Wine,Wine & Food,Wine Appreciation,Wine Business,Wne and Food

Wine Pros are the best resource for humor

Wine pros, if you also see yourself, enjoy what you’re seeing… It’s all great fun.

This was first published in Wine Business Monthly. Under the name of Road Warrior Survival Guide. It’s one of my rants, and it was born from being on the road a bit too much (I think) at the time. While my schedule has slowed down, the following behaviors haven’t, and I see still see them at wine tastings… Enjoy!

We all know that it’s not polite to stereotype; but my lord; some people make it so darn easy. They’re there, at every wine festival, you can count on them. They look different than the last festival; they may part their hair on the left instead of the right, they may be bald instead of having a full head of hair. But, they return completely metamorphosed – doing exactly what they did in the last town. And, we all know them.

Pusher-uppers & puller-outers – These are my two personal favorites. Both of them make the decision that you’ve poured enough wine, but instead of telling you in words, they tell you in actions. The pusher uppers are those people who, once they’ve made their split-second decision, will forcefully push up on their glasses, causing you to jump out of your skin. No matter how many times I’ve experienced them, I’m never ready for the pusher-uppers. I pushed back once, just to see the expression on her face… it was classic. She looked confused. “Welcome to my world,” I mused.

Another time, when I had just experienced a pusher-upper, I turned to a colleague who was pouring with me. We had a minute of down time. I said, “You know, I can’t stand pusher-uppers.” He looked at me quizzically… I said, “You know, those people who decide that you’ve poured enough wine for them and they just push their glass up at you.” He said, “Well, I think that it’s kinda nice. They’ve decided that they’ve had enough.” I returned, “Phil, why can’t they just say, ‘thank you.'” Phil thought for a second and said, “You know, you’re right. What would it take to be a little polite?” I said, “My point exactly.”

Then Phil said to me, “You know, I can’t stand the ones who pull their glass away while you’re still pouring!” I said, “Oh, you mean the Puller-Outers.” He said, “Yeah, what are they thinking? You’re pouring, and the next thing you know, they start to take their glass away while you’re still pouring wine. It makes me follow their hand so I don’t spill all over the place.”

I said, “You know, the next time I have a pusher-upper, I going to push right back. I’ve had it.” Just at that moment, my friend R.B. arrived. I was so excited.

She offered her beach home to me as overnight accommodations, and I just couldn’t wait to hug her, so I said to Phil, “I’ll be right back. I have to go to say ‘Hi’ to R.B.” I left the table and looked over my shoulder just in time to see red wine splashed all over the white tablecloth. I looked at Phil, and he gave me this mischievous wink. Later he told me that the very next guy turned out to be a puller-outer. At first Phil started to follow him with the bottle. Then he thought, “What the heck…” and let ‘er rip. Horrified, the husband exclaimed, “That’s the second time that’s happened to me tonight!” His wife retorted, “Get a clue!”

Takes It All Too Seriously ~ There is one man I’ll never forget… he made my day when he called me “Young Lady.” It’s been so long since I’ve been called “Young Lady;” usually it’s “Ma’am.” I had just poured a Chardonnay that he asked for, and I went into the adjectives; you know, apple, citrus, butter. He stopped me dead in my tracks, “Young lady,” (I was thinking, “How sweet!”), and he then continued, “Do not presume to tell me what I’m going to find on my palate.” Yawn!

Yin-Yang ~ “I’ll Have Something Red” has a twin… “I’ll Have Something White.” Have you ever been tempted to just pick up two bottles (say a Cabernet and a Merlot) and simultaneously pour each in his/her glass? It could be followed with, “There you go, my own concoction. I’m thinking of going into wine making. Whaddaya think?”

Cleanliness is NOT next to Godliness ~ These folks have to rinse after each and every pour of wine. Okay, I’d much rather dilute my wine with wine. After three hours of tasting, do these guys really believe that they’re tasting anything purely anymore?

Blotters ~ Who told them that they could rinse out their glasses and turn them upside down on my tablecloth? Oh, those dirty rings!

Bell Ringers ~ These guys must love to ring the bell for the Salvation Army at Christmas, because they spend the rest of the year rinsing their glasses in preparation; then, shaking them all over the event like they’re ringing the bell for the poor kids who might not have a Christmas without their monumental efforts. My friend Dan likes to call them Flicker Dorks, but Bell Ringers works, too.

