Uncorked Ventures Blog

Mark Aselstine
January 29, 2012 | Mark Aselstine

The Never Ending Marketing Battle

I recently saw a press release which made me think.

The French wine region of Alsace has hired a PR firm in the hopes of expanding their appeal within the United States.  A couple of thoughts immediately came to mind after reading the release:

-Last year I attended a tasting sponsored by a similiar group for Bordeaux.  They poured quite a few wineries who were still struggling with lackluster (largely) scores and little American market penetration because of it.  The wines were all quite good and it was a great event to learn some more about why Bordeaux is as special as it is, but I was left wondering why some of the wineries which had sent people to pour their wines at significant expense, choose employees who spoke little to no English.  It was strange-I hope Alsace can learn from this.

-Secondly, they choose to quote or mention at least 4 Sommeliers in their release.  Each of which works at an east coast restaurant.  Given current market penetrations, I would have thought they could have at least mentioned someone in San Francisco or Los Angeles if they plan on trying to sell wine here (a note: they do). 

In any case, there is certainly more and more competition for wine dollars.  For us, that's a positive development.

Mark Aselstine
January 26, 2012 | Mark Aselstine

Good Wine Writing-Newspaper Style

It isn’t surprising that the best wine section in any newspaper in the country isn’t found back east, but instead is found in San Francisco.

One aspect of the paper that I absolutely love is their Inside Scoop series.

As a wine club, we can’t be everywhere, but we can certainly know where to look for new winery suggestions and the SF Chronicle's Inside Scoop is definitely on our list, as it should be on yours.

Mark Aselstine
January 25, 2012 | Mark Aselstine

Wineries Here, There, Everywhere

I noticed a short story in Wines and Vines the other day about the continued growth of wineries in the United States.  It seems that year over year there are 450 or so new wineries in the United States, with about half of those coming from....you guessed it, California.

I've been telling people there are over 5,000 commercially active wineries in the United States, it seems that is a number that I need to adjust up quite a bit as the final American talley is well over 7,000.

For a wine club, more choice is definitely a good thing especially since so many of these entries are going to be small operations for a while and likely will fit the mold of what we're looking for, if they can achieve some really high quality wine.

Mark Aselstine
January 24, 2012 | Mark Aselstine

Beer, Wine, Starbucks and California

I have to admit one thing before going any further: during a family reunion in Texas 2 summers ago, one of the highlights of my trip was passing through a drive through liquor store on the way to float the river.  It was a very Texan day, but the drive through liquor store caught my attention, especially when my drink came complete with a straw-although it was shrink wrapped since I wasn't suppose to drink it in the car.

I bring that up out of curiously for how Starbucks plans to handle beer and wine sales in stores with drive-thru's.  Especially with recent news that the coffee giant would be expanding beer and wine sales to a small number of stores in Atlanta and Southern California. More from USA Today.

Overall, this shouldn't be surprising.  Starbucks has spent plenty of time, money and their marketing muscle to become an afternoon destination.  The afternoon iced coffee discount with your morning receipt comes to mind and I'm sure was wildly successful.  It seems this is likely the next step in the process.

For a company like ours, it doesn't affect us much.  We certainly aren't positioned to distribute to a company the size of Starbucks on any meaningful level and the wineries we work with and represent don't make enough wine to even entertain the notion.  That being said, Starbucks has made a name charging what at the time it started, seemed like an ungodly amount of money for a cup of coffee to most people.  

Can it be long until they start selling more premium wine and beer in select stores? That's something we'd be interested in.

Mark Aselstine
January 22, 2012 | Mark Aselstine

Unified Wine & Grape Symposium

This week Sacramento is the center of the wine world.


No, nothing is happening with the UC Davis Viticulture program.

The Unified Wine & Grape Symposium occurs this week at the Sacramento Convention Center. It’s the largest gathering of its type in North America, with well over 12,000 industry attendees every year.

We bring it up, not because we expect any of our customers or readers to attend as members of the general public, but as a notice that winery response times this week may be sluggish as owners, winemakers and general managers are likely out of the office.