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Celebrating the joy of wine and the joy of living a life of Introspection and Inquiry.

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Until then, here are the latest musings from our fearless leader, CJ Callen…

WineSong: Pinot Powered Good

Last week trekked to Mendocino with my dear colleague Cailan to pour at the annual WineSong charity auction. I have always known wine is good but it was great seeing it be used for good.

We had a blast pouring for Lambert Bridge Winery during Saturday’s Grand Tasting in the Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg.  With its cool climate, Mendo is perfect for Pinot and so there was a lot of Pinot pouring. I got a chance to taste some terrific Pinot from Waits-Mast Family Cellars, which I highly recommend. My taste of the Oppenlander Vineyard was hauntingly beautiful. We ...

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I Paid Retail and it was Worth it!

I work in retail. I don’t pay retail! Well, not usually but it was not a usual set of circumstances.

Monday night, I decided I’m going to join the wine club of Bay Grape because it’s such a wonderful shop and community gathering place. It looked like it was sold out and I’d have to wait a month but I sent an email anyway. Tuesday afternoon, I heard back from Stevie, one half of the owner-couple, that there were 3 left and it was a first-come, first-served deal. I was the first to snag one.

I ran home from work ...

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A Scandalous Wine Tasting!

“I heard the call, “Go East, Birthday Girl!” So I did.

First stop, the not at all scandalous tasting, which was wickedly good. I sat on a stool at Broc Cellars in Berkeley and had a leisurely, dare-I-say, mindful tasting of wine.  Took home a Valdiguié (can you say the Gamay of Napa?) and a Vine Starr Zinfandel (thinking ahead about Labor Day BBQ) . 

By the way, I was out of usual tasting mode and swallowed – it was a wine drinking day and a fine one at that.

Second stop, happy birthday to Bay Grape! I had to ...

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In the Heat of the Taste: A Weekend in Italy (by way of Berkeley)

Heat wave, woo hoo! Yes, I love warm weather but live in a city that rarely tops 65 degrees. Saturday, it was warm across the Bay and I headed east to taste an Italian flight at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants. When I arrived I saw a gentleman with a wine sack. “What did you buy?” I inquired. He then pulled out a White that he could only find at the Spanish Table as well as a 2001 gran reserva Rioja. He was beaming.

I was a little early so I stepped into the shop and decided it was a good ...

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Fun in Napa Followed by Fears of the “Wine Police”

Last week I had an urban wine experience in the most unexpected of places: Napa. This was  my first trip to the Crusher District in Napa where I attended a tasting hosted by the Wine Foundry, a full service shop where you can make/sell/buy/custom label wine. Does anyone remember Crushpad? The Wine Foundry is seriously in the production business, offering its services to novices and established winemakers alike. And they know how to throw a good party complete with disco ball (a stroke of genius to add the perfect bit of whimsy)!

I had a good time and tasted wines ...

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HAPPY: On Bottling Bliss in Berkeley

On Tuesday I –the proverbial “not a morning person” — got up at 5:50 am to head to Berkeley to hit the bottling line at 8 am at Donkey & Goat winery in Berkeley, California. Much gratitude to nearby Philz coffee and Donut Dolly for helping me fuel up a little after 7 am. Without your great food and drink I might have fallen asleep into the machine and end up bottled myself. I arrived and saw the “On Site Mobile Wine Bottlers” truck on the lot – what a great service for small wineries. The taglines says it all: ...

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Battling with the Brix

The line-up of our gracious host, Campovida.

“Oh please, oh please, oh please.” That was the tagline to my Facebook post asking friends to join me at a Rhone wine tasting event last Saturday in Oakland at Campovida Wines. It worked! I had a tasting companion who made the event all the more enjoyable. This was a North Coast Rhone Rangers’ event – that’s a regional chapter of the national group Rhone Rangers, as you would imagine. And we tasted all that you would imagine at such an event: Syrah Grenache, Mouvedre, Viognier, etc. BTW, of the 22 traditional grape ...

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When it’s been a BAD Week, Should You Open the GOOD stuff?

That was my dilemma during a particularly bad week I March when I had 3 bits of bad news. My friends were so kind; they lent their support and reminded me that things come in threes. unfortunately, then came the fourth blow – and most devastating one. I had to face dishonestly, deceit, disrespect, and outright cruelty.

But this is a wine blog and so back to the subject of what to do wine wise when the world throws you lemons. You can’t make wine with them. Part of me felt so low I was tempted to go to Trader ...

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You Like It “Lean & Mean”? Ode to Old-School Pinot Noir.

One day a wine merchant said that it sounded like I preferred that “lean” style of Pinot Noir. Hmmm, I did not know that it came in a “fat” version at that time. Since then, I have learned about the modern clones that produce that cola-cherry flavor, which, quite frankly, does not taste like Pinot to me. I tried one recently and on the nose was stung by the strong scent of over-ripe fruit; to no surprise, my palate was not pleased when it met this Pinot – someone later extolled its virtues to me because they love how “big” ...

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Week 22: I’m Back! And Wanna Know, Does Your Neighborhood Wine Bar Matter?

I am not one for wine bar bashing. Yes, there are more than a few. The Trick is finding the one (or two) that you can call home. What are you looking for in a wine bar that would make you want to come back again and again?

  • I am looking for a place to lounge – that means it needs to comfortable and I need not to be hurried. Remember, I believe in mindfulness in eating and drinking.
  • I am looking for a place with an interesting selection of wines. It does not have to be the largest collection

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