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The Wino Club: Cleavage Creek

We don't typically promote one wine over any others and I have to admit that I only just ordered this wine and have not tasted it yet.  But sometimes it just doesn't matter.  Cleavage Creek Cellars in Napa, California, features a different survivor on every bottle of wine and donates 10% back to breast cancer issues.  It's worth a taste just to know you can be socially responsible and drunk at the same time - love that!

Welcome to Cleavage Creek, a winery that’s passionate about celebrating life and fine wine. Owner Budge Brown and Cleavage Creek are dedicated to making exceptional wines and to fighting breast cancer. 10% of the gross proceeds of all wine sales will be donated to breast cancer research.  Enjoy the fine wines of Cleavage Creek and be a part of an effort to beat breast cancer.

Check out their store at
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The Wino Club: Temecula Winery Wins

People in Northern California laugh at our claims of having a wine country in Southern California. Even though we have a good number of active wineries here, they snub their noses at the quality of our wines. And to be honest, they used to be correct. Used to be. Our vintners here have been working on not only the quality of product but on the perception that we are a sub-prime wine growing / producing region.

Our sincerest congratulations goes out to Jim & Maggie Carter for the preponderance of awards issued to them and mostly for kicking some Northern California butt at their own competition. Here's the article:

Vindicated at last: Temecula winery takes top honors at California State Fair

10:00 PM PDT on Friday, July 11, 2008

The Press-Enterprise

A Temecula-area winery took home top honors from the California State Fair this week, winning a trophy as the statewide competition's premier winery and capturing almost 40 medals.

South Coast Winery won the 2008 Golden State Winery of the Year honor at the fair's Commercial Wine Competition, fair officials announced Friday. It is the first time a Southern California winery has won the award.

The winery beat out 647 others for the trophy. The competition took place last month in Sacramento.

The Golden State Winery honor recognizes the winery that wins a significant number of the highest-level awards.

South Coast's wines won seven gold medals, 13 silver medals, four bronze medals, 12 Best of Class honors and one Best of Region award. Twenty-three of the 36 wines South Coast entered won a medal.

"There's only a handful of wineries that enter that many and do that well," said Mike Bradley, chief bureau of exhibits for the fair.

About 2,900 wines were entered in the competition, which fair officials say is the oldest in North America. The first competition took place in 1855.

South Coast Winery owner Jim Carter said the win was unexpected but proves the winery's commitment to quality.

"We're on the right track," he said. "We're producing wines that Southern California can be proud of.

"It shows the grapes we have here in Temecula are equal to the grapes in other areas of our state."

Opened four years ago, South Coast is one of the region's larger wineries, manufacturing about 60,000 cases of wine a year. South Coast also has a resort and day spa.

Ray Falkner, president of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association, said the award is a "great boon for our entire region.

"This really ... gets a lot of wine writers and distributors and aficionados to pay attention to our region," he said.

With about 30 wineries, Wine Country is small compared with its counterparts in better-known regions in Central and Northern California.

The region's wines have suffered from a poor reputation in the past, but Temecula winemakers have banded together to improve quality. They have entered competitions and invited wine critics to Temecula to taste their product.

Reach Jeff Horseman at 951-375-3727 or


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Calories in Wine: Wine News

The ever-so-helpful folks at the Consumer Federation of America have come up with an Alcohol Facts Poster that compares all kinds of alcoholic beverages based on alcohol content, calories and carbs. The poster analyzes the 26 top-selling domestic and imported alcohol brands, from good ol’ Bud Light to Beringer Chardonnay.

And why, pray tell, would the consumer group do this? Well, it’s lobbying in Washington D.C. for a government-mandated “standardized and complete alcohol label” to be slapped on every bottle of alcoholic beverages, according to the federation’s press release.

The alcohol info is also “designed to help consumers follow the Dietary Guidelines’ advice that men limit their consumption to two drinks a day and that women restrict their consumption to one drink per day,” the news release says. And I don’t know about you, but I live my life according to the federal government’s dietary guidelines. Don’t you? Doesn’t everyone?

Anyway, here’s a quote from the release:

“Right now, consumers really have no way of knowing the most basic information about alcoholic beverages,” said Chris Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America. “It’s time to end the confusion so consumers can make informed and responsible purchasing and consumption decisions. We’re making information available today on some of the top selling brands, but the federal government needs to require standardized and complete alcohol labeling on all alcoholic beverages.”

While I’ve never really monitored my carbohydrates intake beyond watching them go into my mouth, it was a bit surprising to see the difference in carbs between one serving of chardonnay (0.8 grams) and cabernet (5.0 grams). Perhaps I’ll put that on my list of things to worry about someday.

What do you think of this report, and the factors behind it?

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French Winemakers Lose Their Status

When I saw this article I just started to laugh.  I love French wines but I also know that many of the premium classifications are decades, sometimes centuries old so I don't give it much heed.  I am also not a collector - I am a drinker.  Paying $30 more per bottle because it is a Classe A makes no sense to me then the Nin du Pays (Country Wine literally) is similar in flavor and a fraction of the price. So I LOVE that St. Emilion is eliminating the rankings.  It means more affordable wines for all and a more balanced approach to newer wineries who can sometimes produce a better wine than the centuries old pedigreed wines. 

Collectors should rush out right now and pick up the last of the fancy stuff before its gone!  But remember,just because the label is gone doesn't mean the insides of the bottles are any less delicious.

BORDEAUX, France (AFP) - "Just as we are about to start putting the 2006 vintage into bottles, we have to cancel all the labels and all the cases and re-do them," said Christine Valette, owner of Chateau Troplong-Mondot, recently awarded the second highest rank of St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe.

"I am in shock. The team at the chateau is in shock. I never imagined this could happen," added Valette, who said she has spent the last 20 years working toward winning the prized title.

The ranking, which applies only to the St Emilion region and is reassessed every 10 years, consists of three classifications -- Premier Grand Cru Classe A, Premier Grand Cru Classe B and Grand Cru Classe.

The court said it was cancelling the St Emilion classification because it believed the system used to rank the wines after a tasting was not fully impartial.

The A category has only ever been awarded to two chateaux, the much sought after wines of Ausone and Cheval Blanc, while examples from the B category include chateaux Angelus, Clos Fourtet and Troplong Mondot.

The rankings are estimated to boost the price of the wine by about 30 percent, and thus also affect property prices.

A spokesperson for the St Emilion Wine Union (Conseil des Vins de St Emilion) described the situation as "serious."

The Union is awaiting a decision from INAO (Institut National des Appellations d'Origine), the government body that manages French wine classifications, and the French Agriculture Minister as to whether they will appeal the ruling within the allowed time period of two months.

But legal sources said an appeals process could take up to two years.

For many in Bordeaux however the situation without the St Emilion classification system would be impossible.

"The whole situation is ... idiotic and absurd, they can't stop the 60 or more chateaux that have the rankings from using them," said Jean Baptiste Bourotte of Audy, a Bordeaux wine merchant who had just heard the news.

"I don't see how we could sell the wine."

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