November 2010 Archives

Ok, this is the funniest thing. I actually fell for one of those blatant outright PR pitches I was griping about recently. Sent to me by a publicist at Wine Enthusiast Magazine, (does anyone see the irony in that??), I actually took time to open the email, click on the link and take action...and now I'm even blogging about it! That's because it's a contest that is effortless and simple. And, if you are a budding guitar player like me, or merely an old rocker with a hint of nostalgia for classic rock and roll, you can enter for a chance to win:

Ta Da.......

A trip to Wine Country AND a signed electric guitar by Sting!

This was one of the craziest incentive combinations I've seen to date. But, who wouldn't want a few free nights in Napa and a collector's edition guitar to gather dust in the corner of your home.  So I fell for it hook line and sinker. And, now I'm receiving even more useless emails!

Of course, none of this has anything to do with wine. And that's how a lot of wine marketing is becoming these days. As our industry gets more crowded and competitive, we are adopting advanced marketing practices long used in other industries. From special incentives, co op marketing deals, value added promos, holiday tie-ins, seasonal offerings, etc. etc. etc., just about anything goes these days. We are becoming experts in the tactics of guerrilla marketing and warfare, because quite simply, we have to. It's that competitive out there. What I find interesting, is even the mainstream wine magazines are doing it.

Back to the contest…

It is FREE to enter. Visit for more information and official contest rules. All entries must be received by
January 15th, 2011 11:59PM EST. But since it's so easy, I encourage you to enter now. I promise it is one of the simplest things you'll ever do online. Just be aware as you'll soon end up on the Wine Enthusiast email list.

P.S. If you win, I get the guitar!

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Well, it's official. The holidays are here. Every year they sneak up on us whether we like it or not. I've spent years in denial, but this year, I say embrace 'em!

To get everyone in the mood, we've been having an outrageous Cellar Sale with unprecedented savings on a number of our wines. Now we're adding a few goodies in honor of Cyber Monday. Most are limited edition releases only available through the winery. Some are end of vintage specials. Because of the small inventories, we can't guarantee availability. However, you're sure to find something perfect for that hard to please wine lover in your life. And with dysfunctional family gatherings right around the corner, this is a great time to stock up your holiday cellar!

Click to visit our Cyber Monday Cellar Sale!
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Ah, Thanksgiving - one of my absolute favorite holidays.   There are so many reasons to love this rich American tradition.  The house is full of wonderful smells.  Family and friends gather for a full day of food, drink and merriment.  I especially enjoy watching The HUSBAND work his magic in the kitchen.  Each year, he seemingly tries to outdo himself from the year before. 

As for me, I usually play the role of Sommelier.  It's always exciting for me to pick out what we are going to drink from our cellar.  Sometimes, days before Thanksgiving, I'll find myself day dreaming about what magical wines we should select.  In my view, there are never any wrong choices.  I've read countless articles about what does and does not pair well with turkey and the traditional accompanying side dishes.  For me, it's simply about pulling corks and setting out the bottles for everyone to enjoy.

I am a self-admitted bubbles person all the way on Thanksgiving.  My absolute favorite champagne of all time is Billecart-Salmon, a medium-sized Champagne house in Mareuil-sur-Ay, France.  It's one of the few remaining family owned champagne houses left in France.  I suppose I feel a sort of kinship with them. Not to mention, The HUSBAND and I have enjoyed several bottles during magical moments in our 28 years of marriage.  When the bubbles are gone, I move on to a glass of white or perhaps a red – whatever tickles my fancy.  We always have our wine on the table too – usually a bottle of Dry Chenin Blanc and one of our deliciously fruity Zins, one of my favorite Turkey/cranberry sauce/red wine pairings. (Caution: be sure to avoid Zinfandels high in alcohol.)  But there are other wines too.  Pinot Noirs from the Russian River and Anderson Valley are my favorite.  We might have something unusual like a Riesling from Germany or a Cotes du Rhone from France.  Perhaps Spain might even show up on the dinner table.  We're not country biased - everyone gets their fair share! This is a particularly good time to open any magnums or large format bottles that might be collecting dust in your cellar. What are you waiting for?

