Paso Robles Wine Country … A Land of Great Diversity – James Melendez

Visiting Paso Robles in July 2014 was an important visit for me. Important because though it is in my time zone, same state and easily accessed in a few hours it is a wine country that I rarely ever visit. I rarely visit not because I don’t care for the region but rare solely because it is far for a day trek.   It is a minimum 3 hours door-to-door assuming that traffic is behaving acceptably hence a round trip is a 6-hour car trip. It is not just a day trip but a weekend commitment but it is an ideal weekend commitment.

Niner Estate

Niner Estate

But the car trip should not deter anyone—in fact it is a reason—one amongst many to go. Flying is an option from SFO and especially for someone like me who hates to drive for extended periods—and yes anything north of an hour and half is an extended period for me.

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Paso Robles captivates me and not just for it’s Rhône varieties but also for it’s rich heritage and diversity of all varieties cultivated. In fact, it is very interesting while it may seem that only Rhône varieties thrive and even strive –they are not the only set of Vitis vinifera that are planted and the most widely planted red grape is Cabernet Sauvignon and the most widely planted white wine grape is Chardonnay.

Here is a list of the top ten wine grapes:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Zinfandel
  • Syrah
  • Petite Sirah
  • Petit Verdot
  • Pinot Noir
  • Grenache
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Malbec

And the top ten white grapes are as follows:

  1. Chardonnay
  2. Sauvignon Blanc
  3. Viognier
  4. Muscat Canelli
  5. Pinot Gris
  6. Riesling
  7. Roussanne
  8. Grenache Blanc
  9. Muscat Blanc
  10. Chenin Blanc

If I compared and contrasted between what is more predominate in terms of Bordeaux v. Rhône varieties (based on total acres/hectares of wine grapes) I might have thought several years ago it was certainly in the Rhône camp but I would have been wrong. Bordeaux varieties have a 3 to 1 margin with respect to the Rhône varieties in the region.   Just because this margin exists doesn’t make one group better against another—it is just an interesting number. A number I think that is important to uncover the more accurate story of Paso Robles.

 

Paso Robles also has plantings of Aligoté, Barbera, Carménère, Charbono, Cinsault, Counoise, Gewürztraminer, Lagrein, Picpoul Blanc, Refosco, Sangiovese, Tannat, Tempranillo, Souzao, Tinto Cao, Touriga Nacional, Verdello, Vermentino which may be completely unexpected. I don’t think I have tasted Paso Robles Aligoté, Lagrein, Barbera or Charbono and hope to at some point. I would like to know the history why/how these wine grapes got planted. It is one thing to have a wine grape grower who believes in a wine grape cultivar and has the ability to sell Aligoté or Lagrein—while popular in their mother ship growing regions in France and Italy are relatively unknown in the U.S.

Paso Robles also has plantings of Aligoté, Barbera, Carménère, Charbono, Cinsault, Counoise, Gewürztraminer, Lagrein, Picpoul Blanc, Refosco, Sangiovese, Tannat, Tempranillo, Souzao, Tinto Cao, Touriga Nacional, Verdello, Vermentino which may be completely unexpected. I don’t think I have tasted Paso Robles Aligoté, Lagrein, Barbera or Charbono and hope to at some point. I would like to know the history why/how these wine grapes got planted. It is one thing to have a wine grape grower who believes in a wine grape cultivar and has the ability to sell Aligoté or Lagrein—while popular in their mother ship growing regions in France and Italy are relatively unknown in the U.S.

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My recent visit to Paso Robles was a very brief but compelling way to put a foot on ground and taste all that I could. I knew Rhône wines were going to be there and that I would taste a number of them. I seem to taste a lot of them in San Francisco. Rare is to taste the Bordeaux varieties or other varieties in San Francisco from Paso Robles.   I enjoyed the small highlight at DAOU Vineyards of the CAB Collective. The CAB Collective represents Cabernet Sauvignon and the other red Bordeaux varieties. I tasted wonderful wines from Justin, Calcareous, Adelaida, Villa-San Juliette, J. Lohr, DAOU, Hammersky, Chateau Margene, Oyster Ridge and Sextant. First the stunning site was to be marveled—gorgeous in daylight even more fantastical in sunset.   The high perch above valley floor and very cool temperature in July was a compelling place to experience this part of Paso Robles. A sense of ruggedness and shear Paso Robles natural beauty.

