Uncorked Ventures Blog

Mark Aselstine
September 23, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Local Wineries and the Weekend

One thing that always irks me when I see conversations about the direct shipment of wine is the conversation piece (never put forward by the wineries themselves) about how shipments from outside the state need to be stopped to protect local wineries and retailers.

We know a few things about wine consumption. As consumption increases there tends to be a movement toward both better wine as well as local wine. To put it simply, someone who drinks 2 bottles of wine a week at home is much more likely to spend $50 or more on a California Cult Cab, while also being much more likely to wine taste at a local winery, or travel to a local winery to enjoy a jazz concert etc than is someone who buys a single bottle per month at their local grocery store. If you look at the markets in California and other states the statistics bear out the conclusion that greater choice does in fact mean better wine and better wine does in fact lead to greater consumption.

I bring this up to simply say, enjoy the good weather that is sweeping over much of the country this weekend by supporting a local winery by having lunch and a glass of wine. Much of the time you’ll have an enjoyable experience.  If you get a chance, please support the direct shipment of wine by stopping by Free The Grapes.  It's good for the industry to allow competition in every market.

Mark Aselstine
September 22, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Kosta Browne Success After Being on The Brink

I admit, I love a great feel good story.

Kosta Browne certainly qualifies.  As one of the top Pinot Noir producers in the Russian River Valley with a waiting list of 8,000 for its own wine club and media mentions too numorous to count, including a recent plug on USA's hit spy drama Burn Notice, many people likely think things have always run smoothly at the small vintner.  Of course, behind the curtain things have not always been rosy.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat does a better job telling the story than I could in this space, but in many ways this is the classic story of starting a small business.  Trying to put food on the table while growing a business and raising a family can be an all emcomapssing set of responsibilities for Browne's founders.

More than anything else I think looking at the experiences shared in this article reminds me that the path to success in the wine industry is not always a straight forward line.  There are often bumps along the way, but hard work can help turn challenges into opportunity.  It's a fun read, especially if you've ever started a small business of your own.

Mark Aselstine
September 21, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Public Transit in Wine Country

I'll freely admit that I actually really like public transportation.  Perhaps it comes from growing up in Southern California which hasn't seen a freeway it wouldn't want to build, but I've been fascinated by land use and public transit for some time.  I realize that makes me sound like a great party guest, but seeing The Vine Line reminded me both how rare public transit was through wine country and how needed it truly was.

Wine country as you might expect, is incredibly spread out.  Agricultural products and yes wine is very much an agricultural product when you get to its core, take up a lot of land.  With single land owners often having hundreds, if not thousands of acres, finding convenient places for mass transit is a challenge to be sure.

Wine Bus

Pictured above is the "new" Sonoma County Vine Line.  Yes, it is a converted school bus and yes, it does offer a nice alternative if you want a safe trip in wine country and don't have someone who is a willing sober driver. The line extends from many hotels in and around Sonoma's gorgeous central square and the intersection of the 121 and 116 highways. Stops include some of the better small and medium sized wineries of the region, staying away from the huge producers makes this something which I am happy to support.  That, and their insistence that they receive no commission from wineries from their stops. Bravo!

More info over at Wines and Vines.

Mark Aselstine
September 21, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Exciting Stuff on the Central Coast

Paso Robles Images
This photo of Paso Robles is courtesy of TripAdvisor

One of the most exciting things to happen to California wine in some time has been the emergence of Santa Barbara and Paso Robles into the world wide wine elite.  SB took advantage of many decades of quality production and the hype surrounding Sideways to finally gain the recognition it has deserved for some time, while Paso Robles has been in many ways the golden child of the American wine industry for the past decade, seeing dramatic increases in not only quality, but production and tourist facilities in the area as well.  Having lived on the central coast myself for some time, when I first began hearing about Paso Robles becoming a world wine capital, it sounded almost humorous.  A decade later though, you can make the arguement that the wines from Paso Robles are among the best values in the $30+ price segment produced anywhere.

Those increases in quality have, in my opinion, only helped to continue pushing the traditional fine wine regions of Napa Valley and Sonoma to new heights.  I think it goes without saying that the average bottle produced in either region, is usually among the best at its respective price point.  Innovation in terms of plantings and winemaking techniques also seems to be on the upswing, which I think can be partially attritubuted to the increased competition from the central coast.

With all that in mind, I thought it would be a good day to introduce theTravel Paso blog as our wine blog of the week.  I appreciate that they cover a wide range of topics in and around Paso.  I know when my wife and I visit wine country for pleasure as opposed to going for work, we do spend time taking part in a wide range of activities outside of wine tasting.  Seeing posts on hiking trails might seem strange to some, but I think for someone spending a few days in Paso Robles, that type of information is going to be both welcomed and appreciated.

Of course, Travel Paso also features plenty of information on local wineries, interviews with local wine industry insiders and anything you'd ever need to know about food festivals and tasting information for the area.  

If you're planning a trip to Paso Robles, Travel Paso's blog (and wider site) is a great place to start.

Mark Aselstine
September 19, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Shipments Coming Soon

It’s always an exciting time at Uncorked Ventures when we begin to prepare wine club shipments. We’re set to ship both our California shipments (which go out Golden State Overnight) as well as our out of state shipments which go out Fedex tomorrow.

Over the coming days in this space we’ll feature a few of the wines which we’ve shipped over the past few months in our Wine Exploration Wine Club as well as our Special Selections Wine Club. This month brings another set of small production, high quality wines straight to our customers.

Personally, I’m exciting to be shipping a white wine from one of my favorite winemakers to our Wine Exploration Club members. Matt and I will also spending a few extra days this month in wine country getting ready for the holiday rush.