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A new look


Welcome to my blog’s spiffy new look! I thought it was about time to change the its appearance. The old one was 2-1/2 years old and was getting a little stodgy. The photo of me was even older, about 4 years. So I set about changing things.

The new header was designed by Thomas Reiss, of Kraftwerk Design, in San Luis Obispo. I think Thomas and his team are the top wine label, wine website and packaging designers in the Central Coast. They’ve done everyone from Justin and Vina Robles to Eberle and Zaca Mesa, and you can almost always tell a Kraftwerk label because it’s so clean and elegant. Thomas did a great job with my header. At first, I thought it looked like I was standing in front of a jellyfish tank at the Monterey Aquarium, but the more I looked at it, the more I liked it.

Thomas himself, who’s tattooed, had suggested my look: long-sleeved shirt, rolled up to the elbow, showing off the bottom of my arm. The actual photo was taken in the garden of the Santa Ynez Inn, with me posing in front of a rosebush, which I thought would echo the flowers in my tattoo; but Thomas chose to remove the background. The signature is similar to, but not, mine; Thomas explained you don’t want to have your real signature publicized, for legal and identity theft reasons.

The blog layout is a WordPress template. The actual work was done by Jose Diaz, of Diaz Communications, an old friend (with his wife, Jo). Jose listened carefully to my desires, contributed ideas of his own, and the result is this new look. I may have some additional surprises to add to it in coming months. We’ll see. In the meanwhile, I’ll be troubleshooting the new format for problems. If any of my readers experience difficulties, or have suggestions for improvement, I hope you’ll contact me.

* * *

I reviewed Pinot Noirs yesterday and what a pleasure it was. I hated to pour the remnants down the sink, but what’s a critic to do? In my early years of reviewing, I’d take the opened bottles (which were almost full; I’d pour out only a tiny sip) around to my neighbors, knocking on doors, asking them to help themselves. They were pleased to, of course. I also told them to not hesitate to come around to my place, late in the afternoon after my tasting sessions were finished, to take whatever I had reviewed that day. No one ever did. I found it enormously puzzling. Here I was, offering them free, good wine, and they weren’t taking advantage of the situation. Then I put myself in their shoes, and figured out why. They didn’t want to seem like supplicants. I couldn’t blame them. So I started pouring the bottles down the drain. I still feel awful doing that when it’s a 95 point bottle, but there’s nothing that can be done, so I just do it.

Anyway, I won’t mention the brands I tasted yesterday, but they were all Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast Pinots, mainly from 2008. Well, I will mention one, Merry Edwards. Compared to some of the lighter, silkier Pinot Noirs that are so good to drink right now, hers are dense and tannic, almost coarse. Of course, they’re too young. But there’s so much stuff going on, not just fruit, but earthy, mulchy, mushroomy things that remind me of long walks in the Autumn through fog-shrouded Redwood forests. Hints of wild, feral things, game, pine cones, fir needles, wet leaves, old fallen limbs. Very interesting and inimitable wines.

The ascendance of California Pinot Noir has surely been the most significant and satisfying event of my career. I cannot imagine another variety doing anything similar in my lifetime. I like to think that Pinot’s success was the wine version of the Manhattan Project, in which the nation poured all its resources toward a single end: the creation of the atom bomb. In Pinot’s case, it was all the resources of California, from the universities and laboratories to the young, ambitious winemakers and growers, as well as the critics and writers who, from the sidelines, cheered everyone on, creating a sense of excitement. Could that happen again? Probably not.

I hope you like my blog’s new look!

  1. Great new look, Steve!

    Clean, professional, easy to read, and a great new header. What more could you ask for?


  2. The look is cool and the tattoo is rad.

    Thanks for the Bo Simons Wine Library mention. I’ll be there!

    You might want to tweak your site for SEO while you’re at it:

  3. Very elegant, and much easier to read.

    Nice work to all involved!

  4. Although it was the content that kept me returning to your blog I have to congratulate for a great look. Classy!

    All the best,


  5. Felicitations, auguri, congrats—it’s a terrific new look, both friendly and elegant, authoritative and welcoming at the same time!

