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Thursday, January 18, 2018
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
 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018
January 17, 2018 | 5:43 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!


Parrish Family Vineyard

2013 Petite Sirah, Paso Robles, CA
Trellis Expert Builds Family’s Ag Legacy with Winery

David Parrish’s story starts with his grandfather, Earl Henderson, and continues to this day with a winery and trellising company on the Central Coast. A self-professed explorer, Parrish is no stranger to the vineyard—from a young age he began working with his grandfather, who had a golf course and 740-acre vineyard in Atascadero. Today he is widely heralded for pioneering 24 new trellising systems.

The full story on Parrish Family Vineyard ~ 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
 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018
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
 

Monday, January 15, 2018
January 15, 2018 | 5:32 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!

Band of Vintners
2015 Consortium Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, CA
Collaboration at the Heart of Affordable, Enjoyable Napa Cab

In households across the country, oenophiles gather together to taste wines. Some are more systematic about the tastings than others, such as participants preparing to take their Master Sommelier or Master of Wine exams and are rigorous in their tasting notes and process. Some gatherings are much more informal: just a group of friends hanging out and trying wines from a new variety or region for the fun of it. And sometimes, it’s a group of winemakers honing their craft, learning new techniques and processes from each other, going over the latest vintage or release.
One such tasting group turned into a winemaking project.

Band of Vintners was born from a seven-member tasting group, each member with a unique wine knowledge base and hailing from across Napa County: Stephane Vivier, a winemaking consultant from Vivier Wines and winemaker for Hyde de Villaine; Cameron Hobel, owner of Hobel Wines in Napa; Brennan Anderson, vice president of marketing and partner at Folio Fine Wine Partners; Jason Heller, a Master Sommelier and vintner at Scale Wine Group, with stints at Harlan Estates and Promontory; Barrett Anderson, associate winemaker at Jackson Family Wines; Mark Porembski, winemaker and owner of Zeitgeist, and winemaker at Anomaly Vineyards and Lost Cellars; and Dan Petroski, winemaker at Larkmead Vineyards.

The full story on Band of Vintners ~ 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
 

Friday, January 12, 2018
January 12, 2018 | 6:29 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!

Ankida Ridge Vineyard
2014 Pinot Noir, Amherst, VA
Pinot Noir Defies Humidity, Frost

On the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Christine and Dennis Vrooman decided to purchase some property and settle down among the rugged mountains and oaks, eventually choosing to make the site their home. In 2005, they picked a spot at the top of the hill on which to build. But when the excavator came by to clear a spot for the contractors, he didn’t exactly follow the plan.

The Vroomans were understandably upset when the excavator took it upon himself to clear an additional 2 acres below the house site, intending it to be for a nice yard or provide a clearer view—they’re still not sure why. It prompted a running discussion over the next couple of years as the family tried to determine what to do with all the extra space, said their son, Nathan.

At first, they thought a Christmas tree farm sounded nice or even some maple trees. But the family was interested in the booming Virginia wine scene, which was really garnering some attention among locals back in the mid-2000s, he said. “It was starting to pick up momentum, and they decided to give it a shot,” said Nathan Vrooman, winemaker at Ankida Ridge Vineyard, so they decided to move forward with a vineyard project.

The full story on Ankida Ridge Vineyard ~ 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

Thursday, January 11, 2018
January 11, 2018 | 3:00 PM

Jon Moramarco, Editor and Partner with Gomberg Fredrickson & Associates, hosted a webinar today, reviewing recent wine market trends, much of it in detail. Some of the broad findings: Wine sales continue to grow, albeit not as quickly as they did last year; there are challenges in collecting industry sales data because consumers are increasingly shopping in channels that aren’t easy to measure;  Using Colorado as a test case, it appears that Marijuana legalization isn't having much of an effect on wine, beer, or spirits consumption.

Wine Sales are growing, they’re just not growing as quickly

While the numbers are preliminary and include end-of-the-year projections, 2017 U.S. wine shipments rose 1.3 percent in 2017, reaching 403 million cases, compared to a growth rate of 2.7 percent in 2016.

Total alcoholic beverage volumes were down 0.4 percent. While wine volumes grew 1.3 percent and value rose 3 percent, the increases were less than 2016's increases of 5.8 percent and 2.6 percent growth in volume and value.

“Overall, 2017 was slightly softer than 2016 in terms of growth when you look at total traditional wines,” he said.



Moramarco released data indicating consumer expenditures on beer, wine and spirits reached $241 billion in 2017, compared to $235.5 billion in 2016.

The chart below puts the growth in perspective. The current growth trend of the California wineries started with the French Paradox presentation by 60 Minutes in the early 1990s. It shows the trends of shipment growth with traditional wines. It’s grown consistently. Over the last 25 years, wine sales have grown 2.9 percent on an annual basis.