The Whole World’s a Phone Booth ~ They think they’re alone. The tent has 1,000 people in it, but they’re so lonely that they have to call friends to tell them how much they’re missed; meanwhile, they’re missing the tasting. And, with the constant drone of the murmuring crowd, how much can anyone really hear… and who cares!

Dish Washers ~ Where do these guys get off thinking that my ice tub is their kitchen sink? Each and every person adds more spit than the last. And when you tell them that they’re about the tenth person to wash their glass, they just shrug.

Garbage People ~ Where do these guys get off thinking that my spit bucket is their trash can? I pity the guys whose job it is to empty the spit wine into a sink. Before they do, they have to remove toothpicks, napkins, paper plates, left over food, etc.

Cornie (aka Chuckle with the Chain) ~ (note the yellow circle, denoting the hanging glass) Not enough hands or just too clutsy? I can’t decide, but it’s always a giggle to see how some people compulsively put their glass into a glass holder that’s worn like a necklace, and has the potential – with one simple bump – to segue into the next phase… wine-on-shirt badge. (This one proves that we’re all really funny, honestly.) And, I have to thank Chanda Eddens for the name “Cornie.” It’s much better then my “Chuckle with the Chain.”

Don’t Over Do It! ~ My return for this jibe is, “You either!” The same guy who can’t get enough wine from a pour invariably spills red wine all over his shirt before the event ends. (Dribble, dribble little louse, I saw you dribble on your new silk blouse!)

Ms. Perfume ~ Please, please, please don’t bathe in it… It’s so hard to taste anything right, when any perfume at all at a wine tasting is so wrong. And, we all know it, dearie….

You Can Do Better Than That ~ Usually evokes, “Oh, I didn’t realize that we’ve slipped from the tasting portion to the drinking portion of the program!”

Ya Look Like The Concierge ~ “Do you know where XYZ Winery is?” I usually say, “Yeah, in the Sierra Foothills.”

Parker (inspired by a conversation with Jose and Amy Biege) ~ These are people who come to a table to get their taste of wine, put their food plate down on your pristine table cloth (that you’ve brought back from Italy), and proceed to have a conversation with their friends. There should be a rule, “Get your wine, get your information, then step away from the table,” to let others – who’ve also paid to attend the event – get to the wine and the people pouring. People who are pouring wine are there to promote their products. When you monopolize their tables, they get pretty antsy, even though they’re smiling at you.

Traders/Traitors (inspired by Robert Larsen of Rodney Strong, which I too, know all too well) ~ These guys have figured out how to play the game… They’re people who go to a table with an glass empty, and ask, “Can you just fill it up. I just love your wine. It’s the best one here.” Moments later, you see them at a table across the way, getting a full pour, again. Hum… How did they manage that one over there, too?

Tipsie ~ These guys can’t hold their glasses upright, handing you a glass that’s tipped in your direction. They’ve obviously never poured wine for others, because with a glass so tipped, it’s next to impossible to know how to pour it carefully. Have you ever tried that one? You’re not any cooler, because you tip your glass… And… you’re going to get less from someone pouring, because we don’t want it on the table.

Wine Swill ~ “No, don’t look in the dump bucket!” about the last hour of any event. You’ll see all those floating tooth picks that are headed down the drain, somewhere. (Inspired by Randy Arnold of Barefoot Cellars.)

Magician’s Apprentice ~ “So, what do you have under the table?” If I wanted you to know, I would have already pulled it out. Smile… (Eric S. Crane helped with this one.)

Cristin offered this one, the last time that I published this story. You forgot the “’POP’ drinkers.” The one’s who only want the late harvest/ice wine. They wince and they whine at everything under seven percent RS. – Someone must have dragged them to the tasting, in my humble opinion.

Mrs. I Think I Know So Much, but I’m Proving I Know So little ~ This overdressed woman stepped up to the bar, once upon a time, and looking at me by dropping her head so she could see over her glasses, said to me, “I’ll have your Cab Sauv.” Oooo, so sophisticated, and me just a barmaid.”

Mr. God-helps-those-who-help-themselves ~ Who died and made you bartender? Would you go into a bar, pick up a bottle of anything and just pour for yourselves? If you answered, “Yes” you’ve got more cojones than a four-cojonesed tom cat. A wine tasting is a bar situation; even though it doesn’t feel like it, because of its casual nature. Get your best charm school manners on, buddy.

I have to confess, I have never seen a woman do this. It’s always been men, and it’s always been men in the wine business. Because they pour wine all day for their clients(s), they’ve adopted a sense of entitlement. Well, think again, buddy, you’re not working for me, and I wouldn’t just pour your wine without asking at any events.

The Last Half Hour All Hell Breaks Lose,
And it Had Better Be Tied Down or You Can Kiss it Goodbye…

It’s-almost-the-end-of-the-event, “Here – let me drop off my garbage on your linen.” Well, I would, but I really need to keep a tidy presence right up to the end.


  • You’ve turned your back,”Here – let me pour for myself.” Well, I would, except this isn’t my living room, and you’re not my new best friend.
  • You’ve turned your back, “Here – let me steal your table decorations.” Well, I would, except I’ll just have to buy them again for the next event, and my boss won’t understand my constant spending on plastic grapes.
  • You’ve got a big bottle on your table, “Here – let me walk out with it.” Well, I would but I promised it to a restaurateur who’s sold a lot of my wine and earned it.

It all gets packed up, what’s left of it, for the next city, and then it all starts again. Thank God the nice folks are handily sprinkled in-between the stereotypes.

And honestly, this just really proves how funny we all are, once it’s all said and done.

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Uncorked! in Suisun Valley this Saturday

This one is r-e-a-l-l-y close to the Bay Area, is one of those “far from the madding crowd” type of events.

Come and Taste the Wines of Suisun Valley
This Saturday June 20th, 2015
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
at Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company
Purchase tickets now online


Join the Suisun Valley Vintners and Growers to celebrate Suisun Valley with an evening of extraordinary food and wine. This year they’ve added an additional chef and have new wineries participating.  Come enjoy their tasty treats, all while enjoying our celebrated Suisun Valley wines.

  • Honored chefs: Chef Marvin Martin of Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company
  • Chef Peter Halikas of Mankas Steakhouse
  • Gloria Ciccarone-Nehls, former Executive Chef of the Big 4 Restaurant at the Huntington Hotel in San Francisco
  • Chef Giovanni Guerrera of Foodshed
  • Chefs Christina & Shauna Cruz of 707 Baked

Wineries participating: (to date – more to be announced)

  • Gallo Family Vineyards
  • Galvan Cellars
  • Girard Winery
  • GV Cellars
  • Hugo Family Cellars
  • Il Fiorello
  • King Andrews Vineyards
  • Mangels Vineyards
  • Plough Family Vineyards
  • Rock Wren Wines
  • Seven Artisans
  • Sunset Cellars
  • Tenbrink Vineyards
  • The Scholium Project
  • Turkovich Family Wines
  • Vezer Family Vineyard
  • Wagner Family of Wine
  • Wooden Valley Winery






Much needed. Back to blogging on June 17, 2015.

Be well! — jo


Books,Wine,Wine Writer

New Book – Wine Trivia

Wine writer Dick Rosano has finished writing and has published another wine book. Author of other these previously released wine books:

  • Tuscan Blood: A mystery set at a winery in Tuscany
  • Hunting Truffles:A mystery involving the grant theft of truffles in Alba, Italy
  • Wine Heritage: The Story of Italian-American Vintners

And now, Wine Trivia: In so many words

Dick Rosano, an accomplished mystery writer is a former wine and food columnist  with The Washington Post and Wine Enthusiast. He’s taking a lighter look at wine, in this new collection of quotes and trivia. Dick is known for capturing the spirited thoughts of legendary figures from Leonardo da Vinci to W.C. Fields, from Ecclesiastes to the Talmud. Dick says that “in this book about the high life – and low lifes – of drinking wine, I’ve just published Wine Trivia.

This had to happen, right? And it couldn’t have been released by anyone more deserving.

