Editors Letter

A Deep Dip Into the Wine Barrel Plus Entrepreneurial Excitment in the Valley

Surrounded as we all are by a sea of grapevines and an ocean of outstanding wines, those of us who collaborate on this magazine try not to assault our readers’ senses with an over-abundance of the obvious. More than a Wine Country voice, we are a community voice, and while we love an aged cabernet, and might jump through a hoop or two for a bottle of Will Bucklin’s Ancient Field Blend (see page 66), wine is only one of the elements that make this Valley the very special place that it is.

So when we do take a deep, metaphorical dip into a barrel of wine content, as we have with this issue, we try to explore the subject through the lens of readers who may or may not care the least about the soil pH of Moon Mountain or the ideal harvest brix of a Carneros pinot noir.

That said, we thought many people might be curious about what it takes to create—from raw land—a modern, state-of-the-art vineyard. So we coat-tailed with Steve Ledson, who has three generations of winemaking in his blood, and got a tutorial on how he created his Mountain Terraces vineyard, so high up on Cavedale Road that you can see San Francisco across the bay.

Going in a very different direction, we talked and toured with Anna and Frank Pope, and winemaker Kevin Holt, about the rebirth of a winery, and a public-access park on the historic Bartholomew property most Sonomans know as Bart Park. It’s a winery and a vineyard unlike any other winery and vineyard in the Valley, and it is now embarked on an exciting new chapter of its well-aged story.

And speaking of well-aged stories, Mark Lyon spent 37 years as winemaker at Sebastiani before launching his own, personal, organic and biodynamic wines under the Eco Terreno label. It’s an authentic labor of love and a passionate expression of collaboration with nature.

For a long look well out of bounds from Sonoma Valley, we stitched together visits to three radically different winemaking environments, on a Greek volcano, in the heart of Tuscany, and on a precarious perch above the Ligurian Sea. All of which are worth a visit.

There’s still more wine in these pages, including one of the 50 best bottles in the world, but there’s also a penetrating look into the entrepreneurial face of Sonoma Valley’s emerging new economy, demonstrated by the impressive success of Sonoma Brands—Jon Sebastiani’s rapidly expanding healthy food and beverage business—and by Puente International, the mescal, tequila, and rum enterprise Sal Chavez has built, in parallel with first one, and now two, Valley restaurants.

If a healthy economy is a diverse economy, then Sonoma Brands and Puente International are two of the healthiest forces for positive change to come our way.

There’s more of course—including some candid thoughts on donor bricks (see the Bolling Blog) and details about the expanded and exciting plans for a Valley-wide celebration of Día de los Muertos.

All you have to do is turn the page.


David Bolling