Art in Wine,Food & Wine,Travel,Wine

Seamless… art, food, and wine… in one Santurce location

The first time I went to Puerto Rico, my three children were pretty young. My mother-in-law Mami Ana wanted José, the girls, and me to come to her Puerto Rico to stay with her. I fought it, it was the dead of winter in Maine. Packing three kids was hard enough in the summer, and what was I going to do with my cat… Each excuse got dumber than the one before it. She offered flights for each of us and housing when we got there… Not to mention the cultural experiences that were being presented.

As a mother-in-law has a right to ask, she queried, “What the matter with you!”

Ah, what was the matter with me? So, I begrudgingly packed our bags, and my mother took my cat for the week. Off we went… the flight was easy, I just nursed Lyla for about eight hours.

As it now turns out, her ears easily get plugged on flights, so I was helping with the pain in her ears. She wasn’t one of those kids who cried for the entire flight… And those who raised their eyebrows now had smiles as we deplaned.

Getting off the ramp and into the airport was the signal of things to come. We left below zero weather in Maine to walk into 80 degrees at 8:00 p.m., no walls in the airport at that time, and palm trees were swaying with tropical evening breezes. I thought to myself, “I could live here.”

My mother-in-law allowed  us to do anything we wanted to do, and beach was heavily on the agenda. We went to El Morro and Old San Juan. We drove the the south end of the island, to the town of Ponce. Here we visited the Museo de Arte de Ponce [Above]. Mami Ana topped that off with a couple of days in the Condado Beach area, staying at the Dupont Plaza Hotel. This was a few years before the New Year’s Eve fire in 1986, that destroyed it.

She sealed my fate. I would forever and ever love and yearn for Puerto Rico.

José and I just returned for a week…. to lay his dad to rest, and to live, love, and learn even more about his tropical island. José was born in Santurce, San Juan, PR. For our last two visits, we have rented an apartment in the Condado area. As we were driving around this time, I spotted an art museum within walking distance. We ditched the car for the last day, because we were just minutes from the beach. Since we had only walked the beach, but not soaked in the sunshine, this seemed like a great last day thing to do. With dinner at a restaurant being our final destination. But, something changed, having seen the art museum. I just couldn’t get it out of my head, so I told José that I’d like to go to find the museum first. He took it to The Google, and we discovered that it was easily within walking distance… the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico [Above]. As it turned out, we were just missing an Gustav Klimt exhibit… Sigh…

What we did find, however, is a credit to the Puerto Rican culture… Seamless… art, food, and wine… in one Santurce location. Rules: Backpacks checked in in the reception area. No cameras inside of any of the exhibit halls; but in main hallways, it was okay. The Botanical Gardens are open to photography. So is the restaurant.

José and I were off and running. We had explored the first floor, and I wanted to go into the gardens. Being given permission to photograph anything that I wanted to, it was a heyday for me. We were outside for the rest of the morning, and then returned to slowly finish viewing the museum’s art… which we did. Breathtaking and to be in José’s town of birth, priceless. By the end of seeing all that we had wanted to see, we were both famished. We traded in our desire to go out to dinner, by choosing to eat in the museum’s restaurant… and this is what this blog post is all about. (Sorry for the long intro, but none of what I’m going to write would be as rich in content, if you hadn’t read this back story.)


Kitchen | Art Bar

Here we found all that Chef Mario Pagán promises on his website: “Nuevo Caribe Cuisine,” concept inspired by the plethora of fresh ingredients available year round in our beautiful island. Queen Snappers from our southern coasts, butter avocados from the north, handcrafted cheeses and other local delights make for an enticing and intriguing menu.

Yeah… no kidding, and little did we know… Chef Pagan from the Food Network:

Locally recognized as one of Puerto Rico’s best chefs, Mario Pagán has two of the finest restaurants in San Juan: Chayote and Lemongrass. His third restaurant, Laurel, will open in October in the Museum of Art in San Juan. Mario’s passion for cooking began while watching his mother prepare meals rooted in Caribbean cuisine in his San Juan childhood home.

