Posts Tagged ‘tourism’

Think Outside the Box: What’s With the Weird White Wine?

Want to bring something besides Chardonnay to your next BBQ?

It’s starting to feel like Summer again here in Seattle, so lets talk white Wine! I have been lucky to travel many parts of the world in the name of cheese and wine. During my travels I have discovered all sorts of  white wine varietals and blends that I would deem unique Summer Sippers. Here are a few wines that my Twitter Wine Master Minds and I recommend tracking down for  swig of something a bit outside the box.

Vernaccia (one of my personal favorites). I discovered this little easy drinker while riding my bike through San Gimignano, a little medieval town in Tuscany, Italy. My first taste of it was in the form of gelato flavored Vernaccia, which I admit was not as good as the wine itself. I buy about a case every Summer; most wine shops carry at least one bottle (which usually has dust on it and can be found behind quicker selling wines).

Soave (Highly recommended by myself and @YasharWineMongr). This is a wine that Yashar and I have agreed upon as one of the easiest to drink Winter white wines (next to Champagne). For me, it is a year-round sipper that drinks amazingly well with food. Soave is a dry white wine from the Veneto region in northeast Italy, principally around the city of Verona.

Vinho Verde (@AtlantaWineGuy): This wine is great for St. Patricks day, and just about any sunny Summer day! It’s a drink now kind of wine that has a green tint to it. Many of my friends think it’s only suitable for white Sangria, but I disagree. I have consumed plenty of $7 bottles of this affordable green wine.

Merwah & Obaideh (@RickBakas and @TexasWineGuy). Man oh man, I had to look this one up. These are Lebonese grape varietals that make up wines such as Chateu Musar’s popular white blend. Obaideh has been rumored to be the ancestor of the Chardonnay grape, and has a Semillon-like appeal.

Catarratto (@DivinaCucina) is a white Italian wine grape planted primarily in Sicily where it is the second most widely planted grape after Sangiovese. Overproduction in recent years has led to this grape being a substantial contributor to the European wine lake problem. Catarratto can make full bodied wines with lemon notes… Learn More

Siegerrebe (@WineBeerWA) is a white wine grape that is grown primarily in Germany with some plantings in England, Washington State, and British Columbia’s North Okanagan… Learn More

And that is just a few! Please add your favorite ‘outside of the box’ white wines in the comment section below… I’m always looking for new treats!

~Some descriptions in this post were sourced from Wikipedia, with links to learn more.


Wine Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: The Truth About Owning a Winery

January 13, 2010 9 comments

The Glamorous Life of a Vintner: Don Scrubs the Toilet

Thanks once again Don Phelps of Hard Row to Hoe in Chelan WA for joining me for another guest blog post in my “Ask a Vintner” series. This one’s a good one folks. Pour yourself a glass of wine.

Seattle Wine Gal:

“So Don, What is it like to own a winery? It seems so glamorous! Out in the vineyards with the sun shining on your face, lavish wine dinners and parties, 1,000 bottle cellars, midnight candle-lite barrel tastings”…

Don Phelps: I was thinking today about the nice aspects of owning a winery which includes meeting great people, living in a beautiful area, being your own boss, etc. That got me to thinking about all of the folks that come to the winery and say how much they admire the place and wish they could take the plunge to do it themselves. And that is about where reality came into the picture..

We spend the lion’s share of each day:

Paying bills

Handling payroll

Doing the taxes

Ordering wine glasses so everyone has something to drink out of

Getting change from the bank for the till

Ordering toilet paper and paper towels for the bathroom

Buying bags and boxes

Getting ice for the white wines

Taking out the empty bottles

Restocking the shelves

Cleaning the bathroom and tasting room

Picking up garbage outside

Working with vineyards to grow next years grapes

Worrying about freezing weather, insect infestations, bird damage, too much water, too little water

Ordering barrels

Spending entire days in the truck hauling grapes from up to 5 hours away

Working 7 days a week from daylight to 10 at night during Sept and Oct

Worrying about things like:

Equipment breakdowns

Enough help

Enough bins to ferment the red grapes in

Enough stainless steel tanks to hold all of the white wines

Inoculation with the right yeast

The fermentation process itself

Punch downs


Secondary fermentation…

along with a million other things that have to be done in the right manner and at the right time to make it all work; finally going to bed at night thinking about what needs to be done, and waking up in the morning still thinking about it.

