Sharing Merlo Family Estate Vineyards – Wonderful Italian West Coast Fusion Wine

Have you been searching for a full bodied West Coast wine with smooth Italian charm? Merlo Family Estate Vineyards creates beautifully interesting wines with an enjoyable smooth sophisticated palate.

Each wine tells a story; an old adage, I have found to be true. Just looking the bottle design, gives hints on the bouquet and taste to expect. Hence, a winery’s essence and signature flavor are somehow magically reflected in the label design and bottle presentation.

Tasting one varietal of a winery creates only shares one piece of a winery’s story. Therefore, experiencing more of a winery’s varietals and blends, allows you to get to know their family of flavors.

Merlo Family Estate Vineyards Wine Offerings

Somehow …  a winery is a magical place. Particularly, magical is how they  grow, design, craft and create their wine. Each bottle is somehow infused with their creativity, persona and story. Accordingly, knowing the winemaker truly helps develop one’s taste and appreciation for the wines they create. Learning the winemaker and the winery’s story imbues each sip with a subtle flavor appreciation, doesn’t it? Ray Merlo’s wine tells a lovely story.

Merlo Family Estate Vineyards‘ wines has Italian roots with a modern West Coast infusion which nods to this winery’s inception and creation.

Ray Learns His Family’s Winemaking Craft

Big bold red wines are a part of the winemakers story and heritage. Ray Merlo is one of the first in his family to be born in the United States after his parent immigrated from Northern Italy. Hence, wine making has always been in his blood and part of his family’s heritage. Ray’s family has been making and sharing beautiful wine for over 200 years in Emilia.

Once Ray turned 17 years old, his family sent him toNorthern Italy to spend time with family. Spending time with his aunt and uncle equated to spending time with his Italian grapevine roots. Consequently, Ray became intimately familiar with his family’s farming practices, harvesting secrets and the timing involved in crafting smooth Italian wines.

Traditional farming methods honor the whole process and impacts the character of not only the vineyard, but also the wine it produces. In the traditional Italian way, managing a vineyard is very organic and in tune to the elements.

Merlo Family Estate Vineyards Explore more

Birth of His Merlo Winery in Trinity Lakes, CA

Merlo Family Estate Vineyards is located in Trinity Lakes.  Trinity Lakes offers a cooler mountain climate very similar to where he learned in Emilia. Because of his great knowledge of Italian vineyards and climate change, Ray selected farther north in California. Moreover with this prime location very similar to his Italian family’s vineyard location, the summers are cooler and the growing season is longer. Most noteworthy, Ray’s careful vineyard creation lends itself to growing lovely grapes that share a true sense of place.

Not only did Ray’s Italian family influence how he plants, grows and manages his vineyard, they were strong influences on his wine making processes as well.  More modern equipment have been installed in Ray’s winery; however, his practices are purely Merlo family tradition. All of the Merlo Family Estate Vineyard wines are beautifully complex and enjoyable.

As a result of his dedication, Ray’s exceptionally balanced wines reveal many delicate flavors to your tongue. Merlo’s “Blackbird” California red blend through Ray’s complete line of rich red wines, they ask to be paired with traditional Italian dishes. His light fresh crisp whites long for a Mediterranean seafood dish to fully enjoy them.

As a result, Ray’s magical talent is sharing his unique fusion of his California upbringing with his Italian heritage. Discover it for yourself in a bottle of Merlo Family Estate Vineyards.

Interested in importing Merlo Family Vineyard Wines? Contact us.

“How to” Host a Fun Olympics Tasting Party – Wine, Craft Beer or Hard Cider

Watching the Winter Olympics is fun, isn’t it? Are you watching alone or with friends? Thought of having an Olympics party to add to the fun? Yes? Here is an idea for you Host a Fun Olympics Tasting Party! How? Below is all you will need.

Shop for Olympics Tasting Party

Shopping List – Explained below:

Wine, Craft Beer or Hard Cider – whatever you want to be the center of your tasting

Bottle Bags?

Print Outs?


Pens or pencils?


Select Your Olympic Competitor Spirits

Wine? Craft Beer? Hard Cider? – Need 5 of them.

Shop for the spirit of your choice by finding 5 wines, craft beers or hard ciders from 5 different countries, regions or makers. These will be the focal point of your tasting party.

Or ask your guests to help! Have them each bring a wine from North America or Australia or South America or Europe or Africa.

Next … think of what you have at home to use or shop for colorful bottle bags. See next heading for deeper understanding.

Sample Photo of Winter Olympics Tasting Spirits Competitors


5 Steps to Host A Tasting Olympics Party

  1. Paper Preparations – Printouts. Each guest will need a placemat. You will need 1 Judge Tally Sheet & 1 Awards Sheet to announce who takes the podium. Also, each guest will need a pen or pencil to record their tasting thoughts.

