Often we start out as wine enthusiasts by mistake. We head to wine country on vacation and come back with a mixed case, and while we were there we joined a couple of wine clubs. Then we travel to a different part of wine country and do it all over again. Before you know it we have a cellar. Well…if you call a few cardboard boxes full of assorted wines a cellar. Where do we go to from here? I mean we are members of a wine club (or two or 5 or so) and more wine will be coming. So we stick the boxes in the back bedroom. If we are lucky, we have a spare bookshelf that we repurpose for wine storage. Maybe just having a spare room is lucky! This blog post is to tell you my story of cellaring. It is not in it’s completed form. I like most of you am on a budget and can’t afford to have a special climate controlled wine cellar built into my home with the perfect temps for different varieties and electronic tags to let me stroll with my tablet and see what is ready for drinking. So…I will share with you my story. And while I’m at it, I will do a bit of research to see where I might head next with my goal to keep and preserve the wine that I have until it’s perfect apogee.
Aha! Apogee! So I searched through online systems for setting up my cellar and for doing tastings and came up with Vinocella. Vinocella has a great term that they use which is apogee. They have a place to enter what they call “advices”. These include “Maturity from” and “Maturity to” as well as “Apogee from” and “Apogee to” . In the program (which you can use on an I pad or I phone, you can sort your wines by Maturity so that you can find the wines in your cellar that are ready to drink. Those wines are “Perfect…Apogee” or at their peak. This is of course based on the noun meaning at their farthest or highest point.
So our wine cellar has been growing since our first trip to Temecula followed by the trip to Napa and the trip to Willamette OR and then back to Temecula and to Sonoma and to Santa Barbara and back to Los Olivos, a little dabble in Virginia Wine Country and then a stop in Missouri…well we got hooked. And as we got hooked we ended up with multiple wine clubs, plus many bottles that we returned home from trips with.
We were lucky enough to have a spare bedroom. It had bookshelves and we cleared one out and make it work for wine. We kept the room cool in the summer and closed the vent to keep the heat from hitting this room in the winter. As the number of wines grew, we picked up a small wine fridge for white wines and sparkling wines that we keep in the dining room and then we realized that we need additional space. Well for us a mounted wall rack did the trick and had plenty of room. So…as we moved wines and filled it and updated the Vinocella database with wine placement I realized that we had all these wines but they were really difficult to sort through. Yes, I had the iPad with the database, but would we ever keep that up to date? And did I have maturity dates for any of my wines in there? So I embarked on a project to research and find the maturity dates for the wines and to tag them, so when on the spur of the moment we needed a wine for dinner, we could choose one that we ought to be drinking! The cellar as you can see is not glamorous but it is functional!
In doing this I searched through winery websites (some of which like Tablas Creek are full of great information and gave me everything I needed). Sometimes I hit cellartracker.com to find what the drinking window was according to others who owned this particular wine. On a side note, I have spoken to many who love Cellar Tracker for keeping track of their wines. I also find that I have a need for an app that can do tasting notes.
When I didn’t find what I needed on websites I went to the wine club notes and often found great information there (like Tobin James for instance). When both of these options were exhausted I took to e-mailing or facebooking the wineries to see if they could provide me with their insights on cellaring and the perfect drinking window for their wines.
I received many prompt and very informative responses. Some of these were directly from the wine makers which upon occasion made me swoon! So now I was able to put this information into the Vinocella program and I added tags to each bottle! We had already divided our reds going from light to heavy, similar to a tasting order in our rack. So now I added red tags with the winery name the vintage and the wine with the drinking window at the bottom. So even if we didn’t have the ipad out, we could find a bottle that needed drinking!
This is just the beginning. I have completed my research on my wines, now it is time to research about cellar practices and maybe find some tips that would work for us…stay tuned!