magnificent.

The wedding was fantastic and held at Tarrytown Estate, just down the road from Washington Irving’s home where he wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. All the streets have names that those who have read it are familiar with. As an aside, when we lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, we lived in Orinda in a section called Sleepy Hollow and even lived on the Lane of that name, and again all the streets were from the book. Tarrytown Estate is on Sunnyside Lane, coincidentally the same street the bride’s parents live on in Orinda!

The wine for the wedding was from Vietti in Barolo, Italy. They had secured a Balthazar (2400ml) of their 2015 Nebbiolo (Perbacco) – that’s 16 bottles. It was the first to be shipped! The bottle was decanted and all the guests signed it. A nice touch! Vietti is especially meaningful to me because in 2004, my son-in-law (a chef at a Northern Italian restaurant, Prima, in Walnut Creek, CA) and I took a 10-day trip to Italy visiting wineries and fine restaurants. We called it two guys, ten days, twenty meals, fifty bottles of wine. The highlight was that when we arrived at Vietti, Alfredo Currado personally gave us the tour. Normally his wife did because Alfredo didn’t speak English well, but here sister had fallen ill so he had to do it. It was amazing but troubling as he kept apologizing for his English. Finally, we saw his son, the winemaker, and told him to please have his dad stop apologizing as it was an honor similar to having Robert Mondavi give us the tour. He stopped and said, “my English is not so good but when I drink wine it get’s better.” However, when we got to the tasting room he did something every host did that we visited. He poured a taste, then filled all three glasses but never touched his again. The significance of that was that we were his guests but this was business…a nice touch. That is why the wine, which was wonderful, meant so much to me personally.

One last thing at the Estate. Over the fireplace is a painting and I was curious. It turned out that it was a portrait of Major Andre, a Brit who was captured by the patriots and although he was in civilian clothes they noted his beautiful boots. They removed them and inside were the plans to West Point that he had just received from Benedict Arnold. Both men were later hanged., Why was it there? Because when the Estate was purchased it hung there so they decided it was only proper to leave it ‘hanging’.

From there we drove down to the Greenbrier in Lexington, West Virginia (not to be confused with the town of the same name in Kentucky). The Greenbrier is a beautiful southern mansion style hotel with a golf course, but is also famous for the bunker that was built there to house members of Congress if there was a nuclear war. It is now just a museum.

The next day we ‘found’ the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky and visited one of my favorites, Woodford Reserve (would also have like to visit Pappy Van Winkle but they weren’t open that day – drat!). From there it was a long but beautiful drive home that totalled 3,650 miles, almost all of it in good weather, thankfully!

Trader Bill

(c) 2018

Vol 4 No 8 A Short Drive to Canada and NY

The short drive, 3,600 miles, or as I affectionately call it, the great circle route, went this way: we left Minneapolis on Oct. 9th, driving north and into Wisconsin to the town of Bayfield, gateway to the Apostle Islands. The problem was the ever increasing rain! By the time we reached our destination, not only was it pouring but there were 12 foot waves on Lake Superior…scratch the Apostle Islands. But the bright side was the fall colors, some of the most beautiful of the trip! It finally began to clear but we had to leave as the purpose of the trip was to get to Tarrytown, New York, for my goddaughter’s wedding. We will be back however!

Our next stop was Sault St. Marie which is on both sides of the border. We chose the U.S. side, crossing Lake Superior into Canada the next morning. SSM marks the convergence of Lake Superior and Lake Huron through a series of locks mainly used by ore ships. In case you don’t know, Superior is the largest and deepest of the Great Lakes. From there we circled Lake Huron to Toronto which is just east of Lake Erie, and on the shores of Lake Ontario. It is a strange but exciting city of exotic high rise buildings with no particular pattern. We spent two nights there, the highlight being the CN Tower where we had a long lunch as the restaurant rotated 360 degrees for spectacular views. After lunch, we ascended 33 more stories to the spire for even more spectacular panoramas. (Helpful hint: to visit the tower costs C$30 per person plus another C$20 to see the spire, BUT you can avoid the basic fee if you have a reservation at the restaurant which significantly decreases the cost of the experience. Highly recommended!)

