Wine in a box catches a lot of heat. Reputation dictates that wine served from a plastic bladder is little more than concentrated grape juice mixed with toilet-grade alcohol. Fortunately, we've evolved oh so much. Boxed wine has graduated to a viable medium for housing excellent wine. It's also friendly to our environment and provides opened wine a longer shelf life. Lieb Cellars is proving this to be very true. In fact, they're doing so in the equally experimental wine country of east New York - far away from the competitive landscape of California. We caught up with Ami Opisso, General Manager at Lieb, to learn more about NY wines and why the box demands attention: Those new to wine don't often include Long Island, NY in regions that are top of mind. Why should they be? Because we’re up and coming...and what wine lover doesn’t want to try wines that are new, hard-to-find, small production and largely “undiscovered”? Need more convincing? Being in a cool, maritime climate, our regional style is moderate alcohol, fruit forward, balanced wines. These wines are great for outdoor sipping and pairing with all types of food (because of our high acid levels). Wine Enthusiast named us the wine region of the year in 2014, we’re getting a ton of critical acclaim and our winemakers bring experience from all over the world. Plus, Long Island wine country is a magical place. We’re a small, tight-knit community of farmers and artisans surrounded by beaches, vineyards, farms and quaint towns – 80 miles from NYC. Lieb Cellars Your sister label, Bridge Lane, produces a White Merlot....in a box. How can we #respectthebox as wine consumers? Box wine often has a negative connotation. Rightfully so considering the vast majority of box wine is cheap, sweet swill. With Bridge Lane, we’re asking you to you #respectthebox by: 1.) Tasting and discovering that the wine we’re putting in our boxes is GOOD, even great! And 2.) Recognizing that, as a package, bag-in-box has a ton of benefits including convenience, freshness (the wines stays fresh for a MONTH after opening) and eco-friendliness. Bridge Lane Kegs Describe the ideal experience when drinking a bottle of your 2015 Reserve Pinot Blanc. What should one be listening to, eating, or generally enjoying with this wine? Without hesitation, fresh oysters at a clam bake on the beach. Our Pinot Blanc is bight and citrusy with notes of minerals and sea spray. It’s meant to be enjoyed with fresh, briny shellfish. What inspires the Lieb brand? Any particular music, art, landscape, etc.? Lieb’s branding is inspired by our tasting room. It’s housed in a modern, rustic barn next to our vineyard on the best farm road on the North Fork. The “L” is an homage to our original logo but it’s been redesigned to reflect our modern, modest sensibilities. Our wine, our tasting room and our team are not fancy, snobby or traditional. We’re about function over form. We’re about bright, clean, great tasting wines that we love to drink and are proud to share.
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When one thinks of Argentinian wine, Malbec is often what immediately comes to mind. And it should. The Mendoza province, a.k.a. the beating heart of Argentina's wine country, took this grape over from France in the late 18th century. Malbec's black fruit deliciousness has been perfected in world-class Mendoza ever since. There is more to Argentina than just one ass-kicking varietal, however. The Mendoza climate is ripe for a number of grape styles to flourish. One such winery that is proving this beyond doubt is Kaiken. Their Luján de Cuyo plot - which sits against a devastatingly gorgeous backdrop of the Andes mountains - is producing Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and other wines that are far underrated in the Argentinian region. A respect for the earth & adventure We had a chat with Kaiken's 2nd-generation winemaker, Aurelio Montes Jr., to learn more about their alignment with nature and why their Chilean roots landed them in Argentina: Biodynamics play a major role in Kaiken wines. What elements of this are unique to Kaiken and how do they directly impact the wine we're drinking? We believe in the use of high-quality, environmentally-friendly vine growing methods and winemaking processes. This means going back to old family-farming practices for vines to express themselves, free from chemicals and showing their "personality". That is why, since 2011, our 15-hectare estate known as Finca de Vistalba (planted with Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay) is being managed according to biodynamic principles. We're in the process of bringing these completely biodynamic wines to market for others to experience. Kaiken Vineyards - Mendoza, Argentina You're originally from