My Artwork and Your Wine Label? Take a Peek

My art work is contemporary, often non-representational works.  I am fascinated by approximating mathematical models and other inspiration from science and nature in my drawings and paintings.  I am not going to leave it to guess work and hence writing to see if there are any wine producers looking for art work for their wine label–perhaps a special cuvée?

Here are a very few of my artworks -I have many more – you can ask for colour or theme.















I would love to have an art work help to promote your wine by a label that is as distinct as your wine.  It is my goal to find a winery to partner with.  If you are a wine producer and are interested or if you know of a wine producer that might be interested please let me know.

Please contact me –

Thank you and regards!



© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Art | Leave a comment

December 2020 Wine & Spirits Reviews

Here are the wines and two spirits I have reviewed this month.  December is the busiest month of the year on so many levels: I completed my annual top 100 wines which takes more than what one might expect.

Top 100 Wines of 2020 – James Melendez

Blackbird Dissonance Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2019







Pale, pale straw color; 14.X% ABV, SRP: $20

Nose: bright citrus tones, white stone fruit, moistened minerals, and white flowers.

Palate: Meyer lemon citrus zest, hint of fennel and oyster shell

An appreciable Sauvignon Blanc that will be optimum for seafood, white pizza and white sauce pasta cheese, and rotisserie chicken








Esporão Alentejo Reserva Red Wine 2016 93 Points

This wine is a blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet; ABV is 14.5%; the SRP is $24.99.  The wine is aged 12 months in American 60% and American and 40% French oak.  Dark ruby colour.

Notes: red cherry, suedey/leathery notes; fresh crushed spices and violets

Palate: rich red cherry, pepper, allspice and crushed dried red rose petal

I served this with pork loin and this wine completed the dish and neither losing their robust and rich flavours.

Aerena North Coast Chardonnay 2019






I like the art work is by artist Tony Hernandez this is title “Conversations in Yellow.”

This wine is produced by Blackbird. Nose of apple, Comice pear, honeysuckle, and nutmeg and a palate of green apple, spice, and moist stones.







Raeburn Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2019 92

14.5% ABV, SRP: $19.99; 150,000 case produced, winemaker: Joe Tapparo

Nose: Comice pear, autumnal fruit, orchard, moist stones and ground nutmeg

Palate of autumnal fruit – Comice pear/green apple, sea shell, flowers and nutmeg






Raeburn Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2019 

14.5% ABV, SRP: $24.99; 20,000 case produced, winemaker: Joe Tapparo

Wine is aged 11 months French oak barrels, 25% new.

Nose: blackberry, pepper, wood pile and violets

Palate: cassis, pepper, graphite and rose petals.

Battuello Vineyards St. Helena Napa Valley Valdiguié 2018






Light-medium bodied wine; mid garnet coloration,

Nose: Black cherry, dense forest, underbrush, spice rack and violets.

Palate: boysenberry, pomegranite, pepper, clove and Cardamom









Battuello Vineyards St. Helena Napa Valley Valdiguié Rosé 2019

Pale salmon color, slight frizzante.

Nose: Lemon peel, strawberry, crushed minerals and flower bunch

Palate: crushed red candy, cherry, almond, and flower






Il Bastardo IGT Sangiovese 89 Points

SRP: $8.99; 13% ABV, 100% Sangiovese, Dark garnet color.

Nose: red currant, spice, red floral and pepper

Palate: black cherry, fennel, pepper and cardamom.







Lost Eden Red Blend 2018 90 Points

This is a blend of Saperavi and other grapes from Georgia.  It had been quite sometime since I have tasted a Georgian wine.  Vitreous ruby red colour.

Nose: bright red cherry, spice, winter forest, violets.

Palate: fresh red cherry, strawberry, dried red flowers, and simmering spice notes.






Domaine Bousquet Pinot Noir/Chardonnay Mendoza Brut NV 91 Points

Sparkling wine from organic grapes.  75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay; Dosage 12 g/L, 12% ABV.  SRP: $13

Nose of strawberry, citrus zest, and flowers.

Palate: mountain strawberry, almond and moistened minerals.

I hope you had a wonderful wine and spirits month!



© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Aleatico, Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Argentina, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Pinot Noir, Rep. of Georgia, Sangiovese, Saperavi, Sauvignon Blanc, Sparkling, Toscana IGT, Valdiguié | Leave a comment

Top 100 Wines of 2020 – James Melendez

Yes, 2020 was a year that we will always be remembered or a year we will always want to forget!  I also try to capture as many wines before publishing my top 100 – some wine reviewers publish in October—not sure why anyone feels the need to do that?  Declaring a top 100 list is not a race but a collection of great experiences best shared when you can taste from January to December not January to August or October but a full 12 months worth of tasting experiences.

I cannot believe I was in Europa this year – I was fortunate to visit Alba, Italy this year to attend Grandi Langhe and Nebbiolo Prima.  It was a delight to taste the wines of the Langhe and tasting was a glorious in-depth experience.  Looking at beginning of the year was so different that it is today.  I was looking forward to so much including tasting more wines.

This year I did taste a lot of wines and attended four events in addition to the Grandi Langhe and Nebbiolo Prima.  I attended Tre Bicchieri, Great Wines of Italy, Oregon Wine Trail, and Milano Wine Week in San Francisco.   Additionally, I attended singular brands on zoom also Consorzio and other wine events.  I had never attended more online virtual tasting as I had said in past videos and podcasts–I thought there would never be anymore virtual tastings post 2019–I was wrong.

Italy and Italian wines were on fire in 2020.  Conzorzio, wine producers and US importers were firing on all cylinders.  I tasted more Langhe’s wines this year than all years before–also, I tasted DOC/DOCG and IGT wines from many known and those that need to be known – Alta Langa DOCG, Lugana, and Buttafuoco and others.

I tasted almost no wines from Spain, Austria, Germany, Greece, Eastern Europe and the new world was nearly absent except from Oregon, Washington, California and Arizona from tasting from producers or trade associations.  Since travel was limited I was only able to get to Napa and Sonoma four times this year which would have been 3-4x more.

Wine events and traveling to wine regions is essential to get an in-depth experience so I was very limited this year but can still stand by my top 100 wines.   I always begin with a preamble I don’t believe in naming a ‘wine of the year’–that I would find to be sacrilegious.  So I don’t get or pretend to understand why a wine writer or publication would do that.  Look at Wine Spectator’s Top 100 has wine scores that are all over the map and yet to create an ascendancy of wines and to think about a wine that is “number 1” is to call obviously one brand to the number one position and by that extension means that standing goes to the region and variety….  I don’t agree with such an assessment and not only do I know agree it simply doesn’t make any sense.  Wine Spectator named Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial as number 1 wine of the year – so why isn’t the highest rated wine not the number 1 wine: an Filippo Brunello di Montalcino Le Lucére was one of 5 wine with 97 points not number 1?  There really isn’t a great explanation for it.

My top 100 is not about number 1 being number 1 it is a list that is in alphabetical order.  It is a list of top 100 but a selection of wines of excellence and impression in beauty.  I am not creating a list of hierarchy or a descending order list.  My top 100 is about giving a list of beautiful wines and no hierarchy – you might interpret that the highest score is the “best” wine but I caution against that.  I would say that the score represent a score of the wine’s region, variety and vintage and can be compared with other wines from the same variety, vintage and region and cross comparing regions, vintages or variety is not my intention.

I hope you find this top 100 wine list of 2020 valuable and insightful!

(click on any underline title to see video review).

