News Briefs California

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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

Unified Symposium Keynote Speaker announced

 

Sacramento, Calif.—St. George Spirits’ master distiller Lance Winters will be presenting the keynote address at the 25th Unified Wine & Grape Symposium luncheon on Tuesday, Jan. 29, at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento. Winters has been with St. George Spirits in Alameda, Calif., since 1996 and has has helped St. George launch many of its well-known spirits. His work has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation in 2016 and 2017 as a semifinalist and a finalist in 2018 for the category of Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

Maley hired as GM at Robert Young

 

Geyserville, Calif.—Robert Young Estate Winery hired Karen Maley as its new general manager. Prior to joining Robert Young, Maley was the general manager at Electric Sky Wine, held a leadership role at StackTeck Wines, was a founding partner at Stryker Sonoma Winery in Alexander Valley and worked as a senior director of marketing at E. & J. Gallo Winery.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

St. Francis buys Russian River vineyard

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—St. Francis Winery & Vineyards acquired a 80-acre Chardonnay vineyard near Eastside Road in the Russian River Valley AVA. According to a press release announcing the acquisition, the winery plans to replant the property to additional varieties. St. Francis now owns four estate vineyards that includes another property in the Russian River Valley and two in Sonoma Valley. Zepponi & Company was the exclusive advisor to Silverado Investment Management Company, which sold the property to St. Francis. “This acquisition will assist in further solidifying the platform for our future growth opportunities. We look forward to continuing to invest in Sonoma County,” said St. Francis president and CEO Rick Bonitati in the statement announcing the deal.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

Paradise Ridge breaks ground on new winery

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Byck family officially broke ground to rebuild Paradise Ridge Winery a year after it was destroyed in the October 2017 wildfires. The winery hired the firm TLCD Architecture to design the new structure using the same footprint as the original building. Wright Contracting will be managing construction. While Paradise Ridge moves forward in the next stage of recovery, the winery’s Kenwood, Calif., tasting room remains open.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

Boeger receives congressional commendation

 

Placerville, Calif.—Greg Boeger, founder and owner of Boeger Winery in Placerville, Calif., received a Congressional Commendation for Wine by U.S. Rep. John Garamendi. The award “officially recognizes outstanding public achievements” of people who live in the congressman’s district. “Greg Boeger has played a significant role in the history of California wine and I statement announcing the commendation. Earlier this year, Boeger received the Wine Lifetime Achievement Award from the California State Fair.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

WX acquires Reckless Love, Sunday Funday brands

 

Novato, Calif.—WX Brands purchased Reckless Love and Sunday Funday wine brands. The two brands join WX Brands’ portfolio, which includes Bread & Butter, Chronic Cellars, Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, Jelly Jar and Our Daily Wines. Reckless Love and Sunday Funday was founded by winemaker Chip Forsythe as part of Rebel Coast Winery in 2012, which, according to Wines Vines Analytics, was producing 20,000 cases annually with an average bottle price of $23.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

Wine Group acquires 7 Deadly brand

 

Livermore, Calif.—The Wine Group purchased the 7 Deadly brand, the Zinfandel brand by Michael David Winery, which, according to Wines Vines Analytics produces 700,000 cases annually. The 7 Deadly’s lead SKU, 7 Deadly Zins, a 100% Zinfandel sourced from the Lodi AVA was first released in 2002. The 7 Deadly brand also includes 7 Deadly Red, a proprietary red blend also from the Lodi AVA. “We look forward to continuing to work with 7 Deadly’s growers in the Lodi AVA, which we believe grows the best Zinfandel in California and the world,” said Brian Vos, CEO of The Wine Group in a press release.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

Livermore auction raises $325,000

 

Livermore, Calif.—The Livermore Valley Winegrowers Foundation and the Wente Foundation for Arts Education raised $325,000 for under-served children at the 24th annual Livermore Valley Wine Auction on Sept. 29. This year’s fundraising brings the total raised over the event’s history to over $5 million.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

Lake County winery association names executive director

 

Lakeport, Calif.—The Lake County Winery Association appointed Helena Welsh as the group’s new executive director. Welsh will be responsible for overseeing the association's activities, increasing membership and promoting tourism. Prior to taking the position with the winery association, Welsh served as a board member for the Valley Fire Rebuild Expo and board treasurer for the Summit Recreation and Social Club. After graduating from California State University, Sacramento with a degree in business administration Welsh moved to Lake County and is raising her family in Cobb.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

Porter to resign from Paso alliance

 

Paso Robles, Calif.— Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance executive director Jennifer Porter is stepping down from her role at the organization at the end of 2018. Porter has held the position a for the past seven years, and, according to the press release announcing the change, Porter is going to (word missing) opportunities on the East Coast to be closer to family. The search for a new executive director is actively underway. Porter will be assisting the alliance with the search and the transition.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

Rootstock expert Jim Wolpert dies

 

Davis, Calif.—James A. Wolpert died Oct. 14 at his home. He was 67. Wolpert was a former chair of the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis and a longtime extension specialist in viticulture who “spent a good part of his career conveying mission-critical information to the grape and wine industry,” recalled the department’s current chair David Block in a statement released by the school. “As a researcher, Jim focused on rootstock evaluation, as well as scion clonal trials, including the important Heritage Zinfandel clones that he planted at Oakville,” Block said. “For us here in the department, however, Jim will be most remembered for getting us to where we are today as a department, both figuratively and quite literally, as he was instrumental, as chair, in creating the vision for the Robert Mondavi Institute.”

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

ZAP awarded grant from CDFA

 

Grass Valley, Calif.—The Association of Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) was awarded a specialty crop block grant in the amount of $256,291 from The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The funds will support the association’s launch of a campaign called: “Zinfandel: Stories of America’s Heritage Grape.”

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

New winemaker at CK Mondavi

 

Napa, Calif.—C. Mondavi & Family hired Randy Herron as the head winemaker for its CK Mondavi & Family wine brand. Herron comes to the company with 22 years of winemaking experience and his most recent position was at Bryan, Texas-based Messina Hof Winery, where he served as senior winemaker and operations manager for more than six years. Prior to that, Herron spent seven years at Casella Family Brands in Australia.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

New winemaker at Charles R Vineyards

 

Livermore, Calif.—Charles R Vineyards hired Lisa Lee as its new winemaker. Lee began her winemaking studies in the Livermore Valley at the Las Positas College enology program and earned her winemaking certificate from the University of California, Davis, in 2012.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

Guarachi acquires Parker Station Brand

 

Woodland Hills, Calif.—Guarachi Wine Partners in Woodland Hills, Calif., acquired Parker Station, a Central Coast Pinot Noir brand previously owned by Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard in Los Olivos, Calif. According to a statement announcing the deal, Guarachi Wine Partners’ sales team will represent the brand, develop marketing campaigns and secure national distribution to increase brand awareness and sales volume. The wine will continue to be produced by Fess Parker winery for a period of five years.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

Sonoma County Vintners appoints new executive director

 

Sonoma, Calif.—The board of directors of Sonoma County Vintners appointed Michael Haney as executive director of Sonoma County Vintners. Haney has been serving as interim executive director since February and previously served as director of membership for three years. As executive director, Haney will oversee Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma County Vintners Foundation. A member of the Martinelli family of Martinelli Winery and Vineyards, Haney also produces his own wine under Black Dog Cellars, specializing in small lots of Russian River Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Syrah and Chardonnay.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

ZD Wines promotes winemaking team

 

Napa, Calif.—ZD Wines promoted winemaker Chris Pisani to senior winemaker and associate winemaker Brandon deLeuze to winemaker. Pisani has been a winemaker at ZD since 1996 and in his new role he is responsible for leading the production of ZD’s wines. DeLeuze started working full-time for ZD in 2006 and received a MBA from Sonoma State University in 2015.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

Justin Vineyards new tasting room

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—Justin Vineyards opened its second tasting room located in downtown Paso Robles at 811 12th St. The new venue includes a tasting bar, lounge and full dining room, offering guests wine flights, wines by the glass and multiple food pairing or dining options. "This is a special day for Justin as we expand the footprint of our brand and our commitment to the Paso Robles community," said Clarence Chia, vice president of marketing and direct-to-consumer for the winery.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

Bouchaine Vineyards hires Brian Mott

 

Carneros, Calif.—Bourchaine Vineyards hired Brian Mott as western regional sales manager. Mott has 25 years of experience in the wine industry, having worked at Chalk Hill Estate, Silver Oak & Twomey Cellars, Maisons, Marques & Domaines (House of Louis Roederer Champagne), among others. In his new role, he will be responsible for accounts within Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Hawaii.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2018
 

Cuvaison names new research winemaker

 

Napa, Calif.—Cuvaison winery hired Rob Fischer to the newly created position of small lot and research winemaker. In his new position, Fischer will focus on exploring character composition of specific blocks within Cuvaison’s 200-acre Los Carneros estate vineyard. Fischer will be working alongside winemaker Steve Rogstad. In collaboration with Rogstad, Fischer will oversee Cuvaison’s small and micro lot wines. He’ll also be responsible for managing Cuvaison’s research program in areas such as yeast trials, irrigation, clonal and rootstock material and new viticultural and vinification techniques.

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2018
 

Brave & Maiden opens new winery

 

Santa Ynez, Calif.—Brave & Maiden Estate opened a new winery and tasting room located on the winery’s 70-acre estate along Refugio Road in Santa Ynez. The new production facility, designed by Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects in St. Helena, Calif., is permitted for 8,000 cases pear year production. The hospitality area contains an indoor-outdoor tasting room with views of the estate vineyards and the Santa Ynez Mountains.

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2018
 

Sonoma County auction tops $5.7 million

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Sonoma County Vintners Foundation raised more than $5.7 million at the 2018 Sonoma County Wine Auction. The Fund-A-Need paddle raise, dedicated to raising funds for Sonoma County housing solutions, raised $2.5 million. The live auction was held at La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard on Sept. 22, and was the culmination of a three-day event in Sonoma County, which also included a revival-themed kick-off party at Paradise Ridge and several vintner dinners hosted throughout the county. Paradise Ridge winery was destroyed in the October 2017 wildfires. 

“We are thrilled with the results of this year’s auction and are grateful to our generous bidders, wine community, sponsors, donors, and volunteers for their support and participation in this event,” said Michael Haney, Sonoma County Vintners executive director in a statement released by the group. “Every year the proceeds raised by our auction benefit local nonprofit organizations that support our community’s most pressing needs.”

The event's top lot was submitted by the auction's honoary chair, George Hamel Jr., and included a private concert by the jazz legend Vince Guaraldi. The lot sold for $460,000 with 46 couples each paying $10,000. 

The auction’s top wine-only lot was winemaker Michael Browne’s Lot No. 7 that included estate, library wines of CIRQ in mixed formats. The lot sold for $80,000.

Other top lots included:

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2018
 

Piper Sonoma joins Folio Fine Wine Partners

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Piper Sonoma appointed Folio Fine Wine Partners as its national marketing partner, effective as of Sept. 13. The addition of the sparkling house marks the second Sonoma County property to join Folio this year, following a similar agreement with Dutton-Goldfield in January.

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2018
 

New winemaker at Thornhill

 

Santa Maria, Calif.—Thornhill Companies hired Lauren Barret as its new blending winemaker. Barrett joins Thornhill Companies after spending time working and studying abroad, most recently in Australia where she conducted research at the Australian Wine Research Institute. “Having worked internationally, I’ve encountered a variety of winemaking challenges… I look forward to applying my diverse skill set in my new role with The Thornhill Companies,” Barrett said in the press release announcing her hiring

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2018
 

Lohr promotes Steve Peck

 

San Jose, Calif.—J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines promoted Steve Peck, who’s been with the company since 2007, from red wine winemaker to director of winemaking. In his new role, Peck will be responsible for leading the family-owned-and-operated winery’s winemaking program at its Paso Robles, Calif., and Monterey County wineries. Peck is taking over the position from Jeff Meier, who has been with J. Lohr since 1984 and has been COO, president and director of winemaking since 2013. With Peck’s promotion, Meier will focus exclusively on his role as president and COO, according to a statement from the winery.

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2018
 

Vineyard manager Ulises Valdez dies

 

Cloverdale, Calif.—Ulises Valdez, who came to the United States from Mexico as a teenager to pick grapes and would go on to build a successful vineyard management company and winery, died Sept. 12 at the age of 49. After working in vineyards for several years, the federal Immigration and Reform and Control Act of 1986 enabled Valdez to obtain legal residency and he used the opportunity to form a vineyard management company. Valdez's meticulous work earned him clients such as Mark Aubert, Jeff Cohn, Paul Hobbs and Jayson Pahlmeyer and Valdez and Sons Vineyard Management now oversees more than 1,000 acres of vines. In 2004, Valdez released the first vintage of his eponymous wine and opened a winery in 2010 and a tasting room in Healdsburg in 2013. In May, 2010, Valdez’ Russian River “Silver Eagle” Chardonnay was served to President Felipe Calderon of Mexico at a state dinner at the White House. Valdez is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters.

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2018
 

Domaine Carneros opens garden conservatory

 

Napa, Calif.—Domaine Carneros, opened a new garden conservatory, Jardin d’Hiver, with an expanded hospitality space and five-course pairing experience. With the opening of the Jardin d’Hiver comes an expanded tasting experience called “The Art of Sparkling Wine Pairing: Asian Bites with Bubbles," an Asian-inspired, seasonally-driven five course food and wine pairing designed to showcase the versatility of sparkling wine.

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2018
 

Rombauer Vineyards' new national sales manager

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Rombauer Vineyards promoted Alison Surgeon to national sales manager. Surgeon has been with Rombauer since 2004, beginning as the winery’s sales and marketing assistant. She is a graduate of Sonoma State University’s Executive MBA for Wine Business and also holds an undergraduate degree in business administration from Sonoma State University.

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2018
 

Tolosa names estate manager, assistant winemaker

 

San Luis Obispo, Calif.—Tolosa Winery hired Michael Giese as its new estate manager. He previously served as the brand manager at Hope Family Wines in Paso Robles, Calif. In his new role, Giese is responsible for overseeing Tolosa’s 25-person on-site sales and hospitality team, reporting directly to Tolosa’s general manager, June McIvor.

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2018
 

Guerra joins Vineyard 29

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Vineyard 29 hired Eric Guerra as the winery’s new chief sales and marketing officer. Guerra has more than 15 years of experience managing luxury tier wineries and wine brands, most recently at Terravant Wine Company in Buellton, Calif., where he served as chief sales and marketing officer for nearly eight years. In his new role, Guerra will oversee all aspects of sales and marketing for Vineyard 29, working closely with owners Chuck and Anne McMinn.

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2018
 

NVG raises $2.04 million

 

Napa Calif.—The Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) celebrated its 11th annual Harvest Stomp on Aug. 25, with a sold-out crowd of 575 guests, raising more than $2.04 million. Proceeds from the event directly support NVG’s ongoing efforts to preserve and promote Napa Valley’s vineyards and the professional development and education of Napa Valley farm workers. This year’s event featured five, 1-ton lots of grapes as auction lots, and was hosted by Frog’s Leap owners Tori and John Williams at their Galleron Vineyard.

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2018
 

Fetzer honored with "Changemaker" distinction

 

Hopland, Calif.—Fetzer Vineyards, the world’s largest winery to be certified as a B Corporation, has been recognized as a “Changemaker” among certified B Corporations. According to a press release by Fetzer, the Changemakers list highlights global B Corporations that have made the most positive improvements on their overall impact based on independent, comprehensive assessments administered by B Lab. The award recognizes Fetzer Vineyards’ measurable and verified progress toward enhancing its leadership in sustainability in the wine industry.

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2018
 

Nickel & Nickel hires new winemaker

 

Oakville, Calif.—Nickel & Nickel hired Joe Harden as its new winemaker. Harden comes to Nickel & Nickel from Robert Mondavi Winery where he was the winemaker for Bordeaux varietals and oversaw production for the To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon wines. In his new position, Harden will produce Nickel & Nickel’s portfolio of single-vineyard Cabernets.

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2018
 

Donum Estate's new winery

 

Carneros, Calif.—Donum Estate, which, according to Wines Vines analytics, currently produces 5,000 cases annually out of Punchdown custom crush in Santa Rosa, is beginning construction of its own winery, scheduled to open just in time for the 2019 harvest. The new facility will also include a hospitality pavilion where Donum guests can enjoy wine tastings overlooking the Carneros estate vineyards. According to architect Matt Hollis of MH Architects in San Francisco, Calif., the general design of both the winery and the hospitality space are inspired by the historic farm buildings surrounding the area and “pay homage to the legacy of the site, recalling its previous life as a dairy."

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2018
 

Winemaker Kent Rosenblum dies

 

Oakland, Calif.—Kent Rosenblum, founder of Rosenblum Cellars and Rock Wall Wine Company, died on Wednesday, Sept. 5. He was 74. Rosenblum was a veterinarian with a passion for winemaking, when he founded Rosenblum Cellars, an urban winery in West Oakland in 1978. After selling the winery in 2008, Rosenblum founded Rock Wall Winery with daughter Sauna Rosenblum. Rosenblum is survived by his wife, Kathy, daughters Shauna and Kristen, and granddaughter Skylar. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations to the Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS) be made in Kent Rosenblum's name. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2018
 

Sonoma Vintners donate to non-profits

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Sonoma County Vintners Foundation donated $520,000 in grants to more than 50 local nonprofit organizations. Grants were made through the group's community grants program, with funding from the 2017 Sonoma County Wine Auction. The grants program supports four areas: education, health and human services, environment and arts and culture. Nonprofits are eligible to apply for grants up to $10,000 for programs or projects under one of these four areas. The Sonoma County Vintners Foundation partners with the Community Foundation Sonoma County to administer the community grants program. The 2018 Sonoma County Wine Auction will take place on Saturday, Sept. 22 at La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard.

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2018
 

Cakebread appoints new CEO

 

Napa, Calif.—Cakebread Cellars has hired Mike Jaeger as its new president and chief executive officer. Current president and CEO, Bruce Cakebread, will remain on the winery’s board of directors, along with his brother Dennis Cakebread, who will continue as chairman. Jaeger has 20 years of experience leading numerous wine businesses, including both family-owned and public companies. Most recently, Jaeger was CEO at C. Mondavi & Family and also served as chairman at Clos du Val Winery.

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2018
 

Cakebread appoints new CEO

 

Napa, Calif.—Cakebread Cellars hired Mike Jaeger as its new president and chief executive officer. Current president and CEO, Bruce Cakebread, will remain on the winery’s board of directors, along with his brother Dennis Cakebread, who will continue as chairman. Jaeger has 20 years of experience leading numerous wine businesses, including both family-owned and public companies. Most recently, Jaeger was CEO at C. Mondavi & Family and also served as chairman at Clos du Val Winery.

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2018
 

McLeod, Maher working with Cuvaison

 

Napa, Calif.—Cuvaison Estate Wines, which includes Cuvaison winery in the Carneros AVA and Brandlin Vineyard in the Mount Veeder AVA of Napa County, is now working with consulting winemaker Scott McLeod and consulting viticulturist Kelly Maher. In addition to the new consultants, Cuvaison is planning an extensive replanting of the company’s 200-acre Carneros estate and is investing in its winemaking and hospitality programs for both Cuvaison and Brandlin.

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2018
 

Napa Farm Bureau promotes Klobas to CEO

 

Napa, Calif.—Napa County Farm Bureau promoted Ryan Klobas from policy director to CEO. The group’s board of directors voted on the promotion Aug. 15. “It is an honor to have the trust and support from our board of birectors to further the Farm Bureau’s policy goals and community outreach efforts,” Klobas said in a statement.

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2018
 

Hospitality behavior linked to DtC sales

 

Rohnert Park, Calif.—Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute announced a new study, conducted by Dr. Kyuho Lee, associate professor of marketing, and Dr. Anisya Fritz, professional faculty at the Wine Business Institute and proprietor of Lynmar Estate Winery, linking winery hospitality to DtC sales. The study concluded that when consumers visit wineries their spending is directly linked to winery staff’s hospitality behaviors, such as kindness and willingness, as opposed to wine quality and reputation of the winery.

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2018
 

Wine brand honors trailblazing women

 

San Rafael, Calif.—The new wine brand emBRAZEN wines is taking inspiration from historical female figures for its latest label designs. Available nationwide as of Aug. 26, Women’s Equality Day, the trio of California wines, including a Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and red blend, each feature a female pioneer who “defied convention and sought to bring about positive change in the world.” The labels come to life through augmented reality app, as each woman shares her personal story.

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2018
 

Stony Hill acquired by Long Meadow

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Stony Hill Vineyard will become part of Long Meadow Ranch Wine Estates through an acquisition announced Aug. 28. According to the statement announcing the deal, the McCrea family will retain an equity interest in the combined entity, which is led by Ted Hall and executive vice president and COO, Chris Hall.  “We have admired Stony Hill for more than 30 years and look forward to continuing the traditions established by the McCrea family including their commitment to producing terroir-driven, age worthy wines with low-alcohol, beautiful acidity and minerality,” Ted Hall said in the statement.

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2018
 

Winemaker Patrick Foley Dies at 31

 

Sonoma, Calif.—William Patrick Foley III passed away Aug. 12 from natural causes. The family has issued the following statement but has asked for privacy during this time. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2018
 

Far Niente names new director of winemaking

 

Oakville, Calif.—Far Niente Family of Wineries and Vineyards named Andrew Delos as the new director of winemaking. Delos has been with the company for 14 years, first as assistant winemaker at Nickel & Nickel, then as winemaker of EnRoute since its first vintage in 2007. In his new position, Delos will continue as EnRoute winemaker, while managing overall production capabilities and coordinating best practices among the winemakers in the Far Niente Family.

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2018
 

Fayard joins Krupp Brothers as winemaker

 

Napa, Calif.—Krupp Brothers announced Julien Fayard as its new winemaker. Fayard, who is originally from the Provence region of France, trained in Bordeaux working for Château Lafite-Rothschild and Smith Haut Lafitte where he oversaw vineyard management and developed his winemaking skills. After moving to Napa in 2006, Fayard worked alongside Philippe Melka as director of winemaking at Atelier Melka before launching his own brand Azur Wines.

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2018
 

Ehlers Estate names new winemaker

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Laura Diaz Muñoz is the new winemaker and director of operations of Ehlers Estate winery in Napa Valley. Muñoz has spent the last ten years at Jackson Family Wines, where she was the associate winemaker for Cardinale & Lokoya, Mt. Brave Wines and La Jota Vineyard Co.

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2018
 

Delicato, Mercer collaborate on wine brand

 

Napa, Calif.—Delicato Family Vineyards and Mercer Wine Estates in Prosser, Wash., announced the launch a collaborative new wine produced with Washington grapes. The new, national brand, Mercer Family Vineyards, is a partnership between the two fourth-generation family owned wine companies. The inaugural release includes a Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, red blend and a reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. A Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Malbec and reserve red blend is planned for the Pacific Northwest market.

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2018
 

Master somm Dame joins DAOU

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—DAOU Vineyards announced master sommelier Fred L. Dame joined the company as its global wine ambassador. Dame will work with founders Georges Daou and Daniel Daou to bring the Adelaida District of the Paso Robles AVA to the attention of the global wine trade and to enhance international awareness of DAOU wines. “I couldn’t think of a better final chapter of my career than the opportunity to work alongside the Daou brothers,” Dame in a statement.

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2018
 

New winemaker, winery at Hudson

 

Napa, Calif.—Clayton Kirchoff is the new winemaker at Hudson Vineyards in Napa, Calif. Kirchoff has worked at Hudson for the past five years and previously gained experience at Failla Wines, Realm Cellars and Chateau Boswell. The company hired Skip Karabian as brand director. Prior to joining Hudson, Karabian worked at Wilson Daniels as brand manager as well as Regusci Winery in Napa Valley. The winery also announced it has expanded its operations to include a new winery and a hospitality facility that is plans to open on Sept. 1.

 
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News Briefs California

 
July 2018
 

Long Meadow Ranch opens new tasting room

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Long Meadow Ranch opened a new Anderson Valley tasting room at The Madrones, a resort on Highway 128 in Philo, Calif. The new tasting room joins a cluster of tasting rooms located in The Madrones, including Drew Family Cellars and Smith-Story Winery. The Long Meadow Ranch Anderson Valley estate vineyard is located just a few miles away from the new tasting room. The goal, according to the winery, is to have guests tastes the wines in the region where the grapes are grown and the wine made.

 
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News Briefs California

 
July 2018
 

Crimson names new CMO

 

Napa, Calif.—Crimson Wine group announced Lisa Kislak is the company’s new chief marketing officer. Kislak fills a newly created position that will report directly to president and CEO Patrick DeLong. Kislak will oversee all marketing and brand strategic planning, public relations, digital strategy, direct-to-consumer channels and hospitality programs. Crimson Wine Group owns several West Coast wineries, including Seghesio Family Vineyards in Sonoma, Calif., Archery Summit in Dundee Hills, Ore., and Seven Hills Winery in Walla Walla, Wash.

 
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News Briefs California

 
July 2018
 

Napa vintners appoint communications director

 

St. Helena, Calif.—The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) announced the appointment of Korinne Munson as its new communications director. Munson was, most recently, director of communications and digital for Moët Hennessy in New York. Previous to that position, Munson held director of marketing and communications positions with wine and spirits brands and organizations, including New Wines of Greece/Wines from Santorini, her own marketing and public relations consultancy firm in San Francisco, J. Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg and an earlier position as communications and marketing manager at Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (Cliquot Inc. Division) in Manhattan.

 
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News Briefs California

 
July 2018
 

Duckhorn to acquire Kosta Browne

 

Napa, Calif.—Duckhorn Wine Company announced its planned acquisition of Kosta Browne Wines on July 17. The sale included the company, the winery, inventory and all assets including 170 acres of vineyards either owned or secured through long-term leases that include Cerise Vineyard in the Anderson Valley and sections of Keefer Ranch Vineyard in the Russian River Valley and Gap’s Crown Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast. The Kosta Browne team will remain with the winery, including CEO Scott Becker and winemaker Nico Cueva. The purchase of Kosta Browne will not include CIRQ, which was founded, and continues to be owned, by Michael Browne.

The purchase was expected to close in August, terms of the deal were not released. 

“This is a huge win for both Duckhorn Wine Company and Kosta Browne,” said Alex Ryan, president and CEO of Napa-based Duckhorn Wine Company, in the press release announcing the deal. “Fine wine lovers have an insatiable demand for luxury Pinot Noir, and Kosta Browne’s wines are among America’s most coveted.”

Kosta Browne was founded by Dan Kosta and Michael Browne, with Chris Costello joining the partnership in 2001. In 2012, Kosta Browne built its own winery in Sebastopol, Calif. A hospitality area at the winery opened this summer. 

“As a lover of good wines and good investments, I have particularly enjoyed working with Scott Becker, our dynamic CEO, and his talented team on the relentless pursuit of quality at Kosta Browne,” said John Childs, chairman of the private equity firm J.W. Childs Associates, which currently owns Kosta Browne. “Every action, whether the purchase of Cerise or our proprietary bottling line, was taken to advance the quality of Kosta Browne wines. 

Duckhorn Wine Company includes Duckhorn Vineyards, Paraduxx, Goldeneye, Migration, Decoy, Canvasback and Calera. 

 
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July 2018
 

Winemaking transition at Robert Mondavi

 

Napa, Calif.—Genevieve Janssens is moving from the post of director of winemaking to chief winemaker at Robert Mondavi Winery and Nova Cadamatre has rejoined the winery as senior director of winemaking.

According to a statement released by the winery, Janssens will continue to “provide insight into the heritage and history of the vineyards, winery and legacy of Robert Mondavi” as she worked alongside the founder until his death in 2008 and then continued to oversee winemaking. Cadamatre, who recently became a Master of Wine, will take over day-to-day management of the winemaking program.

Cadamatre and Janssens worked together at Robert Mondavi from 2013 to 2015 on red wine production. Cadamatre also previously worked in winemaking at Beringer Vineyards, Chateau St. Jean and Chateau Souverain. “Nova’s dedication to excellence embodies the Robert Mondavi winemaking philosophy,” Janssens said in the press release announcing the changes. “She is the perfect addition to our team and will carry the torch forward so that future generations can experience and enjoy Robert Mondavi’s vision of balanced, world-class wines.”

 
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July 2018
 

Chalk Hill Estate names new head winemaker

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards announced Courtney Foley as head of winemaking. Most recently, Foley served as the winemaker and general manager of Foley Sonoma Winery in Alexander Valley, leading the brand development and architecture, wine style development, package design and managing all hospitality and direct to consumer initiatives. Courtney Foley is the youngest daughter of Chalk Hill Estate proprietors Bill and Carol Foley, who purchased the Sonoma County property in 2010. Foley Sonoma and Chalk Hill are part of Foley Family Wines, based in Santa Rosa, Calif.

 
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July 2018
 

Penfolds sources Napa Valley grapes

 

Napa Valley, Calif.—Treasure Wine Estates (TWE) announced the Penfolds winemaking team will now be utilizing Napa Valley grapes starting with the California 2018 harvest and onward. “Our Penfolds house style certainly allows and embraces the freedom to explore premium viticultural regions across the world,” said Penfolds chief winemaker, Peter Gago, in a statement. According to Gago, the Californian-sourced wines will be available by fiscal 2022.

 
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July 2018
 

Infinity Bottling open for business

 

American Canyon, Calif.— Infinity Bottling is now open for business and accepting new clients. The bottling line offers bottling solutions for volume needs ranging from 2,500 to over 1,000,000 cases. Located at 677 Hanna Drive in American Canyon, Infinity Bottling also provides product transportation and long-term case storage.

 
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June 2018
 

Gallo to buy Locations brand from Dave Phinney

 

Modesto, Calif.—E. & J. Gallo Winery announced today it has agreed to purchase the Locations brand from Shooting Gallery Wines, LLC, a joint venture between winemaker Dave Phinney and importer Aveníu Brands, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Barcelona, Spain-based Codorníu Raventós Group.

 
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June 2018
 

Final result: Measure C lost by 641 votes

 

Napa, Calif.—Three weeks after Napa's June 5 election, the Napa County Registrar of Voters officially certified final results on Measure C, revealing that the Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative lost by 641 votes with 18,174 "no" votes (50.9%) against 17,533 "yes" votes (49.1%). The Measure C race remained a close one from the beginning, with both sides vehemently voicing their opinions.

 
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June 2018
 

Steele Wines updates labels

 

Kelseyville, Calif.—Lake County winemaker Jed Steele has been a Cuvee Chardonnay for 25 years with a California appellation designate. Starting with the 2016 vintage, Steele decided to highlight the multi-county appellation (Sonoma, Santa Barbara and Mendocino) and vineyard sources (Durell, Sangiacomo, Pamelee-Hill, Goodchild, Lolonis and Bien Nacido from the Carneros, Santa Maria Valley and Redwood Valley appellations).

 
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June 2018
 

Beckstoffer Vineyards opens new office

 

Kelseyville, Calif.—Andy Beckstoffer, announced Beckstoffer Vineyards will open a new office in the Red Hills AVA just outside of Lake County on July 21. Beckstoffer Vineyards first acquired land in the Red Hills in 1997, and Andy Beckstoffer, along with a group of other growers in the area, established the Red Hills AVA in 2004. Beckstoffer Vineyards owns approximately 1,500 acres in the Red Hills of Lake County, with the 850 acre Amber Knolls Vineyard and the 650 acre Crimson Ridge Vineyard. With the opening of the Red Hills Station, Beckstoffer Vineyards is providing an office for its management and administrative employees to be led by general manager, Pedro Rubio.

 
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June 2018
 

Crimson Wine Group names new CFO

 

Napa, Calif.—Crimson Wine Group announced Karen Diepholz as the company’s new chief financial officer. In her new role, Diepholz will oversee all financial and business service functions, reporting to CEO Patrick Delong. Diepholz comes to Crimson from Vintage Wine Estates, where she was the chief financial officer, overseeing finance and accounting, IT, procurement and human resources.

 
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June 2018
 

Skinner Vineyards appoints new director of winemaking

 

Somerset, Calif.— Skinner Vineyards & Winery appointed Adam Smith as the new director of winemaking. Smith was raised in the Sierra Foothills, but honed his winemaking craft in Oregon where he and his wife established their own brand, Eisold Smith. He’s also worked for wineries in Sonoma and Napa counties and New Zealand. “It’s been a longtime dream to return to where five generations of my family lived and near the dirt, trees and elevations I’m connected to,” said Smith in a statement, “The Skinner family is a terrific fit for their mutual respect of the transcendent possibilities in El Dorado Vineyards.”

 
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June 2018
 

Cuvaison rebrands

 

Napa, Calif.—Cuvaison winery unveiled its new branding, including new packaging for its entire portfolio of wines, as well as launched its new website. The winery partnered with FINE, Portland and San Francisco-based digital agency, to develop the new brand identity. The new packaging has begun rolling out throughout the U.S. with the release of the 2016 Cuvaison Estate Chardonnay, 2016 Estate Pinot Noir and 2017 Estate Sauvignon Blanc.

 
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June 2018
 

Signorello Estate opens temporary tasting room

 

Napa, Calif.—Ray Signorello, proprietor and co-winemaker of Signorello Estate, announced that the winery will be opening a temporary tasting room at its estate vineyard located along the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley. Signorello Estate winery was destroyed during the October 2017 wildfires. The winery plans to rebuild its permanent space over the next three years. The temporary, modular tasting room is due to open mid-July.

 
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June 2018
 

Indelicato elected Wine Institute chairman

 

San Francisco, Calif.—Chris Indelicato, president and CEO of Delicato Family Vineyards, has been elected Wine Institute Board Chairman for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. Idelicato was born and raised in Manteca, Calif., where his grandfather planted the family’s first fineyards in 1924 and founded the Sam Jasper winery that would eventually become Delicato Family Vineyards. Indelicato joined the family business in 1994 and has held the position of president and CEO since 2004.

 
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June 2018
 

Kruse, Schafer honored by CAWG

 

Sacramento, Calif.—The California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) named Steve Schafer as the 2018 Grower of the Year and Karissa Kruse as the 2018 Leader the Year. The awards will be presented at the 2018 CAWG awards of excellence program on July 17 in Napa, Calif. Schafer is a fourth-generation farmer, officer of Schafer Ranch, owner of San Joaquin Wine Company and former chair of the CAWG board of directors. Karissa Kruse is the president of Sonoma County Winegrowers, owner of a 12-acre vineyard and partner in Argot Wines.

 
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June 2018
 

Shannon Ridge acquires Nice Wine Company

 

Nice, Calif.—Shannon Ridge Vineyards & Winery announced its acquisition of Nice Wine Co., in Lake County. The Nice Wine Co., located in the town of Nice, had been owned by the Larson family. The purchase includes a winery, bottling line and tasting room and enables Shannon Ridge to integrate its production operations. "We are very pleased to have found our first wine production facility that gives us immediate control and will advance the quality of our winemaking operations here in Lake County," said owner Clay Shannon in a press release announcing the acquisition. Winemaking for Shannon Ridge continues to be overseen by director of winemaking and production Joy Merrilees. 

 
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May 2018
 

Pine Ridge promotes assistant winemaker

 

Napa, Calif.—Pine Ridge Vineyards promoted Colleen FitzGerald to assistantant winemaker for the winery's white blend Chenin Blanc + Viognier. In her new role, FitzGerald will lead the vineyard and winery operations under the direction of Michael Beaulac, working with growers in the Clarksburg AVA to make decisions about pruning, vine management, and harvest timing; in the cellar, she sees this wine through fermentation and blending. FitzGerald remains the winery's enologist as well. After FitzGerald earned a biochemistry degree at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, she spent several years working harvests in New Zealand, Paso Robles, and Napa before joining the Pine Ridge Vineyards team full-time in 2015.

 
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May 2018
 

Winemaker launches equipment repair service

 

San Luis Obispo, Calif.—Winemaker Fintan “Fin” du Fresne launched Winery Mechanical Systems, which he says in the Central Coast’s first provider of comprehensive, winery-specific repair and maintenance services. Concurrently, du Fresne will remain in his longtime position as winemaker and general manager for Chamisal Vineyards and Malene Wines. “I have personally lived through the challenge of keeping a winery running smoothly and cost effectively,” said du Fresne in a press release.

 
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May 2018
 

Silicon Valley Wine Auction tops $1 million

 

Aptos, Calif.—The fourth annual Silicon Valley Wine Auction, hosted by Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Education Foundation (SCMWEF) on May 19 and 20, raised more than $1 million for education programs that serve local communities. The two-day event attracted more than 1,000 guests to Eden Estates and Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, Calif. The weekend-long event featured 50 local vintners from the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association pouring more than 150 wines.

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2018
 

Phelps hires new president

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Joseph Phelps Vineyards appointed Clarice Turner as its new president. Prior to joining Phelps, Turner founded and was CEO of Carneros Associates, a strategic advisory firm guiding vision, strategy and culture for businesses in transition. She has served as a senior management executive of best in class companies in the food and beverage industry, as well as gained meaningful experience with small and medium sized family businesses, always with the thread of wine present. Turner will remain an advisory board director for Delicato Family Vineyards, serving on the Culinary Institute of America Society of Fellows, advisory board director for Women of the Vine & Spirits, and Emeritus board director for the National Restaurant Association.

 
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May 2018
 

Melka joins Westwood in Sonoma Valley

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Winemaker Philippe Melka will oversee winemaking at Westwood Estate Winery in what will be the French winemaker’s first project in Sonoma Valley, according to a statement by the winery. Melka will also be working with Pinot Noir and Rhône variety grapes form the winery’s Annadel Gap Vineyard that is certified organic through Stellar Certification and Demeter Association biodynamic certified. Melka will finish the 2017 vintage wines and will oversee the 2018 vintage with Silverado Farming Company. “Looking ahead, we’re excited to unlock the soul of this special site and take the wines even higher,” Melka said in the statement.

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2018
 

C. Mondavi & Family hires new VP of national accounts

 

Napa, Calif.—C.Mondavi & Family, the parent company of Charles Krug, Dvining Rod, CK Mondavi and Purple Heart has hired Maria Steckler as its vice president of national accounts. “I’m thrilled for the opportunity to be able to take my experience and expertise in the industry and use it to help grow one of California’s most historic, family-owned wine companies,” said Steckler in a press release. “The lineup of brands at C. Mondavi represents the breadth of quality that wine country offers, and I’m truly excited to get started with the group.”

