CVIndependent

Mon09252017

Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Wine

17 Sep 2017
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The first thing I do when I move to a new town is find the local wine shop. I do this, in part, because no one needs a glass (read: bottle) of wine more than the person who just bubble-wrapped their whole life and went on countless Home Depot runs for more boxes, because they had no idea they had this much crap. (OK, maybe that’s just me.) Specifically, I look for the independent wine shop, because I am a wine super-nerd looking for other wine super-nerds. I know that, in these little stores tucked away in strip malls and located off frontage roads, I will find great wines—and more importantly, great people. The guys and gals who run local wine stores do it because they love wine. They are passionate salespeople who not only know what they’re talking about, but are genuinely interested in helping you find your new…
17 Aug 2017
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What’s that, you say? You love rosé? Well, if you live in the sunny Coachella Valley, you’re in luck! While people in a large portion of the country are preparing for a frigid future—planning to spend part of their Labor Day weekend digging out the plastic bins that house their parkas and fleece underwear—here in the valley of eternal summer, we have another two months of scorching heat. While that thought is enough to bring grown men to tears, I choose to celebrate this fact with more rosé—yes, the little pink wine that was once the recipient of scornful glances, side-eye stares and snickers from fellow restaurant patrons is now having its proverbial day in the sun. Considering all of this newfound fame, I started wondering whether people actually know what rosé is. This question was answered, in part, when I watched the recently released Vogue video interview with Drew…
25 Jul 2017
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You moved back to the desert? From Napa? On purpose? Yep. And I couldn’t be happier. Naturally, your next question might be whether I suffered some kind of head trauma or had a lobotomy. After all, I am in the wine business, so Napa should be my holy land, my Mecca. That was certainly the idea when the wine-distribution company I worked for moved me there seven years ago. They were going to get me out of the desert and put me where I belonged—to be among “my people.” After some convincing, I bought into that idea. I had no clue how wrong that idea was. It was March, and it was beautiful in Palm Springs—warm, sunny and with a plethora of exciting events happening all the time. So long, farewell, adieu. It was March, and it was cold, rainy and dark in Napa. And it stayed that way for…
27 Jun 2017
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There is a Napa vintner who was born into a winemaking family in France and married into winemaking royalty in California. He loves throwing lavish parties and spraying his guests with Champagne. Even in photos taken in the vineyard, he dresses like he’s meeting James Bond for a game of baccarat. Picture this man. Now picture his polar opposite. That’s Randall Grahm, the founding winemaker from Bonny Doon Vineyard in Santa Cruz, who drives an old Citroën and writes parodic wine-themed lyrics to Dylan songs. Grahm is in his 60s, and still ponytailed. “I’m Randall Grahm, and welcome to my nightmare,” he said at a recent event. This got a laugh, but it echoes his James Beard Award-winning book, Been Doon So Long, where one rambling footnote paints in grim detail the indignity winemakers have to endure to sell wine: They pour their “product” (or life’s work … whatever) in…
02 Jun 2017
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There is a new wine shop in town—a rare treat for us desert denizens. It’s actually a reimagining of one of the desert’s few wine shops, Dan’s. No longer will you be greeted by Dan; most days of the week, you’ll find Matt Young, a tall, friendly, handsome young man who looks like a football player. There’s a reason for that: When he moved to the desert back in 2006, he was all set to play football for College of the Desert. However, an injury prevented him from playing, so he entered the fire academy to become a smoke-jumper, but he suffered another injury. He briefly trained as a fire inspector, but knew he “could not sit at a desk.” Shortly thereafter, Young found himself returning to the family business—hospitality and service. Young grew up in Paso Robles, where his parents owned and operated restaurants. There, he was surrounded by…
01 May 2017
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Meet Patrick Bartlett. He’s tall and energetic with a contagious smile. Oh, and he LOVES wine—and that love is infectious. This love led to the creation of Mood Wine (www.moodwine.biz), a popular social wine club started by Bartlett and his partner, Jake Stanford. I went to a recent tasting and was pleasantly surprised by how many wine-lovers I met. “Moodies,” they’re called. Bartlett grew up in Southern California in a blue-collar family. As a kid, he was in 4-H, showing goats. That’s where he got his start in wine—from a farmer’s perspective. However, his career started not in wine, but in sales and marketing for Xerox. You can sense his sales background when he describes a wine; it’s almost like a pitch. However, the wines he and Stanford choose don’t need a pitch; they are good on their own. That being said, Bartlett understands that some people may need a…
28 Mar 2017
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Selling wine is not for the faint of heart. The travel schedule is grueling; the competition is fierce; and the customer base varies wildly—from masters of wine to … well, the uninformed. However, Christina Hammond makes it looks easy. She shows up energetically to dozens of appointments and tastings and trade events each week, always touting her Red Car Wine. Good wine needs good people fighting the good fight—and Hammond is one of the good ones. She’s not a wine snob, but she knows her stuff. She cut her teeth working for a big wine distributor (where, in her words, she learned to “show up” to her accounts each week), then transitioned to a finer wine distributor, Henry Wine Group. Red Car is distributed by Henry, and after four years at Henry, she began to work for Red Car directly. Now she travels the country, extolling the virtues of the…
24 Feb 2017
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When you think of good wine, what comes to mind? A sit-down restaurant? A white tablecloth? A fancy bottle pulled from a cellar for a special occasion? This is an outdated way of thinking: More and more, good wine isn’t limited to just high-end places or special occasions. For example, someone may not expect fine wine from a place well known for its coffee—but at Joey Palm Springs, you’ll get just that. Vince Calcagno and Joe Lucero are partners in life and in business at Joey, which opened a little more than a year ago on Palm Canyon Drive. Calcagno spent more than 20 years as the owner/operator of Zuni Café in San Francisco, so he knows a thing or two about running a restaurant. At Joey, he does whatever needs to be done, including, on occasion, washing the dishes. One of his other responsibilities is curating the wine list.…

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