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Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine

News Flash


AVF Announces Over $1 Million in Funding

The American Vineyard Foundation (AVF) in Napa, Calif., has announced funding of over $1 million for viticulture and enology research again this year. The AVF, which relies on voluntary contributions, maintained support for ongoing projects and provided funding for several new projects. It is also collaborating with the National Grape and Wine Initiative to fund a larger scale project. 


Oregon Wines Fly Free Extended 

Oregon Wines Fly Free, a program that allows visitors traveling from Oregon on Alaska Airlines to check a case of Oregon wine for free, has been extended through 2017. Through this Oregon Wine Board, Travel Oregon and Alaska Airlines collaboration, Oregon was the first state to launch a statewide wines-fly- free program in September 2013.


Seneca Lake Wineries Support Wine Center

The 35 winery members of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail have donated $1,000 each to support the construction of the Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) Viticulture and Wine Center in Geneva, N.Y. The donation will be matched by the state for a total of $70,000 toward the construction of the 9,000-square-foot building, which opened to students at the start of the spring semester.


Wine Institute Launches Sustainable Course

Wine Institute in San Francisco, Calif., has launched the California Sustainable Winegrowing Ambassador Course, a new online certificate class that provides education about sustainable practices for California wine. The free, one-hour course helps wine professionals, from retailers and restaurateurs to distributors and hospitality staff, learn and test their understanding of the sustainable practices of California wineries and vineyards. The course can be accessed at http://ambassador.discovercaliforniawines.com.


California Green Medal Winners Announced

The first annual California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards winners included Fetzer Vineyards (Green Medal Leader); Benziger Family Winery (Green Medal Environment); Nord Vineyard Services (Green Medal Community); and Trinchero Family Estates (Green Medal Business). The Green Medal was developed by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, California Association of Winegrape Growers, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Valley Vintners, Vineyard Team and Wine Institute.


Study Reveals Status of Women Winemakers

A new case study reveals the steady progress of women moving into lead winemaking positions at California’s established wineries. The study, published by professors at California’s Santa Clara University, found that despite the small number of California wineries with lead women winemakers, their wines are more highly acclaimed, proportional to their representation in the field. Download the full study at www.womenwinemakers.com.


USDA Initiative Addresses Climate Change

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and Senior White House Advisor Brian Deese recently announced the department’s pledge to help America’s farmers, ranchers and foresters address the threat of climate change. The announcement builds on the 2014 Farm Bill emphasizing the use of clean, renewable energy across rural America, while strengthening conservation and land stewardship programs that conserve natural resources.


Sonoma County Barrel Auction Raises $461,700

The Sonoma County Vintners (SCV) raised $461,700 at the inaugural Sonoma County Barrel Auction. Held on May 1, the tasting and auction event was attended by more than 250 trade and media guests, and featured rare, small-lot wines representing 14 of Sonoma County’s 17 appellations. The 71 lots were created for and sold exclusively at the inaugural barrel auction.


Napa Valley Celebrates English Literacy Program

The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation recently celebrated its third year of graduates from its groundbreaking English literacy program. Fifty-two farmworkers graduated from the free, four-month course designed specifically for Napa County farmworkers to assist them with their English literacy and communication skills in the workplace. More than 65% of employers compensated their employees while they were taking the class.


Report Finds Earth’s Soil Resources Depleted

According to a new paper by some of the country’s top soil scientists, humans are depleting Earth’s soil resources faster than the nutrients can be replenished, notes Ronald Amundson, a UC Berkeley professor and lead author. In the paper, published in the journal Science, the authors say that we're now entering a period when the ability of soil to support the growth of our food supply is plateauing.


Sonoma County Winegrowers Launch Grant Program

Sonoma County Winegrowers in Santa Rosa, Calif., has committed up to $100,000 in grant funding to help support growers’ sustainability certification. The organization is offering 250 vouchers, each worth $400, to be used by its grower members to offset the costs associated with completing certification. Only grape growers who pay an assessment to the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission are eligible to participate.


University of Adelaide Launches Research Centre

Australia’s University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus is home to a new wine research center that will help the industry face the challenges posed by climate change, water restrictions and changing consumer preferences. The ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production will target objectives such as managing flavor and alcohol content in Australia's wines, despite growing environmental and cost pressures.



Mike Wolf Named NVG Grower of the Year

Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG), which celebrated its 40th anniversary at its annual dinner held at Round Pond Estate in May, has named long-time grapegrower Mike Wolf as the 2015 recipient of the Napa Valley Grower of the Year award. Congressman Mike Thompson recognized Wolf by reading a Congressional Resolution noting the contributions he has made to Napa Valley farming.


Rick Casqueiro Retires from Ste. Michelle Wine

Rick Casqueiro has announced his retirement from the Woodinville, Wash.-based Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, where he served as sparkling winemaker for Domaine Ste. Michelle for the last 19 years. During his tenure with Ste. Michelle, Casqueiro increased Domaine Ste. Michelle production, helping the winery to become the fourth largest methode champenoise sparkling wine producer in the United States.

Gary Farrell Winery Hires Emery Bodell

Healdsburg, Calif.-based Gary Farrell Winery has named Emery Bodell to the newly created position of tasting room and business development manager. Bodell brings years of luxury wine brand experience to the winery, where she will oversee the tasting room, visitation programs and the winery-direct sales team. Previously, Bodell at Lambert Bridge Winery and Medlock Ames Winery.


Mark McKenna Returns to Andis Wines

Andis Wines of Amador County, Calif., has announced the return of Founding Winemaker Mark McKenna. Over the last five years, Andis Wines has produced Semillon, Barbera, Mourvedre, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache, and a wine-on-tap program.


Elaine Chukan Brown Joins JancisRobinson.com

The London-based wine information website JancisRobinson.com has appointed Elaine Chukan Brown as a specialist writer to extend its coverage of American wine. Brown will write for JancisRobinson.com and review U.S. wines, with a particular focus on California. Based in Sonoma, Brown has won acclaim for her WakawakaWineReviews.com and contributions to Wine & Spirits and The World of Fine Wine.


Victor Vineyards Hires Mark Fedorchak and Mark Chandler

Mark Fedorchak and Mark Chandler have joined Victor Vineyards in Lodi, Calif. Fedorchak, who was instrumental in the introduction of Fetzer’s Bonterra brand, will serve as Victor’s director of sales & marketing. Chandler, who was head of the Lodi Winegrape Commission for 20 years, will manage trade and media relations, and the overall direction of the company.


Jordan Winery Hires Nick Holmes

Nick Holmes has been named western regional sales director for Jordan Vineyard & Winery in Healdsburg, Calif. Holmes will be responsible for distributor management, Jordan sales initiatives and Tastevin tablet wine list integration in 10 western states. Most recently, he served as region manager for The Spire Collection, a division of Jackson Family Wines.


Accolade Wines Appoints MJ Loza for North America

Australia’s Accolade Wines has appointed MJ Loza, currently head of its New Zealand operations, as its new general manager for North America. Accolade is a global wine company with brands including Geyser Peak, Atlas Peak and Banrock Station. Loza’s appointment supports Accolade Wines’ strategic goal to maximize New Zealand brand growth opportunities in the North American market.


Jeff Chaney to Join Thornhill Companies

The Thornhill Companies of Santa Barbara, Calif., has hired Jeff Chaney as project manager. Chaney will oversee development of private label and custom-designed brands, as well as manage new product and package-change initiatives. Previously, Chaney was the wine director/sommelier for The Cliffs Resort in Avila Beach, where he managed one of the largest fine wine inventories on the Central Coast.


Trefethen Promotes Bryan Kays, Dan Blakely, Brendan Brambila

Napa, Calif.-based Trefethen Family Vineyards has promoted Bryan Kays to winemaker. He joined Trefethen in 2006 as a viticulture intern, and worked his way up to assistant winemaker, and now winemaker. Dan Blakely is being promoted from enologist to assistant winemaker. Brambila, who has been with Trefethen as viticulturist since 2009, has been promoted to director of viticulture.


