Rewinery gets a relaunch

We all know about the food delivery services, places like Seamless, GrubHub and Foodler.  But did you know about the local wine delivery service?

Rewinery, the San Francisco based wine delivery service, has been around for about a year.  While they have had some growing pains, and have had a few not so successful iterations (in my humble opinion), I am pleased to report that the latest move has proven successful, and delicious!

Initially conceived as a wine lovers Kozmo, the now defunct dot commie’s “I’ll delivery anything for a price” service, Rewinery has had premium wines, private label wines, and picnic baskets among its offers.  Now settling in to sophomore year, they have refined the offerings to be something for everything.

Filling a much needed sweet spot for corporate parties and gifts, Rewinery also provides great deals on some great wines for people that just need an extra few bottles for their party, or can’t get to the local wine shop.  Today, for example, one of the featured wines is a personal fave – La Posta Cocina Tinto.  This delicious red blend from Argentina is offered at a mere $15; with a $5 delivery fee, you can have a great wine for your evening sipping in no time!

This is no Two Buck Chuck delivery service!  Initially, I’ll admit, I as a bit disappointed the offerings.  There were low to mid market wines, that, frankly, weren’t worth the bike ride to delivery them.  Now, however, much like some of the flash sale sites, Rewinery is able to offer different wines on a frequent basis, with at least 3-4 red and white bottles to choose from.  Making good wines accessible is Rewinery’s goal.  They bring great wines to consumers at amazing prices and makes wine discovery fun, not intimidating or frustrating.  Located in downtown San Francisco, they are able to deliver wine within the city limits in under an hour.

With the variety of wine being offered, and the ability to get it on a whim – and even to time it with your pizza delivery, check out Rewinery today!

If you’d like to check it out for youself, click HERE (affilliate link)

Ordering credit was given for editorial consideration; however, I will happily spend my own money (and often do) on some of these tasty treats!  Thirsty Thursday anyone?

Sometimes, smaller is better

Often times, people have the assumption that larger is better; whether it’s in wine, packages of snacks at Costco, or houses with more bedrooms than people in the town where I went to boarding school, the message is bigger is better.  Even in wine, the message can be bigger is better; while not referring to size, it often shows up in large production labels, that assume that releasing 10,000 cases means they are successful.  It also shows up stylistically, when wines become Fraken-fied, with additives and strange concoctions of science much more than art.

My choice, therefore, is to spend as much money as I can on supporting smaller, local producers who not only need to cash more, but have more creativity and stylistic control than – dare I say it – that label with the Kangaroo on it down the street.

Luckily for me, I was invited to the Micro Winery Open House at Inspiration Custom Crush in Santa Rosa recently.  Here, several smaller wineries – including Inspiration, were pouring their wares.  I have a few highlights from the event and a shamless plug for a fellow blogger turned winemaker who is doing some great things with Rhone varitals.

First up, Wesley Ashley Wines‘ Intelligent Design Cuvee Blanc is a Rhône style
blend of  Vioginer, Roussanne, and Grenache Blanc from Santa Barbara.  The Viognier adds a nice aromatic note, while the Roussanne gives a crisp acidity that would be perfect for a summer sipper.  We all know by now, that I love a good Grenache Blanc, and the 20% addition to this blend rounds out the white and gives it a solid body.  This is no wimpy wine!  Classic flavors of nectarine and apricot show up under the floral notes of the viognier.

Also from Wesley Ashely, the 2009 Intellivent Design Cuvee is another classic Rhône blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Petite Sirah.  The Grenache, which is 75% of the blend, shows off its strawberry spice, with the Syrah adding some great backbone.

YOu can find Wesley Ashely Wines at the winery by appointment, The Wine Mine in Oakland, and several restaurants around the bay area.

This is a winery to watch!
Keeping on the Rhône theme, next up we meet the Two Shepherds.  William Allen, a fellow wine blogger over at Simple Hedonisms, and partner Michelle Berger launched Two Shepherds wine to focus on Rhône style wines from California with distinction.