Chile. What was the inspiration behind establishing Kaiken across the Andes Mountains in Mendoza, Argentina? My father started traveling to Mendoza in 2000 and was inspired by the people, the culture, the terroir and the possibility to learn and share his experience with winemaking in Argentina. Here he saw a tremendous potential for premium wines as we were doing in Chile. I guess it’s in our family´s DNA to explore, take risks and innovate. Establishing in Argentina was a combination of all of this. The experience Kaiken is all about the feng shui and so are we. Describe the ideal experience when drinking a bottle of 2014 Kaiken Ultra Malbec. What should one be listening to, eating, or generally enjoying with this wine? I truly believe there is no one “ideal experience”. Wine is about experience in general. It's about personal moments and feelings. In my case, the ideal scenario with a glass of Ultra Malbec is being together with my wife, relaxing after a day outdoors. We'll have a nice combination of cheeses and listen to Michael Bublé . What inspires the Kaiken brand? Any particular music, art, landscape, etc.? Kaiken is the result of the passion, dedication and inspiration of a group of talented professionals from Argentina and Chile. There are no limits. For us, an attained goal is just the starting point of our next challenge as we continue to explore, discover, and grow. This is where new journeys and dreams open up with every step. No doubt that source of inspiration is the majesty of the Andes Mountains that is so close to our vineyards. Mendoza is typically known for Malbec. What other varietals from Argentina should wine drinkers be paying close attention to? I have as a mission, whenever I travel around the world promoting Kaiken wines, to show gatekeepers and consumers that Argentina and Kaiken are more than just Malbec. We have a line of wines called the Terroir Series where we explore Sauvignon Blanc, which is not a common variety in Argentina. One of our premium wines is called Obertura, a high-end Cabernet Franc. Our team is constantly working on new and “non-traditional” varieties, but I will leave them for a future discussion =) "Wine Mom & the Critic" took Kaiken's Ultra Malbec for a spin last week. Let's see how they liked it. You can also learn more about Kaiken's history and wines on their website.
Most of us are aware of the pesticides, fertilizers, and other gross shit that often makes it way into mass-produced crops. Farming techniques are the direct result of this chemical usage. These techniques rely on shortcuts to produce more veggies and fruits with less overhead (i.e. manual labor) that impacts profit margins. Go green Alternative farming methods, specifically organic production, combat these otherwise McMansions of crops. Wine production is no different. As Anthony Perliss of Napa Valley's Perliss Vineyards explains, "Organic essentially implies nothing synthetic in your farming. That includes fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides.". Perliss Vineyards is proud to enforce a strict nature-only approach to its wines. Anthony gave us the lowdown on Perliss's approach to grape farming and what influences their exceptional vino: The goods What are the fundamental differences between general wine production and organic farming? Organic farming is a commitment to nature. It's more labor intensive than conventional farming, but the result is a more dynamic vineyard with a richer ecosystem. Our vineyard is on a slope surrounded by forest; the idea of a natural interplay between these two organic bodies is very important to us. Rather than using synthetic pesticides, we rely on owls, bats, birds, & ladybugs to combat pests. We use organic fertilizers and fungicides as opposed to the synthetic ones. Weed control is done manually instead of using herbicides. Overlooking Perliss vines Wine is taken into your body and is a concentrated product - you're consuming hundreds of unwashed grapes in a bottle of wine. It seems like a good idea to ingest what the body can recognize and assimilate. Fermentation is a powerful thing and neutralizes a lot of what comes in from the vineyard. But I have a hard time imagining it neutralizing synthetic materials. Aaron Pott, Winemaker What was the catalyst for Perliss Vineyards to adopt organic farming? It was never a question to do otherwise. We've lived on our property in Calistoga for almost 30 years and we have a deep respect for this landscape. Our well - the source for our drinking water and irrigating our vines and fruit trees - is in the middle of our vineyard. We prefer not to be drinking Roundup, even if Monsanto says it's safe to do so. For a wine to truly speak of a place, cultivating the diversity and idiosyncrasy of the vineyard is