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Vinously Speaking – A Wine Shop You Can Build


Vinously Speaking logo.jpg

By Cecil Flentge

Vinously Speaking is a small wine shop in the medical center area powered by two dynamic women.  Veronique ‘Ceci’ Barretto and Melissa Unsell formally opened the successful shop a year ago and they want to do more – and they want you to help.  They are using crowdfunding, a method of asking for financial backing online and in this case donations (with perks).

While speaking with Ceci Barretto about their plans for expansion and innovative push for funding, she spoke of her excitement about all the new, big wine retailers in San Antonio.  More than competition, Barretto looks at them as helping to raise the awareness of wine in the Alamo City, which can only help her business.

But she insists that small retailers have to ‘up their game’ to offer their customers something more, something like – a wine bar.

That is the object of their funding campaign, to add on to their existing shop and offer better ways for their customers to enjoy wine.  Like wines by the glass, by the flight, some deli items to match their wines, and private event rooms.

Their goal is $30,000 — and they have raised more than $5,300 at the time of this writing.

Oro is pairing wine with a special dinner. A few more things on the wish (or “need”) list posted on the funding site include — alcohol license, furnishings, decor, paint, lighting, bar build out, wine dispenser, stemware, utensils, updated computer system, additional water closet, wine storage and “a few other items to get the ball rolling.”

Those are the current goals and they want you involved in making it happen.

On their funding site (click here), you can donate whatever amount you want and they list the “reward levels” where they acknowledge your commitment to the project.  It ranges from getting a T-shirt to the impressive naming of an event room after you with your picture on the wall.

Sounds like an endowment to an Ivy League college — but does it work?

The two women have already raised thousands of dollars and you can track their progress on the site.  If this sounds ambitious and intriguing, visit their shop during one of their weekly wine tastings and meet Unsell and Barretto. Maybe your plans can include theirs.

Vinously Speaking An Eclectic Wine Shop & Blog is at 7271 Wurzbach, Ste. 117,  210-793-4078.

Cecil Flentge is a San Antonio wine educator for professionals or novices and a restaurant/bar consultant. Restaurant events or home tastings. Questions? Email cecil@wine2you.com

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Wine, A Fine Wine Shop, Will Have Its Grand Opening This Week


Veronique Cecilia Barretto at Wine, A Fine Wine Shop.

Ceci Barretto and Melissa Unsell, the wine bloggers of Vinously Speaking, are opening Wine, A Fine Wine Shop, at 7271 Wurzbach Road, Suite 117, with a grand opening this weekend.

The Medical Center wine shop is located where Rio de Vino once was.

“This is an exciting endeavor for us as we strive to ignite the urban wine culture in our great city,” says Unsell.

Their philosophy is to make wine an un-intimidating, fun libation. And so their store has something for all wine lovers and all tastes.

“Our focus is to offer our clients selections from boutique lots of wine that most times are not offered at other high-volume retail locations,” says Barretto.

The owners will mark the store’s opening with a three-day celebration from 2 to 8 p.m. May 10-12. Wine samples will be offered, live music is planned and a food truck could pull up. All guests will receive 30 percent off their wine purchases.

After the opening, the owners plan to offer wine education events for all levels of wine lovers, from novices on up. Tastings will be every Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m.

Barretto has her masters in Wine Business from the Burgundy School of Business and her WSET Level 3 – Advanced Certificate for sommeliers. By day, Unsell is a marketing director for a local litigation technology firm; she has been a wine blogger for over a year and is studying to obtain the WSET Level II certification.

Wine, A Fine Wine Shop, will be open Tuesday-Thursday, 3 – 7 p.m.; Friday, 3 – 8 p.m.; Saturday, noon – 8 p.m.

Call (210) 240-5866.Email: vinouslyspeaking@gmail.com. Web: www.vinouslyspeaking.com.

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Two Women Take Over Wurzbach Road Wine Shop


Veronique Cecilia Barretto at her wine shop.

Veronique Cecilia Barretto and Melissa Unsell have become the new owners of Wine: A  Fine Wine Shop at 7271 Wurzbach Rd. The new shop will still focus on wine, but the name will change after the first of the year to Vinously Speaking, which is also the name of Barretto’s blog.

Brotherhood Holiday Spice Wine

The store offers a broad array of wines for all tastes, whether you’re looking for some Old World reds, New World whites or sparklers to fit a few budgets. A lineup of wines from Yarden in Israel includes a Cabernet Sauvignon that Barretto recommends for holiday dinners. The kosher winery doesn’t rely heavily on oak, allowing the natural flavor of the grapes and terroir to come through, she says. The wine sells for $45.

Dolce the shop dog.

Also at the wine shop is Holiday Spiced Wine from Brotherhood, the oldest winery in the country. The New York wine features “cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and a secret variety of other herbs and spices,” the label says. Serve it warm on a cold day. The wine sells for $15 a bottle.