 
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May 2018
 

Gallo buys Santa Barbara vineyard

 

Modesto, Calif.—E. & J. Gallo Winery announced an affiliate of the wine company purchased the Rancho Real Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley appellation of Santa Barbara County. According to a press release by Gallo, the 436-acre property is located along Highway 101 and is 13 miles southeast of the town of Santa Maria. The vineyard purchased by Gallo Vineyards Inc. is comprised of 211 acres and planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, Pinot Gris and Gamay. 

 
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May 2018
 

Central Coast Wine Services earns sustainable certification

 

Santa Maria, Calif.—Thornhill Companies announced its Central Coast Wine Services winemaking facility in the Central Coast of California has been certified sustainable. The company first earned California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) certification in 2008 and passed another round of inspections for re-certification in 2017. To earn certification as a sustainable winery through the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), the company meet another list of specifications and requirements to adopt sustainable practices, provide environmental stewardship, conserve natural resources and conduct socially equitable business practices.

“Certified Sustainable serves as a catalyst for continuous improvement and adoption of sustainable practices,” said Nicholas Miller, vice president of sales and marketing for Thornhill Companies in the press release announcing the certification. “We’re incredibly honored and proud to receive this certification, which further exemplifies Thornhill’s extensive commitment to the highest level of farming and winemaking.”

 
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May 2018
 

SSU set to open Wine Spectator Learning Center

 

Rohnert Park, Calif.—A grand opening event and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Wine Spectator Learning Center at Sonoma State University will take place on Tuesday, May 29 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on campus. The year-long construction and expansion project transformed an existing building into a learning center that includes three advanced-technology classrooms, student commons, café and garden areas.

 
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May 2018
 

Truett-Hurst appoints new CFO

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Karen Weaver was promoted to the post of chief financial officer of Truett-Hurst. Weaver has worked with the company as vice president and corporate controller for the past 11 years. “Karen has done outstanding work as our coroporate controller and will bring extensive experience managing public company finance teams across industries and a process-driven approach to the position of CFO,” said chief executive officer, Phillip Hurst, in a press release. “We look forward to working with Karen in this new role.”

 
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May 2018
 

Worker killed in vineyard accident

 

Sonoma, Calif.—The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office identified Franklin Palacios Carrillo, 34, of Fairfield, Calif., as the worker who died May 1 in a tractor accident in a Sonoma Valley vineyard. According to reports by the sheriff’s office, Carrillo was found crushed beneath a tiller attachment by another vineyard worker shortly before 8 a.m. Deputies who arrived on the vineyard in the 2300 block of Napa Road reported vineyard wires had become entangled in the tiller and Carrillo had been attempting to remove the wire when the attachment fell on him. The accident occurred in what is known as the Arrowhead Vineyard and is managed by Walsh Vineyard Management. The accident has been referred to Cal-OSHA, which is investigating.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2018
 

Clos de la Tech hires managing director

 

Woodside, Calif.—Clos de la Tech appointed Vito Gambini as managing director. In this newly created position, Gambini will develop and implement a national strategic business plan designed to expand representation and sales at restaurant accounts and independent retailers. Other business directives will be to open new markets with fine wine distributors and manage the growth of the winery’s DtC business.

Gambini has more than 20 years of wine industry experience serving in a variety of senior management positions with R.H. Phillips Wine Company, Vincor USA, Laetitia Vineyard and Winery, Leucadia Cellars and Estates, Westerly Vineyards, Sage Beverages and Gruppo Gambini.

 
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April 2018
 

Kisabeth joins Sylvain

 

Napa, Calif.— Famille Sylvain Groupe and Laurence Cheftel Inc. announced Tom Kisbeth is the newest member of cooperage’s sales team. Kisabeth will be concentrating on sales throughout Northern California representing Tonnellerie Sylvain, Tonnellerie Meyrieux, and Marc Grenier Foudrerie. Prior to joining Famille Sylvain, Kisabeth was the sales manager at Western Square Industries, manufacturers of barrel rack systems, for the past two and a half years and also worked in sales at California Glass/Saxco Interntational for 20 years.

 
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April 2018
 

Barra hires new winemaker

 

Redwood Valley, Calif.—Michelle Winter is the new head of winemaking for Barra Family Vineyards. Winter will oversee all winemaking duties for the Barra family’s Barra of Mendocino and Girasole Vineyards wine brands as well as the family’s 2.9 million gallon custom crush facility, Redwood Valley Cellars. Winters has 20 years of winemaking experience including time at Stag’s Leap Cellars and Rutheford Hill Winery in Napa Valley.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2018
 

Shafer founder launches podcast

 

Napa, Calif.—Shafer Vineyards founder Doug Shafer has launched a podcast called “The Taste with Doug Shafer.” The podcast features Shafer's conversations with people in the food and wine industry. The first three episodes, released Tuesday, April 24, include chef Cindy Pawlcyn, vintner John Skupny, and food and wine personality Leslie Sbrocco. “Mainly, I’m interested in people’s stories – where they started, their struggles, successes, and how they ended up where they’ve ended up,” Shafer said in a press release. “Over the years I’ve heard so many amazing stories from people I’ve worked with or befriended – funny, inspiring, and even heartbreaking.”

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2018
 

Wine aged in tequila barrels

 

Napa, Calif.,–Cooper & Thief Cellarmasters introduced a Sauvignon Blanc aged in used tequila barrels. The 2016 Cooper & Thief Sauvignon Blanc (SRP: $29.99) is aged for three months in ex-Casa Noble Añejo tequila barrels.

 
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April 2018
 

Wine consumers open to organic, sustainable and Biodynamic wine

 

Yountville, Calif.–Wine Market Council released the results of the group’s “green” study, highlighting U.S. wine consumers’ attitudes regarding organic, sustainable and biodynamic wine production. The research survey looks into wine consumers' understanding, perception and reaction to various green designations for wine production.

Wine Market Council surveyed 1,159 primarily high frequency wine drinkers (those who consume wine more often than once a week), to gauge their understanding of the various production methods, perception of apparent benefits to consumers and how relevant green methods are to pricing and buying decisions. The complete report is now available to Wine Market Council members and will be discussed at the association’s upcoming Annual Membership Meeting taking place on May 11 at The CIA at Copia in Napa, Calif.

A few of the council’s findings included:

• The data indicates a willingness to spend slightly more for wine made from organically grown grapes than from conventional grapes, and slightly more still for sustainably or biodynamically produced wines than wine made from organically grown grapes.

• Consumers are more confident that they understand what "made from organic grapes" means than what "sustainable" or "biodynamic" mean.

• Sustainable and biodynamic wines are significantly more often associated with external environmental impact (water and CO2 issues).

• Organic wine and wine made from organic grapes are more often associated with input issues (no sulfur dioxide, no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, non-GMO).

• There was little difference perceived between "organic wine" and "wine made from organic grapes," but substantial differences between those wines and biodynamic and sustainable production.

The study also dove deeper into consumer habits through a three day online discussion with 11 high frequency wine drinkers. Among the highlights:

• A commitment to organic food doesn’t directly translate into a similar commitment to "organic" wine.

• Barriers to purchasing wine made using these production methods include: perceptions that they cost more, not liking one they had tried, skepticism about there being standards behind the designations, availability, visibility and a lack of awareness.

 
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April 2018
 

Sangiacomo family introduces estate wines

 

Sonoma, Calif.—The third generation of the Sagniacomo Family announced the launch of a new series of wines created from estate vineyards grown in Carneros, Napa County and along the Sonoma County coast. The estate wines will include appellation Pinot Noir and Chardonnay; single-vineyard designate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon; and a proprietary Pinot Noir called ViMaria, named after first-generation founders, Vittorio and Maria Sangiacomo. “We want to create wines that express our vision through our vineyards,” said Steve Sangiacomo in the press release announcing the new wines. “Our winery partners have created amazing wine quality from our fruit for many years, and we now hope to make them proud by creating wines that will complement them in the marketplace.”

 
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April 2018
 

FIVS re-elects Hodson as president

 

Brussels, Belgium—The members of Federation Internationale des Vins et Spiritueux (FIVS) unanimously reelected Greg Hodson, Chief Technical Regulatory Liaison of E. & J. Gallo Winery, as president of the federation.

 
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April 2018
 

Winemaker David Stevens dies

 

Napa, Calif.—Winemaker David Stevens died April 10 of natural causes at his home in Napa County. Stevens was 57. According to his obituary published in the Napa Valley Register newspaper, Stevens was born and raised in Walla Walla, Wash., where his father was an economics professor at Whitman College. Stevens graduated from Williams College in 1983 with a degree in economics.

 
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April 2018
 

Crimson hires Quillé as chief winemaker

 

Napa, Calif.—Crimson Wine Group named Nicolas Quillé chief winemaking and operations officer, providing Craig Williams the opportunity to pursue his interest in spending more time managing his vineyards in Oregon and serving as a consulting grower to Crimson, according to a press release by the company. Quillé was most recently general manager and head winemaker of Banfi Vintners’ portfolio of wineries in the Pacific Northwest. Williams had been the chief winegrowing and operations officer since 2015 and remains on the company’s board of directors.

 
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April 2018
 

Vintage announces new investment partner

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Pat Roney, CEO and president of Vintage Wine Estates (VWE) announced that AGR Partners, an investment firm focused on food and agribusiness, has provided growth capital through a minority equity stake in the company. "We are delighted to enter into a partnership with AGR Partners," Roney said in the press release announcing the deal. "They understand the agricultural nature of our business and are fully on-board with our growth and long-term acquisition strategy."

 
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April 2018
 

CDI acquires New England Wine & Spirits

 

Stratford, Conn.– Connecticut Distributors Inc., (CDI), an affiliate of Breakthru Beverage Group, announced it acquired New England Wine & Spirits. With this acquisition, CDI will now have state-wide exclusivity for Barefoot Cellars, Bogle Vineyards, and Wente Vineyards.

 
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April 2018
 

Spadarotto named CEO of Far Niente

 

Oakville, Calif.—Steven Spadarotto is the new chief executive officer of Far Niente Wine Estates that includes Far Niente, Nicke & Nickel, Dolce and Bella Union in the Napa Valley and EnRoute winery in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Spadarotto has more than 30 years of wine industry experience including general management and senior executive roles with Jackson Family Wines, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and, most recently, Francis Ford Coppola Presents. The former CEO, Dirk Hampson, who is a 36-year veteran of the company will remain chairman of the board, and president Larry Maguire, a 35-year veteran, is now vice chairman. The changes were approved by equity firm GI Partners that invested in the wine company in 2016.

 
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April 2018
 

Moulds named Napa Valley grower of the year

 

Napa, Calif.—Oak Knoll District grapegrower Steve Moulds has been named the 2018 Napa Valley Grower of the Year. Moulds will be honored on May 11 at the Napa Valley Grapegrowers 43rd Annual Dinner. According to a press release announcing the honor, Moulds began his farming career in the early 1970s, on a ranch in Morgan Hill, Calif., raising animals to sell at auction. During that time, he served in the Department of Social Services in Gilroy helping Spanish-speaking migrant workers gain skills and remove barriers to employment. In 2000, he and his wife Betsy moved to a property in the Oak Knoll District, where they planted 11 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition to serving on several wine industry boards, Moulds also has served on the Napa County Housing Commission, local Future Farmers of America, FFA and is an active bidder each year at the Napa County Livestock Auction where he purchases several animals to later donate the meat to the Napa County Farmworker Housing Centers. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2018
 

Hess family restructures management team

 

Napa, Calif.—John Grant is the new president and chief executive officer of Hess Family Wine Estates, as Timothy Persson assumes the role of chairman of the company. Persson, the former CEO, is stepping away from day-to-day management and instead will focus on building strategic relationships with key accounts in both the United States and abroad. Grant was promoted from chief operations officer and will now be responsible for all aspects of the company.

 
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April 2018
 

Lodi Winegrowers name new executive director

 

Lodi, Calif.—Stuart Spencer is the new executive director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission that represents more than 750 growers and 85 wineries in the Lodi AVA. Spencer was promoted from the position of program manager, which he has held since 1999. During his 19 years with the commission, Spencer has led many of the group’s marketing, promotional and educational efforts. Spencer played a key role developing the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center, the LODI RULES for Sustainable Winegrowing and the LoCA advertising campaign.

In his new position, Spencer will oversee the commission’s marketing, public relations, strategic planning, and regional branding efforts, as well as grower and vintner relations. He will lead the winegrape commission team of 12, under the direction of the board of directors and will be the primary spokesperson for the Lodi wine industry.

“We are thrilled to have Stuart step into the executive director role. He has been a huge advocate to the region and we are certain he will continue to lift the perceptions and awareness of Lodi wines” said Kendra Altnow, the vice chairman of the Lodi Winegrape Commission board of directors in the press release announcing Spencer’s new role.

 
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April 2018
 

Glenn Hugo named winemaker of B.R. Cohn

 

Sonoma, Calif.—In addition to continuing to manage production at Girard Winery, Glenn Hugo is now the winemaker of B. R. Cohn Winery in Sonoma Valley. Both wineries are owned by Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Vintage Wine Estates. Cohn started at Girard as a harvest intern in 2003 and quickly rose through the ranks to become winemaker in 2010. During that time, Hugo also was a winemaking consultant at B.R. Cohn from 2004 to 2010. Hugo is also overseeing the construction of a new production winery and tasting room for Girard on Dunaweal Lane in Calistoga, Calif., expected to be open in time this year's harvest. 

 
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April 2018
 

Wines & Vines Promotes Adams to Editor

 

San Rafael, Calif.—Wines & Vines magazine has promoted its senior editor, Andrew Adams, to the editor position to take over from Jim Gordon who has relinquished the editor post after 12 years. Adams has been with the North American wine industry publication since 2011 and brings to the job a wealth of experience in journalism and the winemaking community.

Gordon will continue on the magazine’s staff as editor at large, primarily a reporting and writing role that will get him out into vineyards and cellars more often to cover news and trends in the winemaking and wine business arenas.

The switch in roles provides continuity in terms of personnel and editorial content as the 12,000 (print/digital) circulation magazine approaches its 100th year of publication in 2019. Wines & Vines serves North American winemakers, grape growers and wine marketers with breaking industry news, how-to articles and market research both in the monthly print edition and at WinesandVines.com.

Adams now directs all editorial content, new content initiatives and manages a team of staff writers and editors as well as correspondents in California, the Northwest and Eastern regions. He is a former newspaper editor and reporter and worked in wine production at Beringer Vineyards and Starmont Winery, crushing grapes, dragging hoses, washing barrels and doing lab analysis for two years and three harvests before joining Wines & Vines.

Adams’ wide-ranging duties at the magazine have included writing Technical Spotlight profiles on new and renovated wineries, writing weekly and sometimes daily industry news stories, writing dozens of reports on barrels and cooperages, analyzing industry data and speaking at industry conferences including Central Coast Insights and the Wines & Vines Packaging conference.

Adams worked for the Lodi News-Sentinel newspaper for four years, as a reporter and later managed daily news operations as city editor. He was a reporter for The Daily Astorian in Astoria, Ore., and a reporter for the Sonoma Index-Tribune in his hometown of Sonoma, Calif. He earned a BA degree in journalism at the University of Oregon, where he also was a reporter and editor of the daily, student-run newspaper the Oregon Daily Emerald.

Gordon has been covering the wine industry as an editor and reporter for more than 35 years, and joined Wines & Vines In 2006 as editor. He is also a contributing editor for Wine Enthusiast magazine and past director of the annual Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley. He was editor in chief for two books by publisher Dorling Kindersley of London: Opus Vino, which was a finalist in the James Beard Awards, and 1000 Great Everyday Wines. Gordon was managing editor of Wine Spectator for 12 years and editor in chief of Wine Country Living magazine for four, during which time he helped create Wine Country Living TV for NBC station KNTV in San Jose.

Both men live in Napa, Calif.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2018
 

Fourth Annual Green Medal award winners announced

 

San Francisco, Calif.—Bogle Vineyards in Clarksburg, Calif., is the winner of the 2018 Green Medal Leader Award. Bogle is one of four wine companies that were honored for efforts in sustainability by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, California Association of Winegrape Growers, Wine Institute, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrowers and Vineyard Team.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2018
 

Initiative now the National Grape Research Alliance

 

Sacramento, Calif.—The National Grape & Wine Initiative, NGWI, has changed its name to the National Grape Research Alliance, NGRA, effective immediately. According to the press release announcing the name change, the group changed its name to raise awareness of its role in supporting and promoting research. Tom Smith, vice president of winegrowing at E. & J. Gallo Winery, a founding member of the organization, led the effort to develop the new name. "As we worked on the rebranding, we sought to find a new name that would clearly communicate our research focus,” he said in the NGRA’s statement. “We also felt it was important to be inclusive of all grape industry sectors, rather than calling out wine in particular."

The NGWI was organized in 2003 to drive research to strengthen the productivity, sustainability and competitiveness of America's grape industries. The group brings together all grape sectors including raisins, juice, table grapes and wine plus non-profits, academic institutions and government agencies in a unique collaborative effort that seeks to organize and advance research. Now in its 15th year, NGRA unites the industry with researchers and grant funders on game-changing, national-level research. graperesearch.org.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2018
 

Rombauer names new CFO

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Matthew Owings is the new chief financial officer of Rombauer Vineyards in Napa Valley. Owings reports to chief operating officer Bob Knebel and will oversee the financial operations of the family-owned company. Prior to joining, Rombauer, Owings worked for nearly 10 years at Jackson Family Wines where he most recently was vice president of finance.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2018
 

Galzignato hired as GM, senior winemaker

 

Napa, Calif.—David Galzignato is the new senior winemaker and general manager of Provenance Vineyards in the Napa Valley. Most recently, Galzignato was the winemaker at Jada Vineyards in Paso Robles, Calif., and prior to that post worked in winemaking at Charles Krug, Lewis Cellars and Paraduxx.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2018
 

Geyser Peak hires new winemaker

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Randy Meyer is the new winemaker at Geyser Peak winery. A Santa Rosa, Calif., native, Meyer has more than 30 years of experience in the Northern California wine industry. Meyer worked in winemaking at Korbel Champagne Cellars for 23 years and most recently was winemaker at Draxton Wines in Healdsburg.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2018
 

Central Coast pioneer, Nicky Hahn, dies at 81

 

Soledad, Calif.—Nicolaus (Nicky) Hahn, founder of Hahn Family Wines and pioneer of California’s Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, died March 2 at his home in Zurich, Switzerland. He was 81 years old. According to an obituary released by the company, Hahn was a successful business man in Paris, New York and London. He arrived in Monterey County in the 1970s in search of a new area to transform into an acclaimed winemaking region. In 1979, he purchased the Smith Vineyard and Hook Vineyard, which were planted to Cabernet Sauvignon at the time. In 1988, Hahn rallied his neighbors on the eastern slopes of the Santa Lucia Mountains to firmly define and promote the quality and characteristics of the region. Their efforts were rewarded with American Viticultural Area (or AVA) status for the Santa Lucia Highlands in 1991. Earlier this year, he received Wine Enthusiast magazine’s “American Wine Pioneer” Wine Star Award for his essential role in establishing the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation. Nicky Hahn is survived by his wife, Gaby Hahn, and his two children, Philip Hahn and Caroline Hahn.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2018
 

TH Estate hires assistant winemaker

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—Phillip LaMontagne is the new assistant winemaker at TH Estate Wines in the Willow Creek AVA of Paso Robles, Calif. LaMontagne worked at the winery as a harvest intern in 2015 and has since worked in the cellar before his promotion. LaMontagne graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with an enology degree and will assist owners Jennifer and Terry Hoage in overseeing all winemaking operations for estate wines as well as the new District 8 and Decroux brands.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2018
 

Thralls promoted at Benovia

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Ed Thralls was promoted to general manager of Benovia Winery, and winery co-founder Mary Dewane is stepping into the new role of vice chairman of the winery in the Russian River Valley. Thralls joined Benovia in 2016 as its director of marketing and business operations, bringing more than 25 years of experience in both wine and financial technology industries to the winery. Prior to working at Benovia, Thralls was the director of consumer sales and marketing at Flowers Vineyards & Winery and Huneeus Vintners. As vice chairman, Dewane will be the winery’s chief brand ambassador and manage and expand key DtC programs.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2018
 

Steele Wines hires assistant winemaker

 

Kelseyville, Calif—Kathryn Finn is the new assistant winemaker at Steele wines in Lake County. Finn joined the winery in 2015 as a lab assistant and has a degree in biological science from the University of Central Florida and a masters in environmental resource management from the Florida Institute of Technology. Before joining Steele, Finn was a viticulture intern at Conn Creek Winery in Napa Valley.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2018
 

Saint Helena Winery hires associate winemaker

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Lindsey Wallingford is the new associate winemaker and vineyard manager at Saint Helena Winery. Wallingford will work alongside consulting winemaker Aaron Pott at the winery founded in 2000. Wallingford has ten years of winemaking experience and has worked in wine regions across the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Prior to joining Saint Helena, Wallingford worked at Bryant Family Vineyard and Screaming Eagle.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2018
 

Burgess Cellars promotes winemaker to GM

 

Napa, Calif.—Kelly Woods has been promoted from winemaker to general manager at Burgess Cellars. Woods had been the head winemaker of the family owned winery since 2013 and in her new role she will oversee all winery operations and strategic planning for the long term. Woods will continue to supervise vineyard operations and winemaking but will also manage hospitality, sales, marketing and administration. “When I was hiring the position of winemaker back in 2012, I was trying to find a candidate that would grow into an upper management position once they learned the company,” said owner Steven Burgess in the press release announcing Woods’ promotion. “Kelly’s wisdom and span of control has steadily grown here, she has truly earned this official promotion.”

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2018
 

Soirée raises funds for wildfire relief

 

San Francisco, Calif.—The French-American Chamber of Commerce San Francisco’s 36th annual fundraiser La Soirée raised more than $30,000 for The Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund and Sonoma County Resilience Fund. The funds came from a charitable auction that included a Napa Valley Weekend featuring exclusive tastings with French winemakers.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2018
 

Boyd promoted to president at Joseph Phelps

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Robert Boyd has been promoted to the position of president of Joseph Phelps Vineyards. Boyd has been a member of the winery’s management team for the past seven years and most recently was senior vice president and chief financial officer. As president, Boyd will oversee Joseph Phelps’ Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast wineries. “Robert has earned the respect and confidence of all those with whom he works, and he has ably led our management team for some time,” said Bill Phelps, Executive Chairman of Joseph Phelps Vineyards in the press release announcing the promotion. “I am confident that, with Robert’s leadership, our company will continue to move from strength to strength.”

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2018
 

Blaylock retires from Quady Winery

 

Madera, Calif.—Michael Blaylock has retired as winemaker of Quady Winery after more than 30 years with the company. Replacing Blaylock is Darin Peterson who has been promoted to the post of lead winemaker at the winery that produces more than 100,000 cases per year of Moscato wines and vermouth. Peterson joined Quady in 2005. The company also announced it is close to completing a 22,000-square-foot expansion that will enable it to significantly increase wine production.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2018
 

Beck named CEO of The Family Coppola

 

Geyserville, Calif.—Corey Beck has been promoted from president and director of winemaking to CEO of The Family Coppola wine company. Beck has more than 20 years of experience in the wine industry and joined Coppola in 1998 as assistant winemaker. Beck is a past president of the Sonoma County Vintners and is regularly involved in a variety of wine industry symposiums and advisory councils. In his new role, Beck will oversee Francis Ford Coppola Winery and Virginia Dare Winery in Geyserville, the newly launched Great Women Spirits company and Café Zoetrope in San Francisco.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2018
 

Wineries, brewery donate for fire relief

 

Napa, Calif.—Wineries and a Sonoma County brewery made significant contributions to relief efforts supporting victims of the North Bay wildfires in October. Benovia Winery in the Russia River Valley donated more than $300,000 to Redwood Credit Union North Bay Fire Relief Fund, Sonoma County Winegrowers Foundation’s Wildfire Housing Support Fund and Sonoma County Community Foundation Resilience Fund. The winery’s $100,000 pledge to matching donations generated $199,000. The winery also waived tasting room fees for more than a month after the fires and donated an additional $15,000. 

Russian River Brewery has raised $900,000 for relief efforts through a raffle for consumers to win chance to be one of the first to get the brewery’s special release Pliny the Younger ale this month, and by selling a special beer called “Sonoma Pride.”

The charitable foundation of Alpha Omega winery in Napa Valley raised $100,000 by selling tickets for a benefit event at the winery in July. The funds will go to the Napa Valley Community Foundation’s disaster relief fund and the Rutherford Volunteer Fire Department.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2018
 

Nurseryman, grower Richard Kunde dies

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Richard Kunde, a member of one of Sonoma Valley’s most prominent ranching families, died Jan. 18 in Santa Rosa, Calif., at the age of 75. The youngest of five children, Kunde grew up on the Sonoma Valley ranch his grandfathered purchased in 1904. Kunde, a resident of Windsor, Calif., would go own to own and operate Sonoma Grapevines that grew into one of the largest nurseries in the United States producing up to 14 million vines a year. Kunde and his wife Saralee, who preceded him in death in 2014, also built and donated the $3 million Saralee and Richard’s Barn at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. The couple’s home has also been turned into a popular event space for community fundraisers known as Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard. Kunde is survived by his son, daughter and granddaughter.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2018
 

Sonoma Valley's George MacLeod dies at 96

 

Sonoma, Calif.—George MacLeod, one of the early leaders of a revitalized Sonoma Valley wine industry died Jan. 21 at the age of 96. MacLeod purchased a 50-acre ranch above Kenwood, Calif., in 1974, and the property would come to be known Indian Springs Ranch and would later support MacLeod Family Vineyard winery that opened in 2005. MacLeod helped establish the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance and was the group’s first president. In 2015, he was inducted into the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance Hall of Fame. MacLeod’s foray into the wine business came after successful careers in the oil and technology industries as well as service in the U.S. Army during World War II. MacLeod is survived by his wife of 69 years Greta, four children, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2018
 

Consulting winemaker joins Rack & Riddle

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services partnered with Jerome Barret a winemaking consultant with more than 20 years of experience producing methode Champenoise sparkling wine. Barret will work alongside director of winemaking Penelope Gadd-Caster. Barret, a native of France, speaks three languages and is a former lecturer for the Institut Oenologique de Champagne. He is expected to bring “a world-wide perspective in the sparkling wine business” to Rack & Riddle.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2018
 

Ca' Momi appoints new CEO

 

Napa, Calif.—Midori Bray Aispuro is the new chief executive officer of Ca’ Momi, a wine, spirits, food and lifestyle company based in the Napa Valley. Aispuro joined the company in 2013 as executive assistant to the chief operations officer and general counsel. In 2015, she was promoted to the post of COO. “Her keen understanding and desire to convey our company culture and carry our collective vision for Ca’ Momi’s future forward in a sustainable and controlled manner made this an easy decision for us,” said Ca’Momi partner and chief financial officer Dario De Conti in the statement announcing Aispuro’s promotion. “We are excited for the future of Ca’ Momi with Midori’s creativity, rationality and energy pushing us forward.”

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2018
 

Reimers promoted to president of Foley

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Hugh Reimers has been promoted from chief administrative officer to the post of president of Foley Family Wines. Reimers joined the company in 2017 after more than 20 years of experience in the wine industry. Reimers is the former president of Jackson Family Wines and also previously worked at Constellation Brands and  Yalumba Wine Company. “In his short time here, Hugh has made a tremendous impact on Foley Family Wines," said owner and CEO Bill Foley in the statement announcing the promotion. "His leadership and strategic vision has laid the groundwork towards our transformation to being a top luxury wine producer. It seems like a natural ascension for Hugh to take over the day-to-day operations as president.”

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2018
 

Lake County Winery Association announces Board of Directors

 

Lakeport, Calif.—The Lake County Winery Association has announced the newly elected directors for 2018: Christian Ahlmann of Six Sigma Ranch, Jessie Zielsdorf of Langtry Estate (Foley Family Wines), and Randi Sedrick of Wildhurst Vineyards. Returning directors include Gregory Graham of Gregory Graham Wines, Cindi Olof of Olof Cellars, Matt Hughes and Amanda Bolla of Brassfield Estate Winery, Raven Sprague of Steele Wines, Richard “Kaz” Kasmier of Kaz Winery, and Nick Buttitta of Rosa d’Oro Vineyards.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2018
 

SSU awards scholarships, others still available

 

Rohnert Park, Calif.—The Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University announced the first group of 15 students to each receive $10,000 scholarships as part of the Wine Industry Scholars Program to support the access, retention and graduation of first-generation university students from the families of vineyard and winery workers.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2018
 

Haney named interim director for Sonoma Vintners

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Michael Haney, director of membership and government relations for the Sonoma County Vintners, was named the group’s interim executive director. Haney replaces Jean Arnold Sessions who is leaving the executive director post at the end of January. “The board felt strongly that Michael Haney was the ideal candidate to lead the Sonoma County Vintners during this transition,” said Russell Joy, president of the board of directors, in the statement announcing the change. “Michael has spent the last three years as director of membership and is a vintner himself.”

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2018
 

Henry family purchases Acre winery

 

Oakville, Calif.—Mike and Talley Henry have purchased Acre winery in Napa Valley. Founded by Dave Becker and Bob Babbe in 2002, the winery produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel wines with Napa Valley grapes. The company’s single-vineyard brand One Acre was also included in the sale. Mike Henry, whose wine industry background includes sales, sales management and most recently brand management with The Henry Wine Group, the California division of The Winebow Group, will oversee the combined Acre Wines portfolio, managing production and brand development. Talley Henry, formerly an attorney with Nixon Peabody and the U.S. Navy, will oversee the winery’s DTC sales.  Babbe and Becker will continue to work with the Acre Wines team. Richard Bruno is joining Acre as consulting winemaker.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2017
 

New winemaker at Mendocino Wine Company

 

Ukiah, Calif.—Greg Winter is the new director of winemaking at Mendocino Wine Company, MWC, and Parducci Wine Cellars. Winter will join head winemaker Bob Swain in producing the national brands Parducci, True Grit, Paul Dolan Vineyards, Moniker Wine Estates, ZinPhomaniac and Sketchbook. Prior to joining MWC, Winter worked as a winemaker at R.H. Phillips, Valley of the Moon and most recently as the director of winemaking at Hogue Cellars. Swain, who has been at the helm of Parducci Wine Cellars for the last 20 years (13 as head winemaker for MWC), will retire at the end of 2018. Swain assumed the role of head winemaker in 1997.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2017
 

Vincent Indelicato Dies At 84

 

Napa, Calif.—Vincent (Vince) Indelicato of Manteca, age 84, died Dec. 17, in Modesto, Calif. He was born at San Joaquin County Hospital on Sept. 2, 1933 to Gaspare and Caterina Indelicato.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2017
 

Investment group buys Sullivan Vineyards

 

Rutherford, Calif.—A group of investors called VITE USA and led by Juan Pablo Torres-Padilla, has reached an agreement to acquire Sullivan Vineyards in Napa Valley. The winery had declared bankruptcy earlier this year because of an acrimonious divorce and ensuing lawsuits. In the statement announcing the acquisition, VITE USA said it plans to “focus on enhancing the prestige of this unique property” through “significant” investment in the vineyards, winemaking and hospitality. The transaction is planned to close in early 2018. Ross Sullivan will remain with the winery as a consultant, and Jeff Cole will remain winemaker.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2017
 

Paso Robles alliance donates for fire relief

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance Foundation donated $117,687 to charities supporting northern California fire relief efforts. The funds were raised through a collaborative effort by more than 90 wineries and will be disseminated to the Community Foundation of Sonoma County Resilience Fund, Napa Valley Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund and the Community Foundation of Mendocino County. The fundraising program began Oct. 11, four days after the wildfires began in multiple Northern California locations, and concluded Oct. 31.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2017
 

Auction raises funds for fire relief

 

Washington D.C.—A Dec. 7 wine auction hosted by the California State Society with Congressman Mike Thompson, Wine Institute and WineAmerica raised $268,000 for the North Bay Fire Relief Fund. The Redwood Credit Union Community Fund’s North Bay Fire Relief Fund supports the immediate needs of people and businesses in the four affected counties (Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake) who were impacted by the North Bay fires. More information on the fund can be found at redwoodcu.org

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2017
 

Laks retiring from Cakebread

 

Napa, Calif.—Julianne Laks, who has worked in winemaking at Cakebread Cellars since 1986, is retiring from the post of winemaker and will be replaced by Stephanie Jacobs who has been assistant winemaker since 2008. Laks joined Cakebread as assistant winemaker and worked with Bruce Cakebread, who is now the winery's president. In 2002, Laks was promoted to winemaker. “I feel very fortunate to have worked with Julianne for so many years,” said Bruce Cakebread in the press release announcing the transistion. “Her passion and dedication to the winery and winemaking have been incredible, and her thoughtfulness and quiet encouragement have made her a friend to everyone who works here.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2017
 

Layer Cake, other brands sold to Vintage

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Vintage Wine Estates is acquiring the Layer Cake, Cherry Pie and If You See Kay wine brands from vintner Jayson Woodbridge who launched all three brands that have grown into a portfolio of more than 450,000 cases per year. Layer Cake debuted in 2004 and was comprised of nine varietals priced between $10 and $15 per bottle. Woodbridge will serve as a consultant for both winemaking and public relations after the deal is expected to close Jan. 2. Demeter Group acted as exclusive financial advisor to Woodbridge’s company One True Vine in the sale. "These brands are an extraordinary addition to the Wine Estates portfolio," said Pat Roney, president and CEO of Vintage Wine Estates in the press release announcing the acquisition. "They have struck a powerful chord with consumers who are drawn to the whimsical and provocative branding and stay for the remarkable quality."

Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits will handle sales and marketing for Layer Cake. Vintage Wine Estates' internal fine wine sales and marketing team will handle Cherry Pie and If You See Kay.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2017
 

Winery launches alcohol-free, THC infused wine

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Rebel Coast Winery unveiled a dealcoholized Sauvignon Blanc wine that has been infused with psychoactive THC compounds derived from cannabis. The product, set to coincide with the legalization of recreational cannabis in California, will be available in dispensaries in 2018. The wine delivers four milligrams of THC per glass providing effects in less than 15 minutes.

“We wanted to excite the rebellious spirit in Americans through innovation, so we took two world-class California products — marijuana and wine — and created a proprietary process that resulted in a delicious, crisp and elegantly crafted Sauvignon Blanc that’s teed up to be a game changer for the wine and cannabis industries,” said Rebel Coast co-founder Alex Howe in a statement announcing the new product.

Grapes for the wine are sourced from Sonoma County and undergo traditional winemaking before the wine is dealcoholized and then infused at a rate that delivers 16 milligrams of THC per bottle. The THC also incorporates aromatic terpene compounds to the wine to add marijuana aromas. The wine will retail for $59.99 on the Rebel Coast website and will be available for pre-order before distribution to 500 dispensaries through Green Reef Distributing.

The company has plans to release a Rosé and sparkling wine as well as line of canabidiol (CBD) infused products that have medicinal benefits but no intoxicating effects.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2017
 

Kistler stepping down as CEO of winery

 

Sebastopol, Calif.—Steve Kistler, and managing partner, Bill Price, of Kistler Vineyards announced Kistler is stepping down as chief executive officer and director of winemaking after 39 years of managing the winery he founded in 1978.  Kistler will instead focus on winemaking at his family’s Occidental brand, crafting site specific Pinot Noir with his daughters Catherine and Elizabeth. 

“Steve and I have been working together since I purchased Durell Vineyard in 1997, and will continue to do so in the future,” said Bill Price in the statement announcing the transistion. “When I led a group of investors that eventually purchased a majority stake in Kistler in 2008, Steve and I planned out an orderly succession plan and brought in Jason Kesner, nine years ago to begin an Old-World style apprenticeship at Steve's side.”

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2017
 

Rhonda Carano assumes management of Ferrari-Carano

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Rhonda Carano, who co-founded Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery with her husband Don Carano, has taken the position of senior executive officer and manager of the winer company. Don Carano died Oct. 3. According to the press release announcing the change, Rhonda Carano will drive Ferrari-Carano’s growth strategies and maintain the Ferrari-Carano brands’ “best-of-class” positions. Rhonda Carano has more than 40 years of experience in business management, marketing, advertising and creative design at Eldorado Resorts Inc.; Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery; Lazy Creek Vineyards; Seasons of the Vineyard Tasting Bar and Boutique; Vintners Inn and John Ash & Co. Restaurant. “Words cannot express my personal sadness, but I, with the talented team of individuals we have, will continue to honor Don’s memory through our dedication to quality and consistency without compromise,” she said. “The trademark of Ferrari-Carano is our people, our vineyards and the positive family team spirit we all share.”

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2017
 

Wineries donate for Northern California fire relief

 

Napa, Calif.—Wine companies continue to donate money to assist the victims of the Northern California wildfires in October. Duckhorn Wine Company donated $300,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County, Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards donated $50,000 to the Redwood Credit Union North Bay Fire Relief Fund, Truett Hurst raised $16,400, Fantesca Estate & Winery donated $10,000 and Free Flow Wines and Luna Vineyards raised $8,000 for the Napa Valley Community Foundation.

Duckhorn had sought to raise $250,000 but the company’s pledge to donate 100% of all tasting room fees from Duckhorn Vineyards, Paraduxx and Goldeneye as well as employee donations and contributions by parent company TSG Consumer Partners pushed the total higher. “Even before the fires, housing was the single-most critical need in our community,” said Duckhorn Wine Company President and CEO Alex Ryan in a statement. “Now with more than 6,000 homes lost throughout wine country, this need is more urgent than ever before. We wanted to make a real difference in the lives of those most affected by the fires while also addressing the important issue of affordable housing so we set a lofty fundraising goal. The response has been overwhelming, and thanks to the kindness and generosity of so many, we far surpassed that goal.”

Gloria Ferrer also donated 100% of all tasting room fees, one dollar from every bottle purchased at the tasting room, online or by phone and Freixenet USA matched employee donations by a 2:1 margin. “When everyone comes together for a common cause, it demonstrates just how strong we all can be,” said Freixenet USA President Tom Burnet in a press release.

