Archive for the ‘Wine Gadgets’ Category
I have repeatedly given kudos to the Wine Road organization – in my opinion one of the leaders in Wine AVA marketing, innovation, and social media integration. Despite the economic downturn, their events continue to sell out and show year over year growth, no small feat in these last few years. Beth Costa, the Executive Director embraces tools and media, old and new, giving their 190 members a voice that is consistently heard.
The Vision of the App – More Timely, Updated Information in the Hands of Consumers
Launching an AVA (region based) wine app isn't new. But bleeding edge isn't always leading edge and early release of an app that has minimal value in today's crowded world of iPhone apps means you risk losing attention after a poor first impression. The Wine Road app is a great example of 'measure twice, cut once.' Premature launch can be the death of a product or concept.
Beth said she is thrilled to finally have this option to tell guests about when they are planning to visit the Wine Road.
Historically we have been known for our printed winery map, but in the past few years more and more travelers rely on their phone for directions and information. We are also seeing more last minute travelers, who don’t have time to order a map in advance. We needed to address the changing needs of our guests and this app hit it right on the head. The Twitter feed is also a great way for folks to join in the conversation with all of our winery and lodging members and I know customers are going to appreciate our Wine 101.
Getting It Right
This app gets it right in a several key functional themes.
First – much of the reference information is available without Internet access. This is critical as Internet access, via phone or WiFi, is not assured when in many wine regions, and Wine Road has its dead pockets, just like any other. (Although I can't encourage wineries enough to put WiFi in their tasting rooms.) North Sonoma is full of small, non palace wineries, off the beaten track.
A online only map to your next location,or a directory, isn't a lot of good if you don't have 3G access on your phone. Yes, even Verizon has pockets of spotty coverage.
This core benefit isn't by accident, the developer is Darwin 3D, the brilliant husband and wife team who have designed apps for Hospice du Rhone and Paso Robles to name a few. The former being the best based event app I have used, the latter representative of a wine region who has a fair number of wineries who also have no 3G coverage.
Sorting and filtering is a another key feature. In the first release you can tell the app to filter by the 5 'regions' in the Wine Road maps. (Russian River, Dry Creek, etc.) Thus you can tell the app to only show you the venues in say, Healdsburg. In the second phase, due shortly additional criteria will allow for very specific information filtering, such as varietal, picnic areas, tours and more.
Mapping – Online & Offline
When you open the app, it immediately wants to know your geographic location, and requests permission. This allows the app to hone in on wineries close to you. You can of course over ride this, and choose between maps one of two ways: (1) Google based maps or (2) Wine Road Maps (offline) by clicking the 3rd button 'Maps.'
This can actually be used if offline, but it's best functionality is when connected. Like many iPhone apps, you can 'pinch' with two fingers to zoom in and out. In my opinion the best 'wired' mapping integration comes from clicking the second button 'Wineries' then “Distance' and then a list, in order of distance from you, is displayed. You can then click a winery and see all its details. Then you can click on its address, and go to the Google Maps app, which will give you turn by turn driving directions. (Note, do not drive and do this. Its obviously not safe, and if witnessed by the law, comes with a big fine, even at a stop light.)order diflucan
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Key iPhone app direction tip: If the list of wineries by location close to you is wrong, your iPhone needs a map 'nudge'. This happens frequently in my experience with any location based app. To fix it, launch the Mapss app that came pre-installed, and let it triangulate your location. If THAT needs a nudge, click the tiny arrow in the lower left of screen.
Offline Wine Road Maps
If you touch 'Mapss' then 'Wine Road Maps' you now have the ability to view the same maps as on the Wine Road website and printed map, with the very latest updates and new members. It starts with the overall view, which is good only for reference. Too see wineries, you left and right scroll, and choose between the various sub maps like Dry Creek, Russian River, Healdsburg. You can then pinch to zoom in and out as desired.
The last button of the app, Settings, allows you to filter wineries, restaurants and lodging by the 5 Wine Road sub regions. Simple touch which ones you want in or out, and thats all you will see. Very useful to unclutter the app and just focus in on where you are. As mentioned earlier, the next release will expand upon this theme greatly.
Other Key Features
If you start at the home page of the app, you can see a number of features. Some, (the Buy Tickets, Book a Room, and WineRoadWine101 buttons) launch to external website. Others are completely integrated such as Lodging, which like wineries supports and lists lodging by distance and region; and Concierge, which does the same for restaurants. There is some basic Twitter integration in Phase 1 (you must first authenticate the app) with more coming in Phase 2 and beyond.