essential. As part of our mission to represent our little piece of the Valley as purely as possible, we don't add yeast to our grapes for fermentation, nor do we filter our wine before bottling. The inspiration What inspires the Perliss brand? Any particular music, film, art? This sounds obvious, but the landscape itself is the huge inspiration for Perliss. For decades my family has been enamored by this rugged, beautiful place - its manzanita, madrone and oak forest, its wildlife, its fierce winds and extreme temperatures - before we ever thought of planting vines. That the resulting wine somehow captures what we love about this site is incredible and deeply inspiring. The names & images of our wines, "The Ravens" & "The Serpents" are nods to the creatures that animate this place. Beyond that, as I worked for years in the perfume business, I see parallels between perfume and wine - the idea of precious essences extracted from a landscape somehow informs our project. What is the ideal song(s) for drinking a bottle of 2013 Perliss The Ravens? Tezeta (Nostalgia) by Mulatu Astatketh - deep, soulful, flowing. Also Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, Second Movement, Adagio by J.S. Bach - sounds like the energy of the forest. Learn more about Perliss Vineyards on their website and pay them a visit in Calistoga on your next visit to Napa Valley.
Change Gonna Come Nephew: The Infinite Monkey Theorem Sam Cooke said, "Change gonna come". Wine is a centuries old commoditized industry. It's seen its consumer change (Millennials drink nearly half the wine in the U.S.). Consumers themselves live in a world that is much different than the world of 5 years ago. Modern consumers discover and purchase differently. They discover products via social, digital videos, and word of mouth. Today's consumer is influenced by media and 'celebrity'. They will gravitate towards brands that offer more than a solid product, but a relateablness to their lifestyle and their sensibilities. New Ways to Explore Wine Naked Wines created an exploration system of wine that was all online and curated wines for the customer. They took out the barriers and pertinaciousness, while providing a great digital interface. Other unique wine companies are those in the product technology side like Kuvee (single bottle digital dispenser) and unique ways to learn about wines like Vinebox (they send you 3 glass-size pours of expensive wine to try at home). With all this change comes a change to the vehicle by which wine lives - enter the can. Wine snobs can turn their noses, but it doesn't matter because 'change gonna come'. Cans are a great simple vehicle that don't require any special gadgets, no glasses, and can be enjoyed with the bros while watching the game. We applaud innovators that are shaping the future of wine, and Ben Parsons from The Infinite Monkey Theorem out of Colorado is certainly one to applaud. He's a studied winemaker, a degree holding onephile, an entrepreneur, and visionary whose product is now sold in over 40 states including the Hawaiian Islands. We had a chance to try their Moscato. It's refreshing, slightly effervescent with flavors of citrus. Also, one of our team members said she's have a can in her purse to drink after taking the kids to soccer practice! Here are a few highlights from our recent chat with Ben: What was the impetus to getting into making wine and selling it in a can? Was there an ‘aha’ moment? Living in Colorado everyone is camping, hiking, skiing etc. They need a product they can pack in and pack out and canning wine was a no brainer for our edgy urban wine brand. What is source of inspiration when making wine? I’ve dedicated my life to understanding the winemaking process. I like to think about every decision that is made throughout the process and how it impacts the quality of the final product. Literally millions of decisions that could either make the wine good, or bad. It’s fascinating. How have millennials influenced the wine industry (if you think they have)? How has social media played a role for your brand? Millennials in general have definitely been more receptive of our packaging and are willing to experiment with it and advocate on our brands behalf. The social stuff has helped spread the word particularly through posting images of places to drink the canned wine. So what movie are we watching while drinking a can of TIMT? Shaun of the Dead. Editors note: very appropriate paring! This is a 2004 cult classic that pokes fun at zombie/horror films but at the same time honors the genre by doing it their own unique way. It's easy to see Ben's passion for producing wine while paving his own unique path in the industry. Check out The Infinite Monkey Theorem online or while on your next visit to Colorado.
