Danica Patrick on Racing Cars and Making Wine


Photo by William Bucquoy

Excerpt from: Wine Enthusiast
By: Christina Julian

Danica Patrick was 10 when she drove her first go-kart. In 2005, she became the first woman to score a top-five finish at the Indianapolis 500. Three years later, she landed a major-league win at Indy Japan 300.

Patrick purchased Somnium on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley in 2009, naming it the Latin word for dream, because owning a winery was hers. This year, she released the first bottling, a 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. Patrick also released a fitness book, Pretty Intense (Avery, 2017), which sums up how this NASCAR favorite races through life. Click here for full article

Behemoth Begone

Monthly_022018Excerpt from: NorthBay Biz magazine
By: Christina Julian

I’ll admit it. I am addicted to Amazon. I can say this here, but as a debut author, if I were to mention this in writer circles, I would be excommunicated indefinitely because Amazon is to author and publisher—the antichrist—gobbling up the lion’s share of the market and profit. But like any good addict I see past all the evils because my fix was born out of necessity. Click here for full article

Ready to Pour

Jan2018_CoverFExcerpt from: NorthBay Biz magazine
By: Christina Julian

Communities are resilient. A fact that always amazes me every time hard times hit. It’s not that I’m expecting people not to band together, because that’s what we do. Especially in a tightly knit community like Napa Valley. Signs of thanks to our firefighters and first responders paint our city and town streets more than a month after the wildfires hit. In a valley where the livelihood dives and thrives with the whims of Mother Nature, our people and grapes are built to withstand it all. Like the loyal hounds that chase winery owners through vineyard rows, we lick our wounds, and then get back to business. If you live here, you know this. As for the rest of the world—it’s a message that needs to be spread—Napa Valley is still standing—and ready to pour. Click here for full article

Calistoga’s Drinking Problem

March2018_CoverTOPRINTExcerpt from: NorthBay Biz magazine
By: Christina Julian

Last year I received multiple notices that read: “Important Information About Your Drinking Water.” These notices detailed all the ways in which Calistoga drinking water is polluted. The data stings, but it’s not news. I’ve known our water stinks, metaphorically and literally, for years. Ever since I was pregnant with the twins, I’ve been unable to stomach the stench of our tap water. On a good day, it smells musty and moldy. On moderate ones, more like swamp water. And on the worst of days (often), poopy diapers. Click here for full article

Vanity Projects

April_2017_CvrFINALFINALCelebrity Wine Brands: Real or Reaching for it?
Excerpt from: NorthBay Biz magazine
By: Christina Julian

The wine industry has its own breed of vanity projects, what I like to call celebrity winery syndrome.

As a writer on the cusp of having my first novel published, I’ve gained insight into the good, bad and underbelly of the publishing world. On the one hand you have the elusive brass ring of a writer’s world—the Big Five publishers (Harper Collins, Penguin Random House and the like). On the furthest rung from the top there exists a shady side—vanity publishers—where writers pay to play. These houses bill themselves as real publishers but in reality, are anything but, charging authors for what any reputable publisher does as part of doing business.

The wine industry has its own breed of vanity projects, what I like to call celebrity winery syndrome. A quick glance on Google reveals countless illustrious wine brands with everyone from Sting, Brangelina, ACDC, Drew Barrymore, Nicki Minaj, Fergie, and Sonoma resident Ben Flajnik from “The Bachelor” getting in on the act. But perhaps one of the most relevant (or irrelevant depending on where you stand) vanity wine projects around would have to be Trump Winery in Virginia.

Walking down the virtual wine-industry corridors of Google drives me to consider this premise: Just because you could do it, does not mean you should? (Hello, Mr. Executive Order Trump!).

Unless of course the wine is just that good. Click here for full article


March2017_CvrFinalFrom Napa to Sonoma to Hollywood, wine-related programming goes mainstream.