More than 650 people attended Truet Hurst’s tenth anniversary celebration on Oct. 28, which the company turned into a fundraising for fire victims. The event raised $16,400, which the company donated to the North Bay Fire Relief Fund. “We wanted to do something to help immediately, so we shifted our event’s focus to supporting the community,” said Phil Hurst, CEO, and co-founder of Truett Hurst in a statement. “The fires were not quite at 100% containment but attendance was strong. We were very touched by how many guests came from out of town to support Sonoma County and listen to locals’ stories. It was the most gratifying Saturday event ever. An unexpected but meaningful way to mark a major Truett Hurst milestone.”

Fantesca Estate & Winery pledged to donate 25% of sales from its 2014 All Great Things 'Hope' red blend and raised $5,000, which was matched by winery owner Susan Hoff. The winery donated $10,000 to the Napa Valley Community Foundation. "To experience first hand the way our community has come together following this devastation is nothing short of remarkable," Hoff said. "We're proud to support the Napa Valley Community Foundation and their ability to help several thousand families that have been impacted in recent weeks. Our goal now is to continue to be active members in our community and exemplify the Napa Spirit."

Wine kegging provide Free Flow Wines held a fundraiser with Luna Vineyards in Napa Valley on Dec. 3. From ticket proceeds, a silent auction and wine purchases the event raised $8,000 and Luna Vineyards will donate 10% of all bottle sales through the end of the year in the hopes of raising the total to $10,000

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2017
 

Delicato names executive vice president of sales

 

Napa, Calif.—Delicato Family Vineyards appointed Mark Merrion to executive vice president of sales. Merrion reports to Chris Indelicato, president and CEO, and will manage Delicato’s sales team and be responsible for driving national, international and private label sales activity, to execute market and distribution strategies and to reach sales goals. Merrion has more than 25 years of wine industry experience and most recently was senior vice president for U.S. sales and trade marketing at Treasury Wine Estates.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2017
 

Pinot pioneer Bynum dies

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Davis Bynum who started producing Pinot Noir wine in 1965 died Dec. 3 at the age of 92. According to a report in the Santa Rosa, Calif., newspaper The Press Democrat, Bynum moved production of his wine to property on Westside Road near Healdsburg, Calif., in 1973. He is credited with helping to build the Russian River Valley area as a premier source of Pinot Noir grapes, and his Rochioli Vineyards Pinot was one of the valley’s first vineyard designates. Bynum retired in 2007 and sold his brand to the Klein family who also own Rodney Strong Vineyards. He was preceded in death by his first wife and survived by his wife Virginia Bynum, son, daughter and four grandchildren.

 
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November 2017
 

Santa Barbara vintners hire new CEO

 

Santa Barbara, Calif.—The Santa Barbara Vintners, SBV, hired Alison Laslett as its new CEO. Laslett has 25 years of experience in nonprofit leadership and will lead the SBV in strategic planning, events promotion and community outreach as directed by the group's nine-person board of directors. Prior to joining SBV, Laslett ran Represent Consulting, which offered leadership coaching services to companies, nonprofits, boards, high-potential employees and executives. Laslett replaces Morgen McLaughlin who left Santa Barbara to become the executive director of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association in Oregon. “We are thrilled to welcome Alison to Santa Barbara County,” said Matt Murphy, SBV Board President and owner of Presqu’ile Winery in the statement announcing her hire. “Her extensive experience as a consensus builder, innovator and leadership expert in the nonprofit arena will serve our industry and community well.”

 
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November 2017
 

William Kelly joins Wine Advocate

 

Napa, Calif.—William Kelly has joined the Wine Advocate newsletter and RobertParker.com as reviewer covering Burgundy, Chablis, Beaujolais, California’s Central Coast and Washington state. Kelly attended Oxford University where he studied history at St. John’s College and was the president of the Oxford University Wine Circle for four years. Kelly is a former correspondent for Decanter magazine and contributor for The Robb Report and Noble Rot. The Wine Advocate editor Lisa Perrotti-Brown, MW, will also take over coverage of Bordeaux for the newsletter and website. According to the press release announcing the changes, the Wine Advocate team plans to produce more than 50,000 wine reviews by 2020 and will announce other new reviewers in early 2018.

 
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November 2017
 

Sonoma County Barrel Auction registration opens

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Fourth Annual Sonoma County Barrel Auction is scheduled to take place Apr. 20, 2018 at MacMurry Estate Vineyards. The auction, hosted by the Sonoma County Vintners Association, will directly follow the 10th Annual Sonoma Summit, a three-day conference on Sonoma County wines, to be held Apr. 16-18. The 2017 auction raised $794,500 and, to date, the event has generated nearly $2 million in funds supporting Sonoma County Vintners marketing initiatives. Trade registration for the 2018 event is now open. sonomawine.com/barrelauction

 
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November 2017
 

WX Brands acquires Jelly Jar

 

Novato, Calif.—Jelly Jar Wines, a brand by Napa Valley vintner Andy Pestoni and his wife Shannon in 2008, is the latest addition to WX Brands’ portfolio of wines. WX Brands is a private label wine company that produces more than 80 wine, beer and spirits brands for retailers and owns the national brands Bread & Butter Wines, Jamieson Ranch Vineyards and Chronic Cellars. Jelly Jar wines include a Zinfandel and a new red blend. "We're excited for WX Brands to become the steward of Jelly Jar," said Shannon Pestoni in the statement announcing the deal. "We know it's the right fit to take the brand to the next level." 

 
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November 2017
 

LVMH buys majority stake of Colgin

 

St. Helena, Calif.—The French firm, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, is acquiring a 60% stake in Napa Valley Winery Colgin Cellars from owners Ann Colgin and Joe Wender who will retain 40% of the company and their leadership roles along with chief operations officer Paul Roberts and winemaker Allison Tauziet. “After a social introduction to Mr. Arnault several months ago and discussions with the LVMH team, I realized that I could not find a better partner for Colgin Cellars to preserve our founding spirit and our exquisitely handcrafted red wines, into the future,” said founder Ann Colgin in a statement released by LVMH.

The luxury goods and wine and spirits company already owns Newton Vineyard and Domaine Chandon in Napa Valley as well as Chateau d’Yquem, Chateau Cheval Blanc, Veuve Clicquot and several other wineries in France and around the world.

 
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November 2017
 

Napa vintners donate $6.2 million to nonprofits

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Napa Valley Vintners, NVV, announced it contributed $6.2 million to 18 Napa County nonprofit health organizations that provide services to support physical and mental health, family support and assistance for seniors. 

In addition to investing annually in a core group of local nonprofits, following the 2014 South Napa earthquake NVV provided the lead grant of $10 million to establish the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund, which is managed by the Napa Valley Community Foundation, NVCF. The NVCF reactivated the fund immediately after the start of the recent wildfires in October.

After the earthquake, the NVCF coordinated a number of nonprofit groups to form the Community Organizations Active in Disaster, COAD. “The silver lining of the earthquake and several decades of support from the NVV is a community health sector that was better prepared to be of service during the Napa Fire Complex,” said NVCF President Terence Mulligan in a statement released by the NVV. “As a result, more people are getting the help they need on account of better coordination."

 
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November 2017
 

UC Davis on the road in the Foothills

 

Davis, Calif.—The University of California, Davis Viticulture & Enology Department announced its 2017-2018 On-the-Road programs will begin with On-the-Road to the Foothills, cohosted by UCCE Central Sierra on Nov. 28 at the Shakerspeare Club in Placerville, Calif. wineserver.ucdavis.edu

 
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November 2017
 

Duckhorn Merlot named Wine Spectator wine of year

 

Napa, Calif.—The Wine Spectator magazine named the 2014 Duckhorn Merlot Napa Valley Three Palms Vineyard as its 2017 Wine of the Year. The magazine's top ten wines of the year were released in advance of the complete 100 wine list. The winning bottles are selected by the publication's panel of critics from the 16,000 wines reviewed in blind tastings. 

 
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November 2017
 

Fetzer Vineyards wins UN honor

 

Hopland, Calif.—Fetzer Vineyards was one of 19 companies in the world to receive the United Nations' "Momentum for Change" Climate Solutions Award at COP23, the UN Climate Change Conference. The wine company received the honor at the conference in Bonn, Germany, and it is the third environmental award Fetzer has won this year. 

 
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November 2017
 

Michael David acquires DeLuca Vineyard

 

Lodi, Calif.—Michael David Winery of Lodi announced the acquisition of the 160-acre DeLuca Vineyard in the Clement Hills sub-appellation of the Lodi AVA. The vineyard is planted to own-rooted, head-trained Zinfandel starting in 1961. Michael David has been using fruit from the DeLuca Vineyard in its 7 Deadly Zins since 2004, becoming the sole buyer for the vineyard’s yields by 2009.

 
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November 2017
 

Foley names new senior VP of marketing

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Foley Family Wines announced Gerard Thoukis is the new senior vice president of marketing and commercial capability. Thoukis is an industry veteran and joins the company after more than 20 years at E. & J. Gallo Winery where he held a variety of positions. Most recently, Thoukis was senior director of marketing, luxury retail and on-premise. Prior to that role, Thoukis was senior director of marketing for Gallo's spirit business unit. 

 
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November 2017
 

Colby Red raises more than $1 million for heart research

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—The producers of Colby Red wine announced the brand has raised more than $1 million for heart-health charities. Winemaker Daryl Groom created the red blend to raise funds for heart health research after his son Colby Groom was born with cogenital heart disease and required two open-heart surgeries by age 10. 

 
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November 2017
 

Paul Hobbs Winery acquires new vineyard

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Paul Hobbs Winery purchased a 45-acre acre Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard from the Silverado Investment Management Company, according to a news release from Zepponi & Company, which acted as Silverado Investment’s financial advisor. The vineyard is located in the Alexander Valley AVA and will be used by Hobbs plans to supply Cabernet Sauvignon for his second label, CrossBarn Wine.  

 
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November 2017
 

Wineries, wine industry suppliers donate to fire relief

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—In the aftermath of the devasting wildfires that have struck the North Coast region of California, many wineries and wine industry suppliers have donated cash, services or are spearheading other fundraising efforts to help victims of the fires. 

 
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November 2017
 

Anderson Valley Winegrowers changes events

 

Philo, Calif.—The Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association announced several changes to its upcoming events. The group is holding A Taste of Anderson Valley on Nov. 9 featuring trade and consumer tastings plus a silent silent auction to benefit North Bay fire relief efforts at The Presidio of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Club in San Francisco, Calif.

In December, the Association will host two Holiday Passport Weekend events, Dec. 9-10 and 16-17, with several local wineries offering wine tastings, holiday decorations and crafts and toy donation boxes to be distributed to local children by the Anderson Valley Fire Department.

The annual February International Alsace Varietals Festival, to be held Feb. 24-25, 2018, is now the Anderson Valley Aromatic White Wine Festival, to reflect a more diverse sampling international regions and will highlight a variety of whites including Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Muscat.

The 21st annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, scheduled for May 18-20, 2018, will be held at Camp Navarro event center. And finally, the Anderson Valley Barrel Tasting Weekend will be held this July 21-22, 2018.

 
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November 2017
 

Steve Burns to head Wine Market Council

 

Yountville, Calif.—Steve Burns will replace John Gillespie as the president of the non-profit trade association Wine Market Council. Burns is the owner of a marketing, public relations and strategic planning firm and former executive director of the Washington Wine Commission where he served from 1996 to 2004. Gillespie is retiring at the end of this month after leading the council for 20 years.

According to the statement announcing the change, Burns began a career in the wine industry in 1990 as the international marketing manager at the Wine Institute. From 1984 to 1989, Burns was special assistant to Gov. George Deukmejian, participating in California's expansion in opening trade and investment offices around the world.

“Steve’s record of strong and successful leadership of wine trade associations makes him the perfect match for Wine Market Council,” Gillespie said in the statement. “The growth and success of Wine Market Council over the years has been driven by a ‘hands on’ board of wine industry leaders who value ongoing market research and its benefits to our membership.  I know they will continue to support both Steve and the council’s mission in the years to come.”

Wine Market Council provides its proprietary research to association members only. Upcoming research projects include the Annual High Frequency Wine Consumer Survey with a Special Topic on Premiumization (December 2017), the Occasional Wine Drinker Survey (January 2018), and The Changing World of Retail Wine Shopping Survey (March 2018).

 
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November 2017
 

Winiarski named 2017 Person of the Year

 

Napa, Calif.—Napa Valley winemaker and grape grower Warren Winiarski won the 2017 Person of the Year award from the Polish wine magazine Czas Wina. The award honors the efforts of enologists, wine writers, winery owners and industry leaders promoting the culture of wine internationally. Winiarski, whose family originates from Poland, first gained fame as a winemaker when his 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon was wone of the winning wines from the Judgment of Paris in 1976. The owner of Arcadia Vineyards in the Coombsville AVA of Napa Valley and founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Winiarski received the award on Oct. 21 at Sierakow Manor in Krakow, Poland. 

 
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October 2017
 

New winemaker at Pfendler Vineyards

 

Petaluma, Calif.—Justin Harmon is the new winemaker at Pfendler Vineyards, a producer of estate-grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines in the Petaluma Gap area of Sonoma County. Harmon replaces founding winemaker Greg Bjornstad who will continue to work with Harmon on vineyard management through Bjornstad's new viticulture software startup eVit. Harmon also produces wine under his own label, Argot Wines, and has a chemical engineering degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

 
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October 2017
 

New president at Rabble Wine Company

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—Rabble Wine Company, which encompasses the labels Rabble, Stasis, Amor Fati and Tooth & Nail; named Caine Thompson its new president. Thompson, originally from New Zealand, was formerly general manager of Locations Wine in Napa Valley. The company reports the veteran industry executive “wields multifaceted wine industry experience in executive management, viticultural operations and technical research.” Thompson holds an MBA and was named Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year “Young Viticulturist of The Year” of New Zealand in 2009.

 
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October 2017
 

Napa Valley Film Festival to honor Will Ferrell

 

 

Napa, Calif.—The Napa Valley Film festival is honoring actor and comedian Will Ferrell with the Caldwell Vineyard Maverick Actor Tribute award during this year's festival in a Nov. 10 ceremony at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville, Calif. The Maverick award is an inscribed three-liter bottle of Caldwell Vineyard Gold Cabernet Sauvignon and honors actors for portraying original characters. The award honors Ferrell's work in such films as Elf, Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory, as well as his seven-year stint on Saturday Night Live. Ferrell will stay after the award presentation for a question and answer session followed by a screening of his film, Stranger than Fiction.

 
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October 2017
 

Winemakers, somms unite for fire relief

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—In response to the recent fires throughout Northern California, Patrick Cappiello, Pax Mahle and Sara Morgenstern created The Winemakers & Sommeliers for California Wildfire Relief Group. Founded to bring wine industry professional together in support of those in need, the group plans to host three fundraising events later this month in conjunction with CAWineStrong, Redwood Credit Union North Bay Fire Relief, and Napa Valley Community Foundation. The events will be held at Bergamot Alley in Healdsburg, Calif. on Oct. 25, Bluxome Street Winery in San Francisco, Calif. on Oct. 26, and Corkbuzz in Union Square, N.Y. on Oct. 27. The events will showcase local food and wine as well as feature rare vintages donated by sommeliers and collectors available for purchase. For more information, or to donate, visit wscwr.com

 
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October 2017
 

Samples sought for smoke taint studies

 

Napa, Calif.—Dr. Tom Collins, assistant professor at the Washington State University Wine Science Center, is seeking samples of wines that have smoke contamination, or that are suspected to be tainted, for chemical and sensory evaluation. The objective of the study is to identify potential marker compounds that are better correlated with the perception of taint than guaiacol or 4-methyl guaiacol. A request for samples was released by the University of California, Davis Extension as wildfires burn throughout Northern California.

Collins needs six 750 ml bottles of wine for chemical and sensory analysis evaluation. The wines should have completed primary fermentation and should not have had any contact with oak.

UC Davis will serve as the collection point for the samples Collins plans to pick up in the first week of November. All winery and vineyard information included with the samples will be held with “the strictest confidence” at UC Davis. Collins will not know the producer’s identity; only variety and AVA to be able to discuss generalities.

The resultant data is critically needed as researchers struggle to fill important gaps in current knowledge about the impact of smoke exposure on grapes, juices and wine, both short- and long-term. Knowing more about the compounds involved in what we are calling “smoke taint,” will allow researchers to develop effective remediation techniques.

Wineries interested in submitting samples to participate in the study should contact Kay Bogart at UC Davis

A summary of WSU’s research on wildfire damage: wine.wsu.edu/extension/smoke-taint

 
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October 2017
 

Sonoma growers, farm bureau launch housing fund for fire victims

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation partnered with the Sonoma County Farm Bureau to establish a housing recovery fund for farm workers and their families who lost homes in the recent fires. The funds will support the re-establishment of new households and has benefited from initial investments from local grape growers and supporters including $25,000 from the John Jordan Foundation and Jordan Vineyard & Winery and $25,000 from American Ag Credit. To contribute to the housing fund, visit: scggf.org

 
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October 2017
 

TTB tax relief for fire areas

 

The TTB announced a waiver of relief for penalties for wineries or other business paying excise taxes that are unable to because of the ongoing fires in much of Northern California. According to an announcement on the bureau’s website: “TTB will waive late filing, payment, or deposit penalties on a case-by-case basis. Wherever warranted, waivers will be approved based on the statutory standard of reasonable cause and a lack of willful neglect demonstrated by the taxpayer.”

 
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October 2017
 

FEMA opens disaster relief registration

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Officials announced those “who have suffered damage or losses” are now eligible to register to receive disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Relief includes low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration for businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters. FEMA grants do not have to be repaid, are nontaxable and will not affect eligibility for other federal benefits. Apply online at DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585.

 
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October 2017
 

Leaders form Rebuild Northbay for fire recovery

 

Rohnert Park, Calif.—Sonoma State University’s School of Business and Economics announced Dean William S. Silver formed Rebuild North Bay, an organization dedicated to fire recovery efforts in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Lake and Solano counties. According to Silver, the organization will work with public and private leaders to address immediate funding needs, future environmental issues, assessment of recovery efforts, assessment of above ground infrastructure, future legislative reform and to partner with organizations that are raising funds for those impacted in the various communities. The North Bay Business Journal reports that Darius Anderson, a principal in Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat and the North Bay Business Journal among other media outlets, will spearhead the organization. Those interested in serving on Rebuild NorthBay’s committee are asked to email info@rebuildnorthbay.org. and those interested in helping with a monetary contribution please visit: www.redwoodcu.org/NorthBayFireRelief

 
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October 2017
 

Where to donate to support fire relief

 

Napa, Calif.—Relief efforts are expanding as fires throughout Northern California cause more damage and evacuations. Wine Enthusiast magazine compiled the following list of charitable efforts to support victims of the fires: 

 
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October 2017
 

Wine community forms fire support network

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Wine industry associations have joined together to provide immediate and long-term assistance for those impacted by the fires that continue to ravage Northern California. The group, calling itself CAWineStrong, represents California’s major winegrowing regions, reports support efforts will include “fundraising and the creation of an online resource where vintners can find and offer resources such as generators, trailers, lodging and manpower.” Support and resources are being organized as quickly as possible, and messaging is being organized around the hashtag #CAWineStrong.

 
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October 2017
 

Northern California fire updates and resources

 

Napa, Calif.—Napa Valley Growers has created a website in response to the recent fires continuing to burn throughout Northern California. The site, in English and Spanish, contains links on status updates, alerts and advisories, evacuations centers, as well as ways to get involved in relief efforts.

 
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October 2017
 

Ferrari-Carano founder dies

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Donald Louis Carano, founder of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery, Eldorado Resorts Inc., and McDonald, Carano & Wilson, LLC law firm; died peacefully on Oct. 3, surrounded by his family at his home in Reno, Nev. He was 85.

 
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October 2017
 

New assistant winemaker at Frank Family

 

Calistoga, Calif.—Jeremiah Timm is the new assistant winemaker at Frank Family Vineyards in the Napa Valley. Timm is a native of Wisconsin and began his winemaking career as a vineyard and winery assistant at Wollersheim Winery & Distillery in Prairie Du Sac, Wisc., before moving to California to earn an enology degree from California State University, Fresno. After an internship at Kosta Browne Wines in 2008, Timm worked at Moshin Vineyards in the Russian River Valley for two years before rejoining Kosta Browne where he advanced from enologist to director of winery operations. Timm will work with Frank Family Vineyards winemaker and general manager Todd Graff.

 
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September 2017
 

Amici Cellars hires executive vice president

 

Calistoga, Calif.—Melissa Devore is the new executive vice president of Amici Cellars in Calistoga, Calif. Devore previously was the vice president of wine buying for Total Wine & More and prior to that position, she worked for Verizon Communications and Accenture. As executive vice president, a newly created position, Devore will utilize her experience in strategic leadership, sales, supplier relationships, project management, process improvement and customer service. Devore holds a B.S. in chemical engineering and MBA in marketing and international business.

 
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September 2017
 

SSU offering 'hybrid' EMBA

 

Rohnert Park, Calif.—Sonoma State University announced it will offer a hybrid executive MBA in wine business both online and onsite in California, France and Australia. The new program features a curriculum “focused on improving acumen in the areas of design and systems thinking, financial analysis, leadership and talent management and macro analysis of economic, environmental and cultural frameworks.”  Onsite classes will take place in the Wine Spectator Learning Center at SSU and via university partnerships in France and Australia.

 
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September 2017
 

Short course on wine grape growing

 

Davis, Calif.—The Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis is hosting a short course on wine grape production designed to address production issues in diverse growing regions.  Course topics include vineyard soils, site preparation, irrigation system design, production and mechanical and precision viticulture. The two-day course will be held at the UC Davis Conference Center. 

 
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September 2017
 

C. Mondavi & Family promotes new chief operating officer

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Jeff Richardson is C. Mondavi & Family’s new chief operating officer. Prior to his current position, Richardson was vice president of operations and formerly director of production. According to the company, during his time at C. Mondavi & Family, “production capabilities for the company have nearly doubled, and Richardson was also the leader of an extensive renovation project that completely transformed the Charles Krug tasting room—which now includes a salumeria and pizza kitchen—into one of Napa’s most popular destinations.”

 
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September 2017
 

Sonoma to host 2018 Vinexpo Explorer

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The international wine and spirits trade show Vinexpo, will host its 2018 Vinexpo Explorer show in Sonoma County on Sept. 23-25. The program, which launched this year in Austria, is a two-day, invitation-only event offered to key international buyers, distributors and media.

 
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September 2017
 

Roederer wins best U.S. sparkling wine

 

London—Roederer Estate in Philo, Calif., won a trophy for best U.S. sparkling wine at the 2017 Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships in London. The international competition drew sparkling wines from 29 countries and named 82 best-in-class winners and 17 trophy winners including best U.S. wine for Roederer's non-vintage rosé. Other winners were Dom Pérignon 1998 P2 in magnum for supreme world champion and best French sparkling wine, Trentodoc producer Ferrari Lunelli for sparkling wine producer of the year and the chairman’s trophy was presented to AR Lenoble 2008 Grand Cru Chouilly in magnum.

 
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September 2017
 

Chik Brenneman to receive award of distinction

 

Davis, Calif.—The University of California, Davis announced it will honor winemaker and facility manager Charles “Chik” Brenneman with an award of distinction Oct. 6. Brenneman oversees all operations at the campus winery, vineyard management at the UC Davis and Oakville Research Center, and works directly with faculty to support the viticulture and enology program. Brenneman joined UC Davis in 2006 after spending a decade gaining winemaking experience at several northern Californian wineries. He holds a master’s degree from UC Davis in food science with a concentration in enology.

 
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September 2017
 

Sonoma County auction raises $5.2 million

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The 2017 Sonoma County Wine Auction raised $5.2 million to support charities focused on literacy, education, health and human services, the environment and arts and culture. The auction took place Sept. 16 at La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard by Visa Signature and was sponsored by Jackson Family Wines and TricorBraun WinePak.

According to a press release by the auction, two lots tied for the top lots of the day: Lot 11 “Winner’s Circle Escape to the Kentucky Derby” donated by Barbara Banke, Stonestreet Farms, and Jackson Family Wines for $210,000 that doubled; and Lot 23 “Everything is Better with Bette: A Hello Dolly Adventure to New York” donated by Williams Selyem, Dr. Jeffrey P. Hays, and Mrs. Carole Shorenstein Hays which also sold for $210,000 and doubled.

The “Fund the Future” lot raised $1.8 million for literacy programs, and the day’s top, wine-only lot was a six bottle collection of large-format Kosta Browne 2014 single-vintage Pinot Noirs, which sold for $37,000. Since its inception, the auction has raised nearly $30 million for charitable groups in Sonoma County.

 
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September 2017
 

Poulsen returns to Acumen

 

Napa, Calif.—Henrik Poulsen is the new director of winemaking and executive manager of Acumen Wines in the Atlas Peak AVA of Napa County. Poulsen previously worked at the winery from 2013 to 2015 when he worked closely with founder Denis Malbec before taking a hiatus to focus on his own wines.

Poulsen replaces Steve Matthiasson who took the winemaker position in 2016 after the death of Malbec in a car accident. A native of Denmark, Poulsen came to the Napa Valley in 2000 after a 13-month stay in Bordeaux. He worked at Newton Vineyards from 2000 to 2006 before joining Alpha Omega Winery as assistant winemaker.

In 2013, Malbec recruited Poulsen to work at Acumen, which just released its first Cabernet Sauvignon wine in 2016. “I’m thrilled to be back at Acumen and continue my work with the exceptional fruit that comes off our Atlas Peak vineyards,” Poulsen said in the press release announcing his return to the company. “I’m also very grateful to Steve Matthiasson for pinch-hitting as winemaker following the tragic passing of Denis. Steve’s role in developing our vineyards made for a natural transition, and we were fortunate he was able to take on the winemaking responsibilities in the interim.”

 
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September 2017
 

Comfort takes post at SSU

 

Rohnert Park, Calif.—Honore Comfort, former executive director of the Sonoma County Vintners, is the new executive in residence at the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University. Comfort will lead efforts to create strategic programs and engagement opportunities for wine business students, alumni and industry leaders according to the statement announcing her appointment at the university. After leading the vintners group for nine years, Comfort most recently was the president of Brack Mountain Wine Company in Sebastopol, Calif. "Her strong experience in building strategic partnerships and shaping public policy is outstanding," said Ray Johnson, executive director of the institute. "As WBI extends its reach and global presence, we expect Honore’s background and expertise to inform top-tier activities and events in the new Wine Spectator Learning Center.”

 
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September 2017
 

CEO of Boudin SF joins Delicato advisory board

 

Napa, Calif.—Delicato Family Vineyards announced Clarice Turner is the newest member of the company's advisory board of directors. Turner is the CEO of the Boudin Baker Group as well as member of Boudin SF’s board of directors. Prior to joining Boudin SF, Turner led the Starbucks Food, Wine and Ready to Drink businesses in the United States, Canada and Latin America. 

 
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September 2017
 

New MWs include U.S. winemakers

 

London—The Institute of Masters of Wine announced 14 new Masters of Wine, three of whom are U.S. winemakers: Nova Cadamatre, director of winemaking for Canandaigua Winery, owner of Trestle Thirty One in the Finger Lakes AVA and the first female U.S. winemaker to achieve title of master of wine; Yashodan “Billo” Naravane, owner and winemaker of Rasa Vineyards in Walla Walla, Wash.; and Morgan Twain-Peterson, winemaker and owner of Bedrock Wine Co. in Sonoma, Calif. The new members were chosen from around the globe and must sign a Code of Conduct as well as pass the Master of Wine examination that includes theory, practical exams and an in-depth study on a wine-related topic.

New MWs from outside North America include: Julie Chene Nyheim MW (Norway), Alastair Cooper MW (U.K.), Philip Harden MW (U.K.), Sarah Heller MW (Hong Kong), Tim Jackson MW (U.K.), Andreas Kubach MW (Spain), Fernando Mora MW (Spain), Aina Mee Myhre MW (Norway), Catherine Petrie MW (U.K.). There are now 369 masters of wine living in 29 countries.

 
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September 2017
 

Stomp event raises $2 million

 

Napa, Calif.—The Napa Valley Grapegrowers announced its 10th annual Harvest Stomp, hosted by Round Pond Estate winery co-owners Ryan Macdonnell Bracher and Miles Macdonnell, raised $1.98 million dollars. Proceeds from the event go to the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation that provides education and professional development opportunities for more than 12,500 vineyard workers and their families.

 
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September 2017
 

Bisson retiring from UC Davis

 

Davis, Calif.—After more than 30 years of teaching and research at the University of California, Davis, Dr. Linda Bisson is retiring from the Department of Viticulture & Enology, effecive Sept. 1. An expert in yeast, Bisson is also credited with elevating the national and international wine industires through her outreach and extension efforts. 

 
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August 2017
 

Lodi group hires new communications manager

 

Lodi, Calif.—The Lodi Winegrape Commission named Bob Highfill its new marketing and communications manager. Prior to his new position, Highfill worked as a tasting room associate at the Lodi Wine and Visitor Center and wrote a weekly wine column called “From the Vine,” showcasing the Lodi AVA. Highfill holds a Level 3 certification from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust and has judged several wine competitions. In his new role, Highfill will coordinate marketing and communications strategies as well as work on projects specific to the commission.

 
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August 2017
 

New ASEV appointments

 

Davis, Calif.—The American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV), named James Harbertson this year’s president. Harbertson, who also holds the interim technical program director position, succeeds Nichola Hall of Scott Laboratories as president of the 11-member board. An associate professor at Washington State University, Tri-Cities, Harbertson has served on the Board of Directors since 2006, has been an active member of ASEV since 1998 and is associate editor of the Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research

 
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August 2017
 

Dutcher Crossing promotes Briggs to winemaker

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Dutcher Crossing Winery, located in the Dry Creek AVA, announced Nick Briggs has been promoted to winemaker. Briggs, who apprenticed since 2012 under founding winemaker Kerry Damskey, will continue to consult with Damskey and owner Debra Mathy. In his new role, Briggs will oversee all winemaking operations along with newly appointed assistant winemaker, Cass Gossage. “This is a great opportunity to elevate our unique and stylistic approach to creating premium, small-lot wines,” Nick Briggs said in the press release announcing his promotion. “It’s an exciting time to be at Dutcher Crossing and I’m eager to continue working with Kerry and Cass as we take our wines to the next level.”

 
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August 2017
 

Fresno State hires new faculty and staff

 

Fresno, Calif.—California State University, Fresno announced two new faculty members and an alumnus have joined its viticulture and enology team. Dr. Miguel Pedroza and Dr. Qun (Kristy) Sun are new assistant professors of Enology, while Fresno State alumnus Tom Montgomery was hired as winemaker for the Fresno State Winery.  

Pedroza holds a Ph.D. in enology from the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain and specializes in grape and wine analysis and in strategies for converting pomace into an enological additive. Sun received her Ph.D. in wine chemistry from Cornell University and researches grape and wine aroma and flavor compound identification, impacts of viticultural practices on grape and wine equality, developing new analytical techniques for measurement of grape and wine components and determining relationship between sensory attributes and wine composition.

Montgomery received his B.S. degree in enology from Fresno State, and has produced award-winning wines in various grape growing regions of California, including Napa and Sonoma valleys. All three joined the viticulture and enology team this fall.

 
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August 2017
 

Jamieson Ranch hires new winemaker

 

Novato, Calif.—Linda Trotta is the new winemaker at  Jamieson Ranch Vineyards in Napa County. Trotta previously was the winemaker at Swiftwater Cellars in Washington state and, prior to that position, director of winemaking at Gundlach Bundschu Winery in Sonoma Valley and has worked harvests throughout the world, including Italy, South Africa and Chile. In her new role, Trotta will be responsible for the Double Lariat and Reata brands.

 
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August 2017
 

Edcora Vineyard now CCOF certified organic

 

Napa, Calif.—Acumen Wines announced its Edcora Vineyard, located in the Atlas Peak AVA of Napa Valley, has been certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). The vineyard’s 84 acres of vines have been organically farmed since 2014, meeting CCOF standards a vineyard use organic practices a minimum of three years. Acumen’s PEAK series of wines and its Mountainside Cabernet Sauvignon now will be made from organic grapes, which will be indicated on the labels. 

 
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August 2017
 

ONX buys Paso vineyard

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—ONX Wines, a family-owned winery, announced it purchased Kiler Canyon Vineyard, a 50-acre property located in the Willow Creek AVA of Paso Robles, Calif. The vineyard, formerly owned by Don Hofer, is planted to Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Tempranillo and Viognier. ONX is based in Paso Robles and had previously purchased grapes from the vineyard. “We fell in love with the place,” ONX Winemaker Brian Brown said a news release. “When it came up [for sale] it was a logical purchase for us. There’s great variability on the site, which is a plus. It gives us a lot to work with.”

 
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August 2017
 

Honigs raise $215,000 for Type 1 diabetes

 

Napa, Calif.—Honig Vineyard & Winery began the 2017 harvest by hosting singer Nick Jonas at an event for the diabetes awareness and fundraising group Beyond Type 1. The fundraiser, which drew a crowd of 350 and raised $215,000, also featured Team Bike Beyond bicycling team, several local businesses and many other supporters. The Aug. 10 event began in the vineyard with Honig winemaker Kristin Belair and Jonas sampling sugar levels in Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Winery owners Michael and Stephanie Honig have been supporters of the Beyond Type 1 group since their daughter Sophia was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 5.

 
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August 2017
 

Provenance names senior winemaker and new GM

 

Napa, Calif.—Matthew Glynn is the new general manager and senior winemaker for Provenance Vineyards located in Rutherford. Glynn joins Provenance Vineyards from Acacia Vineyards where he acted as senior winemaker for the last ten years. During this time, he also acted as senior winemaker for Orogeny, a Russian River Valley AVA Chardonnay and Pinot Noir producers. Glynn began his career in Napa Valley at Domaine Chandon and Beringer Vineyards.

 
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August 2017
 

Herzog purchases acreage in Lake County

 

Oxnard, Calif.—Herzog Wine Cellars, a family-owned southern California company, announced it has purchased a combined 83-acres in Kelseyville, Calif., located in Lake County. The two parcels include 18-acres of Sauvignon Blanc and 65-acres that will be planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. The company describes its new acreage as partially volcanic, Bally-Phipps soil complex which is land similar that has produced other highly rated Lake County wines. "The 2014 Herzog Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon surpassed all expectations,” national sales director Doug Simon of Herzog’s parent company, Royal Wine Corporation said in a news release. “This vineyard purchase will allow us to expand our production and continue to meet our customer’s needs for exceptional wine."

 
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August 2017
 

New winemaker at Round Pond Estate

 

Rutherford, Calif.—Jaime "JJ" Dowell is the new winemaker at Round Pond Estate, located in the Napa Valley. Most recently, Dowell was the assistant winemaker at Alpha Omega and, prior to that, held winemaking positions at Bonny Doon Vineyard and Villa Maria Estate in New Zealand. In her new position, Dowell will oversee all aspects of winemaking at the family-owned winery. "Down to the grapes, the soil, the climate and the elevation, Round Pond Estate is an optimal environment to create incredible wines," Dowell said in a news release announcing her hire. "I’m honored to join the Round Pond family and work with the winemaking team on producing some incredible wines."

 
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August 2017
 

E. & J. Gallo Winery Acquires Germain-Robin

 

Modesto, Calif.—E. & J. Gallo Winery announced it has purchased Germain-Robin, California’s first luxury brandy.

 
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August 2017
 

Duckhorn acquires Calera Wine Company

 

Napa, Calif.—Duckhorn Wine Company, which includes Duckhorn Vineyards in Napa, Goldeneye, Paraduxx, Migration, Decoy and Canvasback, announced it has acquired Calera Wine Company.

 
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August 2017
 

Oakville association names new president

 

Oakville, Calif.—Michelle Perry is the new president of the Oakville Winegrowers Association. Perry replaces Tom Garrett, co-owner and winemaker at Detert Family Vineyards who acted as president for the past three years. Perry is the vice president of fine wine marketing and visitor programs at Constellation Brands and previously worked in marketing, brand management and sales strategy at E. & J. Gallo Winery. In her new role, Perry will continue promoting Napa Valley's Oakville appellation as a world-class AVA, and working with the group's board of directors.

 
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August 2017
 

Dennis Martin, veteran winemaker at Fetzer dies

 

Hopland, Calif.—Longtime Fetzer Vineyards winemaker, Dennis Martin, died Aug. 13 following a battle with cancer. Prior to retiring in 2015, Martin was a pivotal part of the winemaking team at Fetzer Vineyards for more than 30 years, ultimately holding the role of vice president of winemaking with responsibility for overseeing our entire collection of wines.

 
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July 2017
 

Cambria Estate hires new winemaker

 

Santa Maria, Calif.—Jill DelaRiva Russell is the new winemaker for Cambria Estate Vineyard & Winery in the Santa Maria Valley AVA. Russell will work in tandem with former Cambria winemaker, Denise Shurtleff, who has been promoted to general manager, and will supervise all aspects of winemaking. Prior to joining Cambria, Russell worked as assistant winemaker at Paul Lato Wines in Santa Maria, Calif., and was formerly assistant winemaker at Stephen Ross Wine Cellars in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

 
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July 2017
 

Michael David Winery hires North Coast GM

 

Lodi, Calif.—Michael David Winery named Jen Berman general manager of its Geyserville, Calif., winery. Berman previously was the general manager and assistant winemaker at Stryker Sonoma Winery and, prior to that, was lab technician for the Sonoma Wine Company. Berman will manage the Geyserville winery and work in tandem with the winemaking staff at Michael David's Lodi facility. "In her short time with us she has already demonstrated herself to be a self-starter and a great fit," said Adam Mettler, Michael David's director of winemaking, in the press release announcing Berman's hiring.

 
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July 2017
 

Hirsch Vineyards opens tasting room in Healdsburg

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Hircsh Vineyards, located in the far western Sonoma Coast, announced it is set to open its first tasting room in Healdsburg, Calif. on Aug. 1. Known for its estate grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Hirsch Vineyards is part of the Sonoma Coast AVA. The tasting room, open by appointment only, will feature culinary pairings provided by SHED and Andante Dairy and operate "in the spirit of a chef’s table rather than traditional tasting room."

Designed by Marie Hirsch, the tasting room is located in the Old Roma Station on Front Street.

“Our heart and home is the True Sonoma Coast, and our wines and values will always be rooted here," said founder David Hirsch in the press release announcing the tasting room. "Opening a tasting room in Healdsburg allows us to share our story and wines, without folks having to drive all the way out to the remote coast.”  