Try not to worry about the perfect marriage of food and wine. If you keep one simple tip in mind, you'll be fine.  Think fruity with fruity. In other words, the sweeter tendencies of traditional Thanksgiving fare such as cranberries, sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkins, etc. naturally lend themselves to fruitier styles of wines.  Just be sure there's a good backbone of acidity so the wine isn't overly sweet or cloying.

The bottom line is be bold.  Pull what you enjoy - something you've been thinking about opening for a long time and share it with your close friends and family.  After all, that's the best way to enjoy wine - in the company of those you love.

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I just came across this article written 23 years ago and simply had to share it with you.  In a world that is ever changing, it's comforting to know that some things stay the same. In this case, it's the heart and soul of our winery. This story sums up everything we're about here at Dry Creek Vineyard.  Please read and know that we are carrying on a great family tradition. Have a great weekend! 


"Sometimes friends ask me, how can I know the wine I buy for dinner will be good?  Well you can't be 100 percent certain... But there are a number of things you can do to increase the odds in your favor.  One of them is to find a winery, in the style you enjoy, then, if you want a sure thing, simply buy that wine.

No experiments tonight, thank you; I'm going for old faithful.  Not that there isn't time for experimenting, but we're talking about sure things here.  And one sure thing I've noticed over the past decade or more is Dry Creek Vineyard in Sonoma County.  Through the years, Dry Creek has produced wines of great consistency, wines stamped with an individual style, and wines that are, for the most part, very drinkable.

I first became attracted to Dry Creek because of its Sauvignon Blanc, which is made in the big, fruity, grassy, herbaceous style.  Then I discovered the Zinfandel - brambly, prickly on the palate, easy to drink yet with a charming style that is very memorable.

In both of these wines - and in the rest of Dry Creek's line - owner and winemaster David Stare seems to be attempting to push the varietal character of the wine as far as he can, yet without twisting the wine out of balance.  Dry Creek wines are a bit like watching a first-rate chef at work.  It all looks so easy and so effortless that one forgets the depth of the art behind it."

Larry Walker,
San Francisco Chronicle
February 4, 1987

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For some time now, and rather increasingly I might add, I have been the recipient of useless, mindless, self serving PR pitches and public relations agency press releases. These come from all manner of competitive wine and liquor brands, and also from some of the supposedly top public relations agencies in the country. What a joke. 

Not only does it reveal a fundamental flaw in the public relations efforts of most wine/beverage alcohol companies, it also points to Click photo to enlarge!the impersonal and lazy effort that so many PR people put forth today. People just don't do their homework anymore.

Case in point, I do not review wines. I am not a legitimate wine writer. And, I am most certainly not someone you need to brown nose or get to know because I am influential.

Hell, my name isn't even Wilma! I am merely a winery owner/wine marketer/second generation family business member trying to give a glimpse into the inner workings of a lifetime spent in the wine industry. Yet somehow, I've mysteriously become a targeted blogger in the coveted, almighty wine media database. Ha, I guess I've arrived!

The nice thing about this, of course, is I am learning all kinds of things about my competition, the industry, and other beverage alcohol industries. I am also learning how frustrating and downright irritating it can be for legitimate wine writers, media folks, bloggers, etc. to continually receive pitch after pitch. If you're one of these people out there doing the pitching, here are some pointers:

  1. Using my name in the subject line or first sentence of a PR pitch is a dead giveaway that you're trying to pitch me. Having said that, it's a trick that works nearly every time, even though I know better.

  2. Seasonal story ideas or pitches with a holiday tie-in, such as "The Perfect Sangria for America's Favorite Holiday" are a good reminder of the time of year it is, but not much else; at least not for me.

