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July 17, 2010

Grapes, Juice or Wine in Bulk

Regardless if you are a professional wine maker or a do-it-yourself home wine maker, you don't have to do the entire job yourself.  Let someone else to the dirty work - you just get what you need and make the wines you want to make.  To that end, grapes, juice or wine are available in bulk sales.  Pick the point where you want to get started and start making wine!

For bulk wines and juices, I have contacts throughout the state, up and down the west coast.  I can source Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Sierra Foothills, Santa BarbaraSanta Maria.  I can also get juice from Oregon and Washington State

Currently, California Central Valley Chardonnay is going for as low as $3.00 a gal.  and decent reds are around $8.00 a gal.

If you are interested in the "good stuff", just let me know what  and how much you want, and I can get you a price. 

I have access to bulk juice, "shiners" - bottled wine without labels, or uncrushed grapes.

Grapes: Popular varietals go for between $1,000 and $2,000 a ton.

Lesser know varietals are as low as $750.00 a ton.

For the home wine maker, I can get grapes 1 to 2 tons lots.  You can pick up the grapes at the winery at harvest time or the grapes can be crushed and shipped in Flexi tanks.

If you would like more information on some of the dates when some of the wines or grapes will be available, check out this schedule on my Consulting page

Always interested to hear what you think about wine and the good life!


Here's an interesting article interesting article about the transportation of juice and wine in the U.S.


June 15, 2010  

Summer Calls for Rose's

Summer is here!  The weather is warm; this is the time of year for family and friends, pool parties, and barbecues!

This is the time to add Rose’s to the party.  Rose’s are not particularly popular in the United States; and it’s really a shame!   The sweet white zinfandels and white merlots that were once the craze in this country, may have contributed to this distain.  “Blush wines” are not what the rest of the wine drinking world knows as Rose.

Part of the problem may be that there is really no definition of what a Rose is.  Since there is really no definition, it can range from very sweet to very dry. It can also be made from any combinations of grapes red or white.  In its simplest form it is a wine that is pink or rose in color.

Typically better quality Rose is vinified using the traditional French vilification method called “Saignée.”   Saignée is the process where the skins of the red grape are not allowed to continue to ferment with the must.  Since the red color is in the skins of the grapes and is released during the heat from the fermentation process; Rose’s are pressed within a very short time period after crush.  The juice comes out pink or rose and the wine is then vinified as a white wine.

Another, less traditional way to make Rose is to take a white grape like French Colombard and blend it with 20 – 30 % of a red wine to get the desired color.  Unless you know the winemaker, you probably won’t know the process unless it’s promoted on the back label; so just enjoy.

As I said before, there are really no rules to making Rose, so the consumer has to be willing to try different Rose’s and then determine what he or she likes.

Better quality semi-dry to dry Rose’s range in price from around $7.00 to about $25.00

Typically, Rose’s in the higher price points come from Provence in the Bandol area of France.

They can be very good and you should try them to get a sense of what a high quality Rose should be.

Also, remember that Rose’s are young and light.  Be sure to chill them well before drinking; just don’t put ice cubes in your glass!   Ice cubes dilute the flavors.  Why bother to pay for a good wine if the flavors are diluted?

 Let me know your favorites?   How are they priced in your part of the Country?

Having said that, any of the Rose’s coming from Sonoma County are generally very good.

Pedroncelli Winery makes a very drinkable semi-dry Rose from the Zinfandel grape that sells for around $7.00 a bottle.  Toad Hollow makes a bone dry Rose from Pinot Noir that is wonderful, called Eye of the Toad.  It’s also around $8.00 a bottle.

Spanish Winery Marques de Caceres makes a Rose from the Tempranillo grape that lists for around $7.00   

One of my absolute favorites is an Argentine Rose by Susana Balbo.  Crios - Rose of Malbec

It is meant to be enjoyed young and is made in the “saignée method.  It sells for around $10.50 a bottle and is worth it!

I’ve listed some examples of what a good Rose should be like.  The last time I went to my favorite wine store, they had over 40 Rose’s from around the world, so if you can’t find the ones I have listed, be curios and let me know how it went!




May 25, 2010

Does the Container Make the Wine?

People have been drinking wine and wine merchants have tried to market wine to the consuming public in various containers for that same amount of time.

Over thousands of years wine has come in animal skins, earthen jars, glass bottles, wooden barrels, etc, etc.

The trick, of course, is to find a container that maintains the quality of the wine over time, is easily transported, relatively hassle free, and reasonably priced. 

In recent history, the glass wine bottle sealed with a cork was the standard way wine was purchased and consumed.  Glass bottles, originally hand blown, came in many different sizes, shapes, and colors.  Eventually, most wine bottles were standardized in size and shape. 

Today, wines sold in bottles are almost exclusively Claret or Burgundy style bottles.

The Claret style bottle has a short neck and more abrupt shoulder where the neck of the bottle and the base of the bottle meet.  The Burgundy bottle is more sensual, curving inward as it gets closer to the neck of the bottle with no abrupt shoulder.

German style wines often come in bottles that are tall and slender versions of  Burgundy style bottles.  Sometimes wines come in bottles that are more rounded, like the wicker covered wine bottles from Italy and the fat round bottles form Portugal or Greece.

At one time, I suppose, one could generally tell from the shape of the bottle the region or style of wine one was about to consume.  Today, no matter where the wine is produced in the world, the color or shape of the bottle does not in any way necessarily connote a particular region, grape, style of wine, country of origin, or quality.

If a producer is trying to market a Pinot Noir, it’s probably in a Burgundy shaped bottle.  If a producer is selling a Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s probably in Bordeaux shaped bottle.  But I’ve seen Cabernet – Syrah blends from Australia in both Claret and Burgundy shaped bottles!

The point that is important to remember is shape, size, or even what the container is made of is not important necessarily to the quality of the wine inside!    

I have had wine that came in a traditional glass bottle with a cork that was undrinkable!  I have also had wine with a screw top that was pricey and too die for!

So, if a cork isn’t important and a glass bottle isn’t important what about wine in boxes?

I am glad you asked that.

The short answer is: There is nothing wrong with wine that comes in a box or Tetra Pak and there are many real advantages.

It’s cheaper than glass. Both for the producer and the consumer.

  1. It is biodegradable, (at least the Tetra Paks are.)
  2. It’s about 40% lighter than glass for the same size container.
  3. And,  what I consider the most important advantage::

Once opened, the wine in the box or Tetra Pak lasts up to five weeks before going bad!!!  

If that doesn’t blow your socks off, you’re hopeless or dead!

So what’s the catch?

In Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, and European wineries are putting wine into boxes and Tetra Paks and there is wide customer acceptance.

Remember.  It s not the container the wine is in, it’s the quality of the wine in the container!

So what about the U.S.? 

It’s a chicken or the egg dilemma.

Americans think of “boxed” wine as cheap and inferior.  Producers are reluctant to put higher quality wines in non traditional containers for fear of customer rejection.  And customers are reluctant to pay a higher price for a “boxed” wine, even if it’s better than comparable priced wine in bottles.

It’s that simple!

There are some wines coming on the market, like Black Box and Bota Box with a 3 liter bag inside the box containers, that are decent wines.

There are a couple of companies like French Rabbit and Yellow and Blue brand that are in the 1 liter Tetra Paks.

If you try them, let me know what you think.  Be sure to squeeze out the air in the Tetra Paks before closing up a partially finished container.

The bag in the box containers collapses as you drain the wine, so you don't have to worry about them.

I personally prefer the Tetra Pak because it's only a 1 liter container.

Let me know what you think?















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