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Wines on Tap | Thinking Outside The Bottle…

March 18, 2014

Kegs = Beer, right?  Not anymore!  Kegged wine is an up-and-coming trend throughout the United States that is making some big waves in both the beverage and eco-friendly domains.

Kegged wine itself is not a new concept (it has a long history in Europe), but it made its United States debut in chic, big-city restaurants throughout Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, and is now trickling down to smaller restaurants and wine bars who want in on this “green” alternative.

And green it is…

Think about this:  One keg of wine holds the equivalent of 26 bottles.  A single, 750ml bottle of wine requires several resources in wine bottlespackaging and transportation (glass, cork, foil, paper labels and the cases and pallets it is stored in).  Kegs, by contrast, don’t require much packaging and can be recycled and reused for 20 years or more.  According to Food & Wine magazine, “By-the-glass orders account for as much as 80 percent of the wine sold in restaurants, upward of 600 million bottles a year. If just five percent of by-the-glass wines came from a keg, it would keep over 30 million bottles out of landfills.”

Besides the obvious eco-assets of kegged wines, benefits to businesses are great as well!  Kegs provide up to 65 days of fresh wine.  When compared to the two-three day shelf life of an opened bottle of wine, wine on tap is an appealing option to restaurants open to an avant-garde twist on wine service.  Even locations throughout Napa Valley are starting to tap into the potential of reducing bottled wine options.  Farmstead, Fish Story, Hurley’s, Kitchen Door, R+D Kitchen and the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant at Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena are just a few which have gotten on board with wines on tap.

So how does wine poured from a keg taste? Possibly better than from the bottle.  Once the cork is removed, air flows into the wine bottle and oxidation begins. Even with the best preservation systems in play, bottles of wine don’t always stay perfectly fresh. A lot of wine is thrown away, or served in poor condition that lessens the experience for consumers (resulting in waste for the restaurant in more ways than one).  The alternative, wine on tap, is a win-win. Consumers enjoy vibrant wine with no chance of oxidation, while restaurant costs are reduced by the reduced number of returned bottles.

Bespoke Collection has proudly tapped into the wine-keg movement by offering Blackbird Vineyards Arriviste Rosé, Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley Hudson Vineyard Sans Chêne Sauvignon BlancRecuerdo Wines Torrontés and Recuerdo Wines Malbec in 20L, recyclable keg formats.

Besides being offered at fine restaurants and smart wine bars throughout the country, a rotating selection of Bespoke Collection’s kegged-wines will be offered to guests of Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley , where all Bespoke Collection wines are offered for sampling and purchase.

Bespoke Collection invites you to “think outside the bottle” and experience a glass of wine-on-tap!

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Read Bespoke Collection’s Keg Wine Press Release | Acquire Wines from Bespoke Collection

Email National Sales Director Eric Sothern for wholesale keg information

Blazing the Napa Valley Vine Trail…

March 6, 2014


Blackbird Vineyards is pleased to share the exciting news that has Napa locals and fans buzzing with excitement!  The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) and Visit Napa Valley (VNV) organizations have recently announced a generous $5 million contribution to help construct Napa’s next great amenity – the Napa Valley Vine Trail.

In conjunction with the Vine Trail Coalition, both NVV and VNV are contributing to the funding and fund-raising efforts to vt mapcomplete construction on the 47-mile walking and cycling trail that will extend from the Vallejo Ferry Terminal to Calistoga.

Besides the obvious recreational benefits that the trail will provide, one of the main goals of the safe and sustainable trail is to provide wonderful health benefits – To encourage people to get outdoors, move and improve their health and their lives.

collageCurrently, ten miles (or 20 percent) of the trail has been built.  The continuing 12.5 miles from Kennedy Park to Yountville is schedule to be completed by the end of 2014, connecting 60 percent of Napa County’s population to the trail.  When complete, the vine trail will pass within one mile of 30 schools. NVV’s funds will be used for the section of the trail from American Canyon to Yountville, which will provide the greatest benefit to the majority of Napa Valley’s children who can ride their bikes or walk to and from school.