Adami “Col Credas” Valdobbiadene DOCG Rive Di Farra Di Soligo Brut 2019 94 Points
Alloro Estate Chehalem Mountain Riservata Estate Pinot Noir 2018 – 95 Points
Aridus Barrel Select California Chardonnay 2015 94 Points
August Kesseler The Daily August Rheingau Pinot Noir 2018 94 Points
Barone Ricasoli Colledilà Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015 95 Points
Barone Ricasoli Roncicone Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2016 97 Points
Bava Barolo DOCG Scarrone 2012 94 Points
Beni di Batasiolo Barolo Riserva DOCG 2012 94 Points
Bera Alta Langa Brut DOCG 2013 95 Points
Bera Rabaja Riserva Barbaresco DOCG 2013 95 Points
Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine 2016 94 Points
Blackbird Vineyards Paramour Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine 2016 95 Points
Boroli Cerequio Barolo DOCG 2013 95 Points
Brezza Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC Vigna Santa Rosalia 2017 94 Points
Bricco Carlina Barolo DOCG 2015 94 Points
Bricco Maiolica Barbera d’Alba DOC Superiore Vigna Vigia 2016 94 Points
Bricco Maiolica Barolo DOCG Contain Del Commune di Diano d’Alba 94 Points
Calla Lily AUDAX Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ’15 – 95 Points
Calvi Vigna Montarzolo Buttafuoco 2015 94 Points
Castello di Fonterutoli Badiòla Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2017 95 Points
Castello di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2017 95 Points
Castello di Fonterutoli Siepi Toscana IGT 2018 95 Points
Castello di Fonterutoli Vicoreggio 36 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2017 95 Points
Castello di Verduno Campot Dolcetto d’Alba DOC 2018 94 Points
Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV – 95 Points
Champagne Charles Heidsieck Rosé Réserve NV 95 Points
Château Bianca Van Duzer Corridor Pinot Gris 2018 94 Points
Château Climens Asphodèle Grand Vin Blanc Sec 2019 94 Points
Claudio Alario Barbera D’Alba DOC Valletta 2017 94 Points
Colli Vaibò Lugana DOC 2018 94 Points
Cortonesi La Mannella Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2015 94 Points
Costa di Bussia Tenuta Arnulfo Barbera d’Alba DOC Vigna Campo del Gatto 2017 94 Points
Cowhorn Sentience Estate Applegate Valley Syrah 2015 94 Points
Curto Marco Barolo Riserva DOCG La Foia Arborina 2013 94 Points
Diego Morra Barbera d’Alba DOC 2016 94 Points
Domaine Matrot Maranges Vieilles Vignes 2017 94 Points
Domaine Xavier & Agnès Amirault Crémant de Loire Les Quarterons NV 94 Points
Donnachiara Taurasi DOGC 2016 94 Points
Donnafugata Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Sicilia DOC Rosato 2019 – 94 Points Episode #2930
Donnafugata Fragore Etna Rosso DOC Contrada Montelaguardia 2016 – 95 Points
Donnafugata Passito di Pantalleria DOC Ben Ryé ’17 95 Points
Fratelli Alessandra Verduno Pelaverga DOC 2018 94 Points
Fratelli Serio & Battista Borgogno Cannubi Riserva Barolo DOCG 2005 95 Points
G.D. Vajra Dolcetto d’Alba DOC Coste e Fosati 2018 94 Points
Gary Farrell Bien Nacido Vyd Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir ’16 95 Points
Gary Farrell Ft. Ross Vineyard Ft. Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir ’16 95 Points
Ghiomo Barbera d’Alba Superiore DOC Ruit Hora 2017 94 Points
Ghiomo Nebbiolo d’Alba Superiore DOC Sansteu 2017 94 Points
Girard Napa Valley Mixed Blacks ’18 – 95 Points
Giuseppe Cortese Rabaja Riserva Barbaresco DOCG 2013 95 Points
Hawk & Horse Red Hills Lake County Block 3 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 95 Points
Icardi Starderi Barbaresco DOCG Starderi 95 Points
Josetta Saffirio Barolo Riserva DOCG Millenovento 48 Del Commune di Monteforte d’Alba 2014 94 Points
Kunde Reserve Century Vines Sonoma Valley Zinfandel ’17 95 Points
La Carlina Barolo DOCG 2015 94 Points
LAN Culmen Rioja Reserva 2011 94 Points
Le Cadeau Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2017 94 Points
Le Colture Valdobbiadene DOCG Spumante Superiore di Cartizze 2019 95 Points
Lenné Yamhill-Carlton Chardonnay 2018 95 Points
Malabaila Pas Dosè VSQ Metodo Classico 94 Points
Malabaila Pradvaj Roero Arneis DOCG 2018 94 Points
Marcarini Barolo DOCG Brunate 2015 95 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Dolcetto D’Alba DOC Monte Aribaldo 2018 94 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Gaiun Martinenga Barbaresco DOCG 1971 98 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Gaiun Martinenga Barbaresco DOCG 2005 97 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Langhe Virtus Rosso 2009 94 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Villa Giulia Bianco 2018 94 Points
Marsuret Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Brut Rive di Guia 2019 94 Points
Masottina RDO Le Rive Di Ogliano Prosecco Extra Dry 2019 – 94 Points
Mauro Molino Barolo DOCG Gallinotto Berri 2016 94 Points
Mauro Sebate Barbera d’Alba DOC Superiore Centobricchi 2016 94 Points
Mauro Sebate Barolo DOCG Cerretta 2016 94 Points
Michele Chiarolo Cerequioi Barolo DOCG 2015 95 Points
Moccagatta Barbaresco DOCG Bric Balin 2012 95 Points
Montonale Montunal Lugana DOC 2018 – 95 Points
Negro Angelo Barbaresco DOCG Basarin 2016 94 Points
Negro Angelo Barolo DOCG Baudana 2016 94 Points
Negro Angelo Roero Riserva Ciabot San Giorgio 2016 94 Points
Pace Barbera d’Alba Superiore DOC 2016 94 Points
Pace Langhe DOC Pinot Nero 2017 94 Points
Palladino Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC 2018
Peccheinino Bricco Botti Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore DOCG 2016 94 Points
Pelassa Barolo DOCG San Lorenzo di Verduno 2015 95 Points
Perrone Fabio Dolcetto d’Alba DOC 2018 94 Points
Perrone Fabio Langhe DOC Nebbiolo Vigna Ciabot 2017 94 Points
Pietro Colla Extra Brut Spumante VSQ Metodo Classico Millesimato 2016 94 Points
Pio Cesare Barbaresco 2016 95 Points
Pio Cesare Barolo 2016 95 Points
Pio Cesare Piodilei Langhe DOC Chardonnay 207 95 Points
Renato Ratti Marcenasco Barolo DOCG 2004 96 Points
Sassetti Livio Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Pertimali 2004 96 Points
Selva Capuzza Minasso Lugana DOC Riserva ’15 95 Points
Silas Eola-Amith Hills Pinot Blanc 2016 94 Points
Tenuta di Fessina a’Puddara Etna Bianco DOC 2017 95 Points
Tenuta di Fessina Erse Etna Rosato DOC 2018 94 Points
The Eyrie Vineyard Dundee Hills Trousseau 2017
Val D’Oca Rive di San Pietro di Barbozza Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2018 94 Points
Valdinera Roero Riserva DOCG San Carlo 2016 94 Points
Yealands Estate Single Block L5 Marlboroguh Sauvignon Blanc 2019 94 Points
Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019 94 Points

(click on any underline title to see video review).

Thank you for your support this year and be sure to subscribe to my site to get the latest articles and also sign up on my YouTube Channel to see the latest videos I am producing.

Happy Holidays and a good New Year to you!



© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Aglianico, Arneis, Barbera, Barolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Champagne, Chardonnay, DOC Etna, Dolcetto, Etna, Lake County, Lugana, Marlborough, Napa Valley, Nebbiolo, Pantelleria, Pinot Noir, Roero, Santa Maria Valley, Taurasi DOCG, Top 100 Wines, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

November 2020 Wine & Spirits Review

I reached my 3,000th video this month (November 2020) – It was never a grand plan to get to a certain number of videos.  What began as an experiment became a core belief about wine reviewing.

Words alone are not enough–video allows for a greater meaning that only the written word can do the job solely.  Video allows for more visuals, emotional read and the message is slightly different in that the spoken word can often “sound” more interesting that the written word.  While my videos are not just about a specific wine but related material – wine accessories and also specific topical matter like varieties, styles, and regions.  I don’t have a grand plan to get to another number milestone.  I avoid this simply because I’m not sure what purpose it would serve except pressure.  I want to do the best that I can without adding too much more on a crowded plate.

If you haven’t done so already considering subscribing to my YouTube channel

And thank you for watching my channel!


Wines reviewed this Month

Villa Maria Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020 

Nose: Orange blossom, honeycomb and freshly cut white flowers
A palate presenting with bright acidity; lemon peel, dried orange peel, core of fennel and passionfruit.

Villa Maria Taylor’s Pass Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017

Nose: Pomegranate, graphite, pepper, Ethiopian coffee, bay leaf and clove.
Palate: appreciable acidity, tart red cherry, red and black bramble, white tea, mineral and dried red rose petal.

Villa Maria New Zealand Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc 2019 

Nose of grapefruit peel, Meyer lemon peel and flowers

Palate: slight frizzante, appreciable bright citrus notes, fennel and almond.







