Category Archives: Gift Ideas

Discover the Gems of Small Production Pinot Noir

At we love working with wines like Schug 2008 Sonoma Cost Pinot Noir. While this wine has garnered great praise – 90 points from PinotReport – and can be seen on many top winelists around the country – the winery itself is a still family run operation focused on keeping production small and winemaking excellent. And, wow, at under $20 we consider this one of the wine steals of the year!

So what makes small production Pinot like Schug so great? Just like the great wines of Burgundy, the best small production Pinot Noir from around the world focuses on hand-crafting, small case quantities, and loving attention to detail. In general, Pinot Noir as a varietal does not lend itself to the large production winemaking techniques typically used in crafting other red wine varietals. And so, it has only the most committed of winemakers, like the Schug family, who have the patience and passion to produce great Pinot Noir. For the wine aficionado getting to know and love these small production wines is a lifelong affair. While small production creates a challenge to source and acquire the good stuff, the journey is filled with many tasty rewards. Get started now with this “hand-picked” selection of some of our favorite boutique small production Pinot Noirs from California, Oregon and beyond.

Valentine’s Day labels

Though you usually don’t want to pick a wine ONLY on its label, for certain holidays and festivities, it’s nice to have a label that matches the occasion. A good holiday for that practice? Valentine’s Day!

Here are a few romantic wines to get you in the mood.

ironhorseweddingIron Horse Wedding Cuvee: Ideal if you are married, but not necessary. This is a fantastic and delicious bubbly that is sure to put romance in the glass as well.

Hugel Cuvee Les Amours: Amours… love in French. This cuvee is a lovely, delicate wine. With aromas of fresh flowers and stone fruits, a round texture and a refreshing finish – a great way to start off your Valentine evening…

Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling: This wine is named after a Beethoven symphony, but some (including myself) see the label and think, erotica? what? And the wine itself is so seductive in taste and flavor, this is a perfect wine for love.

Terra Valentine Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon: You can’t beat actually having Valentine in the name, can you? This winery is perched high above Napa in the Spring Mountain district. This high elevation leads to wines with structure and finesse. Delicious with a hearty Valentine’s Day dinner.

halfdozenroseOne wine won’t to, you must check out our gift idea – a half dozen or dozen “rosés” – you get six or 12 rosé wines – now who would not want that over actual roses? Reminds me of the scene in “Stranger than Fiction,” when Will Ferrell’s character gives Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character “flours” instead of “flowers.” Our case and half-case of rosé wine include some delicious pink wine perfect for Valentine’s Day. Especially if that loved one loves rosé, like me!

What are your favorite labels that fit the Valentine’s Day theme?

Evolution of the Gift Basket

Baskets have been used to hold, carry and gift things for many centuries, from perfume to eggs to wine. And the idea of the gift basket as we know it, the kind Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute passed around to former clients on The Office, is still one of the most popular forms of gift-giving during the holidays and other major events. Something about the basket and its contents presents an attractive package to distribute as a gift.

I actually found a nice article on the history of gift baskets here, which, instead of repeating, I’ll let you read for yourself.

For us at, we’ve been part of the gifting business for a while, but we’ve also taken a different look at the basket. There are some who are perhaps tired of giving (or getting) wicker to hold a gift,  not to mention that baskets often have a lot of filling that gets thrown out.

If you are tired of wicker, here are some ideas for gift “basket” alternatives:

Tuscan Trattoria – Since you receive pasta with this gift, what better way to package it than in a colander! So really, you get to use all that you get here. Less waste, more use.

Executive Selection Cabernet Quartet – All business here, with four bottles of wine and some goodies and gadgets – we put it all in a leatherette magazine holder rather than a basket. Definitely something that can be used afterwards.

Spanish Paella Gift Set – Another foodie gift that gets packaged with a Paella pan rather than a wicker basket – use and re-use.

Do you buy gift baskets as gifts? What do you look for when you do?

All about our wine clubs – what makes ours different?