From Toronto we drove the less than two hours to Niagara, but having visited the Falls before we focused on the Niagara-On-The-Lake region which is chock full of wineries. The number has increased dramatically since our visit a few years ago. There are now over a hundred of them of varying quality. I had hoped to visit two from our first visit, Malivore, which makes a really good Gamay, surprising given the latitude and lack of hot summers, and Stratus, a modern steel edifice that is also producing fine wines. The nearly 30% discount due to currency conversion makes them a great buy. Note that virtually all the wineries produce good to high quality whites but very few produce great red wines, and Ice Wines (Eiswein in Germany). Inniskillin is the best for ice wine (traditionally made from Vidal grapes), and in 2006 was purchased by Constellation Brands, which also bought another very good producer, Jackson-Triggs, which is much cheaper and a best buy.

The one winery we revisited was my favorite, Coloneiri, which is the most spectacular in the region. Imagine driving past fields and vineyards, seeing a sign to the winery, turning in and seeing a beautiful, and huge, chateau-like building, and there you have it: Coloneri! The family came from Italy and began building the estate over ten years ago and it is still not complete. At the time of my first visit I said to my host, “now I know what they mean when they say ‘if you cant to make a small fortune in wine, start with a large fortune’.” He immediately corrected me, saying, “a very large fortune”. The two sons and their wives continue to run the winery and produce a full line of red and white wines, all of which are very good. But it is the fullness of the reds. so reminiscent of wines from the Valpolicella region, especially Amarone’s, that got my attention, along with their motto, “it’s not just love, it’s passion.” I love that word and those who have it.

Realizing that it wasn’t hot enough to make vibrant, they take from 25-50% of the red grapes and dry them in racks in a greenhouse, a method known as ‘appassimento’. Trust me: it works!” Fantastico!

We would have liked to spend more time in the area but had to move on to the Finger Lakes where we stayed in Hammondsport, on Keuka Lake. Some of the best wineries in the region are there including Dr. Konstantin Frank, Ravines, and a new, small winery, Weis Vineyards. One I didn’t visit this time was Wagner which is on Seneca Lake. All are highly recommended!

I visited Dr. Konstantin Frank’s winery, my second time. Fred Frank, grandson of the Doctor, and I have been communicating since the last time I visited and met Meaghan, the fourth generation, rare in American winemaking. This family takes winemaking seriously along with carrying on the legacy of Dr. Frank, a Russian who emigrated here in the 1920’s and proved that vitis vinifera grapes, not just native vitis labrusca, and vitis riparia grapes or French hybrids, could be grown in the cold climes of upper New York state. These wines made wines from here unpalatable to those outside of the East Coast who had not experienced the great wines of France, and California. I vividly recall tasting some of them (and you still can today), and passing on them entirely. But Dr. Frank, despite tremendous opposition, persevered, and as a result of his passion, New York wines, both in the Finger Lakes, and on Long Island are high quality and able to compete with wines from California and other regions. Like I witnessed in Canada, there has been an explosion in wineries in the state, as elsewhere in the United States.

Dr. Frank also developed a lasting friendship with Andre Tchellistchef, who is regarded as the father of American, especially California winemaking. My book project, Wine and Passion, is dedicated to them and their legacy. Whereas Andre’s biggest battle was with the owner of Beaulieu Vineyards, Dr.  Frank’s was with the state authorities and local wineries, both of whom resisted his advice. Their friendship also resulted in some California winemakers coming east, first and most notably Eric Frey, the Frank’s first non-family winemaker. One last contribution Dr. Frank attempted to make was to convince UC Davis that the AxR1 phylloxera resistant rootstock, wasn’t. He knew that since the deadly mite came from America that only American rootstalk would be resistant, not the AxR1. Their failure to accept this cost the industry millions of dollars when, as Dr. Frank predicted, the mite appeared in California. Like his friend, Andre, Konstantin was a remarkable man who won despite formidable odds against him. As a result their Pinot Noir vineyards and other vines are among the oldest in North America.

Many winemakers since Eric Frey have had their start here and gone on to work for other wineries in New York, California and other countries, so they now have a team of winemakers to insure quality and continuation of their passion for making fine wine.

It was with a sense of sadness that we left the Finger Lakes but we had to move on to Tarrytown for the wedding, but along the way I met with Kevin Zraly, one of the most influential people in wine today and one who has an enormous passion for wine. Kevin ran Windows on the World restaurant and has taught and published (with several revisions), the wine course of that name, the most purchased book on wine of all time.

