User ID:

Remember me
Lost password?

Thursday Thorns: The Report Card
SAVVYWINE BLOG Reports on the Rockpile AVA
     ~~And Other Miscellany and Mishegas

By Charles Olken

The Rockpile AVA, in the outback of northwestern Sonoma County lies so far beyond the Dry Creek Valley that you are tempted to turn around and come back because no one would drive that far into the wilderness just to find a few grapes. Never mind that you have tasted some pretty good Zinfandels and Syrahs from this all but lost AVA, you will think you are on the road to nowhere as all signs of civilization save for the occasional cow lost on a hillside disappear into trees and scrub. Sure, there is a lake nearby and a few parking lots, but once you exit the Dry Creek Valley proper and climb into the hills that surround Lake Sonoma, you are surely lost.

Well, not so. And I can vouch for the fact that there is something comforting about giving away a precious hour or so of tasting time to commune with nature. There are only so many tasting rooms I can happily visit before quiet and beauty call more loudly than pulled corks, another round of Zinfandels and spit buckets that inevitably spit back if you are not careful. Your reward for this excursion is nothing more than the sight of few vineyards dotting the hills. There are no tasting rooms here. A few folks live in this no man’s land of a place, but they are hardy pioneers and you can’t see their spreads from the road in any event. The reason to go is to see it—to be able to say that you have visited were few men dare to go. You are practically Captain Kirk on a mission. Go and relax, and congratulate yourself for being brave.

Recently, the wineries that make wine from Rockpile put on a trade tasting at the Rock Wall Winery in Alameda. Some of you will remember that I live in that lovely and quiet suburb by the Bay, and besides, when folks like Rock Wall, Seghesio, Carol Shelton, JC Cellars, Paradise Ridge, Mauritson and several others are pouring wine that done so very well in Connoisseurs’ Guide blind tastings, how could I not go? I don’t write about such experiences very often. Connoisseurs’ Guide reports on finished, bottled wines tasted blind. Events of this nature don’t give me much to write about. But they can be interesting, and, since I was unable to stay for the entire event, I missed the sit-down tasting of older wines.

However, friend and fellow wine enthusiast, John Engstrom, has written a very long and interesting essay on the event and the sit-down tasting, and it is worth a look. His comments on winery styles makes very interesting and informative reading. It is found at

I rate it at: A.


And now for something completely different... Everyday I read a very handy website called The Daily Pour (, not to be confused with The Pour, which is the blog of NY Times winewriter, Eric Asimov. The Daily Pour offers listings of the latest blog postings from anyone with a blog who wants to be listed there. And it picks up the title and the first bit of text from each of those blogs. I do, in fact, read it every day.

Each reading takes me to blogs that look interesting, but each reading also finds titles topics and summaries than can charitably be described as amusing. Sometimes they are strange, but mostly the ones that tickle my funny bone are silly because of their incompleteness. If you are still reading after all that, here are a few things I have pinched from the Daily Pour. Contents in bold followed by the text that appears by way of intro to the topics covered. Snarky comments from me have been excised because these beauties can stand on their own. Beware. Some of these posts have serious commentary attached to them. I prefer to think of what Letterman would do with them.

  • Woot Wine! - One Week, One Wine
    Sushi Chef 5 piece Sushi Kit - $14.99 - *Mama-san always said life is like a bento box of sushi* You never know what that pink squishy thing in the middle is.

  • Wayne's Gastropub
    The Gastropub Phenomenon: Jaynes featured in today’s San Diego Union Tribune. - Gastro-huh? Gastro-what? Gastrointestinal?

  • Wine Compass Blog
    Taste Live: Discover Beaujolais & Discover Virginia

  • The Blend
    Spanish and California Whites Shine in Texas

  • On the Wine Trail in Italy
    Profuse & Pulchritudinous Parmigiano Porn - Photos from the "Say cicciolata" collection"

  • Rockss and Fruit
    Sick Tasting Notes - I am home sick with some sort of sinus infection, head cold, congestion thingie and thought it would be a perfect time to post some sick tasting notes

  • Worcester Sauce
    Living on the edge: Wines of the Volcanoes

Leave a comment below, but please limit your comments to 1,200 characters or less. We find it helpful to make a copy of our comments to be sure that they fit. In that way, you can edit them if they run long.

(Please note: your e-mail address will not be visible after posting)



Note: Refresh your browser to see your latest comments.

Having technical problems with the comment system? Click here.