 
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July 2017
 

Dreaming Tree raises $1 million for charity

 

San Francisco, Calif.—The Dreaming Tree Wines, a California wine produced by Constellation Brands and developed by winemaker Sean McKenzie and musician Dave Matthews, announced it reached its goal to raise $1 million for The Wilderness Society and Living Lands & Waters. The brand is certified by the California Sustainable Wine-growing Alliance and consistently donates proceeds from its sales to environmental organizations. "The more work we can do like this in towns and cities around the world, the more we can change the outcome of the future of those communities," Dave Matthews said in a press release. "I really feel grateful that there are organizations like The Wilderness Society and Living Lands & Waters that can turn this into a reality."

 
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July 2017
 

Jones promoted to winemaker at Tamber Bey

 

Calistoga, Calif.—Andy Jones is the new winemaker at Tamber Bey Vineyards winery. Jones has worked at Tamber Bey since 2013 as the director of winery operations and custom-crush production. Jones is winemaker for Vermeil Wines and Sebright Cellars, also produced at Tamber Bey, and has launched his own label, Spinning Gold. Prior to joining Tamber Bey, Jones worked with winemaker Thomas Brown at his Black Sears facility in Angwin, Calif. Jones is replacing Frederic Delivert as Tamber Bey’s winemaker. 

 
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July 2017
 

UC Davis offers sensory, consumer science course

 

Davis, Calif.—The University of California, Davis Extension’s Applied Sensory and Consumer Science Certificate Program is accepting applications for its online program. The program is approved by the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology and offers comprehensive course experience, practical applications and networking opportunities. The class is being taught by UC Davis professor Jean-Xavier Guinard and Tragon Corporation chief sensory officer Rebecca Bleibaum with the first course beginning Oct. 2. The entire program can be completed in fewer than 12 months and applications are due Sept. 15.

 
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July 2017
 

McGrath retires at Conn Creek

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Mike McGrath has retired from Conn Creek and sister winery Villa Mt. Eden after 35 years of working at the two estates. McGrath graduated from University of California, Davis in 1978 with a degree in fermentation science and worked at Grgich Hills Estate, William Hill Estate and Charles Krug before joining Villa Mt. Eden in 1982. He joined Conn Creek in 1986 and was promoted to head winemaker in 2007. During his time at the winery, McGrath’s wines earned five spots in Wine Spectator magazine’s “Top 100” wines. McGrath will work in tandem with his replacement, new head winemaker Elizabeth DeLouise-Gant, until mid August. DeLouise-Gant previously was the assistant winemaker at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and prior to that she was assistant winemaker at Beaulieu Vineyard.

 
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July 2017
 

Gov. Brown signs Napa farmworker bill

 

Sacramento, Calif.—Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation allowing grape growers in Napa County to increase their self-assessment fee to raise more money for farmworker housing. The legislation had been introduced by state Sen. Bill Dodd and Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry.

According to a statement released by Dodd’s office, Napa County’s farmworker housing program provides 180 affordable beds for farmworkers. Grapegrowers have helped fund the centers through a 2002 state law that authorizes them to impose a fee of up to $10 for each acre of planted vineyards. The three farmworker housing centers are run through a partnership with the county and the nonprofit California Human Development Corporation. Currently, the centers run with an annual deficit, which the county has helped bridge through its budget reserves. Senate Bill 240 allows Napa County grapegrowers to increase their annual assessment from $10 to $15 per acre.

 
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July 2017
 

After BV, Stambor launches consultancy

 

Napa, Calif.—Jeffrey Stambor, former winemaker of Beaulieu Vineyard winery in Rutherford, Calif, has opened Jeffrey Stambor Wine Consulting, offering winemaking, consulting, and one-off project support. In the statement announcing his new business, Stambor said his nearly 30 years at BV as well as work in France and Argentina exposed him to many grape growing and winemaking conditions and created the relationships and experiences necessary to launch a consulting business.

“I’ve seen, and in many cases instituted a variety of the technological advances of the past 10 years,” Stambor said. “I want to build and expand on that by providing my expertise to a wider range of projects.”

 
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July 2017
 

Benovia Winery names new assistant winemaker

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Adolfo Hernandez is the new assistant winemaker at Benovia Winery, a family owned winery located just east of the Russian River. Hernandez was formerly harvest enologist at Pahlmeyer Winery in St. Helena, Calif and prior to that position, he worked as assistant winemaker for Checkboard Vineyards in Calistoga, Calif. In his new role, Hernandez will help oversee production of all Benovia’s wines, including their estate-grown pinot noir and chardonnay.

 
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July 2017
 

BV brand launches charitable promotion

 

Napa, Calif.—The Treasury Wine Estates brand BV Coastal Estates announced a new program with the ocean conservation and advocacy organization Oceana to raise funds to restore and protect oceans. BV Coastal Estates will donate $1 for every bottle sold in the next two years — up to $50,000 each year — for a total of $100,000. Founded in 2001, Oceana advocates for science-based fishery management, curbing ocean pollution and restoring ocean habitats.

 
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July 2017
 

New winemaker at The Stomping Ground

 

Gilroy, Calif.—Geoff Mace is the new winemaker and cellar operations manager at The Stomping Ground, a custom crush facility in the Central Coast. Most recently, Mace was a winemaker for Constellation Brands and has also held winemaking and operations roles with Treasury Wine Estates, O’Neill Vintners and Distillers, and The Wine Group. In Mace’s new role, he will assist with the completion of the winery’s new crushpad and production cellar.

 
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June 2017
 

Silverado sells Sweetwater Vineyard to investment group

 

Monterey, Calif.—Silverado Investment Management Company, SIMCO, sold the 900-acre Sweetwater Vineyard near King City, Calif., to “a large North American-based pension fund,” according to a press release by Zepponi & Company that served as the exclusive financial advisor to SIMCO. The vineyard is planted primarily to Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and has supplied several of California’s largest wine companies.

SIMCO is a division of Westchester Group Investment Management, which is an investment firm focused on developing and managing premium wine grape vineyards. The company oversees more than 20,000 acres of wine grapes in Napa and Sonoma counties and the Central Coast region of California and sells winegrapes to more than 85 winery customers.

The Sweetwater Vineyard deal closed June 28 and is one of a string of significant vineyard acquisitions in the wine industry in 2017.  “We expect to see continued vineyard acquisition activity through the balance of the year and into 2018,” said Joe Ciatti, principal at Zepponi & Company.

 
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June 2017
 

Dutton-Goldfield hires president

 

Sebastopol, Calif.—Peter Heyworth was hired for the newly created position of president at Dutton-Goldfied winery. The family-owned winery hired Heyworth to establish and implement new marketing and sales strategies, according to winery press release. Prior to joining the winery, Heyworth worked in upper management positions at Diageo, Allied Domecq, Vincor, Fosters and Independent Distillers. “We are thrilled to have someone of Peter’s professional caliber and great nature to help guide us into the future,” said owner and founder Dan Goldfield. “In addition to his knowledge of the industry, he understands our wines and our desire to remain true to our neighborhood roots.”

 
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June 2017
 

CEO of St. Francis dies at 52

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Christopher Silva, the president and CEO of St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, died June 20. He was 52. Silva had been diagnosed in April with brain cancer and friends and family remembered a charismatic and dynamic person in a report in The Press Democrat newspaper. After leaving a Los Angeles law firm in 1992, Silva joined a Santa Rosa firm and studied wine and winemaking at Santa Rosa Junior College. He would later marry the daughter of St. Francis Winery owner Joe Martin. Silva started working for the winery in 1998 and became president and CEO in 2003. Silva is survived by his two children, former wife, brother and father and stepmother. Memorial donations can be made to the Christopher Silva Endowment at Santa Rosa Junior College.

 
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June 2017
 

Constellation Purchases Napa's Schrader Cellars

 

Constellation Brands announced its purchase of Napa Valley's cult Cabernet producer Schrader Cellars. The Schrader Cabernet Sauvignon portfolio, sourced from the premier vineyards of Napa Valley including the Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville, is a highly rated American Cabernet Sauvignon lineup. The company did not disclose terms of the transaction.

 
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June 2017
 

New winemaker at Emeritus

 

Sebastopol, Calif.—David Lattin is the new winemaker at Emeritus Vineyards. Lattin has 32 vintages of experience including 15 years as winemaker for Kuleto Estate in Napa Valley and overseeing the winemaking program of Merus Wines since 2013. Lattin joins vineyard manager Kirk Lokka and owner Brice Jones. “I am beyond excited about my new position at Emeritus Vineyards and look forward to many great vintages with the team,” Lattin said in the press release announcing his hiring. “I support everything Emeritus believes in from their sustainable dry-farming practices, to the quest for the highest quality level of the wines, an alchemy of nuance and complexity.”

 
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May 2017
 

Saintsbury founder dies

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Richard Ward, co-founder of Saintsbury Winery, died on May 27 due to complications from a bone marrow transplant. He was 67 years old. Ward and his business partner David Graves founded Saintsbury in 1981, deciding to focus on Burgundian varieties in the cool southern parts of Napa Valley.

“Dick was a wine person, through and through,” says wine writer, Tim Atkin in the obituary press release for Ward. “But he wasn’t a wine bore or a geek. He just wanted more people to enjoy good wine, especially if it was Pinot Noir. Burgundy was a source of inspiration, but he didn’t revere it the way some vintners do. ‘Beaune in the USA,’ as a tongue-in-cheek Saintsbury t-shirt would have it. Dick wanted to make great California Pinot Noir that everyone could enjoy, not to mention Chardonnay and the occasional Syrah. And he succeeded. Many great bottles will be part of his legacy.”

 
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May 2017
 

Brewer-Clifton acquired by Jackson Family Wines

 

Lompoc, Calif—Brewer-Clifton is the latest acquisition by Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Jackson Family Wines. Founder and winemaker Greg Brewer announced the sale and described it as “the opportunity of a lifetime for me personally.” The acquisition includes 60 acres of estate vineyards, the secondary label Diatom and a long-term lease of the winery in Lompoc. Brewer founded the winery in 1996 with original partner Steve Clifton. Brewer had already sold a majority stake in the company to Ken Fredrickson and other investors in 2015.

 
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May 2017
 

Torkelson named CEO, president at Trinchero

 

Napa, Calif.—Trinchero Family Estates, TFE, announced in a press release the appointment of Bob Torkelson to president and CEO, effective immediately. Torkelson will be taking over leadership of the company from Roger Trinchero who is retiring from the role of CEO but will still remain as chairman of the board of directors. Torkelson, previously TFE’s President and COO, was described in the winery’s statement as “instrumental in growing the business that is now the second largest family-owned wine business in the United States.”

Trinchero originally hired Torkelson in December of 1996 as vice president of sales in the central division, based in Chicago. In 2004, Torkelson was promoted to president of Trinchero Family Estates and has resided in Napa with his family since that time.

 
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May 2017
 

Winemaker, founder resigning from Lula Cellars

 

Philo, Calif.—Jeff Hansen is stepping down as winemaker of Lula Cellars in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County. Hansen founded the winery and named it after his grandmother. He will retain the title of founder and serve as winemaker emeritus and consultant.

 
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May 2017
 

Former Napa Vintners spokesman, Terry Hall, dies at 59

 

Napa, Calif.—Terry Hall, described as a “champion of the Napa Valley and Yosemite National Park,” died April 20 at the age of 59 following a long illness. Hall came to Napa Valley in 1997 and held leadership positions at Meadowood Resort, Trefethen Vineyards, Napa Valley Vintners and had launched his own communications firm TH Ink. Hall was a founding board member of the Symposium of Professional Wine Writers and served on the boards of Clinic Ole and Visit Napa Valley. Before working in Napa, Hall worked at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite and managed May Lake High Sierra Camp, White Wolf Lodge and Yosemite Lodge.

A celebration of his life, hosted by the Napa Valley Vintners and Trefethen Vineyards, will be held on Tuesday, June 20, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the villa at Trefethen Vineyards. Please bring a bottle of Napa Valley wine to share. Donations in Terry’s honor may be made to the Yosemite Conservancy or Napa Valley’s OLE Health.

 
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May 2017
 

Krupp Brothers buy Napa Valley estate

 

Napa, Calif.—After selling the famed Stagecoach Vineyard, Dr. Jan Krupp announced his purchase of Kitchak Cellars.

The 20-acre property includes a 10-acre vineyard, winery, tasting rooms and barrel room. “We took the opportunity provided to us by the sale of Stagecoach Vineyard to expand our winery brand and to focus on what brought us to Napa in the first place: creating exquisite wines,” Krupp said in a statement announcing the purchase. “Now, not only do we now have a deluxe winery, but we are able to be host our guests in a setting that truly complements our wines.”

In addition to developing the Stagecoach Vineyard, Krupp and his brother Bart Krupp started Krupp Brothers wine company that produces around 6,000 cases per year.

Krupp’s deal with E. & J. Gallo Winery in Modesto, Calif., allows him to access select blocks on Stagecoach. Krupp Brothers now bring wine production out of custom crush and into its own winery. “The advantage of having your own winery estate is that we have complete control over every step, from the vineyard to the bottling including tank availability and complete flexibility over timing of when to press the grapes from the skins,” Krupp said.

Founded in 2005 by Peter Kitchak, a former race car driver and real estate consultant, Kitchak Cellars was producing around 2,000 cases per year. The deal includes the brand and inventory and the Krupps will continue pouring Kitchak wines at the winery. The Krupps plan to continue production of Kitchak wines for the foreseeable future.

Krupp Brothers opened a tasting room in the city of Napa in 2016. The company will continue to operate that venue as well.

 
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May 2017
 

Huffsmith honored by American Vineyard Foundation

 

Napa, Calif.—The board of directors of the American Vineyard Foundation, AVF, honored industry veteran Hal Huffsmith “whose commitment, dedication and enormous contributions to the organization have been paramount to its success,” according to a statement by the foundation.

During Huffsmith’s 26 years of work with the foundation he served on the board, was a member of the executive committee and held the post of chairman from 2006 through 2010. Huffmsith also is a technical reviewer on the AVF’s research review committee. Huffsmith is the senior vice president of vineyard operations for Trinchero Family Estates, where he has worked for more than 40 years. In addition to his work with Trinchero and the AVF he has served on the board of directors for the Napa Valley Grapegrowers and was a member of the Viticulture and Enology Industry Advisory Board at California State University, Fresno.

 
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May 2017
 

Ken Volk selling winery

 

Santa Maria, Calif.—Veteran Central Coast winemaker Ken Volk announced he plans to retire and is selling his brand and winery.

 
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May 2017
 

Dorothy Indelicato dies at 84

 

Stockton, Calif.—Dorothy L. Cardoza Indelicato of Manteca, age 84, passed away on May 5. She was born in San Leandro, Calif., on April 19, 1933.

Indelicato attended Manteca schools and graduated from Stockton College. She began working with her husband Vincent Indelicato in the family business, Delicato Family Vineyards, in 1956. She served on the family board of directors, was an active member of the audit and finance committee as well as corporate treasurer. Before her passing she was "retired" in name only as she still came to work every day and reveled in her philanthropic and creative outlets, including sponsoring the annual Delicato art shows. 

Indelicato was the family historian and took great pride in documenting her family history to ensure future generations appreciated the Indelicato heritage. She co-authored the Delicato Family Cookbook, which chronicles the family history told through stories and traditional family recipes. "My aunt Dorothy brought joy and caring to not just our family, but our community, our employees and their families," commented Chris Indelicato, president and CEO of Delicato Family Vineyards. "We will miss her smile, laughter, and especially her cooking."

She is survived by her husband of 62 years, Vincent Indelicato; her children Marie Mathews and husband Kim, Robert Indelicato and wife Leslie; her brother Edward Cardoza and wife Dolores; and grandchildren Stephen Mathews, Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato, Katie Bloudoff-Indelicato, and Kyle Bloudoff-Indelicato.

 
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May 2017
 

CK Mondavi continues campaign to support military families

 

Napa, Calif.—CK Mondavi Family Vineyards in Napa Valley is beginning its sixth annual donation campaign for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a non-profit group that supports the men and women of the United States armed forces and their families. Since the first campaign 2011, the winery has raised more than $165,000 for the fund and has set its goal for this year at $50,000. “Through their annual CK Mondavi promotion, the Mondavi family has been a great supporter of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and we appreciate their ongoing generosity and commitment,” said David Winters, president of the fund, in a statement released by the winery.

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2017
 

California wine sales set record

 

San Francisco, Calif.—The Wine Institute announced California wine shipments hit a new record in 2016 reaching $34.1 billion after a 4.6% increase over the previous year. Total shipments rose 2% to 238 million cases in the United States. Sales to all markets, including exports, totaled 285 million cases in 2016.

“California wines in the U.S. market have increased from 191 million cases shipped in 2006 to 238 million cases in 2016,” said Jon Moramarco, founder and managing partner of bw166 in the statement released by the Wine Institute. Moramarco and bw166 purchased The Gomberg-Fredrikson Report with Wine Communications Group the parent company of Wines & Vines last year. “The growth trend has been driven by population, which is up more than 12% over the last decade, and by the fact that baby boomers, traditionally the large population segment of frequent wine consumers, have been joined by millennials aged 21-38 who are also driving the growth in wine consumption.”

Moramarco pointed out several trends in the U.S. marketplace. Both major retailers and distributors continue to consolidate, creating fierce competition and crowded sales channels. Consequently, many wineries are targeting niche sales channels, such as tasting rooms and direct-to-consumer sales, which have now reached more than 4% of the total volume. Another trend is that California wines selling for $10 and above are showing growth, accounting for 19% of the volume and 40% of the value in U.S. food stores. Wines under $10 are flat or down, but still holding 81% share of the shipment volume and 60% of the revenues.

U.S. wine exports, 90 percent from California, reached a record $1.62 billion in winery revenues in 2016. Volume shipments were 461 million liters or 51.2 million cases. The European Union’s 28-member countries were the top market for U.S. wine exports, accounting for $685 million; followed by Canada, $431 million; Hong Kong, $99 million; Japan, $87 million; China, $82 million; Mexico, $24 million; South Korea, $23 million; Switzerland, $19 million; Singapore, $14 million; and Philippines, $13 million.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2017
 

Sonoma County auction brings in nearly $800,000

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Sonoma County Vintners third annual Sonoma County Barrel Auction on April 21 brought in $795,500 for the organization. More than 250 members of the wine trade bid on 90 wine lots in the live auction that raised $100,00 more than last year, according to a statement by the vintners.

The auction's unique wine lots are crafted by vintners from Sonoma County's 17 distinct AVAs, and offered in quantities of five, 10 or 20 cases. All of the wines featured were made exclusively for the auction, and will be available in the market only by resale to the winning bidder's customers.

Kosta Browne had the top earning lot with "The Shire of Freestone," a 20-case Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir lot that set a new record at $60,000.

The second highest selling lot was the 20-case Silver Oak Cellars 2015 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at $50,000. The third top lot was Williams Selyem Winery's 20-case Pinot Noir, blended from three estate vineyards, which sold for $26,000. Ramey Wine Cellars' 10-case "Ramey's Heart of the Russian River Valley" Chardonnay was the top white wine at $12,500.

The top five lots by case were:

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2017
 

Second generation Pahlmeyer named president

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Cleo Pahlmeyer, the daughter of winery founder Jayson Pahlmeyer, is the new president of Pahlmeyer Winery. Cleo Pahlmeyer will now manage the family’s collection of brands that includes Pahlmeyer, Jayson and Wayfarer as well as the estate vineyards in Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast. After joining the winery in 2008, Cleo Pahlmeyer managed direct-to-consumer sales and marketing and later handled communications and public relations. Pahlmeyer appointed Bibiana González Rave winemaker for Pahlmeyer and Jayson wines in 2016, adding to Rave's role as winemaker and director of winegrowing for Wayfarer, which she took on in 2012. The company also announced it had expanded the role of two key positions in 2016, promoting Tim Hay to vice president of finance and operations, and Brian Kelleher to vice president of sales and marketing.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2017
 

Napa Vintners' hit halfway point toward sustainability goal

 

St. Helena, Calif.—The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) announced 50% of its eligible members (those who own a winery, vineyard land or both) are now in the Napa Green environmental sustainability program.

The group announced in March 2015 its goal that all eligible members will be in the Napa Green program by the end of 2020. Of the trade association’s 533 members, 435 own their own winery or vineyard land, making them eligible.

According to a press release by the NVV, Napa Green is a third-party certification program for vineyards and wineries in the Napa Valley. It employs a ‘soil to bottle’ approach to stewardship, integrating holistic management practices throughout the grape growing and winemaking process. Certification of farms and winemaking facilities is provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Napa County, the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California Green Business Program.

“When the NVV Board of Directors set our 100% Napa Green by 2020 goal, we knew it was ambitious,” said Michael Honig, chair of the NVV board of directors and president of Honig Vineyard & Winery in the press release. “We couldn’t be more proud to be halfway there, just two years after making the announcement. Participation in Napa Green is exacting — every detail matters. Getting certified requires a high level of commitment from winery and land owners and their employees, but it’s the right thing to do for our community and for future generations.”

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2017
 

Registration for WITS now open

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Registration for the Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS), the only conference focused on successfully deploying technology solutions in the wine industry, is now open. Sign up by May 27 and receive the special rate of $145. After May 27, registration will be $195. Attendee registration is open to those from wineries only.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2017
 

Coppola buys Silverwood Vineyard in Pine Mountain-Cloverdale

 

Geyserville, Calif.—Francis Ford Coppola announced its acquisition for The Family Coppola with the purchase of a 100-acre parcel in the Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak AVA. The purchase includes the 13-acre Silverwood Vineyard, an ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec producing vineyard. According to a press release by Coppola, the wine company purchased the property from Silverwood Ranch owners Barry and Jackie Hoffner, who’ve been considered some of the pioneers of the AVA. The Hoffners will continue to operate their 1,100-acre Silverwood Ranch

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2017
 

Celebration of life for Fugelsang set for May 13

 

Fresno, Calif.—Friends, family, alumni and former colleagues are invited to a celebration of life to Ken Fugelsang who died Feb. 20 at the age of 70. The event will take place at 1:30 on May 13 at California State University, Fresno. The Fugelsang family and university are creating a memorial book of Fugelsang and would appreciate comments, pictures and stories sent to cynthiaw@csufresno.edu.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2017
 

WX Brands acquires more brands

 

Novato, Calif.—WX Brands announced its purchase the Bread & Butter Wines brand and a portfolio of brands from Jamieson Ranch Vineyards. WX Brands, which was founded under the name Winery Exchange nearly two decades ago and is based in Novato, only acquired the brands and no real estate in the transactions. The Jamieson Ranch portfolio included Double Lariat, Reata, Whiplash and Light Horse. Zepponi & Company served as the advisor to the sellers of Bread & Butter.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2017
 

Delicato buys Blossom Hill facility

 

Napa, Calif.—Delicato Family Vineyards purchased the Blossom Hill Winery from Treasury Winery Estates. The winery, which will now be called Alba Coast Winery, is located in the Paicines AVA in San Benito County in California’s Central Coast. Delicato did not disclose the price it paid for the winery. The purchase provides the Napa-based, family owned company with an additional 4 million cases of growth capacity and will be used to support such brands as Noble Vines, Gnarly Head, Z. Alexander Brown, Diora and Irony.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2017
 

Suzanne Groth named president of Groth Vineyards

 

Oakville, Calif.—Suzanne Groth was promoted to the role of president and CEO of Groth Vineyards, which her parents Dennis and Judy Groth founded in 1991. After spending four years with the Henry Wine Group, a California wine distributor, Suzanne joined the family business in 1998 working in wine sales and public relations. In 2006, Suzanne became a stakeholder in Groth Vineyards & Winery. In 2009, she was promoted to vice president of sales and marketing. In her new role as president, Groth will directly supervise the winemaking team and the vineyard management team lead by director of winegrowing Cameron Parry, sales and marketing, and finance.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2017
 

Silver Trident names GM

 

Napa, Calif.—Shane Soldinger was promoted to general manager of Silver Trident Winery. Soldinger was the first employee hired by winery founders Bob Binder and Walter Jost when they launched the winery in 2015. Prior to joining Silver Trident, Soldinger was the general manager of Cosentino Winery, director of sales and marketing for Crocker & Starr Wines and is a current member of the Silverado Pickups music band.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2017
 

Dehlingers buy neighboring vineyard

 

Sebastopol, Calif.—The Dehlinger family purchased a 35-acre Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyard that is contiguous to the Dehlinger Estate Vineyard in Russian River Valley. According to a statement released by the winery, the vineyard was once part of the historic Garbro Ranch. Don Stiling purchased the land in 1986 and he and his family developed the vineyard between 1988 and 2005, earning vineyard designated status for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines. The Dehlinger family will fulfill existing grape contracts and select a small portion of Stiling Vineyard fruit its own brand.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2017
 

Walker wins ASEV Merit award

 

Davis, Calif.—Professor and geneticist Dr. Andew Walker of the University of California, Davis, is the recipient of the 2017 Merit Award, the American Society for Enology and Viticulture’s (ASEV) highest honor. He will be sharing his presentation, “The Southwestern Vitis – A Grape Breeding Motherlode,” on June 29, 2017, at the ASEV’s 68th National Conference in Bellevue, Wash.

Walker’s lab focuses on grape breeding and the genetics of resistance to pests and diseases. He breeds rootstocks for resistance to nematodes, phylloxera, fanleaf, drought and salinity, and wine grapes with resistance to Pierce’s disease and powdery mildew. He served as the Louis P. Martini Endowed Chair from 2000 to 2015 and was recently appointed the Louise Rossi Endowed Chair in Viticulture in 2015.

Walker is currently a professor and geneticist at the UC Davis, teaching general viticulture and grapevine identification. Dr. Walker has a long history of involvement with ASEV, serving as secretary/treasurer from 1999 to 2004 and technical program director from 2011to 2015. He was also ASEV’s Honorary Research Lecturer in 2009.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2017
 

Phelps sells stake in Taken Wine

 

St. Helena, Calif.—After co-launching and managing Taken Wine Company, which produced a series of brands targeted at younger consumers, Napa vintner Josh Phelps announced he is selling his stake in the firm to found a new wine company. Phelps sold his interest in Taken Wine Co. to Trinchero Family Estates, the company that produced the brand, according to a press release. 

Phelps is a St. Helena native and grew up in the wine business. His father, Chris Phelps, is a winemaker who began his career in Bordeaux and spent years at Dominus, Caymus and other Napa Valley wineries. Chris Phelps now makes his own wine, Ad Vivum, and is consulting winemaker to other clients. Josh Phelps intends to continue to produce wines under the guidance of his father for the new business based in St. Helena.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2017
 

Hall named Napa grower of year

 

Napa, Calif.—Ted Hall of Long Meadow Ranch has been named the 2017 Napa Valley Grower of the Year. Hall will be honored for his contributions to the Napa Valley wine industry and the community on May 12 at the Napa Valley Grapegrowers 42nd Annual Dinner.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2017
 

New winemaker and GM at BV

 

Napa, Calif.—Trevor Durling is the new general manager and chief winemaker for Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) and is just the fifth winemaker for the Napa Valley estate founded in 1900. Prior to taking the post at BV, Durling was the winemaker for Provenance and Hewitt. BV, Provenance and Hewitt are all now part of Treasury Wine Estates since its acquisition of the Diageo wine group in 2015. Jeffrey Stambor, who joined BV in 1989 and has led the winery for nearly three decades, is leaving but will serve as brand ambassador for the next few months. In the press release announcing the change, Stambor is quoted as saying he “could not imagine leaving Beaulieu Vineyard in better hands.”

Durling, a Sonoma County native, graduated from the University of California, Davis after studying viticulture and enology. He worked harvests at Sonoma-Cutrer in the Russian River Valley and at Gloria Ferrer before joining organic producer Moon Mountain Vineyard in Sonoma Valley, where he focused on Bordeaux variety wines. He joined Provenance founding winemaker Tom Rinaldi in 2010, crafting wines from throughout Napa Valley. Upon Rinaldi’s retirement, Durling was appointed chief winemaker at Hewitt and Provenance in 2015.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2017
 

Joy promoted to VP for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

 

Napa, Calif.—Ste. Michelle Wine Estates appointed Russell Joy to the position of vice president of California operations. In this role, Joy will oversee operations at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in Napa, Patz & Hall in Sonoma and Conn Creek Winery in St. Helena, according to the press release announcing the promotion.

For the past 11 years, Joy was vice president and general manager for Patz & Hall and prior to that, he was chief finance officer of Viansa and Sebastiani wineries. He also has previous experience with Allied Domecq as director of finance. Joy currently serves as vice president of the Sonoma County Vintners and is a fourth generation grape grower.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2017
 

New COO at Don Sebastiani & Sons

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Don Sebastiani & Sons promoted Tom Hawkins to the post of chief operating officer. Hawkins joined the wine and food company in 2009 as vice president of finance. His responsibilities soon grew to include including finance, operations, winemaking, marketing, human resources and information technology. According to the press release announcing the promotion, Hawkins spearheaded installation of the company’s advanced enterprise resource planning, ERP, systems; developed relationships with growers and winemakers in Chile to supply the company’s Smoking Loon and Pepperwood Grove wines; negotiated new banking relationships and implemented companywide cost-savings programs.

In 2012, Hawkins was promoted to chief financial officer and two years later was named “Winery CFO of the Year” by North Bay Business Journal. Following Hawkins’ promotion, the company hired Omar Percich as its new CFO. Percich previously was the CFO at Foley Family Wines.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2017
 

Odette earns LEED Gold certification

 

Napa, Calif.—Odette Estate Winery in the Stags Leap District AVA earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Odette is owned by the PlumpJack Group, which also owns CADE Estate Winery that was the first winery in Napa Valley to earn the gold certification for its entire estate.

In a statement announcing its certification, the winery noted that it is a member of the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) organization and utilizes 100% organic farming methods, featuring an 8,500-square-foot planted living roof and 2,500-square-feet of solar panels, generating 30,000 kilowatts of solar power per year. Polycarbonate paneling is used around the building to create light without the use of energy, and shipping containers have been recycled into the winemaker’s office and laboratory, employee break room, and restroom. The winery also plans to incorporate education about sustainability and LEED standards into guest tours and tastings. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2017
 

Mangahas promoted at Williams Selyem

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Jeff Mangahas is the new director of winemaking at Williams Selyem Winery. Mangahas joined the winery in 2011 as winemaker, and had previously been the assistant winemaker at Dutton-Goldfield Winery and winemaker at Hartford Family Winery. Before earning his master’s degree in enology from the University of California, Davis, Mangahas was a medical research scientist.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2017
 

Jeff Cohn opening tasting room in Sonoma

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Jeff Cohn Cellars is moving from its location in downtown Oakland, Calif., to a new tasting room on the historic square in the city of Sonoma. The tasting room will be located at 535 First St. W., and feature multiple seating areas as well as a glass-enclosed private area. Founder Jeff Cohn is also moving production of his Rhône variety and single vineyard Zinfandels to a facility in Santa Rosa, Calif.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2017
 

Epoch opens new tasting room in historic winery

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—Epoch Estate Wines opened its new tasting room in the “historic and beloved bones of York Mountain Winery.” The tasting room is located in the remnants of the winery established in 1882 as the first bonded facility in the Central Coast. The structure had been condemned in 2003 after being damaged in an earthquake and in 2010 Epoch owners Liz and Bill Armstrong purchased the property out of foreclosure. The reconstruction was done by Lake Flato Architects and included the preservation of original redwood beams as well as bricks fired on the property in 1906.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2017
 

CSU professor Fugelsang dies

 

Ken Fugelsang, professor emeritus of enology at California State University, Fresno, died Feb. 20, according to friends. He joined CSU Fresno in 1972 and published more than 150 technical papers and 14 books. During his service to the enology program, Fugelsang also managed Fresno State’s 20,000-case commercial winery, where his students received more than 350 awards in major wine competitions. A memorial service will be held this spring.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2017
 

Organic winemaker joins Fetzer Vineyards

 

Hopland, Calif.—Sebastian Donoso is the new organic winemaker at Fetzer Vineyards where he will be focused on wines made with organic and biodynamic grapes. Prior to joining Fetzer, Donoso was the winemaker for Campovida winery, which is also located in Mendocino County and before that he was assistant winemaker at Saracina, a California Certified Organic winery with 250 acres of organically farmed vines just outside of Hopland.

In this new role at Fetzer Vineyards, Donoso will support day-to-day winemaking operations while helping shape the long-term vision for the company’s organic and biodynamic winemaking program. The program encompasses numerous brands including Bonterra Organic Vineyards.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2017
 

New winemaker, sales manager at Mendocino Wine Company

 

Ukiah, Calif.—Nichole Birdsall joined Mendocino Wine Company as winemaker. Birdsall will work with head winemaker Bob Swain in producing wines for such brands as Parducci, True Grit, Paul Dolan Vineyards and others. Prior to joining Mendocino Wine Company, Birdsall previously worked in winemaking at Virginia Dare Winery, Treasury Wine Estates, Bronco Wine Company and others.

Brock Harris also joined Mendocino Wine Company as western division sales manager covering nine western states. Harris, most recently at Guarachi Wine Partners, has more than 14 years of experience in the wine industry, and previously worked with E. & J. Gallo Winery and Independent Distillers.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2017
 

Kirk Venge joins Summers Estate Winery

 

Calistoga, Calif.—Kirk Venge joined Summers Estate Winery as consulting winemaker. Venge will work with winemaker Ignacio Blancas on the winery's Bordeaux varietals. Venge is also the winemaker and owner of Venge Vineyards, which is father Nils Venge founded in 1976. Summers Estate Winery, which is owned by Jim and Beth Summers, is celebrating its 20th year and is known for producing a Charbono varietal from its estate vineyard.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2017
 

New leader for Lake County winery group

 

Lake County, Calif.—Jill Ruzicka is the new executive director of the Lake County Winery Association. Ruzicka is a native of Lakeport, Calif., and spent the last three years working in the county administrative office overseeing destination marketing for Lake County. During her tenure, she instituted the Certified Tourism Ambassador program, oversaw the redesign of the visitor information website, and launched a comprehensive digital and social media marketing campaign to promote Lake County to potential visitors.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2017
 

Fetzer installs 'smart' water meters

 

Hopland, Calif.—Fetzer Vineyards has installed smart water meters to rack water use in real time to spot any waste or other inefficiencies in another step toward greater sustainability.

The meters are from the Bellingham, Wash., firm Apana, Inc., and the winery expects them to help it meet its water efficiency goal two years early by 2018. "Integrating APANA's data analytics and cloud computing technologies with our winery operations allows us to leverage crucial environmental data to achieve our sustainability goals," said Cindy DeVries, Chief Operating Officer of Fetzer Vineyards in a statement by the winery. "It also allows us to update and improve our corporate water stewardship efforts at a time when conserving water is more important than ever."

Part of Apana’s industrial “Internet of Things (IIoT)” devices, the meters are designed to help businesses manage water as carefully as they monitor other crucial assets, such as inventory. The company’s proprietary hardware and software work by building up a perpetually developing database of clients' water use patterns, or water signature, allowing them to quickly spot variances and implement savings activities. Because energy use is closely tied to water use, Fetzer Vineyards expects the water meters could contribute to reductions of more than 10,000 kilowatt hours of energy in addition to savings of up to four million gallons of water annually.

In 2016, Fetzer Vineyards announced it will be the first wine company in the US to install BioFiltro's BIDA System, a wastewater treatment solution that functions as a passive aerobic bioreactor, using red worms and microbes to treat the winery's wastewater 85% more efficiently than traditional aeration technologies.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2017
 

CAWG hires new government relations director

 

Sacramento, Calif.—The California Association of Winegrape Growers selected Michael Miiller as its new director of government relations.

Previously, Miiller was chief of staff and communications director for Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-Marin County). Miiller has held various positions for legislative leaders in the state Senate and Assembly and served as a legislative liaison during the Pete Wilson and Gray Davis administrations. "Michael brings more than 30 years of public policy experience to this position,” said CAWG President John Aguirre in the press release announcing Miiller’s hire. “His tremendous knowledge, insight and leadership gained from working with legislators and agency officials will greatly benefit CAWG’s advocacy efforts on behalf of winegrape growers."

As director of government relations, Miiller will monitor a wide range of state public policy issues and represent CAWG before the California Legislature and regulatory agencies.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2017
 

Napa Vintners name new board chair

 

St. Helena, Calif.— The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) announced that Michael Honig, president of Honig Vineyard & Winery, will serve as chair of the trade association’s board of directors for 2017. Outgoing chair Emma Swain, CEO of St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery, passed the ceremonial gavel — an antique wine barrel bung hammer — to Honig at the NVV’s annual membership meeting attended by more than 300 people last Friday.

According to a press release by NVV, Honig noted the association’s strategic goals he is most eager to oversee in the coming year are strengthening the wine community’s goodwill with local residents and advancing the organization’s global marketing strategies. "The wine community needs to continue being a good neighbor by taking care of the Napa Valley that we all treasure," he said. "I’ve lived here all my life and I’m raising my family here, so this is personally important to me."

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2017
 

Napa writer, activist dies

 

Napa, Calif.—William “Mick” Michael Winter, died peacefully of leukemia on Saturday Jan. 14 at the Kaiser Permanente hospital in Vallejo, with his family at his bedside. He was 75.

An innovator, idealist, writer, futurist and community activist, Winter lived in the Napa Valley for nearly 40 years and was an integral part of the local community. His widow, Kathryn Jacobs Winter, is the former vice mayor of Yountville and a former Napa County supervisor.

In the 1990s, Winter wrote what at the time was one of the definitive guidebooks on the region, The Napa Valley Book, and developed its companion website called NapaValley Online. The website was a comprehensive compendium of services that linked locals to everything from the best wineries and restaurants to real-time reports from public agencies on natural disasters, power outages and other emergencies. For a number of years, NapaValley Online was a virtual information hub for all things Napa and a valuable community resource.

A former staff writer for Wine Business Monthly, Mick also wrote regularly for the Napa Valley Life magazine and a number of other local publications. In 2008, Napa Valley Life named him one of the valley's most “intriguing” residents, in recognition of his support for neighborhood associations, sustainability and his groundbreaking websites: NapaNow.com (which succeeded NapaValley Online), SustainableNapaValley.org, and his online newspaper, the NapaValleyHerald.com.

