Mike Dunne: A Life in Wine


Longtime food and wine writer Mike Dunne left The Sacramento Bee in November 2008. But the prolific oenophile still writes a weekly column for the paper, as well as a daily wine blog (ayearinwine.blogspot.com). We recently quizzed Dunne about his wine-centered life.

You started blogging this past New
Year’s Day, vowing by the end of 2010 to “have found 365 wines with something to say.”I’m going to have to go back and rewrite that mission statement. I find things, experience things relating to wine that I want to sound off on . . . then I realized I didn’t want to do just tasting notes. The mission early on, it did change—[but] I’m still looking for wines that have stories to tell.

You and your wife, Martha, are often on the road judging wines. Work? Pleasure?

It’s both. It takes a lot of concentration when you’re judging up to 50 or 100 wines a day. It becomes work in that you feel the impact of the tannins, the alcohol, the acidity. I like to space out a couple of weeks between competitions just so you can get recalibrated.

You live part of the year in San Jose del Cabo. How are Mexican wines?
The industry in Mexico has quite a ways to go to learn which varieties do best. The Valle de Guadalupe (the country’s wine region) gets really hot. The vines really, really struggle. On each of these tastings where you have four wines, you might have one you would be interested in.

You wrote the Inland California entries for the just-published wine encyclopedia Opus Vino (DK Publishing). Any other long-term projects in the works?
I have three [book] possibilities, but unless I muster up the discipline to shut out other distractions and commit myself to one project for three or four hours a day, I’m not sure when or if it will happen.