Even normal rain won’t end California drought, expert says

“California will likely remain in a drought this winter even if most areas receive normal rainfall, according to an expert from the federal Climate Prediction Center. The center issued its annual winter outlook, which predicts warmer weather throughout the West and less winter rain than normal in the Pacific Northwest.”
No matter how you slice it, this is very concerning for the people and the grapes in California…
Read the rest of the article…
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Why it’s so agonizingly painful to be a NY Jets fan

We support & root for our favorite sports teams to get away from life’s hardships, pitfalls, let downs & day to day humdrum. Not Jets fans…we watch our team play for the last 40+ years and that seems more painful and depressing than life itself. Why? Why are the Jets so bad continuously? Why do we masochists keep watching and supporting this team?

Last night’s game against the Patriots was ‘the same old Jets’ all over again; in the 1st half we had 4 drives into New England red zone and the best we could muster was 4 field goals. Our defense, as lauded as it was under Rex Ryan has repeatedly given up 90+ yard drives for scores, as they did yesterday. The ‘heart attack Jets’ were at it again with seconds to go, raising hopes of desperate Jets fans, that maybe we had a shot. Calls by the refs don’t have a habit of going our way. Patriots should have been flagged for illegal formation on the last second field goal attempt by the Jets, but alas, those calls either don’t get made favoring the Jets or they get bungled by the refs.

Look, we didn’t lose yesterday because of the blocked field goal, we lost because we can’t score touchdowns and our red zone offense is a joke. We suck. You will hear ‘Jets suck’ more often than not from die hard Jets fans that just keep on suffering. We support a team that doesn’t give us joy, but stress & heart burn…it’s like the Stockholm Syndrome – we get abused regularly and yet we keep going back for more. Stupid mental mistakes, horrendously bad penalties, ineptitude, inconsistency and just ugly football, that’s the Jets for ya…

The real problem with the Jets has been utterly inept ownership. Hess was a mess and Woody Johnson is worse – rich, spoiled brat with boatloads of money and no clue of how a successful football team must be run. Clueless owners hire even more clueless General Managers. Look at the team Woody Johnson and John Idzik are fielding and the one question that keeps popping up is, why do the Jets still have $24 million under the cap not spent on players the team obviously needs? Why do we put up with a GM who has one draft pick  form the last two years playing – Sheldon Richardson, as good as he is proves how inept our GM is and what a waste the 12 picks we had from the NFL draft were. Not one is playing…most didn’t even make the team.

I’ve had it. Woody Johnson can charge the highest PSL and ticket prices in the NFL and all we get is a garbage team? I am shocked that Jets fans have not walked away en masse from the PSL’s and stuck it the clueless owner. How does he sleep at night? He must have no shame showing his face in public? I’m done supporting this team blindly. It’s just not good for my health. I will still go to a couple of games and enjoy the tailgate like I usually do, but I’m making more Sunday time to fly fishing more – a much more relaxing, cheaper, enjoyable and healthy alternative than watching the ‘heart attack Jets’. It’s become too painful and football is supposed to be a fun pass time – it has gone way beyond being that for Jets fans. I don’t see why we should support a team that at this point doesn’t look like they can beat anyone, but themselves. There’s only so much this Jets fan cane take. Woody, you can the shove the tickets…

added note: Percy Harvin trade is great, but why now? we’re 1-6, for crying out loud! Idzik couldn’t have made a move two, maybe three weeks ago?

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Stonedwino server crashed…now back up!

The Stonedwino server became unresponsive ( LOL!!) a few weeks back. I suspected it was the motherboard, but felt that such technical diagnostics should be left to the pros, so I called in my buddy Josh. He did his thing and figured out that it was indeed the motherboard. Since all else seemed to be working just fine on the server a few hundred bucks seemed like a fair deal to get the server back up and running.


I got the server back about two weeks ago, but have been having a hard time getting the NetBios updated, slearing the ACH Cache, and messing with some settings to get it all right. After several false starts, the Stonedwino server seems to be functioning again. As you can see the blog is back up, but I’m still finding a few things not quite up to par with the actual server, but I guess it will have to do for now. I will get the rest cleaned up eventually.


There’s quite a few new wines that have arrived and new happenings to post about. Hopefully I can get to a few posts this weekend.



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More wines from the Medditerranean

We’ve been actively looking to expand our old world portfolio, especially Spanish and Italian wines for some time. In that quest, I have tasted quite a few wines over the last few years and few seemed to click. Sometimes you get lucky…

A few months back I was contacted by a fellow Serbian, who it turns out is doing just about the same thing I do, with his partner, except their wine portfolio is mostly Italian, some Spanish and Serbian wines. They were looking to expand their reach as an importer, looking for distribution partners in NY and NJ. Well, how about that?

