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Author Rusty Gaffney

  • Rusty Gaffney

    Wine Dude

    William “Rusty” Gaffney, M.D. is a retired Orange County ophthalmologist who has had a love affair with wine, and in particular, Pinot Noir, for nearly fifty years. When he retired in 2001, he decided to devote his energies to writing the PinotFile, an online newsletter that was the first wine publication exclusively devoted to Pinot Noir.

    I taste Pinot Noir almost daily along with other varietals, I read about wine and Pinot Noir constantly through all available sources on wine, and visit the wine regions of California and Oregon frequently. I also lead wine tours, organize wine tastings, correspond for the most popular wine podcast on the internet, Grape Radio, and participate in the video-driven offspring of Grape Radio, Grape Vision.

    Over the years, upon my urgings, many wine drinkers have developed a preference for Pinot Noir. They would remark, “Rusty, you’re such a ‘prince’ for introducing me to Pinot Noir.” The moniker stuck, and today my proud title is “Prince of Pinot.”

    I have an enthusiastic reader base throughout the world, in part because I do not take wine or myself too seriously as reflected in the humorous slant to my writing and reporting. I urge wine consumers to explore, experiment and find out what is magical for them, but I hope they always return to Pinot Noir because, “If you drink no Noir, you Pinot Noir.”


Must-Try Wine of Week: 2000 Kalin Cellars Livermore Valley Semillon

“No wine before its time” is the motto at Kalin Cellars, founded in 1977 in Marin County by microbiologists Dr. Terry Leighton and his spouse Dr. Frances Leighton. The Leightons believe that because of the style of their winemaking, the wines are not ready to drink for at least five years, and then some. Read more...

Hostage Wines

There’s a curious phenomenon in the California wine industry called “hostage” wines—limited production, highly desirable quaffs sold directly only to select devotees. They’re also called “cult wines” as in “furiously sought after” by wine lovers. Read more...

Cruising With Your Favorite Wineries

Theme wine cruises are very popular, and ones that feature winery owners and winemakers are especially alluring to aficionados. Here are three recommended cruises for 2015, and websites where you can research them and other such cruises. Read more...

Provenance Restaurant: All the Familiar Labels Are There, But Where’s the Creativity and Relevance to the Cuisine?

Dining out is an adventure, and I always hope to find an unusual bottle on the wine list that’s both new to me and also compliments the cuisine. Provenance fails to meet my expectations in this regard. Read more...

Look to Your Local Upscale Grocer for Boutique Wines

Unfortunately, all the local Orange County supermarkets stock a very similar line of wines, most of it originating from California’s largest wineries, such as E.&J. Gallo, Bronco Wine Company, and Kendall-Jackson. This limits boutique wine options because the large wineries have the most distribution muscle in the marketplace. Read more...

Must-Try Wine of Week: 2012 Broadley Shea Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Why seek out Oregon’s Willamette Valley pinot noir? The wines are considered the closest thing to Burgundy in North America, offering low-to-modest alcohol, juicy fruit flavors, and vivid acidity. This is not surprising, as the Willamette Valley is situated at the same longitude as Burgundy, and the growing season has many similarities. Read more...

Studio Restaurant Receives Prestigious Wine List Award

This year marked the first World’s Best Wine List Awards launched by the prestigious publication, “The World of Fine Wine.” More than 4,000 restaurants from around the globe were judged, and 220 of the world’s best wine lists earned the highest three-star ratings, including Studio at The Montage, Laguna Beach. Read more...

Celebrity Wine (We're Looking At You, Kurt Russell)

The number of celebrities who make wine, own wineries, or simply lend their name to a brand for marketing purposes, has grown remarkably over the last decade. Two of the newest and most interesting projects are from Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, and Hollywood actor Kurt Russell. Read more...

Must-Try Wine of Week: 2012 Ferdinand California Albariño

Albariño, one of Spain’s great white wines, is a white grape variety traditionally grown in Rias Baixas, a wine region in Galicia in northwestern Spain. It is typically crisp and acidic, and ideal for summer evening sipping and seafood pairings. Read more...

Sangria is a Little Sweet, Very Hot, and Definitely Cool

Sangria was part of my life growing up, and I polished off many bottles of Spanada, one of a long line of fruit and wine blends introduced by E.&J. Gallo. It was first released in 1970, a time when the country’s palate was changing from dessert to table wines. I spent many evenings sipping Spanada over dinners with paramours. This inevitably led to romance, and I thanked Gallo many times for that. Read more...

Summer Wine Dinners

Two notable Orange County restaurants are featuring summer wine programs. Read more...

Beyond Cerveza: Vino is Now a Good Option at O.C.’s Top Mexican Restaurants

Many of today’s local Mexican restaurants are nothing like the ones baby boomers and gen-xers grew up with. Modern Mexican cuisine can be sophisticated and very wine friendly, and the wine lists from three notable Orange County restaurants reflect this compatibility. Read more...
READ NOW: Serial Killer Seduction

Our "Center of the Universe" story is being read all over the world right now. Click here for the story.


Who Did Randy Kraft Seduce?

Current photos of author Jay Roberts.


A Fact-Checker's Journey to a 1980 Afternoon

Our intrepid intern tracks down the details in Roberts' story.


Why Isn't Randy Kraft Dead?

Our original piece on one of California's deadliest and most depraved serial killers. 


Editor's Letter, October 2013

Our editor considers "Center of the Universe" to be compelling—and incredibly frightening. Click above to find out why.