According to Amazon:

Wine has been made by the world’s great cultures for over 8,000 years and holds a place of honor throughout history. It is celebrated in religious ceremonies and coronations, serves as witness to the blessing of marriages and baptisms. It’s tipped to acknowledge heads of state, smashed to launch ships both large and small, and plays an unforgettable role in cooking. It has inspired poets to dream, clerics to sermonize, and lovers to swoon. Through all time, words have been used to tell the story of wine, to commit it to our collective memory, and to record what it means to our world. These words come from statesmen, kings, and presidents, from actors, poets, and playwrights, and from people of lesser distinction who simply had just the right way to capture the spirit of wine and communicate it to others. Wine Trivia…In So Many Words embraces the best of these phrases and trivia on wine.

Dick Rosano:

In the midst of publishing a series of mysteries set in Italy, some editors encouraged me to publish my vast collection of quotes and trivia about wine. So, to answer that, “Wine Trivia…In So Many Words” was just published and available immediately on Amazon.com. With memorable quotes from ancient times to the present, the book is meant to entertain you and bring a smile to your lips.

Dick’s always been a true gentleman and a scholar, and finds time to be an instructor at L’Academie de Cuisine. I’ve read and reviewed Dick’s Wine Heritage: The Story of Italian-American Vintners. I know him to be a really fine writer; he has reviewed many of my clients’ wines through the ages, as well as everyone else’s. It’s an honor to help him promote this book, as well as his others.

Sample from Wine Trivia

In one trial during Prohibition, a Los Angeles jury drank up the evidence to test whether it was alcohol; but without the evidence, the bootlegger was acquitted.


Corks to stopper wine bottles grew in usage in the 18th century, but only after wine lovers could figure out how to design the corkscrews that would let them get access to the contents.


“When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.” Henny Youngman, American entertainer

— I look forward to reading Wine Trivia, perhaps you will, too. It seems like the perfect gift for someone who has a wine library of the other kind — books.




Event,Russian River Valley,Sonoma County,Wine

Russian River Valley Passport, formerly Passport to Pinot

The 2015 Russian River Valley Passport Weekend (formerly called Passport to Pinot) will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday, June 27 and 28, 2015.  More than 30 acclaimed wineries in the premier AVA for world-class Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and other cool-climate-loving varieties will share current, early, and limited release wines. The images on this blog post, provided by the group, speak for themselves and to the area that we all call home, in Russian River Valley.

From Rod Berglund, Board President of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers (RRVW)

We’re pleased to “announces the annual Russian River Valley Passport Weekend (formerly called Passport to Pinot) – the renowned winegrowing AVA’s two-day celebration, taking place June 27-28, 2015. The highly anticipated weekend of events explores the rugged beauty of this Sonoma County wine region and its hidden gems; including world-class wines, local food and unmatched hospitality.”

From their Web:

The Russian River Valley is located in the heart of Sonoma County, CA. Our growers and winemakers not only produce world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but also many other cool-climate-loving varietals that express themselves beautifully in our cooler region.

There’s so much ground to cover and so many flavors and tannins to enjoy!

Visit more than 30 acclaimed wineries and enjoy world-class wines, including limited and early releases, as well as locally crafted foods and unmatched hospitality. This tasting experience will have you discovering the rugged beauty of our valley and our region’s most celebrated wineries, unique artists and hidden gems.  The Russian River Valley Passport weekend offers ticket holders exclusive experiences throughout the weekend at participating wineries, many that aren’t open to the public. A Saturday night VIP barbecue at Gail Ann’s Vineyard in the heart of Russian River Valley will allow a limited number of ticket holders to mingle with the winemakers and growers over smoky summer fare.

2015 Participating Wineries (this list will be updated regularly)
ACORN Winery/Alegria Vineyards – Bacigalupi Vineyards – Balletto Vineyards – Benovia Winery – Bucher Winery – The Calling Wines – Camlow Cellars – Carrozzi Vineyard – Cartograph – Christopher Creek Winery – D’Argenzio Winery – Davis Family Vineyards – DeLoach Vineyards – DRNK Winery – Dutton Estate – Dutton-Goldfield – Ektimo Vineyards – HANNA Winery & Vineyards – Hartford Family Winery – HKG Estate, Hop Kiln Vineyards – Inman Family Wines – Joseph Swan Vineyards – Kobler Estate Winery – La Crema Winery – Lauterbach Cellars – MacRostie Winery & Vineyards – Merriam Vineyards – Mueller Winery – Nunes Vineyards/St. Rose Winery – Russian River Vineyards – Sonoma-Cutrer Winery – Thomas George Estates – Via Giusti Wines – Viszlay Vineyards – VML Winery



Consider the trade discount, people

The biggest shock early on was visiting an artisan winery, asking for the “trade discount,” and being asked a question in return… “Are you a winery principle?”

