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Steve Heimoff| Wine Blog

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A nation that twitters together fritters together

 Mark As Read    

  This scares me: “Calvin Lee, a graphic designer, is a massive tweeter. ‘I really can’t stop,’ he joked. In Twitterland, Lee has become a rock star. ‘I’ve gone through life wondering what my ‘thing’ would be. I believe I’ve found it.’ Lee describes himself as a ‘social media ho. I tweet at least 200 […]

I’m the new “go with” wine guy

 Mark As Read    

  I went on a “go with” yesterday. That is (as I just learned) the jargon for a salesperson who calls on an account and brings “someone else” (like me) with him. In this case, I’m the “famous former wine critic” whom most of the accounts have heard of, and whose ratings might even appear […]

On the anomalies of aging wine

 Mark As Read    

  Alan Balik has written a good analysis of tasting young wines in today’s Napa Register. Here’s my approach, which also is the one I took when I was reviewing California wines at Wine Enthusiast. I start with the declaration that the best way to determine if a wine is going to age well is […]

The soft bigotry of tasting inexpensive wine

 Mark As Read    

  If wine tasters could be categorized into political categories, I guess you’d call me a liberal. By that, I mean that all wines have the right to be taken seriously, in terms of their own aspirations and self-identity. No wine should be automatically dismissed because it’s inexpensive. As in the case of Justice, the […]

What is a wine with “personality”?

 Mark As Read    

  While we’re on the subject of storytelling (we are, in case you haven’t been reading steveheimoff.com lately), let’s consider the role of personality in a story. “A personality” is what people call a person who isn’t bland or forgettable, but instead someone who impresses himself on others through the sheer force of—well, personality. Keep [...

O.K. , you have your social media data. Now, what good is it?

 Mark As Read    

  I asked it six years ago, five years ago, four, three and two years ago, and I’m asking it now. And it’s not just me: That bastion of U.S. capitalism itself, the Wall Street Journal, is asking the same question. In a five-column headline in last Monday’s Marketplace section, they wondered “What is all […]

How do you know it’s not just a trend?

 Mark As Read    

  Back in 1999, a wine writer, Randall Murray, called Sangiovese “the next Merlot,” by which he meant that the red grape native to Tuscany was poised to become one of the leading red wines of California. Never happened, did it? Actually, by 1999, Sangiovese already had one foot in the grave. Ten years prior, […]

The Wall of Wine, Stories, and Consumer Psychology

 Mark As Read    

I was on the panel of a wine event last week, and one of my fellow panelists was from one of the nation’s biggest Big Box grocery retailers. I asked him, “Will the infamous Wall of Wine be always with us?” and he answered, “Yes. Retail is here to stay.” Indeed it is, as a […]

Having trouble “getting” social media? Welcome to SMOG!

 Mark As Read    

  We are pleased to announce the launch of “Social Media Odd-vice from Gus [SMOG],” a new team of experts designed to help YOU and YOUR BUSINESS navigate the complicated world of digital communications. Are you tired of not knowing how to maximize Twitter to increase ROI? Frustrated with not showing up on your friends’ […]

Telling a story about stories

 Mark As Read    

  I speak later today at The Exchange, an organization, sponsored by Nomacorc, that periodically gathers “to improve the marketing of wine by creating a forum for the sharing of ideas related to wine marketing.” The topic of today’s gathering, which is at Bardessono, in Yountville, is “Telling the Story.” I’ve been amazed the last […]

Matt Kramer got it right about bullies who put wine down

 Mark As Read    

  This think piece by Matt Kramer is a little opaque.(I hope you can open the Wine Spectator link.)  I had to read it twice to understand it—and I’m not sure I do even now—but it seems to be a rebuttal to the notion, widespread in America and somewhat anti-intellectual, that expertise is a form […]

Further thoughts on appellations

 Mark As Read    

  One of the hardest parts of being a wine writer in California is explaining the differences between appellations. It’s hard because, in many cases, the differences aren’t all that stark. The way I look at appellations is through the lens of history. As the late, great Alexis Lichine wrote (in his Encyclopedia of Wines […]

Monday Mayhem: Drinking too much, and memories of a P.R. guy

 Mark As Read    

  It’s important for us to have a conversation about drinking too much—about alcoholism—for two reasons. One is because there’s always been, and still is, a neo-prohibitionist mindset in this country that frowns on any use of alcoholic beverages at all; and so, as if in advance of an impending flood, we have to pile […]

To the Green Valley for a book signing!

