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  1. Kitá Wines, First Native American Brand in U.S., Will Close

    Kitá Wines, First Native American Brand in U.S., Will Close

    Kitá Wines of Santa Barbara County, the first U.S. winery and vineyard owned by a Native American tribe with a winemaker from the tribe, will close its doors, Kenneth Kahn, tribal chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, said Tuesday.

    In 2010, the coastal Chumash tribe purchased 1,400 acres from the estate of Fess Parker with the intention of building housing that the reservation needed and a community hall. The land, which was once property the tribe had lived on for 9,000 years, according to its website, included the 256-acre Camp 4 Vineyard, on the eastern boundary of the Valley, at the entrance of Happy Canyon AVA, home to other vineyards. Camp 4 refers to the stage coach stop on the route from San Francisco to Yuma, Arizona. Kitá, in the Chumash language, Samala, means “Our Valley Oak.”

    (Winemaker Tara Gomez)

    The tribe hired as winemaker the daughter of one of its elders, Tara Gomez, 48, who in 1998 was one of two women to earn enology degrees from the University of California, Fresno, and who had interned at Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard while a student followed by a fulltime job there after college, and later nine years at J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines. Before taking on the assignment, she also traveled to wine regions in Germany, France and Spain, learning how winemakers in those regions worked.

    The tribe had funded her studies at UC-Fresno and her first releases in 2013 of the 2010 and 2011 vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Grenache proved its trust well-placed as the wines won awards and garnered positive reviews. The sustainably farmed vineyard grows 19 types of grapes and Kitá produced 2,000 cases annually.

    “The tribe, with a focus on diversifying our investment portfolio, has made the business decision to leave the wine industry at this time. Tara Gomez successfully produced award-winning wines while telling the story of our tribe to a new audience. We thank Tara for the years of dedication and hard work she poured into Kitá Wines, and we congratulate her on cementing her legacy as a top-flight Native American woman winemaker,” Kahn wrote in response to our query. “Thank you to all of you who enjoyed and supported Kitá Wines throughout the years.”

    Dorothy J. Ga...

  2. Sangiacomo Wines: A Grape Farming Family Takes a Leap

    Sangiacomo Wines: A Grape Farming Family Takes a Leap

    "The family business started with Vittorio, who came to California in 1913 from Genoa, Italy. After working on farms and starting a successful scavenging business, he yearned to work with the land as he had done in Italy. So he bought 52 acres of fruit trees in Sonoma in 1927 and the next year married Maria, a young woman also from Genoa. They focused on growing pears and apples and during the Depression, when land was cheap, they kept buying it, working it with their four children." Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher

  3. Elena Walch’s Schiava: A Derided Red Grape Gets Its Due

    Elena Walch’s Schiava: A Derided Red Grape Gets Its Due

    John was simply looking for some drinkables – inexpensive, easy-drinking wines we could pop open and enjoy without much thought. He went to a trusted store’s online site, narrowed the search to 2019 and 2020 – we wanted these to be young and lively – put in the maximum price and sorted from least expensive. His goal was to buy a mixed case so we’d get a discount.

  4. A Guide To Wine and Cheese Pairing

    A Guide To Wine and Cheese Pairing

    Some things in the culinary world were just meant to be together, like bread and butter or tomato and basil. But the most rewarding and complex pair of them all is wine and cheese. A marriage of flavors and textures that will eternally complement...

  5. How Jean-Luc Colombo's Passion for Vin de Garde Transformed the Cornas Appellation

    How Jean-Luc Colombo's Passion for Vin de Garde Transformed the Cornas Appellation

    Cornas is a small wine appellation in France’s Northern Rhône Valley. Located at the southern end of the region, its steep granitic hillsides are planted with only about 110 hectares of vines, all of which is Syrah. Until recently, Cornas wines were considered rather harsh and rustic; not worthy of the world's attention and frequently passed over in favor of wines from its storied neighbors,...

  6. Leave the Gun, Take the Pinot Blanc: Why ‘The Godfather’ Inspires Ram’s Gate’s Joe Nielsen

    Leave the Gun, Take the Pinot Blanc: Why ‘The Godfather’ Inspires Ram’s Gate’s Joe Nielsen

    When we posted an item about Pinot Blanc last year, a reader responded: “I was searching for a California Pinot Blanc yesterday at BevMo. Not a one to be found but they did have 800 Chardonnays.”

  7. Alex Clark Pens a Love Letter to Rye at Fort Hamilton Whiskey in Brooklyn

    Alex Clark Pens a Love Letter to Rye at Fort Hamilton Whiskey in Brooklyn

    1985 might not seem like much of a year as years go--‘Take on Me,’ by a-ha, was on the charts for 27 weeks; you might have played the cassette in your IROC-Z Camaro or your Prelude.

  8. Infiné 1939 Pinot Grigio: A Son 'At Last' Fulfills a Father's Dream

    Infiné 1939 Pinot Grigio: A Son 'At Last' Fulfills a Father's Dream

    "Inside the uniquely shaped bottles of Infiné 1939 Pinot Grigio and Infiné 1939 At Last, a white blend, is a son’s love and admiration for his late father, “gone too soon,” the son, Marc Taub, told us the other day, describing his dad, David Taub."

  9. Librandi: A flickering light in a dark past of Calabrian wine, with hopes of keeping on the lights

    Librandi: A flickering light in a dark past of Calabrian wine, with hopes of keeping on the lights

    Even though Calabria is one of the oldest wine regions in the world, it has had an obscured past unbeknown to much of the world. Over the past few decades, Librandi has been one of the few flickering lights that has illuminated Calabrian wine from the dark past.

  10. Surprise of Texas: Bending Branch’s Dr. Bob Makes a Sizzling Rosé Sparkler from Tannat

    Surprise of Texas: Bending Branch’s Dr. Bob Makes a Sizzling Rosé Sparkler from Tannat

    We taste many wines for this column and we always hope for the best, but, look, we’re human; we do open some with greater anticipation than others. One wine we tried recently was a sparkling rosé of Tannat from Bending Branch Winery in Texas. Here are the first two words of our tasting notes: “We’re surprised.”

    It’s not news that ...

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