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Posts Tagged ‘wine of month club’

Final Napa/Sonoma wrap up

August 21, 2009 Leave a comment

So I’ve been asked to give a quick wrap up of our trip by a couple of friends and since both Matt and I have been straight forward about what wineries we were visiting…..I’ll be much more honest then I probably should be politically speaking.

We’re excited to partner with(yes in alphabetical order): Alpha Omega, Audelssa, Copain and K Vitners(from Washington state). We also have a couple of wineries from the Central Coast that we like and should work with as well. To be honest, from a wine sourcing standpoint we’re in excellent shape, at least for our September and October shipments.

After meeting with Cornerstone Cellars as well as Elizabeth Spencer I don’t anticipate moving forward at this time with either of them.

So what’s next on the Uncorked Ventures agenda? We’re constantly working on SEO stuff because we do believe that long term that is going to be a key to our business. Matt and I are also more activly engaging our personal networks to see what they’d like to see from our wine clubs. One thing that has come up repeatedly is a corporate gift either on an ongoing monthly basis or a one time gift for either a birthday or holiday.

Those conversations will lead to another section of our website(Gifts) which we plan to have completed by Tuesday of next week. You’ll also see some changes in format to the About Us page, the Other Media page as well as at least 3 new articles added to the Education section around that same time period.

Lastly we’re continuing to work toward sourcing new and exciting wineries. We have a few that we’re looking forward to speaking to on our next visit to Napa and Sonoma.

Specifically I think we may be a little Cabernet Sauvignon heavy right now, so a great Zinfandel producer would be nice…..of course I also love more Pinot Noir.

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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.

Packing….Ready to Go

August 10, 2009 Leave a comment

Every so often I think we all feel like we reach a point in our lives where things are about to change. That can happen with personal relationships, work or even within ourselves. I get the feeling that professionally I am reaching one of those points this week.

I leave for my first Napa trip since forming Uncorked Ventures tomorrow morning. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to really start taking the next step forward with Uncorked Ventures and do believe that we’re very close to closing on agreements with a few producers on this trip.

One of the great things about the trip for me is that it seems it is coming at the perfect time. We have an expanding interest list and we’re getting close to having a fully completed and functional website.

While we have plenty to do, we’ve come an incredibly long way in about a month. I’ll be packing much of the day today so this will be shorter then normal and while I cannot promise definitive updates from wine country….we plan on having an extensive review of our trip as well as finally getting the first of our videos and podcasts rolled out.

Birthday Part 2

August 10, 2009 Leave a comment

So I had another sort of birthday dinner last night with my wife and in laws. We celebrated with my favorite meal arroz con pollo (chicken and rice with saffron) a bottle of St. Francis Cabernet Sauvignon and various starters as well as mighty good cherry cheesecake, which evidently we neglected to get a photo of before it was cut into pieces- the Wagon Wheel Restaurant makes some of the best pies in all of Southern California.

Arroz con Pollo

A quick review of the wine which retails for between $22 and $27 depending on where you buy it. It was well received by everyone, it is a big Cab so maybe the arroz con pollo isn’t its perfect match, but good food and good wine always can work together.

St. Francis Cab Sauv Sonoma

I can definitively say that it holds up with the Sonoma/Napa tradition of moderate tannis and a pleasing texture/aroma. I wasn’t able to pick up much in the way of oak, cherry or chocolate flavors which are more easily accessed in their higher priced bottles. Overall it isn’t a wine that I’ll make a point to buy, but it is a solid drinkable wine that I enjoyed and would gladly purchase again if it were available at a local grocery store. It added to a good meal with good food and good company which is always appreciated.

Yes, the wine went over well

Thanks again for reading and please join us over at Uncorked Ventures.

Palumbo Winery, Lake Elsinore, Happy 30th to Me

August 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Had a great day yesterday, after meeting my wife at her work, which was a mad house even after she was suppose to be able to leave we got on the road.

Mark driving to Temecula 001

To start we went to taste at Palumbo winery in Temecula. Iit is very much off the beaten path, about a mile off the main road on a side street that is paved with houses and other wineries around. You drive into the winery, in essence through the vineyard which is quite nice and unexpected in Temecula. They have a dirt/gravel parking area with room for about 10 cars and a small tasting room which in essence is part of the garage of the house. I can see why they only accept limos and tour groups reluctantly with an appointment. Another note-no public restroom as of yet, although they are about to begin construction on a small addition to the property which will add public restrooms. When we arrived at Palumbo after wondering if our little Volvo was going to be stuck forever in the gravel, we were noticed the dog laying in the sun in front of the tasting room. Inside two more dogs seemed to enjoy the cool tile floors.

Dog at the Front of Palumba Winery

Palumba Winery Tasting Room

On to the wine. The hard part of this blog to me is that I am still learning the proper amount of information to share and what needs to be withheld. I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading other wine blogs to see how wine bloggers handle their reviews. It seems that they either will only post positive reviews, or they don’t review at all. There isn’t a ton of negative press out there, for good reason. While at Palumbo we met the winery owner and had a chance to chat with him and he talked some about the small number of cases he produces and generally cares greatly about his craft…as all winemakers do. That being said I will never be overly negative, but I feel like since Uncorked Ventures is asking for your money we need to be up front about the types of wines that we’re likely to feature. This is exactly the type of winery I’d love to work with, family owned, accessible owner etc etc.

We were able to taste the following wines for $7.00 or for $10.00 if we wanted to take the glass home with us. We opted to take the glass. Prices per bottle are listed.
2006 Syrah $34
2006 Merlot $36
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon $38
2005 Cabernet Franc $36
2006 Meritage$36

Finally their Port was not listed on the tasting menu, but they did pour it for us. My general impression of the wine was the earth tones came through too strongly. To me the Merlot seemed especially earthy, which I was surprised to say because I typically love Italian wine which is generally more earthy then the French grapes which they are growing at Palumbo. The Syrah was my favorite of the wines however I did not consider bringing a bottle home. At $34 there are plenty of other options in that price range including Stag’s Leap which we tried a few weeks ago which I prefer.

An older gentlemen in the tasting room was especially happy with the Cab Franc, absolutely loved it is probably a better explanation. I do know that they typically sell out most of their wines and at points there has been a waiting list of up to 1 year for their wine clubs. The Cab Franc is a unique offering for Temecula.

Although a much better experience then tasting at other wineries in Temecula I thought the wines were too earthy to be included in any of our wine clubs. I do see potential though in their vineyard and wish them the best in the future, I’ll be watching their progress.

After leaving the winery we contemplated going to another tasting that our guide at Palumbo had recommended however we decided to stop while we were ahead and head to Lake Elsinore to get a cup of coffee at Flour Fusion. Upon arriving I realized my wife had called ahead and ordered a small birthday cake for me which was very nice and unexpected.

30th BDay Cake

We enjoyed the cake, chatted with the staff(they make muffins for Trader Joe’s locally) and also played two games of chess. I was victorious in both games, despite a random passer by trying to instruct me how not to put myself in check.
Playing a Game of Monster Chess
After the coffee shop we had thought we’d get a glass of wine at a local restaurant, but everything in walking distance was either an antique shop or a Mexican restaurant….my wife has a bell pepper allergy so eating at an unknown Mexican restaurant isn’t really an option.
We decided to head over to The Diamond for the game. As we found out when we pulled in, we were there entirely too early as the gates didn’t even open until 6pm and it was only around 5.

We returned a couple of phone calls and enjoyed having some time to the two of us.

Entrance to The Diamond Lake Elsinore
I will say that if you’re not a baseball fan, go ahead and skip this part as it is another passion of mine and I wanted to share a couple of observations about the game in general, we had GREAT seats in the first row almost directly behind the plate. It was a fun game to go to with Lake Elsinore scoring early and often on their way to an 8-2 win.

Mark driving to Temecula 016

For the Storm:

James Darnell has been thought of as a ton 10 Padres prospect and he definitely looked the part of a future MLB player He hit a ball a ton to right center off the wall and later pulled an inside fastball down the left field line for another double. He can clearly hit and takes the game very seriously. Additionally he’s fairly fast for a corner infielder, at least fast and quick enough to play an outfield corner if he had to.
I was happy to get a chance to see Jeremy Hefner pitch in person and I was not disappointed especially considering the competition. He showed an above average fastball and an above average curve which no one seemed to be able to track last night. Additionally it comes out of his hand quite well and is indistinguishable at times from the fastball. Change-up seems to have some empathsis and was useful a couple of times at 1-1, but still needs work. He’[s a projectable arm which is something the Padres lack at upper levels.
I’ll follow up with some of the Mariners prospects to follow in a future entry, but I don’t want to bore any of the wine people with too much baseball stuff.

As always thanks for reading.