Article excerpt from: NorthBay Biz magazine
By: Christina Julian

A reality craze was born on “Celebrity Apprentice” the moment “The Donald” barked out “You’re fired!” No one could’ve predicted the landslide of expose-style film and TV that would follow (nor the creator’s ascent to the White House). While the state of the nation remains uncertain, the future of reality TV is not. With the proliferation of streaming film and television through service providers like Amazon and Netflix, the accessibility of original content feels boundless and the time ripe for wine-related programing to go mainstream. Here’s a slice of what’s coming your way. Click here for full article

Swing Big


Excerpt from: NorthBay Biz magazine
By: Christina Julian

John Travolta: “This is a very important festival. It’s taken very seriously and it has a lot of integrity. It also educates students and contributes back. It’s not a self-serving festival. A lot of great movies have been launched here.

When Brenda and Marc Lhormer, co-founders and directors of the Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF), first publicly announced their plans to produce a full-scale film festival in Wine Country, a couple of things were clear: They had grandiose dreams and enough energy to make it happen. Not even a faltering economy would stop the couple (partners in work and life) from accomplishing what some dubbed “mission impossible”. For the Lhormers, the notion was anything but.

“The film festival expanded the horizon of Napa to include the energy and talent of film. Marc and Brenda brought Hollywood and its world of creativity to Wine Country, and we’ve embraced them for all these reasons,” says Raymond Vineyard proprietor Jean-Charles Boisset. Click here for full article

Managing Growth


Excerpt from: North Bay Biz magazine
By: Christina Julian

By the time this pub goes to print one of our country’s bigger brouhahas will be put to rest, and a new king or queen of our United States castle will be poised to take the helm. The state debate over whether to legalize smoking pot will also be settled. These decisions will feel like vindication for some and nothing short of the apocalypse for others.

For our part, right here in Napa County, townies and wine industry leaders flung their share of dung when it came to defending what is and isn’t considered fair treatment of our grape-strewn land. Picketers all but stoned the ginormous Hall Winery bunny (more formally known as Little Bunny Foo Foo) in protest of the Walt Ranch project that could rob the hillside of 14,000 trees and 1.4 billion gallons of water.

More than 6,300 citizens waged an uprising via a signed petition against this project and others of its ilk by supporting the proposed Napa County Water, Forest and Oak Woodlands Protection Initiative, only to have the measure booted off the November ballot—this despite driving the issue all the way to the California Supreme Court, where the request for an “emergency” ruling was dismissed, thus denying able-bodied voters the opportunity (and right) to vote on this hot button issue. The fact that wine industry powerhouses Napa Valley Vintners, Farm Bureau, Napa Valley Grapegrowers and Winegrowers of Napa County banded together in a stand against the measure all but ensures the carnage around this controversy will persist in 2017. While our national election may be over, the local battle over growth has only just begun. Click here for full article

Dared to Be Different

Dec2016_SpecCvrFExcerpt from: North Bay Biz magazine
By: Christina Julian

Prior to taking the parental plunge, I worked as a project manager, where adhering to rigid schedules and turbocharged time management were the only way to succeed. Three years into raising my twins, I’m realizing very little has changed. Much like my toddlers, I thrive on routines, especially when it comes to wine—a point my husband likes to make public at fancy winemaker dinners. So when he dared me to step away from my Holy Grail of sips, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, I took the bait.

The eccentric start

We arrive at Farmstead to enjoy a token night away from our chaotic nest, and I’m unsure if it’s the scorching hot temps or my husband’s silly dare, but I forego my favored Longmeadow Ranch Sauvignon Blanc for Wind Gap’s Trousseau Gris (Russian River Valley). Its pinkish-brown-puke hue reminds me of one too many nights spent at home with my gag-reflex-frenzied toddlers, but I carry on. The wine was desert-dry, fitting given the flaming temps and drought-like conditions. I like dry whites but this was too much. I blog surfed as I sipped to see if I was alone in my thinking; apparently I was, because the wine received several high marks including one comment that read, “Very fine and expressive with a bright personality.” I’ve never known wines to have personalities, but then again I hate Pinot Noirs, so what do I know. Click here for full article