Santa Rosa’s Wednesday Night Market

We have found that the toughest times on a wine tasting trip are the hours after wine tasting and before dinner.  You’ve come back to your hotel from your last winery of the day, maybe gone for swim, freshened up…and now what?  On other types of vacations, you’d find a nice lounge and have a pre-dinner drink.  But you’ve been sipping wine all day and you’ll possibly have some more with your meal, so more alcohol at this point is not a good idea.  A little shopping in Sonoma, Yountville, Healdsburg or St. Helena would be nice but the stores are all closed.  Where to go?  What to do?

If you are in or around Santa Rosa on a Wednesday evening in warm weather, here’s a suggestion: the Wednesday Night Market on 4th Street near Courthouse Square.  If you’d like to spend a little time getting to know the local populace and not just hanging out with wine snobs, come on down.  There’s a high chance that you’ll be rubbing shoulders with the same people who farmed the grapes and made the wine that you were sampling all day.  They’re out to buy things they need, listen to some music, party a bit and generally enjoy themselves.  You can join them.

The Wednesday Night Market is actually a street fair and a farmer’s market mixed together.  It’s a long row of little tents where vendors sell food, drinks, crafts, art, knickknacks, household services and, most particularly local produce.  Scattered among the booths are music venues, leaning heavily to country & western and Mexicana.  People use the term “dancing in the streets” to imply joyous celebration, so on these summer evenings you can come be a part of it.  There are also many children’s activities, which for some wine tasting visitors may solve yet another problem.

You can enjoy an ambulatory meal of local specialties, mostly Mexican-inspired, like tacos and grilled turkey legs.  Of course, the usual hot dogs and pizza are available too.  (The food at the numerous street fairs in New York City are more Italian-flavored.  We didn’t see any calzones or zeppoles in Santa Rosa).  There are little terraces where you can sample Sonoma County wines, which you have probably been doing all day anyway, or chug a cold beer on a hot night.

santa _rosa_market

Photo courtesy of the Rincon Valley blog

The best of the best of the Santa Rosa street market is the produce.  In case you had forgotten, you will immediately remember that California is the fruit basket of the United States.  Go from one stall to another and vendors will offer you samples: peaches, plums, radishes, strawberries, carrots, cherries, melons and tomatoes.  Oh, the fruits and vegetables of summer in California!  Everything is fresh, colorful and bursting with flavor.


Photo courtesy of KQED

You, or at least most of you, don’t live in or near Santa Rosa, so what are you going to do with anything you buy?  Hopefully you have a refrigerator at your disposal at your hotel, so your purchases will last a few days.  Even so, your mouth will be bigger than your belly.  So what?  Of course, it’s always a shame to throw away food but the prices at the Wednesday Night Market are so low, especially with regard to the quality you get, that we’re probably talking about less than you paid during the day for a tasting at a single winery.  So get yourself peaches or strawberries that you’ll remember forever.

In 2017, the market will occur on Wednesday nights from 5:00 to 8:30, from May 3 to August 16.  Enjoy!

Chimney Rock Winery

Chimney Rock is nestled in the heart of Napa Valley’s Stags Leap district, but it would feel right at home in Sonoma County as well.  It’s a welcoming sort of place, pretty but not overly grandiose, where the wine is first rate and the servers are real educators – unless there is a heavy weekend crush. We recommend you visit Chimney Rock while in Napa Valley but do so on a weekday if you can.

The building looks like a cute Dutch cottage, veering to the point of cutesy.  Still, it doesn’t look much like anything anywhere else in Wine Country, South Africa excluded.  It certainly isn’t overwhelming, inside or out.  The interior contains a U-shaped bar that can get rather crowded at times.  There are also tastings held on the terrace, which isn’t particularly ornate, either.  All of which is to say that Chimney Rock is nicely appointed and cozy.

IMG_2400 (3)

Tastings are not inexpensive, starting at $50 for a simple stand-up tasting at the bar.  They can be special enough that the fee is worth it.  More than anything else, we have found that the term “Wine Educator” on the servers’ badges is well earned.  Now, this is not universally the case.  A young person pouring on a weekend doesn’t have the knowledge or communication skills of someone with some grey hair on a normal weekday.  So, choose carefully where you stand at the bar and if you’re not getting the answers you want, move over a bit.


