Winery Direct: The Signs are Out There

Our wine-buying team is passionate about finding new and exciting wines, so they travel the United States and abroad looking for start-ups, up-and-coming producers and multi-generational family wineries. Over the years, they’ve cultivated relationships with hundreds of wine producers small and large, many of whom don’t have big marketing budgets. What they do have are big hearts, which they pour into making their wines.

The relationships give us exclusive access to some truly exceptional wines. More important, they allow us to streamline the process of bringing the wine from producer to you, slashing costs and letting us showcase the best of the wine world on our shelves while offering incredible pricing.

These are Total Wine & More’s Winery Direct wines. You’ll see them identified in our stores by the yellow shelf tags, and online by the small Winery Direct icons in many product listings. We offer more than 8,000 wines in a typical Total Wine & More store — and more than 2,000 of them are Winery Direct, many exclusive to Total Wine & More.

The signs are out there. When you see the Winery Direct® logo, be assured that you'll be getting a great wine at an incredible value.

The signs are out there. When you see the Winery Direct® logo, be assured that you’ll be getting a great wine at an incredible value.

The Winery Direct selections include gems like the wines of Sobon Estate, a family owned and operated winery with a reputation for producing a collection of delicious wines using low-yield viticulture and minimal-intervention winemaking techniques. The Sobons emphasize rich fruit flavors and low tannin in their wines, which reflect the unique California Shenandoah Valley environment, resulting in a richness and intensity rarely seen elsewhere.

Winemaker Paul Sobon pouring his wines at our Folsom, California grand opening

Winemaker Paul Sobon pouring his wines at our Folsom, Calif. store grand opening

Winemaker Paul Sobon makes a firm commitment to the environment by crafting outstanding Zinfandel, grown sustainably at his carbon-neutral winery.

Next time you’re in store, we invite you to ask one of our friendly wine team members for a Winery Direct recommendation, or browse the brightly colored yellow tags that identify these special values. Each tag has detailed information on the flavor and style of the wine as well as the producer.


Cocktail Recipe: Limoncello Turkish Delight Martini


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Seattle-based mixologist and blogger Natalie Migliarini has created another delicious cocktail for us, this time it’s a clever use of sweet and tart Limoncello with a kiss of aromatic rose water.

Don’t let that bottle of Limoncello shiver in the freezer, take it out to create a fun and refreshing Limoncello Turkish Delight Martini.

Turkish Delight MartiniHere’s how to make it!


3 ounces of Bellini Limoncello
1 ounce of vodka (we love Veil vodka)
1/4 ounce of rose water (can also be found in most Middle Eastern markets)
1/2 cup of ice
Garnish: Rose flavored turkish delight candy


In a cocktail shaker add Bellini Limoncello, vodka, rose water, and ice
Shake until mixed and chilled
Strain mixture into serving glass
Garnish with rose flavored Turkish delight candy


One drink

To find more cocktail recipes, visit our Cocktail Corner!

Natalie head shotNatalie Migliarini is a mixologist, cocktail stylist, photographer, and recipe developer based out of Seattle, Washington. Her passion is discovering new and creative ways to use booze through fabulous cocktails featuring seasonal ingredients. Check out her other delicious creations on her blog Beautiful Booze.


Discover French Rosé — plus an authentic paella recipe from the South of France!


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Fantastic French rosé When a wine isn’t quite red, it’s rosé. This pink-tinged beverage is made using red grapes, but with a different process than used for creating red wines.

The most common technique for making dry (not sweet) rosé wines is limited maceration. The red grapes are pressed just until the juice has the desired color. Once that color has been attained, the winemaker stops pressing and separates the juice from the skins and pulp, transferring the juice to another tank for fermentation.

Other rosés are made with the saignée [pronounced sahn-yay] or “bleeding” process, in which the juice is obtained by piling the red grapes in a tank and letting the grapes’ weight do the crushing. The lightly colored juice is pulled out and fermented.

Lots of different red grapes can be used to create rosé: Grenache, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir. If it’s a red grape, it’s probably been used to make a rosé at some point.

The center of the rosé wine world is in France, in particular the South of France. There, along the sparkling Mediterranean, varieties like Grenache, Syrah and Carignan are blended to make delicious and strawberry-inflected dry rosés.

Other regions in France producing tasty rosé are Bordeaux (made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Cabernet Franc) and the Loire Valley (typically made with Cabernet Franc).

One of our favorite rosé producers is Michel Gassier, located in Costières de Nîmes, in the heart of Provence. Our team recently visited proprietors Michel and Tina Gassier, where they treated us to an incredible spread of paella washed down with copious amounts of their fresh and delicious rosé. Take a look at a past spotlight on Michel and Tina here.

Rose wineWe loved the paella so much that we asked for the recipe, and Tina was kind enough to share it with us.

Tina emphasizes that home cooks should not be overwhelmed by the seemingly complicated recipe. “The special part of cooking the paella outdoors around a fire is that everyone gets involved,” Tina says. “There are always plenty of helping hands and like many favorite home-cooked meals, it’s a one-pot affair. No side dishes. While the paella is cooking, dishes of Picholine olives and almonds are passed about.”

Gassier PaellaTina Gassier’s Paella

An authentic paella is often prepared over an open fire. When we do our paella, we grill it over hot coals from grape vines in a paellera (a special shallow pan that allows the rice to cook evenly) – but it can be done on a barbecue with great results.

Keep in mind before beginning:

The key to a paella is the rice – it should always be a short-grain rice. The Spanish version is called Bomba, but Italian Arborio rice is a good substitute.

Whenever using saffron threads, it’s best to first crush the threads, then soak them in a small amount of hot broth for 15 minutes.

Red peppers and peas are never cooked in the paella, but grilled red peppers and steamed peas can be added once it is cooked.

Ingredients for 8 people

  • Olive oil
  • 18 large shrimp
  • 8 chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks separated)
  • 2 Spanish chorizo sausages (casings removed, cut into 1-inch slices)
  • 3 dozen mussels (scrubbed and beards removed)
  • 2 dozen small hard-shelled clams (scrubbed)
  • Broth from the prepared mussels, clams and shrimp
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 6 cups clam juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed Spanish saffron threads
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1 large Vidalia onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 firm tomatoes
  • 3 cups Spanish Bomba or other short-grained rice (e.g. Arborio)
  • Grilled red peppers, cut into strips, optional
  • Peas, cooked, optional
  • 3 lemons, cut into wedges


The day before

Shell and devein the shrimp. Cover and refrigerate the shrimp and save the shells.

For the next few steps use the same skillet without cleaning it – each flavor adds to the next.

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and sauté the chicken thighs and drumsticks, turning once, until golden brown (about eight minutes). Remove the chicken from the skillet.
  2. Add the chorizo and sauté for 2 minutes. Remove the chorizo.
  3. Add the shrimp shells and sauté the shells until they turn pink, this contributes lots of shrimp flavor. Discard shells.
  4. Add half of the mussels in the skillet along with 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Remove the mussels as they open and set aside.
  5. Now add half of the clams and proceed the same way. Remove the clams as they open and set aside.
  6. While the broth is still hot, soak the saffron threads in a small amount of the broth for 15 minutes and then add it to the rest of the broth. Let cool, then refrigerate.

Once the shellfish has cooled, reserve the meat from the mussels and clams, cover and refrigerate, and discard their shells.

The day of the paella

In the morning, bring all of the ingredients to room temperature.

Mince the garlic, parsley, thyme, paprika and a pinch of salt together in a food processor.

Slice the onion thinly, cube the green pepper and skin and finely chop the tomatoes.

Combine the broth, the clam juice and the white wine, add salt if necessary, and bring to a simmering heat.

