Paul Wagner

Bottle Talk with Rick And Paul is Back for Season 4

Bottle Talk with Rick And Paul is Back for Season 4.

Coming to Get You, Wines Snobs.


Napa, CA (November 1, 2017) Award-winning writers Rick Kushman and Paul Wagner are back to kick off Season 4 of their podcast war against wine snobs on Nov. 2 after delaying the start because of the wine country wildfires.

“Our hearts go out to so many people who suffered such painful losses in our beloved wine country,” Kushman says. “We didn’t think giggling and silliness were the appropriate responses right away.”

“Not that anyone has ever accused us of being appropriate,” says Wagner. “We live and work in Napa and we cannot say thank you enough to all the first responders who kept our communities safe. The outpouring of support for our region has been heartwarming.”

Kushman and Wagner say now seems right to giggle again about wine, so Bottle Talk with Rick and Paul is back for Season 4. “We know the best thing to keep wine country strong is to return to our normal routines,” Kushman says. “That includes airing Bottle Talk to encourage a laugh or two, and to provide a convenient object of ridicule.”

On Nov. 9, Bottle Talk will air a special episode looking at the aftereffects of the wildfires. The show is recorded at Capital Public Radio in Sacramento and includes questions from listeners, interviews, wine recommendations and an all-out assault on wine babble wherever it appears. Which, Kushman and Wagner say, seems to be everywhere.

Kushman is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Barefoot Spirit, the story of the founding and unique marketing of Barefoot Cellars. He is an award-wining journalist and the wine commentator for Capital Public Radio, Sacramento’s NPR affiliate. He works in the industry and is based in Napa.

Wagner teaches wine classes at Napa Valley College and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. With Liz Thach and Janeen Olsen, he authored the book: Wine Marketing & Sales, Strategies for a Saturated Market, which won the Gourmand International Award for the best wine book of the year for professionals. He’s also a regular contributor to on wine and beverages.

Kushman and Wagner have earned acclaim for their light-hearted, friendly take on wine, and for their good-natured attacks on wine snobs and bad wine writing. “We think we’ve broken new ground in the conversation about wine because we’re using a language we call Normal English,” says Kushman.

“Some local wineries turn on the show in the cellar for their employees, which is a very nice compliment,” Wagner says. “We also think the employees must be really bored to need us.”

Bottle Talk with Rick and Paul airs a new segment every Thursday at 10 a.m. Pacific time at and on the Capital Public Radio and iTunes podcast lineups. Prior shows are available on the site, as is information about sponsorship.

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Michael Wangbickler

Announcing TEXSOM International Wine Awards 2018

Announcing TEXSOM International Wine Awards 2018

Entries Now Open for Leading Wine Competition


Dallas, Texas (October 31, 2017) –– TEXSOM Co-founders and Master Sommeliers Drew Hendricks and James Tidwell today announced that the TEXSOM International Wine Awards is accepting entries for the 2018 competition to be held February 12-14, 2018 at the Grapevine Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas.

The following is a timeline with corresponding entry fees:

Submission Period   
October 31 – December 31, 2017
$95 + 4 bottles of wine per entry
Wines must be received by January 1, 2018

Late Submission Period   
January 1 – January 31, 2018
$105 + 4 bottles of wine per entry
Wines must be received by February 1, 2018

Late Expedited Submission Period              
February 1 – 9, 2018
$145 + 4 bottles of wine per entry
Overnight Shipping Required, in order for processing to be completed for judging

“The TEXSOM International Wine Awards is the preeminent wine competition in the United States,” says Andrew McNamara MS, Vice President of Wine Development at Breakthru Beverage and Chairman – Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas. “TEXSOM International Wine Awards continues to assemble a panel of judges that is unmatched anywhere. Industry leaders, including many Master Sommeliers and Masters of Wine, judge an array of high-quality wines from around the world over the course of two days. Receiving a medal of any kind at TIWA is a boon to suppliers and distributors alike; mentioning it to sommeliers and buyers makes the already great wines that much more attractive.”