The total cost of the Vine Trail is estimated to be $50 million.  A portion of Napa Valley Vintner’s generous donation comes directly from money raised at Auction Napa Valley.  2014 will mark the eighth year that Blackbird Vineyards has participated in Auction Napa Valley, where the company has raised over $2 million for NVV’s  community health and youth education-focused charitable giving.  The Vine Trail’s goal to provide a healthy and family-friendly hiking and biking trail for Napa County locals and visitors falls right in line with NVV’s giving goals.

Blackbird Vineyards is looking forward to the expansion of the Vine Trail and participating in 2014 Auction Napa Valley to continue in the goal of giving back!

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Donate to the Napa Valley Vine Trail | Buy, Buy Blackbird

Blackbird’s 10th Anniversary Cuvée at Premiere Napa Valley

January 31, 2014


Napa Valley is buzzing with anticipation as preparations are underway for the 17th annual Premiere Napa Valley wine auction.

Produced in California’s renowned Napa Valley, “Premiere Napa Valley” is one of the rarest wine brands in the world.

In honor of their 10th Anniversary, Blackbird Vineyards will produce ten cases of Premiere Napa Valley Cuvée, instead of its normal five-case lot. The ten cases, hand-crafted by Winemaker Aaron Pott, come from a single barrel composition of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and will be the first wine obtainable from Blackbird’s 10th anniversary harvest.

Grapes for Blackbird’s 10th Anniversary Cuvée are sourced from prominent vineyard sites on the benches and mountains of Napa Valley, where the best quality grapes are derived from. Because of the ideal conditions of the 2012 growing season, this wine can be enjoyed now or cellared for upwards of 15 years.

About Premiere Napa Valley:

Premiere Napa Valley provides the ideal environment for Napa Valley to highlight what makes it a world-renowned wine region: a tradition of cultivating excellence, innovation, quality and leadership. Attending the event is a great opportunity to connect with the winemakers of Napa Valley and to bring customers quite a unique offering.

Throughout the years, the region’s top winemakers have offered innovative and ultra-boutique wines to the trade, crafted in as few as 60 bottles, never more than 240, as individual bottlings for this world-renowned wine event.

Premiere wine offerings come from more than 200 wineries and winemakers, created only once, ensuring that each wine is truly one-of-a-kind.

Wine Guide | What to Serve With Your Thanksgiving Feast

November 19, 2013


Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  This special holiday is wonderful for reflection, spending time with friends and family, watching too much football and preparing sumptuous feasts – all in the spirit of gratefulness.

We all know the standard Thanksgiving staples: Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce…

But what about the perfect wine pairings that make your spread a stand-out feast?  Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley is proud to represent 20+ esteemed vintner partners, all with a wonderful selection of wines for your table.  Check out our recommended pairings for the Thanksgiving  holiday…

2010 Blackbird Vineyards Illustration with baked turkey
This elegant blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon is soft enough to pair with poultry and rich enough to complement seasonings and spice…

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2012 Recuerdo Wines Torrontés with traditional stuffing
Crisp and fragrant, this Torrontés is sure to bring out the fresh, herbal flavors of your favorite Thanksgiving stuffing…

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2012 Hirsch San Andreas Fault Pinot Noir with sweet potatoes
With supple aromas of fig, orange blossom and bergamot, this wine pairing will capture the imagination…

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2011 TOR Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with homemade cranberry sauce
An explosion of black fruits in this wonderfully robust wine perfectly pairs with the dense flavors of home-cooked cranberry sauce…

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2011 Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley Stagecoach Vineyard Marsanne with mashed potatoes
This Rhône Valley inspired white quaff, with cascading flavors of melon and citrus,
is a unique option to pair with such a traditional side dish…

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2010 Tuck Beckstoffer Semper “Ulises” Chardonnay with apple pie
Perfection. This Chardonnay, with nuanced flavors of lemon oil and buttered brioche,
might make dessert the favorite course this Thanksgiving…

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All wines from Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley can arrive in time for Thanksgiving using two-day shipping by November 22, 2013.

For questions about orders, contact Ma(i)sonry’s Private Client Services representative, David, at 707.603.8771 or via email at

From Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley and Bespoke Collection, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!