Karissa Kruse Receives Marshall Memorial Fellowship

Sonoma County Winegrowers in Santa Rosa, Calif., has announced that President Karissa Kruse is the first Sonoma County resident to receive a Marshall Memorial Fellowship from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a leadership development program. Kruse was selected from more than 700 nominations across 39 countries. She will participate in the fall program from Sept. 30 to Oct. 25, 2015.


Crimson Hires Shannon McLaren, Nathan Stern

Crimson Wine Group, Ltd., of Napa, Calif., has named Shannon McLaren chief financial officer, overseeing financial and business service activities with Crimson's luxury wine portfolio. Most recently, McLaren worked as the senior corporate controller at Wente Family Estates. Nathan Stern joins as vice president direct to consumer sales. He comes to Crimson from BevMo!, where he was head of customer relationship management.


VWE Promotes Lesley Larson, Stephanie Peachey

Lesley Larson, formerly director of marketing for the Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Vintage Wine Estates (VWE), has been promoted to vice president of marketing, managing all brand marketing activities for Clos Pegase, Cosentino, Middle Sister, Purple Cowboy and others. Stephanie Peachey has been promoted from director of marketing for Windsor Vineyards and Viansa to senior director of marketing – direct to consumer.


Marty Peterson, Amy Ludovissy Named VWE Winemakers

Previously winemaker at Vintage Wine Estates’ (VWE) Viansa Winery, where he managed grower relations and winemaking projects, Marty Peterson is now winemaker in charge of production for VWE's Cosentino Winery located in Napa Valley's Yountville district. Amy Ludovissy has been promoted to winemaker for Viansa Winery in Sonoma, Calif. Ludovissy was assistant winemaker for Girard.


Hedges Promotes Sarah Hedges Goedhard

Hedges Family Estate in Benton City, Wash., has appointed Sarah Hedges Goedhart as head winemaker. Daughter of winery founders and proprietors, Tom and Anne-Marie Hedges, Hedges Goedhart has worked as assistant winemaker for the winery since 2006. Her experience includes cellar work at Preston Winery of Dry Creek, where learned winemaking and biodynamic and organic agriculture.


Swanson Vineyards Appoints Robin Akhurst

Oakville, Calif.-based Swanson Vineyards has named Robin Akhurst to the role of winemaker. Chris Phelps, director of winemaking for 12 years, will transition to a half-time consulting role as winemaker emeritus. Akhurst will lead day-to-day winemaking at Swanson. His experience includes work at Outpost Wines.


Keith Hock Launches New Venture

After 11 years at Napa Valley’s Schramsberg Vineyards, Winemaker Keith Hock has launched a full-time winemaking consultancy known as Hock Wines. Current clients include the Piper Sonoma brand by Remy CointreauSkywalker Vineyards in Marin County, as well as the Napa Valley’s Tognetti Family Winery and Roubaix Vineyards. Hock also continues to consult for Schramsberg.


Don Sebastiani Promotes Andrea Staby

Sonoma, Calif.-based Don Sebastiani & Sons has promoted Andrea Staby to director of marketing. She will oversee all design, creative, marketing, trade promotions and new products for the family company. Staby had served as brand manager for the winery since 2014. Additionally, Polina Burns was promoted to assistant brand manager, New House Vintners. Cassie Rodriguez is now assistant brand manager, Foundation Wine Collection.


Shawn Bavaresco and Ian Burch Join Scott Paul Wines

President and Partner Shawn Bavaresco and Winemaker Ian Burch have joined Owner Cameron Healy to revitalize the brand of Scott Paul Wines in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The team also plans to redesign the Scott Paul tasting room in Carlton, Ore. Healy founded Kettle Foods Inc. and co-founded Kona Brewing Co. He became a partner in Scott Paul in 2005, and purchased the remaining shares in 2014.



Fetzer Vineyards Launches .Green Domain

Fetzer Vineyards has launched its new website at Fetzer.green. Fetzer, a pioneer in sustainable operations, is the first in the wine industry to claim the .green domain and establish a .green website.


Ste. Michelle Wine Launches Rhône Project

Woodinville, Wash.-based Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has launched Tenet Wines, a joint effort with Rhône winemakers Michel Gassier and Philippe Cambie, to elevate Rhône varietals from Washington. Chateau Ste. Michelle winemaker Bob Bertheau and Michel Gassier are co-winemakers for the three Tenet Wines. Philippe Cambie is consulting oenologist.


Pomar Junction Inducted into IGHOF

Pomar Junction Winery in Templeton, Calif., was among the 16 companies inducted to the International Green Hall of Fame (IGHOF) during its April 16 conference. Pomar was recognized for the Sustainability in Practice (SIP) third-party certification of its grapes and wine, as well as its solar electric generation.


Jackson Family Wins Partners with Tesla

Jackson Family Wines (JFW) in Santa Rosa, Calif., has installed one of the first large-scale Tesla stationary energy storage systems. JFW has 21 Tesla systems at its Kendall-Jackson winery and systems at several of its other wineries, accounting for 4.2 MW of total storage capacity that alleviates energy spikes associated with refrigeration and cooling, lighting, compressed air, and process water treatment.


Paul O’Brien Winery Launches Spanish Wine

Paul O’ Brien Winery of Roseburg, Ore., has entered into an agreement with Abadia de Acón Winery to produce a proprietary wine in the Ribera del Duero region of Spain. Beginning with the 2013 vintage, Fino Tinto will be produced from Acón’s 100 acres of estate vineyards. Paul O’Brien winery will be the exclusive importer of Abadia de Acón’s wines in Oregon.


Allegro Winery Expands Vineyards

York County’s largest winery, Allegro Vineyards of Brogue, Pa., will expand its vineyard over the next two years from 6 acres to 16 acres. Approximately 13,000 new vines were planted last month. The new planting joins the 35-year-old winery’s existing vineyard and shares the soil with vines established as early as 1973. Allegro currently grows Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.


Duckhorn Acquires Three Palms

Duckhorn Wine Company in Napa Valley, Calif., has acquired Napa Valley’s Three Palms Vineyard planted to Merlot. Duckhorn made its inaugural Three Palms Merlot in 1978, and has purchased all of the grapes from the 83-acre vineyard since 2011. Three Palms was acquired from Sloan and John Upton for an undisclosed price. Fruit from Three Palms will be used exclusively in Duckhorn Vineyards wines.


Schramsberg Celebrates 50 Years 

Schramsberg Vineyards in St. Helena, Calif., will celebrate its 50th anniversary throughout 2015. In 1965, Jack and Jamie Davies revived the Schramsberg winery with a vision to create the first American sparkling wine from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes using secondary bottle fermentation. Schramsberg was the first American winery to produce a Blanc de Blancs in 1965, followed by a Blanc de Noirs in 1967.



Wine Pioneer Joseph Phelps, Dies at 87

Joseph Phelps, founder of California’s Joseph Phelps Vineyards, died Apr. 15 at the age of 87. Phelps was an industry pioneer, founding his wine business in 1973, and leading a new era of excellence in California wine. In 1974, he produced Insignia, a blend of classic Bordeaux varieties that would become a signature Napa wine. Phelps was also one of California’s early ambassadors of Rhône-style reds. For three decades, Phelps guided his winery and expanded his vineyards. Today the winery owns eight vineyards in Napa, and 100 acres on the Sonoma Coast. In 2005, his son Bill Phelps took over for the family and now serves as president. Phelps is survived by four children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


April 2015


PD Referendum Website Launched

Designed and launched by a coalition of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG), Family Winemakers of California and Wine Institute, the new website: www.YESonPDref.org, provides in-depth analysis of the Pierce’s disease/glassy-winged sharpshooter (PD/GWSS) Referendum, including voting procedures, facts about PD and GWSS, statistics on expenditures, the latest news and links to other sites with information on the PD/GWSS threat.