So far so good I’d say!  It takes extreme talent and guts to start a winery, particularly if you’re day job is in sales, as William’s is.  Having known him for a few years now, I have seen first hand the sheer tenacity that it takes to launch a brand, learn about the chemistry of winemaking, the ins and outs of running a business and also trying to pay the bills.  Kudos to a successful launch!

I was one of the lucky few to taste the delicious Grenache Blanc, which is sadly sold out now – but it was a great example of a Rhône white, that balances out acidity with the creamy subtle sweetness.  Some GBs can be either too acidic (I’ve had a few from Spain) or too full bodied which implies sweetness.  The Two Shepherds balances those two, with a nice minerality, white peach, lemon lime flavors, followed by a flinty finish.  I am eagerly waiting for more of this to be bottled so I can nab some for the cellar!

Also from Two Shepherds, the MRV is a classic white Rhône blend, comprised of Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier.  I enjoyed a bottle of this last night with Butternut squash Lasagna, and the creamy body of the MR balanced the sweetness of the Butternet perfectly.  The Addition of the viogner adds a touch of honeysuckle.

There are two red offerings from Two Shepherds, the GSM, and the SM (Syrah/Mourvedre).  The GSM blend is a bit different than your average southern Rhone, or for that matter, Paso Robles Rhone blend, as the Grenache in this blend adds acidity and flavors to develop that are unique to the area.  The lighter style blends perfectly with the fuller bodied Syrah and Mourvedre, to create a masterpiece of bright red berry, spice box, and a lingering flavor that I personally can only describe as Grenache.

This wine isn’t technically released, but it will be soon and I suggest buying a bottle and letting it sleep for a bit.  If not, give it some air before you sip and swirl.

The Syrah/Mourvedre blend uses the same Syrah from Russian River, and is blended equally with Mourvedre.  The SM is slightly fuller bodied than the GSM, as you don’t have the higher acid in the Grenache to lighten the load.  It is also delicious and would be fantastic with roast chicken, a burger, or cassoulet.

You can find Two Shepherds wines at the winery by appointment, and via mail order, but also at K&L Wine Merchants, Wicked Wines in HBG, and several restaurants in the Bay Area including The Girl & Fig, Spoonbar, and Toast Wine Lounge.  Click here for details.

The moral of this story?  Seek out those small producers.  They work in small lots, and can be more creative than people making large amounts of wine.  Have fun discovering them.  The custom crush / coop tasting room is more and more popular, as it allows smaller brands to showcase their wines while sharing costs for capital expenditures.

Now, I don’t harbor any fantasies of being able to be a chemist and make my own wine, but it sure is fun to live vicariously!  I’ve picked up some of the pieces of the puzzle on the way, and while I don’t think I could go it on my own, I do lust after a barrel or two of Pinot Noir in my future.

Some of my other favorite coop tasting rooms:

  • Winery Collective – San Francisco
  • The Wine Yard – Santa Rosa
  • The urban wineries of Coffey Lane (that’s my own name) – The NPA, Carol Shelton, Vinify Winery Collective & Custom Crush, Inspiration Custom Crush, all located in the same complex as the micro wineries featured in this post.

Explore your town!  There are Urban wineries in San Francisco such as Dogpatch Wineworks and Bluxome Street.  Oakland and Alameda have an urban explosion.

Support your local winemaker!  You won’t be sorry!


A Whole lot of great wine!

It’s that time of year!  well almostl.  Here, it’s been chilly and rainy.  Not that San Francisco summer fog rain, but RAIN rain.  Such a bummer.  I think finally, however the sun has come out!  Morning fog is the norm in July, but I’ll take it – the sun usually peeps out around 11am or so.


Elsewhere in the Universe, there actually IS summer!  So when Whole Foods approached me and asked me if I’d like to taste their six featured summer sippers, I said HELL YEAH!  not only are these affordable wines, but they are available at whole Foods – a national chain of gourmet, organic, and otherwise excellent food.  No, I don’t normally shop at Whole Paycheck (mostly because while I adore tomatoes that taste like … tomatoes, I don’t have a $500 week food budget), I do buy some things there are a regular basis, and have been known to purchase some of the wine selected by store staff.

