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Tuesday, January 17, 2017
January 17, 2017 | 3:00 PM

Every year, when Wine Business Monthly creates our annual list of Top 10 Hot Brands, we look for vintners, growers, wineries and wines that are making a statement in our industry. Quality is always an important consideration, but Hot Brands is more than a list of the “best” or most interesting wines we’ve tasted during the year.

Through the years, the definition of “hot” has changed for us. When the list was first created, an oversupply of wine created a market full of “critter labels” and high-production, low-priced brands that would sell like “hot”-cakes. Eventually oversupply part of the wine cycle ended and so did that particular meaning of this list. Now, the Top 10 Hot Brands list delves into what it means to be a part of the American wine industry, part of the American wine culture. And that culture is increasingly more diverse.

This year, we’ve selected wines from pioneers, newcomers, long-standing winemakers and more. While each may grow a different grape or go about making wine in unorthodox ways, all the winemakers selected reflect the diversity that is the wine culture in the United States and all have an innate desire to produce something they, and the consumer, will love.

In the end, this list is comprised of wines that we here at Wine Business Monthly would serve to winemakers. We are releasing the Top 10 Hot Brands, one per day, in no particular order, leading up to the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium. Wine Business Monthly will be serving these wines to winemakers, grape growers and industry members at our annual gathering Bottle Bash during Unified on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at cafeteria 15L.

 

Mi Sueño Winery

2012 Russian River Pinor Noir
An Insatiable Thirst for Knowledge

Rolando Herrera might just be the hardest-working vineyard manager/cellar rat/winemaker/designer/salesman in the business. The man does it all. From humble beginnings in El Llano, Mexico to washing dishes at Auberge du Soleil, to the founder and winemaker of his own winery, Herrera has learned every facet of the business. He’s built a self-sufficient winemaking enterprise in the Napa Valley and still maintains the family farm/business feel.

Harnessing his insatiable desire to learn, Herrera spent his formative years in the wine business learning from rockstars—and knew when to seize an opportunity when one presented itself. He’s referred to quite a few of his decisions as the “best decisions I’ve ever made.”

The full story on Mi Sueño Winery ~ and all our Hot Brands ~ will be available in our February 2017 issue of Wine Business Monthly. You can come by our booth (#1620) at Unified and pick up a copy or click here to subscribe to WBM.

Monday, January 16, 2017
January 16, 2017 | 3:00 PM

Every year, when Wine Business Monthly creates our annual list of Top 10 Hot Brands, we look for vintners, growers, wineries and wines that are making a statement in our industry. Quality is always an important consideration, but Hot Brands is more than a list of the “best” or most interesting wines we’ve tasted during the year.

Through the years, the definition of “hot” has changed for us. When the list was first created, an oversupply of wine created a market full of “critter labels” and high-production, low-priced brands that would sell like “hot”-cakes. Eventually oversupply part of the wine cycle ended and so did that particular meaning of this list. Now, the Top 10 Hot Brands list delves into what it means to be a part of the American wine industry, part of the American wine culture. And that culture is increasingly more diverse.

This year, we’ve selected wines from pioneers, newcomers, long-standing winemakers and more. While each may grow a different grape or go about making wine in unorthodox ways, all the winemakers selected reflect the diversity that is the wine culture in the United States and all have an innate desire to produce something they, and the consumer, will love.

In the end, this list is comprised of wines that we here at Wine Business Monthly would serve to winemakers. We are releasing the Top 10 Hot Brands, one per day, in no particular order, leading up to the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium. Wine Business Monthly will be serving these wines to winemakers, grape growers and industry members at our annual gathering Bottle Bash during Unified on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at cafeteria 15L.

LVVR Cellars

NV Blanc de Blanc
Keeping it Local in Lodi
 

In the long-established wine region of Lodi, California, one man is forging a new category: sparkling wine.

That’s not to say he’s reinventing the wheel, or even the first to make a Lodi sparkling wine, but he certainly saw an opportunity to fill a gap in the region, and is capitalizing on it.

For Eric Donaldson, Lodi has been a great stepping stone. He has been welcomed by the Lodi community: with low barriers to entry, friendly winemakers and growers and high-quality fruit, Lodi was the perfect place for him to start his winery, and now he wants to give back.
 

The full story on LVVR Cellars ~ and all our Hot Brands ~ will be available in our February 2017 issue of Wine Business Monthly. You can come by our booth (#1620) at Unified and pick up a copy or click here to subscribe to WBM.
 

