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January 18, 2018 | 5:45 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!

Stewart Cellars
2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Carneros, CA
Second Generation Takes Opportunity to Experiment Beyond Cab

Winemaking runs in the Stewart family. When patriarch Michael Stewart decided to leave the computer engineering business in Texas, he “retired” to California wine country to start his own winery. “He loved wine and, as you do, you come out to California and you find the one winemaker you love and it happened to be Paul Hobbs at the time,” said his daughter Caroline Stewart. “My dad came out here, he tracked down Paul Hobbs, he got Hobbs to agree to make some wine for him and so it was born.”

Paul Hobbs proved to be essential in the creation and duration of Michael Stewart’s “hobby,” Stewart Cellars. Caroline started working for Hobbs in his own winery in 2009, learning from him for two years before joining the family outfit in 2011. It was while she was an intern at CrossBarn Winery that she met her husband, Blair Guthrie. Guthrie now runs Stewart Cellars’ winemaking program, with Hobbs serving as consultant.


Photo by Rebecca Chotkowski

The full story on Stewart 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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