Sean Minor Wines Blog

Summer Vacation Intern

Sean Minor - Wednesday, July 23, 2014
We love having the kids around the office to help out when they're out of school! Our oldest, Nick, has been home from college and assisting our accounting department (Barbara). Our daughter, Elle, who recently turned 16 has been handling some admin duties for us. Today our youngest bear, Charlie, paid us a visit to offer help, along with his trusty sidekick Posey. He sorted and packed t-shirts for us and got them ready for shipping.
Charlie is the only one of the Four Bears to express interest in becoming a winemaker, in fact he prayed for help during lent in 2011. 

At the time, he also told me when I die he will take over the winery.  Still trying to explain to him that I don't need to be gone for him to be a part of the winery. Not sure he quite understood back then, but we are getting there.

During summer vacation our winery truly becomes a family affair!


Notes from the road - Larry in MD & WV

Danica Ratkovich - Monday, July 21, 2014

Larry Soble, Eastern Sales Manager, recently visited Maryland and West Virginia to work with our new distributors there. He visited the very nice and quiet, quaint town of McHenry, MD, which is a resort area in the Summer and Winter. They have skiing there in the winter and it is a second home for many people who live in the DC area. Larry stayed at the Inn at Deep Creek Lake where they do a lot of boating. 

Larry hosted a wine tasting with the folks at Firefly Farms Creamery & Market. This place makes handmade cheeses and sell wine, cheeses, cured meats. As you can see they brought out fancy cheeses to taste with the wines. They loved Sean's wines and will be carrying a few. 

Firefly Farms, Creamery & Market is located at:

107 South Main St
Accident, MD (yes, Accident) 21520 
PH: 301-746-8188.

Larry also hosted an in-store evening tasting at Slight Indulgence Wine Shop and Cafe in Morgantown, WV. Owned by JC and Suzy Warman, Slight Indulgence carries almost all of our wines! We had 15ppl and it was a success as we sold almost 4 cases combined. Everyone loved the wines. 

Slight Indulgence is located at:

3200 Collins Ferry Road
Morgantown, WV 26505
PH: 304-599-3402

How to choose a bottle of wine

Danica Ratkovich - Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Okay, so we think the best way to choose a bottle of wine is to just drink what you like! However, in the event you want a bit more guidance, here is a handy infographic from Wine Folly to help you choose a great bottle for the occasion. Cheers! 

Click picture to enlarge.

Sean Minor in the Wine Advocate

Danica Ratkovich - Monday, July 07, 2014
We are grateful to the Wine Advocate for the great ratings on two of our Sean Minor offerings.

89 POINTS - 2009 Sean Minor Red Blend

The 2009 Proprietary Red, a kitchen sink blend of Merlot, Petit Verdot, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Malbec, represents 15,000 cases and was aged in a combination of American and French oak (18% new) for 11 months. The wine offers silky tannins and an exuberant, lush, medium-bodied style with abundant fruit and glycerin, and no hard edges. It is made to please the palate for at least several years.

90 POINTS - 2011 Sean Minor Carneros Pinot Noir

The 2011 Pinot Noir is an 18,000-case cuvee made from destemmed Pinot Noir (Pommard and Dijon clones). It spent ten months in French oak of which 18% was new. This is a sexy, lush, perfumed Pinot boasting notes of strawberries, cherries and forest floor, presented in a medium-bodied style. Consume it over the next several years.

These are both delicious efforts at bargain-basement prices.

Readers looking for an amazing value in Pinot Noir should check out these two offerings from this California quasi-negociant, Sean Minor. All of the fruit and grape must is purchased, then assembled and bottled.

Happy 4th of July

Sean Minor - Friday, July 04, 2014
Wishing you all a safe and happy 4th of July! It is one of our favorite holidays and we look forward to the neighborhood parade each year. All of our neighbors get into the festive and patriotic mood by decorating their homes and lawns in Red, White and Blue! The perfect holiday for spending time with friends and family, firing up the BBQ, and relaxing. 

Sean & Nicole

France vs Germany and Colombia vs Brazil in the World Cup of Wine

Danica Ratkovich - Thursday, July 03, 2014

France vs Germany

France and Germany will meet on the soccer field tomorrow for the first time in 28 years at the World Cup. The French team won their only World Cup title in 1998, having appeared in 14 FIFA World Cups, they are tied for fifth most of any country. The German national team is one of the most successful FIFA World Cup contenders, winning three World Cup titles, and reaching four other finals. They are second only to Italy as most frequent team to appear in the World Cup with 18 tournaments.