  6. Bill Smart says:

    I’d like to see you incorporate some video blog posts as well. I think your readers would enjoy going along with you on the road during your travels. You are always interviewing or speaking with famous winemakers. Why not buy a Flip and do a quick 30 second to 1 minute video of your conversation? I think it would be interesting and fun.

  7. Bill, I plan to have more videos in the future.

  8. The new look is nice. Clean, elegant and inviting. Well done!

  9. P.S. If I lived next door you would be feeling a lot less guilty.

  10. Love the new design of the blog.

    As per @kelkeagy, if I was your neighbor, post-tasting visits would be my main priority every day!

  11. Ditto what kelkeagy said. In fact I may start looking in the neighborhood…

  12. Love the new site look!

  13. nice site. I’ll be happy to drop by and pick up your “left-over” wine…I’ll even be a supplicant if needed! Also, I think that central coast grenache and blends will be the next benchmark California wine

  14. Ohhhh Fancy! As long as the content continues to be great. You can scribe on stone (albeit then scan and publish online) Congrats & Cheers!

  15. Yes, I like the new look; although I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the previous incarnation, the new look is refreshing.

    I went through the same thing with wine samples. Being “ITB,” it would pain me to have 5 or 6 partial bottles left after a day of tasting with accounts, because I couldn’t drink them all. It was surprising to find out that the neighbors, although they expressed interest when I politely inquired if they would like some very nice “leftovers,” never took me up on the offer. I would leave partial bottles with the accounts I visited at the end of the day, but quite often the management folks expressed their desires for me not to do so — they were concerned about liability reasons, should the staff get themselves into trouble with wine I had left for them. Ah well —

    I have to agree with your “Manhattan Project” analysis of pinot but would include Oregon as an adjunct to that endeavor. Over the same 3 decades, there was a concerted effort on the part of Oregon wine grape growers, winery owners and wine sales people to make the country aware of how well Oregon pinot was developing into something special of its own.

    I immediately thought of Patty Green’s pinots noir as the Oregon analog to Merry’s RR efforts — a lot of immense flavors, many different expressions of the grape and generally enjoyed after a little time in the bottle.

  16. Whoa – I agree with all. Love the new look.

  17. For the next version, I would use Disqus for comment in WordPress which continues to be best of breed, I think (Jose would know). It allows threading (and replying to comments and not just the main post), editing of the comment (but only before someone comments on it if they do), and removing a comment if a commenter has had second thoughts or wants to take a different tack (or different tact {8^D )

  18. Very nice ink, Steve!
    (Blog’s good too!)

  19. Ditto – the new look is elegant and much more welcoming – must be Jose’s touch of your vision. Your tatoo should be enlarged so we could really see it.

  20. Steve, you look mahvelous dahling!
    So, nu, where are the Pinot reviews?

  21. Marlene, as usual, all my reviews will be in future issues of Wine Enthusiast.

  22. Steve – great new look. Jose and Jo are rockstars. We may not always agree but I love the way you speak your mind and are one of the professional critics that embrace digital. Kudos.

  23. Love the new look Steve!

  24. Everybody – I just want to thank y’all for the nice things you’ve said about my “new look.” Means a lot to me.

  25. Very classy new look, Steve! Suits you, I think. I’m with Bill Smart…videos of Travelin’ Steve would be very welcome. I’ll also echo Kelly’s observation re: “gifted” bottles…I’m definitely not too proud to benefit from previously tasted wines!

  26. Wow! The new look is great – fresh, clean, modern! Love it. And if I lived in Oaksterdam, you’d have a lot fewer leftover samples.

  27. Love the new look but subscribing by email doesn’t work as far as I can tell. When I click on subscribe it just takes me to a post. Check out how Steven Washuta set up his subscribe by email at, it helps get subscribers!

  28. Kudos to you, Thomas and Jose. Most impressive part – the new photo doesn’t look any older than the four year old photo. Preservation by Pinot, I guess.

  29. Christian, it’s called “pickling.”

  30. you inspired me to redo my site – new ink… thanks.. maybe we can link each other now, whadda ya say?

  31. Alfonso, I thought we already were linked! I’ll take care of it. Thanks.

  32. Love the hint of arm ink. Will we see more? Oh yea, the site looks spiffy!

  33. Hey George, nice to hear from you! You will see more arm.

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