Vintner Spotlight: Casa Piena Vineyards

October 22, 2013

Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley showcases a rotating collection of wines from vintner collective partners. Each month we spotlight one to get to know them a little better.  We are featuring Mr. Carmen Policy of Casa Piena, who has given exclusive release rights to Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley for his 2009 “Our Gang” Cabernet Sauvignon!

You may be familiar with Mr. Policy for his involvement with the National Football League. Policy, an Ohio native and attorney, joined the San Francisco 49ers in 1981 as Vice President and Council before becoming President and CEO in 1991. Throughout his time with the team, Policy played a key role in the 49ers Super Bowl victories in 1982, 1985, 1989, 1990 and 1995.  After leaving the 49ers in July of 1998, Policy became a minority owner of the Cleveland Browns.

In 2002, the ultra-successful and influential authority of the gridiron decided to seek out a new challenge in quiet, agriculture-rich Napa Valley.  He acquired the property for Policy Vineyards in 2003.

Policy, always a fan of fine wines, founded Casa Piena, with wife Gail Policy. Casa Piena, which means “full house” in Italian, is a nod to Policy’s large family which consists of “three of a kind” (his sons) and “two of a kind” (his daughters). Casa Piena’s inaugural harvest was in October of 2006. Policy Vineyards, in back-road Yountville, provides prime conditions for four different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon grown there…including Policy’s favorite, Clone 7. With the help of winemaker, Thomas Brown and Vineyard Manager, Jim Barbour, Casa Piena has become a “cult” favorite…. producing excellent, well-balanced (and high-scoring) Cabernet Sauvignons.

Even though Policy has been successful in so many different realms, a visit to Policy Vineyards and Estate, hosted by Policy himself, revealed that he is an extremely sincere and genuinely hospitable and grateful person.

This week, Policy was gracious enough to take some time out of the vineyard to answer a few questions…

Describe Policy Vineyards using four words or less…
Unique gift from God
What is your most marked characteristic?
Problem solver- me personally
Wonderful Complexity – the vineyard
Walking through the vineyard makes you feel….
Humble and proud at the same time
What is the one topic you could talk about for days on end?
NFL experiences
Which living person do you most admire?
Mr. Daniel Rooney, Ambassador to Ireland and owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers
If you only had one last sip of wine, what would you choose?
Casa Piena Cabernet Sauvignon because it reminds me of family
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having a family that is comprised of great human beings
What is your most treasured possession?
My family and my memories


Blackbird Vineyards | A Lesson in Sourcing

September 17, 2013


In a recent 94-point review of the 2010 Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian, Wine Writer and Reviewer Steve Heimoff of Wine Enthusiast gave “kudos to Winemaker Aaron Pott for his remarkable blend from all around the valley.”

…From all around the valley!?  Yes, it’s true!  And when it comes to Blackbird’s wines,

“The Whole Is Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts…”

Blackbird Vineyards, borrowing from the authentic Bordeaux model, fosters long-term partnerships with premium vineyard sources throughout Napa Valley, where growers are passionate about their approach to farming.  In conjunction with the  Blackbird Estate Vineyard in the Oak Knoll District, which provides the foundation Merlot for the portfolio of Proprietary Red and Rosé wines,  Blackbird’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes are cultivated and harvested under the watchful eye of Aaron Pott, from a selection of the most esteemed vineyards in the valley.

The newly-released 2011 Arise Proprietary Wine, along with the rest of Blackbird’s wine portfolio,  is a prime example of Blackbird’s commitment to producing elegantly-styled, appropriately balanced red wines that offer short and long term cellaring potential…


Acquire the 2011 Blackbird Arise and 2010 Blackbird Illustration, Paramour and Contrarian

Join BlackMail membership to receive custom shipments, secure your allocations, qualify for “Pricing in Perpetuity” and earn Bespoke Benefits points at an accelerated rate to redeem for exclusive experiences in Napa Valley; Mendoza, Argentina; or in your locale…

National Relaxation Day | A “Bespoke” Top 10 List

August 15, 2013


Today is “National Relaxation Day!”  We’re not quite sure who comes up with this stuff, but we are willing to toast to it.  After all, Bespoke Collection Founder Michael Polenske exchanged his high-intensity career in finance to devote the current chapter of his life to “the business of leisure.”  Over ten years later, Bespoke Collection – comprising Blackbird Vineyards, Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley, I. Wolk Gallery and Recuerdo Wines – represents an assemblage of luxury brands and experiences, all of which support the quest for total leisure and relaxation…

Here are our top ten “Bespoke” ways to relax today (and everyday!)

