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January 25, 2016 | 5:14 AM

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. Some of the common threads with this year’s list: people who had an idea, went for it and made it happen; industry veterans with vast experience doing something extra special on the side; and though this isn’t usually a drum we typically beat, some of the winemakers on this year’s list are proponents of what one might call “non-interventionist winemaking.”

Ultimately, this list is comprised of wines that we here at Wine Business Monthly would serve to winemakers. Indeed, that’s exactly what we do, as each of these wineries was on-hand to serve their wines to winemakers, grape growers and industry members at our annual Bottle Bash party at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in January.

We are releasing the Top 10 Hot Brands in alphabetical order, one per day, leading up to the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium (the first Hot Brand was released January 13). 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. 26 at cafeteria 15L.

Sonoma Collection, District 3 Wines

Sonoma County District 3 2013 Red Blend
Beyond Vineyard Management, a Unique Partnership

Ned Hill owns La Prenda Vineyards Management in Sonoma County, and Matt Stornetta is his operations manager. La Prenda farms more than 900 acres of estate properties for Parmelee-Hill Wines & Vineyards, Rams Gate Winery, Schug Carneros Estate, Nicholson Ranch, Hanna Winery, Roche Winery, Bennett Valley Cellars, Patz & Hall and many other independent growers.

In 2010 and 2011, with an oversupply of uncontracted grapes on the spot market, some growers opted to crush their wine, hang onto it and sell it later in bulk. It was a way of hedging, hanging onto the inventory to get a better price later.

Stornetta and Hill realized they needed to do more for grower clients than just manage their vineyards. Aside from helping them produce winemaking grapes, they could help them sell their grapes. They started helping their growers take unsold portions of their vineyards to make wine then sell it on the bulk market. By 2013, that service got them to thinking of a new way to work with growers. They took it a step further by releasing their own wines: They’d find a winemaker, secure a winery and make and market the wine themselves.

The resultant wines are called District 3, made by consulting winemaker Alex Beloz. There’s a Pinot Noir, unoaked Chardonnay and a Red Blend, which we’ve chosen as a Hot Brand. All three wines retail for less than $20, a choice the partners have actively made.

The full story on Sonoma Collection ~ and all our Hot Brands ~ will be available in our February 2016 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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