“Many people now want freedom when they eat — not forced into a composed dish, but instead able to pick and choose from ingredients that are of the highest quality but minimally garnished,” Palmer said. “For dinner they might just want a protein (beef, chicken or fish) prepared simply, served with a side of vegetables with a great bottle of wine. It’s a way of dining that we feel is a perfect match for the Napa Valley.”
When Celebrity Chef Chris Cosentino and partner Oliver Wharton opened St. Helena’s Acacia House in May 2017 expectations were high and they delivered, quickly being listed as one of San Francisco food critic Michael Bauer’s 10 best restaurants of 2017. Less than a year from opening they’ve continued to innovate, refining what it means to be a sophisticated-casual Napa Valley restaurant, part of which appears to include an increasingly plant-based focus.
This year’s Wine of the Year also seems to highlight the changing nature of Wine Spectator itself. With decades of experience and deep wine knowledge, the Spectator appears to be taking a more sentimental view of Napa Valley winemaking, looking to some of the stalwarts and maverick visionaries who with a strong team of smart, hard-working and loyal employees and investors might be recognized for having built something good and solid with their decades of effort.
The fires continue to have a lasting impact, labor is tight, extreme weather is the new normal, competition has increased to dizzyingly high levels and the expectations of consumers have never been greater. The upside has been a redoubling of efforts to increase efficiency, maintain quality and develop innovations.
Those directly affected by these unprecedented events are transitioning from frantic survival mode to grief-stricken cleanup. Emotions remain raw, and a strange amalgam of fear and anxiety have blended with the uncertainty of the future in a manner that seems unbearable at times. It is true that unfathomable challenges exist, but don’t believe those who predict Armageddon for the 2017 vintage or wine country.
Don’t get me wrong: Having money given to charitable causes is often a good thing. Regardless, as the number of events and the competition for auction-goers and donating vintners increases and the amount of money tops multimillions of dollars, many of these events have become businesses in their own right. It may be time to have another look at what is working and what is not.
“They (grizzly bears) were everywhere — upon the plains, in the valleys, and on the mountains, venturing even within the camping-grounds, so that I have often killed as many as five or six in one day, and it was not unusual to see 50 or 60 within the 24 hours.” — George C. Yount from The Hesperian (San Francisco), March 1859.
The world of the future does not look like the world of the past. That is clear. What is less clear is how to maintain a wine that is authentic and genuine to its place and people while staying in business. For those who attempt this with honor and integrity, history will look back at you and smile. I wish you Godspeed.
The man glared, his mouth agape, showing his few remaining teeth, yellow-orange, rotten and teetering at precarious angles, each seemingly ready to join its fallen brethren at any moment. A string of saliva hung from his lips and disappeared into his beard. My lunch was now officially ruined, and I hoped my waiter might come around and escort this vagrant away, but no one seemed to notice my predicament.
However, what happens when Constellation owns all the brands that make wine from Beckstoffer’s To Kalon and then sells it at both modest prices and modest quality? It doesn’t take a marketing genius to figure out that strategy, but it will certainly be interesting to watch. So, who’s next? Tor, is your phone ringing yet? Or, is it Beckstoffer’s that won’t stop ringing? Who blinks first? We will see.
“My grandfather was forced from the country, and he had to find a way to feed his young family, including my father, Walter, who was 3 years old at the time,” Delia said. “All he had was enough for a third-class ticket to the Americas, and he wasn’t sure if he’d go north or south, so he flipped a coin and ended up in Argentina.”
“My grandmother would make a big pot of soup, with beans and rice — so thick you could walk on it — and we’d eat that for the week,” Tognetti said. “Every Sunday, she might kill a chicken or rooster to eat, but that was a big deal for them. They always grew their own grapes and made a little wine, but my grandmother would give my grandfather a hard time if he drank too much.”