The following comment from Frank Dietrich, of Blue Danube Wine Company, was a defining moment for me. I had sent a link to my story Wine Century Club ~ Port4lio Tasting Threw Me Over the Top, because he and his wines were in the story. I thought he’d enjoy knowing that his brands got some publicity.

Thank you, Jo,

For this nice write-up. You managed to taste through many wines. I am sorry that we did not get to speak. We’ll try to make-up some other time. Please let me know if there is any grape variety you missed from our line-up and we will send the bottle(s) to you…. We want to do our part to get you over the 100 Century mark.



For me now, it’s actually become the Bicentennial mark, because that tasting alone had me taste 41 new varieties, to become one of the newest member of The Wine Century Club. Once over that hurdle, I’ve realized it’s just so easy to keep going; although, finding new cultivars will be a bit more challenging.

That said, the universe is still delivering more new cultivars to me each week.

  1. Chang Liow, Chinois Bistro, recently gave the following to me:
    1. 2004 Benanti Rossodiverella (Norello Cappuccio and Nerello Mascalese), which I’ve yet to open.
  2. Constance Chamberlain, Brand Action Team, just arranged for me to receive two wines from Greece. Santorini is the producer:
    1. 2008 Vinsanto (70% Assyrtiko, 30% Aidani)
    2. 2008 Santorini Assyrtiko
  3. Chris Cary, Yak Yak Wine, (Lembergers):
    1. 2008 Bote’ Wines Lemberger
    2. 2007 Sagelands Vineyard, Red Mountain Lemberger
    3. 2008 Two Mountain Winery Lemberger

With all of this developing, I wrote back to Frank Dietrich, “It’s entirely possible that I might have a Wine Century club forming here in Windsor, CA,” because it’s taking on a life of its own. This is becoming too much wine for only me to be tasting. My friend and colleague Jim Caudill (Caudill & Company Communications) is also on this quest. Jim’s agreed to enjoy wines that I gather, when our schedules allow. Chang’s also interested, but works at his restaurant nearly all the time. When I asked him if he could get away, and I’d have some food to also go with the wines, he said, “Let’s do it here.” What a great idea, but now I’m seeing an even bigger picture.

What I’m now seeing is a non-busy night being turned into something really special. I’d get a monthly story from this that will be centered around new and exciting things from the world of wine to taste. Chang could even offer this to his customers as an added value for a non-busy night, like a Monday or Tuesday night… The possibilities are endless.

When I put out, Will Work For Wine, I had no idea where it would go.

Once of the most delightful encounters when I put the word out, “Will Work for Wine,” was with Washington state wine blogger Chris Cary of Yak Yak Wine. He made a promise and then delivered. He told me that he’d be sending Lemberger my way…  Washington state considers this one of their signature grapes. What is signature for Chris was vague to me. I had only heard of Lemberger once before, coming from Shady Lane Cellars on the Leelanau Peninsula.

Chris wrote:

Of the ones on your wish list, the one I can help out with the most easily is Blaufrankisch, aka Lemberger. It’s typically called Lemberger here in Washington and is made by quite a few producers, I even made some myself in a friend’s winemaking class.

My UPS guy delivered the wines listed above, and now I need to do the follow-up.

My first connection to Chris was during this past year’s Dark & Delicious event. He won a pair of tickets from 1WineDude. The blogging world is opening up a lot of the wine business to a lot of people, and the interconnectedness of it is fascinating, to be sure.

Chris is an interesting guy, and I asked to share his background as a home winemaker. According to Chris,

Glad you got the Lemberger. I’ve seen it marketed here as WA’s answer to Zinfandel, but it’s not. It’s typically a fairly light red, similar to Sangiovese with high acid. We pair it with all kinds of food, but a cheese pairing actually might work well. One thing we did with the class wine Lemberger, since I ended up with a couple of cases, is make it into a Sangria in the summer. Great with oranges, apples, pineapple and a little sprite and triple sec. This is one red wine I don’t mind serving a little chillier. too.

The Class was in ’08. In ’09 I made a batch of cherry wine (blogged about it yesterday), Riesling to be served at our daughters wedding in July, and some Barbera. These were all fairly small batches, Cherry probably 50 lbs of fruit yielding 35 bottles of “country wine”. Riesling 267 lbs to 67 bottles. Barbera ~100 pounds to 44 bottles which just went into bottle last week. I don’t know why my yield was so low on the Riesling. I paid for the Riesling grapes but the other fruit was free due to high crop and being in the right place at the right time with a bucket and willingness to pick fruit before the birds got it. For ’10 we have contracted more Riesling and some Tempranillo. Ultimately this is for home, family and friends consumption and If I can get an inventory stockpiled may wean myself off purchased wine.

I’m 46 and if I retire in 10-15 years it might turn into more than a hobby if the stars align. Right now I’m an engineer for a juice company doing Civil and Environmental work. My background is in chemical and environmental engineering, and I’ve worked on air and water pollution my whole career. Wine making and drinking is a whole lot more fun.

The teacher of the wine class, John, is a top PhD food science person, who has degrees from UC-Davis and WSU in food science. I work with several other folks who are hobby winemakers, many of whom have gone through John’s class, and some that worked in the wine industry before coming to our company. One fellow has a bonded winery that produces about 50-75 cases/year of Cab Sauv.

The other bottle I sent by Sagelands (which is owned by the Diageo group) came from grapes from the Kiona Vineyard on Washington’s Red Mountain, one of the prestige AVA’s here.

These wines are going to be tasted this week, moving my numbers up as my tasting continues along to my next benchmark of 20 varieties.

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