A lush tropical view greeted us, from where we were sitting… to my left and to José’s right… on their terrace overlooking the Botanical Gardens. Inside, every inch and detail of the restaurant was artfully designed. (We were later told by the apartment’s manager that this is one of the finest restaurants on the island. It’s got my vote.) I was fascinated by the back interior wall, which was done in layers. Decor was tastefully Zen. The stage was set for our palates.

Chef – Owner: Mario Pagán ~ Manager: Paola Ramos

We toasted Puerto Rico with an imported Prosecco, while we read the menu. As I waited, a little basket of bread was brought to our table. José’s been avoiding all breads, so I thought I’d be just fine with what was presented. I used a tiny bit of butter on the “just baked” bread, and thought I had died and gone to heaven. I spent many years making my family’s own bread, trying several different kinds of bread, always returning to a favorite… I know bread and this bread was the finest I have ever tasted in all of my years of living. It was so light and delectable that it clearly takes bread to an art form. OMG… I told our wait server how much I loved it, and she went back into the kitchen to have more baked… We were in for the long haul. When the second serving arrived, I had to have José take just one taste, which wasn’t really enough… Screw the Paleo diet, this bread was heaven in layers of deliciousness. José threw caution to the wind, as we finished our Prosecco and bread.

A gastronomic menu to delight our sense of taste… Appetizers:

  • I had the “My Chicken Cracklings, Malt Lemon Grass Syrup, Toasted Coriander” ~ with a Torrontés (South American) [Above]
  • José had the “Berkshire Short Ribs, Red Cabbage Green mango Slaw” ~ with a Zinfandel (CA)

Between the wines, bread, and appetizers, we were over-the-top full, and realized that we wouldn’t be going anywhere with our last night. We finished with Cappuccinos and a delicious little complementary beignet…

The exercise of walking back to the apartment and savoring the finest meal on the island was just settling in, while I was, again, still thinking that I could move to Puerto Rico and be just fine… Seamless… art, food, and wine…

I still can’t believe that I didn’t write down the producers of the wines we were having. It was our last night. I was on overload with the ambiance and all of the sights I had just seen, both within and outside in the gardens, that writing just wasn’t on my agenda. Photographing was, but writing would take way too much away from the moment… I did know that I wanted to bring all of the thoughts back with me, because there was one overriding thought… For me, there is no better way to enjoy the arts, than with a museum, a glass of great wine, and some artful gastronomic dishes. It just brings everything together in one place, and Chef Owner Mario Pagán has stuck a fine chord realizing his dream, while maintaining mine of being back again in Puerto Rico.

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Organic wines and a bird defect

I just don’t get out much lately. I’ve got so many things to do that joining others… taking that precious time… has been eluding me for a while.

Jose and I just made the time, with our friend Sue Straight (Wine Wench) and her friend Mindy Joyce, to taste 17 imported organic wines. What a breath of fresh air it was, and how very, very insightful.

As we tasted through the wines, discussed them, told stories, and discussed what the wines were like… right down to which actor best represented the wines (that was my doing, once one hit me as a character… like a great character actor). I do have to say, there was not one Jack Nicholson in the house.

The greatest gift we can give to this evening, I believe that we’d go on and on with whatever we were tasting and talking about, and then someone would pop up with, “I can’t believe these wines are also organic.” The thought that organic wines can’t be as superior to, if not better than, their non-organic compatriots was enough to occasionally stop us dead in our track and agree that “organic,” for all intents and purposes, just isn’t a flavor issue… If anything, they’re better, because we know that the practices to bring these wines to us are much more pure in intent, in practice, and better received by our bodies.

Yeah.. I’m a health nut (pistachio), and very pleased with the life choices I’ve made in this regard. My dentist just told me everything I needed to know… She told me in what great condition my mouth is… whatever I’m doing, it’s really working. My physician also doesn’t expect to see much of me, because everything is better than it should be. Why? Organics matter… They really matter.

