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A playlist to celebrate The Golden State.

We at Parker Sanpei are hard-core Californiaphiles. (Where else can you ski and surf in the same day, grow lettuce year-round, be in the movies, define the cutting edge of technology and make top-of-class wines?)

In homage, we recently brainstormed our favorite songs about this beautiful place. May this serve as your new go-to summer playlist!


21-atxlAnd here’s one from a favorite musician (who also happens to be Central-Coast-born-and-bred), Damon Castillo, called “California Minute.”

Happy California Summer!

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Love your mother.

Planning something lovely for Mom this weekend?

This video, entitled “A New Perspective For Moms” went viral last year and we have saved it all this time to share with you. So what if we’re a bit behind the curve? The sentiment still holds true that we mothers are too hard on ourselves while our children are far more gracious with us than we ever realized. The perfect reminder for Mother’s Day.

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Naming the Winery: What works, what doesn’t, and what shouldn’t but does.

Working in the wine PR/marketing biz, we talk to new winery owners a lot about their names and brand messaging. And while we had planned on disclosing our thoughts on this subject here, we actually hit upon a fantastic beverage marketing agency in British Columbia that shares our stance entirely and does the job for us.

Earlier this year I purchased a book of (non-alcohol-related) packaging design studies from a New York design company, R.Bird. This collection of studies inspired me to collect the various research that we have done about the various aspects of wine branding, packaging, web design, etc. into one place. We wanted to share this research in hopes that it will help anyone who is starting a new winery or considering a rebrand/repositioning of their existing winery.

 – Hired Guns Creative, “How To Name A New Winery,” November 18, 2011

Hired Guns has gone through an extensive analysis of winery names, the types of names (e.g. based on family names, based on geography, flora and fauna, music references, etc.), the advantages and disadvantages of each, and a few favorites. For example, check out their color wheel that references winery names based on color. (Notice: not a lot of winery names living in the turquoise or purple regions!)

So what makes for a successful winery name? In a nutshell: A true story, something easy to pronounce and easy to remember. (Unless, of course, you’re Sine Qua Non. See below.) Also, it should go without saying that the wine in the bottle needs to taste good. Without that, no amount of marketing will help.

Below, a few favorite winery names and a peek at the story behind them.

Field Recordings and FICTION Wines

Andrew Jones is something of a man-about-town on the Central Coast wine scene. As a Field Representative for one of the U.S.’s major vine nurseries, he helps plant and manage vineyards across the California and beyond. Having stood in nearly every vineyard in the state, Andrew has a knack for spotting untapped potential and makes stellar wines accordingly. The name “Field Recordings” came to reflect his almost scientific approach to capturing the essence of each place in his wines.

Field Recordings is the personal catalog of the people and places we value most. Diamonds in the rough: sites that are unknown or under-appreciated but hold enormous untapped potential. As friendships are made and opportunities are embraced, we produce small quantities of soulful wines from these unusual, quiet vineyards.


The back label for Field Recordings wines is austere – no tasting notes or ostentatious descriptions of the finish – yet exhaustive, with plenty of details to geek out on.

Field Recordings

FICTION wines, which are also made by Andrew Jones, are completely different. Naming the label “FICTION” was in direct reaction to the factual, scientific nature of Field Recordings. “There is no fluffy story with Field Recordings,” he says. “The back label shares just the facts.  FICTION on the other hand is a mysterious blend or a whole bunch of random varieties from random places that we mention nothing about.” Hence, the tongue-in-cheek approach to FICTION’s back label.


Cypher Winery

Cypher_winery_logoCypher Winemaker Christian Tietje is known for being a larger-than-life personality in the Paso Robles wine biz. So it surprised a lot of folks when he changed the name of his popular Four Vines label to Cypher Wines, implying something obscure and hidden. Thankfully, the Cypher Wines website sums up Tietje’s rationale in his signature, outspoken style:

The thought behind naming our new label Cypher was that the process of growing and creating a fantastic wine is like unlocking a puzzle or riddle. There is no play book, no recipe….whenever you deal with mother nature, you are certain to be thrown curve balls. Winemaking is no exception, and without blending enough art into the science you will fall short of extraordinary. Winemaking by the numbers equals boring, uninteresting, ‘safe’ wines. Yaaaaaaaawwwwwn.”


