Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Would you like some Fat Bastard with that?

Cardinal ZinYes, I know; it is much more impressive to your company to order Chaeauneuf-du-Pape with your meal. But wouldn't you like to get them sometimes with your knowledge of the new labels?

Leonard M. Zunin, in his book, Contact: the first four minutes, makes the point that it takes only that long to make an impression on the person you meet. Now the winemakers are coming up with labels that will catch the consumers' attention as they are scanning the shelves of wines. "Wacky wine labels lure younger customers" ( is exploring what works.

I know I am not the only one to buy a wine because the label is so attractive!

You, too, could easily become a millionaire winemaker. Not!

Anyone, who is interested in making his/her own wine and hoping to make money at it, needs to read "Don't give up the day job" ( to find out how much work and money goes into building up a successful personal winery.

"It will be eight years before it makes a profit (which could be next year), with serious costs each year - over $100,000 every year," he says matter-of-factly.

"That just means more working hours and that’s been quite a pressure, working longer hours to make it happen."

So, why do it? Here's a response:

"I love the natural ebb and flow of the seasons," he says. "I love the almost restful, artisanal quality of winemaking at the rather small level that I undertake it. This enables me to do it with a degree of Zen, if I can put it that way. And I value that."

Gambling with grapes in Nevada

"Fermenting on the farm" from Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle Standard is talking about the efforts of one vineyard owner in trying to see if the wines produced from his grapes naturally will result in good wine.
With the aid of a retired vineyard owner from northern California, the grapes will go through a "textbook" wine making process. There will be virtually no tweaking of sugars and acids, so the unadulterated taste of Fallon-area grapes can be evaluated in the form of grape juice-plus.

Barley wine! Is it beer, or is it wine?

Reading the article in Kansas City Star, made me think of the kids' discussion in the movie Stand By Me, the 1986 movie, when they are trying to figure out what kind of animal Goofy is. Is it a dog? Is it a person? Well, so what is barley wine? "Like beer? Give barley wine a try" may be able to answer the question about that.

About Goofy? You are on your own!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Racism in grapes

Police whistle

"Winemakers protect 'outlawed' grapes" (International Herald Tribune online) is an interesting look at the unwelcome the American grape varietes have received in Europe.

Gale, the American grape expert, believes nationalism was often the subtext of efforts to keep American grape varieties out of European soil. Hitler ordered American varieties uprooted in Germany during the 1930s because he said they were of lower culture. French farmers only reluctantly used rootstock from America when diseases ravaged their crops.

Interestingly, at one point the European varieties have been saved by the strong character of the American grapes.

Ironically, the European vines were ultimately spared by the American ones: Well-known European varieties like Cabernet, Merlot and Pinot Noir were grafted onto the resistant American rootstock.

See, we can all benefit from a multi-national approach to viticulture!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Parker in your Palm

Time to put your PDA to work.

If you are wondering what else you can do with your PDA, you may want to give the "Parker In Your Palm" a try. Read the article from, "Download, then uncork" to find out more about it.

Better salaries on the horizon?

Winemakers from every winery size earned 24 percent more this year over last year, with an average salary of $84,019. Winemakers from the smallest wineries (less than 10,000 cases) and the largest (more than 500,000 cases) saw the most significant increases.

Good news (Salaries in wine world are on the rise -- for people who are going into the winemaking to know that they won't have to suffer and drown their problems in wine!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Marilyn Merlot exposed!!

Marilyn Merlot It is obvious sex sells.

The makers of Marilyn Merlot have been using the star's likeness on their labels some time. But now they have come up with a new twist to the label. To find out what it is, check out the article from Wine Spectator Online, "Marilyn Merlot Bares All With A Peek-A-Boo Label."

Also, "Once you have studied the label, it's time to test the wine," ( makes interesting reading to understand what is on the wine labels.

Men have a healthy reason to drink red wine

According to Yahoo!Finance article, "A Glass of Red Wine a Day May Keep Prostate Away," research shows
"... that men who consumed four or more glasses of red wine per week reduced their risk of prostate cancer by 50 percent," Stanford said. "Among men who consumed four or more 4-ounce glasses of red wine per week, we saw about a 60 percent lower incidence of the more aggressive types of prostate cancer," said Stanford, senior author of the study. "The more clinically aggressive prostate cancer is where the strongest reduction in risk was observed."

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Letting the gin out of the bottle


Here we go again:

Another article (Red Wine May Clear The Arteries Better Than Gin, Study Finds -- praising the virtues of drinking red wine over gin.