Print Mat for Each Guest –Tasting Olympics MatPrint 1 Each of the Tally Sheet & Pedal Place Listing –Tasting Olympics Tally Sheet

Tasting Olympics Medal Awards

2. Competitor Preparations – Disguise which bottle is which by placing in the colorful bottle bags for the Tasting Competition either before guests arrive or at the beginning of the party in secret.

Need a green, gold, black, red and blue containers to disguise where each of your secret spirits is from. You can purchase 5 different wine bags or be creative! Use colorful napkins or towels you already have.

3. Decide Timing You Want to Switch Tasting Competitors – 

Perhaps plan on allowing everyone to taste each competitor for 30 minutes. Set a timer and pause the Winter Olympics to announce which competitor bag you will be tasting next. Help distribute tastes to everyone from that colored bag.

This is awesome to give you more fast forward time during the Olympic broadcast to skip commercials!

During Your Party …

4. Gathering Tally Points Per Competitor? – How Do You want to Do It?

Take a moment to go around the room and have everyone verbally give you their personal point awards each round? Or pass the tally sheet around for everyone to fill in their points?

It is probably best to do this judging as you go. If you wait until the end, it may not be as fun.

5. Use the Tally Sheet to Total Points & Unveil the Medal Awards!

You can to create a 3 level “Medal Stand” and place the bottles on it. I would use books or boxes with a white cloth over it on a side table to accomplish this.  It may even be a fun centerpiece for your snack table, right?

As you announce the medal winners starting with 3rd place/Bronze, place the bottle in the bag on the stand. Continue with Silver & Gold awards. Then, unveil the bottles to reveal the labels.

Announce your winners by producer’s name and region as they do in the Olympics.

If you wish, find the anthem of that country to play with your phone. : )


Enjoy the Olympics!

Please email us comments if you host an Olympic Tasting Party.

Why Try … Cabernet Sauvignon?

Cabernet Sauvignon & Your Senses …

Thunder cracks! Lightning flashes across the sky. Suddenly, your day has changed as you dash for cover before an impending downpour. You can smell the rain before it starts to fall, can’t you?

Or gradually as the light increases so does the intensity of the gold, red, and purples as the stretch across the inky dark blue sky that melts slowly into a bright blue. Each moment the beauty increases with the brightening sky. Slowly the still quiet that enveloped you fades as everyone and everything around you once again come to life. Dawn fades to day.

All sensory information that you can relate to because you have been there, right? For the experienced wine drinker, saying the name of a wine varietal brings these same vivid sensory memories to their mind. This is one of the true beauties of wine.

What Tastes Dance Across Your Tongue?

Big and bold are words that describe a Cabernet Sauvignon wine’s taste explosion in your mouth. Another sensory experience with these rich red wines is that of tannins on your tongue. What does that even mean?

“Red wines have acid as well as tannin, and distinguishing between the two as you taste a wine can be a real challenge. When you’re not sure whether you’re perceiving mainly tannin or acid, pay attention to how your mouth feels after you’ve swallowed the wine. Acid makes you salivate (saliva is alkaline, and it flows to neutralize the acid). Tannin leaves your mouth dry.” is a helpful tip that is shared in How Tannin Affects Red Wine’s Taste.

Tannins are naturally occurring due to the grape skins and are a part of the red wine making process. Science has repeatedly proven in numerous studies that red wine tannins have special health benefits for us. Tannins are what gives red wine it’s marvelous antioxidant health benefits. Fortunately, a good Cabernet Sauvignon is loaded with tannins.

Deep rich fruit flavors will dance across your tongue as you drink a glass of this purply red wine. Which fruit flavors depends on where it is grown? Warm climate Cabernet Sauvignons tend to have blackberry or black cherry flavors. Interestingly, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grown in cooler climates will give your tongue black or red currant flavors.  

Some folks say they pick up flavors of green peppers as they sip this wine. If you pick up a bit of vanilla, that was a result of being aged in oak barrels.

However it isn’t just your tongue that will enjoy this big bold red wine, your nose will too!

Stop & Smell the Cabernet Sauvignon!

What smells does your nose detect from your glass of Cabernet Sauvignon? Cassis? Tobacco? Licorice? Earth? Yes, all of these and more are possible for your nose to detect in this strong bold red wine.

Can you tell that wine is truly a delight for many human senses? It is an enjoyable sensory experience!

Cabernet Sauvignon needs to breathe too! Prior to serving, you will need to “decant” your wine. This means to pour it into a pitcher so that it is exposed to oxygen. Why? This can awaken the flavors in your wine. The older the wine, the shorter time you will want to decant it. Learn more about this How to Serve Wine 101:Why and When to Decant Wine.

Where did Cabernet Sauvignon Come From?

As a result of a fortunate accidental cross of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc wine grapes that occurred in southwestern Bordeaux region of France in the late seventeenth century, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes came to be. UC Davis wine researchers were able to prove this in 1996. (WHAT IS CABERNET SAUVIGNON? A GUIDE )

Ironically, Cabernet Sauvignon was the most planted wine grape in the world up until that time.

