Friday, December 29, 2006

Humans aren't the only ones who appreciate fine wines

photo courtesy of bytepusher on Flickr

Thursday, December 28, 2006

What I Expect to See in the New Year

This is an excerpt taken from our store's weekly newsletter written by Tom:

"Mind you, my crystal ball is pretty murky (I mean, I did open a wine store, after all) but I'm going to give it a go. Worst case, all of my predictions will be wrong, but you'll probably have forgotten them long before then anyway.

  1. January 2007: The University of Florida will announce that they've developed a true vinifera grape varietal that will thrive in Florida. Dubbed "Sanagostino" it's a cross between Sangiovese and Kentucky tall fescue. Overplanting with rye grass is recommended in winter in the northern part of the state. No word yet on the quality of the wine we can expect from it.
  2. February 2007: Following the end of his term as Governor, Jeb Bush will take a place on the state's alcohol control board. There he will propose creating a pipeline from Texas to Tallahassee to provide a steady supply of ethanol to fuel the state's new fleet of flexible fuel vehicles. (We're puzzled, as we thought there was pleny of methane there already!)
  3. March 2007: The new surgeon general of the United States will annouce that "moderate" comsumption of alcohol prevents a host of new diseases, including beri-beri, dengi fever and the yaws. There's a sharp spike in sales of Merlot and sloe gin as a result.
  4. April 2007: The following week the FDA announces that alcohol has "no known medicinal uses" but decides to include alcoholic beverages in the revised food pyramid anyway. Critics claim the FDA has given in to industry pressure.
  5. May 2007: Barry Bonds is accused of using pinot noir from Oregon as part of his training regimen, and is immediately traded to Seattle for 10 cases of really good Napa Cab and a player to be named later.
  6. June 2007: Club Paris corporate loses its main supply of Cristal, several locations are forced to close. The city will once again bail out the Landing.
  7. July 2007: K-Fed (aka "Fed-ex") finds that his music career disappears when he is seen publicly drinking white merlot. (I have no idea what any of that means, it came to me in a vision.)
  8. August 2007: Total Wines, after opening their ninth Jacksonville store, is no longer content to merely sell wines below cost. Instead they begin paying customers to carry cases of "Two Buck Chuck" out the door. In reponse, Costco and Sam's close their wine departments, replacing them with Bavarian cut glass displays.
  9. September 2007: Twelve-year-old Jacksonville native John "Golden Nose" Brown releases his list of the top 100 wines his parents have bought this year. Customers flock to local wine merchants looking for his picks after they appear in the Folio Weekly wine column, but the his parents are arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
  10. October 2007: A local law firms institutes a "take your bottles to work" program when they realize that none of their attorneys have enough free time to actually have kids that they could bring to the office. Staffers trade notes and fondle bottles every Friday afternoon.
  11. November 2007: Beaujolais Nouveau is released on schedule, but the consensus is that it's dreck. Millions of unopened bottles are used to bridge the English Channel, causing fear of an invasion of the island nation. Port prices soar as a result.
  12. December 2007: In his final issue of "The Southside Cellars Newsletter" local wine merchant and IT consultant Tom Blakely admits that he never really liked wine that much anyway, and that from here on he will drink nothing but Mountain Dew and Gatorade.
If any of this actually happens, it's also likely that my numbers have come up in the lotto. So come see us before we retreat to a private island in the South Pacific."

Have a Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

New Year's Eve Guide to Bubbly

Do you *really* need Cristal to ring in the new year? There are some more widely available (and a LOT less expensive) Champagnes and sparkling wines with which to celebrate. Take a look at my New Year's Eve Guide to Bubbly, and watch out for low-flying corks!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Good Things Come in Small Packages

And by "small packages", I'm talking retailers. When you are out shopping (and not just for Christmas), remember that more often than not, small retailers can offer you much more both in service and selection than their big chain counterparts. Independent stores know their merchandise and their suppliers and most of the time can offer you whatever you are looking for to suit your budget. Big chain stores just push you towards the items that they make the most profit on, not caring whether or not you'll be satisfied.

Don't ever take it for granted that your favorite shop around the corner will always be there. Support the "little guy" and make a small business owner happy.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Daily Monster

Sure, this has absolutely nothing to do about wine, but I found this super-cool site where a very talented artist draws one monster per day and you get to see it unfold as he draws it.


Saturday, December 9, 2006

Holiday Gift Giving Guide

'Tis the season to gather 'round with friends and family. Wine and wine accessories are a great gift to give, not only for Christmas, but for birthday, anniversaries, you name it. If you're confused about what to give, check out Linda's Holiday Gift Guide to make your selections a little easier! If you don't see anything there that suits your fancy, just come into the store and I'll be happy to help you make the perfect gift selection that fits your budget!

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Why are we here?

Of course we want to sell wine. That's how we pay the rent. But what makes someone want to own a wine shop? Motives do vary. Some people want to be the biggest, or perhaps the cheapest. Some want to sell to everybody and some are just filling a hole in their store in the hopes of picking up a few extra bucks. Some want to rule the world.

There are a few of us, however, who are in this business because we have a real passion for wine. At Southside Cellars, we come as close as humanly possible to tasting every wine we sell before we offer it to you. And we taste a lot of wines that we don't choose to carry. There's more to this than just offering every wine in the world to our customers, and letting them sort it out.

We know our suppliers...and their suppliers. We know who makes great wines and who makes dreck. We know what's priced fairly, which wines are truly bargains, and which ones are over-priced. Basically, we can get any wine that's available in Florida, and we are happy to special order whatever you want. But the wines we do sell, represent what we think are the best of those we have tried so far.

We know a bit about winemaking, too. We know what it takes to make a great wine, whether it's a 50-case rare jewel or just a quality high production "every-day" kind of wine. We look for producers who care about their product, and uphold their standards of quality regardless
of outside pressures. There are great wines at every price point, but we avoid the hype from mega-case producers (those folks who really do want to rule the world!) and we seek out small to medium sized producers who put the same passion into their wines that we would if we were making them ourselves.

It's our philosophy, our number one rule, that we play straight with our customers, our staff, our providers and even our competitors. We will never recommend a wine unless we think it is a good wine, representative of the varietal or style, and priced fairly. We'll try as hard as we can to gauge your tastes before we recommend a wine. We'll never "up-sell" to try to get you to buy a more expensive wine. You have our word that, when we recommend a wine, especially a wine that you've never heard of, it's a good (or better!) wine at a fair price.

Earlier this year, many of you shared our joy when Tom was names "Small Business Leader of the Year" by the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce. On a personal level, it's been a great year, full of challenges and opportunity. We know that we are in a competitive market. Wine is a hot commodity, and it seems like every few months someone opens a wine store or wine bar. But the business climate here in Jacksonville is strong and there's room for all of us in the market. We know that you have a choice every day, with huge mass-market retailers, little guys like us, and just about everything in between. Let's just say that we appreciate those of you who value the care, service, honesty and experience that we provide. As much as we like the wine, our customers, many of whom have become friends, are the best thing about our little wine store.