Uncorked Ventures Blog

Mark Aselstine
August 13, 2012 | Mark Aselstine

For Sale in Texas Only

"For Sale in Texas Only"

Just to be clear, this doesn't mean anything in terms of where the grapes were grown, or where the wine was made.  It simply means that a winery was forced, due to some economic goaltending, to produce separate labels for a single state.

As a country we can and should do better at both regulating alcohol sales as well as stopping stuff like this, which does absolutely nothing for consumers other than increasing prices.

Time Posted: Aug 13, 2012 at 10:49 AM
Mark Aselstine
August 3, 2012 | Mark Aselstine

The End of Crushpad

Crushpad was an incredible concept.  People who wanted to make wine, could with some professional help at a central facility.  For about $10k per barrel (no small expense to be sure) you could have fruit grown and then take as much of a lead in the winemaking process as you wanted. Now, it looks like Crushpad is going under.

It really was a great way to let those people who wanted to make wine, but didn't have millions of dollars to buy a vineyard get involved in the wine industry in a meaninful way.

Unfortunately, there were misteps along the way.  Personally, I think moving the facility from San Francisco to Napa in the first place was a mistake.  Weekend winemakers need something central, even if transporting the grapes when picked in August-October was a challenge.

It seems that there are now about 900 barrels of wine sitting at the Sonoma facility (relocated from Napa and probably an even worse idea than the initial move) and only little hope for them to be rescued by those people who have prepaid to have wine made.

It's incredibly unfortunate to say the least.  Personally, I'm disappointed to see the concept go under, although I'd venture a guess that new verions will spring up shortly.

Time Posted: Aug 3, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Mark Aselstine
August 2, 2012 | Mark Aselstine

Napa Valley is an Interesting Place

We like telling people that Napa Valley is an interesting place.  Of course, people think we're only talking about the wine, or maybe the wine and the food.

What has always fascinated me about Napa was the way the wine industry is completely and utterly integrated into the local community.  I guess it is probably to be expected and you certainly see something similar happening in some of the other world wine capitals (Bordeaux is a great example) but I don't think anywhere else in the United States offers the range of opportunities for either aspiring winemakers, or those of us who love great wine to learn and experience the entire winemaking process.

This weekend marks another year of the Napa Valley Wine Libraries, tasting series.  Founded in 1963, the Napa Valley Wine Library has a simple goal, to help people learn about winemaking and  the history of wine through local libraries.  Specifically, the St. Helena public library has an extensive collection of wine specific materials that really aren't found anywhere else in the country.  As you might expect, the organization found a willing partner with UC Davis and their viticulture program.

In any case, if you're planning a trip to Napa-joining the Wine Library is a great way to experience a side of exclusive Napa Valley which isn't available to everyone.

Time Posted: Aug 2, 2012 at 1:30 PM
Mark Aselstine
July 26, 2012 | Mark Aselstine

Horse and Plow Harvester Red 2010

In this month's Wine Exploration Wine Club shipment we're happy to feature the 2010 Harvester Red by Horse and Plow winery of Santa Rosa.

Opened by the husband and wife team of Chris Condos and Suzanne Hagins, both of whom have been making wine in Sonoma for more than a decade each, Horse and Plow focuses on organically grown grapes and using the most natural winemaking techniques possible.

The Harvester Red wine is an interesting blend for a few reasons, but we thought it was a nice introduction for our club members to a Carignane and Syrah blend (although there is also smaller amounts of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Charbono and Grenache).

Carignane is the interesting grape here for many people, since most wine drinkers aren't familiar with the grape.  The grape isn't often made into varietal specific wines, but instead is used in blends often to add the dark maroon color which is so evident in this wine.  Personally, I think this wine does a nice job at being drinkable and enjoyable even without food, which is often a challenge at this price point, with these grapes which can be overextracted and carry too much alcohol at times.


Time Posted: Jul 26, 2012 at 8:32 AM
Mark Aselstine
July 18, 2012 | Mark Aselstine

Sideways 2 Now Unlikely

An unfortunate article in Decanter to be sure, but it now appears that Sideways 2 is unlikely to be made.

Reasons are explained in the Decanter article, but it does appear that director Alexander Payne doesn't want a follow up effort out of fears of "selling out."  As might expect, others involved with the original Sideways project (the author Rex Pickett among them) would be ok feeling like sell outs to have another significant pay day, especially when the follow up book has been well received.

Since the follow up book, named Vertical, both brings the story back to Santa Barbara as well as taking the main characters to Paso Robles, I'm disapointed that the film isn't likely to get made at this point.  Santa Barbara continues to deserve the good press for what they produce and Paso Robles is the least appreciated wine producing area in the world, relative to the quality of wine being made.

Time Posted: Jul 18, 2012 at 1:01 PM