I was stopped dead in my tracks. I was new to the wine business and the tasting room I was working in was filled with people constantly throwing that one out to me. I learned quickly that there is one. When I thought I’d give it a whirl, I was flabbergasted. Now I’ve become a principle, and I know just how exhausting it can be to always be asked by others within my business, what I can give them as an advantage… I’m trying to make an honest living, and have already reduced prices to the lowest common denominator, which are as fair as fair can possibly be.

So, when I get asked by an importer (let’s say), who has absolutely no Petite Sirah in his portfolio, for free tickets to an event, so he can “take care of ‘my’ brands” (yes, I check out that kind of statement), I respectfully tell the importer that there are no trade tickets.

If any one one of the participating wineries has asked to clear someone through, I do it without thinking. It’s the abuse that I take issue with. If I’ve been lied to, I don’t have to take anything away from the group’s meager profits.

What prompted this blog post

I got the following from a winery friend. The winery had a devastating fire and has to rebuild from the ground up. Here’s the story, as you continue to consider the trade discount.

This recounting will give you insight into the plight of small wine companies, including the one who asked if I was a principle… and go forward with more empathy.

Thanks, Jo, for “listening”! Yes, you are so right, I might need to announce more often that, during such stressed times, folks need to be a bit more careful before stretching me so far that there’s no return to civility!

Just to lend a bit more insight, this is what transpired:

Two young (30ish) couples show up with three children under the age of four. (We have a No Minors posting on our doors, but we allowed them to take a table on the deck, because we’re busy, yet). We do point out that we normally cannot accommodate families with children, who are walking age, due to our liquor license rules. (We serve wine by the glass, but we are not a restaurant; hence, the “No Minors.”) One of the men came into the tasting room and stated that he works at two wineries and would like to receive the “industry discount.” I asked him for his card, but he only produced two very worn cards with the names of other winemakers/winery owners.

I told him that I normally do not accept the business cards of others for a complimentary tasting, but that I’d give them 10 percent off any wines purchased. He balked and stated that, since I’ve already had an “attitude” regarding the children being present, he’s lost interest. He went off and the two wives came in to purchase two tasting flights for $10 each, to take back to their table. They spend at least one and a half hours here, taking time with sharing their flights with their husbands (and the wood-fire pizzas we make/offered as complimentary), while the children played with an array of toys on the deck. They eventually decided to pack everything up and leave, with one of the wives purchasing one bottle Pinot Noir ($24) at 10 percent discount. I suggest that her husband ask the business(es) he works for to give him an actual card with his name on it and she said that the reason they have not is that they are just “up and coming.”

Although I saw several red flags here, I must say I was not – at any time – short or unreasonable with them. It is simply sad that these young people seem to have such a sense of expectancy that they’re so quick to lay blame on others who do not agree with them. My husband and I agreed later that we’re not going to allow this to happen again and will, unfortunately, need to send folks away who bring their very young children. I will also add an FYI on our website.

One of my assistants commented (day of incident) that these folks should have gone to Chuck-e-Cheeses. Yep!

Thanks for your always wise and helpful comments. I do appreciate your sensitivity and benevolent stance! This can, at times, be a challenging turf for those who believe in treating everyone with uncompromised kindness and respect, even to a fault. One cannot go wrong with this, but, of course, it can be abused. I do have a sense of humor, as well, which comes in handy, more often than not!

It’s important to note that posting a blog about this incident was perfectly fine by my friend.



History,Italy,South Africa,Viticulture,Wine

Italy is weighing in as having the most indigenous grapes + Cabernet labrusco

Who has the most indigenous grapes?

I once wrote that Portugal has more indigenous grape varieties than any other country in the world. At the time (June 17, 2010) I was entrenched in Portugal, its culture, its people, its wines. I then glimpsed that Italy also declared that it had more indigenous grape varieties, but I didn’t have the time to slow down long enough to research it. [My day job is researching and writing for clients, so my time is limited for big projects that aren’t client based.]

