Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sex Sells--Naked Winery South Dakota

Haha!  I bet my title got everyone interested in my latest blog!  However, it is true; sex does sell, and the Naked Winery from Hood River Oregon is using this risqué idea to sell its wines all over the country, including at the Naked Winery tasting rooms in Custer and Hill City, South Dakota.  The first franchised tasting room opened last spring in Custer.  My friend Sonja and I heard about the opening and knew we needed to be there that day for the first pouring of Naked wines.  We drove over after work thinking that we had to support any venture that promoted more wine in the Black Hills.  We also thought this tasting room sounded like a lot of fun.  We specifically said, “This place sounds like a blast; we hope the wine is quality.”  We found out it was a lot of fun…and the wine was AMAZING!  The wine was so amazing, in fact, that we decided to work a part-time job at the Custer tasting room for the summer.  A second Naked tasting room opened mid-summer in Hill City.  Both have great atmospheres, entertaining staff, and unique events.  These two new businesses continue the expanding wine boom in the Hills area.

It is true, that a few customers have been disappointed when they arrived at the tasting room and found that the wines were not produced in South Dakota but, instead, were all produced in Oregon with grapes grown in Washington, Oregon, and California.  It is also true that some people have been offended by the risqué references in the wine names and descriptions.  However, when most people taste the wine, they are very impressed with the wonderfully made wines.  Serious wine drinkers love the quality reds ranging from a Pinot Noir to a Sangiovese to a Nebiollo.  Beginner wine drinkers will like the semi-sweet whites like Riesling and Gewurztraminer.  Then there are a myriad of great wines in between!

Though some find the idea of “Naked” to be offensive, I just find it entertaining.  Not only do I not offend easily, I get the marketing perspective behind the innuendo.  The informal and (dare I say it) cool feel of the wines and tasting rooms will attract those who once thought wine drinking was too stuffy and “hoity toity”…only meant for the old and the rich.  I support any wine producer and tasting room that increases the number of wines available to drink in my small area, and I applaud any wine producer and tasting room that can appeal to those who haven’t yet been exposed to the wonderful world of wine!  So, thank you, Naked Winery in Hood River, for spreading your Naked joy to the Black Hills.  I’m thirsty now…wink.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Keeping It Local--Cap N Bottle

My second Sweet Sommelier “travel” destination is actually in my own backyard.  Okay, not LITERALLY in my own backyard, but how cool would that be to have a liquor store in your backyard?  That is a privilege I am sure I would abuse!  What I mean is this week I am writing about my hometown liquor store, The Cap ‘N Bottle.  The Cap ‘N Bottle is something of an icon on Main Street.  I actually have memories of going through its drive-through window as a child passenger with my father.  (Yes, drive-through liquor store windows are also legal in Wyoming.)  The newest owners, Wade and Tonya, have only owned the business a few months but are already putting their mark on the establishment.  Just after opening, they hosted a craft beer tasting, which even though I’m a wine drinker, I attended.  (My craft-beer loving husband really enjoyed this!)  Just last week, Cap ‘N Bottle hosted a wine and chocolate tasting.  Tonya had the original idea of the tasting in honor of Valentine’s Day, and I assisted her in choosing some wines.  The owners plan to continue these tastings monthly, and I hope they do!  Events like this are the first step to getting many people to experience wines.

Speaking of the wines, Cap ‘N Bottle has the best selection in town.  About one-third of the store is dedicated to wine, which I love!  Of course, there are your standard box wines and white Zins (that all liquor stores do need to carry), but there are also whites with producers from France to Oregon and reds from Portugal to California.  Tonya will also special order items for anyone who puts in a specific request.  That is the beauty of a small-town business! 

I look forward to the future of Cap 'N Bottle.  I know Wade and Tonya have plans for remodeling and more special events.  I hope I get to be a part of and take part in these events!  Hats off to a home-town business for spreading the love of wine to both old "pros" and amateurs alike.