“TEXSOM attracts extremely experienced and knowledgeable judges, world-class wines and imposes ironclad integrity in the judging process,” says Debbie Zacharias and Peter Granoff MS, General Partners at Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant and Oxbow Wine & Cheese Merchant. “Many competitions make that claim, but the bar is truly higher here. Wineries and importers often ask us which competitions are the best ones to enter in the U.S. and TEXSOM is always at the top of a very short list.”

“An exciting global perspective is one thing that sets the TEXSOM International Wine Awards apart,” says Catherine Miles, Senior VP, Creative & Marketing Director for Broadbent Selections. “But the main reason a TEXSOM medal shines brighter than many other awards is that TEXSOM is so much more than an awards program. It’s an invigorating experience and an inspiring education that’s become a can’t-miss event for the wine world’s best and brightest.”

“TEXSOM International Wine Awards has been critical in building awareness for Greek wine,” says Sofia Perpera, Director of the Greek Wine Bureau-North America for Wines of Greece. “From the recognition garnered by ratings from world’s top opinion makers, as well as the exposure within the Sommelier community that TEXSOM allows.”

All award-winning wineries are asked to reserve at least three additional bottles of each award-winning wine for possible promotion and feature opportunities, such as inclusion in the Wine Awards hospitality suite at the TEXSOM conference; TEXSOM’s newest venture, the publication Sommelier; and in tastings outside the TEXSOM conference. Award-winning wines are candidates for consideration in TEXSOM seminars, but no guarantees are made regarding an individual wine’s use in seminars. Aside from the two bottles requested by TEXSOM International Wine Awards, restaurant and retail partners might contact award-winning entrants for participation in promotional tastings, dinners, wine list features, etc. Participation in events with restaurant and retail partners is at the discretion of the entrant.

In addition to the activities listed above, the following is a list of benefits for award winners:

  • Award-winning wines announced via social media, email messaging, website, press release, publication partners
  • The entire list of award-winning wines will be presented online by the presenting sponsor, Texas Monthly
  • Listing of all award-winning wines and featured content on select award-winners in Sommelier, TEXSOM’s newest publication for sommeliers, wine buyers, other beverage professionals, and engaged consumers
  • Exposure to TEXSOM’s international network of sommeliers and wine buyers with a tasting of medal-winning wines at the TEXSOM conference hospitality suites in August 2018
  • Award-winning wines presented at events throughout the country through wine tastings, wine dinners and special events with restaurant and retail partners
  • Award-winning wines featured on the TEXSOM International Wine Awards website throughout the calendar year
  • Results available through the TEXSOM International Wine Awards searchable online database
  • Recognition of the quality of the wines by a group of the best palates in the country, including the judges and Sommelier Panel. The Sommelier Panel is unique to TEXSOM International Wine Awards. The Panel consists of prominent sommeliers from around the country who write expository content following the awarding of medals by judges during the blind tasting

Wineries interested in submitting their wines for judging may visit the TEXSOM International Wine Awards website at Further inquiries may be made by emailing or by calling 214.886.1665.


Founded in 2005, TEXSOM was started by Master Sommeliers James Tidwell and Drew Hendricks to help promote professional wine service standards, outline paths for further wine education and certification, and raise public awareness about the professional standards and certifications for sommeliers. Today, the conference draws more than 1,000 attendees, of whom more than 800 are sommeliers and other beverage industry professionals. The TEXSOM group purchased the competition now known as the TEXSOM International Wine Awards in April 2014. One of the largest, most respected, and longest-running in the United States, the competition was founded in 1985 by journalist and wine expert Rebecca Murphy.

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Michael Wangbickler

Can Soil Composition Hold Clues to the Flavor of a Wine?



Can Soil Composition Hold Clues to the Flavor of a Wine?

Using precision enology with microbes-based winemaking, the microscopic bacterial

and fungal life in the soilmay soon influence the notion of terroir          


October 30, 2017 (San Francisco, CA) – Wine enthusiasts either accept or deny that the geological composition of a vineyard—chalk, clay, gravel— is transmitted to the vine and consequently into the grapes, then into wine as distinctive, identifiable flavors. “Terroir” is the long-standing belief that composition of the soil actually flavors wine even though there is no known uptake mechanism in grapevines.

