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Wine Talks with Paul K.

Food & Cooking Podcasts

All you knew about wine is about to bust wide open….we are going to talk about what really happens in the wine business and I’m taking no prisoners... I am your host Paul Kalemkiarian 2nd generation owner of the Original Wine of the Month Club, and I am somewhere north of 100,000 wines tasted. How can Groupon sell 12 bottles for $60 and the wines be good? How do you start a winery anyway and lose money? And is a screwcap really better than a cork? Sometimes I have to pick a wine at the store by the label and the price...and I get screwed. Subscribe now and prepare to be enlightened.


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All you knew about wine is about to bust wide open….we are going to talk about what really happens in the wine business and I’m taking no prisoners... I am your host Paul Kalemkiarian 2nd generation owner of the Original Wine of the Month Club, and I am somewhere north of 100,000 wines tasted. How can Groupon sell 12 bottles for $60 and the wines be good? How do you start a winery anyway and lose money? And is a screwcap really better than a cork? Sometimes I have to pick a wine at the store by the label and the price...and I get screwed. Subscribe now and prepare to be enlightened.




They are Master Somms, married and taking on Aussie wines. Meet Jane Lopes and Jon Ross.

Betweent he two of them, it took 21 years to earn their Master Sommelier status; obviously, no easy task. Lest we forget, while studying for this accolade, one has to earn a living. THey met while working at the 2017 Best Restaurant in the World, 11 Madison and it was off to the races between them to carve out a niche in the wine world. Yes, having the moniker of a Master Sommelier opens doors in the wine and hospitality world, but it takes perserverance to see a need, develop a solution and execute the solution. In their case, bring the boutique expressive wines of Australia to the table of the American wione consumer. This task is not for the faint of heart. The miriad of laws in the US is enough to cause hours of head scratching let alone educating the consumer of the intricacies and geography of Australia. it is what we call in the industry a "hand sell." You can feel their passion for this project right here.


Love at first site and other crazy notions about wine. Meet Kenny Kahn.

Reading Kenny's website, you will learn that the night he met his wife it was love ar first sight...for him. Tongue tied the rest of the night, the story ends well with solid marriage; lets face it, it would have to be if she stuck around through the creation of a winery. The story behind Blue Rock winery is storied. You gon't just buy a delapidated farmhouse with a collapsed roof on land that many might have said will never work..but sometimes ignorance is bliss and the Kahn's bought it regardless. You might think that Kenny and his wife were Californians who had anticipated this lifestyle all along, no, they are from memphis (the hot bed of the American wine trade) and knew little more that barbecue...but had a hankering of fine food. Have a listen and you too will be mesmorized and inspired by the story.


Max Mussio Lewis defines Friuli wine. Meet Max.

Once in a while in this crazy business, you stumble across passion that has no bounds. Certainly, even to engage in the wine trade it takes passion, but there is typically an end to it. I am not sure it fair to say the passion has an end, but there are many that might give up in an idea before its time Not Max Mussio. He is so committed that it took exactly 2 days for him to indoctrinate his then new wife into the trade. Max and his wifer represent an area of Italian wine that is growing in popularity and fascinating to discover: Friuli. That arching piece of land that connects Italy with Slovenia and sits at the base of the Dolomites, produces an amazing array of wines without deference to their original origin. You can taste light hearted Pinot Grigio with character or a robust Cabernet Franc in the same sitting. Have a listen to Max, hear his passion and join him on a trip through Friuli.


A very rare wine story. It doesn't happen like this. Meet Alex Gambal.

It just doesn't happen like this. All the headwinds were there. It most likely cannot be repeated, so don't get any bright ideas. Americans don't just pick up and move to Burgundy, buy land, produce wine, become indoctrinated to the region and leave (to live in Idaho). It just doesn't happen like that, unless you are Alex Gambal. The path to Burgundy starts in Washington DC while in the real estate sector and frequenting wine shops and tastings. A seredipitous meeting with known negociant Becky Wasserman and Alex uproots his family, moves to Burgundy, goes to wine school, hangs with some of the best known producers, buys vineyard land and begins making wine. Truly a test of self realization and risk. Listen through this amazing story and play close attention; ask yourself "could I have done this?"


