Umbra Winery


By in news-events Comments Off on Better Than Organic: Sustainability and Wine

Better Than Organic: Sustainability and Wine

Better Than Organic: Sustainability and Wine

No matter how much people make fun of Millennials and Generation Z, they’ve been handed a pretty raw deal for several reasons. For one, both age-groups are entering the world during the worst recession (coined the Great Recession) since World War II and secondly, there is now reliable evidence that the conditions of life-as-we-know-it on Earth will continue to get worse over the next 30 years due to climate change. As these heavy realities hang over the heads of our future generations, they (we) can choose to do one of two things:

  1. Blue Pill: Put our Beats by Dre on, say “Ffff you!” and ignore the problem until we can’t…
  2. Red Pill: Realize the only way to create sea change is by voting (in mass) with our time and money…

Those of us who’ve accepted this (the red pill), think a lot differently about how we spend time and money. Where older generations would expend gas to travel miles in order to shop at the discount store Costco and ogle at discounts splashed in yellow highlighter, the new shopper questions the source and cares a lot more about where their money goes (if they spend it at all). Even if we can barely afford it, we’re shopping at local markets, seeking out organic foods, and paying attention to excess waste in our lives. This brings us to the topic of wine…

How does one support sustainability in wine?

Certified Sustainable Organic Wines

There are a myriad (read: hot mess) of certifications in wine. In an attempt to make sense of sustainability in wine, here is a guide to some of the most commonly used wine certifications and what they mean.


Organic vs biodynamic vs sustainable wine

Each category of certification has differing founding principles (even if there is a lot of overlap). You can think of each category as having a founding principle:

  • Organic: Purity of product using non-synthesized ingredients.
  • Biodynamic Holistic agricultural health.
  • Sustainable Mitigation and reduction of wastefulness in winemaking.

The Basics: Organic


USDA Organic

Wines are made with organically grown grapes, all additives (fining agents, yeast, etc) are organic, no GMO’s (or other prohibited ingredients) are allowed including sulfur additions (sulfites). Despite how good this all sounds, there aren’t that many US organic certified wines due to the fact that sulfur is, at the moment, the best available natural preservative for wine. Because of this, you’ll find that most USDA Organic wines have a much shorter shelf life and aren’t meant to age. So, if you buy USDA Organic wine, store them in your fridge/chiller (both reds and whites) and don’t be surprised if they don’t cellar well.

READ UP: The real deal about sulfites in wine (they’re not as bad as most people think)


“Made with Organic Grapes”

The next step away from USDA Organic is much closer to the European organic certification. Wines made with organic grapes also have organic additives (fining agents, yeast, etc) and are also non-GMO’s. The one caveat to this certification is that wines are permitted to have up to 100 ppm sulfites. Because of this caveat you’ll find “made with organic grapes” to be more popular with forward-thinking quality wine brands. Just so you know, this level of US organic wine is not allowed the USDA Organic seal, so you’ll need to seek out the words “Made with organic grapes” or “Made with organically grown grapes” on the label.


EU Organic

Since the 2012 vintage, the EU has implemented defining regulations for organic wine (prior to 2012, wines were labeled only with “wine made from organic grapes”). The new EU organic certification means wines are made with organically grown grapes, all additives (fining agents, yeast, etc.) are organic, and no GMO’s (or other prohibited ingredients) are allowed. Sulfur additions are limited to 100 ppm in red wines and 150 ppm in white/rosé wines (with a 30mg/l differential where the residual sugar content is more than 2 g/L).

Beyond Organics: Sustainable Wine

Beyond organics is where sustainability comes into play with resource management in terms water and energy efficiency in the vineyard and winery. Sustainability will grow in importance in people’s minds as climate change continues to become a reality. Of course defining sustainability is a bit complicated because of the unique environmental stresses of different wine regions. This is why you’ll see a myriad of different sustainability certification programs. Here are some of the most common sustainability certifications and what they mean (as well as where you’ll see them used).