Friday, January 13, 2017
January 13, 2017 | 3:00 PM

Every year, when Wine Business Monthly creates our annual list of Top 10 Hot Brands, we look for vintners, growers, wineries and wines that are making a statement in our industry. Quality is always an important consideration, but Hot Brands is more than a list of the “best” or most interesting wines we’ve tasted during the year.

Through the years, the definition of “hot” has changed for us. When the list was first created, an oversupply of wine created a market full of “critter labels” and high-production, low-priced brands that would sell like “hot”-cakes. Eventually oversupply part of the wine cycle ended and so did that particular meaning of this list. Now, the Top 10 Hot Brands list delves into what it means to be a part of the American wine industry, part of the American wine culture. And that culture is increasingly more diverse.

This year, we’ve selected wines from pioneers, newcomers, long-standing winemakers and more. While each may grow a different grape or go about making wine in unorthodox ways, all the winemakers selected reflect the diversity that is the wine culture in the United States and all have an innate desire to produce something they, and the consumer, will love.

In the end, this list is comprised of wines that we here at Wine Business Monthly would serve to winemakers. We are releasing the Top 10 Hot Brands, one per day, in no particular order, leading up to the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium. Wine Business Monthly will be serving these wines to winemakers, grape growers and industry members at our annual gathering Bottle Bash during Unified on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at cafeteria 15L.

 

Infinite Monkey Theorem

2013 Syrah
Capturing the Urban Market

When Wine Business Monthly first heard about Infinite Monkey Theorem, the editors thought the winery’s wine-in-a-can brand would be a shoe-in for its Hot Brands list. Wine-in-a-can, as a category, is seeing some phenomenal growth—especially amongst the younger “experience-oriented” demographic—and publications across the world are catching on (see WBM’s 2013 Hot Brands list, which featured Union Wine Company’s can solution, as an example). But we were pleasantly surprised when, as we were tasting through Infinite Monkey Theorem’s portfolio, we were so blown away by the Colorado-grown and -made Syrah that we had to change our plans.

After talking with winemaker Ben Parsons, we learned that in addition to a killer Syrah, he’s got a good pulse on the future of the wine industry—and a business plan to match.
 

The full story on Infinite Monkey Theorem ~ and all our Hot Brands ~ will be available in our February 2017 issue of Wine Business Monthly. You can come by our booth (#1620) at Unified and pick up a copy or click here to subscribe to WBM.
 

Thursday, January 12, 2017
January 12, 2017 | 3:00 PM

Every year, when Wine Business Monthly creates our annual list of Top 10 Hot Brands, we look for vintners, growers, wineries and wines that are making a statement in our industry. Quality is always an important consideration, but Hot Brands is more than a list of the “best” or most interesting wines we’ve tasted during the year.

Through the years, the definition of “hot” has changed for us. When the list was first created, an oversupply of wine created a market full of “critter labels” and high-production, low-priced brands that would sell like “hot”-cakes. Eventually oversupply part of the wine cycle ended and so did that particular meaning of this list. Now, the Top 10 Hot Brands list delves into what it means to be a part of the American wine industry, part of the American wine culture. And that culture is increasingly more diverse.

This year, we’ve selected wines from pioneers, newcomers, long-standing winemakers and more. While each may grow a different grape or go about making wine in unorthodox ways, all the winemakers selected reflect the diversity that is the wine culture in the United States and all have an innate desire to produce something they, and the consumer, will love.

In the end, this list is comprised of wines that we here at Wine Business Monthly would serve to winemakers. We are releasing the Top 10 Hot Brands, one per day, in no particular order, leading up to the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium. Wine Business Monthly will be serving these wines to winemakers, grape growers and industry members at our annual gathering Bottle Bash during Unified on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at cafeteria 15L.

 

Illahe Vineyards

2014 Estate Pinot Noir
Remaining True to the Farm

Nestled amongst the hills of the Willamette Valley, on a south-facing slope with stunning views of the region, lies Illahe Vineyards and Winery. A warm spot, this vineyard seems in every way the typical, picturesque site you would imagine for northwestern Oregon: rolling hills, vines and farms for miles, and a multi-level wine production facility in the background. At first glance, Illahe Vineyards could be just any Oregon winery, until you notice a horse pulling a ton of grapes up the slope to the winery.

