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Become a Wine Angel and Take Your Share

A few offerings brought to you by Naked Wines. Photo by John Capone

Chances are, in 2013 most of us are not going to invest millions of dollars in a winery so we can show up from time and time and ask how “our” wine is doing. But as an angel investor at NakedWines.com, you can invest in up-and-coming winemakers for only $40 a month and reap the benefits.

The UK-based company, which makes wine in co-ops all over the world, opened a California winery last summer and in February, 2013 will be opening a tasting “lounge,” (like a tasting “room” but with couches) in downtown Napa.

Here’s how it works: Naked Wines recruits talented winemakers (they currently have 36 in California) and pays them (funded, in part, by your micro investments) to make whatever wine they want — Lake County Riesling, Napa Valley Albarino, Roussane, Cabernet Sauvignon, you name it. As an angel investor, you are entitled to wholesale prices on wine (which range from $7.99 to $30), and the best part is that your $40 "investment" is yours to spend on wine — so in some ways it’s more like a savings account.

“[Naked Wines] allows me the opportunity to try out new ideas and showcase what I do,” says Matt Iaconis, who also makes wine under his MSix Winegroup label. “[Angels], in turn, get wines at great deals and pay for us to do what we do,” says Iaconis who plans to travel to Australia this spring to make wine for Naked there.

If you’re interested in taking your angel’s share, get online and look around: Chances are, there will be some winemakers you recognize as well as a robust and opinionated community of wine drinkers. The second best thing to do is visit Naked Wines (in Kenwood until the Napa tasting room opens) and taste the fruits of their labors for yourself.

Here are some highlights:

Make no mistake, these are not wines that you should put in your cellar and take out in ten years to impress your in-laws. These are fun, tasty and sometimes interesting local wines that are priced for daily consumption:

Jason Moore (Modus Operandi), Credence Nectar Non-Vintage: This delightful, off-dry blend of sauvignon blanc and muscat smells of white flowers, honey and apricots; the long finish is dry and minerally with refreshing acidity.

Robin Langton (formerly with Patz & Hall), Bear & Crown Petite Sirah, Sonoma 2010: This surprisingly savory Petite Sirah smells of smoked meats and game and is wonderfully balanced.

Randall Grahm (Bonny Doon) Close but no Cigare GSM, Central Coast 2011: Surely the most well-known name in the bunch, Grahm’s Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre blend is inspired by his sought-after Le Cigare Volant and has his cult-like following very excited.