Sip the Waters’ Family Recipe for Success @ Backwoods Brewing Company

Does your family pass down recipes? The Waters family does! Living in the small logging town of Carson, Washington their roots have grown strong together. Consequently, their small town family values of honesty, hard work, good value and community have blossomed into a tasty business, Backwoods Brewing Company.

Blood is Thicker than Water

Family run businesses are not typically the topic of most major business publication articles. However, recently as I was reading online I stumbled up on the Forbes article, by Rhett Powers – All in The Family: Business Leaders Share Advice on Working with Relatives.  Six different business leaders briefly share about their experiences of working with family members in the article.

However, this quote sums up much of the interesting article – “Avidan Milevsky, associate professor of psychology at Ariel University and executive director of the Family Institute in Israel, points out that sibling dynamics can easily make or break a family business, and matters involving money are notorious for cultivating destructive sibling dynamics. However, through his research, he’s found that siblings can also improve the chances that a family business is successful if they have a close bond. As long as siblings or other family members each have their own niche, things are likely to function smoothly. “

Cream Always Rises to the Top

Immediately, the Waters family and Backwoods Brewing came to mind. Their story has been one of  a strong family working together in a small logging town. In many ways, becoming a well known brewery was not a family goal but … Wow! Do they do it well!

Kevin began brewing beer in the back room of their family grocery store in 2012. Soon, brother Tom joined him. Both production and demand grew. Many weren’t sure that this was a great course of action given Carson’s logging business was flailing amidst the economic downturn and other challenges. However, “cream always rises to the top” is another old saying that comes to mind.

The Waters family is an exceptional team. Distribution of their beer to the local markets helped to build local demand for their creatively craft brewed flavors. Sampling of the family’s lagers soon became available at their brewpub. This also helped to grow demand and test market creative flavors.

Now, they have expanded adding a new brewery in a 10,000 square foot facility. With so many West Coast craft breweries opening and closing, the success the Waters family has had speaks to their quality. With both Kevin and Tom graduated from Eastern Washington University. In fact, they were recently featured in their alumni magazine, All in the Family.

Shining the Online Light on Backwoods Brewing Company

Quality through and through is what Backwoods Brewing embodies. When both the locals and folks traveling through take the time to sing your praises online, you are doing something right.

Want to see for yourself? Google “Backwoods Brewing” – Look how many pages of wonderful reviews appear. Reviews and responses FaceBook, Twitter & Instagram show the Backwoods family team has developed quite a community of dedicated fans. You will easily see that they do a terrific job sharing their beers through social media.

Backwoods Brewing Company “Surpassed Expectations

Of course, craft brewing review sites also have positive vibes – UntappdHopplotter , Beer Mapping Project  and Beer Advocate.  Additionally, on Reddit one can readily find positive mention of many Backwoods’  brews like this one sharing the joys of their Pecan Porter – Backwoods Brewing Company – Pecan Porter.

Bloggers such as Beer Guy PDX has featured their Logyard IPA in a post saying “Aroma was resinous pine and citrus hops. Tropical fruit in the background. Pineapple and guava notes. Taste followed the nose. Grapefruit-y citrus. Lemon. Pineapple. Respectable hops bitterness that you’d expect from a well-crafted NW IPA. Light caramel malt provided a good balance against the hops. Herbal spiciness in the mix, too. Nice!

RateBeer has a page dedicated to Backwoods where true beer aficionados can both rate and follow their beer scores. Not bad for an “out of the way” brewery in a logging town of 2,200 folks, right?

 Trip Advisor ranks them #1 Restaurant in their town and has given them a “Certificate of Excellence.” While  Yelp shares over 100 photos and over 100 positive reviews. Want to drink with your dog? Not surprisingly, their brewpub is for the dogs too!  9 tables offer an opportunity to enjoy your beer with your pup – Bring Fido.