Perserverance is the only explanation. Hear the incredible story of Laura Donadoni, Italian wine girl.

Sometimes you just come across a story that makes you realize that you haven't had is so tough. You haven't had to start from scratch...ever. You haven't had to leave your life behind in your home country to start a new. You haven't had to learn a new career in short order to get financial footing. Well, I haven't but Laura Donadoni and her husband have. The tone of this podcast defines humility and requires one to reflect on his or her own trials and tribulations. At least to take inventory against the story of Laura and her husband.. She landed on her feet as the Italian Wine Girl; more than an influencer but an educator, organizer and Italian wine flag waver as well. Indugle yourself in a story or pure humility and gut checks.


They don't make them like Melvyn anymore. Hear Melvyn Master in his own words.

Melvyn and Janie Master were my heroes. Their life together was a pure love affair. In recent years, when they would come to LA to hang, Melvyn would insist on dinner together and each of these encounters sollidified this magical relationship. And why shouldn't be that way, their story together covers all the gamets of life; start out with nothing, take a few risks, end up with nothing and go again. And as they navigated two of the most difficult of industries (restaurants and wine), they became synonomous with both. Always giving of his contacts and friends, I will always charish these two with fond recollection. Experience is everything in most industries. Coming back from rock bottom is a critically important experience… as is garnering understanding of the industries that surround your particular industry. It all comes together to create “educated guesses” when trying to determine your next step. Meet Melvin Masters who is all that and more.


Counterfeit wine is real (real fake!). Meet the pre-eminent authority, Maureen Downey.

We all know the story of Rudy Kurniawan, the famed subject of the movie "Sour Grapes" and the most publicized of wine counterfeiters. When the FBI needed help in understanding what otherwise was, according to the FBI, "non-consequential", they turned to Maureen for counsel. Maureen Downey has carved a niche around what is now a growing industry of counterfeit wine. The stories are endless and the creativity of the people who counterfeit wine can only be out played by the people who sleuth them. Maureen is the best sleuth in the business. If you can believe, the problem has been exacerbated to the point where they are counterfeiting Yellow Tail, a $7.99 retail wine. This seems to be an unlikely target, but who is going to notice that a below average, sugared up wine is going to be counterfeit? This is part one to the series with Maureen...we didnt even get to our solution section of the problem. Have a listen.


The Millennial takes one to understand them. She understands them and more. Meet Isis Daniel.

Wine is ethereal. It literally binds people together. It brings something to the table that should and does transcend race, gender, lifestyle and generations. Isis Daniel is a testimony to that very bind. She coined "The Millennial Somm" as her calling card to help the industry and the consumer alike to comprehend the generational changes that wine could and must transcend. Throw in that she is a woman of color and you have got a force of nature. Her insights are thoughtful and complex. She sees wine and life from a positive perspective with a bit of social (wine social) justice mixed in. Her persuit of wine knowledge is not for self-edification, it is for real knowledge that she can take to the streets to enlighten all in her race, generation and gender. Have a listen and wish her "bon voyage" on her new venture in Paris. PK


Drive would be a word for Nova Cadamarte, but it doesn't tell the real story.

The Master of Wine Diploma out of London is probably the most rigorous of certifications to acquire. It took Nova 8 years of study, frustration and tasting to get it done; and that was only after she failed out the first time around. Yes, you can spend 6 years going through the program and if you don't hit certain milestones during the final testing, it is like the kids board game Shoots and Ladders...back to the beginning. An MW that saw the potential in Noca Cadamarte, pulled her aside to inspire and console her at the same time. This time she passed. There are fewer that 250 female MW's and fewer than 10 that actually make wine....but Nova is the only MW who makes wine in Napa, the Fingerlakes and Ohio (that is correct, Ohio). You will find her entertaining, funny, charming and intelligent. Have a listen.


He found a need in Napa, filled it and expanded it. Meet John Wilkinson of Bin to Bottle.

