One difficulty with having your monthly wine group meet on your terrace is keeping your dog from eating all the soppressata. That's what Stephen Tseckares, a vice president of programming at E! Entertainment, is discovering at the fall kickoff meeting of the officially-as-yet-to-be-named, greater Los Angeles, mostly-guys-whose-kids-go-to-the-same-school wine club. As Tseckares uncorks a bottle of Central Coast Syrah, the dog, a former stray named Eliot (after George), makes a deft bound onto one of the patio chairs around the table where the snacks are, then an equally deft bound off.
Only momentarily distracted, Tseckares holds up the bottle. "Okay, next wine. Léal Vineyards San Benito Syrah—anyone know where San Benito is?" He pours quarter glasses of the almost purple Syrah for the eight other members of the group. The men are mostly in the entertainment business: screenwriters, producers, executives. Today they're comparing California Syrahs and Australian Shirazes; the same grape from two different continents. A lineup of 10 bottles—the Léal is the third—waits on a side table.
"What's the alcohol on this?" asks Scott Sturgeon, an independent film producer and screenwriter.