ValleyFogBlog


Rules and Regulations at Direct2013 Conference: From Autograph Events to Pot Sales by Jennifer
Jason Eckenroth of ShipCompliant

ShipCompliant CEO Jason Eckenroth (photo: J. Waits)

Wine making has its glamorous moments, especially when doing “research” at tasting events or in fine dining establishments; but there are also countless mundane tasks associated with the wine business. There are the logistics of bottling (including ordering glass, foil, and labels), the challenges of an unpredictable harvest (and the associated scheduling of transportation for the fruit), and the endless amounts of paperwork.

Much of the red tape related to wine making is associated with compliance. Every state in the United States has its own rules regarding selling and shipping wine to consumers and trade. For each state that we hope to sell our wines in, we have to apply for various permits. Upon being licensed to sell/ship to a particular state, we also become responsible for taxes and reports. Rules can be incredibly complex and vary tremendously from state to state. For that reason, we are only gradually adding states to our repertoire of places that Waits-Mast can sell and ship wines to. It’s a time-consuming process that we are just barely beginning to wrap our heads around. One service, ShipCompliant, attempts to simplify the reporting process for wineries. Through its software, wineries are able to track and complete forms for all 50 states. Although we don’t currently use the ShipCompliant software, I’ve attended a few of their user conferences in order to stay on top of the latest news in the world of winery compliance and shipping. Continue reading

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Sampling Sips and Bites at Taste of Mendocino by Jennifer
Taste of Mendocino banner

Taste of Mendocino 2013 (photo: J. Waits)

Last Tuesday, Brian and I poured Waits-Mast wines at the Taste of Mendocino event at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio of San Francisco. Featuring an array of producers and purveyors from Mendocino County, the event gave consumers, trade, and media the opportunity to sample tastes of wine, beer, cheese, coffee, chocolate, pie, and more. Representatives from other Mendocino companies and services talked about the range of attractions and lodgings in the county as well.

Taste of Mendocino Workshops

Taste of Mendocino Workshop Line-up (Photo: J. waits)

The day was divided into a trade/media event from 2-5pm and a consumer event from 5-7pm. Additionally, several panel discussions during the trade portion gave wine buyers and journalists an in-depth look at Coro Mendocino wines, food from Mendocino county, and the 2011 vintage of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. Brian participated in the Pinot Noir panel, during which all of the wineries provided preview samples of the 2011 vintage. Since I was holding down the fort at our table while Brian spoke, I sadly missed the discussion. Luckily, Fred Swan did a thorough write-up for his NorCalWine blog, giving his take on the vintage and his tasting notes on the wines poured by Waits-Mast, Elke, Husch, Baxter, Harmonique, Bink, Balo, and Witching Stick.

Tasting Panels at Taste of Mendocino

Workshop Room at Taste of Mendocino (photo: J. Waits)

This was the first winemaker panel that either of us had sat on, so Brian was excited/nervous. It was pretty cool for Brian to be on the same panel as other esteemed winemakers from Anderson Valley, especially with someone like Mary Elke, whose wines we’ve admired for many years. Each winemaker got up and did a five minute presentation on their winery and the specific wine they were pouring for the audience.

Brian got up and talked about the yet-to-be-released 2011 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard in Anderson Valley. Everyone on the panel discussed the late-harvest rains and how they handled mold or Botrytis. Brian described how they handled the dampness at Wentzel, where the vineyard staff waited for the clusters to dry after the rains on October 10, did extra leafing to promote airflow and then used leaf-blowers to dry out the clusters further. The fruit from this vineyard was picked a full week after that rain, on October 17, and was the cleanest pick we had that year.

The crowd awaiting the beginning of the AV panel.

The eager crowd before the AV panel (photo: B. Mast).

The 2011 Wentzel still needs time in the bottle to age and develop further, but in Fred Swan’s overview of the panel, he rated this wine “highly recommended.” This bodes well for when the wine is ready for release later this year!

As had been the case when we poured at the 2012 Taste of Mendocino, this was a really fun and productive event, especially since so many of the attendees were from restaurants and retail shops. We don’t have the time to reach out to as many restaurants and shops as we’d like, so it is fantastic to pour samples of our wines at event where wine buyers are coming to us. We ran into some folks who we’d seen at last year’s event, made some new connections, and even crossed paths with people who I know from the San Francisco music and radio scene (it’s amazing how often the music, radio, and wine worlds collide). People were well-behaved and we didn’t hear or see any signs of broken glass (although someone did accidentally knock over our dump bucket, spilling icky leftover wine on our table).

We got some nice feedback on the wines that we poured. Whereas some attendees were adamant about not tasting our rose (they’d say, “no, I’ll start with the pinots”), those who did said that the 2012 Waits-Mast Rose of Pinot Noir from Mendocino County was “delicious,” “real dry,” “nicely balanced,” with “great acid.”

Golden Gate Club for Taste of Mendocino

Golden Gate Club during the Taste of Mendocino (photo: J. Waits)

When we poured the 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Londer Vineyard in Anderson Valley, we got many questions about the status of Londer Winery. Friends and fans of Londer expressed their sadness that the vineyard was sold and the winery closed. We worked with the vineyard when Larry and Shirlee Londer owned it and hope that the resulting wine does them proud. Tasters said that our wine was “aromatic” and “juicy” and one attendee said it would be “great with chocolate.”

