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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

High altitude winemaking podcast

The Guild of Sommeliers (which is a treasure trove of wine geek information available at  for a yearly membership) has started a monthly podcast series. So far two of them have been on the subject and practice of blind tasting, one is on Sicilian wine with Oliver McCrum and Shelley Lindgren of A-16, and the most recent is on the subject of "high altitude" winemaking. All are extremely informative, and the most recent one is directly related to Lake County viticulture and enology. Enjoy!

High Elevation Winemakeing in California with Chris Carpenter from Lokoya, Ross Cobb from Hirsch, Matt Stamp MS and Geoff Kruth MS, from the Guild of Sommeliers.
Direct download: High_Elevation_Winemaking_Podcast_May.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:56 AM

In depth conversation about blind tasting with Geoff Kruth MS and four new Masters Sommeliers.
Direct download: Blind_Tasting_Podcast_April_2011.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:05 PM

Tasting and Discussion of the wines of Sicily with Geoff Kruth MS, Matt Stamp MS, Shelley Lindgren, and Oliver McCrum.
Direct download: Sicily_Podcast_3-10-11.m4a
Category:Regional Podcasts -- posted at: 7:31 PM

Blind tasting 6 wines with Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth, and guests Matt Stamp and Jason Heller.
Direct download: PodcastTasting12-27.m4a
Category:Blind Tasting -- posted at: 5:00 AM

Thursday, May 12, 2011

More Barbera Talk


14 May 2011, Nizza Monferrato (AT), Italy

What is #barbera2?
  • 10 Barbera, 5 from Piemonte, Italy, and 5 from USA
  • 10 winemakers
  • many terroir
  • 1 tasting table
  • bloggers (wine & food, but not exclusively) 
  • wine lovers
  • journalists
  • 1 location, Foro Boario, Nizza Monferrato (AT), Italy
  • 2 days international event 
The real protagonists of #barbera2 will of course be Barbera, as well as its producers and the specific terroir these Barberas come fromAnd this time we’re not only talking about Piemonte but…hear hear!, also Barberas coming from the West Coast of North America.
#barbera2 will be a journey across the Barbera vine and winesemerging from the different terroir.
10 Barberas will be protagonists of an unbiased tasting event, including 5 Barbera from Piemonte region (Italy) and 5 from North America.
But do not expect to meet only big wine experts; at #barbera2 everyone will be welcome to express his/her opinion about the wine. We want to bring out perfumes and flavours of the various terroir, so apparently distant from one another. It is going to be a gathering of different lands and wine cultures. The dialog is unstaged with total freedom of thought, no scores, no winners no losers.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Remember this picture from last year? Took it from this blogpost. Negroamaro happily plugged into the ground, growing vigorously under a cloudless sky. The IROC was finally running real nice, Don Henley was on the cassette deck, there was $20 in your pocket and 12-pack of the Beast in the back seat. Rope swings, cheese sandwiches and flip flops. Then you grew up, and sixty pounds later...

Winterkill. Had a good bit of snow in Lake County this winter, and the negroamaro seems to have taken it particularly hard, as well as some of the sangiovese. Lat year's bizarre growing season must have been part of the problem. Talking to guys at Beckstoffer's we were both planting at the end of July, at least a month later than ideal. We don't want to pull them out quite yet, just in case there is a bit of life hiding inside.

Cutworms. Along with whale sharks, fire ants, and defenestration beetles, cutworms are a brutal pest.

Frost damage. The wind machine has only clicked on a couple of times so far this year, and it is unlikely that it has even gone below 33 degrees, but these guys are sooo sensitive. Usually it occurs where a tender bit is touching the grow tube, which you would think might raise the temperature, but you never know with these guys.

The wasp problem is for us. They love to build nests in the grow tubes once the the temperature rises, so every time you go to open one up, you surprise a very tightly knit and private family unit.

In general we might have lost 15% of last year's vines - really not that bad, just a little unexpected.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Greco di Tufo - the TTB has silently spoken

We received the TTB's judgement on whether or not to recognize Greco (Bianco or Tufo) as a grape name in the United States and their judgement was - no judgement (meaning no). Greco di Tufo in the US is now in purgatorial limbo for the next couple of years even though Greco vines are being sold - too bad for us because it is already bottled. Time to come up with a clever fanciful name I guess, and you better believe we are going to call them out on this silliness, just like how they screwed up Tocai Friulano so that it is not allowed to be exported now because they contradict EU labeling laws. They better not allow four different spellings of Carignan - including Mazuelo and Samso. By the way Mendocino, Nancy Kerr-ig-nan is a person, not the proper pronunciation of a grape. First time I heard a farmer pronounce it like that I nearly busted a gut and rolled down Fox Hill Vineyards laughing.

Our original Greco pressing documentary is right here.


