AMI Zoom Wine Group Graduation

An In-Person Tasting of Old and Rare Wines

Left to Right, Front to Back:
Martin Susan, Nic, Mindy,
Larry, Loren, Alan, Steve, Alex, Jim, Kathy, Martin, Linda
Liana, Joe, Tori, Scott, Loretta, Hunter, Kayla, Aaron

Ready to taste!
12010Château Pontet-CanetFrance, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac$22495
22005Château LascombesFrance, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux$10192
31995Dominus Estate Napanook VineyardUSA, California, Napa Valley$21693
41990Les Forts de LatourFrance, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac$27092
51982Château GloriaFrance, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien$14390
61970Château PavieFrance, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru$14691
71966Château Léoville Las CasesFrance, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien$23592
81959Vieux Château CertanFrance, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol$52494
91924Château Langoa BartonFrance, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien$140
101976Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private ReserveUSA, California, Napa Valley$18593
111957Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Private ReserveUSA, California, Napa Valley$184
122017Gérard Raphet Charmes-ChambertinFrance, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru$13196
132005Thibault Liger-Belair Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Saint GeorgesFrance, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru$11092
141985Domaine des Lambrays Morey St. DenisFrance, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Morey St. Denis$99
151970Hospices de Beaune Beaune 1er Cru Cuvée Brunet Philippe BouchardFrance, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune 1er Cru$100
161953M. Doudet-Naudin Clos VougeotFrance, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru$190
171949Gauthier Freres Savigny-lès-BeauneFrance, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Savigny-lès-Beaune$238
Rhone Blends
182010Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-PapeFrance, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape$11493
192001Cuvée du Vatican Châteauneuf-du-Pape Réserve SixtineFrance, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape$4991
201988Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La ChapelleFrance, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage$19293
212013Caymus Cabernet SauvignonUSA, California, Napa Valley$13091
222013Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special SelectionUSA, California, Napa Valley$18394
232014Saxum Heart Stone VineyardUSA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles$11095
242001Château SuduirautFrance, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes$14495


Dinner Wines

Notes on the wines:

The group’s favorites were:

1959 Vieux Château Certan (8.5 votes)
1970 Château Pavie (5.5 votes)
2010 Château Pontet-Canet (5 votes)

1957 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve (10 votes)
1976 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve (9 votes)

1949 Gauthier Freres Savigny-lès-Beaune (11 votes)
1970 Hospices de Beaune Beaune 1er Cru Cuvée Brunet Philippe Bouchard (7 votes)
1953 M. Doudet-Naudin Clos Vougeot (6 votes)

I also really liked:

1924 Château Langoa Barton

Martin, Jim, and Steve

Zoom Wine Tasting Videos

(I only recorded sessions where someone couldn’t attend, so this is only about half of them.)

