Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pet Peeves part deux

People who want to 'just go down the list' of 12 wines. (and don't spit.) 'Start me at the top. I don't give a rip because I ain't buying anyway.' Drinking and driving is illegal. So is being drunk in public. The winery can, should, and will cut you off.

People who 'refresh' their palates between wineries with mint gum. Mint only destroys the sensitivity of the palate for about two hours. Eat a jalapeƱo while you are at it. Have a cinnamon latte to wash it down.

People who sneak out the door when you aren't looking and leave without even saying thank you. Canadians are notorious for this, eh. If there is no charge for tasting, common courtesy suggests you buy a bottle of wine at each winery to keep tasting free. If you really don't find something you like, at least say "thank you" before leaving. Don't tell us you will look for our wines in Bumbfuck, New York. You won't look and we won't ever be there.

People who say they are 'just tasting' and will be back tomorrow to buy. Sometimes this is true, but most times it isn't. To not sound like a jerk, just don't say it. Say "thank you" instead. When you show up later to buy, the tasting room employee will be pleased to see you and he/she will not have had a single bad thought about you.

People who think they can get all wines cheaper in Seattle. Large wineries have this problem where grocery stores will use their wines as a "loss leader" in order to get you to buy over-priced items while you are in the store. The store doesn't let you taste every wine on the shelf. Tasting rooms are expensive to operate. You probably won't even find the wine in Seattle. Buy it on the spot or say "thank you." before you leave. If you really like it, you can buy more later in Seattle. Actually, some of our wines are cheaper in Seattle. We will tell you which ones are. Our best wines are not available in Seattle.

People who pretend to be 'wine writers/bloggers' or otherwise take copious notes. We will treat you like any other customer - well, maybe not quite as well because you are announcing you are not buying. There are about four wine writers that count. They don't go wine tasting secretly to discover new wines for you. (Sorry to burst your bubble. The Easter bunny doesn't exist either.) Steve Heimoff isn't going to show up at Bonair with a notepad. These guys arrive on paid junkets and most wineries only get to 'kiss the ring' (isn't the Latin word for ring, 'anus?') and present their wine at a central location. Nowadays we don't even do that. We just submit them to the Wine Commission which uses them to party.

People who brag about what expensive wines they drink/own. Wine is food. Get over it.

Three men is business suits that burst into the tasting room who only want to taste the most expensive wines, but are afraid to buy anything because they don't know anything about wine and don't want to look foolish in front of their colleagues. This usually happens at the end of the day after a conference or meeting. I always admire the guy who buys a bottle of Sunset because he likes it. He has balls.

Uncontrolled children who proceed to dismantle the tasting room while their clueless parents taste wine. We have threatened to give away free goldfish to the children for being so 'good.' Hopefully, the parents will see the irony. Who will be the ogre when they have to flush the damn thing down the toilet?

People who drink beer (if you can call Buttweipper beer) between wineries. Admit it, you are an alcoholic. Get help.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sagelands, You Read It Here First

Now the story is starting to come out of the closet. The Wine Spectator picked up on it (probably by secretly reading this blog) "Diageo Shutters Rosenblum Winery, Moves Production to Napa" The article goes on to state, "The company declined to comment on specific brands or facilities potentially for sale, but its U.S. wine division also includes labels such as Sagelands, Echelon, Canoe Ridge, Jade Mountain and Dynamite, as well as a partnership with Edna Valley Vineyard."

What with Covey Run teetering on the edge of collapse it could be a dismal year for wine grape growers in Washington State.

But that doesn't seem to make a difference to people. Everyone still wants to get rich in the wine industry as indicated by this article What are these people thinking (or smoking.) Haven't they heard the old joke?

How do you make a small fortune in the wine industry?
Start with a large one!

Fred Franzia continues to run his bottling line day and night. When he runs out of Bakersfield wine, he pumps out wine from Australia. I predict a significant shrinkage in the Washington wine industry in the next few years. Most Washington wineries are not big enough to get out-of-state distribution, yet the Washington Wine Commission continues to ignore the home crowd in favor of national and international distribution. A few years ago, only one bottle in six consumed in the state was produced in the state. I think the WWC now says they have it up to one in five.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sagelands Saga Continues

The repairs to Sagelands tasting room are complete. (Remember, my cousin did the work.) It is ready to open, but it is not. Word has it the winery (not the tasting room) was open for wine club members during Spring Barrel Tasting.

Now the street talk is that Sagelands and Canoe Ridge are both for sale. If Diageo is pulling out of Washington, maybe it is time for real 900 pound gorilla to move in. How about some Columbia Valley Hardly Burgundy? There is going to be a glut of grapes on the market this year. It would certainly be better than California Hardly Burgundy. Walla Walla could become Modesto North, or the new Sonoma. Gallo Walla Walla has a certain ring to it, well, at least a lot of l's.

I don't make this stuff up, I just report what other winemakers are saying here in the Rattlesnake Hills. This is strictly gossip. Maybe the nice PR man from Diageo will clear things up again for me or tell me the asking price.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pet Peeves from the Tasting Room - part one

People who ignore the dump bucket and pour their wine into the water pitcher. We are used to this and when we catch it, just quickly whisk the offended pitcher off to the sink to be washed. But now we are smarter. We don't put out a water pitcher. Water coats the glass and is difficult to remove. The previous wine is more like the next wine and rinses cleaner. If you must rinse, we will use the next wine.

People who rinse between each sample. Rinsing is not necessary between samples. In fact, the water at 0% alcohol and zero taste affects the next wine more than the previous wine would. Only rinse when you go from red back to white. Again, we don't provide pitchers any more.

People who fill their glass with water and rinse between samples. This usually happens on festival weekends when you don't have enough people to keep the dump buckets emptied. Folks, it doesn't take eight ounces of water to rinse 1/10 ounce of wine from a glass. Hence, no more pitchers.

People who can't dump water on the ground. During event weekends when people have their own glass, we put a rinse pitcher outside for people to use because they usually tasted red wine at the last winery. They carry the full glass into the tasting room asking us to dump it for them. I know people from the city always put things down the drain. Here in the country, we spit and piss right on the ground.

People who ignore the dump bucket on the bar and look around to pour their rinse water into a waste basket. Okay, if this sounds petty, but just try dumping a quart of water into your paper-only waste basket at home or work. Clue: it's a yucky mess. No more pitchers! Do you get the pitcher, mister?

People who only drink "red" wine thinking it some sort of sign of sophistication. Sorry, you are only impressing us with your ignorance of wine. All wines have their place and there is nothing 'superior' about red wine. In fact, it is easier to make red wine than white wine. Any idiot can make a decent red wine in his garage (and probably get $40 a bottle for it.) White wine is prone to oxidation and needs expensive tanks and refrigeration. Garagistes don't have an 8-ton refer unit sitting outside.

People who try to impress you with their (lack of) knowledge. We hear some doozies. If the person behind the counter is well-trained, you will come across as a buffoon. If they aren't well-trained, they will just think you are full of shit.

Large groups who arrive unannounced. It sounds fun, get together with 12 friends and go slam the local tasting room which has only one person on staff that day. In fact, arrive at the same time as the group of ten chooses to arrive so no one gets any attention. Please call ahead if you group has more than six to make sure you can be accommodated.

Large groups of disinterested relatives who don't really like each other's company, but went wine tasting as a diversion. This is the corollary to the above. One person suggested they go wine tasting because he/she was going crazy cooped up with these idiots. So, let's go wander indifferently around the tasting room and make other people hate us too. Beats the hell out of sitting around discussing the weather.

People who bounce all over the tasting room. A corollary to the above. Your server tries to keep track of you and what you like. When you wander off and come back to a different server, they have to start all over getting to know you.

People who bounce all over the wine list, first tasting a sweet Riesling then going to a Chardonnay. Wine lists at wineries are usually in some sort of order. If you are unsure of the order, just ask for guidance. Plan your tasting and only taste those wines you are interested in and do so in the proper order. (I suggest a limit of three.) Do not say "surprise me" or "what is your best wine?" We don't make bad wine; well sometimes we do, but you will never taste it.

Do you have any? Please post them.