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Tuesday, September 25, 2018
by Cyril Penn | September 25, 2018 | 8:30 AM

Antonio Galloni is one of the world’s leading wine critics—he worked for Robert Parker for seven years before launching his own online wine publication, Vinous.

It's one of the reasons we named him one of the top leaders leaders in the wine industry in our October 2018 issue of Wine Business Monthly.

Nearly two years ago, Vinous made headlines with its purchase of Delectable, a wine app, and since then, Galloni has been on a mission to grow its user base to gain better insight to consumer purchasing and preference.

“Wine is this ecosystem and we have all of this data we want to give back to people but we can’t do that by ourselves,” Galloni said. “Please talk about Delectable in your tasting rooms and get people to use the app. The more people use the app, the more people are engaged, the more we can share data wiith you however you want it.”

“I want Delectable to be the “Intel Inside. There are other platforms out there that are bigger but none have our level of engagement,” Galloni said at Emetry’s inaugural data summit at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia (Emetry just announced its data partnership with Delectable). 

Delectable has been inking partnerships with companies such as LiveEx, CellarTracker and Coravin, and is powering kiosks in some Whole Foods 365 Concept stores, with other partnerships to be announced.

“Our approach to business is not about disintermediation, it’s not about taking away something else’s piece of their market. It’s not about disruption. It’s about partnership and growth.”

Galloni said Delectable users are 40 percent female and that more than 40 percent of users are 25-34 years old— in other words, people that have the potential to be customers for the next 30 years. "The thing that always terrified me [about wine publications he looked at acquiring] is you can’t build a business with a bunch of old white guys. That's not a long-term recipe for success."

Other speakers included Emetry chief strategy officer Ken Burbary, chief executive Paul Mabray (that's Paul in the photo below, wearing a cool apron), former Netflix director of marketing Barry Enderwick, Land 'O Lakes Director Of Marketing Analytics Lauren Hougas, and Nolan Gasser, a composer, pianist, and musicologist who was architect of Pandora Radio’s Music Genome Project and the company’s chief musicologist from its founding in 1999. Andrew Kamphuis, who just launched Commerce7, discussed steps Constellation recently took to increase online wine sales revenue.

Links to presentations and pictures.




Sunday, September 23, 2018
by Cyril Penn | September 23, 2018 | 8:00 AM

Dr. Walter Byck's late wife Marijke Byck-Hoenselaars probably would have said, "Welcome to Paradise." 

Before Big Swing and the Ballroom Blasters got going with their performance for Thursday evening's Best Party Ever, Dr. Byck shared a few words

“We had a lot of things burn on this ranch, the winery building, the production building, three houses, three barns, many outbuildings - all but two are gone. But you don’t have to feel sorry for me, as you can see,” said Byck.

“Two of our employees lived in my house for six months because they lost theirs. More than 4,000 fellow Sonomans lost their houses - that’s 15,000 people who suffered much more than the buildings we lost: they lost their homes and a place to stay."

"I don’t need any empathy or feeling sorry because we’re going to build it back. It will be a wonderful thing that I’ll get to do in my old age.”

Paradise Ridge Winery is launching a major rebuilding project.

“There’s an old Groucho Marx line, 'I would never join a club that would accept me as a member,'” 2018 Sonoma Wine Country Auction Chair George Hamel Jr. said. “I’ve used that line a lot because my wife and I are among the 5,383 people whose homes burned last year."

"Paradise Ridge is a member of the most exclusive club ever. They are the only winery in Sonoma County that burned last October … “

The party was first in a series commemorating the wildfires that devastated Sonoma County last October, killing 24 people.

The auction raised $5.7 million

Saturday, September 22, 2018
by Cyril Penn | September 22, 2018 | 12:00 PM

When Constellation rejected 50 tons of his Sauvignon Blanc earlier this month, Clay Shannon thought it was odd, but was glad to have it for his own winery’s program. “I crushed it. I think it's fine,” he said.

He thinks Constellation rejected perhaps 1,200 or 1,500 tons of Lake County Sauvignon Blanc.

See last week’s story:

Clay Shannon farms 1200 acres of Lake County grapes and Shannon Ridge makes more than 200,000 cases of wine – this year he’ll process enough grapes to produce 300,000 cases. He farms another 500 acres in Lake County for other vineyard owners.

He says Treasury Wine estates contacted him three weeks before the Mendocino Complex Fire broke out, asking him to sell any of his fruit contracted to them to somebody else because they wanted out of the contracts due to slow sales and changing direction of their portfolio. “They said they would allow us out of the contracts that they desperately asked us to sign a year ago.”