Blueberry Wheat Backwoods Brewing

Waters Family + Creative Spirit                                          = Craft Beer Worth Exploring & Exporting

Backwoods Brewing Company has its roots firmly planted in a logging area around Carson / Stevenson Washington. Many of the brews they craft year round carry that heritage with their names such as Logyard IPA, Copperline Amber, Ridge Run Stout, Clear Cut Pale and Big Cedar IRA. These are excellent brews that pair well with many American classic foods.

Blueberries are a favorite of Kevin’s and well … he is both a creative and talented brewer. So Backwoods Brewing Company’s first fruit beer featured blueberries. He did this so well that it is a perennial  favorite.

Creativity brews interesting flavor notes! Caramel, chocolate and vanilla dance on your your tongue with pecan in their Pecan Porter. Similarly, their Imperial Maple Porter has a lightly sweet flavor of maple syrup and vanilla. Can you pick a favorite beer from their complete line pictured on their website at Backwoods Brewing Company?

It is easy to want to share something good isn’t it? That is how our CKJY Exports team feels about Backwoods Brewing Company’s delicious beer. Others around the world need an opportunity to enjoy this delightful brews!

Good People Make Good Business Sense

Waters family fingerprints are all over this unique business. Working well together and striving for excellence in both flavor and practice is a goal of this tightly knit clan.

Kevin works his magic brewing while Tom serves as Operations Manager. Brother Steve has joined to assist with the financial parts of the business and functions as the company’s CEO. Additionally, the Waters women pitch in a few days a week lending a hand  with the brewpub, social media and special events.

With each of the Waters family members utilizing their special talents in different areas of the business, this talented dedicated team has created a strong effective business to be admired. For this reason, you can taste the quality and deep devotion in each sip of any Backwoods Brewing Company’s craft beers. They are truly created using the Waters’ family recipe for success in life and business.

CKJY Exports is Eager to Share Backwoods Brew with You!

Seoul, South Korea? Mumbai, India? Taipei, Taiwan? Somewhere else? Certainly, we can assist you in importing Backwoods Brewing Company’s tasty craft brew to offer exclusively in your pub, restaurant, hotel or shop.

Our CKJY Exports team is proud to serve as the export arm of Backwoods Brewing Company. Please contact us to inquire about importing this family’s recipe for success to you!

Would you like to learn more about West Coast craft beer? Read Todd Wetzel’s post – Why Try … West Coast Craft Beer?

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13 Reasons Why Everyone is Obsessed with Enjoying Craft Beer

Everyone is obsessed with enjoying craft beer and you should be too!

The craft beer industry is booming! If you have not heard someone talk about craft beer in 2018, you must be living under a rock.

The craft beer movement has grown so large that it is challenging the traditional beer culture across the world. So why should you join this beer movement and begin enjoying craft beer?

13 Reasons Why Everyone is Obsessed with Craft Beer

1. Taste – 

The biggest reason to be obsessed with enjoying craft beer! With so many different flavors, styles and types there is a beer for EVERYONE. Brewers can be crafty with how they incorporate different ingredients and flavors to surprise you.

2. Healthy –

Did you know that drinking craft beer is actually HEALTHIER for you?? Craft Beer can actually help lower your cholesterol, your risk of heart failure and even reduce the risk of weight gain in women! Hallelujah, your prayers have been answered! Read more about the health benefits here

3. American

The craft beer movement started in America, it is a product of the American free & creative spirit. Enjoy a bit of culture in a bottle no matter where you are. Whether you are in Stockholm, Sweden or Seoul, South Korea; sit back & sip on American craftsmanship.

American Craft Beer

4. Alcohol % –

Did you know that the ABV in Craft Brews is much higher than your regular old beer?  Craft Brews = MORE fun per bottle!

5. $$$ Money $ –

Quality over Quantity.  With the higher alcohol by volume (ABV) that means less beers to buy. Meaning you and your wallet both can have a great time! Who wouldn’t want that??

