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Tuesday, April 5, 2016
April 5, 2016 | 3:34 PM

Across the newsdesk this week from Wine Institute:

Small Irrigation Pond Registration Program Bill Advances

On March 29, AB 1704 (Dodd) passed out of the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee on an 11-1 vote. Wine Institute is co-sponsoring this measure along with the California Association of Winegrape Growers. The bill aims to improve the Small Irrigation Pond Registration Program that was created by AB 964 (Huffman) in 2011, a measure Wine Institute co-sponsored along with Trout Unlimited. Specifically, AB 1704 would expand the Registration Program statewide and require the Department of Fish and Wildlife to adopt general conditions for registrations, rather than review them on a case-by-case basis as is done currently. There is no opposition to the measure, and it enjoys support from the Sonoma County Water Agency, the Association of California Water Agencies, the California Chamber of Commerce, CalTrout, and Trout Unlimited. The bill will next be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Thursday, March 24, 2016
March 24, 2016 | 1:58 PM

This infographic includes some highlights from a recent Wine Opinions report for industry executives.

The report, American Wine Generations, follows comprehensive surveys of high frequency wine drinkers across generations, as well as a “deep dive” into a respondent pool of about 1,400 Millennial wine drinkers.

The report basically does two things: It takes a look at who is buying wine and how they differ by generation, and, it puts a spotlight on millennials and differences in their attitudes toward wine based on age and gender. Millennials are divided into a subset of groups, older and younger, as half of them are now in their 30s, the other half are in their twenties.

The older cohort is pretty evenly split between male and female and has a predilection for red wine that is more likely to buy higher priced wines. With younger millennials, wine consumption is more female driven. Youngers millennials are more interested in canned wines and alternative packaging of all kinds, and so forth. Beyond that, there's a fair amount of nuance and detail on how older and younger millenials interact with and experience wine.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016
March 22, 2016 | 4:14 PM

Selected Recent Sales of Grapes & Wines in Bulk for March 22, 2016 courtesy of Turrentine Brokerage:

Bulk Wine

Pinot Noir 2014 wine, Paso Robles, 2,000 gallons at $15.00 per gallon

Merlot 2014 wine, Chalk Hill, 10,400 gallons at $15.00 per gallon

Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 wine, California, 25,000 gallons at $7.25 per gallon

Zinfandel 2014 wine, Lodi, 18,000 gallons at $6.50 per gallon

Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 wine, Paso Robles, 2,000 gallons at $21.00 per gallon



Chardonnay 2016 grapes, Sonoma Mountain, 60 tons at $2,100.00 per ton

Chardonnay 2016 grapes, Oakville, 55 tons at $2,300.00 per ton

Pinot Noir 2016 grapes, Yorkville Highlands, 55 tons at $2,300.00 per ton


Friday, March 18, 2016
March 18, 2016 | 8:59 AM

Versatile Tanks out of Australia sent us this cool infographic on How to Install a Concrete Tank.

A concrete tank has many uses for a domestic or commercial property: storage of water, storage of chemicals and dangerous goods, or a wine cellar are just some examples. With Versatile Tanks, there’s the extra benefit of the tanks being square and rectangular, rather than the traditional circular tanks that are on the market. Square tanks means you can have multiple concrete tanks installed next to each other, or they can be more easily installed underground. So if you need more storage space for your business or a wine cellar in your home but don’t want to sacrifice a room, then install a concrete tank underground and lay your driveway over the top.

For their full post, click here.

Friday, March 11, 2016
by Mary Jorgensen | March 11, 2016 | 4:07 PM

The 22nd Annual Central Coasts Insights, presented by Wine Industry Symposium Group, kicked off the event in Paso Robles, California, announcing Wine Business Monthly as its new steward. David Freed, founder of the forum and chairman of The Silverado Group, introduced WBM president Eric Jorgensen to the audience of over 150 attendees. Jorgensen said the company intends to continue working on the event with Kathy Archer, president of Wine Industry Symposium Group along with program coordinator Waunice Orchid and program director Lisa Adams Walter.

Here are some of the highlights of the event:

Freed presented the results of the Insights Survey, which included information on the challenges facing the region: finding grapes at a good price, good land, import competition, environmental and labor costs and water—especially in light of the recent defeat of the area’s water bill. He went on to detail how the market has hit a “sweet spot,” as evidenced by mergers and acquisitions of wineries and vineyards by some of the big industry players including Constellation Brands, E&J Gallo and The Wine Group.