Set up your outside grill. When the coals are good and hot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet or shallow casserole you can put directly on the grill and quickly sauté the shrimp for 1 minute. Remove the shrimp and keep close to hand.

Add 6 tablespoons of oil to the skillet. When hot, mix in the onion, green pepper and tomatoes as well as the garlic mixture and stir well and cook over the grill until the vegetables are slightly softened.

Stir in the rice and coat well with oil and vegetables. Add enough hot broth to just barely cover the rice. Stir the rice. Add the chicken, chorizo, the meat from the opened mussels and clams, stir well and add enough broth to cover. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until the rice is no longer soupy but sufficient liquid remains to continue cooking the rice. Add more broth if necessary.

Arrange the shrimp and the remaining uncooked mussels and clams “hinge up” over the rice. Cook uncovered for about 20 minutes – the rice should be almost but not quite done. You can now decorate with strips of grilled red peppers and peas, if you like. Remove the pan from the fire and cover with foil. Let sit 5-10 minutes until the rice is cooked to taste. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

Red wines for summer grilling


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Summertime backyard cookout season is in full swing! Grilling season often means simple and fresh fare, featuring lots of red meats and vegetables.

Grilling adds smokiness and char to foods, creating aggressive flavors that can overwhelm lighter wines, so figuring out the best wine pairing for grilled food can sometimes be a challenge. We’re here to help.

Often, the addition of spicy and sweet sauces can complicate wine pairings. Zinfandels, with their juicy and robust flavors, can stand up to anything your grill, spice-rack and barbeque-sauce lineup can dish out. Cloud Break Zinfandel, with bold notes of dark fruit and spice, is a fresh, tasty summer red wine to partner with grilled fare.

Southern Italian reds, especially wines made from the fresh and spicy Nero d’Avola  [NAY-roh DAH voh-luh] grape, pair well with grilled peppers, zucchini, onion and eggplant too. One of our favorites is the Caleo Nero d’Avola because it’s an exciting Sicilian red full of fresh cherry and blackberry flavors with a nice kick of savory spice.

Cabernet Sauvignons also meld nicely with rich, marbeled steaks or beef or lamb burgers. Now, you don’t have to break the bank to get a tasty grill-friendly Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cooper Station Cabernet comes in around $10 and is a lovely ready-to-party red with savory flavors of black cherry and blackberry. This is a perfect wine pairing with lamb, especially when that lamb comes in the form of sizzling, full-flavored burgers.

Here’s a great recipe (courtesy of New Orleans restaurateur Mark Benfatti) that will thrill your guests:

Lamb Burgers with Spinach and Goat Cheese


  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion/scallions
  • ¼ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Rosemary, to taste
  • Baby spinach, for garnish
  • Small log goat cheese
  • 4 sourdough buns

Before preparing burgers, preheat grill to medium-high.

In large bowl, mix lamb, egg and bread crumbs.  Work ingredients together with hands to ensure even distribution.

Add green onions, green bell pepper and minced garlic and salt, pepper and rosemary to taste. Divide lamb mixture into four evenly sized balls, then flatten each to ¾”.

Place burgers on grill and cook 3 to 5 minutes on each side, depending on desired finish.  Warm sourdough buns on top rack of grill for the last minute of cooking.

Once complete, add burgers to buns and top with spinach and goat cheese as desired. Serves 4.

Celebrating Caymus Vineyards’ 40th Anniversary of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


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Since its founding in 1972, Caymus Vineyards has focused its attention on Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. Charles F. (Charlie) Wagner, his wife Lorna B. Wagner and their son Charles J. (Chuck) Wagner built their winery among the vines planted on the family’s ranch in Rutherford, a district long recognized for producing high-quality Cabernet Sauvignons.

