Uncorked Ventures Blog

Mark Aselstine
November 29, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Off to Wine Country

As the holiday season continues to gear up, Matt and I will spend the vast majority of our day today visiting two wineries with whom we've worked with in the past.

We've changed our site to try and impart a better idea of what makes our clubs different and it is this relationship building which truly sets us apart.  Aside from visiting in person, we believe that creating ongoing relationshisps with vineyard owners, winemakers and winery staff is an essential part of our jobs.

We don't view any purchase we make from a winery as a transaction, but instead choose to look at the wider relationship.  Frankly speaking, we'd rather pay a couple of extra dollars for a great wine and create an outstanding relationship with a winery, rather than ask for a discount and receive a worse selection.

In that vein, we'll try and get a few images up of our trip today.

Mark Aselstine
November 28, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Welcome to Cyber Monday

Today is, of course Cyber-Monday.  Dealing hunting hits the streets increasingly early these days it seems with major retailers opening on Thanksgiving to gain a larger share of your holiday dollars.

We aren't a discount retailer.

We focus on quality instead of price.  

I realize a number of other wine clubs and wine businesses make those claims, but the wines we ship and the comments we receive on our site speak for themselves.  No other wine club is brave enough to allow comments directly on their site like we do, that's how confident we are in the wines we ship.

If you're looking for a wine club, either for yourself or as a gift.....I hope you'll take the time to look around our site, learn about how we select wines and go from there.

I will guarantee that you're happy with the quality of wines we're shipping-

Mark Aselstine
November 11, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Germany Deals with Stolen Grapes

 (AP Photo/dapd, Ronald Wittek, File)

I've long wondered what type of security wineries had across the world and frankly if any were actually needed. There is a famous story about a Pinot Noir grower here in California and how he ended up with the specific clone of Pinot he happens to grow in the vineyard, since that Pinot clone has never been officially sold in the United States. It has been said while on a tour of Burgundy some cuttings may have been taken and put into a suitcase to be brought home. While I have no idea if its true, it doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility given both the personalities involved as well as the enormous profits to be made.  We've always laughed a bit at the story and have certainly read and heard about all the counterfeit Bordeaux being passed in China, but stealing grapes before they are made into wine seems to be new, or at least hadsn't happened for generations.

Germany is confronting the question of vineyard security head on due to stolen fruit from some of their most famous vineyard. As you might expect, securing a 100 acre vineyard is easier said than done.

Boston.com talks some about the problems associated with trying to secure a vineyard, mainly that during the last few periods of having grapes stolen the local vintners could simply stop all unknown traffic on the variety of access roads leading to their vineyards. Of course, things are quite a bit different in 2011 and those roads deliver tourists who are the life blood of the wine industry, so no matter how great the problem, shutting the roads doesn’t seem to be a viable option any longer.

It’s a sad situation both in terms of the larger economy and especially for these vineyards who are struggling to get by in a climate where expensive wines have been hit by both discounters and general malaise in the marketplace.

Mark Aselstine
November 9, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Score One for the Free Market

While some of our distributor friends might not agree, the results from the ballot box in Washington yesterday are very encouraging.

Voters enthusiastically approved a bill in the state of Washington to, in essence, tell the state that they shouldn't be involved with the sale of alcohol.  While the measure was backed largely by Costco, I'm sure grocery stores and other big box retailers are going to be thrilled with the change.

Of course, I feel terrible for the 900 state employees who are going to lose jobs in this economy, but I hope that they can move into the private sector and find work at one of the 1,100 newly licensed alcohol sellers.  Of course the state's independent budget office seems to think the change will be good in both the long and short term for the state as far as tax revenue which IMO should be a primary concern.

It's a nice change in the Pacific Northwest and I hope it's a sign of things to come in states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the state is incredibly active in liquor sales while there is also litigation moving through the courts while there also stands to be plenty of challenges at the ballot box as well.

More from the Seattle Times and Melissa Allison who has done a truly incredible job covering this niche ballot proposition from beginning to end.

Mark Aselstine
November 8, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Night Harvests

When we first opened Uncorked Ventures we started hearing from winery after winery that they were either already harvesting at night, or were planning to begin the practice. There are some real advantages to beginning and ending your harvest at night according to USA Today:

"Daytime temperatures in the 90s and above change the sugar composition of grapes. Picking at night when sugar levels are stable keeps "surprises" from happening during fermentation such as wild yeast starting fermentation, says Shafer's Andy Demsky.

Pickers can work longer hours in the lower temperatures and also avoid the "wasps, bees and rattlesnakes" that come out during the day, he says. And the grapes are picked cool, saving energy because they don't have to be pre-chilled before they're crushed."

Overall, a practice which brings about both better wine and better conditions for the seasonal laborers whom are largely responsible for bringing in grape crops has to be a good thing.