This past Memorial Day took me out of the cold, foggy city and up to sun-drenched Pt. Reyes Station to celebrate Cowgirl Creamery‘s 10th Anniversary. Cowgirls, Cowboys, and friends and families of both gathered under circus-peaked tents to listen to the inspirational words of The Cowgirls (Peg Smith and Sue Conley), Albert Straus of Straus Family Creamery, and Janet Brown of AllStar Organics. After the speeches, the entire staff plus the Straus family and some honored customers, stood for a very long time for a very large photo and then finally went into the closed-on-Mondays Tomales Bay Foods barn to chow down on the homemade potluck.

I balanced a satisfyingly heavy plate of Laura’s Kitchen Sink Mac and Cheese, chorizo, cornbread, salad, and my own basil-mint pesto edamame in one hand and grabbed at a wine glass with the other. I had taken a long sip of the Mount Tamalpais Vin Gris 2006 and was just starting to think that it was the best pink wine I had tasted in about ten years when I heard someone behind me ask, “How’s the wine?” I turned around to see a tall guy wearing a yellow Pey-Marin tee-shirt that matched the label on another bottle sitting on the bar. I babbled about how fabulously spicy and dry the rosé was. How I hadn’t had a wine like that since I tasted my very first Rosé d’Anjou. How THIS was the kind of stiff rosé I could snuggle up with any day of the week. Then I caught myself and, gesturing at his shirt, I added politely, “Of course, I haven’t tried your wine yet.” Well, I had, because Pey-Marin and Mount Tamalpais are labels from the same wine-making family, Susan and Jonathan Pey of Marin Wines. Jonathan smiled at me and said, “I just wanted an honest reaction.”

Well, he got it. This vin gris is insanely good. It went with everything on my plate — the rich mac and cheese, the stingingly spicy chorizo, the fresh basil-mint pesto, everything. I had to have a bottle of this. Jonathan told me I could find it at Plumpjack and the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant in the city.

The bottle secured a week later, I set about trying to confuse the wine with a whole host of foods. Secretly, I knew it could stand up to every single one of them, but I still had to try. We sat down to a dinner of minted Iacopi English peas with red onion, garlic, and roasted Dirty Girl turnips, homemade black pepper fettuccine with a wild mushroom-thyme cream sauce, and a beet salad with spicy greens (Heirloom Organics tatsoi and arugula and Four Sisters flowering watercress). The vin gris not only stood up to everything, including the rich and earthy mushroom sauce, but it actually gave each dish a shove back, asserting its own strong personality without shouting them down. My amaranth-hued glass gleamed back at me across my plate as if to say, “Is that all you’ve got? Because I can take it. Bring it on, my friend. Bring. It. On.”

Even the color is fierce! None of this blush and bashful pink that’s barely a whisper of color, this was wildhotcrazy lascivious pink. The pink of deep-bosomed sunsets, the pink of Barbie’s dress from the 80s (you know the one I mean), the pink of Belle Watling’s sheets, the discontinued pink of a Clinique lipstick I wore in high school. This Mount Tamalpais Vin Gris isn’t “pink,” it’s “PINK!”

I don’t know much about wines. I just know what I like, and I loved this.

Mount Tamalpais Vin Gris 2006, $18.00

Next Week: Mount Tamalpais Merlot

Think Pink!: Mount Tamalpais Vin Gris 7 June,2007Stephanie Lucianovic

  • Catherine Nash

    Why is vin gris pink? Doesn’t that literally mean “gray wine?” I mean, I know it means something else wine-y (though I know not what — maybe the grape?) but I don’t get why this isn’t a rose.

    Am I dumb? I am dumb. But I’m asking anyway because I know you can get to the bottom of this oenophilic conundrum.

  • Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic

    Yes, translated, it literally means “gray wine,” but technically I *think* it’s when a white wine is made using only Pinot Noir grapes, although I think Marin Wines uses Merlot at times, too.

    Also, I think rose wines have skin contact/fermentation/maceration and vin gris wines do not. Some say this makes vin gris paler than average roses but not in this case.

  • Amy Sherman

    Vin Gris IS made using Pinot Noir–from red comes rose/pink and from “noir” comes “gris”. Kind of silly but that’s the reasoning.

  • cucina testa rossa

    Belle Watling! You kill me! Laughs and a great wine
    tip to boot! 🙂

  • A Fellow Cowgirl

    Hey! Don’t forget to mention that it is available at the Tomales Bay Food Barn as well 🙂

  • Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic

    My esteemed colleague is right — Marin Wines *are* available at the Tomales Bay barn, which is just one more reason to go up there and hang out with the cheeses and eat at the cantina.

    Cucina Testa Rossa: Thanks, sweets!

  • Jennifer Maiser

    I’m feeling quite envious that I only *watched* you buy the bottle and didn’t buy one for myself. I’ll have to pick one up soon.

  • Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic

    And they only made 185 cases! Grab ’em now and grab ’em fast!


Stephanie Lucianovic

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for,, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED’s Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED’s Emmy-award winning show “Check, Please! Bay Area.”

Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater’s Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books, 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters that Scientific American called “hilarious” and “the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn’t think he or she wants to read a popular science book.”

Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats, and has been blogging at The Grub Report for over a decade.

Follow her on Twitter at @grubreport

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor