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Wine Review: Is the end near for brick and mortar wine shops?

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Please stand up, bow your head and say a goodbye prayer to the brick and mortar wine shop.

As the all-electronic 21st century advances, many of your old buying habits will disappear in favor of looking over your shoulder and telling an electronic device to place an order for almost anything you want from pizza to wine. The day is coming when you will not even have to leave home to shop for anything, and the products will delivered directly to your front door by drone.

So why shouldn’t the wine industry be doing the same thing?

Some are. Many of the smaller boutique wineries do not have the production volume of the “big boys,” and therefore can be more nimble in developing sales strategies. The standard way of selling wine is becoming antiquated: It’s a government-mandated, three-tier system in which wineries could only get their products into the marketplace by hiring a distributor to sell to a wholesaler to sell to a retailer.

But there’s a loophole in this restrictive system. Wineries are permitted to sell directly on premises or via the internet.

By selling directly to the consumer, many small wineries that produce noteworthy wines can successfully compete with the winemaking giants. One of these unshackled producers is Windsor Vineyards, which can now sell wines to the public well below the price they would command if distributed in the old manner.

Windsor Vineyards 2015 Sonoma Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($24)
This deeply colored, fruity wine stresses the flavors and aromas of blackberries, black cherries and oak. This wine is packed with jammy fruit flavors running the gamut of summer red fruits and berries. There is a new flavor experience with each sip. The tannins, which can be formidable in a cabernet sauvignon, are held in check so that the wine needs no further aging. I believe that even the most devoted classical style cabernet lover will enjoy this wine, as will the novice. 

Windsor Vineyards 2016 Gewurztraminer ($14)
If you have never experienced a gewurztraminer, you have missed a white wine noted for the most intense aroma of any other wine. This bright, fruity wine has the expansive floral aroma showcasing dried apricots, peaches, rose petals, wild flowers and honey, and it grows in intensity as the wine sits in the glass. On the palate, there are  flavors of green apple, apricot and mango, followed by a crisp acidity and the sensation of spice. In fact, part of the name, “gewurz," is the German word for spicy; “traminer” is taken from the Italian town of Tramin, where the variety originated, according to This wine that will add a touch of elegance to any dinner table.

Windsor Vineyards 2016 Riesling ($14)
This fruity, off-dry (that’s a nice way to say it’s a bit sweet) white wine has been made in the old German tradition. The wine has the apricot and raisin aroma and flavor, which is the signature flavor of all wines made from the riesling grape from Germany’s Rhine region. The usually high-fruit acid level, common to the variety, is purposely held in check so the flavor of the fruit predominates. This wine also is blessed with a multifaceted fruity finish that lingers long on the palate and in the memory, making this the perfect wine to accompany salads or lighter meats, such as pork.

Windsor Vineyards 2016 Chardonnay Russian River Valley, Evelyn Parrish Vineyard ($36)
I saved this wine for last. I have always been very critical of chardonnay wines because I feel that many of them are weak examples of the variety’s capabilities. This multidimensional wine lived up to my expectations and then some. The aromas of ripe apple, pear and toasted oak continue onto the flavor with undertones of citrus. This wine ends in a long, elegant, fruity finish and also displays the often missing smooth and creamy mouth feel; I loved it.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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