Kind words from nice people
Thank you to A.J. Weinzettel for this write-up in his April 2023 e-newsletter, Weinnotes
Let's go back to late November when I received an email after attending Salud inviting me to taste some low-alcohol Bubbles. The person sending the invite was none other than Megan Markel, aka Bosslady of Well Played Wines. I remember all of this quite vividly. My daughter was participating in more than a handful of Nutcracker performances, and of course, all of the Holiday festivities were sprinkled in. After a couple of emails back and forth, we landed on Dec 23rd at 2:00.
Do you remember what happened on Dec 22? Here is a three-letter word that starts with an I, ends with E, and a C between the two. Yup, there was a nice little ice and snowstorm, making the thought of getting out in the weather unpleasant. Emailing Megan the following day, she agreed.
A little over a month later, Megan reached out to coordinate some time in February. A few more emails, and we were set for February 18th.
If it sounds like I already knew Megan, you would be correct. Megan is very much involved in the Oregon Wine Community. Her official title is Trade Relations & Special Projects Manager at Willamette Valley Wineries Association. She is all about getting Oregon wineries noticed and on the map.
The road to wine for Megan started when she decided to leave the politics of DC, move to Portland and start a wine shop with her family. She got the unique opportunity to meet some incredible winemakers here. One of the people that walked into her shop was Ximena Orrego from Atticus, and to this day, Megan is still part of Atticus's wine club. She also remembers Don Vidon walking into her shop selling his vintage.
Even though the wine shop didn't flourish, it didn't stop Megan's passion for wine. So, with a brief stint in Orange in Orange Country, she moved back to Oregon and continued working for a non-profit. Her desire, though, was to be a national wine sales manager.
Becoming a national sales manager started with Evening Land's tasting room, meeting Tom and Deb at La Cadeau to become their national sales manager. Reaching her goal, she could see Oregon's influence in the larger world of wine. She would constantly be asked, "How can I get a ticket to Pinot Camp," which she now plans. She has also worked for Rollin and Corby at Roco.
I mention all of these aspects of her journey because she has seen so much and has so much knowledge of the industry. Before I sat down with Megan in February, I was stupid at how much she knew. The Saturday I visited was when I highlighted Ron at Okta for the newsletter. We talked about Ron a little, and she pointed to a picture of him on the wall.
I wasn't sure if I could share this next part with you today, but luckily all of the pieces feel in place! A couple of weeks ago, I got a message from Megan sharing some exciting news of her taking Jancis Robinson around for the day to taste Oregon wines. The trip included some of my favorites, and the top of the list was Audeant!! Other wineries included: Brick House, Goodfellow Family Cellars, Patricia Green Cellars, Lingua Franca Wines, Morgen Long, and Sequitur Wine. It is a long article, and it's behind a paywall, but well worth the read.
Finally, let's talk about Megan's Well Played Wines. As an industry veteran, Megan can recognize a unique position in the market while making a wine she enjoys drinking. All of her wines are a touch over 7% ABV. Most Pinots run between 13-14% ABV if you are unaware.
Recently, the IWSR published the market value for no/low alcohol in 2021. It was just under $10 billion, up from $7.8bn in 2018. The IWSR also forecasts that no- and low-alcohol volume will grow by +8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2021 and 2025, compared to regular alcohol volume growth of +0.7% CAGR during that same period. So, to translate all of that jargon, Megan is riding the Oregon Sparkling wave and getting on board with the low alcohol movement as well.
I know what you are thinking right about now. Megan is a fantastic person. She is doing something unique with her wines, but how in the world can a low-alcohol wine be any good? Well, let's dive into her wines real quick.
The 2021 Well Played Wines Grace & Pop A Smalls Brut Bubbles is a unique blend, with 25% Riesling, 25% Mueller Thurgau, and a 50% blend compromising of Riesling, Muscat, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris. Then, of course, there is a pleasing expression of bubbles in the glass! I am unsure what to expect with a blend like this, but here is what I know. It is delicious on the mid-palate! Then, when you start to get a little sweetness from the Riesling, there is a balance from the other wines in the blend.
The 2021 Well Played Wines Style & Pop A Smalls Brut Rose Bubbles is nothing short of addicting! It is a blend of 40% Gamay Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir and a 25% blend compromising of Riesling, Muscat, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris. If you had told me to try a wine with a blend of Gamay Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir, I would have looked at your all funny, but this is something else! I don't know how to describe this wine, but give me this over a mimosa at breakfast any day of the week!
Here's what you should do at this point in the newsletter, go to Megan's website, sign up for her newsletter, and reach out to make a tasting appointment. It is a one-on-one experience with none other than the OG Boss Lady herself. I promise you will have a fantastic time and when you see her, please say, "A.J. sent me!"