The conventional description of terroir is now being challenged with a new investigation into microbial terroir—the microscopic bacterial and fungal life in the soil. Paco Cifuentes, an ex-Silicon Valley biochemist originally from Madrid has founded Whole Wine Trade, a Spanish wine portfolio of small, family-owned estates that, for the most part, farm organically or bio-dynamically. Together with Biome Makers an agriculture-technology startup with offices in San Francisco and Spain, Cifuentes is working on a long-range project to map the vineyard soils of 12 different producers in the Whole Wine Trade portfolio, conduct microbiome analyses, and connect the data to wine produced from the vineyards.

A recent master class and trade tasting on October 18th in San Francisco introduced the Whole Wine Trade project and the Biome Makers “WineSeq” technology. Presenters included Paco Cifuentes, Nacho Belda, PhD and Bio Makers CSO, and Tim Gaiser, Master Sommelier. “No one has ever been able to prove a scientific link between the vineyards and wine in the bottle. Until now,” says Gaiser.

Biome Makers explains, “The microbiome is a dynamic and integrative biomarker. The microbiome is influenced by agricultural practices, soil chemistry, soil history, vine variety, and weather. It’s quite possible that the microbiome could serve as an objective measure of ‘terroir’ as it integrates all influences on the vine itself, and carries over into the cellar.” The firm uses “WineSeq,” a DNA sequencing and machine learning-based technology, to evaluate the microbiome in a vineyard soil. “WineSeq” reveals the vineyard microbiome that, through the fermentation, influences the finished wine with specific chemical compounds.

Whole Wine Trade is now releasing wine to the Northern California market from two dozen-plus estates in Riberia Sacra, Rioja, Priorat, and more. These wines have outstanding organoleptic qualities, produced using sustainable, organic or biodynamic practices. “I was born in Madrid but destiny brought me to California, where I found prosperity and love. I want to share the best of Spain and bring its magic to the US. Wholesome, noble wines are just that. It is the magic of transforming sun, earth, water, hard work and century-old traditions into an extraordinary drink that always brings people together,” explains Cifuentes.

The Whole Wine Trade portfolio includes wines from Bodegas Larras, Rioja Alta; Pascual Larrieta, Rioja Alavesa; Gil Bersal, Rioja Alavesa; Ojuel, Rioja Alta; San Prudencio, Rioja Alta; Pincelo, Ribeira Sacra; Gancedo, Bierzo; Montetoro, Toro;Ton Rimbau, Penedés; Finca Tobella, Priorat; Costador Terroirs, Catalunya;Schatz, Serrania de Ronda

About Whole Wine Trade

Noble, pure, exceptional quality wines from Spain made with respect for the environment, honor for tradition and love for everybody who makes them.,

About Biome Makers

Biome Makers is an innovative biotechnology company specializing in the understanding of the microbiome and its influence on the agri-food industry. Using the power of DNA sequencing Biome Makers provides detailed insights and recommendations that allow clients to improve the output of their fields and the quality of their products. Currently, Biome Makers is pursuing new and exciting opportunities in the wine industry with their WineSeq technology.


Balzac Communications

Lebanese Wine Day Comes to San Francisco and Los Angeles

Lebanese Wine Day Comes to San Francisco and Los Angeles


(Beirut, Lebanon) October 20, 2017 – Lebanese Wine Day announces its upcoming winemaker tour in San Francisco and Los Angeles next month, bringing 30 different producers to California to showcase their wines to members of the wine trade. Conceived in one of the oldest sites in the world for wine production, wines from Lebanon have been sought-after for centuries by kings and commoners alike. And the country’s rich heritage of indigenous grapes has attracted renewed attention, particularly in recent years.

