Restaurants, with minimal investment, could offer one white and one red by the glass. Wine lovers thirst for suggestions, so place an unopened bottle of each on the bar as a showpiece. Spread the wealth and change the winery and varietals often.
If customers don’t see a Texas wine on the list, ask for one. In turn, if the winery has an adequate amount of product they should get a distributor or have a self-distribution system. To make this happen, wineries, distributors, and restaurants have to work together toward the goal of increasing visibility of Texas wines. As one judge said, “Restaurants need to step up to the plate for Texas wines.”
National publications are laying groundwork to make this easier. In 2012 AARP listed Texas Hill Country as the number one wine destination outside of California. This year Redbook named Texas Hill Country as one of the top ten wine destinations in America.
Kudos to Bonnell’s for having 12 Texas wines on their list! Capital Grille Fort Worth is planning a Texas section with a choice of five selections on their list. Surprisingly, only half the restaurants in this article have one or more Texas wine offerings.
Many Fort Worth area restaurants scream “Texas” in decor and menu. Pairing Texas wine with dinner would make the circle complete.
[As originally published in Fort Worth, Texas Magazine in November 2013.]
Wines on tap is 2013′s hottest wine trend, but it’s certainly not your mama’s wine in a box. Those were inexpensive, easily accessible, and refreshing. Today’s wine on tap is often premium wine with sustainable attributes.
Two companies in the US have most of the keg business. Free Flow Wines was founded in 2009 by Dan Donahoe and Jordan Kivelstadt to pioneer a new way to serve wine by the glass.
Chairman Donahoe, said, “kegging wine is not easy. We’ve spent a lot of time and energy perfecting the process of placing fine wine in a keg so it is served exactly as the winemaker intended.”
Perfect the process they did. Meticulous steps to sterilize, fill, package, sell and ship to a distributor who then sells to a restaurant or wine bar, took months to finalize. Each keg holds the equivalent of 26 bottles. When the keg is empty, it is shipped back to California to be cleaned and refilled. Then the circle begins again. In 2012 Free Flow saved nearly 350,000 bottles, corks, labels, and cases (approximately 260 tons of packaging waste) from landfills.
Free Flow Wines recently helped lobby the Florida legislature for a change in a Prohibition-era law that did not allow for wine to be sold in any container larger than a gallon. With the new law in place, Free Flow Wines now works with distributors in all 50 states, and their Website currently lists 98 wineries as clients, including Beringer, Cameron Hughes, Fess Parker, Qupe, Au Bon Climate, Iron Horse, Chehalem, J Vineyards, Hess, Paul Dolan Vineyards, Simi Winery, and Trefethen.
Wine on tap is designed to be served within 90 days of packaging. So far, no shelf life of the kegged wine has been determined because the kegs are being sent back for refilling so quickly.
Work is also being done to develop disposable kegs. When empty they are flattened and recycled.
Because the wines are poured from a tap system similar to draft beer, there is no oxidation of the wine. The last glass from the keg is as fresh as the first. No pouring wine (and dollars) down the drain when bottles opened for by-the-glass pours are not consumed within two to three days.
Another smaller Napa company, N2, also produces, imports, and packages keg wines.
Scott Woodward, managing partner of Appellation Wine Company, is leading the charge for using the smaller, disposable, and recyclable Petainer Keg. Appellation’s Niven Family Wine Estates produces five 100 percent Estate and SIP (Sustainability in Practice) wines in the single-use Petainer Keg. It saves on deposit costs, return logistics, storage, and expenses associated with sanitizing and refilling the stainless kegs.
Also growing in popularity with restaurants and wine bars is Napa Technology’s WineStation. One WineStation allows four bottles to be “open” for up to 60 days. Having a two-month freshness factor on a smaller scale than a keg allows for truly premium wines to be offered by the glass without any economic losses to the winery or restaurant. One such location taking advantage of this “wine on tap” method is Cadillac Wines inside the Frank Kent Cadillac dealership. Get a 5-ounce sample of one of eight premium or ultra-premium wines and keep the Riedel glass.
Wines on tap is also becoming popular with hotels, sports, and entertainment venues due the value and sustainability. A sampling of who offers premium wines on tap nationally are Caesar’s Palace, JW Marriott, MGM Grand, some Whole Foods, Locally, visit the Woodshed Smokehouse, Brewed, and Cadillac Wines.
