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Alpine, Texas - Home Away from Home

Our YouTube Channel has nearly 40 new videos that were filmed in and around town. We’ll be chronicling the exploits of Hugh as he canvasses the Texas Desert Building our brand and hopefully making Stormhoek the biggest selling South African wine in all of West Texas.

We’ve already got half a dozen placements around town, and Hugh is now working on Marfa and Terlingua. With some luck and a good breeze, we should pick up a few more. Here is Hugh doing some more missionary work. Don’t know if the guys at Mondavi should be worried yet.

Our New Friend Guido- Living the Dream

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Guido is what you’d call a big Macher around Alpine. As he says, he is living The Dream.

Hard Work Continues

 

With the desert pretty well staked out, Hugh moves back into town. Canvassing, and bill posting, searching the highest traffic locations to post our fabulous “Dream Big Alpine” signs. People are starting to notice. We just know it.

Talent Like Nowhere Else

 

We all need a bit entertainment with our beer wine, and Harry is kind enough to supply it. The thing about Alpine is that music is really big, and there are some extraordinary talents around town. One of our favorite people is Jeffro. Jeffro plays the Ukulele, has the stage presence of David Lee Roth and the voice of Bob Dylan, he make any tune sound amazing- He ain’t no Tiny Tim

We’re trying to save up to sponsor Jeffro to go on tour, and we’re thinking about putting up a Paypay button for you guys to help us get him on the road sooner. Carnegie Hall awaits.

 Hail Jeffro!

Big Dreams, Bigger Challenges

Harry’s is ground zero in Alpine. It’s the local watering hole. Alpine has crazy licensing laws, so they can only sell wine and beer, and that means like 99.99% beer. According to Harry, we’re “kinda” crazy for introducing our wine in Alpine and “there are better places around”, but hey, WTF, it’s been a long haul and  turning back now just isn’t an option.

As Harry says, he’s living his “Big Dream” - hopefully he’ll help us live ours.

Working the Market

 

More hard work, getting the word out with no budget. We did the sign in the desert, which at least, dozens of people have seen. Now, our chance to dig deep into the consciousness the town: Really up the awareness! Hugh strikes out, looking for the most strategic places to post some of our “Dream Big, Alpine” posters. It was hot, and he was parched. All part of a days work building a major international brand in West Texas.

Cape Town- Alpine

So, after some delay, finally the wine arrived in Alpine, and rather than everyone gathering in the town square, waiting for the RNDC truck to unload and rejoice with the arrival of our fabulous wine, we were met with blank stares. “South What?”  they said- “I didn’t know they made wine in Africa”, others added, most folks said, “We’re gonna stick with our local wine“, but then, they tasted it at Harry’s, and then started to read the label. The idea of possibility started to sink in. Hugh said that he felt like Junipero Serra journeying to Baja California- “there was a lot of converting to do”.  

Alas, Alpine has nearly 6,000 inhabitants, there are almost twenty accounts that sell wine, and if we hope to become a major player in this town, we have to get moving, do the hard work, and start spreading the word. Alpine today… Marfa tomorrow, then on to New Braunfels… they’ll be no stopping us.

Welcome to the Middle of Nowhere - Want a Glass For That Beer?

Center of the Universe?

Center of the Universe?

We’ve been thinking about small. The sorts of places that don’t really matter much to most people. The kind of place that folks have maybe heard of, but will never find the time to visit. The fact that they are ‘out of the way’ doesn’t make those places less special, or interesting, but it in the eyes of some, it does tend to marginalize their importance.

For most folks in London, Shanghai or New York, South Africa is one of these places. While that doesn’t sit well with us, it is a fact of life. But, we come to realize that once you accept the fact, then the world looks like a much different place. We see the potential of small. The beauty of simple and the promise of an elegant idea that could make a difference.

What’s this got to do with wine, you ask?

Well, we are doing a launch for our new label in the US. But, we’re thinking: Why do the usual? Why beg the people who view us as being from a place that doesn’t matter to pay attention to our wine- let’s talk to people who actually view the world more the way we do. People who have rich lives in small towns, who make a difference every day and yes, who still “Dream Big” from little places.

So, we’re off to Alpine, Texas, not far from Marfa and just up the road from Valentine. We’re looking for Dreamers and people who stand out from the crowd. We have great hope that these folk by Dreaming Big, can Change the World.

Stay Tuned.

Here’s to a Healthy 2009

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{This was drafted this on New Year’s eve, and then I was counseled against posting it as it would not be positively viewed by certain folks} However, Sunday night, Sixty Minutes did another big piece on wine and health and the development of drugs based upon Resveratrol, so based upon that, it seems a worthwhile topic for discussion.

All of this comes with all of the usual warnings: Don’t drink too much, Don’t drink to get laid and if you are pregnant, don’t even think about it, if you are an alcoholic, get help.  

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The connection between wine and health has become a major topic. But in many countries, we in the wine biz are restricted from talking much about it. So, we sort of mince around the edges. These restrictions are largely forced through by the anti-alcohol lobby, but there is a bit of historical baggage as a result of alcohol laden tonics that were sold years ago for medicinal purposes, but didn’t do much other than get you a bit ‘happy’. In 1991 The French Paradox, started to reshape how people looked at wine. Now, armed with new technologies, universities, pharma and labs around the world have been delving into why wine is apparently so healthful. This was a big year for advances in these discoveries, so I thought it would be useful to review some of the new and established findings.

First, limited amounts of alcohol is known to be good for you, with the following effects: (here was my source)

A. It increases HDL (”good”) cholesterol.
B. It decreases LDL (”bad”) cholesterol.
C. It improves cholesterol (both HDL and LDL) particle size
Alcohol decreases thrombosis (blood clotting).  

A. It reduces platelet aggregation.
B. It reduces fibrinogen (a blood clotter).
C. It increases fibrinolysis (the process by which clots dissolve).
Alcohol acts through additional ways.  

A. It reduces coronary artery spasm in response to stress.
B. It increases coronary blood flow.
C. It reduces blood pressure.
D. It reduces blood insulin level.
E. It increases estrogen levels

 

But, none of the above is new. The new research has to do with the other compounds which originate in the skins and seeds of the grape. Resveratrol: This is a Phytoalexin, which is an antibiotic that is created in certain plants to fight off infection. It is apparently found in varying concentrations in both red and white wines. It is being formulated as a drug under the name SRT-1720, and what was new this year were a number of findings that this drug helps control insulin and somehow reverses the toll of overeating. It has been described as potentially helping people lose weight without dieting.There was also work done this year on Polyphenols, known as oligomeric procyanidins, these compounds are well known for their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

There is new work such as this study which intends to quantify the impact these polyphenols may have on the effects of smoking. For me, I was shocked by some further findings this fall, on the effects of grape seed extract, another polyphenol intense compound, on a number of things: In June, there were reports that grape seed extract administered to mice could slow or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. Then today, it was reported  by The American Association for Cancer Research, that grape seed extract killed laboratory leukemia cells, a similar report can be found here.  

You could spend a full day reading the studies, and I suggest you do, as there is lots of good information online (avoid the sites selling diet supplements), but the net result is that the more scientists investigate, the more they are finding a rich variety of benefits from wine.It is worth mentioning that many of these compounds are available as supplements, and I do take some of them, but there is fairly consistent research that indicates that the absorption of these compounds is better as a food or in wine, then they are taken separately. I think this is especially true with resveratrol.

Cheers! for the new year and remember: Everything in moderation ;-)    

[PS- Also, this year a lot was reported about White wine being as good for you as Red, and I can assume that also goes for Rose (except for that sweet White Zin gunk, which I am sure will kill you, if you drink enough]

Let’s Play: Changing the World, One Sip at a Time

snapshot-2009-01-19-18-49-49.tiffWe all know that politics and alcohol, don’t mix. The incumbent President of the United States had to give up one for the other, but that is another story. In any case, the bright sparks over at The San Francisco Weekly, have proposed The Obama Inaugural Drinking Game. The suggested game is below:

Take a small sip of whatever you’ve got if: 

Obama mentions his wife or family by first name; He mentions Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid; He mentions Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, or his own numerous Kenyan relatives; ”Hope” or “Change” is uttered;He talks about puppies. 

Take a moderate sip, if: 

He mentions John McCain or Sarah Palin (or winks); He mentions some random American from a swing state who’s up shit creek health- and economics-wise; He uses the terms “crisis,” “meltdown,” “Depression,” or “Ponzi”;

Drink liberally, if: He connects the departure of George W. Bush with the most well-known term from his home state: “Aloha”; ”Allow me to express my feelings with this brief interlude of interpretive dance”; He quotes Dick Cheney; He quotes Cheney and follows it up by clutching his heart and shouting “Here I come, ‘Lizbeth! It’s the big one!

Go on a rampage, if: Profanity is uttered; Obama has the Rev. Rick Warren finish the speech for him in an act of bipartisanship; He mentions that betting a dollar in Vegas that a black man would be sworn in as president in the same year the Arizona Cardinals went to the Super Bowl would make you a millionaire many times over.    

———————————————————————————————————————————————-We would never condone the imprudent consumption of alcohol, but it seems that given that we sold a couple of million bottles last year proclaiming “Change the World or Go Home” on the label, that participating just this once, in mixing wine and politics would be okay. After all, it is a momentous occasion and the world certainly needs some changin’.

 

 

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