Old friends coming back…

A few years back, and for several years Rad Grapes represented the Vina Amalia wines from Carlos Basso in NY. The line we originally sold included the Vina Amalia Malbec Reserva and the Vina Amalia Cabernet Reserva. These were not wines that I imported, but bought from and importer to distribute in NY. The quality of the fruit and winemaking is fantastic. One of the disadvantages (and not always) of buying wine from other importers to sell, is that they can sometimes switch distributors and not for lack of sales either…like a political thing or a new general manager comes in and poof…well that’s exactly what happened to the Vina Amalia wines. We lost them…

Long story short, the distributor where the wines went didn’t get the job done. Nothing close to what I had sold. I was asked to take the wines back AND a few years ago Carlos Basso and his son Adolfo have added a number of new wines. Not only did we get the Vina Amalia wines back, but added to the mix are the Dos Fincas Malbec, Dos Fincas Sauvignon Blanc and the Dos Fincas Chardonnay. Bonus.

You know of my belief that 90% of what makes a good wine is the vineyard and quality of the fruit. We got that. Finca La Amalia where the Vina Amalia Malbec Reserva comes from is also the source for Dos Fincas Malbec fruit. Located in Altamira, San Carlos, south of Mendoza this 40 acre vineyard is planted 100% to Malbec. Warm days and cool night give the fruit great balance and expression.

Finca Los Montes Negros is located at over 3700 feet of altitude in Los Arboles, Tunuyan, Valle del Uco Mendoza and is planted to a total of eight varietals spread out over 200 acres of vineyard. Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay for Dos Fincas also sourced from there. Amazingly clean and balanced fruit across the board. The fruit is all hand picked! I also like the fact that the oak used is all French, making the wines tasting like much more classical examples of the varietals. Great for sipping and even better with food.

Tasting is believing. Search the wines out…

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

Only Piedmont’s finest can be Sassaia

Yes Virginia, we now sell some awesome Gavi, Barolo and Barbaresco too…

Since I’ve been remiss in posting regularly about so many new happenings at Rad Grapes as mentioned in a recent post, I’m fixing that.

Last Fall I added the incredible Sassaia wines from Azienda Vitivinicola Bergaglio Pier Carlo located in Monferrato, in the heart of Tuscany. The wines are amazing across the board and value priced to boot.

There are two DOCG Gavis, two Barberas, a Monferrato Rosso blend 1/3 each of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Cabernet, DOCG Barbaresco and DOCG Barolo. Half bottles of Gavi, Barbaresco and Barolo are also available. Waaa? Nice, right? You really have to try the wines. My favorites are the Blue label Gavi made from 70+ year old vines and the Barolo, currently the 2010 vintage is drinking impeccably.

The wines are available throughout NY since I’ve been selling them for about 8-9 months, but there’s lots more work to be done.

In the meantime if you wish to have your mind whisk you away momentarily into the Tuscan Hillside, check out the winery’s website.



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

This is what I really do with customers all day…

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

Yes, I’m pretty sure blog issues have been fixed…

I’ve been posting seldom over the last year or so for a number of reasons. Sometimes life just gets in the way, but the main reason has been getting access to the actual blog website. It’s taken me a long time to figure out that the DNS settings on the router and server that hosts Stonedwino were not set up properly. The site would just load soooo slowly, I couldn’t even log in to post. That has finally been corrected.

Now I have incentive to post more often. There are so many new wines, producers and wine business news to talk about. Need to pace myself…


Posted in Blog Related, Rad Grapes News | Comments Off on Yes, I’m pretty sure blog issues have been fixed…

Welcoming La Villa Real wines from Spain

Rad Grapes is very happy and proud to welcome the La Villa Real wines from Bodegas La Remediadora. The winery was founded in 1946 and boasts great vineyards in Roda, near Albacete, located at over 700 meters above sea level. The wines are amazingly delicious across the board and all priced at $10 or less retail! The current selection includes a 2015 Macabeo, 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, 2015 Tempranillo Rose and 2015 Tinto Joven Tempranillo/Syrah blend. One tastier than the next. Wines are already available in NYC, Hudson Valley and Long Island. Upstate soon…

What’s the secret? LOL…hard work & location! I’ve been searching for really good and cheap wines (no, it’s not a n oxymoron – hard, but not impossible to pull off). The place to look for the cheap stuff is La Mancha, a huge appellation encompassing more vines & vineyards that any other place on earth. La Mancha is a high plateau south of Madrid with a dry, somewhat temperate and at time arid climate. They key to finding the right wines, was based on searching La Mancha based on geography & elevation. Why? For the length and balance of the wines. Huh? Well, in dry places, they have no issues ripening grapes, yet they do have issues getting good acidity, balance and length on their wines at times. What’s the remedy? Find the perfect winery, with the perfect wines, in the perfect micro climate…

