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The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
Enough With the Merlot Bashing: A Wine That’s Ripe for Revival
April 2018

"'MERLOT IS ONE of the great grapes,' said winemaker Aaron Pott as we stood in the living room of his Napa Valley home. On the table in front of us were bottles of Merlot-dominant Blackbird Vineyards “Illustration” he’d produced. The selection included vintages that were almost entirely Merlot—though the front labels omitted this fact. As Mr. Pott later noted, the wine was launched when “Merlot bashing” was on the rise, some 10 years ago.”

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Silicon Valley Magazine
Silicon Valley Magazine
Great Escapes
January 2018

"You can fly into Napa and do a wine-tasting tour, or go to Monterey and hit a couple of holes at Quail Lodge, and fly back the same day with your buddies." The Napa Experience visits Blackbird Vineyards' new tasting room and art gallery in downtown Napa; the $110 cost per person includes a Morimoto bento box lunch.”

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Sunset Magazine
Sunset Magazine
Top 6 Wine Trends of 2017
December 2017

"They may be different animals, but Cabernets (and Cab blends) less than $50 satisfied our judges with their balance of fruit, structure, and oak; above $50, their more complex layers often defied words (and scores)”

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Gentry
Gentry
The Secrets to Their Success
March 2017

"Of everything he’s accomplished in his career, Polenske is most proud of the team he’s built. “Every day we get compliments on our wine, our labels, our aesthetic, and the artists we curate,” he says, “the most common praise we receive is how great our people are.”

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Robb Report
Robb Report
Rare Birds
May 2016

"From the beginning, collector interest played an important role in Blackbird's exemplary reputation. To reward these supporters in their never-ending quest for the unique, Blackbird has launched a members-only program called BlackMail (blackmailwines.com) that not only enables collectors to gain preferred access to the label's coveted portfolio with a lifetime fixed-price guarantee but also allows them to acquire small-batch wines made exclusively for the club.”

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Sunset Magazine
Sunset Magazine
The Right Reds
November 2015

"...Ask Napa Valley's Aaron Pott, who makes Blackbird Vineyards wines as well as those under his own label and he'll set you straight: 'For me, the greatest wines of Bordeaux are made with Merlot and Cabernet Franc.' These two Bordeaux grapes share characteristics with Cabernet Sauvignon - to a point. Merlot has rounder, gentler tannins, while Cabernet Franc carries lovely floral aromas.”

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California Style
California Style
Flying High
September 2015

"... Oak Knoll District vintners continue their tradition of forward-thinking offerings with their fi rst white varietal crafted by winemaker Aaron Pott.”

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DuJour Magazine
DuJour Magazine
Inside a $15 Million Weekend
June 2015

"There were many celebratory events, including a sumptuous dinner on Friday evening at Ma(i)sonry in Yountville, hosted by Blackbird Vineyards and Bulgari. Blackbird founder Michael Polenske was joined by newly appointed President of Bulgari U.S. Daniel Paltridge and San Francisco Director Daniel Diaz in welcoming the intimate group for extraordinary wine parings and an expertly prepared meal by Chef Victor Scargle of Bardessono's Lucy Restaurant & Bar.”

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The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
How to Blind Taste Wine Like a Sommelier
August 2014

"Winemakers frequently taste blind as well–not just their own product but others' too. Aaron Pott... said he rarely tastes his own as it always stands out, but he employs the method elsewhere, in part to avoid "cellar palate," i.e., becoming overly fond of his own beverage.”

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Verve Napa Valley
Verve Napa Valley
Summer of Rosé: Part 1
May 2014

"Arriviste Rosé | Love this wine's watermelon afterthoughts, and the way it invigorates the palette.”

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The Agency
The Agency
Top Ten California Vineyards
March 2014

"Catering to the most discriminating palates, winemaker Aaron Pott has created wines that are innovative and masterfully blended...”

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Wine Enthusiast Magazine
Wine Enthusiast Magazine
An Insider's Guide to the Well Lived Life
November 2013

"Top 100 Cellar Selections 2013 | 2010 Illustration | There's something enormously satisfying about this Merlot-based blend...”

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Shortlist
Shortlist
An Insider's Guide to the Well Lived Life
September 2013

"Insider: Tyler & Stephanie Mithcell | Current favorite California Wine: Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian”

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Financial Times
Financial Times
Golden Grapes
August 2013

"...It makes Napa the most valuable wine name outside Europe.”

