Great winemakers are artists. Like all artists they are curious by nature, always searching for a medium in which to express themselves. For winemakers, the medium is the grape and the diversity of varieties with which they can work. John Buechsenstein is just such an artist, and when he found a devoted patron in the form of Dennis Fife, all that remained was to put the music in the bottle and cork it. In 1991 Dennis Fife removed himself from careers at both Beaulieu Vineyards and Inglenook Winery, having acquired land on Spring Mountain and in Mendocino along the way. At the same time winemaker Buechsenstein, was honing his craft at Joseph Phelps, Monterey Vineyards, San Martin Winery, and McDowell Valley Vineyards before settling in Mendocino County at Konrad Estate. When Fife purchased Konrad in 1996, Buechsenstein was asked to stay on, and the results have ranged from very good to terrific. Here's just a few of the 14 different wines produced at Fife Vineyards: *'96 Cabernet Sauvignon "Reserve" (about $36.99) Intense, dark, dense in colour. Graceful, balanced, powerful on palatte. From the Spring Mountain Estate vineyards. *'97 "Redhead Vineyard" Petite Syrah (about $26) Dark, concentrated, wild exotic spicy blackberries and pepper. Long, velvety finish. From Mendocino. *'97 "Redhead Vineyard" Zinfandel ( about $26) Spicy, intense berry, plum, pepper. From the Ricetti Bench in Mendocino *'96 L'Attitude 39 (about $24) By blending five different grape varieties, Buechsenstein has conjured up a bright Northern California red with a nod towards Chateauneuf-du-Pape.