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Block122 brings the California wine industry to the web, telling the stories of great winemakers and industry icons through video.
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92 backers pledged $9,230 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$9,230

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Block122 is a unique virtual wine store with a strong educational focus. Our motto is: “No Snobbery. No Robbery.” We’ll share down-to-earth, industry expert reviews and in-depth articles on every wine we sell, as well as a video webseries that provides an insightful glimpse into the California wine industry. Even better, we can offer direct access to some of the best and most highly allocated wines on the West Coast – the hidden gems that are rarely found on the Web or in most wine shops. The California wine industry is abundant in its affordable treasures… We truly believe that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to drink fantastic wine.

At Block122, we know that a love of wine doesn’t start and end with a sale. Our mission is to encourage a vibrant social conversation about wine and the living craft that is winemaking. So even if you’re not looking to buy wine, stop by Block122 to find stimulating articles, photos and videos featuring some of the top sommeliers, winemakers and wine writers in the business. Think of Block122 as your place on the Web to find real info and useful tools for wine education, whether you’re a casual wine drinker or a seasoned pro.

We've already begun to produce on-camera interviews of some of the top winemakers in California, featuring educational topics and in-depth looks at the winemaking process from the ground up. Here's an example of what you might find on the site (featuring Paul Sloan of Small Vines Viticulture discussing his farming techniques):

While our webseries will continue to explore the stories, methods and people that are the California wine industry, members of the site can also purchase the wines they learn about directly from our site, find valuable educational resources and opportunities, and connect with other wine lovers in a social setting.

And there's so much more we can do! But we need you to do it. There's more (and better) camera and audio gear to buy, editing costs, location shoot costs and even more that you can help to provide, so we can continue to use our skills and connections to bring quality wine stories to the Web. If you love wine, and want to be a part of the modern wine revolution, join us at block122.com! This is a site for all of us to connect, learn and grow the California wine industry in a meaningful way.

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What Your Contribution Buys

We are currently renting, or have on loan, the majority of our documentary gear. If we are to continue producing our high-quality educational series for the Web, we will need at minimum:

◦    a field mixer
◦    a shotgun microphone with windscreen
◦    a boom pole, cables and connectors
◦    two video-capable DSLR cameras, with quality lenses
◦    field lighting equipment
◦    camera stabilization and dolly systems
◦    some post-production audio gear/recording studio time
◦    final editing mastering services
◦    and more!

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Our Story

Four San Francisco Restaurant employees — with decades of experience in wine and food pairing, training as sommeliers, and established connections to the wine community — have combined forces to create something unique. We realized that our expertise could help make a home for wine on the Web that would inform, connect and inspire wine lovers. With Block122, we’re bringing everything to the table (or, more literally, to our customers’ front door). We’re leveraging the industry knowledge we’ve spent most of our lives developing in order to offer our customers access to the best in the West, and will be using all our skills and contacts to make Block122 one of the most dynamic and engaging sites on the Web.

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The Team

Brian Kulich, Founder and CEO   
Brian is a Certified Sommelier with 15 years of restaurant and wine bar/ retail experience. A graduate of the International Sommelier Guild Certification Program, Brian has worked in one- and two-star Michelin restaurants including Aqua and Boulevard. 

Alisha Grieser, COO
Alisha discovered her love of the restaurant business while in college 17 years ago. She worked for restaurateur Cameron Mitchell for seven years, opening three of his restaurants, including the award-winning M at Miranova in Ohio. Alisha’s love of food and wine led her to San Francisco where she’s worked at Boulevard Restaurant for the past eight years.

Jenn Wagner, CTO
A Web designer-developer with almost two decades of fine dining restaurant experience, Jenn has designed and built sites with a social media focus for small and mid-sized businesses, a Fortune 200 company, charitable organizations and several tech start-ups.  

Francesca Cunningham, CMO
Born and raised in Hawaii, Francesca moved to San Francisco twelve years ago as part of the corporate training team with Roy’s Restaurants. While earning her Master’s in Human Resources & Organizational Development from USF, Francesca honed her wine skills working at Boulevard and built her passion for wine with extensive reading and tastings. An active member of the online social wine community, she recently passed her first-level Court of Master Sommelier certification exam and has completed her second level of certification through the International Sommelier Guild. 

