Annoucing New Client Services!

The Wine Key is now accepting new clients who are seeking social media or marketing consultation!

To hire The Wine Key email: 

Read the press release here

Learn more here. 

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Exclusive Interview with Winemaker Beau Carufel

Beau Carufel WinemakerBeau CarufelA few years ago I joined this thing called Twitter, you may have heard of it. I wasn't really sure what to talk about so I started talking about what I These conversation have lead to numerous friendships both on and offline. One great friendship formed with Winemaker Beau Carufel. We took a few minutes to catch up on the phone last week and I asked Beau a few questions about his transition from wine buyer and blogger to winemaker. The Wine Key is thrilled to be the first to interview Beau since the inception of Random Wine Co. 

Charlotte: Tell me about a memorable wine moment.

Beau: I don't know if there was just one moment but my father worked in the wine industry in San Diego and sold Ravenswood. I remember taking a trip to Sonoma with my Dad to visit Joel Peterson. We had dinner at his house in Sonoma and I remember drinking great wines and listening to them talk about wine which is where I started to absorb a wealth of information. There were also winemakers visiting us at our home in San Diego. Wine was just a part of our dinner conversations. 

Charlotte: How did you get into wine? When did you know the wine industry would lead to a career path?

Beau: Through my Dad who was a distributor. He sold Californian and Italian wines. He was also the first to sell Gruner Veltliner. Growing up, I would have sips with dinner, wine has just always been a part of life. After attending flight school, September 11th happened and I decided it wasn't for me. I got a job at wine store then everything really blossomed. I moved to Oregon in October 2011 with no job lined up.

Charlotte: What wine certifications do you hold? 

Beau: I am a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers but I don't plan to take it any further as I don't work in the hospitality side as much any more. 

Charlotte: How did you get into winemaking?

Beau: The Kramers [of Kramer Vineyards] hired me as a harvest intern. I had always been intrigued by winemaker but it all seemed too technical and chemistry was never my thing. I always enjoyed drinking and talking about wine more. Once I got my hands dirty and made wine, I saw production in a whole new light.

Charlotte: When did the idea for Random Wine Co come about?

Beau: The Kramers asked me a decided question: "Why don’t you make some wine?” The name comes from both making different varieties of wine and my lack of originality. I'm not an artistic person. Random seemed fitting. 

Charlotte: What varieties do you produce? 

Random Wine Co Tempranillo2012 TempranilloBeau: In 2012 the inaugural vintage, all fruit came from Horse Heaven Hills AVA in Washington. In 2013, I got some fruit from eastern Oregon and now the Willamette Valley too. I produce a Tempranillo, Petit Verdot and Gamay Noir Rosé. What's unique is that I make my wine in the heart of the Willamette Valley but I don't produce a Pinot Noir or a Pinot Gris which are popular here. However, I have learned to make wine from Pinot Noir producers so I have a gentle touch when it comes to winemaking.

Charlotte: How many cases do you produce?

Beau: In 2012 I made about 125 cases. In 2013 it became 250 cases and 2014 looks like it will be between 300 and 400 cases.

Charlotte: Where do you source your grapes from?

Beau: Mostly at random as long as the quality of fruit is there. Like I said, the 2012 vintage all came from Horse Heaven Hills AVA in Washington with additional fruit coming from eastern Oregon and the Willamette Valley.

Charlotte: Where do you make your wines?

Beau: At Kramer Vineyard. I have about 10 barrels at their winery.

Charlotte: Do you have a winemaking philosophy?

Beau: I have a rather romantic notion when it comes to winemaking. A wine should taste like the site, grape, people or Terrior as the French say. I try to express the grapes the best that I can. I believe in getting out of the way and help the best fruit it turn into great wine.  

Random Wine Co Petit Verdot2012 Pt. VerdotCharlotte: Do you have a favorite wine of the wines you produce?

Beau: I'm really liking the Rosé, but Pt. Verdot and cab franc currently in production are amazing. I did some whole cluster and the wines have lower alcohol and great savory flavors.

Charlotte: Do you use and new barrels or oak on your wines?

Beau: No new oak. I have to make wines I am comfortable with. I don’t like oak with grapes I produce. Wine should taste like fruit. 

Charlotte: In 10 years from now, where do you see yourself?

Beau: Being a full time winemaker. I would love to make enough wine to support my family and pay all the bills. If it doesn’t happen though its ok but I hope it does.

As someone who recently tasting Beau's Tempranillo and Pt Verdot, I am super impressed! I truly love these wines and you can tell Beau really lets the fruit speak for itself. The wines are complex but balanced and great with food or just by themselves.

To contact Beau and to purchase his fantastic wines visit Random Wine Co's website or connect with Beau on Twitter and Facebook.  





Being Re-Introduced to Robert Mondavi Wines

Robert Mondavi TastingOk, I'm calling myself out - I've been a wine snob. I know I know, it goes against all of The Wine Key's principles and don't get me wrong, I've always respected Robert Mondavi for his pioneering principles which helped to put Napa Valley and fellow winemakers on an international stage. But throughout the most recent decade, you will have not seen me drinking a bottle bearing his name. (Unless of course it had a vintage from the 1970's on the label).

That was until last week when I was invited to an intimate tasting with winemaker Nova Cadamatre at The Workshop in San Francisco. This small and intimate event was fantastic and you know what, so were the wines. It was a true pleasure to taste through the 2010 vintage and pre-view the 2013. 

Upon arrival, there was a tasting of three Fumé Blancs, one of which was the 2012 Reserve Fumé Blanc ($50) which was very balanced in it's subtle flavors and rich textures. I highly recommend this wine for the remaining weeks of Summer and pairs great with any seafood or appetizers. 