The first Lebanese Wine Day will take place in San Francisco on the afternoon of November 16 at the historic Merchants Exchange Club, a recently renovated event space located in the Financial District. The day will begin with a master class from 12:00-1:30 p.m. for registered guests, presented by Jean Reilly, Master of Wine and renowned wine speaker. A walk-around wine tasting will be running concurrently from 12 – 5 p.m., where guests will have the opportunity to taste the wines and meet face to face with winemakers and representatives from the Lebanese government. A second master class, also for registered guests, will be held from 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Following Lebanese Wine Day in San Francisco, the producers will head to Los Angeles, where they will offer their wines for walk around tasting on Monday, November 20 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

“We are very excited about our trip to California, and to be sharing our wines with members of the wine trade,” says Mr. Louis Lahoud, Director General of the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture. “These tastings will be a great way for us to raise awareness about Lebanese wines and demonstrate that they have a unique place in the U.S. market.”

The winemakers and producers look forward to acquainting the American market with the wines of Lebanon. Heavily influenced by the French, the most widely planted varietals include Cinsault, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Mourvedre and Syrah. In recent years wines from this Mediterranean country have garnered numerous accolades and recognition from the press as being from an “emerging area.” The unusual climatic conditions of the Bekaa – hot and arid, but with cool nights and the suitable climate of the other regions – result in long-lasting wines that include both aromatic whites and strong-bodied reds.

Sponsored by the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with the American Lebanese Chamber of Commerce, Lebanese Wine Day is open to qualified wine trade (retail, restaurant, wholesale) and media only.


Michael Wangbickler

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate Matter of Taste Returns to San Francisco

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate Matter of Taste Returns to San Francisco

Global Series of Exclusive Wine & Food Experiences to Feature Top-Rated Wines
from Around the World on Saturday, November 4, 2017

San Francisco, CA (September 25, 2017) – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (, the leading authority on wine, announces the return of its international Matter Of Taste tour to San Francisco on Saturday November 4, 2017 at The City Club San Francisco.

On the heels of the sold-out events in Zurich and London earlier this year, the San Francisco Matter Of Taste tour continues the global series of exclusive events for members, non-members and guests. The signature event, the Grand Walkabout Tasting, will feature over 150 outstanding wines, each rated 90 or more points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. This year’s themes will be Right-Bank Varieties and Global Sparkling.

The roster of events will include a VIP preview hour, the Grand Walkabout Tasting, and exclusive rare wine Master Classes. A progression of exceptional wine dinners will take place throughout San Francisco the week of October 30, 2017, including a very special “Vérité Winery Retrospective & Dinner” on November 3, 2017, hosted by Lisa Perroti-Brown MW and Vérité Winery’s Hélène Seillan at Spruce restaurant. The “La Paulée” Grande Finale Dinner, The Ultimate Hedonist’s BYOB Dinner, November 4, 2017, will conclude this extraordinary week, with guests invited to bring up to three bottles of their favorite “90 RP points or above” wines to share with fellow subscribers and members of the Robert Parker Wine Advocate review team. Set in the 12th floor Penthouse of the City Club San Francisco, a sumptuous sit-down, four course haute-cuisine menu will make this an extravagant feast not to miss. Seats are limited and will be available on a first come, first served basis. This is a rare chance to participate in a true Hedonist’s Gazette dinner with incredible vintner hosts and reviewers Neal Martin, Monica Larner, and Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW.

The Grand Walkabout Tasting, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., will include some of the world’s most prized wines, encompassing a range of varietals, regions and styles. Well-regarded winemakers will be pouring their wines, including iconic wineries Abremundos, Cheval des Andes, Lagarde and Marcello (Argentina); Chateau Valandrad, Clos de Sarpe, Fleur Cardinale, Haut Bailly and Charles Heidsieck (France); Hickinbotham, Penley Estate, Giant Steps and Cullen (Australia); Feudi di San Gregorio, Ca’ del Bosco, Le Macchiole and Petrolo (Italy); Cono Sur, Calyptra and Leyda (Chile); Craggy Range, Te Mata Estate and Giesen (New Zealand); Dominio de la Vega (Spain); Prats & Symington (Portugal); Tokara (South Africa); Cadence, JM Cellars and Northstar (Washington); and Daou, La Jota and Peter Michael Winery (California).