Winter is survived by his wife Kathryn Jacobs Winter, daughter Joanna Winter and her spouse David Huffman, his sister Patricia F. Winter, cousin James Hall, his niece Marguerite Brydolf Jacobs and nephew Maxwell Robert Jacobs, his sister-in-law Carol Brydolf and her wife Anne Brydolf Langill.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2017
 

Rutherford Grove now Pestoni Family Estate

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Rutherford Grove Winery changed its name to Pestoni Family Estate Winery. "As one of Napa's pioneer winemaking families from the late 1800's, we want our winery name to convey our pride in my family's legacy here in the valley," said winery owner Bob Pestoni in a statement announcing the name change. "This year celebrates our family's 125th anniversary as winemakers in the Napa Valley. We look forward to sharing more of our history, heritage and wines with new and returning guests alike."

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2017
 

Sonoma County makes progress on sustainability goal

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Sonoma County Winegrowers report that 85% of the county’s vineyard acreage has gone through a sustainability self-assessment and the group has plans for a new project dedicated to sustainability.

The winegrowers are seeking to have 100% of the county's vineayrd acreage certified as sustainable by 2019, and according to the groups' third annual sustainability report:

• 49,577 vineyard acres (85%) have undergone a self-assessment;

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2017
 

McAllister promoted at La Crema

 

Windsor, Calif.—Craig McAllister was promoted to the position of head winemaker at La Crema winery in Sonoma County. McAllister first joined the winery in 2007 as harvest enologist and his most recent position was associate winemaker. A native of New Zealand, McAllister has worked in winemakering around the world and has also made Pinot Noir for Wild Ridge with grapes from the Sonoma County Coast. As the new winemaker for La Crema, he will be focused on building the winery’s portfolio of wines from coastal regions with a focus on wines from Monterey County and a Rosé of Pinot Noir that will be expanded into a national program. La Crema is part of the Jackson Family Wines company.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2017
 

Signorello begins rebuilding process

 

Napa, Calif.—Ray Signorello Jr., the owner of Napa Valley’s Signorello Estate winery that was destroyed in the October wildfires, retained Taylor Lombardo Architects to oversee the design, and Nordby Construction Company to manage the construction, of a new winery. The plan is to build a “modern, state-of-the-art building” that takes advantage of the property’s views and will include a commercial kitchen. Signorello is also adding an estimated 8,000-square-foot cave system, which will also be used as a temporary hospitality space as the new winery is built.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2017
 

Foley hires VP of on-premise sales, analytics

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Ryan Martin is the new vice president of national sales and analytics for Foley Family Wines. Martin spent the previous 20 years at E. & J. Gallo Winery where he held sales and marketing roles of increased responsibility including distributor management, sales strategy, brand marketing and shopper marketing. Most recently, Martin held the title of national director of on-premise sales. Martin’s primary responsibilities in his new role will include overseeing national on-premise sales across the United States.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2017
 

Trinchero buys Five Rivers winery in Paso Robles

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Trinchero Family Estates (TFE) purchased the Five Rivers Winery in Paso Robles, Calif., from Fetzer Vineyards. According to the press release announcing the deal, The Five Rivers property totals 46 acres, which includes 15 acres of vineyards planted to Petite Sirah and a winery facility that is more than 90,000 square feet. Fetzer Vineyards had owned the winery since 2000, but is consolidating its operations at its corporate headquarters in Mendocino County. 

TFE did not disclose how much it paid for the facility, but did say it plans to modernize the winery and add white wine production capabilities. “The purchase of the Five Rivers facility allows Trinchero Family Estates to further expand our operations in the Central Coast region and ensure that our production of wines from that region are managed with the utmost emphasis on quality,” TFE president and COO Bob Torkelson said in the statement.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2017
 

Wine writer donates papers to UC Davis

 

Davis, Calif.—British wine writer Jancis Robinson is donating her personal archive of tasting notes, published work, correspondence, photographs and other works to the library of the University of California, Davis. Robinson is the wine correspondent of the Financial Times newspaper, author of numerous books and the founder of jancisrobinson.com. Robinson’s work joins the papers of Hugh Johnson, another notable British critic, at the UC Davis Library. Robinson will discuss her career and the evolution of the world of wine at a free seminar on Feb. 16 at the library. Reservations are required by Feb. 9.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2017
 

New GM at Conn Valley Vineyards

 

St. Helena, Calif.—James Silver is the new general manager for Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards in the Napa Valley. Silver has worked for nearly three decades in the wine industry and most recently he was general manager of Martinelli Winery in Windsor, Calif.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2016
 

Trinchero purchases Mason Cellars, Pomelo brand

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Trinchero Family Estates (TFE) acquired Mason Cellars, which produces wine under the Pomelo and Three Pears brands. The company described the deal as an important addition of premium brands to its portfolio. “TFE remains committed to diversifying our portfolio in a way that supports our mission to be consumer-driven and consistently offer quality and value,” said the company’s president and COO Bob Torkelson in the press release announcing the acquisition. “The wines of Mason Cellars are unique and have demonstrated great success in the market, thus offering a significant addition to the ever-growing portfolio of premium and luxury wine at TFE."

Mason Cellars was founded in 1993 by winemaker Randy Mason and wife Megan Mason. California-appellated Pomelo wines offer a Sauvignon Blanc and rosé, are distributed nationwide. Mason Cellars wines include Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, all sourced from Napa appellations. Randy Mason will continue to be involved in the production and promotion of Mason wines for TFE. Global Wine Partners represented Mason Cellars in the transaction. TFE did not disclose the terms of the deal. 

 
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December 2016
 

Wine Market Council elects new chair

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Wine Market Council, a non-profit association of grape growers, wine producers, importers, wholesalers, retailers, and other affiliated wine businesses, announced that Emma Swain, CEO of St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery, is the new chair of the non-profit association’s board of directors. Swain succeeds former Wine Market Council Chair, Dale Stratton of Constellation Brands. Swain has served on the Wine Market Council board for seven years. Her board term as chair will run for two years.

The 2016 members of Wine Market Council’s board are:

Emma Swain (chair), St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery

 
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December 2016
 

Smith Family hires new winemaker

 

Soledad, Calif.—Larry Brooks is the new winemaker at Smith Family Wines in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA of Monterey County. Brooks is the former vice president and chief operating officer of the Chalone Wine Group and most recently ran his own consulting business. Early in his career, Brooks purchased grapes from Rich Smith, the founder of Paraiso Vineyards, and became consulting winemaker for Paraiso in the early 2000s. Smith Family Wines still produces wines under the Paraiso Vineyards label. Brooks will work with Justin Murphy, who is a third generation vintner of the Smith family, and creator of the family's Irie brand. 

 
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December 2016
 

Russian River Valley Winegrowers hire executive director

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Wendy Hilberman is the Russian River Valley Winegrowers new executive director. Hilberman has more than a decade of experience in marketing and communications and before joining the growers’ group worked in leadership roles for nonprofits and businesses. Prior to moving to Sonoma County, Hilberman was the executive officer of a state commission that reported to the Governor of Oregon. An Oregon native, Hilberman holds a Master’s degree in public administration from Portland State University and a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Oregon.

 
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December 2016
 

C. Mondavi names interim CEO

 

St. Helena, Calif.—The C. Mondavi & Family board of directors appointed John Lennon as the company’s interim president and CEO. According to a statement released by the winery, the appointment is the first step in a five year plan to pursue “significant further growth.”

Lennon has served as president, CEO, general manager and marketing vice president while working for International Beverage Holdings, Pabst Brewing Company, INBEV, Pyramid Breweries and Nestle, among others. He has a background leading companies through transitions while improving financial performance. Lennon holds an MBA in marketing and finance from Syracuse University.

“We appreciate departing CEO Mike Jaeger’s positive contribution to the company over the past five and one half years,” said board chairman Pascal Levensohn in the press release. “The entire C. Mondavi & Family operation wishes Mike well in the future.”

The winery is also conducting a nationwide search for a permanent hire for the president and CEO post.

 
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November 2016
 

Napa Vintners pledges $6 million for health center

 

St. Helena, Calif.—The Napa Valley Vintners will give $6 million to help pay for the construction of the new OLE Health medical facility in the city of Napa. Funds for the contribution come from the group’s annual community fundraiser, Auction Napa Valley. According to the press release announcing the donation, OLE Health currently provides primary medical care for one in six Napa County residents and one in four local children from its nine area facilities, including the Napa Valley Vintners Community Health Center in Napa. The new facility, slated to open in 2018, is expected to serve more than 15,000 patients annually.

 
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November 2016
 

MacPhail joins 'The Calling'

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—James MacPhail is the new associate winemaker for The Calling, which is the wine brand developed by Deutsch Family Wines & Spirits CEO Peter Deutsch and CBS sports commentator Jim Nantz. MacPhail joins winemaker Dan Goldfield in overseeing vineyard selection and winemaking of the Sonoma County-based wine brand. MacPhail is the founder of MacPhail Wines and has been making wine since the mid 1990s.

 
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November 2016
 

Bianchi hires Chris Stanton as winemaker

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—Chris Stanton is the new winemaker for Bianchi Winery & Tasting Room. Stanton has more than 20 years of winemaking experience and takes over for Tom Lane who is retiring this year. Before joining Bianchi, Stanton partnered with his brother to launch Sobriquet wines in Napa Valley and was the general manager of Blackjack Ranch Vineyards & Winery in Solvang.

 
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November 2016
 

Trinchero hires new CFO

 

Napa, Calif.—Kirsty Cringan is the new chief financial officer for Trinchero Family Estates, TFE. Cringan replaces Mark Smithers who after 21 years as CFO is moving into a new role working with the Trinchero family and shareholders on corporate initiatives. “We are happy for Mark and his family as he moves on to the next phase of his career,” CEO Bob Torkelson said in the press release announcing the change. “In his 21 years at TFE, Mark was instrumental in developing our world-class finance team and providing valuable insight that helped us grow.”

Cringan brings 22 years’ experience in financial operations, including 17 years with Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines in the roles of vice president finance and business planning, vice president business performance and operations controller. Most recently, Cringan oversaw the transition of most of Diageo’s wine business during its acquisition by Treasury Wine Estates. “With Kirsty’s breadth of knowledge leading technical and financial operations globally, we know she will be an excellent leader of our finance group,” Torkelson said. 

Cringan, originally from Scotland, holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and business law from Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland.

 
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November 2016
 

Phelps closing Freestone tasting room

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Joseph Phelps Vineyards is closing the tasting room of its winery on the Sonoma County coast in Freestone, Calif. In the statement announcing the move, the company says it remains fully committed to the winemaking facility, estate vineyards and wine produced by winemaker Justin Ennis. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
November 2016
 

New President and CEO at Cuvaison

 

Napa, Calif.—Dan Zepponi is the new president and CEO of Cuvaison Estate Wines. Zepponi is replacing Jay Schuppert who is retiring. As the new president and CEO, Zepponi is responsible for all operations for Cuvaison including the winery and estate in the Carneros AVA as well as the Brandlin Vineyard in the Mt Veeder AVA. The Cuvaison winery was established in 1969 and purchased by the Schmidheiny family of Switzerland in 1979.

“For nineteen years I've had the distinct pleasure of working for the Schmidheiny family,” said Schuppert in the press release announcing the change. “It's been a dream job with terrific and supportive ownership and a talented and caring team. There comes a time in everyone's career to 'rewire,' and my wife Karen and I will do so at our home in Graeagle, California.” 

 
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November 2016
 

McManis now 100% Sustainable

 

Ripon, Calif.—The more than 3,100 vineyards farmed by Ron and Jamie McManis are now all certified as sustainable through the Lodi Rules program. The couple, who are fourth generation farmers, founded the vineyard in 1990 and built a winery in 1998.

McManis currently produces around 400,000 cases per year. Since being established in 2005, the Lodi Rules program has grown include 36,500 certified wine grape acres with more than 12,500 of those outside the Lodi region. McManis now accounts for nearly 9% of the certified, productive acres in the program. “Jamie and I are very proud of our vineyards and our staff who have made this possible,” said Ron McManis in a press release. “Our son-in-law Dirk Heuvel has spent countless hours on this process, over the last several years, and our company has dedicated tremendous resources to our certification, as we believe that it’s important for all of our customers to see what kind of a company we are."   

The Lodi Rules certification requires a grower adopt more than 100 “sustainability practices” and conduct a Pesticide Environmental Assessment System (PEAS), which is unique to the Lodi Rules. PEAS is a model used to quantify the environmental and human impact of all pesticides applied in a vineyard.

 
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October 2016
 

Sonoma Winegrowers hire new sustainability manager

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Sonoma County Winegrowers hired Emily Lambert Farrant as its new sustainability manager. Farrant is a fifth-generation Sonoma County native whose parents were apple growers and for the past five years she has worked in 14 countries for the environmental and safety consulting firm Greeneye Partners that specializes in electronics recycling. Robert Lavine, who joined the winegrowers in 2014 as sustainability manager, will move into a consulting role working with growers one-on-one with self-assessment and certification and participate in grower workshops. The winegrowers group has committed to certifying all of Sonoma County's vineyards as sustainable by 2019. 

 
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October 2016
 

Sill Family Vineyards buys Ardente Estate in Napa Valley

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Sill Family Vineyards purchased Ardente Estate Winery in the Atlas Peak AVA of Napa Valley. The property consists of 24.4 acres. Sill Family Vineyards is a family owned company focused on producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Rosé wines. The family purchased its first estate vineyard in 1996.

 
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October 2016
 

Vintage buys Delectus Winery

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Vintage Wine Estates announced its purchase of Delectus Winery in Napa Valley. According to a statement released by Vintage, Chris Phelps has been appointed consulting winemaker and founder Linda Butler will lead hospitality, trade, media and private tastings, winery events and the wine club.

The purchase of Delectus "reflects Vintage Wine Estates' acquisition strategy focusing on luxury alcohol beverage portfolios with strong foundations and room to grow." In the past two years, Vintage has added Swanson Winery & Vineyards and B.R. Cohn Winery and Splinter Group Spirits to its portfolio.

After studying at University of California, Davis and the Institute of Enology at the University of Bordeaux, Phelps worked at Pétrus, Dominus Estate and Caymus Vineyards. Most recently, he was winemaker emeritus for Swanson, which was acquired by Vintage Wine Estates last year.

Delectus, located in St. Helena, Calif. on Highway 29, continues to be open for tastings of current releases and library wines.

 
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October 2016
 

Changes at TWE Americas

 

Napa, Calif.—Victoria Snyder was promoted from senior vice president of operations to senior vice president of U.S. sales for Treasury Wine Estates and the company also announced the hire of Ed LeMay as sales team chief of staff. The promotion and hire come after Mark Merrion’s departure from the post of senior vice president of U.S. sales. “Mark has been a terrific collaborator and has shown great commitment to the organization these past several years and I want to thank him for his significant contributions,” said Bob Spooner, president of TWE, Americas, in a press release.

With Snyder’s promotion to senior vice president of U.S. sales, the company also announced Rachel Ashley has been appointed vice president of wine production. Ashley has been with TWE for more than a decade and will now be responsible for leading the winemaking and grape resources team as well as winery operations.

 
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October 2016
 

New executive director for Lodi Winegrape commission

 

Lodi, Calif.—Wendy Brannen is the new executive director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission and will assume her new role later this month. Brannen previously was the director of consumer health and public relations for the U.S. Apple Association.

Brannen will oversee marketing, public relations, strategic planning and regional branding efforts, as well as grower relations for the commission, which represents more than 750 winegrape growers and 85 wineries. Brannen will also lead the commission's staff of 15, under the direction of the board of directors, and will be the primary spokesperson for the Lodi wine industry.

In addition to her time with the apple association, Brannen previously served as executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee for eight years.

 
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September 2016
 

PlumpJack Group buys Howell Mountain winery

 

Napa, Calif.—The PlumpJack Group announced its purchase of an 82-acre vineyard and winery from Ladera Vineyards. The vineyard and winemaking facility will be used as an extension of CADE Estate Winery, which is located nearby off of Howell Mountain Road, according to the statement announcing the deal. The property includes 74 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and 3 acres of Sauvignon Blanc. PlumpJack is not buying Ladera Vineyards, and the company will continue to purchase grapes from the vineyard.

“This is an extraordinarily exciting step for us as we approach CADE Estate’s tenth vintage,” said John Conover, managing partner and general manager of CADE Estate Winery. “We are honored to assume the responsibility for the stewardship of this remarkable piece of land.  It is a beautiful property that has been impeccably planted and farmed, and is now producing some of the best fruit in the Napa Valley.”

The PlumpJack Group partnership also includes Gordon Getty and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

 
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September 2016
 

Founder of Spottswoode dies

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Mary Weber Novak, the founder of Napa Valley’s Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery, passed away after a brief fight with cancer on Sunday, Sept. 25. She was 84.

Weber Novak settled in the Napa Valley in 1972 after her husband Jack Novak sold his San Diego medical practice. The couple had moved to Napa with their five children after buying the 31-acre Spottswoode estate and an adjacent 15-acre parcel of land. In 1977, Jack Novak died unexpectedly and Mary Novak took over management of the estate.

In 1982, after establishing Spottswoode’s reputation as a source of high-quality grapes, Novak hired Winemaker Tony Soter and founded Spottswoode Winery. Three years later, on Soter’s recommendation, Novak began farming the Spottswoode Estate Vineyard organically. The winery was also an early adopter of solar energy, restored Spring Creek and has contributed 1% of gross profits to several environmental causes.

“I have had the honor of working alongside my Mom for 29 years in helping her build Spottswoode into the incredible estate vineyard and winery that it is today,” says Beth Novak Milliken. “She had immense inner strength, an amazing spirit and love of life, and a dream that Spottswoode would continue through generations."

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2016
 

Matthiasson joins Acumen as winemaker

 

Napa, Calif.—Steve Matthiasson is the new winemaker at Acumen, an Atlas Peak estate that specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon. Matthiasson succeeds winemaker Denis Malbec who died in a car accident earlier this year.

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2016
 

Wine Spectator names Napa bureau chief

 
Napa, Calif.--Kim Marcus, the managing editor of Wine Spectator since 1999 and a 28-year employee of the company, will move from New York City to California later this year to become a senior editor and bureau chief of the Napa Valley office. Making the announcement, Wine Spectator owner Marvin Shanken also stated that Cordelia Winton will take Marcus's place as managing editor in New York. She is a 22-year member of the magazine staff. Marcus is a California native and no stranger to Napa Valley, having worked for the St. Helena Star for several years in the 1980s.
 
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September 2016
 

Alejandro Bulgheroni acquires Napa winery

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Alejandro P. Bulgheroni announced his acquisition of a Napa Valley winery. Located at 500 Meadowood Lane, the winery was formerly used as the Founders Room of the Harlan Estate and produced the first vintages of The Napa Valley Reserve wines. According to the press release announcing Bulgheroni’s purchase, the vintner also plans to enhance the winery’s winemaking and hospitality facilities. Bulgheroni produces Cabernet Sauvignon wines from estate and other Napa Valley vineyards with winemaking operations led by Philippe Melka with consulting enologist Michel Rolland.

The inaugural release of Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate wines, the 2014 vintage, is planned to coincide with the winery’s opening in Feburary of 2017. “It has long been my goal to establish a winery here in Napa Valley,” said Bulgheroni. “The remarkable lithology of the rocky hillsides, diverse microclimates, and unique topography make it the ideal location to make a classic Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m very pleased to be a part of the Napa Valley wine community, and I look forward to working with the valley's best growers to craft unique wines of great personality.”

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2016
 

Napa Vintners gives $2.8 million for children's education

 

St. Helena, Calif.—The Napa Valley Vintners will give $2.8 million in proceeds from its annual Auction Napa Valley to various local groups that support children’s education. The group invested $800,000 in the Napa Valley Early Learning Initiative (NVELI), and has already provided $3 million to the NVELI, which is working to close the educational achievement gap for English language learners in Napa County.

 
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September 2016
 

Joseph Phelps releases 40th vintage of Insignia

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Joseph Phelps Vineyards released the 40th vintage of the winery’s proprietary blend Insignia on Sept. 1. To mark the anniversary, the winery designed a 40th vintage logo for the wine’s label and six-bottle wooden boxes. “As California’s first proprietary red wine blend, Insignia has been crafted annually since 1974 from the finest grapes grown in each vintage,” said Joseph Phelps president Bill Phelps in a statement. “The 2013 vintage is a special year for Insignia, not only because it is the wine’s 40th release, but also due to the extraordinary 2013 harvest that gave us fruit of exceptional purity and concentration.”

 
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September 2016
 

Russian River Partners makes third vineyard purchase

 

Windsor, Calif—Russian River Partners announced its acquisition of the Brandt Ranch vineyard in Lake County. The 120-acre property includes 108 acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

“Acquiring the Brandt Ranch is a great fit for Russian River Partners,” said Eric Flanagan, principle of Russian River Partners and owner of Flanagan Family Vineyards, in the press release announcing the purchase. “I believe that if we offer wineries fruit that is superior to much of what is grown in Napa, and do it at a fraction of the price, then we will have very robust demand for our grapes.”

The Brandt Ranch is the third major vineyard acquired by Flanagan’s Russian River Partners in the last 18 months. Last year it purchased the 30-acre Gap’s View Vineyard, with 27-acres planted to Pinot Noir, and the Platt Vineyard, with more than 300 acres and 31-acres of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Russian River Partners also announced it's planning to make more vineyard acquisitions in the North Coast. 

 
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September 2016
 

New head winemaker at CK Mondavi

 

Napa, Calif.—Charles Gilmore is the new head winemaker of CK Mondavi. Gilmore joins the winery after working as winemaker at Fetzer Vineyards for the past 12 years and will replace John Moynier who is retiring after being with CK Mondavi for more than 30 years. Gilmore and Moynier will work together through the 2016 harvest.

Prior to Fetzer, Gilmore worked a winery in the Barossa Valley of Australia, as well as working with a consulting winemaker in southern France. He also served as a laboratory intern and assistant at several wineries including Gundlach Bundschu, Rosenblum Cellars, Cakebread Cellars, and Artesa Vineyards and Winery. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Viticulture and Enology from the University of California, Davis. “Charlie’s vast experience producing a wide range of varietals and working in diverse wine regions is a perfect fit for CK Mondavi,” said Marc Mondavi, co-owner of CK Mondavi in a press release. “Our family is thrilled to welcome him into the CK Mondavi family.” 

 
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September 2016
 

Sonoma auction raises $4.6 million

 

Sonoma, Calif.—The Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction raised $4.6 million for Sonoma County charities and the Fund the Future initiative to promote child literacy. Held at Chateau St. Jean Winery on Sept. 4 and sponsored by Visa and TricorBraun WinePak the event drew 650 people. The top selling lot of the day was "Two Nights of Hollywood Glamour" that included a trip to the VIP Golden Globes Party and a private film screening and was contributed by Jean-Charles Boisset and Buena Vista Winery and sold for $220,000. The top wine-only lot, which sold for $65,000 was a collection of 153 magnums of wine, and the Fund the Future Lot drew more than $2.7 million in bidding.

 
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News Briefs California

 
September 2016
 

Margrit Biever Mondavi Dies at Age 91

 
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Oakville, Calif.—Margrit Mondavi of Napa Valley, widow to Robert Mondavi and a pioneer of the modern-day California wine industry who brought art and culture to the industry, died Sept. 2. She was 91.
 
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August 2016
 

Memorial service for UC Davis' Singleton on Sept. 10

 

Davis. Calif.—University of California, Davis Prof. Emeritus Vernon Singleton died Aug. 26 surrounded by his wife of 69 years and children. UC Davis and the Singleton family will host a celebration of Singleton’s life on Saturday, Sept. 10 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the UC Davis Conference Center at 550 Alumni Lane in Davis.

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2016
 

Private equity firm TSG to acquire Duckhorn Wine Company

 

Napa, Calif.—TSG Consumer Partners, a San Francisco-based private equity investor group, announced that it is acquiring Duckhorn Wine Company from GI Partners. 

 
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August 2016
 

Trinchero launches new brands

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Trinchero Family Estates launched two new brands; Pacific Heights, which will highlight the coastal growing regions of California, and Cloudfall that is designed to be a premium, on-premise only brand. The wines are made by Christine Marchi and the initial portfolio of Pacific Heights includes a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir with a suggested retail price of $25 and a Russian River Chardonnay at $20. Cloudfall includes a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from Monterey County priced to be sold at $10 per glass.

 
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August 2016
 

Fetzer names new director of winemaking

 

Hopland, Calif.—John Kane is the new director of winemaking and winery operations for Fetzer Vineyards in Mendocino County. Kane joins Fetzer after recently founding his own label, JCK Wine Company, in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at Rosenblum Cellars where he started his career as an intern in 2001. In his newly created position with Fetzer, Kane will lead winemaking for the company’s flagship brand, Fetzer, and contribute to innovation and quality improvements for all brands in the company’s portfolio. Additionally, Kane will assume management of lab, logistics and cellar operations.

 
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August 2016
 

Jaffurs Wine Cellars in Santa Barbara sold

 

Santa Barbara, Calif.—Vintner Daniel Green has purchased Jaffurs Wine Cellars. Founded by Craig and Lee Jaffurs in 1994, the winery produces around 5,000 cases per year and is focused on Rhône variety wines. The acquisition includes existing inventory, tasting room and winery. Green produces wines under the Conarium label and will be involved with day-to-day operations, but is retaining all current staff and Craig Jeffurs will help with the transition and has a seat on the company’s new board.

“I find as I am getting older that I am not able to take part in some of the aspects of winemaking that I enjoy most,” Jaffurs said in the press release announcing the deal. “My Dad didn’t retire until he was 80 and he was never able to travel and enjoy life. He once told me, ‘don’t miss your chance.’ I am following his advice!”

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2016
 

Williams Selyem buys vineyard to preserve old-vine Zin

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Williams Selyem Winery purchased the Saitone Vineyard on Olivet Road in the Russian River Valley AVA of Sonoma County. The 33-acre property was first planted in 1895 and consists of 26 acres of vineyards that include 12 acres of Zinfandel vines that are more than 100 years old, according to the statement announcing the deal.

 
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August 2016
 

Sea Smoke acquires Rita's Crown Vineyard

 

Santa Barbara, Calif.—Sea Smoke Cellars in Lompoc purchased the 201-acre Rita’s Crown Vineyard in Santa Barbara County. The vineyard is contiguous to the existing Sea Smoke estate, which was founded by Bob Davids in 1998. Rita’s Crown includes 61 acres of high-density Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines planted in 2007. Sea Smoke acquired the vineyard from Santa Colina Vineyard and contracted with Atlas Vineyard Management to manage the vineyard and oversee sale of the vineyard’s grapes to clients. According to the statement announcing the purchase, the property will neither be absorbed into the Sea Smoke estate nor its grapes used in Sea Smoke wines.

“The acquisition of Rita’s Crown reflects our commitment to our neighborhood’s long-term reputation,” said Victor Gallegos, Sea Smoke’s vice president, director of winemaking and general manager. “Because Rita’s Crown is already a source for top vineyard-designate wines made by Babcock, Ken Brown and Sandhi, this purchase adds a turnkey business to our portfolio. It also expands our ability to preserve our area’s reputation for exceptional wines by immediately transitioning Rita’s Crown to organic farming, which will also strengthen the ecological health of our neighborhood.”

Sea Smoke’s own estate vineyard is farmed 100% organically and biodynamically, and will complete its organic and biodynamic certifications in the fall of 2016.

 
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August 2016
 

New winemaker at Sextant Wines

 

San Luis Obispo, Calif.—Michael Fay is the new lead winemaker at Sextant Wines. Fay will work with owner Craig Stoller in managing production at the Central Coast winery. Prior to joining Sextant, Fay was the winemaker for Goldeneye Winery and has worked at other wineries in the Central Coast.

 
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August 2016
 

Ray Johnson promoted at SSU

 

Rohnert Park, Calif.—Ray Johnson has been promoted from director to executive director of the Wine Business Institute of Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics. In Johnson’s new, expanded role he will be responsible for programs and events at the future Wine Spectator Learning Center, which is scheduled to open in 2017. During his tenure as director, Johnson oversaw a significant increase in annual enrollment and secured more than $10 million in support for wine business education and research as well as expanded access for students to wine industry careers, scholarships, and internships.

 
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August 2016
 

Williams Selyem owner donates $500K for UC Davis chair

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—John Dyson, the owner of Williams Selyem Winery, donated $500,000 toward the goal of $1.5 million to endow a chair position in the University of California, Davis Department of Plant Pathology. When fully funded, the chair will be the director of Foundation Plant Sciences and serve on the college faculty.

 
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August 2016
 

Kosta Browne buys vineyard in Anderson Valley

 
Sebastopol, Calif.—Kosta Browne Winery announced its purchase of Cerise Vineyards in Anderson Valley from Peter and Heidi Knez. The deal marks Kosta Browne’s first acquisition outside of Sonoma County.
 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2016
 

Vintage gets into spirits with top winemakers

 

Napa, Calif.—Vintage Wine Estates in Santa Rosa, Calif., acquired a majority interest in Napa-based Splinter Group Spirits, which was founded in 2013 by vintner Dave Phinney and the Wilkinson family. The company produces the Straight Edge brand of Bourbon whiskey and the American whiskey Slaughter House. The spirits are aged in French oak wine barrels previously used for Bordeaux variety red wines.

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2016
 

CA wine industry impact grows to $114 billion

 

San Francisco, Calif.—The California wine industry delivered an economic impact of $57.6 billion to the state’s economy and $114.1 billion to the national economy in 2015, according to a new report commissioned by the Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers.

 
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News Briefs California

 
August 2016
 

O'Neil Vintners Buys Robert Hall Winery

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—O’Neill Vintners & Distillers announced its purchase of Robert Hall Winery in Paso Robles. The sale includes the Robert Hall production facilities, hospitality center, inventory, vineyards and brands. Robert Hall Winery was established by Robert and Margaret Hall in 1999 and has grown to become one of the largest in the Paso Robles, with annual production at 70,000 cases and a 211-acre estate vineyard, according to the Wines Vines Analytics winery database. O’Neill Vintners, which is based in Parlier, Calif., did not disclose its purchase price but characterized the deal as a “significant expansion” for the company that produces 1.9 million cases per year.

 
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News Briefs California

 
July 2016
 

New assistant winemaker at Cline

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Tom Gendall is the new assistant winemaker at Cline Family Cellars. Gendall will be working alongside winemaker Charlie Tsegeletos to produce Cline Family Cellars’ portfolio of Zinfandels, Rhône varietals, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Gendall joins Cline from Sojourn Cellars, where he aided in the day-to-day operations of the cellar. A native of New Zealand, Gendall gained winemaking experience in New Zealand, Germany and in Napa Valley for Bryant Family Vineyards and in Sonoma County for Arrowood Vineyards.

 
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July 2016
 

ASEV confirms new president, executive team

 

Davis, Calif.—Nichola Hall, technical consultant for Scott Laboratories in Petaluma, Calif., is the new board president of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture. She succeeds Mark Greenspan of Advanced Viticulture. Hall’s focus at Scott Laboratories is fermentation management, microbial nutrition, wine microbiology and analysis, and winery hygiene. Prior to Scott Laboratories, Hall worked at Vinquiry, Inc. in Windsor, California, as a technical consultant and with Bronco Wine Company as the director of microbiology. She serves on the American Vineyard Foundation Grant Management Committee, is a published author in international journals and trade publications, and an invited speaker at national and international meetings. Hall graduated with a bachelors in microbial biotechnology in 1997 and earned her Ph.D. in yeast physiology and fermentation science in 2001 from the University of Albertay, Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom.

ASEV announced its new director, Merilark Padgett-Johnson from Santa Rosa Junior College, and its 2016-2017 executive team members that include: James Harbertson of Washington State University, Tri-Cities, as first vice president; John Thorngate of Constellation as second vice president; and Tom Collins of Washington State University, Tri-Cities, as secretary-treasurer. Additional Board members continuing current terms are: ASEV Science Editor Markus Keller of Washington State University, Prosser; Directors Lise Asimont of Francis Ford Coppola Presents; Kay Bogart and Anita Oberholster, both from the University of California, Davis; Patty Skinkis of Oregon State University, Corvallis; and Hans Walter-Peterson of Cornell Cooperative Extension, New York.

 
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July 2016
 

New winemaker at Brassfield

 

Clealake Oaks, Calif.—Brassfield Estate Winery hired Matt Hughes as director of winemaking. Hughes will continue to collaborate with consulting winemaker David Ramey in producing estate-bottled wines at the family-owned vineyard and winery in the High Valley AVA. Hughes has held positions at Wildhurst Vineyards, Jackson Family Estates, Verite Estate, Six Sigma Ranch and was the founding chair of the Lake County Winery Association.

 
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July 2016
 

Executive promotions at Wente

 

Livermore, Calif.—Amy Hoopes is the new president of Wente Family Estates and Karl D. Wente is the new chief operations officer and chief winemaker. Hoopes has worked at the winery since 2007 and was promoted from the post of executive vice president and chief marketing officer. Karl D. Wente, fifth generation family member, was promoted from winemaker and his new role will include vineyard management for the winery's estate vineyards. Both Hoopes and Wente will report to CEO and fourth generation family member Carolyn Wente.

 
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July 2016
 

Pete Downs named acting president of Family Winemakers

 

Sacramento, Calif.—Edgar B. “Pete” Downs is the new, acting president of the Family Winemakers of California, which represents more than 400 wineries most of which are family owned and produce less than 5,000 cases per year. Downs retired from Jackson Family Wines in 2012 after working there for 20 years to launch his own consulting firm and has been an active board member of Family Winemakers and head of the legislative committee. 

According to the statement announcing Downs’ appointment, expanding market opportunities remains the principal goal along with representation for smaller wineries in agricultural issues, and reform and modernization of regulations governing winery operations, including direct to consumer sales and marketing.

 
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July 2016
 

Third generation Rombauer joins winery

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Reagan Rombauer Blackwood, granddaughter of founder Koerner Rombauer, has joined Rombauer Vineyards as assistant regional sales representative, becoming the first member of the family’s third generation to be employed at the 36-year-old Napa Valley winery. In her new role, Blackwood will be based in Las Vegas, Nev., and assist with sales- and marketing-related projects, as well as represent the winery at sales events, tastings and auctions in California, Nevada and the Southwest. Prior to joining the family winery, Blackwood worked for New Directions Technologies Inc., a government contractor in California as a project management analyst. 

 
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June 2016
 

Sonoma group adds board members for social sustainability

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation board added five new members to address the group’s commitment to the social responsibility element of sustainability.

 
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June 2016
 

Sessions named executive director of Sonoma Vintners

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Sonoma County Vintners (SCV) named Jean Arnold Sessions as executive director. Sessions has been serving as interim executive director since February 2016 when Carolyn Stark resigned after serving in the post for a year.

Before her interim role with SCV, Sessions was president of Hanzell Vineyards in Sonoma from 2002 through 2013. She is founder of the Jean Arnold Group, a consulting firm, and creator of Women in the Business of Wine, a platform for mentoring women in the wine, food and hospitality industries. Sessions also serves on the board of directors of the Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation.

“The past few months Jean has truly proven her dedication and commitment to Sonoma County and the Sonoma County Vintner's Association,” said the group’s board president Caroline Shaw in a press release. “Her passion, commitment and energy for Sonoma County brings tremendous value to our membership providing leadership for the many initiatives we are driving for our members and the broader AVA community.”

 
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June 2016
 

New winemaker at Vine Cliff

 

Oakville, Calif.—John Wilson is the new winemaker at Vine Cliff Winery in Napa Valley. Prior to joining Vine Cliff, Wilson was the winemaker at Thomas George Estates in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County and before that was the assistant winemaker at Littorai Wines in Sebastopol. Wilson began his career in winemaking as cellar master for Outpost Wines and River-Marie Wines in Napa Valley where he was mentored by winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown. While working as cellar master, Wilson experienced five consecutive Cabernet Sauvignon vintages from every appellation in the Napa Valley.

 
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June 2016
 

Far Niente acquires Napa Valley vineyard

 

Napa, Calif.—Far Niente Winery acquired a 60-acre Napa Valley Vineyard located in the Rutherford Bench. The vineyard is composed of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon grapes planted between 2009 to 2015. The vineyard will now be part of the Nickel & Nickel portfolio, Far Niente’s sister company launched in 1997 to produce single-vineyard, 100% Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The acquisition is the first for the San Francisco-based firm GI Partners since the company purchased Far Niente in 2016.

 
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June 2016
 

HdV purchases location in Napa Valley

 

Napa, Calif.—Hyde de Villaine, HdV, winery announced its purchase of the 33.5-acre parcel that has been the winery’s home since 2003. The property is comprised of 24-acres of vineyards, a 3,750-square-foot winery and a residence. The company described the purchase as a testament to "HdV’s commitment to the Napa Valley and the tradition of family ownership."

According to a statement released by the winery, HdV plans to retrofit the existing crush pad and replant the vineyard where needed with the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc while maintaining the winery’s focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. “We have no plans on changing,” said general manager James Eyer in a statement. “95% of our fruit will continue to come from Hyde Vineyard; we are merely taking advantage of an outstanding opportunity.”

Hyde de Villaine is a partnership between the Hyde family, owners of the Hyde Vineyard in Carneros and the de Villaine family, owners of A&P de Villaine and co-director of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in Burgundy. Led by Larry Hyde, the Hyde de Villaine project was established in 2000 with a focus on Burgundian winemaking philosophies with fruit from Hyde Vineyard.

 
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June 2016
 

Margie Healy named Wine Institute chairman

 

San Francisco, Calif.—Margie Healy, vice president of F. Korbel and Bros. in Guerneville, Calif., was elected Wine Institute Board Chairman for the 2016-17 fiscal year. The election was held at Wine Institute's 82nd Annual Meeting of Members in Santa Barbara, Calif. Other board officers elected were Steve Lohr of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines in San Jose, Calif., first vice chairman; Chris Indelicato of Delicato Family Vineyards in Napa, Calif., second vice chairman; Hank Wetzel of Alexander Valley Vineyards in Healdsburg, Calif., treasurer; and John Sutton, The Wine Group, secretary. Robert P. (Bobby) Koch is president and CEO of Wine Institute.

 
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June 2016
 

CAWG announces annual awards winners

 

Sacramento, Calif.—The California Association of Winegrape Growers, CAWG, selected Jerry and Bruce Fry of Mohr-Fry Ranches in Lodi, Calif., as the 2016 Grower of the Year, and Richard Smith and Smith Family Wines in Soledad, Calif., as the 2016 Leader the Year. The awards will be presented at the 2016 CAWG Awards of Excellence Program on July 20 in Monterey.