Our 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard in Anderson Valley was described as “earthy,” “a little chewier,” and “complex,” with an “exuberant nose.” As far as the 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Oppenlander Vineyard in Mendocino County, tasters said that it had a “great tangy-ness,” was “sandy” and “bright,” with “an explosion of flavor on the palate.”

View of Golden Gate Bridge from Presidio

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Presidio (photo: J. Waits)

After wrapping up our day in the Presidio, we headed out to dinner with friends from Frati Horn Winery. We hadn’t been able to catch up with them much at the event, as their tasting table was located in the big room with the view at the Golden Gate Club. We swapped stories, shared winery gossip, and enjoyed a great meal before retiring for the evening.



2013 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival Part 3 – Winery Open Houses, Including Ours by Jennifer
Invitation to the Waits-Mast Open House (photo: J. Waits)

Invitation to the Waits-Mast Open House (photo: J. Waits)

We wrapped up the 16th Annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival weekend with perhaps our favorite event, the Sunday winery open houses on May 19. Every year wineries pull out special wines, prepare incredible food pairings, and open their doors to eager tasters. Many wineries that aren’t typically open will welcome customers to their properties for a rare opportunity to visit.

Soup Shots at Boonville Hotel

Soup Shooters at Boonville Hotel (photo: J. Waits)

Since Boonville Hotel now has a wine room/shop, we relished the opportunity to pour at our very own winery open house for the first time. Boonville Hotel’s wine buyer Mark Mendenhall graciously offered to host the event and even arranged for some delicious bites from their fabulous restaurant Table 128.

Boonville Wine Room

Brian Prepares for Waits-Mast Open House at Boonville Hotel Wine Room (photo: J. Waits)

At the open houses wineries can pour a variety of wines, so we decided to open up some selections that we couldn’t pour at the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival the day before. We started with our 2012 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Rose of Pinot Noir from Mendocino County and then poured three Waits-Mast Pinot Noirs from 2010 (from Londer Vineyard, Wentzel Vineyard, and Oppenlander Vineyard).

Waits-Mast Rose on Ice

Waits-Mast Rose on Ice at Boonville Hotel Open House (photo: J. Waits)

It was a festive late afternoon tasting (so that we could visit a few wineries ourselves in the morning) and we saw many friends and a few fellow winemakers. A number of hotel guests also made their way into the wine room in order to enjoy the event. It was gratifying to hear that tasters were enjoying our chilled rose on the warm May afternoon, with people describing it as “delicious” and “fantastic” with a “fresh strawberry” taste. A taster said that the 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Londer Vineyard had “nice Anderson Valley black cherry” notes and another called the 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard “nice, dark, and beautiful.” The 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Oppenlander Vineyard may have been the crowd favorite, with people calling it “over the top good,” “well-balanced,” and “fruit forward,” with a “tobacco nose.”

After the event drew to a close at 5pm, we packed up our remaining bottles and headed back to San Francisco. As another Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival concluded, we were left with some great memories of a tasty wine-filled weekend.



2013 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival Part 2 – A Beautiful Day for the Grand Tasting by Jennifer
AV Pinot Fest Tent at Goldeneye Vineyard

The 2013 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival Gets Underway at Goldeneye (Photo: J. Waits)

Looking back on the 10+ years that we’ve been attending the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, it’s hard to believe that we skipped the grand tasting event for so many years. In fact, we’ve never attended the grand tasting as consumers and only started to go when we began pouring our wines at the festival back in 2009. We’d imagined it to be a crazed swarm of wine drinkers, when in fact it’s a lovely, small event featuring some incredible producers.

This year’s 16th annual grand tasting took place on Saturday, May 18 in a tent in the vineyard behind Goldeneye Winery in Philo, California. We poured two wines, our 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard and our 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Londer Vineyard. Both wines have special significance for us. Our very first commercial release was a 2007 Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard. It’s a delicious wine and we couldn’t be happier to be sourcing from the vineyard again.

As far as Londer Vineyard goes, we were excited to get fruit from this vineyard that we’ve had a long relationship with as fans. Brian and I got acquainted with Larry and Shirlee Londer soon after they moved to Anderson Valley and we have fond memories of attending their very first winemaker dinner in the barn on their property. Sadly, they’ve now moved away and are in the process of shutting down their winery. They poured at their final Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival this year and it was great to see them and to showcase a wine that we made from their fruit.

Pouring wine at the AV Pinot Fest

Brian pours at the 2013 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival (photo: J. Waits)

Only wines from Anderson Valley can be poured at the grand tasting event, so we kept it simple by pouring two of our Pinot Noirs from 2010. Here’s some of the feedback that we heard from tasters:

2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Wentzel Vineyard, Anderson Valley:

“my favorite”

“love the smell”

“a lot of structure”

“liquorice”

“cherry”

2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Londer Vineyard, Anderson Valley:

“great fruit, great spice, my kind of wine”

“it’s a wow”

“very Burgundian”

“spiciness on the finish”

“very elegant”

“love the nose”

“favorite”

View from the table at the AV Pinot Fest Grand Tasting

A view from our table at the grand tasting (photo: J. Waits)

Interestingly, we overheard someone critique one of our wines (we’re not sure which), saying,  “I don’t like it, it’s too Burgundian.” This immediately prompted someone else to come to our table because she said that she’s a fan of that style of wine. It’s always fun to hear comments like this, as it makes it quite clear that taste is subjective.