Doug Shafer at Shafer Vineyards and the 2011 vintage

Sounds like northern California is shooting off to a good start. Bud break is happening, warm weather has arrived and growth is on track. Doug Shafer of Napa Valley’s Shafer Vineyards talks about how he can predict the outcome of the 2o11 vintage by what has happened so far this year.

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Life in California: Tang, The Retreat and miso soup

The last time I came back from Tampa, I brought my orange tabby cat, Tang, to The Retreat. He bravely – and thankfully, quietly — endured the 15 hour flight plus shuttle plus car ride to Forestville. So now it’s Tang and the Tree People. I share 300 square feet with a large orange tabby. He’s extraordinarily happy since he has me all to himself, instead of sharing with his kitty housemates. He sheds everywhere but hasn’t relieved himself in an inappropriate ways. I’m grateful since my landlord reluctantly agreed to let me house him in the Retreat.

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Survey confirms what we all know: Americans don't drink wine with food

In a pretty “duh” moment that anyone could assess by going to a local wine watering hole, a survey recently revealed that most Americans drink wine raw and wild… without food. Just like our beer and cocktails. This excerpt from the Napa Valley Register, written by veteran wine writer Paul Franson, sheds more light on the situation.

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Changing wine signs of the times: Consumer Reports recommendations from 2000

My Mom really belongs in an episode of Hoarders Gone Mild. Although far from the extremes of this psychologically disturbing reality show, she saves pretty much everything, including old issues of Consumer Reports Magazine. For giggles, she passed on an issue from 2000 — the one celebrating the best wine deals. As I read through them, it shocked me how things have changed in 11 years.

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Life in California: Forestville and Sonoma County Barrel Weekend

I’ve been living in Sonoma County for 10 days now and it still feels surreal. I reside in a furnished, basement apartment in Forestville, in the midst of the tallest redwood trees in North America and amongst the tree huggers. Aka the “granola” set. People bathe but they really don’t care what you think of their Birkenstocks with socks and grimy sweat pants.

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2010 harvest report: What will the chilly weather mean for wine?

2010 has been called “the worst ever harvest in California” with losses in the upper millions, and by some accounts, higher. Mother Nature gave the grape industry a devastating lashing.

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Awesome wine gift ideas: Unique wine stuff for the money

When a wine lover is on your gift list, a bottle of wine is predictable. It’s also tough to buy for other people’s taste. So take an easy (-ier) route and grab a gadget. They’re thoughtful, useful and they last. They are the wine gift that keeps on giving. My suggested list.

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Tim Hanni and his passion for wine consumers

1WineDude.com posted a pretty great interview with Master of Wine and consumer advocate Tim Hanni, whom I interviewed back in 2008. Hanni attests that each human brings a different set of taste buds and experiences to the table each night and the “arrogant” wine industry is trying to shove all consumers into one flavor box: dry wines. Some people just aren’t made that way… literally.

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K-Vintners and Charles Smith libel lawsuit moves forward

In a nod to the growing importance of wine bloggers, Charles Smith of K Vintners is suing anonymous commenters on a post published on Blake Gray’s Gray Market Report. What do you think? Legitimate complaint or a bruised ego?

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HR 5034 alcohol limitation bill in Congress takes a hit

An alcohol limitation bill written by the beer wholesalers and supported by wine and liquor distribution industries (and nicknamed “the wholesalers’ monopoly protection bill”) took some hefty blows in a Congressional hearing on September 29th.

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