April 2001

Invest in America Buy a Congressman

In 1980 we could ship a case of wine to the east coast by UPS for $10.  Today, our cost, which is the cost to you, is $57.  Most of that increase has happened in the past few years.  Many wineries hide the real shipping cost in the bottle price of the wine.  We prefer to tell you who is really getting your money.

The problem began when every winery began direct shipment programs from their ubiquitous hospitality centers.  To buy alcohol for resale to the general public requires a license from the state in which that resale business is conducted.  Wineries of the size and character of the Casa cannot absorb the cost of licensing and compliance in each state, and it is protected by the U.S. Constitution (is it still there?) from having to do so.  A state has jurisdiction to impose its licensing laws only on persons and businesses, which are present – or at least have “minimum contacts” in that state.  Major wineries having distribution within a state through the 3-tier system; clearly meet the “minimum contacts” standards.  When such a winery ships direct to the customer, the destination state has jurisdiction to impose its laws over that winery, including its sales tax.  The laws do not apply to the Casa, however, in the states where the Casa has no presence on which to base jurisdiction.  Moreover, when Casa ships to a customer out of state, we ship to the ultimate consumer for his own use – not for resale.

Although the constitution protects the Casa and wineries like it – and every court so far has upheld this analysis – the wholesale/resale monopolies have been very successful in intimidating the carriers, e.g. UPS and FedEx, to stop the direct shipment of wine, whether or not the state has jurisdiction over the shipper winery.  Of course, in this society, everything has its price, but the price is high and going up.

Dry Chenin Blanc

The first commercial vintage the Casa released was the 1980 Dry Chenin Blanc.  Now, to inaugurate the 21st century, we offer 2000 Dry Chenin Blanc.  This flagship of the Casa line maintains the tradition of excellence for Dry Chenin Blanc.  The millennium wine is a rich, aromatic, beautifully colored fruity in the nose, crisp and complex in the mouth.  To celebrate, we opened a bottle of the 1980 Chenin Blanc.  After more than two decades in the cellar, the ’80 is a million dollar wine experience, proving once again that Chenin Blanc, when made seriously as we do at the Casa (and have done all these years) is the most overlooked wine in North America.  You had better buy two cases, one to drink now and another to open in the year 2020.

Virtual Visit www.casanuestra.com

Our web site offers a complete review of all of our current products, pictures of the winery, and full reprinting of the most recent issues of the Casa Nuestra Journal in its original tabloid format.  We are working on an index, which will permit you to research all of the issues of the Journal from its beginning in 1984, location articles, pictures, and cartoons by topic.  We have recently added a section to the site for your feedback.  Your comments about our wines, or anything else, are enormously helpful to us in charting the future so please do not be bashful.  Comments favorable or unfavorable are gratefully received.

Hot Flashes the right cool

A rule of thumb is that 55 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimum temperature for serving white wine.  Your personal preference is clearly the controlling factor.  Wine flavors and aromas are suppressed at low temperatures.  In the cellar we like to evaluate the wine at ambient room temperature, even though we “design” the wine assuming that it will be served chilled.  The temperature of your refrigerator is very cold, typically 34-38 degrees.  At these mega-cold temperatures the richness of the wine is not optimized.  A fuller experience is available if you remove the wine from the refrigerator a half hour or so before serving.  If white wine is stored for longer periods in the refrigerator, the extreme cold may cause small crystals to form on the back of the cork, or they might appear as a fine sediment at the bottom of the bottle.  This is an entirely natural process, which does not harm the wine in any way.  To avoid formation of the crystals, use the refrigerator to chill the wine only, not for storage.


As reported in the last issue of the Journal, the appearance of the glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS) seriously threatens viticulture in California.  These voracious insects carry Pierce’s Disease (PD) an incurable grapevine disease, which is fatal to the popular winemaking grape varieties.

Some optimists theorize that the bug may not be able to establish itself in climate zones as cold as the Napa Valley.  They point out that the bugs have likely been transported to Northern California on ornamental nursery plants for years.  The fact that they have thus far not been able to establish themselves here suggests that there may be some other factors at work – for example colder weather including winter freezes.  Some surmise that the insects require nearby citrus groves to be fruitful and multiply.

While theories and speculators abound, state and local officials are prioritizing resources to deal with the crisis.  Every shipment of plant material coming into the county is inspected and when a plant is found to have signs of GWSS infestation the whole shipment is returned to the county of origin or destroyed.  There is little support at this time for a large-scale pesticide assault, which, experts agree, would be ineffective and would hinder the development of more promising biological controls, including the Mexican Wasp.

Casa Open House – David Maloney appearing

Please join us for an open house at the winery, May 5-6 from 10 to 4:30.  Casa Nuestra, together with the other family wineries in the neighborhood, are planning a special weekend for you.  It is rumored the Happy Farmer himself will make an appearance in the persona of an Elvis impersonator.  Singer-songwriter, David Maloney, an old friend from the glory days of the Napa Valley Folk Festival, will be by both days to entertain at 2 pm.  David is a great talent and a seasoned performer with recording and songwriting credits too numerous to list in this short space.  If you are not familiar with his work already, you will thank us for this introduction.  There will be finger food, including hand made goat cheeses from the local Yerba Santa Dairy.  Of course, all of the Casa’s wines will be showcased, and we will lead tours of the winery and barrel tastings.  The other participating wineries:

Dutch Henry, Vigil Vineyards, Summers Winery, Graeser Winery, Zahtila Vineyards, Stonegate Winery, Silver Rose Cellars, will have their own activities, and you should telephone directly for details.  It will be a lot of fun, so don’t miss it.

Tasting Notes and Availability News

2000 Dry Chenin Blanc:  Rich, aromatic, beautifully colored and crisp in the mouth.

1989 Dry Chenin Blanc:  Golden straw in color with complex aromas of citrus and mineral with a lovely mouth feel.  Library wine, 8 cases remaining.

1990 Dry Chenin Blanc:  Straw in color with pleasing aromas of citrus and flint, light and crisp in the mouth.  Library wine, 12 cases remaining.

1999 Tinto:  A friendly wine, which became friendlier with timely bottling.  The resulting wine is full of spice and bright cherry flavors with good structure.  Medal winner.

1997 Cabernet Franc:  True to the varietal; plentiful aromas, a velvety texture and a lingering finish.  4 cases remaining.

1997 Quixote:  This delightful red wine is modeled after the legendary clarets of Europe with a blend of the traditional red grape varieties of Bordeaux; Merlot (60%), Cabernet Franc (31%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (9%).  30 cases remaining.

SAMPLE CASE:  4 bottles each of the Dry Chenin Blanc, Tinto and Quixote (current vintages).  Price $160