 Mark As Read    

  I'm driving up to Occidental today, on the far edge of the Green Valley of the Russian River Valley, for a book signing at a winery called Fog Crest. I’m not familiar with their wines, and I don’t know the proprietors, but they invited me up, bought a bunch of my first book, A […]

Speaking truth to power: Why I don’t go ape over Riesling

 Mark As Read    

  I’ve gotten so tired of geeks talking up the virtues of Riesling that it actually came as a relief when I read Jancis Robinson’s column on her blog yesterday in which she concedes she might “go to my grave” without the masses never properly appreciating the wine she has loved “for roughly 35 years.” […]

Understanding temperature data? Not so easy!

 Mark As Read    

  One of the toughest parts of my job—of any wine writer’s job, actually—is finding reliable, historic data on which to base conclusions about terroir. Lord knows, we have endless discussions about terroir, yet most of them are based on anecdotal information and as we all know anecdotes are not reliable. They may be interesting, […]

They said it on Facebook: bad restaurant behavior

 Mark As Read    

  What’s the fastest way to make an asshole out of yourself in a restaurant? I was wondering because of some recent experiences, so I asked my Facebook friends, and as usual, they stepped up to the plate and offered up a potpourri of opinions which I am happy to share with you! Send back […]

To eat is (literally and figuratively) to live

 Mark As Read    

  My seminar (with Pedro Rusk) at Saturday’s K-J Heirloom Tomato Festival reminded me once again of what a powerful interest people have in learning about wine-and-food pairing and how to make fabulous foods. It’s interesting when you consider that people in this country are absolutely inundated with information about food. It’s a never-ending...

When wine writers host public events

 Mark As Read    

  I’ll be co-conducting a wine-and-food pairing event at Saturday’s big Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival. It’s the eighteenth time the event, which is one of the biggest in Sonoma County, has been held—and I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never gone. Everyone has told me how amazing it is, so I am totally looking forward to […]

Some execs are “worried,” but really, there’s nothing to worry about wine’s future

 Mark As Read    

  Nobody asked, but here’s my two cents on “top Golden State vintners [express] concern about the future of the $23.1 billion industry, especially among the discerning millennial market.” That’s from Tuesday’s Santa Rosa Press Democrat, which reported on “a UC Davis survey of 26 senior executives” in the state, and found that “Everyone was [&#...

Why young wine drinkers should know about the classics

 Mark As Read    

  Okay, well, first, I don’t mean they have to know about the classics. It’s not like the occasional wine lover is going to die and go to some awful place reserved for ignorant drinkers if they don’t. Knowing about the classics is not mandatory if you’re like most people—occasional drinkers who like wine’s salutary, […]

DTC, snobs and marketing segmentation: A personal view

 Mark As Read    

  “Wines delivered to your door” has been the business theme of direct-to-consumer entrepreneurs since as long as I can remember. I used to be a member of one of these subscription services, back in the early 1980s. I can’t remember the name (I’m sure someone out there will remind me), but they sold German […]

A day in the life: My trip to Santa Maria Valley

 Mark As Read    

  Woke up at 6:30 on a gloomy, foggy Saturday morning at the lovely Radisson in Santa Maria, so close to the airport that, walking Gus, I could see the ghostly forms of little planes sulking on the grey tarmac, across a weed-choked lot. Gus kept smelling the gopher holes but nothing came out to […]

To Santa Maria Valley, and my dinner at RN74

 Mark As Read    

  Off to Santa Barbara today, for a quick trip to the Santa Maria Valley and Cambria and Byron. I always like traveling through coastal wine country, especially at this time of the year; as you pass by the Santa Lucia Highlands, and the vast stretches of southern Monterey and the San Bernabe Vineyard – […]

Vintage 2014, and California declares war on small wineries

 Mark As Read    

  With the first (light) rain of the season expected tomorrow (today, as you read this) north of the Golden Gate Bridge, I thought it was a good time to consider the 2014 vintage in California. So, as usual, I asked my loyal Facebook friends, who responded in force. The story is this: short, compressed […]