Don’t even say GMO to me…

So, here we were, tasting wine on a late Friday afternoon; all imports, all organic, and for me… very amazing.

Price points? All so reasonably priced, these wines are ones worth sharing.

I’m going to list them, give you a few adjectives, and tell you who they’re like for characters… You’ll have fun with rest, and decide who you’d like to drink in for the night. (Next blog posting…)

See if you can find the bird defect…

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IMHO,Wine,Wine Business

How about you, girlfriend? Are you into wine, too?

Ah, the use of the word “girlfriend.” How about you, girlfriend? Are you into wine, too? is easy to now ask.

This has the potential to put some guys on edge, I just realized. A gentleman on Facebook recently wanted to know when “girlfriend” had become main stream for women. This person is a perfect gentleman in all ways, so I can see him asking the question… “Like, when did it happen?”

Well, I can’t blame him. For years we went from not wanting to be called “girls” to wanting to be called “women.” And, don’t even try that “ladies” thing on us. That’s the kiss of death, man. Honestly, I’d say — but remember, it’s internally a womano-y-womano thing — it’s since we’ve now found a fun voice.

Think about it… and I even did this in the 60s with certain guys… “How’s it goin, man?”  Well, there you are; men easily calling each other “man” for a very long time…

  • Women have easily been calling each other “girlfriends” for a very long time. And, we’ve had boyfriends.
  • Some guys have “girlfriends;” and some have “boyfriends;” but, the latter denotes a hookup.
  • So, not all guys have boyfriends, and the ones who do use it in a personal, not a professional way ….
  • But, we girlfriends, which we’ve always had, are a bit behind the times in that kind of business camaraderie, but not socially.

And, that’s what it is… We’re a step behind catching up in the business world; but, we’re getting there, too.

Hell, we just got the right to vote with the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920… Nearly 100 years later, we can now be professional girl friends.

WIKI: (Amendment XIX -  to the United States Constitution prohibits any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote on the basis of sex. It was ratified on August 18, 1920.)

We then got ourselves into civic clubs in the 1980s, that had been here-to-fore denying women access… Membership discrimination in California social clubs

Like Rotary, for instance, in the early 1980s… I was happy to be one of the first women to sit on committees, and then to be the first woman on my club’s board of directors… This paved the way for other women to join. Today’s women don’t have to prove themselves anymore, like I had to, as being capable of doing what they’re doing. I had one guy push me against the wall so hard I was ready to quit. I went to Dom Tardiff and told him I had had enough. He said, “You can’t quit now. That’s exactly what he wants. He wants to say, ‘See, they can’t take it.’” Yeah, it was that hard.

It’s no longer about feminism, though; it’s now about credentials… And, you’d darn well better believe that we also had to have the credentials to go along with our really hard heads.

Now, we’re just now learning how to slap backs.

So, how about you, girlfriend? Are you into wine, too? 



Do you ever wonder, “Why do imports seem to cost less than domestic wines?”

Here are some thoughts…

Do you ever wonder, “Why do imports seem to cost less than domestic wines?”

Each day I analyze who’s clicking onto my blog, from aggregated sources. I found my story, the one about Marlene Rossman, an extraordinary wine writing talent, coming through to be from BabyBoomerKnowledgeCenter.com.

I re-read the story and noticed a comment at the bottom of it. Given the nature of the question, it was unlikely that the publisher of the site was going to be able to answer it. There was a total disconnect to the site’s genre ability. … Honestly, at the time, had I not been in the wine business for over 16 years, I wouldn’t have been able to answer it, either. (No harm, no foul.)

For me, it actually took working with Delfim Costa of Enoforum Wines, based in Évora, Portugal to even begin to have an answer to the question.

QUESTION from Terry:

Visiting France a few years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see wine priced very reasonably. For $5-$10 you could buy quality which would cost you double that in the U.S. Some say wine here, both imported and domestic, is overpriced in general, at least compared to Europe. Is that true?

