Jul 25, 2016

Continued growth for Australian wine exports to the US

We may be a little biased towards Aussie wine, ok, ok, very much so. But when you have been exposed to the great Aussie wines that we have, you would be as well. Make no mistake we love all good wine no matter where it's from. This last year we attended a couple great Aussie wine tastings courtesy of Wine Australia and was reminded of all the great wines we have been missing. Our selfish motive is to help in any way we can get more Aussie wine into the USA so we can get it for ourselves.
The following media release that was sent to us is some good news and also a wake up perhaps that some folks still do not know what they are missing and better get their share fast.  

Washington D.C., Wednesday 13 July 2016
Continued growth for Australian wine exports to the US
Wine Australia’s Export Report shows that Australian wine exports to the United States (US) rose in value in the 12 months to the end of June 2016.
From July 2015 to June 2016, exports to the US continued to grow with an 8 per cent increase in value to US$341 million.
Bottled exports increased by 9 per cent to US$300 million and the average value of bottled exports grew by 15 per cent to US$2.95 per litre.
The trend towards Australia’s premium wines in the US continued with exports priced A$10 and above per litre FOB increasing by 16 per cent to US$26.6 million. This reflects the improved perceptions of Australian wine among the US trade, with a growing number of importers taking on more premium Australian brands.
Looking closer at the A$10 per litre and above FOB segment:
·         A$10.00–19.99 increased by 28 per cent to US$16.7 million
·         A$20.00–49.99 declined by 13 per cent to US$7.6 million, and
·         A$50.00 and over increased by 77 per cent to US$2.7 million
Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark, said, ‘It’s pleasing to see continued growth in our most valuable export market, particularly in the premium price points. There is still much work to do in increasing the awareness and availability of premium Australian wine in the US. To continue sustainable growth in our most valuable market requires a long-term approach and a focus on re-establishing relationships and confidence in the category, supported by significant, consistent investment to drive the Australian fine wine message.’
Mr Clark also congratulated Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, importer and long-time supporter of Australian wine, which recently celebrated an Australian wine milestone.
‘We value all of our trade partnerships, they’re critical to our long-term success in the US. To that end I’d like to congratulate Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits on recently importing their 100 millionth case of Australian wine, a significant milestone and a strong indication of the support for Australian wine by the US trade.’
Casella Family Brands Managing Director, John Casella, said, ‘I’d like to congratulate our long standing partner in the US, Deutsch Family Wine and Spirits, for achieving such an impressive milestone. We are thrilled to continue our already strong relationship with the Deutsch team with the relaunch of Peter Lehmann Wines and strengthening our shared vision of promoting provenance, quality, diversity and craftsmanship of Australian premium wines within the US market.
‘It’s exciting to see such reinvigorated interest in Australian wine which is a testament to the hard work that Wine Australia has been doing in the US to promote the quality and diversity of Australian wine.’
The seven biggest US states for Australian wine were all in value growth:
·         California by 7 per cent to US$101 million
·         New York by 30 per cent to US$44 million
·         Florida by 19 per cent to US$32.6 million
·         Texas by 8 per cent to US$21.3 million
·         Massachusetts by 56 per cent to US$16.7 million
·         Pennsylvania by 83 per cent to US$14.4 million, and
·         Georgia by 82 per cent to US$13.7 million.
Global exports of Australian wines A$10 and over FOB hit record value
The total value of Australian wine exports to all markets grew by 11 per cent to US$1.6 billion, driven by bottled exports, particularly at higher price points.
Exports of Australia’s finest wines contributed to almost half of the total value growth in the last 12 months, with exports priced at A$10 and over per litre FOB up 26 percent to a record US$379 million.
Bottled wine exports grew by 15 per cent to US$1.2 billion and the average value of bottled exports increased by 9 per cent to US$4.06 per litre, the highest since October 2003.

Jul 2, 2016

24th Winemaker Celebration Carmel by the Sea

It was overcast and rain threatened, but suspect weather did nothing to subdue the enthusiastic crown from enjoying another great wine and food event. The Monterey 24th Winemaker Celebration was a great success.
There was music, food and of course wine and there was also the wonderful setting that is Carmel by the Sea. We love going to Carmel by the Sea to enjoy the ambience, restaurants and wine tasting.

When the streets close for the Winemaker Celebration you get a view of the beautiful buildings that you normally don't get to see. Standing in the street while casually sipping lovely wine you get to truly appreciate just how beautiful this little town is.