Wine clubs are everywhere these days. You can join wine clubs through newspapers or magazines as well as the more traditional form of winery wine clubs. At we offer a few different wine clubs with a range of themes. With all the wine clubs out there, it’s important to stand out. So what makes our wine clubs different?

Our tag line for our wine clubs is: Authentic wines. Premium brands. A great journey. We feature real wines from real wineries – sometimes they are larger wineries, sometimes they are boutique vintners, but they are wines you may find on a restaurant list or in a local wine store – no private labels that you can never find again. offers 4 different wine clubs that range from $30 per month to $70 per month. Each wine club includes two bottles, each with detailed tasting notes on the wine, region and food pairings, as well as an e-mail newsletter with a wine tip and a recipe. Also, you get 15% off any wines you’d like to re-order from the club selections!

Our wine clubs are:

Discovery Tour ($29.99/month)club_default_DIS_img_wide
Our most popular club, the discovery tour is an introductory wine club that features different varietals, styles and regions each month – all at a great value. The wines are meant to be drunk now, no cellar time necessary. The club is meant to help the recipient discover which wine styles, regions and varieties they like best. 
You receive two bottles, either a white and a red or two reds.

img_WOW_clubWines of the World ($39.99/month)
It’s like traveling the world through wine! This club is meant to help you expand your palate with premium wines from the world’s greatest wineries and regions. You receive wines from a different wine region each month, selected for their high quality and depiction of that region. It’s a great way to broaden your wine knowledge and palate. You can choose to receive a white and a red or two reds.

90-point Rated Club ($69.99/month)90pt
Ultra premium, age worthy wines rated 90+ points within the last two vintages by the world's top wine critics (see the 8 publications that cites). This is a red wine only club for those who want top quality. Wines are chosen for their flavor, character and aging potential.  This is a high end club that gives its members amazing wines that can be put down in the cellar.

club_default_AEC_img_wideAvec Eric Perfect Pairings ($59.99/month)
For the foodie who loves wine, this unique new wine club explores the intrinsic relationship between great food and wine. You’ve got a chef and a sommelier choosing wine, which can include white, red or sparkling – it changes each month. There are videos and recipes to go with each wine, too. A great way to put your food and wine  passions together.

Gift of the Season

The roads of Napa Valley are now dotted with wineries at every turn – some grand, some small, some new and some old. Quaint towns with boutique stores, gourmet cafes and Michelin star restaurants are nestled between rows and rows of vines. Hard to believe this area was just agricultural land 30 years ago.

Napa Valley is a destination, and a worthy one at that. Though there is much hype and money surrounding the area, the valley still stands as the gateway to California wine. It is the place that put California – and the US – on the wine map. That all happened 30 plus years ago, in 1976, when Chateau Montelena Chardonnay beat out classic Burgundy wines at a tasting in Paris, a story recently re-told in the movie, Bottle Shock.

Speaking of which… Chateau Montelena is now one of the most respected and revered wineries in Napa. Established in 1882, the winery is known for its beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. This is a stately and classic property to visit, though appointments are required. Which leads us into the purpose of our Tip of the Day – Gift of the Season.

BAOThis year we introduced a new gift called “By Appointment Only.” It’s a new style of gift for us because it includes a unique experience not offered anywhere else. Beyond the three classic wines included in this package, the gift includes an experience, an incredible, one-of-a-kind experience.

With this gift pack, you get three wines:

  • Quintessa
  • Caymus Special Selection
  • Chateau Montelena Estate

    But much more than that, you receive passes for you and up to 3 guests for a VIP tour and tasting at each of the wineries, which are typically closed to the public and are open by appointment only.

    Why is this so special? It really is about the experience. Wines can be bought and consumed anywhere, but the tour, the tasting, the exciting opportunity to visit these historic and classic properties is truly extraordinary. It’s not just a visit. You’ll taste current, past and future releases, including barrel samplings. You’ll receive tours of the vineyard (weather permitting) and winery, with red carpet treatment at every turn. At each visit you will experience history, innovation and passion.’s founder, Mike Osborn, tells you more in this video.