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'Zilla Wine and Tunes Pairing

The two essential elements of the CORKZILLA experience – Wine and music – in a pairing. Our signature feature will continue in 2013, but we've decided to take a break from the grind of producing thoughtful pairings on a monthly basis. Please look for an archive page highlighting our pairings from the past coming soon. Cheers!

What We're Listening to

Keith Richards, "Crosseyed Heart," Republic Records

Gary Clark Jr., "The Story of Sonny Boy Slim," Warner Brothers Records

Warren Haynes Featuring Railroad Earth, "Ashes and Dust," Concord Records

Jason Isbell, "Something More Than Free," Southeastern Records

Phish, "Live Bait Vol. 11" (free digital download)

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, "Chasing Yesterday," Sour Mash Records

Neil Young, "On the Beach," Reprise Records

Massive Attack, "Protection," Circa Records

D'Angelo and the Vanguard, "Black Messiah," RCA Records

Brokedown in Bakersfield, "Live!," Little Sur Records

Ryan Adams, "Ryan Adams," Pax-Am Records

Rich Robinson, "The Ceaseless Sight," The End Records

Jack White, "Lazaretto," Third Man Records

The Wayne Shorter Quartet, "Without a Net," Blue Note Records

Reach out to CORKZILLA

Entries in Peter Young (1)

Friday
Aug302013

A Tribute to Grey Stack: Familiar Story for a Small Producer

By Ben Heskett

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- There was a noticeably absent winery at the recent Family Winemakers of California tasting here at the Fort Mason complex. Grey Stack Cellars, a small producer in Bennett Valley (a Grey Stack vineyard pictured at right) in Sonoma County, did not make it this year. Despite making one of the finest Sauvignon Blancs in the state, Grey Stack is suffering the same fate as many smaller proprietors – the owner has decided to go “on a ‘hiatus’ from wine production for the indefinite future.”

Proprietor Peter Young is a friend of CORKZILLA, having been part of the Sonoma State University class that helped launch this blog and, through the years, opening up his home and vineyards to us. His wine is tremendous, with the “Rosemary’s Block” Sauvignon Blanc, in particular, getting some of the top scores in California for the varietal. I also happen to think his Grenache and Syrah are phenomenal. As Peter said in an email announcement detailing the closure: “It turns out it takes more than good wine to make a financially successful winery. I have tried everything I could think of over the last four years to try to get Grey Stack through the transition from large hobby to successful business without a lot of success.”

And therein lies the problem. The wine industry is dominated by huge conglomerates that gobble up about 85 percent of the U.S. market. That leaves the scraps – roughly 15 percent of the market – to the boutique wineries, hobbyists and small producers to fight over. It’s brutal. Perhaps Young was not an astute businessman (not uncommon among those who prefer to make wine), but it speaks to a larger issue – how is the discerning U.S. wine consumer supposed to find unique, small production wine experiences if those types of businesses can’t thrive? This is a topic the 'Zilla will be returning to again and again.

As Young said in his announcement: “One of my biggest regrets is that I will no longer be able to supply my customers the wines they have come to enjoy. My only other regret is that these great wines from Bennett Valley probably won’t be made anymore.” Stay tuned for any news we may get as far as who takes over Grey Stack’s vineyards and production – these are grapes that deserve to be made into fine wines!

For those interested in any remaining Grey Stack wines, the website store is open, offering what’s left from the cellar. Good luck to you, Peter Young, and thank you for producing some great representations of what Bennett Valley, a little known corner of Sonoma County, can offer.