10 Questions for Tom Wark


Welcome to The Grapevine! In this new weekly feature, we'll be asking our favorite experts the questions that really matter: how they fell in love with wine, what wine trend they'd love to see end, and what they'll be drinking on their deathbed.
Tom Wark, wine PR guru and author of the wine blog Fermentation, talks to Snooth about the beauty of Sonoma Valley, the lasting power of Bourbon, and the pairing of sparkling wine with potato chips.

1.) Which wine first won your heart?

It would be the 1984 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de la Tour Cabernet. It was the first great California wine I ever purchased when I first became interested in wine while in college. I was only able to afford it by switching the price tag on it for a less expensive wine at the store where most college students went to buy their beer. Luckily for me and my wine education, the student behind the cash register had no idea the wine I was buying wasn't supposed to cost $3.00.

2.) If you could have an endless supply of just one bottle, what would it be?

Probably Michter's Bourbon.

3.) What would you pour for someone who swears they don't like wine?

An off dry Austrian Riesling.

4.) If you could settle in any major wine region, which would it be (and why)?

I have settled in a major wine region. I live in Sonoma Valley. This is God's Country. The climate is perfect. The terrain is magnificent. The history of wine here is fascinating.

5.) What wine trend do you think (or hope) is almost over?

I was never particularly fond of "Critter Labels". They seemed to arrive in herds for a while.

6.) What trends do you see on the horizon?

GREAT wines under $20. I mean great quality wines. There are so many brands and so many outstanding wine makers and grape growers are so good at what they do that I think we'll see these many new wines under $20 at a quality level unheard of just 10 years ago.

7.) What are the biggest values on the market today?

$30 Cabernets that used to sell for $50.

8.) What’s the biggest myth about wine you’d like to dispel?

I think it would be interesting to try to dispel the idea that most California appellations possess a specific terroir that delivers specific characteristic to wines that hail from those appellations. Take "Russian River Valley" or "Sonoma Coast." These appellations or "AVAs" are so vast they can't possibly possess a specific terroir. Yet, we talk about "Russian River Valley Zinfandel" as though it means something other than the grapes that made the wine were grown in an area delineated by borders.

9.) What’s the best food and wine pairing you’ve ever had?

Tough question! Lays Potato Chips and sparkling wine is pretty darned good.

10.) You're on your deathbed, and you can get one final glass: What’ll it be?

Anything from a vintage ten years out.

Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Georges de Latour Private Reserve 1984
"It was the first great California wine I ever purchased when I first became interested in wine while in college."

Sonoma Valley
"This is God's Country. The climate is perfect. The terrain is magnificent."

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: Mark Angelillo
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    2 5,324

    Thanks Tom. "Hear, hear" to your answer on #6.

    Apr 26, 2010 at 12:47 PM

  • Got a really good vibe from reading your 10. Your words make me want to meet you in person! ADORE your last two answers, big time. Thank you for lightening my mood. Cheers!

    Apr 26, 2010 at 3:39 PM

  • Living in Sonoma for six years after spending 30 in San Francisco I couldn't agree more about the Valley. Have been exploring beauty of world class Carneros Chardonnays and Pinots the past month with Sommelier Chris Sawyer at Carneros Bistro. Thanks for your insights.

    Apr 26, 2010 at 5:37 PM

  • That was a great bottle of BV, I had it myself late last year from a friends cellar. Thanks for sharing some of your thoughts on the terroir, it also highlights why some producers can and have certain inconsistencies in thier production.

    -Wine O New York

    Apr 27, 2010 at 7:10 AM

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