Thursday, June 16, 2022

Dan Berger: Regionality

 As a wine-growing paradise, California has always been blessed with loads of sunlight and beneficent weather, allowing it to ripen wine grapes almost anywhere.

        But in the early years, distinctiveness was nonexistent. In the era between the end of Prohibition (1933) and the end of World War II, pretty much every wine made here was generic and was relatively inexpensive.

        Some people knew fine California wine was possible. One of the earliest was a 1940s East Coast wine merchant by the name of Frank Schoonmaker, who suggested in a book that California focus on individual varietals.

        By the 1960s, we began to see grapes like chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel appearing on labels. And by the early 1970s, it was obvious that not all grapes did well in all regions. 

        Grape growers and winemakers soon realized that some varietals did better in some smaller regions, a move that was heralded, curiously, by a Broadway musical.

        On May 3, 1956, a Broadway musical opened called "The Most Happy Fella," by Frank Loesser. It helped change the fortunes of the American wine industry.

        The musical had a showstopping song with lyrics that included, "I'm the most happy fella, in the whole Napa Valley." From that moment Napa Valley was branded as America's wine country. 

        Soon the U.S. government began certifying dozens of regions as American Viticultural Areas, some of which were ideal for certain grapes and judged ill-suited for others.

        Today, Napa Valley remains one of the most prestigious of AVAs, and the government has also certified numerous smaller "sub-AVA" areas inside Napa, like Stags' Leap, Mount Veeder, Oakville and Pope Valley.

        Four years ago, moves begin to take place to add many smaller subregions within vast Sonoma County, which has long prided itself on several prestige zones like Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley and Dry Creek.

        The government recently approved Petaluma Gap, just east and south of Bodega Bay, a wind tunnel in which cold weather allows for great pinot noir, chardonnay, syrah and other varieties.

        The Petaluma Gap was carved out of the amorphous, huge Sonoma Coast AVA, a step seen as long overdue as the Gap, as locals call it, is truly different from the rest of the Sonoma Coast.

        Another recent relatively new AVA is called Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak in northerly Sonoma County. (It includes land stretching into southern Mendocino County.) It's mostly high-mountain terrain and produces outstanding cabernet, merlot and sauvignon blanc.

        It was originally part of the Alexander Valley, most of which is warmer than is high-and-hilly Pine Mountain.
        Now another new AVA, also drawn from Alexander Valley land, has been proposed. Proponents submitted to the government for certification a new AVA called Pocket Peak.

        This is another mountainous region, one not quite as high in altitude as is Pine Mountain. It removes acreage from the eastern edge of Alexander Valley and stretches to the border of Knights Valley -- essentially due north of Napa Valley.

        All this renaming of districts ultimately will have tremendous benefits in the marketplace, especially for consumers who pay attention to the AVAs on wine labels. 

        Still, not all wineries like the new designations. For example, today several "Sonoma Coast" wines were actually from grapes grown in Petaluma Gap. It confounds me why a winery using fruit from highly regarded Gap vineyards would ignore that appellation on their labels.

        But I suspect time will cure that malady.

        To find out more about Dan Berger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at


No comments:

Recent Comments

Search Jackson Jambalaya

Subscribe to JJ's Youtube channel


Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS