Wednesday, March 04

Random Ramblings of a Weary Winemaker: 10 Things I Hate About O

by Peter Wellington
Wine.Woot guest blogger emeritus Peter Wellington comes down from the mountain bearing more of his winemaking wisdom!

Let me start by saying I don't really hate organic. I just have some major quarrels with its current manifestation in our culture. The title of this blog is more the result of my obsession with perverting cultural references. Lest I alienate a large number of you, and instigate a bunch of hate mail, I'll start with some background on the environmental and organic movements...

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Friday, February 13

Scott Harvey Says: Wine and pH

by Scott Harvey

Schooled in winemaking in both Germany and California, winemaker Scott Harvey was crucial to putting Amador County on the California wine map in the 1980s. After years spent propelling such wineries as Santino, Renwood, and Folie a Deux to success, he launched his own Scott Harvey Wines with his wife Jana in 2004. We're thrilled to have him take over the regular Wine.Woot guest blogger position. See his first post here.

We as wine makers do not make wine, Mother Nature does. It is a natural process of fresh juice to vinegar. By understanding the biochemistry and the life cycles of the organisms involved we can direct and halt the process at the point where the human species likes to drink it rather than at the vinegar stage where the fruit fly prefers it.

Ever since Louie Pasteur figured out that it was yeast and bacteria that convert juice to wine and vinegar, we have been able to determine the conditions needed to foster the growth of the organisms we desire and the retardation of those we don’t desire for the production of fine wine.

One of the best tools in determining the environment we want to create for Mother Nature to do her job in creating fine wine is monitoring pH. Basically, pH is the measurement of free hydrogen ion concentration in the solution. For some reason, and I don’t know why, they chose 7 for neutral pH. Maybe some wooter out there does know why and can tell us. Everything above 7pH becomes more and more basic as the OH ions increase and everything below 7pH becomes more and more acidic as the positive hydrogen (pH) ions increase. Wine is an acidic solution that is produced in the range of 2.8pH to 4.2pH.

Not until the late 80s was the development and reliability of the pH meter such that we could use it in daily winemaking. Therefore, before that we relied on the measurement of total acidity to tell us what we needed to know. Today, still many winemakers make their decisions on TA rather than pH. It was a German winemaker Ed Friedrich, winemaker for San Martin in the early 70’s that showed Dr. Richard Peterson, then winemaker for Monterey Vineyards, how important pH was. Monterey was a new high quality wine region with a particular problem of producing grapes with extremely high malic acid levels thus forcing the winemakers to find a new way to evaluate the wine. Ed showed us when we are tasting acidity we are really tasting pH. pH will predict taste much better than TA ever has.

Up until 1996 I made wine based on TA. In 1996 Dr. Peterson (my mentor) brought me to Napa Valley to take over Folie a Deux winery. It was at Folie a Deux winery that I learned how to use pH in making my decisions on creating the right environment so that Mother Nature would transform those wonderful grapes into the wines we all enjoy.  

This blog is really an introduction to the next blog that will explain how pH plays a role in developing either new world wines (Parker Wines) or old world wines (food wines). Stay tuned.

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Wednesday, January 14

Meet Our New Guest Blogger: Scott Harvey

by Scott Harvey

Schooled in winemaking in both Germany and California, winemaker Scott Harvey was crucial to putting Amador County on the California wine map in the 1980s. After years spent propelling such wineries as Santino, Renwood, and Folie a Deux to success, he launched his own Scott Harvey Wines with his wife Jana in 2004. We're thrilled to have him take over the regular Wine.Woot guest blogger position. Peter Wellington will continue as an occasional contributor.

Since I’ve had such a good time participating on the Wine Woot blog, WineDavid asked me if I would submit fun and informational blogs like Peter Wellington has in his wonderful Random Ramblings. His will be a hard act to follow.