When Brad Ford and his (now) wife Bethany Ford first purchased the vineyard site in conjunction with Lowell and Pauline Ford in 2000, they planted Pinot Noir and sold the grapes to more established Willamette Valley wineries, like Bethel Heights, Cristom Vineyards and others. As the vineyard matured and gained recognition for its Pinot Noir, Brad decided that the time was right for him to start making his own wine. In 2006, just after he finished up the viticulture and enology program at the local community college, he made his first vintage.

It was around that time that a local reporter out of The Dalles, Oregon, stumbled on the winery and interviewed Brad. The reporter asked, “What does this vineyard do that other vineyards in the area don’t?” and Brad was dumbfounded. He said he didn’t have an answer. “He gave a strange face at that answer. I thought, ‘This is not good.’ People are curious to see something different,” he said.

The full story on Illahe Vineyards ~ and all our Hot Brands ~ will be available in our February 2017 issue of Wine Business Monthly. You can come by our booth (#1620) at Unified and pick up a copy or click here to subscribe to WBM.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017
January 11, 2017 | 3:00 PM

Every year, when Wine Business Monthly creates our annual list of Top 10 Hot Brands, we look for vintners, growers, wineries and wines that are making a statement in our industry. Quality is always an important consideration, but Hot Brands is more than a list of the “best” or most interesting wines we’ve tasted during the year.

Through the years, the definition of “hot” has changed for us. When the list was first created, an oversupply of wine created a market full of “critter labels” and high-production, low-priced brands that would sell like “hot”-cakes. Eventually oversupply part of the wine cycle ended and so did that particular meaning of this list. Now, the Top 10 Hot Brands list delves into what it means to be a part of the American wine industry, part of the American wine culture. And that culture is increasingly more diverse.

This year, we’ve selected wines from pioneers, newcomers, long-standing winemakers and more. While each may grow a different grape or go about making wine in unorthodox ways, all the winemakers selected reflect the diversity that is the wine culture in the United States and all have an innate desire to produce something they, and the consumer, will love.

In the end, this list is comprised of wines that we here at Wine Business Monthly would serve to winemakers. We are releasing the Top 10 Hot Brands, one per day, in no particular order, leading up to the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium. Wine Business Monthly will be serving these wines to winemakers, grape growers and industry members at our annual gathering Bottle Bash during Unified on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at cafeteria 15L.
 

Fujishin Family Cellars

2014 Amatino Red Blend
Making Wine Amid Idaho's Renaissance

Though farmers have been growing winegrapes in the state since the 1800s, Idahoan wine is breathing new life in the 2000s. When Prohibition started, the industry failed, and took much longer to revitalize itself than other states after the ban was lifted. In 1976, there was just one winery in the state. That grew to 11 in 2002, and in 2015, 51 wineries called Idaho home.

“In the early 2000s, the industry started to become an industry that was working well. New blood came in,” said Martin Fujishin, owner and winemaker for Fujishin Family Cellars. It was from these pioneers that Fujishin was able to learn about winemaking in the state. He started as tasting room manager at Koenig Winery in 2003 and worked his way up to cellar master and then to assistant winemaker. It was at the Koenig winemaker’s suggestion that Fujishin start his own winery.

He is now part of a third wave of growth in the state, where educating consumers about wine quality is a much higher priority. Though quality has always been a part of wine-growing and winemaking in Idaho, the challenge now is two-fold: find a niche to rally wineries around and then market that to consumers who are often befuddled that Idaho wine actually exists.

The full story on Fujishin Family Cellars ~ and all our Hot Brands ~ will be available in our February 2017 issue of Wine Business Monthly. You can come by our booth (#1620) at Unified and pick up a copy or click here to subscribe to WBM.
 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017
January 10, 2017 | 3:00 PM

Every year, when Wine Business Monthly creates our annual list of Top 10 Hot Brands, we look for vintners, growers, wineries and wines that are making a statement in our industry. Quality is always an important consideration, but Hot Brands is more than a list of the “best” or most interesting wines we’ve tasted during the year.

Through the years, the definition of “hot” has changed for us. When the list was first created, an oversupply of wine created a market full of “critter labels” and high-production, low-priced brands that would sell like “hot”-cakes. Eventually oversupply part of the wine cycle ended and so did that particular meaning of this list. Now, the Top 10 Hot Brands list delves into what it means to be a part of the American wine industry, part of the American wine culture. And that culture is increasingly more diverse.