The wines you will be served fall into two categories: Cabernet Sauvignon and other.  Your server will probably start you off with what they call Elevage Blanc, which is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and the rarely encountered Sauvignon Gris.  It’s pleasant, maybe more than pleasant, but it’s not the reason to visit Chimney Rock; the reds are the stars of the show.

While Chimney Rock makes several single vineyard wines, you are most likely to be served their 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and their Elevage, which is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot (no Malbec, just to say they have all five Bordeaux grapes).  Often, you have the chance to taste a short vertical of either label or both.  Just such a tasting as this, even without explanation, is a real education and with the expertise of the Wine Educator added can make for a unique wine tasting experience.

Chimney Rock wines tend to get very high marks from the rating magazines, so be prepared to sip some beverages that experts (whatever that means) think highly of.  Also, alas be prepared to spend a lot if you want to buy a few bottles.  To that extent, Chimney Rock is very Napa Valley.

Chimney Rock Winery is owned by the Terlato Wine Group, so you might also get a chance to taste some wines under the Terlato label.  In our opinion, these are also rather god but not quite up to the Chimney Rock-branded wines.  If you engage your Wine Educator with knowledgeable questions, you’ll probably also be treated to some other specials that they keep below the bar.

Some wineries, in both Napa Valley and Sonoma County, play up the architecture, the views, food pairings and other non-wine experiences.  A visit to Chimney Rock is all about the wines.

Jordan Winery

Jordan Winery is located between the Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys in Sonoma County.  Even though it’s a Sonoma winery, it has the feel (and the wines) of the Napa Valley.  The building itself is intended to resemble a grand French chateau, although there’s a lot of reminiscence of an English manor house as well.  The story (apocryphal or not) is that Thomas Jordan wanted to buy a great Bordeaux chateau and finding that none were for sale, decided to build one in California instead.  If anything could be called a Napa Palace, this is it, but it’s in Sonoma.  It awes but somehow doesn’t overwhelm the visitor.



The Jordan Winery (Photo courtesy of Jordan Winery)

Since the winery opened in 1979, the only wines made for general sale have been Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.  How Napa-fied is that?  (There is also a true Champagne made in France under the Jordan label, but that doesn’t count.)

The wine tasting experience lives up to the grandeur of the building.  There are only seated tastings in library, which may also be combined with tours of the winery and of the entire estate.  We suppose Jordan might take a walk-in if there were space available, but we wouldn’t advise risking it as here are rarely any open places.  We have taken many tours of many winemaking facilities and they all blend together in our memories, but this one is special, if only for the history of the building and the grounds.  Yes, it’s definitely California but it all has a very French feel to it.

After touring the property, you are ushered into an anteroom to the library.  Your hosts (it’s unfair to call them simply servers) pour a little something to get you in the mood, an aperitif so to speak.  It’s usually a glass of Chardonnay, but we have also had a sip of some rare wine that was made years before, just for members.  The room is as luxurious as you might imagine a chateau to be, all honey-colored wood, shelves, oriental carpets and exquisite knickknacks.  Jordan has deservedly built quite a reputation for their wines, so the preliminary tastes are no disappointment.


Finally, you are led into the library, with a long table set with dishes of savories to accompany the main event, the Cabernet Sauvignons.  The host explains what you are drinking as you sip.  There will always be a few recent releases, topped off with an older selection.  If you’re lucky, they’ll find a dessert wine that was only made in such-and-such a year.  You will be impressed.  That’s the whole idea.

Frankly, we are not fans of the overblown architecture and fancy airs that can be found at some wineries that make higher priced wines.  It’s a matter of taste, but that’s not our taste.  We have visited real Bordeaux chateaux and Jordan, if artificial, manages to emulate and honor the French tradition within a California setting.  After almost 40 years, it’s no longer fake French but rather it’s real California.  Grace, beauty and good wine are always in season, no matter the venue.

Visiting Napa/Noma in January

We’re often asked “What time of year is best to visit Napa and Sonoma?”.  We always answer that it doesn’t matter, that there are pluses and minuses whatever time of year you go there.  With this issue, Power Tasting initiates an occasional series that will try to capture the essence of each of month of the year in California’s foremost wine making regions.  It’s still a good idea to go whenever your calendar allows, but some months might fit your tastes better than others.