Money Cloud

6. Drink a Beer as Original as You

With 70+ types of Craft Beer and every brewer’s personal style of beer, the options are limitless! Let the adventure begin as you enjoy craft beer styles and flavor profiles. You can find your favorite type of beer and a brewery that matches your style to explore them all!  Learn more about craft beer styles –

7. Great Conversation Starters

Want to get to know a co-worker or new friend better? Beer is always an excellent start. Not only does craft beer alcohol percentage make the words flow, it gives you a topic to talk about.

8. Drinkable Art –

Each craft beer is its own work of art. A master piece that the brewery team worked hard to create. Everything was chosen to delight your senses from the bottle cap, label design, the bottle and of course.. the beer! Go discover art in a whole new light at your local pub.

It's Art! Gif

9. Support Smaller Businesses –

Each craft beer you taste started because a brewer followed their dream! Running a business and creating the art you are drinking takes a lot of hard work, sweat and tears. When you buy and enjoy craft beer, you are supporting small businesses and artists!

10. Be a part of the story –

Each Craft Brewery has their own story and signature style. When you drink one of their beers, you join the journey of sharing beer and art with the world. Share what you drink on social media! Brewery teams love to see folks enjoying their beer.

11. Food Pairing Fun–

Take your “beer game” to the next level! Craft Beer can be paired with different meals just like wine. Each type of beer has different flavors and notes that dance beautifully with your food’s flavor. This adds a new level to enhance a craft beer’s ability to create an enjoyable and memorable meal.

Winnie the Pooh Gif

12. More Mindful-

Engage your senses with the subtle notes found in your beer when you drink craft. This makes you a more enlightened and discerning beer drinker. “Craft-beer drinkers are more engaged than the mass domestic audience,” says Julia Herz, director of the Craft Beer Program at the Brewers Association.

13. Seasonality –

It is a way to let your pallet experience the seasons too! Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall each have their own clothing styles & foods… so why not beer? Craft brewers are constantly creating new brews that feature and pair with fresh “in season” ingredients for you to enjoy!

"Seasons" Tree - CKJY Exports Inc.

These are just some of the reasons why craft beer is exploding in popularity all over the globe. Craft beer is an enjoyable experience.

In fact…. American Craft Beer exports are at an all-time high! In 2017 the Craft Beer Exports from the USA were over $125 million dollars.

Brewer's Association
from the Brewer’s Association 4/3/18 Blog Post – AMERICAN CRAFT BEER EXPORTS SURPASS $125 MILLION

Want to learn more about how to bring some liquid gold to your country, talk to CKJY Exports today!

Bringing the world together 1 beer at a time… we will cheers to that!

Each week our CKJY Exports team shares something interesting about wine, craft beer, hard cider, importing/exporting alcohol, etc. Don't miss a round of informative blog posts.
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Want to import your own private West Coast label craft beer? Great! CKJY Exports can help with that. Learn more about this in Want Your Own Private Label or Custom Blend American Made Wine, Craft Beer or Hard Cider?

Why Try … West Coast Craft Beer?

 Not all beer is considered craft beer … yet all craft beer is still called beer.

Differences Between Beer & Craft Beer

True craft beer is made in small batches with high quality while regular beer is made in large batches with less quality.
Regular beer drinkers are more about consistency. Industrialized mass production beer suits the American distribution system, offers an ability to promote products nationwide and creates loyal mass market beer drinkers. Not only have most folks developed a loyalty to their brand, but they also have developed a standard taste expectation. As long as it’s their brand and it’s ice cold it’s all good.
True beer connoisseurs are drawn to craft beer.  For this reason, these connoisseurs are taste explorers. They want to get to discover their favorite flavors and get to know their beer’s history.


  • What hops were used?
  • Where is the brewery?
  • Who is the brewmaster?
  • How was it brewed?
However, almost all craft beer drinkers got their start with regular beer.

What is the Evolution to Becoming a Craft Beer Drinker?