EMS Environmental Management System (ISO 14001 / ISO 14004)

The International Organization for Standardization has a family of standards (the 14000 group) that provides practical tools for companies and organizations looking to manage environmental responsibility. The goal of this program is to identify and reduce environmental waste as well as plan for continual improvement in waste reduction. Because ISO continually updates and revises sustainability guidelines and compliances (which is why ISO changes overtime–14000, 14001, 14004, etc) it’s a good international baseline for sustainability. Several wine regions including Bordeaux (in France), Chile and Australia use the ISO standard.


Certified California Sustainable Vineyard and Winery (CCSW)

In 2002, members of the Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) introduced a practical self-assessment workbook for both winemakers and wine growers that encompasses three areas of sustainability: Environmental Soundness, Economical Feasibility and Social Equality. The metrics for CCSW include over a hundred criteria which are ranked from 1–4 in water use, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and nitrogen use. This means a winery can become CCSW certified with a lower rank (with plans to improve). Today, to become fully certified with CCSW, a third party is required to audit the assessments.


SIP Certified (Sustainability in Practice)

SIP certification also adopts the three “E’s” of sustainability–economic viability, environmental stewardship, and social equity with a points system. A winery or vineyard needs 75% of the total possible sustainability points which also include a Prohibited Materials List (various pesticides). Beyond gaining points, vineyards and wineries must also create a sustainability plan which includes documentation, reporting, and examples of how that vineyard/winery is complying to SIP certification. SIP certification is also verified annually through a third party. One strange piece of language in the documentation of SIP is that wines labeled SIP Certified only need to contain 85% SIP Certified wine to be labeled as such.


Certified Green (The Lodi Rules)

Mostly Lodi, California
The Lodi Rules include six areas of focus: 1) business management, 2) human resource management, 3) ecosystem management, 4) soil management, 5) water management, and 6) pest management. As of 2013, the six areas of focus have 101 criteria which are all scientifically measurable. One of the unique features of Certified Green with Lodi Rules is a pesticide assessment system that rates a vineyard’s pesticide use on everything from farm workers’ health to wildlife risk. Wineries and vineyards must also meet one of the three areas of sustainability laid out in CCSW: Environmental Soundness, Economical Feasibility and Social Equality. Finally, certified vineyards have to pass an annual independent audit to verify the certification.

FACT: By 2019, the entire Sonoma wine region will be sustainable.


LIVE Certified (Low Input Viticulture and Enology)

Oregon, Washington and Idaho
Wineries and vineyards must perform a yearly checklist of practices along with reporting to verify sustainability practices have been met for LIVE. The checklist includes a great number of opportunities to improve sustainability including planning and planting vineyards, fertilizing, required crop biodiversity, irrigation standards, and winemaking standards. LIVE is specifically tuned to the climates of the Northwest including the cool-climate areas in Oregon and the dry and sunny-dry climate areas of Eastern Washington and Idaho.


Salmon Safe

Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, California and Idaho
Regions with fragile riparian areas that support salmon populations in Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, California and Idaho have the opportunity to become Salmon Safe. This certification focuses on water management with special attention paid to managing run-off into streams and rivers. With a holistic look at run-off, wineries develop long-term soil conservation techniques which may include creating buffers of natural vegetation inbetween farmlands and streams, and paying close attention to waterways on farm properties.


Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ)

New Zealand
Wineries and vineyards in New Zealand can expect an audit every 3 years for Sustainable Winegrowing NZ. This program focuses on a wide range of factors including crop biodiversity, soil, water and air standards, energy use, chemical use, vineyard and winery waste, social impact, and sustainable business practices. The program also recognizes other environmental-based certification programmes, including ISO 14001, organic, and biodynamic wine production. Wineries and vineyards must have a plan and metrics for each of the 7 areas listed with a goal to continually improve and perhaps adopt organic/biodynamic certification. Joining any SWNZ programmes is voluntary, but in 2012 about 94% of all NZ vineyards were SWNZ certified.

FACT: Nearly 100% of New Zealand vineyards are certified sustainable.