ANSWER from Jo:

…It’s not that wine is over-priced in the US. I wrote a blog on the cost of a bottle of wine. The Cost of a $50 Bottle of Wine

The breakdown is staggering for the fees associated with producing a bottle of wine. It’s priced fairly in the US (mostly), given the stream of people who must be paid within that system.

What causes imports to be less expensive is that the cost of living for land, supplies, and labor in other countries is less; consequently, it costs less to make that bottle of wine.

The next consideration is the costs involved in importing the wine… the licenses, the taxes, the transportation, the storage of it, and now the sales and marketing to support in the US… But it still remains less by comparison. (It costs more to live here than most places where wine is produced in the world, right?)

You can always travel the world to get your less (cost of living) expensive wine, but now you have all the expenses of going abroad. It’s cheaper, in the long run, to let the pros bring it into our country, but it’s definitely more fun to go get it yourself.

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Event,Food & Wine,Mendocino County,Public Service Announcement,Wine

It’s time for the Twenty Third Annual Spring Hopland Passport

It must be spring, because once again, it’s time for the Twenty Third Annual Spring Hopland Passport event

Saturday, May 3, and Sunday, May 4, 2014 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day

17 winery tasting rooms in and around Hopland, California

Join 17 wineries to celebrate Hopland Passport on Saturday, May 3rd and Sunday, May 4th, 2014, from 11:00am to 5:00pm each day.

With seventeen participating wineries pouring their best wines, incredible food pairings at each stop, and opportunities to experience tours, art, and live music, Hopland is the place to be for wine lovers on May 3rd and 4th.

What your pass gives you:

  • A Passport logo glass
  • Entry to all wine tastings, food pairings and entertainment at all 17 wineries
  • Music will be enjoyed at some venues

Passport Weekend passes are $45 online or $55 at the event. The online store CLOSES on Thursday, May 1. 2014 at noon, so please purchase your tickets early to get the discounted price.

Third Annual Spring Hopland Passport

Hopland wineries strongly encourage responsible wine tasting. If your group does not take advantage of their complimentary designated driver ticket, please make arrangements through one of the numerous private shuttle operators Destination Hopland has made available to safely get you here and home.

Visit 17 wineries over two full days, enjoying wine, food, music, and sales, for only $45 if you order early online, or $55 if you procrastinate and buy at the event.

Just 30 minutes north of Healdsburg and 15 minutes south of Ukiah, on Hwy 101, Hopland looks forward to sharing their relaxed country charm, and medal winning wines, with attendees at the Twenty Third Annual Spring Hopland Passport on May 3 & 4, 2014.

Participating wineries:

  1. Brutocao Cellars
  2. Campovida
  3. Cesar Toxqui Cellars
  4. Frey Vineyards
  5. Graziano Family of Wines
  6. Jaxon Keys Winery & Distillery
  7. Jeriko Estate
  8. McFadden Farm Stand & Tasting Room
  9. McNab Ridge Tasting Room
  10. Milano Family Winery
  11. Naughty Boy Vineyards and WAAWAA
  12. Nelson Family Vineyards
  13. Ray’s Station
  14. RIVINO Winery
  15. Saracina
  16. Seebass Family Vineyards
  17. Terra Savia



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The real wine scandal in the hit TV show “Scandal”

The real wine scandal in the hit TV show “Scandal” is the way Olivia Pope holds that Burgundy glass drinking her Bordeaux wine… and when it happens.

Just my observations… The glass has a super long stem, so I put this on Facebook on March 14. I had to go back to check, because I got a great answer from Mary Cressler.

I wrote:

Okay, I have a love/hate relationship with the show “Scandal.” The intrigue, I love. The fast talking is like a bad Seinfeld episode… Not to mention the way Olivia Pope holds her Burgundy glass, slugging down Bordeaux. Yeah, check out the red wine bottles she always pouring her wine from… To suggest that she’s a wine connoisseur, she missed wine components 101… No one holds the glass that way, girl friend, except me 25 years ago.