Vino et Spiritus is based out of Illinois and has a wonderful portfolio of quality artisanal wines, at very good prices. To me the key is always to taste the wines and see what they have to offer. Dejan sent us two cases of samples earlier in the summer. We tasted all the wines over a period of several days and were very pleasantly surprised by the quality, almost entirely across the board, when it comes to both the Italian and Spanish wines. It seemed almost too good too good to be true. Almost. Sometimes you get lucky…

Do you have any idea how long it would take me to put together a nice little Italian portfolio with 7-8 producers? Fuggedaboutit! Vino et Spiritus to the rescue. If Rad Grapes is to jump into selling Italian wines for the first time, we had to make sure we had the right quality, price variety and producers. The same applies for expanding our Spanish portfolio and we found a few wines to fill that void as well. The wines have finally arrived and we have just started selling them this week.

These are the brand new additions to our NY and NJ portfolio from Vino et Spiritus (forgot to mention that it looks like we will finally start selling in NJ next month too. minor detail…LOL) :

Colognole Chianti Rufina DOCG

La Giareta Pinot Grigio and Cab Franc

iPrandi Soave and Pinot Nero

Nicante Montepulciano D’Abruzzo

Musella Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso

Tantas Riber del Duero Barrica

Senorio de Rubios Albarino

Pago Dominio de Tharsys Cava Brut Nature


I’ve taken out all of the above listed wines over the last couple of days and they are all showing magnificently. The winners so far are the iPrandi Soave, La Giareta Pinot Noir, Dominio de Tharsys Cava and the Ripasso. I will hopefully get the chance to cover all the wines one by one, in detail at some point. We will most likely be adding some more Italian wines, including a great Barbera from Villa Giada soon. Beyond that there some more interesting Spanish wines and some great VALUE priced Serbian wines – I’ve vented before how most good Serbian wines available in the US, are overpriced, so it is going to be awesome to bring in some well priced wines from the motherland.


Posted in New Jersey, New Wines, New York, Rad Grapes News, Wine Apellations, Wine Business News, Wines Tasted | Leave a comment

New wines from the Languedoc – Domaine de Cabrials

We have represented a number of wines from Bob Shack at HB Wine Merchants over the years and most have sold rather successfully. Bob has been practicing the art of hand picking well priced artisanal wines and lately almost every wine of his we have added to our NY portfolio has done very well. That is also the case with the latest additions from Domaine de Cabrials in a 2013 Chardonnay and 2013 Pinot Noir from their Beziers estate.

Located in the heart of the Languedoc-Roussillon, Domaine de Cabrials lies on chalk and clay terraces just to the west of the town of Béziers. The domaine mansion was built in the 19th Century on the site of a medieval château, which is still occupied and its large vineyard farmed by Benard Julien. The domaine has a beautiful 19th century cellar with huge oak casks, today used for the ageing and storage of the wines.

Domaine de Cabrials 2013 Pinot Noir

Domaine de Cabrials 2013 Pinot Noir

Tasting Notes

The Chardonnay is elegant, with crisp apple, pear and citrus fruits, with a medium bodied, slightly creamy mid-palate and a long refreshing finish helped along with the firm acidity.

The Pinot Noir is elegant, perfumed, with red cherry fruit, silky tannins and lingering finish again balanced with great acidity that is almost reminiscent of a Cotes de Nuits.


We have been selling both wines for the last two months and have had universally good feedback. Both wines retail for about $14 per bottle. A steal. More great value priced wines…How Rad are Your Grapes?




Posted in New Wines, New York, Rad Grapes News, Wine Apellations, Wines Tasted | 1 Comment

Wine losing on-premise sales

Once in a while I feel the need to systematically take apart arguments from folks who sound like they know the wine business, but are unfortunately not as clued in as they sound. One such instance is this article/post from Wines and Vines about wine losing on-premise sales. The same goes for guys who write about wine and just write about “what the guy said”, without doing extra research. The article is just as bad as the guy they picked to interview and this is a respected outlet for all things wine. Presenting reasons why and delving a little more into the subject would have achieved a greater purpose.

Let me preface this for all those who don’t know me: I have over 25 years experience in the wine business. As the President or Rad Grapes, I choose, import, distribute and sell wine daily on the road. I see what goes on, like an old fashioned analyst, since I am in and out of wine shops and restaurants 4 days per week for the last 25 years. That helps me stay ahead of the trend. You want to reach Millenials and their wine tastes? Buying wines from large liquor distributors in certainly not the right answer now, is it? Wine sales keep going up, except at corporate on-premise restaurants? It’s because you guys are doing it all wrong from the start. Beer labels, wine labels, are out. People want authenticity. Very few mass produced products have authenticity – unless it’s made by Apple…Unique takes extra work and knowledge.