NVV Sets 100% Green Certification Goal

The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) organization in St. Helena, Calif., has established a goal that every eligible member will be in the Napa Green Land or Winery program by the end of 2020. Napa Green is a voluntary, environmental certification program for Napa County vineyards and wineries that is tailored to the Napa River watershed and winery-specific practices that affect positive environmental change.


South Dakota Signs DTC Wine Shipping Bill

South Dakota is the 43rd state to allow wineries to ship directly to consumers. Under the recently signed wine shipping bill, any winery that holds a federal basic permit and pays an annual fee of $100 may obtain a direct shipper license that allows the winery to ship up to 12 cases of wine to adult consumers in South Dakota during a calendar year.


Premiere Napa Valley Sets Record

The Napa Valley Vintners’ 19th annual Premiere Napa Valley barrel tasting and auction set a new record, reaching $6 million in fundraising. The 225 wine lots created for and sold exclusively at the event featured rare micro-lots, which garnered just slightly more than last year’s total of $5.9 million. The money raised helps fund NVV’s operations, promotions, government lobbying and more.


U.S. Wine Exports Reach $1.49 Billion

U.S. wine exports, 90% from California, reached $1.49 billion in winery revenues in 2014, the second highest dollar value for U.S. wine exports and a 64% increase from five years ago, reports the Wine Institute in San Francisco. Challenged by a strong dollar and the West Coast port slowdown, U.S. wine exports were slightly down from the previous year. Volume was up 49.2 million cases.


Gallo Glass Company Cited by DTSC

On behalf of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the California Attorney General’s Office has filed a complaint against Gallo Glass Company, alleging the company used hazardous waste (in the form of dust) in the manufacture of glass wine bottles at its plant in Modesto, Calif. Gallo agreed in May 2014 to stop using the hazardous waste dust in its bottle manufacturing.


Plants Recognize Insect Attacks

Scientists at the University of Missouri recently studied how plant genes responded to insects that harm them. They found that plants can recognize attacks from diverse kinds of insects, such as caterpillars and aphids, and that plants respond differently to each attack. Identifying these defense genes could allow plant breeders to target specific insect species when developing pest-resistant crops.


Acid Risk to Wine Tasters’ Teeth

New studies conducted by researchers at the University of Adelaide’s School of Dentistry in Australia have simulated the kind of short, multiple exposures to wine acid normally experienced by wine tasters. The results, published in the Australian Dental Journal, show that just 10 one-minute episodes of wine tasting are enough to cause erosion of the tooth enamel.


NGWI Elects 2015 Board 

The National Grape and Wine Initiative (NGWI) in Sacramento, Calif., has elected its 2015 Board: Chair John Aguirre, president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers; Vice Chair Craig Bardwell of the National Grape Cooperative/Welch’s; Secretary-Treasurer Richard Smith of Paraiso Vineyards; Past Chair Rick Stark of Sun-Maid Growers of California; and At Large Marshall Miller of Thornhill Properties.


Pete Downs to Receive ASEV Merit Award

Consulting Enologist and Retired Senior Vice President E.B. “Pete” Downs of Kendall-Jackson Winery will receive the American Society for Enology and Viticulture’s (ASEV) Merit Award at its June national conference. Downs has advised on industry issues from wine shipment regulations to control of the glassy-winged sharpshooters and Pierce’s disease, the latter for which he was instrumental in winning USDA funding.


RRVW Names 2015 Board and Officers

The Russian River Valley Winegrowers (RRVW) in Santa Rosa, Calif., has appointed Rod Berglund, winemaker of Joseph Swan Vineyards, as its 2015 Board president. He takes over for 2014 Board President Chris Donatiello. Joining Berglund are First Vice President Clay Gantz of Gantz Family Vineyards; Treasurer Alex Klein of American Ag Credit and Secretary Carol Kozlowski-Every of Kozlowski Farms.

ASEV Promotes Dan Howard, Boulton Retires

After more than three decades of leadership, Lyndie Boulton will retire as executive director of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) at the end of June. The ASEV Board has appointed Assistant Executive Director Dan Howard as the new executive director of the 2,000-member organization based in Davis, Calif. Howard has been assistant executive director since 1996.


Lambert Bridge Appoints Cynthia Beebout VP/GM

Lambert Bridge Winery in Healdsburg, Calif., has announced the appointment of Cynthia Beebout as vice president and general manager. Her experience includes work as COO at Trentadue Winery, director of operations for Pahlmeyer Winery, and most recently vice president of finance and operations for Laurent Perrier USA. Beebout will oversee daily operations, as well as strategic and financial planning. 


Amy Zavatto Joins LIMA

The Long Island Merlot Alliance (LIMA) in Mattituck, N.Y., has appointed wine and spirits journalist, book author and New York wine champion Amy Zavatto as executive director. As 2015 is the 10th anniversary of LIMA, Zavatto will lead a year-long campaign of Merlot celebrations, educational opportunities and events, as well as the establishment of Long Island Merlot Month in November.


Oregon Wine Honors Industry Leaders

The Oregon Wine Board honored the state’s wine industry leaders on Feb. 24 at the annual Oregon Wine Industry Awards Dinner. The Founders Award was given to Jim and Loie Maresh of Maresh Red Hills Vineyard. Earl and Hilda Jones, owners of Abacela, were presented the Lifetime Achievement Award. Chad Vargas, vineyard manager at Adelsheim Vineyard, received the Outstanding Industry Service Award.


Rutherford Promotes Tyson Wolf and Others

Napa Valley’s Rutherford Wine Company has promoted Tyson Wolf to winemaker. Steve Rued, former winemaker, continues as a consultant. Rutherford will hire an additional consultant for premium brand development. Laurel Rowan, formally senior brand manager for Accolade Wines, has joined as director of marketing. Tom Stine and Brian Horton were promoted to VP of national chain sales and VP national sales (brands) respectively.


Bouchaine Names Chris Kajani Winemaker

Napa, Calif.-based Bouchaine Vineyards has hired Chris Kajani as winemaker and general manager. Michael Richmond, who has been winemaker at Bouchaine since 2002, is retiring. Kajani comes to Bouchaine from Saintsbury, where she was winemaker. The appointment marks the beginning of major restructuring for Bouchaine, which includes a new hospitality center and tasting room, and a winery renovation.


Mike Wolf Named Napa Grower of the Year

The Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) has named Mike Wolf the 2015 Napa Valley Grower of the Year. Wolf has developed and managed California vineyards for more than 35 years. He launched Michael Wolf Vineyard Services in 1997, working with independent growers, premium and ultra-premium wineries in all phases of sustainable vineyard development. He currently farms more than 800 acres across Napa County.


Beringer Vineyards Hires Mark Beringer

Napa, Calif.-based Beringer Vineyards has hired Mark Beringer as chief winemaker. A direct descendant of founding brother Jacob Beringer, Mark brings decades of winemaking experience to his new role. Most recently, Beringer worked at Artesa, with additional experience at Duckhorn. Beringer’s Chief Winemaker Laurie Hook becomes winemaker emeritus. She will continue to advise on winemaking.


Paula Eakin Named Michelle Winemaker

Washington state’s largest sparkling wine producer, Michelle by Domaine Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Wash., has named Paula Eakin its winemaker following the retirement of Rick Casqueiro, winemaker for nearly 20 years. Eakin has assisted Casqueiro for the past two years on the Domaine Ste. Michelle blends, and has spent the past 20 years making wine in Washington state.  



Gallo Acquires J Vineyards & Winery

E. & J. Gallo Winery has agreed to purchase the Russian River Valley sparkling wine producer J Vineyards & Winery. Founded in 1986 by Judy Jordan, J produces a range of sparkling wines, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. The acquisition, which includes the Healdsburg winery and more than 300 acres over nine vineyards, expands Gallo’s presence in California’s North Coast wine country.  


Cuvaison Sells Calistoga Winery

Cuvaison Estate Wines in Napa, Calif., has sold its custom crush Calistoga winery and tasting room in an assets-only sale. The winery had been home to Cuvaison Estate wines from 1969 to 2004, at which time Cuvaison completed its Carneros winery. The Calistoga winery’s new owners, Criswell-Radovan LLC, will continue to provide custom crush services to existing clients with the existing staff.


Buena Vista Opens Wine Tool Museum
Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma, Calif., has opened a multimedia museum dedicated to the history of winemaking and its tools, which features a collection of rare 19th and 20th century European viticulture tools. Visitors are guided through the story of winemaking through the use of the tools. Tickets are $25 per person, and include a tasting of four wines plus a guided tour. 

Biltmore Winery Turns 30

Since opening its doors on May 11, 1985, the Ashville, N.C.-based Biltmore Winery has become America’s most visited winery. To commemorate the accomplishments of the past three decades, Biltmore will host celebratory anniversary activities on Saturday, May 16, including the release of a commemorative 30th anniversary wine.


Rodney Strong to Emphasize Luxury Wines

Rodney Strong Wine Estates is making investments to address national chain account opportunities and emphasize its luxury portfolio. To support the growth of its luxury wines, the family-owned winery in Healdsburg, Calif., built its second Artisan Wine Cellar, created an outdoor hospitality area called The Terrace, and expanded its sales force with new hires focusing on both off-premise and on-premise.


Purple Wine + Spirits Debuts

Purple and Sonoma Wine Companies in Graton, Calif., have announced the establishment of Purple Wine + Spirits. The new company unifies three entities under a single umbrella: Purple Wine Company, a producer of branded wines; Sonoma Wine Company, a creator of custom and private label wines; and Graton Spirits, a distiller of craft spirits.


Stoller to Open Second Facility

Stoller Family Estate, home to the largest contiguous vineyard in Oregon’s Dundee Hills AVA, is planning a second winemaking facility, which will allow the original winery to focus on its smaller lot, Reserve and Legacy wines. Construction on the new environmentally sustainable winery, which will be located on the 373-acre estate in Dayton, Ore., will begin later this spring.


Clos Pepe Leased to WALT Wines

Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Clos Pepe Vintners Stephen and Cathy Pepe announced that they have entered into a long-term partnership with WALT Wines, a St. Helena-based specialist in vineyard specific Pinot Noir from California and Oregon. The 29-acre winery and vineyard was founded in 1994. The Pepes will continue live on the property and sell Clos Pepe wines.



February 2015


CDFA Announces Dates for PD/GWSS Voting

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has announced dates for this year’s vote on the continuation of the statewide Pierce’s disease and glassy-winged sharpshooter (PD/GWSS) wine grape assessment. Ballots are slated for mailing to growers on or about March 30, and are due back 30 days after mailing. Results will be announced approximately two weeks after the voting period.


CalWA Seeks Water Bond Promise

The California Water Alliance (CalWA) is urging the California Water Commission to reaffirm Governor Jerry Brown’s commitment to use dedicated water bond funds to build water storage facilities. CalWa’s concerns stem from Gov. Brown’s recent budget proposal, which left out any mention of storage projects in his listed priorities for initial spending of bond funds.


Finger Lakes Wine Coalition Appeals to Governor

The Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition, a newly formed coalition of businesses in Upstate New York, has written Governor Mario Cuomo in opposition of the pending DEC permit of Crestwood Midstream, a Texas-based gas company that wishes to store 88 million gallons of propane and butane in abandoned salt caverns off Seneca Lake in Finger Lakes Wine Country.


ICCWS to Partner with London Wine Fair

The International Cool Climate Wine Symposium (ICCWS) has announced a partnership with the London Wine Fair, involving collaborations through the 2016 Fair, which takes place immediately preceding the ICCWS on May 26-28. An ICCWS pavilion at the 2016 London Wine Fair will provide new exhibition space for producers from current and emerging cool climate regions to showcase their wines.


TTB Proposes Amendment to AVA Labeling

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is proposing to amend its regulations to permit the use of American viticultural area names as appellations of origin on labels for wines that would otherwise qualify for the use of the AVA name, except that the wines have been fully finished in a state adjacent to the state in which the viticultural area is located.


Sonoma State Receives $3 Million Endowment

Sonoma State University’s (SSU) School of Business and Economics has received a $3 million donation from Pamela and George Hamel to establish the Hamel Family Faculty Chair in Wine Business, and the appointment of Dr. Damien Wilson in the inaugural term of this position. Wilson has been director of the Masters of Science in Wine Business programs for Dijon’s Burgundy School of Business since 2008.


Silicon Valley Bank Forecasts Fine Wine Growth

In its recently released Annual State of the Wine Industry Report, St. Helena, Calif.-based Silicon Valley Bank says the strengthening U.S. economy will translate to an increase in demand for wine. The report further predicts that the fine wine business will experience accelerating growth, achieving 14-18% sales growth in 2015. Learn more about the report at www.svb.com.


IWR Releases Sonoma County Report

The Washington, D.C.-based International Wine Review (IWR), a subscription-only fine wine publication, has released its largest and most comprehensive regional report. The Sonoma County report contains more than 700 wine reviews, detailed research, interviews of key growers and vintners, overviews of each AVA and more. Underwritten by Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma County Winegrowers, the report is available for free at http://iwinereview.com/?p=sonoma.


SLO Launches Wine Adventures in April

The San Luis Obispo (SLO) Wine Country Association in San Luis Obispo, Calif., has reinvented its signature “Roll Out The Barrels” event as a month-long celebration of immersive wine adventures at various wineries, from April 6 through the week of April 27. To learn more visit www.slowine.com.


Unified Wine & Grape Draws 14,000 to Symposium 

Organized jointly by the California Association of Winegrape Growers and the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, the 21st Unified Wine & Grape Symposium drew 14,000 wine and grape industry professionals from around the world to Sacramento, Calif., on Jan. 28-30.


Fermentation System Expands WSU Research

Cypress Semiconductor Corp. and Spokane Industries have joined to contribute $3.2 million toward a $5.3 million fermentation system at the Wine Science Center at Washington State University (WSU) Tri-Cities in Richland, Wash. In 2012, the Economic Development Administration provided a $2.06 million grant to bring one of the world’s most technologically advanced fermentation systems to WSU. The grant, which required a matching contribution, is now secured.


WineAmerica Retains Government Affairs Firm

WineAmerica, The National Association of American Wineries, has retained the services of Meyers & Associates LLC to advocate for the interests of American wineries and vineyards in Washington, D.C. The WineAmerica Board of Directors chose Meyers and Associates for its strong agriculture policy and regulatory expertise.


Representatives Reintroduce CIDER Act

Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) and Chris Collins (NY-27) have introduced the bipartisan Cider Industry Deserves Equal Regulation (CIDER) Act, HR 600, which would amend the section of the tax code that deals with wine and related beverages, to support the growing number of craft and entrepreneurial cider makers, and tailor IRS rules to reflect variations in craft ciders across the country.


Fresno State Receives $1.12 Million Grant

Fresno State’s International Center for Water Technology has received a grant of up to $1.12 million from the Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board to continue its research and partnerships with industry and government agencies. The board awarded California’s Fresno State a $124,541 grant with options through 2019. If all options are renewed, the contracts will total $1,120,890.


Washington Wine Offers Scholarships

The Washington Wine Industry Foundation is offering more than $30,000 in scholarships for undergraduate and post-graduate students studying viticulture, enology or related disciplines. Applications are due March 15 with scholarships for the 2015-2016 school year awarded by May 15. Since 2008, the Cashmere, Wash.-based Foundation has awarded more than $114,000 to nearly 100 students. Learn more at www.washingtonwinefoundation.org.


Naples Wine Auction Raises $12.32 Million

Organizers of the Naples Winter Wine Festival live auction, report that the January event raised $12.32 million in support of the festival’s founding organization, the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF), which has given annual grants to more than 40 nonprofit agencies. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the three-day Naples Winter Wine Festival in Naples, Fla., brought together vintners, celebrity chefs and wine enthusiasts.


CSWA Receives Governor’s Environmental Award

Governor Jerry Brown presented the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) with the 2015 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), the state’s highest environmental honor. CSWA, a joint venture of Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers, received this year’s award in the category of Enhanced Environmental and Economic Leadership. CSWA also received the GEELA in 2004 and 2010.


Remi Cohen Promoted at Lede Family

Lede Family Wines in Yountville, Calif., has promoted Remi Cohen to vice president and general manager for its three wine brands: Cliff Lede Vineyards, Poetry and FEL Wines. Cohen joined Cliff Lede in 2012 as director of winemaking and vineyards, before being promoted to vice president of operations in 2014. She is a Court of Master Sommelier Certified Sommelier and V&WM’s “Soil & Cellar” columnist.


Carolyn Stark Joins Sonoma County Vintners as Executive Director

Sonoma County Vintners, the advocacy and trade marketing association for Sonoma County wineries, has announced that Carolyn Stark is stepping into the role of executive director. In her previous position as executive director of Sonoma County BEST, Stark led an economic development initiative promoting the expansion of business in Sonoma County. She replaces outgoing director Honore Comfort.


Hearst Ranch Hires New Winemaking Team

Hearst Ranch Winery in San Simeon, Calif., has hired Soren Christensen as winemaker. Christensen has nearly 15 years of Paso Robles winemaking experience. Guillaume Fabre has also joined the team as consulting winemaker. Fabre will focus on a new ultra-premium wine program at Hearst Ranch. Originally from France, Fabre came to Paso Robles in 2004 to work at L’Aventure.


Fernando Franco Named VVA Grower of the Year

The Virginia Vineyards Association (VVA) has named Fernando Franco, viticulturist at Barboursville Vineyards in Barboursville, Va., its 2015 “Grower of the Year.” Since joining Barboursville in 1998, the vineyards managed by Franco have produced two Governor’s Cup winners, as well as award-winning wines at the San Francisco International, Monticello and San Diego competitions. Franco has worked in Virginia viticulture for more than three decades.


Jennifer Williams Named Ziata Winemaker

Ziata Wines in Calistoga, Calif., has hired Napa Valley Winemaker Jennifer Williams. Williams began her career in Central Coast wineries, and then worked at Trefethen Family Vineyards in the Napa Valley as an enologist. After a harvest in Rioja, she returned to the Napa Valley working as vineyard manager and then winemaker at Spottswoode Estate, Zeitgeist Cellars and Arrow and Branch.


NGWI Announces 2015 Leadership

The National Grape & Wine Initiative (NGWI) in Sacramento, Calif., has named its new leadership team for 2015. John Aguirre, president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers was elected chair of the initiative. Craig Bardwell of the National Grape Cooperative/Welch’s was named vice chair; Richard Smith of Paraiso Vineyards as secretary-treasurer; and Rick Stark of Sun-Maid Growers as past chair.


Honore Comfort Joins Brack Mountain 

Brack Mountain Wine Company in Sebastopol, Calif., has appointed Honore Comfort as president. She will oversee all aspects of business development with a focus on portfolio and marketing strategy and strategic partnership development. A former director of marketing for Pezzi King Winery, Comfort most recently served nine years as the executive director for the Sonoma County Vintners.


Clif Family Winery Appoints Laura Barrett

Laura Barrett has been named head of winemaking for Clif Family Winery in St. Helena, Calif. She will oversee all aspects of Clif Family Winery’s two estate vineyards in the Howell Mountain appellation of Napa Valley. Barrett has spent the last seven years as winemaker for Casey Flat Ranch, a premium wine producer of the Capay Valley.


Seghesio Promotes Ted Seghesio

Healdsburg, California’s Seghesio Family Vineyards has promoted Ted Seghesio to the position of general manager and winemaker. In this new role, Seghesio, who has been responsible for winemaking for the past 32 years, will oversee daily winery and cellar operations. As winemaker, Ted Seghesio’s wines have received accolades, including seven placements in Wine Spectator’s annual Top 100.  


Lori Paulsen to Head NWGGA

The Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association (NWGGA) in Lincoln, Neb., has named Lori Paulsen as the new executive director for the association representing Nebraska wineries, vineyards and grapegrowers. Paulsen’s experience includes work with the Nebraska Soybean Board and the national Popcorn Board.


Anaba Wines Hires Evyn Cameron

Anaba Wines in Sonoma, Calif., has appointed Evyn Cameron as assistant winemaker, following its recent announcement of the hiring of Ross Cobb and Katy Wilson to direct its winemaking program. Cameron joins Anaba Wines from Cliff Lede Vineyards and Breggo Cellars (now FEL Wines) in Napa Valley, where she was an enologist. Previously, she worked at Carrick Winery in New Zealand.


Bryan Lipa Joins Staglin Family Vineyard

Staglin Family Vineyard in Rutherford, Calif., has appointed Bryan Lipa as national sales manager. He has more than 18 years experience in the wine and hospitality industry, most recently as sommelier at The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.  Previously he was general manger of Niche restaurant in St. Louis, Mo.


Three Sticks Welcomes Bob Cabral

Sonoma-based Three Sticks Wines has named Bob Cabral as director of winemaking. Cabral, who for the last 16 years has led Williams Selyem, is known for his work with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Ryan Prichard, former assistant winemaker for Medlock Ames, joins as associate winemaker. The new team will work alongside Don Van Staaveren as he moves to the role of winemaker emeritus.


Gary Franscioni to Lead SLH Board

The Santa Lucia Highlands (SLH) Wine Artisans in Monterey County, Calif., has appointed Gary Franscioni of Roar Wines as president of its board of directors. He takes over for Dan Lee of Morgan Winery, who will continue to serve on the Board. Other officers include: Steve McIntyre (McIntyre Vineyards) as vice president; Mark Pisoni (Pisoni Vineyards) as treasurer; and Tony Baldini (Hahn Family Wines) as secretary.


Michael Wangbickler Becomes Partner at Balzac

Balzac Communications & Marketing in Napa, Calif., has announced that Michael Wangbickler will join agency founder Paul Wagner as partner. In addition, he will take on the role of CEO, while Wagner remains president. Wangbickler, who has worked at Balzac for more than a decade, has assumed more of the agency’s business development and management. This will continue in his new position.


Constellation Brands Hires Bill Newlands

Victor, N.Y.-based Constellation Brands Inc. has added Bill Newlands to its executive management committee as chief growth officer. He will report directly to president and CEO Rob Sands in the newly created position to help manage Constellation’s long-term growth strategies. Newlands has 30 years of leadership experience with companies including Beam Inc., Allied Domecq, Wine.com, LVMH and E. & J. Gallo Winery.


Sue Furdek and Sean Gallagher Join Clos du Val

Clos Du Val has appointed Sue Furdek to the position of director of marketing, and Sean Gallagher to director of national sales for the Napa Valley-based winery. Furdek comes to Clos Du Val from a senior marketing manager role at Jackson Family Wines. Gallagher most recently worked at Flora Springs Winery as the national sales director.


Nine North Appoints Molly Lyman

The Napa Valley’s Nine North Wine Company has named Molly Lyman as head winemaker. Her experience includes roles as associate winemaker at Moone-Tsai Vineyards and assistant winemaker at Paradigm Winery. In addition to her responsibilities at Nine North, Lyman will also direct the winemaking programs at The Ministry of the Vinterior and The Dirty Pure Project.


Paul Hobbs Resolves Vineyard Development Suit

Winemaker Paul Hobbs of Sebastopol, Calif., has reached a settlement in a civil suit, brought by the Sonoma County District Attorney against Hobbs involving three vineyard developments. Under the terms of the settlement, Hobbs agreed that his future vineyard developments will comply with applicable laws. Paul Hobbs Wines is leading a separate legal battle to protect Sonoma County laws for environmentally responsible vineyard development.