France is one of the oldest and largest wine producers in the world, with winemaking history dating back the 6th century BC. France is home to the Appellation d’Origine Controlee system and the concept of terroir, where varietal and styles of wines are linked to the location where they are grown and made. They are the source of many well-known grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah, which are now planted throughout the world. The rich history and prestige of French wines is known throughout the world, along with their cultural practice of wines being made to compliment foods. There are many famous wine regions in France, such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhône, Champagne, the Loire, and Alsace.

As we discussed on the discussed on the blog on Monday Germany is primarily a white wine country, known for their aromatic and elegant Riselings. Spätburgunder is the name for Pinot Noir grown in Germany. At one time, Germany and France were both revered as the top two wine producing countries in the world and German wines fetched top prices at auction. Interestingly, because of the Germanic influence in the Alsace region of France, most wines are labeled as their varietal (rather than appellation), and are predominantly white wines such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer.

During the 60’s and 70’s Germany’s wine production grew to include large quantities of sweet blended wines for export. While they continued to produce and consume high quality wines in the country, Germany became known for these sweet cheap wines in the international markets diminishing their reputation. Today Germany produces some of the finest wines of exceptional quality, but you may only occasionally find these underrated German wines in your local wine shop.

As these two European powerhouses head into the quarter finals tomorrow, with a rivalry dating back to 1931, it is sure to be a tense match. Seven of Germany’s players are reportedly ill with flu symptoms, which could give France the upper hand. In 25 previous World Cup meet ups between them; France has won 11 to Germany’s 8, the remaining six drawn. We are guessing France will win this match and move forward to the semi-finals.

Brazil vs Columbia

Being in such close proximity to the equator, much of Brazil is unsuitable for viticulture due to the heat and humidity. Although the country has a relatively large number of vineyards, most produce table grapes and only some vineyards in the south of the country produce Brazilian wine. The first vines were introduced by the Portuguese in 1532 and Spanish vines by the Jesuits in 1626.

Colombia does grow some grapes and produce wine, however their history is the shortest of any of the countries we have discussed so far in this week’s blogs. The catalyst for wine production in the country was the high taxes the government imposed on imported wines in the 80’s and 90’s, when previously US wines had been freely imported. Taking lessons from neighboring Chile, Colombia began producing some wines and much of their production is now used to produce fortified wines or brandy. Colombia is much better known for its oldest and best known product: coffee. There are many similarities between coffee and wine – regions of origin, climate, plant/fruit varietals, methods of harvesting, bean/grape selection, production processes, single-origin versus blends, point scoring, aromas, and many health benefits (and perhaps detriments). Both coffee and wine enhance meals and occasions, and offer a complex variety to satisfy any palate.

This is the first time in 16 years Colombia has appeared at the World Cup and the first time ever they have advanced to the quarterfinals! If Colombia maintains the confidence they have shown so far, they could get past the mental block most South American teams have when playing Brazil. Colombia enters this match as the underdog, against host-nation Brazil, who has won the World Cup a record five times and hasn't lost a game on home soil since 1975.

Prediction: France, Netherlands, Argentina, and Brazil move on to the semifinals. 

USA vs. Belgium in the World Cup of Wine

Danica Ratkovich - Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Obviously we are rooting for USA today! Here is a quick rundown on the on the World Cup (of wine) match up between the United States and Belgium. The Americans, although not the favorite to win today, crushed Belgium, 3-0, the last time they met in the World Cup – which was only 84 years ago on July 13, 1930 at the inaugural World Cup. This is the first time the US has advanced past Round of 16 of the World Cup since 2002 and we believe the US will win today!

Although Belgian wine production is quite modest compared to other countries, wine has been made in Belgium since the Middle Ages and by the 14th Century each city had its own vineyard. Monks were the first in the region to cultivate vines to use in their celebrations, so the first vineyards were owned by the abbeys. Currently, about 90% of Belgian production is white wines; mostly Chardonnay reminiscent of white Burgundy, both Chablis-style (un-oaked) and Côte de Beaune-style (oaked) are popular in the country.

By contrast, American wine has been produced for over 300 years. Wine production takes place in all 50 states with California producing 89% of all US Wine. We are the 4th largest wine producing country in the world behind France, Italy and Spain. Although the North American continent is home to several indigenous species of grapes, winemaking in the US relies on the cultivation of the European Vitis Vinifera, which was introduced by European settlers. During Prohibition 1920-1933, many vineyards went untended or were replanted with other crops, the American wine making industry nearly ended completely. After the repeal of Prohibition the industry was slowly revived and in the 70’s and 80’s, success by Northern California winemakers brought attention to their efforts, and Americans became more educated about wines, thereby increasing demand for high-quality wine. Today there are more than 3,000 commercial vineyards in the USA producing wines from over 100 different grape varieties, some native but many international varietals, as well.