Phase Two of the App, and Shiny New Wine Road Website – Coming Soon
Targeted for mid July the Wine Road is gearing up for a major new website update. Substantial effort has gone into redesign to clean up the look of the new site and really focus on the pages that customers use frequently: events, maps and the videos.
One of the new features will be a “Wine Road on the Road” link where wineries will be able to post all of the special tastings they are participating in throughout the country. If you live in Phoenix and can’t get to here, you can see who will be pouring in YOUR area.
The site will offer an expanded photo gallery, more videos and every member will have links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Wine Road also wanted to make it as easy as possible for visitors to share any and all pages with their friends, so they have included “share this” buttons on most pages, and have updated to Google maps.
Other useful features like lists of new wine releases and an easy to use “book a room” feature with Wine Road lodging members.
iPhone App Phase Two
The new web site release then triggers Phase 2 of the iPhone app which will offer more search features for the wineries, such as varietals, tours, wineries with picnic areas, and their tasting fee structure. Annual event information streamlined along with their full event calendar and a small version of our photo gallery… so you can see what you are missing, if you’re not here along the Wine Road. New members, events, release etc will be updated in real time - every time they update the website, it will automatically update the information on the app!
Download the App – Its Free – and Give it a Whirl
You can search in the iTunes store for Wine Road or simply click here. Don't forget these work on iPad and iPod Touch as well!
I am pleased to have been able to personally help with its progress and criteria. Wine Road Executive Director, Beth Costa reached out to me for input for suggestions and design criteria, knowing my technology background, combined with my social media and marketing integration focus. The Wine Road and its members are dear to my heart, and after using too many Wine apps that didn't hit the mark, I was happy to assist. I think the end result is excellent, and Phase 2, only weeks away, even better.
Please feel free to post comments, questions, and suggestions here. Thanks for reading – and if you find the article useful, take a second to share it with your Facebook and Twitter friends, cheers!
You’ve seen the classy black and red Riedel cartons at kitchenware retail. They have an elite aura and great appeal as gifts. But do you know the story behind them? The Riedel name and family has been synonymous with glassware for over 250 years and 11 generations. But it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the company began to focus in earnest on fine wine glasses. A handmade Sommeliers series was launched in 1973, introducing for the first time a revolutionary concept: that glass size and shape directly affects the wine inside.
The current generation, Georg Riedel, took the idea further by developing “varietal-specific” glasses to enhance individual wine varietals. Today, Riedels’ Vinum glasses are machine-made, making varietal-specific tasting more affordable and accessible to wine lovers everywhere.
Riedel Tasting @Trione Vineyards & Winery
I participated in a Riedel seminar recently at Trione Winery in Geyserville, CA. Trione produces fine wines from the Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley of northern Sonoma county. The Trione portfolio is perfect for the Riedel tasting experience. Each of vintner Scot Covingtons’ wines is true to it’s varietal character while showing consistent quality and structure. Scot makes a Trione Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet, matching the 4-glass Vinum set.
Each place at the tasting table was set with 4 wine glasses, a water glass and a plastic “Joker” glass. The 4 glasses comprise Riedel’s Vinum set:
- Burgundy/Pinot Noir
- Sauvignon Blanc/Dessert Wine
Wine Delivery System
Riedel speaks of a glass as a complete wine delivery system. The Chardonnay glass delivered the pure fruit, refreshing acidity, light oak, and warm finish of the Trione Russian River Valley Chardonnay. The wide rim and deep bowl harmonizes these four strong characteristics into a balanced whole, with no one overpowering the others. As a test, we poured some Chardonnay from its glass into a narrow Sauvignon Blanc glass. The oak had no room to breathe, and the taste was completely off. Same wine, completely different taste experience. And of course, when we poured Chardonnay into the Joker glass, there was virtually no aroma, and no sense of oak in the mouth.
We went through a similar ritual with the Trione Sauvignon Blanc. The Riedel glass delivered crisp fruit and yeast directly to the taste receptors from a narrow rim, narrower bowl, tall-stemmed glass (keeping the heat of the hand away from the wine). In contrast, the Pinot Noir glass has a wide bowl with a narrower rim, bringing the fruit quickly to the top, as in “fruit forward”. Pinot Noir in the Sauvignon Blanc glass was a real disaster. The narrow delivery system passed the wine straight through to the back of the palette where the bitter receptors are. Hard to believe it was the same wine.