For the last week I’ve been working on getting label approvals from the TTB (Tax & Trade Bureau). All wine labels have to be inspected and approved by the federal government. As with most federal bureaus these days, they are extremely over worked. I have submitted labels they have previously approved, only to be rejected this time. It seems a lot is left to interpretation by the individual inspector. I have also had rejected labels, where I waited a month to send them in again, come back with the TTB stamp of approval. You learn not to argue with them. Just do what they ask and be very polite. Kind of like in-laws.

A good example is our fortified wine we call Forté. It is a fortified wine made just like you would make Port in Portugal from all Portuguese varieties. As a European trained wine maker I will not use European place names on our wines. So we call the wine “Forté” rather than Port. In 2004 when I first obtained label approval for this wine the back label said “A California Port Style Wine.” This time the term “A California Port Style Wine” was rejected. They said I had to use “Red Table Wine”. I said, “It is not red table wine, it is a fortified wine”. They said I could not use the word fortified on a wine label so therefore had to use “Red Table Wine” I pointed out to them that that would be lying to the consumer. They didn’t seem to care, stating that was the regulation.

Potayto, Potahto
Knowing that using “Red Table Wine” on this wine would be a marketing nightmare, I politely ask what other alternatives there were. TTB said I could list the varieties and their percentages. So I re-submitted the label with the percentages and the varieties. It was again rejected. I again politely called them and asked them why. They said one of the varieties “Sousao” did not exist in their list of accepted wine varieties. I’m thinking that’s odd, it is a fairly common variety in Portugal. I was thinking, it has to exist and kept questioning the inspector for a good 20 minutes, before I finally asked if he had a variety on the list spelled somewhat like Sousao. He looked at the list and said there is one spelled Souzao. I go great, I’ll re-submit with Souzao and it was finally approved.

Another example of a label coming before different inspectors with their telling me I had to do contradicting things is with our Napa Valley Old Vine Riesling. I moved the production of this wine to one of Cosentino’s Wineries in Lockeford which is near Lodi. I wanted the produced and bottled by statement on the back of the bottle to reflect that we are a Napa Valley Company. Rather than just saying “Produced and Bottled by Jana Winery, Lockeford, CA” I had the statement read “Produced and bottled by Jana Winery, Lockeford, CA for Jana Winery, Napa Valley, CA.” On the first bottling this statement was accepted. The next year when I sent it in the new inspector rejected it. Again, after a 20 minute polite phone call I finally got it out of the inspector why he was rejecting it. He decided that the place had to be a city not a place, so Napa Valley was unacceptable since it carries no postal address. Luckily, there is a town in Napa Valley by the name of Napa. So I asked him if I dropped the Valley off of it to read “Produced and bottled by Jana Winery, Lockeford, CA for Jana Winery Napa, Ca” if that was okay. I sent it in again hoping he would get the application and not the first inspector that approved the previous one. He got it and it was approved.

For another label story, more dealing with the development of our Angel Ice Riesling, check out this post on our blog about what we went through to develop the art work and name for the wine.

The regulatory world is quite complicated for wineries, and always a learning experience. Makes me glad I’m not a lawyer!

WineDavid, thanks for this opportunity to further reach out to the wine woot community.

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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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Thursday, December 04

Random Ramblings of a Weary Winemaker – A Tale of Two Harvests

by Peter Wellington

Hard Times - Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008

I can usually predict harvest dates quite accurately by early June, when grape flowering is complete. This year I projected that we might bring in our first grapes the week after Labor Day, but that we certainly wouldn't be in the thick of it until the following week. I planned a market visit to Ohio for Sept.2-8, figuring if one small batch came in during my absence it wouldn't be any big deal. I do travel under my own name, unlike my great-grandfather, a merchant during Victorian times who made a habit of registering in hotels as Martin Chuzzlewit because he didn't care for the sly looks he often got when he used his real name, John Smith. I had made my plans well before Lynda (assistant winemaker for the last 7 years) left for a dream job at Hanzell, and before the prolonged heat wave in late August. There was no way I could leave Sam and Dave (the Soul Men) what with it being the first crush at Wellington for both of them, so I postponed my trip until the end of October. My prior blog, This Could Be The Last Time, covered the “first harvest” when we brought in over 80% of our whites plus Malbec, some Zin and some Cab.