For those of you who find this sort of thing interesting here is a good portion of our original petition:

(VCR 11 at the bottom is FPS 01)

[Greco is not recognized as a grape variety in the U.S. yet. We picked the first harvest of this cool Campanian grape propagated by Novavine last fall, documented here, producing about 65 gallons of rather orangeish, minerally wine. Assuming the petition passes, we will be the first winery in the U.S. to produce a "Greco Bianco" wine. We have also ordered budwood to graft over our Chardonnay block to it].

Rosa d’Oro Vineyards of Kelseyville, California hereby petitions the TTB to recognize “Greco Bianco” as a prime grape variety name approved for the designation of American wines. Foundation Plant Services has recognized one clone (FPS 01) of Greco as Greco di Tufo, but because Tufo is a place name, and black and white varieties exist, we believe that Greco Bianco would be the most appropriate prime grape variety name [though Greco di Tufo is infinitely better].
Greco Bianco (White Greco) and Greco Nero (Black Greco) have been cultivated in Southern Italy for at least 2000 years. Greco Bianco is most famous as the Italian DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) wine “Greco di Tufo” or Greco from the town of Tufo in Campania. In nearby Calabria a D.O.C. sweet wine known as “Greco di Bianco” is also produced near the town of Bianco [ed note - I think Greco Bianco in Calabria is actually Muscat used in the passito style, which may be a bit of a hangup for this petition]. Current estimate is that approximately 2,500 acres of Greco Bianco is grown in Southern Italy.

Other Italian D.O.C. wines that allow Greco Bianco (percentage listed after) as part of the blend are:
· Bivongi (30-50%)
· Capri (up to 50%)
· Cilento (10-15%)
· Ciro (up to 5%)
· Gravina (35-60%)
· Molise if labeled varietally (minimum 85%)
· Penisola Sorrentina (up to 60%)
· Sannio (up to 50%)
· Sant’Agata dei Goti (40-60%)
· Sant’Anna di Isola Capo Rizzuto (up to 35%)
· Scavigna (up to 20%)

· And, the DOCG wine Fiano di Avellino (up to 15% blended in).

In California, Novavine grapevine nursery acts as the importer of Italian budwood produced by Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo (VCR). All VCR clones utilized by Novavine have passed through Foundation Plant Services (FPS), and FPS officially recognizes Greco FPS 01, generated from Italian clone VCR 11 as Greco di Tufo (see supporting dosumentation #1). The Italian VCR clones of Greco are printed as document #2. In 2009, at their budwood growing ground in Dunnigan, California, Novavine grafted one row of approximately 185 previously established rootstock to Greco FPS 01. One picture of this row was taken by this author in August 2010 and is reprinted in supporting documentation #9.

In 2010 Rosa d’Oro Vineyards harvested the first crop produced by that row of Greco FPS 01. We produced approximately 70 gallons of dry white wine. The harvest and vinification is documented in #9.

Greco, along with regional companion Fiano, are of tremendous potential to warmer growing regions of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. It is capable of producing varietally unique ultra-premium wine, and most importantly Greco is extremely heat tolerant and drought tolerant, minimizing the need for irrigation. Greco Bianco is moderately susceptible to powdery mildew. Greco Bianco’s canopy is very vigorous but it produces a relatively light crop, probably never exceeding four tons per acre in even very fertile soil.

At the author’s request Novavine indicated that in addition to an order of Greco placed by Rosa d’Oro Vineyards, in 2010 orders for Greco had been filled for Clondaire Vineyards in Calaveras County (cited in document #5) and for Callaghan Vineyards in Arizona.

The wine produced from Greco Bianco grown in Dunnigan, California by Novavine is true to type. It ripened very late for a white variety in mid-October. It retained very high natural acidity, has moderate to very thick skins, high phenolic content and produced a typical deeply colored yellow/straw/light orange wine. It also has the strong mineral and orange citrus characteristics typical of the grape. It has the potential to age and also has assertive and attractive youthfulness.

Written and compiled by
Pietro Buttitta
Rosa d’Oro Vineyards
certified sommelier

Supporting Documentation

#1) National Grape Registry, Accessed December 2, 2010,

#2) Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo, Greco Bianco biotypes accessed November 16, 2010,

#3) Novavine, accessed November 16, 2010,
Novavine, 6735 Sonoma Highway, Santa Rosa, Ca. 95409, (707)539-5678,

#4) Wikipedia, Greco entry, accessed November 16, 2010,

#5) “Calaveras Winegrowers seek AVA Status Vineyard Tour Highlights new Rhone, Italian, and Iberian Varietals” in Wines & Vines Magazine, August 2010

#6) The Concise World Atlas of Wine, Octopus Publishing, 2009, by Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson, pp 144-145

#7) Making Sense of Italian Wine, Running Press Book Publishers, 2006, by Matt Kramer, pp 134-141

#8) Wine All-in-One for Dummies, Wiley Publishing, 2009, by Ed McCarthy, Mary Ewing-Mulligan, Maryann Egan, pp 380-83

#9) Rosa d’Oro Vineyards blog documenting Greco Harvest “The Cutest Grapes I Ever Saw 10/15/2010”

#10 Two scientific journal articles involving Greco Bianco