Deep Sea Blog
And now, for the wine-geek that is hidden inside all of us, some fun facts about Merlot, and why you should be drinking more of it…
Merlot has a storied history in winemaking, as a highly respected, and established varietal. Merlot was first popularized in the 1780’s in France’s Bordeaux region, and has continued to be produced in France through the ages, and in more recent decades in the US, Australia, Italy, Chile, and Argentina.
Sadly, Merlot’s reputation has suffered a bit in California, due in part to some large producers making some rather lifeless versions of this classic and otherwise delicious grape. Because of this, Merlot is sometimes dismissed by today’s wine drinkers because it is assumed that it lacks the sophistication of Cabernet Sauvignon, or the trendy appeal Malbec.
If you already love Merlot, then you can drink it with the confidence of someone who knows that you’re not alone. Over 18 million cases of Merlot are consumed in the US every year. All those people can’t be wrong! Merlot is the fifth most widely planted red wine grape in the universe, falling only slightly behind Cabernet Sauvignon. 640,000 acres of this tasty grape are planted worldwide.
If you haven’t had a merlot recently, here’s why you may be missing out.
The most expensive, collectible, and highly sought-after wines in the world are made with 100% Merlot grapes. Take for example, a bottle of 1982 Petrus. This world famous wine is made with 100% Merlot grapes and the average retail price is $6,000 a bottle! Surely even someone who doesn’t usually like Merlot would give that a try!
For those of us a little more price conscious, great Merlot can be found right here, in Santa Barbara, and we happen to make two wines that are 100% Merlot. Our 2012 Octopus Merlot ($28.00), and our 2013 Ringo’s Rescue Red ($22.00).
Merlot offers flavors of chocolate, blackberries, plums, licorice, black cherry, blueberries, and jam. It is juicy, opulent, and completely delicious.
Merlot is so special; it even has its own day.
November 7th is International Merlot Day, and we should all be prepared to pay homage to this awesome, historically significant, and popular grape. The best way to celebrate? Pop a cork of the Deep Sea “Octopus” Merlot, Sta. Ynez Valley, carve off a tasty piece of tri-tip, or roasted chicken to pair with it. Or, if you have a sweet tooth like me, a big chunk of dark chocolate can’t be beat. Enjoy the bliss that comes with knowing you have a special glass of wine in your hand, made with special grapes that have been enjoyed the world over, for hundreds of years!
If there was ever a way to measure the increase in demand and popularity of this light, crisp, and delightfully pink drink, it is by the sheer number of instagram posts referencing the consumption, enjoyment, and “cool factor” of rosé this Spring.
Rosé or pink wines enjoyed some popularity in the US in the 80’s, then developed a bad rep among wine snobs and later by consumers who still confuse it with the infamous White Zinfandel, or Blush.
But the real rosé -the kind with fragrant floral and fruity aromatics that lead you to fresh fruit flavors, stony minerality, confident structure, and surprising textures, has recently come into fashion everywhere. This is not the rosé that comes in a box, or that you drink with a straw or serve on ice. (Side note I’m actually totally ok with ice in my rose ever since I visited Provence and witnessed the French habit of serving glasses of rosé along with a second glass filled with ice, and a little silver spoon. If they can do it, so can I).
Its cool now to drink rosé, and I’m pretty excited about it. Even Brad and Angelina have their own Provence rosé brand, which I must admit is pretty darn tasty. So what’s so alluring about it? Is it just the color? Every shade of pink is available, even the novice wine drinker can appreciate the plethora of pinks to choose from. And not just the color, rosé can be sweet, dry, fruity, stony, crisp, fresh, lazy, syrupy, and even leaning toward a veiled attempt to be a light red wine when it’s concentrated enough. Rosé from Tavel in the southern Rhone Valley for example could almost pass for a Pinot or Beaujolais; the color is so rich and rubylike.