Dark Star Cellars

Dark Star” was put on a long list of potential names for the winery because Norm [Norm Benson, Dark Stars' Owner and Winemaker] believed it symbolized his goal of producing ‘stellar’ red wines, or ‘dark stars…’

Dark_Star_Cellars_PRWCA.Label (266x300)

“‘Angeli d’Altri Tempi,’ ‘angels from other times,’ symbolizes how people that you have come in contact with, your parents, siblings, and friends have all left some “imprint” on your personality and your values. Their influence, collectively, make you who you are today. The three panels that encase the dark star symbolize the past, the present, and the future. Dark Star believes you must never under-value, or forget the positive influence people have had on your life in the past. You should not take for granted the help and support you receive from the people in your present life, and of course, the mystery of whom you will meet in the future.”


Autonom Wines


“Autonom is a project of passion for Winemaker Paul Wilkins, which reflects Paul’s love for Rhône varietal wines and cuvées. This love was born during his work as a harvest intern in the cellar with John Alban at Alban Vineyards while he was still in college.Paul remained with Alban through seven celebrated vintages before opening his own agency, Wilkins Vinotech, which provides winery and vineyard consulting services to existing and start-up wine brands. In 2005, he joined in a business partnership with longtime friend James Ontiveros as Winemaker for Alta Maria Vineyards, which focuses on Santa Maria Valley-designate Burgundy varieties. In 2010, Paul débuted his own Rhône-focused brand with varietal wines and cuvées from contrasting sites throughout California.  The brand name, AUTONOM, refers to Paul’s freedom from a long history of working for other producers.


Sine Qua Non

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Naming a winery after an obscure, impossible-to-remember-and-pronounce phrase from a dead language should have been economic suicide for Sine Qua Non‘s Owner and Winemaker, Manfred Krankl. But the contents of his bottles are so fiendishly sought-after that no one cares about the name; in fact, perhaps its obscurity makes it even more desirable. According to an interview with Krankl in Forbes several years ago, Sine Qua Non is

“Latin for something essential (literally ‘without which nothing’). Krankl claims not to remember how, or why, he and wife Elaine came up with it. (They pronounce it ‘sinny-kwah-non.’)”

- Richard Nalley, “The Krankl Cult,” Forbes Life, September 6, 2008

Even after 18 years, the literary, painterly Krankl still does his own artwork for each Sine Qua Non label. He and Elaine also still do their own marketing, which…really doesn’t look like marketing at all. Nor does it need to;With a microscopic waiting list, an annual production of 3,500 cases, and a handful of previously released wines that fetch north of $3,500, Sine Qua Non’s cult status is secured for the long haul.

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Sanpei Optics on the Go with Indiegogo

It’s a thrilling week in the Parker Sanpei office! Richard and Linda, our fearless leaders, are the kind of people that don’t stop after growing a successful lifestyle public relations company; instead, they continue to push forward into a new industry with the creation of their patented design for audio-adaptable sunglasses. The Sanpei Optics project reached a new milestone yesterday with the launch of our first crowdfunding campaign on!

First, a bit of background for those not yet up to speed on the innovative eyewear of Sanpei Optics. Integration of a flexing patented hinge that allows you to click your ear buds right into the sunglasses, brings new functionality and fun to your eyewear options. Two styles, the I.M.I.O. (Inspire Me, Inspire Others) and the G.I.Y.A. (Give It Your All), mean that from the mountain biker to the runner to the fashionista in the sun, these glasses combine functionality and style as you listen to your tunes on the go.