Whole Foods does an excellent job at picking diverse wines, in all price ranges.  I have had a lot of success trying new wines that were staff selections.

Tonight, we are having turkey burgers, so I opened the 2010 Perrin Nature Côtes du Rhône.  I love Rhone; the flavor profiles of the south of France are just delicious.  This is a delcious wine with lots of dark fruit, meaty notes, with lots of blackberries and dark earth.  It has a ton of character and complexity in every sip without being overly heavy.  It’s a country wine, but elegantly so.  While it’s a baby, you can enjoy this now, or age it for a bit.  It will come together nicely.  I would not recommend leaving this wine open for more than a few hours howeve,r as it can loose it’s interesting notes and become flat.

This wine is a SCREAMING deal for a BBQ and those summer parties at about $12-15 and is available at Whole Foods stores.  EXTREME VALUE ALERT! Run out RIGHT NOW and buy this!  I know I will be buying more, even though I have enough wine to keep every one of my friends and family very happy in the next apocalypse.


Please tune in to Twitter for a live tasting of more summer values from Whole Foods, tomorrow – June 9th – at 5pm PDT. Follow us using the hashtag #WFMWine Follow @WholeFoods for the latest updates!





Let's go shopping!

I can’t believe it’s this time of year again!  Here we got, out of the harvest festival season and in to the holiday shopping season.  To help you facilitate this, the SF Vintner’s Market is back with their Harvest in the City event at Fort Mason, November 20th & 21st.

At this HUGE try & buy wine event, you can taste wines from all over California.  You just simply, taste, mark what you like, and buy it on your way out!  A novel idea in 2009, now, there are several events that do taste & buy, but this is a one of a kind gem that brings together wineries from all over.

The brainchild of Cornelius Geary and Jeff Player, founders of Wine 2.0 and, this event promises to be a good time.  With the economy still in the dumper, smaller wineries struggle to get their wares of there.  These event will get the winemaker closer to the customers, and allow us to buy what we like without searching out after a tasting.  In addition to the winemakers at many of the winery booths, we’ll be hosting a special section for “Major famous” winemakers and wine industry celebs where you can get a few minutes of personal time and a quick picture with the winemaker!

Some of my favorites are pouring, including Grey Stack, VinRoc, and Modus Operendi, plus a ton of other producers that I loko forward to discovering.

Tickets for the SF Vintners Market are $40 each day for General Admission, or $80 for a VIP ticket which allows you access to a special VIP section, pouring wines that are over $50.  But you, my gentle readers, are lucky.  I have a super secret discount code that will get you $10 off each day, or a huge discount of $40 off the Bounty Hunter All Access Pass, which gets you in the entire shebang.

Just enter “thea” in the discount code section and you’re set!

Hope to see you around, and I’ll be tweeting live under #SFVM10 (or something) to report on my likes & dislikes.

Happy drinking!

Put a cork in it!


It’s amazing what can happen in the social networking arena.  Take, for example, a recent tasting I went to hosted by the Penisula Wine Enthusiasts.   As an avid MeetUp member, I know that these organized social gatherings can be a great way to meet new people who are like minded.  This group goes a step farther, and partners with Uncorked Ventures, to provide the wine enthusiasts with a great array of unusual wines for sipping and for purchase.

Uncorked Ventures‘ seed was planted when Matt Kraiuse and Mark Aselstine were on a family vacation to South America in 2009.  Sharing a passion for good wine and good wine, they decided to grow their avocation in to a business focused on delivering high quality, hard-to-find wines at a fair price to customers who can’t readily access such wines. Given the selections we tasted at the last MeetUp, I’d say they are accomplished this goal nicely.