Certified Sustainable Wine of Chile

Chile also adopts the three “E’s” of sustainability–economic viability, environmental stewardship, and social equity. Wineries and vineyards are reviewed every 2 years and given scores for their compliance standards where they must meet or exceed the baseline standards given that year. Chile has several certifying bodies that are used to verify whether a winery is compliant including BioAudita, NSF, SGS (which uses the IMO 14001 standard), IMO Chile, and DQS Chile.


Integrity & Sustainability Certified

South Africa
Sustainability in South Africa means vineyards and wineries have health and safety requirements for their workers, reduced usage of chemicals and pesticides, use natural predators to combat pests, and reduction in water usage and creation of waste water systems. Vineyard farms and wineries are audited every 3 years and if they pass the minimum requirements they are allowed to use the Integrity Sustainability seal on their wines. Wines of South Africa intends to support this sustainability measure across 100% of their wines and, in 2011, 85% had passed the minimum compliance.

FACT: Nearly 100% of South African wines are Integrity & Sustainability Certified.


Sustainable Australia Winegrowing (SAW)

Sustainable Australia Winegrowing is one of 3 certification programs of Australia’s EntWine program (whose goal is to foster environmental custodianship and continuous improvement). SAW is a set of practices that winegrowers use to become sustainable. The program is for vineyards only (not winery facilities) and requires metrics be provided by growers each year.


Bodegas de Argentina Sustainability Protocol

Argentina (no certified labeling yet)
In 2013, Bodegas de Argentina launched a sustainability protocol which was created after a 4-year study at Catena Wine Institute. The protocol was modeled after the Certified California Sustainable Vineyard and Winery (CCSW) system and modified to fit Argentina’s unique climate and growing conditions. For the time being, the protocol exists but there are not certifications to verify compliance.


Biodynamic Wine

There is a small subset of sustainability called biodynamics that focuses on maintaining soil health and timing planting actions with lunar cycles. Biodynamic wines must also practice low-interventionist winemaking to insure wines become a reflection of biodynamic vineyard practices. Some of the practices in biodynamics appear strange, such as using bizarre soil preparations made with herbs and bones (so they’re not exactly vegan). And, while biodynamics aren’t necessarily based in hard sciences, followers challenge that the processes produce remarkably consistent results of improved soil quality and overall vineyard health. To date, there are two programs that certify biodynamic wine internationally: Demeter and Biodyvin.

READ UP: Find out exactly what goes into Biodynamic wines.

Last Word: Look for These on Wine Bottles

Once a winery takes the plunge to making their wines sustainable, the efforts become integrated into how that wine business (and its surrounding community) operates. Sustainability is time-consuming and it does cost money, so you’re likely to see certified sustainable wines cost a buck or two more than the alternatives. The plus side is that you know your money is going directly to businesses making smart agricultural practices all over the world. Yeah, we got this.

Wine Folly – Learn about wine.


via Wine Folly

May 18, 2016 at 03:29AM

By in news-events Comments Off on Dishwasher-safe glasses – ask Decanter – Decanter

Dishwasher-safe glasses – ask Decanter – Decanter

Dishwasher-safe glasses – ask Decanter – Decanter

It’s always a bit scary to put your precious wine glasses in the dishwasher. Xavier Rousset MS gives Decanter some tips on the best ones to choose…

Ask Decanter: Dishwasher safe glasses

Paul Williams, from Bolton asks: I want to buy some good sturdy wine glasses that will work in the dishwasher and will be versatile enough for red Bordeaux and white Burgundy. What would you recommend?

Xavier Rousset MS for Decanter, replies: Most of the top wine glass manufacturers have ranges and glasses which will meet your requirements. One of my personal favourites is the Vino Grande range from Spiegelau, which is owned by Riedel. But I would also advise you to look at Lehmann (Gerard Basset range), Mikasa (Chef & Sommelier range) and Schott Zwiesel (Ivento range). And it is perfectly okay to put them in the dishwasher – 95% of our restaurant glasses are cleaned this way. But you do need to consider how easy it will be to replace any you glasses that you may break, as you don’t want to end up with an assortment of different shapes and brands after one or two years. The other key thing to take into account is the height of the stem and glass. Make sure any glasses you buy will fit comfortably in your dishwasher.

