Pinot Noir: Spreading the Wealth

Patrick Comiskey:

SOMETIMES it seems as if Pinot Noir isn’t so much a beverage as an exclusive private club. Scan the pages of wine magazines and you’ll find glowing reviews on a bewildering array of Pinots from unfamiliar wineries, each with tiny, hundred-case productions, lovingly extracted from tiny, single vineyards, even from tiny blocks of tiny, single vineyards.
Every so often, you might find one of these wines at a wine shop, but chances are if you’re reading about it today, it was sold out last week. You might discover a bottle on a chichi restaurant wine list, and you’ll shell out quite a few chis for the privilege of tasting it. Or you may get hold of a bottle by adding your name to the waiting list of a winery’s buying club — which might have an opening in 2012.
It starts to feel a bit like unrequited love. What is the Pinot lover to do when the object of affection is so exclusionary, unobtainable? What if, instead of trophy worship, you wanted to make Pinot your house wine, the wine to pour each evening at dinner — without taking out any sub-prime loans? Where are the Pinots for the rest of us?
In fact there are plenty made in volumes that resemble rivers and not trickles, and with price tags that are pretty populist. And while these may not be the most au courant bottlings in the market, they can be very, very good. Some are being made by winemakers who have taken on the challenge of affordable Pinot with the zeal of evangelists.

Friends have a fabulous new Oregon vineyard: Check out their Pinot selection.

Top 100 Wines – 2007

Jon Bonné:

A dash of the old, a dash of the new – that’s the theme of this year’s Top 100 Wines.
The Chronicle Wine section tastes wine from all over the world, but our Top 100 Wines are a showcase for the most compelling winemaking on the West Coast. We tasted thousands of wines this past year from California, Washington and Oregon. We recommended hundreds. You may recognize some of the lucky 100 from our weekly Wine Selections, but instead of simply choosing the best of what our panels tasted, we sought out a balance between quality, price and innovation – particularly innovation. So while many of our top contenders are familiar names, this year we also kept an eye out for new faces, new locales and new types of wine.
Consider, for example, the Pinot Noir made by Stewart Johnson of Kendric Vineyards in San Anselmo. A few years ago, uttering “Marin County Pinot Noir” would have prompted the same stare as “San Francisco suntan.” Now Marin has proven its potential as a wine region. (No such luck on the San Francisco suntan part.)

Vino Volo

Vino Volo:

Home » About Vino Volo
About Vino Volo
At Vino Volo, our goal is to bring the world of wine tasting and retail wine sales to where it is most convenient for air travelers. Our innovative wine tasting restaurant and retail stores are specifically designed for passengers and our website is available to continue serving them even after they leave the airport.
Vino Volo (derived from Italian for “wine flight”) combines a boutique retail store with a stylish tasting lounge and bar, allowing guests to taste wines in a comfortable setting. Vino Volo serves great wines from across the globe by the glass or in tasting flights. All wines poured are also available for purchase by the bottle, allowing travelers to purchase wines to take with them or have shipped to their home (subject to state law).
Our Stores
Warm wood tones and comfortable leather lounge chairs welcome travelers into a sophisticated yet approachable post-security retreat in the airport terminal. Every Vino Volo location has an integrated retail area showcasing the wines being poured and offers elegant small plates to pair with the wines. Customers enjoy items such as locally-produced artisan cheeses, dry cured meats, and smoked salmon rolls wrapped around crab meat with crème fraiche. All of Vino Volo’s dishes are available for customers to enjoy in the store or packaged to carry with them onto their flight.
7-10 new stores are planned for airports in 2007. We encourage you to check our website periodically for updates on new locations.
About Taste, Inc.
Vino Volo is owned and operated by Taste, Inc., founded in 2004 and backed by industry leaders in wine, retail, and the hospitality industries. Vino Volo plans to open several dozen stores in airports across the country in the next five years. Taste, Inc. is headquartered in San Francisco, California.
Taste, Inc. is led by executives with deep industry expertise. Doug Tomlinson, Taste’s CEO, has over 16 years of career success in launching and spinning off new businesses. Doug has helped several Fortune 500 clients start new businesses or divisions and has been featured as a cover author in Harvard Business Review. Ellen Bozzo, Director of Finance and Administration, has over 20 years of experience in multi-unit retail finance, including the role of Controller for Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Joe LaPanna, Regional General Manager, has over 19 years of experience in high-end restaurant and wine retail management as well as managed the expansion of two major restaurant concepts. Carla Wytmar, Director of Development & Marketing, is a 20-year veteran in the food & wine industry, having worked with Hyatt Hotels Corporation, The Walt Disney World Company and as a consultant to top chefs and wine companies across the country.
Standing behind the Vino Volo team is a group of highly-credentialed investors and advisors with over a century of combined experience in retail, hospitality and wine that include the founder of Ravenswood Winery, the founder of Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, and the CEO of Jamba Juice, among others. Each member of this group sits on a formal Advisory Board and actively consults to Vino Volo on its development and execution. “Taste, Inc. DBA Vino Volo” is the California-based legal entity behind all Vino Volo operations.
About our Team
Vino Volo prides itself on building teams dedicated to customer service and with deep expertise in wine tasting and retail. Customer service is a cornerstone of Vino Volo’s strategy, and Vino Volo invests heavily in training its talented staff to make wine approachable. A highly trained team of Wine Associates helps customers explore and enjoy Vino Volo’s wines. The company also has a patented tasting framework to ease customers through the wine discovery process. Vino Volo is redefining service in airports, recently ranking #1 in customer service among over 900 airport stores mystery shopped, and is the recipient of the Airport Revenue News 2007 Award for Highest Regard for Customer Service.
Vino Volo offers some of the best opportunities in the wine industry, including:
* Intensive training program on service and wine
* Opportunity to continuously taste and learn about wine
* Annual retreat to a wine region of the world
* Full benefits package to full-time employees
* Competitive compensation package
For More Information
Visit our stores or Contact Us. We look forward to hearing from you!
Anything that can make airline travel more enjoyable is a welcome development, so beleaguered travelers take heart: Vino Volo…the leader of upscale wine bars at airports. – Wine Enthusiast

Oregon’s Burgundy

Linda Murphy:

“It looks like Corton, doesn’t it?” asked one man admiringly as our group gazed up at the tightly spaced rows of Pinot Noir grapevines hugging the hillside at Stoller Vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
It did look a bit like France’s famed Corton, a tree-topped hill in Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune region that’s caressed by vines on its lower slopes. Corton is home to some of the world’s finest Pinot Noir wines, and while accepting Stoller as Le Corton takes a bit of imagination, Willamette Valley vintners use the hill as inspiration as they try to produce Pinot Noirs rivaling those of Burgundy. And they’re getting there.
Still, why would a Bay Area Pinot Noir buff travel to Oregon, when fine wines are made much closer to home, in the Russian River Valley, Carneros and Monterey County?
First, the wines are getting better, and fast gaining critical praise. The best Pinots, and those from the small rising stars, are sold in the tasting rooms, with little chance of finding their way to California store shelves.