How does one evolve from being a regular beer drinker into a craft beer drinker? Great question! 
By and large they are always ordering “something you’ve never had.” Looking for a new experience leads most beer drinkers to craft beer.
The best way for someone to ease into craft beer is to start light and slowly move to the heavier stuff. In other words, Pilsners, lagers, kolsh and other sessional beers are a good place to start.
Don’t be afraid to try anything a glassful at a time!
Bounce around to see what styles your taste buds enjoy. Are you a Cider person, are you more of a sour style drinker or do you enjoy Stouts?

Why Try … West Coast Craft Beer?

The West Coast is said to be where craft beer got it’s start. This makes sense because it has the best weather to grow hops. The West Coast grows 97.8% of hops in the US. Important to realize that immigrants were satisfied with the freedom America offered and dissatisfied with industrialized beer. So, they started making their own at home the way their families always had. Home brewing and craft brewing are inextricably linked.
However, this made for stiff competition in California, Washington, Oregon and even Idaho. If there are thousands of breweries you have to be the best to be successful. In my opinion this makes the West Coast the best coast when it comes to craft beers.
Want to learn a bit more about the history of craft beer? 1965 was a pivotal year for craft brewing when Anchor Brewing Company based in San Francisco was purchased by Fritz Maytag. This was the very beginning of the craft beer movement in America. The Brewer’s Association website’s posting History of Craft Brewing is a great resource to learn more about this movement in the beverage industry.
Go on a little adventure!
Order a different kind of beer … craft beer the next time you are out with friends. 


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Indian Alcohol Importing – A Bitter-Sweet Relationship

An inside glimpse on the process of importing alcohol to India by Kooshali Suresh Kumar

Indian alcohol importing industry is extremely challenging with a potential to be very lucrative. Social drinking is quickly becoming a part of the culture. Metropolitan cities in India have a variety of pubs, breweries, lounges and bars.

Visiting these places before I got into this industry, I used to think, how hard could it be? I was convinced it wasn’t so complicated.  Back then I was unaware of what it takes to set up establishments that serve alcohol. Little did I know that I would actually need to learn exactly how HARD it is.  Irony of my Life! I am going to share a bit of what I have learned about the Indian alcohol industry, since moving back home last April.

Importing Alcohol Into India 101

Like everyone else, I too hopped onto my computer, opened up Google and typed how to import alcohol into India? To my surprise there was no detailed information that gives you the step-by-step process, including the government websites.

Why don’t they give you the information like they do in America? Or Europe? Simple, because the government doesn’t think this information needs to be up on the website for the general public to view.

After many meetings with my attorney, I have learned that the Indian government stopped issuing importing licenses in 1947.  Obtaining one is a challenge and requires diligence, determination and connections. Thus, my diligence and determination has quadrupled. My business connections have increased exponentially and the hunt is on! My quest continues as I create an Indian alcohol importing branch to empower family run businesses on both sides of the Pacific ocean.

Importing Alcohol into India is not for the meek.

Challenges in the Indian market

My quest has definitely not been “a bed of roses” or a stroll on the beach. As the Indian culture shifts to include alcohol, there will be the inevitable pendulum swings in both social and legal acceptance.

Since the market is lucrative, the government intervention into this industry is more. In 2017, India faced two major issues that impacted the alcohol industry.

  • Goods & Services Tax – GST was implemented as a single taxation structure for all over India as opposed having many state taxation levels/laws. It came into effect on 1/07/2017. While all goods and services came under GST taxation, alcohol is the exception. It still comes under individual state taxation. Each of India’s 29 states has different alcohol laws. A few “dry states” ban alcohol still. Understanding these state taxation systems is essential.
  • 500 Meter Ban – Literally that’s what it was called. All establishments that serve alcohol and are within 500 meters of either a state or national highway were to be shut. This was governmental reaction to the increasing number of alcohol related accidents. A lot of facilities were impacted and had to be closed down. Understandably, this immediately led to the decline of alcohol sales and imports.

The GST changes and 500 Meter Ban happened one after the other, it took months to resume the business!

