The Story of the Wine Guide

In the early 1980s, as the popularity of vintage wines soared in the USA, I tracked the best wines, and the best values. Focusing on red wines, but also enjoying great white wines, I began carrying a list of interesting, sought-after wines when I traveled for work. I found incredible values all over the USA, and in many other countries I visited.

I subscribed to popular publications, including trade journals and food mags that promoted wines. Soon, I had too many wines on my list, so I needed a more efficient solution.

We entered my list  into a database. The personal computer movement was just starting to grow in the mid-1980s, but as an experienced database manager, I found a PC relational database tool called R:Base.

We used R:Base for our wine database; by 1985 I was carrying my printed database booklet into stores, for quick reference for the wines I encountered. The booklet was so handy, we gave copies of it to customers and friends. It was a hit, and everyone wanted a copy!  Continue reading “The Story of the Wine Guide”

Maryhill Winery Follows up in 2015

It would be difficult to top the San Francisco International Wine Competition ‘2014 Winery Of The Year’ award. Maryhill Winery followed up this year in fine fashion. First, the Wine Press Northwest Magazine named Maryhill as 2015’s Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year. See the press release, and a good background on Maryhill Winery at the Wine Press Northwest magazine’s website.

And now, you have a way to taste some of those award winning wines, that we wrote about last year, and tasted this year. Maryhill Winery opened their Reserve Room, a 1200 square foot room that offers tastings of a rotating selection of their best wines. Of course, there is an additional charge, but visitors can apply the $20 fee towards purchase of the wines.  Continue reading “Maryhill Winery Follows up in 2015”

Cameron Hughes: An American Négoçiant

We discovered the wines of Cameron Hughes in 2007; our first purchases included Lots 29,  34, and 35: Lake County Meritage, and Rutherford and Yountville Cabernets, respectively. We soon followed up with 75- and 100-year-old-vine Shiraz, and more California Cabs (including more of the Lot 35. What a great discovery, that our friend Julie Bettis had turned us on to!

Soon, although we had an ownership interest in a wine shop, we were buying over half our wines from this discovery. So what is the story behind this interesting American Négoçiant?


Cameron Hughes grew up in Modesto, California, and learned about wine from his father, Steve, who was involved in the wine industry as a salesperson, and winemaker. After getting a degree in marketing, Cameron decided wine was more interesting, so he used his–and his father’s–wine trade contacts to find wines. During the wine glut in the mid-2000s, he found excess wines from premium wineries, placed his Lot Number label on them, and sold them to major chains (e.g., Costco), and online subscribers, like us.  Continue reading “Cameron Hughes: An American Négoçiant”

Maryhill is 2014 Winery of the Year

A winery that we frequently visit, Maryhill Winery, in Goldendale, Washington, was recently honored as the Winery of the Year for 2014.  A press release for the San Francisco International Wine Competition, in making the announcement, reported …

After judging more than 4,500 wines from 1,400 wineries, 26 states and 31 countries, the Tasting Panel Magazine at the 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition awarded Washington state’s Maryhill Winery as “Winery of the Year.”

In addition, Maryhill won 30 awards for its wines, including four gold, 11 bronze, and 10 silver, two “Best of Show” honors and three double golds:

• Best Mourvedre (97 pts): 2011 Mourvedre, Rattlesnake Hills
• Best Grenache (95 pts): 2011 Grenache, Proprietor’s Reserve, Columbia Valley
• Double Gold (95 pts): 2011 Syrah, Classic, Columbia Valley  Continue reading “Maryhill is 2014 Winery of the Year”

500 Years Of Great Wine, Born In Croatia

This is one of the most intriguing wine stories of the last 500 years! The Dalmatian Coast (formerly part of Yugoslavia) of today’s Croatia has long-been a favorite vacation spot, and a great wine-growing location.

Today, the wine world is re-discovering Croatia’s wonders.

Among those discoveries: Five wines are the same, or are direct descendants of one grape, as proven by DNA testing (you can still call the USA wine Zinfandel):

  • Primitivo is Tribidrag, transplanted from Croatia to Puglia (Italy’s boot heel) in the late 1700s;
  • Zinfardal (the original spelling of Zinfandel) is Tribidrag, brought to the USA from a Viennese Empire greenhouse in 1823;
  • Crljenak Kaštelanski is Tribidrag, and was lost for years; it has now been found and DNA-matched in a vineyard near Split, Croatia;
  • Tribidrag is now the accepted name for this grape and wine, because it is the oldest name; traced to Croatia in the 1500 (thus the 500 years in the title of this article);
  • Plavac Mali is the Croatian son of Tribidrag and Dobričić, a red grape from a nearby island.

Visiting the Source
After helping to organize a 2013 conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia, we spent a day of wine tasting on the Dingac peninsula (thank you again, Mladen Radujković!), visiting a half dozen wineries.  Continue reading “500 Years Of Great Wine, Born In Croatia”