In addition to the Grand Walkabout Tasting, six exclusive Master Classes are offered. Wine Advocate Editor-in-Chief reviewer Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW will be hosting “Washington and a Global view of Merlot” – a blind tasting of Washington and new world Merlots including 2013 Blackbird Vineyards Illustration Proprietary Red, 2013 Buty Winery Merlot, Cabernet Franc Conner Lee Vineyard, 2013 Kapcsandy Family Winery Merlot Roberta’s Reserve, 2013 Vérité La Muse, 2014 Cadence Bel Canto, 2014 Craggy Range Sophia Proprietary Red, 2014 Hickinbotham The Revivalist Merlot, 2014 Leonetti Cellar Walla Walla Merlot, 2014 Long Shadows Pedestal Merlot, 2014 Spring Valley Vineyard Uriah, and 2014 Woodward Canyon Estate Reserve.

Wine Advocate reviewer Neal Martin will be hosting “The Best of the Best: South Africa,” focusing on the very best wines of South Africa. The tasting will focus on the artisan South African winemakers, including rare and coveted wines from renowned growers such as Eben Sadie, Chris and Andrea Mullineux, and Bruwer Raats. In addition, Martin will be leading “Right Bank Legends: Rive Droite 2009, 2010, and 2015.” This tasting will examine three exemplary estates from some of the finest terroirs on the Right Bank: Belair-Monange in Saint Emilion, and La Fleur-Petrus and Trotanoy in Pomerol. Attendees will have the opportunity to compare each one from some of the finest vintages of the last 20 years: 2009, 2010 and a preview of 2015. Christian Moueix and Tod Mostero, Winemaker, Dominus Estates, will be in attendance offering insights into these wines and vintages.

Monica Larner, Wine Advocate reviewer, will lead “Italian Cabernet Franc: The Mighty French Grape Finds an Ideal Home in Italy,” where Cabernet Franc expresses its inner Italiano in this fascinating collection of wines. This stubborn grape from France finds a perfect home in the laid-back and sun-drenched vineyards of Italy, discovering its secret soul along the way. Find out why Italy and Cabernet Franc are a match made in heaven. Larner will also lead, with proprietor Luca Sanjust, “A Retrospective of Petrolo’s Galatrona: An Iconic Merlot from the Heart of Tuscany,” a tasting of the 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 vintages. In addition, Larner will host, with proprietor Antonio Capaldo, “A Retrospective of Feudi San Gregorio’s Patrimò: The Wine that put Southern Italy on the World Wine Map,” a tasting of the 1999, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2015 vintages. For a complete list of featured wines as well as tickets for the Grand Walkabout Tasting and all six Master Classes and dinners, please visit

“Our members are some of the most passionate and knowledgeable wine consumers in the world. Matter of Taste is the perfect opportunity to share with our members a world-class wine experience they’ll cherish forever,” enthuses Perrotti-Brown.

The Matter of Taste wine experiences began in 2014 and have been in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, London, Chicago, Macau, Miami, Manila, Jakarta, Napa, New York, and San Francisco. Matter of Taste moves to New York on December 3, 2017.

Annual members of are entitled to discounted tickets ($120 through October 21, 2017) to the Matter of Taste Grand Walkabout Tasting. Non-member discounted tickets ($180 through October 21, 2017) include a one-year membership to and access to over 500,000 professional wine reviews and articles. A limited number of early entry VIP passes are available for an additional $100. All Master Class prices vary between $100 and $250 depending on the class. Further details and booking information are available at

About Robert Parker Wine Advocate

For more than 39 years, The Wine Advocate, and later, have been the global leader and independent consumer’s guide to fine wine. The brand was established by the internationally recognized Robert M. Parker, Jr., the only critic in any field to receive the highest Presidential honor from three countries – France, Italy and Spain. Robert Parker Wine Advocate provides a wealth of information to its subscribers, including a searchable database of more than 300,000 professional wine ratings and reviews, in addition to articles, videos, daily news content, online retail availability and pricing, an active, professionally moderated bulletin board, a mobile app for easy access to the comprehensive online database of reviews, and much more. For more information, visit


Michael Wangbickler

Celebration of 2018 MICHELIN New York City Guide and Launch of Robert Parker Wine Advocate Extraordinary Winery Awards

Celebration of 2018 MICHELIN New York City Guide and Launch of
Robert Parker Wine Advocate Extraordinary Winery Awards
in New York City on 2017, Oct 30.