Barra Mendocino County Petite Sirah ’17
Nose of Blue and blackberry, cedar and spice.
Palate: high acid; blackberry, tamarind, and black pepper







Dixie & Bass Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Nose: red/black fruit, graphite, dried violets and spice.
Palate: black fruit, black pepper, clove and hint of dried herbs,

Purchasing wine from producer – click here.








Tamarack Columbia Valley Red Wine Blend 2017

Nose: casis, black plum, dense forest, clove and dried flowers
Palate: red black bramble, spice, bay leaf and mineral.











© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Champagne, Chianti, Chianti Classico, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Loire, Marlborough, Mendocino County, Napa Valley, New Zealand, Paso Robles, Pinot Noir, Prosecco, Red Mountain, Red Wine Blend, Sangiovese, Wine Review | Leave a comment

September-October 2020 Wine Reviews

September and October were two very quick months and I am glad to finally list the wine I have tasted these two months.  There has been a pick up – a big pick up in virtual wine tastings as I had predicted.  I was glad to see this happen–I couldn’t imagine it not happening.

I also stepped out to visit Ryme Cellars a Sonoma producer specializing in producing Italian varieties.  And I also visited Furthermore in Sebastapol – a Pinot Noir specialist.  It was nice getting out to wine country to taste these two producers wondrous wines.

I having been highlighting more #valuepricepointwines in 2020 and will have reviewed 40% by years end.  In this extraordinary year – I have had more requests to review lower price point wines.  And I am also balancing reviews by wines above the value price point.

I look forward to Thanksgiving ahead and will be enjoying a nice variation of wines.




© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Cava, Chianti, Chianti Classico, Portuguese Wine, Rosé, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

August 2020 Wine Reviews

What happened to August? 

I did get to half-million views (as noted above) on my YouTube channel and I did write about as the wine category as I have pointed out in the past is the single most difficult and challenging category.

It was a very quick month but a rewarding one.  I have noticed a slow down in virtual tastings and I think it is perhaps due in part to zoomtigue.  For those US States that have SIP it is boundless and as Autumn and Winter approaches tasters will go back to Zoom

I had an opportunity to go back to Napa for wine tastings.  It was my third time out this summer and I am grateful to have been out.  On a plus side was to visit Vista Collina on a Sunday where there is a concert series.  I tasted from several producers: Cornerstone Napa Valley, Anarchist and Gen7.  This experience was the closest thing to normal that I have experienced since February of this year.  I felt good and yes everyone wore masks.  Napa Valley like Sonoma has probably one-half less wine visitors that LY this time.  

San Francisco has seen more than 50% permanent closure of business with a store front.  Between the closure and it feels seemingly permanent that the city will always look like it is in a war–very sobering.   Restaurant closures keep happening and I am sure there is more to come.

On a better front is my tastings for this month and I have listed them below.

Good tastings to you!







Sunny with a Chance of Flowers are three wines where the feature is low calorie and low alcohol.  These are are $16.99 SRP.  The producer takes one portion and that is fermented till dry and via a proprietary technology removes the alcohol and then this is blended with another portion that does have alcohol.  The wines are coming in at 9% ABV and 85 calories per each bottle.

Sunny with a Chance of Flowers Monterey Pinot Noir 2018 – nose of bing cherry, graphite and spices; palate of strawberry, pepper and clove.

Sunny with a Chance of Flowers Monterey Chardonnay 2018 – nose of apple, seashell, and flowers; palate of apple, pear and autumnal spices.

Sunny with a Chance of Flowers Monterey Sauvignon Blanc 2019 – scent of lemon peel, sliced kiwi, white flowers, and palate of green/yellow citrus zest and pulp and minerals from crushed sea shells.  Each wine I give the 89 points.




© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Prosecco, Rosé, Sparkling, Wine Review | Leave a comment

Half a Million Clicks on YouTube: YouTube’s Most Difficult Category

YouTube is brutal for most categories behind gaming, music, popular vloggers, and a few other categories.  The algorithm is agnostic to category and it is not designed for niche categories and only rewards clicks: the more the clicks the better.

YouTube doesn’t appreciate smaller producers, beginning producers and even producers who implement quality to video.  While I am not asking for an individual accolade the algorithm punishes smaller users or users who produce evergreen content. Punishment includes and is not limited to only not showing your videos on search, no monetization possibilities and so fourth.  A niche or smaller category is punished because it is complex.  Wine is the most complex product that is one of the most beloved consumer products.  I won’t belabour why wine is complex as I have written about that quite a bit.