Mary Cressler, founder of Vindulge:

You mean THIS glass?Burgundy glass.

Yeah, that’s so it. I’d love to see a more positive reason for having wine on this program… They do occasionally portray this character dining with her father and she’s having wine. I’d prefer to not seeing wine primarily used at the end of each day to swig away her stress.

Just me and my humble opinion. We, as an industry, have spent so much time trying to elevate wine from something that M.A.D.D  is furious about, to something that’s an everyday beverage to be enjoyed in a way that complements foods and/or with friends, family, good food, and great times.

I believe this show is doing wine a bit of an injustice; otherwise, I love the program.

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How do you consider the three-tier system in the wine world of the US to be functioning?

The three-tier system in the wine world within the Untied States is quite the mess, in my humble opinion. After 20+ years of working in this industry, I’ve seen the three-tier system in the US to be ever increasingly shrinking into a select few wholesalers that have been gobbling up everything in site, so they can own more and more shelf space. This ultimately serves fewer and fewer wine companies, which then serves fewer and fewer people with high quality options.

How do you consider the three-tier system in the wine word of the US to be functioning? Is it working for you as a wine company?

As I write this, I’m first reminded of the Rotary Four-Way Test, and I’m now going to spin off that. When I was in radio as a PR agent, I was able to join community groups. Rotary served me well, and I served it well within their 100 percent attendance program, making up missed Rotary meetings in my own town, to attend other meetings all over the country.

There are many guiding forces within this group, and many highly principled people. These principles have been developed over the years to provide members with a strong, common purpose and direction. They’re the foundation of their relationships with each other and the action they take in the world.

Let me also qualify what I’m about to write… There are many small wholesalers. They, too, are struggling against the oppression of the oligopolies. Our economic system doesn’t allow for any monopolies; however, it’s been constructed to benefit the top three to four companies. We have systems of oligopolies… Think of the car industry, for instance. It became dominated in the US by the big three. That worked well enough, until they began to cut corners in quality of products and workmanship. Then, European brands came into the US, and shook up Detroit et al. Now, many of those European and Asian brands have joined forces in the US…  and the recalls are massive… We’ve not been served by the oligopolies.

Nor are we served by the oligopolistic competition that’s been set up by our wine, beer, and spirits wholesalers. Let’s look at the Rotarian four-way test.

Rotary’s Four-Way Test

The Four-Way Test is a nonpartisan and nonsectarian ethical guide for Rotarians to use for their personal and professional relationships. The test has been translated into more than 100 languages, and Rotarians recite it at club meetings:
Of the things we think, say or do

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

You will now see that the three tiered system was not set up by anyone with the principles set forth above…

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
    • In the sense of telling all citizens what’s actually available for commercially produced beverages, no, it’s far from the truth.
    • Go into any supermarket and try to find wine produced by an artisan winemaker, outside of the state where the wine’s produced.
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
    • You be the judge. Is the following a fair trade practice?
    • Wholesalers are no longer in the business of building any brand. They’re in the business of stacking shelves from those who are willing to give the biggest discounts, and offer their sales reps monetary incentives for pushing those wines upon a retailer.
    • Let’s think aobut the 80 to 20 percent rule.
    • In this case, there is very little goodwill for anyone left out of the three tiered system. And, that’s the 80 percent of wineries NOT be served with this system; while the 20 percent club are served really well, continuing to become ever expanding bohemouths of themselves.
    • Better Friendships? They exist exclusively within the 20 percent, while they dominate the time and energy of retailers and restaurateurs.
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
    • It benefits the wholesalers, who are selling only wines to you from wine companies that have been forced to line the oligopoly pockets.

What are your choices?

  • Find your voice
  • Find a group that will allow your voice to be heard
  • Vote with your pocketbook

We can become the 80 percent of electorates that force a change. Do you care that you can’t get your hands on some of these wines that have been created by the gods, because the wholesale system is out of control making decisions for you?