And if that was not enough you still have to figure out how you can sell your product and have enough money left over to pay the mortgage. That means back on the road promoting the sale of the wine, trying to get restaurants and stores to carry it, negotiating with distributors, dealing with frozen shipments in the winter months and over heated ones in the summer, and then staying open that last 45 minutes for the straggler that just could not come back tomorrow and loves your wine but leaves with a single 15 dollar bottle.

One more thing before I forget it – you need a second job to live on.

No question about it – this is the memorable life!!

Yep, if it was not for the pure gold customers that become your friends over the years we would probably sell the place and let one of you enjoy the life of Riley – owning your very own winery.


Seattle Wine Gal: “Oh, I see”.

Why Do Wineries Have Tasting Fees? One Perspective by Don Phelps, Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards

December 30, 2009 52 comments

I would like to warmly welcome and introduce Don Phelps, of Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards in Chelan, WA. Don is the author and guest of today’s post “Why Do Wineries Have Tasting Fees”. Having been a tasting room administrator myself for a number of years at a wine shop, I know very well why wine shops have a fee, but I wondered if this reason differed for wineries; it does! It’s surprising how many people do not understand just how much goes into getting that one taste of wine into their glass, and why, in fact a tasting fee is applied. Here is one vintners perspective:

As a small winery (2000 cases) we (Hard Row to Hoe) elected to institute a tasting fee at our tasting room. We did this primarily to protect ourselves against large groups that come on bus tours that historically taste wine, take up staff resources and leave without purchasing. This does happen! We also found that there were a small percentage of our visitors only interested in one thing – drinking free wine!

In our case the tasting fee is five dollars and applied toward the purchase of a bottle of wine if the customer decides to buy, so you can think of it as a non-refundable deposit.  It has been our experience that most folks buy at least one bottle of wine so we actually collect very few tasting fees, other than in the case of the large group tours.  For those that do winery tours just to taste and not buy, the tasting fee allows them to taste and leave without feeling an obligation to buy wine as you might if you tasted for free.

We welcome everyone to our tasting room and encourage big limo and bus tours to visit.  We believe that even if they do not buy on this visit, they will spread the word about the quality of the wine and the good time they had in the tasting room and will eventually be back. Word of mouth is our best advertising.

The bottom line to all of this is the fact that not charging a tasting fee drives the cost of wine up to every wine buyer because a winery has to recover their costs and make a return on their investment or go out of business.

So the next time you are out wine tasting think about the effort and expense the owners went through to produce a bottle of wine to open and share with you and you will better understand and appreciate the purpose of the tasting fee.

Thank you so very much Don, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your insights on tasting fees.

Find Hard Row to Hoe on Facebook and Twitter!

Visit their tasting room: Directions from Chelan: Follow Highway 150 towards Manson. Take a right at Mill Bay Casino on to Wapato Lake Rd., Ivan Morse Rd. is the second right. Look for Hard Row to Hoe winery signs, we are at #300 Ivan Morse Rd.

Or contact them by email!

Seattle area and Woodinville Winery Tasting Room Guide From Social Media’s Seattle Wine Gal

December 28, 2009 10 comments
Adams Bench By Appointment only 425.408.1969 14360 160th Pl. N
Alexandria Nicole Cellars

Anton Ville Winery

Thursday- Sunday: 12:00 am – 5:00 p.m. Closed Monday – Wednesday.