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I am dazzled by all of the wine countries I visit and I can say that most wine countries leave me wanting more. I certainly felt that instant connection of the DAOU site –a longing to stay for a while and come back again and top and front of my mind is the instant love of place.

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The great assembly of Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends spoke volumes of the great wines being created here and now. I was dazzled by the many producers I tasted from. I tasted inspired, boldly confident wines from the CAB Collective.   And it reminded me to think more carefully about Paso Robles and to center my attention to seek and encompass Bordeaux wines from this region. I also felt that the wines I tasted should be showcased here in the Bay Area store shelves and wine lists. I do think there to be an evolution of wine lists (and not just in the Bay Area) but throughout the U.S. San Francisco wine lists are good especially when compared to many other regions of California or through the U.S. But even San Francisco can do better.

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I too think that consumer perception can and does change when there is a choice and an exposure to wines from many regions. Hence the consumer does lean and pull on retailers and on premise to diverse their offerings—but only if the consumer consistently asks.

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I enjoyed hearing the panel discussion from a variety of wine makers on the their Paso Robles wine experience. The panel discussion was held at the beautiful Niner Estate during prime time growing season and a robust carpet of lavender between each of the facilities. I heard Niels Udsen of Castoro, Patrick Muran of Niner Estate, Augie Hug of Hug Cellars, Stefanie Terrizzi of Giornata, Gary Eberle of his eponymous label, and J.C. Diefenderfer of Hope Family.   I enjoyed the collective and background of the winemakers. Gary talk was greatly appreciated—he is very humorous and I looked forward to every word. I, of course, apppreciate his pioneering efforts. Listening to Stefanie Terrizzi talk about her devotion and love of Nebbiolo—her experience in Italy and her path to creating a world class Nebbiolo in Paso Robles—is without a doubt not a task for the timid. Her Nebbiolo is outstanding and showed how Nebbiolo can thrive here.

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I did taste the following wines from each of the wine makers respective labels; this was a very nice representative tasting of Paso Robles as one can get in a tasting of 6 wines—the expected – the Rhônes, Bordeaux, Burgundy as well as Zinfandel and the completely unexpected Nebbiolo.

Castoro Cellars Balena Whale Rock Estate Paso Robles White Blend – 2013

48% Pinot Grigio, 37% Grenache Blanc, and 15% Falanghina

Niner Estate Paso Robles Grenache Rose – 2013

 Hug Cellars Paso Robles El Magnifico Zinfandel – 2011

 Giornata Luna Matta Vineyard Paso Robles Nebbiolo – 2011 – proof positive that there is Nebbiolo outside of Italy and that it can be just as compelling

 Eberle Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon – 2011

 Hope Family Treana Red Wine – 2002

60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 20% Syrah

And finally on my way down south to Santa Barbara—I got to experience a nicely assembly of Zinfandels. I hear a lot of people say they identify Paso Robles as a Zinfandel land and yes it is the third largest produced wine grape—I find it pretty rare for me to taste any Paso Robles Zinfandels. I did get to taste Tobin James and he was there pouring with his son. I also got to taste Turley Dusi, Brochelle and Barrel 27. Janelle Dusi was talking about her path of winemaking and her family’s old vine Zinfandels. Tasting and walking on the soil of Dusi was especially nice and memorable. There was a very nice and gentle cool breeze in the morning.  Turley poured their White Zinfandel! I greatly appreciated the well sculpted Zinfandel and the earnestness of the producers. Now –I need to get bottles of Paso Robles Zinfandel.

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Dusi Ranch

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Paso Robles is a relative late comer when it comes to sub AVAs. I get a sense that some people feel there are too many in the U.S. I generally don’t agree with that except for a few places. I recall attending a seminar of a particular sub-AVA (in another region in California) and I asked what distinguishes or characteristizes their region when compared to it’s neighbouring AVAs. The answer….. no response.   I was disappointed in this group of both wine grape growers and producers that even a slight distinguishing characteristic was not mentioned. I thought to myself—perhaps one of the producers parents or grand parents worked hard to get their wine region to become an AVA and that sentiment would be remembered or at least recalled.

