Uncorked Ventures Blog

Mark Aselstine
October 20, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

The Ongoing Legacy of Robert Mondavi

Robert Mondavi is a name that brings a reaction no matter who you mention it to, for good reasons, without his work at both Krug and the winery which bears his name, Napa Valley would hardly be the same. Here's another part of his ongoing legacy, the people who grew up in the marketing departments of Mondavi and how they're continuing those good practices elsewhere.

Video Transcription:

Hey guys, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. So over the past couple weeks I've had a couple conversations with a few different people, and it's brought to mind the legacy of Robert Mondavi and kind of the Mondavi legacy, and what that means in Napa Valley and kind of throughout the wider wine industry. You know, it started with a conversation up at Canard Vineyard, where the owner (my insert here, Rich Czapleski whose name I didn't want to mispronounce) up there was telling me that the way it used to work in the valley, if they'd get a pest, as he said - and I pretty much quote here - you'd call Bob and say, "Hey, I'm having this problem, we're not really sure what it is." And later on in the afternoon the Mondavi farmers would show up and they'd - you know, in essence - figure it out, fix it, and they'd go along their way. So it was a really nice, kind of collegiate setup in the industry.

Over the past couple days I've met Stephanie Grubbs, who's at Benessere Vineyard, which is kind of at the northern reach of Saint Helena as it turns into Calistoga. They do a range of Italian varietals that's starting with Sangiovese and then these days,  a little more Cabernet. And then Tom Samuelson who met Stephanie and worked with her at Mondavi, and now Samuelson's up in the greater Pacific Northwest working with wineries to find larger distribution models for them. 

The thing that kind of strikes me is that all the folks that I continue to meet that worked in that period at Mondavi, when they went from the small family owned to growing, growing, growing, and eventually being sold into the market itself, is that there's a real kind of sense of calmness, openness, and just really, really good marketing. You can see in large part why Mondavi was as successful as it has been.

So there's a definite legacy of Robert Mondavi. You can still feel it, even me, who, you know - I'm relatively new to the industry still; this is year four for us. You feel Mondavi and his influence to this day, even well after he's gone. For me as someone without goals of selling a million cases of wine per year, there is still plenty to be interested in as the owner of a wine club.

Once again, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. Thanks again.

Mark Aselstine
October 19, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

What Does an Early Vintage Mean for the Wine Industry?

It should be a simple enough question, what does an early vintage mean for the wine industry? The very short answer is that you're likely to see good, not memorable wine from 2014 in California.

Video Transcription:

Hey guys, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. One question that came up over the weekend was; "What does it mean with an earlier harvest? What does that mean for grapes? What does it mean for the Vintage in 2014 in Napa, Sonoma and kind of elsewhere in California which all ran earlier this year?"

The short answer is; wine makers would generally prefer earlier harvest especially in Napa and Sonoma where we traditionally see some rain in October. An earlier harvest means that they don't have to deal with rain, that they can let the fruit kind of hang on the vine as long as they want and they don't have to worry about it. So earlier harvest, generally speaking, leads to good vintages, sometimes not necessarily great vintages. Some of the best great vintages have hung on the vines long into October and this looks like it's going to be a very good vintage, but not necessarily a memorable or one of these vintages you write home about, thirty years from now. We pay attention to this stuff because we find that wineries, great wineries even, end up having some extra juice available for wine clubs like ourselves, if it's not a memorable vintage and if there's a large enough crop.

Once again, Mark Aselstine - Uncorked Ventures.

Mark Aselstine
October 18, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

Amare Stoudemire and His Red Wine Bath

Every so often, wine finds its way into the popular discourse of sorts.  In this case, vinotherapy and a red wine bath gives me the opportunity to mention sports and more specifically the NBA.  Thanks Amare Stoudemire for providing the opportunity.


Video Transcrption:

Hey, guys. Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. It's not very often in this space that I get to talk a little bit about my love for sports and basketball. In this case it's Amar'e Stoudemire. [inaudible 00:00:11] a rather large contract for New York Nicks, posted a picture of himself that evidently originally went on Instagram, and then blew up across social media, of himself taking a bath in red wine.

