One of the things we did in California this weekend was visit some Santa Cruz County wineries: Bonny Doon, David Bruce, Bargetto, and Burrell School Vineyards. The Bonny Doon visit was a fun as you would expect if you are at all familiar with their wines, their bottle labels, and their sense of humor. All of the wineries were great fun, very friendly folks, and a wide variety of great wines.
More on that later. In the course of conversation with one tasting room expert I learned about a place in St. Helena, California called Fifty Five Degrees. They are a climate-controlled storage company, but with a difference.
Say I live in Maryland, one of the most egregious states for the interdiction of interstate wine shipments (in Maryland it’s a felony), but say I love all of those funky, small winery Cabs and Zins that I can’t get at home (because my local wine store is also pretty much an Arm of the State, although in Maryland at least private citizens can legally operate stores to sell wine). The winery is not allowed to sell and ship me wine, but it can sell me wine that I then store, say, at a climate-controlled facility in St. Helena. Then when I want to bring some of the wine home to consume or to put in my own cellar, I ship it to myself.
That’s one of the value propositions of Fifty Five Degrees; you rent shipment receipt and storage services from them, and then when you ship that Screaming Eagle Cab or Raffanelli Zin case into Maryland, you are shipping it to yourself, and it’s not a commercial interstate wine shipment.
Just makes me love life to hear stories like this about how wonderfully creative we can be.