From my observation of The Paso Robles AVA Committee has worked rigorously to distinguish this great land called Paso Robles and carefully delineated it’s precious 32,000 acres / 12,949 hectares into AVAs.   I do think there is merit and I do support it. I do think it will bring a fuller and more thoughtful discussion of Paso Robles other excellent wines beyond The Rhône (and not to pick on this set of varieties—and of course adore them from this region). Has this worked in other AVAs maybe and maybe not –it depends on the sub AVA and how they have marketed their designations.

I also kept hearing on my journey through Paso Robles and that it is isolated. And while it may take a while to get to for a casual spur-of-the-moment visits it can easily be accessed in California in a reasonable time. One has to plan their visit here but that would be like flying most anywhere in the US. If one is coming from the Bay Area—the travel time is less than coming up from the LA basin. Regardless it is an accessible wine country made better by great wineries to visit along side a good food culture and having all of the travelers amenities one might need.

Take a visit and take time to have a sip of wonderful Paso Robles wine.

 James 

¡Salud!

– James Melendez

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

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Planning for My 2,000th Video; Send Me Your Suggestions – James Melendez / James the Wine Guy

2000 Graphic

Several people reminded me that my 2,000 James the Wine Guy video is coming up.  I was asked if I was planning on doing something special.  I had thought in the back of my head I would feature a vintage bottle of Champagne.  I also thought a small party might be nice and record several people at the event perhaps on Google Hangouts.

I am anticipating I’ll reach my 2,000th video sometime in January 2015.  I do find it interesting I have all of my planned material recorded and I often have more content then what I have written down.  Wine is a curious subject–so simple to enjoy–and yet a very complex category in all other aspects.  I know that reaching 1,800 today–I have about a dozen that have not been edited and will be published shortly.  My most immediate list has about another dozen that I will be recording shortly.

In today’s video #1,800, I mentioned that it seems like it was relatively quick to get here but in realty it was hard, time consuming and each video was made one after the other–yes, I know it is obvious.  I also know that 2,000 videos hardly covers wine and the beverage arts–it is such an expansive topic.  I do believe that wine videos on YouTube are a sleeper.  There are lots of reasons for this but mainly because those people that are seeking wine video content are not finding what they want.  I know I can go into a well stocked wine merchant and there can be 1,000 to 1,500 SKUs and this number doesn’t cover everything out there.  But I do not think wine content on YouTube will always be a sleeper.

My video production experience has been very interesting.  I have garnered a bit of a subject matter expertise.  I have used YouTube analytics to hone in on better formats and video techniques and also length of video.  I have learned who and where my audience is located.  I have also learned incremental improvements.  I do hope to do more collaboration which is interestingly hard to do–not technically speaking but to find people to collaborate with.  I know there are a few people that I will be working with in the wine writing community in the near future.  I am also looking to collaborate beyond the borders of the wine writing and reviewing community.

I do want this wine video to be special–I only know one other YouTube who has gone over 2,000 — Charles Trippy at CTFxC–hence just a few individuals have reach this mark.

If you have any ideas for what video #2,000 should be –let me know.

Thank you!

¡Salud!

– James Melendez

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2014 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

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Variety…Varietal – James Melendez / James the Wine Guy

Trust me on this one… I am not going to rant about when variety or varietal should or should not be used.  I recently saw an online article on how either word should be used–it was a bit pedantic—not it was absolutely pedantic.  I have seen this particular writer rant to the point where it induces a great level of ennui or sleepiness in me.  I don’t make it my life’s mission to correct people on language usage.  When I see an article about this person’s yearly or twice yearly rants and how it gets indexed in a particular wine new email citation–I wonder why it is called out.

I don’t cite who this person is as I prefer to not give this particular person’s more web traffic.  I can always use more traffic.  If I weigh out my total usage of the words “variety” and “varietal” I am probably a heavy user of variety on at least a 90% basis; I might use the word cultivar before varietal and that is not because of this particular writer but that is just my usage.  I just like to say variety.  I think some people view varietal as more specific to wine than variety.  English is a flexible language that may adjust how it deals with the usage of this word–or maybe not.

Sweet and short as I have more important things to do… I promise–more interesting articles are in the works!

¡Salud!