Andrew Jeffers picks: Napa Wine Estates — Blackbird

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Wine Spectator
Wine Spectator
12 Noteworthy Napa Cabernets
July 2013

"BLACKBIRD Paramour Napa Valley 2010 Score: 92 | $125 | Subtle black cherry, black licorice and floral scents extend onto the palate. This is an elegant, graceful, deftly balanced young wine that retains focus and persistence.”

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IntoWine.com
IntoWine.com
Top 100 Most influential U.S. Winemakers
June 2013

"Aaron Pott is taking Napa Cabernet Sauvignon back to its roots...He also makes wine for star properties like Blackbird...Pott's influences are far-ranging, but his true inspiration is his home turf, Napa. He was named Winemaker of the Year in 2012 by Food & Wine Magazine.”

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The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
What Winemaking Consultants Really Do
May 2013

"Mr. Pott consults to 10 Napa estates and also makes his own wine. He said he believes that one of the chief benefits of hiring a winemaking consultant is having someone with wide-ranging experience”

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PressDemocrat.com
PressDemocrat.com
Sip & Sit: Places to Enjoy Rosé Outdoors
April 2013

"Blackbird's just-released 2012 Arriviste is a Napa Valley rosé...grapes come from some of the finest vineyards in Napa, from Stagecoach and Hudson to Crocker & Starr, a prime home for cabernet franc.”

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Forbes.com
Forbes.com
This Year's Coolest Wine Labels
April 2013

"2010 Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian calls to mind Edgar Allen Poe...surely a dark and serious wine awaits in the bottle.”

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Napa Valley Life Magazine
Napa Valley Life Magazine
The Best of Napa Valley Life
March/April 2013

"Featuring Michael Polenske - Chairman, Creative Director of Bespoke Collection”

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San Diego Magazine
San Diego Magazine
Perfect Pairings
March 2013

"Look for a Blackbird Vineyards Wine Dinner at the Grand Del Mar on Friday, March 29, featuring the terroir-driven, Pomerol-inspired wines from Napa Valley...”

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City & Shore Magazine
City & Shore Magazine
Top American Fine Wine Competition Winners
February 2013

"Wines from California and Oregon uncorked Best of Show and Best of Class honors at the American Fine Wine Competition, a homegrown South Florida competition now in its sixth year. 2010 Blackbird Vineyards Arise | Best in Class”

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Robb Report
Robb Report
Host's Guide
Holiday 2012

"Blackbird Vineyards 2009 Illustration...The signature blend from this Oak Knoll District producer, this masterful Pomerol-style blend—another creation from winemaker Aaron Pott...”

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Nob Hill Gazette
Nob Hill Gazette
Blackbird Vineyards
November 2012

"The Beatles famously wrote about blackbirds singing in the dead of night, waiting for their moment to arise. Did you know there is a Napa Valley winery, tucked in the middle of our tranquil wine country, and amid an array of our fine feathered friends, inspired by this famous song?”

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Food & Wine Magazine
Food & Wine Magazine
Winemakers of the Year: 2012
November 2012

"Aaron Pott is trying to take Napa Cabernet back to its roots...also true of the wines he makes for star properties like Blackbird and Seven Stones.”

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Forbes Life
Forbes Life
The Entrepreneur's Tour
November 2012

"...the Blackbird is an enlivening drink, taut and cascadingly flavorful, and one Michael Polenske might have named for himself, a blend dubbed The Contrarian.”

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Robb Report
Robb Report
From the Robb Cellar
October 2012

"(Blackbird Vineyards) owes its existence to the keen eye (and palate) of (Michael) Polenske, who in 2003 bought a parcel in Napa's Oak Knoll District that produced Merlot on par with Pomerol, France's most impressive estates.”

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Bloomberg
Bloomberg
Chinese Wine Lovers Go Californian As Taste Widens
June 2012
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Wine Spectator
Wine Spectator
Auction Napa Valley Raises Over $8 Million
June 2012
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SF Weekly
SF Weekly
Wine of the Week
May 2012

"Blackbird Vineyards is a great business story and makes some very nice wines...”

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Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal
The Mouth Behind Some of Napa's Best Wines
April 2012
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Metro Society
Metro Society
Fine as French
July 2011

"Blackbird vineyards brings New World wines with Old World élan to the table...”