John Wilkinson was making wine at home. Afterall, he was living in the Napa Valley but felt disconnected not having any relationship with the most public of industries. As he sought advice from his friends to figure how to get his wine right, he stumbled across a complete void in the wine sector; a properly management wine facility that could be used by others to make their deream come true. He was a bit gun shy when he started, who would make wine in his facility when he himself really didn't know what he was doing...the answer: A lot of people. Born was the winery Bin to Bottle where famed brands such as The Prisoner have been born. When you head into the Napa Valley, you can't help but spy the Bin to Bottle facility on the right; that is only the tip of the iceberg. Since those founding days, Bin to Bottle also plays host to manufacturing ciders, spirits and canned wines. The buildings have grown and one of his latest ideas is a FLEX building; too hard to explain...have a listen to hear the story. PK


She is a true winemaker. Has an opinion and it shows in her incredible wines. meet Elizabeth Tangney..

When one stumbles across a strong will in the wine industry, one has to take notice. A strong will will necessarily show through in the resulting wines. It takes an opinion, it takes a will to create the finest example of wine a vineyard can produce. If one is "laissez faire" about what is in the bottle, one will cut a corner or shortcut a process or leave out a process that would not necessarily create a poor wine, but will certainly keep a nuance or a character out of a wine. For Elizabeth, it is about expressing the terroir she is, as she says it, priveldged from where she is to create wine. This is important; as a steward of the land for the Cornell family (from whence the name of the winery is drawn), she has a reponsibility to protect and enhance. The 2020 fires ripped through area and the rebuild is under way. Elizabeth is inspired to coax the vines back to their expressive selves. Have a listen to this inspiring and driven winemaker.


With Phd. and passion, Katarina Andersson shifted gears and fell in love with wine.

The path to being intoxicated with wine (I do not mean with alcohol) comes in many fashions. Virtually everyone that is consumed with wine has a story to tell. Some left the family wine business to become lawyers or even doctors but the allure brought them back to their roots (full of puns today). There are not many careers that would align themselves for a switch to wine as does Katarinas first love of history; maybe food, hospitality and a few others would be synergistic but history would be my vote for natural progression to wine. Wine is history. Wine is about the story. All of history has wine. Katarina was taken by wine during her studies and quickly became an academic in the world of wine. Settling in Florence, 100's of kilometers from her native Sweden, Katarina has become an expert in the regions and ways of Italian wine. With over 2000 wine varietals, she has much to learn but that is what wine is about....the chase of the knowledge. Have a listen to Katarina's chase. PK


Valle de Uco is the Napa Valley of Argentina. Stories are real.

Argentina is considered new world when describing where it fits in the history of wine. The question New World versus Old World a matter of character or oprigin? I think it is a combination of both. Los Noques is a family story of wine and I was intrigued by the passion and desire to let the world know about what pedigree of wines can be created in the Valle de Uco. It is unique in it's position against the Andes and the elevation from where the grapes draw their character. Hear the story here!


Heritage, hotels, rugs and wine. Meet James Tufenkian

Was there a Bob Hope movie....The Road to Yerevan? Maybe not, but the road to Yerevan for James Tufenkian is fascinating. James is one motivated diasporan. He has created a well-known, world-wide hand woven carpet, planted 1,000,000 trees in Armenia, built a hotel chain and is now embarking on the wine trade. With the idea he wanted to serve the out-lying areas (away from Yerevan) with luzury hotels, James has completed 4 and is currently constructing his 5th in the Areni region of Armenia. Maybe you have heard of Areni? Maybe it rings a bell? Only a few kilometers away from James' construction site lies the oldest compete winery ever unearthed complete with fermentation amphora, shoes and artifacts. His latest project (not to be out done by the 1,000,000 trees he planted with a previous effort) is to create the Turfenkian brand wines. I was completely impressed with his first vintage of Areni (the grape) and impressed he did not succumb to the market forces that would have told him to oak the wine before release (we both agree that Arena and oak are not that compatible). Oh, did I mention he had dated my sister back in the day? a true credential. Salud.