– James Melendez

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2014 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

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Barboursville Virginia Cabernet Franc 2008 2009 2010 – Interview & Tasting with Frank Morgan & James Melendez

It was a pleasure to sit down and taste some beautiful Cabernet Franc from Barboursville, Virginia with Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like.   I have known Frank from the Twittersphere and, of course, in person at several Wine Bloggers Conferences (WineBlogCon).   Frank, in my mind, is no doubt a subject matter expert when it comes to Virginia wines and has considerable knowledge and experience of many wines and wine regions around the world.

I hate to say but it had been nearly two years since my last tasting of Cabernet Franc or any wine from Virginia! That is been far too long. Virginia is getting much more recognition today than say a decade ago. The recognition should continue and I hope to see more ecumenical wine lists as well as wine retail assortments to encompass Virginia wines in the future.

Virginia is growing an impressive number of wine varieties: everything from Albariño, Cabernet Sauvignon, Graciano, Malbec, Petit Manseng, Petit Verdot, Rkatsiteli to Zinfandel (and there are many more in between).

Virginia’s flagship Vitis vinifera red wine grapes is Cabernet Franc and white wine grapes is Viognier. Frank and I were both in Santa Barbara County for the Wine Bloggers Conference. I was delighted to find that Frank had travelled cross country with three special Cabernet Francs from Barboursville. We opened up the following vintages: 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Each vintage was expressing the conditions of each respective year’s growing conditions and the expert touch of long time Barboursville wine maker Luca Paschina.   Each bottle was an outstanding Cabernet Franc that for me was a proof positive of excellence of Virginia winemaking—each vintage was rich, unfolding it’s experience and I was left with no doubt that I had tasted three world class Cabernet Francs (for more specific details on the wine I would recommend viewing the video below).

I wanted to share each of the wine reviews specifically that we both tasted, giving the point scores in this article and also a reference point to view each portion of this video.

 

Virginia Wine History/Information/Perspectives – 1:03 – Frank Morgan

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Barboursville Virginia Cabernet Franc – 2008 – James the Wine Guy Point Score 9.3 (93/100 Pts) Time Point in Video: 13:29

 

9.4

 

 

Barboursville Virginia Cabernet Franc – 2009 -James the Wine Guy Point Score 9.4 (94/100 Pts) Time Point in Video: 16:09

 

9.3

 

 

Barboursville Virginia Cabernet Franc – 2010 -James the Wine Guy Point Score 9.3 (93/100 Pts) Time Point in Video: 18:49

 

I look forward to tasting many more wines from Barboursville and Virginia. If you haven’t had an opportunity to taste a Virginia wine ask you wine merchant to bring some in.   A good starting place in your wine journey would be to taste Barboursville wines. I have listed link below to see if you can receipt wines from your respective state. Also, as I often say in videos—be sure to do a foot on ground tour to discover the full depth of Virginia many wine counties.

¡Salud!

James

More Information on the producer:

Barboursville Vineyards http://www.bbvwine.com/

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More information and to follow Frank Morgan, Drink What You Like

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© 2014 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy.

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A Case for Canadian Wines and Okanagan Valley – James Melendez / James the Wine Guy

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I have had the good fortune of visiting Okanagan Valley two years in a row (2013 and 2014). I have tasted dry wines from this region only as four years ago; and I find that hard to believe. I have been tasting the sticky and sweet style for many years. Hence my picture was not altogether clear on what this wine region was all about. Because tasting wine is about a proposition that I talk about all of the time: ‘tasting is believing’. As much as I might wax poetically about dry wines from Canada I fundamentally center on direct experience is the best education on this region.

Okanagan Falls

See Ya Later Ranch – Okanagan Falls

I might also add in this article that I have taste very few wines from Ontario–and I should also say–the dry kind as well. I have such a limited exposure but I do hope that I will be able to change that soon. Hence my perspective is to view is truly to talk about Okanagan Valley for the remainder of the article.

Sumac Ridge

My best resource was to view online sources for information on the Okanagan Valley as the Wikipedia entry was less than helpful The Oxford Companion to Wine, Third Edition has about eight small paragraphs on Okanagan Valley–and this might be missed because if you were expecting to find this in an Okanagan Valley heading you would miss it altogether. There was not a reference point back to Okanagan Valley and hence you would have to go to the Canada entry.

