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Could This Be The Begining of a Wine Century Club in Windsor, California?

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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9 Responses to “Could This Be The Begining of a Wine Century Club in Windsor, California?”

  1. ConstanceC says:

    Looks like your well on your way to establishment! I hope it all works out! Perhaps we can host a dual event for the 6th anniversary next year 🙂

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Hi, Constance,

    I think we are. I just had lunch at Chinois, and Chang introduced me to Jesse Katz, of Lancaster Estate and Roth Winery (www.lancaster-estate.com and http://www.rothwinery.com). When I asked Chang if we could begin this tasting on Wednesday night, even Jesse was interested.

    Let’s think about the Sixth Anniversary, because that has a lot of potential.

    Anyone in the Windsor area interested in tasting these wines on Wednesday evening – about 5:30, because Jesse has to go over to Napa for an engagement, be invited. We’re starting early, just in case Jesse can make it.

  3. Chris says:

    Thanks for the plug, Jo. Your blog says more about me than I even remember about myself 🙂 And I wrote that stuff.

    Enjoy the Lemberger!

  4. Chris says:

    Jo one more thing. The timing here is impecable. Sean Sullivan at WAwinereport hosts a monthly virtual tasting event twitter tag, #kiona

    This week on Thursday, the wine he has chosen is 2006 Kiona Lemberger. Maybe not the same vintage as the Sagelands but from the same vines on Red Mountain.


  5. Jo Diaz says:

    Chris… all good… and funny you!

    We’re going to move out tasting to next week, because Chinois is too busy this coming Wednesday for Chang to jump in with us.

    JUNE 2, 2010 – At Chinois in Windsor – first meeting to explore more varieties! Be there, or be FourSquare!

  6. Peter Turrone says:

    I had some experience making and tasting Blaufrankish (as we called it) when I worked for Wild Horse down in Templeton. It was one of the winemaker’s favorite pet projects and not just because its fun to say. I believe Kenneth Volk (founder of Wild Horse) was a pioneer in the original importation of this variety, but I don’t know for sure. I have no idea if Wild Horse continues to make this fun and interesting varietal wine since the winery’s acquisition by Constellation, but I sure hope they do! At the time they produced other harder to find varietals too like Tokai Friulanno (sp?). Next time I am down that way I will be sure to stop by my old stomping grounds and see whats on the tasting list!

  7. Jo Diaz says:


    If I know my conglomerates like I think I know my conglomerates, the Blaufrankish would have been the first to go ;^) (Fun as it is to say, I agree.)

    When I worked for K-J, they blew out Edmeades Petite Sirah. I almost cried. Can’t have anything in the portfolio that will take hand selling to sell/move it through the system. I’d love to know if it survived.

    Keep us informed. Thanks!

  8. Charles Redd says:

    Thanks for the great blog!

  9. Jo Diaz says:

    You’re welcome, Charles.

    Very kind of you. If you’re in this area, consider yourself entered into this drawing for Wine, Women & Shoes. It’s going to be a hoot, as near as I can tell!

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