Category Miscellany

World of Fine Wine Issue 43

Varner and Neely Wines in World of Fine Wine

World of Fine Wine

The current issue of World of Fine Wine, Issue 43, has been released. Included is an article by me on Varner and Neely Wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains. I couldn’t be happier.

I have massive respect for the magazine, and its editor Neil Beckett. The publication consistently produces top quality work from the best writers around the world. To be able to go in depth on the work Bob and Jim Varner are doing with their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir labels, Varner and Neely, is a huge honor for me. I have so much admiration for them as people, and for what they’re doing in wine.

In a bit of synchronicity, one of the pivot stones of my philosophy career, Charles Taylor, turns out to have an article in the issue as well. He’s written there on Heraclitus and Kant in relation to the aesthetics of wine (to think I believed I couldn’t joy-geek any harder…). It’s a strange surprise to travel the distance from writing my undergraduate honors thesis on his work, to then being at the same professional institution as him (McGill), to now sharing the table of contents in a wine magazine. God has a good sense of humor.

If you don’t know World of Fine Wine, check it out. It really is an excellent magazine. I’m thrilled to say I’ll have more upcoming work in their pages as well.

If you have the chance to read the article, I’d love to hear from you.


Carla Rzeszewski, Jr, and I first visited Varner together, thanks to the introductory efforts of Dan Fredman, and a further recommendation from Jon Bonné. She and I spent a lot of time talking about their wines after, and those conversations came with me through the other visits and tastings I was able to do with the Varners. In many ways I wrote the article for Carla–she was the original motivation–to celebrate those conversations we shared. Love to you, Carla.

Thanks to Kate McKay for the magazine photo.

Thank you to Steven Morgan, Kelli White, and Nick Antignano.


Varner Wines:

To read more on Varner:

Jon Bonné’s article in Decanter, 2011:

Jon Bonné’s article in SF Chronicle, 2008:

Richard Jennings, 2012:

and my personal favorite: RH Drexel’s interview with Varner in Loam Baby:



Saveur Announces 2014 Best Food Blog Award Finalists

Saveur’s 2014 Best Food Blog Awards Finalists

Earlier today Saveur Announced their 2014 selection for the Best Food Blog Award finalists. The Saveur editors read through what they said were tens of thousands of blog nominations, then selected their favorite six for each category. The Best Food Blog Awards are now open for public vote to determine the winner for each category.

This year Saveur selected Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews as one of the finalists for Best Wine or Beer Blog. I couldn’t be happier than to share the distinction with two of my blogging friends.

The upside of wine blogging for me has always rested in the people I get to connect with as a result. Whitney Adams, and Jameson Fink are two such examples. They’re both doing great work in wine blogging, and are people I’m happy to know.

Brunellos Have More Fun, Whitney Adams


COF2012 bloggers in Friuli, L: Talia Baiocchi, Whitney Adams, me, Chris Reid

Whitney Adams, of Brunellos Have More Fun, and I were able to travel together to Colli Orientali del Friuli in April 2012, along with Talia Biaocchi, Chris Reid, Stuart George, and Jeremy Parzen. It was a fantastic trip. Whitney’s work on Brunellos Have More Fun showcases her beautiful photography skills, and joyful writing. Her sharp eye shows appreciation for detail that makes her work charming and warm. Reading Whitney’s work consistently leaves me with a sense of joyful appreciation as she brings beautiful attention to simple pleasure. Her writing now also appears in Punch Magazine. This year Whitney was selected as one of the Saveur Wine or Beer Blog finalists. It feels like a warm hug to see our blogs named their together.

Wine Without Worry, Jameson Fink

Jameson Fink

Jameson Fink with me in Dry Creek Valley, October 2013

Jameson Fink and I first met thanks to a mutual friend, Melissa Sutherland, over a private Ribolla Gialla tasting I organized. We’ve since kept in touch and were able to tour Dry Creek Valley here in Sonoma County together. His site, Wine Without Worry, brings a fresh playfulness with keen sense of taste to wine that I enjoy. More recently he’s also stepped in as Contributing Editor to the site Grape Collective, producing an impressive amount of daily content ranging from in-depth profiles on wine personalities, to current events, and wine news’ digests. Last year he was a Saveur Best Wine or Beer Blog finalist as well. I’m psyched to share the distinction with him, though a year jag between us.