Mira Winery Opens Education Center

Napa Valley wine producer Mira Winery has opened its Napa Valley Education Center & Tasting Room in New Charleston, S.C. The Center provides access to Mira Winery and the Napa Valley wine industry through educational and tasting programs. Interactive displays, special wine club member tastings, videos and a series of classes in Charleston, S.C. are also part of the center’s educational offerings.


Parducci Wins Environmental Honor

For the third time, Parducci Wine Cellars in Ukiah, Calif., and its parent company, Mendocino Wine Company, received the 2014 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA). Parducci was also honored in 2007 and 2009. The winery was awarded in the category of Agricultural Ecosystem Services for its outstanding water reclamation and recycling practices, inclusive of its wetlands, wastewater use and reduction, and crop irrigation.


Jackson Family Wines Acquires Siduri

Jackson Family Wines (JFW) of Santa Rosa, Calif., has acquired Siduri Wines, producer of single vineyard Pinot Noir from California and Oregon. The acquisition includes Siduri Wines and its founders Adam and Dianna Novy Lee’s second label, Novy Family Wines. Adam Lee will remain Siduri’s winemaker, and JFW will welcome the broader family of Siduri employees to its company.


New Owner for Kosta Browne

Kosta Browne of Sebastopol, Calif., has a new majority owner, J.W. Childs Associates, a Boston-based private equity firm. The firm bought a controlling stake in the winery from Healdsburg, Calif.-based The Vincraft Group. While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, original partners Dan Kosta, Michael Browne and Chris Costello will retain a 40% ownership stake and continue to lead the operations.



Virginia Wins Gold at 2015 Governor’s Cup

A record 29 Virginia wines have been awarded gold medals in the Virginia Wineries Association’s 2015 Governor’s Cup competition that was held in the month of January. The gold medalists were selected from 390 entries of both red and white wines, from 94 wineries. Virginia Meritage blends again dominated the competition with 13 of the golds going to this red blend.


International Boxed Wine Competition Announced

The Association La Buissonnière du Vin in France has announced the first international competition for boxed wine. Best Wine In Box is aimed at producers from across the globe that market wines in boxes. The wines will be flighted by category and tasted blind by a panel of industry members and experts. Results will be announced March 22. See www.best-wine-in-box.com for details.



January 1, 2015


USDA Expands NAP Buy-Up

The USDA recently announced the opportunity for fruit, vegetable and specialty crop growers to receive greater protection through the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) buy-up program. The new options, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, provide greater coverage for losses when natural disasters affect specialty crops. To learn more, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/nap.


Sonoma’s Dollars & $ense Seminar Set for Jan. 15

Registration is now open for the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission’s 24th Annual Dollars & $ense Seminar and Tradeshow. The event will be held Jan. 15 at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, Calif. Doug Bell, global beverage buyer for Whole Foods Market, will be the keynote speaker. See www.sonomawinegrape.org/15das for details.


E. & J. Gallo Releases Wine Trends Results

Modesto, Calif.-based E. & J. Gallo Winery’s recently commissioned Gallo Consumer Wine Trends Survey looked at 1,001 frequent wine drinkers in the United States, and found that younger consumers (25-40) are increasingly turning to social media to discover new wines. The survey also found that regardless of age, frequent drinkers desire convenience and value taste above all. For more information, see www.gallowinetrends.com.


Sonoma County Winegrowers Awarded Grant

The Sonoma County Winegrowers has received a $377,282 specialty crop block grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture to raise awareness for the Sonoma County brand and increase purchases of Sonoma County wines. The grant will support various print, digital and social media campaigns for the project entitled, “Ensuring Grape Grower Viability by Driving Sales for Sonoma County Wines.”


Fresno State Alumni Establish Scholarship

Fresno State alumni Ryan and Ashley Jacobsen have established a $25,000 endowment with the Ag One Foundation to support scholarships for students of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology in Fresno, Calif. Fresno State senior Jessica Sweet is the first recipient of the scholarship. Established in 1979, Ag One has raised more than $16 million to support the college and its programs.


AWRI Releases Refrigeration Calculator

The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) in Glen Osmond, Australia, has released a tool for wineries seeking to cut costs and improve refrigeration and energy usage. The AWRI Refrigeration Demand Calculator is a spreadsheet-based software tool that allows wineries to enter in a range of production data and grape intake to simulate refrigeration demand across the production cycle.


Early Vintage for California

A mild winter and spring caused an early bud break in California this year, which in turn led to the state’s earliest harvest in a decade. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Pacific Regional Crop Production Report of August 2014, California’s winegrape production this year is forecast at 3.9 million tons, down 8% from 2013’s record-high crop. The 2014 harvest is the third largest on record.


New Direction for Rutherford Wine Experience 

Rutherford Appellation Wineries, the consumer arm of the Rutherford Dust Society, has announced the creation of a new, more intimate Rutherford Wine Experience hosted by Rutherford wineries. The new format was launched with a mini-Rutherford Wine Experience in December 2014. The Grand Launch of the Rutherford Wine Experience weekend will take place May 1-3, 2015. Visit www.rutherford-appellation-wineries.com to learn more.


Messe Düsseldorf to Organize Singapore Wine Fair

In collaboration with the Allworld Group, Messe Düsseldorf – organizers of the wine and spirits trade fairs ProWein and ProWine China – will organize a new trade-only satellite event: ProWine Asia. The first staging will take place at the Singapore Expo from April 12-15. ProWine Asia will be held in parallel with Food&HotelAsia (FHA) in Singapore every two years. Find details at www.prowineasia.com.


Tennessee to Allow Wine Sales in Grocery Stores

Tennessee recently passed measures in 78 local jurisdictions that will allow for the sale of wine in grocery stores starting in July 2016. “Red, White and Food,” an independent organization, led the campaign in favor of grocery store wine. The jurisdictions were able to put the measures on the ballot because they were already “wet” for either on- or off-premise sales of alcohol.


Inaugural ROOTSTOCK Sells Out

The inaugural ROOTSTOCK event, which featured seminars and tastings at the Napa Expo Fairgrounds on Nov. 13, 2014, sold out all of its programs. More than 1,500 grape growers, vineyard and winery owners, winemakers and enologists from around the world attended the conference.


First International Ag Job Board Launches

HuizingHarvest of the Netherlands is connecting employers and job seekers via its new job portal globalAGjobs.com. The site lists jobs for seasonal and permanent employment. Job seekers can register a personal profile and apply directly for agricultural jobs all over the world, free of charge. Employers can register a company profile, post vacancies and search resumes.


University of Houston Opens Food and Beverage Lab

The University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management recently unveiled its state-of-the-art Spec’s Beverage and Food Appreciation Lab. The $750,000 facility, made possible by a donation from the Spec’s Charitable Foundation and the Rydman family, seats up to 80 people for wine appreciation classes and industry training.


Arkansas Defeats Alcoholic Beverage Amendment

In Arkansas, the Alcoholic Beverage Amendment, which would have declared the entire state “wet” for alcohol sales, was defeated by a margin of 42.7-Y to 57.3-No. The opponents, mostly package store operators, spent nearly $2.7 million to defeat the measure.


Rick Tigner to Keynote Unified Wine & Grape

Jackson Family Wines President Rick Tigner will open the 2015 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium as the keynote speaker on Jan. 27. Tigner will address issues affecting U.S. wine companies in a highly competitive global marketplace, including constraints producers face when growing their labels, foreign market opportunities, and resource management. For more information, visit www.unifiedsymposium.org.


Vinous to Acquire International Wine Cellar

New York-based Vinous has agreed to acquire Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (IWC). Founded in 1985 by editor and publisher Stephen Tanzer, IWC is the oldest independent, American-owned wine journal. Tanzer will join Antonio Galloni, Vinous’s CEO and founder, as a partner of Vinous and will be actively involved as editor-in-chief and a lead critic.



Anaba Appoints Winemakers Ross Cobb and Katy Wilson

Ross Cobb and Katy Wilson have been named winemakers for Anaba Wines in Sonoma, Calif. Cobb began his career at Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery and most recently, worked for Hirsch Vineyards. Wilson got her start at Testarossa Winery, and has worked in Australia and New Zealand. She and Cobb met while both were working at Flowers Vineyard & Winery, where they formed a winemaking partnership.


Pat Kane Joins Copper Cane Wines

Copper Cane Wines & Provisions in Rutherford, Calif., has named Pat Kane as national sales director. Kane was previously the vice president and general manager, Heritage Division for Alliance Beverage Distributing in Arizona. With more than 25 years of wine industry experience, Kane has worked in various roles for companies including Constellation Brands Inc., Vincor International, R.H. Phillips Winery and Diageo.


Gina Gallo Receives AWS Award of Merit

The American Wine Society (AWS) has awarded Gina Gallo of the E. & J. Gallo Winery its 2014 Award of Merit. Gallo, who was honored at the organization’s national conference on Nov. 1, 2014, has distinguished herself through the Gallo Signature Series, limited production wines. The AWS presents the Award of Merit in recognition of significant and meritorious contributions to the wine industry.


Dale Stratton Elected Wine Market Council Chair

Wine Market Council in St. Helena, Calif., has elected Dale Stratton, vice president of strategic insights for the wine and spirits division of Constellation Brands, as chair of its board of directors. Stratton succeeds former Wine Market Council Chair Dennis Cakebread. Danny Brager, senior vice president of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice Area, was also elected to the board for a two-year term. 


CALF Honors Nat DiBuduo and Mary Kimball

The California Agricultural Leadership Foundation (CALF) in Salinas, Calif., and the Ag Leadership Alumni Council presented Nat DiBuduo and Mary Kimball with the 2014 Profiles in Leadership Award, recognizing Ag Leadership Program alumni. DiBuduo is the president and CEO of Allied Grape Growers. Kimball is the executive director of the Center for Land-Based LearningDr. Lester Young received the 2014 Honorary Fellow Award.


Dierberg Appoints AJ Fairbanks President

The Dierberg family, owners of Dierberg Vineyard and Star Lane Vineyard in the Santa Barbara County appellation, have appointed Charles ‘AJ’ Fairbanks president of both brands. Fairbanks brings experience in marketing, branding and distribution to his new position. Previously he worked at Hyde de Villaine Wines in Napa Valley.


Robert Mondavi Hires Chris Millard

Robert Mondavi Private Selection has hired Chris Millard as director of winemaking. Millard comes to the Central Coast with experience gained working at two Napa estates: Sterling Vineyard and Newton Vineyard. His appointment coincides with the winery’s 20th anniversary.



entwine Launches Money Back Guarantee

entwine, a wine portfolio from the Livermore, Calif.-based Wente Vineyards, has launched a 100% money back guarantee program in collaboration with Nomacorc, a high-tech wine cork producer in Zebulon, N.C. Designed to spotlight entwine’s new Nomacorc smart closure, the money back guarantee will be promoted through in-store POS.


Betz Family Purchases SeVein Vineyards

Betz Family Winery of Milton-Freewater, Ore., has purchased property at SeVein Vineyards of Distinction on the southern border of Oregon’s Walla Walla Valley AVA. It is Betz Family’s first estate vineyard. Betz will begin preparing the ground at the new vineyard in 2015, with plans to plant Bordeaux varieties – predominately Cabernet Sauvignon – in 2016. The family expects to plant a total of 24 acres.


Dry Creek Vineyard Receives Sustainable Certification

Dry Creek Vineyard in Healdsburg, Calif., has received official recognition as a Certified California Sustainable Winery. Its path to sustainability began more than 20 years ago with Winery Partner Don Wallace, who recognized the need to reduce the winery’s carbon footprint through more earth friendly vineyard practices.


Cowhorn Vineyard Breaks Ground on Tasting Room

Cowhorn Vineyard and Garden, a Demeter-certified Biodynamic farm and winery in Jacksonville, Ore., is working with design firm Green Hammer to pursue Living Building Challenge Petal Certification for its new 2,200-square-foot tasting room. Winery owners Bill and Barbara Steele are also working with Green Hammer on a new 2,300-square-foot residence designed to meet the Passive House standard.


Col Solare Releases Red Mountain Vintage

Born of an equal partnership between Washington’s Chateau Ste. Michelle, and Italy’s Marchesi Antinori, Col Solare in Benton City, Wash., has released the first-ever Red Mountain-designated vintage of its flagship wine: The 2011 Col Solare Red Blend. The limited-production bottling of 2,500 cases is now available.


Alta Colina Opens New Winery

Alta Colina has opened its new state-of-the-art production facility and tasting room in Paso Robles, Calif. The new facility features green technology, including a Tesla charging station, a nighttime cooling system, native and drought-tolerant landscaping, LED lighting and a grey water system for sustainable irrigation. The 8,600-square-foot facility and additional 1,600-square-foot crush pad were designed by Rebecca McKay of Real Architects.


Gloria Ferrer to Remodel Tasting Room

Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards is remodeling its tasting room in Sonoma, Calif.  When the winery opened in 1986, it was designed to blend the Ferrer family’s Catalan culture with its new California home. The renovation will further enhance this style, while creating an updated space that will expand guest capacity and tasting options. The project is slated for completion this June.


LCF Wines Introduces Ivory & Burt

LCF Wines, a Lodi, Calif.-based collaboration among three wine industry families – LangeTwins, Coors and Ficeli – has released Ivory & Burt, a new wine brand. Produced by winemaker Karen Birmingham, Ivory & Burt is available in a Chardonnay, a Zinfandel and a Red Blend. The wines are line-priced at $16.99.


Ownership change for Envolve Winery

Kate Benziger has joined brother Mike Benziger, co-owner of Envolve Winery, to create a family-owned and -operated business. Danny Fay will maintain an active role with Envolve, while Ben Flajnik is pursuing new ventures. The new Envolve is encouraging consumers to “Get Envolved” in supporting the community, and organizations like Becoming Independent, which has helped their brother, Chris Benziger, and other people with disabilities live meaningful and productive lives. 



Eric Michael Dunham Found Dead

On Oct. 23, Eric Michael Dunham, 44, a prominent winemaker and distributor from Walla Walla, Wash., was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Cannon Beach’s The Waves Motel. Dunham had been listed as a missing person. Dunham founded his winery, Dunham Cellars, in the mid-90s with his parents, Mike and Joanne.


Leonard Olson Dies at 73

The Southwest Michigan Wine Trail is mourning the passing of Leonard Olson, 73, owner and operator of Baroda Founders Wine Cellar. He died unexpectedly on Dec. 2. Olson’s career in the Michigan wine industry began when he and a partner planted the state’s first commercial European grape vines in the late 1960s. He later obtained the first Michigan winery license after prohibition, and opened Tabor Hill in 1972. He left Tabor Hill in 1982, and pursued other opportunities including winemaking in Kentucky, where he was recognized as one of the founding members of the Kentucky Grape & Wine Council. Several years ago, Olson returned to Michigan and launched Baroda Founders Wine Cellar. He is survived by four children and three grandchildren.


October 2014


Gov. Brown Signs Groundwater Legislation

On Sept. 16, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed historic legislation that allows local agencies to tailor sustainable groundwater plans to their regional economic and environmental needs. The three bills signed by the Governor (AB 1739 and Senate Bills 1168 and 1319) create a framework for sustainable, local groundwater management for the first time in California history.