Three prominent Central Coast lenders, Rabobank senior vice president Matthew Allen, Farm Credit West vice president David Leal and Umpqua Bank senior vice president Mark Pearce, were generally bullish on the Central Coast and detailed what they look for in making loans—with specific emphasis on business plans that are prepared for the economic cycle, especially during down times.

Gary Eberle, owner of Eberle Winery; Peter Byck, president and CEO of WX; and Josh Beckett, owner of Chronic Cellars talked about mergers and acquisitions with moderator Mario Zepponi, principal of Zepponi & Company.

A seminar looked at the Central Coast bulk wine and grape market, and was hosted by Turrentine Brokerage broker Audra Cooper and bulk wine broker William Goebel. The speakers for this session were Don Brady, winemaker for Robert Hall and owner of Brady Vineyards; Bruce Jordan, vineyard manager for Reserve Vineyard Management; Andy Mitchell, director of viticulture for Hahn Family Wines and Scott Williams, vineyard manager of Pacific Vineyard Company.

Winemaker Steve Clifton, owner of Palmina Wines, talked about how he applies his early experience blending music as a DJ to blending his wine today. In the afternoon, The Paso Robles Wine County Alliance Executive Director Jennifer Porter presented the results of the Economic Impact Study.

Brenden Wright, business development manager for John Sutak Risk Services and Elizabeth Fitch, founding partner of Righi Fitch Law Group offered advice on how to protect wineries from fraud and cyber crime. Rae Ann Paulson, assurance services senior manager from Moss Adams gave tips to protect wineries from embezzlement, and internal crime.

Moderator Doug Wilson, vice president of winery relations for the Silverado Investment Group, led a presentation on Central Coast grape prices featuring Lise Asimont, director of grower relations at Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Wayne Donaldson, winemaker at Josh Cellars and Melissa Stackhouse, director of winemaking at Meiomi.

Rounding out the event was Larry Schaffer, owner and winemaker for Tercero Wine who spoke on how to survive as a very small fish in a very big pond.

Audience questions concluded the event and touched on the importance of sustainability and the increased costs of sustainability to the Central Coast. The attendees present seemed to agree that sustainability in business practices on the Central Coast is the norm now and any costs must be factored in pricing
“As Kermit says,” noted winemaker Don Brady, “it’s not easy just being green.”

Wine Business Monthly will hold its Central Coast show, WiVi, next week on March 15-16 at the Paso Robles Fairgrounds. For more information, go to

Monday, March 7, 2016
March 7, 2016 | 4:00 PM

With grape tonnage of key grape varieties down by as much as 30 percent, Central Coast winemakers are making adjustments. They’re bottling wine from previous vintages, purchasing bulk wine (although the market for bulk wine is tight), and in certain cases they anticipate raising prices. Central Coast growers, meanwhile, are focusing on vineyard redevelopment, and despite recent wet weather, winemakers and growers alike are concerned about water, or about the lack thereof.

Those are some of the key themes that emerged in the 2016 Central Coast Insights Survey.

Results of the survey are to be presented during the 22nd annual Central Coast Insights Event Thursday in Paso Robles.


Water availabilty was cited as the greatest concern for Central Coast winemakers.



Concerns about costs are second only to water, and that includes grape prices. Grape prices are going up but bottle prices – that’s harder to say.



Distributor consolidation is one of the themes to  be discussed and it arguably has a disproportionate effect on the Central Coast’s small and medium sized producers. For a number of years the Central Coast Insights program has included some discussion of direct to consumer wine sales.

That said, if one looks at recent mergers and acquisitions activity on the Central Coast, one can see that the big have been getting bigger during the past five years.

The symposium focusses on the financial side of the business so the survey asks about lenders. The survey seems to indicate that there is capital available and that wineries and growers are relatively happy with their lenders.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016
March 1, 2016 | 9:00 AM

During the Regional IPM Centers' multi-speaker webinar on red blotch disease, organized by regional IPM centers last Friday, UCD and USDA-ARS Researchers Dr. Brian Bahder, Dr. Mysore "Sudhi" Sudarshana and Dr. Frank Zalom reported their discovery of three-cornered alfalfa treehopper as a likely vector to transmit red blotch associated virus (GRBaV).

There are still many questions, as to for instance, whether other insects are involved in spreading Red Blotch and as to what growers should do to manage the vector in their vineyards?

Red Blotch and these new findings will be one of the topics discussed during tomorrow's Wine Business Innovation and Quality symposium in Napa Valley. IQ 2016 takes place at Charles Krug Winery in Napa Valley. 