Maybe its more than pure aesthetics. Perhaps a gorgeous salmon pink bottle conjures romantic images of sun bathing on the beaches of Antibes, sipping away on a shady patio at the hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc, channeling Hemmingway. One sip and suddenly we are strolling through streets dappled with the famous golden light of Provence, signing contentedly at a full glass of the palest pink wine, while the murmured laughter of families on holiday echoes through the crowded courtyards of beach towns all along the cote- du Azure…
Exotic vacations aside, its just fun to drink something other than White or Red. Rosé is a daytime wine, its also a great dinner wine. Its versatile, usually has enough acid to stand up to poultry, fish and even pork chops. Its festive, and has an aura of the season, in the same way Champagne always feels like the holidays, only it speaks of warm days, and summer gatherings. Since it is often lower in alcohol than red wine, rosé has the reputation that it can be drunk in larger quantities, over a long period of time, making it a great wedding wine, or vacation wine. The popular hastag says it all #roseallday, though I don’t recommend forgetting that it is indeed #wine and it will make you #drunk if you’re not careful!
For me the appeal is in the romance of its origin, but I shouldn’t yearn for far away places, when rose from my backyard is equally enchanting. Our Deep Sea “Sea Star” Pinot Noir rosé is made with grapes grown in Santa Barbara County, a place not dissimilar to the South of France. Santa Barbara has been nicknamed the American Riviera since the 1930’s when the glamorous Hollywood elite would frequent the Cabrillo bathhouses, and the El Encanto Hotel. Juicy cherry and strawberry flavors make our 100% Santa Barbara Pinot Noir the perfect summer wine. Its a sipping experience that is light, fruity, and dry, with a whisper of sweet red fruit on the finish. It’s everything I want from a Rosé. Bursting with fresh watermelon, cherry and peach fruit notes, the first sip of this Santa Barbara sipper will kick-off all the fun of Summer, and whisk me away to the beaches of my imaginings. South of France? Sure, maybe another time. For now I’ll stay home, pop a few corks, and dream of being right where I am. #roseallday #drinkpink #pinkwine #myrose
This week I’m taking a break from beautiful ocean vistas, sunny days, azure tides, and post-work beach walks in exchange for cooler weather, forecasts of rain, and post-work Sam Adam on tap.
Yes, I am leaving Santa Barbara wine country, and the Deep Sea Tasting Room to board a 6 AM flight headed East, to peddle my wares beyond the scope of the American Riviera. More specifically, I’m headed to peddle in the land of our rebellious forefathers, imposing brownstones, Paul Revere, the Green Monster, lobster rolls, top collegiate institutions, sherbet colored kakhis embroidered with cute sea creatures, and disastrous underground transportation projects. I’m headed to the birthplace of Sam Adams (brewery not revolutionary patriot) and also Harpoon Brewery, the producer of The Winter Warmer, a beer that proved the spirit of Christmas can be bottled and consumed by girls who “don’t like beer” everywhere. Boston, here I come, and I bring thee the gift of Santa Barbara Chardonnay and Santa Barbara Pinot Noir, straight from the heart of the Sta Rita Hills and the Santa Maria Valley
What’s that? You’ve never heard of Deep Sea or Conway Family Wines? Or Santa Maria? Or Santa Ynez? Don’t worry Boston, by the time we part ways, I will have met with at least 25 influential tastemakers in your town (the guys and gals who chose the wines you see on lists when you go out to dine) and I am 100% confident that Deep Sea is going to end up on a wine list near you.
This weeks blog will be an account of my adventures selling California wine in Boston, a city that is close to my heart, for it is here that I experienced falling in love for the first time. Falling in love with wine, that is. My deep and everlasting love for all things vino began here, when I discovered how delightful a fruitbomb from Australia really could be for a young palate, new to the world of wine.
Until the last decade, Boston was considered more of a “beer and whisky town” due I’m sure in part to its distance from US wine producing regions, the Blue Laws preventing consumers from ordering California wine online, and also the demographics of its drinking population. With over 100 colleges and universities in the Boston and the greater Boston area, the drinking scene is heavily under the influence of undergraduates.
When I arrived at Emerson College in 2003, it was a rare thing to see wine at a party, and rarer still to be the one bringing the wine. But if you took a trip in the dolorian back to my freshmen year, you’d see me with a magnum of $11.99 Yellowtail in hand, proud to be drinking this sophisticated, modern, and exotic beverage called Shiraz. People thought I was pretentious at best, uncool at worst, but in time the trend caught on, and more and more parties had wine, and more often than not in Boston, it was Yellowtail.
I give Yellowtail full credit for the millennial wine revolution in Boston as I can personally attest to having seen firsthand their guerilla marketing efforts while I was attending classes downtown. Plastered on every bathroom stall, T- station wall or entrance, park bench, bus, and liquor store window were ads for Yellowtail. Delicious, shiny, colorful ads that spoke directly to me. Yes, I am a self-confessed Yellowtail lover. I don’t drink Yellowtail anymore, but I certainly did then, and I attribute their brilliant marketing to the capturing of more than a few college hearts back in 2003.
Since then, the foodie/wine/cocktail scene has exploded, and the bars and restaurants in the South End, downtown, backbay, and even provincial-at-times Beacon Hill offer fabulous wine lists, artisanal cocktails, and a plethora of dishes featuring pig organs. Seriously pig organs-they’re a hit.
As with other college towns, interest in wine and craft beer has replaced cheap beer and vodka sodas for many an undergrad. Which is why I am gong there, to this city I love, bringing great Deep Sea and Conway wine from Santa Barbara. I won’t be plastering any bathroom stalls with clever ads, meant to hook millenials, because in Boston, they’re already hooked. Now I just need Deep Sea to reel them in. Say tuned for more adventures this week…!
Music and Wine-Harmony or Catastrophe?
Earlier today, I received an email from a local musician. He wanted to know, "Would Conway Family Wines and Deep Sea ever want to pair their wines with live music, and then give away a CD of that music when a consumer purchased the wine?" He went on to say that the music would be everlasting, whereas the wine is gone when the bottle is empty. (Saddest moment ever is when the bottle of wine is empty and gone forever. I don't know if anything can help reduce that acute sadness, except another bottle of wine. But local music might help).
The idea then, he went on, is that when the consumer puts the CD on, maybe some days or weeks later, they would recall the Deep Sea Chardonnay, Santa Barbara, 2013 they had, and would involuntarily salivate, and run, wild-eyed and eager, to their computer or local wine shop, desperate to purchase the exact bottle they had enjoyed when the heard the music the first time.
Ah, were it that simple...I could have brainwashed half of America by now...were we to attempt this, there are a few challenges to overcome. The first being that millenials don't own CD players. Secondly, what music could we provide that would be so profound it would invoke the type of response we're talking about?
Even a really good tune probably wouldn't illicit quite the response in the consumer that would compel them to stop whatever they were doing and manically shop online, but it is true that the wine tasting experience is influenced by more than just our gustatory and olfactory systems. There is an entire industry built on creating experiences for consumers in hotels, theme parks, retail stores, restaurants bars etc. The lighting, the music, the smell of the room, the way the fabric of the dining chairs feels against your skin. If all of these elements can have a direct effect on a human experiencing "a place" then of course music could have a direct effect on whether or not I am enjoying the wine I am drinking. So its not totally outlandish to think that hearing a song might assist one in recalling a wine tasting room, or a particular wine.
So in my Deep Sea Santa Barbara Tasting Room on Stearns Wharf, what kind of music should we play? Music, like wine, is incredibly subjective, so its pretty difficult to find something that suits all tastes (and ears). A great ambiance can help make a decent wine taste fabulous, but can a fabulous wine help to overcome bad music?
Even with music that is undoubtedly well written, well played and widely enjoyed by my friends, and me it would be hard to know if others (my customers) will enjoy it. It seems to me that pairing wine and music is much like pairing wine with food. It should be done with much care, by those who are well versed, trained and practiced. We all know the result of a bad pairing!
But maybe it does work to pair music and wine in a public environment. If I can find the proper styles of music to blend harmoniously with my Santa Barbara wines, I may just strike a chord with my consumers... (Sorry couldn't help it...)
I will attempt, tonight, to pair 2013 Conway Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills with "Amazing Day and Army of One" on the new Coldplay album "A Head Full of Dreams" while I snack on a prosciutto, garlic and mozzarella pizza. I'll keep you posted on how that all goes. My stomach is already growling and it's only 1 Pm...
"I don't drink Chardonnay," says the young woman who just walked into my tasting room on Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara. Peering over the tops of her Warby Parker shades, she reads the Signature and Reserve flight options. They both offer Santa Barbara County Chardonnays. She loves white wine she says, assuredly. Just not Chardonnay. She turns to her friend who nods in agreement, her adorable sun hat bobbing vigorously but miraculously staying put. Anything But Chardonnay, she says.