 
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June 2016
 

Boisset adds Wattle Creek to portfolio

 

San Francisco, Calif.—The Alexander Valley winery and San Francisco tasting room of Wattle Creek Estate Winery are now part of the Boisset Collection of wineries. According to a statement released by the Boisset Collection, new owner Jean-Charles Boisset will continue to produce wines under the Wattle Creek brand at the Alexander winery and under the direction of Matt Michael who takes the role of consulting winemaker to ensure continuity of style.The tasting room, located in Ghiradeli Square in San Francisco, has been re-opened with a new design inspired by mid-century modern architectural elements.

 
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June 2016
 

NakedWines hires technical director

 

Napa, Calif.—Antonio Trevino is the new wine and technical director for online wine company NakedWines.com. Trevino is the former chief production officer and director of winemaking at Purple Wine & Spirits.

 
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News Briefs California

 
June 2016
 

Trincheros open new tasting room

 
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St. Helena, Calif.—The Trinchero family has opened the new tasting room at their Napa Valley winery marking the end of the last phase of construction of the Trinchero Napa Valley facility. The 5,000-square-foot tasting room was designed by San Francisco, Calif.-based BAR Architects, which also designed the winery and hospitality center. Facility Development Corporation in Santa Rosa, Calif., was the general contractor for the project.

The tasting room features a leather bar nook, custom metal case showcasing Trinchero family artifacts and retail items and a custom-built fermentation egg to showcase the winery’s commitment to winemaking innovation. Other interior elements include French oak flooring, ceiling art by Michael Dute and a leather wall in the VIP tasting area that the winery describes as offering “a sexy, intriguing aesthetic.”

Bob Torres (seen in the new tasting room in the photo above) is a third-generation member of the Trinchero family and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in architecture. Torres “shaped the creative vision” of the new tasting room, while designer Erin Martin sought to create interiors “that offer warmth, timelessness and luxury to the visitor experience."

 
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June 2016
 

Durant & Booth tasting room opens adjacent to Oakville Grocery

 

Oakville, Calif.—After a complete renovation by architect Howard Backen, the historic Victorian building adjacent to the Oakville Grocery has reopened as the tasting room of the new wine company Durant & Booth. The name refers to Frederick Durant and Joseph Booth who ran the grocery in the early 1900s. Durant & Booth will offer nine wines from Napa and Sonoma counties and most will be blends of uncommon varieties such as Ribolla Gialla, Roussanne and Grenache. The grocery, which is now a popular deli on Highway 29, is owned by Leslie Rudd who also is the owner of Rudd Oakville Estate and Rudd Wines Winery. 

 
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June 2016
 

Guarachi hires new chief winemaker

 

Los Angeles, Calif.—Julian Gonzalez is the new chief winemaker for Guarachi Family Wines. Prior to joining Guarachi, Gonzalez was the lead winemaker for Paul Hobbs Consulting where he oversaw all consulting programs for the past nine years. In Gonzalez’s new role, he will serve as winemaker and caretaker to Guarachi Family Wines’ winemaking program, along with the Meadowrock estate in the Atlas Peak AVA of Napa County and Sun Chase vineyard in Sonoma County's Petaluma Gap area. 

 
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May 2016
 

Maroun named GM at Sunstone

 

Santa Ynez, Calif.—Bryan Maroun is the new general manager of Sunstone Vineyards and Winery. Maroun has worked for more than a decade in the guest service industry and most recently was the area manager of a large facility in Disneyland Park where he earned the “Walt Disney Legacy Award,” which is the highest employee honor bestowed by the Walt Disney Company.

 
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May 2016
 

New GM, winemaker at Jarvis Estate

 

Napa, Calif.—Deanna Martinez was promoted from CFO and COO to general manager, and Scott Morrison is the new winemaker at Jarvis Estate Winery in Napa Valley. Martinez was the first employee hired by the family-owned winery in 1987, and as its new general manager she will oversee all day to day operations. Morrison is a graduate of the University of California, Davis and has more than a decade of winemaking experience. Before joining Jarvis, Morrison was the head winemaker and general manager of William Harrison Vineyards and Winery, which is also in the Napa Valley.

 
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May 2016
 

Rhône Rangers to honor Bill Easton

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—The Rhône Rangers will present its fourth annual Lifetime Achievement Award to Bill Easton, who has worked with Rhône variety wines for more than 35 years. Easton founded the wine shop Solano Cellars in 1978 and later launched his own wine brand Terre Rouge to produce Rhône wines. In 1985, with his wife Jane O’Riordan, he founded his eponymous winery in the Sierra Nevada foothills. “Bill is a true pioneer,” said Rhône Rangers board member Stuart Montgomery. “He was present at the some of the first discussions in starting the organization and today helps the association — leading by example and making beautiful Rhône wines. We’re honored to recognize him for his efforts.” The Rhône Rangers is holding its annual celebration in San Francisco on June 10-11. Visit here for more information: rhonerangers.org

 
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May 2016
 

Chappellet founder dies at 84

 
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St. Helena, Calif.—Donn Chappellet, the founder of Chappellet Winery and a respected leader in the Napa Valley wine community died on Sunday, May 22, he was 84.

In addition to founding the second post-Prohibition winery in the Napa Valley, Chappellet was also one of the early pioneers of high-elevation hillside planting. As such, he influenced generations of vintners, and helped to redraw the winegrowing map of Napa Valley.

 
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May 2016
 

IPOB to call it quits at the end of the year

 

San Francisco, Calif.—The pursuit will come to an end this year. In Pursuit of Balance co-founders Jasmine Hirsch and Rajat Parr announced their group will cease operations by the end of 2016. “We created IPOB to change the dialogue around the meaning and importance of balance in California wine,” Hirsch said in a statement. “As we look back on what we have achieved, we’re gratified by the response of wine producers, the wine trade, and wine lovers who have accompanied us on our endeavor to affect the dialogue surrounding California wine.”

The group, launched in 2011, sought to showcase Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines made in a more restrained style with higher acidity and lower alcohol. “There was an information gap between the full-throttle, high-alcohol wines, and the more subtle, nuanced wines our member wineries were producing,” Hirsch said. “We felt that we could best put our message out as a group, which is why we created IPOB.”

Each year, producers of California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were accepted for membership in IPOB after submitting their wines to a blind tasting panel. IPOB then organized a series of annual tastings and educational seminars around the country and world. These events drew media and consumer attention to a more moderate winemaking style, resulting in some confrontational conversations within the wine community. Articles on the group and its mission, both pro and con, appeared in a broad range of print and digital media, including the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Wine Spectator magazine, and the Wine Advocate newsletter.

The wineries involved with IPOB include some of the state’s most respected Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producers, such as Mount Eden Vineyards, Littorai Wines, Calera Wine Co, Hanzell Vineyards, and Au Bon Climat, alongside new generation producers including Ceritas Groundswell Wines, Kutch Wines, Cobb Wines, Matthiasson Family Vineyards, Tyler Winery and Chanin Wine Co. Beginning with one San Francisco tasting in 2011, the organization’s scope grew to include an international itinerary of tastings in Los Angeles, New York, London, Tokyo, Houston, Dusseldorf, and other cities. Membership in 2016 stands at 36 wineries.

The founders report they believe they’ve established an ongoing conversation on California wine style and now want to end on a “high note” with a final tasting in San Francisco in early November. “We achieved what we intended — to bring the debate around balance and winemaking styles to the forefront of the wine community,” Hirsch said. “This debate will continue in California and around the world, and it is by no means finished.”

 
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May 2016
 

Jackson to acquire Copain Wines

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Jackson Family Wines announced it reached a deal to acquire Copain Wines in Healdsburg, Calif.

Founded by winemaker Wells Guthrie, Copain specializes in vineyard-designate from the Anderson Valley. JFW is buying the brand as well as the Healdsburg winery and tasting room. According to the statement by JFW, the deal enables the company “to expand its portfolio with the addition of a stylistically-unique winery producing balanced, expressive, lower alcohol wines.”

“Joining the Jackson Family Wines portfolio is an exciting and logical next step as we look toward the future,” Guthrie said in the press release. “We believe the Jackson family’s commitment to preserving the integrity of what we’ve built, while providing the resources to elevate our wines, will be a winning combination as we look to promote our style of winemaking on a broader scale.”

Copain Wines will continue to operate and produce as it does currently, with Guthrie remaining in his role as winemaker, with control over winemaking decisions, including grape sourcing. Jackson Family Wines will focus its efforts on providing enhanced sales, marketing, distribution, and back-office administrative support. Copain Wines will be sold and distributed through Jackson Family Wines’ West Burgundy Wine Collective. The companies did not release the specific terms of the deal.

The transaction is expected to close later this month. Demeter Group, a San Francisco-based investment bank for beverage alcohol companies, acted as Copain Wines’ exclusive financial advisor on the transaction. Murano Group, a San Francisco-based holding company that invests primarily in branded consumer businesses, was the strategic investor in Copain's growth over the last six years.

 
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May 2016
 

Vineyard foundation allocates $1.3 million for research

 

Napa, Calif.—The American Vineyard Foundation (AVF) board approved $1.3 million in funding for 23 research projects that cover viticulture and enology. The AVF received 63 proposals and each proposal was evaluated by one of six AVF review committees for scientific merit, the ability to accomplish stated objectives and to deliver value to the industry. 

A few of the funded projects include $155,900 for “Grapevine Leafrool Virus 3 Grape Mealybug," $100,000 for “Rootstock Breeding” and $120,300 for “Grapevine Pinot Gris Virus in California.” A complete list of the funded projects can be found at www.avf.org/research.html

 
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May 2016
 

Mayo joins winemaking team at San Antonio Winery

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—Ben Mayo joined the winemaking team of San Antonio Winery, which is owned by Riboli Family Wine Estates. Mayo has more than 15 years of winemaking experience in the Paso Robles area and will be focused on the San Simeon Maddalena and Opaque brands as well as helping to oversee the construction of a new winery. Prior to joining San Antonio Winery, Mayo was the winemaker and general manager at Rotta Winery and spent more than a decade as winemaker and partner at Eberle Winery.

 
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May 2016
 

Yao Family opens tasting room

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Yao Family Wines, launched in 2011 by former NBA player Yao Ming, opened a new tasting room in downtown St. Helena to feature Yao Ming and Napa Crest wines. The space features a marble-topped oval bar and lounge spaces to accommodate groups and private, guided tastings. The tasting room is located at 929 Main St., which had formerly been the tasting room of Bello Family Vineyards.

 
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May 2016
 

Phelps winery promotes next generation

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Elizabeth Neuman is the new director of business development and Will Phelps is the new director of marketing at Joseph Phelps Vineyards in the Napa Valley. Both are also now members of the winery's executive management team. The two promotions are part of a long-term succession plan to ensure the winery remains family owned. Phelps and Neuman are grandchildren of winery founder Joe Phelps. Neuman joined the family business in 2011 after working as a wine consultant for Southern Wine & Spirits, and Phelps worked in sales for Trinitas Cellars before joining Joseph Phelps in 2012.

 
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May 2016
 

Registration now open for WITS conference

 

Sonoma, Calif—Registration for the Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS), a conference focused on successfully deploying technology solutions in the wine industry, is now open. Those who register by May 27 will receive a special rate of $145, and after May 27, registration will be $195. Attendee registration is open to those from wineries only.

 
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April 2016
 

Deerfield emerges from Chapter 11

 

Kenwood, Calif.—Deerfield Ranch Winery in the Sonoma Valley released a statement saying it had successfully restructured its debt with Rabobank and has left Chapter 11. The winery’s plan for reorganization was approved by a U.S. bankruptcy court judge and will include payment for all of the winery’s creditors and the deal with its principal lender Rabobank.

According to the statement, Deerfield sought protection of the court after experiencing substantial delays in completing a left turn lane off Highway 12 that was a condition of opening their newly 23,000-square-foot wine cave and tasting room. The road construction took five years and substantially reduced Deerfield’s revenues. The left turn lane was eventually completed, and the wine cave and tasting room have proved popular with consumers.

“Deerfield’s operations have been profitable for several years. The delay in opening the tasting room was a problem that is now behind us. We look forward to expanding our wine business as well as our substantial custom crush business. We are extremely optimistic about the future of the Deerfield Ranch Winery. As a matter of fact, we are releasing our first Sparkling wine, a vintage blanc de blanc to celebrate our reorganization,” said Robert Rex, winemaker and managing partner.

The deal for a restructured and extended lending agreement with Rabobank was the linchpin in putting a plan together, and now that it’s been accomplished the winery is exploring other partnerships.

Deerfield has already received multiple business offers, including a creamery partnership, foreign investors, and wineries looking for a public tasting room on Highway 12. “We are looking for the perfect fit,” said managing partner P.J. Rex. “Now that we have reorganized our debt, we will be our exploring our options.”

 
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April 2016
 

Whitehall Lane names new winemaker

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Jason Moulton is the new winemaker at Whitehall Lane Winery. Moulton has more than 10 years of winemaking experience at wineries in the Russian River Valley, Canada, New Zealand, Bordeaux and South Africa. He most recently was the winemaker at Brassfield Estate Winery in the High Valley AVA of Lake County, Calif. Whitehall Lane Winery and its 150 acres of estate vineyards are owned by the Leonardini family.

 
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April 2016
 

New winemaking team at Chalone

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Michael Michaud is the new consulting winemaker and Gianni Abate is the new associate winemaker for Chalone Estate Vineyard, which Foley Family Wines purchased earlier this year. Michaud was the winemaker at Chalone from 1979 to 1997 and worked with founder Dick Graff. Michaud also owns a vineyard in the small Chalone AVA. Gianni was most recently with Morgan Winery in Salinas, Calif., where he worked for more than a decade. "Having both Gianni and Michael will ensure that we reach our goal of maximizing the quality of wines coming from this incredible property,” said Bill Foley, owner and founder of Foley Family Wines.

 
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April 2016
 

Green Medal winners for sustainability

 

Sacramento, Calif.—The winners of the second annual Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards were announced and honored at a ceremony held April 20. The awards honor growers and vintners that are committed to producing wine grapes and wine with sustainable methods. 

The 2016 winners are: 

Jackson Family Wines in Santa Rosa won the "Leader Award" for being a sustainability innovator and early adopter of healthy land management practices. Incorporating triple bottom-line sustainability principles across all aspects of their business, the company deployed solar arrays at 8 wineries and collaborated with Tesla to reduce energy demand and increase grid reliability paid a price premium for certified sustainable winegrapes and led voluntary drought initiatives.

Halter Ranch Vineyard in Paso Robles, Calif., won the “Environment Award” for preserving 1,700 acres of the Halter Ranch property and working with the Wyss Foundation to help further conservation efforts. The company also also reduced irrigation water use by 50% and captures winery water and rainwater.

Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles won the “Community Award” for partnering with organizations such as must! charities, the local animal shelter, arts and youth sports organizations and has donated more than $100,000 to support local youth and arts programs since 2002.

McManis Family Vineyards in Ripon won the “Business Award” for its efforts to improve water efficiency through the use of soil moisture sensors, flow meters and distribution uniformity tests. Sustainable practices have also decreased energy use, diesel use and tractor work and limited the impact on soil.

The awards are presented by by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, the California Association of Winegrape Growers, Wine Institute, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrowers and The Vineyard Team.

 
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April 2016
 

Joe Wagner launches sparkling wine

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Copper Cane Wines & Provisions unveiled its latest brand, Steorra Wines, which is a brut, non-vintage sparkling wine produced with grapes from the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Steorra, which takes its name from the old-English word for ‘star’, is owner and winemaker Joe Wagner’s first sparkling wine. The wine is produced with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and will be available by the glass at restaurants in 13 states and Washington D.C. upon release.

 
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April 2016
 

Sonoma Growers add Fish Friendly as certification

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Sonoma County Winegrowers announced that the Fish Friendly Farming (FFF) certification program is now an accepted option to participate in the winegrower's project to become the nation’s first wine region that is 100% certified sustainable by 2019.

According to a statement released by the group, the addition of Fish Friendly Farming is the result of a year and half of collaboration between the two organizations to adjust the FFF sustainability program to meet the requirements of Sonoma County’s sustainability program. 

 
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April 2016
 

Constellation buys The Prisoner, other brands

 

Victor, N.Y.—Constellation Brands Inc., announced it is acquiring the The Prisoner and other brands from Huneeus Vintners in a deal worth approximately $285 million. Constellation's purchase includes The Prisoner, Saldo, Cuttings, Blindfold and Thorn brands.

 
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April 2016
 

NGWI names King president

 

Sacramento, Calif.—Camron King is the new president of the National Grape & Wine Initiative. Since 2012, King has been executive director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, which represents 750 growers farming more than 110,000 acres of wine grapes. According to the statement announcing King's hiring, he has administered all of the commission’s marketing, promotion, strategic planning and regional branding efforts, as well as grower constituent relations. King is charged with overseeing the NGWI’s efforts to secure government funding and support for research and extension as a means to strengthen the competitiveness of America’s grape and grape product industries.

 
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March 2016
 

Vintage funds SSU scholarship for women

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—To recognize Women’s History Month, Vintage Wine Estates funded a $5,000 scholarship for a woman pursuing a professional wine master of business administration degree at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, Calif. "Several recent studies have found that companies with more female leaders are more productive and profitable," said the wine company’s president and CEO Pat Roney in a press release, which also stated that six out of the 10 members of Vintage’s senior leadership team are women. "Gender parity in business is not only about fairness — it's about results."

 
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March 2016
 

Sonoma vintners to honor icons at auction

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Sonoma County Vintners will honor four of the county’s “icons” at the group’s upcoming barrel auction on April 29. Helen Long Bacigalupi, founder of Bacigalupi Vineyards; Tom Klein, owner of Rodney Strong Vineyards; David Americo Rafanelli, third generation owner of A. Fafanelli Winery and Tom Rochioli, owner of Rochioli Vineyards will be honored at a reception on April 28 as well as during the auction. “We are delighted to be able to recognize four individuals who have truly helped shape the heritage and history of Sonoma County winemaking,” said Jean Arnold Sessions, the interim executive director of the vintners’ group.

 
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March 2016
 

Brown to lead planning, operations at Thornhill Companies

 

Santa Barbara, Calif.—Chris Brown has been promoted to the post of senior director for production planning and operations for the Thornhill Companies. Brown previously was in charge of winemaking for Thornhill’s Turn Key Wine Brands and managed both Central Coast Wine Services and Paso Robles Wine Services. Brown fills the position as an independent consultant and Turn Key Wine Brands is the first client of his new business Diligent Wines. In his new role, Brown will lead operational planning while building a foundation for the companies’ future growth.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2016
 

Auction raises $150,000 for Lake County fire relief

 

St. Helena, Calif.—A charitable wine auction hosted by #LakeCountyRising for victims of the 2015 Lake County wildfires raised more than $150,000. The March 22 event at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in St. Helena drew more than 100 people who bid on 10 live auction lots and 20 silent auction lots.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2016
 

Bettinelli named Napa grower of the year

 

Napa, Calif.—The Napa Valley Grapegrowers announced Larry Bettinelli of Bettinelli Vineyards is the 2016 recipient of the Napa Valley Grower of the Year award. Bettinelli will be honored for his contributions to the Napa Valley wine industry and the community on Friday, May 13 at the Napa Valley Grapegrowers’ 41st Annual Dinner.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2016
 

Insights into changing Chinese wine market

 

Davis, Calif.—The Confucius Institute and Global Affairs at the University of Californa, Davis are hosting a full-day conference to examine the evolving wine import market in China. Experts will explore ways to promote California wines in the unique Chinese market and share insider tips they have learned along the way.

The panel of speakers has both research data and hands-on experience in that market and hail from California, France, China and Australia. They will address recent market changes, brand development, the appearance of informed consumers, the very different distribution systems, the emergence of local competition and the necessity of a digital brand presence in China. Conference registration is $75 for the general public, $50 for UC Davis employees and $25 for students. Registration includes lunch as a well as a reception at the end of the day.

Speakers include:

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2016
 

Bokisch adds assistant vineyard manager

 

Lodi, Calif.—Bokisch Ranches hired Arthur Chavez as assistant vineyard manager. Chavez will work alongside Alex Lopez, Jr. to oversee daily vineyard operations of the firm’s 2,500 acres of vineyards in the Lodi AVA. Chavez is a graduate of California State University, Fresno and has worked in viticulture throughout California.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2016
 

Cuneo named partner at Turrentine

 

Novato, Calif.—Marc Cuneo was named partner of Turrentine Brokerage. Cuneo joined Turrentine in 2010 as bulk wine broker and has since worked with a large portfolio of clients in the United States as well as negotiating deals for European and South American wines. Cuneo is also a regular speaker on bulk wine market trends at a number of wine industry events.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2016
 

Southern funds wine biz scholarship

 

Rohnert Park, Calif.—Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. and the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University announced the Southern Wine & Spirits of America Wine Business Scholarship Fund to provide two scholarships annually for five years to undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a degree in wine business.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2016
 

Hess hires VP of operations

 

Napa, Calif.—Matthew Wood is the new vice president of operations for Hess Family Wine Estates. Wood will oversee the company’s operations department as well as supply planning. Prior to joining Hess, Wood worked at Treasury Wine Estates where he held several positions in strategic planning, operations and logistics. “This is a new role which has been created to ensure that we are supporting our commercial success with excellent supply–side planning and development,” said Timothy Persson, the president and CEO of Hess Family Wine Estates. “Matt will assume responsibility for our operations department as well as our supply planning process, which covers everything from fruit supply through to the point at which wine leaves our warehouse.”

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2016
 

Trade buyers bid $5 million for Napa futures

 

The Napa Valley Vintners raised $5 million on Feb. 20 toward their own operations at the annual Premiere Napa Valley auction in St. Helena, Calif. The total was the third highest in the auction’s 20 year history. Trade buyers among the 1,000 attendees from across the U.S. and the world bought 226 one-of-a-kind lots of futures on mostly 2014 vintage wines. The wines will be finished and bottled later in amounts ranging from five to 20 cases each. Wines from established, well-distributed brands like Duckhorn and Rombauer vied with newer names such as Memento Mori and Nine Suns for the highest prices per lot.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2016
 

TWE names new boss for Americas

 

Napa, Calif.—Treasury Wine Estates, TWE, announced Bob Spooner is the new president of the Australian company’s operations in the Americas. Spooner replaces Sandra LeDrew who is leaving Treasury after four years with the firm. Spooner joined TWE as chief supply officer in January 2015 and has helped shift TWE’s focus to its luxury and premium brands. Spooner will be based in TWE’s offices in Napa, Calif.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2016
 

Beckstoffers buy Dancing Hares winery

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Tuck Beckstoffer and his wife Boo have purchased the Dancing Hares Winery and Vineyard. The purchase includes a 20-acre estate vineyard, winery, brands and inventory. Paula Brooks and Bob Cook founded the vineyard in 2003 and built the winery in 2009. Brooks and Cook listed the property and 30-acre parcel for more than $26 million, but the Beckstoffers did not include a purchase price in their announcement. Tuck Beckstoffer is the son of Andy Beckstoffer who is the founder and owner of Beckstoffer Vineyards.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2016
 

Moueix launches new brand

 

Oakville, Calif.—Christian Moueix, owner of Dominus Estate in Napa Valley and eight wineries in France, announced the launch of his new brand Ulysses. The wine is an estate-bottled Cabernet Sauvignon, with some Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Ulysses is produced with grapes from a vineyard situated along the Oakville Bench at the foot of the Mayacamas Range. The property was part of the original Charles Hopper Ranch in the 1800's, and was purchased by Moueix in 2008. "Since then," Moueix said in a press release, "we have undertaken meticulous vineyard restoration. We needed time to study the soil types and microclimates of the property."

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2016
 

Sessions takes over as interim leader

 
Jean Arnold Sessions will lead the Sonoma County Vintners while the organization looks for a new director, multiple news outlets reported today. The news comes less than two weeks after former SCV director Carolyn Stark announced her resignation. In addition to serving as president of Hanzell Vineyards from 2002 until 2013, Sessions served on the Vintners' Board of Directors from 2003 through 2009.

The Sonoma County Vintners will officially announce Sessions as the interim director at their annual meeting Wednesday in Santa Rosa, Calif.
 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2016
 

SRJC to hold Wine Classic on Feb. 21

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Santa Rosa Junior College holds its annual Wine Classic from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21 at the Lawrence A. Bertolini Student Center on the college campus. The owners and winemakers from more than 30 wineries will be pouring tastes of more than 50 wines at the event that also features appetizers prepared by students in the school’s culinary arts program. The SRJC Wine Classic is a fundraiser for the SRJC wine, culinary arts and hospitality programs. This year’s honorary event co-chairs are chef John Ash and author and journalist Gaye LeBaron. For tickets and more information visit: srjcwineclassic.com

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2016
 

Foley buys Chalone estate

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Bill Foley and Foley Family Wines have purchased Chalone Estate Vineyard in Monterey County. Foley Family Wines is acquiring the Chalone Estate Vineyard and Gavilan brands as well as nearly 1,000 contiguous acres, with 240 acres planted to vines.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2016
 

New president for Family Winemakers

 

Sacramento, Calif.—Jon Ballesteros is the new president of Family Winemakers of California (FWC), the state's trade organization representing and advocating for the welfare and success of family winemakers and their wineries.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2016
 

Sonoma vintners' leader resigns

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Citing personal reasons, the executive director of the Sonoma County Vintners announced her resignation from the post in a press release issued Tuesday evening.

Carolyn Stark announced her resignation after she had held the position for just a year, and while the vintners group is helping to host an elaborate tasting pavilion at the Super Bowl City event this week in San Francisco.

Before taking the position at the vintners’ group, Stark had been the executive director of Sonoma County BEST for three years. Stark replaced Honore Comfort who had been the leader of the vintners’ group for almost a decade.

According to the statement announcing Stark’s resignation, the vintners’ board of directors has started the search for a replacement and plans to hire an interim a leader soon. “We appreciate Carolyn’s contributions to Sonoma County Vintners since joining the organization last year and wish her very well,” said Caroline Shaw, president of the vintners’ board and chief marketing officer at Jackson Family Wines. “We will soon name an interim executive director and anticipate a smooth transition while our search begins for a replacement.”

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2016
 

Winkler named assistant winemaker at Westwood

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Natalie Winkler is the new assistant winemaker at Westwood Estate Wines in Sonoma Valley. Winkler has been with Westwood since 2014 in the position of cellarmaster and enologist. Prior to joining Westwood, Winkler worked in Spain, Australia, France and at Windsor Oaks and at Mill Creek Winery in Sonoma County.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2016
 

Peju buys Acacia winery

 

Rutherford, Calif.—Peju Province Winery announced its purchase of the Acacia Vineyard winery in the Carneros AVA. The facility had not been part of Treasury Wine Estate’s $600 million buy out of Dieageo's wine group. Treasury did acquire the Acacia brand but not the winery on Las Amigas Road.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2016
 

Perry promoted to winemaker at Bokisch

 

Lodi, Calif.—Elyse Perry was promoted from assistant winemaker to winemaker at Bokisch Vineyards and will now oversee all winery operations. Perry has helped create the winery’s custom crush business, developed new wines for its second label and assisted overseeing the design and construction of the new Bokisch winery. Prior to joining Bokisch, Perry worked as winemaker at Galvan Family Cellars in Fairfield, Calif., Bin to Bottle in Napa, Calif. and launched her own brand Egan Cellars.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2016
 

Robledo named CEO of Mi Sueno

 

Napa, Calif.—Rolando and Lorena Herrera, owners of Mi Sueño Winery, hired Vanessa Robledo to be the winery’s chief executive officer. Robledo will oversee business management, marketing and direct-to-consumer and wholesale wine sales. Robledo is a fourth-generation grape grower whose career in the wine industry began at her family’s vineyard as a child. She later would work as president of Robledo Family Winery and then Black Coyote Chateau before joining Mi Sueno.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2016
 

Landmark aquires Hop Kiln

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Landmark Vineyards acquired Hop Kiln Vineyards in the Russian River Valley.

“We are excited to integrate Hop Kiln’s historic estate and vineyards into our luxury wine portfolio,” said David Ricanati, president of Landmark Vineyards in a statement announcing the purchase.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2016
 

Napa wineries give up 'port' on labels

 

Napa, Calif.—The Napa Valley Vintners, NVV, announced that three of its members will no longer use the word “port” on labels of their fortified wines. According to a press release by the vintners group, the wineries — Boyd Family Vineyards, Freemark Abbey and Jessup Cellars — have the legal right to use the term because they were grandfathered following the signing of the 2006 U.S./European Commission Wine Trade Agreement. However, each has voluntarily agreed to abandon use of the semi-generic term out of respect for the NVV’s efforts to protect winemaking place names and as a nod to the Napa Valley’s alliance with Porto, the world’s oldest denominated wine region.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2016
 

Sonoma Winegrowers receive award

 

Sacramento, Calif.—The Sonoma County Winegrowers group has received the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, or GEELA, for its plan to certify all of Sonoma County’s vineyards as sustainable by 2019.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2016
 

Monticello founder dies

 

Napa, Cali.—Jay Corley, a Napa Valley grape grower for nearly 50 years and founder of Monticello Vineyards, died Jan. 11 in Napa, surrounded by family. He was 84 years old.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2016
 

Vintage award winners announced

 

Napa, Calif.—A collaborative experiment by Monica Cooper, Ph. D. and Sarah MacDonald, Ph.D. is the winner of the 2015 innovation award sponsored by Fruition Sciences and Bank of the West. Cooper is the University of California Cooperative Extension advisor for Napa County and MacDonald is the owner of Envision Geo. Cooper and MacDonald's experiment presented a new way to manage grapevine leafroll disease. Their project and results were presented at Fruition Sciences' 2015 Vintage Report Conference in Napa. Cooper and MacDonaled’s experiment entailed hyperspectral airborne imaging to identify diseased vines. The approach collected data from thousands of acres of vines in a single three-hour flight and could make the laborious task of identifying vines with red blotch disease much easier and quicker.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2016
 

Furthermore acquires Graton Ridge

 

Sebastopol, Calif.—Furthermore wine company announced its acquisition of Graton Ridge Cellars in Sebastopol. Furthermore purchased Graton Ridge’s label, tasting room, winery and estate vineyard. Erica Stancliff is the new winemaker for Furthermore. Stancliff has her own label, Trombetta Family Wines, and is a former member of the winemaking team at CrossBarn winery.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2016
 

Carneros alliance elects board

 

Napa, Calif.—The Carneros Wine Alliance announced that Crista Johnson of Schug Carneros Estate Winery is the new chair of the board and Carla Bosco of Bouchaine Vineyards is the vice chair. T.J. Evans of Domaine Carneros continues to serve as treasurer. The rest of the board includes Anne Moller-Racke of Donum Estate, Alison Crowe of Garnet Vineyards, Jennifer LaRosa of Poseidon Vineyard, and Sam Jamison of Carneros Hills Winery.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2016
 

Clos Du Val hires new winemaker, operations director

 

Napa, Calif.—Jon-Mark Chappellet is the new director of operations and Ted Henry is the new winemaker at Clos du Val winery. The recent hires follow several other changes set in motion by president and CEO Steve Tamburelli.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2016
 

Covenant hires GM

 

Berkeley, Calif.—Covenant Wines hired Sagie Kleinlerer as its first general manager. Kleinlerer will oversee sales, marketing and the expansion of the Kosher winery. Covenant is sold in markets throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, central and South America, Europe, Israel and Australia. Founded in 2003 by partners Leslie Rudd and Jeff Morgan, Covenant has doubled its production in the last three years, built a 7,000-square foot winery in downtown Berkeley and recently released its first wine from Israel—Covenant Israel. Kleinlerer, a lawyer by training, worked at Larkmead Vineyard in Napa Valley prior to coming to Covenant. He is Israeli/American and will also assist in the winery’s ongoing projects in Israel.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2016
 

Winemaking changes at Zaca Mesa

 

Los Olivos, Calif.—Eric Mohseni was promoted to director of winemaking and vineyard operations and Kristin Bryden was promoted to winemaker at Zaca Mesa Winery. Mohseni joined Zaca Mesa in 2001 as enologist and has been the winemaker since 2008. Bryden started at the winery in 2011 as assistant winemaker and was promoted to associate winemaker in 2013.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2016
 

Paraiso founder dies

 

Soledad, Calif.—Richard Smith, a founder and leader of the Monterey County wine industry, died at home surrounded by his family on Dec. 27 from pancreatic cancer. He was 69.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2016
 

Balletto Vineyards hires viticulturist

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Bill Francis is the new viticulturist for Balletto Vineyards & Winery in the Russian River Valley AVA. According to a statement released by the winery, Francis fills a newly-created position and will oversee all aspects of viticulture for Balletto Vineyards’ more than 650 acres of estate vineyards, including the sustainability program, vineyard inspections, and pest and fertility management. Francis will report directly to John Balletto, owner and founder of Balletto Vineyards.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2016
 

Stewarts acquire Envolve Winery

 

Sonoma, Calif.—The Stewart family purchased Envolve Winery from the founding team of siblings Mike, Kate and Chris Benziger and partner Ben Flajnik. The Stewarts already own the Lake Sonoma Winery and Valley of the Moon wine brands, Madrone Estate Winery in Glen Ellen, Calif. and Quail’s Gate winery in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. According to the statement announcing the acquisition, Envolve wines will be poured at the new Lake Sonoma Winery tasting room at 134 Church St. on the historic Sonoma Square. Mike Benziger and Flajnik established Envolve in 2008 and had operated a tasting room off of the Sonoma Square since 2012. The former Envolve tasting room closed at the end of the year. Lake Sonoma Winery winemaker, Kat Adams, will assume all future wine making responsibilities for Envolve.

 
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News Briefs California

 
January 2016
 

CAWG elects new board officers, members

 

Sacramento, Calif.—The California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) announced the election of five new officers and three new members to its board of directors. The new board started its term of service on Dec. 1. The following members were elected officers: Aaron Lange, LangeTwins Winery & Vineyards; chair; Bill Berryhill, Berryhill Family Vineyards and BB Vineyards, vice chair; Brad Goehring, Goehring Vineyards, vice chair; Mike Testa, Coastal Vineyard Care Associates, secretary; and Ryan Metzler, Fruita del Sol, treasurer. New additions to the board include Kendall Hoxsey-Onysko, Napa Wine Co. and Yount Mill Vineyards; Randy Krag, Beckstoffer Vineyards; and Tyler Scheid, Scheid Vineyards.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2015
 

Gallo to buy Ranch winery in Napa

 

Modesto, Calif.—E. & J. Gallo Winery announced it has agreed to purchase The Ranch Winery, a custom crush winery specializing in both small and large scale wine production in St. Helena, Calif.

Located within 15 miles of Gallo's Louis M. Martini and William Hill wineries, The Ranch Winery sits between Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail. The property spans more than 70 acres, with a winery capable of crushing 30,000 tons of grapes. 

In addition to the crush capacity, the acquisition includes 4.6 million cases of bottling capacity and approximately 8 million gallons of storage. "We are excited to have this highly capable winery in close proximity to our other Napa wineries. This purchase supports the company's continued growth in the super premium and luxury wine segment," said Roger Nabedian, Gallo's senior vice president and general manager of Gallo's Premium Wine Division in the statement announcing the purchase. 

The Trinchero family originally built the winery, and later sold it in 2007 to vitner Joel Gott and partners. At the time Gott had been producing his Three Thieves brand at the facility when he learned it was for sale. 

Demeter Group, a San Francisco-based investment bank for beverage alcohol companies, acted as The Ranch Winery's exclusive financial advisor on the transaction. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The sale is scheduled to close on Dec. 31, 2015.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2015
 

New keynote for DtC symposium

 

Napa, Calif.—The organizers of the 2016 DtC Wine Symposium, which takes place Jan. 13-14 at the Hilton Concord Hotel in Concord, Calif., announced an additional keynote presentation called “Art of the Marketing Plan.” The new session will be moderated by Brian Baker, the vice president of sales and marketing for Chateau Montelena, and features Dave Knox, chief media officer for Rockfish; Edward Russell, professor of advertising at Syracuse University and Lynne Bruni the vice president of marketing at the San Francisco Travel Association. Other sessions include predictions on DtC trends in coming years, DtC security, using DtC metrics to ensure profitability and best practices for shipping wine.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2015
 

Wine Institute names VP and general counsel

 

San Francisco, Calif.—Tracy Genesen is the new vice president and general counsel of the Wine Institute. Genesen replaces Wendell Lee who is retiring after working with the institute for 35 years.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2015
 

Keller to manage ASEV publications

 

Davis, Calif.—Markus Keller, the Chateau Ste. Michelle Distinguished Professor of Viticulture at Washington State University, will direct the American Society for Enology and Viticulture’s (ASEV) scientific, peer-reviewed publications starting March. Keller will work closely during his three-year appointment with current science editor Dr. Linda Bisson, who is retiring from the editorial eadership position after 15 years of managing ASEV’s publications, according to a statement released by the ASEV.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2015
 

Napa Vintners secures certification mark

 

St. Helena, Calif.—The Napa Valley Vintners obtained a certification mark from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the name “Napa Valley.” According to the vintners’ group, securing the mark required five years of work in Washington D.C. and dozens of agreements with the owners of businesses with the word “Napa” in their own trademarks.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2015
 

New staff at CAWG

 

Sacramento, Calif.—Tyler Blackney is the new director of government relations, and Natalie Collins is the new manager of member relations for the California Association of Winegrape Growers. Blackney is the former legislative director for California Assemblyman Luis Alejo and will monitor a range of state public policy issues for CAWG as well as represent the group before regulatory agencies. Collins formerly managed membership and education events for the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation and will now oversee education, member benefits and recruitment and retention activities for CAWG.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2015
 

New GM at Alma Rosa

 

Santa Barbara, Calif.—Elaina Kroll is the new general manager of Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards. Kroll will manage daily operations at the winery while working closely with founder and winemaker Richard Sanford and owner Robert Zorich. Kroll joined Alma Rosa in 2014 as national sales director after managing imports for Domaine de Cristia and sales for Barrel 27.

