New value format for Carlsbad Wine Merchants

Challenging times call for extraordinary strategies in the retail arena and the wine industry is no exception. As wine shops and wineries grow in number, the economy and wine sales in high price points continue to shrink. Wine producing areas in California report an abundance of grapes in the fine wine category. So the consumer who has the discretionary dollars to spend on a bottle of wine more than $15 is benefiting. But wine shops that don’t have the buying power are seeing their margins shrink with heavy discounting in order to stay competitive.
Kathy Bankerd and her team at Carlsbad Wine Merchants have been doing business in a small shopping center in a corporate Carlsbad neighborhood for five years. Her dream of a wine shop like an Italian Enoteca, in a relaxed enjoyable environment where all her customers are friends, has come true.
Her wine club is flourishing and supports her events. Her Mediterranean-influenced selections are well-accepted, and a sense of wine community spelled success. But the terrible economy took its toll with many layoffs and firings at the local companies that supported her. A kind of stalemate set in. “We all decided to make some fundamental changes and get the excitement of the wine experience back where it was when we started,” she said.
“We found that it’s not all about the cheapest price but the quality of wine you get for the dollars you pay. And everyone we talked to wanted better wine tastings! Our second location next to Napa Valley will give us more buying power and access to great winemakers. We are going to pass that benefit on to our customers.” Guests will now be seeing some exciting appearances by star-quality wines and winemakers. In fact it already began a couple of Fridays ago with a huge variety of wines to taste from the freaky-fun Four Vines from Paso Robles. Rated in the 90s, their lineup blew everyone to bits. The high-quality, sought-after wines coming down the pipeline will continue Oct. 22 with Rob Mondavi, direct from Napa Valley. Mark the date and call for more information at (760) 804-9994.
Visit www.carlsbadwinemerchants.com for more information.
Taste of Wine blind tasting results
I recently hosted a red wine blind tasting event for a group of wine aficionados who had the challenging task of matching up nine grape varietals from around the world with covered and numbered bottles. The most anyone got correctly was five. They were also asked to rate each varietal on a 1 to 5 scale with 5 being the best.
Two wines scored best with most of the tasters: the 2006 ZD Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, a wine with rich, dark plums and tobacco accents ($50); and the 2007 Ancient Peaks Zinfandel from Paso Robles, with lots of black cherry and licorice.
Other wines to love:
— Facelli Winery 2007 Barbera, Columbia Valley Washington $24.99. Classic Nebbiolo grape from the Piedmont appellation in Italy. Facelli gives it a Washington texture and the aromas of rich, ruby fruit come bursting out of the bottle. Winery only sales at www.facelliwinerycom.
— Pedroncelli 2007 Mother Clone Zinfandel Dry Creek Sonoma for $15. Another high-quality, budget wine that Pedroncelli has perfected. Just the right combination of fruit and spice from 100-year-old vines. Visit www.pedroncelli.com for more information.
— Chamisal Vineyards 2007 Edna Valley Pinot Noir Califa for $60. Hand-crafted estate Pinot. Delicious cherry flavor and subtle spice with a fulfilling, delicate finish. Visit www.chamisalvineyards.com for more information.
Wine Bytes
— PAON in Carlsbad is a new California-French Restaurant and Wine Bar in the downtown village district. Wine tasting specials daily in the wine shop with six tastings for $12. Major wine events are planned. They are open daily. Call (760) 729-7377 for the hours.
— Bernardo Winery in Rancho Bernardo has their 32nd Annual wine and craft fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 17 and Oct. 18. Wine and beer garden, with live entertainment. Admission is free. Call (858) 487-1866 for more information.
— Old Town San Diego at the State Historic Park is holding an Art Festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 17 and Oct. 18. Hacienda de las Rosas is providing six red and white wines for tasting at $20 each. There will be live music. Call (619) 233-5008 for more information.
— Bacchus Wine Market in San Diego’s Gaslamp District is hosting its Anniversary Wine Tasting Party and Sale Sat. from 4 to 9 p.m. Oct. 24 for just $10. Sample 10 wines with lots of tasty appetizers.

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