wine

Madria Sangria Fruit Stand

We got a little love recently from Event Marketer magazine on our program for Madria Sangria. Throughout the summer, you can find the Madria Fruit Stand popping up at beer festivals, bridal shows, arts fairs and other lifestyle events. Brand Ambassadors will be on-hand, having conversations, cutting up fresh fruit, and serving sangria samples.

If you have an event and want the Madria Sangria Fruit Stand there, hit us up here.

Wine Design

Wine snobs may want to skip this post.

For the rest of you, a question: Does packaging matter for the wines you buy? Is it all about the Parker score? A friend's recommendation? A sommelier's suggestion?

For most people, package design is important. It catches our attention, communicates positioning, attracts or repels us. I'm not telling you anything here. But somehow, the wine business has largely been immune to innovations in design. There are literally tens of thousands of French, Italian, and German bottles that look almost exactly alike. In the U.S., we have more than 5,000 domestic producers, most of whom choose — as if from a catalog — between classic, down-to-earth, or contemporary label looks.

Don't believe me? Perhaps you can think of your favorite wine that has an interesting label —the black-on-black one that just seems really cool. Take a stroll down the wine aisle in a grocery store. It's a sea of sameness that always leaves me wondering how they sell any wine at all.

Anyhow, the good people at thecoolist.com have managed to come up with a selection of really good, innovative wine packages. They don't all appeal to me — I don't see myself drinking wine out of an oil can anytime soon. But that's the point of good packaging, isn't it? Help people find you and decide whether or not to buy you.

What about you? What are your favorites on this list? Or do you have another great wine label to share? Let's see it.

Looks cool. Not sure about the portions.

Garth Trinidad // Down With Us

Garth Trinidad, playing tonight at BlendOur goal with Blend — which kicks off tonight in Los Angeles — is to reinvent the concept of wine tasting and make it more interesting for sophisticated urban audiences. The idea started out of a frustration with the current choices and then a realization that music and wine have a lot more in common that we might think. The tools are different, and of course so is the output. Musicians have their instruments and a limited number of notes to choose from, DJs their record collections. Winemakers choose between a few grapes and are married to the land. In each case, what they make is a direct result of their philosophy — what they believe wine should taste like, or music should sound like. And in both cases, the results have the potential to move us in profound ways.

It seems fitting, then, that Garth Trinidad is our DJ for the kickoff event. In his bio on www.garthtrinidad.biz, it reads... "He hunts for pure sounds - dirty, sexy, raw, rhythmic, and dynamic, from classic rock, roots reggae, and samba, to jazz, electronica, hip hop, and house."

Clearly, this is a guy whose DJing is driven by philosophy. In fact, in an era when many DJs abandon their own musical tastes in order to fill dance floors by playing the popular sounds du jour, Garth has enjoyed a long and successful career by doing just the opposite. On his radio show at KCRW, and at countless clubs and private events, Garth consistently ignores the boundaries of convention in search of a more meaningful experience.

We are grateful to have him on the decks tonight, and excited to see how his philosophy blends with the great old world wines from Livio Felluga and Capezzana. Come out and see for yourself. Tickets available at the door or here.

Thanks again to Puma for making Blend possible.

Erik Kelley // Down With Us

Erik Kelley"Wise beyond his years" is how I've heard Erik described in so many words by so many wine lovers. I've attended at least 20 of his private dinners, and most often the conversation turns to how good the food and wine are. His way with food and wine suggests a much older soul than Erik's 25 year-old persona. Not too many years back, he was the youngest sommelier in America. As you might expect, that title is fleeting, as there's potentially a younger model every year. So, he many not be the youngest today, but he's probably the youngest you know. Even so, he keeps a youthful approach to picking wines, ignoring the old school rules about pairing and avoiding the traps of price and status. Erik is quick to recommend a white (or red) with whatever the hell you want to eat, and is likely to pick an inexpensive wine that's just as good as one twice the price.

That youthful approach is what convinced me to recruit him as the wine director / sommelier for Blend, our new adventure re-interpreting the idea of wine tasting for stylish people.

Most days, Erik can be found slangin' cheese at The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills; night's he's usually cooking for a private group or special event, or you might just find us at his house eating something ridiculously good that he just whipped up on the stove.

Erik's goal is to one day have his own restaurant. Investors reading this would be foolish not to back him.

Blend kicks off Thursday, October 15th at The Celebrity Vault in Los Angeles and it's a don't miss for those that love wine and music - which is most of you, right? You can buy tickets here: www.blendwineandmusic.com

Introducing Blend // Headlines: Rebel Makes News

Blend InviteBlend kicks off this Thursday, October 15. This is an original concept I've been developing and I'm very excited to share it with you. I grew up around music and DJs. Used to spend much of the week looking forward to what was coming out on Tuesday, and then rush to the store with whatever money I had to make sure I was up on the latest vinyl. More recently, I would spend at least 5 nights a week listening, dancing, and connecting. These days, I've given up late nights for early morning yoga and quality time with friends. The appeal of keg cups and Patron shots have been replaced by a good glass of wine.

But good wine is hard to find, with more than 5,000 producers in the US, and several times that when you add in Europe, South America, etc. Wine marketing does a really poor job at helping us navigate the choices available, and the experts' appeal is limited mainly to the hard core. For those of us who like wine but aren't ready to make the commitment of taking classes or lots of trial and error, the simple task of having something enjoyable to drink can be pretty frustrating.

Enter Blend - debuting Thursday, October 15th at 7pm - which combines wine tasting with top DJs in stylish venues. Wines are selected by Erik Kelley of the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, and once America's youngest sommelier. Music is selected by KCRW's Garth Trinidad, who collaborates with Erik on pairing — of sorts — the wine with the music.

We are grateful to have Puma as a charter sponsor, premiering the new AFRICA collection on Thursday. Our host venue is The Celebrity Vault, a Beverly Hills gallery specializing in contemporary art and iconic photographs of celebrities. Really cool stuff to look at.

We have a couple surprises planned as well, so I'd love it if you would come out and let us know what you think. Your feedback is essential as we grow this brand.

Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door. There's also a VIP ticket available at $75. You can see all the details and purchase tickets at www.blendwineandmusic.com