Drink Cabernet Sauvignon Alone or With Food?

To really enjoy a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, you should pair it with food. Such strong bold wine can be overpowering without something to balance the flavors for your tongue. Typically, a strong cheese or red meats are excellent pairing partners for a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

A Thunderstorm of Flavors –

Hosting a dinner party and want to create a memorable meal? Invite Cabernet Sauvignon to be your wine! Serve it with hamburgers or steak covered in strong cheese. Surely this big bold wine’s flavors will melt together beautifully with the rich flavors and fats for an enjoyable thunderstorm for your tongue.

Naming Names /CKJY Exports Portfolio Partner Recommendations –

Platinum Level – > $35

Krupp Brothers – Veraison

Flora Springs – Trilogy

Gold Level – $22-34

Eponymous – Cabernet Sauvignon

Silver Level – $15-21

Engelmann Cellars – Ashley’s Vineyard

St. Bartholomew – Cabernet Sauvignon 2014


You may also want to read –

When Ordering Wine In A Restaurant … Tips to Look Like a Connoisseur by Todd Wetzel

Deeper Learning Dive on Cabernet Sauvignon?

General Overview –

Quick Video from Wine Enthusiast – Scroll down page  Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Folly’s – Guide to Cabernet Sauvignon Red Wine –

Growing the vines?

Jancis Robinson explains more about the where, why & effect of vines grown around the world –

Cabernet Sauvignon –


More on Tannins?

What is a Tannin? A Guide to Tannins

2018 Year of the Dog – What Significance for the World of Wine?

In the Eastern Hemisphere of our world, folks are getting ready to celebrate a new year, a lunar new year. Traditions involve gathering on the eve of the new year for feasting with family. On New Year’s day they clean their houses to remove any remaining bad luck from the previous year. Terrific tradition, right? But wait … isn’t this a wine and spirits blog? So, 2018 Year of the Dog – What Significance for the World of Wine? Is there a pattern in wine? Let’s explore this together.

2018 Year of the Dog

A quick study of the Lunar New Year calendar will show you that it is a twelve year pattern. Each year has a spirit animal that was determined by the Jade Emperor. The origin story goes that he determined that the first twelve animals to arrive would be the spirit animals to represent each of the years. Subsequently, the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig were the twelve that ultimately became a part of his calendar in that order.

Due to centuries of study, the Chinese have identified a cycle of patterns. Certain qualities are possessed by those born in the different years. (To learn more about the Lunar Calendar click and read either – When is Chinese New Year in 2018, why is it the year of the dog and how is the animal and date decided? by the Star or Metro New’s article What date is Chinese New Year and why is this the Year of the Dog?

Especially relevant the 11th year of the calendar is devoted to the Dog. Whichever year you are born is said to determine personality traits. “Dog” year behavior patterns are thought to be able to communicate well, have a serious nature and be responsible with their work.

Patterns and the World of Wine

Almost anything we care about becomes a subject of study, right? If you care about wine, you will begin to study different aspects of it. What other patterns have emerged in the study of grapes, wine making and wine consumption? What could be a pattern in wine?

Which Grapes are Cultivated Where?

Interestingly, many folks have studied the different patterns pertaining to wine. Hence, grapes are grown around the globe. Which types of grapes are grown can be influenced greatly by climate, soil and elevation.

Did you ever stop to consider other factors that determine which types of grapes are grown where? What other factors could there be?

In the Middle East, the grapes that are grown are large, juicy and bulbous. So, these grapes are not known for being very good wine grapes. Throughout Europe, there are many grapes that are much smaller with similar sweetness profiles. Why this difference?

Religion! As a result in Muslim areas of the world, farmers have worked to develop tasty table grapes. For centuries in Christian areas, farmers grow and develop grapes that create enjoyable wines. This was something we learned reading the’s article Patterns of Genomic and Phenomic Diversity in Wine and Table Grapes.  Definitely a pattern in wine.

Patterns Within the Wine Making Process

Making wine is to carefully induce and control a chemical process. Studying this process requires all a vintners senses combined with deep underlying knowledge of the scientific process timeline and practical effects of the chemical reactions.

Experienced vintners know the patterns that depict the different stages within the wine making process. They readily identify when they should arrest the fermentation process to achieve a specific desired level of tannins in red wine. Utilizing the yeast in the wine creation process is a pattern in wine.

If the chemistry patterns of wine interest you, you can learn more by reading the book Principles and Patterns in Winemaking by Robert Boulton, Vernon L. Singleton, Linda F. Bisson and Ralph E. Kunkee.

Wine and Economic Patterns

When we think of the different economic strata among people and classes, there is a difference. Every area of the world has a local drink that everyone seems to consume. Therefore, many regional drinks are thought to be those of the working people.South Korea, soju is that drink. Japan has sake appeals the masses. Vodka, rum, etc. have now found their way around the world to be enjoyed by everyone in many ways; however, they come from humble beginnings.