In a recent comment on that blog post, I got my update, and it’s worth sharing as it has historical relevance. This blog post link will also be placed on my Portuguese blog post as an UPDATE.

What follows is the best of what Jeronimo Rodriques and I have gathered. If you know of any empirical data that we’ve missed, we welcome your input to make this information even more true and correct.

[This image was borrowed from Jerry Rodriques’ Website.]

Cabernet labrusco

From Jerry Rodrigues:

The original name that you have mentioned for the white grape variety Coda, seems correct. In Italy, the name Coda di Volpe means “tail of the fox”, and was given in reference to the grape variety’s long, pendulous bunches of grapes, which resemble a fox’s bushy tail. Just look-up [at] wine-searcher.com.

I would just like to add some comments on the subject of ‘Portugal has more indigenous grape varieties than any other country in the world’.

I would not totally agree with your statement about Portugal having more indigenous grape varieties than any country in the world. The main reason why I say this is that recently, it has been proved scientifically, via grapevine microsatellite DNA analysis (using what as known as Simple Sequence Repeats – or SSR), that there is a lot of synonymy (i.e. different names for the same grapevine variety) within the Vitis vinifera grapevines of the world.

So I’m inclined rather to name the 4 countries that most likely have within them, the most indigenous grape varieties OF the world. Those three countries are, in this order: Georgia (as highlighted by Ninelle), Italy (including Sicily) and then, maybe Portugal (including Madeira), followed by Spain.

My ancestry is actually Portuguese (parents originally from Madeira) and my hobby for the last 40 years has been the breeding of new red wine grape varieties. I have created a new ruby-red wine grape cultivar which I have called ‘Cabernet labrusco’, which is a deliberate cross between Cabernet sauvignon X Danugue noir. This new cultivar has been analysed using 19 SSR microsatellite markers, which has proven that the parentage of Cabernet labrusco is correct.

This new variety of grapevine has been created in South Africa, where I reside. Please take some time to visit my blog on this new variety at www.cabernetlabrusco.co.za.


For historical purposes, Jerry’s blog was launched in 2013.



How to Get Your License Bond when Opening a Winery


I get an Email, asking if I would want a story by Vic Lance, founder and president of Lance Surety Bond Associates, a surety bond expert who helps small businesses get licensed and bonded. Vic graduated from Villanova University with a degree in Business Administration and holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. He was offering information of getting a license bond when opening a winery.

My answer: “Just send what he’d write, I’ll do the rest, okay?”  The rest was sent. As I read it, I realized that it was a really well written advertisement, which was the ulterior motive. But, this one was so well written and completely out of my purview.


Print it as it exists. It is a good public service announcement. My labor for this blog came from changing the code, behind the scenes, so that when you click on links, you also don’t have to leave the page.

I declare that this is not an endorsement. I don’t know Vic Lance, but biography is formidable, and all pdf. files are good links for you.

Vic Lance of Lance Security Bond Associates

If you’re in the wine business, chances are you could be described as “detail-oriented.” Anyone who’s opened their own winery knows the importance getting every last detail right. But, while you might be more worried about varietals and cultivars, have you studied up on getting your liquor bond?

The liquor bond, also called an alcohol bond or a liquor tax bond, is required by the federal government for any legally-operating winery. Whatever you call it, it serves as a guarantee to the government that your business will pay all its required taxes. In many cases, your state or county authority will require a separate liquor or wine bond for your winery, in addition to the federal requirement.

While the process of getting bonded isn’t complicated, there’s a little more to it than simply filling out a form and paying a fee. We’ve created this handy guide to getting your liquor bond, so you can get the best value and protect your business.

Getting licensed with the TTB

The first step is to get licensed with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Officially, if you’re producing your own wine for commercial sale, the TTB considers your business a “bonded winery.” As such, you’ll need a basic alcohol permit from the Federal Alcohol Administration, and a permit to establish and operate wine premises

Why is the liquor bond required?

Along with the permit applications, you’ll have to submit proof of your wine bond. Should you fail to pay your taxes, the government can file a claim against your bond, which the surety will pay, up to the full amount of the bond. You’ll be required to pay the surety back in full, however, and a claim against your bond can have otherwise grave consequences for your business. If you avoid claims and stay on top of your taxes, the liquor bond requirement should be a relatively minor, and hassle-free, part of doing business.

Estimating the cost of your wine bond

The amount of your federally-required bond can vary widely, based on the size of your winery and how much tax liability you will have at a given time. Generally, wineries with stock valued below $50,000 follow slightly different rules than larger wineries. The cost of your bond will only be a percentage of your total bond amount, depending primarily on your credit score. Applicants with good credit, and a sound history of money-management, usually pay between 1% and 4% of the total amount.

You may have heard a rumor that anyone with bad credit can kiss their dreams of winemaking goodbye. In fact, with a reputable surety provider and a solid plan for your financial future, you can still get bonded with less-than-perfect credit. Premiums are generally higher, between 5% and 15% of the total bond cost, to mitigate the risk to the surety. Nonetheless, you will still be able to open your winery, and improve your financials over time.

In addition, remember that your state or county may have additional bonding and licensing requirements.

Getting the right bond for your money

Not all liquor bonds are created equal, and you want to be sure that the TTB recognizes yours as legitimate. Since surety companies don’t deal directly with the public, look for a surety bond agency that works only with A-rated, Treasury-listed surety companies. A reputable surety bond agency will shop around to get you the best rate on your bond, and can offer more personalized service for each applicant.

Giving your winery room to grow
Since your wine bond will be calculated based on your tax liability, an honest, accurate assessment of your business is a must. Plan carefully when it comes to where your product will be stored, and if you can hire a CPA with some winery expertise, then so much the better.

Remember, it’s better for your business to be bonded above your actual tax liability than below. The wine business can fluctuate drastically, and your tax rate can change from one year to the next, based on how much wine you make, or even a wine’s alcohol percentage per volume. You don’t want to be caught with a bumper crop, or a sudden surge in production, without adequate bond coverage. If you’re unsure about the year’s business forecast, give your winery a little room to grow.


The process of getting your winery licensed and bonded might seem intimidating at first. If you have any questions about how to get bonded, you can always leave a comment below.

Vic Lance is the founder and president of Lance Surety Bond Associates. He is a surety bond expert who helps small businesses get licensed and bonded. Vic graduated from Villanova University with a degree in Business Administration and holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.



Theopolis Vineyards to The Rescue –

Headed to Theopolis Vineyards, Jose and I were so excited to get out of our “seven days a week” home office. We weren’t in the frame of mind to be paying strict attention to all of our details. It was a gorgeous Saturday, and we were headed for an adventure. We entered the Yorkville Highlands on fumes of gas. Jose had said, earlier in the morning as we headed north, I’m going to get gas in Cloverdale. I thought, “Okay.” But as he drove through town, right past all of the Cloverdale gas stations, I then thought, I hope we don’t live to regret this. We did… no sooner than when we began to climb the elevations of Route 128, two gas bars for our Prius, swiftly dropped down to one blinking bar.

As we neared Theopolis, where Theodora Lee was waiting for us, Jose said, “I’m going straight into Yorkville to get gas.” I thought, “I hope we don’t regret this,” as we passed Theopolis. When we saw the “Yorkville” town sign, I read, “Population 317.” I thought, “I hope we don’t regret this, and by now, I was beginning to voice displeasure. As drove past the town hall/fire station, I though, “Oh my God.” All this time, the gas bar was blinking, and we had now traveled at least 12 miles with a blinking bar. Jose drove through town (one building), living on a hope and a prayer. Boonville was going to be another 10 or so miles. I had had it. “Turn this car around right now!” I said… And I meant it. I would have rather run out of gas a few miles from Theodora’s, then further from her. Also, with our phones, we had NO bars… We were in trouble. Somehow, through a wing and a prayer, we did arrive.

“I’m the first biggest loser to arrive, Jose’s behind me,” as Theo smiled and welcomed me… a half hour late. I had made Jose park at the foot of her hill, not wanting to waste one more precious drop of gasoline, because we still had to get back down that mountain. Since Yorkville is so tiny and mountainous, people live with gasoline on their ranches in containers. Theo’s tanks were all empty, but her neighbors, Holly Harman and Eric Levin of Le Vin Estate Winery had some gasoline to spare, and so we were finally moving into why we had come to visit Theopolis Vineyards… To meet the famous Theo-patra.

