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by Rachel Nichols | January 21, 2011 | 11:10 AM

Wine Business Monthly has identified today's most exciting top 10 brands from small and medium-sized wineries during 2010 in our upcoming February issue. We gravitate toward wineries and brands that represent market trends or innovation, that take a leadership position in their regions, or that make unusual varietals or unexpected wines. There are some larger wineries on the list now, as well.

We will also be serving the top 10 chosen brands at our Unified Symposium Bottle Bash party on January 25 at the Pyramid Brewery in Sacramento, California. The party starts at 5, and the winemakers for these brands will be in attendance.

We began releasing our list on our blog on Monday and will release one brand at a time each day. Here is number 6:


Salinia Wine Company is a small winery that was launched by Kevin and Jennifer Kelley in 2003 when they started making small quantities of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from vineyards on the Sonoma Coast. With an annual production of less than 300 cases, Salinia is only available through a mailing list available to a few select restaurants.

Kevin Kelley also makes wine for Lioco, a somewhat larger brand that produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a red blend.

The Natural Process Alliance (NPA) is another project Kelley started in 2008 and total production is just 700 cases.

NPA says it’s dedicated to “responsible farming, minimalistic winemaking and transparency for consumers.” The wines are only available within 100 miles of the Santa Rosa, California, winery and the packaging is most unusual: wines are delivered in canteens and kegs only. This is also the first winery we are aware of to pour all of its wines in the tasting room via kegs—the wines are on tap.

NPA sources its grapes from organic and biodynamic vineyards with zero additions, and sulphites are added only if necessary. Customers include Chez Panisse, Out The Door, Aziza, Arlequin, NOPA and SCOPA restaurants.

The sales and marketing guy at NPA alliance wears many hats. It’s a small company, so he helps out in the cellar too. His name is Hardy Wallace, and he’s a wine blogger many of our readers have heard of.

Wallace was the winner of a contest to win a dream job blogging about wine for Murphy Goode winery. When the Murphy Goode job wound down, Wallace joined NPA, though his relationship with Kevin Kelley pre-dates the Murphy Goode job.

“We want to provide unmessed-with wine that’s delicious,” says Wallace. “This is something that people don’t have the ability to taste very often, young wines that really haven’t gone through the rigors of winemaking but that also come from organic or biodynamic vineyards, with no additions in the winemaking process. The idea is to get something fresh that you can only have here.”

For more 2010 Hot Brands, see:

WBM Hottest Small Brand Number 10: Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards

WBM Hottest Small Brand Number 9: WillaKenzie Estate

WBM Hottest Small Brand Number 8: Persimmon Creek Vineyards

WBM Hottest Small Brand Number 7: Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves

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