Thursday, September 15

Everybody's Wine.Wooting For The Weekend: Introducing Weekend Wine.Woot Sales

by Jason Toon

Get ready to get down, 7-day party people! This weekend will be the first weekend of the rest of your lives as Wine.Woot adds Saturday and Sunday sales to its weekly rotation. What does this mean for you, the cut-rate wine connoisseur?

Friday deals will only be available for 24 hours. Tarry no more, Wine.Wooter! You won't have the luxury of taking your time to decide on Friday's deal anymore, because it'll be gone by midnight. Buy or get off the carafe.

Labrats could strike on any day of the week, not just Friday. It's a brave new world for our test subjects, who might be called upon to post their volunteer wine reviews on any day, at any time, in any place. (OK, not really in any place. We just needed a third thing there.)

Your life will be approximately 40% better. With 40% more Wine.Woot deals every week, the math works out.

Remember, the fun starts this very upcoming weekend at the end of this very week. We hope to see everybody at the first-ever Saturday and Sunday deals at Wine.Woot: where every weekend is a lost weekend!

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Wednesday, June 29

Pro-Am Tasting Invitational: Meeker Vineyard 2004 Cabernet Franc

by Jason Toon & Alison Smith

Nothing beats wine advice from an experienced taster. But what if you're just stumbling into the wine game? Wouldn't it help to get a gut-level gut-check from a n00b's gut? That's the thinking behind our new series of Pro-Am Tasting Invitational. This second installment looks at today's Meeker Vineyard 2004 Cabernet Franc 3-Pack. Alison Smith of Wine Country Connect will provide the tasting notes with actual expertise behind them, while Jason Toon will provide the (let's say) outsider perspective. We'll let you decide which one speaks to you...

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Wednesday, June 08

Pro-Am Tasting Invitational: Expression 44° Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

by Jason Toon & Alison Smith

Nothing beats wine advice from an experienced taster. But what if you're just stumbling into the wine game? Wouldn't it help to get a gut-level gut-check from a n00b's gut? That's the thinking behind our new series of Pro-Am Tasting Invitational. Our first subject is today's Expression 44° Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Oregon - 2 Pack. Alison Smith of Wine Country Connect will provide the tasting notes with actual expertise behind them, while Jason Toon will provide the (let's say) outsider perspective. We'll let you decide which one speaks to you.

Part one: Alison "TexaCali Ali" Smith says...

Tonight's Expression 44 tasting was a great excuse to cook a welcome home dinner for my main-squeeze who spent the last few weeks in the Loire Valley & Germany. Riesling is his first love, but you know what they say, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so tonight's dinner was a bit more fancy than my usual Tuesday-night-after-yoga meal of bird-feed (and wine). Here's how dinner and wine went down tonight in Cali (with the game sounding off in the background of course - GO MAVS!)...

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Thursday, June 02

Someday Your Ship(ment) Will Come In: Summer Shipping Season Starts Now

by Jason Toon

Building contractors and web developers alike are familiar with the Project Triangle: the principle that you can have any two of your three most desired attributes, but probably not all three. A rich, faithful, handsome husband would be terrific. A ballclub made up of experienced, talented, cheap players would come out ahead on the field and on the balance sheet. And who wouldn’t want an affordable, roomy, and fuel-efficient car? Alas, reality usually says we have to sacrifice one of those three aspects to get the other two.

So it is with wine shipping, especially during the hot summer months. It should be obvious where Wine.Woot stands. Low cost and high quality are more important to us than high speed. The way we see it, it doesn’t matter how quickly you get your wine if it’s spoiled from heat exposure by the time it gets there. And who cares about a great wine deal if you have to pay out the nose for shipping?

That’s why the summer shipping charge will be the usual (and extremely low) $7 again this year. We think the $2 bump from the standard shipping charge is a small price to pay to ensure that your producer-direct wine shipment makes it through the heat unscathed. Sure, that cost could double or triple and you’d get your wine sooner. The producer could send it via the cheapest method they could find and hope that the heat doesn’t do any damage. But we think the best combination is the one we’ve favored every summer since 2007 – cheap and good.

You can check out the logistics at that link, if you’re interested in exactly how Wine.Woot pulls off our affordable, high-quality wine shipping. But for most of you, just know that even if your wine order takes a while to arrive, that low shipping charge and careful handling will make your wine worth waiting for.

What do you think? Would you choose a different pair from the wine shipping project triangle (cheap, fast, well-protected)? Let us know in the comments below…

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Wednesday, May 27

Wine.Woot Takes Brooklyn: Official NYC Tasting Party, June 5

by Jason Toon

Some of you Wine.Wooters have been getting together for a while now on your own, to sip wine and swap notes and soak in your collective cool. Officially, we think that’s awesome. Secretly, we’re consumed by jealousy. It’s all we can think about. And cry about.