Regal in every way, including being a Texas gal who’s throne is her tractor, off we went into her vineyards to take in why an attorney also likes to get her hands dirty, while keeping her vineyards free of wild turkeys, boars, and anything else that thinks it deserves her crops. We could hear the gobbling off in the distance, and Theo was on alert.

As we climbed to the top of her property I thought, “How in the world is this crop harvested?” terraced as it is. Of course, the only answer would be hand picked. When Theodora Lee began her adventure in the Highlands (appropriately named) in 2001, this property was not a vineyard. It had a beautiful home, and was where the Redwoods met the sky. There wasn’t a grapevine in sight.

By 2003, Theodora began her adventure in viticulture. She first planted Zinfandel, but quickly grafted it over to Petite Sirah, which is now all that she is growing on her estate.

Originally from Texas, with family members who were sharecroppers, Theodora grew up with agriculture. And, although she became a lawyer, that Texas county woman still had her roots calling her back to the land. She looked everywhere for land, beginning with Napa. It didn’t take her long to realize that the price of land and the amount of population in a small space wasn’t her answer. She then came into Sonoma County… Same, same, same. When she found her property in Yorkville, she arrived at her destination, planted a vineyard, and eventually made her first vintage of wine.

Elevation, iron oxide in her soil, farming in her soul, and Petite Sirah on the vine define this queen of her plantation. Theodora said, as we rose to her highest elevation, with the vineyards spreading downward toward what was once a meadow, “I love being where the vineyards meet the Redwoods. This is where I begin to produce pleasure in a bottle.”

Majestic in every way, from her Website:

Theopolis Vineyards is a small lot vineyard and hand-crafted winery located in California’s prestigious Yorkville Highlands of the Anderson Valley. Situated along Highway 128 in southeastern Mendocino County near the border of Sonoma County, the AVA is a highly elevated, rugged interior wine-growing area. Established in 2003, Wine Critic Robert Parker bestowed upon wine made from grapes harvested from Theopolis Vineyards a stellar rating of 94-96 points, a spectacular showing for the vintner’s first harvest in 2006. Wine critique Robert Parker had the following comment about the wine made from grapes from Theopolis Vineyards.

I’ll be writing more about Theodora, our new friend, including her wines, next time.  Theo, Jose, and I produced several videos that I’ll be putting on YouTube, as well as Wine Blog. For this story, the images also add much to this introduction of our new friend Theodora Lee. A new member to PS I Love You, this also warms my heart.




Number 7 reason why consumers might want to pay top dollar for wine

Sean Piper, of Napa Vintage Wines, just posted the following on his Facebook page: “Dear Wine Consumers: You don’t have to pay top dollar for wine, but there are reasons you might want to.”

Of course – it got my creative juices flowing about what would be number 7. Doesn’t something provocative do this to you, too?

Sean Piper: You don’t have to pay top dollar for wine, but there are reasons you might want to.

1. Exclusivity
2. Rarity
3. Collectability
4. Convenience
5. Emotional connection
6. Historical significance

His Facebook friends chimed in with other reasons. Silly as some of them were, there’s still a bit of truth in humor, right?

What would be number 7, without the thoughts of others, and “terrior” came to mind. Think Bordeaux, think Burgundy or the Rhone. Think Russian  River Valley, and if you want to get super fine, think Green Valley of the Russian River Valley.

Terroir, what’s it all about?

It’s about the sun, the earth, the air, what lives and grows with our atmosphere on earth. It’s about a sense of place and what can (or cannot) grow in that location.

If you ask anyone in France, “What’s terroir all about?” not only will that person tell you in words, but his hands… and even his body… will go into action. A word created by the French vignerons, you can bet your bippy that it means something, and it’s worth writing about it for the uninitiated. If you’re still skeptical after this, go fight with the French… on their own turf, in their own vineyards, under their own blue (or gray) skies. It exists, take it from someone who’s got some French in her: Bernier and Ouellette; Bernier pronounced like Viognier, and Ouellette pronounced like Willette.

I marvel at those who would love to just dismiss it. It’s like telling someone in the deepest regions of New Guinea, for instance, that Facebook exists and they challenge you on it. Ignorance is bliss, but it’s only ignorance of facts. When someone’s light bulb goes on, it’s like a Christmas tree just lit for the first time of life.

Sean, thanks for the inspiration.