10.  Pop into I. Wolk Gallery in St. Helena, CA to peruse the artwork and sculpture from local and international artists.  Perhaps commemorate your visit with a Napa-inspired painting from local artist and client-favorite, Kate Salenfriend.

9.  Enjoy a delicious lunch in the courtyard of Yountville’s newest eatery, R+D Kitchen.  Be sure to try a cool glass of the 2012 Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley Hudson Sauvignon Blanc ON TAP!


8.  Take a leisurely stroll through the Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley sculpture gardens at Auberge du Soleil and Solage in Napa Valley, or at MacArthur Place in Sonoma.


7.  Pack a picnic basket and enjoy the warm, summer weather.  Be sure to include cheese, crackers, fresh berries and a bottle of the 2012 Blackbird Vineyards Arriviste Rosé, which is a perfect picnic companion.


6.  Open a bottle of the 2011 Recuerdo Wines Malbec and, if you’re not already in Mendoza, enjoy the Recuerdo photo gallery of the beautiful Uco Valley landscape.  Imagine yourself there!

5.  Invite your friends over for a horizontal tasting of the 2010 Blackbird Vineyards Principal WinesIllustration, Paramour and Contrarian.  Each hand-crafted by award-winning Winemaker Aaron Pott, these three uniquely-different Proprietary Red Wine blends will make for interesting conversation and a pleasant experience.

4.  Drink in Rhône Valley – Savor a glass of the 2010 Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley Marsanne.  A unique varietal to the Bespoke portfolio, this wine’s bright, citrus aromas are like aromatherapy!

3.  Sit back and let the wine come to you!  Join Bespoke Membership to enjoy a curated or custom selection of wines from Blackbird, Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley and its 20+ vintner partners, and Recuerdo Wines.  Earn Bespoke Benefits points at an accelerated rate to redeem for relaxing experiences in Napa Valley; Mendoza, Argentina; or in your locale!

2.  Cook a delicious meal and add a little wine to your food.  Try this recipe for “Sizzling Red Shrimp & Chorizo,” paired with Recuerdo Torrontés.

1.  Visit Ma(i)sonry for a curated tasting of wines from some of the most paramount wineries and esteemed winemakers in Napa Valley and beyond. Unwind by the fire-pit or host your group at our 36-foot-long, communal redwood table.  Relax and let us cater to you!


Blackbird at Auction Napa Valley

June 18, 2013

In its seventh year of participation in Auction Napa Valley, Blackbird Vineyards collectively raised $109,002 with its live, barrel and e-auction lots, contributing to the Auction’s record-shattering $16.9 million total (surpassing its previous high of $10.5 million by more than 60%). Auction Napa Valley, now in its 33rd year, has helped raise more than $125 million in proceeds since its inception. The auction’s final tally of $16.9 million this year will directly benefit healthcare, youth services, and affordable housing non-profits in Napa County. Blackbird Vineyards participated in every aspect of the auction, donating a spectacular live lot in partnership with Lexington Cancer Foundation and Bardessono Hotel & Spa, which garnered a winning bid of $90,000, as well as a 2011 vintage barrel lot that sold for up to $2,050 per case ($171 per bottle and 37% over the winery’s retail bottle price). The e-auction lot sold for $2,352 and included a 3L, double-magnum bottle of Blackbird’s flagship wine – Illustration – in addition to a wine tasting and lunch at Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley, a two-night stay at Blackbird Vineyards’ Oak Knoll House, and a one-year membership to Blackbird Vineyards’ BlackMail.

Blackbird Vineyards’ live lot, #13, included a three-bottle, horizontal collection of hand-etched, 6L imperials of 2010 Illustration, 2010 Paramour and 2010 Contrarian Proprietary Red Wine signed by Winemaker Aaron Pott, an all-access “Kentucky Derby Experience” to the horse race that has been stamped the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports,” as well as a Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley tour and tasting experience, accommodations at Bardessono Hotel & Spa for four persons, and dinner at Lucy Restaurant.

