Posts Tagged ‘kendall jackson’

Part 4 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” Wine Clubs – A Review of Different Types and Benefits

Are wine clubs a good value? Do they make good gifts? I will explore the various benefits, but in a short answer,  for the wine aficionado there are a number of reasons to consider. These  make an excellent gift for parents, kids over 21, people in far reaches of the country, as a way to expand their horizons, and get them off of ‘plonk’.

There are a variety of types of wine clubs; generally you can categorize them into Three:

  • Wineries Clubs that are Direct to Consumer (DTC)
  • Wine Shop Wine Clubs
  • 3rd Party or Aggregator like Wine Clubs.

Winery Wine Clubs

The most common of wine clubs; these can vary significantly by winery, but have numerous advantages.

  • Club members get discounts. Wine Clubs often have multiple tiers, and the higher the commitment, generally the larger the discount. (This is less of a benefit if you are already receiving Industry discount; although I have one wine club that doesn’t give Industry, a bit irksome, but love the wines.)   If you aren’t Industry, and buy a case or more a year of wine from a winery; consider joining the club if for no other reason  to save money. Wine Clubs like Quivira offer a large discount, on par with Industry, for the First 30 days of a new Wine Club release.
  • Access to Releases for Wine Club Only. Many of my clubs will do very small releases, perhaps 25-50 cases. These wines maybe reserved for Wine Club only and not for sale. Often this is a compelling reason why I join; lesser know varietals like Cinsault, a Rhone red varietal I am fond of; is the only way I can get it from Preston Vineyards.  Similar with Paso Robles Rhone producer Tablas Creek. Even very large producers like Kendall Jackson, who ship hundreds of thousands of cases a year; have wine clubs that offer small, under 20k case a year productions, available only in the tasting room and/or to Club members.
  • For Locals: Wine Clubs offer pickup events with music, food, and of course wine, often free pour. Sometimes these are free, or at very low cost. At a recent Wine Club event at Longboard, for $25  the event offered a band, an awesome pulled catered pork feast, free pour of new releases, and a bottle of Sauv Blanc to take home…find entertainment like this for that kind of money! Plus as a local you get to interact with the winemaker and the hospitality staff. Wine is as much about the experience and artisanship as it is the beverage.
  • For Non-Locals: Many great small wineries can’t find distribution as you go East. Why buy only mass produced wines, or be limited to what your local wine shop has, when 2-4 times a year you can receive a few bottles (or more) from your favorite producer.  If you are having your wine shipped, look at shipping costs and see if a larger membership makes sense.
  • Other benefits. Occasionally something very unique is offered. Rotie Cellars, one of my favorite Walla Walla Rhone producers is offering, until end of year only, Lifetime Pricing.  New members signing on by 12/31/10 get fixed pricing for the duration of their membership. FYI, Rotie Cellars is a highly rated, sought after producer, and the wine club list is nearing full and will close soon to allocation only.

Wine Shop Wine Clubs

No matter if you live in Wine Country, or in Wisconsin, I always encourage finding a good local wine ship to frequent. Here in Wine Country, its generally how we get wine from outside the area. In much of the US, this is your best bet to get small producers you can not find via retail. Mounts Family awesome Malbec or Grenache, or Cartograph Wines Pinot or Gewürztraminer isn’t going to be on your local Safeway, but your local wine shop may have it, or could order it if asked.

My favorite wine shop and wine shop club, is K&L Wines, also known as ‘my dealer.’ Why?

First their selections of wine, especially International, is amazing. They send buyers out all over the world to buy direct, so their prices are great. (Takes the sting out of not getting industry discount!)

Second, you can order quickly online, and WillCall your orders for 2 months. I order a bottle here, a bottle there, and then pick up my few cases when I swing through San Fran. (Other options are Redwood City, and Hollywood, CA.) They will also accumulate and ship; I used K&L regularly when I lived in Denver after I left the Bay area in 2002 .

Third, K&L has a number of wine clubs, but their most unique is the Personal Sommelier Service. You literally create your own wine club, picking price range, wine type, region. You can also pick from their extensive list of buyers, who makes your selections.So for example,  each month I have Mulan Chan-Randal pick for me a Rhone Red blend, from the Rhone Valley of France, for $20-$40. I have additional club picks where I have her select a Gigondas, and a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Then I have a West Coast Red Rhone club, picking from CA, OR, WA. If I wanted I could make that as specific as Paso Robles, or Sonoma, only. If your selection is too narrow, the system will advise you perhaps you should widen your selection. You can revise any of the many variables each month if you like, or suspend one. You can have your monthly selection shipped, or held for Will Call. Highly Recommend.

3rd Party Wine Clubs

Lastly, there are ‘aggregator’ like wine clubs, like the International Wine of the Month Club, whose Chianti I reviewed recently. California Wine Club is one I belonged to many moons ago when living in Texas. Many lifestyle publications, like Sunset Magazine also have one. These can vary widely in focus and benefits, but typically they source wines from many producers, and include educational material, food pairings, winery information. These can be a great way to get diverse exposure of wines, domestic and International.  If you live in an area where unique, interesting wines are hard to get, this is a great way to get a regular supply of something new and different.

A Gift For Others, Or Yourself

Many wine clubs are available in a giftable, pre-paid fashion. Buy your parents, adult children, or your boss, a 3, 6, or 12 month pre-paid  membership, and let them enjoy your present throughout the year, as well as perhaps broaden their horizons and palate.

Cheers!

The 12 Days of Wine Christmas

Part 1 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas”: Wine Road Winter Wineland, Redwood Foodbank Raffle.

Part 2: “12 Days of Wine Christmas” – Gadget Review of the VinniBag

Part 3 of “The 12 Wine Days of Christmas” – The Wine Check (no, its not money!)

Fun times, great food and wine at Kendall-Jackson “Mardi Gras Gumbo Smackdown”

I was one of the fortunate 120 or so who had tickets to the sold out ‘Mardi Gras Gumbo Smackdown” this Saturday at Kendall-Jackson’s Wine Center. I love this facility, which also hosts other events including the Annual Heirloom Tomato Festival. (Stay tuned for the pre-event tomato sale coming soon!)

I was lucky enough to catch wind of this event when I visited the Center during the Winter Wineland event a few weeks ago, where I had a tasting of K-J’s small production Highland Estate wines.  As luck would have it, these  very best of Kendall-Jackson wines were to be paired with four of North Sonoma’s top chefs. Now THIS is a true Simple Hedonisms event! I had tasted Jeff and Susan Mall make amazing New Orleans dishes before, and could not wait!

For wine club members, this event was a mere $10, and still a value for outsiders at $25.

The ‘smack down’ competition was a face off between K-J’s  own Executive Chef Justin Wangler, head to head against Chefs Jeff and Susan Mall of Zin, Josh Silvers from Syrah, and Jeff Reilley of Equus.

The concept was simple: each prepared their own unique gumbo recipe, and paired it with a limited release K-J wine. Attendees had a string of purple Mardi Gras beads, and awarded their favorite to the table/chef they liked the best.

There were also cooking seminars each hour, with topics including sausage making,  the importance of a good roux, and pairing wine with spicy food.

We started with Jeff Reilley’s creation: an especially dark roux, with smoked chicken, andouille sausage, and an unusual but tasty topping of cajun breaded popcorn shrimp sprinkled on top. This savory mix was paired with 2006 Kendall-Jackson Highland Estates Seco Highlands Pinot Noir. This wonderful pinot was a perfect match for the extra heat in Jeff’s bliss in a bowl.

Next up was Justin Wangler’s table. His gumbo was a blend of dungeness crab, duck confit, shrimp, andouille sausage. This heavenly concoction was paired with newly released 2006 Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Malbec. A big wine that meshed with, instead of competing against, Justin’s creation.

After a a break and some crowd mingling, we dove into Jeff and Susan Mall’s creation. I have been blessed to have this before at a fundraiser at their very special farm, and it was just as amazing. Dark and a bit more brothy than the others, Jeff ‘brew’s this in a big simmering cauldron, melding together Liberty Duck, gulf shrimp, and a beautiful dark roux. This mouth watering bowl of heaven was paired with Mendocino Zinfandel (only 9 cases left!) I liked the zin so much, especially paired with the gumbo, I begged a second pour, and I am generally known as a Burgundian or Rhone wine guy.

Last, but by no means least, was Josh Silvers and his ‘All Saints’ creation. Josh’s was hand prepped in front of you, sprinkling spices and an yummy jalapeno vert sauce on top.  Josh’s gumbo was the only one with crawfish, in addition to the ‘usual’ gumbo components. This yummy melding of food was paired with 2005 Kendall-Jackson Highland Estates Alisos Hills Syrah. I LOVE this syrah. Lots of structure, this release will lay down nicely for years, is enjoyable today, without the over extracted body and tannins we sometimes find in California syrah.

WHO to pick to win….I wish we had beads for everyone. After much deliberation, we gave one to Jeff Mall of Zin, and one to Justin Wangler of Kendall-Jackson, but kudos and compliments to all! Hopefully this week we will see the final winner, as well as the recipes! Edit 2/8/2010 – Jeff Reilley was the winner, by a single bead!  (You can find pics on the Facebook Fan site here.)

I will be watching for next years advance ticket sales and be sure to pounce early.

cheers! (and congrats to the Saints!)

Thanksgiving Weekend Wine Country Events

Happy Black Friday from Wine Country

Apologies for not publishing this last night as planned, I was wore out after a great day of food and wine, and practicing what I preach: Simple Hedonisms. I also have had my Twitter account hacked 2x the last two days, wasting a lot of time trying to individually apologize. I will NEVER send out SPAM.

In addition to this weekly Post (targeted for Thursdays) the Calendar page of this blog, and my events Tab on FaceBook are resources as well. (Best to check both, as some items exist only on one.)

There is a plethora of events this weekend, with many wineries hosting open houses, special events. It will take to long to highlight them all here, some (by no means all) are listed on my calendar.

Other good resources for events: The Juice, and Sonoma.com.I usually add items from these (and other sources) for my calendar, but with too many open houses for me to list, I’d scan these too. And of course just call your fave wineries and see what they are offering.

Buy Wine – Black Friday is Red (or White) Friday!

Wineries are offering incredible deals right now, this is a great chance to stock up, as well as support your local wineries. I have picked up 6 cases this last week of great wines at prices that just couldn’t be ignored. For Holiday gifts, take advantage of wineries offering free/inexpensive shipping – thats as much as $50 right there. I overflowed my two wine cellars (120 and 40 bottle) and further stimulated the economy with a new Vinotemp 160, which I am waiting for delivery as we speak. Scouring the Net, I found this on sale, with free shipping ($300+), this is a killer deal for a quality cellar, and gives me some much needed expansion space!

Heart of Sonoma Valley – 26th Annual Holiday Open Housesonoma holiday

Today and tomorrow,  November 27 & 28.  Join over twenty wineries throughout the heart of Sonoma Valley for this annual celebration and enjoy wine tastings, meet winemakers, mingle in the caves & cellars, stock up on your favorite wines for the holidays, pick up holiday gifts for your friends & family and relish in wine country holiday cheer!

I am excited about this event, as I wrote last week, I don’t get down to the ‘Valley’ that much. This passport event is a steal, only $30 for two days.

Participating Wineries: Adler Fels Winery, Audelssa Estate Winery, Benziger Family Winery, Chateau St. Jean, Deerfield Ranch Winery, Enkidu Wines, Eric Ross Winery, Family Wineries, Imagery Estate Winery, Kaz Vineyard & Winery, Kenwood Vineyards, Kunde Family Estate, Landmark Vineyards, Ledson Winery & Vineyards, Little Vineyards, Loxton Cellars, Mayo Family Winery, Muscardini Cellars/Ty Caton Vineyards, Paradise Ridge Winery, St. Francis Winery, VJB Vineyards & Cellars, Valley of the Moon Winery and Wellington Vineyards.

As I have encouraged, spend a few minutes on the website, map out a plan based on interest in varietals, producers, before you head out. And consider carrying around a spitcup, to maximize your tasting experience. (Unless a day of partying is more of what you are after, just bring your DD along!))

Other Interesting Events:

Downtown Healdsburg Holiday Party: Today, 5-9 p.m.

CarolersThe Christmas season in Healdsburg is a wonderful way to experience the joys of the holidays in a small town. Even though Healdsburg has become a chic visitor destination, there is still a small town charm here that always shows itself off best at this time of year.

There are so many ways to experience the Christmas season in Healdsburg and enjoy our hospitality. There are winery open houses, the Victorian Inns tour and four days of the Strolling Dine Around. The holiday events start on November 27 with Healdsburg’s Annual Downtown Holiday Party! This shopping celebration shows off an eclectic mix of shops with refreshments, holiday cheer, music and horse-drawn carriage rides.

For the children there is Santa Saturday, which starts with a ‘Toys for Tots’ drive (please bring unwrapped gifts) and continues with Santa visits, games and family fun.

The restaurants will show off their best holiday dishes,  and the wineries and shops sparkle with holiday lights. Full details, and a map and timetable are here.

Santa Rosa Railroad Square:

depotpark

Friday November 27th – Check out both the Courthouse Square Merchant Open House from 12-5 pm today and the  Santa Rosa Downtown Tree Lighting from 5-730. Lots of great local shop specials, and fun for the whole family. Click on the links for full details.

Wine Sale and Holiday Open House at Acorn Winery – Saturday Nov 28th, 11-4GrapeGreenLeaf

Join  Betsy & Bill Nachbaur of Acorn Winery, for a special open house. This is a special treat, Acorn is a small family producer, with less than 3,000 cases a year, normally open by appointment. Great people, wine, hospitality. If that’s not enticement enough Zin Restaurant  is catering, and offering: Autumn Vegtable Hash Cake with Zin Sausage & Eastside Farm Pepper Jelly, AND Holiday Biscotti with Chocolate and Dried Cranberries. Also, Acorn will be pouring (and selling) some delicious 2001 Acorn wines.

Holiday Open House at Kendall Jackson:

Ring in the Holidays at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center with a Reception, Wine Tasting & Hors d’oeuvres. Details. 11-4 pm, Friday

Also note at the K-J Wine Center: Art Show & Sale: November 28th – 30th, 10 am – 5 pm

  • Taste limited release wines while shopping for holiday gifts, and view artwork by local artists
  • Details

Not wine country related – but next week for your Portland Dwellers, don’t miss the very fun Holiday Ale Festival, in Pioneer Square. This is a great event, that runs next Wednesday through Saturday, that I unfortunately have to miss it this year as I head out Tuesday for business in N.C.

With that, I am off to re-organize my collection, and head out to some open houses!

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