In America, for example, beer has been the drink of the working class. It is economical to produce and, therefore, to consume. We say it is a “Blue Collar” drink. While the West Coast craft beers are changing this, the correlation of the beer belonging to the working man is a long standing American tradition.

Aptly describing the role of wine in economical class development is this quote from the Culture of Wine article. “Wine has evolved as part of life, culture and diet since time immemorial. As an enduring cultural symbol of fine life, the role of wine has evolved over time, changing from an important source of nutrition to a cultural complement to food and conviviality compatible with a healthy lifestyle says’s article “Culture of Wine.”

Around the world, wine has been a symbol of the good life and culture all the way back to earliest civilizations. As societies develop, upper classes demand sophistication. Wine is sophisticated. As economies continue to build middle classes, they seek to share the pleasures of the upper class. Wine continues to be one of the good things in life, right? A pattern in wine regarding economics revealed.

2018 Year of the Dog – What Significance for the World of Wine?

In conclusion, patterns exist if we stop to look. So, let’s use 2018 as a year to look more closely at the wines we enjoy. Perhaps, try keeping a wine journal of the wines you try. Making detailed notes of the wines you particularly enjoy may surprise you. You may discover an enjoyment pattern in wine for yourself.

Once you learn your own personal wine preference pattern, you can explore new wines that you never considered previously. Consequently, “2018 Year of the Dog” may teach you a new trick or show you a new favorite type of wine.

Would You Buy It Again? = Another CKJY Exports blog post to help you evaluate wine with your personal preferences.

Why Should I Care About a Wine Competition? – What Meaning Do They Really Hold for Me?

The results for the San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition were just announced for 2018! Such an exciting time to see wineries from all across North America display their team’s skills and dedication to winemaking.

Did you know there are wine competitions all year round?

Other wine competitions to keep an eye on are: Los Angeles International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, San Diego International Wine Competition, The New York International Wine Competition and the Cascadia International Wine Competitions.

How do wine competitions work?    – 4 Key Factors


  1.  Wine Competition Judges

Who judges at a wine competition?

Typically, when choosing judges, wine competition organizers look for a diverse set of individuals.

Meaning that the judges are all from the wine industry, but with different backgrounds and specialties. Most often at wine competitions there is a mixture of sommeliers at different levels, wine sales people, wine makers and restaurateurs. This will provide different perspectives on the wines traits for the wine competition.

Therefore, the big requirements are that they have a lot of wine exposure (sometimes even daily), come from different regions to prevent bias when tasting the wines.

  1. Blind Tasting

How do judges stay unbiased during a huge wine competition?

Easy, a blind tasting!

No. That does not mean that the judges wear a blind fold fumbling around the table grabbing glasses. Each wine is assigned a number, so the judges do not know where the wines they are tasting came from.

A wine competition’s biggest goal is to keep everything bias free.

Wines are tasted by the varietal (type of wine), which the judges will know in advance. The wine competition organizers will be also providing the vintage (year the grapes were harvested). But no other information will be shared to hint where and what winery the wine came from.

How do judges not get drunk & mess up the scoring?


At wine competitions, wine judges must spit out the wine after tasting. If they drank all the wine, their judgement would be impaired and they will be drunk fast.  Judging takes a lot of focus and strong senses.

After the end of a long day at a wine competition judges are exhausted and have purple teeth!

  1. Taste Profile for Winning Varietals

What exactly are they judging the wine on during the wine competition?

Each wine is judged on these traits: clarity, aroma, bouquet, taste, aftertaste and overall quality. Each varietal has different traits and styles to take into consideration. Winemakers use these to express different charms and flavors.

A wine judge that is a wine maker will focus on technical traits. Understandably, a wine judge that is a restaurateur will focus on how well this wine would pair with food. Contrastingly, a wine sales person will focus on how the general public would like this wine.

Thus providing a fair and balanced judgement for the competition.

  1. What do the results mean?

How can there be 1 Gold, 5 Silver, 3 Bronze awards? Simple, each wine is judged on its own merits not in a ranking against each other.

What do the rankings really mean?

Bronze = Would drink the wine again. Means that the wine is somewhat enjoyable, experiences a few of the traits desired for this varietal.

Silver = Like the wine. This wine is enjoyable and fits most of the desired attributes for the varietal and wine making skill.

Gold = Love the wine. The wine demonstrates all the right attributes of the varietal and good wine making.

Double Gold = Phenomenal / Outstanding Wine. Must be voted on by all the judges unanimously. These are tasted again the following day to have a final vote.

How do awards help you?

Wine competitions are a great way to read where the wine industry is at that moment. In reality, the beauty of wine is that as it grows older, it changes and evolves!

For example, a wine that won in 2009 will taste very different from how it does now in 2018. (probably better, nothing ages like a fine wine)

As you are shopping for wine, pay attention to the most recent awards as they will deliver you the greatest current value!

