VinoWeek Episode 18 - Fast Food Wine

Amazon has started selling beer, Champagne, wine and spirits in France.  While I'm still not sure it's for real, Burger King looks to be giving away wine to celebrate its four decades of business in Spain. Starbuck's is no longer just a place to get your morning caffeine jolt.  Elin McCoy checks our their new evening program of adult beverages and small plates.  The trend of fast food joints offering wine to go with your meals continues to expand.

Writing for Business Insider Libby Kane asks Jorn Kleinhans, owner of The Sommelier Company, to recommend ten words to look for on wines under $25 dollars. It's a good read with lots of good information.

Whether you're looking for a new way to open a bottle of wine or a way to treat those pesky red wine stains, 14 simple hacks every wine drinker should know is bound to give you a few new ideas.

If you haven't heard Bill and I get on our soapbox and talk about the importance of serving wine at the proper temperature, here we go again.  This time we have a little help from the folks at Tablas Creek, who issued a re-post on said subject to help hammer the point home.

This week'swine recommendation hails from Cantina Tramin of northern Italy. For some of you this may be drinking out of your comfort zone, but it's textbook Gewurztraminer. If you're a Gewurztraminer fan put this one on your bucket list.

Thanks for listening and tell your fellow wino friends about us. Cheers!


Vinoweek Episode 17 - Changing Times in Beer and Wine

Taco Bell is setting its sights on the urbanites of Chicago and San Francisco. Their first pilot stores Taco Bell Cantina, are slated to open later this month.  Specifically targeting the millennial demographic these restaurants will feature a revamped menu, digital menu boards, TV monitors and mobile ordering and pick up apps.  The kicker is these new locations will be serving margaritas in Chicago and draft beer and wine in San Francisco. Steve Heimoff offers his take on Taco Bell's new concept. The San Francisco location is near the AT&T ballpark area and with that location it looks like it will be a home run.

Costco heir David Sinegal acknowledges that he loves,  "the art and act of making things that are unique and special".  Elin McCoy shares what he's doing with his new venture Sinegal Estate in Napa Valley.

Have you tried wine from a keg yet? Adam Teeter writes an article about the recent phenomenon of wine on tap. It a good jumping off point for Bill and I as we discuss the pros and cons of restaurants serving wine on tap.

Do you buy wine online? How do you know its been handled properly during transport? In Entrepreneur Magazine Tracy Byrnes offers some tips on precautions you should take when shipping wine.

Sarika Chawla writes a post about the newest way to tour wine country in SoCal. If you're a tech savvy traveler this is right up your alley.

We had a terrible wildfire in Lake County, California which is just north of Napa Valley. If you would like to help those in need here are some links.

Is there more consolidation in the future for breweries? It seems almost certain. We also have a quick update on the Napa Wine Train fiasco.

Thanks for listening and tell a fellow wino about us. Cheers!

VinoWeek Episode 16 - The 2015 Harvest is in Full Swing

It looks to be an excellent vintage for Champagne according to Claude Giraud. If the weather holds there will be lots of smiling wine growers throughout France. The harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon has started in Napa Valley.  Growers are seeing lower yields but the quality thus far appears to be excellent.  Jessie Duarte fills us in on what's happening in the regions up and down the valley.

W. Blake Gray finds an intern working at a Napa Valley winery to explain what one does in a winery at harvest time. The mystery writer, fresh out of a four year program of viticulture and enology with several harvests under his belt, already seems to have a fairly good grasp of how the wine business works. It's a good read.

The Sonoma County Wine Auction set a new record this year. All the proceeds go to charity and in this article by Peg Melnik you can see who the big spenders were.

Cynthia Sewell writes an article about wine exclusives in the state of Idaho and asks, "Are Idaho Officials Enforcing the Rules?".

Over the last few months we've seen some consolidation in the wine business.  Now it seems as though we may start seeing consolidation in the beer business. Bill Swindell reports for the Press Democrat on the Lagunitas, Heineken partnership.  Bill and I kick around a few ideas on what this partnership could mean for the craft beer business.

Thanks for listening and tell a fellow wino about us. Cheers!

VinoWeek Episode 15 - Is Napa Valley in a PR Hot Seat?

If it seems like the frequency of counterfeiting, embezzlement, data breaches and fraud have been increasing in the world of wine, it's because it has.  Fighting crime will be the major focus of the 24th annual Wine Industry Financial Symposium to be held Sept. 21-22 in Napa.  This Symposium will provide an excellent opportunity for individuals in the business to learn ways to avoid some of the accounting pitfalls of running a small business.  Traditionally small wineries haven't used  trust and verify style management to run the financial side of their businesses.  The Symposium will feature a panel of crime experts that can help  you start a program to better secure your business from criminals.  If you're in the wine business,  you can't afford not to be there. 

The "Sherlock Holmes of Wine", Maureen Downey has announced the launch of  It's being touted as a resource for buyers, producers and vendors of fine wines.  As such winefraud.comoffers several membership levels geared toward consumers of wine and trade professionals.  Maureen's record as a defender for consumers against wine fraud is well documented.  She was a major player in helping solve the case against Rudy Kurniawan, the notorious wine counterfeiter, now serving a ten year prison sentence in Southern California.

