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Meet the New CGCW


For over forty years, Connoisseurs’ Guide has been the authoritative voice of the California wine consumer. With readers in all fifty states and twenty foreign countries, the Guide is valued by wine lovers everywhere for its honesty and for it strong adherence to the principles of transparency, unbiased, hard-hitting opinions. Now, it is becoming the California winelover’s most powerful online voice as well. And, our new features provide an unmatched array of advice and information for aficionados of every stripe.


Our monthly newsletter, noted for its accuracy, independence and thoroughness by both the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle remains the focus of our activities. Connoisseurs’ Guide reviews thousands of California and West Coast wines in peer-to-peer blind tastings. Our guest panelists are all industry professionals including other wine writers, sommeliers, retailers and distributors. Almost all other wine reviews are the result of “single palate” tastings and do not match the depth of knowledge and powerful analytical talents brought together at our table.


We buy a high percentage of the wines we taste, and while we accept samples, we do not limit ourselves to reviews of wines submitted. And we never engage in the highly questionable tactic of tasting wines at the winery with the labels showing. Many limited production wineries insist on that bias-inducing scenario. We politely tell them that we do not do it. As the result, we may miss out on some limited production wines, but we do not compromise on our guarantee to you of complete independence and total objectivity.


The new CGCW uses the Internet to bring its readers and fans a series of new features including wine country restaurant recommendations, book reviews, touring advice, wine and food pairings that work because we have perfected them over years of serving meals at the end of our blind tastings. And, our unprecedented REPORT CARDS, issued every Thursday, will tell you which wineries and writers have got it right and which have got it wrong. Subscribers to CGCW will receive the REPORT CARD by email on Wednesdays as well as advance notice of the daily extras that will appear in the Connoisseurs’ Blog for the coming week.


Subscribers also receive discount purchases of our best-selling book, The Connoisseurs’ Guidebook to California Wines and Wineries, published by the University of California Press. Newly minted and up-to-date, this handy tome is part atlas, part encyclopedia and part tour guide, and its introductions to the leading California wines and wineries is fast becoming must reading for everyone who enjoys California wine.



To learn more about Connoisseurs Guide, TAKE THE TOUR and be sure to VIEW A SAMPLE ISSUE.


Inside the Current Issue

January is a time in which to relax from the happy madness of the holidays and take stock in the year just passed. This month we pause to take a moment to address what 2019 has meant for California's wine culture and recall the best bottles that have come our way in the last twelve months, but the parade of new wines is unending, and we start 2020 with a report on recent releases of Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé and Tempranillo.

99% of the Zinfandel grown globally comes from California, and we think that the rest of world is missing the boat. It is an endlessly fascinating variety that we and its legions of devoted fans simply could not do without.

California may not have a monopoly on Sauvignon Blanc the way that it does with Zinfandel, but the grape has found an especially happy home in the Golden State, and the best bottlings rank with those made anywhere in the old world and the new.

One of the biggest vinous surprises of the last decade is the astonishing rise in consumer demand for well-made Rosé, and drinking pink no longer means drinking simple and sweet.

Very arguably Spain's most famous grape, Tempranillo has established a firm foothold in California, and, although its local makers are still few, it is a variety well worth watching in the coming years.

Every year in wine country has its own story. We look back on what 2019 has meant in California as winemakers successfully overcame the challenges of late-season wildfires and wide-spread power outages, and we sadly say goodbye to several towering figures that were instrumental in making the state's amazing culture of fine wine what it is today.

Although 2019 saw a bounty of marvelous new wines, there were, as always, some that left an especially indelible mark on our memories. Stephen and Charles reveal their top picks of the year.

Noteworthy buys in Sparkling wine, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling are featured this month with many high quality offerings checking in at surprisingly affordable prices that will go a long way in easing holiday pocketbook pain.