Brixr + TinyBottles + Me = Tasting Video Fun!

BrixrWhat is the single biggest problem about wine clubs for both the wine producer/wine store and the consumer who receives the wine?  The wine itself!  The wine producer or wine store owner usually has to send out new wine releases blind to their wine club members and the members just have to hope that they like the wine that they receive, even though it might be very unfamiliar to them as an average wine club member.  What does all of this mean?  A lot of wine bottles that are sent out are not the style of wine that a member enjoys.  This results in frustration, wasted money and sometimes even the cancellation of their membership.  Now there is a solution, one that actually solves the REAL problem that plagues wine clubs…and it’s called Brixr!

Crushpad WineryThe talented and clever wine folks behind Crushpad have fixed the actual problem behind the morass of many a wine club: the wine is not the issue, but the *size* of the wine is truly at fault.  Wine consumers need (and love!) to taste a wine before deciding to buy a bottle.  Most wine consumers do not get the chance to taste the wines that are lined up in front of them at the store or on their computer screen, however.  Enter Brixr tasting packs, the BrixrPack.  These are small packs of between 2-4 wines that utilize TinyBottles that hold 50 mL pours or “tastes” of each wine!  Brilliant stuff.

Brixr Pinot Pack #1Have a hankering for some high-end Pinot, those that can dip into the $40+ price range but don’t want to shell out the dough for a couple bottles that might be heavier than the cool climate style that you prefer?  Spend $19 instead, (with fixed shipping cost rates that become free with 4+ items) and buy the Brixr Pinot Pack #1 to get the chance to taste a healthy pour of 4 different Pinots!  These extremely small production wineries win because they have a great, cost-effective way for consumers around the interwebs to try their wine, despite the fact that they have no tasting room of which to speak.  The consumer wins because they can try a bunch of high-end, artisanal wines for a very affordable price and then even get a coupon for a 20% discount for the ones that they decide to reorder.

But Brixr goes far beyond just selling very clever wine products…it is a social media and interactive wine tasting network.  Indeed, they already have a tasting video that can walk you through your new BrixrPack, or you can check out a few videos and decide which pack might be best for your own palate.  Sommeliers, winemakers and Crushpad staff have all shot great videos that are already up on the site.

AWard Kadel - @drXeNo on Brixrnd now Brixr, continuing their string of wildly clever ideas (or dangerous ideas!), have wrangled me into the fold.  A couple weeks back I sat down and tasted through two packs, the Brixr Pinot Pack #1 and the Bon Coeur Tasting Pack.  Both videos are embedded below for your vinous pleasure.  There is a TON more in the works for Brixr and TinyBottles, but those announcements will just have to wait a bit longer.  Fortunately, there is a huge amount of fun stuff to do at the site already, so sign up and start checking it all out!

Are you a winery, distributor or winegrower that would like to get involved with TinyBottles?  Shoot me a line and I’ll get you started!

Brixr Pinot Pack #1 (WineLog: “BrixrPinotPack1“)Ward Kadel - @drXeNo: Brixr Pinot Pack #1

Bon Coeur Tasting Pack (WineLog: “BrixrBonCoeurPack“)Ward Kadel - @drXeNo: Brixr Bon Coeur Tasting Pack

Dig in to the links below to read my full reviews of the BrixrPack wines that I tasted through in my videos.  Follow the links in the Pack names to get to the Brixr Store where you can purchase these fun wine packs.   All of the wines from Brixr are continuing to be added to WineLog and are tagged with “Brixr“.

If you have any comments, feedback or tips about any of my videos or these wines, please leave a comment below.  Cheers!

Brixr Pinot Pack #1 ($19)BrixrPinotPack1:

Brixr Pinot Pack #1Rockroom Anderson Valley Hein Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007

Bon Coeur Santa Rita Hills La Encantada Nathan’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2007

Robléon Santa Rita Hills La Encantada Pinot Noir 2007

Due Cani Cellars Santa Rita Hills La Encantada Pinot Noir 2008

Bon Coeur Tasting Pack ($24)BrixrBonCoeurPack:

Bon Coeur Tasting PackBon Coeur Santa Lucia Highlands Doctor’s Vineyard Nicole’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2008

Bon Coeur Santa Rita Hills La Encantada Nathan’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2007

Bon Coeur Napa Valley Cuvée Marilyn 2007

Bon Coeur Napa Valley Reserve Red Wine 2007

Vintners Hall of Fame 2010 Inductee Luncheon

Vintners Hall of Fame - CIA GreystoneLast year in late November, I had the very fortunate opportunity to attend the 2010 Inductee Luncheon for the Vintners Hall of Fame at The Culinary Institute of America, Greystone in St. Helena.  CIA Greystone is the premiere college for the culinary arts, with the main campus at Hyde Park, New York.  They also have additional campuses in San Antonio, Texas and in the imposing former Christian Brothers stone building in St. Helena, California.  It is here at Greystone that they have converted the old winery Barrel Room into a an impressive showcase of the many men and women that have shaped the wine industry in America.

Barrel Room - Vintners Hall of Fame - CIA GreystoneThe day’s event was to introduce the newest class of the VHoF during a small private ceremony before the public grand induction ceremony that will be held on March 13, 2010.  I arrived a bit early to the event in my excitement, and grabbed an espresso at my favorite coffee shop in this earth, Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company, only a about a mile south of Greystone on 29.  The weather was fairly terrible, with the first true downpour of the season just starting to the it the valley that very morning.  I tried to park near the entrance to escape from being entirely drenched before the event!  With the extra time that I had, I took in the sights at Greystone, chatting some with the very informative and kind volunteer near the entrance and also checked out the late Brother Timothy’s incredibly impressive wine bottle opener collection…I had *no idea* that there were so many different types of openers over the centuries!

