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Audelssa Tasting Experience

August 20, 2009 Leave a comment

I’ve talked at some depth about a couple of our winery visits in Napa, but as I’ve said we’re especially pleased to be moving forward with Copain (as Matt states very nicely in his blog) Alpha Omega and of course Audelssa.

Audelssa was a winery that I was looking forward to tasting with at the end of our trip for a couple of reasons. Like most of the other wineries on our list they are family owned and have been very open to talking with us. I’ve appreciated the time Dan gave me on the phone, including his stories of previous frustrations with exporting wine, especially the taxes and exploding prices involved, I’ve gotten to know Gloria a little bit from both Twitter and email (we are at a similar place, how do you correctly use Twitter to actually sell a product?). Lastly I am pretty much fascinated with their V 27 concept.

A quick run-down of V 27 and remember I worked in real estate for a while, so this is probably especially interesting to me. V 27 explained simply is a timeshare. They are building a Tuscan Villa on their mountain ranch (where they grow most of their grapes) after buying into the concept you’d have the right to stay there, I believe 4 weeks a year, plus the capacity to create your own red wine blend with their resident winemaker. Please don’t hold me to exact details, but I’ll say I think it is underpriced for what they’re charging….how many people do you know that would love to have a second home in wine country? What about a 2nd home that comes with the ability to bottle your own wine? Pretty interesting concept huh? I’m guessing you know more then a few people who would be interested depending on price….. and this is going to put you back well less, well much less, then a 1 bedroom condo in Napa/Sonoma. Plus, check out the view:

Audelssa view

Ok, so we were set to meet with Mike at their Glenn Ellen tasting room at 2pm on Thursday Aug 13th. Matt and I thought we would have plenty of time since our Copain tasting was at 10am and the trip, according to Mapquest, would take about 45 minutes. We left Copain around 12:30 thinking we’d still have time to get a quick lunch at a small cafe in Glen Ellen and decided we would take, what we thought at the time, the safe route to the tasting room. The safe route takes us down the 101 south to the 12 east and then right on Arnold Drive….more on that later.

After being on the 101 for some time and discussing our previous meetings, both the positive and negative, we realized that we were seeing signs such as Welcome to Petaluma. I’m not a bay area resident but I do now that Petaluma is about 30 miles north of San Francisco….we were suppose to catch the 12 somewhere around Santa Rosa…..which is 17 miles further north.

Needless to say that meant we weren’t going to have time for lunch…..so just make that right on Arnold. Well to make a long story short we missed Arnold…mostly because it isn’t marked Arnold from the 12….it’s marked Glen Ellen….yeah we should have known better, but what can you do.

In any case we arrived at the Audelssa tasting room at least an hour late, Mike was still waiting for us, which was quite kind especially because the air conditioning was being worked on. It was set up to be a bad tasting, we hadn’t eaten all day, were hot, tired and frustrated.

We sat down and got a chance to try all the different wines(which are all red) and we were impressed by all of them.

We started with the Tephora which is a $25 retail bottle, we hadn’t seen the price point yet and were guessing that it came in around $40 which has been backed up by other friends and family when we’ve had them try it as well, except one family member who named the $25 price tag exactly, but I’ll let her stay anonomous for now.

In fact we opened one of the bottles I brought home last night and my mother in law (who knows her high end wine, especially those of French varietals) said quite simply that for $25 she’d definitely buy more of this wine which is a nice compliment in my book. My wife agreed that it was certainly worth more then the $25 that Audelssa is charging. The bottle went very, very well with a steak from the BBQ and also with a couple of pieces of dark chocolate for dessert.

The two real standout wines for my palate were the Zephyr which is a right bank Rhone blend which was an interesting wine. I don’t believe I’ve tried any, at least not many, wines from Napa/Sonoma that come from volcanic soil like this one does. You definitely get a stronger fruit taste then you do from many Napa/Sonoma wines, we were told it is because the grapes are grown at altitude which leads to a much smaller yield and more intense flavors of the fruit then you get at the valley floor.