Please Sir, I Want Some More

Unseasonably cool weather the last two full weeks of September meant we crushed only 5% of our annual total during that normally busy time frame. Almost everything that was “supposed” to be ready at that time had already been harvested. This allowed us to catch up on “pre-crush” maintenance and preparation, keep on top of white fermentations very well, and recover both physically and mentally from the early September onslaught. It got to the point where I was thankful that one other prospective crush worker had backed out in late August, because there wasn't enough work. I had lots of time to check vineyards thoroughly and sample repeatedly, partly in hopes of finding something that was ready to harvest. The greatest benefit of the long cool spell was that the unharvested grapes had a chance to recover from the heat stress, re-equilibrate and mature slowly and evenly – probably the most important vintage related factor in high quality wine. We brought in our last grapes precisely three weeks ago and just pressed that tank this morning (Mohrhardt Ridge Cabernet sauvignon, only 6½ tons, after 16+ last year)

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

I'm very happy with the quality of everything that came in during the “second harvest”, though Zinfandel gets an asterisk (see below). Quantity, however, was way down – by 42% from 2007 if I don't include grapes from two new (to us) vineyards, by 32% even when those are added. Frost, drought and a heat spike during bloom all took their toll on what already would have been a smaller than average crop; fortunately none of mother nature's little “gifts” had a negative effect on quality. I've always been a Pollyanna, and my optimistic spin is that my bottling costs will be down this year and next and I'll be lowering my inventory going into uncertain economic times. Speaking of that, we set an all time sales record in October. Various explanations come to mind: that people are in denial, that they want to drown their sorrows, that they're drinking more wine at home instead of going to restaurants, etc. My favorite idea is that people want to trade down in price, but not in quality, and recognize the high qpr of our wines.

Great Expectations - Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008

During my recent trip to Ohio several wine buyers asked me about the quality of the 2008 vintage. It's a common question, and I always preface my answer with an explanation of why you can't generalize about vintages in Northern California. This year's wines will definitely be a mixed bag, with some incredible wines, but also some so-so wines. It takes a while to assess wine quality; you get an idea of flavor and aromatic intensity during crush, but you really have to wait until the wines have gone through ML and settled clear to make a good assessment of balance, mouthfeel and concentration. In general, I'm concerned that the wines from the “first harvest” may be lacking in depth and concentration. I think most of our Cabs and other Bordeaux varieties will be outstanding. Zinfandel was our biggest challenge this year.

* Naughty, Naughty Zinfandel

The late Summer blast of heat caused shriveling, dehydration, and elevated sugar levels in all varieties.. This essentially affects all clusters and is more pronounced on the parts of the cluster exposed to direct afternoon sun. It is somewhat reversible in that the grapes tend to rehydrate and swell back up if they have adequate water and cool weather. Zinfandel, however, has a unique problem: random individual berry shrivel. It seems that the stems of individual berries shut down, restricting water movement into the berries. The result is a cluster spotted with raisins before the rest of the cluster is ripe. We have to harvest when the “normal” berries are ripe or we'll end up with unripe flavors and too much acid. This is why Zinfandel wines tend to have more alcohol than any other varietal. The amount of this raisining varies year to year, and 2008 was about as severe as I have ever seen. We had one tank that was 21.6°Brix at crush and went to 26.5°B after four days' cold soak. We drew off some juice for Rosé and replaced it with water, but the fermentation slowed at over 14% alcohol with 5% residual sugar, so we had to add more water to get it to go dry. By back-calculation, the grapes at crush had been approximately 32°B. A subsequent tank from the same vineyard had even more raisining, so I caved and we made our first late harvest Zin ever. Even with extended cold soaks and adjustments based on the assumption that sugars would still go higher, the average alcohol level of our Zins is over 15.5%. I guess we'll be looking into some alcohol removal again.

