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Wine Report from the Fort
About Bulgaria … King Kroum bans all vineyards!
By Fred McMillin

Northside San Francisco – European edition, 4000 B.C. issue: King Kroum has ordered the destruction of all the vineyards in his kingdom.

Northside San Francisco – European edition, 3990 B.C. issue: During a celebration, panic broke out when one of the king’s caged lions escaped and terrorized the city. After the lion was slain by a fearless young man, the king summoned the young man’s mother to learn the source of such courage. Fearfully, she confessed to having preserved one vine, from which was made the wine that gave her son, Mavrud, the strength and bravery to confront the lion. The king was so impressed that vineyards were again planted and one type of grape was named Mavrud.

Northside San Francisco – European edition, 1980 issue: Under USSR control, Bulgaria is now exporting two million cases of wine per year.

Northside San Francisco – West Coast edition, 1985 issue: Back to the lions. Bulgarian-born Vance Petrunoff has not slain a lion, but he has just as much courage. With no connections, he has just jumped off a Soviet plane, which was refueling in Anchorage, and received political asylum in the United States.

Northside San Francisco – West Coast edition, 2000 issue: Veteran Bulgarian vintner Vance Petrunoff is now president of Bulgarian Master Vintners. Now fast-forward to the present. My Fort Mason students have found Petrunoff ‘s bottles to be big bargains. Here are four, all imported by Bulgarian Master Vintners:

•    4th:   Domaine Boyer Merlot Reserve 2003, $8
•    3rd:   Targovishte Winery Riesling 2006, $8
•    2nd:   Targovishte Winery Muscat Ottonel 2006, $8
•    1st:   Targovishte Winery Traminer 2006, $8

Contact: Vance Petrunoff, Bulgarian Master Vintners, phone: 707-939-8719; fax: 360-237-2326; e-mail:

    Postscript: King Kroum is legendary not historical.

Women winemakers … hail to the female!

Northside S.F. reader Lillian M. wants to serve wines made by ladies at her luncheon for ladies. Here are some good ones:
Heidi Barrett
, the only winemaker to have four of her Cabernet wines awarded a perfect 100 points by critic Robert Parker Jr. Her label is Screaming Eagle.
Gina Gallo,
whose grandfather appointed her the company’s first female winemaker. Julio was the first Gallo winemaker and some 70 years later there is another Gallo winemaker. Gallo Family Vineyards makes a variety of wines, both red and white.
Eileen Crane is not only the winemaker of California’s Domaine Carneros but also its president; in addition to sparklers, she also makes a Pinot Noir.
Milla Handley
was majoring in art at University of California, Davis when Bacchus bit her. She switched to wine science. After working for some renowned vintners, she opened Handley Cellars in the garage beneath her home, and now bottles red, white and sparklers.

Try ‘em B4 U buy ‘em!

Our S.F. City College (Fort Mason campus) March classes include a $100 sparkler and a $200 red wine. I expect you will want to try them before you buy them, so here are the upcoming classes, Saturdays, 1 p.m. at Fort Mason:

•    Mar. 14: Napa vs. Sonoma, Part 1 – Taste Chardonnay, Syrah and Petite Sirah

•    Mar. 28: Napa vs. Sonoma, Part 2 – Taste Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel

•        Apr. 25: Best of Oregon/Washington Wines vs. Their California Counterparts – Taste and compare wines of the same varietal, vintage and price range.

To enroll or wait-list, phone San Francisco City College at 415-561-1840, or visit Education.
The joy of booking
Since Hugh Johnson wrote the first edition of The World Atlas of Wine (Hamlyn, 2007) 37 years ago, it subsequently has been translated into 14 languages and has sold over four million copies. In this sixth edition, he has coauthored the tome with the world’s foremost female wine writer, Jancis Robinson. Typical of their improvements is a new, individual section on the Napa Valley – which contains half of the soil orders found on the entire earth. Along with the book’s dazzling 200 maps, there are many tidbits on the rising wine areas of South Africa, China, Australia, (which has added more than a 1,000 new wineries in the past decade), and other locations as well.

Among the California wineries given special mention are Artesa, Au Bon Climate, Chateau Potelle, Delia Viader, Duckhorn, and Navarro

We agree with the publisher that this is a book that no wine lover can afford to be without. 

A final wine smile
Reuters reports that a Chinese billionaire paid $500,000 for 27 bottles of decades-old Romanee Conti (Burgundy). This reminds me of Mae West’s comment, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better!”

Credits: Edgar Vogt (tastings); Ophelia Mercado and  Rubella Dequis (statistics)

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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