Saveur Blog Award Finalists

The Saveur Food Blog Award Finalists page offers a digest of brilliance in the food world ranging from the hilarious (and irreverent) Best Writing nominee Food for the Thoughtless by the brilliant Michael Procopio, to blogs nominated for family meal planning, or special diet needs, or food travel writing. The list is well worth reviewing to find new sites for quality reading.

If you’re interested in voting for any of your favorite blogs, you’ll need to register. Registration is straightforward and demands no ongoing subscriptions or purchase. Once you do, you can vote for single categories, or the whole shabang as you choose.

Here’s the list:

Thank you to the Editors of Saveur for including me. I’m thrilled. It’s a beautiful magazine.

Cheers to all of you.

- Elaine

Celebration of Heritage: In Commemoration of my Grandmother, Ticasuk

Emily Ivanoff Ticasuk Brown

Last week the Nome campus of University of Alaska Fairbanks named and dedicated a Student Resource Center to my grandmother, Emily Ivanoff Ticasuk Brown.

Invitation to the dedication ceremony

In 1984, two years after her death, The Crossing Press selected my grandmother, Emily Ivanoff Ticasuk Brown, as one of twelve women to appear in a calendar recognizing heroines of the feminist movement. The family joke at the time was she’d be proud to appear with the other eleven women, but irritated over being named a feminist. She stood in the month of July. Other women in the calendar included Golda Meir–Prime Minister of Israel; Elisabeth Kubler Ross–a psychiatrist that revolutionized hospice care and our understanding of grief; and Carrie Chapman Catt–a suffrage leader that helped establish the 19th amendment, women’s right to vote.

During portions of the last century Alaska Native languages were not allowed to be used in schools, and various cultural practices were also banned or illegal. My grandmother, Emily, fought to have such laws changed while also encouraging her students to speak their language anyway. As a result, she was fired from her teaching post. The local communities demanded she be reinstated.

Emily went on to dedicate her life to preserving the stories, history, and knowledge of our elders publishing three books and leaving multiple manuscripts. In order to direct her work, she spent her life earning multiple degrees, spending much of her time on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. While there she helped start the Alaska Native Studies program, and helped found the Alaska Native Heritage Preservation movement through the state. She was recognized as a result by both a President of the United States, and the Governor of Alaska.

She died in 1982 near the close of her PhD at the age of 78. One week later University of Alaska Fairbanks awarded her an Honorary Doctorate for the work she had already completed.

Dad at the dedication ceremony

my dad at the dedication, photo from Heather Jones

Last Thursday, my parents and extended family flew to Nome to attend the celebration of my grandmother’s life, and the opening of the new Emily Ivanoff Brown Student Resource Center. The Center symbolically brings together Emily’s two passions — preserving and sharing knowledge of our heritage, with an eye towards learning for the future.

In her book, The Roots of Ticasuk, she explains the meaning of her name, Ticasuk. “My Mother explained that my Eskimo name ‘Ticasuk’ meant not just ‘Hollow in the Ground’ but the place where the four winds stored their treasure gathered from all over the world, and I felt very good about my name after that.” For Emily, heritage and education were those treasures.

Thank you to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Northwest Campus.

Copyright 2014 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to


Le Metro Volume XI Released!

Le Metro Volume XI

Le Metro XI

The new Loire collection of Le Metro has been released. I’m so psyched about this collection — the region has such a range of wines to offer.

For more on the current Le Metro collection:


Also, Aaron Epstein and Le Metro (with a shout out to me – these are fun surprises) just appeared in a great write-up in Riviera Magazine. Check it out here:

Congratulations, Aaron! I am so thrilled to see your good work getting recognition. Super happy for you, friend!


Le Metro + Hawk Wakawaka Mentions in LA Times + Washington Post

Le Metro and Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews Mentions

Los Angeles Times features Le Metro

In the last two weeks both the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post have printed write-ups on Le Metro: Wine. Underground, with recommendations for Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews included.

Aaron Epstein started a great wine service through Le Metro. It’s fantastic to see it getting recognition. I’m psyched to be included, as working with him and illustrating the monthly zine has been a lot of fun right from the start.

Check out the articles yourself through the links that follow!