The incident involving eleven women belonging to the Sistahs of the Reading Edge Book Club being booted off the Napa Valley Wine Train, blew up on social media after wine train principals posted a defense of their actions on facebook.  As it turns out the ladies were more than just bookworms and their use of social media platforms facebook, periscope and twitter - #laughingwhileblack, helped fuel lively public discussions in the bay area and beyond.  Is this a case of a clash of cultures or latent racism cloaked by elitism?  We weren't there so we couldn't possibly identify the cause.   The story is multilayered and while its potential impact on tourism in Napa Valley can't be measured - it doesn't look good.  The Wine Train's CEO Anthony Giaccio, days later issued what appeared to be a genuine mea culpa to the book club members and invited them back for a do over.   He asked them to bring 39 more family members and friends, enough to fill up an entire car as his personal guests.  For now his appeal has fallen on deaf ears.  The Book Club has hired civil rights lawyer Waukeen McCoy to represent them in a five million dollar lawsuit claiming 'Malicious Oppression'.  If you've driven up Highway 29 through Napa Valley you have no doubt seen the signs that say 'no limousines or no tour buses'.  That's certainly one way to avoid the hassle of having to deal with large groups of tourist.  Companies in the hospitality business  in wine country should take notice and review your policies regarding how you deal with larger groups of people visiting your venues. 

What's the ideal temperature to serve your red wines?  Matthew DeBord pens a good article about how to get the best flavors out of your wine and Bill and I go on a rant about poor wine and food service in the restaurant business.  Vic Poulos offers some advice as well on how to care for your wines before you drink them.  The bottom line heat is the enemy, so treat your wines like your perishable groceries and you'll get the best results.

Speaking of heat, its been hot and dry in Washington this summer and wildfires throughout the state have some farmers and vintners wondering if their grapes might be smoke tainted.  Grape samples can be sent to external labs that can check for traces of smoke taint.  Getting that information before you take on the expense of processing the grapes seems like a no brainer, because wines made with smoke tainted grapes can offer some unflattering flavors, that become more pronounced as the wine ages. 

Have you ever tasted a natural wine?  Perhaps you've had one but didn't know it.  Natural Wine Bars that sport "Hippie Juice" a pejorative, have been gaining  popularity in Europe and now a few entrepreneurs are attempting to carve out a market in the U. S.   Check out this article 'You Make Me FeelLike a Natural Wine' to learn more and find a few examples of some natural wines you might try.

Thanks to all for listening and tell a fellow wino about us.  Cheers!   

VinoWeek Episode 14 - Stop Dreaming....

After selling his wildly successful Meomi wine brand to Constellation Brand Inc. Joseph Wagner is looking to the Oregon frontier to create his next super brand.   At the ripe young age of 33 this entrepreneur is making his presence known on the west coast.  Elsewhere in Oregon, Willamette Valley Vineyards has tendered an offer of preferred stock to wine enthusiasts.   They plan to build two small production wineries in the Eola Hills and Walla Walla AVAs.   A posting on Jim's Loire blog wonders why Tim Atkins and Ron Washam's dispute with Georg Riedel was settled so quickly; whereas Jayne Powell - aka Champagne Jayne'scase, with the Le Comite Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne seems to be stuck in a legal limbo that has her facing financial ruin.  The famed French wine regions of Burgundy and Champagne have been recently added to Unesco's world heritage listing.  Laurent Fabius, the country's foreign minister is making plans to promote more tourism in these wine regions.   The piece written by Laurence Girard for The Guardian conversely ends by taking a cheap shot at Napa Valley for the success of its tourism model.  Madison Wade reports for KRCRTV, on the owners ofButter Creek Ranch Winery in Trinity County California having to declare their entire crop for 2015 a loss, because of the smoke and ash from fires this summer.  Sadly they suffered the same fate as recently as 2008.  We can already see the legal lawsuits lining up regarding the "world's first" commercially distributed cannabis infused beer due to hit the market this fall.  If your employer requires periodic or random drug tests you'll want to avoid these products as we're pretty sure you'll test positive on a culture panel.  Owner Mason "Dude" says, "Like the cannabis product, we recommend taking our double IPA in small amounts… it’s a big beer, and a dab will do ya”.  Our wine recommendation, an organic beauty, comes from the French Rhone Valley.  That's all for this week.  Thanks for listening and cheers.                 

