Posts Tagged ‘Cellars’

 

Wineries are coming out loud and proud in their support of gay marriage. They’re putting it right on the label.

“Little by little, we’re breaking down the barrier,” says Gary Saperstein of Out in the Vineyard, an events and tour company based in Sonoma wine country that caters to gay travelers.

One of the barrier breakers is Same Sex Meritage, a red blend that sends its message on the bottle and at the cash register: One dollar for every bottle sold is donated to the advocacy group Freedom to Marry.

“It’s the right thing to do,” says Matt Gold, who is based in Chicago and teamed with Josh Stein of Stein Family Wines in California to make the wine, which launched last December. Meritage is a brand name that refers to a Bordeaux-style blend. And, of course, it sounds a lot like marriage.

Gold and Stein see their business partnership as a way to make wine and make a statement. “Everyone should have the right to marry. Everyone should have the same rights as anyone else,” says Gold.

Same Sex Meritage isn’t the only wine reaching out to the LGBT community.

Egalite, a bubbly from the Burgundy region of France, was launched earlier this year with the name French for equality reflecting the wine’s origins as a Burgundy cremant (sparkling wine) and its support for the gay community. Each quarter, a portion of profits is donated to a LGBT nonprofit organization chosen by fans of the wine on Facebook; $15,000 has been donated since the wine’s January launch.

 

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Our most popular post from last year is brought current with the 2012 financial information. The question at hand is: “How much do wineries really make?
 
The answer of course is ……(drum roll please ….) Not enough. Finding the facts is almost as hard as chasing unicorns in this business because the wine business is private. Its a family owned industry with even the largest; Gallo a family owned company. But its really quite amazing from the perspective of what is shared between neighbors in the wine business. There isn’t the sense that your neighbor is a rival or competitor. Its more of a club feel in many ways. If you need something, its quite normal to check in with your neighbor. Need a tractor because yours went kerput? No problemo. Need a little welding and custom fabrication on a pump? I’ll be right over with a welding rig.
 
There is a competitive side that abounds in the business too of course. When it comes to sharing financial information and customer lists, good luck! Ask a winemaker neighbor how its going financially, and you’ll get a mixture of liars dice, false bravado, partial truths and ….. well ….. 

 

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There are easier ways to get to Durbanville Hills Winery than aboard a snorkel-equipped Land Rover, but I don’t think there’s a better way to go.

They brought out the 4×4 vehicles (snorkel-equipped — who knew? — so the engines can breathe even in deep water crossings) so that we could experience and appreciate the hills, the vineyards and the rugged terrain even before we came to the winery itself and the braai lunch that was planned for us there.

 

Surrounding vineyards.

 

My visit to Durbanville Hills Winery started as adventure and became a learning experience about the diverse nature of wine in South Africa. Now it is also Exhibit A in the case against the One Big Tank myth that I wrote about last week.

 

Entrance to Durbanville Hills Cellar at night.

Entrance to Durbanville Hills Cellar at night.

 

The Big Tank theory is that giant wine and drinks companies with dozens of brands in their portfolios offer consumers the illusion of choice, not real choice. It’s as if all the different wines came out of one big tank.  Although there is a grain of truth in this idea, I think it is fundamentally bogus and Durbanville Hills is a case in point.

From Oom Tas to Nederberg Noble

Durbanville Hills Winery is part of the Distell drinks empire. As I wrote last week, Distell is South Africa’s largest wine and spirits producer and is a global power in several beverage categories. They superficially fit the Big Tank stereotype, but within their range of brands you will find choices over a wide range starting with very basic wines such as Oom Tas (described as “an inexpensive, dry, golden, unsophisticated wine of constantly good quality and taste”) and Kellerprinz (” an unpretentious, fun wine, its quality is nevertheless good and consistent, offering value for money”) and moving on up the ladder to the rather special Nederberg Noble Late Harvest wine I wrote about last year.
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A single bottle of 1788 Cognac from the cellars of the historic La Tour d’Argent restaurant in Paris has sold for £17,825 at a Christie’s auction.

Vieux Cognac Grande Champagne Fine Clos de Griffier Café Anglais 1788
Fetching over four times its estimate, the Vieux Cognac Grande Champagne Fine Clos de Griffier Café Anglais 1788 is identical to the Cognac that was accidentally smashed by a customer at The Plaboy Club in London this July.

The bottle was destined to form part of the world’s most expensive cocktail, mixed by world-renowned bartender Salvatore Calabrese at The Playboy Club.

Dutch spirits collector Bay van der Bunt snapped up all six lots of Clos de Griffier at £17,825 each, to add to his Cognac collection, one of the largest in the world.

Van der Bunt was also the highest bidder for two Jeroboams of Grande Fine Champagne Cognac ‘La Tour d’Argent’ 1805, bought for for £23,000 each.
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The hallmarks and handiwork of world-renowned architects make these prolific wine producers stand out.

© Courtesy of Mission Hill Family Estate

© Courtesy of Mission Hill Family Estate

Anthony von Mandl is the inventor of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, which has made him rich. But ask him why he created the company, and his answer is, “The winery.” More than 20 years ago, von Mandl, who grew up in Vancouver, decided to turn a hilltop in central British Columbia—part of a wine-growing region known as the Okanagan Valley—into a winery meant to last generations.

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