Filtering by Tag: Wine

The Beginning of the Naples Daily News Column

For the past few years I have written a bi-weekly wine column in the Fort Myers News-Press, but now I have moved south where I write a weekly column about wine for the Naples Daily News. In early June I wrote the following introduction:

There is no place in the world that can compete with Naples in terms of its wine scene.

I once owned a wine shop in a midwestern town where I never met a winemaker, saw a salesperson only occasionally, and was thrilled if they ever brought a sample bottle. 

My first day selling wine in Florida I had a bag of six sample bottles and their creator, Napa winemaker Bob Broman in the car with me. 

“This,” I thought, “is where I need to be.” 

And now, eight years later, I get to write about it for the Naples Daily News. 

This is the first of what will be a weekly column featuring everything about wine. I will talk grapes, regions, business, events, personalities, history, and most importantly taste.  Before I expect you to take my word on anything wine related, let me tell you a bit about myself.

Professionally I began as a TV news reporter and anchor in Quincy, Illinois where I befriended a wonderful French woman whose wine shop became my second home. She and her husband were responsible for shaping my 20-something appreciation for the culture and history of wine as my taste gradually progressed from Riesling to Barolo. 

I left TV news to go to Italy and earn a master’s degree in communication from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. I studied the history, culture, economics and evolution of traditional food products. My wine professor was Jancis Robinson. It was my favorite subject.

After that glorious year I returned to the US to begin my freelance writing career. Starting over always takes a while, so I picked up a wine sales job which was an education in itself. Driving up and down US 41, I learned volumes about the business of this most romanticized commodity. I chatted about winemaking with dozens of international winemakers, brainstormed pricing strategies with importers, and crafted wine lists with restaurant entrepreneurs. Of course, I tasted thousands of wines. 

It’s said that one learns by doing, and that’s what I did; but I am by no means finished learning. In this column I will take readers on a journey of discovery about wine that will not intimidate the newbie, nor bore the aficionado. 

I welcome comments and questions at juliewriteswine@gmail.com. you can see more of my writing at www.julieglenn.com, and can connect with me on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Julie-Glenn/154259314643131) and on twitter @mouthfeeler.

Al Fresco at Concannon

Reserve Viognier at Concannon's Picnic Yard

Reserve Viognier at Concannon's Picnic Yard

One nice thing about California wine regions that are *not* Napa Valley is this: it is a hundred times more laid back and it is a thousand times less expensive. I love Napa, don't get me wrong. But sometimes I wonder if I'm going to be charged a tasting fee for breathing the rarified air of the valley. I know it's a business, and pouring rivers of wine down tourists gullets is not the way it is any more now that Napa is, well, Napa. So it is a welcome relief to my price-conscious wine-loving self to venture afield to places like Livermore.  

About a forty minute drive from San Francisco and maybe twenty minutes or less from anywhere in the East Bay you'll find Livermore along I-580 with its rather ugly name but a town full of people who could care less bustling around on First Street. There are dozens of little independent shops and restaurants and a super-festive Thursday night farmer's market complete with local wines to taste.

Make your way to Tesla Road and you'll be treated to a convenient collection of wineries with open tasting rooms. The big players are Wente and Concannon, both founded by local families way back in the day. There are smaller wineries, too, many of which sell only directly to consumers. This means they don't distribute their wines around the country- they'll ship to you- but you buy direct from them.

My favorite thing to do these days is pack a picnic and head to Concannon. I've fallen in love with their reserve Viognier- and for the retail price of that bottle I get to sit among the old vines and perfectly manicured grounds. They provide the glasses and offer to open the bottle and everything. It is just the cheapest, most glorious way to spend a Friday afternoon.  

Picnic at Concannon

Picnic at Concannon

Mouthfeel, by Julie Glenn