WBW#43 Announced:….and breeeeeeath….

Wow, when I thought about this theme for WBW (which I signed up for about 18 months ago, btw) I had no idea how badly I was going to need this or how cathartic the topic would be for me.

I believe in balance in life. Truly. I think you must or you won’t survive. That doesn’t me you’ll never get ahead because you take too many breaks, but there must always be balance. I can work like a maniac for days at a time, but not without something to ground me, my kids, my wife, and of course wine!

So that’s where I derived this theme idea. Wine is part of my life. Even when I ran into health problems with my cholesterol some years back, the doctor said I’ll need medication and probably cut out wine…wrong on both points my drug-company influenced friend. See, wine is part of the Yang to my everyday Yin. I love it and its such a part of my life that I believe that when I have that glass, at the end of the day or sometimes at the end of an intense week, my mind and body just release and relax. I never get hammered on wine and no other spirit signals my body to transition to “relax” so its not the alcohol as some may argue. It is the act of drinking it and the memories and good times the wine brings to mind that just lets me drift away.

I think there are enough people out there who know what I’m talking about which is why I chose this theme. Comfort Wines – choose a wine, any wine, that you love to unwind to and tell us about not only the wine but what makes the experience special and relaxing for you!

For me, I’ve just finished a home improvement project (literally getting sign-off from the city in the next week), launched the OpenWine Consortium social network, got my car repaired after an accident, and my second daughter is due March 4th (with WBW#43 due March 5th!). So I’m pretty sure I’ll have a good experience that I can try to convey for that Wednesday.

Remember, I believe in enjoying the Wine Life so if wine is part of a relaxation routine for you lets hear how you unwind – whether is in front of the TV or on the roof of a villa in Spain in front of a grill. Lets paint some mental pictures of tranquility for everyone to read and enjoy. Maybe some of us will have a couple “oh man, I totally have to try that” moments!

Cheers!

Barreto Cellars “Vinho Tinto” is a winner!

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Got a recent WineQ shipment but I’ve been a little delinquent in parlaying my latest finds (and posting them to my account). In case you don’t know, WineQ is a site that allows you to create your own wine club in Netflix style. More and more social aspects are being added that get me really excited, but more on that later. For the sake of full disclosure, I’ve worked with them on their business plan and funding plan as a consultant but beyond that, I’ve been creating my own club for over a year now and absolutely LOVE to see the box with that little green sticker waiting for me to open it.

Anyway, the latest tasting note is Barreto Cellars’ “Vinho Tinto”. According to the site:

Barreto Cellars is a Central Coast Winery dedicated to producing premium-quality wines featuring grape varietals from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). Having relatives who migrated to America from these regions, we have a strong connection and desire to develop wines utilizing these varietals, a number of which are grown in small amounts in select vineyards throughout California.

Vinho Tinto is a winner. Big and bold from the deep purple color straight through to the nutty/pepper finish, this wine is one you’ll enjoy if you are a CA style wine drinker. Cedar and cherry on the nose with a FULL bodied cherry and almond taste (my wife argues with me on those tastes but thats the great thing about a complex wine!). The crowning achievement of this wine (IMHO) is that all this CA goodness was accomplished with Iberian varietals! Bravo!

This retails on WineQ for $17.99 which is a complete steal for this wine.

Enjoy the Wine Life!

vReview #2 – Winespies.com

Second edition of Wine website video reviews – what I’ll call vReviews for short – comes with my first impressions of Wine Spies. Wine Spies contacted me to see if I would review their site. Here is a First Impression review – a review no longer than 5 minutes to give my raw, unadulterated reaction to the site.

I think, as a marketing professional by trade, that the first encounter with a site is hyper-critical. If you don’t convey your value within the first 5 minutes of a visitor (in this case, me) then it would be a little much to expect that visitor to come back, let alone spend money on the site.

Have a look at my first impression review of theWineSpies.com, vReview #2.

With this review, I’m also going to start a rating system. Rate 1 to 5 stars. Check out the video to understand why I give WineSpies.com 3–Stars. For reference, that means I may come back and make a purchase but I’m not over-the-top compelled to try it out.

Happy 3rd Birthday Vivi’s!

Well, my blog is growing up so fast…>sniff sniff<…

First, let me apologize for the bit of a hiatus. There’s just alot going on. I have development working on Wine Life Today, working on things with our friends at WineQ, a couple of major intiatives at my day job, construction at our house, and the best news of all…we are expecting another little addition to the family! So as you can imagine, I’ve taken a brief hiatus from my normal blogging but I have a backlog of great wines to review including a wine AND recipe combo from Wolf Blass!!!

