Uncorked Ventures Blog
Yesterday brought another trip to wine country for Matt and I. Much of our day was spent in Sonoma, we were looking for another wine or two for a charity tasting we’re involved with at the end of the week as well as wine for our Special Selections Wine Club.
Overall, we were incredibly pleased with what we found. While we won’t share winery names, we did find an outstanding vineyard designate Chardonnay from a relatively unknown winery (although the vineyard is extremely highly thought of), a top flight Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon, a Russian River Pinot Noir from one of our favorite producers and a few others.
As with many of our trips, we spent much of the day well off the beaten path. Our Chardonnay appointment found us, at one point, lost and over a mile off the paved road. Considering we had a half tank of gas still and didn’t have to ask for help……we can’t complain. Traveling down the dirt road did remind me of a previous trip:
Our day ended up picking up a Napa Cab at one of the industrial warehouses next to the Napa Valley airport, which is where much of the wine made in the valley is actually stored and then transported. I think a large percentage of our customers would be surprised to know that much of the wine is not stored at the winery itself, but instead in massive, guarded, temperature controlled warehouses.
Since Uncorked Ventures first opened its doors, we've used Flickr as an online resource to keep and organize the many pictures we've take on tasting trips. With one of our Proprietors (Matt) both an interested and talented photographer, we've been trying to find a way to display those photos directly on uncorkedventures.com. After many tests and much deliberation, we think we've found a setup which will allow us to share some of our favorite pictures, while also providing a bit of context about why we thought the image was important or memorable.
Have a look for yourself and let us know what you think!
One thing that always irks me when I see conversations about the direct shipment of wine is the conversation piece (never put forward by the wineries themselves) about how shipments from outside the state need to be stopped to protect local wineries and retailers.
We know a few things about wine consumption. As consumption increases there tends to be a movement toward both better wine as well as local wine. To put it simply, someone who drinks 2 bottles of wine a week at home is much more likely to spend $50 or more on a California Cult Cab, while also being much more likely to wine taste at a local winery, or travel to a local winery to enjoy a jazz concert etc than is someone who buys a single bottle per month at their local grocery store. If you look at the markets in California and other states the statistics bear out the conclusion that greater choice does in fact mean better wine and better wine does in fact lead to greater consumption.
I bring this up to simply say, enjoy the good weather that is sweeping over much of the country this weekend by supporting a local winery by having lunch and a glass of wine. Much of the time you’ll have an enjoyable experience. If you get a chance, please support the direct shipment of wine by stopping by Free The Grapes. It's good for the industry to allow competition in every market.
I admit, I love a great feel good story.
Kosta Browne certainly qualifies. As one of the top Pinot Noir producers in the Russian River Valley with a waiting list of 8,000 for its own wine club and media mentions too numorous to count, including a recent plug on USA's hit spy drama Burn Notice, many people likely think things have always run smoothly at the small vintner. Of course, behind the curtain things have not always been rosy.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat does a better job telling the story than I could in this space, but in many ways this is the classic story of starting a small business. Trying to put food on the table while growing a business and raising a family can be an all emcomapssing set of responsibilities for Browne's founders.
More than anything else I think looking at the experiences shared in this article reminds me that the path to success in the wine industry is not always a straight forward line. There are often bumps along the way, but hard work can help turn challenges into opportunity. It's a fun read, especially if you've ever started a small business of your own.
I'll freely admit that I actually really like public transportation. Perhaps it comes from growing up in Southern California which hasn't seen a freeway it wouldn't want to build, but I've been fascinated by land use and public transit for some time. I realize that makes me sound like a great party guest, but seeing The Vine Line reminded me both how rare public transit was through wine country and how needed it truly was.
Wine country as you might expect, is incredibly spread out. Agricultural products and yes wine is very much an agricultural product when you get to its core, take up a lot of land. With single land owners often having hundreds, if not thousands of acres, finding convenient places for mass transit is a challenge to be sure.
Pictured above is the "new" Sonoma County Vine Line. Yes, it is a converted school bus and yes, it does offer a nice alternative if you want a safe trip in wine country and don't have someone who is a willing sober driver. The line extends from many hotels in and around Sonoma's gorgeous central square and the intersection of the 121 and 116 highways. Stops include some of the better small and medium sized wineries of the region, staying away from the huge producers makes this something which I am happy to support. That, and their insistence that they receive no commission from wineries from their stops. Bravo!
More info over at Wines and Vines.
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