How often do you, fellow wine professionals, fellow wine educators, fellow wine enthusiasts, find yourself scrolling back through the photos on your phone, hoping to pinpoint a bottle of wine you had at some party, or tasting, or late-night extravaganza, because the person you’re talking to, simply has to, just has to try it, but you need to find the photo, because you can’t remember exactly what the wine is called? Happens to me all the time. And then, I notice that I’ve taken a slew of photos I intended to post to Instagram, or Facebook, or whatever social site I imagine I ought to be posting to more often, and I panic. So much to post!
And as is often the case, I find myself in quiet admiration of the people I’ve met and the places I’ve been, which could not be possible were it not for my profession. When, back in 2012, I decided to take the WSET, and over the course of many evenings, passed Levels 2 and 3, I did not know then that it would lend such tremendous value to the work I would eventually do.
So, as a pre-Thanksgiving show of thanks and admiration for my profession as a journalist of wine (and spirits), below are highlights that I “forgot to share” (along with a few photos that were actually shared but not with all of you) and a couple of images that have yet to be shared, but will, once a story I’m currently working on for the February/March SOMM Journal actually publishes. I call this photo gallery “Portrait of a Wine Writer” and I hope that these photos inspire you to pursue whatever it is in this industry that fuels your passions and sends you out into the night to clink glasses with those you admire, those you idolize and those you simply love to be with. The featured image above is from the Winelands Tent at Outside Lands in San Francisco with Paul Grieco, Mr. Riesling himself. I first met Paul in New York at Hearth and certainly at Terroir, but have run into him at several events, and for any of you that know Paul, he is one evangelical preacher of the gospel of wine according to Riesling. It’s people like him, and many others, that keep the beverage industry at a cut about the rest.
Ran into Abe Schoener (Scholium Project) at the Napa Valley Film Fest.
Ran into Agustin Huneeus at the CIA’s Sommelier Summit in April 2015.
Scott Beattie cocktail class at Meadowood. That was my creation.
Hanging with the master mixologist himself, Mr. Scott Beattie.
For me, this was a revelatory tasting of very old zin vines maintained by Bill Greenough — I had read all about this wine, and about Bill in a book by Sean Christopher Weir called “The Mad Crush” which is a hell of an account of working harvest in SLO Wine Country.
That’s Mr. Bill Greenough himself, of Saucelito Canyon Vineyards & Winery in the upper Arroyo Grande Valley.
Napa Valley Wine Academy Boot Camp Students punching down those grapes!
That’s me and Bob Cabral, of Three Stick’s Winery, formerly Kosta Browne.
Photographer Alexander Rubin snapping shots of Donny Sebastiani, for an article I wrote that appeared a recent Tasting Panel Magazine.
That’s Eric Li (left), the founder an inventor of the iFavine “iSommelier” rapid decanter. This photo is from their launch event in China in early November, and that’s Cuno van’t Hoff, European journalist.
The Napa Valley Wine Academy’s fearless leader and chief education officer, Christian Oggenfuss, trying, for the first time, wine in a can. Wine in the can: Infinite Monkey Theorem.
Anyone know who this South African rockstar winemaker is? Hmm?
That’s Jeff Morgan, owner and winemaker, Covenant Wines. His partner is Leslie Rudd. He makes the “best kosher wine on planet earth,” as Parker once said. It’s true. He’s also a genius and my mentor. He was a gifted sax player, band-leader at Monte Carlo, and former west-coast editor of Wine Spectator. I had lunch with him in L.A. and it was downright fun.
Who is the Most Interesting Man in the World? Why, Jonathan Goldsmith.
I attended the Second Annual Keggy Awards, presented by Free Flow Wines in Napa–it was a hoot and a keg of an event.
At the Carneros Wine Alliance tasting event back in July, I hosted a “Magnum Challenge” and gave people a Napa Valley Wine Academy Wine 101 tasting. Later, I met up with Alan Kropf (Anchor Distilling & Mutineer Magazine) (top) and Ted Wilson, proprietor of Wilson & Wilson Wines and Fine & Rare, a seafood restaurants in San Francisco, CA.
This is dirt from the Lodi Valley.
This is that same dirt from the Lodi Valley next to a picture of that dirt in its rightful place, and vines planted within it.
This is the panel that presented on the Lodi Native wine project. Spearheading discussion is Elaine Brown (center) of Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews, a marvelous writer with attention to detail like its nobody else’s business, surrounded by some critical Lodi winemakers, and all members of the Lodi Native project. Look it up.
Some fine wine from the Finger Lakes, these cats, Steve Shaw Jr. & Sr. are doing good work on behalf of New York State wines.
In the December/January issue of The SOMM Journal, I feature these fine Bay Area sommeliers, along with Christian Oggenfuss and Geralyn Brostrom (Italian Wine Professional) in this Franciacorta tasting.
Those are the very rocks you’ll find in The Rocks District of Milton Freewater, which is Washington State’s newest AVA.
This is Master of Saké Toshio Ueno at Morimoto in Napa Valley. He is one polished fellow when it comes to saké.
These are five awesome winemakers from Walla Walla Washington and my boy, Jean-Francois Pellet there on the far right.
This is what happens when awesome winemakers from Walla Walla party.
Matthew Kaner (left) inside the Riesling Roadshow trailer, just outside his famed Bar Covell in the Los Feliz neighborhood of L.A. He is one tried and true Dodger fan, by the way.
Winemaker Josh Phelps, of Taken Wine Co, showing me around Sleeping Lady Vineyard, where his dad, Chris Phelps. sources fruit to make Ad Vivum, a dazzling, premium, old world style Napa Cab.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jonathan Cristaldi was dubbed a new “Wine Prophet” by Time Out New York. While living in New York City, he founded The Noble Rot, a clandestine tasting club devoted to unconventional, creative and theatrical wine experiences. Jonathan is the Editor-in-Chief for NapaValleyWineAcademy.com. He is also the Deputy Editor for Tasting Panel Magazine, The SOMM Journal, and The Clever Root. His work has also appeared in First We Feast, Time Out Los Angeles, Liquor.com, Thrillist and Tasting Table (national editions). Cristaldi is a WSET Nominated Educator. Brazenly follow him on Twitter at @NobleRotNYC.
Cristaldi is the Northern California editor-at-large for The SOMM Journal and The Tasting Panel magazines. He is a regular contributor to Food & Wine magazine and acting editor and contributor for Napa Valley Wine Academy’s “Pouring Points” blog. He is also the founder and content director for Cristaldi & Co, a creative-content agency servicing the beverage industry and cannabis community. His work has appeared in Los Angeles Magazine and LA Mag’s Liquid LA blog, Vivino.com, Liquor.com, First We Feast, Thrillist (National Edition), Tasting Table (National Edition), Time Out LA and Psychology Today. Cristaldi was named a “Wine Prophet” by Time Out New York for his avant-garde approach to wine education and events a decade ago as the host and co-founder of The Noble Rot. Follow him on Instagram @jcristaldi