A writer and his voice

 Mark As Read    

  It’s been six years since I started steveheimoff.com. I had no idea what I was getting into back in those pre-Recession days. But I knew that blogging was something I wanted to do. People sometimes ask me why I started blogging. After all, I already had a pretty good job, was rather well-known in […]

The World Wine Guys on their new book

 Mark As Read    

  Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen, “the World Wine Guys,” have a new book out, Wines of California: The Comprehensive Guide, with a foreward by Michael Mondavi and a preface by Kevin Zraly. It’s quite good, certainly the best of the genre in a long time, and a useful companion for the wine lover’s bookshelf. […]

Thinking about tasting

 Mark As Read    

  Lots of food for thought in the Fall 2014 issue of Wine & Spirits, which is devoted to “The art and science of wine tasting.” There’s so much thoughtful content, I could write a post on each sentence. Surely that’s the mark of a good wine magazine. The fun starts with editor Josh Greene […]

Here comes the Apple’s wine i-Tasting app!

 Mark As Read    

  Tim Cook’s announcement on Tuesday of Apple’s new iTaste © app is exciting, and certainly represents a great leap forward in technology, but I wonder if it will really replace traditional human wine tasters. As you’ve probably heard, the app, which runs on the new Apple Watch, is easy enough to use. You just […]

Tales from the AVA front

 Mark As Read    

  "Democracy,” Winston Churchill told the House of Commons in 1947, “is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." Churchill might still have been sour toward democratic forms of government, given the fact that, two years previously, he had been unceremoniously thrown out […]...

Tuesday twaddle: I moderate a panel and reconnect with a friend

 Mark As Read    

  This Thursday, Sept. 11, Women for Winesense,cwhich hosts events on various topics throughout the year and also provides scholarships for women pursuing careers in wine, is doing a workshop and panel, and they’ve invited me to moderate it. I gladly accepted, for this is a great honor. My six panelists—three mother-and-daughter teams–ar...

A tale of two bars: dives and tasting rooms

 Mark As Read    

  1. Is the dive bar doomed? I have two images in my head of the classic American dive bar. One is from the movies, where so many scenes of intrigue, drama and violence have occurred in them. I think of the Silver Bullet, the bar in Thelma and Louise, for example, with its country […]

Is there a “glass ceiling” when it comes to scoring certain wines? (Hint: yes)

 Mark As Read    

  The blog Gargantuan Wine has an interesting post, “Dark Secrets of the 100 Point Wine Scale,” that identifies a “pair of endemic faults” the author says are not only “shameful” but “which are seemingly never discussed.” Well, never mind that they are constantly discussed, in blogs, newspaper columns and the like. The first “endemic […]

Tales from Content City, or How I Learned to be a Storyteller

 Mark As Read    

  I seem to have established the reputation as someone who knows a thing or two about “content marketing.” We’ll get to a definition of that in a moment, but first, two examples of how that view has attached itself to me. In the last two days, I’ve been invited to participate in events by […]

The embarrassment of the rich when it comes to wine

 Mark As Read    

  While we’re on the subject of Bill Harlan (and we have been lately), you may know that he’s a partner in something called The Napa Valley Reserve, an ultra-high end sort of wine club you have to buy your way into to get the wine. And we’re not talking about a small amount: When […]

The Empire Strikes Back: Laube Takes on IPOB

 Mark As Read    

  Brother Laube comes out swinging against In Pursuit of Balance, in the Sept. 30 issue of Wine Spectator. (Sorry, no link. The Spectator has one of the best firewalls in the business. No subscribe, no read.) I’d been wondering how long it would take him. After all, Jim is famous for giving high scores […]

Emotion, the Bee Gees and Bill Harlan: The power of persuasion

 Mark As Read    

  “It’s just emotion that’s taking me over,” the Bee Gees crooned—emotionally—on their 1978 hit, “Emotion,” a song of unrequited love and the pain it can cause. We all know how powerful emotions can be. If strong enough, they can, and do, overrule reason and common sense, and “take over,” driving their human to perform […]

What makes a winery great?

