Here’s what you’re looking at. A wine label written in Chinese. chinawine.jpgThat’s interesting all by itself. But what’s even more interesting is that this is the back label on a bottle of River Run Vintners 2005 Carignane.

Blond, bearded and eternally boyish winemaker J.P.Pawloski knows how to do that voodoo with fine local grapes. And because he wasn’t born yesterday, metaphorically speaking, he knows an opportunity when he sees it. China is nothing if not a marketing opportunity. So the River Run wine wizard, who also moonlights making customized wines for wealthy clients who have grapes, but not necessarily winemaking skills, anyway Pawloski currently buys up substantial lots of otherwise undedicated central coast wines. Then he applies his blending touch, and voila! terrific wines emerge. The River Run label goes on the front – and the Chinese language label goes on the back — and the wines go to J.P.’s Beijing broker who sells them like mad. Awesome.

For us here at home, there’s much good news from River Run. Even though theriverrun.jpg entire 2005 vintage of RR’s stunning carignane went to China, this year’s vintage is staying here. Get ready to buy, buy, buy! As you read this J.P. and every other winemaker in California is out in the vineyards, checking sugar, rallying the crews, poised to pounce on the grapes the minute they approach the correct Brix. Then the vendage starts. Over to the next vineyard – checking sugars, picking like crazy, crushing – and then on to the next ripening varietal.

This hand-picked madness will continue for the next three months. And then the vintage of 2007 will rest, sleep, perchance to dream while we all wait to see if this wild weather bodes well or ill, oenologically-speaking.

Meanwhile, put away a few dollars for the next batch of River Run Vintners Zinfandel, made from 115-year-old Wirz Vineyard vines. Pepper, cassis, allspice usually infuse the wines J.P. Pawloski makes from this vineyard. Every day I go out to my garage and visit my dwindling supply of 2003 RR zinfandel, watching it slowly melt away, enjoyed with this or that lamb loin chop, or pasta Bolognese. Or some grilled Italian sausages from Severino’s Community Butcher.

to be continued……