11/2/2020Vistamar and Crown Point
11/16/2020McManus and Roblar Petite Sirahs
11/18/2020Evans Ranch Pinot Noir 2005 and Crozes-Hermitage
2/1/2021Beckmen and Mollydooker
2/24/2021PETS Petite Sirah and Old Ghost Zinfandel
3/10/2021Clos du Bois Marlstone and Geodesy
3/15/2021Writer’s Block Zinfandel
3/17/20212018 Melville Donna’s Syrah and 2013 Jasper Hill Shiraz
3/23/2021Barbera – second half
3/24/2021Champagne and Late Harvest Chenin Blanc
3/29/2021Writer’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon
4/7/2021Pouilly Fuisse and Ann Albert Chardonnay
4/12/2021Writer’s Block Syrah
4/14/2021Albarino and Tablas Creek Blanc
4/19/2021Writer’s Block Petite Sirah and Romanian Wine
4/21/2021Onesta Cinsault Red and Rose
4/26/2021Writer’s Block and Red Schooner Voyage 2 Malbec
4/28/2021St. Joseph and Cote Rotie
5/5/2021Steele and Andrew Murray E11even Petite Verdot
5/5/2021Mercurey and Nuits-Saint-Georges
5/10/2021Stolpman Roussanne
5/12/2021New World vs Old World GSM – Beckmen and Beaucastel
5/17/2021Paolo Scavino Sorriso Langhe 2019
5/26/2021Katherine Goldschmidt and 1976 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon
6/1/2021District 7 Pinot Noir & 2009 Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny
6/2/2021Red Schooner by Caymus Voyage 8
6/7/20212013 Flying Goat Pinot Noir Clone 2A
6/9/2021Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon
6/16/2021Louis Latour Macon-Villages
6/21/20212016 L’Orme de Rauzan Gassies Bordeaux
6/30/20212011 Chateau des Labourons Henry Fessy Fleurie
7/12/2021Two Jakes Cabernet Franc
7/14/2021Clime Barbera
7/26/2021Pedroncelli Petite Sirah
7/28/2021Broadside Merlot
8/16/2021Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon
8/18/20212018 Berringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
8/25/2021Para Maria (Stolpman) Red Blend 2019
9/1/20212018 Frisson Tourchet Red Blend and 1994 Don PX
9/8/2021Beckmen Cuvee Le Bec 2019 and 2011 Usseglio CDP
9/15/20212015 Dona Maria Grande Reserva, Portugal
9/20/2021Broken Earth Grenache Rose & 1982 Chateau Greysac
9/27/20212017 Iron Horse Chardonnay & Hospices de Beaune 1er Cru
10/4/2021Beckmen Chenin Blanc and Block 6 Syrah
10/18/2021Corona de Aragón Garnacha and 2005 Morey-St-Denis
10/25/2021Shannon Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon and 2005 Ch. Lascombes
11/1/2021Ty Caton and Gard Cabernet Sauvignons
11/8/2021Lang and Reed Cabernet Franc & Mollydooker Enchanted Path
11/15/2021Spellbound Petite Sirah and 1971 Corton-Bressandes
11/22/20212018 Bishop’s Peak Petite Sirah & 1970 Ch. Cos d’Estournel
11/29/20212018 Bishop’s Peak Petite Verdot & 1980 Ch. Montelena CS
12/6/2021Amavi Syrah & Dr. Konstantine Frank Saperavi
12/13/2021Andrew Murray Alisos Syrah and 1993 Henri Bonneau Chateauneu-du-Pape

Moving On

Alcorn McBride was founded in 1986, and we bought our office on Hiawassee in 1992. After 27 years there, we’re moving!

We’ll miss our fancy/cluttered space, but we are excited about our new facility, which is just up the road, and five times as big! It allows us to combine our warehouse, engineering, and sales in one facility that will be built out just the way we want.

On two acres of land, and with 19,000 square feet of space, it should serve us for a long time. And did I mention the Tiki bar?

Aerial flyover of our Hiawassee offices
Our new headquarters at 6488 Currin


At the urging of co-workers, I bought one of the first Tesla Model S cars when they first came out, and three years later traded it in for one of the first Model X cars. They are both phenomenal vehicles, especially the controls, almost all on a single touchscreen, and the acceleration. The Model X is great for my needs, as I can comfortably take six large adults to lunch.

IMG_3361Model S P-85

IMG_1477Model X P90D


Steve’s Birthday Food and Wine Festival


For my 60th birthday, everyone at Alcorn McBride got together and secretly planned a spectacular progressive lunch. Each person decorated their office to match one of my interests, and prepared one of my favorite foods. And Martin matched them all with wines. Needless to say, after 17 offices, we were all having a pretty great time, and the celebrating went on into the evening. Thanks everyone, for a very memorable birthday!

IMG_1134Best to take cover when Mike is opening the Champagne.

IMG_1138We started with a Champagne reception in the Sales area.

IMG_0211They gave me a Champagne sword. I decided it would be smarter not to test it.

IMG_2293Who would have imagined that Jim would do bacon? This was actually the most amazing wine pairing of the day, an Alsatian white.