Use “wine” as a keyword and one of the top rankings is UB40’s “Red, Red, Wine” which is key to understanding that YouTube doesn’t understand and could careless about wine and specialized categories.

Nonetheless, just because YouTube is not a friendly environment for producers of wine content doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done and YouTube will never be your friend.  I have always said create a written plan whether you are a wine or video producer – manage your expectation and don’t let YouTube manage your expectation because it will be disappointing.

So one milestone for this summer and two more for this summer/early Fall to go: my 2,000 subscriber and 3,000 video will happen–more predictable for video it is likely for either September or October 2020.

I want to thank the many people who were supportive and I’ll list below (I’ll keep adding to the list) and yes it does take a village to do things!

Thank you for watching and as I always ask please subscribe!






© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Wine and Video, YouTube | 1 Comment

July 2020 Wine Reviews




My viewing “window” at Iron Horse

July was a wonderful wine tasting month. Lots of virtual tastings and I enjoyed the opportunity to taste so much and to connect with so many people on Zoom, Twitter and so fourth.  I am grateful and glad to be have these experiences.

Wine is about the present–it is important for me to enjoy with my dinner each and every day.  While wine is about the present; wine is hope in and for the future.  It is something that is timely and can only be done during the warmer parts of the year–vines if nurtured will provide fruit if properly cared for.  Once vinted and bottle provide us something that we can share in the future–it is a capture of time.  While 2020 is a year of trauma for many it will not be a year people will all look back with warm regard but maybe, just maybe this years harvest will be good.

This month was National Prosecco Day (July 20-26, 2020) I like the idea of a wine focused week versus a region or variety that is only highlighted for one day–how many have I missed of one day events–a good number.

I was able to leave San Francisco thank goodness for an afternoon!! I went to Ironhorse and Pax (felt very nice to be at each winery).  Ironhorse is always outdoor tastings all the time not just now.  Pax in The Barlow was another superb visit–a Gamay, Syrah house for reds and Vermentino, Trousseau Gris and Mission (wow Mission?  Yep Mission wine).  I felt the staff were so welcoming at both places and the attention to safety was paramount.

I appreciate the ability of getting out of San Francisco–I have never been so locked down where I have not been on a jet plane since February.    I pray I can get out of San Francisco for another wine country get away soon!

A nice and diverse set of wines: Pinot Noir from Oregon and Russian River Valley, Prosecco, Lugana, Portugal, Zinfandel, Mendoza, Sonoma, and Napa wines.

Let me know what you tasted this month.  Thank you!

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© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Pinot Noir, Prosecco, Red Blend, Russian River, Sicily/Sicilia, Sonoma County, Tuscany, Zinfandel | Leave a comment

June 2020 Wine Reviews

These are some of the wines I have tasted this month.  I usually have a ton of rosés to review but my tasting table had very few as compared to a year ago this time.  I loved rosé when at least in the US it wasn’t cool to like it.  I would be at media, trade and consumer tastings and each producer would want to pour their rosé and it was one that most people would turn away; not me!

This summer should be one–fingers crossed–of milestones.  I have written about that wine and video is one of if not the toughest category on YouTube.  I will reach one half million clicks for my videos–all without the help of a puppy or kitten (puppies and kittens are very popular on YouTube).  And if current trends continue, I should reach my 2,000th subscriber this summer–could be July or August.  I will also reach my 3,000th published video on my wine YouTube channel this summer.

I have attended a lot of virtual tastings–it is more than I can count–which is not a bad thing!  I am glad that there are many especially in these difficult times.  A year ago today, I was reminiscing virtual tasting as they were precipitously dropping–I thought 2019 was the last year…. my how things have changed!

Jancis Robinson is not a fan of wine and video–here is what she said in a video:

“I don’t think wine tasting is a spectator sport” 

Voila today it is not about wine being a spectator sport is a connection that everyone is making on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Zoom, etc. for happy hours, family get togethers, making recipes, working, etc.  We do not know how long it will be before we have a vaccine for Coronavirus–and also there is no certainty that there will be one.  For some viewers, it is a time to learn, connecting with their favourite winery they cannot physically visit.  Video is a way to not take away from the in person experience but can bridge a gap and potentially connecting to more often.