First, we tasted three selections from South Africa.  Not knowing very much about South Africa myself, I was excited to taste these wines and started with 2009 Groenland Sauvignon Blanc had the grassy nose of a New Zealand Sav Blanc, but the palate has soft tropical notes with a touch of green pepper and citrus fruit.  If you are a Savvy drinker, BUY this wine; the excellent  QPR and interesting flavors will be great for the summer.  Next, we moved on to the Slnghook Pinotage.  Since I’m not a Pinotage fan, I’m going to skip right to the 2006 Groeland Antoinette Marie Classic, a Bordeaux blend.  I enjoyed this wine and tasted dark red fruit with chocolate and coffee, in a smooth and velvety wine.  It wasn’t the most complex wine, but it was a nice easy drinking red.

On the other side of the table the little known Americans stood waiting for me.  First, a Rhone white from Stolpman in the Santa Ynez Valley, 2007 La Coppa Blanc.  This is a somewhat atypical blend of 60% Roussanne with 40% of Viognier co-fermented with the Roussanne, which gives this wine a beautiful aromatic profile.  The classic honeysuckle and apricot flavors of the Viognier are combined to give a creamy long finish, with peaches, nectarines, and preserved lemons.  this is  MUST BUY and with only 260 cases produced, I have a bottle waiting for me if the weather ever warms up.

Another of my favorites, the 2007 Kaena Hale Rhone red, a blend of 65% Grenache and 35% Syrah.  It’s no surprise that I loved this wine given my recent addiction to Rhones, but at $18 this can be your house wine.  Again, as a very small production wine of only 120 cases, I would RUN OUT AND BUY SOME before it’s gone.  In 2007, there was very little water in the vineyards, resulting in low yields and intense fruit flavors of blackberries, cherries, and plums over a chocolate bar.

Finally, we had the 2007 Emerson Brown Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.  This is the personal label of Keith Emereson, winemaker at Vineyard 29, and Brian Brown, winemaker at Round Pound.  I’m picky about my Napa Cab these days, but this was a nice example that was not overly extracted or bombastic, and there were some beautiful notes of blue and black fruit, bittersweet cocoa, and black current.  The finish had a hint of river rocks, which was refreshing and smooth.  This is a splurge at $50, although that is very reasonable for a small production Cab these days. BUY this for a special dinner, or hold it in your cellar as it will age nicely for quite some time.

If you’re in the Bay Area, I encourage you to check out the Peninsula Wine Meetup to taste some of these great wines.  If you can’t make it out here, check out Uncorked Ventures Explorer Wine Club, and get some of these cool things sent to your door!  As someone who gets a lot fo exposure to wines, it’s refreshing and exciting to taste wines that I don’t know, or have not tasted before.  I look forward to the next event, where we can try some other new and unusual wines!  Thanks guys and keep up the good work.

Don’t cry for me Argentina!

vineconnectionsThe truth is, your wine is AMAZING!  I have been drinking this or that from Argentina for several years, since it’s a great value, but I must admit, I didn’t love it.  That is, until the good folks at Benson Marketing and VineConnections put together a blogger tasting to introduce us to their selections from the Mendoza and surrounding areas.  yum!

First, a bit about Argentina in general.  Argentina is the world’s 5th largest wine producing country.  When you compare that to France, Italy, Australia, and the U.S., considering the size of the country, that’s a lot of juice!  There are many varieties that are produced, but the most well known is probably Malbec.  The primary growing region of Mendoza has four sub-appellations:  Lujan du Cuyo; Maipu; Uco Valley; and Eastern Mendoza.  While there is very little natural rainfall, most of the vineyards are between 2000 and 4700′ in elevation, and there is natural drainage from the snows off the Andes above.  I was excited to taste some Argentinian wine that I wasn’t guessing blind at, since most of my prior experiences had been mediocre mass market options form Cost Plus and Costco.