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Wine making in the new world is a very recent phenomenon in many respects. US Prohibition was a terrible thing for wines being created and the ramp up took several years to see many wine regions being reborn. New Mexico has the oldest tradition in the U.S. and due to a major flood and prohibition pretty much eliminated winemaking in this U.S. state. New Mexico rebirth was the late 70s. So now my story shifts to Okanagan Valley where in about the same time a rebirth happens here. Vitis vinifera was planted at the First Nations Indian Band of Nk’Mip in Osoyoos in 1975. This was the largest planting at the time. This is a significant move that paves the way for more Vitis vinifera to be planted through the valley displacing Hybrids and Vitis Labrusca There were small parcels of Vitis vinifera through many parts of the Okanagan Valley but the dominated grapes where French hybrids prior to 1975.

Nk'Mip Vineyard, Ososyoos, BC

A lot of people still think Canada only produces is Ice Wine; while the success of Ice Wine is important it should not underscore or upstage the dry wines. But before it is Iced wine grapes they were viable for dry wines. Yes, Canada does get hot in the summertime.

Today there are over 120 producers throughout the Okanagan Valley. The Valley is a southerly to northerly region. Some of the anchor points are it’s water features Okanagan Lake–superbly deep 232 meters / 761 feet and covers a large area – approximately 135 kilometers / 80 miles by 5 kilometers / 3.1 miles. Okanagan Lake moderates temperature not just in the summer but in the winter as well. The other water features are smaller such as Skaha and Osoyoos Lake. The climate if I can speak generally is warmer in the southern portion of the valley and getting progressively cooler the north you go.

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British Columbia has plantings of over 60 varieties as I have seen published. I counted 51 and I may have missed a few:

  1. Arneis
  2. Auxerrois Blanc
  3. Bacchus
  4. Baco Noir
  5. Barbera
  6. Cabernet Franc
  7. Cabernet Sauvignon
  8. Carménère
  9. Chardonnay
  10. Chenin Blanc
  11. Dornfelder
  12. Ehrenfelser
  13. Gamay
  14. Gewürtztraminer
  15. Grenache
  16. Grüner Veltliner
  17. Kerner
  18. Lemberger
  19. Leon Millot
  20. Malbec
  21. Maréchal Foch
  22. Marsanne
  23. Merlot
  24. Mourvedre
  25. Muscat Ottonel
  26. Optima
  27. Oraiensteiner
  28. Petit Verdot
  29. Pinot Blanc
  30. Pinot Gris
  31. Pinot Meunier
  32. Pinot Noir
  33. Pinotage
  34. Riesling
  35. Rotberger
  36. Roussanne
  37. Sangiovese
  38. Sauvignon Blanc
  39. Schiava
  40. Semillon
  41. Siegerrebe
  42. Laurent
  43. Tannat
  44. Tempranillo
  45. Teroldego
  46. Touriga Nacional
  47. Trebbiano
  48. Vidal Blanc
  49. Viognier
  50. Zinfandel
  51. Zweigelt

I did taste two varieties that I had not tasted before and did not know they were grow in Okanagan Valley: Carménère and Arneis. These were very delicious and remarkable wines. I say it in this manner because I hear or read comments that are truly not showing an experience of Okanagan Valley wines. I hear comparisons to Napa Valley, France, Chile, Australia etc. Let each region express itself and taste like they should—I do not expect Okanagan Valley varieties to taste a certain way or even compare them to another wine region. What I hope to never do is to uplift one region while I throw the other under the proverbial bus. And that goes for variety-to-variety and the comparable goes on and on. One writer said that Okanagan Valley has too many varieties. I didn’t know there should be limits on varieties to a wine region. Many new world regions have quite a number of varieties not think it is a bad thing. I would rather have a wine region plan itself out individually than have a Soviet style of central planning dictate allowable and non-allowable varieties. And I am most glad that one wine writer is not planning wine regions. Ultimately, Okanagan Valley does not produce each variety on an equal portions basis rather 20% of varieties produces 80% of all of the wine grapes in the region. Okanagan Valley does not produce too many varieties it is neither too many or too few—it is what has been individually decided by vineyard producer—and that is a good thing and that is the way it should be.

Spirit Ridge - Osoyoos

 

I do think we need many more blind tastings a la Judgement of Paris to discover and uncover the wonderful wines that Okanagan Valley is producing is needed and will happen someday. Many of Okanagan Valley’s producers are getting better vintage-or-vintage. The beauty grace and elegance of this wine country’s dry white and red wines are showcasing quite nicely.

