Q: In your opinion do most Californian wines stink? A:Yes. Q:Why is that? A: So many reasons. But generally, the grapes are grown to a point of ripeness that too often obliterates a sense of place. Then, those grapes can't produce structured wines and so the structure often has to be imposed, much like the bones on a girdle, but in this case through chemistry and process. The point of view seems wrong to me as most California and New World wines are made for the market -- the most obvious taste--than the product of a carefully matched grapevine to land and climate and a passionate winemaker who is part artist/philosopher and part scientist. I find the mindset is man over nature. There's a little spoiled child saying, I want to plant pinot; so what if it is the wrong place and climate! Thanks to technology that winemaker can indeed plant pinot but the result and what they have to do to the poor wine, is not something I want to drink. Seems totally ass backwards to me and often tastes that way. If California continues on the path that Matthew Debord so clearly outlined, as a place that doesn't believe that where a vine is grown matters. or if more people believe as Vinovation owner, Clark Smith does, that industrial yeasts are better than native then...wow, then I'll have to give up all hope. When I was a tot my mother was told not to breastfeed me by her gyn. "Are you a cow?" he asked her. Same thing with frozen food--healthier than fresh. I believe we are in the same era with wine. When I was growing up my parents thought the neighbor who went mushrooming or had a garden was nuts. Q:Are there exceptions to the awfulness of California wine for you? A:Of course! Right now, there are some producers in the state who believe place matters and strives to express it in a somewhat natural way. More are coming down the pike. Q:But then? A:Then still, I fear even then the wines will be like most of California, too overpriced. In my budget if I choose to pay over $30 a bottle, it is a bottle that will age gracefully and knock my socks off. Q:Can you tell the difference between a well made Californian wine that is just not to your taste? A:Yes. Q:Are you allowed to your own taste? A:Yes! What a question! And I hope you do too! Q:Do you tell people who like Californian wine they have no taste? A:Are you kidding? I also, and this will shock you, I don’t take it personally what other people drink. Q:Would they be your best friends? A:Probably not. On the other hand, one of my best friends voted for Bush. But we like the same wines. Q:Could you fall in love with a big Cali Cab or Pinot Guy? A:Probably not. Q:Is that snobby? A:Probably not. Q:Than what is it? A:I think the closest people to me have shared aesthetics. Wine is one of them. We don't agree on everything but that is as it should be. Q:Are most of your wines unrecognizable names that cost under $25 a bottle? A:Yes. Q:Are most of them French? A:Yes. Q:Why? A:The give the most expression for the money, and they get me excited. Q:Is not buying mass produced wines snobby and pretentious? A: Buying for status symbols is pretentious, buying wines that I love that are affordable like I do? You tell me. Q:When Alice Waters started the food revolution out of Chez Panisse, was she accused of pretension because she wanted more honesty and purer growing techniques and less process in her food? A:No. Q:I see. In that case, why when someone wants the same quality and approach in their wine as their food is there an outcry about heresy? A:Excellent question. I rest my case.