So thanks for everyone’s support, well wishes, requests for more posts, and everything else. That past three years have meant alot to me in my wine adventures

and I owe a great deal of that to the community that supports this blog.

Keep the notes coming and as soon as life gives me a chance to take a breather I’ll be back on this microphone tasting, pontificating, and just generally yapping to all the wine lovers out there! Stay tuned!

Snooth.com to Wine-searcher.com: “The end cometh…”

I was recently invited to the private Beta of a new wine search site called Snooth by Philip James, the site’s CEO.  Snooth is a New York-based site that, very broadly, is a search engine for wines that combines searching wines and retail DBs, compiling of wine reviews/ratings into a composite “Snoothrank” rating, and social networking (friends, etc…).  You can find more of the Ps and Qs from their press release a couple months back.

The interface is slick and with funding on the order of a few hundred thou I wouldn’t expect anything less (because I’ve seen similar done with far less).  Lots of Ajax stuff to make the surfing smooth and overall a good

user experience.  I did my surfing in a place with Tier-1 connectivity to the Internet (i.e. multiple gigabits/sec) so my surfing experience my be skewed by the fact that speed is more processor constrained than connection constrained.

Continue reading “Snooth.com to Wine-searcher.com: “The end cometh…””

1000 Best Wine Secrets…maybe

I recently received a copy of the book “1000 Best wine secrets“, a book that proclaims to contain all the information novice and experienced wine drinkers need to feel at home in any restaurant, home or vineyard.

Well, I can say that its a pretty quick read, structured literally as a list of quick blurbs about wine. I was able to consume most of it on a flight from San Jose to D.C. Its structured so that you can read sections out of order, skipping to which ever section sounds interesting.

I actually found the tips about wine, tasting, storage, etc… pretty useful, to the point, and full of very relevant information. The “Old World” wine sections (about French, Italian, etc…) were informative but re-confirmed exactly why I can’t get into those wines. Even in a quick, easily absorbed book like this, there’s no short cut to learning about Old World wines. You flat out have to read and remember a bunch of random French regions and their associated wines. Now this book did give me a picture of how that could be interesting by outlining a little bit of what to expect from each region, but there’s no way I’ll remember it without some serious study (and wine is a love and a hobby – I commend this book for trying to create a basic outline but, through no fault of its own, it falls short).

Overall, this is a good reference book that probably could’ve been broken up into multiple smaller reference books and made more money. At $12.95 USD retail, its probably worth having around to read and reference.

Enjoy the Wine Life!

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Partnering up with WineQ…

I’m diving right in.  Joining the team at WineQ.  Adding my Silicon Valley tech experience and passion for wine to the heavy hitters at WineQ.  What?  Why?  Thats an easy question to answer…

I’ve spent the better part of the last two plus years blogging about wine, the wine life, and everything wine related.  Its a passion, a love, an…addiction?  Maybe.  But I think more of an obsession.  Even the day I put this blog up I wrote about my exploits in wine and my intention for this blog right on our first about page:

My wife and I started Vivi’s Online as a prelude to our bigger wine business ventures. (Stick around and you’ll hear a lot more from us on that front!!!)…

Well, that time has come.  I’ve sifted through alot of sites about wine, drank alot of wine, and spent my life in technology.  From my first Commodore 64 and Atari game system to the iMac I just

ordered.  From the first Geyser Peak Merlot that knocked my socks off, to the Navarro Pinot Noir I drank last night.  Through it all I always wondered, “how can I apply all this tech experience to this wine obsession?”…”what will be technical enough to keep that part of Joel excited yet somehow incorporate wine?”.  But most importantly “is it possible to combine a ton of tech experience, a love of technology, and a passion for wine?”  In effect, marry the two things I can actually spend all day thinking about and have it energize me.

Well, it seems in WineQ, I’ve discovered a wine business that aligns with my own wine values – to find the best wines not just the most expensive.  I’ve discovered a technology business that aligns with my own technical values – innovative technology applied to a real problem with a drive to continue innovating; actually doing something with the innovative technology and not technology for technology’s sake (a BIG problem with the whole Web 2.0 and Wine 2.0 craze).  I’ve discovered a business that promises to fundamentally change an industry using great technology.  This paragraph is very Zen for me!