Saturdays and Sundays 1:00 – 5:00pm



19501 144th Ave NE., Building C-900

19501 144th Ave NE, Suite D300

Baer Winery Saturdays 1:00-5:00pm and by Appointment 206.683.3393 9118 222nd St. SE
Betz Family Winery By Appointment only 425.861.9823 13244 Woodinville Redmond Road NE
Brian Carter Cellars Daily- 12:00 – 5:00pm 425.806.9463 14419 Wood- Red Rd NE
Chateau Ste-Michelle Daily 10:00am – 4:30pm 425-415-3658 14111 NE 145th St
Columbia Winery Daily 10:00am – 6:00pm 425.482.7490 14030 NE 145th ST
Covington Cellars Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays – 1:00-5:00pm 425.482.7490 18580 142nd Ave NE
Cuillin Hills Winery Saturdays – 12:00 – 4:00pm 425-415-8466 19501 144th Ave NE, Suite C-200
DeLille Cellars Daily 11am – 4:30pm 425-489-0544 P.O. Box 2233
Des Voigne Cellars Saturdays 1:00 – 5:00pm, Sundays 1:00 – 4:00pm 206-415-8466 19501 144th Ave NE Suite B-500
DiStefano Winery Fridays -3:00 -7:00pm, Saturdays and Sundays 12:00 – 5:00pm 425-487-1648 12280 Woodinville Dr. NE
Domaine Ste. Michelle Same as Chateau Ste. Michelle 425-415-3658 14111 NE 145th St
Edmonds Winery Saturday and Sunday – 1:00 – 5:00pm 425.774.8959 19501 144th ave NE D-700
Efeste Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays – 12:00 – 4:00pm 425.398.7200 19730 144th Ave NE
Facelli Winery Saturdays and Sundays – 12:00 – 4:00pm 425-488-1020 16120 Wood – Red. Rd. NE, Ste 1
Guardian Cellars Saturdays and Sundays 12:00 – 4:30pm 206.661.6733 19501 144th Ave NE # F1100
Hestia Cellars Saturdays 11:00am – 4:00pm 425.333.4270 18572 142nd Avenue NE
Hollywood Hill Vineyards Fridays 3:00 -7:00pm, Saturdays and Sundays -12:00 – 5:00pm 425.753.0093 Apple Farm Village, 14525 148th Ave NE, Suite 114
Januik Winery Daily -11:00am -5:00pm, Wednesdays -12:00 7:00pm 425-481-5502

JM Cellars Fridays -2:00 -6:00pm, Saturdays and Sundays 12:00 – 5:00pm 206-321-0052 14404 137th Pl. NE
Mark Ryan Winery Thurs. thru Sunday 12:00-5:00pm 206-910-7967 19501 144th Ave NE #F-900
Matthews Estate Mon. -Wed -2:00 -5:00pm, Thurs -Sun. -12:00 5:00pm 425-487-9810 16116 140th Place NE
Matthews Estate Tasting Room Saturdays and Sundays 12:00 – 5:00pm
Northwest Totem Cellars Saturdays – 12:00 – 4:00pm 425.877.7111 15810 NE 136th Place, Redmond
Novelty Hill Winery Daily -11:00am -5:00pm, Wednesdays -12:00 7:00pm 425-481-5502 14710 Woodinville-Redmond Rd. NE
Page Cellars Saturdays – 12:00 – 4:00pm, Sundays 1:00 – 5:00pm 253-232-9463 19495 144th Ave NE , Suite B 235
Patterson Cellars Friday, Saturday and Sunday 12:00 – 5:00pm 425.483.8600 19501 144th Avenue NE, Suite D-600
Pomum Cellars By appointment and select events 206.349.8159 18654 142nd Ave NE
Red Sky Winery Saturdays – 12:00 – 5:00pm $5.00 Tasting Fee 425-481-9864 19495 144th Avenue NE B220
Ross Andrew Winery Thurs. thru Sunday 12:00-5:00pm 206-369-3615 18512 142nd Ave. NE
Saintpaulia Vintners By appointment only 360-668-8585 14522 NE N Woodinville Way
Silver Lake Winery Mon. -Sat. -11:00am -5:00pm, Sunday 12:00 5:00pm 425.485.2437 15029 – A Wood – Red Rd
Sparkman Cellars Special Events and Appointment only 425-398-1405 19501 144th ave NE D-700
Stevens Winery Saturdays – 12:00 – 4:30pm 425-424-9463 18510 142nd Ave. NE
Vine & Sun No Tasting Room Hours
William Church Winery Saturdays -12:00 -4:00pm, Sundays 1:00 -4:00pm Feb. – Nov. 425.427.0764 19495 144th Ave NE suite A100
Woodhouse Family Cellars Daily 11:00am – 5:00pm 425-527-0608 15500 Wood-Red Rd. Ste C600
Woodinville Wine Cellars Saturdays – 12:00 – 5:00pm, Fridays by Appointment 425-481-8860 17721 132nd Ave NE
XSV Wines Saturday – 12:00 – 5:00pm, Sunday – 12:00 – 4:00pm 425.210.1554 19501 144th Ave NE #C300

Making Social Media Work For You ‘On a Small Potato Zero Ad Budget’

December 11, 2009 2 comments

I recently posted about how wineries can use Twitter to attract tourist business. I got a lot of great comments, one of which mirrored what I tend to hear in person when discussing with vintners, wine shop owners, and people in the wine industry the use of Social Media as a marketing tool. Pete Durand of Pete’s Preferred Taxi Wine Tours in Santa Barbara wrote:

Pete's Wine Tour Taxi in Santa Barbara

I’m relatively new to using FACEBOOK and TWITTER. I’ve become a nuisance on Facebook- I need all the help I can find. Twitter is totally Greek to me. Having said that, how do I as a Taxi wine touring company, find a way to use these medias’ to promote myself. I’m small potato’s with a zero ad budget. Any ideas would be appreciated.

I wrote back to Pete that I would think about this and get back to him. I must be very honest and tell you that it can be quite involved. There are many levels of Social Media knowledge. Some people are great at engaging people on Twitter and Facebook, others use Social Media as a tool for optimal Search Engine Optimization, some are excellent at measuring ROI (return on Investment) and analytics.

You needn’t know it all to be good at Social Media. What you need to become proficient in depends on your goals and strategies. It’s easy to say “my goal is to make more money”, but they key is discovering what you have to offer in return for more business. You Get What You Give is a basic success principals theory that applies wholeheartedly to Social Media efforts. Vintners and most other business owners that do not do Social Media for a living, rarely have the time to delve in as much as I, or other Social Media enthusiasts. In answering your question, I will admit that there is a science to Social Media that almost no one has the time to address in full.

The best advice I can give you is to come up with Goals and a Strategy, Delegate Appropriate Time and Effort Given Your Workload, and Research as Much as Possible.

Think of Social Media as a way of offering something to people in return for recognition. You can stand there with your hand in the air shouting “look at me” all day, or you can get into the space with a clearly defined strategy, and an offering of content that is interesting. People will only fan/friend/follow you if you have something worth saying. Be specific, target an audience.

For example, if you are a wine tour taxi driver, why not make it your goal to Tweet, Post, and write about your adventures with wine enthusiast passengers. Perhaps a humorous look at what goes on in the taxi 5 wineries later. Keep it fun and specific, and eventually that will be your niche. You will entertain people, they will want to read about your next adventure. Have your website visible every where you post a story, people will click and see what you offer, take a tour with the infamous wine taxi story guy (excitedly hoping and playfully fearing they make your Tweets and blog) and whamo- your on the map; increased business my friend.

My next post will be a list of great Social Media resources that I am compiling to get you started. Hope this helped Pete, and everyone else who is curious about this new fangled Social Media stuff.

-Seattle Wine Gal

Tourists are on Twitter Searching for Local Wineries to Visit- Develop a Social Media Presence!

December 6, 2009 6 comments

Barbara at Stratus

Being on Twitter Will Bring Your Winery More Tourist Business!

The big week finally arrived, and I packed up and flew to Toronto to meet my boyfriend’s family for the first time. Jason and I are both into wine, so we decided to tour the Niagara wine region for a week after my weekend long familial introduction. Here’s the long story short- the family was great; the wine was great. I didn’t quite know what to expect (from either).

I have heard for years that the Ontario wine region is to be respected. My conclusion? It should be.

Tourists are on Twitter looking for things to do. Develop a presence, and they will visit you!

We wanted to be very choosey about the wineries we visited, and wished to include small boutique wineries, as well as much larger “mass-production” facilities. I will admit in full honestly that the deciding factor for our winery visits and purchases was their Twitter presence.

Before our tour, I set about investigating area wineries via Google, Facebook, and Twitter. I was delighted to see a few on Twitter, so I set about contacting them. @StratusWines winery Tweeted back to me almost instantly “We welcome you Seattle Wine Gal, come visit us! Ask for Miranda, I will personally run you through our line-up”. Other local wineries were equally as warm. Because of this, these are the wineries that we chose to spend our time and money, and will remember the next time we order the wines that we have grown to love.

If you are a winery or business owner, I assure you that it is well worth your while to establish a social media presence to facilitate tourist and local recognition and visitation. I see more and more businesses on Twitter, tweeting about their events to people all over the country. I also know many people who develop their travel itineraries based on these same Tweets (including myself).

Thanks so much for the great recommendations @IconWines– you were right on target.

Thanks to Miranda for the special attention and amazing tasting at one of the nicest wineries I have ever seen. @StratusWines.

Thank you Jackson-Triggs for the amazing quality of your staff- the tour you gave us was excellent (@Casey_Howe). A special thank you to Hugo and Austen.