He thinks Treasury and Constellation are long on grapes and bulk wine. He notes that their wine sales are down as reported by Gomberg-Fredrickson while other wineries that are family-owned, continue to bring in Lake County Fruit.

“This is about inventory management and getting the cost of goods down. There’s more to the current rejections than smoke taint.”

“I tasted all of our Sauvignon Blanc lots this morning and some pinot noir, and everything's fine. Zero problems,” Shannon said. “At least at this point. “There's concerns, but the grapes aren't in.”

“We have these fires and then bean counters start thinking, ‘What a great excuse to get out of a bunch of grapes, whether they’ve got smoke or not we can use this as our excuse to get out of contracts we don't need.’"

“They’ve got inventory issues and they're using this smoke as a scapegoat to get out of them.”

“It's just business. I understand that's business, but this is going to hurt people. “

Erich Russell with Rabbit Ridge in Paso Robles comments:

Same thing happening here. Four Vines cancelled our contract for Zinfandel a month before harvest saying they did not like the canopy because of our heat wave and the flavors of the grapes and there were some red berries. We were a MONTH away from harvest when they did it 

"anonymous" from "large winery" comments:

I've personally seen multiple tests from Lake County fruit and everything on the north side of the lake has tested positive for smoke taint markers. Mini-ferments of said fruit have all shown tremendous amounts of ash tray and campfire notes in the sensory analysis. If you don't think this is for real, then you are living under a rock.

A reader comments: 

Anonymous should step up and say who they are.

Erich Russell comments: 

Even if a wine did have smoke taint these large wineries are usually the same ones that are aging wine in Bourbon or Whisky barrels and the insides of those barrels are burned from the alcohol--that's right actually burned like charcoal. A little smoke taint could add complexity. They are big and they could find a way to use it instead or not trying and just randomly hurting growers 

"anonymous" from "large winery" comments:

If that's not painting every big winery with a broad brush, I don't know what is. I'm glad Mr. Russel has decided what is an acceptable loss for everyone else. Put your money where your mouth is and start buying all the rejected smoke tainted fruit, I'm sure you will be everyone's hero if you do. Good luck mitigating your loss with the resulting sub-par tainted wine. Crop insurance exists for a reason. 

A Reader comments: A Reader should say who they are as well. 

Erich Russell comments:

At least I let people know who I am. There are very few standards or rules on smoke taint. I would guess as Clay pointed out a large majority of these grapes are not smoke tainted and are fine. The very least the winery could do is take the grapes and process them with the understanding that if later on there was smoke taint that would be a mutual discussion on how to handle with a possible reduction in price of the grapes so everyone wins. Mr Big winery you have enough value wines that the taint could be removed and the wine used. You are the one who contracted the grapes and became a partner with the grower. Times get tough and you throw them under the bus. Shame on you

Jeffrey Jindra Comments:

Anonymous large winery: Smoke taint is real, so is the spineless nature of backing out contracts do to an act of nature. What a short sided view. Long term it is always better to support your growers though good and bad, so that when it is good they are still there. 



Thursday, September 20, 2018
September 20, 2018 | 8:00 AM

Delivered from the point of view of a seasoned sales pro, this session explored the intersection between technology and sales team performance. In today’s hyper-competitive wine market, it is not enough to possess the capabilities. You must know how to leverage them to achieve consistent, predictable results. A techie stuck in a salesman’s body, Ben Salisbury shattered some deeply held beliefs about selling wine and blew apart every excuse for not adopting the most relevant technologies.

Salisbury is a 34-year veteran of the adult beverage industry and former vice president of national accounts for the U.S. with Constellation Brands and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. He spoke at Wine Business Monthly's Wine Industry Technology Symposium, held August 21, 2018 at the Napa Valley Marriott. For more information on the Technology Symposium, and to view speaker slides, please visit

Wednesday, September 19, 2018
September 19, 2018 | 3:27 PM
Thursday, September 13, 2018
September 13, 2018 | 7:47 AM

Proprietor Chad Harris quietly reopened his restaurant on Fremont Drive in Sonoma/Carneros yesterday - Boxcar Fried Chicken & Biscuits. It had closed unexpectedly in June. Initial hours are Monday-Friday 11-3 ... as the restaurant ramps up. 

Monday, September 10, 2018
by Cyril Penn | September 10, 2018 | 1:30 PM

“A consultant is a coach who can help guide a wine’s direction … In general they’re listening to most of what you’re telling them. If you have a low fee they don’t follow you. If you have a very high fee, they follow you. You have to know that if you want to begin a consulting career,” Michel Rolland quipped. 

