Uncorked Ventures Blog

Mark Aselstine
 
October 5, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

Russian River Brewing Company Moves to the Central Coast (Temporarily)

Far and away my favorite local (ok, maybe semi local for me) brewery, Russian River Brewing Company is a great example of how a craft brewery can help an entire neighborhood by bringing in a ton of extra foot traffic.  While the hype is without a doubt, out of control at this point, it's well worth a trip for lunch during your next trip to Sonoma (Russian River Brewing Co is located in downtown Santa Rosa)

Video Transcription:

How you doing? Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. So as an online wine club that's based just outside of San Francisco we tend to focus largely on Napa and Sonoma because those are the areas that we are able to visit most easily from here in the East Bay and from San Francisco itself. So one kind of small piece of news, not essentially wine related, but I think kind of interesting. 

The Russian River Brewing Company, is kind of, you know, by any kind of rational expression of the best breweries in America, among the top ten, kind of craft breweries. Pliny the Elder is consistently rated among the best IPAs made anywhere in the world. They have announced that they are going to go down the road of doing some renovations at the brewery in downtown Santa Rosa, which is Sonoma County if you're not familiar. During those renovations for the next year, Pliny the Elder, the beer, is going to made down in the central coast. I just thought it was kind of interesting. 

It's something that you see time and time with wineries where they have to go to a custom crush facility. It's something I haven't heard with a brewery yet, but frankly I just thought it was kind of interesting and as far as a small slice of life for Sonoma County, Pliny the Elder is going to go to the 805 for a year and that's kind of interesting in itself. 

Thanks again, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures.

Mark Aselstine
 
October 4, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

How Do I Update My Wine Club Shipping Address?

It's a bit surprising, but since not everyone who orders from us creates an account when they initially do so, changing a wine club shipping address is best done with an email or a phone call.  I promise, we won't ever try to sell you anything.

 

Video Transcription:

Hey, guys. Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. So a couple of things that have come up. We're starting to get into the Christmas sale season a little bit with a lot of new customers coming in. And one of the questions that's pretty common is, "Hey, I need to update my shipping address." So a couple of things. First, when you first made an order or received a gift, somebody had an option of creating an account. The fact of the matter is, most people don't. So you may or may not be able to update it online. You have a couple of other options in case you don't have an online account. First, simply send us an e-mail. It's probably the easiest. Sometimes, it's hard to take addresses over the phone. We are happy to take phone calls. 

And if we miss it, we'll call you back in 24 or 48 hours, depending on the time of the year and what's going on. And if for some reason you have a shipment for your wine club that went to the wrong address or went to a previous address, generally speaking, our standard mode of operation is to just add the two bottles to your next one. And so that saves everybody on shipping charges and it gets your monthly wine club to you again in a timely manner. In any case, so if you need to update a shipping address with Uncorked Ventures, that's your best route. E-mail is usually probably the easiest, just because it is hard to take numbers over the phone sometimes. Thanks, again. Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures.

Mark Aselstine
 
October 2, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

Flooding in Languedoc France Puts 2014 Vintage at Risk

The Languedoc is one of my favorite French wine regions, not that I don't love Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhone Valley and Champagne, but because French wine laws are restrictive about what grapes can be planted in established regions.  For French winemakers that are either new, startups themselves, or wanting to experiment, they often call the Languedoc home.  It's that profile that makes the flooding all the more concerning to me.

Video Transcription:

Hey, guys. Mark Aselstine here with Uncorked Ventures. Probably the most interesting thing in the world of wine today, maybe not interesting, but borderline tragic for some grape growers. The Languedoc in France has had in essence what amounts to three months of rain over the last 48 hours and they’ve got some pretty severe flooding.

It kind of speaks to two things. One, the one thing that a lot of consumers don't realize is that many of the places where grapes are grown used to be either dried riverbed or the dried seabed. The Oakville AVA in Napa is one great example of a place where if we did really get a ton of rain in California, that theoretically could flood. Second, it also shows why a lot of the really, really, large wineries are willing to pick grapes kind of as early as possible even if they have to leave a small amount of residual sweetness, or if they have to buy some mountain fruit that has been left on the vine for a long time to kind of get to the kind of better area of ripeness that they want with their wine. Frankly, just the longer that you leave grapes on the vine into October the more risk that you are taking with weather, rain. We did run into some rain in Northern California and that left kind of vendors kind of scurrying around trying to get grapes picked. Now, luckily there is going to be some warmer weather here so they won't experience rot or anything on the vines. Everything looks fine, but in essence, flooding in the Languedoc kind of reminds us that both, this is kind of dried riverbed for much of Napa. The Napa River used to be significantly larger than it is now. It actually created Napa Valley in itself. Second of all, that there are some, kind of real danger for grape growers for leaving the fruit on the vine for a long time even if those are kind of the flavors and the [inaudible 00:01:42] that people tend to like. Once again, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Adventures. Have a good one