 
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News Briefs California

 
December 2015
 

Descendent of Cointreau founder launches US wine

 

Malibu, Calif.—Beatrice Cointreau, great-granddaughter of Cointreau liqueur founder and granddaughter of Rémy Martin, has released the first wines from her 6-acre estate in Malibu. Cointreau is the former CEO and general manager of Gosset Champagne and started Admirable Family Vineyards in 2013. The winery’s inaugural release includes a white blend of Viognier and Chardonnay called Blanc & Blanc and a red blend of Syrah and Merlot called Vigneronne. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
November 2015
 

Anderson Valley Winegrowers' hires new leader

 

Philo, Calif.—John Cesano is the new executive director of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association in Mendocino County. Cesano has more than 30 years of wine industry experience and most recently was the manager of the McFadden Farm Stand & Tasting Room in Hopland, Calif. Cesano writes a regular wine column for The Ukiah Daily Journal newspaper and maintains his own wine blog. Cesano is taking over day-to-day management of the group from Janis MacDonald who is retiring.

 
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News Briefs California

 
November 2015
 

Napa Vintners donate $3 million

 

St. Helena, Calif.—The Napa Valley Vintners donated $2 million to ten different Napa Valley nonprofits that seek to help local children succeed in school and $1 million for the Napa Valley Early Learning Initiative. The donations are from the vintners’ annual charitable wine auction that raised nearly $16 million in 2015 and has provided more than $150 million in total to Napa County nonprofit organizations.

 
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News Briefs California

 
November 2015
 

NGWI president stepping down

 

Sacramento, Calif.—Jean-Mari Peltier announced at a recent meeting of the National Grape & Wine Initiative’s executive committee that she will step down from her post as president to take a job with a Sacramento-based consulting firm at the end of the year. Peltier has been president of the NGWI since 2008.

 
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News Briefs California

 
November 2015
 

Scheid Family Hires Marketing Director

 

Salinas, Calif.—Scheid Family Wines of Salinas hired Laura Kirk Lee as its new director of marketing. Lee most recently served as vice president of sales and marketing for Peju Province Winery in Napa, Calif. She previously held the position of marketing director for Foley Family Wines and senior marketing director for Jackson Family Wines. Scheid produces 100,000 cases of wine per year and farms 4,000 acres of vineyards in the Salinas Valley. The winery's portfolio includes District 7, Metz Road, GIFFT, Ryder Estate, Ranch 32 and more than 15 brands for clients and distributors.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2015
 

Promotions at Jackson Family Wines

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Rick Tigner has been promoted from president to chief executive officer of Jackson Family Wines, and Hugh Reimers was promoted to the post of president. Tigner has been with Jackson Family Wines for 25 years and had been president since 2010. As CEO, Tigner will report to Barbara Banke, chairman of the board and Don Hartford, vice chairman.

According to a statement announcing the promotions, Tigner joined Jackson Family Wines in 1991 and rapidly advanced through its sales department. He was named executive vice president in 2001 and was promoted to president, Jackson Family Enterprises, in 2010. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Vinexpo and the Michael J. Fox Foundation, helping to raise money to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

Reimers joined the company in 2009 and most recently served as chief operating officer. In addition to continuing to oversee all wine production, Reimers will be responsible for global sales and marketing. Prior to joining Jackson Family Wines, Reimers had more than 15 years of winemaking experience in positions such as chief winemaker at Constellation Wines.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2015
 

Stackhouse joins Clos du Bois as director of winemaking

 

Geyserville, Calif.—Melissa Stackhouse is the new director of winemaking at Clos du Bois winery. Stackhouse is a graduate of the University of California, Davis Department of Viticulture & Enology and previously worked at La Crema, J Vineyards & Winery and Jackson Family Wines.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2015
 

Peju hires president

 

Rutherford, Calif.—Abdulla Vural is the new president of Peju Province Winery. Vural has nearly 30 years of experience in the luxury hospitality industry and is the first president of Peju since the winery was founded in 1983.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2015
 

St. Supéry sold to Chanel, Inc.

 

Rutherford, Calif.—The Skalli family is selling St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery to the luxury goods firm Chanel, Inc. Robert Skalli purchased more than 1,500 acres of Napa Valley land in 1982 and three years later bought the 52-acre parcel in Rutherford that would be the site of the estate winery. The Skallis own vineyards and wineries in the Languedoc, Rhone Valley, Provence and Corsica. The sale is expected to be finalized later this month and terms of the deal were not disclosed. Demeter Group and Rothschild acted as advisers to St. Supéry on the deal. "I am delighted to hand over St. Supery to such a well-regarded company that understands luxury brands and will continue to enhance this special property,” Skalli said in a statement announcing the acquisition.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2015
 

Franzia to open 2016 Unified

 

Sacramento, Calif.—The organizers of the 2016 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium announced that Fred Franzia, CEO of Bronco Wine Company in Ceres, Calif., will present the keynote luncheon address on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

“I’m planning on having two central themes,” Franzia said in the statement announcing he would be delivering the keynote. “First, I want to talk about the pioneers in the industry and some of the interesting people I’ve met along the way. Then I’d like to talk about where I see the industry going in the future.”

Franzia started Bronco Wine in 1973 with his brother Joseph S. Franzia and cousin John Franzia. The company is now one of the largest wine producers in the United States.

Visit www.unifiedsymposium.org for more details and to register for the symposium.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2015
 

Submissions sought for IQ innovation awards

 

Sonoma, Calif.—As part of it's second-annual INNOVATION + QUALITY conference and tradeshow, IQ will spotlight the most innovative products and services for wineries today and feature them in a special, curated product showcase.

 
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News Briefs California

 
October 2015
 

New director for Cal Poly wine and vit program

 

San Luis Obispo, Calif.—Benoit Lecat is the new department head for the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences’ Wine & Viticulture Department.

Lecat previously worked at the Burgundy School of Business in Dijon, France and holds an undergraduate degree in management and two masters degrees in management and political science from the Catholic University of Mons in Belgium and a doctorate in management and marketing from the Louvain School of Management in Belgium. Lecat’s research interests are wine pricing, tourism, branding and the management of luxury goods.

“I am ecstatic to join Cal Poly’s Wine & Viticulture Department at this momentous time,” said Lecat in a statement released by the school announcing his appointment. “In a very short time the program has become the top in the nation and we have strong plans in place to guarantee that our students continue to excel.”

Lecat is charged with playing an integral role in raising additional funds to pay for the department’s planned Center for Wine & Viticulture. The new Center for Wine & Viticulture will offer sensory, enology and viticulture teaching labs and a commercial-grade bonded winery designed to offer students to gain a comprehensive understanding of vineyards and grape cultivation, the winemaking process, and the business of wine marketing and distribution.

 
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October 2015
 

Niner goes 100% solar

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—Niner Wine Estates announced it installed a new solar array that provides all of the power needed for its production winery, tasting room and restaurant. San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based REC Solar installed the array, which consists of a bank of panels set in the ground that produce 156 kW and roof-mounted panels that generate 203 kW. The system is expected to produce more than 600,000 KWh per year. "It's really just another step in an ongoing process of figuring out how to make our business more environmentally sustainable," said winery president Andy Niner. "It goes along with our focus on 'estate.’ We own all of our own vineyards, we make all of our wine on-site and are developing our own estate food program."

 
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October 2015
 

Graff promoted to GM at Frank Family

 

Calistoga, Calif.—Todd Graff is the new general manager at Frank Family Vineyards in Napa Valley. Graff joined the winery in 2003 as winemaker and oversaw all still and sparkling wine production. In 2008, Graff managed the construction of a new winery and in 2012 helped owner Rich Frank in the acquisition of the Wood Ranch Vineyard in Rutherford, Calif. Graff will continue in his role as winemaker for the winery. Prior to joining Frank Family Vineyards, Graff was the winemaker at Sonoma Creek Winery.

 
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September 2015
 

Tom Eddy opens new winery

 

Calistoga, Calif.—Veteran winemaker Tom Eddy and wife Kerry have opened a new winery just in time for this year’s harvest to produce the Tom Eddy Winery brand of wines. The winery is located in the hills above Napa Valley near the Sonoma County line. The Tom Eddy Winery is permitted for 20,000 cases, but current production is 5,500. The new facility includes a 6,000-square-foot crush pad and a 4,000-square-foot cave with room for 550 barrels. Eddy has been in the wine business since graduating from the University of California, Davis’ fermentation science program in 1974. After working for many of Napa and Sonoma county’s largest wineries, Eddy started his own brand in 1989 to focus on making small lots of mountain-grown Cabernet Sauvignon.

 
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September 2015
 

Mendocino Winegrowers name executive director

 

Ukiah, Calif.—Bernadette Byrne is the new executive director of the Mendocino WineGrowers Inc. Byrne has worked in the California wine industry for more than 30 years and has worked in Mendocino County for the past 28 years. Byrne is the former president of the Mendocino County Vintners Association as well as the former executive director of the Mendocino Winegrowers Alliance. She later ran her own retail shop devoted to Mendocino county wines and most recently was the sales and hospitality director at Saracina Vineyards. “Frankly there’s no one in Mendocino County or beyond who is better qualified to fill this position,” said the WineGrowers' board president Tyler Rodrigue. “Bernadette’s knowledge of the county and its grape and wine industry is exactly what MWI needs to ensure our future success.”

 
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September 2015
 

FWC president to retire

 

Sacramento, Calif.—Paul Kronenberg, president of Family Winemakers of California, FWC, is retiring after 17 years in the post. According to a statement from the group, during Kronenberg's tenure FWC sponsored successful legislation that opened up many marketing opportunities for small producers including farmers’ market tasting and sales, off premise sales through the winery event permit, order taking at non-profit fundraising events and the expansion of social media usage for wine marketing. FWC has held multiple trade and consumer tastings across California every year and started a fine wine marketing project in China.

 
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September 2015
 

Sonoma auction raises $4.5 million

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction raised a record $4.5 million at Chateau St. Jean winery on Sunday, Sept. 6. The auction, which is part of the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend event, raises funds for multiple charities in Sonoma County. The "Fund the Future" lot, which supports literacy programs raised $1.9 million in 20 minutes of bidding by 180 auction guests, according to a press release by the Sonoma County Vintners group.

The top three winery auction lots were:

 
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September 2015
 

Sonoma growers vote to retain commission

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Sonoma County's wine grape growers voted to continue self-funding the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission (Sonoma County Winegrowers) for the next five years. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture election results, of the 1,298 eligible voters, 364 voted in the referendum and 321, or 88%, voted to in favor of continuing the assessment.

 
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September 2015
 

Vintage acquires Swanson Vineyards

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Vintage Wine Estates has purchased Swanson Vineyards & Winery in Rutherford, Calif., about a month after the company’s purchase of B.R. Cohn Winery in Sonoma, Calif.

 
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September 2015
 

Winemaking promotions at Quady

 

Madera, Calif.—Fortified wine producer Quady Winery is celebrating its 40th vintage in the San Joaquin Valley this year, and announced Michael Blaylock has been promoted to the post of director of winemaking. Blaylock joined the winery as winemaker in 1984. Darin Peterson, who joined Quady in 2005, is now winemaker. Andrew Quady founded the winery in 1975 with 16,000 cases of Zinfandel port and annual production is now 80,000 cases of Moscato, vermouth, port and sherry style wines.

 
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August 2015
 

LA couple acquires Joullian Vineyards

 

Carmel Valley, Calif.—A Los Angeles couple purchased Joullian Vineyards winery, which was founded in 1982. Jane Lerum, a director of the Arnall Family Foundation, and Tom Lerum an officer in the Air Force, said in a statement they plan to preserve the winery’s 40 acres of Bordeaux variety grape vines as well as the Joullian brand identity. The Joullian and Sias families of Oklahoma City founded the winery, and former owner Dick Sias said he’s happy new owner Jane Lerum is an Oklahoma native. Ridge Watson, who has been the Joullian winemaker since it opened, will remain head winemaker.

 
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August 2015
 

Gallo to buy Talbott Vineyards

 

Modesto, Calif.—E. & J. Gallo Winery announced its agreement to purchase Talbott Vineyards in Gonzales, Calif. Founded by Robb Talbott in 1982, the winery now produces 100,000 cases from more than 500 acres of estate vineyards.

 
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August 2015
 

Russian River Partners acquire Platt Vineyard

 

Windsor, Calif.—Eric Flanagan, the owner of Flanagan Family Vineyards and the investment group Russian River Partners, purchased the Platt Vineyard in Sonoma County near Sebastopol, Calif. The vineyard is comprised of 17 acres of Pinot Noir, 13 acres of Chardonnay and 1.5 acres of Riesling. The new owners plan to continue to sell grapes to Littorai Wines, Ramey Wine Cellars, Radio-Coteau, Scherrer Winery and Red Car Wine Co.

 
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August 2015
 

Bloggers conference coming to Lodi

 

Lodi, Calif.—The 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference will take place Aug. 11 to 14 in Lodi, Calif. The conference bring together citizen, industry and wine writing professionals for educational sessions, networking and social events. Attendees will gather in downtown Lodi’s Hutchins Street Square event center to spend four days immersed in educational wine seminars, networking, grower and winery visits, wine tastings and blogging. Organizers announced the event would take place in Lodi during this year’s conference that was held Aug. 13-15 in the Finger Lakes Wine Country of New York. For more details visit: winebloggersconference.org

 
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August 2015
 

Eberle Winery hires new winemaker

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—Eberle Winery announced that Chris Eberle, no relation to founders Gary and Marcy Eberle, is the winery’s new winemaker. Eberle was the assistant winemaker from 2006 to 2009 and most recently was the assistant winemaker at Howard Park winery in Australia. Nick Compton, who has worked at the winery for two years, has been promoted to the post of assistant winemaker.

 
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July 2015
 

Paul Hobbs hires COO

 

Sebastopol, Calif.—Paul Hobbs Wines appointed Rick Bonitati to the post of chief operating officer. Bonitati will assist in the oversight, development and growth of all Paul Hobbs companies including Paul Hobbs Winery, CrossBarn Winery, Paul Hobbs Imports, Viña Cobos, Crocus and other projects. Before joining Paul Hobbs, Bonitati was the president of von Mandl Family Estates, a collection of wineries and vineyards in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. Bonitati also worked for more than 20 years with Jackson Family Wines in a variety of roles.

 
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July 2015
 

New winemaker at Fresno State

 

Fresno, Calif.—Matt Brain is the new winemaker and winemaking lecturer at California State University, Fresno. Brain, who is the co-owner of his own brand Baker & Brain Wines, previously held the winemaking lecturer position at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Brain has served as an enologist technical representative from Laffort USA, winemaker at Edna Valley Vineyard and Juniper Canyon and cellar master at Tolosa Winery and Courtside Cellars. He received his bachelor’s degree in plant physiology from San Houston State in 2000, and a master’s in biological control and fungal pathology in 2002. Brain also completed the University of California, Davis wine and viticulture distance learning program in 2010.

 
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July 2015
 

Rutherford Wine Company purchases vineyard

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Rutherford Wine Company, which includes Rutherford Ranch Winery and other brands, purchased a 30-acre property in the Napa County portion of the Carneros AVA. General Manager Morgan Zaninovich said the wine company has purchased grapes from the property for years and his family jumped at the chance when the Branagan family decided it was time to sell the property. Zaninovich said Rutherford Wine Company plans on using the fruit in the Rutherford Ranch and Scott Family Estate Wines portfolio. “We have exciting plans for a new brand using select blocks from the property as well,” he added. 

 
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July 2015
 

B.R. Cohn sold to Vintage Wine Estates

 

Glen Ellen, Calif.—B.R. Cohn Winery founder Bruce Cohn announced that his namesake winery in the heart of Sonoma Valley has been sold to Vintage Wine Estates. No selling price was announced. “Like a number of folks in the valley who have sold in recent years, it looks like we are at the end of the era of family owned wineries,” Cohn said in a statement announcing the sale. “It is becoming increasingly difficult to compete and grow family-run businesses in this new environment where bigger entities with more resources are taking over.”

Cohn said he intends to focus his energy on his 46-year management of the Grammy-award winning band, The Doobie Brothers. He will also produce his annual B.R. Cohn Charity Events Sonoma Music Festival near downtown Sonoma, Calif. Oct. 2-4. The event has raised more than $6 million for various charities in its 29 years of existence. Cohen and his wife Lauire will continue to live in Glen Ellen on property adjacent to the winery.

“Vintage Wine Estates is a family-owned wine company and stewardship is a core value. As we build our collection of iconic wineries, vineyards and brands, our goal is to enhance what makes each one unique and offer resources and investment for the future. We are extremely pleased to add this landmark estate to our collection.” said Pat Roney, president of Vintage Wine Estates.

 
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July 2015
 

Gallo to buy Asti Winery

 

Cloverdale, Calif.—E. & J. Gallo Winery entered an agreement to purchase the Asti Winery in Cloverdale for an undisclosed sum, the Modesto, Calif.-based company announced July 20. Treasury Wine Estates revealed its intent to sell the historic structure in late March. The purchase includes ownership of the Souverain wine brand.

Founded in 1881 and known for years as Italian Swiss Colony, the winery is permitted to crush 35,000 tons of grapes per year and has a tank capacity of 750,000 gallons.

Robert Nicholson, the listing agent for the property, told Wines & Vines in March that Asti was the largest winery on the market at that time. The site was expected to draw interest due to its longstanding senior water rights, which date back to 1914.

According to a statement released by Gallo, the company owns 12 wineries located in wine regions throughout California and Washington, and this latest purchase supports the company’s desire to have a larger presence in Sonoma County. The winery is comprised of 535 total acres within the Alexander Valley, with 275 acres planted to vineyard. 

“We look forward to bringing the Souverain brand into our expanding premium portfolio, in order to keep pace with growing consumer demand worldwide,” said Roger Nabedian, senior vice president and general manager of Gallo’s Premium Wine Division.

The sale is scheduled to close on July 31. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

 
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July 2015
 

Melton launches own consultancy

 

Napa, Calif.—Kristy Melton, director of winemaking at Clos Du Val Wine Co., announced she is leaving the winery to launch her own winemaking consultancy based in Napa called Melton Wines. Melton plans to expand her existing client list, which includes Varozza Vineyards in St. Helena, Calif. and Taylor Family Vineyards in Stags Leap, with additional appellation-oriented, family-owned wineries. “I am proud of my accomplishments at Clos Du Val and will always cherish the opportunity to work at an iconic winery and with the amazing cellar team I have come to love,” said Melton. “But I’ve been taught that a lady always knows when to leave the dance. And for me, that time is now.”

 
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July 2015
 

Staglins, Deal Booth partner on Fahrig Ranch

 

Rutherford, Calif.—Staglin Family Vineyard and Suzanne Deal Booth partnered to purchase the 19-acre Fahrig Ranch vineyard. The acquisition follows the 2010 purchase of the 18-acre Bella Oaks Vineyard by the Booth Family and its agreement with the Staglins to produce a Booth Bella Oaks vineyard-designate wine under the Staglin Family Vineyard label. The Fahrig Ranch is adjacent to both the Staglin and Booth properties and dates back to the early 1900s when it was home to a winery. Staglin Family Vineyards released the inaugural 2012 Booth Bella Oaks Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon earlier this year.

 
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July 2015
 

Marc Greenspan named ASEV president

 

Davis, Calif.—Mark Greenspan, president of Advanced Viticulture Inc. in Windsor, Calif., will serve as the 2015-16 board president of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture. Greenspan succeeds Lise Asimont of Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville, Calif. to lead ASEV’s 12-member board.

 
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July 2015
 

Thach named distinguished professor

 

Rohnert Park, Calif.—Sonoma State University named Liz Thach, MW, its Distinguished Professor of Wine. The new title is part of the Wine Business Institute board's resolution to support the growth of the WBI and its academic and research programs. As Distinguished Professor of Wine, Thach will work collaboratively with the faculty, staff, board, and leadership of the Wine Business Institute to conduct ongoing wine research programs; provide thought leadership to the global wine business industry; teach courses, seminars, and workshops in wine and wine business; and connect with SSU alumni working in global wine industry businesses.

 
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July 2015
 

Winejobs.com to hold summit

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Winejobs.com, the wine industry's leading online job site, announces the Winejobs.com Summit, a forum for wine industry HR professionals, to take place in the Napa Valley on Sept. 17 at the V Marketplace in Yountville. This is a forum for HR professionals to connect with their peers and discuss the hiring, retention and training of winery employees. The half-day summit will cover the results from Wine Business Monthly's annual salary survey, the 2015 benefits survey, hiring trends in the wine industry and more. This event is produced by Wine Business Monthly, which created and manages winejobs.com. For more information, visit winejobssummit.com

 
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July 2015
 

New director of winemaking for Murrieta's Well

 

Livermore, Calif.—Wente Family Estates appointed Robbie Meyer as its new director of winemaking for Murrieta’s Well winery. Meyer has worked at vineyards and wineries in Napa Valley, Sonoma County and Santa Barbara. Prior to joining Murrieta’s Well, Meyer worked at Peter Michael Winery, Lewis Cellars and Jericho Canyon Vineyards in addition to several consulting jobs. Philip Wente co-founded Murrieta’s Well with winemaker Sergio Traverso in 1990.

 
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July 2015
 

J. Lohr hires winemaker for white wines

 

San Jose, Calif.—J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines named Kristen Barnhisel winemaker for white wines. Barnhisel has worked in winemaking for more than two decades. Following positions as assistant winemaker at Jordan Vineyard & Winery and Belvedere Winery, Barnhisel joined Handley Cellars in Anderson Valley, Mendocino County in 2004, where she was co-winemaker with Milla Handley until 2012. Most recently, Barnhisel was the quality control manager at Inglenook, where she was charged with ensuring wine quality of the Rubicon and the Blancaneaux wines. In addition to her new role at J. Lohr, Barnhisel serves as a director for the American Society for Enology and Viticulture.

 
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July 2015
 

Constellation to buy Meiomi

 

Victor, N.Y.—Constellation Brands Inc. will acquire the Meiomi wine brand from Copper Cane, which was founded by Joseph Wagner, son of Chuck Wagner, the owner of Caymus Vineyards and head of Wagner Family of Wine. Joseph Wagner released the first Meiomi Pinot Noir in 2009, and it enjoyed remarkable success, growing from 90,000 cases in 2010 to 550,000 cases in 2014. Copper Cane also produces Belle Glos Pinot Noir, which was not part of the deal announced July 1. Constellation expects to close the deal in August, and Joe Wagner will work as a consulting winemaker for the brand for two vintages, according to a statement announcing the deal. Shanken News Daily reported Wagner said the deal was worth $315 million, or roughly 24 times the brand’s present and future earnings.

 
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June 2015
 

Spottswoode names assistant winemaker

 

St. Helena, Calif.—James Revie was promoted to the post of assistant winemaker at Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery. Revie will work alongside Spottswoode’s vineyard manager and winemaker Aron Weinkauf to oversee management of the estate vineyards and winemaking.

 
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June 2015
 

Submissions sought for vintage award

 

Napa, Calif.—The 2015 Vintage Report Innovation Award competition is now seeking submissions for the award that honors innovation and sustainability in viticulture through a project conducted during this year’s harvest. The winners will be announced at the Vintage Report conference in Napa.

This year's judges include acclaimed experts and leaders in the industry: Dr. James A. Kennedy, professor and chair, Department of Viticulture and Enology, California State University, Fresno; Linda Reiff, president and chief executive office, Napa Valley Vintners; Luis Sanchez, senior research scientist, E. & J. Gallo Winery (winner of the 2014 Vintage Report Innovation Award) and Mike Wolf, vineyard manager and owner, Michael Wolf Vineyard Services.

Last year's winning approach was a collaborative experiment by Gallo and IBM that used a variable-rate irrigation system across separate quadrants of a 31-acre Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard. The result decreased vineyard spatial variability and increased water-use efficiency without compromising quality during a period of historic drought.

To be eligible for the Vintage Report Innovation Award presented by Bank of the West, approaches must be used during the 2015 vintage (though they may have started earlier), and the techniques must be implemented in or exportable to Napa terroirs. The winner will be announced at Fruition Sciences' 2015 Vintage Report conference in January 2016.

 
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June 2015
 

PD/GWSS referendum passes

 

Sacramento, Calif.—The California Department of Food and Agriculture announced the Pierce’s disease/glassy-winged sharpshooter referendum passed with 83% of the growers who sent in ballots voting to continue an assessment for another five years.

The assessment raises funds used for PD disease research and prevention. According to the CDFA it will garner $1.8 million in funding based on submitted ballots. The CDFA received 3,780 ballots of which 626, or 17%, were opposed to continuing the assessment.

"The PD/GWSS Board is now set to chart the course for the next five years," said PD/GWSS board chair Bill Hammond. "I'm fortunate to be working with such a dedicated team that has made this program the centerpiece of success for pest and disease management that not only includes PD/GWSS but also other threats to California winegrapes, such as the brown marmorated stink bug, European grapevine moth, red blotch, and vine mealybug."

 
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News Briefs California

 
June 2015
 

Wine Institute elects chair, other board officers

 

San Francisco, Calif.—Greg Coleman, vice president of grower relations at E. & J. Gallo Winery in Modesto, Calif., was elected board chairman for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Coleman is a third generation member of the Gallo family and the third generation of the Gallo family to have been elected to the office of board chairman. Other board officers elected were Margie Healy of Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guerneville, Calif., first vice chairman; Steve Lohr of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines in San Jose, Calif. second vice chairman; Chris Indelicato of Delicato Family Vineyards in Napa, Calif., treasurer; and Hank Wetzel of Alexander Valley Vineyards in Healdsburg, Calif. secretary.

 
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June 2015
 

Wine Group buys Benziger, Imagery

 

Glen Ellen, Calif.— The Wine Group has acquired Benziger Family Winery and Imagery Estate Winery in Sonoma Valley. Mark Burningham, who has worked with the family for almost 30 years, will take over as general manager of North Coast Operations. Chris Benziger, brother to Mike Benziger, will assume the role of vice president of trade relations at Benziger Family Winery, and Joe Benziger, also brother to Mike Benziger, will maintain his position as Imagery Winemaker, according to a statement released by the two companies.

 
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June 2015
 

Eberle regains control of winery

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—Gary Eberle has regained majority control of the winery he founded after being voted out of a leadership role by partners in January 2014. Eberle and his wife Marcy announced on June 4 they had obtained a majority stake of the winery Eberle founded in 1979. “It hit me hard when I faced the fact that I lacked majority control over this place,” he says. “Now the future is up to me and my wife Marcy to continue to develop the property and its wine to their utmost potential.”

The Eberles said in a statement they are looking forward to working with their other partners Marvin and Judith Zeidler and Craig and Kathy Bonelli. The Eberle Winery currently produces 27,000 cases of wine a year from estate and purchased grapes.

 
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June 2015
 

New chief marketing officer at Hess

 

Napa, Calif.—Nicole Carter is the new chief marketing officer for The Hess Collection Winery. Carter will oversee the marketing efforts for the California-based brands of Hess Family Wine Estates as well as Amalaya and Colomé in Argentina and Glen Carlou in South Africa. For the past two decades, Carter worked in marketing for Treasury Wine Estates and most recently was the vice president of international marketing for the company's U.S. brands.

 
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June 2015
 

SSU launches wine business journal

 

Rohnert Park, Calif.—Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute plans to launch the Wine Business Case Journal, an open-access, electronic journal “dedicated to advancing wine business practices and pedagogy through the enhancement of case research and publishing of exceptional case studies involving real people and real events in the global wine business context.” The institute will release its first issue of the journal in spring 2016 and is accepting cases for consideration until June 30, 2015.

"This is an opportunity to help the next generation of wine business leaders and educators — industry professionals, students, and aspiring case writers — to have better and more exciting tools to use in the field and in the classroom," said Armand Gilinsky, SSU's Korbel professor of wine business and founding editor of the journal.

The Wine Business Case Research Journal will be overseen by an editorial board from universities across the globe, including participants from the KEDGE Business School in France, University of Cape Town in South Africa, Baylor University, Hochschule Ludwigshafen in Germany, and ESADE in Spain. In addition, Gilinsky recruited SSU wine business MBA alumna, Nicole Hitchcock, as ssistant editor.

 
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May 2015
 

Delicato buys Santa Lucia Highlands vineyard

 

Napa, Calif.—Delicato Family Vineyards acquired the 243-acre River Road Vineyard, which was planted by the late Jerry McFarland in 1972. The vineyard is Located in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA of Monterey County, California, which is known for producing premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. McFarland, who died in 2013, planted some of Monterey’s best vineyards including Smith & Hook, Sleepy Hollow, La Reina, San Saba and River Road.

 
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May 2015
 

New winemaker at McEvoy Ranch

 

Petaluma, Calif.—Blake Yarger is the new winemaker at McEvoy Ranch. Yarger is a native of nearby Marin County and has been with the estate since 2006 and was promoted to associate winemaker in 2012. The 550-acre McEvoy Ranch property includes 80 acres of olive trees and 25 acres of grape vines. The winery produces a Rosé, Pinot Noir and Syrah-based red blend.

 
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May 2015
 

Accolade Wines names North American GM

 

Napa, Calif.—Accolade Wines appointed M.J. Loza its new general manager of the company’s North America operations. Loza currently oversees Accolade’s interests in New Zealand. Accolade is a global wine company that owns the Geyser Peak, Atlas Peak and XYZin brands in California. Loza was the CEO of the Blenheim, New Zealand based Mud House Wine Group at the time it was acquired by Accolade Wines in 2014 and for the past year has been the general manager for Accolade Wines’ New Zealand operation. Loza will join Accolade’s executive committee and report directly to CEO John Ratcliffe.

 
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May 2015
 

New director at BRAND Napa Valley

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Elizabeth Vianello is the new director of BRAND Napa Valley winery on Pritchard Hill. Vianello is a 25-year veteran of the hospitality and food and beverage industry and joins BRAND from Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate in Napa Valley where she held the position of estate director. Vianello will work with BRAND owners Ed Fitts and Deb Whitman in overseeing day-to-day operations and developing the winery’s hospitality program.

 
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May 2015
 

Jordan names western sales director

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Jordan Vineyard & Winery hired Nick Holmes as western regional sales director. Holmes has more than 10 years of winery, on-premise and retail sales experience and replaces Nick Literski. A California native, Holmes will be responsible for distributor management, Jordan sales initiatives and Tastevin tablet wine list integration in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. He most recently served as region manager for The Spire Collection, a division of Jackson Family Wines focused on its luxury portfolio, where he managed the California, Nevada and Hawaii markets.

 
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May 2015
 

Gallo acquires Napa Valley vineyards

 

Modesto, Calif.— Gallo Vineyards Inc., an affiliate of E. & J. Gallo Winery, has purchased Cypress Ranch and a portion of the Palisades Vineyard in Napa Valley.

According to a press release by Gallo, the combined 642 acres consist of approximately 258 acres of vineyards. The purchase price was not disclosed. The vineyard produces a variety of red wine grapes including: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Malbec. The property also lies adjacent to the Sun Lake Vineyard farmed by Gallo, bringing the combined planted acreage to 358 acres.

Gallo continues to expand its presence in California's coastal regions. In March, the company purchased J Vineyards and Winery located in Sonoma County's Russian River Valley, best known for producing award winning sparkling wines, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Last year, the company purchased two North Coast properties totaling more than 500 acres in Solano County.

 
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May 2015
 

Founding winemaker returns to Andis

 

Plymouth, Calif.—Winemaker Mark McKenna has returned to Andis Wines, which he helped open in 2010. McKenna left in June 2014 and was replaced by Doug Hackett, who helped found Dogwood Cellars in Healdsburg, Calif. McKenna has now replaced Hackett. “I’m thrilled to be coming home to Andis,” McKenna said. “The team has never been more incredible and we have some really exciting new plans for the future.”

 
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May 2015
 

Winemaking promotions at Schramsberg

 

Calistoga, Calif.—Following the departure of Keith Hock who's launched his own consulting venture, Schramsberg Vineyards & J Davies Vineyards promoted Sean Thompson to the post of senior winemaker. Thompson, who joined the company in 2006, will oversee all aspects of the production of Schramsberg sparkling wine and Davies Vineyards red wine. Dan Person was promoted to associate winemaker for Schramsberg Vineyards from assistant winemaker, and Jessica Koga rejoins the production team as associate winemaker for Davies wines. Koga will handle day-to-day operations at Davies and coordinate the bottling, riddling and disgorging of the Schrambsberg sparkling wines, according to a statement from the winery. 

 
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May 2015
 

CK Mondavi donates to Fallen Heroes

 

Napa, Calif.—CK Mondavi Family Vineyard began its fourth year of participating in an donation campaign for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which supports wounded military personnel. The winery’s donation in 2014 was $48,000, and to date the company has donated $105,000 to the fund. The CK Mondavi Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund program consists of in-store coupons and rebates that when redeemed generate a $1 donations with a maximum of $50,000. “We’d like to thank our customers, distributors and retailers for really stepping up in 2014 to help us generate a total of more than $105,000 in donations to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund,” said Marc Mondavi, Proprietor of CK Mondavi Family Vineyards. “The fund provides greatly needed support to the injured men and women of the Armed Forces and their families.

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2015
 

Sonoma-Cutrer releases first Sauvignon Blanc

 

Windsor, Calif—Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyard released the winery’s first Sauvignon Blanc as the third offering in its "Winemaker's Release Series." The winery’s director of winemaking Mick Schroeter made the wine with grapes from the Shone Farm, Mirabelle Vineyard, Wood Vineyard and Bevill Family Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. "By selecting four unique Russian River Valley vineyard sites and combining tank and barrel fermentation, we were able to showcase the vibrant character of Sauvignon Blanc in our signature style,” he said.

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2015
 

Duckhorn acquires Three Palms Vineyard

 
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Napa, Calif.—Duckhorn Wine Company has acquired the Three Palms Vineyard after making wine from the property for the past 37 years. Duckhorn purchased the vineyard from Sloan and John Upton for an undisclosed price.

The recent acquisition increases Duckhorn’s Napa Valley estate to seven vineyards totaling 223 vineyard acres. The Three Palms property is 83 total acres of which 73 are planted and comprised of 50 acres of Merlot and smaller amounts of the other other Bordeaux varieties. The average vine age in the vineyard is 20 years, at the site is planted to 545 vines per acre.

Duckhorn founder and chairman Dan Duckhorn said the inaugural vintage of the Three Palms wine was released for $12.50, which was a high price for a bottle of wine at the time. "We wanted people to understand that it was a Merlot of exceptional quality." 

According to a press release announcing the sale, the property was owned in the late 1800s by San Francisco socialite Lillie Coit (Coit Tower), who planted the site’s three landmark palm trees. In 1967, the rocky alluvial site was acquired by the Uptons, who planted it with vines the following year.

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2015
 

New president at Boswell

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Rom Toulon, the former wine director at The Restaurant at Meadowood and most recently a managing partner at the wine store 24 Hubert in New York City, is the new president of Chateau Boswell. As president, Toulon will lead the development of the long-term vision for the winery. "We have been discussing, for quite some time, our ideal candidate and we always circled back to Rom whom we have known and admired for many years,” said winery owner Susan Boswell. “We have an incredibly talented team in place now and we’re delighted that Rom will shepherd us into our new chapter as we enhance and refine our beloved brand."

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2015
 

PD/GWSS vote extended to June 10

 

Sacramento, Calif.—The California Department of Food and Agriculture is extending the Pierce’s Disease/Glassy Winged Sharpshooter, PD/GWSS, referendum to June 10 to ensure the vote receives a minimum eligible grower participation rate of 40%.

Another ballot will be sent to all growers whose votes have not been received by May 11. Growers are encouraged to vote and return their ballots by June 10.

 
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May 2015
 

Phelps hires new VP, operations director

 

St. Helena—Joseph Phelps Vineyards appointed Sam Burton to the position of vice president and director of operations. Burton will have operational responsibility for the Phelps family’s estate vineyards and wineries including Freestone Vineyards on the Sonoma County coast. A native of Australia, Burton graduated from the University of Adelaide with a degree in Agricultural Science with honors. He began his career as a viticultural consultant in Australia before coming to the United States to work first for Chalone and then Constellation Brands Inc. in vineyard operations and grower relations. Most recently he oversaw all grape supply, both grower relations and the estate vineyards, for Diageo Chateau & Estates before being promoted to director of North Coast operations.

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2015
 

Dominus unveils new label for Napanook

 
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Yountville, Calif.—Dominus Estate released the 2012 Napanook with a new label to reflect “the wine’s maturity, definition and class.” The current release is the 17th vintage of the wine and the new label was designed to also convey “a sense of rigor and much like the wine, aims to be playfully earnest in its design,” according to a press release from the winery. Dominus, which is owned by the French family that also owns Chateau Petrus and other wineries, has produced a wine from the Napanook vineyard since 1996. “"We have been steadily replanting the vineyard," says owner Christian Moueix, "continuously improving the trellising system and cultivation. Dry-farming practices have enabled us to produce intense, flavorful and balanced grapes at maturity.

 
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May 2015
 

Pellet hires Rinaldi as winemaker

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Tom Rinaldi is the new head winemaker at Pellet Estate and will oversee all aspects of winemaking at the winery that produces Cabernet Sauvignon from the historic Pellet Vineyard and Chardonnay from the Sunchase Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap. Pellet Estate is owned by Krill Family Vineyards. "Few winemakers have the portfolio that Tom has," said Eric Risch, the general manager of Pellet Estate. "An icon in Napa Valley, he is absolutely one of Napa's most legendary talents, and we are excited to have him be part of our winery,"  

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2015
 

Women for WineSense offering scholarships

 

Napa, Calif.—The Napa/Sonoma chapter of Women for WineSense (WWS) is offering three new scholarships to eligible WWS members seeking to advance their careers in the wine industry. Eligible education programs for the awards include, but are not limited to, WSET, Court of Sommeliers, online wine business management certificates, wine finance and accounting, viticulture and enology courses. Winners will be chosen on merit by a panel of WWS members. The Grand Cru ($750) and Premier Cru ($500) Scholarship winners will be announced at WWS’ “Bubbles, Brix & Buzz IV” event on July 22 at Ram’s Gate Winery in Sonoma, Calif.

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2015
 

Crimson names VP for DtC

 

Napa, Calif.—Crimson Wine Group appointed Nathan Stern to the post of vice president of direct-to-consumer sales. Stern will report to president and CEO Patrick DeLong in his role responsible leading DtC sales for the company’s luxury wine portfolio, which includes wineries in Napa Valley, Healdsburg, Calif., the Pacific Northwest and elswhere. Stern comes to Crimson from BevMo!, where he was most recently employed as the head of customer relationship management, responsible for developing and implementing CRM and loyalty programs, all direct marketing channels, and leading the insights and customer service teams. Stern’s beverage industry experience includes key roles focused on commercial, marketing and wine supply at companies including Treasury Wine Estates, Foster's Brewing Group, Coles Liquor, and Altria Group Inc.