ABC for short, I think.
I want to ask her "why don't you like it?” but its a busy Saturday in the tasting room, and customers are lining up, ready for their next taste of Deep Sea or Conway wine. Even if I did get a moment to ask the girls, they may not actually be able to tell me why they don't like it. Most people I meet who "don't like" a varietal, can't really describe why they're not into it. Maybe they had a few bad versions of a good thing. Maybe their parents drink Chardonnay, and they find it uncool, drab, and tired. Maybe they've tried a million, and never found one they enjoyed. But my heart tells me that out of every 10 Chardonnays you try, even if you don't like Chardonnay, there will be at least 1 that will surprise you, and convert you for life.
So instead of focusing on past negative experiences with Chardonnay, instead I smile and tell them, "Ours is different. You might like it, want to give it a try?"
It's hard to say no when someone is offering you wine. I know I rarely do. Intrigued, they want to say yes. I leave no room for hesitation. In a flash, there is a crystal clear Deep Sea wine glass on the bar, and I am pouring them a splash of our Deep Sea Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, 2013.
"Ours is different," I say again, as the beautiful, golden straw colored wine flows into the glass. "It's grown in Santa Barbara, which has a cooler climate than other parts of California. Our grapes are harvested earlier, to preserve a freshness that you don't get when your grapes are too ripe."
"Mmm.." Warby Parker says, still skeptical as she lifts the glass and inspects its contents. The sunlight streams in from our patio's open doors. It casts a perfect streak of sun into the glass and the wine shines. I feel like a nervous artist, showing my work for the first time. It's exciting, and scary.
I go on..."We celebrate higher acid here, and do our best to keep our wines lively and bright, with tons of citrus and only a hint of the tropical fruit notes associated with really ripe styles."
She tastes. The Warbys come off as she smiles in surprise!
"That's GOOD!" She says, and she turns to Sun Hat immediately, wanting to share her discovery. "Try it," She commands. "That's really good,” she says again, like she can't believe it.
"Right?" I laugh, because this is the most fun part of my job.
Sun Hat tastes, and her eyes go wide. "It's so different!" She says. "Normally I don’t like Chardonnay, it's too...too"
"Buttery? Syrupy? Oaky?" I suggest. (I like to help with adjectives sometimes. Its the writing major in me).
"Yes!" Warby says. "All of those things."
So I tell them, there's no popcorn butter and thick crème brulee notes here. No burnt toast, no fake vanilla syrup. Just delicious Santa Barbara Chardonnay, elegant and fresh, with notes of white peach, lemon, and green apple. Bright acidity and a hint of vanilla bean complement the fruit flavors in this crisp, modern style of Chardonnay.
"I have another Santa Barbara Chardonnay..." I say, still smiling at their discovery that they do and can, enjoy a Chardonnay.
"Can we try that one too?" asks Warby, as she steals her wine glass back from her friend and finishes the last of the Chardonnay still in the glass.
This kind of interaction happens all the time, and it continues to amaze me what a bad reputation Chardonnay has among the millennial crowd. They don’t want to drink it, but when they try it, its like this crazy epiphany happens. This thing they've been coaxed to dislike, or reject, has suddenly become a new best friend.
These “Taste Conversions” as I like to call them, are all part of the learning and tasting process. Those of us who are lucky enough to make wine, or be on the other side of the bar have a great opportunity to convert these voracious wine drinkers and turn them on to all kinds of wines they “don’t like”. Because the truth is, there’s too much Chardonnay out there to hate them all. I’m just happy when ours is the one that inspires someone to fall in love. Chardonnay is definitely a wine to fall in love with, and I am a great matchmaker.
When the girls leave, I notice they buy two bottles of Deep Sea Santa Barbara Pinot Noir 2013, and two bottles of our Deep Sea Chardonnay, The Sea Turtle, 2011. They make sure to show me, with pride, that they are taking the Chardonnay home. High fives all around.
I’m proud too, that another person will now go forth, and share their new and positive experience with our modern take on a timeless classic.
It's time to think about your Thanksgiving Wine.
2009 CONWAY Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford
Thanksgiving is a special, historical holiday. Celebrate with a wine that will captivate you, andtransport you to the beginning of the California wine story.