Indian Society & Laws Changing

As both Indian society shifts and the legal system works to incorporate these changes, we can expect missteps and overreactions. It reminds me of America’s Prohibition and the repeal of it. The ripple effects were interesting. These are no different in India.

These challenges, “tip of the iceberg” to changes in the Indian alcohol import market. It is very exciting to be on the tipping point in social and economic history as India surges ahead, re-defining cultural and business norms.

Initializing an Indian Alcohol Importing Business

I would say starting a business anywhere in the world has its pros and cons. The biggest pro for India is the market, it’s lucrative and the demand is there. Any Millennial would love to open up a brewery/bar if you look at the turnover in this industry. It seems so effortless, running this business. Sadly, that’s a facade.

In India, the price point is very crucial, as nationally the average Indian income is low. One of the biggest cons is that the spending power of an average in Indian is lower than an American or an European. Currently due to the margins, taxations and duties are so high even the “2 buck chuck” wines imported into India land up costing over $20.

Closing Thoughts on Indian Alcohol Importing …

Indians do have a bittersweet relationship with alcohol. (You could say it has a very high IBU!) Yes most of the millennial in Indians enjoy social drinking, be it a glass of wine or a pint of beer. But are often not able to experience imported alcohol due to a limited selection.

While the challenges are many, we are creating trade opportunities and relationships for our family run businesses. Just working with importers, I talked to people from different areas of the Indian market illuminated many of the challenges the smaller family businesses have encountered over the years.

Due to my interactions with many different people in the Indian alcohol market, it is clear to me that there are several untapped areas within India for us to enter. Therefore seeing the opportunity, the Indian curiosity to try new beverages and creating a new importing channel,  excites me making me forget all the paper work challenges and research I have done.

We at CKJY Exports are constantly looking for opportunities and markets that others have ignored. Thus creating trade opportunities for our family run wineries, craft breweries and hard cideries here in Indian family run shops, restaurants and hotels is exciting. Indian alcohol importing is both a CKJY Exports goal and priority. Building trade opportunities and relationships for family businesses is exciting, isn’t it?

CKJY Exports is striving to bring the best Cases and Kegs Just for You!

Each week our CKJY Exports team shares something interesting about wine, craft beer, hard cider, importing/exporting alcohol, etc. Don't miss a round of informative blog posts.
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New Cultural Personal Experience – Wine + Indian Heritage

Carpe Diem with Cardella Wines!

How do you make the most of your day? The phrase “Carpe Diem” means make the most of your day and Cardella Wines are a great way to make the most of any day.

Glimpses of Cardella Winery - 52017

Hidden Gem  = Cardella Winery

In fact most folks driving on California’s I-5 highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco have no idea they have missed a wonderful winery! Surprisingly in the middle of the farm fields of Mendota, you will discover acres and acres of wine grapes. Nestled among the almond trees and vineyards is a surprising Tuscan styled stone villa.

An Italian cypress tree lined wine oasis in the middle of California’s Central Valley beckons knowing travelers. Surprisingly, hidden here at Cardella’s winery you will find many enjoyable wines.

Old Ways Honored in California Vineyards

Cardella’s winemakers were originally immigrants hailing from Italy’s  Tuscan region. Bringing their Italian ways with their family around the turn of the 20th century, the family first settled in America in 1902. Their current vineyards were still planted in the 1970’s following their family’s long passed traditions.

Planting their vineyard’s roots in family tradition, the Cardella family harvests many of their wine grapes by hand. However, they pursue the newest enology and vineyard management practices that their winemakers have learned at Fresno State University. Nathan Cardella graduated and then became the driving force to build this lovely winery. Since founding and working with his father, Rod, together they have created delicious wines that compliment any occasion or table.

A Visual Taste of Cardella Wines

Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Ruby Cabernet, Albarino, Chardonnay, Moscato, Rosato, Prosecco, Pinot Grigio, Malbec, Zinfandel and Petit Verdot all are made in the Cardella Winery at prices everyone can appreciate.

