Cheese Fest Returns and Brings Italian Buffalos, Marketing Wine to a Younger Generation that Doesn’t Seem Interested, CA Sparkling Wine Continues to Sparkle and 2019 Strong for Zinfandel and More!

Writing from the edge of the Russian River in Sonoma County

Got to try my first sample of true Mozzarella di Bufala at the restarted California Artisan Cheese Festival and found it tasty and also found that the California wine industry is not doing its best in trying to reach younger drinkers. I’ve got some info on what glasses to use for sparkling wine and good news for you Zin drinks as 2019 was a great year and more of course.

I must note that the Whine is late this month due to some travel days in prep for next month’s chapter but mostly to my having been touched by Covid. We were notified after the fact, that we had been exposed – get this – at the site that we visited to get our second booster shot at the end of May. As I write this I’m still not in the best of shape so forgive me if anything seems off.

“We’re so excited to be back after the two-year layoff imposed by Covid and happy to have all of our wonderful vendors here.” Says a smiling Judy Walker, the festivals show manager, “Unfortunately some of our vendors were not able to participate this year due to staffing issues but we hope to see them next March when we return to the three day format but there’s plenty of cheese here today anyway!”

I was surprised when Walker told me that not just anyone can be a vendor in the festival. “Actually vendors are juried in (reviewed) as we don’t allow just anyone to be in the show”, Walker stated, “We reach out to vendors to make sure that we have the right product fit to go along with the artisan cheeses and other products, not every vendors products work well with what we’re doing, she cautioned.”

California cheesemakers are automatically invited but other interested vendors must ship in products for the staff to sample and review to make sure it’s something that will work well with our cheeses and that includes wines, beers, ciders and spirits. “It’s kind of hard to turn people away”, Walker offered, “But there are definitely some products that do not meet our standards or are not compatible with our cheeses”.

The show was held on Derby Day so a hat vendor was included because – “You have to have a hat for Derby day”.

And in related cheese news…

 “Hi I’d Like to Import Some Buffalo Semen”

One of the nice surprises at the festival was finding Morsey’s Farms Mozzarella di Bufala, coming from a northern California cheese producer using milk from pure breed Italian water buffalo.

For many years cheese makers in the U.S. have been trying to raise a large enough herd of Italian water buffalo to be able to use the milk to make the prized fresh mozzarella – with frustratingly poor success, we won’t go into it.

Over eight years ago Kal and Yulia Morsey founded their dairy with seven buffalo and have since grown the herd to nearly 400 animals. Kal says that buying the buffaloes from overseas is difficult because of USDA regulations. He bought the first seven animals from a breeder in Texas, added a few more from other sellers and then went to Italy and imported water buffalo semen with USDA permission.

The next step was turning to specialists at UC Davis. “With their help, we formed a breeding program that produced most of the buffalo we have here today,” Kal says. “We’re on the fourth cycle of insemination, breeding a very good Italian line.”

In the early years, the Morseys couldn’t produce enough milk to make its cheeses and gelato for wide distribution. Herd size was one issue, coupled with limited milk productions. “Water buffalo produce only two gallons a day, compared to 11 to 15 for cows,” Kal says.

For years, Yulia did all the marketing — she drove from grocery store to grocery store with samples and spent weekends at farmers markets promoting the products. “Since the first day, customer feedback has been amazing,” Kal says. “How can anybody beat mozzarella made fresh today and eaten tomorrow?”


What the Wine Industry Gets Wrong About Marketing to Younger Generations

According to the Wine Market Council’s latest U.S. Wine Consumer Segmentation Survey, conducted in the fall of 2021, only 14 percent of those aged 21 to 30 drink wine on a weekly basis, and 11 percent drink it occasionally. Thirty-eight percent don’t drink wine at all, but they do consume beer, spirits, and other alcoholic beverages. The news is somewhat better among older millennials in the 30 to 39 age group: 20 percent are weekly wine drinkers, 13 percent drink wine two or three times per month, and 37 percent skip wine in favor of other beverages. The commonalities with Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z are that they don’t want to be talked down to and made to feel stupid.

