Uncorked Ventures Blog

Mark Aselstine
December 10, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Lot 18 Goes International

Lot 18 has certainly been the talk of the wine world for some time on a number of different levels. While I don’t choose to talk about competitors in this space often, we have divergent enough business models that I don’t see the harm mentioning them here. Additionally, I think it is important to point out that while at Uncorked Ventures we’re shipping almost all 90+ point wine, that’s tough to do when you’re selling them by the tens of palates like Lot 18 is…..

In any case, the wine world was literally stunned a few months ago when Lot 18 accepted 30M in venture capital funds. Everyone wondered what the plan was given that sizable financial investment. Theories were espoused including Lot 18 beginning to craft its own wine to buying wineries directly. Frankly, none of them seemed likely.

Word comes today that Lot 18 has purchased a Paris based ecommerce company called Vinobest. It’s the start of a global expansion for the brand.

I can see the attraction to going international, in fact exporting wine is on the Uncorked Ventures to-do list for 2012-2013, but a true international expansion poses a whole different set of challenges. The bottom line, I wish them nothing but the best and having another wine company who is acting more on quality than on discounts only helps us at Uncorked Ventures.

Mark Aselstine
December 9, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

The Rich Get Richer

If you’ve been around the wine industry for any length of time, you probably realize that AVA’s do matter and are contentious. Let’s face it, the average consumer is more likely to buy a wine from Napa Valley than Paso Robles.

The biggest news here is that the Russian River Valley has been expanded to include a massive Gallo owned vineyard.

It’s an interesting situation. In Sonoma, most winemakers and vineyard owners wouldn’t feel comfortable taking a stand against Gallo. That doesn’t mean that Gallo is being heavy handed here and they’ve certainly been a good steward of the Sonoma Country wine scene for a generation, but does this really help the Russian River AVA?

I don’t think Napa Valley would carry the same significance if wineries like Mondavi didn’t help put it on the map, but in 2011 does it matter any more especially with the Russian River Valley already a household name?  I think it is telling that the Russian River Valley grape growing association originally opposed the expansion, before becoming neutral.

Mark Aselstine
December 4, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Marketing on this Blog

There has some discussion recently about what tone a company blog should use and how much marketing should really be done. I bring that up because I’ve found this space to be perhaps less marketing focused than other company blogs I’ve seen.

I think that will continue for a few reasons:

While every business has to be able to adequately market itself, the wine and gift baskets we ship speak for themselves. We’ll gladly put our products up against any other wine clubs in terms of both quality and value. Have a look around, you won’t find any other online wine clubs allowing reviews directly on their site without approvals, you won’t find other wine clubs shipping 94+ point wines consistently and you certainly won’t find another wine club willing to spend the time in wine country to build the type of quality relationships which deliver memorable wines month after month.

Secondly, if you’re our average customer and are spending $25+ per bottle of wine, I think you’re more likely to be interested in the wider happenings of the wine world than say, someone buying the majority of their wine at Trader Joe’s (nothing wrong with that of course, but not our target market)

Lastly, we’ve heard from a great number of customers that the fact of Matt and I (the founders and owners of Uncorked Ventures) being available is a big positive for doing business with us. We’re available over the phone, why would we make ourselves less available on our own company blog?

So yes, the conversational tone of this blog is here to stay. We’ll continue to write about what we find interesting in the world of wine, even if its happening outside of the states of California, Oregon and Washington where we source our wine. We hope you enjoy it and continue to visit now and into the future for news, opinions and even a marketing message or two sprinkled in.

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-