Xavier Rousset MS is joint owner of Texture restaurant and the 28˚-50˚ wine bars in London.

via Decanter

May 18, 2016 at 02:06AM

By in news-events Comments Off on Texas Wine Info: The Importance of Climate Controlled Wine Storage: The post The Importance … Via @TXWineLover

Texas Wine Info: The Importance of Climate Controlled Wine Storage: The post The Importance … Via @TXWineLover

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May 18, 2016 at 05:32AM

By in news-events Comments Off on Beauty and Adventure in the Commonplace: It is always the simple that produces the marvelous.- A… #Inspiration

Beauty and Adventure in the Commonplace: It is always the simple that produces the marvelous.- A… #Inspiration

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May 17, 2016 at 11:29PM

By in news-events Comments Off on Added to Umbra Winery – Feel our Vibe on Spotify: “San Antonio – Lounge House” by Il Greco

Added to Umbra Winery – Feel our Vibe on Spotify: “San Antonio – Lounge House” by Il Greco

from Twitter

May 17, 2016 at 09:28PM

By in news-events Comments Off on Reaching for Wine Ritual | Drinking Out Loud | News & Features | Wine Spectator

Reaching for Wine Ritual | Drinking Out Loud | News & Features | Wine Spectator

Reaching for Wine Ritual | Drinking Out Loud | News & Features | Wine Spectator

Photo by: Jon Moe

Matt Kramer’s favorite ritual pairs Burgundy with cheese toast. How about yours?

Does your wine life involve some sort of pattern, a kind of anticipation, that might be called ritual? Ours does. For many years now, life chez Kramer has a particular travel ritual involving not just wine, but one particular wine.

Readers plagued by retentive memories may recall that one of my most-loved wines is Volnay Clos des Ducs, which is a small single vineyard owned in its 5.3-acre entirety by Domaine Marquis d’Angerville.

Volnay Clos des Ducs is a red Burgundy, which is to say a 100 percent Pinot Noir, from a site that can only be described as unique what with its highest-in-Volnay elevation and its unusually chalky soil. What results is a red wine like no other in my experience: delicate yet powerful; long-lived yet never bullying. Anyone who doubts that soil—especially extreme soils such as are found in the Clos des Ducs vineyard—can inform the taste and structure of a wine need only taste this wine to learn otherwise. I love this wine like no other.

Knowing this, you can easily understand why serving Clos des Ducs is no casual thing. Nor should it be. Not when that sort of emotion is invested in what might seem to be, well, just another Pinot Noir. For me it isn’t. Quite the opposite. For me, it’s the ur-Pinot, the one that sheds light on all the others, if only from the contrast.

I mention all this by way of explanation about the ritual thing. Whenever my wife, Karen, and I return from an unusually long and definitely tiring trip—the 10-hour drive from San Francisco to Portland, the endless transcontinental, transatlantic flight from Europe to the West Coast—we arrive home buoyed by anticipation of the ritual to come.

We’re tired; we’re a bit hungry. But really, we just want to return to the comforts and pleasing routines of home. So after getting the luggage into the house, checking to make sure no damage has occurred and reassuring ourselves that all is well, we head for the kitchen to sit at our little table in front of the fireplace for our ritual: toasted melted cheese sandwiches (open-faced, with Gruyère) and a bottle of you-know-what. It’s sublime.

I mentioned this not long ago to Guillaume d’Angerville, who took over Domaine d’Angerville after the death of his father, Jacques, in 2003. “I’ve never heard of Clos des Ducs being served with melted cheese sandwiches, but why not?” he replied. “It sounds wonderful.”

It is wonderful, actually. It showcases the wine. Too often really great wines get served with excessively elaborate food, which saps a wine’s impact and distinction. But the key, the real magnification, is because of the ritual.

These days we tend to think of “ritual” as a synonym for “routine,” a certain boring predictability. It’s anything but that. What differentiates one from the other is our emotional investment, the anticipated pleasure not just of the reassuring familiarity of what’s to come, but of what that familiarity signifies.