Kevin’s passion and friendliness cannot be overemphasized, nor can his knowledge of what makes a good or great wine. If you live in New York and want to learn more about enjoying wine, I highly recommend his Advanced and Master’s Wine Classes. They are an incredible bargain and value, where tasting is key to your understanding of wine.

Well, friends, I have gone on far too long but will pick up rest with the rest of our trip.

Trader Bill

(c) 2018

 

Vol. 4 No. 7, Judgment of Chaska 5/24/18

In Minnesota, and this may surprise you, we have a plethora of good privately owned wine shops, within the greater Twin Cities region. Among the ones that TB likes and frequents are  (in alphabetical order): Excelsior Vintage, France 44, La Dolce Vita, Solovino, and Wine Republic. All have their special interests. Note, TB did not include chains especially perhaps the largest in the U.S., which shall not receive mention.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Afterall, In I’ve Been Everywhere, Johnny Cash names Minnesota in the first verse and Chaska in the last. One email recently caught TB’s eye: a tasting based on the original Judgment of Paris tasting that elevated American wines to world class forty-two years ago. TB has written of this tasting and the book on it by George M. Taber, a journalist for Time magazine stationed in Paris  He, like other reporters received a notice of this tasting to be held at the Intercontinental Hotel, a short distance from Time’s offices. Having nothing better to do he wandered in just before the tasting was to begin (for more details read the post, Vol. 3, No 16).

The idea to ‘recreate’ the tasting was the brainchild of Troy Seefeldt, who along with his wife Jen, did an exceptional presentation at La Dolce Vita wine shop in…Chaska, MN…exactly forty-two years after the famous event!

It was a blind tasting, with no clues, other than I and a few others who knew of the tasting. We were poured blind tastes in pairs, a French and an American. First, Sauvignon Blanc, then Chardonnay, then Merlot, and lastly Cabernet Sauvignon.  To cater to novices (and I will be the first to state that I am not an expert on wine, but a lover and advocate of the noble grapes), a five category scoring sheet was provided, that made it fun for all with scores of 1-5 on each, and a 25 point perfect score:

CLARITY: All but Opaque; Polluted Lake; See Through; Translucent, and Sparkling

NOSE: Rotten Eggs; Vinegar Medley; Inoffensive; Impressive; Freudian Complex

BODY: Needs a Workout; Skinny & Flabby; Proportionate; Lean + Sinewy; Boldly Muscled

FLAVOR: Oenophilic  Ick; Too Sweet; Amply Acidic; Balanced; Romancing the Tongue

FINISH: Bitter Swallow; Callow Gustation; Small Parting Gift; Extra Stamina; Dream Worthy

See…that isn’t so hard is it? Scores came in amazingly similar! This happened to TB when he took people whose idea of wine was followed by ‘cooler’, when he moved to Reno – the same year as the Judgment! Using the UC Davis 20-point Scoring System , they were amazed at how well they did, as was I, although the overall winner was a ringer I put in: Gallo Hearty Burgundy, but you can’t deny it was well made wine. Contrast to the 100-point system created by Robert Parker, which may have done more than anything else to improve the quality of wine than anything else I can recall. The downside to this was conformity for those coveted 90 point ratings, eliminating the artistry of the winemaker, and destroying any semblance to terroir. Note also that there are literally dozens of 100 point systems, having from 25-30 subjective points. Parker is very clear in what he likes: huge fruitbombs with tannins (yes, even for the subtle Pinot Noirs, which is why he was banned from Burgundy tastings). Others not so much and many of them promoting wines they are directly involved in or being compensated to evaluate.  Let’s banish ALL 100 point systems…period! As a San Francisco wine critic once wrote: how can you trust my ratings if you don’t know what I look for in a wine? (For more on ratings see Vol. 3 No 6).

Lastly, note that the actual Judgment used 20 point scoring, however there were no rules on how those points were to be calculated. Since all ten judges were French, (sponsor Steven Spurrier, and his pupil, Patricia Gallagher scored the wines too but they weren’t tabulated…wouldn’t you?)  there was a huge variation, much more than one might expect from experienced wine evaluators, since several tried to ‘game the system’ and mistook the French wines for the Americans, causing one judge, Odette Kahn, who gave obscenely low scores to the French wines to demand that her scores be removed…they weren’t! Also, I had the country wrong on one of the four pairings…and felt lucky on that.