Parting is such sweet sorrow! *

* With a tip of my hat to Shakespeare...

As you know, Michael Mondavi has resigned from his position as the president of the Robert Mondavi winery. It looks like he will have many goodies (Vintner Michael Mondavi gets 50 cases of wine as parting gift -- From to make his early retirement a little easier.
His severance agreement includes more than $1.5 million cash, the right to buy the winery's six season tickets to San Francisco Giants games at fair market value and up to 50 cases of wine, according to a document filed Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Not a bad deal!

I am a Master Grape Grower. How about you?

Learned of this link through Oklahoma Wine News. Vineyard

The McCarthy Company has a link to an online test of your ability to be a good vineyard manager called Vineyard Challenge! Try it and see if you have the skills to retire after 29 years as a Master Grape Grower like I would.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Turning the pages...

If you have not already, have a look at the August/September 2004 issue of The Wine News.

Some articles that can be read online:
- Great Grapes and the farmers who grow them -- Richard Kinssies & Jeff Cox
- Merlot anyone? -- Todd M. Wernstrom

How cold is too cold

As someone who usually likes her wines "a little chilled," it was interesting to read the article in TheStarOnline, "Ideal temperatures for wine" about the optimum temperatures as well as the better conditions to store wine long term.

How about rice wine?

In Viet Nam, expensive scotch, imported whisky, French wine and even Russian vodka may be gaining popularity among urbane tipplers, but most Vietnamese men still prefer local liquor commonly known as ruou (rice wine).

Nice article from Vietnam News, "Toasting Vietnamese Rice Wine," that talks about different kinds of rice wine.

Rice wine

Picture caption: Party drink: Ruou cannot be drunk alone, but rather requires a group of friends willing to share in revelries. - VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Ha

Make it your own

You want to make your own wine but don't have the vineyard? Here's what a Boston winemaker has done:
Take California grapes, add Italian know-how, savor that Boston wine Winemaker blends his Old World training with a new age palate, and corks the result
See the article in "Our grapes? No, but purely our wine."

Science of wine benefits

A recently released report by the National Science Foundation (NSF), "Mechanism Behind Beneficial Effects of Red Wine," sheds light on why the red wine is good for you.
“This research demonstrates the power of protein engineering in producing value-added traits, and in solving synthetic puzzles using modern techniques,” said William Nes, program director in NSF’s division of molecular and cellular biosciences, which funded the research. “The study provides new insights into the relationships among plant proteins.”

Sunday, September 19, 2004

So $$ = quality is not true?

"Wine is priced at what winery can get" (from The Oregonian) is an interesting follow up to my previous blog, "Here's to two buck Chuck!".

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Here's to Two Buck Chuck!

Charles Shaw wine

"Charles Shaw Winery Celebrates 10 Million Cases" (BusinessWire) is a good example of finding a niche and pricing the product appropriately.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Red, or white?

"California's New Red Wine Values" (from

This report and the accompanying chart spotlight the new world of red-wine values from California. We have listed 50 wines that cost less than $20 and scored 85 points or higher (or very good, on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale). All are produced in generous quantities and are from recent vintages, and so should be widely available across the country. (And don't forget that many of these producers make good value whites, too.)

Our diverse list includes 13 Zinfandels, 10 Pinot Noirs, eight Cabernet Sauvignons, seven Merlots and a few Syrahs and blends. Many of these wines are from well-known appellations such as Russian River Valley, Amador County and Santa Barbara. Others represent appellations you may not be familiar with, such as Suisun Valley, which is southeast of Napa; growers there have been selling Suisun Valley grapes to Napa and Sonoma vintners for more than 20 years.


"The World's Great New Whites" (from

Good white wine is now being made in more places than ever before. While serious winemakers once aspired only to make serious reds, they've discovered white wine has equal—and perhaps even greater—rewards. They have been lavishing more time, attention and talent (to say nothing of money) on grapes like Albariño, Sauvignon Blanc and Falanghina. And yes, on Chardonnay, too.

give you the information to choose what kind of wine you would like to have.

Your retirement future may be in wine

CalPERS, the nation's largest public pension fund with assets totaling more than $150 billion, is investing $100 million in a project aimed at developing high-end vineyard sites in Oregon, Washington and California. A significant slice of that money is being funneled into more than 440 acres of prime wine-grape-growing land near the Yamhill County town of Carlton.
Interesting article from The Oregonian, "Wine Money Moving North."

I guess it IS rocket science!

