Tasting tips and winery visits

Starting and maintaining a wine collection is a lot of work. Also a lot of fun. Part of the process is evaluating  the wines you would like to add to your collection and periodically revisiting  the ones you already own. This can be accomplished by attending tastings with friends or on a more formal basis as a member of various food and wine clubs. Another way to keep up with the annual releases of your favorite wines is to visit the producers directly . This will allow you to see new wine releases , occasionally buy older wines directly from the producer and ask them questions about the suitability of their wines for aging. I would like to offer you some advice on making this process entertaining and valuable. I’m going to structure my advice around traveling in the Okanagan but the information translates well to other regions.

  • Start out on a positive note. Get plenty of rest the night before , eat a good breakfast and bring water with you when you start your day.
  • Brush your teeth in the morning but don’t use toothpaste and the wines right after will taste like your toothpaste.
  • Have a plan. Double check which wineries need/require appointments . IE Laughing Stock Winery in Naramata is appointment only. Nichol Vineyards doesn’t require appointments. Some wineries are very small and close 1 or 2 days a week to allow owners/staff to rest and do other things.
  • Have all your wineries you want to visit in your phone contacts should you need to call for directions that way you will use less data.
  • Bring a map. Most wine lovers only visit a winery 1 or 2 wines a year max. There is a good chance that you will get disoriented in unfamiliar territory at some point.
  • If you are flying you will need some way to transport your wine shippers can be purchased from wineries however I like to go in style so I bought a Wine Check.  See above. This fantastic case has wheels on it and a strap so you don’t need to carry it through the airport. You can put a 12 bottle cardboard shipper or a 12 bottle Styrofoam shipper for better thermal protection.   If you order one from the website  http://wineopulencecanada.com/ please let them know you heard about it from Spit Happens
  • If it’s warm make sure you keep the wine inside the car and the AC on as much as possible. The temperature in the trunk can get insanely hot . Your wine will be compromised before you even get home.
  • If you want to leave it in the hands of someone else  hire a guide and let someone else do the driving. You could even take an Okanagan tour with me ! I drive for Experience Wine Tours http://experiencewinetours.ca/ . We are very highly rated on Trip Advisor  and offer day long tours of many parts of the Okanagan with pick up and drop off at your Kelowna based hotel/motel/B&B plus a fantastic picnic lunch. If you are staying in the south then you need to check out Ron Rocher at Vine to Wine Tours http://vinetowinetours.ca/

If you have any feedback we would love to hear from you on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/winecellardepot/ .

Also check out our Houzz Page for design ideas and planning. http://www.houzz.com/pro/winecellardepot/wine-cellar-depot

Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food.

Cheers

David Lancelot

Keeping wine organized follow up to #6

Having a wine collection is a luxury. It’s also a major pain in the posterior keeping wine organized and under control. You may have multiple vintages of the same wine in different sizes, wine purchased from different retailers, some might be stored offsite and auction purchases  too. It’s a challenge to keep up with drinking windows  and wine valuations. As the value of your collection increases the need to have  a proper inventory  for insurance purposes . In an earlier blog post I mentioned Cellar Tracker , it’s important enough that I feel compelled to mention it again.

Cellar Tracker ( LINK)  was created by Microsoft employee Eric Levine in early 2003. Originally it was designed to keep track of his personal cellar as well as cellars of a couple of buddies. Later in the year it was expanded to a Beta test involving 100 participants and a database of 60,000 bottles. With constant feedback from members Eric added features and functionality and it currently  has a collection of almost 6 million tasting notes and helps  the subscribers  keep track of 75 million bottles.

The site is divided into a couple different sections.

Home , Links to wine news, popular wines and most active users.

Wines,  This section is the meat and potatoes of the tasting notes. One section indexes the notes by Valuation, Type,Vintage, Variety,Country, Region, Producer and a couple other categories. Next section is Popular Wines and has several sub headings  sorted by Price, Recent Reviews or Most Popular All Time. There is a third very interesting category called Tasting Stories. Members post the results/notes from tastings and dinners they have attended. Since many wine dinners have themes  this can be an invaluable resource to see how you favorite producers wines are evolving or assess the quality of a specific vintage . Lots of really good stuff here.

People, This section provides profiles on each member and highlights the most prolific contributors to the site.

Discussions: This section is subdivided into General Discussion , Cellar Tracker Support , Wine Data Errors and Correction and Release Notes.  I particularly recommend the General Discussion  section with topics such as “What are you buying now ?” “ What are you going to drink tonite” “ What did you drink last night?” plus a wide ranging discussion of food travel and many other wine related issues. Generally a pretty civil bunch and a lack of trollish behavior.

Articles: This is one of my favorite sections it has extensive articles on wine sorted by producer, region , grape variety plus many other categories.

Cellar Tracker is the most sophisticated online inventory management system I know. It has integration with your subscriptions to Burghound, For The Love of Port, Purple Pages, Vinous and many more. When you enter a wine in your inventory if another user has entered its information the program auto fills all the relevant info with you having to retype the entries over and over. It can give you reports on value, as well as the years suggested for drinking and many more metrics. The system supports multiple cellars as well as futures purchases, bar code creation and restaurant use as well. You can export a copy of your inventory to an Excel spreadsheet for offline access and Eric does super regular backups off all the data entered in the program. The site founder Eric Levine is a former Microsoft employee and is amazingly responsive to suggestions for improving the program. This multi-platform system currently is the defacto tool for all your cellar organizing needs. Suggested payment for use of the Cellar Tracker Program is $40 per year for under 500 bottle, $80 for 500-1000 bottles and $160 for a 1000 bottles or more.

You might needs some racks for your collection at some point. Follow the link to see what we offer.  http://winecellardepot.com/wine-racks/

If you have any feedback we would love to hear from you on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/winecellardepot/ .

Also check out our Houzz Page for design ideas and planning. http://www.houzz.com/pro/winecellardepot/wine-cellar-depot

Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food.

Cheers

David Lancelot

 

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