One way in which Napa Valley and Sonoma County are alike is the weather.  It’s not going to rain on one side of the mountain and be sunny on the other.  And in both regions, all year long, you are likely to observe the same strange weather phenomenon: no matter the season, days begin cold, humid and grey.  Then at mid-morning, in  a period of 15 minutes or so, the clouds part, the sun comes out and you spend the rest of the day under glorious blue skies.

However, in January you run a fair chance of it being grey and rainy for the entire day.  2017 had a historically wet winter, complete with some significant flooding in certain areas, especially Russian River.  [“Russian River rises again, flooding Guerneville”, gives an especially good look at what it was like.]  There’s nothing like a flood to spoil an otherwise pleasant day of wine tasting.  But even in the notorious drought years, you could still get a lousy day in Wine Country in January.

Floods aside, there is some benefit to wine tasting on a rainy January day:  There aren’t as many people there.  The tasting rooms aren’t as crowded; you can get a table at the best restaurants; and the hotels lower their prices.  Your odds are good, especially on a weekday, but it can still be very crowded at times.   Mid-January brings the Martin Luther King holiday weekend and those wanting a last blast of Christmas and New Year’s come out in droves.  We were shocked on several occasions to find normally sedate wineries packed with people who were obviously more interested in imbibing than tasting.

One of the glories of visiting these regions, especially Napa Valley, is the outburst of color known as Mustard Season.  At this time, wild mustard naturally blooms in the fields and many grape growers let it stay.  We once thought it enhanced the soil but we later learned that farmers like pretty views just as much as visitors do, so it’s an esthetic decision on their part, not an agricultural one.  To our memories, Mustard Season used to occur more in the February-March time of year, but it is coming earlier now.  Maybe it’s global warming or the heavy rains, but it’s happening earlier now and lasting longer.


Photo taken on January 16, 2017

 As can be seen in the photo, there are plenty of bright, sunny January days in between the showers.  It may be a little colder than some would like for wine tasting (that would be Steve) but you don’t get the searing hot afternoons that others detest (that would be Lucie).  Generally, a sweater, light jacket or down vest is appropriate for the January temperatures in Napa/Noma.   And you almost never get any snow.

Because the vines are bare in January, it’s best not to plan visits to wineries where one of the main attractions is the view across the vineyards.  You may still want to taste the wines at, say, Stag’s Leap in Napa or Rochioli in Russian River but you will lose an important part of the wine tasting experience.  If your trip in January is the only time you will be in Napa/Noma for a long while, definitely visit wineries such as these, but put your imagination in overdrive to get an idea of what it’s like in high summer.


Napa Valley is the most beautiful winemaking area in California.  It stretches 30 miles between two mountain ranges, the Mayacamas and the Vaca.  There are hundreds of wineries there and many of them are the most famous in America.  We always have a wonderful time when we visit there.

Sonoma County contains the most beautiful winemaking areas in California. There are several distinct growing areas, several of which specialize in certain grapes.  There are hundreds of wineries there and many of them are the most famous in America.  We always have a wonderful time when we visit there.

Does that sound just a tad schizophrenic?  Well, there’s a lot of truth in that.  Both Napa Valley and Sonoma County are very special places for us and we visit one or the other or both almost every year.  That raises a question that is the theme of this article: for the wine tasting visitor, as opposed to a winemaker, are they two distinct places or just one, divided by mountains?


The view from William Hill in Napa Valley

The case for distinctiveness starts with the grapes.  Chardonnay is grown plentifully on both sides but Cabernet Sauvignon (and to a lesser extent, Merlot) is the king of Napa Valley.  Sure, there is lots of Pinot Noir in Carneros on the south end, but that sector is  split between Napa and Sonoma Counties, so by definition Carneros is an outlier.  Sonoma County also has lots of Cabernet Sauvignon, but it’s concentrated in Alexander Valley and Chalk Hill.  Zinfandel is in Dry Creek and Pinot Noir is the star in Russian River, Green Valley and the aforementioned Carneros areas.

[To be sure, all the foregoing is an over-simplification.  You can find some of everything everywhere.  But the reason that the wines in each AVA are world-famous is because of the grapes mentioned.]


The view from A. Rafanelli in Dry Creek

Of course, they’re much the same as well.  Both Napa Valley and Sonoma County have great restaurants, attractive wineries and ample opportunities to learn about wine.  Sadly, the hotels on both sides are getting waaaay too expensive, as are the charges for tasting.  They both offer mountain and valley fruit, along with the disputes about which is better.