Not only are their wines affordable, they are also award winning! To illustrate, Cardella’s winery team won a GOLD and two Silver medals at this year’s San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition.

Gold – 2016 Dry Rosato & Silver – 2016 Chardonnay & 2016 Albarino

As a matter of fact, these latest awards are additions to a very full awards cabinet. Hence, you can see for yourself at the Cardella Winery Awards Listing site – Cardella Awards.

Cardella Wines Pair WELL with Asian Dishes

Indeed pair these Cardella wines nicely with dishes from any kitchen, because they were originally created to pair with spicy Italian dishes. Therefore, you should taste test them with your favorite meals.

A Few Pairing Suggestions:

  • Seafood Dish (Fish/Shellfish) – Albarino, Moscato, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Ruby Cabernet
  • Chicken Dish -Albarino, Chardonnay or Pinot Noir
  • Pork Dish -Pinot Noir or Sangiovese
  • Roast Lamb Dish – Syrah, Malbec or Ruby Cabernet
  • Beef Dish – Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot  or Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Mushroom Dish – Syrah, Malbec or Barbera
  • Cheese Plates – Prosecco or Merlot

Or … Enjoy by the glass these favorite Cardella wines – Chardonnay, Merlot or Sangiovese


Glimpses of Cardella Wine Labels - 52017

Interested in importing Cardella Wines?

Consequently, these Cardella wines make lovely additions to your  hotel, restaurant, shop or private collection’s wine listing?  CKJY Exports, Inc. exclusively represents this fine family’s wines abroad.

To sum up – Contact us today to discuss more.

Would you like to learn about another Italian inspired winery we represent? Read more about

Taking a Closer Look at Creating a Private Label Wine, Craft Beer or Hard Cider with CKJY Exports

Want to make a lasting impression on your clients? Have you considered creating your own West Coast private label alcohol beverage?  If so… you may have some questions like these about creating a private label :

What is a “Private Label” 

A Private Label for export is a product that is already made that you chose and create a label for. Along the West Coast there are so many excellent producers of wine, beer and cider that will create extra of their quality product for you to place a unique label on for your use.

Why create a private label? 

Now, that that you know WHAT a private Label wine, beer or cider is.

Why do you need to import a private label?

SO many reasons!

Here are just a few of them:

Hotel – 

  • You run a hotel, which means you carefully curate your guests entire experience to be top of the line from their rooms, the hotel bar, pool and restaurants. Your guests are often loyal customers who appreciate your dedication to a quality experience. They will definitely appreciate you selecting a wine or beer to pair with their experience.
  • A great way to grab attention of guests would be to offer a great value happy hour pouring of your Private Label wine, beer or cider! Definitely will get them talking with their friends and family about you.

Restaurant – 

  • Restaurants design the entire experience of a meal by selecting the decor, crafting a menu and training the wait staff. Why not go one step further? Have a private label collection of wine, beer or cider that your guests can enjoy alongside their meal. (Or take home to recreate the experience and share with friends) Elevate the dining experience through crafting a Private Label with an expert team!

Chain Stores-  

  • Your loyal customers trust & respect your brand, that’s why they are repeat customers. When trying new items customers will be more eager to trust your judgement. (Successful stores in the USA that have done this well are Target & Trader Joe’s)
  • Create a label to match your brand and customers buying history to further grow your relationship with customers.

Traditional Company – 

  • So many gift are given out to clients and employees.. But how memorable are they? What type of impression do you think a Private Label Wine with your logo & a special message would make? (Hint: a HUGE impression) Demonstrate how you truly value employees, clients and colleagues with this thoughtful gift. It is something unique and personal and will portray a sense of pride for what your company does.
    • Give something to your clients that will not fade away like so many other gifts do. (Just like your superior service stands out)
    • Give a gift of pride and accomplishment to your employees to share with friends and family that shows how much you truly appreciate their hard work and dedication to the company.

Special Events –

  • Are you hosting a wedding, anniversary, grand opening, special holiday party or a festival? How better to mark the special occasion than with a private label wine!  Commemorate a spectacular day with your own Private Label wine, beer or cider. The best part is, you can drink it at the party, give as Party Favors or drink afterwards remembering the great day.

It is a gift that keeps giving with memories, personal art & a wine that grows with age.

Distribution –

  • Is there an idea that you just have to get out there? Something you see bringing people together over drinks to share stories & experiences? Do you want it to pop off the shelf at a store, restaurant, hotel or bar?

Build that with CKJY Exports. Our skilled team will bring your idea to life through our award winning winemakers and brewmasters and graphic designers.

Why not create a private label?

It’s fun! 

  • Never show up to another dinner party empty handed or with a blah bottle of wine. Give the gift of something you specifically made to share with all your friends, family and colleagues. Your Private Label is the finished product of drinkable art… that you commissioned & designed. A sure fire conversation starter!
A couple sample label options to help you visualize possibilities for your own.

How do you make a private label?

I am glad you asked!  

You have to be able to answer these basic, very important questions before getting to the creative part of creating a private label of your own.

Questions –

Wine, beer or hard cider?

  • Your purpose for creating a private label? – Are you selling this wine or using it as a gift? Is it to be used for a company, event or personal gift/consumption?
  • What quantity do you need? (Minimum size order = 1 pallet of wine, craft beer or hard cider)
  • Pricing? This varies depending on what you are seeking. We have lots of options available for export.
    • How much are you looking to spend for the full order?
      • Then understand how this will translate per unit.
        • (product, design, printing, shipping, customs, testing & importing costs)
  • Can you describe the flavor or style you are looking for?
    • What is most popular in your store/restaurant/hotel of this type of product?
    • What is your favorite?
    • Are you looking for something to age well or drink soon?
    • Who is going to be drinking this?
      • This is very important to understand when choosing your product? That way you wow your audience & get the best result for you end product
        • Different cultures, ages & regions have different taste profile

Timeline Matters. Let’s Plan for Success!

What is your “timeline”? Understandably, exporting takes time and we want to plan your private label to reach you and your special premier event in plenty of time for shipping, getting through customs, etc.

Contact CKJY Exports!

Then, we will make creating a private label a breeze 🙂

Creating a private label with CKJY Exports utilizing American wine, craft beer or hard cider will give your imported private label a signature flavor!

Doesn’t this sound AWESOME?!?!

Check us out  prototypes of private labels on our CKJY Exports Online Label Gallery. 

Interested? Contact us to create a private label to export for you!

Want to read a bit more about creating a private label with CKJY Exports? Read an earlier post about these exciting possibilities – Want Your Own Private Label or Custom Blend American Made Wine, Craft Beer or Hard Cider?


Why Try … Marvelous Merlot?

Where did Merlot go?

When is it coming back?

Merlot used to be the most popular wine drank  all over the world. It used to be everyone’s “go to” red wine. So where did it go?

What Happened to Change Things?

This lovely red wine took a siesta in 2004 due to a movie about wine. A quote from this movie spread through the wine industry like wildfire and Merlot became an outcast over night.

Nobody wants to drink something that isn’t the “in” thing. Think about it. How many times have you been somewhere and seen a colorful drink served with a crazy straw or some type of garnish, such as an umbrella served in it? Next thing you know there is one at every table! It doesn’t matter what that drink tastes like.

People are not ordering it because it tastes good. They are ordering it because it looks cool and everyone else has it. Merlot used to be that colorful drink with the umbrella. It was appealing because it sounded cool to say. It sounded complicated but was easy to drink. Merlot has been and will be one of the most popular grapes in the world because of this.

& Now …

Merlot to some people became a generic way to order wine. “I’ll just have a beer…I’d like a martini…a glass of Merlot for me please.” This tells the person serving the wine that the person ordering the wine doesn’t really care all that much about how the wine tastes. It just needs to be red wine served in a fancy glass.