“The Millenial drinkers wineries seemed confident of winning, are not playing the game right…” ummm. no dude. These wineries that seemed confident “manufacture wine” thinking they know what the Millenials or cinsumers want. Millenials want real wines; natural wines from small artisanal producers, now juts another fucking label invented “for millenials” by Bronco or Gallo or one of the other behemoths. the problem facing these large wine manufacturing operations is that Millenials, thanks to their iphones and mobile web have figured out that 80% of the “labels” in the market are produced by 5 companies and are available for a few bucks right down the block from your nearest corporate dining hall. The jig is up…beyond the fact that artisanal beer and spirits have it figured out and have certainly stolen market share from the behemoth wine producers (see my earlier post about mass produced crap)…Millenials want authentic products they can relate to, not another label created by some graphics design guy and produced by a wine company (notice I did not say winery) that already has 110 other labels in the market…they are labels, not real wine.

Sandy Block, the executive in charge of Legal Seafoods beverage program is right about one thing, that people going out want to be entertained. We don’t just go out for a good meal and a drink, but want to be serviced and enjoy it all in a pleasant atmosphere. We all want a real experience. Drinking the same crap your neighbor servers at his BBQ that he bought at Walmart is not what we want to drink going out to dinner. As for why Legal Seafood wine sales are down though, he is unfortunately utterly clueless. I doubt Mr. Block will ever read this blog, but I am going to explain to him why his wine sales are down, and it’s not because customers prefer beer and cocktails. ‘Patrons want to be perceived as drinking something hip.” Really dude? Jesus…Yeah they want tattooed guys shacking cocktails?! Wow…it’s like treating the symptom instead of the disease. The disease is the fact that the wine selection at Legal Seafood is run-of-the-mill at best. They give the wine business to the guys from Southern that sell them all that booze. If your craft beer selection is selling so well, along with the craft liquors, dude – how about trying some craft wines!?

Let me clue you guys in…a few of the comments below this post from Wines and Vines actually give us a great clue as to why on-premise sales for the corporate restaurants are going down. I, just like a few of the winemakers that commented on the original post opt for a beer or let’s say scotch when at a restaurant that has a crappy, commercial grade, over priced, mass produced wine list. then again, because I know I cannot get good wine, which I really enjoy with a good meal at these corporate restaurants, I AVOID them. Read that again…the vast majority of corporate outfits do not put any effort what so ever into their wine selections. Real wine drinkers are turned off and consume something else. Overpriced crap – that anyone can Google on their iphone – because it’s for sale everywhere, including you liquor discounter down the road, that has it for $7.99 bottle, while Legal Seafood is trying to get away with charging you $10 a glass for the garbage. Duh…

You cannot hoodwink consumers, the jig is up and “restaurant executives” like Mr. Block are in all honesty, somewhat clueless! If they included good, quality, artisanal wines in their wine programs, even the likes of Red Robin, Houlihans and Legal Seafood would see much better sales. The unfortunate factor is that all these corporate dining outfits want corporate products that are easy to replicate and proliferate. The problem is that when you’re trying to offer customers “a unique dining and entertainment experience” and you serve run-of-the-mill-crap…you loose. Millenials certainly don’t want that and neither do I ( Gen X). Consumers have been very educated and cannot be coned, which is exactly what trying to sell the the overpriced, mass produced wine really comes down to. They are not buying it! Today consumers want “something different” and that ain’t happening with their current wine selection.

Look, this is the reason I got into the business. The reason Rad Grapes exists is to provide the perfect alternative to the mass produced, mass marketed crap that the average winery that thought the had Millenials figured out with that latest cute Moscato label. We have wines from real wineries, made by real winemakers, coming from real artisanal vineyards. That is not possible for wines made in large amounts – just like the difference between artisanal cheese and something like Kraft American slices. There is a world of difference in taste and authenticity. People prefer the real stuff, any day you offer it…

I would be happy to offer my consulting services to Legal Seafood and anyone else who would like to turn their wine program into something more cutting edge and profitable than it is now. If you want to appeal to adapting consumer tastes and Millenials? Asking someone with real expertise in the matter may be a good place to start. Cheers!

