Northside SF  

October '09

Wine Report from the Fort
A varietal without borders

By Fred McMillin

“To the great majority of wine-drinking palates in the world today, the top quality red wine is Cabernet Sauvignon … it blithely sets down all over the world.”
– Jancis Robinson inVines, Grapes and Wines

In our City College classes at Fort Mason, we taste Cabs from many areas around the world, including these:
• Argentina: Falling Star Mendoza Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, $5
• Australia: Angove’s Coonawarra Vineyard Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, $20
• Bulgaria: Domaine Boyar Thracian Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, $25
• California: Flora Springs Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, $30
• Spain: Bodegas Piedemonte Crianza Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, $13
• Washington: NxNW Winery Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $35

If you can’t find one you wish to try, fax me at 415-567-4468 for a source.

The days of wine and rosés

Northside San Francisco reader Nikki S. asked which rosés have been most popular at the Fort lately. Here they are:
• Forest Glen Winery California Magenta Rosé (100 percent Shiraz) 2007, $8
• Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Pinot Noir Rosé 2008, $13
• Peju Province Winery Napa Valley Rosé of Syrah 2007, $25
• I’M Wines Napa Valley Saignée Rosé 2006, $13

Text Box:  

Get a life, take a wine class!
Saturdays, 1 p.m., 20 wines, Fort Mason:
• Feb. 6: Basics for Beginners – Learn the five basic types of wines and how they are made.
• Feb. 27: Taste the Terms – Taste wines that illustrate the 100-plus terms used to describe wine.
Many people take “Terms” over again because the wines and words are different each time. To enroll or wait-list, phone San Francisco City College at 415-561-1840, or visit

Wine facts
It takes 740 pounds of grapes to make one barrel of wine, 30 pounds to make one case of wine, and  2.4 pounds to make one bottle of wine.

How many American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) does California have? One hundred and nine!

Text Box:  

A wine smile: A true story
My wife and I were sitting at a table waiting for a meeting of vintners and wine writers to begin. A gentleman sat down in the empty seat beside me. I said, “I’m Fred McMillin, but not related to the former prime minister of England, Harold MacMillan or the owner of McMillan Oil Co.”

The man next to me said, “Glad to meet you, my name is Brooks Firestone, and my grandfather started the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company.”

Postscript: Some Fire-stone milestones

1900 – The Ohio farm boy had thought about the hard-rubber tires used on farm equipment, so he founds the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., which later will produce the first air-filled tractor tires. His name was Harvey Firestone. He used to go camping with two other rather creative types, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford!

1972 – Harvey’s son, Leonard Firestone, who had been the United States ambassador to Belgium, plants 250 acres of vines, including 60 acres of Chardonnay, in the untested Santa Ynez Valley.

1975 – Leonard’s son, Brooks, a Columbia University economics grad, in partnership with his father, founds the first commercial winery to crush grapes in Santa Barbara County.

1994 – Brooks’s son Adam becomes president of Firestone Vineyard after earning his degree at Pepperdine University and serving in the Marine Corps. During Operation Desert Storm, he was deployed to Iraq with the First Marine Division in a special operations infantry task force.
Noteworthy – Brooks’s wife, Kate, is a former ballerina with the London Royal Ballet.

Credits: Edgar Vogt (tastings); Ophie Mercado and Ruby Dequis (statistics); Sonoma County Grape Growers Association (facts)

Fred McMillin was voted one of the best wine writers in the United States by the Academy of Wine Communications. Phone him with questions at 415-563-5712 or fax him at 415-567-4468.

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