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January 20, 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.


Sleight of Hand Cellars

2014 “The Conjurer” Red Blend
The Magic of Winemaking

Whether luck, intuition, knowledge or a combination of the three, the team at Sleight of Hand Cellars is making some stellar wine. Combining a love of music, magic and wine, Sleight of Hand knows that science should always come second to philosophy and artistry. As winemaker Trey Busch put it, “You should only know enough science not to screw it up.”

When Busch met Eric Dunham (the winemaker for Dunham Cellars) in 1998, he didn’t know that his world would be turned upside down. Through his friendship with Dunham, Busch found a way to escape his life as a buyer for Nordstrom in Seattle by moving to the Walla Walla Valley to become a cellar rat. At the time, Dunham Cellars was an emerging brand and, in exchange for informal winemaking lessons, Busch agreed to use his Nordstrom’s experience to help out on the sales and marketing side of the business.

The full story on Sleight of Hand 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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