.Setting and ambience aside, some of the wines and food were exceptional. With about 35 wineries pouring and 20 of the Monterey Peninsulas best culinary operations preparing small bites and delights it was a great day.

There were a few wines and bites that stood out from the rest, not necessarily because they were that much better but maybe a great surprise or a good version of a favourite or rarely tasted style.

The only somewhat negative comment is that not all the food was compatible with the wine. Not that this is entirely bad as my designated driver took advantage of some of those, but for the wine drinker it created a problematic choice. Enjoy all the food and mess with your palate or skip some food and totally enjoy the wine.

I stuck with the wine and have no regrets although I do understand some of the desserts were brilliant.

This is an event that mixes a great setting with some great wine and food and we recommend it as one event not to miss.

Happy Wine Adventures,


Jun 19, 2016

Starbucks, things we did not know...

Sarbucks. One of the worlds most famous coffee company's. The butt of many an over expensive coffee joke. In my mind the great American success story. A company created by possibly one of the greatest businessmen of our times. This company has managed massive growth globally and yet has systems in place to take care of employees locally. I have had the pleasure of being friends with a VP at Starbuck for many years and have been privy to some inside information from time to time that has given some insight to the man that started it all and has returned the company to the top. Howard Schultz has done with a massive corporation what few have ever achieved. Here are some of the things that besides good coffee the corporation does for its partners (employees). More than 70% of their U.S. partners (employees) are students or aspiring students. They want to help. Supporting their  partners’ ambitions, they believe that this is the very best investment Starbucks can make.
Below are just some of the programs accessible to those partners.

College Achievement Plan
A first of its kind collaboration with Arizona State University, we’re offering all part- and full-time benefits eligible U.S. partners full tuition coverage for every year of college to earn a bachelor’s degree. Partners receive support from a dedicated team of coaches and advisors, 24/7 tutoring on a variety of subjects, and a choice of more than 50 undergraduate degrees through ASU's research driven and top-ranked program, delivered online.
Learn more about How It Works

Frequently Asked Questions

They are also supporting those that have served and their families.

Learn more about ASU
Veteran and Military Families
Our military service member and veteran partners can now help a family member realize their dreams of pursuing a college education. To show our gratitude for their service, they can extend an additional Starbucks College Achievement Plan benefit to their spouse, domestic partner, or child. The participating family member will receive all the same benefits as our partners in the program.
Frequently Asked Questions and Eligibility

Learn more about How it Works

Military and Spouses – Serve with us
Become a Partner
The Starbucks College Achievement Plan is just one way we’re committed to the success of our partners. From growing as a person, as a partner, in your career and in your community – the opportunity is here for you to shape and make your own. That’s why when you launch a career inspired by human connection and the opportunity to become your personal best, the possibilities are endless.
Work in Our Stores

Work in Our Corporate Offices

Work with one of Our Brands

Please take a couple minutes and Listen to Howard speak  

So before you just dismiss Starbucks as a heartless corporation check em out. Read Howards book 'Pour your Heart into it'. Also how else are you supposed to get the morning started than a great flat white!

Happy Tasting Adventures,



May 30, 2016

PBFW Grand Tasting 2016 Part one the WINE

What did you do from March 31st to April 3rd 2016? Well if you were one of the lucky ones you were at the 9th Annual Pebble Beach Food and Wine event.

This wonderful and successful wine and food event is possibly one of the words best. A place to mix and mingle with the best chiefs and wine makers in the world. A place to taste food and wine that is of truly uncommon quality. Throughout these few days you can revel in access to the best of culinary and wine rock stars at wine tastings, cooking demos, and some very exclusive and unique dining opportunities.

The Pebble Beach Food & Wine is an annual event sponsored by Food & Wine Magazine and according to those who count stuff, attracted an estimated 8,500 attendees. According to the event organizers, that was the highest number of eaters and drinkers in the event's history.
They must have known we were coming...

This year we attended the Saturday Lexus Grand Tasting.  While some have told us its too expensive for three hours of tasting and nibbles, there is a couple things to remember. There are some truly world class wines that most normal people would never afford themselves a bottle or could even realistically gain access to them. Ultra premium wines from Europe, Australia and New Zealand as well as North and South America. This is also in addition to some of the worlds best chefs serving some exceptional nibbles (small bites). As a bonus there is also spirits and Beer.