Dr. Alan Wei, owner and president of Agri-Analysis and leading expert on Red Blotch, will speak about the different strains of the virus, what that means for your vineyard's yield and quality, and the most practical way to deal with it. You can read some of his research in the August 2014 issue of Wine Business Monthly.

Halter Ranch Winery winemaker Kevin Sass will lead attendees through a comparative tasting, pouring wines made from infected and non-infected vines to demonstrate that Red Blotch does affect quality.

by Cyril Penn | March 1, 2016 | 8:30 AM

I finally had a chance to check out the new JCB tasting salon, retail destination and gourmet deli Jean-Charles Boisset opened across from Bistro Jeanty in Yountville. It really is a must-see destination for tourists, locals and the trade. This is going to be huge.



So many tasting rooms in Napa these days look like they came right out of a Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware catalogue. The whole modern farmhouse thing is way overdone. Not here. This destination brings Fifth Avenue and the Champs-Elysees together. First and foremost it’s about the wine tasting but picture a little mini-Neiman Marcus paired with a deli stocked with heretofore impossible-to-find delicacies and sandwiches.

A retail boutique showcases candles, perfumes, and a curated collection of luxury goods such as Lalique crystal, Baccarat crystal, Christofle silver, and Bernardaud porcelain. A separate space, the “Surrealist Boutique,” features Jean-Charles’s personally-designed jewelry and Surrealist wines: Each bottle is adorned with jewelry.



One of the highlights is a first-of-its-kind interactive wine tasting experience at a digital touch table created exclusively for the tasting salon. It’s the first interactive wine tasting table in the wine industry, created by Ideum. The table guides the curious through a tasting enabling the guests to interact with each other. It is touch interactive with tech sheets tasting notes, and so forth. Once everyone is seated coasters are set along the corners of the table. Tasters are alerted to the wines they’ll be trying and are propelled to the town of Yountville and a recording of Jean-Charles talking. There are descriptor words on the back of each wine. Tasters are asked to answer the question, what’s your style? They have the opportunity to assign their own descriptor words to drag and drop for each wine. At the end of the tasting, a dashboard confirms their style and the words they assigned to it. Boisset says another table in development will handle eight people and will be all about food, wine, fashion and music.



Check out the painted ceilings and chandeliers.

Jean-Charles Boisset likes to use mirrors at his properties and there are many, even on the ceiling. “We love mirrors because they allow you to see things in multiple ways, see yourself in multiple ways, and – on top of that it makes the room bigger,” he says.




As for the food, Atelier by JCB, the gourmet deli adjacent to the tasting salon, includes products sourced locally in Napa and Sonoma alongside producers from France, Italy, Spain and more: salts, peppers and spices, mustards, honey, olive oil and vinegar from Boisset’s winery estates, smoked salmon, caviar, anchovies, truffles, foie gras, terrines, charcuterie, more than 120 cheeses, chocolate, specialty teas and coffees. A great place for a sandwich too.

Locals get  a flat 10 percent discount.

“We want this place to really celebrate the senses,” Boisset says. We don’t want to just be a tasting room where you sit, and you’ve been hit by five wines and we want you to join the club and that’s it. We are of course interested in bringing more members into our collection of wines, but we want people to be inspired by the books, by the fabrics, by the arts.”

There’s a little bondage display in the Surrealist Boutique too, though you have to look for it. Boisset said it’s the only piece not for sale though he could have sold it numerous times already, a little item he picked up during a morning jog through Beverly Hills







Cookies from Paris. 

“We aren’t interested in doing anything average,” Boisset said.

Sunday, February 28, 2016
February 28, 2016 | 11:16 AM

The "second phase" in Domaine Drouhin's Oregon legacy is about to launch: The first wines from the company's 2013 purchase of the Roserock vineyard will be released this week.

Winemaker Veronique Drouhin, who accepted the Founders Award (which honors people whose longtime work in and for the industry has positively affected the direction and accomplishments of Oregon wine) on behalf of her family last week at the Oregon Wine Symposium, was excited about the future of the brand.

The Drouhin family purchased the Roserock vineyard in 2013, inheriting 279 acres, 122 of which were planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, though Veronique had purchased fruit from the estate in prior vintages.

"We knew the Eola-Amity Hills AVA makes delicious wines and knew the vineyard was well-planted, had high quality and produced excellent wines," said Drouhin. "We were lucky we were chosen as the buyers."