With the designs complete and the pieces in place to bring the glasses to market, Sanpei Optics is turning to you to take us to the next level. The rise in popularity of crowdfunding through sites like indiegogo and Kickstarter has opened new doors for businesses and organizations throughout the world; watching the many successes of this new social movement, we have decided to join the fun with hopes to send Sanpei Optics forward and, for the first time, offer these glasses to the public!

Visit our indiegogo page and watch the video of Sanpei Optics in action. Then, after you imagine the many ways you would love to use your own pair, join the movement by supporting our campaign. The goal is to hit $30,000 but we are confident that with the tremendous support of our fans we can exceed that target! Contribution to the fundraising efforts not only means you get in on the ground level of this new movement but it also gives you the opportunity to grab ahold of your own Sanpei Optics merchandise! There is a full spectrum of funding participation levels to fit any budget. Join at a level of $90 or more and you secure your spot as one of the first owners of a pair of I.M.I.O. or G.I.Y.A. glasses from Sanpei Optics! We want to be sure you are able to enjoy the full audio-adaptable eyewear experience; for this reason every package that includes the glasses also includes ear buds.

Spreading the excitement for our new product launch with people everywhere feeds new energy into our organization – we love seeing the enthusiastic responses we get from demonstrating the functionality and innovation of these glasses. And, of course, we here at PSPR are already addicted to them! Let’s indiegogo!

G.I.Y.A. – “Give It Your All.”

I.M.I.O. – “Inspire Me, Inspire Others.”

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Stone’s Ginger Tradition Brings Spunk and Zing to Your Favorite Cocktails

Pondering out beverage needs, we realize there are those times – fall heat spikes (like the one we currently find ourselves in), a poolside mini-vacation or even a mid-winter yearning for the taste of summer – when a frozen alternative sounds pretty tasty. We were recently introduced to Stone’s frozen cocktails, a new option to meet this frosty need. Released this summer, these cocktails infuse the signature ginger twist of Stone’s with convenience and refreshing flavor.

Flavors include Piña Colada, Lemonade, Margarita and, our personal favorite, Mojito. Inspired by it’s British roots dating back to the 1740’s, these cocktails embody original recipes that became popularly associated with Stone’s Ginger Wine. See below for the unique twist found in each of the flavors:

  • Piña Colada – This perfect poolside drink features tropical flavors of coconut and pineapple sweetening the deal before finishing with a clean ginger kick.
  • Lemonade – This is no plain ol’ version of mom’s lemonade; the Stone’s hint of ginger brings new spunk to this Americana favorite.
  • Margarita – Take the classic margarita recipe, infuse citrus bursts of orange, lemon and lime, and finish with the trademark ginger twist for a great complement to your next taco night.
  • Mojito – Cool mint flavors are juxtaposed to the signature ginger giving this classic drink new zing. A smooth finish of lime and watermelon leaves you craving more.

Mojito, Margarita, Pina Colada and Lemonade with a Ginger Twist!

Centuries of Stone’s ginger flavored tradition meets modern day spunk in a convenient, ready-to-serve frozen pouch. We’re already planning out next warm-weather gathering with Stone’s. Delightful flavors and clean ginger complements lend for a new favorite frozen cocktail amongst the Parker Sanpei crew.

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MCVGA’s Rhonda Motil Achieves Success with CDFA Grant Program

The team here at Parker Sanpei has been thrilled to work with the Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association over the past half dozen years and to watch the region evolve under the stewardship of Executive Director Rhonda Motil, who is an absolute delight to work with. We couldn’t be more pleased to announce that Rhonda has been selected to present an overview and participate in a panel discussion regarding the successful CDFA Specialty Crop Block Grant, which was awarded in 2009 and completed this year, to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. The presentation took place yesterday, October 2, 2012, at the CDFA board meeting in Sacramento.