WineQ offers users the ability to create a queue of wines they want to purchase, and then set up the frequency and quantity of wines received per shipment.  In addition, shipping is free for WineQ

members on orders above $35 – not “free on full case orders” or “free on 6 bottles” – free over $35.  You can have many wines from a variety of wineries all shipped for free.  You can have a single $35 bottle of wine shipped for free.  WineQ is redefining what one should expect from a wine club.  And there is so much more to come, I wish I could blurt it out but I’ll keep it under wraps for now.  Lets keep it at we’re focused sharply on creating the ultimate online wine experience…if there is something about buying wine online that doesn’t appeal to you, we’re probably working on a way to fix it as we speak.  I’ll definitely update more as things progress.  Lets just say I probably won’t have to post about it here for you to hear about whats going on with WineQ…I will, you just may not need me to…

After working with the WineQ team for a while (as I’ve done with many out there) it became obvious that this company has the potential to do something special and its ready to go to the next level.  Innovative technology, top-flight operations, and wineries signing up left and right, this is going to be fun fun fun! 

So with that, I’m joining WineQ.  Together the goal is no less then to build the premier wine experience on the Internet.  Have a look at the site, feedback is always welcome.  As always, Enjoy the Wine Life…

By the way, I Q do you?

Wine is becoming a study in new media…

So there are questions abound about what new web technology and media and how it interacts with the community.  Some say that new media isn’t going to work well with wine.  Others (myself included) believe wine is the perfect niche for the latest “virtual community” or “Web 2.0” technology and new media outlets.

Just came across a good example today – WineCountryTV.org.  This is effectively a television network about wine in Sonoma County.  Right now it consists of two shows and, while not “NBC” level of production value but its not half bad.  Multiple camera angles and smooth jump cut implies some level of production sofistication beyond me, my camcorder, and some PC importing software.

The show that was pointed out to me is called “What Lukka Likes”.  Here’s how the site describes it:

What Lukka Likes: An Adventure in Sonoma County Wine Tasting,” is a wine review show. Shot on location at Access Healdsburg TV Studios, “What Lukka Likes” is an objective look at the diversity of Sonoma County wines. Our host, and man of the world, Barndiva’s Lukka Feldman, broadcasts weekly with a smattering of local wine celebrities and Sonoma County color.

Lukka Feldman is a character but in a world where just about anyone can do some of these that might help in the long run.  The information is actually interesting, if you’re interested in watching a tasting.  I would suggest more “tutorial” style to just talking about what appear to be random selections connected to a theme.

Wine is a niche full of immense amounts of content just waiting to be unleashed with new technology.  Nice work Lukka.  Nod to narrowcast pioneer Tim at Winecast for blazing this trail…

Enjoy the Wine Life!

Wine Web 2.0 done right…Bottlenotes.com

Web 2.0, Social Networking, the next bubble, what ever you want to call it I’ve found it difficult to find alot of use in some of these social-oriented web site.  I like Digg.com for my technology news so I experimented with a wine version called Wine Life Today.  For the limited marketing (i.e. only to my faithful readers) that I did its been really successful circulating some extremely interesting wine news around.  As soon as I can get out of this busy period of my life we’ll see if we can’t kick that up even more.

But there were a couple other “web 2.0” sites created with a wine theme that got sent to me.  The one I found most interesting was Cork’d, a site where you can create cellar notes and share them with your “friends” network.  You can also get recommendations from friends.  Stuff like that.  I think on week in March I got 4 such sites forwarded to me to review.  All similar, and all lacking something. 

One day while I was developing Wine Life Today, I thought about those other Web 2.0 wine sites and thought if they could take my notes and tags and make recommendations for wines that would be cool.  Even cooler is if you could make a recommendation engine that would go through a database of wines that were tagged by the producers and based on my ratings of other wines (which are also tagged), send me wines that I should like as a sort of super-custom wine club.  “That would ROCK!”, I thought.  Being the tool that I am I started to research how it could be done.  I even briefly put up a survey about wine clubs on this wine blog and sent out a bottle of wine to a randomly selected participant to learn more about what drives people to use wine clubs.  (By the way, most people answering were participating in wine clubs to try new wines based on reliable recommendations!  Thats called market validation of the concept).  Next thing I knew, I ran across BottleNotes.com – a full blown implementation of of exactly what I thought a wine Web 2.0 wine site should be.

Continue reading “Wine Web 2.0 done right…Bottlenotes.com”