Thursday, December 29, 2016

Reader's Choice: Most Popular Posts of the Year

Readers, thank you for reading! This year, this blog grew quite a bit - the most popular posts were up 200-300% over last year in terms of page views.

Here are the most read posts from 2016.


Books were a super popular topic this year. Is it because publishers or authors promote blog posts? Could be. But that would be a good thing, as all of these books deserve attention.

Wine Books for Holiday Gift Giving: The New Crop and a Few Oldies But Goodies

This was the top post with 825 views (and counting) highlighting some of the year's best books, including French Wine: A History, Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte, the much overlooked Terroir Champagne, The Winemaker  (a top pick) and, vitally, The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health.

A Tale Well Told: Peter Sichel's Autobiography - The Secrets of My Life: Vintner, Prisoner, Soldier, Spy

This personal and historic look at Europe during the pre-World War II years and in the Cold War by wine merchant and importer Peter Sichel (most famous for Blue Nun wine) follows a Jewish family's comfortable life dissolving under the rise of the Nazis and Sichel's subsequent career spying on the Germans and other Europeans for the U.S. A revealing read.

How Did We Ever Live Without This Book? French Wine: A History Including 10 Things To Know About French Wine

Easily one of my favorite books of the year, this U.C. Press book by a Canadian history professor and wine expert fills a gap and is a much needed piece of wine history.


The biggest story - and it was BIG - on organic expansion this year was, surprisingly, from the Central Valley.

Grow, Baby, Grow: Fred Franzia Is Converting 5,000 Acres to Organic Certification

When Fred Franzia of Bronco Wine announced that he was going to convert 5,000 acres of his 40,000 acres in the Central Valley, it was big news.

What had not been previously reported (you heard it here first) was that he was already the second largest producer (after #1, Bonterra) of wines labeled "Made with Organic Grapes,' mainly through his Green Fin brand (available at Trader Joe's). This post got 730 views (and counting).

The Central Valley is, of course, the biggest wine growing region in the state and therefore the country and until now has had almost no organic vines (unlike the cheaper wine regions of Europe in Spain and Languedoc-Roussillon).


Resistance to Glyphosate Popping Up in Europe: Countries Oppose Renewing Glyphosate's License to Kill Weeds

The topic of glyphosate is one that continues to bubble on the front burner. Europe is coming to grips with the fallout of citizen sentiment in the wake of the UN's IARC ruling. Our March blog post was the most heavily viewed article on glyphosate news (730 views).


Hall Wines Faces Local Protests Over Plan to Cut 14,000 Oaks to Raise More Napa Wine Grapes

A battle over the Halls' plans to convert oak covered hillsides in Napa to vineyards - in 30+ parcels (perfect for developing future ranchettes, when the political time is right) - created a environmental and political firestorm for local residents and environmentalists who don't think the best thing for Napa is to cut down 14,000 oak trees to grow more wine.

While the county board of supervisors, following planning dept. recommendations and the letter of the current law, approved the expansion, the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity have said they will file lawsuits against the development.


Two very short posts (the second linking to an LA Times story) got a lot of attention on the topic of Biodynamics.

125 Cowhorns: That's What It Takes to Fuel Montinore's 200+ Acres of Biodynamic Vines

The Biodynamic Wine Tincture Made with Pot

Biodynamic wines also figured prominently in these stories.

Eric Asimov's Wine School on Oregon Pinot Noir: Two Out of Three Wines Selected Are Biodynamic

Two wineries achieved Biodynamic certification this year. I'll be writing about two more that should be on this list - King Estate and Sea Smoke Cellars - soon. These two stories (below) were about tiny amounts of acreage, but marked hopeful trends in regions that have hardly any Biodynamic presence.

Villa Creek Receives Demeter Certification: Nearly Doubles Paso Robles Biodynamic Vineyard Acreage

Domaine Anderson's Dach Vineyard Demeter Certified: Doubles Biodynamic Acreage in Anderson Valley


While I don't usually cover the "natural" wine movement, this post this year was an exception. Let's hope it led to some internal reflection at RAW Wine about setting some standards.

Who's Certified Organic at the RAW Natural Wine Fair in New York?

This post got 881 views, which shows you the strength of the natural wine community. This article is about the RAW wine fair's waffling? fuzziness? about organic vines.

Many of the U.S. producers exhibiting at the fair use both organic and pesticided grapes in their wines. While only the organically sourced (or allegedly organically sourced) wines are permitted to be tasted at the fair, it's odd to find a natural wine association knowingly promoting brands that market themselves as natural winemakers but who knowingly and openly use pesticided grapes in the majority of their wines. For years the movement has touted using organic grapes as a major reason to call a wine "natural."


Organically grown wines top a number of "best wine" lists.

Organic Estate Wineries Dominate The Daily Meal's Top 10 Wineries List for Second Year in a Row

Who's Certified Organic on James Suckling's Top 100 Napa Red Wines of the Year?


This year two stories on wines from abroad were among the most read posts.

Alsace Features All Organic and Biodynamic Tasting at Wine Writers Conference

The wine bloggers' conference this year in Lodi featured a seminar and an outstanding tasting of Alsace's best, courtesy of Alsace's wine association. The region is 15% certified organic or Biodynamic. That's twice as much as Napa (7 percent) and 7 times more than Sonoma (2 percent).

Organic and Biodynamic in Champagne? Reason for Hope

Caroline Henry, a wine writer in Champagne, brings attention to the success of organic and Biodynamic growers in Champagne, one of the French wine regions that uses the most pesticides, herbicides and fungicides of any region in France.


Raising a Glass to Spottswoode Founder, Mary Novak, an Organic Pioneer in Napa, Who Died at 84

Commemorating the life story of a woman who was a pioneer on so many fronts and produced one of Napa's great wines. It just happened to be from organic vines.

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