This year, we’ve selected wines from pioneers, newcomers, long-standing winemakers and more. While each may grow a different grape or go about making wine in unorthodox ways, all the winemakers selected reflect the diversity that is the wine culture in the United States and all have an innate desire to produce something they, and the consumer, will love.

In the end, this list is comprised of wines that we here at Wine Business Monthly would serve to winemakers. Starting today, we are releasing the Top 10 Hot Brands, one per day, in no particular order, leading up to the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium. Wine Business Monthly will be serving these wines to winemakers, grape growers and industry members at our annual gathering Bottle Bash during Unified on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at cafeteria 15L.

 

Amavi Cellars

2015 Walla Walla Valley Semillon
Forging Interest in a Lesser-known Varietal

Jean-Francois Pellet has been making wine in Washington state for decades. When he signed on as a partner/winemaker at Pepper Bridge Estate in 1999, there were only 18 wineries in Walla Walla. Today there are more than 100—but a very few number are making Semillon.

In the early days, the Switzerland native, along with the Goff and McKibben families, planted a variety of Bordeaux varietals for the Pepper Bridge Brand. Eventually, an interest in Syrah gained traction in the region, and Pellet knew it was time for the Pepper Bridge family to try its hand with the grape. However, the partners had already decided that they would not grow or make anything other than Bordeaux varietals for their Pepper Bridge brand.

Thus was the basis for the formation of Amavi Cellars—to focus on Syrah—but Pellet was thinking about the vineyard he had in his native Switzerland, the land planted to Semillon. He asked the owners if he could “borrow” a couple vineyard rows and made his first barrel of the grape in 2001, the single barrel that vintage. The wine proved a hit and since then, total production has multiplied to anywhere from 800 to 1,000 cases per year, which are poured and sold mostly in the tasting room and for visiting sommeliers.

 

The full story on Amavi Cellars ~ and all our Hot Brands ~ will be available in our February 2017 issue of Wine Business Monthly. You can come by our booth (#1620) at Unified and pick up a copy or click here to subscribe to WBM.
 

Monday, January 9, 2017
January 9, 2017 | 3:00 PM

Every year, when Wine Business Monthly creates our annual list of Top 10 Hot Brands, we look for vintners, growers, wineries and wines that are making a statement in our industry. Quality is always an important consideration, but Hot Brands is more than a list of the “best” or most interesting wines we’ve tasted during the year.

Through the years, the definition of “hot” has changed for us. When the list was first created, an oversupply of wine created a market full of “critter labels” and high-production, low-priced brands that would sell like “hot”-cakes. Eventually oversupply part of the wine cycle ended and so did that particular meaning of this list. Now, the Top 10 Hot Brands list delves into what it means to be a part of the American wine industry, part of the American wine culture. And that culture is increasingly more diverse.

This year, we’ve selected wines from pioneers, newcomers, long-standing winemakers and more. While each may grow a different grape or go about making wine in unorthodox ways, all the winemakers selected reflect the diversity that is the wine culture in the United States and all have an innate desire to produce something they, and the consumer, will love.

In the end, this list is comprised of wines that we here at Wine Business Monthly would serve to winemakers. Starting today, we are releasing the Top 10 Hot Brands, one per day, in no particular order, leading up to the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium. Wine Business Monthly will be serving these wines to winemakers, grape growers and industry members at our annual gathering Bottle Bash during Unified on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at cafeteria 15L.

 

Dan Cohn Cellars

2014 Bellacosa
Legacy Son Steps Out on His Own

Many recent college graduates looking for employment will tell you that often it’s not your qualifications or achievements that finally land you a job—the old adage that “it’s not only what you know, it’s who you know” has been engrained into their brains.

Truer words could not be said for Dan Cohn, son of Bruce Cohn and former CEO of B.R. Cohn Winery (which was sold to Vintage Wine Estates in 2015). Born and raised in wine country to a family that ended up creating one of the most well-known Sonoma County brands, Dan learned about grape growing and winemaking from a very early age from some of the industry’s most respected figures, including Helen Turley, Merry Edwards and Steve MacRostie, while working 24 hours a day on a press or jumping in to clean a tank. All the while he was watching people he admits knew much more about winemaking than his family did....
 

The full story on Dan Cohn Cellars ~ and all our Hot Brands ~ will be available in our February 2017 issue of Wine Business Monthly. You can come by our booth (#1620) at Unified and pick up a copy or click here to subscribe to WBM.

