Sonoma County Wine Library

Old Vines and Their Wines: A Conversation with Linda Murphy and Joel Peterson

Joel Peterson

Join the Wine Library Associates of Sonoma County for an evening with Linda Murphy, distinguished local wine writer and co-author of the new American Wine, and Joel Peterson of Ravenswood Winery, also known as the "Godfather of Zin."

Old Vines and Their Wines
Friday, June 28, 7–9 PM
Sonoma County Wine Library
139 Piper Street
Healdsburg, CA 95448

  • Discussion of US Vineyards & Old Vines
  • Book signing of new American Wine Book
  • Open Tasting of Notable Old Vines Wines

Admission: $50 Public; $40 Members of Wine Library Associates of Sonoma County

Reservations: 707-433-1660

The evening will include discussion by Murphy and Peterson on wine in the United States and the role old vines play across the country. Linda will be on hand to sign copies of her new book, American Wine, co-authored with Jancis Robinson. An open tasting of wines by notable producers of old vines wine and delicious hors d'oeuvres will also be served.

Biographies of the Speakers

Linda Murphy

american-wineLinda Murphy is co-author, with Jancis Robinson MW, of American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of United States. The book, published by University of California Press, celebrates winemaking in all 50 states, and Americans’ rapidly growing love of wine and expanding pride in locally produced bottles.

Linda, a longtime sportswriter in San Diego, left that career in 1990 to move to Healdsburg. She worked as a vineyard Brix sampler and cellar rat for Laurier, Lyeth and Mazzocco wineries, then became a communications director for wineries in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties, plus those based in Washington State, Oregon, Australia, New Zealand and Italy.

She returned to her journalism roots in 1999, as managing editor of The New York Times’ wine website, then as the first wine section editor of The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, where she won two James Beard Awards.

Linda, who has lived in Sonoma County for 23 years, now writes for,, and Decanter, Napa Sonoma and Vineyard & Winery Management magazines. She credits the Sonoma County Wine Library for increasing her wine knowledge on a constant basis.

Joel Peterson

Joel Peterson co-founded Ravenswood Winery in Sonoma with Reed Foster in 1976. He serves as Senior Vice-President of Constellation Wines. His community efforts include his current membership and former presidency of the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance and a current post on the Board of Directors for the Sonoma County Vintners. He is a founding board member and two-time president of the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers.

Joel's interest in wine began in his home growing up, and attributes a lot of his interest to the tasting club organized by his father—the San Francisco Wine Sampling Club, now known as the San Francisco Vintners Club. His early career in microbiology gave way to winemaking as he apprenticed with Joseph Swan and eventually opened Ravenswood with Mr. Foster, a Harvard MBA grad, who handled the financial aspects of the business.

Since Ravenswood's purchase by Constellation in 2001, Joel has remained Ravenswood's head winemaker, working closely with hundreds of growers who provide the grapes for Ravenswood's many wines. Joel was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame in 2011.

Peterson is also Senior Adviser to the Historic Vineyard Society, a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the preservation of California’s historic vineyards. Its mission is to keep precious old vines in the ground, through education of consumers about this depleting resource. Peterson’s son, Morgan Twain-Peterson, is on the founding HVS Project Team and is owner-winemaker of Bedrock Wine Company in Sonoma.

New Food & Drink Book Club


Polymer clay sweets, by Xoulone on Flickr


Come to the Sebastopol Regional Library tomorrow evening at 6 PM for the unveiling of a new book club! We are co-sponsoring a budding Foodie Book Group with the Sebastopol Library. The topics will include all kinds of food and drink, fiction and nonfiction. We hope to combine food and drinks with the discussion, possibly including occasional presentations.

Sebastopol Regional Library
7140 Bodega Ave
Sebastopol, CA 95472
February 27, 2013
6:00 PM ~ No charge!

This particular event is going to be an opportunity to talk about the best plans for the club--brainstorming about ideas, talking about how to make the book club a successful venture--and we'll have something to eat while we're at it. Come and be a part of it!