The grant was responsible for the creation of a thorough AVA map of Monterey County’s nine AVAs accompanied by new branding messaging, a new searchable database and the Signature Series Wine Collection (a collaborative winemaking effort of some of the region’s top winemakers sourcing grapes from three vineyards within four AVAs for the blending of the Signature Series wines). In addition, the MCVGA was able to use the grant to bring national media attention to the region and provide key journalists in the wine industry with a greater understanding of the County and its AVAs.

As a result, MCVGA member wineries have experienced tremendous growth. Grower-vintners had hoped to have experienced a collective 10% increase in Monterey AVA wines. A sampling of over 20% of the winery membership indicated that all members experienced or exceeded this growth. Additionally, independent studies have confirmed a 23% increase in consumer awareness, with visitors now recognizing Monterey as a winegrowing region and participating in wine tasting while visiting the region.

Thank you, Rhonda, for all of your hard work! Monterey is so lucky to have you!

Rhonda Motil, Executive Director of the Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association with husband Mike

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Worth celebrating: Twenty years of Monterey Wine Country.

Want to experience the best wines Monterey County has to offer and rub elbows with the winemakers? The 20th Annual Winemakers’ Celebration is for you.

On Saturday, August 11th from 1 to 4pm, over 40 wineries will pour over 150 wines at the outdoor summer festival.  Hosted by the Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association (MCVGA), the event will be held at the newly expanded Barnyard Shopping Village outdoor event area in Carmel.  The event sold out in 2011 and this milestone anniversary is certain to generate enthusiasm for the growing wine region.

Nine American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) make up the world-class designation of Monterey County, including Monterey, Santa Lucia Highlands, Arroyo Seco, San Lucas, Hames Valley, Chalone, Carmel Valley, San Antonio Valley, and San Bernabe. The region’s 200 vineyards run from the cooler north, heavily influenced from the Monterey Bay, to the warmer southern end, influenced by late afternoon winds and resulting cool temperatures later in the day.  At the Winemakers’ Celebration, vintners and growers will be on hand to discuss their craft and showcase how 42 varietals flourish in this singular winegrowing region.

The Winemakers’ Celebration festivities will include:

  • Meet-the-winemaker opportunities in an exclusive tasting of Monterey wines
  • Culinary samples from international restaurants located in the Barnyard Shopping Village
  • Dancing to local blues favorite Red Beans & Rice
  • Beautiful and informative displays on the winemaking process
  • The bidding excitement of a silent auction including numerous lifestyle packages, special wine items, photo sessions, hotel stays, restaurant gift certificates, and more
  • A “Try & Buy Marketplace” where featured wineries and restaurants will offer guests special pricing to be enjoyed the day of the celebration and beyond

Red Beans & Rice

Guests will indulge in great local food from the Barnyard restaurants, including: Pieces of Heaven, Lugano Swiss Bistro, From Scratch, Allegro Gourmet Pizzeria, Carmel Coffee Roasters, Bahama Island Steakhouse, Erik’s Deli Café and Flanagan’s Café. Vendors will include Chris’s Stuff, Pueblo Bonito, De Castro Family Olive Oil Company and Emi’s Biscotteria.

Tickets for the 20th Annual Winemakers’ Celebration are available online at or by calling 831.375.9400.  $35 in advance / $45 day of event / $15 Designated Driver.

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Protecting Against the Unexpected

New product is a game-changer for the food and beverage industry

For those of us who have worked in food service, learning how to carry a tray full of drinks is a rite of passage, and no one gets by without at least one massive spill.  But this month, a revolutionary product will be released that virtually eliminates the hassle (and expense) of stemware breakage and spillage.

Designed and invented by veteran restaurateur, Leonard Cohen, the Stem Locks™ system is comprised of no-slip clips that lock on to most popular non-stick  service trays and hold stemware firmly in place, preventing against unexpected mishaps between the kitchen or bar and a diner’s table.

Cohen was raised in the restaurant industry, currently owns two popular fine dining establishments on California’s Central Coast, and has owned wineries in the past. His idea for Stem Locks™ was born on New Year’s Eve at his downtown San Luis Obispo establishment, Ciopinot.