That brought up two things. First, there's a whole concept of vinotherapy that I'd never even heard of. Evidently there's a whole cottage industry of it, especially in France where they say that it can replace facelifts. According to an NBA player at least, it helps with circulation of red blood cells, so there's that. Not very often in this space can I talk about the NBA but I figured I should take the opportunity when it presented itself. Why does an online wine club bring up sports in this space, or even watch sports? Well, sometimes it's just fun and interesting. 

Mark Aselstine
October 12, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

The Rise of Processo

The rise of Processo has been interesting to watch here in San Francisco, I think there are price points where people vastly prefer Italian sparklers to Champagne....which is something that couldn't have been said five years ago, let alone a generation ago.

Video Transcription:

Hey, guys Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. A couple of interesting things have come up over the last 24, 48 hours. 

First, the Italian wine industry has announced two things that you would think didn't necessarily go together. First, imports are down, so there's less Italian wine coming into the United States. But second of all, which is probably more interesting, total sales, as far as total money coming in, has gone up. 

Clearly, two things have happened. First, people aren't drinking quite as much Italian wine, but when they do drink it they're spending more for it. The days of going to an Italian restaurant and getting the cheap bottle of Chianti sitting on the red checkered tablecloth maybe have not ended. Certainly I'll do that from time to time. The international organization of Italian wine with Cabernet coming in and some of the big Tuscan blends and that kind of stuff has driven price points up.

Second of all, as you can see there's a couple of sparklers sitting in front of me. We're actually sourcing for a new Champagne style of gift basket that'll include coffee and some other breakfast goodies since that's the time when we most drink champagne in my house, although there's nothing wrong with it in the evening either. Prosecco is the Italian version of Champagne. It's an Italian sparkling wine made from outside of Venice actually, which is one of their coolest regions. If you've ever been to Italy it's both hilly and cold, which is if you're going to grow Champagne or a kind of similar white wine grapes, that's kind of a good spot to do it. Even if you're using Pinot, like you do in the Champagne region of France, that's a good spot to do that too.

Even tasting through some stuff we have Spanish sparkler, which they refer to as Cava. We have a French sparkler. We can't call it Champagne because it's not from Champagne, it's just from a different part of France and not to be left out, Helwig's from Lodi, California, winery that focusses on Syrah, So that's a sparkling Syrah. We feel like we've been run off the rails with that one a little bit, but Helwig makes some interesting stuff.

In any case, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures, a couple of interesting things up, and I hope you guys are having a good week. Thanks again.

Mark Aselstine
October 11, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

Can You Ship Wine to Canada?

Can you ship wine to Canada? It largely depends, but overall it's better than shipping to Utah!


Video Transcription:

Hey guys, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. A question has come up a few times of late, "Can you ship wine to Canada?" So the short answer is Canada's liquor laws are every bit as complicated, if not worst, than the United States. Much like in the U.S., where we have 50 states or in this case, really 50 states plus D.C., makes 51 and everybody has different rules. Canada has 13 provinces, much the same kind of thing exists. 

So the short answer is, to some provinces, we are able to ship, and to some, we're not. Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta are currently the three that I am legally allowed to ship to. And hopefully, there is a movement in Canada just like there is in the United States, that will hopefully lead to direct shipments opening up. Frankly, the U.S., Canadian border for anybody who has ever crossed it is more of a suggestion than a hard rule, I guess, would be a good way to say it. I was born in Buffalo, so I go to Niagara Falls. It's something that happened pretty often. And so, yeah, we can ship to Canada. 

It's fairly limited and there are some tax issues that come up. So there might be a little bit out of the expense but we're happy to do it. For some people, part of the enjoyment of doing a wine club is getting, kind of, that wine of the month club shipment in the mail every month. We find with Canadian customers sometimes, it's a little bit easier to send, you know, say, three or six month at a time, just to deal with kind of all the paperwork, tax issues, and all that kind of stuff that come up. 

Anyway, Mark Aselstine, Uncorked Ventures, "Can you ship to Canada?" I wish it was less complicated, but the answer is it depends where you live. Thanks again.