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Underrated Zinfandel

I love Zinfandel. I have an emotional attachment to Zinfandel. Zinfandel was the first red wine that seduced me as a young wine enthusiast. I was so passionate about Zinfandel that the owners of the wine shop where I worked my first wine job had a wine glass made for me that said, “Mr. Zin.” […]

Red wine pouring into a crystal glass with 3 bottles of Cabernet on the table behind it

How to Order Wine Like a Sommelier

“Hello, my name is Ron, and I’m a recovering sommelier.” For many people, being handed the wine list in a fancy restaurant is a bit like being asked to go a couple of rounds with Mike Tyson. You haven’t a clue how to do it, and you know it’s going to hurt. I do have […]

A long row of lush green vines with bright green leaves and plump, yellow grape clusters

Vintage 2021

After what can only be described as the hellish vintage of 2020 (fire and brimstone and pestilence—the only thing missing was toilet paper), 2021 was a splendid year. As for 2020, it must be said that the wines are amazing despite the insanity of the year. It’s a testament to the courage and professionalism of […]

Much Ado About Malbec

It’s a sign of how ancient a variety Malbec is that it has more than 1000 synonyms, according to the great French ampelographer Pierre Galet (an “ampelographer” is defined as a botanist who specializes in identifying grape varieties, and does not mean a guy who studies chubby people). In its original home Cahors, it’s called […]

A bottle and wine glass of Sonoma County Cabernet on a table in front of a white wall with a vase of assorted flowers and a platter of wood-fired pizza

Demystifying Food & Wine Pairing

If you took a poll of wine writers that asked which annual topics they dread the most, I am certain that the winners would be “Pairing Wine and Chocolate” and “What Wines to Drink With My Holiday Meals.” For the record, chocolate pairs with Cabernet Sauvignon like antifreeze pairs with Gatorade. I love chocolate and […]

Introducing Ron Washam

When I was first employed as a sommelier, I wasn’t a sommelier. I was a wine steward. Americans were unfamiliar with the word “sommelier.” Most were unable to pronounce it, including those employed as one. If I told people I was a sommelier, they often thought I was from the Horn of Africa. I didn’t […]

2021 Harvest is Underway

When the first grape truck arrives at Rodney Strong one August morning each vintage, this vintage no different than the previous, everything changes. The truck is carrying about twenty tons of Pinot Noir destined to be part of our Russian River Rosé of Pinot Noir. Everyone at the winery that August morning stops what they’re […]


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