So we just had to throw our own get-together in the heart of Brooklyn wine country. You’re all invited to join us from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 5, at Like the Spice Gallery, 224 Roebling Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211. Currently showing work by artist (and Shirt.Woot fan) Reuben Negrón, Like the Spice is convenient to the L, G, and JMZ subway lines. And the Atlantic Ocean, if you’re planning to come by submarine.

Dave “Winedavid39” Studdert and a couple of the key behind-the-scenes Wine.Woot folks (the ones who get all the work done) will be there with hors d’oeuvres, music, and more than a mere sampling of the never-before-tasted Woot Cellars summer release. Before leaving, participants will be subjected to a minor surgical procedure to excise all memories of the evening, to prevent them from revealing details of the upcoming Woot Cellars wine. It’s relatively painless. Bring your health insurance card.

Then, if you’re one of those city-that-never-sleeps types, come along to the official unofficial afterparty to be named later. If you’re trying to keep up with Winedavid39, remember he’ll still be on California time, so he’ll have an unfair advantage.

All dumb jokes aside, we’re psyched about meeting you guys, and finally bringing the rogue Wine.Woot party scene into our sphere of influence. No need to RSVP, but feel free to post questions, regrets, and Transformers 2 spoilers below.

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Tuesday, December 16

Talk Titus To Me: Live Video Chat Today

by Jason Toon

Crank open your see-holes, 'cause the time draws near for the Wine.Woot video chat with Eric Titus of Titus Vineyards. He'll spend a solid hour answering all your Titus-related questions, except for those that may compromise national security. Click on the video below at 12:30 PM Central time (1:30 Eastern, 11:30 Mountain, 10:30 Pacific) to start talkin' Titus!

Free TV : Ustream

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Friday, August 29

Name That Grape: Mystery Wine Challenge Now Open For Guesses

by Jason Toon

Attention, contestants in our Wine.Woot Mystery Wine Challenge! By now, you should have received your Wellington Vineyards order, including the mystery bottle(s). It’s time to pop the cork on it, take a sip or two, and make your best guess as to what varietal you just tasted. No, “Mad Dog 20/20” is not a varietal. If you have any questions about how this works, read the original Wine Challenge announcement or post your question in the discussion forum for this blog post.

Thanks for taking part in the largest wine tasting event in the known universe. We’ll gather the entries and salute the winners in a future blog post. Isn’t that recognition much more meaningful than some vulgar prize like mere money?

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Monday, August 11

Taste The Glory: The Wine.Woot Mystery Wine Challenge

by Jason Toon

Does your palate have mad skills? Are your tastebuds like little ninjas, trained in the ancient art of tasting by flavor monks in a hidden mountain redoubt? Could you tell your Cab Franc from your Cab Sauv, even if you were at a gas station or a pig farm?

Then you may be ready for the challenge…the Wine.Woot Mystery Wine Challenge. It could be the world’s largest tasting event, as far as we know. This is your chance to shut up those know-it-alls on the message boards who think they know more about wine than you do. Here’s how to join hundreds of your fellow wooters in putting your palate to the test:

  • Buy the current winery direct deal, a Peter Wellington Three-Pack. Each order will include a 4th bottle of mystery wine from Wellington Vineyards. If you order two or three three-packs, you’ll get two or three different mystery bottles.
  • The mystery bottle will be labeled “The Duke”, because legally it has to have some kind of label on it. But this special version of "The Duke" will contain a specific mystery varietal. Which one? That's for us to know and you to find out.
  • Look for the tiny little round dot on the mystery bottle. it’ll be in the upper left-hand corner of the back label. Make a note of what color it is.
  • Open the mystery wine. Taste the mystery wine. Consult that little Robert Parker in your head. Decide what varietal of Wellington wine you just drank.
  • If it’s before August 29th, wait until August 29th before proceeding to the next step.
  • On August 29th, we’ll make the entry form for this contest available. It's a Friday, so you've got an excuse to invite your friends over for a tasting party. At that time, you’ll need to enter your Woot username, the color of the little dot on the mystery bottle, and your guess as to what varietal it is. (We’ll announce the opening of the entry form in a blog post here on Wine.Woot, so keep your eyes on the blog on the 29th.)
  • Wait for us to announce the winners.
  • If you’re one of them, collect your “prize”: well-earned prestige and respect among your fellow members of the Wine.Woot community. It’s the greatest prize of all, except for cash. And the Feds won’t let us give people cash for a drinking contest. Spoilsports.

