California Dreamin'

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray
I've been for a walk on a winter's day
I'd be safe and warm if I was in L.A.
California dreamin' on such a winter's day

I've done a wee bit of travelling in the last couple of months, as is my usual practice--criss-crossing the continent like some high flying . . . high-flyer, I guess.  Ohio in April, Monterey in May with a bit of R&R after, and from there directly to Toronto, back to Ohio and almost immediately back to Toronto again! It's almost like I can't make up my mind, but that gives me too much credit for having a mind to make up. 

I have some great pictures from the LD Carlson retailer conference back in May, but I'll need to sort out some of those shots with legal . . . there was an enormous amount of fun had! You can see some of my pictures from that in my Facebook IOS photos (are you my friend on Facebook yet? Why not?)While I get around to putting together more, I thought I'd share some of my pictures of my road trip after the Winemaker Magazine conference. Several years ago after the Santa Barbara conference I rented a car with the intent of driving up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco. The Coastal Highway is so heart-stoppingly beautiful that you think you'll get tired of it after a while, or become numb to its ever-unfolding charms. more

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Corks Gone Screwy

Cork trees are closely related to bananas. True story.

Putting a cork in it has a long and storied history: corks provided the ideal closure for bottles and barrels for twenty centuries, and the argument still exists that there is nothing better than a chunk of tree bark for keeping quality wine in good condition. 

However, in the early 20th century cork manufacturers in Portugal were nationalised, with the government handing over complex industrial and distribution systems to their cronies and useless brothers-in-law. Only a few companies managed to keep continuity, to keep producing quality corks, but they were overwhelmed the bumblers who produced volumes of second-rate TCA ('corked-aroma') closures for years. more

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What Makes the Wines of Chile Great? more

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LD Carlson Retailer Conference 2013

Pretty much the view from my room. Pretty nice!

It's the first weekend of June, and that means it's the annual LD Carlson conference. LD is Winexpert's distributor in the USA and the largest consumer beer and winemaking supplier in the world. Winexpert's relationship with them goes back over two decades, when Carlson's Ron Hartman took on the original Brew King wine kits--a bit of a visionary step at the time, but one that's been great for both of us. 

The very first conference was 14 years ago, and it was a tiny affair in Akron Ohio with a few dozen retailers. Small, but effective: the first time I spoke at the conference I did a Q&A that lasted what seemed like days--it was well over four hours, as the folks attending got hooked on the idea that there was a guy who not only could answer their questions about wine kits, but also was obligated by his job description to give those answers. 

We've all some a long way since then. The recent conferences have been held in Cuyahoga Falls, in a pretty lovely venue at the Sheraton there. The eponymous river is very famous locally, for an amazing phenomenon. It used to be so polluted that it actually caught fire--thirteen times more

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