Wine in Cans are Manly - MANCAN Conventional wisdom is being challenged everyday. The wine industry as a whole has not evolved in centuries, but today a number of entrepreneurs are challenging conventional wisdom to how, who, and when wine should be consumed. One such agent of change is MANCAN. Each can is handcrafted in Sonoma County using 100% California grapes. MANCAN is aimed at the soccer-dad as well as the construction worker after a hard day. We have a chat with MANCAN's founder Graham Veysey and learn how his concept was born after he had a long hard day on the construction site in Ohio. Cleveland Stand Up! What was the impetus to making wine and selling it in a can? Was there an ‘aha’ moment? The 'aha' moment came in April of 2014. I had been working on a construction project I was managing and was covered in drywall dust when I met a buddy at a bar. I was craving wine and yet this was a bar that -- if it had wine -- who knows how long it had been half opened. They had all this craft beer in cans and I asked "Why non wine-in-a-can?" I bought www.mancanwine.com that night. Describe your demographic. Is it just men who don't want to seem effete when drinking with their beer-swilling pals? Or is it bigger than that? We target anyone who wants to take the chore out of drinking wine. That being said, we find that millennials and "soccer-dads" tend to love drinking MANCAN the most. After a long day at work, people want to just go to their fridge and grab something easy and delicious. Dealing with stemware or even worrying about not drinking a whole bottle of wine are things we hear from folks who want that convenience that MANCAN offers. Also, MANCAN's awesome blend provides a universal taste appeal. How do you pitch your product to bartenders, and what kinds of bars are you doing well in? We do really well at places with live music or spots that don't have wine lists but love being able to serve our wine without worrying about those crappy plastic cups that break if you sneeze too hard. How long does your wine keep in the can? We dose each can with nitrogen and because cans don't have light penetration, we have a multiple year shelf life where our flavor profile is very stabilized. That being said, our cans are designed for drinking and not for cellar shelves. So we’re all about making wine relatable, tell us what movie are we watching while drinking a can of MANCAN? Not a serious movie...something like Trainwreck starring Amy Schumer that you can laugh to. We're from Cleveland so we love Lebron James in that movie! Any teasers as to new offerings in the future? We'll launch a rose for Summer 2017. Check out MANCAN Follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook Best $3 corkscrew with free shipping! Can't go wrong. Buy Now.
#VINO4: Cool People. 4 Questions. 1 Bottle of Wine. We've said that "wine is like baseball cards for adults" - well, Donna Katz and her team have made that statement a digital reality by creating tradeagrape. Tradeagrape is a mobile App that enables you to trade a bottle of wine you have with someone else for a bottle of wine they have! Donna went from the trading room floor to wine country, then decided to become a tech entrepreneur just a few years ago. She resigned from the trading room floor and came to Napa as a way to decompress while keeping an open spirit about her life's next adventure. To wake up to the vineyard every day, hand farm it all season, harvest the fruits of, and craft the wine from, is a dream I didn’t know could come true, but so grateful that it did. Donna moved to Napa in 2013 found a small property with an established vineyard and a ranch style (Brady Bunch) home that hadn’t been touched since it was first built in the early 1960’s. She launched into farming and learning all that she could whilst on the land, surrounding herself with a few quality key people who helped her learn and nurture. I renovated the house on the property, embarked on the startup and dove very deep into the unknown waters of winemaking. Enjoy the rest of our interview with Donna Katz. 1. How did the concept of tradeagrape come about? What was the 'aha' moment when coming up with the concept for tradeagrape? The idea of tradeagrape actually spawned from 3 observations/experiences that fit with 3 of my passions, wine, community and trading. I’ll elaborate. Wine I’m grateful to have built a cellar over the years and love the wines I have, but eager to try new and different wines from here and other parts of the world. Community I love the sense