So are you scared yet? Do you have what it takes to claim wine-tasting supremacy? Sharpen your Jedi tongue skills and place your order now. Immortality awaits you…along with some damn good wine.

Entries will be accepted beginning August 29, 2008. To submit an entry, go to the web form to be announced later and enter your Woot username, the color of the sticker on the back label of your mystery bottle, and your varietal guess into the appropriate fields. Those identifying the correct varietal will be lavishly recognized on this web site as only Wine.Woot can. Only contestants who buy the Peter Wellington Three-Pack will be eligible to be announced as winners. No prizes will be awarded.

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Friday, August 01

Celebrate Your “Woot Birthday” With A Wine.Woot Coupon Code

by Jason Toon

Everybody celebrates the day they were born, which strikes us as arbitrary. It’s not like you had a choice in the matter. Why not celebrate the day you chose to be reborn as a full-fledged wooter – your “Woot birthday”?

We’ll help. Wooters over 21 will henceforth be eligible for a coupon code worth $4.98 off shipping on your Woot winery-direct order. It can only be used once, and only during the month you originally signed up for your Woot account. Don’t know when that is? Look under your name at the left of your forum comments. See where it says “Joined”? That’s it, that date right there.

There’s a little more to say about it than we should go into here, so look for an email from us at the beginning of your Woot Birthday month (unless you’ve unchecked your newsletter notification box under the “your account” tab up there, in which case you won’t be hearing from us). All the relevant details will be there, we hope.

We know, $4.98 isn’t a whole lot. But we’ve got a lot of people to get gifts for, you know?

Coupon is available to all interested aged 21 years or older. If you have not signed up for woot.com and wish to have this coupon please email bdaycoupon@woot.com.

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Friday, October 26

Random Ramblings of a Weary Winemaker: Over the Hump

by Jason Toon

Approximately twice a month, winemaker Peter Wellington (Wine.Woot username SonomaBouliste) of Wellington Vineyards shares his musings on the vinting life in this space.

Sixteen, er Eighteen, Tons and What Do You Get?     Weds. Oct 10, 2007

After our huge day Friday we decided, more or less on the spur of the moment, to do it again Monday (only an even more difficult day).  We did a little bit of pressing on Saturday, and then a huge amount (14 tons of red grapes’ worth) on Monday.   We only had one four ton block of Zinfandel scheduled for crushing (could have been picked Thursday, Friday or Saturday, but the vineyard manager wasn’t available).  When the vineyard owner came to get our pickup truck at 7 A.M. Monday, he asked if there was any possibility that his other remaining block was ready.  I told him I didn’t think so, but that I’d rush over and check before the crew finished picking.  It was 24.2ºB going on 27*, still a tiny bit tart, seeds still green, but had ripe flavor (nice raspberry, strawberry, guava fruit – no greenness).  There was some rot in this last block and it was going to go to Hell in a hand basket with Tuesday’s rain, so we decided the best thing was to pick (as it was, we ended up culling 400 lbs. out of 3.3 tons).  About 9 AM I got a call from a Cabernet grower with whom I had left phone messages on Saturday and Sunday regarding a Tuesday pick.  We ended up bringing that in Monday as well, and the anticipated 8 tons of Cab became 9.5 tons, for a day’s total of 18.  Four of us ended up working 14 hours; the other two had family commitments that kept their days to 11 & 12 hours.  Once again, all the tanks were full.  A little more pressing and crushing Tuesday, pressing today and tomorrow will give us space for close to half our remaining fruit (and almost all of what is ripe and ready).

Today was slower for me – a chance to catch up on mail & bills and write this.  The shock of the day was paying over $1000 apiece for barrels for the first time (euros selling for $1.44).

* Zinfandel will often have a number of shriveled berries on a cluster before the rest of the berries are ripe.  These will contribute their concentrated sugar to the must (crushed grapes) over a period of days, and can take the overall sugar level from 24 or 25ºB to over 30º in some cases.  This is why you see a lot of Zinfandels with high alcohol levels, and some with both high alcohol and residual sugar.  I think a rich Zin can handle more alcohol than a more tannic wine like Cabernet, but only to a point, and I also want my wines to go dry.  To this end, we cold soak Zin for two or three days to get a better idea of the true sugar level, then bleed off juice for our rosé and replace it with water.
 

Caught Red Handed   Sun., Oct. 14, 2007


With lots of punchdowns, pumpovers and pressing my hands regularly come in contact with young red wine, staining them purple/red/black.  I’ve even had people ask me if I’m an automobile mechanic.  The best comment, however, came from a (grapegrower) friend’s son when he was about 14 years old.  Emile asked what happened to my hands, and I told him it was from red wine.  He pondered this for a moment and responded, “Man, you gotta stop drinking so much”.