  3. Recipes get my attention. Fun or unusual wine and food combos and/or a new twist on an old favorite also get the creative juices flowing. Having said that, I have never once been compelled to write about or recreate any of the recipes I've been sent. Now... something like "Sake and Hot Dogs" might just be repulsive enough to actually do the trick.

  4. There's a crap load of competition out there. No wonder it's so difficult to get ink for a brand!  

  5. Wine writers, editors, etc. actually do need help generating material. But the most effective way to get their attention is through a genuine, personalized story idea that would really serve their readers. Do your homework. As an example, if someone was truly pitching me and they had done their homework on this blog, they would know I'm interested in information/statistics on the health of family wineries, comical anecdotes from other winery families, stories that debunk the silly notions people have about being in the wine industry, and just about anything wine related that raises an eyebrow, makes me chuckle, or is contrary to popular belief.

There you have it.

Now I think I'll just sit back and wait for those ideas to come rolling in... it would sure make my life easier if I didn't have to think of this stuff myself!

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Among the many hats I wear, one that definitely stays in the closet is the harvest hat.  Do I love this time of year?  Yes.  Do I get excited about another new vintage of potentially outstanding wines?  Absolutely.  Am I slogging through the vineyard with a grape bucket and shoveling out tanks?  Um, no.  (I figured out long ago that I'm better at hiring the winemaker thanClick photo to enlarge! being the winemaker.) BUT, I've got the utmost respect for those who work so very hard to produce our outstanding wines through this busy season.  So, with another "crush" safely tucked away and put to bed, I thought I'd share a few words of reflection on the season that was.

The winter of 2010 will go down as one of our rainiest in the past decade.  And, what made it especially unusual was the lateness of the rains.  Normally, we begin to "dry out" in late April and early May.  By mid-May, we are dry until after harvest (usually around mid-October).  This year, it rained more than 20 days in May and we had rains all the way through Memorial Day weekend.  Skiers rejoiced - vintners did a lot of hand wringing.  Because of the late rains, we were behind from the get go in our vineyards.  Pruning and other vineyard management issues had to wait until things dried out, automatically setting us back.  June was a terrific weather month, maybe a tad cool but nonetheless beautiful.  Then July came - woeful, gloomy July.   This was maybe the most unusual summer month I have ever lived through in wine Click photo to enlarge!country.  Cold, cold, cold.  Instead of shorts and tee shirts, I was wearing sweaters and sipping tea at my desk.  As a result, veraison (the process of grapes turning color) took much longer than usual.  In fact, by the time we got to August, most vineyards had not yet turned, promoting many of our brethren to leaf.  This is when the bottom of the canopy is opened up to allow sunlight to hit the grapes directly, thereby speeding up veraison and hopefully helping to move the growing season along as well.   About the same time this happened, temperatures spiked to record highs of more than 110 degrees for three straight days.  You can imagine the dismay.  For those vintners who did leaf, much of their crop was lost because veraison is such a critical moment in the life cycle of the grape.  This is when the grape is at its most fragile stage; the heat effectively served to dry the grape out causing it to raisin.  Raisins don't make good wine, trust me.

Moving along, the rest of August and September were equally difficult.  Cool, misty mornings had many people worrying about molds and fungus growth inClick photo to enlarge! the vineyard.  Finally, we made it to October and the beginning of harvest - about three weeks late.  The first part of harvest went off without a hitch - great weather, smiling faces and for the most part, a very nice looking crop.  But, as with this vintage, nothing was a sure thing.  The weekend of October 23rd and 24th saw more than 5 inches of rainfall at the winery.  Again, the weather had people scrambling to get grapes in before it became a total loss.

So, with all of the doom and gloom, how did we fare?  Well, from what I can tell, pretty darn well.  Experience really paid off this year.  As the saying goes, this was not our winemakers' first rodeo. Calm decision-making and a steady hand proved invaluable.  Attention to detail in the vineyard and lots of pre-planning saved us from any major meltdowns.   I'm told that Zinfandel was probably hardest hit in terms of tonnage but all of the other varieties came in pretty normal. And, because of the longer hang time overall, we're already seeing some amazing aromatics (blueberries, black cherries) in our Cabernets.