TTB Approves New AVAs in Paso Robles

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has published a final rule in the Federal Register establishing 11 new American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) within California’s existing Paso Robles viticultural area. The Districts are: Adelaida, Creston, El Pomar, Paso Robles Estrella, Paso Robles Geneseo, Paso Robles Highlands, Paso Robles Willow Creek, San Juan Creek, San Miguel, Santa Margarita Ranch, and Templeton Gap.


Industry Group Launches Vintage Atlantic Wine Region

A collaborative group of destination marketing organizations, wineries and wine trails has launched the Vintage Atlantic Wine Region. The group, forged in 2013 to create a wine region that links existing wine trails and wineries in various states, represents the first East Coast multi-state wine region, and includes Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.


Study Shows 26% of U.S. Wine Drinkers Prefer Premium

Wine Drinkers in the U.S. Market 2014, a new report from the London-based Wine Intelligence, finds that premium wine drinkers in the U.S. (those drinking wine at least once a week and typically spending over $15 a bottle for home consumption) account for 26% of the wine drinking population, but 56% of the total spend. The nation’s 23 million premium drinkers buy four in every 10 wine bottles sold in the U.S. market.


Sonoma State Receives $250K Gift

Fine wine and spirits distributor Young’s Market Co. has made a $250,000 gift to Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, Calif., which will support the completion of the Industry Boardroom in the new Wine Spectator Learning Center. The new Center and Boardroom will provide the infrastructure to expand curricula and develop wine industry leadership around the world. Construction is slated for completion in mid-2016.


AVF Announces Scholarship Awards

The American Vineyard Foundation (AVF) in Napa, Calif., is awarding five grants, provided by the André Tchelistcheff and Dr. Richard Peterson Scholarship Programs, to graduate students conducting viticulture and enology research at UC Davis and Fresno State University. Recipients are working on a host of research projects, including water efficiency measures in vineyard practices and breeding practices for drought tolerant rootstocks.



Sonoma County Vintners Director Steps Down

The Sonoma County Vintners Board of Directors has announced that Honore Comfort will step down as executive director in January, after nine years of leadership. The Board has retained Leap Solutions Group to conduct a nationwide search for Comfort’s replacement.


The Workshop Promotes Jeremy Leffert

Winemaker Jeremy Leffert has been promoted to general manager of The Workshop Urban Wine Collective in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The Workshop offers a full range of wine production and promotion services to artisan winemakers and custom crush clients. Previously, Leffert was winemaker for Hearst Ranch Winery from its inception in 2009 to 2014, when he joined The Workshop.


Emily Talley Becomes Bandit Ambassador

Trinchero Family Estates (TFE) is collaborating with pro-golfer and Napa native Emily Talley to be the Bandit wines brand ambassador at numerous golf tournaments and events during the next year, including the Symetra Tour and the Golf Channel’s Big Break Invitational. Talley is hoping to become a Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Rookie in 2015.


Dan Hanfland Named AWS Director

The American Wine Society (AWS) in Englewood, Ohio, has named wine industry veteran Dan Hanfland as executive director. Hanfland succeeds John Hames, effective Jan. 1. Previously, he worked with Joseph E. Seagram, Ltd. and Vintners International Company's wine divisions.


The Winery SF Hires Marc Ventre

Marc Ventre has joined The Winery SF as associate winemaker. As the winery’s production has grown, Ventre was hired to assist Head Winemaker Bryan Kane in all areas of winemaking. The Winery SF is located on San Francisco’s historic Treasure Island.


Joseph Wagner Launches New Wine Company

Joseph Wagner, founder/winemaker at Belle Glos and Meiomi Pinot Noirs, has formed Copper Cane Wines & Provisions in Rutherford, Calif. The new wine company will be home to Meiomi Pinot Noir, as well as the newly released Meiomi Chardonnay. Wagner Family of Wine will continue to represent the Belle Glos single-vineyard-designate pinot noirs.


Terravant Hires Mari Kelly, Promotes Laryssa Adame 

Terravant Wine Company in Buellton, Calif., has hired Mari Kelly as the director of sales for the eastern region, and has promoted Laryssa Adame to brand manager of the newly created Terravant’s Wines & Designs Portfolio division. Based in Virginia, Kelly will oversee private label sales and national brand business for the East Coast. 



St. James Winery Places in Top 15

St. James Winery of St. James, Mo., recently placed in the top 15 of the World Association of Wine and Spirits Writers and Journalists annual list of the 100 Top Wineries in the World.


J Vineyards & Winery Expands Footprint

Healdsburg, Calif.-based J Vineyards & Winery has acquired two hillside vineyards in Annapolis, Calif. Both are part of the Sonoma Coast AVA, and represent the first J estate vineyards outside of the Russian River Valley. The new vineyards encompass 44 planted vineyard acres of primarily Dijon clone pinot noir.


Atlas and Price Announce Joint Venture

California’s Atlas Vineyard Management and Price Family Vineyards have embarked on a joint venture with the purchase of Walala Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA. They will look to acquire other vineyard properties in the future. Purchased from The Conservation Fund, the Walala Vineyard has been farmed by Atlas since it was planted in 2005, and is comprised of 17 acres of pinot noir.


America’s Oldest Winery Turns 175

Brotherhood Winery, America’s oldest continuously operating winery, celebrates its 175th year of harvest this fall. Since its first vintage release in 1839, the Hudson Valley winery in Washingtonville, N.Y., has survived the Civil War, two World Wars and even Prohibition. To commemorate the 175th Anniversary, Brotherhood will release three new wines, host on-site events and participate in statewide wine and food festivals.


Lula Cellars Opens New Tasting Room

Lula Cellars of Philo, Calif., has opened a new 22-acre property in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley. The new property features a pet-friendly tasting room, a 14-acre pinot noir vineyard and a small-production winemaking facility. Beginning in 2015, a 10,000-square-foot events area will be available for weddings and other private events.


Winemaker Studios Launches in San Francisco

A collective group of urban wineries have come together to provide a one-of-a-kind wine tasting destination on Treasure Island in San Francisco, Calif. The recently launched Winemaker Studios is comprised of San Francisco-based VIE Winery; Sol Rouge from the Red Hills AVA of Lake County; and Sottomarino Winery, a new tasting room housed in a ‘submarine’ that opened in June.


Stag’s Leap Opens FAY Vistor Center 

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in Napa, Calif., has officially opened its FAY Outlook & Visitor Center. Barcelona-based architect Javier Barba created the design for the center, which overlooks Stag’s Leap’s FAY and S.L.V. historic estate vineyards. The new center cost approximately $7 million to build, and was funded by Stag’s Leap’s joint venture owners Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Marchesi Antinori



Harvey Posert, Wine PR Innovator

Harvey Posert, Jr., an influential leader in the California wine industry for nearly 50 years, died Oct. 3, 2014, after a brief illness. He was 84. Known in the wine business as the “Top PR Man” and “The Wine PR Guru,” the native of Memphis, Tenn., spent most of his career in wine public relations, working on several of the most successful programs in the industry, including the Wine Institute’s award-winning program to educate Americans about California wine and the Robert Mondavi PR program. In 1996, he launched Harvey Posert Public Relations and worked until his passing on major programs, such as publicizing the Charles Shaw wine brand “Two Buck Chuck.” Posert is survived by his three sons, Harvey Posert III, Robert Posert, and Peter Posert, as well as three grandsons and two granddaughters.


Winery Owner Robert L. Hall

Robert L. Hall, owner of Robert Hall Winery, passed away from complications related to an extended illness on Oct. 4, 2014. He was 85. Originally from St. Paul, Minn., Hall invested in a variety of business ventures including bowling centers, travel agencies, apartments and shopping centers. In the 1970s, he and his family took a trip to Southern France and discovered a new passion – wine. After researching various areas, he settled in Paso Robles for the location of his vineyards and winery. His vision came to fruition when he began making wine in 2001. He is survived by his spouse, Margaret Burrell Hall, and his three daughters. His wife will continue running the winery and hospitality operations.



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