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Robb Report
Robb Report
Host's Guide
Summer 2011

"2010 Arriviste Rosé - a refreshing rosé that achieves a beautiful harmony ($24)...”

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InStyle
InStyle

"Try a little taste. Finally, a miniature bottle that delivers maximum value. The Flock Box Collection ($48) allows you to taste wine that would cost more than $400 when it comes in standard bottles.”

O Magazine
O Magazine
The O List
January 2011

"Tour a winery without leaving your kitchen thanks to Blackbird Vineyards' extraordinary sampler of six 50ml bottles of red and rosé (Flock Box Collection)...”

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San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
California Bordeaux-style blend recommendations
October 2010

"It is logical that wine regions noted for Cabernet Sauvignon, such as Napa Valley, can also produce noteworthy blends of traditional red Bordeaux varietals. Our recommendations... 2007 Blackbird Vineyards Illustration Napa Valley Red Wine.”

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Uncork Life! Blog
Uncork Life! Blog
Wine Review Wednesday: Blackbird Vineyards
October 2010

"Blackbird relies on sustainable farming, noninterventionist vinification, rigorous fruit selection, and a willingness to produce less wine if that means raising its quality and staying true to the vintage. I recently had the chance to taste the new releases, and was utterly blown away by the wines' expressiveness right now and potential for evolution in the long term.”

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Gentry
Gentry
Art and Wine
June 2010

"Michael Polenske has honed his skills over the years as a master of public relations, keenly understanding the synergy between good press and good business. His latest ventures in Napa Valley have made him a media darling, but the hype would be short-lived if his products weren't great - and they are.”

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Rosewood Magazine
Rosewood Magazine
Influentials: From City to Rusticity
May 2010

"In Napa Valley, where many winemakers go from profitable wine making to art collecting, Michael Polenske, the valley's most recent vintner turned gallerist, is an exception. His interest in art began when he was a boy scout in Washington D.C. where his father, a military pilot, worked under Nixon.”

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Sophisticated Living
Sophisticated Living
The Business of Leisure
April 2010

"Blackbird Vineyards is one of the many outstanding vintners participating in the Lexington Cancer Foundation's 2010 wine auction (Thursday, April 29) at Keeneland. Blackbird Vineyard founder Michael Polenske has been an ardent supporter of the LCF, not only through his participation at the event, but also as a host for related vintner events taking place in Napa Valley.”

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San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Michael Polenske's Blackbird winery takes flight
January 2010

"After making his fortune teaching others how to build theirs, Michael Polenske quit the world of financial planning to pursue his dream of becoming a Napa Valley vintner. Making Merlot, no less, a wine whose sales were eviscerated by the 2004 movie "Sideways," in which the fictional wine snob Miles delivers a now-famous (and profane) rant against the varietal...”

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Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Seasonal wine splurges
December 2009

"Whether the bottle is meant for Christmas present or Christmas future, these Napa Valley wines combine a fruit-forward friendliness with the tannic structure needed for aging. 2007 Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian: A big hit with the tasting panel, this is a blend of 46 percent cabernet franc, 34 percent merlot and 20 percent cabernet sauvignon...”

*** $90

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Playboy
Playboy
The Imbiber: Grape Expectations
October 2009

"Napa is an international standard bearer for cabernet sauvignon, but Blackbird is hell-bent on putting NoCal merlot on the map. If the just-released 2007 vintages I tried - Arise ($50) and Illustration ($90) - are any indication, consider its rep redeemed. Both are extremely approachable and well put-together...”

Robb Report
Robb Report
100 Perfect Pours
October 2009

"Renowned for its miraculously complex Merlot-based wine, Blackbird Vineyards has historically flouted Napa Valley tradition by emphasizing red Bordeaux varietals...”

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Luxury Las Vegas
Luxury Las Vegas

"Bottled Poetry. Blackbird debuted its first vintage in 2003. Its name derived from the French patois for Merlot, 'Little Blackbird'. Appropriately, their vineyard in the Oak Knoll District is planted to Merlot, and their wine style reflects Pomerol wines...”

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Cooking Light
Cooking Light
Top 10 gift wines
December 2008
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Town & Country
Town & Country

"Blackbird Vineyards helps an oenophile craft a personal blend of its Illustration Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine...”

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Men's Journal
Men's Journal
2008 Best List - Best Red under $100-Blackbird 2006 Illustration Proprietary Red Wine
December 2008

"It's the first American merlot with the flavor and complexity of the great French Bordeaux. And it's still a bargain relative to other luxury wines...”