Canada's Only Desert

Canada’s Only Desert

 

Okanagan Valley is diverse it is landscape and encapsulates such a diverse terrain and temperature. There is no wine country I know that looks quite like it. I like the uniqueness–I know when I am here I cannot feel like I am anywhere else than Okanagan Valley, British Columbia.

Liquidity Winery

 

The tasting rooms at each winery have people visiting but are not brimming with people. I know many a wine country where I have to nearly swim to the tasting bar for a splash. Okanagan Valley overall is a wine country that is superbly user friendly. A key word here is tasting room staff are superbly friendly and welcome people of any wine knowledge level. I have been to other regions tasting rooms where it was not only superbly packed but where I had felt like I wasn’t necessarily welcomed or even worse where the staff was indifferent.

Liquidity - Okanagan Falls

 

Many of Okanagan Valley’s wineries have restaurants serving exceptional fare. Another point of difference is that few wine countries have restaurants on premise in their tasting room facility. I like this concept in that I do not want to leave right after tasting or I want a deeper connection. I look at Napa Valley and I only think of Domaine Chandon with a full service restaurant. I can name quite a number in Okanagan Valley: Liquidity, Gray Monk, Tinhorn Creek, Mission Hill Estate, Hester Creek, Quails Gate, Burrowing Owl and lunch at See Ya Later Ranch and Nk’Mip.

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The tasting room fees are very reasonable–in some cases the fees are lower than anything I have seen in the U.S. The combined culture and customer experience is quite exceptional and I think this Valley is readying itself for increased visits. I would like to see Okanagan Valley open for longer periods of the year. I do hope this happens someday.

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This wine country is close to me (close in terms of being a 2 ½ flight on United Airlines from SFO to Kelowna International beginning in September 2014). I can easily spend an hour and half going to my near by wine countries (one-way). I would like to see Okanagan Valley wines available in the US at least coastally speaking. I hear two things about availability of Okanagan Valley wines: 1) British Columbia and Alberta consume all of these wines 2) Producers wine pricing is stuck. I do think there is room to export to the US even if small quantities–think of Croatian wines making to the US–many are smaller producers but the bottles do reach the US. In another article (not yet published) that I hope to see in my lifetime a great diversity in the wine list and assortments at wine retailers. I have stated in many of my videos “we live in the best of wine times…. and the best of wine distribution times.” I do see much more improvement can be made–ecumenical (little ‘e’) wine lists are do for an overall in many on premise businesses. I have found Lebanese, English, Moroccan, Republic of Georgia, Peru wines in San Francisco–there are very retailers who do this and the SKUs available can be quite limited. I do hope for a great depth at some point in the future.

 

When you do visit I would encourage taking at least a dozen bottles home in a shipper box. Obviously a winery is a great place to buy a bottle or two of wine–the VQA stores in Penticton and Kelowna are excellent places to buy almost the entire regions wines. These stores are worth a visit.   I would recommend starting in one direction or another (depending on the airport you fly into). My preference is Penticton which will always require a stop in Vancouver but it is closer to many wineries; small and easy to travel through. Kelowna in the height of summer is a busy little town–a bit hard to get through especially if you are in a hurry but this may become my preferred airport as an easy way to get to San Francisco.

 

When you bring home a case be sure to be aware of the airport you may be connecting through . At Calgary International–you will have to get all of your luggage including wine box and traipse it through US Border Clearance Facility. At Vancouver, you will need to identify your luggage via monitor prior to going through US Border Clearance Facility and this could take a bit of time (just make sure your connecting times are not too tight at either airport). Is it worth bringing home bottles of wine from your visit to Canada—YES! No regrets from me.

 

Come to Okanagan Valley for a trek through a wondrous wine and food country where you will discover natural beauty–my foot onto Okanagan soil I was pondering and stunned by the mountains surrounding this valley–the feeling is immediate. Come with an open mind and seek the rhythm of this place, it’s people and take a deep breath and envelope the gorgeousness of this unique land.

 

I can’t wait to visit again!

 

¡Salud!