[As originally published in the Fort Worth Business Press and with the correction of the spelling of Dan Donahoe's name]
Take the family to absorb Missouri’s rich heritage of the Lewis & Clark expedition, the Missouri River, the Katy Trail, German settlers, Daniel Boone, the arts and crafts center of St. Charles, and the wine renaissance.
From St. Louis, I began my wine area exploration in the eastern part of Missouri. After five days, I visited 18 wineries with Missouri’s attitude, ‘show me,’ quickly discovering it’s all about hospitality and having fun.
Ste. Genevieve Winery, which is a bed and breakfast upstairs, is owned by Chris Hoffmeister and his enologist daughter Elaine Mooney. Their long-term goal is to produce more hybrid wine (Norton, Chambourcin, Chardonel, Catawba, Seyval Blanc and Vidal Blanc) in their 13-acre vineyard, but today at Ste. Genevieve it’s all about wines made from 100 percent fruit with no flavorings or syrups. The blackberry and the cranberry are outstanding.
Cave Vineyards grows four grape varieties on its 14 acres. A saltpeter cave where the early French settlers mined saltpeter for gunpowder is now often inhabited by wine enthusiasts enjoying the sounds of a babbling brook and a taste of Traminette or Norton.
Chaumette Winery is French in heritage, with its colonial building style, its merchandise from Provence in the tasting room, and wines produced reminiscent of French Rhones. Opened less than five years ago, Chaumette is producing 6000 cases from 30 acres of vines.
Well worth a stop is Charleville Vineyard with the picturesque view, ultra casual atmosphere and the most down-to-earth people. Just down the road, Crown Valley is the only Missouri winery with a French winemaker, Philippe Daguisy. The winery opened in 2003 followed by Crown Ridge, a 55-acre estate featuring an elegant restaurant, banquet facility, lodging, and tiger habitat.
Less than 100 miles west, Peaceful Bend owners Clyde Gill and Katie Nott live above their winery, a weathered grey barn, on the Meramec River. Occasionally tasters arrive by canoe. Their life-altering experience was starting the Chamber Music Festival in the winery after realizing that the acoustics were nearly perfect. Locals come in tuxedos or jeans and the cat may stroll across the stage. The red wines here are awesome.
The Wine Business News recently listed St. James Winery as a ‘hot’ winery, producing the most wine in Missouri. They have a self-serve tasting room where 30 percent of their production is sold.
To the north and slightly west of Columbia, Les Bourgeois Vineyards at Rocheport is the third largest winery in Missouri. Although many tasters say they want to drink dry, sweet wines such as the Riverboat Red, are 65 percent of sales.
Heading back east toward St. Louis discover the German village of Hermann with its clock towers and church steeples. The first Germans settlers arrived in 1836 to an impossible farming wilderness. Resourceful of necessity, they planted grapevines on the craggy hillsides and began making wine.
Just outside of town on the 20-mile Hermann Wine Trail along the Missouri River is OakGlen [hq], founded in 1859 by the father of Missouri wine making, George Husmann. Adam Puchta Winery was started in 1855 by Tim Puchta’s great-great-grandfather, an immigrant from Bulgaria. They produce 23,000 cases and can’t begin to keep up with the demand. Tim’s philosophy is to try harder to promote a food and wine culture. “We encourage families to come and bring a picnic basket.”
Jim and Betty Held reopened Stone Hill in 1965 and are joined by three of their children who hold degrees in enology and viticulture. As Missouri’s second biggest winery they sell 70 percent of their production out of three locations including Branson. Their Missouri sparkling wine is the best.
In Defiance on the outskirts of St. Louis, Becky and Ken Miller’s Sugar Creek produces another favorite Chambourcin, like a light red Zinfandel, but softer and rounder and not so foxy. The Cynthiana (Norton) is full of black cherry and blueberry.
Augusta Winery has a Vidal Blanc with crisp fruit and floral flavors that linger. Montelle, has a full, fruity, fragrant Chardonel with perfume of apple and pear. Having won awards at many competitions, Missouri’s star is Mount Pleasant’s Tawny Port that speaks of butterscotch and caramel and might remind you of sherry.
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[As originally published in the Fort Worth Business Press.]keep looking »