VinoWeek Episode 13 - Kuvée - Revolutionizing Single Serve Wine

Boston startup Kuvee has assembleda group of techie scholars, entrepreneurs and venture capitalist in order to go into the wine preservation business.  Their idea "a convenience play - drink what you want, it stays fresh, and reorder easily.", appears to have merit.   The product is due to launch this fall sostay tuned.   Gargantuan wine, which is rapidly becoming one of our favorite reads, offers us up some well deserved criticism for restaurant owners and chefs.  The post Four Mistakes Every Restaurant Makes exposes those faults and then proposes some simple solutions to correct them.  After reading the article I'll certainly pay more attention to my hand washing ritual before dining.  What do Celebrity chefs, Mexican immigrants and the Food Network have in common and why are chefs so concerned about their symbiotic link?  Roberto Ferdman pens a post for the Washington Post about what may be going on behind the kitchen doors of your favorite restaurant.  David Marcus explains how many wineries are moving away from traditional sales channels for moving their goods and are making a play for increasing direct to consumer sales, in order to increase their margins.  Brand building and connecting with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs seems like a natural fit.  Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Odette Estate Winery and Starmont Winery have recently opened new hospitality centers.  If you have plans to visit Napa Valley put one of these venues on your list of destinations.  Gerilee Densberger, the former bookkeeper of Whitehall Lane Winery in St. Helena, Ca. has been sentenced to nine years in prison for stealing close to $700,000 over a five year period.  We discuss these stories and a few more on this week's edition of VinoWeek.  Thanks for listening and cheers!        

VinoWeek Episode 12 - Humor, Defamation and Cooked Books

Ron Washam aka The Hosemaster of Wine finally gets someone to threaten to sue him.   One of his recent satirical works did not strike the funny bone of Mr. Georg Riedel,  as he had his lawyers fire off a firm request for a retraction of said article.  Michael Ru Bello's bankruptcy filing for his California construction company is causing a lot of headaches for his creditors and for several high profile wine industry players, that worked with him.  David Stoneberg and Sasha Paulsen do a good job of putting the pieces together while explaining how it all went south.  Sandro Boscaini - 'Mr. Amarone' has taken a bold step and listed Masi Agricola on the Italian stock market.  Is this the beginning of a trend?  Several wine projects move forward in the Kenwood area of Sonoma County as the debate over the expansion of wineries in Northern California continues.  Margaret Rand writes a piece for Decanter magazine titled, Six Signs You're Becoming a Wine Buff.  If you have more than a passing interest in wine and you must or your wouldn't be reading this, you'll be able to relate to several of her points.   As always thanks for listening and tell a friend about our podcast.  Cheers

VinoWeek Episode 11 - It's Fire Season in California

California is in the midst of a four year severe drought and the latest visual evidence can be seen in Lake County, where the Rocky wildfire has consumed over 22,000 acres, the largest of about two dozen fires burning around the state.  If anyone is wondering what to get me for Christmas here it is.  The VinGardeValise is a 'rolling hard shell suitcase lined with high-density, temperature-regulating foam that protects bottles while in transit'.  This year Trinchero Family Estates is celebrating the forty year anniversary of the first release of its White Zinfandel.  Who drinks White Zinfandel?  We do.  Since its inception Trinchero has sold $6 billion worth of White Zinfandel.  The article by Andrew Adams features a birds eye of Trinchero's new Lodi facility that is mind blowing.  Ever wonder when's the right time to pop the cork on some of those fine Italian wines you have resting in your cellar?  Kerin O'Keefe pens a wonderful piece outlining some general guidelines when deciding when to open those special bottles.  In a piece for the Business Insider, Peter Spande offers 11 tips for planning your next visit to wine country.  He nails it and it's a must read.  We discuss these topics and more on this weeks' addition of VinoWeek.  If you like what you hear tell a friend.  Cheers!  

VinoWeek Episode 10 - More Consolidation in the Wine Business

Two more big wine deals were announced this week, as E & J Gallo and Vintage Wine Estates make a bid to broaden their holdings in Sonoma County.  Measure AB-20,  a bill aimed at helping illegal farm workers obtain work permits is making its way through the California legislature.  If it reaches Governor Jerry Brown's desk will he sign it?  Rock star winemaker Susana Balbo wants to improve the education and healthcare systems in rural Mendoza,  Argentina.  Instead of just complaining she's running for a seat in the Parliament of the Mendoza region.   Have you ever purchase wine online?  Lucy Shaw puts forth some surprising statistics on the wine buying habits of American wine drinkers.  These topic and more on this episode of VinoWeek.  Thanks for listening and tell a friend.  Cheers!       

VinoWeek Episode 9 - Big Wine

What companies make  80 percent  of the wine purchased  in the U. S. market?

Which two wine companies own half of the wine brands on the top 20 list for off premise sales?  Here's a hint; one is publicly traded the other is not.  Blockbuster brand Meomi was just purchased by Constellation Brands Inc, the latest in a frenzy of acquisitions being made by some big players in the wine business.  Steve Heimoff wonders who got the better end of the deal.  Why would anyone want to hack a winery?  Rob McMillan pens a in-depth article about the Payment Card Industry, with respect to the wine trade and explores topics any consumer that shops using e business should be aware.  Vindu Goel reports in the New York Times that former winemaker and vineyard manager Jeffry James Hill plead no contest to charges of misrepresenting the origin of wines he sold to his clients and other winemakers.  He's out of the wine business and awaiting sentencing.  As always thanks for listening and tell a friend.  Cheers!    

Week of July 12th through the 20th.