More than many things in our daily lives, wine lends itself to reassuring, pleasing ritual. Sometimes these rituals are so familiar, so frequent that we don’t even think about it, such as clinking our glasses with everyone else present before taking the first sip. Or holding a glass when someone makes a toast. Or opening a bottle of Champagne when guests arrive. Rituals all, if unthinkingly so.

But when certain wines mean something to you, either because of your profound love of a certain wine or producer (my Volnay Clos des Ducs thing) or because of a nostalgic association that the wine pleasurably and invariably invokes (“We had this on our honeymoon in Paris”), then the ritual is anything but unthinking. It’s meaningful. It magnifies a moment, elevates an occasion.

I’m wondering: Do you have such wine rituals in your life? Do they involve a particular wine? A particular setting? A certain food or dish? For that matter, do you agree that ritual, to borrow from the Italian poet Virgilio Giotti, somehow bestows “the language of poetry for everyday matters”?

Or is it all just too stuffy and formulaic? You know my thoughts. I’m curious about yours.


May 17, 2016 at 01:29PM

By in news-events Comments Off on Krug releases Clos du Mesnil 2002

Krug releases Clos du Mesnil 2002

Krug releases Clos du Mesnil 2002

Krug, the LVMH owned luxury Champagne house, has released its 2002 vintage Clos du Mesnil blanc de blancs

Clos du Mesnil vineyard in Champagne
Clos du Mesnil vineyard in Champagne.

Krug offered its Clos du Mesnil 2002 to guests during a special dinner at Clos du Mesnil itself during the Krug World Festival.

The 1.84ha, Chardonnay-planted, Clos du Mesnil vineyard produced 13,278 bottles and 500 magnums of the 2002 vintage.

This month’s launch follows the release in January of Krug 2002, described by Champagne expert Michael Edwards as ‘in another league’.

Also revealed for the first time last week was the Krug Collection 1990. Collection wines are released by the house’s chef de cave, Eric Lebel, when they have ‘entered their second life’ from extended bottle age. Just 1,000 bottles of this fêted vintage are left.

The 2002 Clos du Mesnil (like the 2002 vintage) was released a year after its 2003 counterpart due to its superior ageing potential, the house said.

Krug’s suggested retail price for Clos du Mesnil 2002 is £541 for a 750ml bottle, but with the Clos du Mesnil 2003 already retailing at £600-£960, it’s likely this price will escalate.

Prices have already risen above the estate’s recommendation with some merchants. Millesima in the UK was offering the Clos du Mesnil 2002 for £700 per 75cl bottle. In the US, it was being offered by Sotheby’s in New York for $945 excluding sales tax, and by K&L Wine Merchants in California for $899.

Lebel said 2002 was one of the best Champagne vintages since 1990 and 1996, and the best in its decade. ‘It was a year of serenity, when everyone had a smile on their face,’ he said.

His tasting note describes it as being ‘precise, pure and fresh with tension and vivacity, with aromas and flavours including citrus fruits, white pepper, toasted nuts and liquorice’.

Guests at the Krug World Festival were also the first to discover the blend of the 171st edition of Grande Cuvée. Based on fruit from 2015, it will be released in 2022 after seven years on its lees.

The backbone is 45% Pinot Noir, bolstered by 36% Chardonnay and 18% Pinot Meunier. It has 58% of 2015 fruit with the remaining 42% from 131 reserve wines from 12 different years, the oldest being 2000.

Krug released the fourth edition of Clos d’Ambonnay, this time from the 2000 vintage, in July 2015. Just 5,158 bottles were made and priced – if you can find them – at £1,200-£2,000 a bottle.

Krug was founded by Joseph Krug in 1843. It remained a family business until 1999 when it was bought by luxury goods company LVMH, which also owns Champagne houses Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot. Olivier Krug, son on Henri Krug, became director of the house in 2009.

The post Krug releases Clos du Mesnil 2002 appeared first on Decanter.