“Since the ’90s, the number of wineries in the United States has tripled”, says Damien Wilson, the chair of Sonoma State University’s wine business program, “yet the volume output has only doubled. Because the industry has seen a disproportionate influx of smaller wineries that are producing their wines at a higher cost,” he adds, “younger consumers are being priced out”. 

“Most producers are eager to try and exploit what they’re referring to as premiumization of the market, but what that’s done is set the entry point at a cost that is too high,” explains Wilson. This is likely to be the first generation that is poorer than the previous generation, so we are going about it the wrong way.” 

Not only does the industry need to create a range of simple, affordable, cleanly made wines, says Wilson, it must rethink the way it presents wine to younger consumers. 

As a result of these headwinds, tactics that were once successful—like waiting around for younger consumers to “age into wine”—are no longer working. 

It’s also important to show younger generations a good time, says Tyler Balliet, the former publisher of Second Glass, a wine magazine for millennials. After realizing that his generation was far more interested in experiencing wine than reading about it, he pivoted in 2009 to launch a series of pop-up wine festivals called Wine Riot—not unlike the wine rave concept of the 1990s. Editor’s note; for some years in Chicago I was a contract wine rep for a charming woman who placed me in a number of everyday tastings (Binny’s/Famous Liquor’s stores) in the Chicago area and every now and then really neat events such as a “Wine Riot” in the Great Hall of Chicago’s Union Station where it was fun to talk with all of the lovely young people. And at the other end of the spectrum I poured for five years at the high end Chicago Gourmet event held in Grant Park along the lake front at the end of the summer   

Taking the stuffiness out of wine is not a new idea, yet it is one that the industry has yet to embrace on a large scale.

“I am wildly hopeful,” Balliet says of the U.S. wine industry’s future. “Things are going to change and it’s going to be messy, but wine’s not going anywhere. Wine drinking might dip for a little bit until the industry can respond, but there’s so much opportunity. But you can’t just keep doing what you’re doing.”

Tina Caputo (who I know) is a writer based in Northern California who covers wine, beer, food, and travel.



California Sparkling Wines Drive Premiumization Trend

While Cook’s and Gallo’s Andre remain the two largest-selling domestic sparkling wine brands (made by a cheaper bulk method) in the U.S. by volume, Korbel remains the largest-selling, (but far from the best) California methode champenoise sparkler in the U.S., according to Impact Databank.

While Cook’s and Gallo’s Andre remain the two largest-selling domestic sparkling wine brands (made by a cheaper bulk method) in the U.S. by volume, Korbel remains the largest-selling, (but far from the best) California methode champenoise sparkler in the U.S., according to Impact Databank.

Moët Hennessy’s Domaine Chandon remains the leader in the above-$15 domestic segment. Mumm Napa had been closing the gap and has increased by 50% in volume terms the past five years. California sparkler Roederer Estate (one of my favorites), also posted solid growth in 2021.

The upscale Schramsberg brand has likewise been on the upswing, driven by its classic range of Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, and Brut Rosé.

Gloria Ferrer (another favorite) has its heritage in the Carneros appellation also performed solidly in 2021.

Piper Sonoma gained 15% last year; New Mexico-based Gruet was up 14% in 2021. Meanwhile, at a slightly lower price point Korbel posted growth of 7.6% last year to just over 1.6 million 9-liter cases, a new all-time high.

Shaken Daily News

Since we’re on the subject of sparkling wine I figured I’d offer some guidance on the correct glassware but oh loyal whiners there is controversy.

The photo above is from an article by our wine friend Lette Teague of the WSJ. She went in search of the definitive wine glass for Champagne/sparkling wine and came away somewhat dazed and confused. I’ll let you read the descriptors for yourself, but let’s say the type of glass seems to change in relationship to how expensive the bottle that is being drunk. Ms. Teague is a flute fan as am I but found established arguments for each glass and the flute was not on the winning side of the swells.