Caymus - Wagner Family pickup v2

The Wagner Family, including the late Lorna Belle Glos Wagner

Charlie Wagner planted most of his Cabernet vines in 1965 before this varietal was universally considered the king of Napa Valley wines. The Wagners’ first production of just 240 cases came from the 1972 harvest, and Caymus has released a Napa Valley Cabernet in every vintage since. In 1975, the Wagners produced their first Special Selection Cabernet, made from the outstanding lots of that vintage. Special Selection Cabernet is produced only in vintages that Chuck Wagner, who directs all of Caymus’s vineyard and winemaking operations, feels are appropriate for this bottling.

6 -Wine Spectator magazine covers featuring Charlie and Chuck Wagner (1)

Wine Spectator covers featuring Charlie and Chuck Wagner

Over the years, Caymus has won numerous awards and praise from wine critiques and fans alike. Among these awards is “Best Winery for Cabernet” by Wine Spectator magazine, so you know that Caymus is the real deal when it comes to Cabs. Ask anyone who has tried their Cab, they’ll tell you. Caymus helped make American Cabernet the staple in the wine world that it is today.

Today, Chuck and his children are proud to showcase quality Wagner made wines produced from the premier winegrowing regions of California. This year celebrates the release from the 2012 vintage and marks the 40th Anniversary of Caymus Napa Valley Cabernets release. In honor of this monumental occasion and achievement, Total Wine & More is holding a special event in our classrooms to help toast to Caymus with the Wagner family.

Please join Chuck, Charlie, Joseph and Jenny Wagner for an exclusive live-via-webcast guided tasting featuring five delicious wines, including the 2012 40th Anniversary Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, on June 14th from 4-5:30 PM EST. You can search for remaining tickets here

The Wagner Family of Wines

The Wagner Family of Wines

Featured Wines:

If you can’t join us in the classroom, please join us virtually and watch the event live, and follow along with the conversation with the hashtag #Caymus40th! Watch the event on Saturday here.

Have a question that you would like to ask Chuck Wagner? Submit your question to be asked live during the event! Click here to submit your question.

We’re eagerly awaiting Saturday’s arrival, and we hope you are too. Cheers to fantastic Cabernet and our friends who make it!

Cocktail Recipe: Chili Oil Paloma


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Chili oil palomaToday is part two of Seattle-based mixologist and blogger Natalie Migliarini’s favorite tequila cocktail recipes. We shared her first beautiful (and tasty) recipe for a Paloma Chili Flake Jelly Shot with you yesterday. In case you missed it, you can check it out here.

Today, we’d like to share another eye-popping cocktail from her with you. This recipe takes the traditional Paloma’s citrusy zing of grapefruit and enhances it with the sweet heat of chili oil. We think it’s the perfect drink recipe for Cinco de Mayo!

Chili Oil Paloma


1.5 (oz.) Don Sergio reposado tequila

1/2 cup of grapefruit juice

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1 red Fresno chili sliced

1/4 teaspoon of chili oil

1 cup of ice

Garnish: Chili stem and grapefruit slices


In a cocktail shaker add Don Sergio tequila, grapefruit juice, agave nectar, sliced Fresno chili and ice

Shake for 20 seconds and then pour mixture into serving glass

Top with chili oil

Garnish with chili stem and grapefruit slices

Yields: 1 serving

Natalie head shotNatalie Migliarini is a mixologist, cocktail stylist, photographer, and recipe developer based out of Seattle, Washington. Her passion is discovering new and creative ways to use booze through fabulous cocktails featuring seasonal ingredients. Check out her other delicious creations on her blog Beautiful Booze.


Cocktail Recipe: Paloma Chili Flake Jelly Shots


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Seattle-based mixologist and blogger Natalie Migliarini’s beautiful cocktail photographs caught our eye, so we asked her if she’d share one of her favorite tequila cocktail recipes with us and she kindly obliged!

Here’s her clever jelly shot recipe which combines the citrusy zing of grapefruit and lime with the spicy warmth of red pepper flakes.

tequila-jellyHere’s how to make it!