There have been many cases where the same wine gets judged years apart and it has completely different ratings. For example, a 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon being judged in 2016 may not have medaled. Contrast that to the same wine being judged in 2017, it wins Silver and then the next year in 2018 wins’ double Gold.

The wine world is so exciting because it is an ever changing form of art.


Another way to evaluate wine? Read our CKJY Exports’ recent blog post on Price vs. Quality

For more information & links used visit these sites:

Winter Wine = Good Times by Claire Logsdon

by Claire Logsdon

Choosing a tasty winter wine during this chilly season, can transform your wine tasting experience as dramatically as pairing it well with food.

Which wines pair with the Coldest Season of the Year – Winter?

What wines should one pair with the coldest season of the year?

With cold weather automatically equals only strong, over the top Cabernet Sauvignons right?


There are many other gorgeous classic wine pairings for the winter season.

Winter can heighten your sense in different ways than in other seasons. Cool air can calm a lot of smells in the air, making the sensation of the strong scents even bolder. Maybe this is why the smell of comfort food on a cold January evening appear more heavenly than in hotter months.

How to Select a Winter Wine?

What characteristics should you look for when selecting a wine to enjoy on a chilly winter day?

A few of the wine characteristics the CKJY team has been sipping on and enjoying this winter to guide your winter wine thoughts.

  • High Acidity wines

    • Acidity is often silenced with sweeter wines where sugar counter acts the wine’s tart and sour flavors. Acidity is a characteristic that can elevate the flavors of a wine, adding to the beautiful melody. I enjoy acidic wines when the weather is cool and crisp to enjoy the full experience.
    • Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc
    • Pair this winter wine with a chilly Sunday afternoon and an anti-pasta spread.
    • Try:
      • Cardella Winery Sangiovese 2012
        • Loaded with rich cherry aromas and an incredibly smooth finish. Experience this fruity and smooth winter wine to add an Italian flair to your favorite pasta.
  • High Tannins

    • Tannins are unique to red wines. Why? Because red wines are fermented with the grape skins intact. It is important to remember that “Tannins” are not an actual taste rather a sensation or texture.
    • Sangiovese, Syrah, Bordeaux Blend (old World)
    • These winter wines pair well with a dramatic winter view – whether it’s your street covered in snow or a mountain weekend getaway.
    • Try:
      • Oso Libre MV Carnal Red Rhone Blend
        • A Rhone blend comprised of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre is an Oso Libre staple. Fruit for this wine are all picked and vineyard sorted on very cold November mornings.  Each of the musts were crushed and cold soaked for two days. Open top fermentation was managed with punchdown and pump-over processes twice daily. The must was kept cool for a long fermentation preserving fruit notes. Then, the wine was aged for 20 months in 20% new French oak, and 70% neutral French oak.  The wines were aged separately and blended just before bottling.
  • Complex & Layered

    • Contemplating a dinner and a show.. how about a glass of wine and a “night in” instead? Complex wines are entertainers; as you experience their shifting flavors notes. Wow! What does that mean? Essentially, the wine will transform through the process of drinking it. The beginning you may sense fruit flavors on the tip of your tongue but in the finish pick up “earthy hints.” As the wine is experienced, it is exposed to oxygen and your saliva. This changes the chemical content and the flavors you experience. Technical sounding? Yes! Enoyable? Absolutely!
    • Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir
    • Pair this winter wine with a warm blanket and a good book.
    • Try: Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
      • “Smooth and generous with deep plum and ripe berry fruit; sweet vanilla oak and luscious style; nicely structured and rich; a classic from an under-appreciated Napa mainstay. 93 Points” Anthony Dias Blue, April 2017
  • Rugged Wine?

    • When describing a wine using the word “rugged,” you should know it is not a technical wine term. Rugged is more of a casual description.
    • Rugged means the wine has “big, brooding and boozy” characteristics often with dark fruit, savory flavors and higher alcohol content. (Wine Folly)
    • Rugged wines are a little “rough around the edges;” but a fun ride are Syrah, Zinfandel and New World Red Blends
    • Pair these rugged winter wine with a hearty meal such as a stew or a rack of ribs.
    • Try:
      • Merlo Family Vineyards 2013 Syrah
        • A dense purple-black with a crimson edge color, Merlo’s 2013 Syrah is almost intimidating in appearance. The nose gives classic Syrah notes of pepper, blackberries and blueberries while the barrel aging adds a touch of cedar and coconut. A full and deep palate with a welcome lift of acidity creates wine drama. Then, the tannins strongly knit themselves into what will become a silky texture that lingers for several minutes on the palate. An excellent wine to enjoy with your steaks or heavy red pasta dishes.
  • Rich

    • Full of flavor? Richness delights both your nose and palate in wines. Guaranteed crowd pleasers.
    • Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Pair this rich winter wine with a family or friends visit!
    • Try: McKahn Family Cellar’s Chardonnay 2015
      • Aromas of Granny Smith apple, apple pie, lemon zest, brown sugar, apricot and nectarine. A zesty palate highlighted by apple and stone fruit. French oak spice adds a creamy texture around a firm acid structure
  • Silky Notes

    • Think smooth jazz! Lush, smooth and pure elegance is what to envision when contemplating silky wines. Reminiscing and enjoying life is easy to do as silky wines slide gracefully across your tongue. There is nothing better than to appreciate the feeling of being home on a cold winter day relaxing with memories.
    • Types of wine demonstrating this beauty and elegance are both Pinot Noir and Blanc de Noirs.
    • Pair this silky winter wines with  your all-time favorite song playlist.
    • Try: Mt. Hood White Pinot Noir 2016
      • White Pinot Noir is created by gently “whole cluster” pressing fully ripe Estate Pinot Noir grapes to yield essentially colorless juice. The juice was then fermented and aged in French oak barrels (1/3new). Aromas of tropical fruit and strawberries dance in your nose. A crispness of a dry rich palate of pear and citrus follows.


We hope this helps you uncover some new to your beautiful wines and create your own winter wonderland of wine. Winter wine can be very enjoyable and we suggest you pair it with a roaring fire.

Let us know what your thoughts are on these pairings!

Are there any types of wine you like to drink in winter? Comment to share your thoughts below:


Source Links if You Want to Learn More: (Chart to follow the flavors in each varietal)

Exploring Price vs. Quality in Wine

Interested in importing wine? First, we need to determine what type of wine you want to import. The price vs. quality determined by many factors.

What do you mean? I want to import wine from grapes.

What is your sales goal? Who are your end users? These are all important to determine where your imported wine will fall on the price vs. quality spectrum.

Honestly, that is a much too simplistic an approach. As with any established products, there are so many differentiations. Beyond varietals and vintages, there is a quality element to wine.

Price vs. Quality Relationship in Wine

Bulk Wine – When Price is More Important Than Quality on the Price vs. Quality Spectrum

Within America, many of the larger chain stores have developed their own wine label brands. Honestly, how much quality and character do you expect from your local convenience mart or big box discount store’s private label wine brand?

Much the same process of inexpensive wine production occurs with international exported bulk wine from any country. The cargo holds of large ships are fitted with plastic bladders. Inexpensive wine is pumped into these bladders and the wine is shipped around the world. Once it arrives at it’s destination, it will be packaged or bottled for sale there. This is how wine that costs $2-3 bottle is shipped around the world.

Traditional Wine Making? – NO!

Nothing about that process other than, the manufactured commercial advertising, seem to have anything to do with traditional wine making. This is much more like the syrupy base of soda than wine, isn’t it? The same taste is replicated over and over using this method. If you appreciate the taste, you will be able to get it consistently for a very inexpensive price.

When mass marketing wine, this is how it will be done. On the price vs. quality spectrum, this is squarely in the lowest price wine section. While technically it is wine, it is not what most of us value or want to experience as wine. 

Picture this as changing the process of making a couple dozen of your grandmother’s favorite cookie recipe from her kitchen to making thousands of them in a commercial kitchen. Technically, you would add the same ratios of ingredients into the huge mixers but … odds are good they will not taste exactly the same. How can they?

Quality Wines for the Middle Class

Wine Market Maturation – Is the Highest Quality or the Lowest Cost Wine Really What a Maturing Wine Market Wants?

Initially, a new wine market is opened on the high end of the economic range or the higher price and higher quality side of the price vs. quality spectrum. Five star restaurants and renowned hotels add exclusive and expensive wines to their menus. These wines can easily sell for $100-more per bottle. They are aspirational wines that most never aspire to having on a regular basis.

Following the “ritzier” wines, mass market wine is actually a sign of a wine market maturing. They are making wine available to every day budget conscious consumers. This is when the lowest price wines are introduced into a market for most consumers. Meaning that they firmly sit in the lower quality and lowest price side of the price vs. quality spectrum.

These entry level wines are the way most experience wine for the first time. Entry level wines are a brief glimpse of the true wine experience, the “real deal” comes with higher quality wines from mid-sized, dedicated wineries.

What happens after wine is shared via the mass market?  As wine markets mature, the professionals or the middle class begin to develop an interest in wines. Occasionally, they will splurge on an expensive bottle or two of wine for special occasions. As their pallets mature, these middle class consumers will search for more flavorful reasonably priced wines in shops and restaurants. 

Can Interesting Quality Wines Be Made Available at Affordable Prices?

Yes! Smaller family run farms can control quality and maintained, wines produced have a different flavor profile and character. However, each season’s efforts has similarities and differences a wine drinker can savor and appreciate.

When investing in exporting $8-10 bottles of wine, you can have this quality from different American West Coast regions to offer your newly emerging discerning clientele.

