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Copyright © 2018
Forkmedia LLC


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.

The Solution

Monterey Vineyard  
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 hibachi.
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 Writer

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 (415) 567-4468.


This page created August 2000