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January 10, 2018 | 6:20 AM

Every year, when Wine Business Monthly creates our annual list of 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.

When we set out to choose our Hot Brands, our goal is to always represent the American wine industry. Often, that means discovering a new winery in an established region while also paying homage to the stalwarts who continue to move the industry forward. It means we look at wineries in emerging states, that might be bucking a trend or trying new techniques. Our editors look for wines that are embodiments of national trends or have soaring sales. Sometimes we’ll choose the winemaker, not the wine.

Quite often, we end up with a couple of wines that were unexpected. During the search for a Pinot Noir, for example, we may discover a producer who is also making Tempranillo—and is doing such a good job of it, we adjust our plans to include it. We’re never quite sure how the list will turn out, but it’s a chance for us to explore new regions, varietals and winemakers.

In the end, this list is comprised of wines that we here at Wine Business Monthly would serve to winemakers. That’s exactly what we do, as representatives from each of these wineries were 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. Cheers!

Alexandria Nicole Cellars
2016 Viognier, Horse Heaven Hills, WA

Laundry Room Venture Turns Into DTC Powerhouse

In the late 1990s the Boyles purchased 200 acres of sage brush in the Horse Heaven Hills with no intent to start a winery, but in 1998 Jarrod started a vineyard with Syrah plantings and named the site Destiny Ridge Vineyard. As the years progressed, he planted more varieties, and in 2001 he made 240 cases of Viognier and Syrah just to have and share with friends. That decision didn’t stick: he found the fruit coming off the vines was too good to just sell off. Named for his wife’s first and middle names, Alexandria Nicole Cellars transformed from a laundry room operation into a commercial winery.

“The thought was just to use our own estate fruit, maybe 20 percent, and then sell the rest to wineries under contract. In the first two years we passed 5,000 cases,” said Jarrod. “Now, we’re close to 20,000 cases.”

The full story on Alexandria Nicole Cellars ~ and all our Hot Brands ~ will be available in our February 2018 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.

Taste all the Hot Brands at our Annual Bottle Bash, the night before the Unified Symposium.
Click here to register

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