of community, and being surrounded by people that care about people and the life and wonders around them. A music analogy… I’m a member of the Pearl Jam fan club called the Ten Club. It’s a community, that has a common denominator passion called the music/band. There’s a forum to communicate amongst the members, people look out for each other, co-exist, share and spread the love. We see each other on tours, geek out in our passion and live our lives. It’s like a parallel existence that I love and wanted to see in the wine world. Community also brings in a sense of personal or intrinsic value proposition and there’s totally a place for that in wine too which I’ll refer to further along. Trading I noticed not long after arriving here that people throughout the wine industry are ad hoc trading wines, but with everyone being time poor, connecting isn’t always easy. A lot of folks that work in the nuts and bolts of the hospitality world are more likely cash poor too, but they are likely to be wine rich and have cases of wines stacked up in rooms throughout their home. Bring all three things together and you actually see that they overlap, and overlap well. The biggest a-ha moment was deciding to develop tradeagrape as an app and not a desktop platform. I always wanted it to be simple, fun, playful and sophisticated from a user experience perspective, but realized that because wine is part of our every day lives, the platform needed to be at our fingertips and be present, as dynamic as the model is, so it just made more sense to be a mobile app and be there for every wine moment. This literal a-ha moment hit me during a random visit to the Google campus. Not exactly sure why, but how’s that for Silicon Valley inspiration! 2. What affects (if any) do millennials have on the wine industry? Millennials do have an affect on the wine industry and that affect will absolutely continue to grow. I think sometimes the wine industry is nervous about the demographic cause they’re not sure if they understand them. And they probably don’t yet, but hats off that they’re wanting to find out and cater. It’s a fast pace evolving landscape out there and a constant battle to keep up. Listening, learning and navigating together are likely to help us all succeed. 3. We're all about relating wine with various aspects of culture like fashion, film, food, and music. What film do you see yourself watching while drinking a Rose, and what music with a Super Tuscan? I could totally smash an entire bottle of Rose whilst watching a surf movie. Sun, sand, ocean energy, good looking guys and very little clothing. Pass the bottle! As for Super Tuscan’s, they are very evening versatile. And smuggle well into most movie theaters - allegedly of course ;) In my case, they, and their cousin varieties in Nebbiolo and Barbera pair incredibly well with Pearl Jam or other choice gigs. 4. We've said 'wine is like baseball cards for adults"; do you think more people will start collecting? Why? What are some barriers to collecting today? Nice analogy to baseball cards - and spot on. Yes, more people will get into collecting wine. And even more so with access. Social media gives us the awareness and now tradeagrape technology gives us the access. We have a vision to break the current barrier we consider as limited access to wine. tradeagrape is all about access. We are opening up the wines of the world at the fingertips of the wine loving world. And to those who don’t know they love wine yet; they too can now explore and find what rocks their taste buds and spirits. Wine gems don’t only exist in wine stores, restaurants, supermarkets or tasting rooms, they are also under just about every roof of every home, and most staircases! Wine is pretty much on every table and across every culture. Bonus Question: What is your 'bucket list" bottle you'd love to add to your collection? 1965 Chateau Latour. This was one of the last bottles from my Dads cellar that we enjoyed together. We were both wowed. Speechless at times. I think partly cause of the significance of finally opening such a beauty together, and also that we both knew, that that alone was creating a life long memory. We wanted to drink and savor all at the same time. We relished in its evolution in the glass and how extraordinary it was, and had held up. It meant and means so much to me that I have kept the actual bottle. Download tradeagrape for iOS and Android today: http://tradeagrape.com/ ___________________ Innovative wine by glass subscription service. Check out VINEBOX.