The story begins in a special place called Rutherford.
Rutherford has immense historical significance in the wine world, and has been the site of preeminent vineyard plantings since the 1850's. In 1864, Elizabeth Rutherford and her husband Thomas Rutherford were given a 1,040 acre portion of land as a wedding gift from Elizabeth's grandfather, George C. Yount. Subsequently, Thomas Rutherford went on to establish himself as a wine producer in the years preceding the turn of the century. Vineyard plantings in Rutherford survived Phylloxera and Prohibition, two major crises for the budding California Wine Industry. Pioneering vintners, viticulturists, and winemakers have followed a strict adherence to quality from the early days of wine production in the area. These elevated standards are still practiced today, and continue to shape the reputation of the Napa Valley. In 2009, my family had the rare opportunity to purchase grapes from a famous vineyard site in Rutherford(regrettably the contract does not allow us to disclose the site name).
However, we can say that our 2009 CONWAY Cabernet Sauvignon is made with the finest grapes from this unique and historically significant area. Each step of the process from harvest to bottling was executed with precision and extreme focus on quality. The care and attention this wine received during its creation is apparent in the unique character and complexity of the finished wine. The first sip is captivating, the famed “Rutherford Dust” evident in the glass.
From now until Thanksgiving Day, we are offering 6-packs of our 2009 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon for only $45.00/bottle or $270.00/ 6-pack. Don't miss out on this rare opportunity to drink $77.00 wine for only $45.00.
Order Now by calling us (805) 709-0151 or visitwww.conwayfamilywines.com
Entertaining used to be a bad word in my mind. One that evoked memories of dishes burned to charcoal, ingredients forgotten, guests arriving to witness stir fry quite literally en flambé on the stove, corked wine, no ice, and that terribly awkward moment when the announcement is made that the dog has eaten the roast. For me, all that chaos can be attributed to one, dreaded word. Entertaining.
The holidays are nearly upon us, and the fearsome glory of entertaining is on my mind.
I come from a long line of brilliant hostesses. My mother, her mother, and her mother all possessed that special gene that manifests itself when planning, arranging, and hosting on a social gathering. It’s the perfect combination of the organized, creative, whimsical, and capable that gets the table set beautifully, the lighting just so, and meal ready on time. It’s the gracious warmth of a smile and an open heart that makes guests feel right at home. And for me-someone who struggles with all of the above- it’s really…freakin’…hard.
But, I have learned from the best over the years, and there is one good rule I always follow. To be a great host, be present with your guests. That means not stressing about the meal, or worrying about all the cleanup, or whether the napkins are pressed, or the wine is good enough. Keep it simple, so you can entertain guests and also be entertained. After all, it’s a party-and the host should have some fun, too.
The wine? That part’s easy. We produce over 15 different wines, so I can always find something to pair with whatever I am serving., and you can too. (If my friends get tired of having only Conway and Deep Sea wines at my parties-I’ve never heard a complaint!) Over the next few months I will be serving mostly CONWAY Cabernet Sauvignon, Happy Canyon 2013, CONWAY Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford 2009, Deep Sea Chardonnay, “The Sea Turtle,” and our soon-to-be-released in December CONWAY Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, 2013. Keep an eye out for that one, it is one of the best wines we have made to date.
So this holiday season, if you’re hosting-don’t sweat the small stuff. Hang out with your guests. Have fun. Be merry. If you’re attending, be kind to your host, bring them a bottle of delicious Conway wine, and make sure they have a glass or two with you. Maybe the dog will still eat the roast, or the pie crust will get burned, but you’re not alone. All across the country we are opening our homes to family, opening that wine for friends and doing the dreaded bad word-entertaining. But if we keep it simple, and that glass of wine full, we’ll be blissfully, and happily entertained ourselves.
Team Deep Sea/Conway Family Wines pedals through another successful Santa Barbara Century! This marks our 5th year as participants and our 3rd year as sponsors. Congrats to all the winners on the very tough timed Gibraltar climb! If you only ride one bicycle event a year, this one should be it! If you would like to join our Deep Sea team and/or order one of our awesome cycling kits please drop us a line! firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out this video of Andrew scouting our dry farmed Potrero vineyard. We are getting ready to bring our Zin, Syrah, and Grenache in a few days!
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