Our guests are from Sterling Vineyards and Beringer Wines. Tom Simoneau is back on California Wine Country with Steve Jaxon, as Dan Berger is travelling this week. Megan O’Connor, Brand Manager for Beringer. Jim Cawdell is also in. He begins by mentioning Whisper Sisters, a new brand, whose name celebrates the speakeasies. Beringer is the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley. They grew sacramental wine and spirits during Prohibition and continued to operate. They shipped grape bricks back then that included a label, “Do not add water and sugar and yeast, or else it might turn into wine.”
Beringer Brothers was founded in 1875. They use a “living wine label” like the ones we saw on the show a few months ago. The first wines in this line were aged in Bourbon barrels. They also have Sauvignon Blanc aged in tequila barrels. Megan O’Connor says that they had the idea for this line a couple of years ago, the Beringer Brothers Spirit Barrel Aged Wine. Craft spirits are more popular and wine drinkers are getting more adventurous. They wanted to experiment with aging the wine this way. Jakob and Frederick Beringer actually did this 140 years ago so they have revived the practice.
When you age Sauvignon Blanc in tequila barrels, you get impact from the oak, as with any wine, you get rounder edges, it seems softer, warmer, the acidity is less bracing, and it adds vanilla and clove flavors. Normally SB has citrus and grassy flavors, so this way you get a complex wine with tequila and barrel flavors in it. Tom says the note in the nose is really distinctive and it certainly does make a difference. They wanted it to be special but also drinkable.
On the back of the bottle, there are instructions to download the app. They have 3 million downloads now.
A Whisper Sister was the person who would, in a whisper, tell where the bar was, during Prohibition. It is a tribute to Bertha Beringer.
The Beringer Brothers line brings out various points of Beringer’s history. Prohibition devastated California’s wine business, as only 5% of wineres made it through. Bertha Beringer was the daughter of Jakob Beringer, one of the founding brothers. She sold wine to the church as scaramental wine, they sold medicinal brandy in pharmacies, and other clever ways to keep the business going.
Mark Beringer is the great-great grandson of the founder, he is the eighth winemaker in their history, most of whom have been close family.
After the break, we will taste some aluminum bottles from Sterling, then a Pinot from Chateau St. Jean, then a Santa Barbara Pinot and one called Deadeye.
Casual occasion wine consumption, is that Megan O’Connor calls it, and she says the category, featuring aluminum bottles, is growing fast.
Tom Simoneau introduces the aluminum bottles. If you’re by the pool, or at the beach, or if you want something to put in the cooler that will chill fast, these products will do that. Some are wine, some are wine coolers. The Sterling is not, it is all real wine and it is very good wine!
They don’t have to change the winemaking very much to accommodate the packaging. Glass bottles can be very inconvenient or even dangerous in some places. Barry Herbst says that Bottle Barn will be getting some of these product. They even make a screw top that a straw fits through.
They taste a Russian River Pinot Noir, a classic example of the highest quality local style.
Barry Herbst reminds listeners that there are tastings at Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa, Fridays and Saturdays, from noon to 5. Then in September they will have a tasting at the Hyatt with Petaluma Gap wines.