Blackbird Vineyards held a private bidder dinner at Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley on Friday, May 31, featuring wines from Blackbird and Ma(i)sonry, and cuisine prepared by Chef Adam Mali of Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco. Among the many attendees was Mandarin Oriental’s Richard Baker, executive vice president, operations director – The Americas. Baker, who was delighted with Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s involvement in Auction Napa Valley and partnership with Bespoke Collection, noted: “We were thrilled to be part of a memorable dinner at Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley with Blackbird Vineyards and are grateful to have had the opportunity to showcase Mandarin Oriental’s exciting and original cuisine from our extraordinary culinary team from Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco. Most of all, we are proud to be aligned with the auction’s charitable efforts in support of Napa Valley Charities and help raise awareness designed to make a positive difference in the world.”

Since 2006, Blackbird has collectively raised over $1 million for Auction Napa Valley. Past live lot donations have included a rare opportunities to contribute to Robb Report’s Car of The Year issue, attend the Cannes Film Festival with hosts CHOPARD, and experience the CHANEL couture fashion show in Paris with private air from XOJET.

Blackbird Vineyards extends a heartfelt thanks to all those who helped make this year’s auction a success.

Blackbird Soars at Premiere Napa Valley

March 1, 2013

This past Saturday, the Napa Valley Vintners’ annual Premiere Napa Valley wine futures auction brought in $3.04 million in just over three hours of high-octane bidding on 211 one-of-a-kind wines. Nearly matching 2012’s record of $3.1 million, this year’s event brought the annual association fundraiser over the $3 million milestone for only the second time since its inception.

Blackbird Vineyards’ singular lot, a 2011 vintage blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, ranked in the top 15% for five-case lots auctioned. The barrel lot garnered a winning bid of $18,000 from Mark Davidowski of Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas, CA. At $300 per bottle, the 2011 Blackbird Vineyards vintage blend sold for almost twice the event average bottle price of $160.75.  Meritage Wine Market was one of the top bidding accounts in the auction.

“Premiere’s auction success shows a positive trend in investing in premium Napa Valley wines,” says Blackbird Vineyards’ Founder, Michael Polenske. “We are honored that the results of our lot put us as one of the top merlot/cabernet franc based wines this year and allowed us to be an integral part of the Napa Valley Vintners’ efforts for our seventh consecutive year.”

The vintner events leading up to Saturday’s auction were considered “must attend” tasting opportunities for influential trade, such as retailers, restaurateurs, distributors, and media. Blackbird Vineyards kicked off Premiere week with an open house reception at Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley on Thursday afternoon, featuring wines from Blackbird Vineyards, as well as the following vintner partners: Captûre Wines, Coup de Foudre, Fisher Vineyards, Lail Vineyards, Pott Wines, Renteria Wines, Skipstone Ranch and TOR Kenward Family Wines.

The previous day, Winemaker Aaron Pott participated as a panelist in Napa Valley Vintners’ “The Role of the Consultant” Tasting and Panel Discussion which featured the 2010 Blackbird Vineyards Paramour Proprietary Red Wine and educated 20 top trade and media from the UK, Canada and Hong Kong visiting for the “Experience Napa Valley” program.

Read the official press release.

Acquire Blackbird Vineyards‘ wines at Buy, Buy Blackbird.

Blackbird Vineyards is part of Bespoke Collection – a portfolio of artisanal brands and experiences which also includes Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley, I. Wolk Gallery and Recuerdo Wines.


Images of Bespoke Collection

January 15, 2013

Photographs.  They can capture the imagination and freeze moments in time…They can provide insight and incite curiosity.  More than words, they can tell a story, call to action or share a feeling.  For all of these reasons, we at Bespoke Collection are pleased to share our moments with the world through Instagram.  We invite you to follow us at Bespoke_Collection and enjoy our daily entries. Whether taken in the vineyards or at the office, by our winemakers or our interns, each photo represents a moment of our day, our work, our lives and our soul.  We hope you enjoy…

Learn more about the Bespoke Collection portfolio of artisanal brands and experiences which includes Blackbird Vineyards, Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley and Recuerdo Wines.