There are quite a few winemakers who get refueled with this blog after dealing with annoying wine blogger requests, charity donation solicitations, and plain dumb customers questions so it only makes sense that this Washington wine blogger swim against this fetid tide and make some usable suggestions. Let’s call this the namestorming issue!
Part of any winery’s marketing machine’s duties is coming up with fanciful names for their wines. After all, it has been proven time and again that what’s in a name really does sell wine to those who have no clue or care in the world about the wine itself. And, if the name is especially kitschy or synonymous with a fad, then the name itself becomes a metonym for the winery. My favorite klunker is ‘Paisano’ from Carlo Rossi. What’s in it is a mystery but it sounds so trailer-park that it’s the perfect wine when I’m wearing homeless casual stained wifebeaters and watchin’ another wrasslin’ show on tv. ‘Tickle Me Pink’ is another that’s an easy sell for the truly clueless.
However, picking a fanciful name is like picking a double-edged dagger. One winemaker named his barbera-zinfandel mix ‘Barfindel’. Surprise! It didn’t sell at all so he changed it to ‘Zinberra’ instead. Then, there’s the play on that wonderful wine region in France, Côtes du Rhône, by a South African winery that moved a lot of wine but killed the winery’s reputation for making fine wines. Can you picture a fine dinner of chateaubriand carved tableside next to a bottle of ‘Goats Do Roam’? Why, it would give even the stuffiest of wine smelliers fresh breath.
Finally, there’s the economic cost issue that underlies all naming possibilities. Wineries pay a hefty chunk of coin to retain barristers that steer any potential name clear through the trademark process to ensure there are no infringement issues. Ask Obelisco Estate about their recent tiff with a South American “winery” over their own name. The most memorable domestic battle was over the Stags Leap name, which I covered in another post.
Thankfully, Washington wineries have, for the most part, conjured up some symbolic names that reflect the quality of their wines. The following are some categories that could be found in Woodinville tasting rooms:
French: Aix, Austral, BDX, Besoleil, Chaleur Estate, Clos de Betz, D2, La Cote Rousse, La Serenne, La Vie en Rouge, Le Deuce, Le Parrain, L’Etalon, Metier, Montreux, Oui, Pere de Famille, Poggiolo Rosso, Sur La Mer
Italian: Breccia, Ottimo, Pescaia, San Remo, Tre Fanciulli, Tutto Rosso, Villa Rocca, Villa Toscana
People names: Aunt Lee, Auntie Meredith’s Picnic Blend, Big Papa, Domenica, Don Isidro, Donna Maria, Elizabeth June Rose, Faye Red Blend, Jolie Bouche, Josie, Konner Ray, Lola, Mary Jeanne, Nellie’s Garden, R.H.D., Ruby Leigh, Sweet Catherine, Timley
Gritty: Alias, Bad Habit, Barrel Thief Red, Conflict, Crazy Mary, Derby Girl, Felony, Feral, Fringes, Guillotine, Gun Metal, Kingpin, Mr. Big, Nuclear Blonde, Outcast, Outlaw, Reckoning, Riff-Raff, Ruckus, Secret Weapon, The Bully, The Dissident, The Dungeon, The Evil Twin, The Ghost of 413, The Norseman, The Wanted, Thieve, Water Witch, Wild Eyed, Zachary’s Ladder
Colors: Black Love, Black Tongue, Blackboard, Dark Side, Darkness, Red, Red Head, Red Paintbrush, Rough House Red, Royal Slope Red, Shya Red, Tinto, Tuscan Red
Winemaking: Basket Press, Blend 105, Cellarmaster’s riesling, Double Barrel, Winemaker’s Cabinet, Puncheon
Vineyard-related: Block 3, Clone 6
Washington State: Cuvee Parallel 46, DIst 83, Evergreen, Harrison Hill, Island Belle, Peninsula, Potlatch
Of course, those are just a sample of what’s out there, but you already know that.
So, what’s next?? You can bet there will be new names debuting this autumn with the release of red wines, but you are the winery that needs “creative stimulus.” Here’s where the wineman can help kickstart the rusty engines. When the above-mentioned categories fail you, go back to the simple. What are your favorite song titles growing up? Wine and song have a long, deep intertwined history, so this is a good start. When that fails, go with the current trend of “mashing” two words, but keep in mind that this is a fad with the current millenials. Your older customers will need a tutorial. A more traditional take on that would be to find some obscure college-level word that no one else staked a claim on. When your list is compiled (and you should have at least ten to choose from), go on the internet and find a trademark search engine to confirm its eligibility.