Once seated for our red tasting, Nova Cadamatre, one of the three winemakers at Robert Mondavi, walked us through tasting the: 

  • 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($28)
  • 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from the To Kalon vineyard ($135)
  • 2010 Oakville District Cabernet Sauvignon as from the To Kalon vineyard ($45)

I was impressed with all of the wines in that they didn't hit my over the head with their power but yet were rather complex in all of their flavor profiles and structure. There was some discussion of the alcohol content as the Cabs are close to 15% which is on the higher side, however, I think that is part of what makes a Napa Valley Cabernet distinctive. I believe that as long as the wine can remain in balance with it's fruit flavors, non-fruit flavors and structure without the alcohol smacking you in the face, then not only has a great wine been produced but proves that a "higher" alcohol wine can executed well with the rest of them. 

Winemaker Nova CadamatreWith Winemaker Nova CadamatreLastly, Nova poured a few samples of their 2013 vintage which are coming along nicely. It was definitely much younger and still tight in structure but the overall quality again shined through. It is clear with Nova's background and company culture left behind from the great Robert Mondavi, that high quality winemaking remains a top objective and just because they make more cases than the average winery, have tour buses rolling up on the daily with visitors from around the world, doesn't mean that quality has been compromised. 

I am grateful for this opportunity to have been re-introduced to Robert Mondavi wines which served as a lesson not only to myself, but served as a reminder that snobbery serves no purpose when it comes to wine and that the founding principles of both Robert Mondavi and The Wine Key remain true. 

Have you tried Robert Mondavi wines lately? If so, I would love to hear your opinions. Please share below in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter of Google +



Happy Bastille Day! 

Happy Bastille Day


The Wine Key is Expanding - Announcing New Client Services 

I am thrilled to announce today that The Wine Key is officially growing and accepting new clients for Social Media and Marketing Consulting Services! Here is the official press release:


The Wine Key Now Accepting Clients for Social Media and Marketing Consulting Services

San Francisco, CA. - July 9th, 2014 - The Wine Key today announced new client services focusing on social media strategy implementation and digital marketing efforts. While The Wine Key will still remain focused on consumer wine education, owner Charlotte Chipperfield is looking to expand in order to assist small businesses primarily in the wine and hospitality industries, to utilize and execute digital marketing efforts such as social media and email marketing to engage and connect with current and potential customers.

Social Media and Marketing Consulting“Every business has a unique story and when it comes to communicating each story online, it is vital to define clear goals, remain cohesive with branding, be consistent with engagement and create valuable content to achieve success,” says Chipperfield. The Wine Key offers customized social media and digital marketing consulting packages to help businesses reach this success.

Consulting services range from evaluation of current efforts to full service email marketing and social media execution and management. The Wine Key specializes in: 

  • Email Marketing: ESP set-up, design, templates, segmentation, and reporting

  • Social Media: Content calendar creation, manage strategies, design, engagement and reporting

  • Content Creation: Creating dynamic content and blog posts that are valuable and engaging

With the holiday season only a few months away, Chipperfield feels July is the perfect time to start planning and gearing up for holiday promotions, campaigns and offers and is currently accepting new clients. Attached is a PDF of additional information on services. Feel free to share this information with your readers or clients who may be interested in these services.

To learn more or to hire The Wine Key, please contact Charlotte Chipperfield at or by phone: 415.448.7290.

About The Wine Key

The Wine Key is a consumer wine education & small business social media and marketing consulting business based in San Francisco, California. The Wine Key was founded in 2011 by Charlotte Chipperfield who has over 10 years' experience in the wine industry and hospitality and eight years of experience in brand development, marketing, social media, and entrepreneurship. Charlotte is also an accomplished sommelier, wine educator, wine writer, wine judge, digital marketing and social media expert as well as having authored the ebook; The Quick Sippy - An Intro to Wine.





5 Tips for Selecting Wedding Wines

Wedding season is in full swing and if your big day is coming up hot, I've put together 5 tips for calculating and selecting the perfect wines to pair with the big day!

Private Wine Events

Here are 5 tips for choosing wines for your special day:

  1. How to calculate the amount of alcohol. Determining if beer and hard alcohol will also be served. This will largely effect how much wine you will need to purchase. Estimate about a bottle per person knowing that some will drink less and some will drink beer or hard alcohol.
  2. Keep the menu in mind. If you are working with a caterer try to finalize the dishes before picking wine. Then choose wines that are easy to drink. Since wine is often used for the cocktail hour, and the dinner entrees which can range from fish, meat or veggie, you don't want to overwhelm the foods with super heavy, rich wines. Pinot Noir or a medium bodied blend can be a great option for this.
  3. Choose one option for each wine. It doesn't matter how many different types of wine you plan to pour, i.e: white, red, rose and sparkling. Choose one of each so guests can easy ask for what they want.
  4. Where to buy the wine. Start by attending tastings at local wine shops to get a feel for the employees tastes, knowledge and inventory. Once you have an idea of what you need and what you like, they can then help to recommend producers based on budget and will set-up a time for you to taste. You can also reach out to specific wineries who may offer case discounts. 
  5. Toast. When it comes to toasting the happy bride and groom, not everyone can afford the finest champagne. Sparkling wines such as Cava or Crements are delicious alternatives.

And don't worry if you have extra wine, it's better to have more than less. Plus, you can always use the extra wine as party favors or as a way to get those last few guests at the end of the night to leave the party ;) 

If you are planning a wedding and don't know where to start with getting delicious wines at your celebration, feel free to email and we can set up a time to chat: