Are you a rabid Pinot Noir fan like me? If so, let me clue you in to Joseph Jewell Wines, if you haven’t found out about them already. My prediction is that this brand will soon to be up there in the wine-o-sphere with highly allocated, hard-to-find Pinot Noirs like Kosta Browne, Kistler and Sea Smoke. They are currently listed in the top 50 Pinot Noirs in Wine & Spirits Magazine, so I know I’m not alone in my love for these stunning wines. Find yourself some Joseph Jewell wines and buy some. Buy some now!
If you Google “Cougar Juice,” the first image you’ll see is a bottle of Rombauer Chardonnay. The Urban Dictionary refers to it as, “An alcoholic beverage consumed by older females looking for younger males.”
These days, Barrel Tasting takes place over two weekends and tickets cost anywhere from $10 for designated drivers to $60 for the weekend. It has turned into what I call “Wine Spring Break.” And they are not buying a lot of wine. Winery staffers are becoming so overwhelmed by the wine-glugging masses that they cannot effectively sell wine. It’s more of trying to just keep up, keep wine in the glasses and cutting off the drunks, which is always uncomfortable and can lead to bad Yelp and Tripadvisor reviews.
I’m sure my peers can relate to the following twisted inner workings of my mind and are heartily invited to share their tasting room fantasies with me. Here goes:
1. The hidden trap doors – there are a series of these on the customer’s side of the bar. When a customer (or group) is particularly annoying, I hit a button under the counter and said customer(s) drop gently into a greased chute, which deposits them outside. They are then unable to re-enter the tasting room.
2. The customer mute button – like on a TV remote, when a customer is droning on about Parker scores, what they have in their cellar, etc. I can mute them without them being aware of it.
3. That the good-looking guy who just walked in would take me in the back and bend me over a barrel… hey – these are my fantasies, OK?
Read on for more…
After over 30 years of actively working in many facets of the wine industry (winery management, sales, radio personality, wine writer, wine judge, etc), I am being asked this question on an increasingly frequent basis. It seems being a “Somm” has turned into a “thing.”
About dogs and kids…
Many wineries are dog and kid friendly, but please keep your dog under your control. The same goes with kids – if your toddler is running amok in the tasting room while you are sipping away, it’s just all kinds of bad. We will give your child caffeine, sugar and a free puppy if left unsupervised (just kidding about that last bit).
How many times have you visited a tasting room (or maybe even in your own tasting room) and heard a staff member doing a somewhat robotic introduction to the wines that they were pouring? By robotic, I mean spewing facts like clonal selections, type of oak used, malolactic percentages, awards/points garnered in major wine competitions and publications, etc. All of this information is valuable, but it must be discussed within context of the customer’s experience – he or she must be engaged first and actually interested in that type of information. Hint – if the customer’s eyes are glazing over and cobwebs start extending from her/his nose during a factual soliloquy, the customer is not engaged and is not likely to buy.
I’ve been managing wine clubs for wineries for many years. The memberships have ranged from start-ups to over 4000 members. Following are my favorite tips for growing and maintaining wine clubs:
Last week, I cooked dinner for Rick, one of my wine-judging buddies. I made Herb Encrusted Rack of Lamb, Orzo Salad and Spanish Chick Peas with Kale and Toasted Pine Nuts. Rick contributed bubbles and Pinot Noir (big points for him!).
Dinner was a big hit, then we ventured out and did Karaoke at a local Healdsburg haunt. All in all, it was a great evening.
I woke up the next day with a bitter taste in my mouth. Literally. Everything I ate or drank tasted bitter. I started to get concerned. Weird, lingering flavors do not play well with this Wine Wench – I make a living with my mouth (and my nose, too – get your minds out of the gutter, people!).