A Potentially Scandalous Mondavi Memoir; The Grateful Dead Inspire a Winemaker

“Imagine the tell-all they could write about me!” Photo: iStockphoto

• Robert Mondavi’s widow Margrit, 85, is working with a ghost writer on a “frank” memoir about her life in and around the wine business, including a story about a famous, costumed Roman orgy the couple hosted at their home in the eighties. [Decanter]

• Margrit also recently gave the famed Wappo Hill mailbox from the couple’s recently sold estate to chef Richard Reddington, at his request, to feature in his new Yountville pizzeria Redd Wood. [Grub Street]

• Grateful Dead bandmember Phil Lesh is busy opening a restaurant and music venue in Marin County called Terrapin Crossroads. Meanwhile, the “earthy, savage blend” of the Dead’s Steal Your Face album inspired a Mendocino winemaker to make a Syrah blend and name it for the album. [Mass Live]

• A new documentary called Somm, which describes sommeliers, among other things, as “the new rock stars,” follows four hopeful oenophiles as they try to pass the Master Sommelier qualification, a test fewer than 200 people have ever passed. [Decanter]

• San Francisco just stole another sommelier from New York: Eleven Madison Park’s Chris Baggetta is making the move to Quince. [Grub Street SF]

• Wine sales coming out of California saw their biggest bump in a decade in 2011, with shipments up over four percent. This could mean that a surplus of bottles will soon become a shortage, for certain varietals, driving prices up. [Press-Democrat]

• The winemaking business has gotten so competitive and complicated, winemakers of an earlier generation would barely recognize it. “Today it is suggested you know agronomy, botany, microbiology, and a dozen other subjects just to stay even with your competitors.” [Press-Democrat]

• … And that’s probably why the subject of “natural winemaking” has been called a “hornet’s nest” by Times critic Eric Asimov, who takes up the topic again this week, comparing it to Occupy Wall Street, and insisting he doesn’t care either way about the movement, but that some of the wines themselves are quite good. [NYT]

A Potentially Scandalous Mondavi Memoir; The Grateful Dead Inspire a Winemaker