Only a couple of w00ters got into the spirit of the Stones last time. Maybe I'm too lowbrow for this crowd, so I thought I'd try a different twist this time. Cheers:)

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Thursday, September 18

Random Ramblings of a Weary Winemaker: This Could Be The Last Time

by Peter Wellington

Crush Waits For No One / On With The Show - Wed. Aug. 27, 2008

Back in May I predicted our crush wouldn't start until a week after Labor Day, but it started today. We still have a final bottling date Friday, and it's not easy to be preparing for that at the same time we're starting crush, but what else can a poor boy do? My obsession with pop culture references has complicated the writing of this. Before I'm out of time, I figured I'd see how many Stones references I could cram into one blog. Can you make the connections?

Hot Stuff - Sat. Sept. 6, 2008

After a very cool, dry spring we had a moderate, sunny, albeit smoky, summer until mid-August. The last four weeks have been scorchers, with most days approaching or surpassing 100°F. After an ideal temperature regime during last year's harvest (consistent low to mid 80's), I realize you can't always get what you want. At least the air is reasonably smoke free now. I have been saying it probably wouldn't clear up completely until the autumn rains begin. Our vacation in Yosemite high country (during the time of the fire that filled Yosemite Valley with smoke) was the only time we saw totally clear skies during a two month period. Sonoma Valley filled with smoke again just three weeks ago today, when the wind shifted and came in from the northeast.

Sticky Fingers / Stop Breaking Down - Mon. Sept. 8, 2008

We've been bringing in white grapes as fast as we can; unfortunately that's only 5-6 tons a day because the press holds 1.6 to 2 tons of whole cluster fruit and a press cycle is 3 hours. Today the first Sauvignon blanc load didn't arrive until almost 10 AM, so we were here until after 6 PM for just 4 tons (2 loads). Making whites is a royal pain – sticky, sticky grapes and pomace in the air and everywhere.  The sugar becomes like glue as it dries, making the press and everything else hard to clean. Our grape sorting conveyor keeps stopping and starting. I checked all the wiring connections and everything seems okay, so I fear it's a problem with the variable frequency controller (freak drives are expensive). The yields have been a bit light so far. A hot spell in late May shattered a lot of the bloom and after we dump grapes you can see all the dead flowers coating the inside of the bins.

How Sweet It Is - Tues. Sept. 9, 2008

Thanks to the w00t regular who expressed the opinion that a higher alcohol level meant a drier wine. I was pleased to meet you, but I'll let them guess your name. You've inspired a little more wine 101. During fermentation, sugar is converted to ethanol (alcohol) and carbon dioxide (CO2) in a ratio of 51:49. Grapes / juice at 25% sugar, when fermented to dryness, will yield a wine of a maximum of about 12.8% alcohol by weight / 15.6% alcohol by volume (alcohol is lighter than water). Actual alcohol levels are somewhat lower because some sugar is converted to yeast biomass and some alcohol is lost via evaporation. Both sugar and alcohol have inhibitory effects on yeast metabolism, and the effects are additive. Dellè units are calculated as % sugar + (4.5 x % alcohol by vol.), with a sum of 80 generally considered stable against refermentation. This phenomenon explains why the very sweet late harvest wines such as trockenbeerenauslese have very low alcohol levels. Factors other than alcohol and sugar levels, including temperature and poor yeast nutrient status, can further limit fermentation. It gets progressively more difficult to ferment to dryness at higher sugar levels, and many wines above 15-16% alcohol have some residual grape sugar (RS).