Mark Aselstine
 
September 29, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

Spotted Wing Drosophila Comes to Bordeaux

Pests are a natural and ongoing problem for the wine industry.  From Phylloxera to the Spotted Wing Drosphilia, there is a seemingly never ending stream of pests that enjoy eating a few grapes at a time.  When you add these tiny pests to the standard vineyard wanderers like deer and of course the scourge of the wine industry in so many places, birds, growers have to be constantly on their toes.

 

Video Transcription:

Hey guys. Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. Maybe not the most interesting news of the day, but maybe the most concerning. Vineyard owners, winemakers, and specifically the farmers that grow the grapes that we all enjoy in our wine deal with a large number of different pests. Some are native to areas. Phylloxera has gotten a huge amount of publicity since it's destroyed so many vineyards over the years. 

More recently over the last few days, reports have started coming out of Bourdeaux that the spotted-wing drosophila... excuse my pronunciation here... has started to show up. So it's a pest. It's 12 or 13 centimeters long. In essence, the thing looks like a bee. The big problem is that this a pest, unlike a lot of the others that they have that are native to Europe, that the spotted, wing version can actually inject eggs into a grape instead of waiting for a grape that's broken to inject the eggs. So it's a major problem. It's something they've dealt with in Napa. The 2009 vintage had some in Rutherford and Oakville. Down in Chile, they deal with it almost on a yearly basis. It's a warmer weather creature. They like warm wetter conditions, so they think in Bordeaux this is an offshoot of global warming. It goes to show, as much as we talk about rainfall in California and ground water and all that stuff, that pests moving into areas they weren't used to living in and grapevines that have been there really for a millennia have no natural way to combat that from evolution can be a major problem. 

So anyway, spotted-wing drosophila. We hope this is not something that ends up in the news substantially in the future. It's in Bordeaux and supposedly in Burgundy too, so we'll wish the French guys the best of luck. Thanks again. Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Adventures.

Mark Aselstine
 
September 26, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

What is Botrytis?

Botrytis is often reffered to inside the wine industry by both winemakers and consumers, as noble rot.

That rot term, even with noble in front of it, tends to worry people a litlte bit.  Of course, botrytis is a fungus and in this case a winemaker is allowing, even encouraging it to grow on grapes.  Winemakers encourage its spread by doing a few different things, all of which you'd expect if you were trying to grow a fungus.  First, they tend to keep some level of grass or another ground cover close to the vines, which will keep water.  They then make sure that the grass is wet early in the morning.  Secondly wineries may sometimes have netting or something similar which has botrytis living on it.  By using that netting where they want the Botrytis to grow, they can ensure that it will begin to take hold on the grapes.

At this point, you're probably wondering why a winery or winemaker would want Botrytis, a simple fungus, growing on their grapes.  The answer is that the Botrytis removes excess water from grapes, leaving a combination of higher sugar as well as higher acidity.  That combination, when combined with a winemaker allowing the grapes to pick up even more sugar while hanging on the vine for a longer time period, leads to perhaps the perfect combination if you're making a dessert wine.

The perfect vineyard site for Botrytis is so prized that Chateau d'Yquem in Bordeaux has been granted Superior First Growth status by the French government (their 2nd best classification meaning they feel like it's one of the top 15 vineyards in the famous region of Bordeaux).  That staus has been conveyed almost exclusively because the vineyard at Chateau d'Yquem is susceptible to noble rot, experiencing the phenomenon every vintage, with little winemaker intervention.

At this point, it sounds like a pretty good deal right? Botrytis makes amazing dessert wines, so if you can figure out how to grow the fungus, you might think the wines would be more common place.  A main reason that Botrysised wines are not more common (or really common at all) is that botrytis and yeast (the stuff that causes fermentation or sugar to turn to alcohol) do not get along well.  Fermentation for these wines, is a constant struggle for winemakers.