New Classic Winemakers of California: Conversations with Steve Heimoff

by Steve Heimoff

ISBN-10: 0520267915
ISBN-13: 9780520267916
Publication Date: December, 2010
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Publishers Information

About New Classic Winemakers of California: Conversations with Steve Heimoff

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Wine critic and writer Steve Heimoff, inspired by Robert Benson’s Great Winemakers of California (1977), traversed the state of California to record lively and informative conversations with more than two dozen winemakers and grape growers who represent today’s leaders and visionaries. While Benson’s book captured a wine industry on the brink of exponential growth and recognition, Heimoff surveys a multibillion-dollar business with a global reputation and new issues to face. Heimoff has followed this industry for more than twenty-five years, visiting all parts of the state and monitoring changing styles and trends, and his interviews provide an oral history of contemporary California winemaking. He reveals the personalities, intellects, philosophies, and passions of the individual winemakers, as well as their opinions on recent high-alcohol vintages, globalization, and the "cult" wine phenomenon. Through this intimate and engaging book, wine lovers can sit in on the back and forth as Heimoff and his vintner subjects talk informally about their favorite subject: wine.

Author Information

About Steve Heimoff

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Steve Heimoff was born and raised in The Bronx. It was his post secondary education that took him away from New York City, placing him in an academic, New England environment. Here, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts (his emphasis was on existentialism). After graduation in the late 1970s, Steve moved to San Francisco where he went on to receive his Master’s Degree in educational technology from San Francisco State University.

After three years of working within the corporate environment, Steve realized that he yearned for something more creative and fulfilling. In what can only be described as a serious soul searching session, Steve pondered his twin passions of writing and wine, earnestly contemplating how he could combine the two interests in order to be gainfully employed. Taking a major leap of faith, Steve set out to become a wine writer.

Starting in the early 1980s, Steve immersed himself in a serious course of self-education in all aspects of wine appreciation. He joined the San Francisco chapter of Les Amis du Vin (at that time, one of the nation’s leading wine amateur societies). He frequently haunted San Francisco’s top wine shops, asking questions of the staff (such as, “What is the difference between Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc?”). He began collecting wine books, old and new (and today is the proud owner of a small library of them). He started keeping his own wine diary, writing reviews for himself and comparing them with those of published wine critics, such as Anthony Dias Blue and Bob Thompson. By the mid-1980s, Steve was conducting informal wine tastings for friends, family members and co-workers. And, of course, he visited wine country whenever he could.

In 1989, Steve began stringing for Wine Spectator, writing small articles. During this time he learned how to interview, write elegantly and eloquently, meet deadlines, and work as part of an editorial team. Also continuing his self-education in wine, he eventually got his first big assignment, a 3-page article. He remembers, “I popped the cork on a bottle of Champers that night!”

By 1990, Heimoff began a 4-year stint as writer of The Collecting Page, which was always the final page in the Spectator. This assignment focused on issues of special interest to collectors. This period brought Steve deep into the complex world of wine. During this period, he also wrote industry-oriented articles for Market Watch magazine, which gave him an appreciation that wine is not just an esthetic but a business.

Steve remembers that it was just one year later that his “famous Heimoff issue” of the Spectator appeared, in which he produced three major features. At that time, his editor was Jim Gordon. [Today, Jim Gordon is the editor of Wines & Vines magazine. Steve and Jim are still good friends.]

Leaving Wine Spectator by 1994, Steve took on the assignment of West Coast Editor of Wine Enthusiast magazine. His assiduous talent was recognized and rewarded by the University of California Press, when Steve was approached in 2001 and asked the question of his career, “Do you want to write a wine book for us?”

The result of that was the 2005 publication of Steve’s first major body of work : “A Wine Journey along the Russian River.”

For his second book — inspired by Robert Benson’s “Great Winemakers of California” — Steve wrote “New Classic Winemakers of California: Conversations with Steve Heimoff,” also published by U.C. Press in the fall of 2007.

New Classic Winemakers of California: Conversations with Steve Heimoff, has been met with outstanding critical review by many other important American wine writers and critics, which includes Eric Asimov of the New York Times, Jerry Shriver of USA Today, John Mariani of Bloomberg, and Paul Lukacs, author of “Great Wines of America.”

Today, Steve remains an important fixture at Wine Enthusiast magazine, as the West Coast Editor. He writes columns, feature stories, news stories, web pieces, and he reviews about 4,500 California wines a year. A frequent participant on wine seminars and panels, Steve enjoys traveling the length and breadth of what he refers to as “this great state and its gorgeous wine regions.” Steve reveals, “Best of all, I get to meet some of the nicest people in the world – the members of the wine trade.”

Steve Heimoff’s Lesson: If you have a passion and believe in yourself and work very hard, you can make it at anything.

Cookbooks by Steve Heimoff

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