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WineRelease.com's January 15, 2005 Monthly Newsletter


Greetings from WineRelease.com, now 998 winery listings strong!

Well Happy New Year. I hope everyone had a great holiday.

After being asked more than a dozen times, I finally saw the movie Sideways, a movie about two guys (Miles and Jack) on a bachelor weekend tasting through Santa Barbara wine country before Jack's wedding day. It is a well made film and has garnered several nominations (7 Golden Globes) and film critic awards. On Fox's web site, they have a "Miles and Jack" wine map highlighting vineyards, wineries and restaurants they visited in the movie. I am sure the map will be a popular guide for Santa Barbara tasting.

A house keeping note, I added WineRelease.com in parenthesis to my email address as many of you have subscribed to QPRwines (WineRelease.com's sister site) so you can identify which web site the email originates. And those who have not subscribed, for a limited time you can receive $5 off the $35 subscription price by clicking here.

And now, on to the show...


February 2005 Wine Releases


WineRelease.com's Winery Newsletters and Mailing Lists Sign Up Page: Click here.


The following 21 winery information pages have been updated since 12/15/2004:
  • Arroyo Robles Cellars; United States: California
  • Broman Cellars; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • C.R. Sandidge Wines; United States: Washington State
  • Carlisle Winery & Vineyards; United States: California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
  • Et Fille Wines; United States: Oregon: Willamette Valley
  • Flora Springs Winery; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Grgich Hills Cellar; United States: California: Napa Valley: Rutherford
  • Harvest Moon Estate & Winery; United States: California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
  • Kathryn Kennedy Winery; United States: California: Santa Cruz Mountains
  • Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard; United States: Virginia
  • Kobalt Wines; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Lynch Vineyards; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Merriam Vineyards; United States: California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
  • Neyers Vineyards; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Paraduxx; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Penner-Ash Wine Cellars; United States: Oregon: Willamette Valley
  • Realm Cellars; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Selby Winery; United States: California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
  • T Vine; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Whitehall Lane Winery; United States: California: Napa Valley
  • Williams Selyem Winery; United States: California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley




  • By The Barrel Winemaker profile with Norm Beko of Cottonwood Canyon

    Norman J. Beko self described "Proprietor/winemaker/shipping clerk" of Cottonwood Canyon, sells most of his grapes to Loring Wine Company, Landmark, Sanford, ZD, Landmark, Mt Eden and keeps a bit for his own label. When WineRelease.com asked Brian Loring of Loring Wine Company "Who has been the most influential in your wine making career?" in the October WineRelease.com newsletter, Norm Becko was the first name he mentioned. Let's now learn about Norm.

    Describe the pivotal point when you went from dreaming about making wine to actually doing it.
    I have told so many "stories" that after 15 years it remains difficult to separate fact from fiction. The pivotal point became when I had more money than good cents as a result of selling my computer graphics company. Then the second mistake was, that I thought I could change the distribution system, not knowing about the various state laws that protect the incompetent distributor. This was not a "dream" per say, but an attempt to create a land legacy for the family.

    What was the first wine you remember tasting and where were you?
    My neighbor started me on Beaujolais when I was in my late 20's in southern California.

    Who has been the most influential in your wine making career?
    The most influential person for me was and is Bruno d'fonso of Sanford Winery. He, with Ken Volk of Wild Horse, taught me to let my taste buds dominate, not the chemistry.

    What is your most memorable food and wine experience?
    A glass of Cottonwood high acid Chardonnay with raw oysters and horseradish. Pure fantastic.

    What is your favorite memory of creating wine?
    Every year is my favorite-like starting a new family annually. The surprises, disappointments, joy and frustration coupled with the learning, is just great. I only wish it were profitable.

    What wine best expresses the region where it grows?
    There is no doubt that the Santa Maria Valley, with its cool influence of the Pacific, nineteen miles to the "south" create superb grapes of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Those of us who capture the annual flavor that this climate provides us, share in this unique growing condition where our acids are quite similar to Burgundy with the positive conclusion that we can achieve about 15% more ripeness and hence, more flavors.

    What food and wine paring is perfect?
    Our Chardonnay's with spicy foods-basil and cilantro, tomato flavors, salmon, Cesar salad, etc is very hard to beat!! Of course, our Pinot which I label "California up front with a French bottom" is great with cheese, fowl, salmon-tough call which I prefer-lamb, veal, etc. I sometimes have a tough time identifying which of our wines taste better with food or even, just enjoying a glass with some freshly roasted almonds.

    What do you wish you could say on your wine label that you can't?
    We really try to educate our customers, whom we sell direct to, numbering over 4500, to taste our Chardonnay's at room temperature, don't expose to temperatures outside 45-70F, allowing us to not heat and cold stabilize and therefore increasing the flavor profile immensely. Experiment with food. We tried all this in the past, but found that very few read the back label. We have recently started adding food pairing info.

    What is your opinion on alternative cork closures?
    We do need a much better closure system, including one that allows our customers to maintain a bottles integrity after it has been opened. For our products that we recommend consuming early-our Bistro line-and 375's, we have switched to synthetic corks.

    What is the funniest wine descriptor you have heard?
    "Sexy" as a wine descriptor.

    What wine trends do you not want to see?
    It would be great if we could have more acceptance of wine as a food, not a religious taboo and have restaurants restrict their mark-up to $5 above retail. These two alone might raise consumption more in line with Europe of the 55 or so liters per person annual consumption versus the US 12 or so liters. In addition, we should be teaching our youngster's that wine is a food and part of our meals, which would also result in teaching responsibility in drinking, not this mystical obstruction called "21 years of age".

    What do you want to tell the beer drinkers of America?
    Try wine at room temperature so you can taste the flaws not mask them with ice.

    If you weren't a winemaker, what would your occupation be?
    Wealthy and collecting coupons.

    Which words or phrases are overused in the wine world?
    What was your score?

    What childhood talent did you have that came in handy in your wine life?
    Obstinance.

    What bits of advice do you have for an aspiring winemaker?
    Don't start a winery unless you can afford to loose your investment.

    What part of your job do you most enjoy?
    There is only one thing I don't enjoy, actually two; #1-the distribution system, #2-$$$ invested.

    How do you want to be remembered as a winemaker?
    As one who let the grapes do their thing, not adjusting the product each year to be "consistent".

    What is your greatest winemaking fear?
    Someday, having to pay income taxes and the government will not use that windfall as well as me.

    What is your wine motto?
    End every day with 2 glasses of Cottonwood wine and you to, could look 20 years younger, like this 86 year old, me, who looks like he is in his 60's!!

    For your last supper, what will be the food and wines?
    My last supper will be with my family, their favorite wine, a glass of Cottonwood sparkling or pinot, with cheese!


    First Crush New winery profile of Realm Cellars

    Realm Cellars was founded in 2001 by Juan Mercado and Wendell Laidley with a simple mission of producing superior quality, small production, hand-crafted wine from Bordeaux varietals culled from some of the most distinctive Napa Valley vineyards. 2002 is the inaugural vintage of Realm with two wine offerings; a Napa Valley Merlot based wine "The Tempest" and a Napa Valley Beckstoffer To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon. The two wines will be released in March and they are available via mailing list.


    This issue's worthwhile wine site to visit is The Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association (SBCVA). If you do plan a trip to Santa Barbara (I do at the end of every Summer) then visit this site to get a full listing of wineries and interactive map.


    Please forward this email newsletter to your wine friends so they can enjoy it as well.

    Till next month!


    Neil Monnens


    Wineries listed in red are sponsors of WineRelease.com. Click here to send an Email to get winery sponsor information.
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