Sunday, March 19, 2017

Here and There in the Wine World

by Frank Mangio
2017 is off to a speedy wet start for wine events, like our “atmospheric river” of seasonal rains here on the west coast. Word from the Napa Valley is that flooding is causing great concern for the 2017 vintage. On the bright side, the 6 year drought is done and over with in California .

You have to know the rainy season is getting extreme when rain is in its 3rd week in the Palm Springs desert in Southern California, where I spent time with my close friend Mike Grgich, the pioneer winemaker who created the foundation for Napa Valley wine greatness.
Grgich has been my hero since I began writing on wine in 2005.

Wine columnist Frank Mangio visits with Napa Valley wine pioneer
Mike Grgich and samples his new release 2013 Merlot.

His rise in the 60’s and 70’s as a premier winemaker is well known. This year Grgich and family are celebrating their 40th anniversary  since founding Grgich Hills Estate in the Rutherford district in 1977. His current release 2013 Merlot is one to taste. ($43.)  Consistent sunshine and temperatures  created a complex, excellently balanced wine.  As Grgich determined, “this is a Cabernet lover’s Merlot.”

Croatian born and raised, Grgich and his daughter Violet, established a Croatian winery in 1996, Grgic’ Vina , overlooking the Adriatic Sea at Dubrovnik. See more at

How long can wine last once the cork is opened?
Like many wine topics, this one is subject to a lot of discussion.  Variables abound.  The easy answer is drink it all as soon as it’s opened, preferably with a friend. With a standard .75 ltr. bottle, the rule of thumb is 3 days before the oxygen intrusion begins to turn the taste toward vinegar. Use a pump and stopper to get the air out of the bottle before it accumulates and you can extend the time in a bottle to four days.  If the bottle has a twist cap, you can get a week out of it. Another thing that will help longevity is to keep it in a refrigerator after opening and buy quality wines whose tannins will help preserve its life to a week.

Did you know that one of the foremost Port and Sherry style wineries is in Vista, in San Diego County ?

Eric Brooking took us back to pre-prohibition days in the city of Vista and other North San Diego hubs that were making wine, especially fortified wine.  With a climate and topography that was distinctly Mediterranean and looked for all the world like a hillside in Portugal , some 120
wineries were producing  fortified wine before Prohibition.  When that hideous law swept across America , most of the wineries in San Diego County were wiped out and swept into the history books.

 Brooking Vineyards in Vista is an oasis of top quality Cream Sherry and Port style
wines, one of which, the Old Fashioned Angelica,
won gold at the San Diego 
County Fair.

Eric Brooking and his family survived and mastered the technique of fortification, where grapes grown in a warm Mediterranean climate like Vista , were fermented and interrupted by the addition of grape brandy, retaining the natural sugars. The grapes used are Tempranillos, those used in Portugal and Spain , generic homes for Sherry and Port.  He also makes Muscat Canelli Angelica on his 6 acre estate. Wines are $49. per bottle. See

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