CKJY Exports Inc. was founded with a vision of offering wine shops and restaurants in the Eastern Hemisphere quality American wines. Most of our winemakers tend their own grapes and make wine from their own vines. The entire wine creation process from vine to bottle is a labor of love that one can readily taste the difference.

Wine awards have been won by many of our vintners for their craft. Several of our wines have won Gold or Double Gold at the San Francisco Chronicle’s International Wine Contest repeatedly.  They may be from a region that has not achieved world wide acclaim yet. However, within America these AVAs are well known and appreciated.

As wine markets mature, wine drinkers become adventurous and want to sample wines from beyond the more advertised wine regions. Consumers quickly learn that you pay for a certain “AVA” or American Viticultural Area’s name on the bottle. Tasty “gems” are hidden in the lesser known AVA’s, creating an exciting experience for the consumer’s taste buds and wallet.

Ready to Taste Next Level Wine?

Are you or your customers are becoming adventurous and would want to taste quality wines?  Let our CKJY Exports team know. We specialize in quality wines at affordable prices.

A taste of our wines will leave a smile on your lips for a price you can appreciate. Wherever you fall on the price vs. quality spectrum, we can find a wine that you will enjoy to import and to share.

To Continue Reading About Mass Market Wines, See These Articles –

  1. How Wine Became Like Fast Food by Keith Wallace of Daily Beast

2. Four Things Not to Buy at Trader Joes by CBS Money Watch


Want Your Own Private Label or Custom Blend American Made Wine, Craft Beer or Hard Cider?

An epitome of quality and style a gift that carries your own personal label are impressive gifts to give, aren’t they? Personally label spirits are an admirable corporate gift. What is the difference between imported private label and custom blend American wine or craft beer?

Private Label Wine Gifts

Designing a personal label with the help of a graphic designer adds your special signature touch to your corporate gifts. That is the hallmark of a private label = it has your personal label.

Private labels can be placed on bottled varietals of wine. This can make your gift of a special Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay or other varietal even more personal in nature.

Our CKJY Exports team has access to varietals that are ready to have your label designed and added to them to become your personal gifts. Additionally, we have some winemakers who have made notable California blends available for your personal label to be added.

Custom Blend Wine Gifts

Custom blend wine gifts can look much like a private label bottle. However, these gifts are different from the inside out. Our CKJY Exports team would help you determine your preferred taste profile. We would work with our team of wine makers to develop sample wines for you to taste and to select a custom wine blend to carry your personal label.

Of course, special projects like this require a months longer time line to develop than a private label project. However, once we develop your preferred custom wine blend, we can replicate it for years to be your signature corporate gift.

Private Label Craft Beer or Hard Cider Possible?

Yes! Our CKJY Exports team has cider makers and craft brewers who can do for craft beer and hard cider the same to create private labels and custom blends also.

Where to Start to Import Your Own Private Label or Custom Blend?

Contact CKJY Exports team to put our wine makers, craft brewers or hard cider makers to work for you to create your own label for export –

Looking forward to helping you develop your own private label in 2018!

Visit our website for more information – CKJY Exports Inc.

Cases & Kegs just for you!

Toast! – 8 Bubbly Toasts to Welcome 2018 – By Claire Logsdon

What better reason to raise a glass than celebrating a new year with friends and family? Celebrating a great event or the events to come is an age old tradition, dating back thousands of years when humans first began drinking alcohol. Typically, we say a few meaningful celebratory words at an event or occasion, don’t we?

But how is best to graciously ring in a new year full of promise?

Impress your friends and family wishing them a happy new year and cheers in 8 different languages!

English Toast


Here’s to a bright New Year, and a fond farewell to the old; here’s to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold. (Unknown)

Chinese (Mandarin) Toast

干杯 – “gān bēi”à Cheers! (Bottoms up!)

狗年大吉 – “gǒunián dàjí” à Lots of luck for this Dog year

Korean Toast

건배! – “geon-bae” à Cheers! (Bottoms up!)

새해 복 많이 받으세요 – “saehae bok mani badeuseyo” à Happy New Year!

Japanese Toast

乾杯! – “ ‘KANPAI!” à Cheers! (Dry the glass)

良いお年を!- “Yoi o-toshi o!” à “Have a nice year!

Vietnamese Toast

Vô! – à Cheers!

Năm mới dồi dào sức khỏe à – I wish you a healthy new year

Hindi Toast

चियर्स – “chiyars” à Cheers!

नया साल मुबारक हो “naya saal mubaarak ho” à Happy New Year!

German Toast

Prost! à Cheers!

Frohes neu Jahr à Happy New Year!

French Toast

À votre santé! à Cheers!

Bonne anne à Happy New Years!

Whichever language you use to welcome a new year, toasting with friends and family is a heart warming way to welcome change. Wine has traditionally been used throughout Europe and America as a part of celebratory meals. It is a tradition our CKJY Exports team has embraced for many years.

