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Santa Barbara, Santa Claus, and the CWAS Exam

I feel like I've gone full circle: the first vineyard I've ever been to was in Santa Barbara. Here I am with the last class of the California Wine Appellation Specialist program studying the same sub-region, along with the weird loose ends like wines from Los Angeles county, whose appellations all seem to have "Malibu" tacked somewhere in their place names. It's odd that I consider the end of a course dramatic enough to something that completes a full circle, but I said it once and I'll say it again: school is bae. Already looking into more courses, you guys. God damn, tuition. What the fuck is a savings account? If the gayest wines are rosés and Champagnes, it follows that I should probably sign...

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On Sonoma and my 4th Wine Bloggers Conference

I vigorously decided not to attend the Wine Bloggers Conference this year (in Santa Rosa) until the very last minute. Why not go? I live in San Francisco, and the theme for the previous Tuesday's California Wine Appellation Specialist class was, well, Sonoma. A sign. Even though I missed all the early bird discounts, I decided that I would be absolutely insane not to attend. After some nudges from fellow wine attendees and comforting caresses to my bank account, I clutched the part of my chest that encased my liver and headed up. I can't believe it's already been my fourth year! I still remember my first, which brought me to the relatively nearby Santa Barbara region after I earned a scholarship to attend. What a blast,...

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Napa’s 2017

Napa. Its seemingly daunting wine is made up of relatively simply shaped sub-regions. The clean-cut sixteen seem well-fit into a geographical puzzle compared to the overlapping Russian nesting doll appellations of every other region in California, and I am 100% here for that. I finally ended last week's mental tug-of-war on whether or not to attend the Wine Bloggers Conference in neighbouring Santa Rosa, and I've decided to go but with as much cost-cutting as possible. Though it was super fun, one of the most interesting sessions was the discussion on the recent wine country fires: the panel included George Rose, photographer; Patsy McGaughy, of Napa Valley Vintners; and Pierre Bierbent, winemaker of Signorello Estates. The descriptions and statistics of the damage were heartbreaking, including 75,000 total acres burned and 652 homes...

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“Backroads of California”

I can't believe I even made it to this masterclass, because tickets to these GuildSomm events usually sell out quicker than it takes today's somm to name their favourite natural wine producer. Then again, I guess it's a California-themed one held in, well, California, so perhaps everyone else in this city is just more familiar with these tipples. I've lived here for around a year, so a masterclass titled "Backroads of California" implies that the theme is the vinous road less travelled - but considering this state was a quasi-neglected region during my WSET diploma studies, you could imagine how badly this information stuck. That being said, our presenter, Kelli White - author of Napa Valley Then & Now - was a fantastic guide who eventually tipped the scale in my mind...

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Aesop’s wines aren’t fables

I just asked an artist whether or not deadlines interfered with his creative process. His response was that it did a little, but the only thing I can confirm is that I suck at giving myself writing deadlines, and that the thought of deadlines often smothers any inkling of inspiration. Also: I'm not an artist. A stroke of lucky meetings led me to samples of Aesop, whose wines are so limited that the locales in which it's offered can be counted on one jittery hand. One half of Aesop is a designer, and the other half is a winemaker. It's odd how cleanly this translates to the wines, whose impressions of creativity can be both experienced by both the eye and the tongue. Are they called...

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Sissy That Wine: Trixie Mattel and Katya

My current journey has led me to San Francisco's tech world, where the constant and profuse flow of genius rarely wanes. This city has drilled its tech life into me so viciously that I regretfully find myself trying to turn every non-work situation into a slightly more productive one. Did I buy a bottle of Dolcetto to enjoy before going to see Trixie Mattel's drag show, only to force myself to write a detailed draft blog post on the grape? Possibly. Did I hand out two sets of business cards to four people I met in line for Katya's drag show? Maybe. Did I use the 60 seconds I had, meeting Trixie and Katya, to ask what their favourite wines were? A strong and unabashed "perhaps". Thusly, enter: drag queens...

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On Vinebox and vials

What entices me about wine startup Vinebox is their potential solution to my half-concerns on purchasing full bottles of wine. (I get that you might be scoffing - not at the their idea, but at the notion that I have genuine concerns about sipping every last drop out of a bottle like a greedy sink drain.) The concept is simple: Vinebox sends you a flight of three wines they've sourced from different producers, catered to the wine colour of your preference and the kind of wine drinker you are - "adventurous", "classic", or "newcomer" - that way, you can have your own alcoholic Dating Game experience and possibly re-order the ones that tickled your fancy in all of their tubular glory, since the leading facet appears in the form of a patented...

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Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri 2017: Franciacorta, the other other other sparkling wine

I've always been a bubbly enthusiast - bar the brief phase as a neophyte, vehemently denouncing the region of Champagne out of myopic unfamiliarity ("why would you pay hundreds of dollars for sparkling bread water?!") - but for some reason the ember has recently been amplified for at least a modicum of time. It struck me as a bit odd, since the grandes marques of the wine world are the opposite of the dark horses I like to champion, but I've popped open a bottle of Piper-Heidsieck's non-vintaged brut (it was on sale, obviously), as I pound away at a daunting spreadsheet covering what I've deemed are the 70-or-so most important Champagne houses, everything down to oak regimes, house styles, or whether or not they were fucked over during an acquisition. Fascination...

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Getting Harney in Lodi

After the magic that was Acquiesce (everything's magic after ingesting wine but the wines were good), our pre-excursion group meandered to the Lizzy James vineyard, sipped some Zin, and then went to Harney Lane winery. I remember how distracted I get in vineyards, simultaneously trying to soak in all the personal stories and vineyard information while trying to find refuge for my naked round head. Sunscreen's a no-no since it fucks with everyone's nasal cavity, and so is eucalypt-scented shaving cream, where in specific cases I've made people sniff my fresh head at tastings just to make sure I've done no sin. I attempted to kneel behind someone's outrageously large clown hat. My "I'm actually here!" montage lasted longer during my...

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The time has come for you to lip-sting for… your… life.

I imagine that the Venn diagram representing the overlapping sets of people who are familiar with Picpoul and people who watch RuPaul's Drag Race is smaller than those who drink Prosecco and watch the Bachelor, but if you happen to find yourself in the middle of this precious diagram, we need to be best friends immediately. One half of said diagram would be able to tell you that Picpoul is the southern French grape that can release lemony power and body, and therefore purportedly translates to "lip-stinger"; the other half of the diagram would be able to tell you that the premiere to RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars season 2 was amazing. I did not drink Picpoul that night but instead watched the episode at a bar...

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