I don’t agree with Jancis Robinson on wine and video–perhaps it is a generational thing.  Wine and video offers a connecting point that is powerful just as it does for other video categories.  I do think it is the most difficult category and one with one of the highest potentials for being evergreen–few categories can have evergreen content.  Wine content is relevant and needed and it is a big category where I would be surprised if 1-2% of all wines produced per year get any video coverage.

I have been fortunate time wise to have completed a video review of each wine in the list below for tasting this month of June 2020:


















© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Minimum Requirements of Uploading a Video & Bringing Your Video Program Together – Four of 4 Part Series

This series on video can be for all businesses and individuals and it applies to wine AND to all categories.

Many people who are responsible for managing and uploading video content have a “Can’t wait to get this out of my hair” mindset.  And getting something done according to a check list is different from a quality mindset of completing one’s work.  When a person is in a hurry or simply doesn’t care how the video resource is treated as if it were not important:  the legacy of that video is established accordingly.

Topically, this week it is about minimum requirements for the entire upload process – I’ll call this Video Upload Management.

  • Title – relevant and accurateno click baiting titles ever– no better way to tire your audience and discouraging them to click on your videos again
    • Make sure it is the title and not media type – I have seen videos like “Restaurant.MP4″ “Wine.MP4” – YouTube should just not allow for this — a guaranteed way for someone to not click to view the video (no one cares about the file format…); it is off putting, sloppy and it tells the audience you don’t care enough to title your content accurately.  And it might look like your video is in a ‘draft’ mode
  • Description Field – viewers will look to see what information might be there.  Viewers can be disappointed when they don’t see another opportunity to learn more about the subject or video creator or sending them to a site filled with things that would be interested to view
    • Add your website
    • Copyright
    • Ask for what you want: “buy product or service”, “use coupon code,” notify viewer of events, offers, and ongoing opportunities
    • Use the this field to it’s fullest – it is one more opportunity to engage post video viewing.  Person uploading may not be the person who created the video–if you are the uploader (and not creator) did you view video in it’s entirety?  Did you add anything the video might be promising–another video–a website link, etc.
  • Add video to accurate and relevant playlist in upload mode in YouTube – add to one or two playlist – never leave this empty as you can promote your playlist on social media; always give as much viewing opportunity to a potential viewer
  • View video one more time for quality and accuracy once it is published
  • ALWAYS be the first to comment on your video – as an example I’ll let my viewer know about a social media handle or a reminder (“don’t forget to subscribe” “You can also find me on Instagram….”) – your comment will rank number one and will always have a top viewing position for that comment.  A great way to get your viewer to do something even if they don’t look at the description field
  • Like your video!  Yes, you are allowed to do that!  Make each and every video look and feel that it is not just another upload but a video that has been tended to.  If it feels and looks alive a potential viewer will feel more comfortable in viewing video–if you don’t care why should your viewer and potential subscriber care?  I do look for signs of life for specific videos especially those on knowledge (‘how to’s’ ‘reviews’) –does it seem relevant?  Are the comments mainly positive? -Are there more likes than dislikes?
  • Use YouTube cards (as shown below) to show your video related videos or videos that might be interest – You can even add a playlist–have at least one card highlighting your content

The image below shows a series of four of my latest videos and you can see a thumbnail for each video.  For me it is simple to create and I believe it does help my viewer to make a decision to view my video.  Before thumbnails, and if people are searching all of your videos–they tended to all look the same and there was no way to differentiate them: thumbnails help to differentiate your videos from your other videos and other producers videos.  More people are visual clickers i.e. depending on thumbnail versus actual title (and yes titles are, of course, very important)–viewers do take action on thumbnails.

Create a compelling or at very minimum an informative thumbnail to visualize your videos content.  Yes, viewers can certainly select by title or search but maybe your video appears next many other videos and what can distinguish your video is a thumbnail.  At video conferences I have attended it is seen by video producers as a necessary thing to do;  I am not sure if it is true but for a time the YouTube algorithm would give “extra points” if there was a thumbnail.  While it may or may not be aiding in the search function to find your video it will at minimum tell your viewer you are committed to your video and that they should take a look.  And it is another indication that your brand is alive.  Use Canva as shown below for professional looking thumbnails; it can help you with creating other graphics needs as well.  I highly recommend Canva and there is a free option and, of course, there is a paid version as well.  I have found I have gotten everything I need form the free version.