Thursday, December 1, 2016
December 1, 2016 | 11:18 AM

Wine Business Monthly's December 2016 digital edition is now available.

Inside December 2016 you will find our:

2016 Year in Review
50 Top Leaders
Top News Stories
Top Products
Mergers & Acquisitions Review
Top People Moves

plus:
2016 Barrel & Oak Survey Report
Mark Greenspan: Chilean Vineyards and Wines: Could be a Contender

Winemaker Trial:
Analyzing the Phenolic and Sensory Effects of Red Blotch-Infected Vines
When the winemaker at Halter Ranch saw lost yields and flavor reductions in some blocks of Red Blotch-infected Cabernet, he set out to discover just how different these vines were from non-infected vines.

also:
Industry Roundtable: Vineyard Loans
Growers Showing Interest in H-2A Visa Program

Click here to subscribe to the print version of WBM. Click here to view all digital editions of WBM, including August.

Friday, October 28, 2016
by Cyril Penn | October 28, 2016 | 3:00 PM

Randy Short - Tony Correia - Frank Farella - Greg Scott 

Sonoma State Launches Business of Wine Video Series

Wine Business Monthly Publishes Top 50 Leaders List

left to right, Randy Short, partner, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP; Tony Correia, president, The Correia Co; Frank Farella, founding partner, Farella Braun + Martel, Greg Scott, partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers (photos by Bob McClenahan napasphotographer.com)

It was about leadership, a gathering with top leaders recognizing four of their own. 

Recalling that Ernest and Julio Gallo had extraordinary vision and understood the leadership it takes to be successful in the wine industry, Master of Ceremonies Roger Nabedian, Senior Vice President and General Manager at E. & J. Gallo Winery, stressed the importance of fostering new talent and mentoring new leaders.

“This evening is called 'business of wine leadership' dinner for good reason,” Nabedian said. “We’re here to celebrate the leaders of today as well as the future leaders of the wine industry.”

Roger Nabedian, Senior Vice President and General Manager at E. & J. Gallo Winery

Four individuals who’ve been incredibly influential in contributing to the wine industry’s collective success were honored in a gathering at the Culinary Institute of America’s new Napa, California campus, the former site of Copia.

The honorees were Tony Correia, the industry’s best known real-estate appraiser; Taxation and accounting wizard Greg Scott; Attorney Randy Short, who has handled some of the most high-profile wine industry mergers and acquisitions of the last four decades; and Frank Farella, counsel to many leading vintners, the late Robert Mondavi among them.

“Leadership is about making a difference, making a difference for the organizations for which you work, but also making a difference for the communities in which you live,” Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics Dean Bill Silver said.

Attendees previewed highlights from a first round of interviews conducted for Sonoma State University’s Business of Wine Video Series, directed by Emmy-award winning filmmaker Dennis Scholl. The multi-year project, just getting started, will entail hour-long videos with fifty accomplished leaders discussing their entry into the world of wine, their achievements, goals, challenges, setbacks, regrets, views of leadership, and so forth.

Each interview will be turned into a free-standing documentary, a teaching tool meta-tagged so answers to questions can be searched for by students. Scholl plans to eventually produce a documentary based on the interviews to pitch to PBS.

“The wine industry here is undergoing a lot of transition and this is a moment to capture voices who we’ve all listened to for decades,” Scholl said. “We’re approaching this project in a way that will allow the knowledge that we capture to be used in a number of different formats.”

Dennis Scholl discusses Sonoma State University’s Business of Wine Video Series

 

Sonoma State’s Business of Wine Video Series is being made possible through support from Jeff Menashe and Demeter Group, which conceived of the Business of Wine Leadership Dinner

Honorees were acknowledged by some of their peers, who recounted working together, sometimes (with) tongue in cheek.

Silverado Premium Partners president Mark Couchman called Tony Correia “the fastest appraiser in the business”- not because of the speed at which he produces appraisal reports - but because of the pace at which he outran a Pitbull one day when he was inspecting a property.

Andy Beckstoffer, always an effective negotiator, recalled convincing Randy Short and his wife Mary to babysit his four children for a week when he left the country for a vacation in the 1970s.

Bill Phelps of Joseph Phelps Vineyards thanked Greg Scott for helping his family transition from the first to the second to the third generation. “This guy’s mind works faster than anybody else’s,” Phelps said. “I know he talks faster.”