IMG_1086 Dmitri did Hawaiian shorts and tira misu.

Adam did Asian food.

IMG_1123Hunter did “Things Steve Hates,” including Chick-Fil-A and wine coolers!

IMG_1090Martin’s theme was Burgundy, and of course he had the best wine.

IMG_1091Joy’s Star Trek theme featured exotic Klingon food and wine.

Devin did Kitty Kat Nap Salad from Yellow Dog Eats

IMG_1097Loren’s theme was writing, and her food was PB&J (and her wine was sweet and tasty).

IMG_1099Alex made lamb burgers from Australia.

IMG_1110Alan’s theme was Tesla, complete with his own home-made Jacob’s ladder and home-made chili from a wild boar that he single handedly wrestled to the ground.

IMG_1179Kara was one of the main organizers, and was constantly on the move, which may or may not explain why she is blurry here.

IMG_1102Justin’s theme was Epcot, of course.

IMG_1116Scott’s theme was Wicked. Only one witch died to make this green cocktail.

IMG_1119Joseph is our beer expert, and he picked a delicious stour and porter, and made beer floats!

IMG_1106JR did Smoke House garlic bread using my recipe, and it turned out better than I’ve ever done. I’m jealous.

IMG_1171Alex provided hats and took advantage of this one to give himself a Steve-inspired pony tail.

IMG_1165Will tries on one of the hats provided by the warehouse. It may be a bit small on him.

IMG_1182Chris models another of the hats from the warehouse crew.

IMG_1121Mike’s office was ballroom dance themed, with pate and Champagne.

Thanks for a fabulous birthday, everyone! It was unforgettable!

This Week in Zendesk


Every Friday afternoon the Alcorn McBride engineers and support team gather to discuss the week’s support tickets, which are tracked in Zendesk. Hence the meeting is called TWIZ. Since it’s late on a Friday, the meeting doesn’t run on any particular agenda, and lasts until the support tickets or beer runs out, whichever comes first. This week, responding to a suggestion from Hunter, Loren provided everyone with official Alcorn McBride lab coats to lend a clinical analysis to the proceedings.



Photo by Dani Alcorn

Early Friday morning a pathetic person put a hose through the mailbox slot in the door and flooded a section of our office. Much of the staff was out Friday for an off-site training with fourteen enthusiastic customers, but those in the office spent the day moving things to higher ground so the water remediation company could start drying things out. The damage will probably run $20,000.

In a world where security cameras and cell phone towers track our every move, why would someone risk prison time and a permanent stigma to do such a thing? Alcohol–the courage of the weak–was probably involved. But the real answer is low self-esteem. To a person whose entire worth derives from the approval of others, such an act may temporarily make them feel more powerful. But in the light of day it’s rather pathetic. People ask me if I’m mad, but all I can really feel is pity.

The morning’s incident was overshadowed by the afternoon, when we had to say goodbye to our longtime pet, Peaches. For more than ten years she has lived with feline immune deficiency syndrome, the kitty version of AIDS. That’s about nine years more than the original vet gave her. And she’s done very well up until the last couple of months, when a slow, and then steep, decline set in. By Friday she couldn’t really move.

Peaches has always been inseparable from Linda, and they spent the afternoon together. Then the kind people from the mobile vet came and she quietly passed on. I buried her near the tree full of squirrels she loved to watch. It was a sad end to a sad day, but it put into perspective those things that are important, and those that are not.



Backstage at Caesar’s Forum Shops

With our wine group back in Orlando, Linda and I have a few days alone in Las Vegas.  Thursday we met Ron Ford of Simon Malls for lunch at Sushi Roku and a backstage tour of the Forum Shops.

There are two main shows, with very sophisticated gas, steam, lasers, hydraulics, animated figures, audio and video. Over the years Ron has replaced much of the original equipment with Alcorn McBride gear. It was very gratifying to run into so many people backstage who complimented us on the reliability of our gear.

Ron provided a great tour, and I could tell that he and Linda were kindred spirits, as they talked Hoffman Boxes, Elco connectors and PLCs for a couple of hours. What a treat!

For dinner Linda and I walked next door to Andre’s in the Monte Carlo. The food was just so-so, but the wine list was interesting, and not too pricey by Vegas standards. We had a 1955 Cornas that had lost its fruit, a 2001 Clos de Tart that Linda said was good (by this time my cold was bad enough I couldn’t really smell anything), and a tasting of four vintages and types of Reserva Velha Barbieto Madeira that seemed pretty interesting: ’54 Malvasia, ’53 Bual, ’40 Verdelho and ’51 Sercial.

Then I headed back to the room for some Nyquil.


Silvertone Model 4587A Tuning Indicator

Radio dial with three bands and user-installed station identifiers around the edge.

My friend Jim Carstensen restores old radios as a hobby. His latest project is one that belonged to his father-in-law’s father. It was made by Sears in the 1930s. He hasn’t yet begun restoring the beautiful wood console, but he has the internals nearly finished, and I was fascinated by his description of one particularly “high tech” feature. The dial of the radio includes lighted placards to indicate the call letters of favorite stations. The call letters were inserted by the user, under clips around the dial.  As the dial is turned, it rotates an arm that presses a switch against a toothed wheel. by bending up metal tabs along this wheel, the user selects locations that turn on a lightbulb to illuminate the call sign. It’s the analog precursor to digital tuning!

Bending up the tabs on top of the toothed wheel causes the station identifier to light.

This degree of user customization is particularly impressive when you consider there are many spots in this chassis that run at 300 volts!

Alcorn McBride Christmas Party 2010

We had a great time at the Alcorn McBride Christmas party last night. This year we hired Puff ‘n Stuff to cater the event, and they did a great job. It was nice to have more time to spend with our friends, and to have the house all put back in order at the end of the evening.  My favorite foods were the cheddar and bacon dip, poached salmon, beef empanadas and the mashed potato bar.

We poured a half dozen sparking wines, of which I thought the best were the Piper Heidsieck Brute Champagne, Iron Horse Fairytale Cuvee (the only non-Champagne entrant) and the Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial. The two nectares from Moet & Chandon were too sweet for me.

All of the red wines poured were made by Sparky Marquis from Shiraz, but they were all different. In descending order of my ratings: 2003 Henry’s Drive Reserve Shiraz, 2002 Marquis Philips 9, 2009 Mollydooker Blue Eyed Boy, 2009 Mollydooker The Boxer. Perhaps not coincidentally, that’s also descending order of price!

We were very lucky with the weather. After two weeks of very cold (for Orlando) weather, with some nights dropping into the 20s, Friday was in the mid 70s, and the evening was warm enough to sit outside until after 10pm. The next morning we woke up to rain, so our timing was perfect!

IAAPA 2010

This year’s IAAPA show (and the next ten years!) is back in Orlando. I did a book signing to benefit Give Kids the World. It was nice to see so many old friends who dropped by, but I think I’m going to keep my day job!

I also had a chance to drop by the Alcorn McBride booth, which looks fantastic. Loren really picked out nice furniture, and the show seemed busy.

Today was Ryan’s last day in Orlando, and he made the most of it, working with Adam until it was time to head to the airport. A very productive trip.

Festival of the Masters

This weekend is the 35th annual Festival of the Masters at Downtown Disney. Linda and Ryan and I went to Paradiso 37 at Pleasure Island. (Ryan is a programming intern from England, working on iPad apps. He’s here for IAAPA.) As always, the food was really tasty, although we couldn’t get Chaz, our favorite server because they were busy. We tried a couple of new things because Ryan is a vegetarian, and I really liked the corn on the cob appetizer.

Afterwards we walked through the festival, which features 150 artists. There’s a lot of rather crude folk art, but there were also some nice things. The emphasis this year seemed to be on jewelry and art glass. Sue Archer, who painted the picture in our foyer some 25 years ago, had a booth, but I didn’t see the guy who sold us the lenticular photos last year.

They certainly had beautiful weather for the event this year, with 80 degrees and a light breeze all weekend. Of course, as a result, there were lots of people there!

Harry Potter and Tchoup Chop

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened today at Universal Studios (although the ever-reliable CBS News reported it was Disney World). It uses our HD uncompressed video players for Forbidden Journey, what is now the world’s best theme park ride (besting former title-holder Spiderman, at the same park). There were massive crowds, but the opening was a success, which is great news for Universal, which has had a history of rocky openings.

Completing our busy week of wining and dining, we had a California wine experience dinner at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop tonight. I don’t know if it was Harry Potter that scared them away, but only ten of twenty people showed up, so there was plenty of wine. The most inspired match was a 1995 Littorai Mays Canyon Chardonnay with pineapple upside down cake.


We received some good press today for our exhibits at the InfoComm show in Las Vegas, including a video that the press posted on YouTube featuring my LightingPad app.

For lunch, Audrey and I went to a new Lebanese place called Habibi, in the Publix shopping center across from the office. The vegetarian platter was excellent.

This food picture was edited with Color Splash, which let me convert the tray to black and white, to make the food stand out.

HD Binloops

Had a very interesting telephone conference today. We discussed the specs for a new HD reproducer card that would meet their requirements for a high def Binloop that could output 4:2:2. We have a potential IP core, but they’re asking for an order for 1000 at $1400 each to turnkey it for us. A big commitment, but we could resell it for $3500.

Also exciting was that it seems they will relent and let the parks replace their video servers with standard def Binloops that can only output 4:2:0. If we can help them convert their video, and support the protocol, that could be a lot of units.


Ryan Davies, my 17 year old programmer helper from England, finished the changes on my LightingPad app for the iPad, just in time for it to go with Jeremy to InfoComm in Las Vegas. It looks cool!


Today Loren arranged a fondue lunch in honor of Crystal’s upcoming wedding. There were cheese and chocolate fondues and lots of things to dip. They also gave Crystal a fondue pot of her own, and a cookie sheet — a somewhat self-serving gift, because Crystal brings the cookies she makes in to work.

France 2000

In May, 2000 my Director of Sales, David Geoghegan, and I traveled to Europe to teach Alcorn McBride seminars in Germany and France. We spent three days in Uhingen, outside Stuttgart, then flew via Zurich, to Paris. After meeting with the technical staff at Paris Disneyland we drove to the Loire for one night, then to Brittany and back to Paris in an 1100 km marathon.

training steve
Training seminar at COMM-TEC Germany.

collecting receivables
Collecting a few receivables from Henry Corrado, the head of COMM-TEC France.

loire trio
Steve, Henry and David in front of the Chateau de Marcay, where we spent the night. The Chateau was originally built in the 1100’s as a defensive fortification. The rooms have rough hewn beams, and the walls are very thick.

vineyard loire steve 1
In the Chateau’s vineyards.

vineyard loire steve 2
In the Chateau’s vineyards.

caves steve henry
The caves beneath the Chateau.

racks steve henry
With Henry in front of the equipment racks at the ESCAL’ Atlantic museum in Saint-Nazaire, Brittany. This installation has a lot of Alcorn McBride gear. It’s a mockup of an entire cruise ship, inside a WWII sub bunker. To exit the exhibits you board an actual life boat and are lowered to the gift shop! (Hmm… I wonder if that’s ADA compliant…)


Stuttgart 10-99
Stuttgart, Germany, October 1999. While visiting our European distributors in nearby Uhingen, I had a chance to enjoy the local Octoberfest, called Volksfest.

Sometimes the best part is coming home — in this case from Photokina 2000. Here’s my welcoming committee at the airport: Danielle with chocolate, Linda with Gran Marnier. Danielle held up a sign that said “Daddy”.