We also had a lesson in decanting and cleaning of wine glasses. Riedel recommends using no soap, rinsing wine glasses in very hot water and drying with a non-linty towel (microfiber works well). Towels can be boiled in hot water or washed without detergent to keep fragrances away from contact with the porous glass.
Find yourself a Riedel Seminar
Varietal glassware completely changed my tasting experience and awareness. I highly recommend the Riedel Seminar, and it’s also a great way to start your collection of varietal glasses. Each Riedel tasting includes the 4-glass Vinum set. To find a Riedel seminar near you, do a google search.
Better yet, come to Barrel Tasting Weekend on Sonoma’s Wine Road. Trione Winery and over 100 other wineries open their cellars and barrels for 2 weekends in March. The March 5th Barrel Tasting weekend pass is available with a Riedel seminar (and glasses). Tickets here.
RiedelUSA on Twitter
Part 7 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas”: Book Review/Recommendation: The New Connoisseurs’ Guidebook to California Wine and Wineries
As someone deeply immersed in Wine Country, I am a big fan and reader of books on Wine History, Viticulture, and all things wine. I have been meaning to do book reviews for some time, so I was pleased to receive a Media sample Charles E. Olken’s successor to his best-selling guide to California wine.
I have found a lack of true insider wine region guides for the more experienced wine aficionado. As of 2009, California had amost three thousand wineries. Indeed, within a 30 mile radius of where I live in Russian River, there are almost two hundred in the three closest AVAs. No matter how much you travel, taste, explore, there is always unexplored territory.
I try to venture to Paso Robles regularly these days, and am eager to re-explore the Santa Ynez region, and am also wanting to delve more into Lodi and Livermore, and in a few weeks making my first sojourn to the Sierra’s so this book presented a real world case to explore for usefulness, thus I was excited to take the time to review and use it.
A Great California Wine Primer
Before getting into specifics on each wine region and winery, the first 6o pages are a very informative background on California Wine, with excellent reading on History, Wine Making, and a commentary and background of the many wine varietals in California. I read a lot of wine books, and still gleaned a lot new tidbits.
A table of acres planted by varietal, from 1970 to 2010 was especially fascinating, and enlightening. (I had no idea Carignane, a great Rhone varietal being rediscovered, had 27,000 acres planted in 1970, and is now down to 3600 acres.)
The last 30 pages also has excellent reference material: suggested reading, suggested wine blogs (I didn’t make the list, maybe next edition) and an excellent section on the ‘Language of Wine.’
Getting to The Meat
The majority of the book is devoted to wine regions, maps, and descriptions of wineries. I find many winery guides to be poor in this area, and no more useful than if I just went to the website for that AVA (wine region.)
The summaries of each region are excellent, and the short paragraph on each winery is customized and personal, not regurgitated from a brochure. It does a good job covering wineries of all shapes and sizes. It is not 100% complete, as no guide likely ever will be. Many of the small cult wineries are covered, although a few like Wind Gap were missing. I found descriptions and tips to be quite accurate.
It’s still worthwhile looking up website information for a complete list of varietals. Quivira Vineyards for example, is lauded for their Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc, but no mention of their Rhone varietals program, (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and a GSM) which is the main reason I personally frequent them. I do like the personal mention and customized highlights of each winery, rather than the usual generic rattling off of what they make.
But Wait, There’s More: Online Support & Updates
Monthly updates to the book are provided via registration. Subscribers are emailed when an update is posted. Embracing social media, the website also publishes a daily blog, with a recurring theme each week. (Monday is ‘Monday Manifestos’, Rants and Opinions, Friday is ‘Friday Getaway Day, Wine Country Destinations, etc etc)
The book is published by the University of California Press. It’s also available on Amazon.com, as well as local booksellers.
An enjoyable read and invaluable resource for any wine lover, of any experience level.
Highly Recommend – cheers!
The 12 Days of Wine Christmas
Ten days until Christmas for that hard to shop wine lover. (Or if your like me, a wee present for myself too! )
Wine aerators are popular items these days, and not uncommon to see being used in a Tasting Room. (more restaurants should consider this, although with the new Wine Soiree L/S you can bring your own!
First, aeration is generally for reds. There are some whites that improve with oxidation, but usually for most whites I recommend leaving alone, white wine is generally much more sensitive to oxidation.
The whole concept of letting wine breathe, or aerate, is simply maximizing your wine’s exposure to the surrounding air. By allowing wine exposure to air, it will often open up, the flavor profile will soften and mellow out a bit and the overall flavor characteristics should improve. This is often true in younger, and/or bigger more tannic wines.
How NOT To Aerate
The practice in my parents day was to pull the cork and leave the bottle. Aeration is about surface area exposure of liquid to air, and this method accomplishes nothing. A study I read years ago showed a bottle opened and left for 24 hours (nothing poured out) experienced minimal oxidation.
Lot of reasons; I generally only decant if I have a group of people, or I am committed to the whole bottle that night, and even then I may not, as I may not want it to aerate THAT fast. Thus enter a wine aerator, where I can do this by the glass.
What is a Wine Soirée?
It sounds like a party in your glass, and while it can be, its certainly more. Soirée fits securely into any wine bottle allowing you to pour, without dripping, directly through the Soirée. While going through the Soirée, the wine gently is exposed to air. Their website has an excellent post on the Soirée Science
Is it Hard to Use?
Open bottle, stick in Soirée, pour, upright. Seriously its about that easy, but for those of you who want proof, click here for a pictorial tutorial.
Where Can I Get One?
Lots of places. Wine Soiree is sold by many wineries, as well as specialty retail stores, and Whole Foods. A complete list is available here. You can also buy it online, for $25, OR $30 giftwrapped, ready to go, perfect!
What is the Wine Soirée L/S?
Wine Industry people travel a fair amount, as do many wine enthusiasts, and we like our wine gadgets with us. (I was given a hard time once on an American Airlines flight for having brought my own Riedel O glass on board.) The standard Wine Soirée isn’t well suited for travel.
Voila – the new L/S was introduced to enable you to take it on flights, to your local restaurant, dinner party or your friends house that buys low end young plonk Cabernet that desperately needs some aeration.
This is an awesome stocking stuffer or gift. Available only online, in limited quantities for 49.99.
Enjoy, and cheers!
The 12 Days of Wine Christmas
Hmmm 11 days until Christmas, look for a few double posts per day soon!
Checking a case of wine is more and more common these days, given FAA carry-on restrictions. Both industry and consumer do it; and some airlines like Horizon Air don’t even charge a fee to check on its Santa Rosa to Portland route.
I checking shipping wine; in summer months especially; stay away from the hot Brown UPS truck!
As someone who has toted a shipper box quite a few times; it’s a hassle! Shippers are heavy, and don’t play well with other luggage, especially if you are solo, checking in a rental car, etc.
The Wine Check is perfect, it has double layers of insulation and padding; one from the case Styrofoam insert, and one from the padded, insulated case. Best of all, it has a handle and wheels! When you and your wine get safely home, it collapses and can be stored until the next trip.
The Wine Check can be ordered online at www.thewinecheck.com and is only $49 without shipper box, $54 with. (Suggest latter.)
It can also be picked up at a number of Napa & Sonoma hotels, check a list here, or call 707-343-9463.
Get your wine home, faster, safer and easier – love it!
Cheers and come back tomorrow for more of the Series!
The 12 Days of Wine Christmas:
As someone who travels a fair amount for work (the ‘other’ job) I was delighted to get a sample of VinniBag to test out. Given you can’t take bottles through security anymore, checking a bottle of wine, isn’t uncommon for me. Wine bottles are fairly sturdy, but luggage takes some serious abuse in handling, and just tossing a bottle into the bag, risks breakage and ruining everything.
Actually they point out on their website quite accurately, one need not limit it to wine. Almost any glass container would travel more safely in this.
The geek in me loves the technical details:
“VinniBag was engineered specifically to withstand air travel and high altitudes. The design and materials allow for significant changes in air pressure and temperatures. Sophisticated testing was done at an independent test lab using altitude chambers that surpass normal conditions in aircraft cargo holds.VinniBag can also handle some pretty tough temperatures. The important part is to load, inflate & deflate VinniBag in normal temperatures for proper performance.”
Deflated, the bag is small, as you can see, sitting next to a Riedel O glass.
This is a very easy product to use, nonetheless instructions are provided on a leaflet with picture, and simple ones are also on the bag.
1. Insert the Wine Bottle, to where it says ‘Stop Here’. Partially inflate, flatten the bottom seal.
2. Roll bottom portion up and buckle. Finish inflation. Voila.
When you get your bottle home, simply de-inflate, open and enjoy. This sturdy item is re-usable.