Melanie McCormick, CFO
With ten years as a fine dining restaurant pastry chef, Melanie brings her passion for great food and wine to her role with Block122. Now pursuing her BA in legal studies, Melanie has since been a bookkeeper and business manager for several nonprofits and start-ups.  

Matt Mullin, Creative Director
Matt is an award winning illustrator and designer, who’s work has appeared in Print and Communication Arts. His roster of graphic design clients includes PepsiCo, Intel, Ernst & Young and Zinfandel Advocates & Producers.  

Lee Powers, VP of Engineering
Lee Powers is a freelance web and applications programmer with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He is a founder of multiple software and hardware start-ups, and has worked on projects for companies such as MTV, CNN, Disney, and Nickelodeon.

Jesse Bernal, Media Director
Jesse has been a professional videographer and editor for the past decade. A graduate of the Academy of Art University, he has been active in location shoots throughout the Bay Area, as both a freelance camera operator and as the in-house videographer and editor for a large community organization.

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The Plan

We want Block122’s site to offer one of the richest wine experiences on the Web. We’ll fill it with articles, videos and reviews by some of the West Coast’s top winemakers, sommeliers and industry experts. It’s the place to find a lively conversation about wine, interviews with great winemakers, and reports on innovations and stand-out wines worthy of collecting and drinking right now. We’ll offer valuable educational resources, while providing access to outstanding wines at very competitive prices.  

Talk.  

Here is where the conversation really happens. Block122 will feature articles, blogs, videos, group discussions and more, with contributions and original content by some of the most renowned experts in the industry. Site users will be encouraged to join in and ask questions, contribute their own experiences, and connect with a community of passionate oenophiles. Our blog will represent the wine industry itself, featuring unique perspectives from sommeliers, wine directors, winemakers, tasting room employees, wine retail employees, waiters and vineyard managers. This will give our visitors a deeper insight into the wine industry than can be found anywhere else online.  

Drink.

Visitors to the site will be able to purchase hard-to- find, boutique California (and eventually Oregon and Washington) wines at competitive prices. Sought-after names in cabernet sauvignon, syrah and pinot noir will appear regularly in our shop. We’ll sweeten the sale with occasional extras for our members, like a special with second bottles for just $1.22, or included shipping. Every wine we sell will come with in-depth expert reviews and detailed descriptions; and, of course, our members will have the opportunity to contribute their thoughts and experiences with each of our wines.  

Learn.  

Want to immerse yourself in a particular winery, region or varietal? You can, with Block122’s online learning resources, including a tasting notes organization tool, winery locations maps, tasting room hours and contact information, events calendars, meet-ups, and a curated list of books, videos and online resources. 

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Coming Soon...  

We have lofty goals for expansion in the near future. No set date yet, but here are some of the additions we hope to see on the site in the coming years:

Custom Wine Club

Get what you want, when you want it. Club members will have real control over the wine that gets shipped, and will have the ability to adjust their shipment to match their tastes. It’s a program modeled after the CSA farm delivery services that are popular throughout the Bay Area.  

Negociant Label

Block122 label wines, custom blends and partnerships with great winemakers. You’ll want to add these to your collection!  

Private Label Program(Custom Labeling for Weddings & Business Events)

For those who are looking for the perfect corporate gift during the Holidays, or want to have a beautiful memento on each table at their wedding, Block122 will be able to provide high-quality wines with custom, personalized labels. Wines can be purchased by the case, and customers can choose from a beautiful array of templates, or work with our graphic design department to create a totally unique design.  

Oregon/Washington Wines  

Going up? We’ve got friends in high places... and we certainly don’t want to leave them out. We’ll be bringing down some real gems from Oregon and Washington in the near future.  

Regional Blogs

Just because we live right next door to the most famous wine region in the US doesn’t mean we should ignore the rest of the country. There are people making wine and writing some great stuff all over the country. We’ll be including some really important voices in wine, and connecting with a growing national audience.  

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Special Services  

Wine Consulting  

Our experts can be your experts. Let us negotiate great deals for you on wines you’ll need to grow your collection. We can offer pairing suggestions, recommend ways to broaden your cellar, and provide detailed information to help you get the most for your investment. In short, we can open the bottle for you.  

