NY Joins the Wine World

Congratulations to NY in the passage of Direct Shipments legislation.  Now I can legally ship wine back to my family from CA!  That NEVER happened before…

Seriously, this is great news.  The tide is rolling through.  There was speculation that the distribution lobby in NY would halt or at least slow the direct shipment bill that Pataki introduced earlier this year.  Looks like that didn’t happen.

Austrian Wine shop online

With Supreme Court ruling this year and all the state legislation that has been or soon will be introduced about wine shipment we can expect plenty of new smaller wine business cropping up everywhere.  This week ushered in another new online wine shop – Winemonger.com.  But this one has an interesting twist – it specializes in Austrian wine. 

Winemonger is a boutique wine import and retail company based in Los Angeles, California. It imports and sells special wines that are an expression of their region: wines that reflect terroir, tradition and the winemaker’s personal philosophy. Winemonger currently offers a catalog of Austrian wines, with more varietals and regions to come.

Emily Wiessman, co-founder of Winemonger.com, notes that shoppers at Winemonger.com can also browse wine region maps , a grape varietal glossary , and vintner profiles to aid in their selection. For a limited time only, Winemonger is offering free shipping on select cases of wine.  Also, to stoke business, first time shoppers will get 10% off (for a limited time).

Riesling certainly makes a great BBQ wine for the summer and it also happens to be my in-laws’ favorite varietal so when they visit this summer I’ll be shopping for some and this looks like a pretty appropriate place.

I’ll be checking out the site and writing a some more in the near future but I thought I’d point it out for all the Austrian wine fans out there hoping to bag a few “hard to find” bottles.

UC Davis Breaks Ground on Mondavi Institute

Robert Mondavi turned a giant corkscrew with the help of his wife, Margrit Mondavi to break ground on the new Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at the University of California, Davis in Davis, Calif.  The $90 million facility housing the university’s viticulture, oenology and food science departments is scheduled to open in 2008.

The first building to be constructed will be a 129,600-square-foot academic building, which will be built in three wings wrapping around a courtyard that will face westward toward a teaching vineyard and open space. The courtyard will contain demonstration gardens and serve as a venue for special events.

The institute was established in 2001 with a $25 million gift from Robert Mondavi. The Anheuser-Busch Foundation has provided $5 million in matching funds to help construct the Institute’s brewing-and-food-science laboratory, and Ronald Miller and Diane Disney Miller donated $1 million for the institute’s winery.

UC Davis, located a short drive from the heart of California’s wine country, has the country’s top-ranked departments of Viticulture and Enology, and Food Science and Technology which will be housed in the new Institute.

Wine Magazine targeting Women…

 Wine Adventure is a new (to me anyway) publication that is apparently trying to target

women, which happens to comprise 60% of the wine drinking public.  According to sources at the magazine

Wine AdventureTM reaches this audience with features that directly appeal to their interests and lifestyle, while providing male readers with an alternative to traditional wine publications.

There isn’t too much more on the site but its very new and remains to be seen how well written it is. 

Enjoy the Wine Life!

Red Bicyclette contest

The marketing push is on by French wine makers courting US customers.  Red Bicyclette is running a contest to give three people a trip to explore the French countryside.  According to Red Bicyclette representatives:

Three lucky winners will receive:

Round trip travel to France
One month’s accommodation in a furnished cottage
A generous stipend
The use of a red bicycle to explore the countryside

The deadline for entry is June 30, 2005.  Finalists will be selected on or about July 11, 2005.  You can enter here: Official Rules are posted here:

It was interesting to talk to these folks at a time when there is rumblings of a US v EU winemaking tussle.  The root of the matter?  US wine practices that make wines popular in the US are banned in the EU.  These include adding oak wood chips to barrels of wine to hasten the aging process, adding water to must (the grape juice before fermentation is complete), and the use of ion extractors to reduce acidity.

Frankly, it would be better if the US didn’t worry so much about changing centuries old traditions in Europe and just concentrated on making better wines here in the US.  Regardless of their ban on US practices, EU wine consumption in the US is dropping even though the US wine drinking market is growing rapidly.  They can practice protectionism all they want.  And we should welcome the competition from French producers of wines like “Red Bicyclette” because, after all, in a free market economy competition makes the product better (not to mention we can take advantage of their marketing programs that give us free trips to France


Enjoy the Wine Life!

Food for Thought…

Just how high profit margin is Napa/Sonoma wines?  While researching the economic impact of Napa wines to CA economy I came across this North Bay Business Journal article that indicates that while Napa County contributes just 4%, thats right F-O-U-R percent, of the

wine in the state it accounts for 21% of the $45.4 Billion dollar statewide economic impact for wine.  Combine that with Sonoma county and you’re now looking at 39% from less than 10% of CA wine producing regions.

Still wondering why Dotcom millionaires, Hollywood stars, and even sports stars keep taking a crack at opening a Napa winery?  I did get good advice from two people I know who either own or used to own wineries – one called Testarossa in the San Jose Bay Area and one in the Finger Lakes region of NY – it is FAR far harder then it looks and much less glorious than it is made out to be.  Everybody is attracted by what they see – the tasting, marketing, meeting, selling – but 90% of the work is crap – bottling, QA, etc…  The other point, the production of the wine is not the profitable part in the value chain of wine so many new winery owners are surprised by the amount of work it takes to make money producing.  Makes you appreciate people and families that can do it for generations.

So, How Do You Like Your Wood?

Thomas Pellechia, Vivi’s resident wine industry veteran, contributes some information on the taste and affect of wood on wines.  Enjoy the Wine Life!


In the most recent class of my Wine Chat series at Glenora Wine Cellars, in the Finger Lakes region, we explored wood and wine. My aim was to see whether or not people had a preference for the type of method used to integrate wood into winemaking.

We tasted oak barrel fermented wines, wines that had been fermented in stainless steel and aged in oak barrels, and wines that had been fermented and stored in stainless steel and then finished with a large “bag” of oak chips or powder dipped into the wine before bottling. The overwhelming preference was for the barrel fermented wines.

Continue reading “So, How Do You Like Your Wood?”

Aussie wineries’ Evil Genius…

Its interesting and not widely known that a while back, I believe it was about 10 years ago, the Australian wine industry made a conscious effort to target the US market.  An article by Dan Berger in the Napa Valley Register reminded me because he was noting the success they’ve had:

In a rare bit of industry cooperation, the Australian Wine Foundation released a major, detailed plan for international marketing of its wines in 1996. Called Strategy 2025, it was a statement of how the Australian wine industry could increase its market share.

Its 30-year goal has now nearly been achieved, in less than 10 years!

In fact, the success of that Aussie campaign has prompted Australian wine strategists to refurbish Strategy 2025 to refocus attention on the diversity of the nation’s sub-regions.

Continue reading “Aussie wineries’ Evil Genius…”

Toasting Etiquette

Conversation over at WineTalk.com was an interesting one – what is the etiquette if someone toasts you?  Do you drink?  Do you just say thanks?  In the conversation, Susanne points to USA Society for Advancement of Education  for guidance which states: 

Give thanks. If you are the subject of a toast, do not take a sip of your drink. Thank the person toasting you. You also can show your gratitude by offering another toast. 

read more…

I’ve always heard that you say “thanks” and drink with the toaster.  I’ve also heard that not only do you toast, but its bad luck not to look the toaster in the eye.

But then again, I’ve experienced that when you’re toasted it doesn’t really matter anyway


Enjoy the Wine Life!