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Author Archives: Andrew Murray
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Let me start this post off by sending out warm wishes of gratitude. I am so very thankful to you for tuning in and caring about Andrew Murray Vineyards. You all challenge and push me to always give 111% of myself. You all expect wonderful, unique expressions of Rhone varieties and blends. Yes, I love what I do each and every minute of my busy days. But, you all give me purpose and clarity. Suffice to say that I am humbled and grateful for your trust and support. While I have always sought acceptance, I have never adhered to normalcy. I have always followed my own path and beat to my own drum. I never did this to simply be rebellious or mischievous. I never set out to be different in the wine world. When I started (truly fresh out High School), I had a very limited knowledge of the world of wine. I simply loved Rhone varieties because of many family visits to this part of France. I loved Grenache and Syrah and Mourvedre, etc. I loved them alone and in blends. I loved them before I was 21 years old. I loved them before many US wine consumers and makers had ever heard of them. I loved them before anybody cared. When we started AMV, our limited focus on all things Rhone had nothing to do with marketing opportunities or creating a niche, boutique brand. Hell, we were not even trying to create a brand! Honestly, sometimes, Sometimes, I wish that I knew more when we started. At other times, I am glad that I simply learned as we went along. In the end, we kept our heads down and focused on the challenges of starting and running a small family business. You would never find me headlining a big tasting or auction or seminar. You never saw me beating my chest and proclaiming that I was doing anything cooler or hipper or better than anyone else. That was (and is) simply not my style. I have always preferred to go at it alone and a bit more quietly than the others. All that said, we managed to grow and evolve from the fledgling winery of a twenty-something into where we are today. We have been fortunate enough along the way to have been written up in many publications. We never sought the attention. Rather, we stumbled upon it, grateful for the bit of noise that we were generating.
AMV is firmly in the early years of middle age, informed by our 21+ years of winemaking. In order to stay relevant and forward seeking, we found ourselves once again sending our wines out for critical review after a very long hiatus. I never loved sending my wines out for review. We do not make our wines for critics. We craft our wines, rather, for you all and for ourselves and for the sheer joy of crafting and blending wine. Either way, we have found ourselves over the last couple of years in the good graces of bloggers, critics, and most importantly our legions of fans. Our wines have been selling at a record pace. You might hear or see me “bragging” about this score or that review. You might see me headlining a seminar at Boston Wine Expo in a couple of weeks. You might find me out there as we grow our distribution network (look for our wines soon in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, South Carolina, and…) I look forward to hanging out with you all as I move around the US a bit more. You will see that I am the same, humble, passionate and curious person that I have always been, even if I quote a score or a critic every once in a while. I thank you for joining me on this journey. I hope that you stay with us. We have a couple of new wines this year, including a Mourvedre that so many of you have asked for.
I just finished an interesting article on strong beers in the Wall Street Journal…all about imperial stouts weighing in at 9-11% alcohol. The craft beer industry is falling all over itself to bottle and can stronger and stronger beer, while the wine world (championed by born-again critics and winemakers alike) is busy apologizing for the rich, intense wines (often with higher alcohol levels) it used to bottle; now favoring lighter (color and flavor), higher acid wines! I remember when I was proud to have “graduated” out of light, plonky, fizzy beer with about 3.5% alcohol, to craft beers with flavor, color, and extract. Now, I am made to feel like I am wearing a coat of some rare exotic fur for crafting and consuming rich, full-flavored wines. I am sorry, for NOT being sorry! Some call it a natural progression, I call de-evolution!
Come sample some Santa Barbara wine country cuisine January 22-28. Many of our local restaurants are offering 3-course tasting menus for $20.12 (exclusive of tax, tip, and beverages) to celebrate the new year. You can find a listing of participating Santa Ynez Valley restaurants by clicking this link.
How could you not want to read a wine blog with this title, “Wine without BS”? Here’s the blurb about the site:
“Welcome to Wine Without BS. Sick of reading wine reviews that fail to sell me on the product itself, my aim is to breathe some much needed normality to an industry neck deep in bullshit speak and wine wank terminology.”
During his travels, this international man of mystery was introduced to our 2008 Esperance GSM Red Blend, and evidently loved it; he just named it to his ‘Most Memorable Wines of 2011 List’!
Thanks to Randy Fuller of Now and Zin Wine Blog (along with Now and Zin daily wine radio features) for this entertaining write-up on our 2006 Purple Haze Syrah/Viognier blend … new ‘This is E11even Wines’ coming in February 2012 !
From the post: “Incredibly dark and delicious, Purple Haze made me forget all about the Crosstown Traffic.” Read the rest of this great wine review by clicking here.
From the post: “Some might find this wine to be a tad over the top but if you’re a fan of big, rich and fruity wines this wine is for you. A perfect wine for our first Saturday Splurge.” Read the rest of this great wine review by clicking here.
This is the time of year when I begin to worry that perhaps I need to be medicated. I come off the heady, frenetic pace of harvest and crush, the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and run headlong into the mire of alcohol-related bureaucracy. Come January 1, my feet are trapped in the greedy goo of countless reports demanded from a juggernaut of government agencies. A dark cloud descends over my entire countenance. Instead of bottling volumes of wine, I’m bottling volumes of red tape.
Every state has a different permitting and licensing process. Reports must be filed, varying taxes must be paid, permits and licenses must be renewed. Exporters require their own special documents. Federal paperwork must be filled out and data must be collected. Accountants, lawyers, and licensing specialists must be engaged and paid to file and report on our behalf.
As a small winery, I’m the guy who also needs to source all of our glass, capsules, labels (with their concomitant bureaucracy), boxes, and closures. One could consider these activities equally mind-numbing, but at least they have a direct correlation to the end goal of producing our product, a bottle of wine.
Just as I don’t need to hear actors expounding on foreign policy, you probably don’t care to hear a winemaker talk politics. But I can’t help but start to feel pretty libertarian at this time of year. I realize we have some need for alcohol regulation, but honestly, this is ridiculous. Did you know that we cannot legally ship directly to customers in 12 of our 50 states? Much of state regulation still contains vestiges of prohibition laws and/or is designed to protect excise taxes and distributor rights. How does any of this benefit the consumer?
Customers, who have tried our wines elsewhere, frequently ask me why our wine is not available in their states. My answer is simple, either it’s not legal to ship direct-to-consumer in the state, or the cost to set-up licensing, permitting, etc. in their state is economically prohibitive. There’s a great website that addresses this topic: http://freethegrapes.org/. If you’re feeling like a 60’s activist today, you can use it to quickly let your legislators know that you’d like to see changes in these regulations.
Rant over…cloud already lifting….
We are honored that our 2008 Esperance is among a list of outstanding wines named in Wine Lines’ Top Ten Wines of 2011. Wine Lines has been a print column for 22 years, but went digital in May 2011. Click here to read the Top Ten Wines of 2011 list on WineLinesOnline.com. Our 2008 vintage is sold out; look for the 2009 vintage in February/March 2012!
Many thanks to WineHarlots.com for this tribute to Syrah and her kind words about our crafting of this sensational variety of grape.
“Andrew Murray produces some of the finest syrah in California, the Terra Bella Syrah is a remarkable testament to the skill of the winemaker and exquisiteness that is syrah grape varietal.” Click here to read the complete review of the 2008 Syrah Terra Bella Vineyards.