Here’s a direct link to the article in the Los Angeles Times:,0,4611380.story#axzz2wwFIi7g6

Here’s a direct link to the article in the Washington Post:

For more on Le Metro:

Congratulations to Aaron, and Le Metro for the awesome mentions!


Hawk Wakawaka Interviewed over at Grape Collective

Interview at Grape Collective

If you haven’t checked out Grape Collective yet, you should. It’s a new site that’s brought together a wealth of good wine writers to look into wine, regions, and people from all over the world.

Today, it happens they decided to interview me. Jameson Fink pushed me into talking about my background in academia as it relates to wine, what personal stories have to do with it, and what it’s like to draw a wine label.

Here’s a preview:

Wakawaka at Grape Collective

To read the interview (subscribe to their newsletter while you’re at it. It’s worth the read):


Italian Varieties made in California Wine over at Le Metro

Awesome Pack of Wines at Le Metro

The new Le Metro month of wines is getting ready to launch. This is a special one. Aaron has up’d the ante on hard to find, yummy wines here focusing on Italian varieties that have been made in California wine. These are special varieties, and some of my favorite wines coming out of California too.

Here’s a preview of the accompanying zine that I illustrated:

le-metro_Vol-X California Soil, Italian Soul

If you would like to learn more, order just this month’s Le Metro, or subscribe, Aaron would love to hear from you.

He mentioned they have a few extra packs for sale with this month, so if you’re interested, get on it! They’ll sell out quickly.

To check out Le Metro:


Slurping Syrah with Le Metro: Vol IX in print and packaged!

Le Metro Vol IX

As some of you know, I illustrate the monthly collection for Le Metro: Wine. Underground. It’s a ton of fun. Aaron Epstein selects the wines, the theme, and the tagline, and then sends me the info and I get to draw up a piece to bring together yummy wine with a sense of wine education.

With Vol IX though I’m especially excited as the collection Aaron selected focuses on Syrah, with a six-pack of truly special wines. Several of them have gotten recent attention for their quality in both SF Chronicle, and The New York Times. It’s remarkable the Le Metro team was able to secure them. Great work!

Here’s an image of the illustration for Vol IX. Aaron has been kind enough to be sure to send them to me.

Le Metro Syrah Vol IX

Aaron informs me that Vol IX is available to order in small quantities, so if you’re interested, get your butt on over there!

Here’s the link:

Thank you to Aaron Epstein. It’s a lot of fun to work on this with you every month!


I just finished a super hefty month of January work wise by getting in some freelance writing I couldn’t be more excited about. Keep an eye out here for article announcements once they’re in print.

Hope you’re all doing well!

Hawk Wakawaka Reddit AMA (complete w Long-Dog-Gone Answers)

Ask Me Anything Posted at

Hi folks, as I announced last week, I was asked to do a AMA (Ask me Anything), and did so this recent Sunday. It was a lot of fun and there were some thoughtful (and some playful) questions offered.

If you’re dying to know things like how I fund my site, when I first fell in love with wine, or the importance of leather check it out. Here’s a preview, and then the link.

reddit ama

If you’re not familiar with, at this stage, don’t worry. Just click on the link. You can then read through questions and comments in a scrolling fashion.

Here’s the link:

Thanks to Erin Socha!



I’ve spent the weekend sick in bed, unfortunately. I caught a cold my last day in Santa Barbara County after spending three hours doing barrel samples in a cold cellar. So, responding to the AMA was as much writing energy as I had in me. I’ll be getting back to more in-depth blog posts. Cheers!

Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Hawk Wakawaka Sunday Jan 26

Reddit AMAs

Over at the social media, internet-gathering website there is a tradition called AMA — that is, Ask Me Anything. curators invite leaders in a field to interact with users curious to see what insights can be gained. hosts a wine forum and has asked me to be an AMA guest this coming Sunday, January 26. As a user you’re invited to post a question you’d like to see me answer. Registration there is easy. I’ll be checking in once an hour over the course of Sunday to answer questions as they appear.

Here’s the link to the wine community page: . My AMA will appear there first thing this Sunday morning.

If you’re interested in seeing an example of another Wine-related AMA check-out Tom Wark’s from this recent Sunday here:

Here’s more info on the current round of AMAs in the wine community from one of the moderators: