This just in:
The Family Winemakers of California, an association of family-owned wineries in California, opened trade registration on Monday, May 6 for its annual tasting in San Francisco. The event takes place at the Fort Mason Center on Saturday, August 17 - Sunday, August 18 and is open to qualified members of the trade and media, and consumers.
The event is open to trade from 1 - 6 p.m. on Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday. Complimentary admission is open to members of the trade and media who register in advance by August 2. After August 2, tickets are available at a trade discount of $40 on-site. Proof of trade or media status, including applicable state liquor license number and valid trade I.D. is required.
Over 250 of California's small, family-owned wineries will be showcasing over 800 wines during the course of the two-day tasting, said Paul Kronenberg, president of the Family Winemakers of California, adding:
"As the nation's largest producer of wines, this is an important tasting event for California. This tasting gives the small, family-owned wine producers who make up the association the ability to debut new wines and gain market exposure. It's a great setting for wine industry trade to taste some of the finest wine produced in California. And, as the farm-to-table movement evolves for wine customers, this is an opportunity for members of the trade to find wonderful wines from the winery table to bring to the consumers table, whether it be at home or eating out."
Tim from Buenes Aires comments on Wines of Uruguay: Finally Ready?
After 5 years in Uruguay including running a summer wine tasting for visiting cruise ships, I very much like Uruguay wines. The wineries have significantly changed the character of the Tannats they produce and some of the whites are outstanding.
As far as export goes, there is a very large market to the north - Brazil - that does not yet drink much wine. Brazil is a natural market for Uruguay.
The wineries here are mostly small with production of 100,000 bottles of fine wine typical. Exporting to the U.S. is to a great extent too much of a pain for the small amount of wine that can be shipped. A few wineries have developed U.S. importers and you can find wines from Carlos Pizzorno on the east coast and the Pisano bodega in much of the U.S. Do not expect a flood of Tannat. Just not enough to go around.
An interactive video discussion of Wine Business Monthly and Silicon Valley Bank's 2013 Tasting Room Survey will be held on Tuesday, May 21, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time.
Rob McMillan, EVP & founder of Silicon Valley Bank's Wine Division, will review the survey results and interpret industry trends with a panel of experts, including:
Cyril Penn - Editor in Chief, Wine Business Monthly
Brian Baker - VP Sales & Marketing, Chateau Montelena
Ahin Thomas - Co-founder & President, Vintners' Alliance
Some of the topics covered will include:
Direct sales through tasting rooms and revenue generated
Fees and fee reimbursement
Staff compensation and benefits
Detailed wine club metrics
By signing up for the presentation, you will receive a link to the replay and the complete Silicon Valley Bank 2013 Tasting Room Survey results after the webinar.
To read an in-depth article about the 2013 Tasting Room Survey Report in the digital May issue of Wine Business Monthly, please go here.
When tastingroom.com announced it was “partnering” with Lot 18 earlier this year, I assumed partnering was just code for shutting down. Tastingroom.com suspended its club service, issued refunds, let staff go and basically threw in the towel. I figured Lot 18 would just liquidate inventory because Lot 18 was in flash wine sales.
Winetasting.com’s demise was disappointing because the concept of reformatting large bottles into small ones for commercial distribution was really, really cool. With decades in Silicon Valley doing startups and a background in agriculture, Tim Bucher had the vision and was crazy enough to make it happen. He came up with an idea, raised money, and put a process together: technology for a “total anaerobic sample transfer” of wine in 1.7 ounce bottles that from a sensory standpoint would be a perfect match with the larger vessels from which they came – no small feat. It works with most, but not all wines - I think aromatic whites can be a little tricky.
Bucher deployed pharmaceutical technology working with the company that built the first semi-conductor clean room. I watched with interest. There were many possibilities, including B2B applications for sampling wine.
We thought the little sampler packs would compliment our Wine Business Monthly varietal reviews nicely.
The venture obviously didn’t catch on as hoped. I’m not sure why but I did hear winemakers saying they thought the costs of working with tastingroom.com were high.
It turns out that Lot 18 purchased many of tastingroom.com’s assets, including the name and the machine that transfers wine into small bottles, which is now operating at a winery in Napa Valley.
Lot 18 has announced that it is using the machine to create a wine club combining the winetasting.com technology with personalization technology.
One of the most frustrating aspects of trying to sell wine online is customers can’t taste it before they buy it. In most clubs members receive whatever wines the club deems worthy of sending. With this new club, “Tasting Room” will send consumers a Wine Sampler Kit containing six miniature bottles of wine – two bottles of white and four bottles of red. Members can then log on to TastingRoom.com for instructions on how to taste and rate the wines. Member ratings will allow Tasting Room (Lot 18) to capture nuances of the member's taste and generate a wine preference profile. Profiles include the “Thrill Seeker,” “Big Red,” the “Adventurer,” the “Class Act,” the “Diplomat,” the “Life of the Party,” the “Naturalist,” “Philosopher,” “Critic,” the "Golden Child," and more.
Down the line, consumers will be able to rate bottles they receive – again - so future shipments are geared toward their taste preferences. It’s a work in progress but there could be eventually be a scenario where little kits represent different types of tasting experiences that are weaved into the club experience.
Positioning-wise it’s designed for a moderately sophisticated consumer interested in knowing more about their palate. Lot 18 CEO Jay Sung told me he’s trying to create a club for people who drink wine but may not know much about it. “We’re going for what I would call the upper-middle market on wine,” he said.
It’s interesting to note that Lot 18 is putting a lot of effort into a new club and it says something about the state of flash sales.
“It’s no mystery to anyone that’s been following the news about Lot 18 that it’s been a challenging business to scale from a flash business point of view,” Sung said. “That’s not unique to wine. I think a lot of the flash players are having a tough time sustaining growth in a flash-only type of business.”
“We’re continuing to operate our flash business and we think it’s an important part of our offering, but it’s important to have a number of irons in the fire,” Sung said.
“Everything we’ve been doing over the last six months has been about supporting the flash business, which we’ll continue to support, and customers will have the same experience they’ve always had,” Sung said. “But we’re also putting energy into what we view as the future growth engine of the business, which is to attract customers to our platform – a club platform, through these sampling kits and personalization of wine.”
Speaking of consumer choice in direct to consumer wine shipments – I should point out that the 2013 Wine Business Monthly Silicon Valley Bank Tasting Room Survey showed that wineries who allow their club members to choose their wines receive more revenue per member - $362 annually versus $324 on average for clubs when members aren’t offered a choice. Thirty-five percent of wineries said their clubs offer some choice and 87 percent of wineries now have wine clubs. Results are in the May WBM.
From Paso Robles Wine Country: The 2013 Varietal of the Month Series continues with the May Paso Wine Man Video showcasing Viognier.
This just in from the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association:
Only four U.S. wineries - all from the Texas Hill Country - sent wines to the 2013 Competition of International Wines in Lyon, France. In order to give identity to the Texas style of wines, the emphasis was put on white wines coming from the Rhone using the Viognier grape.
Congratulations to the winners who proudly represented Texas in the competition:
Pedernales Cellars 2012 Viognier - Grand Gold
Becker Vineyards 2012 Viognier - Silver Medal
Flat Creek Estate 2012 Viognier - Bronze Medal
The 64th ASEV National Conference will be held June 24–28 at the Portola Hotel and Monterey Conference Center in Monterey, California. Registration and housing are now open. Click here for the daily schedule.
A highlight of the conference is the Merit Award Presentation, which will be given on June 27 from 9-10 a.m. in the Monterey Conference Center.
From the ASEV website: The ASEV Merit Award is presented annually to an individual who has significantly contributed in an outstanding manner to the progress and advancement of enology and viticulture or to the Society itself. This award acknowledges excellence in the fields of education, technology, research, management, public relations or any discipline related to enology and viticulture.
The ASEV Board is pleased to announce Dr. Jim Wolpert of the University of California, Davis, as ASEV’s 2013 Merit Award recipient.
Jim Wolpert is a native of Indiana. He received his bachelor of science from Purdue University in Horticulture in 1973. He took further training at Michigan State University, receiving a Master’s degree in 1978 and a PhD in 1983. Both thesis projects involved research on production practices of ‘Concord’ grapes and how these practices influence vine cold hardiness.
In 1983, he joined UC Davis and from 1983 through mid-1985, he worked as a postdoctoral scholar in the Pomology Department, working on production problems of pistachio nut trees in California.
In 1985, Jim joined the Department of Viticulture and Enology as viticulture extension specialist, where he is responsible for applied research and grower education programs for winegrapes in Northern California. His main areas of research are performance of rootstocks, winegrape clones and varieties, as well as improvements in vineyard design and cultural practices as they influence wine quality.
He has been invited to speak at industry meetings in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, New York, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington, as well as in Canada, Germany, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand and Spain, and is the author of more than 50 scientific and technical publications.
He is past-president of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture and was co-organizer of many successful ASEV symposia on topics such as rootstocks (twice), winegrape clones, and alternative varieties. In July 2012, Jim was the recipient of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture – Eastern Section, Outstanding Achievement Award. He is also past chair of the Department of Viticulture & Enology, where he held the title of Marvin Sands Endowed Department Chair and was instrumental in creating the Department’s Board of Visitors and Fellows to help guide the future vision of the department in sustaining continued excellence. Please join us in honoring Jim for this well-deserved award at the National Conference in Monterey, California, June 24-28, 2013.
In this video, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America President and CEO Craig Wolf emphasizes the organization's recent accomplishments. The WSWA's 70th Annual Convention & Exposition concluded last week. Some 2,300 beverage industry suppliers, service providers and wholesalers met in Orlando, Florida. There were more than 300 exhibitors and sponsors.
With the WSWA 70th Annual Convention & Exposition concluded, the association is now looking ahead to its 71st event to be held April 7-9, 2014 in Las Vegas. Visit www.wswaconvention.org for information.
I’ve been a fan of Tannat for a long time – since visiting Uruguay twelve years ago. Tannat is a big bold tannic wine and seems to blend well with everything – Tannat with Merlot, Tannat with Cabernet, Tannat with Syrah, and so on.
So, it’s good to see Uruguay getting some press, more interest from importers, and promoting wines through Wines of Uruguay.
Two new pieces were published today – In the San Jose Mercury News, Laurie Daniel writes about the new investment underway in Uruguay.
Laurie quotes Paul Hobbs, who is consulting down there, as saying
"There's not much traction in the U.S. market."
Appellation America, meanwhile, just posted an interesting piece on Tannat from Uruguay and in North America too, concluding:
Adventurous readers would be advised to be on the lookout for Tannat. It may not be readily available but is well worth seeking out.
Blake Gray just visited Uruguay, - he came across a reserve Pinot Noir/Tannat - and called it "one of the more interesting blends you'll ever taste." Blake gave his impression of what Tannat tastes like:
As with most red grapes, Tannat's character is in the hands of the winemaker. There are potent 16% alcohol versions and racy, savory versions. There's unoaked, very oaked, moderately oaked. There's Tannat that's tannic like tarbrush and fresh like cherry juice. Even though Uruguay as a nation makes half as much wine as a single winery (Concha y Toro) in nearby Chile, the styles of single-variety Uruguayan Tannat vary like the styles of Syrah in France
I hear some other noted wine bloggers were recently in Uruguay. We’ll have an update on Uruguay too, in an upcoming Wine Business Monthly.
When I returned from Uruguay in 2001, I wrote a little piece that ran on the cover of WBM. The headline was "Uruguay is Ready." I’m still getting some good-natured grief around the office for running it on the cover, though, in part because Uruguay wasn’t really so ready at the time. We didn't hear about wines from Uruguay for awhile.
In 2006, we were hearing that Uruguay was still ready.
So, anyway, it may just be that Uruguay is finally ready - to export more wine and make some headway in the crowded but desirable U.S. market, that is.
Rob McMillan, executive vice president and founder of the wine division at Silicon Valley Bank, said:
"The wine industry is trending toward a shortage. But demand for wine is still increasing and has seen growing rates for many years."