The David and Judy Breitstein Collection - CIA GreystoneAs I walked around early on snapping photos (does anyone really *snap* a photo anymore?) of the Barrel Room, other invitees started coming in.  One thing that was immediately impressive was display of The David and Judy Breitstein Collection of 150 bottles of historic and iconic Californian wine.  Proprietors of the esteemed Duke of Bourbon wine shop in  SoCal, their collection is unsurpassed and they have generously donated all 150 wines on permanent loan to the CIA.  I enjoyed a very interesting conversation with David and Judy about the history of many of the wines on display that day.

Mike Grgich & David BreitsteinThere were many wine luminaries there, including a few previous Hall of Fame alumni, such as the indomitable Mr. Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, someone whom I’ve always wanted to meet.  Mike and I had a rather interesting conversation, discussing the passing of Mr. Robert Mondavi and whom should pick up the torch and continue the march of spreading the wines of the Napa Valley around the world.  I brought up Mike himself, but with a mild chuckle he passed on commenting upon that choice.  I was also excited to fun into W. Blake Gray (Twitter), wine writer and previously the wine editor of the now integrated SF Chronicle Wine Section and Podcast.

But most importantly, the 2010 Inductees were there and appeared very humbled by their awards and clearly enjoyed being able to socialize with other longtime members who have shaped the wine industry in the US.  The Vintners Hall of Fame 2010 Inductee Class consists of:

Leon Adams - Vintners Hall of FameLeon Adams, the “Pioneer Inductee” and a legendary historian of wine as the author of The Wines of America and founder of The Wine Institute. I was able to meet his delightful family over lunch!

Andy Beckstoffer - Vintners Hall of FameAndy Beckstoffer, one of the most influential grape growers in the history of the United States.  He has shaped the quality of wine grapes grown in California, as well as innovating economic policies that have helped encourage quality wine grapes.

Al Brounstein - Vintners Hall of FameAl Brounstein, founder of Diamond Creek Vineyards and one of the first pioneer’s of Californian wine to recognize our unique terroir, by releasing some of the first single vineyard wines in this country.

Randall Grahm - Vintners Hall of FameRandall Grahm (Twitter), the indefatigable winegrower, thought leader and champion of the lesser known grape varietal while directing his winery, Bonny Doon Vineyard.  His first collection was published last year, Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology (the book website was created by our own Jason Coleman).

Zelma Long - Vintners Hall of FameZelma Long, the fearless and talented female winemaker and winery CEO was one of the first to handle both sides of the wine business, at wineries Robert Mondavi Winery, Simi Winery and her own Long Vineyards, no less! Zelma had to call in from South Africa, were her and her husband produce wine for Vilafonté.

Charles E. Henning - CIA GreystoneLunch was kicked off by the Managing Director of CIA Greystone, Charles E. Henning who urged us to spread the word about the VHoF and encouraged us to provide any tips on how to grow the Hall.  One way that they can increase the reach and exposure for the Hall is to utilize some easily grasped social media strategies.  Much like the CIA itself, start a Fanpage on Facebook, open a VHoF Twitter account, but perhaps most importantly, make it a lot easier to find the Vintners Hall of Fame website.  Currently, unless you dig around the Greystone portion of the site, you won’t find the HoF anywhere on the main pages.  The Hall already has its own URL that redirects to the subdirectory page on CIA website; flesh out the site and make it standalone, yet still integrated by style and content with the CIA homepages.  I’m happy to chat more about all of these ideas.

Vintners Hall of Fame - CIA GreystoneLunch was very interesting for me, as I was seated next to Lori Narlock of one of my favorite wine portfolios, Wilson Daniels (Twitter) and Paul Franson (Twitter) of the long-established chronicle of Napa culture, NapaLife, as well as  TravelTastes.  Our table was filled out by the family of Pioneer Inductee, Leon Adams.  While I had little time to enjoy the many wines at the event, I did get in some Schramsberg bubbly early on (my favorite domestic sparkling producer) and Greystone’s own wine was served with both courses of the hearty luncheon menu.  The ’08 Sauv Blanc paired wonderfully with the Chilled Dungeness Crab Louie, while the ’06 Cab Sauv created some palate synergism with the Red Wine Braised Veal Shank that literally fell from the bone.  At the end of dessert, I had a chance to talk with VHoF 2009 alumus Carole Meredith and her husband Stephen Lagier. We discussed their latest endeavor, Lagier Meredith Vineyard up on one of my favorite appellations, Mt. Veeder.  I’m hoping to make a visit there in the near future to try some of their highly lauded Syrah!

The actual induction ceremony stands to be a grand affair and is open to the public, culminating in the induction ceremony 03/13/2010.  With a grand evening celebration as well as a number of ‘“A Day in Wine Country” salons and exclusive wine country lunches with tours and tastings,’ there are plenty of exciting events from which to choose.  More information about the events and ticket sales can be found online.

I would like to thank everyone at CIA Greystone for an exceptional day and all at Balzac Communications for enabling me to attend, particularly Michael Wangbickler (Twitter).

Check out my full reviews of the wines that we had that day during the delicious luncheon ceremonies.  If you would like to list these wines in your own WineLog, they are tagged with”2010VintnersHoFLunch“.  All of my photos from the day are over at my Flickr site, and are also tagged with “2010VintnersHoFLunch“.  Cheers!

Schramsberg Vineyards North Coast Blanc de Noirs 2006

Greystone Cellars Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Greystone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008