 Mark As Read    

  I took a rare day off from the blog yesterday, and I know you notice when I do, because I hear from you! Which I’m grateful for. I sometimes refer to my “Thursday Throwaway” and “Friday Fishwrap” posts, because I well know we writers must be appreciative of every individual who reads us—we shouldn’t […]

More on the earthquake

 Mark As Read    

  You’ll have to forgive me for feeling a little philosophical today about our wine industry, but a disaster will do that to you. We still don’t know the full extent of the damage from the big Napa earthquake, and we may never, but the fact is, if you escaped unscathed—as most wineries and wine […]

A tasting at Verité

 Mark As Read    

  Wonderful trip yesterday to Verité, the Jackson Family-owned property that quite frankly is killing it in Bordeaux blends. I’ve been on that opinion at least since I gave the 2006 La Muse a perfect 100 points, their first ever; but not their last, for Robert Parker recently gave no fewer than seven 100-point scores […]

Earthquake rattles nerves, causes extensive damage in Napa area

 Mark As Read    

  The shaking woke me up at exactly 3:19 a.m. early Sunday morning. It woke Gus up, too. I’ve been awakened many times in the middle of the night by earthquakes but Gus never was. The last several years have been remarkably quiet in the Bay Area, enough so that I’ve had several conversations lately […]

When it’s time to kiill off a brand

 Mark As Read    

  When is it time to retire a tired brand? The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Procter & Gamble is thinking of dropping one of its flagship brands, Ivory Soap, as part of an effort “to clear out weaker performers to focus on…brands that account for almost all its revenue and profit.” […]

The changing approaches to wine writing

 Mark As Read    

  I don’t think wine tasting notes are in “big trouble,” as this op-ed piece by Lewis Perdue suggests, but Lewis is correct to point out their inherent subjectivity and overall fuzziness. He’s hardly the first: People have complained about winespeak for generations. “Hocus-pocus,” “the double brusheroo” [love that] and “trying to make things c...

A new winery P.R. website is born

 Mark As Read    

  This is pretty cool—a new blog that addresses “the practice of wine public relations, wine media trends, marketing ethics and news commentary.” Lots of blogs, including mine, have written stuff over the years on these topics, but I don’t know of any blog that is solely dedicated to them. The creators, Tom Wark and […]

A winery digicom manager on his job

 Mark As Read    

  Mark Gordon is senior digital communications manager for La Crema Winery. He oversees all digital media outreach for the company’s various brands, including social media, blogs, and web development and design. He’s also my colleague. I interviewed the 46-year old recently in Healdsburg and began with a tough question. SH: Aren’t you too old ...

Lessons Mayacamas and Inglenook (may) teach us

 Mark As Read    

  I must admit that I find the ongoing industry-wide conversation about ripeness levels to be the most confounding I’ve been involved in, lo these many years. Where did it start, anyway? I suppose it’s been going on for decades, in one form or another. Even before the launch of In Pursuit of Balance, which […]

The last word on single-blind, double-blind and open tasting

 Mark As Read    

  I don’t know that I’ve ever fully laid out, in this blog, my views on the three most common forms of wine tasting: single-blind, double-blind and open. So let me do so. I’ve long argued that no one way of tasting is “right.” Each has its pluses and minuses. If there were one “correct” […]

When sommeliers go wild

 Mark As Read    

  “There is a group of wine directors out there that feel that their mission is to educate the consumer. I think this is a dangerous philosophy. If people want to ask questions, fine; but if you’re going to stand there and proselytize, well, check please.” I didn’t say it: The immortal Fred Dame, M.S. […]

Fake wine? Nothing new

 Mark As Read    

  Everybody’s shocked, shocked about what Rudi Kurwanian did, but faking wine is nothing new. Below is an extract from Cato the Elder (234 BC-149 BC), a Roman statesman, on how to fake Coan wine—a wine that should have been made from grapes grown on the island of Kos, but that, as Cato points out, […]

Terroir in Pinot Noir: an approach, and a problem

 Mark As Read    

  When it comes to coastal California Pinot Noir, we make much of the distinctions of terroir (“we” being the wine media, some winemakers and everyone else involved in this rather arcane conversation). We know the regions we celebrate: Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Carneros, Anderson Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains, Monterey County, San Lui...

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