“We were serving one-hundred and fifty flutes of Champagne to our guests, and the entire wait staff was buzzing around the dining room,” he recalls. “Someone shoved a chair out in front of a server, who attempted to steady one flute on her tray and ended up spilling everything onto the ground. As we mopped up the mess, I thought, ‘Someone should invent something to prevent situations like this.’”

Cohen began researching existing products that might help prevent such headaches, but failed to find anything sufficiently cost-effective or flexible to implement in his businesses. Estimating that each tray in his restaurants cost him around $200 per year in stemware breakage alone, he started dreaming up a device of his own. The result is a kit of five sturdy plastic clips, a strap to affix to the underside of a tray (allowing the server to tip the tray any direction without toppling stemware), two adhesive anchors to hold the strap, and a spacing tool for strap placement.

“I was fortunate to have a restaurant where I could test prototypes,” says Cohen. “My two lead servers used prototypes for six months, which we tweaked considerably along the way.”

In the end, Cohen says that the device exceeded the expectations of wait staff, as well as his own. “We found that the Stem Locks™ went completely unnoticed by customers, and that bussing tables was especially efficient.”

Stem Locks™ are extremely affordable to adopt, as each clip is universally adaptable to most serving trays.  Furthermore, Stem Locks™ can potentially save businesses thousands of dollars in stemware, as well as other expenses like wine spillage, dry cleaning, complimentary dishes for guests, and the potential liability of broken glass.

Leonard Cohen

Cohen is proud that Stem Locks™ is made in California, produced from recycled plastics, and distributed through Sysco, the global leader in food distribution to the service and hospitality industries. Wholesale distribution is coordinated through Sysco’s private supplies and equipment provider, Supplies on the Fly. For access to Stem Locks™, buyers should contact their local Sysco sales representative or go directly to  Additionally, Stem Locks™ are available to consumers via Instawares.

“I think of Stem Locks™ as a seat belt,” Cohen says.  “No matter how experienced a driver you are, you need a seat belt to prevent against the unexpected. When I show veteran servers how the Stem Locks™ work, they usually roll their eyes and say, ‘Hmmm, where were these when I worked in the industry. These sure would have save a lot of spilled drinks, broken glass and unhappy customers?!?’”

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Nurturing Vines and Minds

Like to run? Walk?  Drink wine?  Enjoy a beautiful day for a tremendously good cause?  Who doesn’t?

3rd Annual Viticulture Event Raises Funds for College-Bound Students and Local Charities

Raising support for scholarships, local charities, and research in viticulture and enology through the American Vineyard Foundation, the 3rd Annual Winery Walk, Rock and Run will take place June 2, 2012, from 9AM to 3PM among the vines of the picturesque Paraiso Vineyards.

The 5-mile course through private vineyards will benefit the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Foundation (MCVGF), which raises funds and provides scholarship opportunities to agricultural employee’s children. As tuition costs continue to rise and other scholarship support funds continue to disappear, the local demand for education assistance has never been greater. Since the MCVGF made its first scholarship, recipients have been the first in their family to attend college and look forward to giving back to their community and making their families proud. All recipients have shown leadership qualities in academics, extracurricular participation, and community involvement. In 2011, over $15,000 were awarded to local Monterey County students.

“Last year’s Winery Walk, Rock and Run was a stellar experience for all involved – even in inclement weather! – which shows just how strongly the local wine community feels about supporting their next generation,” said Rhonda Motil, Executive Director of the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Foundation. “Participants get to share in a beautiful, unique experience while knowing that they are directly impacting the life of an aspiring college student. It’s a simple, fun way to make a real difference in our community.”

