All posts filed under: California

Twelve months of bubbles

From Asti to Champagne, bubbles were a bright spot in 2017.  While sparkling wine is no longer confined to special occasions, it continues to mark some of life’s most memorable occasions and its charm can elevate the most mundane moments. For many, 2017 was a year of exuberant highs and abysmal lows which made living in the moment and being grateful for predictable things like the quality of a DOCG Prosecco from Cartizze or the toasty aromas of a Champagne aged on the lees for a decade all the easier. Here’s a look at what I discovered about bubbles during 2017’s twelve months of tastings. January began with a traditional sparkling toast courtesy of the Boisset Collection whose exceptional Buena Vista “La Victoire” Champagne ($50) honors the history of Sonoma’s Buena Vista winery, the first to introduce méthode traditionelle sparkling wine to California in the 19th-century. “La Victoire” is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir from Premier Cru vineyards from the Montagne de Reims, and 30% Chardonnay mostly from Grand Cru Mesnil sur Oger and Chouilly. The wine …

Incredible bulk: The changing nature of the international bulk wine market is creating opportunities

It’s estimated that roughly 25 percent of the world’s wine production is sold as bulk wine, a segment that’s described by one broker as the industry’s “soft underbelly” and exists for most consumers in the form of virtual brands. With the rise in popularity of bulk wine-derived, private label brands (brands developed for retailers, hotel chains, and restaurants, which sell them directly to consumers) and more producers entering the market in recent years, bulk wine has shed its low-rent image and become a hot commodity. With a healthy 6 percent annual growth rate for the last six years—and no signs of lagging—capitalizing on the continuing growth that’s predicted for the global bulk market depends largely on where you sit in the value chain. Identifying opportunities means navigating between the supply side of producers, brokers, and contract suppliers, and the demand side that includes retailers and on-premise operators. Short-term supply outlook Staying one step ahead of expansions and contractions of the bulk wine market is key for short- and long-term planning. Increasingly, brokers and contract suppliers …

Red blends: Greater than the sum of their parts

While researching the current popularity of blended wines in preparation for a talk at the 2017 International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show about blends that begin life as bulk wine, I discovered white blends emerged as the exception rather than the rule. Consumer preferences for monovarietal white wines—Sauvignon Blanc is currently the fastest-growing white variety—are the likely drivers there, but that doesn’t stop winemakers from creating successful proprietary blends. In 2014, blended wines accounted for more than 40 percent of new entries to the U.S. market, with the lion’s share going to reds (29.3 percent) and whites accounting for just 1.9 percent. When surveyed, domestic consumers said they liked blended wines because they are experimental, interesting and trendy with better value. But it’s not the classic blends from regions like Bordeaux, the Southern Rhône, Valpolicella and Rioja they’re referring to; it’s the under-$25 blends that are marketed as nothing more than just that—blends. One striking example of success with modern blends is Dave Phinney’s Locations Wine portfolio, which goes even further by eliminating vintage and relying …

IBWSS Recap: a first for California

The IBWSS was the first-ever bulk and private label wine and spirits event in California Close to 1500 wineries, distilleries, importers, distributors and retailers met in San Francisco for the debut of the highly anticipated International Bulk Wine & Spirits Show on July 26 & 27. At the event, suppliers and buyers traded and attendees learned about the latest trends in bulk wine and spirits, including methods to use private labels as a way to win over customers, boost loyalty and drive new sources of revenue. The event saw unprecedented success with most exhibitors walking away with deals or potential contacts with buyers. Exhibitors had the chance to meet buyers from Gallo wines, Trader Joe’s, Kroger’s, Bevmo amongst many others.  Buyers came from all over the United States and were not limited to the vicinity of the Californian wine industry. In the post-event survey, 80% of the exhibitors reported a high level of satisfaction with the show quoting that they were pleased with the number and the quality of buyers that they met at the …

Horizons left to chase: Q & A with One Mind Institute’s Brandon Staglin

Brandon Staglin, recipient of the Mental Health Association’s 2017 Clifford W. Beers Award, has been recognized as the nation’s leading consumer advocate for improving treatment and attitudes toward people who live with mental health conditions. Having recovered from schizophrenia, an illness that affects two million people living in the United States, Staglin is both a role model and an inspiration. He is the Board Director for the One Mind Institute, a non-profit dedicated to funding brain health research founded by Shari and Garen Staglin in 1995, and Director of Marketing and Communications for the Staglin Family Vineyard. In the below interview he talks candidly about his work and life experiences. What would you say to someone who has a family or community member who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia to help them understand that it’s possible to manage and overcome the disorder? Managing schizophrenia can be a challenge, but one that I have been able to meet and succeed at. One of the most helpful things I’ve done toward returning to wellness has been to …

Q & A with CEO Sid Patel, The International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show

San Francisco continues to be one of the world’s most important destinations for leading players in the wine industry, so it’s no surprise that a major conference dedicated to the private label and bulk trade is making its way to the city on July 26-27.

It’s a small world

Microbial fingerprints leave their mark on winery and vineyard sites — and on finished wine.

Sparkling Toast to a Still Future

The Los Carneros was pioneered twenty five years ago by sparkling wine producers who brought cache and joie de vivre to what is, in effect, the gateway to Napa and Sonoma Valley wine country. 2016 has seen a flurry of expansion there by still wine producers who are confident there’s a lifestyle proposition that goes hand in hand with selling Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. A veritable force in raising the visibility of Carneros Pinot Noir, Anne Moller-Racke, President and Winegrower of Donum Estate, is spearheading an expansion that includes the construction of a new production winery and tasting room scheduled for completion in 2017. Once a dairy farm, the estate was planted to vines in 1985, came under Moller-Racke’s supervision in 2001 as Donum and was purchased by Danish investors in 2011. “Site is quality; clone is personality,” said Moller-Racke as we tasted current release 2012s sourced from the winery’s four vineyards: Donum and Lawler in Carneros, Winside in Russian River and Angel Camp in Anderson Valley. East Slope ($90), a Calera clone on the …

Bronco’s Bright Green Future

A focus on sustainability
drives progress as Bronco
Wine Company hits a
1 billion bottle milestone.

Franzia’s Unified Keynote Speaks to Past, Present and Future

In a rare and much anticipated public address, Bronco CEO Fred Franzia delivered the January 26 keynote speech and, with it, set the stage for the 2016 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento. Franzia paid homage to the founding figures of the California wine industry, including his uncle Ernest Gallo, with a look back at their history and, with his characteristic candor, tackled some of the trade’s most relevant topics. As the nation’s largest vineyard owner — Bronco Wine owns in excess of 40,000 acres — he was quick to count grape growers among the most interesting and opinionated people he deals with in the industry. He credited Central Valley growers with teaching him much through the many hours he’s spent in their company over the last 50 years. Expressing regard for his peers and fellow industry icons Robert Mondavi and Jess Jackson, Franzia pointed to their similar practice of always tasting blind and their keen ability to critique what they tasted. On the subject of industry growth, Franzia was at once optimistic and …