Lastly Matt and I both quite enjoyed the Summit estate wine. Like many great blends it takes some of the major parts of all its components like the Cab Sauv, Merlot and Cab Franc. I’d hesitate to try and describe it in detail here, but I will say that it is very nice wine. I’m having a moderate size dinner party over the weekend to finish up my 30th bday activities and will be bringing a bottle with me. Of anything we smelled the entire week, this was perhaps the best and I do enjoy complicated tastes in my wine….so this was a real winner and one that I’m looking forward to trying to figure out more about this weekend.

Overall Audelssa was a good tasting experience and offer a nice series of wines that we can feature in our wine clubs. Despite our experiences their Glen Ellen tasting room is pretty easy to find. At Uncorked Ventures we’re looking forward to working with Audelssa and featuring their wines in one of our first wine club shipments.

You Cannot Always Drink Wine

August 16, 2009 Leave a comment

I haven’t had a chance to go into more detail about the wineries we visited on our Napa trip, I’m certainly excited to move forward with great names like Alpha Omega, Audelssa and Copain but I do find sometimes that it helps me get some clarity about a business trip if I sleep on it for a couple of days.

With that in mind I spent last night at my wife and I’d favorite Mexican restaurant, Miguel’s which has two locations in the San Diego area: Point Loma and Coronado.

We chose Coronado-the Crown City. A couple of reasons for going there even though it’s about a 45 minute drive for us now; To start we lived there for about a year before a job change necessitated a move and secondly it is one of the most beautiful areas in southern California. Coronado is an “island” (actually it does connect to Imperial Beach by the Silver Strand which is a very thin strip of land, made somewhat famous by it being the home of Navy Seal training) with about 20,000 residents just about a mile off downtown San Diego. It’s basically split into two parts, one part residential with a great main street style set up and the other North Island-a large Navy base where two carriers and about 20k seamen are based at any one time. Coronado’s best known feature is the Hotel Del Coronado, but my wife and I love spending time out there because it gives a truly small town feel which is getting extremely hard to find in and around San Diego. It also is one of the places where the local community and military really do live hand in hand which is always great to see, especially with so many service men spending so much time away from their families.

Ok so what is Miguel’s? It started in the early 80’s from a pretty famous restaurateur family in San Diego, but last night was kind of nice in that my wife, my mother in law and myself were seated back in a new addition to the Coronado location which has for sale artwork and is a sort of boutique store in and around the tables which makes for a pleasing visual experience.

The Somewhat hidden entrance

So generally speaking the food is excellent, I can definitely suggest the carne asada plate which is more of a traditional marinated steak then some of you may be used to. How often do you order something at a Mexican restaurant to be asked how you want it cooked?

Carne Asada Plate with rice, beans and guacamole

Overall we had a great time, one small snafu on the drink front was that the bartender was new and did not know how to make my wife’s margarita which was a combo of pineapple juice and cranberry(I believe) anyway after waiting for it for a while….well it actually came after the food…..it sort of resembled jungle juice that a lot of us used to make in college. On the good side, they removed it from the bill and the other two margaritas were both quite good.

Strawberry margarita flanked by salsa and spicy carrots

Margarita served in shaker

Again, you can’t drink wine all the time and we had a nice evening out in a beautiful area. I’ll be going into some more wine depth over the next couple of days but Matt and I have been invited to work a day of harvest which we are both very much looking forward to, it should be quite the experience!

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Day 2 in Wine Country

August 14, 2009 1 comment

Just another fairly quick update before some more substancial notes over the weekend, but we spent yesterday in wine country with Copain in the morning and then after getting thoroughly lost…..Audelssa in the afternoon.

We started our day at Copain which is one of the most beautiful sites you’ll ever find. Their vistas are gorgeous and the people from Juliana their tasting room manager to Jennifer their sales director, to John the assistant winemaker were available and happy to answer questions and generally talk about the way they make wine and how they do business. We tasted perhaps ten different wines over about two and a half hours, all of which were excellent and in our opinion…..under priced. I’ll give more detailed reviews of the wines at a later date, but we’re very excited to continue working with Copain.

