|Gary Figgens, founder, Leonetti Cellar|
“One of the things that makes Walla Walla very special is this comradery that’s been here for 40 years and still continues to build,” Woodward Canyon founder Rick Small said.
“A lot of times -- when things get too big and there’s more stress, and more-and-more wine is being made - you see people shift away from that accessibility - that kind of friendship. I’ve not seen that happen in Walla Walla at all. If anything, it continues to build. This young generation of winemakers is incredible. I’m excited to watch their work and I’m anxious to keep staying involved.”
“It’s just been a fantastic ride,” Leonetti Cellar founder Gary Figgens said. “We couldn’t even have imagined where it’s taken this entire valley. We just had a lot of faith and confidence … This is a deluxe little town. I haven’t seen any blown-out egos. Everybody is just down-home and hard-working.”
Figgens and Small, founders of the first and second wineries in Walla Walla, respectively, made their comments during this week’s inaugural Reveal Walla Walla Valley trade auction.
They were the honorary co-chairs for the event.
“It is these two men, their wives, Nancy and Darcey, and their families who we owe so much gratitude for the start of the Walla Walla Valley wine industry that we know today,” Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance executive director Duane Wollmuth said as bidding, presided over by auctioneer Ursula Hermancinski, got underway.
Walla Walla, which now has approximately 130 wineries – depending on how one counts that - is the latest region to launch an exclusive auction for the trade, a trend that isn’t surprising given the phenomenal success of Premier Napa Valley. In Oregon, Willamette: The Pinot Noir Barrel Auction, a first of its kind trade auction, was held earlier this month. The second annual Sonoma County Barrel Auction will be held later this month.
|Rick Small, founder, Woodward Canyon|
Each wine offered at Reveal Walla Walla was a one-of-a kind bottling, with winemakers creating special blends, working with different varieties and/or collaborating with other wineries. The auction was held at Walla Walla’s new Gesa Power House Theatre, with a trade tasting at the Marcus Whitman Hotel and ancillary events at Foundry Vineyards, Dusted Valley and Dunham Cellars.
One of Walla Walla’s challenges is its location, as it is a town of approximately 30,000 people, situated a considerable distance from major cities. Reveal is seen as a vehicle for drawing members of the trade to the area while boosting recognition of the region.
The inaugural auction included 38 lots. The highest selling lot included 60 bottles of 2014 Abeja Cabernet Franc from Heather Hill Vineyard for $6,000.
Personally, my favorite lots at barrel auctions tend to involve unique collaborations.
Foundry Vineyards, Kontos Cellars and Skylight Cellars produced a 2014 “Calvalry” Cabernet Sauvingon for Reveal - an effort involving three “young guns” of Walla Walla, winemakers Justin Basel, Cameron Kontos and Greg Matiko.
Three women winemakers, Mary Derby of DaMa Wines; Amy Alvarez Wampfler of Sinclair Estate Vineyards; and Holly Turner of Three Rivers Winery; collaborated to produce a Cabernet-Merlot blended from four vineyards.
Jean-Francois Pellet and Norm McKibben of Amavi winery worked in partnership with students from Walla Walla Community College to purchase and work with fruit from the Les Collines Vineyard. The students used optical sorting, phenolic profiling and custom barrel toasting, in yet another example of how the college is working to raise the bar for quality in the industry.
|Tyler Bender and Maureen O'Callahan with College Cellars|
The comradery and spirit of cooperation that is so evident with winemakers in Walla Walla shined through during the auction and hospitality events too.
“As you can see, we’re all good friends,” Pepper Bridge and Amavi Cellars winemaker Jean-Francois Pellet said.
It's #RoséSeason (although it seems like Rosé is hot year-round these days) and Wine Business Monthly is continuing to keep an eye on this growing category. According to the latest Nielsen data, Rosé table wine above $7.99, as a category, saw a 59.7 percent increase in sales and a 51.6 percent increase in volume in the four weeks ending Feb. 27. The category holds just a 0.4 percent market share in sales and 0.2 percent market share in volume.
Here are a few other tidbits on Rosé happenings:
Enter Your Rosé in the International Rosé Wine Competition
Yesterday we got word that the Wine Country Network is asking for entries for their upcoming International Rosé Wine Competition and Festival, which is taking place in Colorado in June. The deadline for entry Entry Forms and Payments is Friday, May 20, 2016. For more information, click here.
On April 17, the WBM editorial team (managing editor Rachel Nichols and assistant editor Erin Kirschenmann) attended the Pink Party at Barndiva in Healdsburg, which featured 17 new releases of Rosé from the 2015 vintage. Wineries included: Banshee, Claypool Cellars, Copain, Front Porch Farm, Idlewild, La Pitchoune, Limerick Lane, LIOCO, Passalacqua, Petrichor, Poe, Red Car, Reeve, Rootdown, Unti, Westwood and Wind Gap.
