Category Archives: Industry News

Nicolas Catena: The “godfather” of Argentine wine

Last weekend, Nicolas Catena Zapata received the 2012 Distinguished Service Award from the Wine Spectator. No surprise. The godfather of Argentine wine, Nicolas Catena . The description for the Distinguished Service Award is for those “who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to the wine industry. All have displayed a passion for excellence, an appetite for innovation and a commitment to sharing the fruits of their success with those less fortunate.”

Nicolas Catena Zapata came from a winemaking family. His grandfather, Nicolas, planted his first Malbec vines in 1902. His father, Domingo, continued to grow the family’s winery holdings, eventually passing the reigns onto  his son, Nicolas, in the 1960s. After gaining inspiration watching the Napa Valley rise in quality in the 1970s and 80s, Nicolas set out to craft quality wine in Argentine. Like many visionaries, he was seen as slightly crazy for 1. placing his entire focus on fine wine and 2. planting Malbec at a high altitude. Both risks, however, turned out to be successful. Over the past few decades, Catena, along with his daughter, Laura, has brought Argentine wine – particularly Malbec – to the forefront of the wine world, showing that this grape can produce both value and ageworthy wines.

We congratulate Nicolas Catena Zapata on this well-deserved award and hope, if you have not already, you will try some of the fantastic wines produced at Catena. It is here that you will taste the true terroir of Argentina.

Celebrate California Wine Month

Once again, September brings us the official California Wine Month. Though our customers never shy away from California wine (it’s our top selling region year after year), now is the time to stock up on your favorite bottles to help celebrate the great Golden State.

For all of our social fans, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed to tell us your favorite California Wine. We’ll put together a list on our site of “ Fan Favorite Cali Wines” and offer a special discount later this month!

Some things about California Wine you may not know…

-California makes 90% of all U.S. wine and is the world’s 4th leading
wine producer after France, Italy and Spain. (Which means that if California were a separate country, it would be the world’s fourth largest wine producer.)
– 3,540 bonded wineries
– 211.9 million cases = California wine sales volume into the U.S. market, with shipments growing 26% since 2002’s 168.7 million cases.
– $19.9 billion retail value: Estimated retail value of California wine sales in the U.S. 61% share of U.S. market by volume.
– Three of every five bottles sold in the U.S. is a California wine.
– 4,600 grapegrowers
– 543,000 acres of winegrapes: Winegrapes are grown in 48 of 58 counties in California; 115 federally approved American Viticultural Areas.
– More than 110 winegrape varieties.

Find more fun statistics on California wine at

The Tasting Room

Welcome to the newest feature on The Tasting Room.

We’re a virtual company. In so many ways that rocks. You can shop for wine from the comfort of your home in your super soft slippers, you can search wines by just about any possible measurement (variety, region, vintage, alcohol volume, ratings, etc), and you have it all delivered to your door. When you go in knowing – or having an idea of – what you want, it is the perfect situation. But sometimes you need a helping hand. A guide to what might interest you, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced taster. With that in mind, we’ve created our very own online tasting room.

The purpose? To offer personalized service and recommendations. Kind of like you were at a winery tasting room. You don’t have to know a lot, but if you do happen to be a wine geek, you won’t be disappointed either. The tasting room will have monthly themes for each level. We’ve divided those levels into Novice, Enthusiast and Collector. The definitions of which are:

Novice: You love wine, but you’re still learning
Enthusiast: You are hooked on discovery
Collector: You are looking for the best

The Tasting Room is a work in progress. For our first month, we’ve chosen the over-arching theme of Cabernet. It is, after all, the most popular variety on So check out the lists, see if you want to pick and choose some wines. You may want to hop from Novice to Collector or stick with Enthusiast the whole time. It’s up to you. No membership required, no fees or commitment, we’re just trying to give you a little bit of education & hand-picked love. Stay-tuned for next month’s themes, as Italy will take center stage!

Feel free to send us feedback! is ready for your suggestions.

Ode to Australia

Happy Australia Day! On January 26th, Australians celebrate the arrival of Captain Phillip and the First Fleet into Sydney in 1788 with this national holiday aptly named, Australia Day. And we toast them on this day with, what else? Australian wine. Australia is one of the top producers of wine in the world, known for their big and juicy take on the Syrah grape, called Shiraz down under.

The wines of Australia range from darn-good values in the $10 – $15 range to incredible and complex collectibles. The latter has started to gain more recognition with collectors and fine wine lovers. The former has always been a hit and both have helped Australia maintain a strong foothold in the world wine industry. offers a large range and selection of wines, and for Australia Day, we’re offering free shipping on purchases of $99 or more on all Australia wines. Woo Hoo!

Here are my favorites from Australia:

Riesling from Clare Valley or Eden Valley: Crisp, dry, mineral-driven whites that are excellent with food, extremely refreshing and downright complex in their Riesling character.

Cabernet from Coonawarra: Due to the unique Terra Rossa (‘red earth’) soil here, the wine has a very distinct aroma and flavor. Cabernet has taken to this soil and climate quite well, though Shiraz is also popular. The Cabs here give a very clear eucalyptus note, with great structure that holds together the soft fruit. Delicious and food-friendly.

Shiraz from Barossa: Dense and delicious, some wines from here define what “jammy” really means in a wine. That said, there can be a lot going on behind all that dense fruit. Big and bold, these wines are not for the light-bodied wine drinker.

Pinot Noir from Yarra Valley: The cool climate of the Yarra Valley, which enjoys coastal breezes of the Pacific, is excellent breeding ground for Pinot. Light, fresh and fruit-forward, the Pinot Noir of the region can offer excellent values. Don’t be afraid to try some Shiraz from the area as well. That cool climate gives the wines a nervy, herbal backbone that is absolutely unique.

Rhone blends from McLaren Vale: Yangarra, d’Arenberg… both make delicious Rhone blends from this area that show what the cooler hilly region is all about.

Chardonnay from Margaret River: Also known for Cabernet and Bordeaux blends, the Chardonnay here is just outstanding. Leeuwin and Cullen are my favorites and they are incredible examples of the complexity that Australian wines can have.

Here’s to you on Australia Day! Cheers!


The Zinfandel Grape

With #ZinFest by #ZAP fast approaching, I thought it appropriate to define the grape that we shall all celebrate this weekend: Zinfandel.

Zinfandel is known as the”California” grape, but is it? Eh, not really. When it comes to the US and to the New World of winemaking in general, Zinfandel is definitely a California grape. However, DNA testing (yes, they do this on grapes) has traced the origin of Zinfandel back to the Croatian variety, Crljenak Kaštelanski (I can’t pronounce it either). It is also the genetically identical to Primitivo, a grape variety grown in Southern Italy.

Zinfandel first found its way to California in the mid-1800s, and since then, has made a name for itself making big, fruit-forward wines, ranging in flavors and structure depending on where it is grown. It can be super intense and fruit forward, like blueberry jam rolling off the tongue, or it can be structured and spicy, like brambly raspberries off the vine. It is, in fact, a red grape, though in the 1980s you found it much more often in the pink form, known as “White Zinfandel.” The grape increases in flavor and intensity as the vines age and old-vine Zinfandels are quite unique and sought after.

Need more Zinfandel education? Get yourself to the Saturday Grand Tasting at the ZAP festival. We promise your head will be filled with more Zin knowledge, and your teeth will be stained purple.