Napa wineries suffer damages from 6.0 earthquake

20,000 homes and businesses are without power as a result of an early morning earthquake in California.  “It felt like a bomb going off” said one resident.

The 6.0 magnitude earthquake rocked areas north of San Francisco. It was the biggest tremor in the area in 25 years. 

Wine Industry Insight has organized a forum to assist with communication for wineries needing relief.
Visit: Napa Earthquake – Help Needed.

More details will become available in the coming days, but for now, raise a glass to the hard working people of Napa & Sonoma: they deserve it now more than ever.

Twitter Tasting August 20, 2014. Light up with a Daniel Marshall Robusto Cigar

Who: Daniel Marshall Cigars
What: #DMCigars “Robusto”
When: Wednesday August 20, 2014. 8pm Mountain Standard Time
Where: Twitter Tasting using hashtag #DMCigars
Why: Because we love cigars and we’ll have the chance to chat on twitter with Daniel Marshall himself!

What’s a Twitter Tasting?
First of all, it’s a fun way to spend an hour with like-minded people. The tasting is open to anyone over the age of 21. You will need a Twitter account. If you don’t have one, it’s easy to create one at
Once your account is set up, follow me @valbradshaw and tweet me your interest in being part of the Daniel Marshall Cigars Twitter Tasting on Wed August 20, 2014 at 8pm Mountain Standard Time. Once I “follow” you, we can then communicate by DM (Direct Message) on twitter to finalize the details.

If you are new to twitter, one of the things you need to be familiar with is hashtags.
That where you put this symbol “#” in front of the topic of discussion. Any word(s) that have the # symbol in front of them are immediately easier to “search” on twitter.
The advantage to this is you can quickly see what other people are saying about the DM cigar as we will all be using the hashtag #DMCigars.
Hashtags are also very helpful if you happen to use tweetdeck.

Once you’ve received your #DMCigars #Robusto #cigar, keep it in your humidor until the night of the Twitter Tasting. At 8pm mst on Wed Aug 20.14, cigar aficionados from around the world will light up in unison and we will discuss what we are getting from the cigar.
If you’re new to cigars, here are a few suggestions of what to look for when smoking the Daniel Marshall Robusto:
Cutting the cigar: Make sure your cutter is sharp so you get the cap off with a nice, clean strike. You can use a punch if that’s more your style.
Lighting the cigar. When you light the Daniel Marshall Robusto, you want to roll the end of the cigar over the flame to give it a bit of a “toast”. You can then proceed to draw from the cigar in order to get it started with an even burn.
Aroma & Flavor of the cigar: The DM Robusto is made up of different types of tobacco. You will be able to smell & taste different flavors as you smoke your way through the cigar. Some common aroma/flavour descriptors for most cigars could be:
Chocolate, Honey, Bread, Almond, Walnut, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cherry, Plum, Raisin and Leather. Keep in mind that taste can often be subjective, so if you’re getting something from the cigar, feel free to say it.
Finishing the cigar: All good things must come to an end. But smoking a cigar with friends is a wonderful way to spend a bit of time in the evening, or morning depending on your time zone.
As we finish the cigar, we will have made comments on topics like burn-rate, ash, hand-feel and over-all experience.
Having Daniel Marshall himself in attendance will make this Twitter tasting a very informative & interesting experience.

Wine & Opinions. Be alert & informed when dining & drinking.

I often hear people talk about the pretentiousness of wine & spirit aficionados.
More often than not, these comments are from people who haven’t paid the dime or done the time to experience structured classes for wine & spirit education.
But in general, when one finds themselves in social gatherings, there’s often more people with opinions than people equipped with facts, so it’s one of those things a wine & spirit professional learns to live with.

However, there have been a few experiences have made me reflect on how people approach the drinking styles & selections in social settings.
A few years ago, I was dining alone on the patio of a lovely hotel. As I perused the menu and the wine list, I realized my cravings were at odds with traditional wine & food pairing.
On one hand, I wanted the med+spicy Butter Chicken.
On the other hand, I was craving a juicy Merlot.
Even in my head, with all my experience, I knew putting those two together was risky. So, I decided to ask the server what he would recommend with the Butter Chicken and the answer was textbook … Gewürztraminer.
I knew that, but I just wasn’t in the mood for a Gewruz.
So I ordered the Butter Chicken. And the Merlot. My server politely supported my decision saying “that will be just fine”.

As the server walked away, the single-diner gentleman at the table next to me offered this unsolicited advice: “If we were in France, the server would never have let you order a Merlot with Butter Chicken”.
I turned, thought for just a moment, then replied “Well, if we were in France, it would be perfectly acceptable to order a low tannic wine with any well-cooked dish. And furthermore, even if we were in France, we would have at least “Bonjure’d each other before critiquing the others wine selection”
Clearly, he wasn’t expecting an educated response, immediately apologized, said “You’re right. Bonjour!” He then asked to join me at my table where we enjoyed several hours of spirited discussion on wine, food & travel.

What makes this story funny, is although I’d had several years of WSET Wine & Spirit education, at that time … I hadn’t yet been to France. I’d read a bunch of books, passed all the tests on Wines from France, but it would be another year before I set foot on its soil.
So how did I come to suggest saying “Bonjour” to another diner? I’d read an article. Just the day before, a respected wine & food critic for a local newspaper had written about his dining experience in a small, tightly packed restaurant in France. The tables were so close together, as he serpentined his way to his table, he would say Bonjour every time he bumped along the chairs of the other diners.
So, being alert and well-read, I used this to my advantage when confronted by someone who chose to challenge my dining decision.
It’s amazing the positive outcomes achieved when one is armed with options & a smile on their face. I made a new friend and learned many things from conversation with him.

When I finally did make my 1st trip to Europe the following year, I discovered, in both France and Italy, patrons who observed me dining solo, on a patio or in a restaurant, would often acknowledge me with a “Bonjour” or a “Bon Appetit”.
It was a wonderful feeling. I am grateful for those kind words and will often extend the same sentiments to other diners wherever I travel.