Digital marketing agency Creative Feed just released their latest infographic, We Love Rosé, which covers all the basics from Rosé consumption, to purchasing habits and trends, popular pairings and insights from sommeliers.
UC Davis plant scientists have identified an enzyme that appears to play a key role in the insect-transmitted Pierce’s disease (PD). This video takes you into the lab to show you how the discovery was made and how this may lead to new diagnostics and potential treatments for PD.
Across the newsdesk this week from Wine Institute:
Small Irrigation Pond Registration Program Bill Advances
On March 29, AB 1704 (Dodd) passed out of the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee on an 11-1 vote. Wine Institute is co-sponsoring this measure along with the California Association of Winegrape Growers. The bill aims to improve the Small Irrigation Pond Registration Program that was created by AB 964 (Huffman) in 2011, a measure Wine Institute co-sponsored along with Trout Unlimited. Specifically, AB 1704 would expand the Registration Program statewide and require the Department of Fish and Wildlife to adopt general conditions for registrations, rather than review them on a case-by-case basis as is done currently. There is no opposition to the measure, and it enjoys support from the Sonoma County Water Agency, the Association of California Water Agencies, the California Chamber of Commerce, CalTrout, and Trout Unlimited. The bill will next be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
This infographic includes some highlights from a recent Wine Opinions report for industry executives.
The report, American Wine Generations, follows comprehensive surveys of high frequency wine drinkers across generations, as well as a “deep dive” into a respondent pool of about 1,400 Millennial wine drinkers.
The report basically does two things: It takes a look at who is buying wine and how they differ by generation, and, it puts a spotlight on millennials and differences in their attitudes toward wine based on age and gender. Millennials are divided into a subset of groups, older and younger, as half of them are now in their 30s, the other half are in their twenties.
The older cohort is pretty evenly split between male and female and has a predilection for red wine that is more likely to buy higher priced wines. With younger millennials, wine consumption is more female driven. Youngers millennials are more interested in canned wines and alternative packaging of all kinds, and so forth. Beyond that, there's a fair amount of nuance and detail on how older and younger millenials interact with and experience wine.
Selected Recent Sales of Grapes & Wines in Bulk for March 22, 2016 courtesy of Turrentine Brokerage:
Pinot Noir 2014 wine, Paso Robles, 2,000 gallons at $15.00 per gallon
Merlot 2014 wine, Chalk Hill, 10,400 gallons at $15.00 per gallon
Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 wine, California, 25,000 gallons at $7.25 per gallon
Zinfandel 2014 wine, Lodi, 18,000 gallons at $6.50 per gallon
Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 wine, Paso Robles, 2,000 gallons at $21.00 per gallon
Chardonnay 2016 grapes, Sonoma Mountain, 60 tons at $2,100.00 per ton
Chardonnay 2016 grapes, Oakville, 55 tons at $2,300.00 per ton
Pinot Noir 2016 grapes, Yorkville Highlands, 55 tons at $2,300.00 per ton
Versatile Tanks out of Australia sent us this cool infographic on How to Install a Concrete Tank.
A concrete tank has many uses for a domestic or commercial property: storage of water, storage of chemicals and dangerous goods, or a wine cellar are just some examples. With Versatile Tanks, there’s the extra benefit of the tanks being square and rectangular, rather than the traditional circular tanks that are on the market. Square tanks means you can have multiple concrete tanks installed next to each other, or they can be more easily installed underground. So if you need more storage space for your business or a wine cellar in your home but don’t want to sacrifice a room, then install a concrete tank underground and lay your driveway over the top.
For their full post, click here.
The 22nd Annual Central Coasts Insights, presented by Wine Industry Symposium Group, kicked off the event in Paso Robles, California, announcing Wine Business Monthly as its new steward. David Freed, founder of the forum and chairman of The Silverado Group, introduced WBM president Eric Jorgensen to the audience of over 150 attendees. Jorgensen said the company intends to continue working on the event with Kathy Archer, president of Wine Industry Symposium Group along with program coordinator Waunice Orchid and program director Lisa Adams Walter.
Here are some of the highlights of the event:
Freed presented the results of the Insights Survey, which included information on the challenges facing the region: finding grapes at a good price, good land, import competition, environmental and labor costs and water—especially in light of the recent defeat of the area’s water bill. He went on to detail how the market has hit a “sweet spot,” as evidenced by mergers and acquisitions of wineries and vineyards by some of the big industry players including Constellation Brands, E&J Gallo and The Wine Group.
Three prominent Central Coast lenders, Rabobank senior vice president Matthew Allen, Farm Credit West vice president David Leal and Umpqua Bank senior vice president Mark Pearce, were generally bullish on the Central Coast and detailed what they look for in making loans—with specific emphasis on business plans that are prepared for the economic cycle, especially during down times.
Gary Eberle, owner of Eberle Winery; Peter Byck, president and CEO of WX; and Josh Beckett, owner of Chronic Cellars talked about mergers and acquisitions with moderator Mario Zepponi, principal of Zepponi & Company.
A seminar looked at the Central Coast bulk wine and grape market, and was hosted by Turrentine Brokerage broker Audra Cooper and bulk wine broker William Goebel. The speakers for this session were Don Brady, winemaker for Robert Hall and owner of Brady Vineyards; Bruce Jordan, vineyard manager for Reserve Vineyard Management; Andy Mitchell, director of viticulture for Hahn Family Wines and Scott Williams, vineyard manager of Pacific Vineyard Company.
Winemaker Steve Clifton, owner of Palmina Wines, talked about how he applies his early experience blending music as a DJ to blending his wine today. In the afternoon, The Paso Robles Wine County Alliance Executive Director Jennifer Porter presented the results of the Economic Impact Study.
Brenden Wright, business development manager for John Sutak Risk Services and Elizabeth Fitch, founding partner of Righi Fitch Law Group offered advice on how to protect wineries from fraud and cyber crime. Rae Ann Paulson, assurance services senior manager from Moss Adams gave tips to protect wineries from embezzlement, and internal crime.
Moderator Doug Wilson, vice president of winery relations for the Silverado Investment Group, led a presentation on Central Coast grape prices featuring Lise Asimont, director of grower relations at Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Wayne Donaldson, winemaker at Josh Cellars and Melissa Stackhouse, director of winemaking at Meiomi.
Rounding out the event was Larry Schaffer, owner and winemaker for Tercero Wine who spoke on how to survive as a very small fish in a very big pond.
Audience questions concluded the event and touched on the importance of sustainability and the increased costs of sustainability to the Central Coast. The attendees present seemed to agree that sustainability in business practices on the Central Coast is the norm now and any costs must be factored in pricing
“As Kermit says,” noted winemaker Don Brady, “it’s not easy just being green.”
Wine Business Monthly will hold its Central Coast show, WiVi, next week on March 15-16 at the Paso Robles Fairgrounds. For more information, go to www.wivicentralcoast.com.
With grape tonnage of key grape varieties down by as much as 30 percent, Central Coast winemakers are making adjustments. They’re bottling wine from previous vintages, purchasing bulk wine (although the market for bulk wine is tight), and in certain cases they anticipate raising prices. Central Coast growers, meanwhile, are focusing on vineyard redevelopment, and despite recent wet weather, winemakers and growers alike are concerned about water, or about the lack thereof.
Those are some of the key themes that emerged in the 2016 Central Coast Insights Survey.
Results of the survey are to be presented during the 22nd annual Central Coast Insights Event Thursday in Paso Robles.
Water availabilty was cited as the greatest concern for Central Coast winemakers.
Concerns about costs are second only to water, and that includes grape prices. Grape prices are going up but bottle prices – that’s harder to say.
Distributor consolidation is one of the themes to be discussed and it arguably has a disproportionate effect on the Central Coast’s small and medium sized producers. For a number of years the Central Coast Insights program has included some discussion of direct to consumer wine sales.
That said, if one looks at recent mergers and acquisitions activity on the Central Coast, one can see that the big have been getting bigger during the past five years.
The symposium focusses on the financial side of the business so the survey asks about lenders. The survey seems to indicate that there is capital available and that wineries and growers are relatively happy with their lenders.
During the Regional IPM Centers' multi-speaker webinar on red blotch disease, organized by regional IPM centers last Friday, UCD and USDA-ARS Researchers Dr. Brian Bahder, Dr. Mysore "Sudhi" Sudarshana and Dr. Frank Zalom reported their discovery of three-cornered alfalfa treehopper as a likely vector to transmit red blotch associated virus (GRBaV).
There are still many questions, as to for instance, whether other insects are involved in spreading Red Blotch and as to what growers should do to manage the vector in their vineyards?
Red Blotch and these new findings will be one of the topics discussed during tomorrow's Wine Business Innovation and Quality symposium in Napa Valley. IQ 2016 takes place at Charles Krug Winery in Napa Valley.
Dr. Alan Wei, owner and president of Agri-Analysis and leading expert on Red Blotch, will speak about the different strains of the virus, what that means for your vineyard's yield and quality, and the most practical way to deal with it. You can read some of his research in the August 2014 issue of Wine Business Monthly.
Halter Ranch Winery winemaker Kevin Sass will lead attendees through a comparative tasting, pouring wines made from infected and non-infected vines to demonstrate that Red Blotch does affect quality.