Registration starts at 9 AM, with the walk/run beginning at 10 AM at Paraiso Vineyards, located at 38060 Paraiso Springs Road in Soledad. Upon completion of the course, each participant will be presented with a finisher’s tee shirt on the way to the after-party, where they can relax with massages from Aquablue Skin and Body Spa, and groove to live music from The Wild Turkeys. Lunch will be provided by Tacos Pacheco Taqueria, Portobello’s, and the Salad Shoppe, along with local wine and beer. It will be a great day in Monterey County’s Santa Lucia Highlands to enjoy fitness, beautiful vineyards, family, friends and a very good cause.

To participate in the walk, minimum donations begin at $100. Discounted team rates are available for walking groups of six or more. The MCVGF site,, has a simple online tool to register for the walk and create a customized walker page in order to begin securing donations from family, friends, and colleagues to support their efforts. While the prize for the participant who raises the most is an Apple iPad2, awards will also be presented to teams with the most funds raised, team spirit, and best costumes. All donations are tax deductible (Tax ID #31-1790962). Family and friends can cheer and enjoy the post-party activities with a spectator ticket for just $30.

For more event details and registration, visit or call 831.375-9400. For information about Paraiso Vineyards, visit

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Love’s Commitment in Wine Country

Authentic Central California weddings at Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery

Authentic, picturesque, and ideally located, Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery is the ultimate venue for a genuine Central Coast destination wedding.

Nestled among rolling hills on a 100-acre sustainably-farmed vineyard and olive grove in Templeton, Pomar Junction is a family owned and operated winery that prides itself on hosting magical weddings with a touch of country.

“Pomar Junction is different from your typical Central Coast wedding venue,” says General Manager Matt Merrill. “The property is remote yet accessible, so there’s a true sense of getting away from it all.  Also, we are an estate winery, so bridal couples can plan their ceremony anywhere on the vineyard that they choose, whether that’s on the hill overlooking the vines at sunset or under the giant oak tree by the tasting room.”

One of the most popular options for weddings at Pomar Junction Winery is tractor-pulled gondola rides for guests throughout the vineyard, especially in the summer or fall, when the vines are at their colorful peak.  For the reception, couples often choose to celebrate on the property’s central lawn.  The grand oak tree can be decorated with hanging lanterns or candles for an evening wedding, and a stage is available for the wedding party, DJ, or a live band.  A dance floor can also be constructed for dancing the night away with family and friends.

Bridal couples have the freedom to select the caterer of their choice to use the full-service Pomar Junction kitchen, located in the estate house where the wedding party can dress, relax, and prepare for the big day.  The kitchen or the large oak-pit barbecue also make for an uncomplicated rehearsal dinner on the estate, amid the vines and under the stars.

While Pomar Junction doesn’t provide set-up, they can suggest local caterers, rental shops for tents, chairs, linens, and the like.  The maximum recommended number of guests for a Pomar Junction wedding is between 200 and 250 people.  The cost for use of the venue is $2,500.

Lodging options are plentiful in Templeton, including several bed and breakfasts just a stone’s throw from Pomar Junction.  Less than a mile away lies the Hidden Hills Bed & Breakfast (, which offers luxurious comfort, a gourmet house-made breakfast, a wrap-around veranda overlooking a peaceful swimming pool, and arrangements for wine tours and private tastings across Central Coast wine country.  Also nearby are the Carriage Vineyards Inn (, and the Bike Lane Inn ( which hosts bike tours to regional wineries.

Owned and operated by the Merrill Family in the Paso Robles AVA, Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery highlights a legacy of eight generations of Central Coast farming through deeply characterful estate wines.  With a rich heritage of sustainable practices in the vineyard and minimal intervention in the cellar, Pomar Junction guides estate fruit from vine to glass with a narrow focus on purity of flavor and varietal integrity.  The winery name refers to the Merrill Family’s concurrent lineage of railroad engineers as well as to bygone days when the Southern Pacific Railroad was responsible for the development of the picturesque Central Coast.  For more information about Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery, call (805) 238-9944, or visit  The Pomar Junction vineyard and tasting room are located at 5036 S. El Pomar Road in Templeton, CA 93465.

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