– James Melendez

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2014 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Halcón Estate Yorkville Highlands Esquisto Red Wine – 2012 – 9.2 (92/100) – James Melendez

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This wine is 65% Grenache, 30 Mourvedre, 5% Syrah.  14.1% ABV

Delicate and memorable wine; a great expression of Mendocino County.  Lively acid structure.  This wine is a reminder of the bounty of Mendocino County in terms of a great variety of cultivars. I had not tasted Halcon’s wine until a tasting at San Francisco Canyon Market

Scent characteristics of freshly sanded cedar, suede, red tea and cherry.

Flavour notes of Tayberry, bright red cherry, white mushroom, Black Krim tomato, cinnamon, pepper, and Bay leaf.

¡Salud!

– James Melendez

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2014 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

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I am the World’s Largest Producer of Wine Videos – 1,600 and Counting – James Melendez / James the Wine Guy

Currently the largest producers/creators of wine videos is me.   I thought—should I really do this article?  What if…. What if someone thought I was being too self promotional.  Then I thought I have been tucked away in meekdom for far too long.  I also thought I am a wine videographer, reviewer, educator, writer… of course I have to market myself.  And I have been a professional wine marketing manager at a large multi-state wine retailer.  So marketing is something I am good at doing…. I should do the same for my brand… for me.

I have gone to many events or tasting rooms where a friend or colleague might mention that I am the largest producer of wine videos—and it is lost on the producer—it is like nothing was ever said.  It made me think how undervalued wine videos are–not all but many; not just mine but many others as well.

I was looking at creating wine videos as early as 2006 but I voted against doing so.  I saw someone by the name of Gary Vaynerchuck and saw his click rate was relatively small compared to the high click rate of general vloggers and how toer’s.  I am huge believer in wine videos because there seems to be a general appetite for videos in general.  YouTube is certainly eating the lunch of all US television networks combined because the general secret sauce is something simple as self-selection.

I was engaged in creating wine videos simply because of wine video contest by Murphy-Goode called ‘A Really Great Job.’ I, of course, was not selected but the contest got me to rethink wine video production.  My passion for the moving image was a natural fit for wine.  I looked at my written blog and found that I have completed a very large number of entries.  So the next extension was to continue the journey and it was easy and hard to do with respect to video.  Easy because there is so much subject matter… so many stories to tell and wines to be video reviewed.  Hard (and rewarding) because the moving image is dynamic and there are so many elements:

  • Lighting
  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Brand creation and development
  • Continuous improvement of video production
  • Logo development
  • Graphic placement
  • Music selection
  • Continuity of key messaging
  • Developing patience for retake after retake
  • Developing a presence onscreen

Gary Vee gave up at a 1,000 to develop something called The Daily Grape and he soon abandoned the Daily Grape concept soon after.  I finished my 1,000th about one year and four months after Gary’s (March 14, 2011) mine was completed on August 5, 2012.

In 2011, I decided to complete a 1,000th videos not for the sole purpose of getting to this number but my content list was over 1,000 subjects.  I thought if I didn’t make a concerted effort to get through my initial 1,000 plus subjects I would never fulfill those videos I had wanted to make.

I did get some comments from people saying that wine video creation should be about quantity of video but quality.  I agree and pointed out that few subject matters like wine have so many items to discuss.  I would never be at a loss for my desire to create them.  I did continue after the 1,000 and did not have a specific target of videos to make after the first 1,000.  It was what I wanted to make and no milestones needed to be attained and in fact I still operate under that same state.  It took me less than 2 years to get to 1,500 and in doing so and each hundredth number almost snuck up on me each time.

I have many more subjects to cover and wines to review and wine countries to visit.  I do think that wine videos and have said so many times before have yet to be discovered but will be discovered some day.  Not only are people interested in wine and I think there is a great bank of people interested in wine videos and have yet to find videos they are seeking because simply many don’t exist.  What I mean is that if someone is looking for a specific wine they are interested in and they may search YouTube and it confirms their thoughts on wine videos – it doesn’t exist.  I don think with 1,600 videos I have hardly scratched surface of the total wine content canon.

I am interested in what drives video click rates.  There are some subjects that I think are interesting and I think there might be a larger interest level and those videos have had a poor click rate.  And there are those that for me have garnered a larger click rate than I expected.  I am not just interested in click rates… I am interested in talking about this subject matter.  I do think the written word is something either fewer people have time to do or that there are dynamical features about video—emotion, authenticity and something that sometimes writing can convey solely.