The strongest argument for treating Napa Valley and Sonoma County as one wine tasting destination is the ease of traveling between the two.  Route 121 traverses them both on the south end; the glorious Oakville Grade is in the middle; and Mark West Springs/Petrified Forest Roads are at the north.  Or you can continue up Route 29 until it leads you into Alexander Valley.  The counterargument, by the way, is that you shouldn’t attempt the mountain crossings at night after a day of wine tasting.  We learned that lesson the hard but fortunately safe way.

For many years, we visited one or the other but not both.  Recently, we have been packing our bags and spending a few days in Napa Valley and then a few in Sonoma County.  That’s great if you have the time.  But this strategy doesn’t answer the question as to whether they are one place or two.  At the end, we say that the answer is “Yes”.  They are one place just as Manhattan and Brooklyn are both New York and they are different for just the same reasons.  They are much alike but they feel different.  A Sonoman tell you that they are jus’ folks and the Napans are snobs.  Napans say that they are cultured and the folks on the other side are hicks.  There are palaces in both places (although more in Napa Valley). There are interesting little out-of-the-way places in both but more of them in Sonoma County.  Visit both.  Reach your own conclusions.  Enjoy the wine.

The 100-Point Taste

When we go wine tasting, we tend to visit the better wineries in the regions we visit.  What’s the point of travelling such long distances just to sample the ordinary wines we might find at a store back home?  But even the best wineries are reluctant to open bottles of their most expensive, rarest wines for casual visitors, and we are not accustomed to buying the highest priced bottles. So we hardly ever get to taste the wines with top scores granted by Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate, or Wine Enthusiast, and certainly nothing rated 100.  So here’s how we got to try a 100-point wine.

In 2002, we were visiting Bordeaux at the vendange, or harvest time. Wine tasting there is a lot different than Americans are used to.  We may be used to names that are Chateau This-or-That, but in Bordeaux the famous wines are really grown in the estates surrounding actual castles.  They do offer tastings, but not to just anyone who happens to be driving by.  There are “appointment only” wineries in the US, but if they have an opening, most will accommodate the casual visitor.  Not so in Bordeaux.

So if you plan to visit, make appointments months in advance or use a broker.  These brokers charge a hefty fee just to get you into the best-known chateaux.  We used one on our trip, and she spread out our visits around the region: Macon one day, St. Emilion the next and then Sauternes.  The latter is probably the world’s best known producer of dessert wines, named after the village of Sauternes.  What most people don’t know is that there is only one winery, Guiraud, that is actually in the village.  The others are in the outskirts or in another nearby village, Barsac.  Even with France’s strict appellation rules, wines from Barsac are allowed to use the name Sauternes.

After a memorable lunch at a relais in the village, we pulled up to a winery in Barsac named Doisy Daene, where the broker had arranged a tasting.  This was no grand castle, but a working facility.  “Okay”, we thought, “we have an appointment so let’s go in”.  There was only one person in the winery, a rather elderly gentleman.  We introduced ourselves and he immediately recognized Lucie’s Quebecois accent.  “Nous adorons votre accent”, he told her (We adore your accent).  This was amusing because the French are usually rather proprietary about their accents, so Lucie was pleased to hear him say it.

It worked out that he was the former winemaker, now retired, and he was filling in for his son, the current winemaker that afternoon.  He took us for a tour and let us try some white table wine right out of a fermenting tank.  Because it was the harvest, the grapes had been pressed only a few days previously.  It was horrible, and we two visitors looked at each other disappointedly.  We hadn’t visited Bordeaux to drink lousy white wine.

Then he took us into a small room to sample what we had come for, their dessert wine.  This was no tasting room, just a little office off the barrel room.  First he offered us a 2000, which was very good but still a bit young.  Then he poured some Sauternes from the 1990 harvest, known to be a millesime.   This was a really excellent wine, amber in color, round in the mouth, deliciously sweet.  Finally he opened a little refrigerator and took out an unlabeled half bottle, with no cork but a piece of aluminum foil on top.  This was the as yet unreleased, unbottled 2001, just a year from its harvest.  He told us that he was offering us this special treat parce que vous êtes Canadienne (because you’re a Canadian girl), with what might have been a wink at Lucie.

With the first sip, fireworks went off in our mouths.  This was the most magnificent Sauternes, in fact any dessert wine, we’d ever tasted.  (It still is.)  We wanted to buy some, but since it wasn’t even in bottles yet, how would we get it home?  Sadly, we let the opportunity slip.

