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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.

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