Under $30 is a great, inexpensive gift any wine aficionado will find useful.
Cheers, and come back soon for Part 3!
Wine cellar accessories are wonderful additions to any wine room both for their functionality and added detail to the cellar’s interior design. Our favorite accessories include chillers and coolers, decorative metal or wooden wine racks, wine holders, corkscrews and bottle openers, and wine bar coding system, among others.
Wine coolers and wine chillers are important especially when you have a wine counter or mini bar inside the cellar. These are used for pre-cooling or pre-chilling of drinks to prepare it for serving. Wine chillers and coolers vary in sizes. If wines are served for commercial purposes, bigger capacity maybe needed.
Free standing or wall mounted wine racks and holders can also be very decorative, at the same time, functional. It can hold several bottles for display on top of the bar counter. There are varieties of wonderful designs for wine racks available in the market. One can even choose to have a single-bottle capacity arched wine rack to display cherished or valuable wine collection.
Corkscrews and bottle openers are essentials in wine rooms. There are decorative corkers and openers which you can playfully have for fun and added style. These types of decorative wine accessories are perfect for special occasions, parties and other important occasions.
The wine bar coding system is also a practical thing to have to track down additional or consumed wine bottles. This is especially helpful for inventory purposes in commercial wine cellars. But collectors can also adopt this system. The bar coding system is very simple to use. The barcode tags can be personalized. Collectors can add more information on the tags. Personalized quotes or whatever they want to label on their collections can also be used.
Wine cellars must have these accessories for easy tracking of the wine collection, systematic serving and added magnificence of the room.
Author: Kristi loves working for Wine Cellar Innovations as it enables her to socialize with wine lovers around the Internet. If you have any questions about wine storage, feel free to contact us, follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook. We love to help!
The World of Social Media can be funny; I can post the most serious, (self perceived) insightful post or blog and get little response, and then sometimes get large immediate responses to random things.
Last Tuesday at the weekly Healdsburg Music on the Square, I posted this pic and comment:
Love my wine spike http://tweetphoto.com/36680681
And got 5 responses back on Twitter in seconds and 3 on Facebook.
This was enough to spur me into action for an idea I have been percolating for awhile: Wine Gadget reviews. I am a closet geek and love gadgets; both techie and conventional. Lately I have also been approached for input on iPhone apps, gadgets etc and thought why not share these with readers, so tada, welcome to the new feature.
I stumbled across the Wine Spike some months ago on their Facebook site. At that time they didn’t have online ordering, and being the busy geek that I am, waited until they did. Luckily this was on time for the many Outdoor musics events we have Sonoma, including the one I am going to all afternoon today in Petaluma.
“Please drink responsibly, use a Wine, Beer, or Beverage Spike!”
This is the slogan for the product on their web page, along with things like “Don’t Spill Your Wine – Spike it!”
The wine spikes come in a variety of price points, styles, colors. There are (as of now) clearance spikes starting as low as $10, to $35 for premium, with a wide range in between. Spikes can be ordered as single or double glass holders, and even have a stand option so can be used indoors.There is a wide array of colors, designs (expanded since I bought mine) and wood tones. You can even have them customized with your company’s logo.
How Do They Work
I bought two singles and one double to test. I wasn’t sure how some of the colors would look with the wood, so went for a natural wood tone. They are relatively lightweight, but well constructed. The Spike is solid, and once pushed into the ground, is firmly planted.
This won’t win an Academy award, but I thought a little film demonstration might be fun.
Even larger glasses fairly full aren’t going anywhere. Playing around, I discovered stemless glasses like Riedel O series and GoVino can rest ok on the top of these…if the round hole was a tad larger would fit more securely, but its still better than sitting it on the grass.
Save the plastic tubing they ship with; the spikes aren’t razor sharp, but are designed to stick in the ground, and could poke through a bag or backpack. I wrap mine in a towel or the blanket.
I’d like to see an all wire metal frame version, maybe with a tribal or SouthWestern Kokopelli US kinda of theme.
I couldn’t be more pleased and will be putting to maximum use today at the Petaluma Music Festival.
I have a few more in my hopper, and am taking reader requests/input, and samples for future articles. Next few planned are:
- Wine storage containers/bags for travel
- Portable stemware (am seeking containers as well; why Riedel doesn’t have a hard case for ‘O” escapes me.
- Wine aeration devices: Vinturi, Wine Soiree, etc
Hope you enjoy; feel free to ask questions, make comments below – cheers!