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May 17, 2016 at 03:06AM

By in news-events Comments Off on Added to Umbra Winery – Feel our Vibe on Spotify: “Naples Bay” by Belloq

Added to Umbra Winery – Feel our Vibe on Spotify: “Naples Bay” by Belloq

from Twitter

May 17, 2016 at 06:58PM

By in news-events Comments Off on 8 Great Family-Owned Restaurants With a Tradition of Wine | Restaurant Guides | News & Features | Wine Spectator

8 Great Family-Owned Restaurants With a Tradition of Wine | Restaurant Guides | News & Features | Wine Spectator

8 Great Family-Owned Restaurants With a Tradition of Wine | Restaurant Guides | News & Features | Wine Spectator

For many, food and wine mean family time, whether that’s preparing a meal together in the kitchen, dining out for a special occasion, treasuring a recipe passed down through generations or enjoying a glass at the end of the day. But for restaurants that are also family-owned businesses, that connection takes on an even deeper meaning. Here are eight dining destinations that are the life’s work and pride of a family—be it husband and wife, brother and sister, one generation or multiple. In addition, all have been a part of the Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards family for a decade or more.

This is only a partial guide to family-style ownership. Others with great lists have appeared in past restaurant guides: Acquerello in San Francisco, Bern’s Steak House in Tampa, Fla., Bleu Provence in Naples, Fla., Canlis in Seattle, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Dallas and Houston, and Rustico Ristorante in Telluride, Colo.

To check out more great wine dining spots across the globe, see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,600 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including our 81 Grand Award recipients.

Do you have a favorite family-owned restaurant you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to—we want to hear from you!

Marcello’s La Sirena

6316 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach, Fla.


(561) 585-3128


Dinner, Monday to Saturday

Grand Award

In 1996, following his father’s death, Marcello Fiorentino was helping out in the dining room of his parents’ Italian restaurant in West Palm Beach when he realized the wine program’s potential for growth. At that time, the wine list he inherited offered just 12 reds and 12 whites; today, the list at Marcello’s La Sirena
has 1,250 selections, including 50 choices under $50. While Marcello captains the cellar and kitchen, his wife, Diane, is the general manager, and the two co-own the Florida institution, which earned its first Restaurant Award in 1999 and its first Grand Award in 2015 for its strengths in classic Italian regions like Tuscany and Piedmont, as well as California and Bordeaux.

Opus Restaurant On Prince Arthur

37 Prince Arthur Ave., Toronto


(416) 921-3105


Dinner, daily

Grand Award

Brothers Tony and Mario Amaro opened Opus Restaurant On Prince Arthur in 1992 in Toronto’s upscale Yorkville neighborhood with the goal of making it a wine lover’s destination. It’s safe to say they achieved their vision: With a list ambitious from the start, the restaurant earned its first Best of Award of Excellence in 1996 and its first Grand Award in 2002. Today, diners can choose from 2,100 selections backed by an inventory of over 50,000 bottles, with strengths in France, Tuscany and California, as well as an impressive Port collection and a page devoted to local Ontario producers, to pair with chef Jason Cox’s continental cuisine.

Five Fifty-Five

555 Congress St., Portland, Maine


(207) 761-0555


Dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence

Wine director Michelle Corry collaborates with chef and husband Steve to pair their Best of Award of Excellence–winning list with contemporary American fare.

From husband-and-wife chef-and-wine director team Steve and Michelle Corry, Five Fifty-Five in Portland, Maine, boasts the city’s most expansive Restaurant Award–winning wine list. Curated by Michelle, the 400-bottle-plus list earned the establishment its first Restaurant Award in 2004 and its first Best of Award of Excellence in 2015, with moderately priced strengths in California and France. When it comes to food-and-wine pairings, chef Steve’s contemporary cuisine opens up a bevy of possibilities, with dishes such as Bangs Island mussels, seared Maine scallops and Nova Scotia halibut.

The Manor

111 Prospect Ave., West Orange, N.J.


(973) 731-2360


Dinner, Wednesday to Sunday; lunch, Wednesday and Sunday

Best of Award of Excellence

David Verdini

Twenty acres of manicured gardens provide a stunning backdrop to a meal at Best of Award of Excellence winner the Manor.