The coupe was the least liked with its wide open design that allows the bubbles to escape faster and cause I’m a guy I’ll share an age old story that the glass was designed by the infamous Queen of France Marie Antoinette, who claimed to have designed the glass in the shape of her breast – having seen paintings of her, the glass should be much bigger (wink).

Our sparkling wine glass collection has evolved over 36 years.  I like the 1st and 3rd glasses best; the slight bulge has a different optic with wine in

it and feels good in my hand. The cut glass is the true romantic glass for sparkling as the bubbles dance and move as the rise to the top; I think we bought these in the Caribbean 25 years ago. Good to chill any wine glass especially as summer approaches.

The stemless glass (there is also a plastic version) is my go to as an everyday glass and best to use when watching a movie/music after a couple when a stem becomes dangerous – if you get my drift.

My wine glass folks and had these practical thoughts;

“While I personally prefer a tulip glass for Champagne I can tell you that we sell far more flutes, by a large margin, than any other shape of glass for Champagne”.

“I believe it’s because Champagne is often enjoyed as a celebration drink for so many events and when the flutes come out everyone knows it’s a special occasion”.

Alana Hadfield co-owner, – 312/981/9127


2019 A Good Year for Zinfandel

“Yummy” is a great word, but you rarely read it in a wine tasting note. I hesitate to use it because it seems amateurish. But when it comes to the 2019 California Zinfandels, yummy is the perfect description. I’ve been tasting a lot of 2019s and I can’t recall a vintage that’s more fun to drink.

It’s that rare Zin vintage that achieves harmony and balance. The 2019s don’t fit into the typical buzz phrases. The wines are fruit-forward but not fruit bombs. They’re ripe but not decadent or burdened with the heat of alcohol.

The 2019 growing season was a rainy late winter and spring, with flooding in Sonoma County and beyond. There were periods of heat in late summer—as high as 106° F—which Zin producers don’t mind if it doesn’t linger for days. Fires in late October caused smoke issues but the growing season was warm enough that most Zinfandel was off the vine by then.

Perhaps the best news is that the 2019s are generally enjoyable across the board, no matter the region, producer or price point. From perennial values from classic producers such as Pedroncelli to stalwarts such as Dry Creek Vineyard and fan-favorites such as Turley, the vintage has something to offer any Zin lover.

With fires and smoke a real issue in 2020 many wineries decided not to make Zinfandel. My advice is to stock up on the 2019s and hold onto them if you can. And take heart: Early reports suggest 2021 will be another outstanding vintage.

Tim Fish WS


Speaking of Zinfandels, we were in Lodi over the Memorial Day holiday celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary on the 31st and I’ll have a full report in the June edition. In the meantime here’s a few zins for your summer cookouts, don’t be afraid to cool for a half hour or so if you’re going to be outside.

Bottle prices listed are from the wineries so I’m sure you will find your local stores have better deals.

2019 Bucklin Sonoma Valley field blend 93 $24

2019 Turley California old vines 93 $25

2018 Alexander Valley Vineyards 90 $20

2018 Klinker Brick Lodi Old Vine 90 $19

2020 Ferrari – Carano Sonoma County Chardonnay 90 $25

Domaine Chandon NV Blanc de Pinot Noir California 90 $25


Yes There Really was a Jack Cakebread

I often refer to overtly oaked Chardonnay as tasting like 2×4’s. I believe I just started using the phrase many years ago as a clever remark that I had coined – apparently I’m in good company.

Jack Cakebread, founder of Cakebread Cellars bought 22 acres of land in the Rutherford region of Napa in 1972 (might be worth $66 mil today) and created what would become a prominent label with his Chardonnay becoming a fixture on restaurant wine lists in the 1980’s.

He had a strong distain for showy and overly oaky wines. “I don’t want a two-by-four in my glass, what I like is an undertone.”

Great drinkers taste alike!

He recently passed at 92

That’s my Whine….and I could be wrong

My recipe for a Tasty Tuna Salad is a click away, enjoy!

Woody Mosgers, cooks, caters, writes, drinks and matches wine and food in Santa Rosa Sonoma County at