Entering the event is a snap, the easiest event we ever attend. How is that you ask. The answer is drive a Lexus. The Lexus rewards of ownership program gets you a 15% discount and a drive up to the front door with free valet parking opportunity. Also pull your Visa Signature Card out to get into the slightly early entry line (one card per couple please not your entire group).

The Grand Tasting can be an intimidating experience for the uninitiated. There are so many wines to taste and so many food options that picking a starting point and wanting not to miss anything is a stressful feeling. But we had a plan. This event was to be mostly about the Aussie wines. First stop inside the door (which took too long, 10 minutes after the start time due to line delays) it was straight to the Penfolds station. Starting with a Bin 389, 707, RWT and a lovely sip of the 2010 Grange. Short of a trip to Australia this is a great start to any wine tasting. Found some New Zealand friends as well with Craggy Range and Peter Yealands (mmmm).

On the way to the wine Australia table we stopped to visit one of our Aussie wine favorites, Mollydooker and producer of Wine Spectator's #2 wine in the world. Watched a demonstration of the Mollydooker shake and enjoyed some amazing wine. Moving along it was a stop to say g'day and have a sip or two with some California fav's with Pisoni Vineyards Gary and Mark Pisoni. We must say that having the owner, founder and son pouring is a class move. Cheers Gary and Mark. Gary even had a good story about buying cheap Grange at a restaurant in Fiji many years ago. The Pisoni wines from the SLH region in Monterey County are world class. Thanks for the great wine and good laughs guys.
Next was a stop at Daou Vineyards. These guys are leading the charge for Paso Robles Cabernet to be the best in the world and are doing an excellent job. Go taste them and see for yourself. We do!

We never miss an opportunity to taste / drink some Tablas Creek wine. Consistently world class Rhone wines. Tablas Creek Vineyard is the result of a decades-long friendship between the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel and Robert Haas, longtime importer and founder of Vineyard Brands. A shared vision that creates such beautiful wine and these were no exception.

We made it to the Wine Australia tables and were well rewarded with a series of lovely wines from a variety of producers. With favorites from Yalumba, Jim Barry, Balnaves, d'Arenberg and Wirra Wirra to name a few.

David saying thanks and until next year.
The Valet when leaving.
Spent some time going through the offerings. There were a few to get through but we are professionals. While we may be a little biased the Aussie wines were hitting the spot and generally are great value. Just stay away from the critter wines that come from there that you see at the grocery store.

The food, the wine and the experience, are worth the price of admission as this is a wonderland for foodies and wine lovers alike. Coming up in part two will tell of our food experience.

Go to the Pebble Beach Food and Wine web site and register for notifications so you do not miss next years event April 20th - 23rd 2017. See you there...

Happy Tasting Adventures,


May 22, 2016

#WW Justin Vineyards 2010 Focus

Justin Vineyards 2010 Focus is not what most people expect from Justin Vineyards. While most associate them with good to great Bordeaux wines this Rhone will make you Focus.

Okay pun aside, this is an amazing wine. With only a few hundred cases this is a very limited release for Justin Vineyards.
In 1981 Justin Baldwin purchased 160 acres in Paso Robles, with the aim of crafting wines that belong in the company of the finest in the world. Rich in limestone, the soil of Paso Robles produces grapes with intense flavor and great structure, making it what Justin Baldwin believed to be a perfect location for his quest to produce the finest Bordeaux-style reds, he planted three of the five classic Bordeaux grape varietals: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc. Back then there were only about ten wineries in the Paso Robles appellation.

The first estate grapes were harvested in 1987 and were made into a blend of the three varieties and was called the Justin Reserve. This was what would soon become the franchise icon ISOSCELES.

But now there is a new kid on the block. FOCUS. This Rhone blend uses the same general winemaking philosophy as its Bordeaux brother. This is a sultry seductress of a wine that just like a beautiful curvaceous Hollywood movie star from the golden years once experienced one will never be able to forget.

Blended mostly from Syrah, with 5% Mourvèdre and 3% Grenache, it's rich, ripe, round and velvety smooth. The wine has a warm climate ripeness with blueberry and blackberry in the chocolate-covered raisin flavor, which gives it a wonderful warm mouth feel and long soft tannin finish.

A voluptuous wine Justin Vineyards that we rate an 8 and ** on our scale.

Happy Tasting Adventures,