SatelliteImproving wine with satellites (ESA Portal) talks about how technology is being used in the vineyard.
"Earth observation satellites now have remote sensing instruments operating in a variety of modes, optical, radar, infra-red. The scientific data that can be extracted is considerable. Depending on the satellite's resolution, we can obtain data on precise soil composition, the slopes, exposure to sunlight, and the humidity of agricultural regions. With future satellites we will monitor how vineyards have been cared for during the year."

Thursday, September 16, 2004

No eBay for wine selling!!

Isn't that interesting..
Regulators for now are targeting only people selling what they deem to be large quantities of wine. But the crackdown points up the uncomfortable fact that there is no legal framework for consumers to buy and sell wine from each other -- on the Internet or off.
But that has not stopped the federal regulators.

Neil Monnens, a San Francisco ad executive and wine buff, decided last year that his taste was veering away from Bordeaux and Napa Valley Cabernets. So he went online and sold 500 cases of his 2,000-case collection at

In late August, Monnens received a letter from the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the successor agency to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, asking for the money. An estimated 50 to 75 WineCommune members received similar notices, which they are entitled to appeal.

Read the full story at "Feds bust collectors who sell wine online." (

Wine for women's health

Wine drinking woman
Pros and cons of drinking wine for women are discussed in "Should Women Drink Wine for Their Health" at

Red wine is good for you but there are other ways of getting more anti-oxidants into your system without overdoing the alcohol consumption.

Merlot has got the "soft" touch

Now what? Merlot is suffering because it is too soft on the palate?
"What should we work towards? Bicknell believes we have over-emphasised the "softness" of merlot. It's the first thing drinkers and producers alike associate with the grape, but it's turning merlot into sloppy, wishy-washy wines." (Ugly Sister Syndrome from

All kinds of ideas seem to be expressed about how to go about improving Merlot.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Bring over the wine and the CD

A new marketing ploy by an Australian wine company "Foster's uses music to sell its wine" (, CD's will be given away to purchasers of wine. The music by an unknown Australian singer is "soft jazz" chosen according to marketing research. Accordingly, the wine labels are to be changed as well as the character of the wines themselves.

Sundance Kid has a wine label!

A new label is rising over the Sundance Resort horizon. The resort, owned by Robert Redford, is bringing the same kind of idea as his film festival to wines.

Just as the film festival highlights the independent voice of the filmmaker, "our wine program celebrates the independent voice of the winemaker," said Raymond Grant, executive director of the resort.

See the article, "Sundance Creates Its Own Wine Label," from Wine Spectator.

Put a (good) cork in it!

With the debate about whether to cork or not to cork heating up, the manufacturers are working on ways of improving the best way to seal the wine bottles.

News from Yahoo!Finance, "Coveted Vinitech Gold Award for Sabate's New Diam Wine Closure," is talking about the improved composite cork: "The product's manufacturing technology selectively extracts undesirable compounds like TCA from raw cork granules with supercritical CO2."

Saturday, September 11, 2004

How Gallo came up with the Red Bicyclette label

I had mentioned Red Bicyclette in a previous blog, Get on that bike!

In today's Modbee. com there is more on how Gallo decided to work with the French grapes to come up with a label that would appeal to the American tastes. Red Bicyclette
... the Gallo marketing executives say Red Bicyclette combines the fruit-forward, drink now style of new world producers like California and Australia with the mineral flavors that define French wine “terroir.” Terroir is the characteristics a particular geography brings to wine — the influence of soil and climate on the wine.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Grape juice is the best!

When you are checking out the shelves for your juice needs, look for grape juice. New data as mentioned in BusinessWire, "Grape Juice Ranks #1 of All Juices and Beverages Tested in new USDA 'Proanthocyanidin' Database," show that grape juice is the best for your cardiovascular well-being.

Personality counts

The first and, so far, the only wine to receive DOC status, Spain's highest classification, Rioja is without doubt the country's greatest fine-wine region. (The New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia -- DK Publishing, 1997)

An article from BBCNews, "Why once-dowdy Rioja reigns in Spain," talks about what the winemakers in Spain are doing to improve the image of Rioja in the market place.

Required prerequisite: Maybe some wine?

My apologies to the more serious minded, but could not resist some "literary!!" humor on a Friday.Calvin and Hobbes


1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without ClingFree.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E.coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

10. The Bride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with Quentin Tarantino's vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m., instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain, like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstone leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 MPH, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 65 MPH.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds, who had also never met.