Back to the wines for the tasting (of course, the cost of the original wines would have been prohibitive – if you could find them), so proxies were provided as follows along with my total points:

Sauvignon Blanc: Coteaux Du Giennois, 2017, 18; Grgich Hills Fume Blanc, 2014, 19

Chardonnay: Ch. Montelena, 2015, 17; William Fevre, Chablis, 2015, 18 (I did really bad in this category!)

Guillemin La Gaffelieere Grand Cru St. Emilion 2010, 16; Freemark Abbey Merlot, 2013, 20

Chateau Aney 2015, Haut Medoc, 22; Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, 23

So, for better or worse, those were my scores. Like the original Judgment, it was a great experiment and loads of fun! Try it, you’ll like it!

©Traderbillonwine.com 2018

Vol 4 No 6 What’ll you have? Red, White…or?

Oldtimers like TB recall Boone’s Farm which probably got more people interested in wine than anything else. Credit Ernest and Julio, Gallo that is, for that. Then they came up with Madria Madria Sangria. Nobody had had sangria at that time and suddenly it was all the rage. But here’s the thing: Cesar Chavez was leading the farmworkers protests at the time, so what did Ernie and Julio do? They ran commercials with a latina spouting on the wonderful sangria “my hussband and his oncle” made.  One has to wonder how many people who supported the farmworkers were duped into buying it.

One year, watching the World Series, I saw several commercials for Carlo Rossi Wine. Huh? Never heard of it…how can they afford to do it. Well…Carlo was a distant cousin and voila! Gallo paid for the commercials and of course owned the winery (?) – probably made at the Gallo winery.

Lastly, they came up with Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers. They even had a phone number you could call and hear the boys talking to one another…and a house with a sign out and two guys rocking on the porch. At the time, Gallo owned the largest intra-state trucking company.

They were nothing if not innovative and once you got past the ‘pop’ wines, dollar for dollar they made the best wine in the U.S., dollar for dollar. Hearty Burgundy was the best of the bunch…even though it contained no burgundian grapes!

Then Julio died in 1993 in an accident when a vehicle (jeep?) he was driving veered off a farm road leaving it all to Ernest to run the company. About this time, Gina Gallo bought land in Dry Creek Valley and wanted to make a premium wine. The catch was she had to use the Gallo name. Now imagine an enophile having a dinner with a bottle of Gallo on the table! BUT, she overcame that and produced a respectable table wine.

What next? They decided to buy up wineries around the world. Do you like Albarino? Martin Codax. Rather than list them all consider Apothic, Edna Valley, William Hill, and a flock of others. Here is a link: Gallo portfolio You will be amazed as TB was. They are now the largest wine producer in the world.

Now back to the winery. The great Andre Tchelistcheff’s son, Dimitri, went to work there. Why? Because he couldn’t stand the way Madame treated his father at Beaulieu Vineyard. He then hired Richard G. (Dick) Peterson as a chemist, introduced him to Andre and eventually Dick left to work under Andre. Then, when Heublein bought B.V., Dick ascended to being winemaker with Andre leaving to become a consultant. Note that Heidi Peterson Barrett, his daughter, became one of the top winemakers in America.

TB refers back to his early comment that Gallo made the best wine in America, dollar for dollar. Don’t underestimate them…many have and were proven wrong.

So why all this about Gallo? Because they were single-handedly responsible for introducing young people to wine coolers, pop wines, and finally table wines. Finally, we are back to the title of this edition. There has always been, and continues to be a ‘logical’ (?) progression from sweet white wines to dryer whites, to rose’s and lighter reds to full-bodied reds. Here is a link to a new study that confirms this:  WineBusiness.com   Note that the study also shows a preference for organic, sustainable, and biodynamic wines but a willingness to pay a few dollars more for it.

TB has to end this now…off to a tasting of organic, sustainable, biodynamic wines!

