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Tuesday, January 30, 2018
January 30, 2018 | 1:27 PM

I am reaching out about the story that was included in today’s Wine Business newsletter about our client, Cuvaison Estate Wines. Since the Cuvaison team wasn’t able to provide a statement before the story was printed, we would like to share with you the following statement from Dan Zepponi, the president and CEO of Cuvaison Estate Wines. 

“We are saddened by these untrue accusations. We are a company that believes deeply in fair hiring practices, and our team, including our direct-to-consumer staff, is made up of people of all ages and various backgrounds. This diversity is a valued part of our company culture, and any claims to the contrary are false. While we are unfortunately limited in what we can say due to the pending litigation, we are eager to challenge these baseless claims in court.”

Thank you, again,
Miriam Pitt
J.A.M. PR

January 30, 2018 | 11:00 AM

A news item about the settlement of John Duarte’s long-running legal battle with the Army Corp of Engineers that appeared on page 10 in the print edition of the October 2017 Wine Business Monthly contained an inaccuracy. The article reported that the case began “when a representative of the Army Corps of Engineers found him tilling land to depths of 5 to 6 feet.” The error here lies in the use of the word “found” – our editors should have used another word, such as “accused.” We also could have provided more context. While the news item still appears in our archives via the digital edition, that sentence has been deleted.

Back in the winter of 2012, when Duarte was plowing a field to plant wheat, a project manager from the local office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for enforcing the Clean Water Act, was driving by as Duarte's field was being plowed. He decided that the land was being tilled too deeply and claimed to have observed "deep ripping," which is not allowed because it can destroy wetlands. The Corps then sent Duarte a cease-and-desist letter.

Duarte always contended the project manager was mistaken, and that rather than admit the mistake, the government had doubled down, leading to millions of dollars in legal costs. As reported by Wine Industry Insight, the contention “was disputed by Duarte, his contractor, expert witnesses and even by a photo on the cover of one of the government expert witness reports."

What makes the error in the October issue especially frustrating is that John Duarte was selected as one of the industry’s Top 50 Leaders in the December 2017 Wine Business Monthly because he stood up to the Army Corp of Engineers in this case, a case that many saw as an example of government overreach. Duarte was recognized, not only for his role as one of the leading providers of planting material/grapevines, but for standing up for farmer’s rights by holding firm in the legal case.

We regret the error.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018
January 23, 2018 | 5:55 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!

Winery Sixteen 600
2016 Sixteen 600 Rosé Steel Plow Vineyard,
Sonoma, CA
Making Serious Rosé Fun

Rosé may be hot right now but don’t confuse Phil Coturri’s Steel Plow Vineyard Rosé of Grenache for a wine made to jump on the trend’s bandwagon.

Phil Coturri has spent a lifetime in wine. He made his first wine back in 1963 at the age of 11, making wine with his father. At 14, he and his father planted a vineyard, which still exists to this day. In 1979, they added a bonded winery that Coturri and his brother ran for around 30 years before philosophical differences over what wine should be helped him make the decision to start his own outfit. Winery Sixteen 600, based on Moon Mountain in Sonoma, California, is all about place: its name is quite literally its address.

The full story on Winery Sixteen 600 ~ 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 22, 2018
January 22, 2018 | 5:52 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!

Vidon Vineyard
2015 EXPLORER Tempranillo, Newburg, OR
Exploring Space and Terroir

Science meets art at Vidon Vineyard, a boutique winery just outside of Newburg, Oregon: It’s helmed by two Ph.D.s who believe in site-specific wines and true expressions of the land. Vidon was founded by Don Hagge, Ph.D. and former NASA physicist, an explorer in his own right. “I like to tinker around with stuff. I always try to find ways to make things more efficient and to have fun,” he said.

The full story on Vidon 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

Friday, January 19, 2018
January 19, 2018 | 5:49 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!

Syncline Winery
2016 Picpoul, Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley, WA
Unique Topography Meets Unique Grape

There’s a geology term for the downward fold or valley created in a trough of stratified rock in which the beds dip toward each other from either side: the syncline. These rock formations can be found the world over, though some have become well-known in their own right, like The Catlins in New Zealand or the Powder River Basin in Wyoming.
In Washington’s Columbia Gorge, a series of eruptions created the Columbia River Basalt Group, which formed a series of synclines and anticlines (ridges) in the Columbia Basin. One such series is known by geologists as the “Bingen Syncline” and by locals as the “Coyote Wall,” named for the steep, 1,800-foot basalt cliffs that reach up and out of the Columbia River. The formation provides a breathtaking backdrop for a vineyard and winery sitting in the syncline.

These features provide the name for Syncline Wine Cellars, based in Lyle, Washington on the eastern edge of the Columbia Gorge AVA. The winery was founded by James and Poppie Mantone, a husband and wife team who met while working the cellar at LaVelle Vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

The full story on Syncline Winery ~ 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 18, 2018
by Erin Kirschenmann | January 18, 2018 | 5:23 PM

1. 2017 was a year of shipping enforcement

Steve Gross, vice president of state relations for the Wine Institute, is a fixture at the Direct to Consumer Wine Symposium. In his annual State of the States address, he reviewed all the bills, new legislation and lawsuits that changed the DTC shipping landscape in 2017.

Pushed by wholesalers, state legislators are paying attention to the common carriers—FedEx and UPS—as a measure of compliance. For now, most of the attention has been focused on retailers. While wineries can ship directly into 44 states, retailers can ship into a handful.—and even some states are challenging those rules. Michigan, Arizona, Illinois and New York are leading that wave.

Cease and desist letters continue to be sent in vast numbers to retailers and wineries who aren’t following procedure, have the correct permits or do not pay adequate taxes. Gross emphasized that now is the right time to assess any and all shipping policies, and check in with third-party providers, such as fulfillment houses, who are assisting in your shipping efforts.

“Being in compliance with state rules is going to be a big part of direct shipping going forward,” he said.

2. It’s not enough to have a website—it must be optimized

In the “Home Sweet Homepage” breakout session, panelists Taylor Eason of Cork and Fork Digital Media and Martial Chaput of Newtimer Marketing led attendees through free and easy tools to use to make winery websites search engine and user friendly. Keywords, re-targeted ads and an integrated web strategy are key to an effective online DTC strategy.

Perhaps the greatest takeaway from the session was that a beautiful website means nothing if it doesn’t appear “above the fold” on a Google Search. Understand your customer, understand how they search for new wines, understand your winery’s top goal for its website and build the site around those three factors.

3. Branding and brand messaging must remain authentic

Whether building a brand from scratch or re-invigorating an existing company, it’s important to understand the core values on which it was founded and what the winery stands for—and acknowledge it. Nate Belden led attendees through the creation of his brand, Belden Barns, and how he maintains the family farm, old barnyard tasting feel, even when holding a dinner in New York City. Steve Tamburelli of Clos du Val Winery in Stag’s Leap spoke to the challenges and frustrations of trying to bring a decades-old brand back to its roots after drifting rather far from its original intention and business plan. Clay Gregory of Visit Napa Valley detailed the struggles of maintaining the Napa Valley Brand after two natural disasters in three years, while still remaining respectful of those who lost lives, homes and businesses. And acknowledging the 5,000-pound gorilla in the room, Claudia Vecchio discussed how the Nevada Tourism Board created a brand story and marketed the state—outside of Las Vegas.

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
 

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