As you might have guessed, when the wine was released a year later, Wine Spectator gave it 100 points.  You never know.

Chateau Canet

Most wine lovers who think about visiting France would normally head towards Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne or the Rhone Valley.  But France has winemaking areas all around the country and it can be quite enjoyable to discover some of them in regions that can only be considered out of the way.  One such is the Languedoc in the southwest of France, which for many years was known for rather rough, rustic table wines of (to be generous) uneven quality.  It is a pleasure to report that these days that is no longer true.

We have been particularly taken by current vintages of Minervois, a region that produces wines that until recently we have avoided.  When we visited Carcassonne and its environs, we took the opportunity to drive to Minervois and do some wine tasting.  [As an aside, Carcassonne is a well-preserved medieval city that was central to the crusades against heretics in the 13th century.  Though very touristy today, it is certainly worth seeing.]



For the wine tasting experience, we recommend Chateau Canet (  Located in the aptly named village of Rustiques, it is only a 20 minute drive from Carcassonne, along some small country roads.  As you arrive at the winery, you drive up a long lane bordered with vines.  You then see a pink manse that brings to mind the chateaux you dream about after seeing a movie set in the French countryside.


Chateau Canet

As you enter the tasting room, you are likely to be greeted by one of the owners, Floris and Victoria Lemstra.  We figure that they saw one of those movies, and actually bought and refurbished a French chateau.  And of course they make wine there.  They make – and you can taste – whites, a rosé and reds.

The tasting room is two pleasant rooms, much more like being in a home than a bar.  There is a table-top on a wine barrel, where you will be served whatever they have and whatever you want.  All very civilized.

One of the things we learned on our visit is that to be called a Minervois AOC (appellation d’origine controlee), a wine must, of course come from the region but also that it must be a blend.  Thus, if you see a bottle with the name of the chateau and Minervois AOC on the label, it will contain Rhone-style grapes, for example Viognier, Rousanne or Marsanne in the whites; Carignan, Grenache or Syrah in the reds.  At Chateau Canet, they bottle Minervois AOC but also, in the American style, individual varietals under the name Domaine Canet.  These cannot be called Miinervois but are vins de pays (country wines).  Because of the breadth of Chateau Canet’s production, you can have quite an introduction to the different tastes of the wines of the Minervois region, both AOC and VDP.


Chateau Canet’s olive grove

When you go, make sure to take a few minutes to walk around the grounds.  Aside from the vines there is an olive grove and pleasant views to take in.  Though we haven’t stayed there, Chateau Canet also offers vacation accommodations, including a swimming pool.  It is not only off the beaten path, you can barely see the path from there.



The Back Streets of Siena

The city of Siena in Tuscany has a particular  advantage for wine tasters.  It is in a central location with Chianti to the North, Montalcino and Montepulciano to the east, Bolgheri to the west and Maremma to the south.  Of course, it has the drawback of not being close to any of these famous winemaking areas, so visiting any of them entails a bit of a drive.  But beyond access to vineyards, Siena is a special place to visit if you are going to go wine tasting in Tuscany.

The city has three great attractions that should not be missed: the Piazza del Campo and the Duomo or cathedral.  The famous horse race, the Palio is run in the piazza, with the winner gaining local renown for the rest of his life.  But it is very crowded and doesn’t give you the real sense of Siena.

We said three attractions; the third one is everything else.  By all means, have yourself an apertivo in the piazza at sunset and admire the warm color of the campanile.  Stand in awe of the richness of the cathedral, not only above you but at your feet.  And then walk around the town.

A good starting point would be the Shrine of Santa Caterina (or Saint Catherine), Italy’s patron saint.  This is the house she grew up in, today decorated by murals of her life and works.  Even non-Catholics should be impressed.  Then, when you walk out, turn left and then left again up the step-street called Costa Sant’Antonio.  You’ll pass – or better yet, you won’t pass – a tiny restaurant called Osteria La Chiacchera – perched on the stairs.  It is so steep that front legs of the tables are six inches longer than the back ones.   At La Chiacchera they are dedicated to keeping the rustic cuisine of Tuscany alive, so you can have rabbit with olives or pork riblets and potatoes that you won’t find elsewhere.

