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Tuesday, January 31, 2017
January 31, 2017 | 7:38 AM

 

A U.S. District Court judge this week denied a motion to dismiss Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars versus Treasury Wine Estates. 

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and parent company Ste. Michelle Wine Estates allege Treasury Wine Estates’ is exploiting the prestige of the Stags Leap District with “The Stag,” and is devaluing the prestige of Stags Leap District (see "Courtwatch: Is "The Stag" Devaluing the Prestige of the Stags Leap District?") 

Treasury Wine Estates denies those allegations and filed a counter suit 

In a statement, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates said it is pleased the court rejected Treasury’s motion to dismiss its complaint: 

"We are pleased that the Court has rejected Treasury’s motion and that our case is going forward. As has been clear from the beginning, Treasury launched The Stag for the purpose of associating a North Coast product with the prestige and reputation of the renowned Stags Leap District appellation and its legendary wineries. As the Court noted, “a reasonable inference arises that when TWE first began preparing to market The Stag, it had every intention of trying to evoke associations with the Stags Leap AVA.”

The marketplace is already showing signs of confusion as to the origin of The Stag. As members of the Stags Leap District continue to convey to Treasury, this product represents a threat not only to the Stags Leap District but to all wineries and grape growers throughout the Napa Valley." 

Friday, January 20, 2017
January 20, 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.

 

Sleight of Hand Cellars

2014 “The Conjurer” Red Blend
The Magic of Winemaking

Whether luck, intuition, knowledge or a combination of the three, the team at Sleight of Hand Cellars is making some stellar wine. Combining a love of music, magic and wine, Sleight of Hand knows that science should always come second to philosophy and artistry. As winemaker Trey Busch put it, “You should only know enough science not to screw it up.”

When Busch met Eric Dunham (the winemaker for Dunham Cellars) in 1998, he didn’t know that his world would be turned upside down. Through his friendship with Dunham, Busch found a way to escape his life as a buyer for Nordstrom in Seattle by moving to the Walla Walla Valley to become a cellar rat. At the time, Dunham Cellars was an emerging brand and, in exchange for informal winemaking lessons, Busch agreed to use his Nordstrom’s experience to help out on the sales and marketing side of the business.
 

The full story on Sleight of Hand 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, January 19, 2017
January 19, 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.

Senses Wines

2014 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
The Occidental Boys

Ask 10 people in Sonoma County for a new or exciting wine recommendation and at least one will mention Senses Wines. For the last few years, Senses has been the talk of the town, the love of their brand spreading like wildfire in a drought. When looking to choose this year’s Hot Brands, WBM asked friends, family and neighbors for suggestions, and more than a few chose “the Occidental Boys.” It’s been incredible to see that so much community support—in a heavily saturated wine region no less—spread in such a short amount of time.

“The word-of-mouth is insane. The amount of sign-ups that we get to the mailing lists, the amount of buzz we have on social media, all that’s organic. We haven’t done any advertising at all,” said Chris Strieter, one of the founders.
 

 

The full story on Senses Wines ~ 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 18, 2017
January 18, 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.

 

 

Presqu’ile Winery

2015 Pinot Noir Rosé
Finding the Right Freshness in Rosé

 

The Murphys have long been fans of some of the best Pinot Noirs in the world—from those made in the illustrious Old World Burgundy region, to the (relatively) new Californian wines. The attraction to the grape is based on a lure toward wine with freshness, and the family found that Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noirs are much preferred.

“I’ve worked short stints at wineries that were pulling Pinot Noir from all over the state and even from Oregon, and I noticed that the balance of the savory and spicy quality we got from the Santa Maria Valley were super interesting. I love the cinnamon elegance,” said co-founder and president of Presqu’ile Winery, Matt Murphy.

So, in 2007, the Murphys acquired 200 acres just 16 miles from the Pacific Ocean and planted 73 acres to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah. Led by Madison and Suzanne Murphy, their three adult children, Matt, Anna and Jonathan, and their daughters-in-law, Amanda and Lindsey, Presqu’ile Winery was formed on the basis of creating the best cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that California could offer.
 

The full story on Presqu'ile 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.

by Cyril Penn | January 18, 2017 | 7:00 AM

Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) released its annual State of the Wine Industry Report today and the report forecasts sales growth of 10-14 percent.

The report’s author, Rob McMillan will be discussing the annual report in a live videocast online this morning. If you’ve missed the live broadcast, a reply will be available later. No doubt there will be press reports today and over the next few days summarizing the findings.

Here’s a link to a press release and another to download the full report: http://www.svb.com/wine-report/
I always look forward to reading this report, and it covers a lot of ground, from the big sales trends to what’s happening in restaurants to grape supply to demographic shifts. There’s a lot to like about this report. One of the things I like best is that Rob makes predictions, then goes over them the following year to see if he was right or not and why. More often than not the predictions are spot on.

It’s a long report but easy to read, so I’d encourage readers to go to the source.
My favorite chart in the report is toward the end, you can find it on page 59, “Winery Financial Benchmarks.” This is data you’re not going to find anywhere else. Survey respondents estimated that average sales growth for the year will end up at 11.9 percent.

 

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.
 

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