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Robb Report
Robb Report
101 Fabulous Fermentations
November 2008

"These brilliant bottles are guaranteed to please the crankiest connoisseur and supply some welcome liquid cheer to beleaguered hosts...”

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Men's Journal
Men's Journal
Merlot is Back
November 2008

"For years, overdone merlot has been too embarrassing to order. But now vineyards are turning out great-value bottles you just can't miss...”

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Sommelier Journal
Sommelier Journal
Winery Spotlight - Blackbird Vineyards - Oak Knoll District, California.
August 2008

"A three-word, hand-scrawled change in an employment contract bought Michael Polenske his dream vineyard in Napa Valley... with Merlot overdue for a return to prominence, it looks like it's time for this little Blackbird to fly...”

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Travel + Leisure
Travel + Leisure
GOLF
August 2008

"Every few years a flock of new, would-be cult wines appears in Napa Valley. Most of them are turkeys; a few soar like eagles. One of the more impressive newcomers has been a merlot-dominated blend from Blackbird Vineyards...”

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Robb Report
Robb Report
Best of the Best
June 2008

"Several of the most coveted and long-lived wines of Bordeaux—Chateau Petrus and Chateau Le Pin, for instance—are Merlot-based. Michael Polenske, entrepreneur and proprietor of Blackbird Vineyards, is among these Merlot admirers, and his releases stand among Napa's most beautifully articulated boutique wines...”

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Vanity Fair
Vanity Fair

"Blackbird Vineyards released its acclaimed 2005 Napa Valley Proprietary Red at a V.I.P. dinner, hosted by Chanel, honoring the Host Committee of the charity P.S. Arts. The gala event was held at Cut, Wolfgang Puck's ultra-chic Beverly Hills steak house, and the exclusive wine poured was the Proprietary Red.”

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Town & Country
Town & Country

The 2005 Blackbird Vineyards "Paramour" Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine is endorsed by Town & Country as their "Perfect Gift for the Home."

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Robb Report
Robb Report

"Winemaker Sarah Gott has shown once again she is a virtuoso in handling this (Merlot) grape...The 2004 tempers powerful fruit with earth elements of roasted coffee, cocoa, and ginger, all of which are wrapped up in a texture like royal red velvet.”

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Stratos
Stratos

"Merlot has fallen out of favor with some, but enophiles know it is the grape that powers Chateau Petrus, among the most sought after wines in the world.”

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Food and Wine
Food and Wine

"Ask Michael Polenske, 45, why he decided to give up an extraordinarily successful career in finance to start Blackbird Vineyards, his Napa Valley winery, and he'll say wryly, "Why take a vow of poverty, you mean?"”

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In Style Magazine
In Style Magazine
The Perfect Gift...For The Proud Homeowner
December 2006
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C Magazine by Alison Clare Steingold
C Magazine by Alison Clare Steingold
Gourmet Gifts
December 2006

"Never mind those cruel jokes in Sideways. Merlot can be marvelous, and the limited-production release of winemaker Sarah Gott's Blackbird Vineyards 2004 Merlot ($80; six bottle allocation) shows the subtle finesse of Napa's other red wine.”

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Distinctive Living by Jenny Peters
Distinctive Living by Jenny Peters
Michael Polenske and His "Business of Leisure"
July/August 2006

"Funnily enough, it all started at Chico State, the place investment advisor and entrepreneur Michael Polenske calls "the very prestigious university in Northern California that was rated the Number One party school in 'Playboy' magazine two out of the three years that I was there." He must have learned something in those formative years...”

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San Francisco Bay Club by Christine Blake
San Francisco Bay Club by Christine Blake
Enjoying the Business of Leisure
July/August 2006

"Bay Club member Michael Polenske does more than just enjoy the good life-he creates it. This full-time investment advisor and part-time entrepreneur has fashioned a collection of lifestyle-based ventures that reflect his passion for great food and wine, and the little things that make life sweeter.”

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7x7 by Jordan Mackay
7x7 by Jordan Mackay
Introducing the latest must-have Merlot
May 2006

"You've heard it before: Wealthy guy buys expensive vineyard in Napa Valley, produces small amount of expensive wine. It's the tale of Michael Polenske, the owner of Blackbird Vineyards, who was finally able to make his vinous dreams come true in 2003, after years of long hours in a lucrative financial business.”

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