(c) traderbillonwine.com 2018

Vol 4 No 5 – Why TB doesn’t collect wines anymore

In the late ’70’s Robert Parker started publishing The Wine Advocate. At first, it was sent out on copied paper, then, as it gained in popularity (and he began to rate more wines), Parker began publishing it in booklet form. The ‘hook’ of Parker was his 100-point rating system that TB has discussed here (Vol. 3 No. 16), and how, due to imitators, it has flooded the market with raters. Parker is clear about what he looks for in a wine, others not so much.

In contrast to the 20 point U.C. Davis system, which is a ‘quality’ measurement, and not intended to pit one wine or winemaker against another, the 100-point system(s) are highly subjective with from 15-25 points being subjective. This, and wine economics, has led to more and more wines with a 90 rating by at least one evaluator. As I discussed in that article and Vol. 3 No 14, you had better know what the rater looks for in a wine and determine if it meshes with your likes and dislikes. Who cares if Parker or anyone else likes it if you and your friends don’t. Sometimes you can buy two bottles of a high 80’s wine for the price of one 90 point wine…think about it!

The 1982 Bordeaux vintage was panned by writer William Finnegan, and then Parker challenged him by praising it in a move that would put Mr. Parker in the echelons of wine critics. As a result, TB was fortunate enough to buy a mixed case of futures (the store never offered that option again and I don’t think anyone else has), of mostly 2nd Cru wines. I stored them in my cellar and when discussing wine with a friend, he mentioned he had bought the ’82’s and recently opened one and didn’t think it was that good. I did the same and again it didn’t appeal to me as anything extraordinary. So in the early 2000’s I took many of my older wines to Butterfield and Butterfield in San Francisco and was pleasantly surprised about what they and a few other collectables sold for (’84 Heitz Martha’s Vineyard and a ’92 Screaming Eagle among others)…very pleased! In retrospect, I should have held on for a few more years but when you are talking about 1,000 percent returns, don’t quibble!

Then there is the fact that really old collectables not only don’t usually taste vibrant but they may be flat or worse, corked! I have had very few wines I loved that were older unless they came from the cellar of the winemaker, having not been transported (except to the tasting), and stored properly. As an old bartender used to say, “drink up, this ain’t no library!”

Then there is the growing problem of wine fraud. In the early ’70’s Bordeaux wines were incredibly cheap due to the ‘Italian Salad Oil’ scandal. Cheap wine was put in phony Bordeaux bottles and dumped on the market. Then, l’affaire du Pouilly Fuisse, where one of the top wine houses in France was bottling plonk under that name.

Two of the most famous fraudsters of late were Hardy Rodenstock and Rudy Kirniawan. The former was the best in creating authentic looking labels and filling the bottles with recent vintages of the same wine (smart), while the latter had a great pallette and would ‘blend’ wines to resemble the authentic wine. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it took some time before the auction houses, including Christie’s, caught on…or acknowledged any suspicions on the provenance of the wines. With any serious research they could have known, especially with Rodenstock’s greatest faux creation, the 1787 Chateau Lafite with the initials “Th. J.” on them. Not one, but dozens of these were ultimately sold and purchased by Malcolm Forbes, Bill Koch, and other wine experts. But the person most responsible for uncovering fraud was Laurent Ponsot, owner of Domaine Ponsot, who attended an auction featuring his Burgundies, and noted that one of the wines was a year before he started producing wine (makes you wonder if when is successful as a conman, forger, etc. the temptation to “get cute” is just too great, no?). So it is to Monsieur Ponsot and especially Bill Koch, that the wine world owes a big debt.

Ah, and here is another trick being done of late: purposely filling the bottles with ‘corked’ wine so it is even harder to tell if it is authentic and if it doesn’t taste right simply chalk it up to experience. Note that recently a huge Cotes du Rhone fraud was uncovered in France, meaning not just expensive collectables are subject to manipulation and fraud.

The inspiration for this piece came from TB’s favorite wine writer, Lettie Teague, who writes a weekly column in the Wall Street Journal. She is sensible, expresses herself well without putting on airs, and is creative and dedicated to the enjoyment of wine. See her two-part piece on wine fraud in the WSJ: What it takes to out sleuth wine fraud.

That’s all, folks!

(c) traderbillonwine 2018

If you are interested in some fascinating stories on wine fraud, TB recommends:

Dinkelspiel, Frances: Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California

Potter, Maximillian: Shadows in the Vineyard – extortion of Domaine Romanee-Conti

Wallace, Benjamin: The Billionaire’s Vinegar – The Jefferson Ch. Lafite

Not related, but a fascinating story of wine deception against the Germans in WWII by the French Underground:

Don & Petie Kladstrup: Wine and War

Isabelle Saporta: VINO Business, The Cloudy World of French Wine  you might never want to buy another Bordeaux after reading this…especially if you believe in sustainable wine

 

Vol 4 No 4 Where in the hell is Temecula?

We are visiting the West Coast and staying in Orange County. One day we went with friends to Santa Barbara which has some great tasting rooms: Au Bon Climat, Santa Barbara Winery, Zaca Mesa and several more. It was disheartening on the way up to see the fire damage but Santa Barbara was as quaint and beautiful as ever.

I love Au Bon Climat and tasted their premium wines which were all great. I have visited the winery several times and never cease to be impressed by both Jim Clendendon and his partner, Bob Lindquist. The old saying that opposites attract is true here on many levels., and those differences may well be the key to their relationship. Their winery sits at the edge of the famed Bien Nacido vineyard.

Jim is a Rhone Ranger and for the most part doesn’t stray much west of Burgundy. He loves pinot noir and it shows in all he produces and also makes great chardonnay. In addition to ABC, ranked as the number four of 101 best wineries in America. he also produces Clendenon Family Vineyards. Under that label he makes two of the few, and best, Nebbiolo’s outside of Piemonte, Italy but also other artisan wines such as Aligote, Tocai Friulano, a Mondeuse Rose from Bien Nacido, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurtztraminer, Petit Verdot, and a wonderful Grenache, a Syrah/Viognier blend,and of course two Pinot Noir’s. I have never had an ABC pinot that disappointed and I can’t say that about many labels.

Bob’s focus is on southern Rhone wines, especially syrah, but also wonderful Marsanne, Rousanne, Viognier, and blends of them. The Clendendon Family label  and the Verdad consists of Albarino, Granacha, Graciano, Rose, a pinot noir and a cabernet sauvignon, and Tempranillo.

Bob is famous for his Qupe label of Rhone style wines as well as Lindquist Family Vineyards which he produces with his wife, Sawyer; He has also added Verdad which produces great Spanish wines.

Yesterday, we went with some other friends to Temecula, as I wanted to see, and taste for myself, these wines. It was a great counterpoint to the Santa Barbara County wines just discussed.

Temecula is a small town and one you had to pass through on the old U.S. 395 which ran from San Diego to Spokane. Later the town and all others were bypassed by the freeway which is now I-15. Like all of southern California the growth has been incredible and it has been exhibited in the nearly forty(!) wineries with all but two of them clustered tdo the east of the interstate. The first one was Callaway, developed by the golf club company of the same name but was later sold to the Lin family. Originally, the focus was on chardonnay but since the change they have branched into both reds and whites.

We visited two others, Wilson Creek, and Thornton which are considered two of the top one in the area, along with Keyways. We had good wines at both but with all of these wineries in about a six square mile area, it is hard to differentiate. For the most part, the wines lacked the richness of the key California wine locales and the prices reflected the cost of creating a winery today and most of these serve as wedding venues, etc.

So here is the problem: the low end wines started in the high $20’s, and the reds ran from $45 to $75 and even $100 a bottle, so for TB the value simply wasn’t there. Note also that when a winery becomes a destination resort with few exceptions it is the wine that suffers. We had lunch at PUBlic House in old Temecula and I noted that the wine list did not include even one Temecula wine…the price may well have been a factor considering the price for wines from other regions of California on the wine list.

TB has written before on Karen MacNeil’s, The Wine Bible, now in its second edition (and now available as an e-book, which TB strongly recommends for travel. One of the reviews of the first edition complained of the omission of Temecula wines in the tomb. Well, she omitted it in the second edition also, and it was published just two years ago.

So TB’s verdict is IF you are in Southern California and have a craving to visit a winery it is worth the 1-1/2 hour drive from anywhere south of Los Angeles but if you are north of there, go to Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and if you have time, Paso Robles.

I mean no offense at the owners of the Temecula wineries, but these are my conclusions after visiting some of the best the area has to offer.

Have a great day!

TB

(c) traderbillonwine.com 2018