The millennial drinkers wineries seemed confident of winning aren’t playing the game right: They’re increasingly enchanted with cocktails and craft beer.Read more at: http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=news&content=133541
Copyright © Wines & Vines
The millennial drinkers wineries seemed confident of winning aren’t playing the game right: They’re increasingly enchanted with cocktails and craft beer.Read more at: http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=news&content=133541
Copyright © Wines & Vines
The millennial drinkers wineries seemed confident of winning aren’t playing the game right: They’re increasingly enchanted with cocktails and craft beer.Read more at: http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=news&content=133541
Copyright © Wines & Vines
Posted in Blog Related, Restaurants, Wine Business News | 1 Comment

A belated & very warm welcome to Zagarron Bodegas

We’ve had several false starts with Spanish wines, which was for the most part my fault, for a number of reasons. In running any business, we make mistakes, sometimes very expensive ones. The hard lessons are hard to forget…I know I’ve learned a few valuable lessons, running my wine business through these tough economic  times over the last few years. Learning from ones mistakes is the key though.

In developing our Spanish portfolio anew, it was very important to start with some quality, well made wines, at good entry level price points that have identity and representative terroir. Sometimes you just get lucky…Zagarron Bodegas and Rad Grapes found each other to be the right match in NY and the first wines started going out the door in April. The reaction and feedback form our customer base has been very positive, but have only scratched the pad…lots more work to do.

So, where is Zagarron from and what makes the wines so special? Zagarron is located in Mota del Cuervo, near Cuenca, in the heart of Castilla La Mancha. The winery has been around since 1948 and is run by a bunch of growers – you know, the guys who work the vineyards and tend to the grapes. Call the wine shepherds…Thanks to the rich soils of the area and the ideal climatic conditions, our vineyards, planted in a traditional way, with tight spacing, produce grapes of the finest quality. The vineyards are located 700 meters above sea level with low temperatures during winter and high temperatures during summer (cool nights though) enjoying 3000 hours of sun per year. This is particularly the case, among others, of the Natural Park “Lagunas de Manjavacas” a frequent stop for tourists and nature lovers  – this is where our organically grown grapes are cultivated. Yup, organically grown…

Zagarron has several lines of wine varietals. We opted for the Zagarron moments line featuring A Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Grenache, Tempranillo and Tempranillo Crianza. The wines are all amazingly refreshing and fruit forward, with the great length, acidity, balance, varietal character. The Sauvignon Blanc is crisp & dry. Muscat is delightfully fruity, refreshing, with a touch of nectar sweetness. Grenache and Tempranillo are extremely good examples of the varietals and lights out for the money…Crianza is old fashioned, with loads of dark cherry, cedar, sage, leather, tobacco and earth.

The sales started out very well and we continue to broaden our distribution, with lots of room to grow. Zagarron was a very good start to the Rad Grapes re-entry into the Spanish wine category. We will be adding some more wines from Spain going forward – Rioja, Albarino and Ribera del Duero. Chin-chin!

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“What Big Wine is doing to the US wine market”

I had to share this eye opening news about the state of the US wine business thanks to the Wine Curmudgeon.

“Big Wine tightened its grip on the U.S market in 2013, with new figures showing that three companies accounted for more than half of all the wine produced during those 12 months. E&J Gallo, The Wine Group, and Constellation Wines totalled some 187.5 million cases of the 370 million produced.

Throw in the next three biggest companies — Bronco, home of Two-buck Chuck; Trinchero Family Estates; and Treasury — and that total rises to 241.4 million cases — about two-thirds of the wine made in the U.S. The top 30 by themselves account for some 90 percent; in other words, all the wine that those of us who write about wine love to write about? Hardly anyone drinks it. No wonder availability is such an issue.”

You may read the rest at Wine Curmudgeon

These guys are the reason I started Rad Grapes. I used to work for big distributors that peddled some of these wines. Consumers and wine lovers need to make just a little effort to find some great wines, many of which are no more expensive than the wines the behemoths produce and are much, much better alternatives.

Rad Grapes and what we do is the antithesis to these big “wine manufacturers”. Rad Grapes sources all of our wines directly from small, independent artisanal producers. Really cool, quality wines from cool people that care about their vines, as much as they care about their wines. Cheers

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Rapper’s Delight the Jimmy Fallon way…

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OK, enough already…

It’s taken a lot of cold and snow, a broken down snow blower, which in turn forced us to shovel our entire driveway by hand after the last snow storm, which in turn has been causing my lower back to throb the last week – making me realize why many old farts move south when they retire. It dawned on me while I was shoveling the heavy wet snow after last weeks snow/ice storm, how much I dislike that part of winter. I can totally see how the thought of moving south almost eliminated the need to deal with heavy duty snow falls.

The last time we had a winter like this, if my memory serves me well, was 1996. Man did we get buried by snow then and it sure feels like a reprise this year. Some cold and snow is good for wine sales, but not two months of polar vortex weather, repeated snow storms and Nor’eaters is not helping things at this point. With another mean looking Nor’easter looming for Thursday, I sure as hell hope my snow blower is repaired and returned to me by tomorrow, or I am royally screwed…

Ok, enough already…


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