Channel Shifting 

Jon Moramarco said it appears consumers are shifting some purchase decisions, shopping more in club stores and discount retailers such as Trader Joe's, and less in traditional grocery stores that are captured in scanner data. He said growth in direct to consumer shipments has outpaced the growth of total retail sales.

There are 240 million adults in the U.S. of legal drinking age. The Wine Market Council has been tracking who those consumers are and has shown that about 35 million people or about 15 percent of that 240 million drink 85 percent of the wine that's sold. “Obviously, it’s only a sub-segment of these legal drinking age adults that most wines are sold to,” Moramarco said. “The opportunities are in making sure we understand who that sub-segment is that drinks most of the wine, and then where the opportunity is to increase the number of frequent wine consumers.”

Marijuana legalization probably not going to have much of an effect on wine consumption.

Amid questions about what's going to happen with wine shipments because of cannabis legalization, Moramarco looked at Colorado sales data going back to 2005. Colorado had a state amendment allowing medical marijuana use in 2000, established a medical marijuana code in 2010, and legalized it in 2014.

According to the data, Colorado represented 1.83 percent of total wine servings in the U.S. in 2005. By 2013, prior to legalization of marijuana, it was 1.89 percent. Today, it's 1.99 percent. Moramarco correlated population figures and total servings of alcoholic beverages. Data shows that in 2005, the total population of Colorado was drinking about 19 percent more servings of beverage alcohol than an increase in the population would justify. When marijuana was legalized at the end of 2013, those consumers were drinking 18 percent more, and today they're drinking 20 percent more.

“If you want to use facts for what's going to happen with cannabis, and this says to me that Colorado is a good test case" ... "It probably is not going to be a big impact on wine consumption or beverage alcohol consumption," Moramarco said. 

by Kerana Todorov | January 11, 2018 | 1:00 PM

Hal Huffsmith, who retired from Trinchero Family Estates in June after more than four decades with the company, is now a temporary staff member at Fresno State, his alma mater. Trinchero’s retired senior vice president is about to start a new semester as “Viticulture and Enology Industry Liaison” — a temporary, non-teaching position.

One of Huffsmith’s main tasks is to help the school, which has not had a Department of Viticulture and Enology chair for the past two years, maintain ties with the wine industry. The job also entails guiding new faculty members, seeking new sources of funding, and helping students find internships and build their resumes. Huffsmith is also helping the school recruit new faculty, including a new department chair and a director of viticulture and research. His appointment is through June.

“It’s been a wonderful opportunity,” said Huffsmith, who divides his time between Fresno and his home in Napa.

Over the years, Huffsmith, Class of 1970, has maintained strong ties with Fresno State, located only 30 miles from his hometown of Tulare. His appointment through the Fresno State Foundation came after he served for years on the university’s Viticulture and Enology Industry Advisory Board.

“It was an easy decision to make on my part,” said Sandra Witte, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, who appointed Huffsmith to his position in November.

Huffsmith, who also has a master’s degree in Ag Economics from Cornell, has been impressed with the students he has met on campus, many of whom juggled harvest jobs with classroom work. “These guys are the next generation,” he noted.

Cynthia Wood, viticulture and enology outreach and events coordinator, has worked with Huffsmith to organize workshops and to invite industry members to speak at the school.

“We’re glad to have him,” Wood said.

The semester resumed today.

In May, Huffsmith was honored for his service on the board of directors of the American Vineyard Foundation. The organization raises money for research in viticulture and enology.

January 11, 2018 | 6:24 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!

 

Amista Vineyards
NV Sparkling Grenache, Dry Creek Valley, CA
Touting the Joys of Celebrating Non-Occasions with Bubbles

Sparkling wine isn’t just for celebrations anymore.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t be drinking sparkling on a momentous occasion or for holidays—if you ask Vicky Farrow and Ashley Herzberg, we should be drinking it every day of the year. Maybe they’re a little biased—they’re in charge of the sparkling wine program at Amista Vineyards, tucked away along Sonoma County’s famed Dry Creek Road—but it does sound like they’re onto something big.

The full story on Amista 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

Wednesday, January 10, 2018
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
 

Friday, December 22, 2017
December 22, 2017 | 2:16 PM

A reader comments on this post 

Am I the only one that is worried that the TTB will interpret this new regulation to allow only wines that were actually produced by the winery that removes the wine to be eligible for the new credits? The language specifically says "Produced and Removed". This is the same language that has been interpreted as disallowing wines that were transferred to warehouses and removed by the warehouse, when the winery that holds title didn't actually produce the wines inside the bottle, making most, if not all, wines removed by the warehouses ineligible for the credit. This will cause massive disruption in the existing system of wine distribution for small, medium and large wine companies. I for one am not advising any clients on what I think the tax implications will be for January 2018 until I see what the TTB has to say next week. Of course, we only have three weeks to sort this out before the first semi-monthly period ends on January 15th. I for one am very concerned.

Liz Holtzclaw,
PrincipalHoltzclaw Compliance

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