The following are some basic examples:
“16” or “6teen.” Many songs are made of this coming-of-age yearmark. You won’t need “Sixteen Reasons.” It won’t cost “Sixteen Tons.” Supporters include Johnny Burnette, Ringo Starr, the Crests, Chuck Berry, and even Neil Sedaka. Take it before Tamarack Cellars decides to add 16 varietals to its Firehouse Red. “Dirty Hoe.” Obviously, use a farmer’s hoe as a picture to clear things up but play the double entendre! Bring this to a party and announce, “Who wants a ‘Dirty Hoe’?” Too bad it’s already taken. “Grip It and Rip It.” A golfing term which implies a well-to-do clientele. It also implies a cheap wine, so be careful. “Yesss!” That serendipitous feeling of winning. “Vengeance.” Is there any word more brooding and insidious as this? “Mon Oncle.” French for “my uncle.” Hey, there’s a couple aunties out there… how about one for the uncle? “SVP.” Nouveau French for s’il vous plait, or “please.” “Me Gusta.” A tragically hipster term and Spanish for “I like.” Don’t even try it. “How I Roll.” A true hipster’s locution. Real easy to describe at the table—“This is ‘How I Roll!’” Connotes a party wine. “Ruby Thursday.” The Rolling Stones claimed Tuesday but Thursday’s free. “Lit.” Continuing on the hipster theme. “Going to the store? Here’s ten. Get ‘Lit’ for me.” “1derful.” Sam Cooke and Johnny Mathis would approve. “Miss Q. Us” Short for promiscuous. A wine that gets around town. “Black Rainbow.” A mash of black and double rainbow. For an extracted red wine that tastes like an epic orgasm. “Terminal Ferocity.” A mash of terminal velocity and ferocious. Describes a high-octane wine with an equally vicious flavor profile. Used to describe Mark Ryan Winery wines. “Eunoia.” The shortest English word containing all five main vowels. Greek origins meaning “well mind” or “beautiful thinking.” “Tsktsks.” The longest English word without any vowels. “Bokeh.” A photographic term to describe aesthetics of the background blur. Implies a pleasing, artful quality. “Principal.” The top. The chief. The main ballerina. “#@*!” If the TTB approved a wine named “?,” then I don’t see the problem. “YOLO.” You only live once.
That’s all you’re getting. Hey, it’s free. Just give me the credit/blame and save me a bottle.
Much has been written up about this south warehouse district winery so you’ll only get the basics here. David Philip and Corinne (“Cindy”) Suzanne Lawson, both 50 years old, are the owners. They go together like wine and food as David studied winemaking at UC-Davis and Cindy studied the culinary arts. Before moving to Woodinville, they lived in the formerly quiet backcountry town of Covington, east of Kent. Their two winemakers, Morgan and Donavon, are also involved in their own project, II Vintners, that is only accessible to wine clubbers. This year is the winery’s 10th in operation.
Now, the following comments are strictly observations meant to provide feedback to the winery. In no way am I dissing this winery as their wines are of under-the-radar, top-tier quality. But, let’s just say this—if you are not a wine clubber or personal friends/neighbors of the owners, then their spacious tasting room is not too conducive to visitors. The staff there appeared unenthused to greet new visitors and lacked any welcoming smiles or gestures. This tasting room is not for the newbie so here’s some advice: have your cash ready, pick the wines you want to sample, and don’t ask too many questions. It’s not a hostile place, but this isn’t Chateau Ste. Michelle either. This is especially true if there’s a wine club event going on in the adjoining room.
Geez, that sounded like “Wine Tasting Impossible.” Hi, I’m Anthony WAwinemelchiorri…”
Food pairing was basic spaghetti with Kraft shredded Parmesan cardboard and Theo Chocolates pink peppercorn and cherry dark chocolates. Pretty good.
Tasted at 49-55 degrees on the IR temp gun. Clear dark magenta in the Riedel, pungent aromas of black cherry, cedar, anise, espresso, and olive flare out of the glass. Medium on the palate but with a fairly lengthy grip expressing red licorice, spicy black cherry, Bing cherry, tar, and red pepper.
Alcohol: 14%. Columbia Valley AVA. 350 cases. Power: 2/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 3/5. Finesse: 3/5. Rated: 90. Value: $25. Paid: $25. Music pairing: “Are You Happy Now” by Megan & Liz. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.