An unassuming Rolland was in San Francisco Friday evening discussing Clos de los Siete, a project he founded in Argentina in 1988 making popularly priced wines offering quality and value for about $20 a bottle. Rolland and Clos de los Siete managing director Ramiro Barrios shared six vintages from 2003 through 2015.

Based in Bordeaux, Michelle Rolland is the world’s preeminent winemaking consultant. He’s still going strong after four decades of winemaking, spending nine weeks in the U.S. each year - (three three-week trips) where he consults for nineteen wineries; nine weeks in Argentina and Chile; and another six weeks in countries such as China Italy, Spain and South Africa. After more than 15 years, he’s not spending time in India, though one of his assistants regularly visits. He consults for 100 wineries. 

Clos de los Siete is marketed in the U.S. by Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits. Roughly 100,000 cases are produced each year: a Malbec blend with smaller percentages of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot, and sometimes Cabernet Franc.

Rolland oversees the blending. 

“The idea is to make the wine very approachable, very drinkable,” Rolland said. “The definition I like is that it’s a wine where when you’re at the end of the bottle, you’re thinking, ‘she’s too small and I would like another one.’”

Wednesday, September 5, 2018
September 5, 2018 | 6:00 PM

Tributes are pouring in for Kent Rosenblum. He's really going to be missed. 

Kent Rosenblum, CEO of Rockwall Wine Company, the good-natured veterinarian from Minnesota who co-founded Rosenblum Cellars in 1978 and helped popularize super-premium Zinfandel, passed away unexpectedly Tuesday night.

Based in Alameda, Rosenblum Cellars grew to become a stalwart producer of Zinfandel and Rhone Varietals, producing 200,000 cases each year, and was known as one of the "three Rs of Zinfandel" (Ravenswood, Ridge, and Rosenblum) before it was sold to Diageo in 2008 for $105 million (the brand is now owned by Bronco Wine Co).

After purchasing Rosenblum Cellars, Diageo moved production to Napa while Dr. Rosenblum started up Rock Wall Wine Co. ... with his daughter, Shauna as winemaker.

Dr. Rosenblum received an award for ‘Lifetime Achievement in Urban Winemaking’ from The East Bay Vintners Alliance in 2015.

One of the good guys. 



In the video below, Kent Rosenblum discusses the 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Sunday, September 2, 2018
by Cyril Penn | September 2, 2018 | 9:43 AM

Pinot Gris is the second most popular white wine in America besides Chardonnay, the number one imported white grape variety. More than twelve hundred U.S. wineries make Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio.

What if nine of the best producers of Pinot Gris were to share what they’re trying to achieve stylistically with specifics on how they manage their vineyards and winemaking processes to achieve their differing stylistic goals? What if they got into specific details on sorting, crush format, yeasts, nutrients, acid additions, fermentation vessels, fermentation temperature, racking, barrels, cold stability, filtration and more?

This could be the most extensive article ever done on Pinot Gris

The Pinot Gris Varietal Report is in the August 2018 Wine Business Monthly.

Check out these varietal focus reports:  

Varietal Focus: Cabernet Sauvignon

Varietal Focus: Sauvignon Blanc

Varietal Focus: Pinot Noir

Varietal Focus: Tempranillo

Varietal Focus: Chardonnay

Varietal Focus: Merlot

Varietal Focus: Rhône Blends

Varietal Focus: Rose 

Varietal Focus: Cabernet Franc

Varietal Focus: Red Wine Blends


Pinot Gris is grown throughout the world. In Germany it is known as Rulander, in Switzerland Malvoise, in Hungary Szürkebarat. Pinot Gris is grown in both the North and South of New Zealand. It is grown in California, Washington and, especially, Oregon, where since 2000, Pinot Gris has been the number one white grape variety grown in the state. David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards planted the first American Pinot Gris vines in 1966 and produced the first Oregon Pinot Gris in 1970. Richard and Nancy Ponzi, David Adelsheim and Don Lange were early proponents of the variety. In 1991 King Estate Winery brought Pinot Gris onto the national stage, and they now produce close to 250,000 cases annually.

Pinot Gris is usually produced as a varietal wine. It does best, quality-wise, in cool-climate areas. In warm regions or when it is over-cropped, it can produce bland, vapid wines. A fairly early ripener, it can be pretty vigorous. Depending on style and location, it can produce good quality fruit in the 3- to 5-tons per acre range. Flavors and aromas cover a wide spectrum, from lemon and lime citrus to stone fruit to floral blossom character. Oak is rarely used as a flavor component, but is often used in neutral forms, sometimes in conjunction with sur lie treatments and/or malolactic fermentations to increase mouthfeel and richness. Individual winemakers may leave a bit of residual sugar to balance acidity and increase palate weight. Because of its acidity, it lends itself to a wide range of foods.