The impression of sweetness in wine is affected by other factors in addition to RS. Alcohol lends sweetness, as do sugars and other compounds extracted from oak barrels. Fruity flavors accentuate sweetness and acidity counterbalances it. As cited by Scott Harvey, many German winemakers engineer balance into their high-acid, low alcohol wines with RS. Sugar, alcohol and oak add viscosity and body as well as sweetness. In this era of bigger is better many of the wines getting high scores from Parker and the Wine Spectator not only have lots of extract and lots of oak, but also high alcohol levels, low acid levels, and often significant RS.

I promised a short discussion of acidity and pH, so here's the low down: both affect perception of tartness, but pH is more important for several reasons. Total acidity measures the amount of acid present, but not it's strength; pH measures the strength of the acid – specifically the activity of hydrogen ions. This quality affects color, aromas and flavors, resistance to microbial growth and the effectiveness of SO2 (sulfites). The lower the pH, the stronger the activity of the acid. Most wines range in pH from 3 to 4 (3 is ten times as strong as 4). For reference, tart whites like Sauvignon blanc might have a pH of 3.2-3.3 and soft reds might have a pH of 3.8 or higher). Relatively low pH, low acid wines make winemakers happy, high pH, high acid wines are trouble. Winemakers can add tartaric acid (the main acid of grapes), which will lower pH, but also raise TA. If you're starting with a high pH, high TA wine, you have limited ability to lower pH to desirable levels without making the wine excessively tart.

It's All Over Now - Wed. Oct 10, 2008

I'm moving on with mixed emotions. I'll miss you, but like a prodigal son I'll see you all down the line and not fade away. I have no expectations that anyone'll get the right answer to the last trivia question, but use your imagination and let it loose. Till the next goodbye, SB.

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Saturday, August 30

Random Ramblings of a Weary Winemaker: Blame It On SonomaBouliste

by Peter Wellington

(The long interval between blogs is the writer's fault this time; I've just been incredibly busy.)

Out Of Crisis Comes Opportunity - Weds. Aug 13, 2008

Our assistant winemaker of the last seven years, Lynda, cut her family vacation on the Klamath River short for two reasons. First, the smoke was so bad that her husband and kids were wheezing and coughing a lot. Second, a dream job opportunity presented itself. I know it was a hard decision for her because we are like family at the winery, but if I were in her shoes I'm sure I would have taken the job. The timing, people, and nature of the job are a perfect fit for her life right now. I immediately listed a position on, and was overwhelmed by the response. I had over 50 applicants from 17 countries on five continents; fortunately more than half of them were from Northern California. Almost all of them were qualified, so I set about choosing those that I thought might be the best fit. While Lynda, and Chris before her, had worked only half time except during crush, I didn't want to limit the candidate pool, so I set about looking for applicants who had other skills and experience such as vineyard work, marketing, or mechanical skills (i.e. someone who could take on some of my duties in addition to the assistant winemaker responsibilities).

I thought I had settled on the right person, and was prepared to make an offer, when one of my closest friends, David Noyes, gave me a call and asked me to go for a walk (we often walk in a local nature preserve and discuss business, family, the meaning of life, etc.) David was the founding winemaker at Kunde Estate and worked there for sixteen years, leaving a little over two years ago to work on his own brand full-time. Prior to that he was assistant to Paul Draper at Ridge for many years. Although David had previously told me he was looking for a little outside income while growing his brand, I hadn't considered the possibility of what ensued. He ran into Lynda's new “boss” and found out Lynda was moving, thought about it and approached me.

We spent about four hours talking last weekend, and David has agreed to come work with me starting next week. I'm thrilled, and lots of people have been making comments like “I can't wait to try the wines you guys are going to make together.” 

Here's One For You, Nineteen For Me - Sun. Aug. 17, 2008

During the RPM tour, a question came up about all the taxes and government fees we pay. Back in 1988 we had to deal with 14 different agencies in order to build a winery, including paying $400 for an archaeologist to confirm that we wouldn't disturb any Native American burial grounds (the land had been continuously farmed for over 100 years). We currently pay annual or semiannual fees to many different states for permits to sell to distributors, consumers or both. Within California we pay the state for a Winegrower's license, a Processor's license, a Produce buyer's permit, a Weighmaster's license, a Grape Crush Report assessment, a Pressure vessel inspection fee, a Corporate filing fee and a Division of Water Rights filing fee. Sonoma County gets us for a business license, Food Handler's permit, Hazardous Materials Permit, Agricultural Burn permit, Scale Inspection fee, and a Weights & Measures business ID. I'm probably forgetting a couple, too. We pay excise and/or sales tax to a number of states, including California, and Excise tax to the federal government. The only tax I recall ever being diminished or eliminated was the Special Occupational Tax that came into existence during the tenure of a President who ran on the slogan “No new taxes” (although the 529% increase in federal excise taxes that passed during that administration is still in effect). Of course there's also the sales and property taxes that all businesses pay.

Nightmare On Maple Street - Mon.. Aug 25, 2008

The old county assessor's parcel maps show a 96 lot subdivision of our vineyard that was created in the late 1800's. In the early 1980's a developer tried to get a 36 parcel subdivision approved, but couldn't because the ground didn't “perc” well enough for nearly that many houses (there is no county sewer line nearby). The neighbors were thrilled when we bought the property with the intention of building a winery, as they had been resigned to looking at a subdivision. On the old map there were four named streets running through the vineyard, with Maple St. running right between our two winery buildings – through the crush and bottling area.

We bottled over one third of our annual production last week, and it was the most problematic bottling we've had since around 1993. Fortunately, nothing happened that would compromise wine quality, but otherwise, the saying “Murphy was an optimist” came to mind. We had two very full days scheduled, but had an almost two hour delay starting because a switch for the vacuum corker wasn't working properly. We had labeling problems all day long, and more vacuum problems at the end of the first long day. As a result, we had to stack several pallets of wine cork-up for two days, then flip and restack the cases for shipment to the warehouse. We also had to soak the labels off over fifty cases of wine (most still isn't done) and hand label them. Toby suggested a w00t “bleeped-up label” offering. These labels are much, much more difficult to remove than the mystery wine labels, which has led us to the conclusion that an issue with the adhesive was responsible for the application problems during bottling. The specified adhesive was exactly the same as before; our printer took leftover labels and is having them tested.

I can't blame all our problems on suppliers and mechanical problems. I ordered the tin capsules for an entire year's worth of bottling back in November, the bottles in January and the corks in late July. During the blending process, the volume of our red table wine, The Duke, increased and I didn't give a second thought to bottling supplies. When I made a list of supplies for Sam to bring to the bottling area, we had just enough capsules for the Syrah, Grenache and Noir de Noirs, and were a little bit short for the Zinfandel and the Duke., but we did have some plain gold and plain red capsules left over from other projects. By the middle of the second day of bottling it became evident we were going to be tight on corks (it didn't help that the bottling company had gone through a couple of hundred while testing and fixing the vacuum problem). At that point I turned to Sam and said, “Gee, I never recalculated how many cases of glass we had vs. how much wine we actually have.” As we got toward bottling the last of The Duke, we ran through the custom “Wellington” capsules, the plain gold and the plain red capsules and knew we'd have 15 or 20 cases without capsules for tasting room pouring. Then the last glass pallet was almost empty. When there was less than five gallons of wine left in the tank we ran out of corks, so the last couple of cases got corked with samples from different cork vendors. After bottling 2071 cases in claret (Bordeaux shape) bottles we had 11 bottles left over. At least we don't have to worry about storage space for bottling supplies this winter. :)

I apologize for the long interval between blogs. Between time spent filling a key position, a week long vacation, putting up a w00t offering and our largest single bottling in years I just haven't been able to set aside much time. My spell check just suggested I replace Zinfandel with Infanticide:)

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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 and wish to have this coupon please email

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