Bodegas La Remediadora winery and vineyards are located in a renown grape growing area of La Mancha, just north of Albacete called La Roda. That would be about half way from Madrid traveling SE towards Murcia. Stunningly beautiful part of Spain…The winery and it’s partners have a bunch of varietals planted in its vineyards, all located above 700 meters of altitude. Aha! Altitude. Yes. In arid areas, the days are hot and perfect for ripening grapes from Tempranillo to Sauvignon Blanc and even Syrah. As soon as the sun starts setting, we see drastic temperature drops due to radiational cooling. With no moisture around to retain extra heat, any warmth that has been retained by the earth and vineyards, especially at higher elevations,  is very easily evaporated into the atmosphere as the night cools things off to let the vines breathe. So what’s the big deal? In la Roda they have really cool, clear sky nights. That contrasts the heat of the day perfectly. Hot sun to ripen the grapes, along with cool night for added balance and acidity. Acidity? Bingo. It’s the perfect glue to make the perfect wines with good aromatics, nice fruit, a solid mid palate and a good long finish – all thanks to good acidity.

I must have tasted over 300 wines from Castilla y La Mancha over the years, searching for the perfect wines and price points for my wine portfolio. Only after I had the revelation that I should narrow my search to wineries from the geographically higher areas of La Mancha did I run into the right winery and the right wines.

Within 10 days of the first shipment of 4 pallets of La Villa Real wines arrived to our warehouse and only after a week of selling them in NY, I had to place another order with the winery. I realized within days that we would not be able to supply the demand and interest, without significantly increasing our inventory. You make your own luck…

Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want. I learned from my mistakes and learned well. Cheers!

Posted in New Wines, Rad Grapes News, Wine Apellations, Wines Tasted | 2 Comments

Getting back up to speed

It’s been a while, for many reasons…The server that Stonedwino is hosted on has had some issues from decrepit broadband speed, DNS settings issues and a host of other technical issues.

Between downsizing to a smaller house, moving, settling in, looking at colleges with the girls, life and running Rad Grapes, I have just not had the time to deal with the Stonedwino IT issues until today. I am so damn proud of myself…Mr. IT-geek. I think I fixed the issues. I will have to do a little more testing, but it seems that now the website downloads quickly instead of being ridiculously slow like it has been lately – so damn slow I have not been able to log in remotely to post!

Now that I’ve eliminated most excuses, maybe I will get back to posting somewhat more regularly.

Check bask soon. Lots of new wines coming in…

Posted in Blog Related, LIfestyle, Tech Stuff | Comments Off on Getting back up to speed

Downsized, moving into the busy season…

I moved the family in September downsizing to a smaller 4 bedroom rental, ditching the big house with pool and huge yard. Reality dictates otherwise, with triplet daughters heading to college in less than two years. Had to be done….and let me tell you, we moved just in time. We down sized from Wyckoff to Franklin Lakes. Yeah, I know how that sounds…

We have settled in nicely into our Cape. It reminds us of our first house. Very quaint and picturesque. With the move, painting the whole inside of the rental house, fixing a bunch of little things and getting settled in, we literally lost track of time. The girls started the Junior year of High School and I got swept up in OND wine business crazy schedule.

After a very long, slow summer that lasted into the end of September, I was yearning for and badly needed for sales to pick up. I got my wish. We had barely gone through the craze of moving and settling when, when October rolls around and…wham. Boy did business pick up! My 6 day a week work schedule has been nuts, but rewarding. This time of year the days are long and some nights made even longer with many and in-store wine tasting booked to pour and promote my wines. Hey it helps my customers and sells more wine. Giddy up.

November has been even better when it comes to sales and business. I hope the pace keeps up all the way until Christmas. My schedule will continue as busy until Thanksgiving, when I get a 4 day weekend. After I catch my breath and feed my face with Turkey and pie, there’s the last mad December stretch all the way until Christmas Eve and a long Christmas weekend. I hope get the chance to do a little fly-fishing both of those long weekends and perhaps fit in a Jets home game or two for some real R&R.

I really hope my next post isn’t months away like recently…heck, life got in the way!

Posted in LIfestyle, New Jersey, Wine Business News | Comments Off on Downsized, moving into the busy season…

Good deeds…

So earlier in the day, right after coming back from church I spot a baby turtle dove in our driveway…thinking not good. Shoo the bird into the bushes so the hawk or some other predator doesn’t get it. Then later when I’m doing the front lawn, I notice a grown turtle dove literally fly off the ground in front of the mower, just beneath the big pine tree. I stop…It was the Mama right by the baby dove. Managed to carefully capture the baby dove and put it in a bush next to Jim’s house. I get done with the lawn and go check to see…the baby dove is still in the bush. My heart is sinking by now…

I go on a bike ride, come back and the baby dove is still there. I’m thinking I’ve got to do something! I love animals from our cat, to dogs, whatever. I fly-fish and haven’t kept a fish in over 25 years. I use barbless hooks and let them all swim away to see another day. I couldn’t let this baby bird wither away…Should I call the local wildlife refuge? Sunday…they are closed. Damn?!