Are you in? Join this group: National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR)

Through NAWR Associate Membership, individuals and businesses that may not be retailers, may be just starting out as wine retailers or may merely support the principles that guide NAWR can join with liked mined concerns in supporting NAWR goals. Associate Membership provides the same networking opportunities as full retail membership, provides access to NAWR communications as well as access to NAWR sanctioned events. Associate Members do not possess a right to vote on association matters as laid out in NAWR bylaws.

How do you consider the three-tier system in the wine world of the US to be functioning?



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Public Service Announcement,Wine

Passport Sunday in Suisun Valley… Continues as immensely successful consumer event

Passport Sunday in Suisun Valley

is presented by the

Suisun Valley Vintners & Growers Association

Wine and food tasting: Sunday, April 13, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

It’s been great to help launch Passport Sunday in Suisun Valley, and to continue to see it flourishing through the efforts of a very dedicated crew.

An immediate sell-out, this traditional, spring event showcases the wines of Suisun Valley to all types of wine enthusiasts. Attendees travel from one winery to the next, tasting Suisun Valley wines and collecting stamps on their passports. Each of the approximately 10 wineries presents a unique story and wine tasting, all paired with local foods. Some local farmers also join by showcasing their products at some of the participating wineries, such as local olive oils, jams, dried fruits and nuts.

  • GV Cellars, with MagPies Grill
  • Il Fiorello Olive Oil, with Executive Chef Marvin Martin
  • Ledgewood Creek Winery, with Pane e Vino
  • Mangels Vineyards, with Chef to Go Catering
  • Rock Creek Vineyards, with MagPies Bakery/Catering
  • Suisun Valley Wine Co-op, with B&J BBQ
  • Tenbrink Winery and Vineyards, with Mankas Steakhouse
  • Winterhawk Winery, with Napoli Pizza
  • Wooden Valley Winery, with Kinders

Limited space available. In order to keep this event very special, there are only a limited number of tickets that will be sold… and they sell out pretty quickly. If you’re interested in attending, please don’t procrastinate.

General Admission tickets are $40, and $20 for designated drivers.

Tickets can be purchased on line at Suisun Valley Brown Paper Tickets. They can also be purchased at the following locations: GV Cellars, Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company, Ledgewood Creek Winery, Suisun Valley Wine Co-op, and Wooden Valley Winery

Getting around is enjoyable, as the Suisun Valley “loop” is located just minutes from I-80 in Fairfield. Suisun Valley’s winemakers are approachable and down-to-earth and love sharing stories about how they craft their wines. Expect to find them pouring behind the bar or from a barrel in their cellar. Don’t be surprised if you run into old friends at all your favorite spots.

For more information, visit Suisun Valley Events.

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Non-GMO wine – Score!

Natural Merchants has receives Non-GMO Project Verification for 29 core wines imported from Europe. Yeah!

If you don’t know, I’m a huge Non-GMO wine proponent. Who knows where these experiments will go, and honestly, we’re the guinea pigs. That just boils my butt… I’ve got kids and grand kids who have problems with digestion. No-one in my childhood had to go through any of these gluten free problems. I mean NO-ONE. Now, in the last 20-30 years, it’s been a nightmare. Since we are what we eat, we can trace that right back to our food supply.

Source: GMO Compass

Argument: There are no GM wine grapes in production.

Fact: There are no approved GM wine grapes currently in production, but multiple field trials have been conducted in the US and the EU on the benefits of developing GM grapes for wine production. The trials looked at genetically modifying grapes to be resistant to fungus, bacteria and viruses, as well as herbicide resistant, more tolerant to colder temperatures and which have a modified grape size. Seven field trials for GM grapes vines were conducted between 1994-2010 in France, Italy and Germany, and 59 others in the US, Canada, Australia and South Africa.

So, good on ya, Natural Merchants! thanks for not only taking this step, but also letting the world know about opposition.

Non-GMO wine – Score!

