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Today's Cellar Tags Article

Wine for Women Only - Oh, Please...

1. Wines For Women - Never!
2. Flash-in-the-Pan Gimmick Wine?
3. Ugh! No Vintage

Here I sit, in my favorite pink flannel, Lucille Ball Grape Stomping 'jammies, writing another column for the website. But I think this one's more an exercise in helping me sort through all the feedback we're getting on the Working Girl Wines as they're released across the country.

Wines For Women. We've had a lot of interest and media attention regarding the release of the Working Girl Wines beyond our winery doors. There has also been a flurry of articles about "Wine for Women." Our marketing tag line for Working Girl Wines used to be... "Created by Women, For Women, In Support of Women." I realized early on you couldn't create a wine for a gender so we dropped the 'For Women'. Everyone's tastes are too different. I like big, bold reds. In fact, I didn't personally drink the Working Girl wines until we came out with Handyman Red. But, the situation I'm facing is... here we are, three women, with labels that reflect our personality, our philosophy and approach to the wine industry, our life and our business. So I'm torn... But there's little time to twiddle and anyway, the upside... maybe we're still on the right track: woman-owned distribution companies around the country have found us and THEY want our wines! We'll keep on truckin'.

Gimmick Wines. Like any industry, gimmick products always pop up to grab attention during narrow "windows of opportunity." It's no different with wine. Cute labels are all over the place. And why not... it's the label that draws your eye and helps a wine "jump out" in a sea of choices. But a cutsy label often gets purchased once and then vanishes forever into the wine graveyard... unless the bottle content is memorable. Otherwise it's on to the next cute label that grabs your attention.

Our challenge is to get the Working Girl story out there. The "Girls" have been around since 2003 and their popularity has grown the old fashion way... grass roots word of mouth! The grapes must continue to meet our high standards or we won't bottle it. Our wines are built on a foundation of charitable and community support and it's our vision they will continue to support local communities they are sold in... via a Three-Tier Donation Network that is in the works. Stay tuned!

Ugh! No Vintage. Even though I'm an "industry insider" now, I'm not fixated on vintage designations (that's the calendar year you see listed on a bottle). I AM very serious about our wine... and want medals just like everyone else (most of 'em are only handed out to 'vintage' wines... it's just part of the 'traditions' that goes with this industry). Now, I know on average when certain types of varietals should get bottled after harvest. So when I look at a vintage on a shelf, I may be wondering, "Why is a wine this old still on the shelf," or "How come they bottled this one so soon?" But for most wines that fall in my "norm range" of vintages, I don't care. That's because I'm not a collector (I don't lay my wines down .... I'm sure that term did not originate with us gals.) I always find an excuse to drink that really good bottle of wine I purchased, after all I worked hard today and deserve it! I try a lot of wines for taste, style and food pairing basically because of reputation, medals, write-ups, etc. Remember, 4 years ago I was schlepping semi-conductors instead of wines! Market research, someone has to do it.

But what I've learned to TRULY love... is the power of blending wines! I'm told all the great French winemakers were master blenders.

I can't tell you how many times during our tasting and blending trials a blend wins out over the straight varietal. That's why if you don't consider vintages, whoa, things can get really fun!

The Working Girl wines are blends for two reasons. I just described one. The other is simply the economics of a small winery. We produce vintage varietal wines under our La Dolce Vida label in small, 150-200 case lots. And even though the same grape varietals go into our Working Girl wines, because we designate them as "non-vintage" we're not constrained to putting just one year's output into a bottle. We're free to make the absolute best wine we can make... even if it's a blend of 50% from one year and 50% from another! Now, the law requires us to call these "Table Wines" instead of a nice fancy vintage name (like Merlot) but for you it means just one thing... ENJOY... because the wine will be good! We've staked our reputation on it.

So what's this diatribe gotten me?

I guess a confirmation that Working Girl Wines are not just another cute label, trying to grab up new market share while trying to hide our age.

About the Author

Kathy Charlton founded Olympic Cellars Winery became the North Sound's first woman-owned and operated winery in 2001. Since that time, owners Kathy Charlton, Molly Rivard and Libby Sweetser (known affectionately to locals as the Olympic Women in Wine) have taken the winery in a new direction, turning out award-winning wines and the Working Girl Wine series that supports the physical and emotional well being of women around the country. c

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