Owned by the Knowles family in West Orange, N.J., Best of Award of Excellence winner the Manor has been earning Restaurant Awards every consecutive year since 1986. Its origins, however, go back much earlier: Founder Harry Knowles first opened the restaurant in the 1950s as the supper club Bow & Arrow Manor before transforming it into the fine dining establishment it is today. Now, the iconic list is managed by wine director Michael Cammarano and offers 770 selections, with a focus on California, Burgundy, Bordeaux and Italy.

The Pointe Restaurant

Wickaninnish Inn, Osprey Lane at Chesterman Beach, Tofino, British Columbia


(250) 725-3106


Lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence

Anthony Redpath

Overlooking the waters of the Pacific, the Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn takes great pride in its surroundings, from its Canadian cuisine to its wine list full of local producers.

Inspired by the rugged natural beauty of Tofino—a small peninsula in British Columbia with sandy beaches, lakes and a wild rainforest—Howard McDiarmid helped establish the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in 1971. With its opening, the original Wickaninnish Inn was converted into the park’s marine interpretive center, sparking McDiarmid’s vision of building a modern hotel at the site. In 1996, the McDiarmid family helped bring this dream to reality, opening the Wickaninnish Inn and the Pointe Restaurant, which has earned Restaurant Awards every year since 2002 and a Best of Award Excellence since 2007. Sommelier Ike Seaman’s 630-selection list continues the McDiarmid legacy of championing local producers, shining a spotlight on Canadian wines, as well as California and France.

The Red Lion Inn

30 Main St., Stockbridge, Mass.


(413) 298-5545


Lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence

Owned by the Fitzpatrick family since 1968, the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Mass., is now led by Nancy Fitzpatrick, the establishment’s second generation of ownership. With a rich history spanning back to the late 18th century, the restaurant earned its first Award of Excellence in 1999, and in 2015 achieved its first Best of Award of Excellence for its 525-selection wine list, offering favorites from California, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Italy. Chef Brian Alberg’s menu features contemporary American cuisine inspired by the inn’s historic origins, focusing on local, seasonal ingredients.


11633 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles


(310) 820-2448


Lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence

In the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood, Toscana aims to “treat everyone as family.” Owned by husband-and-wife team Michael and Kathie Gordon and their son Andy, this hot spot’s Restaurant Award–winning history dates back to 2003, combining Tuscan influences with a California setting. Wine director Emily Johnston’s 450-selection Best of Award of Excellence–winning list shares this dual emphasis, highlighting gems from both Italy and California.

Roessler’s Restaurant

2033 Vamo Way, Sarasota, Fla.


(941) 966-5688


Dinner, Tuesday to Sunday

Award of Excellence

Owned and operated by the Roessler family since 1978, Roessler’s Restaurant in Sarasota, Fla., achieved its first Restaurant Award in 2001. Today, wine director and chef Klaus Roessler—son of founder Klaus Roessler—maintains a moderately priced list that has grown to 355 selections, highlighting California, France and Australia. Set on nearly 3 acres of tropical gardens, the grounds at Roessler’s are a popular spot for proposals and weddings, while the main dining room offers views of the outdoor patio and bridged pond.


May 17, 2016 at 11:38AM

By in news-events Comments Off on Dropping The Mic On Online Wine ROI (TMRW Engine’s 2016 Digital Wine Report)

Dropping The Mic On Online Wine ROI (TMRW Engine’s 2016 Digital Wine Report)

Dropping The Mic On Online Wine ROI (TMRW Engine’s 2016 Digital Wine Report)

TMRW Engine 2016 report 1

image: TMRW Engine

So much of the material upon which 1WD was built consists, essentially, of opinion pieces (in fact, four or five years ago I sat on a panel focused specifically on opinion writing alongside Lettie Teague and Jon Bonne, about which I imagine both of whom are still scratching their heads).

But over the years, I’ve tempered (well… by my standards, anyway) the opinion-heavy pieces here in favor of conclusions that can be drawn from data. The older that I get, the more I want to see opinion bolstered by something other than the biased, fallible memories of people’s experiences (including my own).