Bringing It All Together

Many, not all videos, have evergreen potential (they have a long shelf life) and it is not just a one time event post uploading; there are plenty of opportunities for promoting your video many times.

And, in my series of articles, I think the key takeaway is that you have to make a plan if not several plans–yes written ones.  Even if you are a small business, a brand of one person, or part of a larger company.  By creating written plans it can help guide you on where you need to be.  If you have stakeholders: their participation and transparency of plans can make for the best business function possible, cohesiveness, engagement in support of video production.   Most companies let their video programs live on via personality – i.e. “John does that work…” and all those details are not transparent.  The keys of that kingdom are not only known by one person and it is an open and transparent way of being–it is how all business functions and how the video program is conducted.  I have mentioned several plans in this series:

Video & Promotion Plan – A general plan on your video program, purpose and intention (the why), when, how and where to promote your video.  You can talk about video format, structure and elements.

The Annual Video Plan what you do on an annual basis.  And it can include a calendar of video activity–shooting, publishing, promotion, etc..  This is helpful in a larger company so team and stakeholders know what the video production plan looks like for that year.  You can also list incremental improvement plans for video production in that given year.  This can help your stakeholders with information to many questions they might ask you constantly throughout the year; they will still have question but this is a great way to give them baseline information.

Video Charter Charters are not just a “best practice” but in my opinion in all larger organization producing video need to have them.  Most would say they don’t need it but I have never been part of an organization where there roles & responsibilities or other essential requirements are not murky and undefined.  A video charter like a program or project charter gives much more clarity for the who, what, why, where and when.  It is also defining deliverables, how work will be done, change management, and other pertinent details to make for a smoother operation.  All people involved with video need to be in this charter.  I always have team member review and read this document.  This can also clarify what a manager or sponsor needs to do to direct the program and team members are aware of what they need to deliver.  It doesn’t answer every question but many of them.  No organization start up or established one should operate without charters–that being said a sole proprietor doesn’t need a charter but still needs a video and promotion plan and an annual video plan.

The above documents don’t need to be large.  Build in Goals and Performance metrics in all of your plans so you know what targets you want to reach (works better than having a hunch).  Keep all documents in a central online or shared file location for stakeholders to view at any time especially if you are in a larger organization.  Your plans should feed into your marketing and strategic plans seamlessly.

Start writing down what is important to you, look at your performance and make adjustments, be prepared to promote videos many times.  Track what you are doing and also make sure you are viewing your YouTube analytics regularly.

Know that your evergreen content is an asset: use it as such and deploy and promote again and again–not everyone that needs to see your video has seen it.  When you are managing your brands videos needs you are also managing your expectation as well as for stakeholders.  So many people start video and stop abruptly and they never take on incremental improvement or even simply write down performance goals.   Be prepared to measure a specific campaigns and let the analytics inform to develop the smartest and most relevant content that you can create.  Your ‘Lessons Learned’ are not essential to be intellectualized but to inform on what you need to do next.  Write down your ‘Lessons Learned’ as I find when I write things down I can reference back to it later and it is cathartic to imprint what I have learned but also how to make a concrete change – by writing things down it becomes more concrete and real and not just a notion.

We have so many more tools than we have ever had before–starting off earlier in video production on YouTube for 11 years has taught me a lot and I wouldn’t go back to poorly designed tools, tools that were hard to use, equipment that was slow or cameras not giving crisp images.  Video creation and production is light years away from when I started over a decade ago.  Video will impart a message to your viewer that the written word can only approximate and never quite compete with.  I encourage you to think about video needs for your brand and to plan your organization for video creation or to revitalize where you are today with your video program.

Please let me know if you have questions

Also, please reach out to me for a business/brand consultation –

First ArticleManage Your Video Content Actively – Plan & Promote – One of 4 Part Series

Second ArticleEssential Elements in Each Video – Two of 4 Part Series

Third Article: Ecology & Cultivation of Your Online Video Collection & Proaction of Your Video Program & Plan – Three of 4 Part Series



© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:


Posted in Wine and Video | 3 Comments