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New World

Inspired by the dual trends of the Austrian white wine Gruner Veltliner and the increase in parents naming their kids after wine and wine related phrases.



Time To Make the Wine, er, Donuts

Jacobs_creek_1 I saw a blurb about the contest taking place at Advertising Week magazine on all-time favorite advertising slogans.  I pulled a bunch of ads from the current Food & Wine magazine and did a little Internet searching.  Um, "Time to Make the Donuts" these are not.  Fortunately, product design & viral marketing is the path to success du jour, because the wine industry would be in a world of hurt if it relied upon advertising to create mindshare.  I present Exhibit 1.

1. Kendall-Jackson wines
A Taste of theTruth

2. Redwood Creek
Satisfy your tastefor Adventure!  

3. Turning Leaf wine
Handcrafted forPerfect Moments

4. Luna Di Luna 
Get Some

5. Sutter Home Wines
Life uncomplicated

6. Clos du Bois
All the French youneed to know

7. Fetzer Vineyards
From the earth tothe table

8. Woodbridge Winery
Taste our smallwinery tradition         

9. Santa Margherita
Great Wines forGreat Encounters

10. Callaway Coastal
Coastal Standard Time

11. Blackstone Winery 
For so many good Reasons

12. CavitCollection
A Wine as Intriguing as the Moment



New World

Inspired by the recent news that the book "Judgement of Paris" chronicling the 1976 American vs. French wine tasting had the film rights optioned.



Old Vines on My Mind:  Rabbit Ridge OVZ

OvzpasobigI mainly use a 35 bottle wine refrigerator with dual temperature control for reds and whites to store my wine at home.

I’m longing for a bigger house that will afford me the wine cellar in the basement.

In the meantime, I keep my inventory to about 35 - 50 bottles.  Overflow is in the drinkable queue upstairs and some of the other nostalgic bottles are kept in my basement.  Since I have a penchant for stopping at every local winery within 5 miles of my travels, I have a handful of wines that are more ornamental then drinkable sitting in the basement.  Concord Creme wine from Lonz winery in Put-in-Bay, Ohio anyone?

This past weekend, as luck would have it, however, I found a 1999 Rabbit Ridge Old Vines Zinfandel.  Ah, yes.  I remember this one.  I bought two bottles when in Sonoma several years back.  I drank one, and, well, I have one left.  The small marking on the corner of the back label indicated that I paid $32 for it—a tip I picked up from a buddy that remarked, "Mark the price inconspicuously.  When you drink it in a couple of years you’ll want to remember how much you paid for it."  Right he was.

What a bonus because I had completely forgotten about this wine.

From the Rabbit Ridge Web Site:

Our legendary Rabbit Ridge Old Vine Zinfandel, or "O.V.Z." is from our finest vineyards on the west side of Paso Robles, California.   To live up to its name, Zinfandel from vines over sixty years old was blended with judicious additions of Primitivo and a touch of Petite Sirah.   This 2003 O.V.Z. is the first successor to our 1999 O.V.Z.   Less than one ton of grapes were picked for our O.V.Z., creating a rich, concentrated, jammy reserve Zinfandel blend.   Enjoy lush flavors of strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, and rose petals.   Only 1440 cases produced.

I cracked it open.

Just as I had remembered it.  This is a really fantastic wine.  This bottle was a touch cloudy, for some reason.  I chilled it down and then it warmed up on the kitchen counter so that may have affected it, but the cloudiness didn’t effect the wine in an adverse way.

This wine finishes long and is incredibly mouth filling—very concentrated and almost like drinking  a cup of raspberry coulis.  I didn’t pick up on the rose petals, but to  me this RR OVZ demonstrates a  subtle backbone of minerality that I find very appealing in some Zins.  It has that je ne se quois that is mystifying, but very satisfying.

The ‘99 wasn’t distributed, sold only at the winery and perhaps in the Dry Creek area.  At the time, RR was on its run-up in the market and not widely distributed and was in the midst of a bunch of zoning legal battles because they were producing more then they were permitted for.  But, if you run into the ‘03, I can definitely recommend it based on the delicious ‘99.


Wine’s Digital Land Grab

Business_plans_big_jpeg_1Overthe course of the past seven days three wine-centric online-centric businesseshave issued press releases about their growth and/or their niche in the winespace.

InertiaBeverage Group, Appellation America, and are all expanding theirbusiness and their opportunities at success in the wake of the ongoing tumblingof the proverbial dominoes in wine shipping.

Eachhas slightly different approaches to the market with different business models. think version 2.0

ForAppellation America think of a portal like Yahoo! for wine.

ForInertia Beverage Group think of a music label equivalent for wine.

Whowill be the winner(s) and who will be the losers?

Inmy estimation, I think all three will be winners … for different reasons. Vinado is consumer-oriented, as isAppellation America. And, InertiaBeverage Group is riding a wave with market timing that really creates asignificant market opportunity in the business-to-business-to-consumer space.

And,if Alder at is the elder statesman of wine blogging certainlyTom at Fermentation is the Kevin Bacon of the business side of wines’ digitalfrontier—he’s the agency of record for Appellation America and has an active relationshipwith Inertia Beverage Group, as well. Instead of six degrees of separation as with Kevin Bacon, this wine gameis more like two degrees.

Vinado.comis the most curious of the three businesses. They are entering the market at a time thatWine_7 online veteran is strugglingfinancially and they are seeking to be THE online commerce site for consumers.

Thosethat participated in the heady, frothy, ebullient dot-com days (guilty!) willread Vinado’s press release and be taken back to a time where the ad pagesoutnumbered the content pages 3 -1 in the Industry Standard.


 SEATTLE, WA - It’s a New Beginning! The wine industry has notfully captured the true essence of the online marketplace until today!, a new and intriguing online wine store promises to be the newexemplar of wine eCommerce.

As you enter the website (, you findyourself gliding into the soothing world of wine. You immediately sense anapproachable but elegant bearing coupled with the soft character of the wineexperience - Clearly an adventure in harmony and balance.

You know you’re in deep when the word “exemplar”is used in the lead.

It continues:

" in its essence isabout wine for the people, states Seth Micarelli,’s Chief OperationsOfficer. "We sought to create an entire experience oriented around wine.We bring people in touch with it both digitally and sensually to create arichness of response."

What he is really saying is that “wethink the site is nicely designed and people will want to buy from us.”

Not to be outdone, and with an appropriateamount of fawning, the designer says:

"When Seth Micarelli originallyapproached us with the concept, we were immediately excited,"says Daniel Rust, Chief Design Architect and Co-founder of Arestia DesignStudios. "The requirements of this project pushed us into new and excitingtechnical territory while freeing our creative spirits."

What he really is saying is, “ourcreatives didn’t complain about this project and the checks cleared the bank. We took an equity slice in exchange for someprofit and we’re hoping this thing really takes off.”

The overall challenge for iscreating consumer awareness and then translating that to sales. If they don’t get the viral customer thingcorrect, and their initial high-end positioning would lead you to believe theymay not, they might have a hard time garnering mindshare.

 AppellationAmerica (AA) is an entirely different case then Vinado, though their businessmodel is just slightly different and more portal-like then retailpresence.

Ihave curiously been watching them for awhile, but it would appear that they aremoving theirAalogo_500 positioning away from the sometimes hard to translate “wine from adistinct place” (terroir conversation) as the front-running message to more ofa populous “wine as an artisanal product.” There’s a subtle difference between the two, but it is significant whenyou consider the two and the general wine populations ability to understand the“elevator pitch.”

Peoplesimply understand “small, hand-crafted and boutique” better then they do thenuances of a micro-climate.

AArecently announced that professional wine writer Dan Berger was joining theirteam as an Editor-at-Large. Dan has well-tenuredchops in the wine business and wine writing in particular and lends credibilityto their ongoing business development efforts. might become a retail powerhouse for wine I really see potential forAppellation America to become a media powerhouse for all things wine—the MarthaStewart Living or Oprah of wine, if you will—a magazine, the PBS show, retailonline, and some type of Good Housekeeping seal of approval for wines in theoffline world. It makes sense when youconsider the consumer adoption curve of wine; it’s a logical next step—whenpeople build on their anglo-centric understanding of wine they now have away-station beyond California wines on their way to the Internationalscene.

Backin the days of the dot-com era, I recall somebody saying that in the Gold Rushdays in California (the actual gold rush days, not the Internet age) that itwasn’t the guys panning for gold that found success, it was the guys that wereselling the tents, pick axes and supplies to the guys panning for gold thatwere successful.

Inertia_logo Iput Inertia Beverage Group in the “selling the pick axe” category.

Ialso look at Inertia Beverage Group and I think of the music industry—whichhas strong parallels to the world of wine—highly fragmented, a lot of productand varying distribution.

Oneanalogy would be Aware Records. Awareacts as an enabler at a grassroots level for artists to sign, get professional development,grow and find more success.

Artistslike John Mayer found their initial success and then larger success based onthe support infrastructure put in place by  a label like Aware.

Inertiadoes the same thing for wineries. Wineries have the product or the musical ability, so to speak, and theyjust need infrastructure and guidance to help them grow.

Inertiadoes this by enabling, in their words:


IBG’sREthink Engine allows wineries to seamlessly integrate their online salesefforts, order processing, inventory management, wine club management, creditcard processing, customer support and more. A web-based software platform, theREthink Engine takes wineries to the next level of online customer sales andservice without any in-house hardware or software upgrades. Its unique designgives wineries the ability to manage their online content and store offeringsas well as customer communications without a background in technology orwebsite design.

Itshould be noted that Aware Music, similar to the REthink Engine, also has asales vehicle for their artists. And,Aware Music is very successful, by the way.

Long-termgrowth prospects for Inertia and the technology enablement of wineries is nowjustHeron_wines beginning to grow into what appears to be a very healthy window of time.

Theother reason I like Inertia’s approach is their focus is simultaneously onindividual winery development while aggregating a sales engine for close to 300wineries.

Thisoffers a pretty compelling story to small and medium size wineries.

Simplyput, I think it’s easier for a winery to build their own audience and then givecustomers a means to purchase then it is for the Vinado’s of the world to createan aggregative spot for purchasing. Buying wine is personal, and you want to feel some connection with thewinery when you do so—Inertia affords that, while Vinado and play morelike a Pottery Barn of wine.

Thefuture is Inertia, thought the times may be slow going. Change takes time. But, I can see a time in the near future where a small producerhas their allocated mailing list, wine club, online commerce and the winerytechnical infrastructure implemented and managed by a company like Inertia.

Inshort, for all three business models, there is plenty of room for success inthe market. Anything that allowsgreater access to a greater amount of good wines by passionate people is astory and a business model that everybody should endorse.

Goodselling and good success to the future of wine and its technologicalenablement!

And, thanks for those that stuck to the end of this 1400 word blog post opus. grin



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