A fantastic piece by Richard Siddle of The Buyer interviewing two of our Directors, Justin Knock MW and Damien Jackman, who are also ambassadors in the UK for the California Wine Institute.
Ahead of the trade-only California Wine Fair to be held in the gardens of Westminster Abbey on 27 September 2017, Justin and Damien were asked the state of play of Californian wines in the UK. You can read the full article here.
Damien also gave his tips on where to eat, drink and stay while in California:
"Best place for a sunset drink?
The beauty of facing west and being lined by the Pacific Coast means you can find countless locations for a very special sunset drink. There are so many to mention – the pier in Santa Barbara, countless rooftop bars in Los Angeles, bars or restaurants along the Embarcadero in San Francisco, and anywhere along Highway 1 such as Big Sur is incredibly special.
Best place to eat?
If you’re in Napa, head to Press restaurant
For true wine lovers we always recommendPress in Napa Valley, just south of St Helena. Kelli White has amassed what must surely be the world’s great wine list of back vintage Napa wines. Served alongside impeccably grilled steaks and seafood, this is a classic California experience.
Just as classic is the brilliantly authenticIl Molino Central in Sonoma – this tiny Mexican cantina is the real deal and we dare you not to hold the plate to your face and lick the last morsel of guacamole from it like ‘one’ of us has been known to do. Also don’t forget that California is America’s salad, nut and fruit bowl, growing most of this produce for the entire US so load up on salads as big as your head that are layered with flavour and substance – you truly could live like a king just eating salads in California.
Finally, the roasted chicken atZuni in San Franciscois justifiably famous in the global wine trade, as is their fantastic wine list. Order the chicken and a Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay and accept that some things in life are just meant to be.
Best place to stay?
There is no shortage here. You have two of the most vibrant and exciting cities in the world bookending your wine travels – LA and San Francisco, so fly into one and out of the other. Towns like Santa Barbara just exude laid back California cool and will make you want to move there tomorrow. Napa and Sonoma are fantastic as the big wine valley towns, but also try their smaller, cuter cousins Yountville (near Napa) and Healdsburg (near Sonoma) for beautifully cute and quaint wine country towns. If you want to escape to the remote Sonoma Coast then Timber Cove just north of Jenner is jaw-droppingly good.
Best thing to do as a tourist?
Just get in your car and explore classic drives like along the Big Sur…
Drive and explore the countryside. Highway 1 between Moro Bay and Monterey is amazing, but also consider the Northern stretch of this iconic highway heading north from Bodega Bay (where Hitchcock filmed The Birds). All of the wine regions offer fantastic hospitality to tourists so you can’t miss.
What music have you got on in the car?
When you dig into iTunes and start to look for songs written about California the list becomes almost endless. The diverse geography from pacific surf coasts, to alpine forests and scorching deserts has acted as a powerful muse from artists as diverse as Joni Mitchell, The Beach Boys, Neil Diamond, Glen Campbell, John Mayer, Razorlight and U2 to name but a few.
Day 3 began with a few sore heads from the night before, luckily the beds in the Dr Loosen guest house are extremely comfortable and a freshly cooked breakfast went down a treat. Next stop Jean Stodden Winery and Donnhoff.
I was fortunate enough to be invited on the recent Masters of Riesling trip by renowned German importer 'ABS Agencies' this past June. This trip involved visiting some of the most prestigious German wineries across the country over four wine filled days, sounds fun right.
The 2021 Bordeaux vintage is being hailed as the 'Miracle Vintage' by some winemakers: between late frosts and a cool, damp summer, it was a difficult vintage, and grape yields were significantly reduced compared to recent years.