NEW YORK, Sept. 12, 2017 – Michelin and Robert Parker Wine Advocate are pleased to announce that, in conjunction with the release of the 13th edition of the MICHELIN Guide New York City for 2018, the inaugural Robert Parker Wine Advocate Extraordinary Winery Awards will be introduced honoring the best wineries in USA.

At this occasion a gala dinner will be prepared by some of the most renowned chefs from Michelin starred restaurants around the country.

The MICHELIN Guide, known for its distinct red cover and coveted star designation, provides dining recommendations throughout the world based on the scrupulous reviews done by the “famously anonymous” Michelin inspectors.   The 2018 US editions of the famed guide, which include San Francisco and the Bay Area, Chicago, Washington, DC and New York City, will be released starting in early October and will culminate in the New York City selection, to be announced on Oct. 30.

The gala will be the first collaborative event in the U.S. between Michelin and Robert Parker Wine Advocate, since Michelin’s stake in the highly regarded wine ratings publication in July. The gala will provide guests with an unforgettable dining experience, combining cuisine by chefs from Michelin starred restaurants and wines that have been rated highly by the Robert Parker team.  “The United States is home to some of the best restaurants in the world, and the MICHELIN Guide’s aim is to help travelers as well as locals discover and experience them,” said Michael Ellis, international director of the MICHELIN Guide. “This event will be a great opportunity to recognize the talents of these great chefs, as well as to celebrate the MICHELIN guide New York City 2018”.

In addition, this very special event will also host the Robert Parker Wine Advocate Extraordinary Winery Awards. This new series of winery awards will highlight the best wineries in the country. Annually, one winery from every major fine wine region of the world will be awarded a Robert Parker Wine Advocate Extraordinary Winery Award. To be eligible, that region must have at least one winery producing at least one “extraordinary” wine (rated 96-100) within the consideration period. Representatives from nominated wineries will be in attendance.

“Each year our review team travels the wine world seeking out greatness,” commented Robert Parker Wine Advocate Editor-in-Chief, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, “The Extraordinary Winery Awards will bring to the attention of our subscribers those wineries that sit qualitatively above all others within their regions.”

More information about the gala dinner are available on the website:

About the MICHELIN Guide

Thanks to the rigorous MICHELIN Guide selection process that is applied independently and consistently around 28 countries, the MICHELIN Guide has become an international benchmark in fine dining. The selections of all restaurants in the guide are made by Michelin’s famously anonymous inspectors who dine in the areas regularly. These local inspectors are trained to scrupulously apply the same time-tested methods used by Michelin inspectors for many decades throughout the world. This ensures a uniform, international standard of excellence. As a further guarantee of complete objectivity, Michelin inspectors pay all their bills in full, and only the quality of the cuisine is evaluated. To fully assess the quality of a restaurant, the inspectors apply five criteria defined by Michelin: product quality, preparation and flavors, the chef’s personality as revealed through his or her cuisine, value for money, and consistency over time and across the entire menu. These objective criteria are respected by all MICHELIN Guide inspectors, whether in Japan, the United States, China or Europe. They guarantee a consistent selection so that a star restaurant has the same value regardless of whether it is located in Paris, New York or Tokyo.

About Robert Parker Wine Advocate

For more than 39 years, The Wine Advocate, and later, have been the global leader and independent consumer’s guide to fine wine. The brand was established by the internationally recognized, Robert M. Parker, Jr., the only critic in any field to receive the highest Presidential honor from three countries – France, Italy and Spain. Robert Parker Wine Advocate provides a wealth of information to its subscribers, including a searchable database of more than 300,000 professional wine ratings and reviews, in addition to articles, videos, daily news content, online retail availability and pricing, an active, professionally moderated bulletin board, a mobile app for easy access to the comprehensive online database of reviews and much more. For more information, visit


Lauren Davis
Michelin Public Relations

Michael Wangbickler
Balzac Communications & Marketing
(707) 255-7667