The Coast News Group
Wine columnist Frank Mangio, left, visits with Napa Valley wine pioneer Mike Grgich and samples his new release 2013 Merlot. Photo courtesy Frank Mangio
Community Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Here and there in the wine world

The New Year is off to a speedy yet wet start for wine events.

Word from Napa Valley is that flooding is causing great concern for the 2017 vintage. On the bright side, the six-year drought may be done and over with in California.

You have to know the rainy season is getting extreme when rain is in its third week in the Palm Springs, where I spent time with my close friend Mike Grgich, the pioneer winemaker who created the foundation for Napa Valley wine greatness.

Grgich has been my hero since I began writing on wine in 2005. 

His rise in the ‘60s and ‘70s as a premier winemaker is well known.

This year, Grgich and family are celebrating their 40th anniversary since founding Grgich Hills Estate in the Rutherford district in 1977.

His current release 2013 Merlot is one to taste ($43). Consistent sunshine and temperatures have created a complex, excellently balanced wine.  As Grgich determined, “this is a Cabernet lover’s Merlot.”

Croatian born and raised, Grgich and his daughter Violet, established a Croatian winery in 1996, Grgic’ Vina, overlooking the Adriatic Sea at Dubrovnik. See more at


How long can wine last once the cork is opened?

Like many wine topics, this one is subject to a lot of discussion. Variables abound.  The easy answer is, “drink it all as soon as it’s opened,” preferably with a friend. With a standard .75 liter bottle, the rule of thumb is three days before the oxygen intrusion begins to turn the taste toward vinegar. Use a pump and stopper to get the air out of the bottle before it accumulates and you can extend the time in a bottle to four days.

If the bottle has a twist cap, you can get a week out of it. Another thing that will help longevity is to keep it in a refrigerator after opening and buy quality wines whose tannins will help preserve its life to a week.


Did you know that one of the foremost Port and Sherry style wineries is in Vista?

Eric Brooking took us back to the pre-prohibition days in the city of Vista and other North San Diego County hubs that were

Brooking Vineyards in Vista is an oasis of top quality Cream Sherry and Port style wines, one of which, the Old Fashioned Angelica, won gold at the San Diego County Fair. Photo by Frank Mangio
Brooking Vineyards in Vista is an oasis of top quality Cream Sherry and Port style wines, one of which, the Old Fashioned Angelica, won gold at the San Diego County Fair. Photo by Frank Mangio

making wine, especially fortified wine.  Some 120 wineries were producing fortified wine before Prohibition. When that hideous law swept across America, most of the wineries in San Diego County were wiped out and swept into the history books.

Brooking and his family survived and mastered the technique of fortification, where grapes grown in a warm, Mediterranean climate like Vista has, were fermented and interrupted by the addition of grape brandy, retaining the natural sugars. The grapes used are Tempranillos. He also makes Muscat Canelli Angelica on his six-acre estate. Wines are $49 per bottle. See


Wine Bytes

2Plank Vineyards in Vista is having its Estate Release party Jan. 28 from 2 to 5 p.m.  Cost is $10 for non-members. Their new address is 2379 La Mirada Dr. For more information, call (858) 500-7757. This is the only San Diego urban winery that grows their own grapes.

Gianni Buonomo Vintners, an urban winery in Ocean Beach is having a wine and yoga event Jan. 28 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Cost is $40.  Check out details at, or call (619) 991-9911.

Wine 101 — Vino with Gino, is the first class with master sommelier Gino Campbell at PAON in Carlsbad. First intro class is $19.  For more on this wine program, email [email protected].

Wiens Family Cellars in Temecula Wine Country is planning another Reserve Zinfandel and Chocolate Dinner Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m.  You get five glasses of wine with four-paired food courses, all infused with chocolate. Call (888) 98-WIENS (94367) for details.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web. View his columns at and reach him at [email protected].  Follow him on Facebook.

1 comment

Eric Brooking April 22, 2017 at 7:40 pm

I just wanted to thank you for mentioning us in this article. I sure enjoyed showing you around and talking your ears off. It’s just my passion, wine and history. Thanks again!
Eric Brooking

Comments are closed.