The WineSpeed Blog


“Meredith Estate” Pinot Noir 2016

(Russian River Valley, California) $80

Merry Edwards, one of the pioneering women of the modern California wine industry, has made California pinot noir for more than four decades. At this point, she is so highly attuned to pinot’s wondrous but irascible spirit, that she draws out a stunning range of nuances. Tasting her Meredith Estate, I felt like I was hearing pinot noir’s “music” in a whole new vivid way. Every note was pure, vibrating, and full of energy. The wine starts out with sexy earthy aromas then moves to something foresty, spicy, and primordial. At the same time, the flavors burst open in waves of blue and red fruits. The beauty and length of this wine are astonishing and deeply satisfying. If you love pinot noir, this is a wine you must give yourself. (14.5% abv)

95 points KM

Available at

Sex in the Vineyards

Right now in the Napa Valley where I live, there’s a lot of sex in the vineyards. Strictly between the vines, of course. Cultivated vines are hermaphroditic (the reproductive organs of both sexes are simultaneously present). Thus, come spring, grapevines pollinate themselves. But only if the moment is right. Grapevines, as it turns out, are rather particular. Too much wind? Forget it. A little chill in the air? The grapevines get a headache. Rain? May as well be a cold shower. Only when it’s calm, peaceful, and perfectly warm will grapevines procreate. The tender process is called flowering and indeed, if all goes well, tiny white flowers will result. With time, these tiny white flowers will become clusters of grapes. But if circumstances go awry and no flowers appear, there will be no grapes. (Sorry, buddy.)

A. Department of Agriculture

B. Department of the Treasury

C. Department of Commerce

D. Department of the Interior


One of the Bureaus within the U.S. Department of the Treasury called The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) establishes AVAs. This governing body is also in charge of regulating the production of alcohol and its labeling, advertising, importation, and distribution, among other tasks. There are now 242 AVAs in the U.S.

Making great pinot noir is like being a chef. Making great chardonnay is like being a pastry chef—the margin for error is very small.”

—Josh Bergström, manager and winemaker, Bergstöm Wines, Willamette Valley, Oregon (Bergström is known for its stellar chardonnay, “Sigrid.”)

Massale Selection

An ancient method (literally “mass selection”) of establishing a new vineyard or replanting an old one by selecting numerous older vines throughout an existing vineyard, then propagating and planting them. Mass selection can help to maintain the style of the wine from a particular vineyard. The opposite of massale selection is to replant a vineyard using specific clones from a nursery.

Biodynamics—Old Techniques for a New Era


By Amanda McCrossin

What was once an unusual, alternative method to farming here in the U.S. and only found at a handful of obscure, environmentally conscious wineries, is now very much becoming commonplace. Biodynamic farming has permeated some of the most heralded and high-end wineries in Napa Valley and probably for good reason. The philosophy of biodynamics stems from the studies, teachings, and writings of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner and promotes the fostering of “a diverse biosphere.” Simply put, biodynamics in many ways is an extension of organic farming practices in which no chemicals are used to treat the grapevines, but it furthers the doctrine to promote the treatment of the ecosystem as a whole rather than it’s various components. As a result, wineries that farm biodynamically are more likely to have animals (such as chickens, goats, sheep, and bees) and an abundance of other plants and species on property in order to promote biodiversity, natural fertilization, and disease treatment with substances born from the property (i.e. manure, plant teas, compost, etc.). The philosophy also incorporates a calendar that follows the lunar cycle as well as some spiritual elements, though some wineries don’t subscribe to the latter. Migrating to biodynamic isn’t the easiest, or most cost effective, but it does generally mean that the land as a whole will be healthier. Healthy Ecosystem = Healthier vines = Better Wine 🍷

I’m loving visiting these wineries/vineyards probably more than any others right now, and with so many more adopting the practice every year, you’ll have many to choose from.

Featured in this video is Rudd Estate in Oakville & Eisele Vineyards in Calistoga. Eisele represents the first high-end vineyard to move to biodynamics in Napa Valley and has been certified by Demeter since the early 2000’s. Rudd Estate in Oakville began migrating to Biodynamics under the helm of Viticulturist Macy Stubstad and has been fully biodynamic since 2012. Rudd, like many other wineries, has not sought the Demeter certification, as the strict mandates of the process don’t allow for any fluidity in the protocol. The 501 Spray seen being prepared and sprayed in this video is standard practice for Biodynamic vineyards and done several times a year. The liquid is a combination of water and a small amount of powdered silica horn that is mixed for an hour to create a vortex. Every minute the direction of the vortex is changed which is called “chaotic flow.” This process is known as Dynamizing.

A Solution to Climate Change? Wine.

Attention all wine-sipping Royal watchers. Prince Charles now drives a sports car fueled entirely by a white-wine-based biofuel. (Naturally, only English wine is allowed). Charles’ practice is part of the British Royal Family’s determination to find eco-friendly alternatives to gasoline for their vehicles. When the Prince asked engineers at Aston Martin to transform his Volante DB6 into a wine-guzzling automobile, they were skeptical. “The engineers at Aston said, ‘Oh, it’ll ruin the whole thing,’” Prince Charles reported. “I said, ‘Well I won’t drive it then.’ So, they got on with it, and now they admit that the car runs better and is more powerful than it was on petrol.” While “wine stations” may not replace gas stations anytime soon, we like where this innovation is going. But wait—there’s more good news: according to Prince Charles, driving a wine-powered car “smells delicious as you’re driving along.” (SRM)


Number of years the Shooting Star Saloon in Huntsville, Utah, has been open, making it the longest continuously operating bar west of the Mississippi River. Visitors to this historic watering hole have written their names and notes on dollar bills which now cover the ceiling of the bar. The value of those bills is reported to be worth over $14,000.


Average amount (in U.S. dollars) spent on alcohol by New York City residents over their lifetimes.  The organization recently completed a study looking at how much money people spend on wine, beer, and spirits. Residents of New York City, Minneapolis, and Miami spend the most. Residents of Birmingham, New Orleans, and Memphis spend the least.


Number of wine books, manuscripts, maps, and other written materials on wine in the University of California, Davis’ library, which includes a Special Collections department with rare manuscripts on wine dating back to 1287.  The Davis library’s wine collection (which is open to the public) includes works in over 50 languages and is considered one of the most extensive collections on wine in the world.

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