Special Orders

Something you’d love to have, but don’t see on our site? Drop us a line. If we can get it, we’ll make it happen.

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A Special Thank You

Block122 is proud to be working in association with Skylark Wine Company as we launch our project on the Web. Their support and encouragement has been instrumental in our success so far, and we look forward to our continued friendship in the years ahead.

Skylark is a collaboration between John Lancaster and Robert Perkins, who have run the wine program at the acclaimed Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco for the past 12 years. During their tenure at Boulevard, they have established a solid friendship, an inventory of wines from around the globe, and discerning palates. Their partnership has fostered deep-rooted relationships throughout wine industry — with winemakers, vineyard managers and owners. With these relationships in place, their next logical progression was the realization of a dream: making fine wine from select vineyards.

While the original plan was simply to produce a single barrel, they quickly jumped in with 14 barrels of syrah from the 2002 harvest; and, with that, Skylark Wine Company was born.

Today, Skylark has won awards and garnered praise from all corners of the industry. Their wines have been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, Wine Spectator and Wine & Sprits Magazine, to name a few.

John and Rob continue to make wonderful syrah, as well as grenache, pinot blanc, and their coveted Pink Belly (rose of grenache), Red Belly and Las Aves blends. Additionally, they have a wonderful second label, Alondra, including Chardonnay and Cabernet single varietal bottlings.

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What's in a Name?

Block [blók] (n.): In winemaking, an area or tract of land designated for a single bottling, and generally cultivated to celebrate the natural terroir of the growing area.

122 [wúhn-twén-tee-tóo] (adj.): Notably, 122°W of the Prime Meridian, the central longitude line of many of the finest U.S. West Coast wine growing regions, including Napa, Sonoma, and the Willamette Valley. See also: the D122; The Route des Grand Crus, connecting the renowned wine growing appellations of Burgundy, France from Dijon to Vougeot.

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Gifts

We don't have a picture of the t-shirt or wine keys yet (being printed as needed), but they will feature our logo and tagline, "No Snobbery. No Robbery.", and will be printed on a high-quality materials. In the meantime, here's a photo of our lovely letter-pressed coasters for your enjoyment...

And the decanter...

And the Wine Stave Cheese Board...

BOOKS LIST

Karen MacNeil, The Wine Bible
Kermit Lynch, Adventures on the Wine Route
Jancis Robinson, Jancis Robinson's Wine Course: A Guide to the World of Wine
Wine for Dummies,
Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan

AND ON THE $150 pledge level or above...

Karen MacNeil, The Wine Bible (signed by the author)
A Vineyard in Napa by Doug Shafer (signed by Mr. Shafer and winemaker Elias Fernandez)

BLOG HOSTING

**We can host your wine blog on block122.com, pending approval of your content, or host your personal or business site for one year via a quality shared hosting provider. If you are hosted on block122.com, you will be subject to the site's terms and conditions, including following our editorial guidelines--but, you'll also get our audience. If you are hosted elsewhere, you'll have full autonomy, and we'll try to help promote you occasionally on the site when your content matches our viewers. In either case, we'll work with you to make you glad you donated!

Risks and challenges

Our biggest challenges include running out of funds to sustain our location shooting schedule in time to complete the series, and not creating a sustainable equipment set to help us successfully launch the series. However, if we need to, we can launch the series at a slower pace than desired, and attempt to drive our audience to the site with a combination of more written content and social media.

We feel strongly that, if we have the funds to achieve our stated goals, we have the ability to create the momentum to generate a strong audience for our project. We can build a greater community and a more diverse body of work if we can produce the full series and launch videos at a pace that keeps our audience excited and engaged.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    (Nice) ~ A virtual "CHEERS!", and a high five. We sincerely appreciate your support.

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    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    (Honorary Californian) ~ East or West, you’re the best! Thanks for the support!

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    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    (Teetotaler) ~ Our undying love and appreciation, plus printed recognition on the site on opening day and in our first edition of SOMMtimes, our monthly publication on “all things California wine.” AND your choice of a Block122 wine opener or a set of Block122 "Drink" coasters to boot!

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    Pledge US$ 55 or more About US$ 55

    (Tippler) ~ Our undying love and appreciation, plus printed recognition on the site on opening day and in our first edition of SOMMtimes, our monthly publication on “all things California wine.” PLUS your choice of a limited-edition Block122 “No Snobbery. No Robbery.” t-shirt, or "Drink" coaster set with Block122 wine opener.

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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    (Connoisseur) ~ Our undying love and appreciation, plus printed recognition on the site on opening day and in our first edition of SOMMtimes, our monthly publication on “all things California wine.”

    PLUS your choice of one of our wine book selections (see "Gifts" below), or 2 Reidel wine glasses.

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    Pledge US$ 150 or more About US$ 150

    (Wine Groupie) ~ Our undying love and appreciation, plus printed recognition on the site on opening day and in our first edition of SOMMtimes, our monthly publication on “all things California wine.” PLUS, choose from a brand new collector's copy of The Wine Bible, SIGNED by Karen MacNeil (which retails used for $100+ on Amazon), or A Vineyard in Napa by Doug Shafer (SIGNED by Mr. Shafer and winemaker Elias Fernandez). Or, if you prefer, choose 4 Reidel wine glasses instead.

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    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    (Afficianado) ~ Our undying love and appreciation, plus printed recognition on the site on opening day and in our first edition of SOMMtimes, our monthly publication on “all things California wine.”

    PLUS your choice of one of our wine book selections (see "Gifts" below), or 2 Reidel wine glasses.

    PLUS a Block122 t shirt and 4 coaster set.

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    Pledge US$ 300 or more About US$ 300

    (Wine Geek) ~ Our undying love and appreciation, plus printed recognition on the site on opening day and in our first edition of SOMMtimes, our monthly publication on “all things California wine.”

    PLUS your choice of a Buddha Barrels Wine Stave Cheese Board, or 4 Premium Reidel wine glasses, or a Wine Enthusiast Vivid Wine Decanter.

    PLUS a Block122 t shirt and 4 coaster set.

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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    (Som) ~ Make a name for yourself with your own wine blog, hosted for free by Block122.com for one year.** You can connect with a large audience of like-minded oenophiles, while building up your profile in a competitive wine community.

    PLUS your choice of a Buddha Barrels Wine Stave Cheese Board, or 4 Premium Reidel wine glasses, or a Wine Enthusiast Vivid Wine Decanter.

    PLUS a Block122 t shirt and 4 coaster set.

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    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    (Master Som) ~ Our undying love and appreciation, plus printed recognition on the site on opening day and in our first edition of SOMMtimes, our monthly publication on “all things California wine.”

    PLUS your choice of a Buddha Barrels Wine Stave Cheese Board, or 4 Premium Reidel wine glasses, or a Wine Enthusiast Vivid Wine Decanter.

    PLUS a Block122 t shirt and 4 coaster set.

    PLUS a gift certificate for dinner at a restaurant of your choosing (up to $150 value).

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    Pledge US$ 1,500 or more About US$ 1,500

    (Collector) ~ Our undying love and appreciation, plus printed recognition on the site on opening day and in our first edition of SOMMtimes, our monthly publication on “all things California wine.”

    PLUS your choice of a special Skylark dinner featuring library wines (Bay Area only, must be 21 or older to attend), or a Buddha Barrels Wine Stave Cheese Board, or 4 Premium Reidel wine glasses, or a Wine Enthusiast Vivid Wine Decanter.

    PLUS a Block122 t shirt and 4 coaster set.

    PLUS free wine consulting services for one year by our expert staff, which includes priority service and free shipping, and great discounts on really hard-to-get gems for your collection. We’ll give you our undivided attention when you want it, and help you build your West Coast wine collection into the envy of the town.

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    Pledge US$ 2,500 or more About US$ 2,500

    (Winemaker) ~ Everything from the "Collector" level above

    PLUS your choice of a day in Napa or Sonoma County with Block122! (Transportation from San Francisco included. Must be 21 or older to enjoy this gift.) We’ll get you and a guest into private tastings with some of our favorite winemakers, and treat you to lunch and bubbles at étoile Restaurant at Domaine Chandon (Napa) or J Winery (Sonoma); or, allow Block122 to "style you out" in one of our favorite recent openings in wine country. It’s like getting backstage passes to paradise.

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Funding period

- (30 days)