From Natural Merchants’ press release:

Natural Merchants, LLC, based in Grants Pass, OR and Cartagena, Spain, announces the Non-GMO Project Verification of its core portfolio wines, the first wines imported from Europe to obtain the verification. Natural Merchants works with family-owned wineries throughout Europe to produce USDA Certified Organic No Sulfites Added Wines, as well as wines Made with Organically Grown Grapes. Five of the winery partners, located in Italy, Spain, Austria, France and Greece are participating in the Non-GMO Project Verification.

“Consumer demand for non-GMO products has increased dramatically in the United States, as an estimated 80% of all packaged goods are now genetically engineered,” says Edward Field, President of Natural Merchants. “The demand flows over into wine and other alcoholic beverages and we are delighted to offer the first ever wines from Europe to be Non-GMO Project Verified.”

The initial 29 wines that are Non-GMO Project Verified include:

  • Italy-La Cantina Pizzolato-USDA certified organic no sulfites added Merlot, Cabernet, Rosso Convento and Prosecco; Pizzolato Fields Prosecco, Pizzolato Moscato, Pinot Grigio, Stefany Prosecco, Frederik Spumante, Merlot and Cabernet
  • Spain-Bodegas Iranzo-USDA certified organic no sulfites added Spartico; Tarantas Tempranillo Crianza; Tarantas Bobal Rosé, Sparkling Rose and Sparkling White; VERTVS Tempranillo Crianza, Tempranillo Joven, Tempranillo/Cabernet and Bobal Rosé
  • Austria-Biokult-Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Noir/Zweigelt Red, Zweigelt Rosé, and Rosé Secco
  • France-Vignobles Raymond-Les Hauts de Lagarde Rouge and Blanc, USDA certified organic no sulfites added Le Petit du Chateau de Lagarde
  • Greece- Domaine Gioulis-Sofos Red and White

The verification is granted by the Non-GMO Project, a not-for-profit organization committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices.

Non-GMO Project Verified status indicates that the brands adhere to consensus-based best practices for avoidance of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which are organisms whose natural genetic material has been altered through engineering techniques. Natural Merchants winery partners will proudly display the Non-GMO Project Verified badge on shelf tags so that consumers can easily identify the products.

As consumers continue to seek healthier food options, the concept of genetic modification of ingredients has come into the spotlight. While purchasing certified organic products is a substantial step in working toward a non-GMO diet, organic manufacturers and importers are going the extra step to obtain the Non-GMO Project Seal to give consumers additional peace of mind.

All Natural Merchants winery partners utilize only indigenous “wild” yeast fermentations in their wines, and do not “inoculate” the wines with the addition of yeast during production. Indigenous yeast fermentation starts by itself when wild yeast strains – originating in the vineyard – start fermenting. Only Bentonite clay, a naturally occurring mineral, is used as a fining agent. Both preclude any possible contamination by GMO sources and also make the wines vegan friendly.

Organic and natural foods grocer Whole Foods Market has announced that all products in their U.S. and Canadian stores must be labeled to indicate whether they contain GMOs by 2018. 12 of the core wines that are Non-GMO Project Verified are currently available in Whole Foods Market stores nationwide.

The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization committed to preserving and building the non-GMO food supply, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices. We believe that everyone deserves an informed choice about whether or not to consume genetically modified organisms. For more information visit www.nongmoproject.org.

The Natural Merchants Selections program highlights more than 150 carefully selected wines from Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, France, Greece and Portugal, grown in unique organic terroir, each vineyard producing clean, fresh superior wines that are both good for the earth and tantalizing for the palate. For more information visit www.naturalmerchants.com.

#  #  #

It’s great to know we have choices…. And, I’m happy to list them on my blog, here; so, when I want a non-GMO wine, I only have to search on Non-GMO wine.


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Marketing,PR Advice,Wine

Today is “hug your sales person” day

I’ve performed a good deal of sales in my time… I’m still doing it in a very soft way, because PR is sales… It falls under the category of Sales and Marketing.

I’ve done winery sales, too, so I feel like I can address this one pretty well.