We're excited about this venture because it's a great opportunity to collaborate with another library and get us out of our comfort zone for a spell--we do love Healdsburg, of course, but the Wine Library is a county-wide resource! Hope to see you there.

New titles - January 2013

Here are a few interesting new titles that have come to the Wine Library over the last few months:

The Diner's Dictionary

The Diner's Dictionary: Word Origins of Food and Drink, by John Ayto. 2nd ed. 

While there are plenty of food and drink dictionaries offering basic definitions, this dictionary is useful because of its etymological detail. One can find out about the origins and development of the word "julep," for example, or the difference between the terms "beerenauslese" and "trockenbeerenauslese," or the relative acceptance across the Atlantic of the terms "offal," "variety meat" and "organ meats." 


Wine grapes: a complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties, including their origins and flavors, by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, and Jose Vouillamoz.

This reference work is the most significant volume published on ampelography in recent years. The stunning work details history and origins of grape varieties, including detailed DNA analyses, and also includes full-color plates from the revered Ampélographie of Viala and Vermorel. 

Evening Wine


Evening Wine, drawings by Glen G. Greenwalt.

Representing another side of our collection, this is a book of drawings by Seattle artist Glen Greenwalt; it is the third book in a series, also including Morning Coffee and Afternoon Tea. The book includes a short introduction by Marvin Shanken of Wine Spectator and each drawing is paired with an engaging wine-related quote.

The Art of Distilling Whiskey

The Art of Distilling Whiskey and Other Spirits, by Bill Owens and Alan Diktey. 

The Wine Library receives a lot of questions about beer and spirits in addition to wine! We have several resources on distillation, including this new book. This is a basic overview of the topic, including a short history of distilling, an explanation of the distillation process, and chapters detailing specific distilled spirits (whiskey, vodka, gin, brandy, etc.) and principal varieties and producers of each. Finally, the book features a "resources" section with a bibliography, a glossary, and a directory of distillers. 


Atlantic Seaboard Wine: A Talk and Tasting

Carl Brandhorst, Anne Vercelli, David Barber

Join the Wine Library Associates of Sonoma County and the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association (ASWA) for the chance to taste some award-winning wines from the Eastern seaboard and hear from David Barber, ASWA Vice President. 

Atlantic Seaboard Wine
Friday, February 1, 7-9 PM
Sonoma County Wine Library
139 Piper Street
Healdsburg, CA 95448

NOTE 1/31: This event is sold out! Sorry!

Admission: $20 Public; $15 Members of Wine Library Associates of Sonoma County; $10 Special Student Price (Show ID)

Reservations: 707-433-1660

The evening will include a guided tasting of 6 Atlantic Seaboard wines conducted by Mr. Barber, followed by an open tasting of 24 additional wines. Hors d'oeuvres will also be served.

An Evening With Thomas Pinney: Wine Library Event December 3

Thomas Pinney

Join the Wine Library Associates of Sonoma County at the Sonoma County Wine Library for a book signing and talk by Thomas Pinney. Pick up a few books at our wine book sale as well!

An Evening with Thomas Pinney
December 3, 6 PM
Sonoma County Wine Library
139 Piper Street
Healdsburg, CA 95448

Admission: $25 Public; $20 for members of Wine Library Associates of Sonoma County

Reservations: 707-433-1660

Sonoma County wine and appetizers will be served. While you're here, pick up a few books as holiday gifts for your friends and family!

Thomas Pinney, professor emeritus at Pomona College, has authored several important books on wine history, including two definitive volumes of A History of Wine in America, The Vineyards and Wine Cellars of California, and his most recently published work, The Makers of American Wine: a Record of Two Hundred Years. His next project, a book on wine in Southern California, will be featured in his talk at this event: "Los Angeles: The City of Vines."

Please come and welcome Dr. Pinney to Sonoma County!