Uncorked Ventures Blog

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.

Mark Aselstine
January 21, 2012 | Mark Aselstine

Reality TV & Wine

I have to admit, we watch plenty of reality tv in my house.

Usually it’s just Amazing Race and occasionally something along the lines of Toddlers and Tiaras (that one makes me sad though), sometimes it is Undercover Boss.

Undercover Boss is really, really good when it is a company with a really varied set of operations. Watching Todd Rickets (part owner of the Cubs) clean Wrigley Field rather poorly was quite a lot of fun.

It seems that along with the Bachelor this year, reality tv is smiling on the wine industry as Undercover Boss is making a stop in Sonoma with Kendall Jackson.

KJ has dominated Sonoma’s wine scene for well over a generation and I hope the company is able to put its best foot forward while President Rick Tigner is put through the paces in a series of entry level jobs.

Of course, more attention is always a good thing for those of us selling wine online. I do hope that the show is able to somehow help people to process the incredible work that a winery the size of Kendall Jackson and their various holdings put forth in order to produce five million cases of wine per year.

Mark Aselstine
January 13, 2012 | Mark Aselstine

Hold up a Minute-Red Wine, How Healthy is it?

Fabricated data.

When it comes to a research study, there isn’t any more damning set of words. It turns out that the work of leading cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Dipak K. Das is being called into question after his employer, the Univesity of Connecticut found a number of irregularities with his data as well as his lab practices. More from CBS News.

While I don’t want to draw any firm conclusions in days after the main advocate for red wine’s health benefits has been called on the carpet, there are a few other studies which have come to the same conclusion-including one recently completed by the Mayo Clinic.

In any case, it will be interesting to see what transpires in the coming days and weeks after every subsequent study is called into question and investigated as well.

Mark Aselstine
January 11, 2012 | Mark Aselstine

It’s a Wasteland and I Don't Mean New Jersey

One of the things that I love about Uncorked Ventures is being able to work with my brother in law. It makes the good times that much more fun and the rough patches a bit easier to handle. One of the other positives, is that we see humor in much of what we do with Uncorked Ventures. While we take our responsibility to find quality wines seriously, we don’t have to be serious all the time to do just that.

On a recent trip to Sonoma we were told by a winery owner that the wine being produced in Sonoma is a wasteland outside of some of the wines we’ve already worked with and presumably theirs. In any case, that’s become something of a catch phrase around the office of late.

I thought of it for our Wine Blog Wednesday feature because I wanted to feature a New Jersey wine blog (in honor of their state perhaps joining the 20th century and allowing outside wine shipments…seriously who do you trust more with your economy, Pennsylvania or California?) that I thought spoke our language. Some education, a small amount of tasting notes and some humor thrown in. It was more difficult than I imagined until I found South Jersey Wine and Dine. I’ll admit, I haven’t spent a lot of time in Jersey outside of a football game or two, a couple of layovers at Newark and a cloudy afternoon in Jersey City so the restaurant reviews aren’t a great help….they do come with some great photographs and wine pairing suggestions though-so the blog is well worth the read. Back in the depths I even found a nice compliment for an old stand by, Keenan and their Merlot let alone a mention for our friends over at Alpha Omega who famously survived a day of "hard" labor by Matt and I.  We couldn't agree more, Jean and Henrik are producing some truly memorable wines in a unique style for a winery situated directly on Highway 29.

Overall I just love the concept, review restaurants which allow you to bring your own wine and therefore avoid restaurants and their 300% markup.  Great idea!