At this point I hear an adult dove what seems in the pine tree next to the driveway making its trademark sound. I look up and it’s a dove sitting in a nest about halfway up! A nest! Yes! So? I grab the long ladder, set it up safely against the pine try so I climb easily. Once I set up the ladder, I went to catch the baby dove again…which I did as it tried to fly across Jim’s lawn – this is where my experience breeding birds when I was 12-13 came in and put it gently into my Rad Grapes hat, which I fold so the baby can’t escape again and hold gently as I climb the ladder. Once all the way I grab the baby dove and put it the next right above me, not noticing another baby dove at the last second, which I scare and it tries to “fly away” and lands on the ground below. I’m thinking, “well that’s definitely NOT what I wanted or expected. Shit! Back down the ladder to secure the second baby dove in my hat and back up the ladder and into the nest with baby dove #2. The baby I saved first did not budge, figuring I saved it, I guess.. Pfew…both babies safe. My adrenaline was pumping so hard by now, my hands were shaking.

I put the ladder away and walk back out to the front to see if I can spot the mama dove, not paying attention to where I’m walking and sprain my ankle off the uneven sidewalk in front and wipe out. Glad no one saw it, damn it hurt…was that my reward for saving the birds? If someone had taped the whole thing we could money of the damn video…You wouldn’t find a better story in a Hollywood script.

How you treat those that are helpless and defenseless, says a lot about you as a human. I’ll take it…

Posted in Environment, LIfestyle | 1 Comment

The truth about NYC traffic slowdowns. It is not Uber!

“You can’t handle the truth!” That is about right in my view…

Where do I start? Well, for one, I’ve been selling wine in NYC for over 26 years and hence I’ve been driving into, around and out of NYC just as long.

As soon as the new “NYC Avenue redesign” started to appear a few years back, I foresaw that removing two entire traffic lanes from every NYC Avenue was going to create more traffic. Does it take a genius to realize that taking two traffic lanes out of service on every NYC avenue would be a problem? Duh?! One lane is “for decoration” and of course we have the bike lanes and Citi bike depots as well to take up even more space. Who’s freaking idea of improving traffic was this?

I drive 35,000 miles per year and from all that I see on the roads, traffic engineers are not the brightest people and kind of like meteorologists are free of any repercussions when totally wrong. By all accounts traffic engineers and meteorologists are wrong most of the time, as we well know by now.

Maybe adding 20,000+ Uber cars to the mix helped make the congestion even worse, but the vast majority of recent NYC traffic slowdowns are to be blamed for the idiotic redesign of all the major city arteries. Again, if you have a major Avenue with 5 traffic lanes, you have congestion due to delivery trucks blocking lanes to start with. Take away two of those lanes, like has been done in most of NYC you technically have only three lanes left and on top of that delivery trucks on either side leave what? One freaking lane open!

Do NYC traffic engineers drive in NYC? I have a feeling they take the subway, because if they drove, maybe they would see the hell they engineered and would be lobbying to change the re-design that is not working. If they actually drove in NYC it would be very easy to see why the traffic has gotten worse recently.

Drive down lets say either Columbus of Lexington Avenue on any given weekday morning. What happens? Two lanes taken out by Avenue redesign, plus two more lanes taken by delivery trucks double parked on either side of the Avenue and you are left with only one, zig-zaging lane for the entire avenue. Now try to fit 5 lanes of traffic into that one open, zig-zag lane. Voila! Traffic nightmare. How come no one seems to be talking about this, I cannot be the only one that has come to this rather simple conclusion. The redesign is clogging traffic and making city pollution worse! Seems to me this was a political decision all along…

It is not about Uber “clogging” Manhattan streets. That is idiotic. Anyone with the least bit of common sense that has driven in the city for years, could have envisioned what the Avenue redesign in NYC would create – WTF did you idiots think was going to happen when you removed two traffic lanes from every avenue?

Posted in Environment, New York, Politics, Traffic | 1 Comment

Work hard. Play hard.

Beyond wine and the wine business there are a number of other things I am extremely passionate about. None more so that fly-fishing for trout. From about March through October I have my gear, rods and waders in the car. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, especially while up in the Hudson Valley, I gear up and wet a line.

The link below is to my crude video from last week. Landed & release an amazing wild brown trout in Cairn’s Pool, on the Beaverkill. Drove up from my last appointment at Aroma Thyme Bistro in Ellenville. I had the entire pool to myself all evening. Big, big browns man. I managed to somehow hold my iPhone to shoot the video while reeling in, landing and releasing the fish. I need to get a GoPro…Enjoy!

Beaverkill Brown





Posted in Fly Fishing, LIfestyle | Comments Off on Work hard. Play hard.