After leaving Copain we had thought that the easiest way to head to Sonoma for our afternoon meeting would be to take the 12 across. Of course we somehow missed the turn off for the 12 and ended up in Petaluma(about 20 miles too far south) before realizing what we’d done. On the way to the Audelssa tasting room we saw a sign for Glen Ellen(the small town where the tasting room is located) but our directions were for a turn off at Arnold Drive. Well after a couple of wrong turns and another 15 miles in the wrong direction we spoke to Mike who gave us a better idea where to turn. We eventually found our way to the Audelssa tasting room……about an hour late.

Audelssa is one of those wineries that when you look into the quality of wine they produce frankly you’re surprised that you’ve never heard of them….at least I was. They have multiple varietals rated 90+ points by Robert Parker and honestly I had never tried the wine before ending up in their tasting room. Neither Matt nor I were disappointed with the wine, far from it. In fact it was certainly competitive with everything else we tasted/ Audelssa has a great family story and great wine which I’m looking forward to explaining in more detail some time in the next week. We had an enjoyable conversation with Mike in their tasting room and really look forward to featuring their wines as part of our wine clubs and export services in the future.

We finished our day at the Girl in the Fig restaurant on the square in downtown Sonoma. Great meal at my sister in laws favorite restaurant.

Needless to say it’s been a very fun trip and also extremely productive as well for Uncorked Ventures. I honestly did not think that about 45 days into this new business venture that we’d be able to source this type of wine from 4 top notch wineries.

More to come, but this is an exciting time.

Not so Fast Amazon, New Facebook App

My business partner Matt forwarded me an interesting article this morning that appeared over at Luxist, talking about how New Vine Logistics which Amazon had planned to use as their wine shipping arm…..has closed.

Of course, this isn’t to say the idea of Amazon in the wine business is dead….far from it.

There are already reportedly multiple offers to take over the debt of New Vine Logistics….this certainly isn’t going to kill Amazon’s entry into wine, it may delay it by 6 months or so though.

A number of people have asked me if I’m concerned about Amazon entering the wine market. On some level, of course, having the second largest retailer on the web entering your field when you’re still in the start up phase is far from a good thing from a competition stand point and a search engine standpoint. Moreover looking at how Amazon has chosen to go about their entry into the book market, they slash prices and wait for the competition to go under before raising them….it’s a good business plan for them and who could blame them for it.

On the other hand, I highly doubt that Amazon is going to want to deal with the type of small, boutique high end wineries that we’re targeting at Uncorked Ventures. Is it worth the trouble for them to ship 25 cases of wine considering the bureaucratic hassle that is going to be involved? I highly doubt it.

If we were looking at having $30 monthly wine clubs I’d be very, very concerned though because Amazon can certainly corner the market for entry level wine drinkers. The question becomes a few years after their customers start drinking wine, do they move up within Amazon, or do they look outside for a smaller more intimate operation?

We’ll continue doing what we’re doing because we know it will work in both the short term and the long term. There is never any substitute for customer service and we believe having direct access to the owners of the wine club will give us that added advantage…..we’re also happy to move forward with our export operation….that is one part of the business plan that hasn’t been matched anywhere else.

We’re also happy to announce we’ve created the first of our Facebook applications. This is a short quiz that allows people to choose the right wine club for them….yes we’ve included our competitors. Check it out:

Which Wine Club Is Right For You?

Wine Club Decisions + A Couple of Thank You Notes

Hope this blog finds you all doing well this morning.

As my business partner Matt pointed out in his blog last night we are on the verge of a significant announcement regarding our first winery partner. Needless to say we’re very excited about the opportunity to work with this peculiar winery because of the wine, the people and the way they’ve dealt with us from the very beginning.

In other news we’ve formed some more firm conclusions on the types of wine clubs that we’re planning on offering:

-One will be a truly high end quarterly mailing club which is going to average approximately $300 per shipment. This will be a limited enrollment wine club and we expect it will sell out fairly quickly and have a waiting list.

-The other will be a monthly mailing that average approximately $100 per shipment.

We’re very excited about coming to these conclusions and truly being on target for a September release date.

Lastly I’d like to thank Jean Hoefliger for stopping by the blog. We’ll certainly be taking you up on your offer to come and taste at Alpha Omega in the very near future. I did mean everything I said in that post I look forward to meeting you in person.

That’s all for now-please leave a comment or join us on Twitter.