Proprietors, it’s great that you think your customers are buying your products, because they love your products, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret… They like your sale rep, to be quite honest. Your sales rep’s doing the relationship building necessary to bridge your brand and what the wholesaler (in the wine business) will be buying. If a sales person is good at what she or he does, expect to move your wine. If you send in someone they find – boring – for instance, expect your sales to plummet. And, in today’s competitive market, if you’ve got a great rep, think about that hug. If you get in there and burn any bridges, your sales person is going to be your only saving grace. (You can begin to see why this hug yours sales person has legs, right?)

Here’s a scenario. I worked for one company as a communications coordinator. This wine company was running $3 Million in the red at the time. I was given the state of Oregon for sales management, just because no one could serve it. At the time, the sales manager I was working with was Todd Bacon, and he was at Admiralty Beverage. Todd and I immediately clicked and we had great times together selling wine. Having been in radio with Jose before the wine business, I had gone to a lot of dinners with record company reps, as Jose’s partner. I was always invited, and became great friends with all of the record company people (to this day). So, it was second nature for me to say to Todd, “Let’s do dinner and please bring your wife with you.” That bond developed so deeply, that I eventually went to their home for dinner, too.

Sales in Oregon went through the roof. They eclipsed Washington Sate sales. I was told that that shouldn’t have happened… And, when it became time for the national sales meeting, Oregon was one of the Top Ten Selling States. Hum… My boss called out each of his brokers, but just happened to mention Oregon as he listed who had done a great job. (No pat on the back, no hug your sales rep day. I was taking notes.)

My boss had inherited me, so he had never reviewed my skills or looked even at my resume. And, he was really bothered my enthusiasm. (He actually thought that I was manic.. I’m not and never have been. I’m just enthusiastic, as many of you might know.) Not knowing me, he always wanted to replace me, but the sales manager “got me,” having arrived before this new CEO. And, she kept saving me… every time my boss thought he could part with me, she’d step in. In three years time, I had gone from being the communications coordinator to balancing that with sales duties in Oregon, Washington State, Northern California, Northern Nevada, Idaho, Minnesota, Iowa, and Puerto Rico. I also visited New England a lot to work with our broker. And… three years later, the company that was in the red when I began sales, was now running in the black.

My boss got brave. He thought that all of his deals on the golf course had had him rescue the wine company, so he first let my sales manager (another woman) go.  I asked him if I was done, too. He said, “No,” chuckling, “You’re in sales, I can’t do that. Trust me.” He had already broken one trust, so I was still nervous. He then hired, let’s call him “Desmond,” giving him some of my states, but not clarifying with me; so, I could see where he was going. I was in Oregon when I got the phone call one Friday, “Jo, meet me first thing on Monday morning.” I knew what he was going to do, and I told Todd that it was all over.  Todd said, “Oh, no, why would your boss replace the best cheerleader that that winery has ever had?” Because he doesn’t like women, Todd, was all I could think of to say. I went into the winery over the weekend and cleaned out my desk, met him on Monday, told him I was already checked out, and he told me I was very intuitive.

Actually, he had always been very transparent, so it wasn’t really intuition, although I’ve got plenty of that, too.

Within a very short amount of time, an accounting insider told my former sales manager that the winery was back in the red. Our support people followed us within a week of also being let go, then Desmond went, and by five months the CEO got the boot… all within five months. He had done himself and the winery in.

People who are meeting sales reps everyday know the difference between who is genuine and who’s not. When people are good at sales, and by “good” I mean very intuitive, they can sell anything… from toothpaste, to paper clips, wine, or even cars… They can SELL… It’s the sales rep that people are buying, the product is incidental to the process.

The moral to the story is… If it ain’t broke, don’t go trying to fix it. Trust your sales reps; they’ll tell you what the market is doing.

If you’ve got sales reps that your clients adore, just wrap your mind around that, because it’s they who create the salaries for everyone else in your company. And, hug your sales person. Overlook that he or she may be too cheery, too loquacious, or always in a hurry. It’s part of the job and it’s what sells in the outside world, genuine caring.

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