Best Sunday Sales: Red Wines on Fire

Quite a few online wine sellers came up with sales items on Sunday, probably as part of end of the month sales.

But the best sale of all is also the biggest as focused its sale on wines under $20 that were rated 90+

Of the 1,032 wines listed, quite a few are deeply discounted, but most are no big deal.

But we found five red wines that should be snapped up by bargain hunters before the sale ends.

  • 2011 Montecillo Rioja Reserva ($12.99)
  • 2013 Merlot H3Columbia Crest, (9.98)
  • 2013 Petite Sirah, Shannon Ridge High Elevation, ($13.99)
  • 2015 Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva ($19.99)
  • 2015 Pinot Noir, Scott Family, Arroyo Seco ($19.99)

The Pinot is offered at 50% below retail. The others are also super values.

For an analysis of the fallacies of the 90+ scoring system,  see the discussion at



A Blueprint for Small Winery Success

Great News for Small, Family Owned Wineries Selling Direct

We are talking about those wineries sometimes called Mom & Pop wineries…

The 4,000 or more  genuine artisans in California trying to successfully compete in a market dominated by the big boys.

Not talking about private labels and bogus brands, either. Just real wineries.

The fast breaking news is that with your direct to consumer sales and marketing efforts, you don’t have to go it alone. There’s another option, another card you can play.

But don’t relax with the club membership drives just yet. Maybe soon enough you can cut back on the concerts, theme parties, meet the winemaker dinners, and any other special events.

Not one, but two online wine sellers have come up with a win-win scenario to sell your wines. Sort of a blueprint for sustained sales.

First up is the new offspring of . A recent offering is a six-pack of Blueprint wines, part of Lail Vineyards, is a good example. For $299,  the sale includes these:

2016 Blueprint Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley(3)

2017 Blueprint Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley (3)

In addition to the obligatory 90+ score mentions and the bow to the 100 point winemaker, the site breaks new ground in two ways. First, it has a link to a recent background article about Lail and Blueprint wines from

Second, a click on to other Lail wines presents other wines in stock. So, in effect, this site serves as a wine shop representing the winery with no middle man.

What also caught my attention was the extra nice personal touch in giving lots of credit where credit is due to Robin Lail who is indeed a Napa Valley icon.

Moving on. Next up is www.  which is more than another wine club. Located in Sonoma, it is owned by a chef who is also a wine broker. The focus is on small wineries, real wineries. In his words, the mission is:

“To find the hidden gems, not found in your average supermarket wine isle casino.”

So no wines from the massive portfolios of Constellation, Treasury and Jackson Family.  No private labels. What, no Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc? no La Crema Pinot Noir? No Prisoner?

Right now, it offers wines from first-rate wineries such as Madrigal, Saracina, Talisman, Eric Ross, Rued, Copain, and Crocker & Starr.

The breakthrough here is the direct channel to the wineries. If the wine featured for sale is from a winery with a website, there’s a link to that website and its wines and wine clubs.

If no website, it provides contact information from email address to telephone numbers.

The extra touch here is that regionwineclub provides in-depth background for each winery it works with.

And, for additional real, helpful information instead of the hype and hysteria common to many websites, there are links to the websites for the Napa Valley Vintners Association and the Sonoma County winery association, a link to The Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and the Wine Institute.

Finally, you can even find private chef services in Sonoma County:

He is the man behind region wine. It is a new website, so apparently he is not quite ready to quit his day job.

So far he is working with wineries in Sonoma and Napa, but would likely add other regions.

To continue, totalwine & more has a featured category called “winery direct.” But it is not quite the same. For starters, it offers 3,329 wines direct from the winery, including 469 Cabernets.

A single winery can’t expect much of a personal relationship here. And many Bordeaux wines are included in the Cabernet section which makes me question Total’s definition of winery direct.

So, check out which has a massive mailing list

and which will connect to the winery website and wine club.




Great Deal from St. Emilion’s Neighbor

2016 Chateau Canon Montsegur Côtes de Castillon, Bordeaux, Direct Import, $14.99

An exclusive offering from:

Having visited this château when I lived nearby, this has to be one of the best deals from this exciting vintage. Mostly Merlot (pictured above) with a touch of Cab Franc,  this is one Bordeaux to enjoy over the next several years.

The vineyard in Castillon site is ever so close to St. Emililon.

And, yes, $14.99 a bottle. At this price, your friends will think you have insider information. 

And you do: for more about invino and other online wine deals, go to


Two Great Direct from Winery Deals!


Special January sales

From 2 top-tier, limited production wine producers. Not the typical online wine stuff. Both wineries have amazing track records.

Act Fast if you love Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Testarossa’s specialties

And no one else makes Zinfandel and Syrah, better than Easton/Terre Rouge 

#1. Terre Rouge/ Easton Winery: Special Case Sale. The bottle prices are phenomenal. All the wines are excellent, 90+point calibre.

You can mix and match any 12 to qualify for the case sale.

Here are the Wines:

  • 2011 TERRE ROUGE Enigma ~ $25 reg. / $13.25 sale
  • 2012 TERRE ROUGE Tête-à-Tête ~ $22 reg. / $14 sale
  • 2014 EASTON Zinfandel, Amador County ~ $22 reg. / $14 sale
  • 2007 TERRE ROUGE Syrah, High Slopes  ~ $40 reg. / $23 sale
  • 2008 TERRE ROUGE Syrah, DTR Ranch ~ $40 reg. / $23 sale
  • 2008 EASTON Zinfandel, Estate ~ $35 reg. / $18 sale

Email the winery for inquiries:

#2. Special sale from Testarossa Winery: Special 1 cent shipping on 4 bottles or more

Check the website for availability and price. The prices are not discounted, but the

shipping deal is extremely attractive for wines of this quality.

My choices:

2016 Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands, $41.00

2017 Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, $51.00

Not on a budget, then check out the other beauties at

Orders can also be placed by calling (408) 354-0797, emailing, or by visiting our Los Gatos or Carmel ValleyTasting Rooms.

Promotion expires January 31st, 2019. Penny shipping is UPS Ground.

For more tips for buying wines direct, go to:


Mind the Gap: Wine Marketing 101

Selling Wines Online: Two Different Approaches

Wines under the Wind Gap label are being unloaded. offered several a few weeks ago, and today, two websites offered a Wind Gap wine at $15 a bottle.

As we start the New Year, which would you buy based on the website’s offer?

Here are your choices:

  1. Buy a wine associated with a guy in prison for fraud who claimed to be rich, spent lots of money, not always his own and also made by an excellent winemaker. And it was “millions” of dollars. And you are led to believe he, the guy in prison, spent tons of money on the wine.
  2. Buy a wine described in bright, uplifting terms made by an excellent winemaker.

#1 A Wind Gap Pinot Noir as offered by

“What you are about to read may be the most significant cloak and dagger event in the wine industry ever!

June 27th, 2017 Wine Industry Tycoon Charles Banks was sentenced to 4 years in prison for fraud after excessively overspending to craft the best wines in the world.

The Players:

Charles Banks – His Resume:

✔️Screaming Eagle / Jonata: former co-owner / co-founder

✔️Managing Partner: Terroir Capital – $200 million in winery assets (including Wind Gap)

✔️Defrauds two NBA stars out of millions: (somewhere around $22 million)

Pax Mahle – The Winemaker:

✔️100 point superstar – founder of Pax Cellars and Wind Gap

✔️Possibly more 94-100 point scores than Heidi Barrett and Philippe Melka combined”


#2 A Wind Gap Syrah offered by

“BIG, bold, in your face Syrah from none other than Pax Mahle (yes, the guy who just scored 100 points for his $50 Sonoma Hillside bottling under the Pax label) that is made in a drink-me-now-with-gusto style. Bright, perfumey and juicy, this isn’t real heavy or meaty at all, just a warm, friendly, lovely, MIND-BLOWING DEAL if we have EVER seen one. Pax and his wines are all the buzz these days, so it’s particularly thrilling for us to have a little (little!) parcel to sell. PLEASE don’t miss! WILL sell out in the blink of an eye!

(oh, and Happy New Year, also, please hurry on this as Pax Mahle’s Wind Gap is more popular than a roomful of newborn kitty cats and we don’t have very much)”


So please cast a vote.

Shameless or frivolous?


2018 Wine Website Annual Awards


Now that the post-Christmas sales are over and we can wrap up this absolutely crazy year for online wine sales, the results are in for the year’s winners and, yes, losers.

So, without further ado and other clichés, here we go:


One site kept improving its offering throughout the year while maintaining healthy discounts usually over 50%, sometimes approaching 70%.

The same site actually apologizes when the discount on a special wine falls below 30%. Others brag when they can offer something at 25-30% below average retail.

And the winner for best discounts in 2018:

As a footnote, this site was sued 2 years ago for mis-representing average retail prices. So it has really cleaned up its act to become a role model.

We can only hope that other sites relying on false and misleading prices, scores, and narratives take note.


This category looks for wines that are not available either in traditional wine shops or on most websites. The focus is on discoveries of unusual, limited production wines that are true to their type. But NOT EXPENSIVE.

Every wine lover is on the lookout for something different, a wine not in the mainstream.

Such as outstanding wine from Greece or Slovenia as well as wines from Germany, Spain, Italy and France. A wine that is highly enjoyable and comes with a rich and exciting history.

And the 2018 winner for presenting the best wine discoveries is:


We know there’s a market for 95+ point rated wines priced on the high end. This wine buyer is interested in not only California cults (Cade, Pahlmeyer, Insignia, Shafer, Harlan) but also in the top rated Bordeaux and Brunello, as well as the Super Tuscans like Sassicaia.

Not limited to the current favorites but also interested in the next great cult wine.

This is a hotly contested category.

Over the year one site has proven itself to be the one-stop shopping for the cult and cult-wannabe wines of the world.

The 10-20% discount and free shipping on orders of $149 or more cemented its place on the top.

The proven track record for reliability doesn’t hurt either.

And that site is:



This category may surprise those of you all too familiar with the non-stop hype that highlights fake scores, 100 point winemakers, “greatest vintage ever” nonsense so common on wine websites. 

You may be surprised that the category even exists.

But it does. And we reviewed many websites for their content and found that…

One site offers helpful background information about regions and vintages as well as insights about the wine producer.

One site knows the prime regions of France and offers insider insider information about recent vintages.

One site finds the best values available in Washington and Oregon, both fast-changing wine regions, as well as the occasional gem from California.

The winner is this category also seeks out wines that are organic and NOT MASS produced.

The winning website which is also a good read is


Think of amazon prime but only for wines. And, no, sorry but amazon does not yet have a good, all purpose wine department.

Check out my review at

So for now finding an all-purpose wine website offering  wines from all regions, in all price ranges, including top sellers and cult-like wines is of extreme importance.

It can’t possibly have everything, but we looked for the one site that offers close to everything.

And the winner in 2018 is:

(We interrupt this awards program because it is New Year’s Eve and the Head Judge

just heard the sound of a Champagne cork…)

To be continued next year.