by Fred McMillin
for August 8, 2000
A Shark Attack
"Critics happily attacked Monterey wines like sharks in a feeding frenzy."...Wine Enthusiast Magazine, April 2000
The Rest of the Story
Here's what caused the attack.
In 1970 Monterey County had less than 100
acres of vines bearing grapes. Only four years
later there were over twenty five thousand
acres of vines in the county.
In the rush to crush, a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon
was planted in a lot of very cool places...too
cool to ripen that varietal adequately.
Consequently, the grape that made California's
greatest wine when grown in the Napa Valley
was making vegetal-flavored claret in the foggy
northern end of Monterey County's Salinas Valley.
The critics were merciless.
Today's winery was founded in Monterey right in
the middle of the rush, 1973. Critic Norm Roby
wrote that in a few short years the Monterey
Vineyard project was disintegrating rapidly.
Let's see how Monterey Vineyard got rid of the
"veggies." The Salinas Valley is 100 miles
long, running south from Monterey City and Bay.
Cool, foggy marine air enters at the northern end
but warms markedly as it travels south down the
valley. Consequently, planting went south,
leaves were removed and grape bunches moved to
increase sun exposure. In fact, the grapes for
today's wine were deliberately picked in the
afternoon heat, to provide more ripening warmth
right up to the last minute. and here it is...
Wine of the Day
Monterey Vineyard 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyard—The grapes came from the company's
Paris Valley Ranch in the southern Salinas Valley.
Furthermore, the 1,100 acres contain a number of
microclimates, permitting selection of those
most suitable for Cabernet.
Rating—The previous Vintage received a Best Buy
in its price range; See WineDay June 25, 1999
titled, "Bargins Galore". This 1998 received
the same "RECOMMENDED IN ITS PRICE RANGE."
Food Affinity—Chef Margaret Clark
created a special barbecued beef brochette to
accompany this wine...the sirloin beef cubes
are marinated overnight in olive oil with cumin,
oregeno, thyme, garlic, onion , etc. Contact
the office of Kathleen Lewis if you'd like a
copy. Ph. (800)709-7667, FX (707)255-1119.
Works beautifully on my little cast iron Japanese
Price—For only $7 you can taste how Monterey
Vineyard cured the "veggies."
A lot of dollars went down the tubes in those early
Monterey plantings. Some Cabernet vines did not
produce even one grape!
|| About the
Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30
years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications
honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to
American wine writers. For information about the wine
courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University
or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at
This page created August 2000