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Introducing the 2016 Top 10 Hot Brands -- 2014 Amatino Red Blend from Fujishin Family Cellars

January 11, 2017

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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