If you turn left down an alleyway called the Vicolo Campaccio from the Costa Sant’Antonio, you’ll come to the Basilica San Domenico, which is the repository for relics of Santa Catarina.  Frankly, we think it has much more to admire from the outside than in the interior.  Now turn around and admire the view of Siena stretched before you.  There’s a row of restaurants straight ahead, all pretty popular.  Among them is Pomodorino, our favorite pizzeria in Siena (in fact, in all of Italy).  We’ll leave the quality of the pizza to you, but it has unquestionably one of the best view of any pizzeria in the world.  (Other opinions are welcome.)


The view from Pomodorino

Siena’s main drag is the Via di Citta, which runs behind the Piazza del Campo and can be reached from it up a little staircase to the Piazza del Campo.  At that intersection is a gelateria called La Costarella that Steve liked better than any other in Tuscany. Then turn right onto the Via di Citta and you’ll come to the massive and forbidding but nonetheless inspiring Banca Monte dei Paschi.  The recent financial crisis has not been kind to the bank, which is now endangered.  It would be sad if it doesn’t make it because it has been there since the Renaissance.  As pretty as it is by day, it is magnificent at night.


Banca Monte dei Paschi at night

The antiquity of Siena is evident in the fact that it is still a walled city, perhaps still awaiting another barbarian invasion.  What amazes us is the countryside comes right up to the walls.  More so than in our other travels, it gives us a sense of what it must have been like to live in a great medieval city.  And as with so many Italian cities, there is art everywhere, on piazettas, on the sides of buildings, on any random street corner.  The trick for the visitor is not to get jaded, to realize that ancestors from another age so loved their city that they adorned it everywhere.


A Sienese street by night

Because Siena, like many Tuscan towns, is built on a hilltop, many of the streets are very steep which by night makes them very romantic or a bit scary, depending on your mood.  Either way, you know while you are there that you are amidst something very ancient and very rare.



A Field Guide to Servers – Part 5 – The Educators

We finish here Power Tasting’s Field Guide to Servers, our exclusive introduction to the fauna found in tasting rooms.  We have saved the best of the species for last.  You may read the entire series: the Pourers, the Hosts, the Sellers and the Retainers.

What  is an Educator?  An Educator is someone employed by a winery to explain to visitors what is being served, what aromas and tastes to pay attention to while sipping and generally how this wine fits into the winery’s past releases and its overall philosophy of winemaking.  He or she may be working there to fill in the time until the release of his or her next book on oenology.  An Educator not only knows wine but is excited by it and is eager to share his or her expertise with others.  The hallmark of an Educator is his or her ability to gauge the level of knowledge and interest of the visitor and to adjust his or her discourse accordingly.  You can expect an Educator to ask you some questions to figure out what you are interested in, not just what the winery wants you to hear…and buy, of course.


How can you recognize an Educator?  Sadly, the Educator is the rarest form of the Server species, so when you encounter one you should be particularly attentive.  There are young Educators but most have the maturity to have learned a great deal about wine.  Telltale signs of the Educators is that that they listen first, then talk; they converse, not harangue; and while not opposed to selling you some wine, they realize that an educated consumer is their best customer.  Particularly in wineries with a wide range of products – whites and reds, various varietals, different price points – an Educator will lead the visiting tasters where they want to go.

 How to get the greatest advantage from an Educator?  Listen.  Ask questions.  Learn.  Think about what you’ve been told as you smell and taste the contents of your glass.  Like a Host, the Educator wants you to enjoy your wine, but only an Educator wants you to gain an understanding of why you are enjoying your wine…or not, if that’s the case.  Like a Retainer, he or she wants you to understand what makes the winery you are at unique.  But he or she is not as impressed with the owner as with the vineyard manager and the winemaker who together craft a philosophy of wine that in the end winds up in your glass.

Where are Educators found?  While in theory an Educator could be found anywhere, for the most part they inhabit the better wineries, the ones with high ratings in the magazines and high prices at the cash register.  It isn’t only that those are the ones that can afford Educators.  More important is that Educators have integrity and are uninterested in spending their days praising wines that don’t deserve praise.  In some of those other wineries there may be people wearing little badges that say they are Wine Educators.  At most, those have learned the descriptions written by their wineries’ PR departments.  A true Educator not only knows about the wine he or she is serving, but can make comparisons with other vintages and other wines, not only from that producer or that region.  When you encounter an Educator, treat him or her with respect.