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Life is Cabernet

Bring on the Bubbly

Written by Mike Stepanovich

The wonderful myth about Champagne’s origins goes something like this: Crusty old Dom Pierre Pérignon, a late 17th century-early 18th century Benedictine monk, was experimenting with “re-fermentation” at his abbey in Hautvillers, a village just north of Epernay in the French province of Champagne...

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A Beautiful Chemistry

Written by Mike Stepanovich

We can thank Robert Mondavi for Ancient Peaks Winery. The late California wine icon took one look at the varied soils of Santa Margarita Ranch and knew he’d stumbled onto one of the next great vineyards in California...

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It’s No Surprise

Written by Mike Stepanovich

It began 40 years ago as a retirement project. Today, Jack and Dolores Cakebread’s little venture has become a Napa Valley icon. Make that an American wine icon: in 2011 Cakebread Cellars was the No. 1 restaurant wine in America.

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It's Not Just A Cork

Written by Mike Stepanovich

Robb Talbott has had it. The owner of Talbott Vineyards in Monterey County blew his cork recently when the topic of screw caps came up...

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No Bones About It

Written by Mike Stepanovich

Rob and Paula Campbell-Taylor hadn’t lived long at their ranch that would become Graveyard Vineyards when Paula got a phone call from a neighbor...

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The Right Place

Written by Mike Stepanovich

Martin and Patti Croad never intended to become vintners. In fact, when they found what would become their winery property, they were actually looking for a place to escape for a week or a weekend...

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Taste of Tranquility

Written by Mike Stepanovich

Skylar Stuck pulled the well-used Kawasaki Mule under a massive oak tree with a magnificent view south of Halter Ranch Vineyard’s 280 acres of vines, and switched off the motor...

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Artistry in a Glass

Written by Mike Stepanovich


Craig Jaffurs sensed he was in trouble. His father-in-law was not pleased with him. Craig and his wife, Lee, were new parents, and Craig was planning to chuck his 17-year career as an aerospace cost analyst for the Defense Department to open a winery. A winery, for crying out loud! Had he lost his mind?

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A Wine For All Seasons

Written by Mike Stepanovich


You say pinot gris, I say pinot grigio. Whatever you call it, if what my panel tasted at the recent Florida International Wine Competition is any indication, pinot gris/grigio may be going down the same path chardonnay did some years ago. In my view, that’s not a good sign...

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The French Connection

Written by Mike Stepanovich


Poor sauvignon blanc. We just can’t seem to decide how this crisp white wine should taste.

I’m reminded of an old ditty by the comic British duo of Michael Flanders and Donald Swann called “Misalliance,” about a couple of plants whose offspring can’t figure out which way to grow: “Left, right, what a disgrace!

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