Plans are to add a wine bar area after the first of the year.

While you’re at the store, say hi to Dolce, the shop dog.

The store is open Tuesday-Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. For information, call 210-240-5866.

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Griffin to Go: A Taste of Texas Wine Offers Something Beyond the Same Old Chardonnay


Kim Murray McDonald of flutiemcd.com and Sarah Vernetti of WanderingOff.com enjoy the wines at the Taste of Texas Wine.

Veronique Barretto of VinouslySpeaking.com

Steinheimer’s Lounge at the Westin La Cantera features a treasure map on the ceiling that supposedly points to hidden gold. But on Friday night, the gold was found in glasses, as the bar was the setting of a Taste of Texas Wine Tweet-Up.

Wine from Haak, Becker, Alamosa and Inwood Estates.

Resort sommelier Steven Krueger and Vintage Texas wine blogger Russ Kane led a tasting of four uniquely different Texas wines, each made from grapes that extend far beyond the California classics, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

“Texas is its own growing region, unique,” Krueger told the audience of local bloggers and tweeters. “You walk into a Texas winery and you don’t know what they’re going to serve you … and that’s a challenge.”

Grapes with names like Aglianico, Touriga Nacional and Vermentino aren’t household favorites, Kane admitted. Yet these seem to be among the grapes that are proving to be perfect for the state’s climate and great for those “locapours” out there who want to drink locally, he said.

“Our wine experience is not going to be what a California wine experience will be,” Kane said.

Westin sommelier Steven Krueger leads the discussion.

California has cast a giant shadow that the rest of the wine growing regions in the nation all have to operate under, Krueger said.

But Texas winemakers are making strides with lesser-known varietals that are offer great flavors in the glass.

To prove that, Krueger started the tasting with the 2009 Haak Vineyards Blanc du Bois, which was steely and bracing with a citrus edge. “Lemon meringue pie,” pronounced Veronique Barretto, who writes the Vinously Speaking blog.

Blanc du Bois is a grape that was introduced in 1987. It was developed in Florida to withstand harsh growing conditions while being resistant to Pierce’s disease, a bacterial infection that has wiped out countless acres of vineyards in the U.S. and beyond. With a grape so new, “there’s not a history or tradition of making it,” Krueger said.

So, people like Raymond Haak of Haak Vineyards are writing that history with their attempts. Though the version poured at Steinheimer’s was dry, Haak also produces a sweet Blanc du Bois.

The main point of the event was to spread the word about Texas wine, which the various writers did with their tweets. The gathering included Heather Hernandez of GeeketteBits.com; Lauren Madrid, @ohmypuddin; Kim Murray McDonald of flutiemcd.com; Emily Stringer, @definedelicious; Stacy Teet, @steet; and Sarah Vernetti of WanderingOff.com.

While the bloggers tweeted away, our attention turned to the 2010 Becker Vineyards Viognier, all viscous and full of peach or apricot flavors. This is another grape that grows well in Texas, so well, in fact, that “it has kind of become our Chardonnay,” Kane said.

Richard and Bunny Becker have been pioneers of the grape in the state, Krueger said, adding that Bunny deserves credit for pushing for the grape’s growing acceptance among wine drinkers and growers alike.

Heather Hernandez of GeeketteBits.com (from left), John Madrid, Lauren Madrid of ohmypuddin and Stacy Teet of @steet

Third was the Alamosa Wine Cellars Palette, a Rhone-style blend that winemaker Jim Johnson likes to call “Chateauneuf-du-Bend,” a reference to the grapes’ Texas home town. This blend features Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvèdre, with a touch of the aromatic Viognier added for good measure.

Kruger said the wine showed Johnson’s “Old World soul” in its rustic yet elegant nature, with a slight touch of barnyard on the nose.

The tasting concluded with the 2007 Inwood Estates Tempranillo, another grape that is gaining great reviews for its robust flavors and adaptability to Texas soil. Tasting this made me want a large glass alongside venison with a blueberry or huckleberry sauce.

Russ Kane of VintageTexas.com tweets.

Barretto pointed out an almost Port-like quality to the wine, though it was dry. That could be because the Tempranillo grape is related to Touriga Nacional, the major grape used in Port, Kane answered.

When the wine opened, huge aromas of toffee, caramel, cajeta and other sweet and creamy combinations seemed to explode from the glass, all the while maintaining its fruit flavor.

But don’t take my word for it. Or Krueger’s, Kane’s or any of the bloggers on the scene. Only you can tell you what kind of wine you’ll like. And you can sample four Texas wines for $10 every evening from 5 to 6 p.m. at Steinheimers in the Westin la Cantera, 16641 La Cantera Parkway. Krueger changes the selection regularly, so there’s always something new to taste.

 

 

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