The stories are crazy good. Meet the Wine Merchant of Beverly Hills; Mr. Dennis Overstreet

Ever industry needs is leaders...the mythical legends that inspire us to do better, to keep your head down and persevere. Dennis Overstreet is that man and I had the chance to set up the studio in his store in Beverly Hills. Sitting amongst the greatest wines in the world, we laughed, gafawed and got serious about wine. In the early days of California wine, the path was uncertain and the risks were high (still are for that matter). Dennis Overstreet had a vision and pusued it relentlessly. Not only did he become the Merchant of Beverly Hills as the name of his store, he also became the legend that one might associate with the monikor "The Merchant of Beverly Hills." You will learn amzaing backstories and history. Have a listen.


Real talk, real wine, real Washington. Meet John Bookwalter.

It is very often you hear about an American family 10 generations into their contribution to society/ Certainly, you hear of such geneology in Europe; namesake wineries handed down through the generations. In this case, it is 10 generations of farmers. Going back to the 1800's, John Bookwalter can tell you of the players and stories that landed him in Washington state's Columbia Valley making wine. The history is rare and the wines are great; the old 1-2. Wine is about the story and the stories are thick and real. The definition of success is as varied as there personalities to define it. Certainly, you could say that the best selling wines are a success, afterall they make lots of money but as you know, some of these best sellers are hideous wines. So, if you change your sights on what success is in the wine business, I think you will find that this type of success os satisfying and hoenst; the wines are honest and th philosophy is honest. Enjoy this wonderful conversation.


Food and wine writer and recipe Emily Saladino.

Such a bright light in the world of wine and food; and she can create recipes out of thin air. Emily Saladino has made her way around both the world of culinary arts and wine to create give herself a comprehensive understanding of the marriage between the two. The conversation was so interesting, we never even got to discuss wine and food pairing...seems like it would have been a natural. There were too many philosophical approachs to wine and food to attack, we never got to the practical points of pairing food and wine. You will however, here he answers to some challenging questions that range from the complexity of food versus wine to what do we do to promote the consumption of "honest" wine. It is intriguing to hear from people in the fight; the fight to expose Americans to good wine and proper food. I think you will be charmed.


Big picture view of the liquor and wine business with Tim Moore, VP of Wine for RNDC.

It is contended that Prohibition was not really was just broken into 50 pieces. Navigating this and becoming the 2nd largest distributor of wine, beer and liquor is a formidable task Meet Tim Moore, he is the VP of wine of RNDC (formerly Youngs Market). Listen on how Youngs, as a family owned business, grew to be the 2nd largest player by joining forces with RNDC. We discuss the RTD (ready to drink) marketplace for both cocktails and wine, the landscpe of trying to start your own brand and the changing trends in adult beverage consumerism. Folks, this is big picture, a deviation from some of the winemaker conversations we usually have. I think you will find Tim's opinions insightful and thoughtful...but at the same time, realistic. Have a listen. Paul K


Premium canned wine is the idea. Meet the woman who took it on.

These days, you cannot miss the canned aisle in your favorite grocery store. It seems to be taking over more real estate of the wine aisle each month. The category is rather cluttered with competitors..that didn't seem to daunt Jessica Hershfield. Jumping in with two feet, Jessica spent time researching the market, making a couple of mistakes but eventually launching her brand of 250ml canned wines. But the proposition is unique. What she found missing in the space was vintaged, appelated canned wines; wines of reasonable distinction among the crowded shelves. She is sending them direct to the consumer and has landed the larges distributor in the country (Southern Glazer). Wait until you hear that story. You will find her charming and articulate. Cheers.


A rounded view is needed, Vahe has it. Meet Vahe Keushgarian.

Wine Talks has has some amazing guests in each of the various disciplines of the wine trade. A few years ago, Vahe was on the show as we mulled over some of the pertinenant issues of the day. This second podcast years later is that much more interesing. Since our first episode together, so much has changed in the Armenian wine world; a proliferation of new wineries, the addition of European and American know how, real technolgy and added appelations; Vahe is up to speed on all of it. We met at the graciuosness of the Civilnet studio group ( in their podcast studio and could have spoken for hours. Not only on the Armenian wine trade, but also on the headwinds and motivations to be in this business. As he slowly hands the gavel to his daughter Aimee, Vahe reveals his own ambitions and aspirations to grow. Have a listen.