Overall, I think we'll have some very fine wines from the 2010 vintage, which by any measure is a real testament to our winemaking team, cellar crew and vineyard folks who kept us going through the wacko harvest of 2010.

Thank God they didn't have me out there making the decisions!

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I've been halfway around the world and back. Literally. On October 7, Click photo to enlarge! I left for Rome, to meet up with roughly 30 Dry Creek Vineyard wine club members for a cruise along the Italian and Croatian coastlines. I had crossed my t's and dotted my i's to make sure that I could in good conscience go on this "business" (albeit monkey) trip. By the time I ended up in Europe, my neck was so knotted up and I had such a raging headache that I thought I would explode. Furthermore, The Husband and I were barely speaking to each other. Great I thought. Just what I need, to be stuck with my business partner bobbing up and down in the Mediterranean  pretending to be all happy happy and nicey nicey while we attempt to be the consummate wine country hosts. Thankfully, the time away and beauty of our surroundings quickly removed any stress and strain we had brought with us from home. And, we quickly settled back into our happily married selves.

Click photo to enlarge! We met up with fellow club members at our designated gathering spot near the Coliseum.  There's something surreal about this corner of the world, where gladiators dueled, Romans conquered and the crossroads of civilization existed for so many ancient cultures.  But, I was feeling anxious.  What if no one got along? What if they turned out to be a bunch of dweebs? What if we had an incessant complainer in the group??  Happily, none of these nasty thoughts came true as we boarded the transfer bus that took us to our beautiful sailing ship, the Windstar.

This is the third time we've hosted a wine cruise. Click photo to enlarge!Admittedly, it's a fantastic excuse for a vacation but it also serves as a great way to build loyalty, get to know our customers and break bread with new friends. It didn't take long for us all to relax and enjoy each other's company. We were a diverse assortment of individuals from all over the country, bound together by a love of Dry Creek wines and an adventuresome spirit. It doesn't get much better than that, now does it?

In the preceding days, we continued to bond, enjoying the most amazing scenery and romantic ports of call. By day, we were all about sightseeing, covering as much ground as we could.  By night, we wined and dined, drinking single vineyard wines that we had shipped in to accompany our dinners. (18 cases in all!) Click photo to enlarge!

I have never enjoyed myself more thoroughly.

Our itinerary covered the ports of Capri , Taormina/Sicily, Dubrovnik, Montenegro, the Croatian island of Hvar, and Venice. It's hard to single out what was best; we had so many incredible experiences together:

Sipping Cabernet at midnight while watching Stromboli spew its molten lava every 20 minutes precisely like clockwork. Truly magical. Strolling the streets of Kotor, the ancient seaside city of Montenegro, learning about the complex and colorful history of this "fairy tale" Click photo to enlarge!city. Discovering the forgotten way of life on Hvar, one of the prettiest islands I've visited with its hand terraced slopes of lavender and vineyards. Visiting a small winery in Croatia, learning about the simple yet endearing wines these vintners have produced for centuries. Note: after tasting Plavits Malie for the umpteenth time, I'm still not convinced it's at all related to Zinfandel.

There are just too many memories to share them all. All I can say is if you're looking for a great vacation idea, please join us on a future trip. We've already been asked to host another in 2011 and are looking into a couple of possible itineraries. The Greek Isles and Istanbul are possibilities as is Tahiti. (Stay tuned...)

As with all great vacations, those first days back are when you try Click photo to enlarge! desperately to hang on to that vacation glow.  I'm still clinging to it. Especially now that I'm sitting at the airport waiting for my plane to depart for New York—for my last business trip of the year-hooray!

But this time I feel different. I feel happy. I feel refreshed. I feel full of gratitude for the many travel companions and loyal customers who I can now call friends.

Hopefully I'll discover more of the same in the Big Apple!

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2010 is the previous archive.

December 2010 is the next archive.

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