What else would farmers talk about if we couldn’t talk about the weather?  An inch of rain Wednesday, another inch Friday, and a forecast of more rain and cool weather for the coming week has forced our hand a little bit.  We (and several other wineries) are bringing in Roussanne from Saralee’s Vineyard tomorrow.  It’s very susceptible to bunch rot and the risk at this point of letting it hang far outweighs any potential benefit.  BTW – Saralee Kunde is one of the most wonderful growers with whom to do business.  She’s got 16 wine grape varieties and sells to dozens of wineries, but everybody gets personal attention as if they were the only client.  It’s true, nobody doesn’t like Saralee!  We’ll do white port tomorrow as well, and probably pick for our Noir de Noirs on Tuesday (weather permitting).  All that’ll be left after that is the Mohrhardt Ridge Cabernet sauvignon, which could really benefit from another week plus of sun, even if temperatures stay low.  Cabernet in general, and this vineyard in particular, is not highly susceptible to bunch rot, mainly because of very loose clusters.  We’re extremely lucky that we had an early bloom and therefore an early start to harvest.  Since the end of the first week of September fall weather patterns have been a month ahead of normal – October-like in September and November-like in October.  If we had been on an average schedule instead of early this year it would have been a disaster.  I feel fortunate to have almost everything in the barn, and am very happy with quality so far.  I think it’s going to be an “UnParker” year; many folks in the Napa Valley who were hoping for überripeness aren’t going to get it in 2007.
 

He’s Drinking Cab, I’m Drinking Zin, and We’re Lost in the Ozone Again  Mon., Oct. 22, 2007

Lovely Winefarm came by a couple of weeks ago to pick up a load of pomace (pressed grapes) for her garden compost.  WD came along for the ride, and, inquisitive as usual, asked about the buzzing stainless steel box hooked up to a water hose.  The ozone generator has become a fairly common piece of winery equipment over the last ten plus years.  It is used for sterilizing equipment, hoses, floors and drains, and even oak barrels.  It has by and large replaced chlorine, which has some serious drawbacks, the biggest being the risk of cork taint type compounds.  Certain molds can produce 2,4,6 trichloroanisole (TCA) and related compounds when they grow in the presence of chlorine.  (Chlorinated processing water and organochlorine insecticides have both been implicated in the formation of cork taint.)  Cellar taint can occur when mold grows in drains with chlorine residue or on wood treated with preservatives such as the now banned Pentachlor.  Several wineries have had to gut their aging facilities due to cellar taint.  I find it more than ironic that James Laube of the Wine Spectator, claiming exceptional sensitivity to TCA, “outed” Beaulieu Vineyards’ cellar taint problem a few years ago, when not long before that he was bestowing high ratings on a very prestigious winery’s Cabs that had way more obvious taint problems.  Must be the Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome;-).  Ozonated water leaves no residue, poses minimal health hazard, won’t burn holes in your clothes, smells like the air during an electrical storm, and I know it works because it does burn a bit when it gets into an open cut.

Back to crush news:  We had everything except the Mohrhardt Ridge Cabernet harvested by last Tuesday.  The Cab survived two inches of rain the week of Oct. 8 in great shape, and I decided to let it hang through some cool, drizzly days last week because of the promise of dry, warm to hot weather this week.  It was 80º yesterday and today, and could be warmer tomorrow and Wednesday.  The Cab was “acceptably”, but not optimally, ripe last week and I’m confident these few warm sunny days will soften the acid and tannins a bit more and intensify the cherry-blueberry flavors.  I just this minute got a call from the grower, and harvest is confirmed for Thursday.  Things have slowed down to the point where we can start checking on wines in barrel, testing for residual sugar and malic acid.  If both primary and malolactic fermentation are complete we can add a bit of SO2, top barrels up completely, and seal them tightly, all of which protect against formation of VA (volatile acidity or vinegar).  After pressing two tanks today we only have two open top tanks to punch down, and four closed top tanks waiting to be pressed.  We’ll press the last tank of Syrah tomorrow and the last tank of Zin on Wednesday.  They’ll both get refilled with Cabernet on Thursday, along with one of our other two large empty tanks.

Now is when the fatigue sets in.  We don’t have the adrenaline of full on crush anymore, and even though we aren’t working nearly as many hours, it’s more exhausting.  Tomorrow I’ll give another safety talk to address this and stress vigilance and attention to detail.  Now is when we’re at greatest peril of wine spills or injury because we’re more inclined to operate on “autopilot”.

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