While Belgium certainly has many young, strong and fast players, and went undefeated during the group stage, we still think the USA has the heart and determination to win this game. Belgium has gone pretty much untested throughout this World Cup, and the US has impressively fought to beat Ghana for the first time, tie the #4 Portuguese team, and lost by one point to the #3 Germany team. While, the USA may not be the favorite to win against Belgium based on the teams’ respective performances so far, this World Cup has seen a few surprises already, such as Spain, the world’s top-ranked team, knocked out in the group stage. Anything can happen today. And we believe in our team. Go USA!!

Switzerland vs. Argentina in the World Cup of Wine

Danica Ratkovich - Tuesday, July 01, 2014

So, Argentina is clearly favored to win this match, having gone undefeated in the past six international meetings with Switzerland. The two countries have met only once previously on the World Cup field in 1966, when Argentina beat Switzerland 2-0. With Switzerland’s two wins over Latin American teams from Ecuador and Honduras, they could be Argentina’s toughest opponents yet. How do these two countries stack up in the world of wine?

While Switzerland ranks in the top 10 countries in terms of per capita wine consumption, importing nearly two thirds of it, nearly all of their national wine production is drunk within the country, less than 2% being exported mostly to Germany. Because of this we rarely see Swiss wines in the United States. The most common grape varieties in Switzerland is Pinot Noir for red and Chasselas for white, although around 90 grape varieties, many indigenous, are cultivated in the country.

Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine. Argentine wine, much like their cuisine, has Spanish roots with vine cuttings brought over during the Spanish colonization of the Americas in 1557. Malbec, a Bordeaux blending grape brought to Argentina by the French, is Argentina’s best known wine and their production of this varietal is where the grape has received most of its notoriety. The most well-known white wine is made from the Pedro Giménez grape, perhaps a relative of the Spanish Pedro Jiménez varietal. The country consumes 90% of the wine they produce and began exporting during the 90’s to become the largest exporter of wine in South America. 

On the world wine stage, Argentina is definitely the leader over Switzerland. And we are going to bet they take today’s World Cup game.

Germany vs. Algeria in the World Cup of Wine

Danica Ratkovich - Monday, June 30, 2014

Algeria may not be well-known as a world player in wine, but the country has a long and important history in wine production. Viticulture in Algeria can be traced back to the settlement of the Phoenicians and under the rule of the Roman Empire. Although hard to imagine today, 50 years ago Algeria was the largest exporter of wine in the world, accounting for over two thirds of the total international wine trade, and the fourth largest wine producer in the world. Algeria has as many acres of land planted to vineyards as Germany and South Africa and over 70 wineries in operation.
When Algeria came under French rule in 1830, their vineyards were replanted to satisfy the Pied-Noir in French Algeria. When the French vineyards were destroyed by the Phylloxera epidemic during the 19th century, Algerian exports helped satisfy demand in France. Carignan, Cinsaut and Alicante Bouschet were the main grapes of the region during the height of wine production. 

German winemakers from the Baden region brought modern winemaking techniques to Algeria, and helped increase the quality of Algerian wines. In 1962 Algeria’s independence saw the loss of many French settlers and much of their market for wine. Many vineyards were converted to other agricultural crops, and the Islamic country is no longer as economically dependent on wine production. Thus very little Algerian wine is found in the international market. 

A much more well-known player in the wine world, Germany’s oldest vineyards date back to the Roman Era. They are primarily a white wine country, known for their aromatic and elegant Riselings. Spätburgunder is the name for Pinot Noir grown in Germany. While Great Britain is the largest export market for German wines, the United States and Netherlands are the second and third most important export markets. 

So how does this play out on the soccer field?! With Germany being favored to advance in the World Cup today and not much expected of Algeria, despite looking tough throughout the group stage, it’ll be interesting to see how this game plays out. Just like their wine production, Germany is the powerhouse in today’s game. But perhaps Algeria will shock fans with a win, much like you might be surprised by the rich and vital wine history of the North African country!

Sean Minor Wine Tour and Lunch

Sean Minor - Thursday, June 26, 2014

I had the opportunity earlier this week to give a rare tour of our production facility to a fraternity brother from ASU, Tom McAndrew. Tom and wife Donna joined me and my wife Nicole, along with another couple, for a tour of our facility and lunch in downtown Napa at Angèle Restaurant & Bar. The restaurant is located in downtown Napa in the historic 1890's ship chandlery now known as the Hatt Building, with a great patio right on the riverfront. It was great catching up with the McAndrews and was a beautiful day in the valley! Check out the pictures for a glimpse behind the scenes of production at Sean Minor Wines. Cheers!

Click photos to enlarge.

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