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January 16, 2018 | 5:36 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!

Bella Grace Vineyards
2016 3 Graces Blanc, Plymouth, CA
Inspiration Leads to Award-Winning White Blend

It was sage advice from an industry stalwart that tipped the Havill family off to the virtues of Amador County and a self-described “slippery slope” that led to the purchase of 20 acres of vines and the creation of Bella Grace Vineyards.

“We decided in late 2005 to go to the Vintner’s Holidays at the Ahwahnee, because Koerner Rombauer was going to be pouring his wine, and we loved his wine. We hit it off with him really well, and told him we were interested in purchasing a vineyard,” said Bella Grace co-founder and winemaker Michael Havill. She and her husband, Charlie, were looking to leave the corporate life and the Bay Area when they met Rombauer. “He told us, ‘Well, if you want to buy a vineyard, go to Amador County because you can get an affordable piece of property there: the grapes are great and the winemaking is getting better and better.’”

The full story on Bella Grace Vineyards ~ 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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