17. He fell for her, like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Grandpappy had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are want to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

22. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

23. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

24. Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Dollars and sense about the glassy-winged sharpshooter

NapaNews article, "Solano County funds tripled to fight grape pest", talks about how when Solano County is increasing funds to eradicate the initiator of the Pierce's Disease when Napa County is cutting them. When so many vineyards are at risk, hope is that there is a decrease in the number of the insects.

Looking into the future...

Food & Wine Magazine has an article by Robert Parker in its most recent issueFortune teller where he makes 12 predictions for wine.

"Parker Predicts The Future" makes interesting reading. Check it out!

I'll drink to that!

People drinkingIs it the state of the economy? The PR about the benefits of wine? Enjoyment of it? Or, all of the above?

The latest figures show (U.S. Wine Consumption Hits All-Time High) that domestic or imported, wine is becoming more popular.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

News from Down Under

Australia is marching on.. "A World Class Industry" is growing in leaps and bounds.

Today, Australia is the second-largest source of imported wine in the US - having shipped $US600million worth last year - surpassed only by Italy. In UK supermarkets recently, Australian wines have outsold French wines. Other strong markets are Canada, Germany and New Zealand. Australia is the largest New World wine exporter, surpassing Argentina, Chile, South Africa and the US.

And the Australian winemakers are looking for an identity for Merlot as discussed in the "Ugly Sister Syndrome".

Monday, September 06, 2004

Happy Labor Day!

Wine toasting

For the grape growers Labor Day means laboring.

With the early ripening of the grapes this year, grape growers do not have the luxury of taking a day off. When you drink your wine today, toast the people who have worked hard to bring you the taste you enjoy.

From For grape growers, September is a month of labor.

Summer is over. Let's camp!

Lucy grape stompThis is not your grandchildren's camp! Check out the opportunity to learn about winemaking by visiting the vineyards and sampling the wine while you pick grapes and crush just like I Love Lucy!

From Newsweek via MSBNC, It's Camp Chardonnay talks about various wineries that are offering the experience to the visitors to Napa Valley.

Second labels? (Is that like "Second-hand Rose"?)

"Want to drink the best but can’t afford it? Think about this: In haute couture, second labels provide affordable products that incorporate the style, quality and cachet of flagship items. Donna Karan, for instance, also has DKNY and Giorgio Armani has Emporio Armani. "

Similar situation exists for wines. See the article, "Anyone for seconds?" from The Star Online about how wineries use second labels.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Hope for a new tool for Pierce's Disease

A new tool that is in the development stage may speed up the diagnosis of Pierce's Disease. West Farm Press has an article, "Pierce's Disease monitoring continues with a new tool" about the testing going on at the University of California Cooperative Extension.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

It's a small world after all

International winery news from

Australia: "Australia's wines expanding their global shelf space" (The New York Times - subscription req'd)
England: "'Sensational' vintage for English wine? " (
Germany: "German Wine Sparkles Again!" (LA Times - subscription req'd)
Peru: "Wine land buyers back" (The National Business Review)
South Africa: "Wine drinkers toasting South Africa's equality" (

and some concerns about wine imports
"Bioterror rules could raise import wine prices" (San Francisco Chronicle)

Milk, eggs, and fish in your wine

If you were blaming the sulfites in wine for your allergic reactions, read on. Article from San Francisco Chronicle, "Sleuthing out what's in wine", talks about what goes into making the wine you enjoy. Who would have thought!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

What? No Marilyn Merlot?

What-will-they-think-of-next department presents.... (drum roll.. ) Ta da!

Cult Wine Classics!

This is the second year of the annual event. Sounds like another fun way to have a party with wine.

Tickets are available on the internet. Don't miss it!

(Also, how about RedNeckRed and WhiteTrashWhite? from Harper's Hill Oildale Winery)

Impress your date with your wine vocabulary!

Wine TastingJust a short list of wine terms while you are expanding your wine knowledge:

Wine tasting terminology from


No SmokingWell... Seems like North Carolina has decided to quit the smoking business!
"The state now boasts 300 commercial vineyards and 40 wineries. Half the wineries were established in the past two years, according to the N.C. Grape Council in Raleigh.

The number of commercial vineyards may increase if Congress passes a bill to buy out farmers' tobacco allotments, said Larry Somers, a Reidsville grower who helped start the N.C. Winegrowers Association in 1985."

You can read the article, "BOTTOM LINE: Industry bearing fruit, jobs in Piedmont" from The Miami Herald.

It is interesting that so many states have been getting into the winemaking.