Happy New Year! May it be filled with lots of prosperity, laughter and love for you all! = our CKJY Exports wish for you all.

How To Serve Wine to Your Guests Well Tips

Hectic and holidays go together, don’t they?  When we have dinner party guests we want to share our best with them and to do it well – wine too. If you are new to the world of wine, that can be intimidating at times, can’t it? No worries! Your CKJY Exports Team is sharing SIMPLE steps of how to serve wine to help you look like a professional and impress your guests when you host a dinner party. 

CKJY Exports How to Serve Wine Tips =

1. Planning, Shopping & Options –

Simple math … your typical 750 ml wine bottle has 4 glasses of wine in it the way we typically pour. This can help you plan your shopping accordingly. If you are serving glasses of wine, you will most likely expect 2 glasses per person. (Some drink less and some drink more – however, that typically works out for planning purposes in my experience of hosting dinner parties.)

Always serve water, tea and coffee as additional beverages. This will help your guests “pace” their drinking and reduce alcohol intake. After all, the purpose of a dinner party is to have an enjoyable evening and not a drink fest, right?

And/Or … serve a wine punch! Winter white Sangria is a favorite or ours. It looks festive and is tasty. Why serve punch? It is a festive drink and pretty in either a punch bowl or pitcher. Also, it helps your wine go farther with a crowd.  There are many different recipes you can try and mix it up.

Tip – Add differently colored fruit to make it more festive.



An alternate recipe for Holiday White Wine Sangria can be found on Picture the Recipe’s website.

2. Red Wine –

Storing Red Wine – The higher the alcohol content the warmer you can store the wine. However, the average home does not maintain the appropriate temperatures. The lighter the red wine, the cooler the optimum storage temperature 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Fuller red wines and fortified wines can be stored closer to normal home temperatures, 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperatures and serving wines most wines are recommended to serve in the 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit range. For reds if the wine aromas are too strong, it is recommended that you cool the red wine in your refrigerator for 15-30 minutes prior to decanting and serving it.

Red Wines Need to Breathe a Bit

Decanting – All red wines should be “decanted.” What does this mean? Realistically, it means exposing the wine to oxygen. This allows the wine’s aroma to normalize and reduces certain acids or tannins that make the wine taste smoother. For bold wines, 15-30 minutes of decanting is preferable.

Serving Container – Essentially, this is pouring a bottle of wine into a decanter or pitcher. There are many different shapes and sizes of decanters.

Pouring the wine into another pitcher so that you maximize wine’s exposure to the air is the goal. This means to not pour neatly as we are used to doing to minimize spilling. Pour the wine down the side of the pitcher or decanter (similar to how you pour beer from a keg into a cup). This will help with the oxidation. (Also, they sell aerators that you can buy to pour your wine through as you place it in the decanter though these aren’t necessary.)

Once you decant a wine, you need to drink it. Why? Because the oxidation process will continue turning your leftover wine into a vinegar. This means in a dinner party situation, you want to decant some and then some more as you see what your guests are drinking. This will minimize unnecessary spoilage.

Glasses – Wow! There are so many choices in glasses.  Glasses are bowl shaped to help hold the aromas and enhance the enjoyment of your wine. Most

Red & White wine

3. White Wine

How to serve wine begins with temperature and storage when it comes to white wine because it differs from red wine.

Storage – The recommended storage temperature for white wines are 45 – 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This means we should put them in their refrigerators for storage.

Opening Tips – Because we store our white wines in refrigerators, we need to let this wine warm a bit prior to serving. When you serve it straight out of the refrigerator, you will lose it’s lovely aromas and the taste may not be quite right. When you allow time for the wine to warm up slightly, the enjoyability increases.

Serving Container – White wines do not need to be decanted and can be served straight out of their bottles well. 

Glasses – White wines are more delicate in nature; therefore, glasses to serve white wine are typically thinner than red wine glasses. Allowing the more delicate aromas to be appreciated as you drink them. It minimizes the oxygen exposure prior to your drinking your glass.

Flute glasses

4. Sparkling Wine

Storage – Definitely store sparkling wines in your refrigerator. Ideally they should be kept at 38-40 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Opening Tips – Always keep the bottle pointed away from you and other people at an angle when opening sparkling wine. The wine is under pressure. The force of the cork coming out can hurt people and things. Best to angle it at about 45 degrees after removing the foil and the wire cage.

CKJY Exports recommends you watch Madeline Puckette’s online tutorial on Opening Champagne for professional tips. However, learning how to serve wine does involve a bit of safety too.

How to Open Champagne Safely (Pics & Video)

Serving Container – Sparkling wine or champagne is served straight from the bottle. 

Glasses – Tall slender glasses are chosen for sparkling wines and champagnes because they preserve your bubbles longer as you enjoy it.

To learn more details on how to serve wine and enjoy it, our CKJY Exports Team recommends you read Madeline Puckette’s Wine Folly book. It is packed with useful and thoughtful information on wines.