Drouhin said that after a long discussion process, the team decided that the wines needed their own label separate from Domaine Drouhin's. Drawing on the name of the vineyard and the flavors of the wines themselves, the new label incorporates a rose for the 2014 Pinot Noir and a rock for the 2014 Chardonnay. A small amount of a reserve Pinot Noir, named Zephirine after the Zephirine Drouhin rose which grows on the property, will be available.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016
February 10, 2016 | 4:00 PM

The California Agricultural Statistics Service released the preliminary 2015 crop report today, confirming that yields fell in 2015 after the record harvests of 2012, 2013 and 2014. CASS said the 2015 wine grape crush totaled 3.7 million tons, down 5 percent from 2014 – the lightest crop since 2011. The overall figure was right in line with industry estimates.

Here are ten takeaways from the preliminary report:

1) It was a tale of two markets: Prices rose in the Coastal areas, as expected, but average prices fell state-wide

CASS said the average price for all varieties was $667.31, down ten percent from 2014, even if prices were higher in Coastal areas, The decrease in overall price was driven by lower demand for grapes from the Central Valley, where 79 percent of California’s wine grapes were crushed in 2015.

“We thought (pricing) would be off 5 percent overall, but being off 10 percent from last year was disappointing,” Allied Grape Growers President Nat Dibuduo said.

2) The above $10 category is growing, yet that’s where yields were short

With Coastal Cabernet and Pinot Noir yields down, wineries could find themselves scrambling to keep up with price increases.

“The real story from the 2015 winegrape crush remains the shortness of the coastal crop and respective varieties grown heavily in those regions, such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon,” Allied Grape Growers said in a statement.

Because of poor weather during bloom, grape cluster weights were down in Sonoma County, adversely affecting Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in particular. Brian Clements from Turrentine Brokerage noted that Sonoma County Pinot Noir was down 36 percent off of the five year average, and that Sonoma Chardonnay down 27 percent.

“We had a light crop where we needed it most,” Steve Dorfman of the Ciatti Company said. “It’s like the old Randy VanWarmer song, Just when I Needed you Most. Where we needed the volume was on the Coast and we didn’t get it.”

3) Premium brands May see Challenges Meeting Supply Requirements

Premium brands that were built on larger harvests, 12, 13, 14, with coastal appellations were sometimes challenged to secure supply during the 2014 harvest. “We feel this harvest is a bellwether event to determine how and where these brands go forward from here,” Dorfman said.

4) The Lighter Crop is Helping Balance the Market

Industry observers expected to see a lighter crop in Coastal areas and a more “normal” sized crop in the interior and the report confirms that’s what happened.

“We knew the lighter crop had balanced people’s inventories out because of the way they came back to the market in the second half of the year,” Turrentine Brokerage president Steve Fredricks said. “The bulk wine market picked up for the varieties that were most in demand: Cabernet Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir in Coastal areas.”

5) Chardonnay Down by 6 Million Cases

On a negative or positive note, depending on one’s perspective, 2015 brought the lightest crop of Chardonnay since 2011, down 11.8 percent – equivalent to six million cases. “This is helping to erase the last few years of surplus, especially in the coastal regions, so it really brings Chardonnay back into balance,” Ciatti’s Dorfman noted.

6) Napa is its Own Thing

Napa is really its own thing, driven by Cabernet Sauvignon, where the district average price rose to a whopping $6,244 a ton – a $400 per ton, or 7.5 percent increase while overall Cab tonnage in Napa fell by 29.8 percent (Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon tonnage fell down 29.1 percent while prices rose 4.9 percent, averaging $2,642 per ton).

7) Sauvignon Blanc is Tight

Sauvignon Blanc is in demand, though the overall volume crushed fell by 20 percent. In Napa and Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc was down 28 and 30 percent respectively. Wineries in those regions have been sourcing additional grapes from Lake County and Mendocino, where demand also outstrips supply.

8) More Pinot Grigio Coming Online

The most recent Allied Grapegrowers nursery survey found that Pinot grigio was the white grape that was most planted last year.

Pinot Grigio yields increased by about two percent statewide with new acreage coming online. Additional plantings may be needed: imports continue to come from Australia, Italy and Chile.

9) Tonnage was flat in the northern interior part of the state.

“Northern Interior production was 2 percent down from last year, bolstered by new acres and a better Chardonnay crop than 2014,” Erica Moyer, with Turrentine Brokerage said.

10) The short harvest wasn’t drought related

When people talk about the crop being down in coastal areas such as Paso Robles, there may be concerns about drought. “Our feeling in looking at the harvest and the season leading up to it is that it was probably more set-related than drought-related,” Dorfman said.


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