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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.”


What the Heck is a Sommelier, Anyway?

Clarifying the Title of Sommelier

Sommelier (soh/me/lyay) is the French word for male wine steward, a trained and enlightened wine professional who generally works in fine restaurants. He provides proper wine service, and assists diners in choosing appropriate wines for dishes on the menu. Read more...

Spring Brings a Harvest of Wine Events in Orange County

Many wine events coming up in Orange County are worth recommending. And many are charity-based, an additional incentive to sip and savor. Here are the most noteworthy: Read more...

Wine’s Dumb Phase

At any time after bottling, a wine (usually red) can slip into a “dumb phase” or “fall sleep.” In other words, it goes through some doldrums for various periods in which its aromas and flavors are muted. Since each wine is alive and different, this is an unpredictable phase, often dependent on the producer, the varietal, the vintage, and the bottling conditions. Read more...

Must-Try Wine of Week: 2011 Golan Heights YARDEN Galilee Israel Chardonnay

Wine plays an important role in Jewish holidays, especially the Passover Seder where all present must drink four cups of wine (or grape juice). Here are a few facts you might not know about kosher wines, plus my recommendation for a good kosher chardonnay. Read more...

Must-Try Wine of Week: Sokol-Blosser Winery Evolution American White Wine

Stanford University grads Bill Blosser and Susan Sokol Blosser had only a passing knowledge of farming and winemaking when in 1970 they joined the wave of Californians who pioneered the modern Oregon wine industry. Their travels in a 1968 VW Camper led them to a prune orchard 30 miles southwest of Portland. With a youthful innocence but a committed passion for pinot noir, they cleared the land and planted their first vines the following year. Read more...

Inaugural Lark Creek Winemaker Dinner a Triumph

As a wine writer, I attend many winemaker dinners each year in California and Oregon, but the inaugural one with DuMOL’s Andy Smith at Fashion Island’s Lark Creek Newport Beach March 27 was one of the most memorable. Winemaker events have always been a Lark Creek signature, and this private dining experience exceeded expectations. My only regret is that I didn’t win the magnum of DuMOL that was awarded by lottery to one lucky diner. Read more...

Daily Deal Ecommerce (Flash) Sites Offer Deep Wine Discounts

Many domestic wineries have had wine surpluses in recent years, and this has led to closeouts or deals through so-called wine flash-sale sites. The deals are offered for short periods and in limited quantities at average discounts of 32 to 50 percent. Read more...

All About the Size, Shape, and Dimple of Wine Bottles

The standard wine bottle worldwide is 750 milliliters (ml) or 25.4 ounces. How did we arrive at that size? Starting with the 1973 vintage, the world’s nations agreed that the “standard bottle” would be 750ml in size, and a standard case of wine would be 9.0L. Read more...

Must-Try Wine of the Week: 2012 Owen Roe The Kilmore Yamhill-Carlton District Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Winemaker David O’Reilly is one of the few Irish-born winemakers in the United States. His family fled Belfast at the height of the city’s friction between the Catholic and Protestant factions in the late 1990s. After the family settled in British Columbia, David headed south to California to attend college, where he majored in philosophy. Read more...

In Pursuit of Balance in Wine

Last week I attended an event called “In Pursuit of Balance,” at the urban Bluxome Street Winery in San Francisco. Read more...

The Irish Have a Surprisingly Long Wine Tradition

There is no history of winegrowing in Ireland, but the Irish have a wine-drinking tradition that goes back nearly 2,000 years. Not only that, they helped launch the wine industry in the United States. Irishman James McCaffrey owned the oldest surviving commercial winery in California prior to Prohibition—the San Jose Winery—originally built by the Santa Barbara Mission in the early 19th century, from 1853 to 1900. Read more...

Seasons 52 Fresh Grill Offers Impressive Wine List

I recently dined at Seasons 52 Fresh Grill in South Coast Plaza, and found the wine program to be exceptional, both for the scope of its extensive wine list, and it’s attentive wine service. It’s gratifying to see that the restaurant, which promotes a healthy diet and prides itself in seasonally inspired cooking with every item on the menu less than 475 calories, considers wine an important part of a wholesome lifestyle. 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.