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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.

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