Uncorked Ventures Blog

Mark Aselstine
July 30, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

Welcome to #WBC14

Today marks the first day of the Wine Bloggers Conference for 2014. The 7th annual Wine Bloggers Conference comes back to California for the first time in five years, bringing over 300 wine bloggers and plenty of industry types, to Santa Barbara County, specifically the Buellton Marriott.

We've talked a ton about the necessity to bring Uncorked Ventures offline at times, typically in terms of meeting wineries face to face, but meeting bloggers and other industry folks can be quite valuable as well.

A couple of highlights from my first day at #WBC14:

Riding the shuttle and then getting a chance to taste with Wilford Wong.  Wong's recently moved from Beverages and More (where he made his name) to wine.com but he's just as approachable and entertaining as he's ever been.  It was fun to taste with one of the five most important wine reviewers in the country and compare notes about the offerings from Sanding Sun Winery.  It's an interesting winery because everything is 100% single vineyard.  We're all familiar with single vineyard offerings from a single varietal (they have plenty of those, of course) but they also have a number of blends which come from single vineyards as well.  Extra points from me for offering a range of wines from Tierra Alta, my favorite vineyard in the area.

I had an enjoyable conversation in the Marriott lobby with Cheryl McMillan from Ferrari Carano winery and Fred Swan of Norcal Wine.  Cheryl works in the PR and marketing department of Ferrari Carano and opening a 2011 Cabernet from the winery, which was showing quite well despite it's young age and less than perfect vintage.  Fred runs one of the oldest wine blogs around and without a doubt, is a professional wine writer.

I met and had a chance to talk with Alan Goldfarb who is a journalist, as well as working with wineries on public relations.  When I first decided to attend the conference, I knew that there would be opportunities to meet plenty of bloggers, but meeting people like Goldfarb is going to be a valuable aspect of this conference as well.

One of the most common conversations I've had with people is how online personas and in person personas don't always match up.  One blogger who does is Joe Roberts, who writes the incredibly successful 1 Wine Dude wine blog

It's nice of course to say hello to old friends and Bill Eyers from Cuvee Corner is in attendance with his wife


Mark Aselstine
July 26, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

Davis Family Vineyards

Davis Family VineyardsDavis Family Vineyards

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Pinot Days in San Francisco.  While writing about some of the wines and wineries that I found during that beautiful afternoon in San Francisco has largely been pushed onto the back burner, there's a number of wineries that certainly deserve a mention in this space.

I decided to start with Davis Family Vineyards for two main reasons.  To start, the wine really stuck with me throughout the day.  Despite tasting at least fifty different versions of Pinot Noir throughout a three hour course through the grape's different manifestations from California and beyond, I thought the Davis Family Vineyards version offered the best combination of acidity and richness.  Quite simply it was a wine that I really enjoyed and think anyone, no matter their level of "wine geekyness" will enjoy.  Over at the Pinot File, the stature of these wines are summed up well enough indeed: "The perfect Pinot Noir hasn't been produced yet, but some of the ephemeral Pinot Noirs crafted by Guy Davis of Davis Family Vineyards have come darn close. Guy's style matches bright, complex aromas and flavors with silky textures and impeccable balance, while capturing the essence of Russian River Valley terroir."

Davis Family Vineyards has largely been created with two simple and concrete assumptions by the family.  First, wine is part of the good life that we've talked about for some time here as well.  Think about the last time you had good friends to your house for dinner, that's better with a great bottle of wine right? Secondly, the Davis Family will be stewards of their environment and the vineyards that they own.  As you can tell by only a few moments with any of the family, or just by visiting their website, this is a family operation all the way.  I think we can all agree that you are likely to treat the land and vines a bit better if you want your sons to be able to make world class wine from the property for years after you're gone, rather than looking to increase the sales price of your winery.

I should also mention that Davis happens to be a family name on my wife's side, so I absolutely had to stop and say hello when I realized that it wasn't a sales manager or tasting room employee manning their Pinot Days booth.  Mentioning the name to Judy Davis brought a laugh and shake of her head, she mentioned that I'm far from the first person to mention the connection.  Given that Ancestery.com has over 27 million records for the last name, that's not surprising (compare with about 900 for my own!) but Judy seemed to enjoy being able to talk about it and how it's

Mark Aselstine
July 11, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

J Vineyards

Didn't realize J is female owned and operated.  Our table was rather excited for this visit.  60,000 cases is more than half of production.  You can see why they've grown so quickly and easily.  It's a really well done wine and at $12-$14 just an excellent value


Time Posted: Jul 11, 2014 at 2:53 PM
Mark Aselstine
July 11, 2014 | Mark Aselstine


2500 in total production.  Sauvignon Blanc at 500 cases with a family owned winery that is completely off the grid.  Welcome to Happy Canyon.  With all estate grown fruit and the owner of the winery here-it's a project I can get behind.

Time Posted: Jul 11, 2014 at 2:49 PM
Mark Aselstine
July 11, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

Ferrari Carano

Ferrari Carano-it's nice to see a familiar face occasionally and this is an interesting Fume Blanc.  At $14 and in a warm conference room, it's a perfect fit.