Jeff O’Neill with O’Neill Vintners and Distillers recalled meeting Frank Farella in the early 1980s, when Farella’s hourly rate exceeded O’Neill’s weekly rate, and O’Neill recalled the extraordinary lengths Farella went to in order to adopt an abandoned dog that befriended him in Italy (the statute of limitations has passed).

“We’ve seen how important good leaders are, not only to individual companies, but also to the health of the overall industry,” Wine Business Monthly publisher Eric Jorgensen said, noting the fortuitous timing of the event: the December WBM includes a list of the Wine Industry’s Top 50 Leaders.

“Our four honorees are going to be on this list and I’m happy to say that many of you in the audience tonight will be joining our honorees on the list,” Jorgensen said. “One of the reasons we did this was to acknowledge the great leaders we have in this industry and how fortunate we are to have them.”

“I hope tonight’s dinner is just the beginning of a group like this coming together as an industry to honor and celebrate our own and that we have more events like this where we can assemble and celebrate the leaders of today and look to a bright future with the wine leaders of tomorrow,” Nabedian said.

 

Michael Mondavi and Mark Couchman

 

Fetzer CEO Giancarlo Bianchetti with Jeff Menashe, CEO of Demeter Group

 

St Michelle Wine Estates CEO Ted Baseler, Korbel VP communications Margie Healy, and Korbel president and owner Gary Heck 
Jeff O'Neill with Frank Farella 

 

Tony Correia said 'the selection process was rigged' (his wife Stephanie is on the left with Mark Couchman seated to the right) 

   

Randy Short, go-to attorney for large companies in winery transactions, recounted 45 years representing wineries, including Heublein and later, Diageo 
Greg Scott said that as a kid from a small town Indiana, he never thought he'd end up doing what he did. "I did my research and figured out that there were some things in tax you could do that nobody was taking advantage of," he said. One of those things involved separating the value of an appellation for tax purposes.

 

Steve Burns with Gina Gallo and Josh Heiser 

 

Ray Johnson, Executive Director, Sonoma State Wine Business Institute and Wine Communications Group President and Wine Business Monthly Publisher Eric Jorgensen

 

Wine Business Monthly's 2016 Top Leaders appears in the December 16' issue 

 

Thursday, September 22, 2016
by Kerana Todorov | September 22, 2016 | 1:30 PM


Rombauer’s new underground cave tours, takes you on a a stroll by some 2,500 barrels while sipping on Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Rombauer is the latest winery to open its doors for regularly scheduled tours of its underground caves in the Napa Valley. Other wineries include Schramsberg Vineyards, Del Dotto Vineyards and Jarvis Estate.

For the past few weeks, Rombauer winery has begun to offer small tours of its underground caves.

The visits last about an hour. Visitors are led down a gravel path along the hillside property to reach a plain barrel door that opens to 1,900 linear feet of underground caves. The labyrinth is home to 2,500 wine barrels, where temperatures remain a cool 62-degree Fahrenheit year round.

Why the new tour at Rombauer? “We thought it was a really different way to be able to tell our story and share our wines – particularly the red wines,” said Brandye Alexander, Rombauer’s director of marketing and consumer relations.

“We also have very limited space in our tasting room,” Alexander added. “Being able to offer the tours no only gave people a different experience to learn more about Rombauer, but it also allows us to accommodate more people on the property because we’re not limited to just the small space in the tasting room.”

Visitors, led by a guide, now make a loop of sorts while stopping at different stations to taste various wines and learn about Rombauer’s vineyards, grape sourcing and wine making.

About 150 people have taken the tour since Sept. 5, when the tour was first offered to the public.
Tours are limited to 10 visitors, in part for safety reasons. Has anyone gotten lost in the web-like underground caves? “We try to pride ourselves on good hospitality,” Alexander said. “That includes ‘No guest left behind as our motto,” she added, tongue-in-cheek.

The caves have been visited by members of the public on special occasions. But in these rare instances, wings were blocked off with barrels.

“Cave Tour & Tasting” tours are scheduled daily at 11 a.m. Beginning in October, a second tour will be added at 2 p.m.

Wines served this week included Rombauer’s 2015 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc; 2015 Carneros Chardonnay; 2010 Napa Valley Le meilleur du Chai and 2013 Stice Lane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cave Tour & Tasting is offered daily at 11 a.m. by appointment. A second tour will be added in October.

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