For this varietal focus, we started in the Napa Valley, where the first question was, “Pinot Gris, why not Cabernet?” The obvious answer was, “We grow the Pinot Gris where the Cabernet does poorly.” Shawna Miller from Luna Vineyards attempted a cross between Old World and New World styles. Matt Reid from Benessere Vineyards wanted to retain citrus and melon character, but enhance it with tropical notes of passion fruit and lemon grass. The Terlato family almost single-handedly created the Pinot Grigio category by importing Santa Margherita from Italy. Now their Terlato Wine Group is based in Napa, but they still make their Pinot Grigio in Italy. Doug Fletcher, vice president of winemaking, says they attempted to make a wine that showed fruit, but with richness and balanced acidity.

Oregon is Pinot Gris country. We got some of the true pioneers to participate in this varietal focus. Luisa Ponzi of Ponzi Vineyards took her family’s old vine Pinot Gris and pushed it as far as she could texturally. Don Lange was also looking for texture when his Lange Estate Winery & Vineyards made the first Oregon Pinot Gris fermented in oak puncheons. King Estate Winery is the largest Pinot Gris producer in Oregon and winemaker Brent Stone said their Domaine effort is modelled in the Alsatian style. Corey Beyer said Archery Summit Winery used a concrete egg to create a mélange of the best styles in the world. Illahe Vineyards winemaker Brad Ford placed balance over aromatics for his Pinot Gris. Aaron Lieberman from Iris Vineyards tried to balance fruit and acidity to appeal to a broad audience. - Lance Cutler

Friday, July 6, 2018
by Eric Jorgensen | July 6, 2018 | 8:14 AM

Magareth Henriquez, CEO of Krug Champagne, shared lessons she has learned about how to market, communicate and sell luxury products at a recent gathering at the San Francisco Wine School. Ms. Henriquez described coming to Krug Champagne in 2008, the year of the Financial Crisis. Sales for Krug Champagne dropped 35 percent in 2008 and another 40 percent in 2009.

With a background in marketing Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), Ms. Henriquez tried to apply lessons she’d learned in marketing mass-market products.  She quickly discovered, however, that she could not market Krug like a mass-market product and had to change her approach.

A colleague suggested two books: Luxury Management by Jean-Noël Kapferer and V Bastien (English version of Luxe Oblige), and Luxe by Christian Blanckaert. After reading these books and studying all the information she could find about marketing luxury products, Ms. Henriquez learned that marketing luxury products has nothing to do with consumer need. Luxury brands almost always are tied to an individual, usually the founder, who goes beyond what others are doing with a particular product. She further realized that Krug's employees knew little about the founder's vision--the reason for being.  It is critical for the person marketing the brand to understand the vision and the dream of the person that founded the company and to communicate that dream and vision within the company and to the market.

With these insights, Ms. Henriquez started remaking the marketing at Krug. The first task was to do extensive research to find out as much as possible about Joseph Krug, the founder of Krug Champagne.

Joseph Krug was making champagne in the first half of the 19th century. In that time, the quality of the champagne produced each year varied greatly, depending on the quality of each year’s harvest. Joseph Krug’s dream was to produce a great champagne every year, regardless of the climate. Joseph Krug achieved his goal by fermenting wines separately from each vineyard and holding back some wines from individual vineyards from different years. These wines from previous harvests of different vineyards were then blended with the current year’s selected wines to create the fullest exression of champagne each year, resulting in a great champagne every year.

Another change made by Ms. Henriquez was to provide transparency in terms of composition of the blends.

To this end, she created the Krug ID. Each bottle of Krug is equipped with an ID Code on the back label that can be entered into the Krug website. When the ID Code is entered, detailed information about the blend is revealed. For instance, the ID Code for the bottle of Krug Grande Cuvee 160th edition is ID 214025. Entering this code on the Krug website shows the Grand Cuvee 160th edition is a blend of 121 wines from 12 years (the oldest, 1990; the most recent, 2004). The website also reveals the seasonal challenges that led to the 160th edition’s creation, with excerpts from cellar master Eric Lebel's notebooks.

Ms. Henriquez believes buyers of luxury products won’t buy luxury products they don’t understand. By communicating Joseph Krug's vision and providing transparency into how that vision is achieved with each new edition of the Grand Cuvee, as well as with every bottle of Krug, Ms. Henriquez has allowed her customers to understand Krug Champagnes. And they are buying it.


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