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Friday Fishwrap: Random Jottings at Week's End
Travels With Charlie

By Charles Olken

I have had a few tricks up my sleeve this week, and more are coming next week. They add up to destinations today, next week and next year.

Today: At 7:30. Vintage Berkeley, Elmwood store. A book signing of our new book, the Connoisseurs’ Guidebook to California Wines and Wineries, co-sponsored by Mrs. Dalloway’s, a fabulous independent bookstore also in Berkeley’s Elmwood District. My co-author, Joe Furstenthal and I will be there signing books and drinking wine. Join us.

Next Friday, November 5: 4:30-7:00. The Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant is sponsoring a tasting with 30 Napa Valley wineries. At the Ferry Building but upstairs out of the hustle and bustle of the main floor at the Ferry Building. Have a look at the wineries that will be pouring. This is a very special event. And discount tickets are available through the website:

I just talked to Debbie, the co-proprietor of The Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant and got permission to extend my insider membership in their “club” to our readers. Use the word “Club” when you sign up and you can attend this awesome event for the insider’s price of $35 instead of the regular $50. Tell Debbie that Charlie sent you.

For the future: Raymond Vineyards. The Raymond family were involved in the running of the fabled Beringer winery through marriage, and when Beringer was bought up by outside interests, the Raymonds, Roy and Walt, started a new winery right in the heart of the Napa Valley just south of Zinfandel Lane. It is a privileged location, and, over the years, has made some very good wines and, frankly, some wines that were not all that well-received by Connoisseurs’ Guide. About a year ago, Jean-Charles Boisset, son of the owner of the Burgundian house that owns among other things, Clos Vougeot, purchased Raymond and he has set out to change the practices at the winery and to change the image of the winery. I was up there last night for the unveiling of the winery’s “Crystal Room”, which is a tasting bar and small wine library set up smack in the middle of the winery’s tanks. For now, the rest of the building is unchanged, but will be fancied up, and the viticultural move to organic and biodynamic farming, complete with walkaround, outdoor explanations of what, how and even a look at the raising of the insects and animals involved is in progress. This is a destination to keep in mind. The wines are on the upswing and so is the visiting experience.

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