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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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Gay wine culture: the uncontrollable urge to pair Arroyo Grande wines with Ariana Grande

The stroke of December leads to the dawn of pregnant holiday plans which I've decided to not spend in Vancouver for the first time. Christmas, the first of my big two, has passed - and I planned for the Eve to be a quiet one, and it was legitimately fantastic. Why don't I roast vegetables more often, while listening to Ariana Grande's Christmas music, and then watch episodes of Grand Hotel while sipping Crémant? I spent the 25th at a friend's, a polar opposite yang to the previous night's yin. Ever watch someone combine your Premier Cru Champagne with Korbel, but then have your cringe melt into a shrug because it's Christmas? Yeah. And then the other holiday evenings. Y'all. One night involved all of attending the...

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Putting the Rain in Monterey’s Thermal Rainbow

It's a partial shame that I was in the USA for Canadian Thanksgiving and in Canada for American Thanksgiving. I didn't get my fill of holiday food - and I'm not headed back to Canada for the big holiday extravaganza (much to the discontent of my colleagues and family) - so I'll have to make do, and I'm not mad at that. Huzzah! Maybe my mind will change (it won't), but nothing sounds better than eating take-out, drinking an entire bottle of Champagne, and binge-watching feel-good movies. But yes, Canada: I'm perpetually unafraid of rocking my combination of short overalls and thick plaid jacket, but I was greeted with all of Vancouver's rain: I realized my mistake during my ride-share to the San Francisco airport....

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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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Mendocino’s medicine-o

What terrible timing it was for the recent fires in California to start wreaking havoc around the same time as I started the California Wine Appellation Specialist course. It's so unfortunate that a recent masterclass helped surge personal interest in a wine region that went relatively ignored during my WSET diploma studies, only for the terrible news to ensue. I hope that by learning more about the region I'm doing a part to support them - and thusly I may also retract my decision to not attend this year's Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa? Sigh. We'll see. Testing my just-in-time schedule, I rushed out of the door from work to make it to class, being the last of the group that was on time,...

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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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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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Souzãoberry Fields Forever: hang time with Portuguese grapes in Lodi

Of the mad scientist-viticulturist laboratory that is Lodi, California, we've touched upon southern French varieties; grapes classically grown in cooler areas of Europe like Germany and Austria; and Lodian odes to Spanish wines. We reached the part of the conference where we would end up on one of twenty-or-so different excursions - and to complete the circle of a trip, or at least extend the semi-circle or whatever - I eventually decided to go on the excursion that hinted at a visit to a winery with a heavy lean towards Portuguese grape varieties. What the fuck is Souzão, anyways? Let's whip out a tome and read the following paragraph in our Jancis voices. (She is, by the way, in the running for being my...

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Is it too late now to say Syrah-ry?

I have a substantial place in my heart for New World Syrah. Though my favourite is probably British Columbia's Nichol, My first (legal) bottle was the 2007 vintage of BC's Burrowing Owl - a 19th birthday gift from my best friend, and a winery from BC whose wines have the tendency to puff their chests across grape varieties. Like, yeah, we get it - your Pinot is weirdly thick and you have Freudian tannins. Anyways: a American Syrah seminar at a Rhone Rangers tasting in Presidio, San Francisco (feat. Arizona!). I remember zoning out for a split second only to come back to my senses when a winemaker made a joke about pH levels and the entire room burst out in laughter. Is this heaven or hell? The seminar was...

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24 wines for turning 24

This post serves two purposes: a sincere smile-and-nod to the 23rd year of my life, and a spring cleaning wine dump of, coincidentally, a number of bottles that equals the number of anniversaries since I was pushed out of my mother. Alas. The past prime number of a year has been good to me, and I'm stoked for the next. Beyond this whole becoming-an-adult thing, I've done many things including completing the WSET Diploma (i hate to keep mentioning about it - but perhaps the youngest in BC to do so!), changing jobs, travelling to New York, travelling to France, travelling to Spain, and other things that would probably be best not to put on the internet. Heh. And home. Oh God - connecting to your...

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