Just like if someone says they just want a beer that person generally only cares about two things: 1) that beer needs to be ice cold and 2) it should be light and easy to drink. This is what people began to expect from Merlot. A nice soft, easy to drink red wine in a fancy glass.

Marvelous Merlot is Making a Comeback

On the restaurant scene, we see that this medium bodied red wine is once again being requested by name with thought behind it. More than that … folks that order it are enjoying it. Californians are once again enjoying it.

So in conclusion,  Merlot is back and it’s still for everyone! It appeals to everyone because it can be drank by everyone. So whether you are drinking box wine out of a styrofoam cup or a ten thousand dollar bottle of it out of crystal glassware just make sure you are enjoying it.


Wine Wisdom & Merlot?

When you order this lovely wine, look for either a “berry jam” or “red currant” flavor. The “berry jam” flavor comes from vineyards in warmer climates and the “red currant” flavor is present in grapes grown in cooler climates.

Did you know that California Merlots often have blackberry or vanilla flavor note? While Washington state Merlots offer red plum and cedar notes.

Isn’t it terrific how our love of wines can help us sample a world of flavors like this?

Each week our CKJY Exports team shares something interesting about wine, craft beer, hard cider, importing/exporting alcohol, etc. Don't miss a round of informative blog posts.
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Want to learn more about wine? Read our post from last month on Cabernet Sauvignon it is typically the wine many confuse with Merlot on blind taste tests.

#OpenThatBottleDay = Create a Wine Occassion

Everyone who enjoys wine seems to collect a few bottles or a cellar full, right? Then, you “save” a bottle or a few for a special occasion … that never comes. Those dusty saved bottles are the stars of #OpenThatBottleDay ! Celebrate with us!

Did you know that since 2000, the last Saturday of February is “Open that Bottle Day”? Not our best known holiday is it? We should celebrate anyway because there is a great reason for it. Don’t let your saved wine go to waste.

Oops! We missed the day. – Do not miss the spirit of the event.

Use #OpenThatBottleDay as a reminder to evaluate your wine collection. Our CKJY Exports team celebrates this annually by using the #OpenThatBottleDay event to help us evaluate the wines we have been “saving.”

Suggestion = Select an evening this week that you will be able to fully enjoy a wine focused evening.

Plan a meal around this bottle and open it JUST BECAUSE this week!

Time Matters to Wine – Saving Too Long Can Ruin Wine

Saving wine too long can be bad. Did you know that a Cabernet Sauvignon can be stored for 7-10 years but that a Merlot only 3-5 years for optimum quality? Wine definitely has a shelf life and needs to be enjoyed before it gets too old.

Here is a handy reference guide for how long each type of wine can be stored shared by Fine Wine Concierge.

If you would prefer an infographic, Wine Folly has a terrific one, Cellar Wine Guide.

Tips for Opening Older Wine Bottles

Sometimes older corks can crumble easily. The best opener for this type of cork is the double prong opener. If your cork crumbles, you can always use a strainer to separate cork bits from the wine and still enjoy it.

You may want to allow the wine to “resettle” in an upright position for a few days. This will allow sediment to settle to the bottom of the bottle.

Looking for other tips? The Wall Street Journal shared an Open That Bottle article in 2007 with lots of tips. You may want to read through for more tips.

Create a Wine Occassion to Enjoy Your Saved Bottle

Why not collaborate with friends to fully enjoy #OpenThatBottleDay ? Host a potluck gathering and ask everyone to bring a bottle from their collections? That way each of you get to try even more wine, right? Sharing is the true essence of wine. Gather friends, collect saved bottles and enjoy an evening together.

Have fun with your wine! That’s what wine and #OpenThatBottleDay is all about.

Each week our CKJY Exports team shares something interesting about wine, craft beer, hard cider, importing/exporting alcohol, etc. Don't miss a round of informative blog posts.
If you check this box, please provide your address and phone number. Thank you!

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.