I look at my early wine videos and compare that with my most recent.  A very different look and feel.  My tone is different…. I am still a faster speaker than I would like to be (learning to slow down though).   Wine video creation has certainly helped in my CBM (confidence building measures) to borrow from my International Relations days.  It has helped me to be confident and even more eager to do what I do.  I love wine and while my brand is to demystify I find that this thing called wine ever so marvels me.

In my off premise wine marketing days I had to endure many ad agency’s pitches and positions and (sigh) insights(?).  They weren’t insights just guesses and insulting ones at that.  One agency though of Hispanics/Latinos (which I am a member) like only Merlot.  I very much appreciate Merlot—I also have a passion for many varieties in addition to Merlot.  Where do advertising agencies come up with this?!?  Why not Tempranillo or wines from Argentina, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, or Mexico.   They couldn’t answer.  My exploration and experience in the wine world has helped to hone in on more knowledge based views on wine and less guesses.

Everyone is trying to crack the wine code… the ultimate marketing knowledge that I don’t think anyone has ever cracked this code or ever will.  Wine is a great and mystery subject of branding; and not just branding but individual wines multiplied times vintages.  Wine is a product category like no other.

Wine is dynamical—many variables: 1) many regions 2) many cultivars (over 10,300) 3) vintage 4) other features: style, old vine, reserve to name a few.  Add a dash of complexity: distribution, availability, production and add an overwhelming portion of alcohol beverage control laws (no other country has more than the US).  Wine, beer and spirits are the most over regulated consumer product in the US and I can see why it is hard to get some things in California—wines from other states—an over abundance of license requirements.  I remember asking a winery in Delaware if I could get a bottle of wine and they couldn’t send to me because they needed a couple of licenses that would be a hurdle to get and I think it may not have made economic sense to do so.

I think many consumers are open to get their wines shipped to them and perhaps many would prefer it.  But the prohibition by 50 states Alcohol Beverage Control authorities do their best to retain a1930s mentality.  They make it hard for producers to see the light of bottle getting in hands of consumers.   I think many consumers will not go through extraordinary requirements to get wine or seek wine from sources they may have little experience.  I am excited to taste wines from Maryland, Michigan, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Cyprus, Croatia, Turkey, Morocco, Republic of Georgia, Republic of Macedonia but I am not sure others feel the same way.  The longer I observe my metrics I find my audience is internationalizing; a lot of Americans watch my videos but the audience from other countries around the globe is growing.

I have felt it important to complete videos on every angle of wine content possible; lesser known brands, large well known labels, wine regions that are undergoing a renaissance and sub-regions that get lost in the major wine regions brand authority.  I have completed videos on wines from less represented regions like British Columbia (non-ice wines), New Mexico, Arizona, Michigan, Virginia, Texas, Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Georgia, Bulgaria, Morocco, Kingdom of Jordan.  I have of course completed wine review videos from very well known regions.   Often but not always wines with either larger production, wider distribution get more clicks—that should be of no surprise—consumer can reach for these wines; have tasted or will taste the wines I reviewed.  If I am reviewing from a smaller producer of 100 or fewer cases it might be difficult to get a register of interest half way around the world.  So I don’t have the expectation that every video of mine have the same number of clicks.  I do think it is important to get the producer and their consumers to find these videos.  I think there isn’t that kind of video mining yet—discover, share, embed and like these videos.

I am passionate about the moving image—I am dazzled and love this medium.  I do think it is the right medium for wine.  I think it conveys more than just the written word.  I have said before that writing still does not have the lift as my videos seem to have a great ability to attract more viewers than my written material.  I know video is not for everyone I have encouraged many people to do and many have told me they won’t do it.

There is expectation that I also complete a lot of writing too which has been a bit challenging as my 24 hours is challenged by so many things to do (more than ever before).  I do find a welcoming challenge to do both and supplement my videos on past writing topics and vice versa.   I have not purposely cut back on writing; hence this is a written piece and I loved writing it.  Content creation is a challenge but also a very rewarding one.

Video is a lot of work.  It is a commitment to complete them and to have rigor to do continuous improvement.  I love the ability to make a more interesting statement and I like what I have learned about myself.  Stay tuned for more to come—stay with me on this wine journey—we are in the best of the beverage arts time and the best of wine times!

¡Salud!

– James Melendez

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2014 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:

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