The first wine we tasted was the Celestina Rose of Malbec, a sparkler that was a surprising treat.  I have tasting Sparkling Shiraz before, and was happily surprised at the interesting flavors, but the Malbec was amazing.  This was 100% Malbec, and the low 12.8% ABV was a nice reminder that not all wine needs to be over the top and  punchy.  Since Argentinians in general drink a lot of bubbles, something like 35 liters per person per year.  This wine was a blood rose color, with a yeasty nose and flavors of hibiscus, pink grapefruit and wild strawberry.  It is bottle fermented and aged for 14 months in the bottle, and retails for a low low price of $20.  Buy
Next, we moved on to the Crios Torrontes.  I found jasmine, honeysuckle, honey and wildflowers in this white which reminded me of Muscat.  It was interesting as it was the only wine that wasn’t from Mendoza, but I loved it.  It had a ton of tropical fruit, musk melon, and a lovely perfumey nose.  At $15, it’s a great white for any occasion,especially seafood and salads.  I would love to have this with a nice fruit salad, or even a green salad with a citrus dressing.  Strong Buy

From the whites, we moved in to the red wines of Mendoza. Malbec is Argentina’s signature red wine grape and one of the Bordeaux grape varieties.  Malbec was brought to Argentina by the French in the mid 186s, where it found a new home in Mendoza and thrived in the long growing seasons.  Since Mendoza gets over 300 sunshine days a year, the grape took off.  An interesting point about Argentinian Malbec is that there are now 22 distinct clones, which they plant on their own rootstock.  Most wine in Argentina was produced  for domestic consumption but as the 90 liter per capita consumption decreased, exports increased.  Now, it’s trendy to have your second or third houses in Argentina.  The passion for winemaking has continued to grtow with teh native winemakers, and these wines are terriffic examnples.  In Argentina, large hailstones destroy up to 13% of the grape harvest every year.  Because of this, and small plots of land, grower designated wines are newly developed here.  It is a risky adventure with such hailstorms, since 15% of your crop could be wiped out.  That said, high risk, high reward.  There are now more and more grower labeled wines (we would call them vineyard designate) appearing.
The 2007 Cocina Blend is literally “The Kitchen Blend”, almost everything but the kitchen sink in theory.  This was my favorite of the reds, and with 60% malbec, 20$ Bondara, and 20% Syrah, there was a little bit for everyone.  Bonarda what Argentina calls Charbano, and it add a nice dark back bone.  Run out and buy this wine right now!  It was dark and inky, with lots of pepper and spice, with a fig and plum finish touched with smoke.  There were lots of blackberries, vanilla, and a chewy structure.  It had a kiss of oak and vanilla, after being aged in 20% new Oak (70% French, 30% American) for 10 months.  This wine also retails for $15, or less.  Seriously, run out and buy it right now!  This is a steal.
Next up we have the Pizzella Family Malbec.  This is from the same winery as the Cocina Blend, is was also a favorite.  I found smoked meat and pepper, with cherrires and bittersweet chocolate followed by blueberry.  It was a juicy 100% Malbec, aged for 10 months in 100% French Oak (20% new, 80% old).  The Pizzella family Vineyard is located at 3050 feet, and is closer to the mountains where it is generally cooler. This wine retails at $18, and is also a buy.


The last of my favorites of this tasting was the Mendel Unus.  This is a premier belnd of 70% Malbec and 30% Cab Sav.  This blend had dark cherry, plums, blackberry and dark blue fruit with a slightly vegetal note showing through.  I tasted rich earth, chocolate, bright berry, and vanilla in this sikly blend.  at $50 it was not an everyday treat like the others, but it was worth splurging on.

All in all, I will definitely be exploring Argentina more.  There are plenty of affordable and delicious options out there.  If you are seeking out these wines in the Bay Area, look for them at the Jug Shop, K&L, and the Wine Club.  Try to find wines that are not mass produced.  The cost of producing these gems in Argentina is much less than in the States, or even France, so don’t be afraid to experiment.  At $15 average, you can try many different wines.  Find a producer you like and go have fun!  Another tip that the Vine Connections people taught me is know your importers.  If you find an importer you like and trust, the odds are that you can purchase another wine from them and be reasonable happy.

Go forth adn wine-ducate!