Which is why I get royally pissed at the the wine world’s penchant for defaulting to the data-devoid opinions of entrenched personalities, particularly when it comes to denying the return on investment (ROI from here on out) of wine online (usually with the concept of social media directly in the cross-hairs).

While it seems common sense that their must be at least some ROI for wine brands in talking directly with their consumers (which is part and parcel of what social media online can catalyze), remember that data trump opinions, even when those opinions align perfectly with common sense.

Fortunately, the wine world now has some compelling data that demonstrate a plausible link between online social interactions and ROI. Yes, in terms of real people actually spending real money on wine

The data come to us via the 2016 Digital Wine Report, an effort by TMRW Engine (a sort of successor to Vintank), Vin65, Wine Direct, and W2O Group. I’ve been given access to the full report, and there’s too much great information in it to distill into a single blog post (even one as long as I’m apt to write). However, we can focus on the mic-dropping, money-shot ROI portion, which is a manageable load (see what I did there?… sorry…).

First, here’s why the results of the report matter; the volume of data analyzed is significant (when I asked Paul Mabray about the timeline of the data, he estimated that the majority of it spans five years):

TMRW Engine 2016 report 2

image: TMRW Engine


Second, the methodology employed for distilling the data looks pretty legit:

TMRW Engine 2016 report 3

image: TMRW Engine

Here’s the statistical breakdown from the report, for the more geekily-inclined among you:

“To understand customers and brands, we analyzed the interactions that wine customers were having with wine brands on every major social channel. Using TMRW Engine, we were able to put a dollar value against customer engagement on social. Findings were synthesized based on results observed from Pearson correlations, linear multiple regressions, and non-parametric Mann-Whitney U, and Kolmogrov-Smirnov tests”

Good so far? Ok, let’s talk about the why for a second. Ok, more like for a minute. Or three.

I’ve long said that when it comes to wine, we live in the single most competitive time in the centuries-long history of the product. The TMRW Engine report does a nice job of summarizing the particularly thorny challenge that this competition represents:

“There is NO OTHER consumable consumer good product that has wine’s level of selection. This competition will continue to grow as the US adds more wineries (we now exceed over 8500 US wineries and approximately 17K US brands) and as the industry is seen as an inviting target for foreign wineries/brands due to our continual consumption and growth.”

In other words, if you have wine to sell, it’s very, very, very difficult to get that wine noticed. And, not to throw our wine biz friends into a deeper pit of depression, it’s not going to get any easier according to TMRW:

“The top 5 wholesalers in the US (Southern, Glazers, Republic-National, Charmers, and Youngs) together have revenues of roughly $23 Billion… So to put that in context, that means that to get meaningful distribution, over 150K products are vying for meaningful mindshare from 2-5 wholesalers per state who also sell beer, liquor, and other items.”

If you want to get noticed in that level of competitive mess, you either need a billion-dollar marketing budget, or you’d better be good at guerilla marketing. Actually, one could argue (god knows that I have) that guerilla marketing is one of the only viable tactics available to small wine brands, and the use of social media is, essentially, guerilla marketing.

This is why the results of the TMRW Engine report are, for me, so compelling; their analysis of all of that online social wine-related data showed the following juicy tidbits:

TMRW Engine 2016 report 4

image: TMRW Engine

Put another way, if you do social right when it comes to wine, you do, in fact, sell more wine. Customers who engage with wine brands on social media even in amounts as small as ONE interaction can see that customer uptick their sales.

Now, more work would need to be done on all of these findings to get any deeper insights into causalities and the quality of the interactions, including which ones work best, etc. The report suggests as much:

“If brands seek to effectively leverage social as a marketing tool for increasing customer value, wine brands need to engage 1:1 with their customers in order to cultivate deep engagement.”

But the bottom line – and it’s an exciting one, especially for smaller brands – is that engaged online wine customers spend more money on wine.


I suppose that the lesson here is that any wine brand that doesn’t want to see an uptick in spending for the general online wine-buying populace should remain dismissive when it comes to the ROI potential of social outreach.

Have fun with that, guys.


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via 1 Wine Dude

May 17, 2016 at 12:16AM