3/4 cup of Don Sergio reposado tequila

1/4 cup of grapefruit juice

1 cup sparkling grapefruit soda

1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons of lime juice

2 envelopes of Knox gelatin

Garnish: Grapefruit slices and/or sprinkled with sugar and salt mixture (1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon sugar mixed)

Materials: Natalie used a 1 pound loaf pan then cut into squares but you could also use round molds


In a saucepan add grapefruit juice, sparkling grapefruit soda, red pepper flakes, and lime.

Turn heat on low and sprinkle 2 envelopes of gelatin into saucepan with other liquid, then stir mixture until the gelatin is dissolved.

Remove from heat and stir in tequila.

Pour mixture into loaf pan or molds, and place in refrigerator to chill and set (For best results, chill overnight).

After shots are chilled and ready to serve cut into desired shapes (Natalie used squares/rectangles).

Garnish with grapefruit slices and/or salt and sugar mixture sprinkled over shots.

14-18 jelly shots (depending on mold used)

Natalie head shotNatalie Migliarini is a mixologist, cocktail stylist, photographer, and recipe developer based out of Seattle, Washington. Her passion is discovering new and creative ways to use booze through fabulous cocktails featuring seasonal ingredients. Check out her other delicious creations on her blog Beautiful Booze.


Sunday Cocktails: Mexican Mimosa


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To get an early start on Cinco de Mayo, we recommend this bubbly and delicious cocktail from Victor Ponce, the head bartender of Zapata Tacos & Tequila Bar (Norcross, Georgia) and a certified Tequiler by Academia Mexicana del Tequila, A.C.


1 oz Jarritos Grapefruit soda (or Q Grapefruit)

0.25 oz (scant) of Grenadine

2 oz Rudo Reposado Reposado

1 Oz Arrogante Damiana liqueur

1 dash of coffee liqueur

1.5 oz Dole’s pineapple Juice

0.25 oz simple syrup or several drops of Agave nectar

Glassware: Champagne flute


Gently pour 1 oz of Jarritos Grapefruit soda* in the champagne flute. Add .25 oz of grenadine (or slightly less). Combine in a shaker 2 oz of Rudo Reposado tequila, 1 oz Arrogante Damiana liqueur, a splash of coffee liqueur, 1.5 oz of pineapple juice and .25 oz of simple syrup (can be replaced by several drops of agave nectar). Shake with ice and strain into the flute.

Mexican Mimosa with MaskVictor’s comments:
Jarritos adds bubbles, grenadine gives the cocktail a pretty pink color. Rudo Reposado was selected because its taste and flavor are very dominant and will not be masked by other ingredients. The resulting cocktail is insanely delicious. Perfect for Sunday brunch and any time when you feel like indulging yourself. Despite of almost 3 oz of potent liquor, the cocktail is smooth and you just want to keep sipping. The rich flavor profile is really outstanding.

*Other grapefruit sodas could be used instead of Jarritos (Q Grapefruit is our suggestion), but Jarritos is the best and can be found in any Latino grocery or farmers markets with Hispanic sections.

Oregon’s Willamette Valley: Interview with Samuel Coelho of Coelho Winery



When we look to fill our glass with elegant, perfumed and pleasing Pinot Noirs, we need look no further than Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It is a haven for wine lovers and winemakers alike for its unique scenic beauty and its true expression in the wine. The task of producing quality Pinot Noir that expresses the local terroir is no easy undertaking, and the winemakers’ approach has established the Willamette Valley as a foremost producer of this varietal.

Oregon vineyard view

To help illuminate the Willamettte Valley further, we spoke with Samuel Coelho, proprietor and marketing manager for family-owned Coelho Winery [KOO-AL-yoo] in Amity, Oregon.

coelho-winesThe Coelho family has a long winemaking history, bringing Portuguese heritage and winemaking know-how to the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Coelho means rabbit in Portuguese, with each bottle featuring the distinctive Coelho rabbit.

How does Portland’s proximity influence you and the Willamette?

Sam Coelho: Portland, Oregon has a green perspective when it comes to the environment and consumables. Green, in the sense of sustainability and longevity. Generally speaking Portland wine enthusiasts prefer wines that are made by hand, local and family farmed with respect for the land.

What does it mean to you to be sustainable?

Sam Coelho: Our vineyard is certified Salmon-safe and L.I.V.E. sustainable.  The certifications are really just validation of processes we have always done and believe; farming with minimal amount of chemical input, using sustainable practices, etc…  We dry farm our vineyard in order to reduce runoff and land erosion, we have Kestrel boxes so native Kestrels can nest and provide natural bird control, we grow clover as a cover crop to till in as a natural nitrogen supplement for the soil, and many other practices to promote and sustainable vineyard.

David and Samuel Coelho

David and Samuel Coelho

What is the climate’s impact: the challenges and the advantages?

Sam Coelho: The Willamette Valley’s climate presents many challenges for grape growing. The most well-known being the risk of rain at the end of the growing season and the shorter, cool growing season.  With rains that come late in the growing season the risk increases for damaged fruit, where rot and other spoilage organisms can take hold. The short, cool growing season, in most years, can present the potential for under mature grapes. The advantages are some of the same factors as the disadvantages, i.e. cool growing season produces elegant, sophisticated and cellar worthy wines.  The Willamette Valley is one of the only places to produce premium cool climate varietals.

What sets the Willamette apart from any other wine region, domestic and abroad?

Sam Coelho: I think what sets the Willamette Valley apart from other growing regions is the sense of community, the commitment to sustainable practices, the soils and of course the quality of the wines.

Thanks, Sam for spending this time with us, and for your family’s fantastic wines!


Chappellet Live! An Exclusive Virtual Tasting Event


In select stores this Saturday April 19, don’t miss the opportunity to experience one of Napa Valley’s oldest family-run wineries broadcasting live from Pritchard Hill in Napa Valley, from the comfort of your local classroom.

The Chappellets have been crafting extraordinary wines since 1967. During that time Pritchard Hill’s rugged terroir has become legendary for producing wines with great intensity and depth. Wine Enthusiast Magazine described Pritchard Hill as a “tiny, under-the-radar subregion fast becoming the trendiest address in Napa Valley for red wines.”

View from Chappellet's vineyards on Pritchard Hill, Napa Valley

View from Chappellet’s vineyards on Pritchard Hill, Napa Valley

Please join Chappellet CEO Cyril Chappellet and winemaker Phillip Titus for an exclusive live-via webcast tasting featuring eight delicious wines, including the library release 2008 vintage of Chappellet Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon.

You can send questions to Cyril or Phillip in advance here, or to Facebook or Twitter (#TWTasting).

phillip titus

Winemaker, Phillip Titus

Cyril Chappellet

Cyril Chappellet

Attendees will get to enjoy eight phenomenal selections:

Sonoma-Loeb Chardonnay Reserve

Sonoma-Loeb Chardonnay Envoy

Sonoma-Loeb Sonoma Pinot Noir

Sonoma-Loeb Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Chappellet Napa Valley Chardonnay

Chappellet Cervantes Mountain Cuvee

Chappellet Napa Valley Signature Cabernet Sauvignon

Library release: Chappellet Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

You can purchase tickets in advance through Eventbrite ($20/person) and they’re going quickly! Secure your seat today:


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Redondo Beach Laguna Hills
Camelback Glendale Goodyear Scottsdale
Gilbert Tucson ( N. Oracle) Tucson (E. Broadway) Tempe
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North & South Carolina
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Charleston Greenville Columbia
Chantilly McLean S. Richmond Virginia Beach
Delaware & Maryland
Towson Claymont
N. Miami Orlando (Millenia) Orlando (Colonial) Jacksonville
Stuart (Jenson Beach) Pembroke Pines Boynton Beach Palm Beach Gardens
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