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2015
 

Promotions at Vintage Wine Estates

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Lesley Larson was promoted to the post of vice president for marketing of Vintage Wine Estates. Larson joined Vintage in May 2014 as the director of marketing and her promotion is one of several at the company, which owns a portfolio of wineries in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino counties and other regions in California. Marty Peterson was promoted from winemaker at Viansa Winery in Sonoma, Calif., to winemaker at Cosentino Winery in Napa Valley. Amy Ludovissy was promoted from enologist and assistant winemaker at Girard Winery in Napa Valley to the winemaker post at Viansa. Ludovissy joined Girard in 2011.

Stephanie Peachey, who has been with Vintage since 2012, is the new senior director of marketing for direct-to-consumer sales and Claire Walsh was promoted from the post of wine club manager to director of wine clubs and customer service. Vintage also appointed Debra Eagle as senior director of business development. Most recently, Eagle was general manager for Hestan Vineyards in Napa Valley.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2015
 

Hock launches consulting project

 

Napa, Calif.—After eleven years as the winemaker at Schrambsberg Vineyards, Keith Hock has left the winery to launch his own consulting project Hock Wines. Hock’s clients already include the Piper Sonoma brand produced by Remy Cointreau, Skywalker Vineyards and others. Hock is consulting on both sparkling and still wine projects. “I had a great time working with the Davies family and team at Schramsberg and J Davies through a time of great growth,” Hock said in a statement. “It was always exciting, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunities that were knocking on my door.”

 
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April 2015
 

New look for Flora Springs

 
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St. Helena, Calif.—Flora Springs Winery & Vineyard unveiled a new logo, labels and packaging for the family-owned, estate winery. The new branding will be introduced with the winery’s 2014 white wines and 2013 red wines that will be released throughout 2015. “While critical elements of the original design have been retained, the new package tells the Flora Springs story in a clearer, more compelling way,” said Nat Komes, third generation vintner and general manager of Flora Springs, in a statement released by the winery. “Through imagery and words we’re communicating what makes Flora Springs stand out among our Napa Valley peers — the core values that have been important to our family since we established our winery estate in 1978.”

 

The new logo, which appears on both the front and back labels, comprises an updated, classicized image of “Flora” emerging from a pool of natural springs, holding aloft a cluster of grapes and supported by the tagline “Napa Valley Family Estate.” The new labels also bear the words “Family Owned-Estate Grown-Sustainably Grown” and are signed by the Komes and Garvey family on the back, underscoring the family’s decades of dedication to sustainably farming their own grapes.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2015
 

New winemaker at Swanson

 

Oakville, Calif.—Robin Arkhurst is the new winemaker at Swanson Vineyards & Winery in the Napa Valley. Chris Phelps, who was director of winemaking for 12 years, will stay at Swanson as winemaker emeritus. Arkhurst will oversee day-to-day winemaking while working with assistant winemaker Tony Herrera and Phelps. Arkhurst first came to Napa Valley for the 2009 harvest during which he worked with Thomas Rivers Brown at Outpost Wines. For the past four years, Arkhurst has been the assistant winemaker for Carter Cellars.

 
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April 2015
 

Growers group reports progress on sustainability push

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Sonoma County Winegrowers group announced April 22 that the owners and managers of more than half of the county’s nearly 60,000 acres of vineyards have completed a sustainability self-assessment.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2015
 

New GM at Artesa

 

Napa, Calif.—Susan Sueiro is the new general manager at Artesa Vineyards & Winery. Sueiro joins Artesa after more than ten years at Vineburg Wine Company in Sonoma, Calif., where her most recent post was vice president for strategic planning, marketing, direct sales and operations for Gundlach Bundschu Winery and Bartholomew Park Winery.

 
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April 2015
 

Joseph Phelps dies at 87

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Joseph Phelps, who founded Joseph Phelps Vineyards in Napa Valley in 1973, died April 15 at the age of 87. He died at his home in St. Helena, Calif. surrounded by his loving family.

According to an obituary posted to the winery’s website, Joe Phelps was born to Nita and Hensel Phelps on the family farm in Maysville, Mo., on Nov. 12, 1927. His father would later move to Colorado and established a construction company. After serving in the Navy during the Korean conflict, Phelps returned to Greeley, Colo., in 1954 and joined his father in the family construction business. Within a few years, Hensel Phelps became the largest construction firm in Colorado, and began to expand throughout the United States.

Phelps became fascinated with wine at an early age, and began collecting wines from around the world while in Greeley. He established an office of the family firm in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1966 and his interests in construction and wine converged. Phelps was soon involved in winery construction projects in Napa and Sonoma counties.

In 1973 decided to found Joseph Phelps Vineyards. He purchased a cattle ranch located on Taplin Road, just off the Silverado Trail, in March of 1973 and worked with the winery's first winemaker Walter Schug planted the estate vineyard and started construction on the winery. 

Phelps' 1974 Insignia marked the creation, somewhat by chance, of an entirely new category of California wine: the proprietary Bordeaux-style blend. He thought of the name “Insignia” one morning while shaving. The 1974 Insignia was released in 1978 to resounding acclaim. Insignia has been produced in each year since.

With his first wife, Barbara Ann Phelps, Joe raised a family of four children, all of whom were at his side at his passing: Leslie Phelps, William Phelps (Andrea), Laurie Anderson (Todd) and Lynn Finch (Richard). He was proud grandfather to eight grandchildren, and, most recently, great-grandfather to two great-granddaughters.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2015
 

Madrone Vineyards names new president

 

Glen Ellen, Calif.—Tyler Galts is the new president of Madrone Vineyards Estate. Galts comes to the Sonoma Valley from British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley where he was a key leader in the development of Quails’ Gate Winery. Galts joined Madrone Vineyards Estate in January to oversee wine production, marketing and hospitality.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2015
 

Wine Institute offers sustainable certificate

 

San Francisco, Calif.—The Wine Institute has launched the California Sustainable Winegrowing Ambassador Course, a new online certificate class that provides education about sustainable practices used for California wine. According to a press release, the free, one-hour course is designed to help wine professionals, such as retailers, restaurateurs, distributors, media, winery sales, marketing, public relations and hospitality staff, learn and test their understanding of the sustainable practices of California wineries and vineyards. The course can be accessed at ambassador.discovercaliforniawines.com.

The ambassador course includes modules on: California wine, sustainable winegrowing terms and definitions, sustainable viticulture, sustainable winemaking and sustainable communities. It concludes with a 25-question test, accessible after all lessons have been read. Participants who successfully pass receive a certificate of completion.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2015
 

Crimson names CFO

 

Napa, Calif.—Crimson Wine Group announced the appointment of Shannon McLaren to the post of chief financial officer. McLaren will report directly to president and CEO Patrick DeLong and will be responsible for all financial and business service activities across Crimson’s portfolio, according to a statement announcing the appointment. McLaren joins Crimson after working at Wente Vineyards in Livermore, Calif., where she spent four years as the senior corporate controller. Prior to joining Wente, McLaren worked with the Clorox Company in Oakland, Calif., where she held positions in both financial planning and analysis, as well as corporate accounting.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2015
 

Winners of 'green' medals announced

 

San Francisco, Calif.—Fetzer Vineyards won the California Green Medal Leader Award in honor of the wine company’s steps toward becoming a sustainable wine producing and grape grower.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2015
 

Promotions at Trefethen

 

Napa, Calif.—Bryan Kays was promoted to the post of winemaker at Trefethen Family Vineyards. Kays joined the Napa Valley winery as an intern and was the assistant winemaker prior to his promotion. The winery also announced Dan Blakely has been promoted to assistant winemaker and Brendan Brambila is the new director of viticulture.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2015
 

ASEV honors E.B. Pete Downs

 

Davis, Calif.—Consulting enologist and retired Jackson Family Wines senior vice president E.B. “Pete” Downs will receive the American Society for Enology and Viticulture’s (ASEV) Merit Award for outstanding contribution to the society and the industry. Downs will receive the award following his presentation, “Politics and Wine – Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!” on Thursday, June 18, at the 66th ASEV National Conference in Portland, Ore.

 
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April 2015
 

Cuvaison sells Calistoga winery

 

Napa, Calif.—Cuvaison Wine Estates announced the sale of its Calistoga winery and tasting room to Criswell-Radovan, LLC., which, according to the press release announcing the deal, will continue to operate the winery as a custom crush facility with the same production and management team. The Calistoga winery had been Cuvaison’s home from 1969 until 2004 when the company built a new winery in the Carneros AVA.

Swiss billionaire Thomas Schmidheiny purchased Cuvaison and the Carneros property in 1979 at the suggestion of his mother. Schmidheiny later purchased the Brandlin estate in the Mt. Veeder AVA. Both Cuvaison and Brandlin wines have been made at the Carneros property since 2004.

Criswell-Radovan is a real estate management firm based in St. Helena, Calif., and will operate the Calistoga property as Fairwinds Estate Winery. Terms of the deal, which was brokered by Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Zepponi & Company, were not disclosed.

 
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April 2015
 

Montse promoted to winemaker at Pedroncelli

 

Geyserville, Calif.—Montse Reece is the new winemaker at Pedroncelli Winery. Reece joined the winery’s winemaking team in 2007 and worked alongside John Pedroncelli for the next seven vintages before he passed away this year. Reece is a native of Spain where she earned her enology degree before coming to California and working at the Sonoma County wineries Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery and Rodney Strong Wine Estates before joining Pedroncelli.

 
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March 2015
 

Price launches new Head High wine brand

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Bill Price and vintner Sam Spencer have partnered to launch Head High wines that will include a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (suggested retail $35), North Coast Red Blend ($30) and Sonoma Coast rosé ($24). Current case production is 7,000 although the partners plan to grow that “exponentially” over the next several years, according to a press release announcing the new brand.

The brand’s name is derived from a surfing term to describe when the waves are as high as the head of the surfer. Spencer, an avid surfer, has worked in grape growing and winemaking for more than 20 years and is formerly the director of winegrowing for Cameron Hughes and owns the Madder Lake Vineyard in Lake County. Price is the owner of Classic Wines and Price Family Vineyards. Grapes for the Head High brand will come from Price and Spencer’s vineyards as well as other North Coast properties.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2015
 

Diogo-Draper promoted at Artesa

 
Napa, Calif.—Ana Diogo-Draper is the new director of winemaking at Artesa Vineyards & Winery in the Carneros AVA following the departure of head winemaker Mark Beringer, who is joining Beringer Vineyards. Diogo-Draper joined Artesa in 2013 and becomes the first woman to hold the top winemaking post at the winery, which opened in 1991 and is owned by the Spanish firm Bodegas y Viñedos Codorniu Raventos. Diogo-Draper is a native of Portugal and is fluent in Portugese, Spanish, French and English. She came to California in 2005 for a harvest internship at Rutherford Hill Winery and rose through the ranks to become assistant winemaker.
 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2015
 

East Bay vintners name executive director

 

Oakland, Calif.—The East Bay Vintners Alliance, which includes more than 20 urban wineries, announced Sally Gordon is the group’s new executive director. Gordon has more than 35 years of wine industry experience and most recently worked with Dashe Cellars on media relations, marketing support and wine club management.

 
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March 2015
 

Beringer named chief winemaker at Beringer

 

Napa, Calif.—Beringer Vineyards announced Mark Beringer — a direct descendent of Jacob Beringer who was one of the founders of the winery in 1876 — is the winery's new chief winemaker. "It's an honor to step in and continue the legacy of winemaking that Beringer has long been known for. I am incredibly excited to craft wines that reflect the best of Napa Valley — the very same sentiment that led my great-great-grandfather to establish Beringer in 1876," said Beringer said in a press release by Treasury Wine Estates, the Australian company that now owns the Napa winery. Beringer joins Beringer Vineyards after working at Artesa Vineyards & Winery and Duckhorn Vineyards as well as other Napa Valley wineries.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2015
 

Gallo Acquires J Vineyards & Winery

 

Modesto, Calif.—E. & J. Gallo Winery and J Vineyards & Winery announced today that Gallo has agreed to purchase the sparkling wine producer located in the Russian River Valley. Judy Jordan, daughter of Jordan Vineyard & Winery founders Tom and Sally Jordan, founded the Healdsburg, Calif.-based sparkling wine producer in 1986. In addition to sparkling wines, the Russian River Valley-based winery produces still Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2015
 

Workshops on 'non-productive time'

 

Bakersfield, Calif.—AgSafe is holding a series of workshops in California’s Central Valley and Central Coast about how to pay workers with a “piece rate.” The sessions, to be conducted in Spanish and English, will provide an overview of basic wage and hour regulations, review the concept of “non-productive time” and how to calculate it and provide best practice recommendations for documentation and how to create a system to account for non-productive time. The three-hour workshops will be held in Bakersfield and Oxnard on April 7, Fresno and Santa Maria on April 8 and in Salinas on April 9. For details on costs and how to register visit: agsafe.org 

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2015
 

Kajani appointed winemaker at Bouchaine

 

Napa, Calif.—After 13 years as winemaker and general manager of Bouchaine Vineyards in Carneros, Michael Richmond, 69, announced his retirement. Winery owners Gerret and Tatiana Copeland picked Chris Kajani to replace Richmond as winemaker and general manager. The change in winemaker is the first of several for the winery that was founded in 1981. According to a statement released by the winery, the Copelands plan to build a new hospitality center and tasting room as well as renovate the winery. Kajani, 44, was the winemaker at nearby Saintsbury winery since 2013 and previously worked at Pahlmeyer Winery. “Carneros has been my home for almost nine years, and holds a special place in my heart,” Kajani said. "This estate has such a rich history, and I look forward to continuing to build on the legacy of Mike Richmond and executing the Copelands’ vision for the future.”

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2015
 

Wolf named Napa grower of the year

 

Napa, Calif.—Michael Wolf, owner of Wolf Vineyard Services is the 2015 Napa Valley Grower of the Year. Wolf will be honored May 15 at the Napa Valley Grapegrowers annual dinner celebration. Wolf has been developing and managing vineyards for more than 35 years and launched Wolf Vineyard Services in 1997. He now manages more than 800 acres in Napa County. Wolf was a director of the Napa County Farm Bureau from 1986 to 1998, serving as president from 1990 to 1992, and has been on the board of the California Grower Foundation since 1987.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2015
 

New winemaker at Chalk Hill

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Steve Nelson is the new winemaker at Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery and will manage all aspects of winemaking and production. For the past three years, Nelson has been the assistant winemaker at Lewis Cellars in Napa Calif and prior to that Steve was the assistant winemaker at Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma, Calif. Both Chalk Hill and Sebastiani are part of the Foley Family Wines group owned by Bill Foley. 

 
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February 2015
 

ASEV's Boulton to retire, replacement named

 

Davis, Calif.—After three decades as executive directorof the America Society for Enology and Viticulture, ASEV, Lyndie Boulton announced her planned retirement as well as the appointment of assistant executive director Dan Howard as her replacement.

In a statement released Feb. 27, Boulton revealed her plan to retire at the end of June and Howard’s promotion that will take effect in April. Boulton will work part-time through June to help with the transition. “Working with the amazing members and volunteers that steer this vital organization has been a tremendous privilege and very gratifying,” Boulton said. “After 34 years of managing the day-to-day operations, it’s the appropriate time for new leadership.”

During her tenure, the ASEV published the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture and was a partner in the creation of and management of the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, the western hemisphere’s largest wine and wine grape show of its kind.

Howard has been the assistant executive director since 1996. He has a background in accounting, technology, customer service and management. During his time at the ASEV, Howard worked with the board of directors as well as the operations of the ASEV and the Unified symposium, developed the group's websiste and oversaw communications and member services. “Having the opportunity to work under Lyndie’s tutelage has been invaluable,” he said. “I look forward to carrying on her stewardship and working closely with the board to explore new opportunities to expand the mission and value of ASEV.”

The ASEV was formed in 1950 and currently has a membership of more than 2,000 professionals working in winemaking, viticulture, academia and other industry-related organizations.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2015
 

New operations head at Thornhill

 

Santa Barbara, Calif.—The Thornhill Companies announced Marshall Miller has been promoted from operations specialist to the expanded role of head of operations. Miller will take a larger and more defined role in overseeing the operations of the Thornhill Companies’ various wineries, vineyards and alternative crop farming projects. Thornhill Companies is owned by the Miller family and includes Bien Nacido Vineyards & Winery, Central Coast Wine Services, French Camp Vineyards, Paso Robles Wine Serivces and Turn Key Wine Brands.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2015
 

U.S. wine exports total $1.49 billion

 

San Francisco, Calif.—The Wine Institute reports total U.S. wine exports in 2014 reached $1.49 billion, which is the second highest total and 64% more than the total five years ago. California wines accounted for 90% of all U.S. wine sent overseas, and total export volume last year was 49.2 million cases. Of the top 10 export markets for California wines, the European Union's 28-member countries were the largest accounting for $518 million; followed by Canada, $487 million; Japan, $88 million; China, $71 million; Hong Kong, $69 million; Mexico, $24 million; South Korea, $22.2 million; Nigeria, $21.9 million; Vietnam, $20 million; and Singapore, $16 million.

 
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February 2015
 

Labor contractor ordered to pay $163,000

 

San Francisco, Calif.—The U.S. Department of Labor is requiring a farm labor contractor to pay more than $163,000 to 59 migrant workers after investigators determined the company failed to pay the workers for three weeks of labor during the 2014 harvest in Mendocino County. The required payment includes $99,953 in back wages and $63,274 in damages.

According to a department statement, the wage and hour division cited Manuel Quezada, of Orland, Calif., for violations in August and September 2014 at Roederer Estate, where Quezada has provided work crews for the past 10 years. Less than a week after learning of the investigation’s findings, Roederer agreed to sign an enhanced compliance agreement requiring stringent reviews of its farm labor contractors’ practices.

 
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February 2015
 

New winemaking team at Hearst

 

San Simeon, Calif.—Hearst Ranch Winery announced Soren Christensen as its new winemaker. Christensen has nearly 15 years of experience in winemaking and most recently spent three vintages working at Alta Colina winery. The winery also announced the addition of consulting winemaker Guillaume Fabre who will be focused on developing a new ultra-premium wine program that the winery will be incorporating into its portfolio. Fabre, a native of France, first came to the Paso Robles, Calif., region in 2004 to work at L’Aventure and then started his own brand Clos Solene.

 
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February 2015
 

New CEO at Martinelli

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—David Hejl is the new CEO and general manager of Martinelli Winery. Hejl has more than 30 years of experience in the food and consumer products industry and most recently was the CEO and general manager of Kosta Browne Wines in Sebastopol, Calif., for more than three years. Hejl assumes the role of CEO for Lee Martinelli Sr., who was the winery’s CEO and chairman of the board since 1973. Martinelli retains his role as chairman.

 
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February 2015
 

Petaluma gap group submits application

 

Petaluma, Calif.—The Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance, PGWA, announced today that it submitted a petition to the TTB to form the new Petaluma Gap AVA. The proposed appellation would span more than 200,000 acres in southern Sonoma County and northern Marin County. More than 80 different vineyards encompassing 4,000 acres of vines already exist within the boundaries of the proposed AVA.

“We began this process two years ago” says Ana Keller, president of the alliance, in a statement announcing the application. “We felt that the Sonoma Coast AVA was too broad and that a separate Petaluma Gap AVA would help consumers recognize the special character of this area. Over the past two years we began assembling information outlining why this area is so special. In addition to the cool climate and morning fog, the daily afternoon wind roaring into the area through the Petaluma Gap is really what defines us. We documented the data and have now sent our petition on to the TTB for consideration.”

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2015
 

New winemaker at Cornerstone

 

Yountville, Calif.—Kari Auringer is the new winemaker at Cornerstone Cellars in the Napa Valley. Auringer helped make the wine at Cornerstone for most of the 2000s as the assistant winemaker and rejoins the winery after working for Scarecrow Wine, Lindstrom Wines, Keever Vineyards & Winery, Kelly Fleming Wines and Corra. “We could not be more excited to have Kari join our team,” said Cornerstone Cellars managing partner Craig Camp. “I have followed her career for years and I know she shares my vision of crafting elegant, balanced wines in the classic Napa Valley style of years past. She is a winemaker with great skill, vision and a passion that will guide Cornerstone Cellars on our voyage to produce better and better wines each vintage and build on the base we have already established to create even more extraordinary wines in the future.”

 
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February 2015
 

New winemaker at Arrowood

 

Glen Ellen, Calif.—Kristina Werner is the new winemaker at Arrowood Vineyards & Winery. Werner will oversee all aspects of winemaking and cellar operations and takes over for Heidi von der Mehden as just the third winemaker at Arrowood since the winery was founded in 1986 by Dick Arrowood. Most recently, Werner made wine at Vérité and Stonestreet wineries in Alexander Valley.

 
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February 2015
 

Cohen promoted at at Lede Family Wines

 

Yountville, Calif.—Remi Cohen has been promoted to the post of vice president and general manager of Lede Family Wines, which encompasses the three brands Cliff Lede Vineyards, Poetry in the Stags Leap District and FEL Wines from Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. Cohen joined Cliff Lede Vineyards in 2012 as director of winemaking and vineyards before being promoted to vice president of operations in 2014. Cohen is currently on the board of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers and the Stags Leap District Winegrowers Association.

 
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February 2015
 

Rivers Brown to consult for Vermeil

 

Calistoga, Calif.—Vermeil Wines announced it has hired Thomas Rivers Brown as its new consulting winemaker. Brown consults for more than 15 different wine brands and will be joined by colleague Andy Jones. The two will start by finalizing Vermeil’s 2013 wines.

 
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January 2015
 

Shannons increase vineyard acreage

 

Lake County, Calif.—Shannon Ridge Family of Wines announced its purchase of 430 acres of Lake County vineyards. The properties include 280 acres in Long Valley, slated to be planted with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir; 100 acres from three different properties in the Big Valley/Kelseyville area planted with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc; and 50 acres in the Red Hills AVA, planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah."We need to make more wine to keep up with the demand, and these new vineyards will help supply us with fruit for our established brands," said Clay Shannon, owner of Shannon Ridge Family of Wines.

 
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January 2015
 

New winemaker at Nine North

 
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Oakville, Calif.—Molly Lyman is the new head winemaker at Nine North Wine Company. Lyman is also the winemaker at Volker Eisele Family Estate also in Napa Valley. Before joining Nine North, Lyman was the associate winemaker at Moone-Tsai Vineyards and assistant winemaker at Paradigm Winery. Lyman will also oversee the winemaking programs at Nine North's other projects The Ministry of the Vinterior and The Dirty Pure Project. Nine North Wine Company, which is co-owned by Christopher Nickolopoulos and Elijah Pfister, produce wines under the Chasing Lions, Hullabalo, Parcel 41 and other labels.

 
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January 2015
 

SSU to receive donation from Bouchaine owners

 

Rohnert Park, Calif.—Sonoma State University announced that Tatiana and Gerret Copeland, the owners of Bouchaine Vineyards in Napa County, are donating $500,000 for the construction of the new home of the unviersity’s Wine Business Institute. "There are universities teaching the art of winemaking, but the art of the business of wine is not taught, yet it's critically important," said Tatiana Copeland, in a statement released by the school. The Copeland’s donation will fund The Copeland/Bouchaine Terrace and Gardens that is planned to be a focal point for hospitality and industry gatherings at the new center, which is scheduled to be completed in 2016.

 
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January 2015
 

Terlatos purchase Pope Valley vineyard

 

Angwin, Calif.—The Terlato family announced its acquisition of the Juliana Vineyard in the Pope Valley of Napa County. The Terlato family previously had a long-term lease on the property and developed the vineyard in 1998. The property is planted principally to Merlot and Cabernet Franc, which is used in Rutherford Hill Merlot and select Rutherford Hill Bordeaux-style blends. In addition to the Juliana Vineyard, the Terlato’s Napa Valley properties include the 66-acre Mee Lane Vineyard in Rutherford and the 119-acre Chimney Rock Winery estate.

 
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January 2015
 

Register for Innovation + Quality

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Registration is now open for the Innovation + Quality (IQ) Conference, which is focused exclusively on ultra-premium wineries. IQ will take place March 4, at Charles Krug Winery in the Napa Valley and is hosted by Wine Business Monthly. “The goal of IQ is to showcase innovations in techniques and equipment that advance the quality of the world's finest wines,” said Wine Business Monthly publisher, Eric Jorgensen.

The one-day event offers educational sessions, professional tastings, an interactive trials tasting, product demonstrations and a tradeshow with more than 100 wine industry suppliers. Some of the topics that will be covered at the inaugural event include:

• “Measuring Phenolics to Achieve Your Winemaking Goals”, moderated by Corey Beck, Francis Ford Coppola Winery

• ”Comparing Wines Fermented in Concrete, Oak or Stainless Steel Vessels”

• “Is Optical Sorting Appropriate for Grapes destined for Ultra-Premium Wines?”

• “Applied Research”, with research findings that can be put to use in the cellar immediately

• “What Works for Reducing Water Usage in Your Vineyard.”

Registration for IQ is available online at winebusinessiq.com. Early registration discounts and special discounted prices for wine industry association members are available through Feb. 13.

 
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January 2015
 

Cabral joins Three Sticks

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Bob Cabral, the former director of winemaking for Williams Selyem Winery, is the new director of winemaking for Three Sticks Wines and Price Family Vineyards. Ryan Prichard, former assistant winemaker for Medlock Ames Winery, also joins Three Sticks as associate winemaker. The new team will work with Don Van Staaveren as he transitions into the role of winemaker emeritus and continues to make the Three Sticks Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Blanc and Castenada wines. “I've explored many opportunities since announcing my departure from Williams Selyem last year, and joining the Three Sticks team is the perfect opportunity for me," Cabral said in a statement. "(Owner) Bill (Price) and I share a focused passion for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and he is willing to provide the resources I need to continue to make what I expect to be the best wines of my career. … I have longed to work with the grapes from the iconic Durell and Gap's Crown vineyards.”

 
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January 2015
 

Finalists for Innovation Award

 

Napa, Calif.—Bank of the West and Fruition Sciences announced the three finalists for the 2014 Vintage Report Innovation Award, which recognizes the most “groundbreaking method, practice or sustainable approach” used during the past harvest.

This year's finalists are:

Monica Cooper, the Napa County University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor who examined the effectiveness of regional grower groups and remote mapping strategies to monitor and manage grapevine leafroll-associated viruses.

E. & J. Gallo Winery that experimented with a variable rate irrigation system prototype to assess vineyard variability and water use efficiency. 

Ridge Vineyards used sequential petiole sampling and berry analysis to evaluate two rootstocks from the same ranch to determine which consistently generates a higher quality wine.

The winner will be announced at the 2014 Vintage Report Conference on Jan. 20 in Napa. Details: fruitionsciences.com

 
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January 2015
 

Registration open for WiVi

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—Registration is now open for the WiVi Central Coast Wine Industry Conference & Tradeshow (WiViCentralCoast.com) taking place March 17-18, at the Paso Robles Event Center. WiVi is hosted by Wine Business Monthly and the regional viticulture consulting group Precision Ag Consulting.“The Central Coast is still a young wine region but growing rapidly. Education and access to resources is important to its continued growth and success,” said WiVi director, Becky Zelinski.

A sampling of topics for this year’s WiVi conference educational sessions, held March 17 and 18, include:

• An “Update on Recent Changes on Ground Water Rights” and “The Effect of Water Availability on Property Values.”

• “Tasting: Phenolics in Winemaking,” examining how phenolics measurements can be used as an objective indicator of wine quality, led by Halter Ranch Vineyard winemaker, Kevin Sass.

• “Top 10 Success Tips for Tasting Room Sales,” including factual data points from the Wine Business Monthly Tasting Room Survey and Mystery Shopper results, hosted by Lesley Berglund of the Wine Industry Sales Education (WISE) Academy.

At the WiVi Trade Show on March 18, nearly 150 exhibitors will showcase products and solutions for the modern winemaker, grape grower or member of winery management, including companies whose innovations were voted as the “coolest new products” by Wine Business Monthly.

Registration for WiVi is open to the public and tickets can be purchased online at WiViCentralCoast.com. One- and two-day general registrations tickets and tradeshow-only tickets will be available online beginning Jan. 6. Early registration discounts and special discounted prices for wine industry association members are available through Feb. 28, 2015, as well as free tradeshow passes for association members. For more information about WiVi, visit WiViCentralCoast.com, email info@wivicentralcoast.com or call (888) 974-WIVI (9484).

 
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January 2015
 

John A. Pedroncelli dies

 

Geyserville, Calif.—Working 65 consecutive vintages at J. Pedroncelli Winery gives John Pedroncelli the unofficial title as Dry Creek Valley's most experienced winemaker. Pedroncelli died Jan. 4 at the age of 89.

According to an obituary released by the family-owned winery, Pedroncelli was 2 when his family purchased the winery and moved to Geyserville in 1927. After two years of military service as a radar man in the U.S. Coast Guard, he entered Santa Rosa Junior College, where he studied chemistry and botany. He assumed winemaking responsibilities from his father in 1948, and returned to college in the early 1950s to take enology courses at the University of California, Davis. After the retirement of his father Giovanni (John) Pedroncelli in 1963, he also became manager of the family’s vineyards, expanding them to 105 acres. During his tenure, John guided Pedroncelli through the tough transition from bulk wine producer to premium winery, focused on producing varietal wines and upgraded the winemaking facilities. 

Pedroncelli is survived by his wife of 48 years, Christine, children Connie (John) Proctor, Richard Morehouse, Maureen Davison, and grandchildren Roseann, Lauren, Christopher, Ian and Elea. Also brother James (Phyllis) Pedroncelli and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by sisters Margaret (Al) Pedroni and Marianne Pedroncelli. A private funeral service will be held.

 
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January 2015
 

Memorial service held for Eisele

 

St. Helena, Calif.—A memorial service was held Jan. 6 for Volker Eisele, a grape grower, vintner and passionate advocate for the preservation of farmland and open space in Napa County. Eisele died Jan. 2 at his ranch at the age of 77. He purchased the 400-acre ranch in the Chiles Valley of Napa County in 1974 and would become a well-known and respected grape grower and later produced wine under the Volker Eisele Family Estate label. Eisele was a past president of the Napa County Farm Bureau as well as the Napa Valley Grape Growers. He championed measures J and P that required voter approval to develop any farmland in Napa County.

 
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January 2015
 

New investor for Kosta Browne

 

Sebastopol, Calif.—The investment firm J.W. Childs Associates has acquired The Vincraft Group’s majority stake in Kosta Browne Wines. J.W. Childs is a private equity firm based in Boston that has invested more than $3 billion since its founding in 1995. Vincraft made its investment in Kosta Browne in 2009 and that deal funded the construction of a winery and the purchase of the company’s first estate vineyard; the 20-acre Keefer Ranch property. John Childs is the majority investor in CIRQ Estate winery, which Michael Browne founded in 2008, and that company will also be part of the new partnership, according to a statement released by the winery. “We are very grateful for Vincraft’s stewardship over the last five years,” says founder Dan Kosta. “Today, we have an incredible opportunity to continue elevating the quality of our wines and our brand.”

 
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December 2014
 

Key promotions at Crimson

 

Napa, Calif.—Crimson Wine Group announced the promotion of Patrick DeLong to the post of president and CEO and the appointment of Craig Williams as COO and chief winegrower. DeLong has been with Crimson for the past seven years and previously was the firm’s COO and CFO. Williams joins Crimson in his new role after serving as a member of the company’s board of directors since March 2013 and will continue as director. The company continues to recruit for a CFO, while Mike Cekay, senior vice president of global sales, and Natasha Hayes, vice president of marketing, continue in their current roles. Crimson owns and manages more than 870 acres of vineyards and a portfolio of wineries in California, Washington and Oregon.

 
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December 2014
 

Wittstrom-Higgins promoted at Ancient Peaks

 
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Santa Margarita, Calif.—Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins is the new vice president of operations at Ancient Peaks Winery. Wittstrom-Higgins is a native of Paso Robles, Calif., and a graduate of California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo who has been with the winery since its opening in 2007. Her most recent position was vice president of sales and marketing. “More and more, Amanda has been taking on tasks such as company wide budgeting, long-range planning, human resources and special projects. She will still be focused on fostering the Ancient Peaks brand, but is now helping steer the big picture as well,” said winery owner Doug Filipponi.

 
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December 2014
 

New packaging for Hess Collection

 
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Napa, Calif.—The Hess Collection Winery is introducing new packaging “that more closely aligns the quality of the wine” with how it’s received by consumers and the trade. The elevated packaging, phased in with vintage changes and supported with advertising and promotional programs, acknowledges and recognizes the efforts of winemakers who have transformed the Napa Valley Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon-focused wines The Hess Collection is best known for, said chief marketing officer Derek Bromley. “Our new packaging better reflects the quality, history and integrity of the wine in the bottle.”   

 
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December 2014
 

Sutter Home releases red blend

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Sutter Home Vineyards released a new California red blend made with Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and priced at $6.99 to offer “an accessible price point and an approachable style” according to a statement released by the winery. “Sutter Home has created a solid reputation with a loyal following. According to Nielsen, within the $5 - $7 price segment, Red Blends are the drivers of growth, which makes this a great opportunity for Sutter Home,” says Wendy Nyberg vice president of marketing.

 
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December 2014
 

Wine Market Council elects new chair

 
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St. Helena, Calif.Wine Market Council announced on Dec. 10 that Dale Stratton, vice president of strategic insights for the wine and spirits division of Constellation Brands, was elected to a two-year term as chair of the non-profit association’s board of directors. Stratton succeeds former Wine Market Council chair, Dennis Cakebread.

 

Prior to joining Constellation Brands in 2006, Stratton spent 22 years working at E. & J. Gallo Winery where he began his career. During his tenure at Gallo, Stratton covered a wide range of responsibilities that included distributor management, account management, strategic insights and Lean Six Sigma.

Recently, Wine Market Council’s research studies have included a segmentation study providing new data on all U.S. adult beverage alcohol consumers with a focus on all wine drinkers, a study among sommeliers and other beverage professionals on the interaction of craft beer, spirits and wine consumption, as well as an annual survey of high frequency wine drinkers.

The 2015 members of Wine Market Council’s board are:

 
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December 2014
 

Napa grower Herb Lamb dies

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Herb Lamb, a past director if the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, died peacefully under Hospice care Dec. 10 at the age of 64.

The growers group released a statement saying: “A Napa native, co-owner of Herb Lamb Vineyards, and co-founder of Napa Valley Ag Supply, Herb was an integral part of the Napa Valley and he will be greatly missed. In addition to the NVG, Herb was a supporter of the local 4-H and FFA, the St. Helena Rotary, a Native Son of the Golden West, and most recently on the board of the Napa County Mosquito Abatement.”

Lamb is survived by his wife, Jennifer, two daughters, Meghan Lamb and Melissa (Jared) Baucom, a granddaughter Sterley, and his sister Nancy. He was preceded in death by his parents and his stepmother.

More details on Lamb’s career and life can be found here at herblambvineyards.com. A celebration of Lamb’s life will be held at the St. Helena, Calif. St. Helena Native Sons Hall on Jan. 3 at 11 am.

 
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December 2014
 

Don & Sons launches new venture

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Don Sebastiani & Sons has launched a new venture named New House Vintners that will focus on the Sebastiani family’s craft winemaking programs in Napa and Sonoma counties. The company will be a vertically integrated operation with winemaking, marketing, sales and distribution aligned from grape to bottle. The new firm’s brand portfolio will include Don & Sons Sonoma Signature Series Pinot Noir, Sivas-Sonoma, The Crusher (Clarksburg), Il Donato (Italy), Gunsight Rock (Paso Robles), Simple Life (Clarksburg), and Americano, along with new 2014 releases Delish Sauvignon Blanc, Queens Peak Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, and Custard Sonoma Valley Chardonnay, to be released in early 2015.

 
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December 2014
 

New winemakers at Anaba

 
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Sonoma, Calif.—Ross Cobb and Katy Wilson are the new winemakers for Anaba Wines in the Sonoma County portion of the Carneros AVA. Cobb produces wines under his own label Cobb Wines and has worked at several North Coast wineries including Williams Selyem Winery, Flowers Vineyard & Winery and currently is the winemaker for Hirsch Vineyards. Wilson has worked at wineries in Australia, New Zealand, Napa Valley and has her own label LaRue Wines. Wilson and Cobb when they both worked at Flowers in 2012 and the two formed a winemaking partnership. “Ross and Katy are incredibly talented and have a refreshing approach to winemaking,” noted John Sweazey, proprietor of Anaba Wines. “They complement each other perfectly, and they are ideally suited to build on what we have established with Anaba Wines.”

 
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November 2014
 

Success prompts coalition to shut down

 
San Francisco, Calif.—The Coalition for Free Trade, established by vintners in 1995 to advocate the repeal of laws prohibiting direct-to-consumer wine shipments, announced it has ended all activities after significant victories for wineries and consumers. “We can celebrate a rare occasion—an industry association opened its doors for business, raised money, got the job done, then turned the lights out,” said W. Reed Foster, president of the CFT, co-founder and emeritus chairman and CEO of Ravenswood Winery.
 
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November 2014
 

New winemaker for Robert Mondavi Private Selection

 
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San Francisco, Calif.—Chris Millard is the new director of winemaking for the Robert Mondavi Private Selection brand. Before joining the winery, which is owned by Constellation Brands, Millard worked at Sterling Vineyards and Newton Vineyard wineries in the Napa Valley. 

 
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November 2014
 

New GM, winemaker promotion at Knights Bridge

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Knights Bridge Winery announced Debi Cali Leal is the new general manager and Meredith Cahill-Marsland Leahy was promoted to head winemaker. Leahy, who has made wine at Knights Bridge since 2007, will be responsible for all three Knights Bridge brands: Knights Bridge, Pont de Chevalier and Huge Bear.

 
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November 2014
 

Promotions at Vintage Wine Estates

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Vintage Wine Estates, which owns several North Coast wineries and brands, announced that Mack Hoehner is the company's new senior vice president and national sales manager, Mike Gilboy is the new senior vice president for chain sales and Vicki Daigneault assumes the new position of vice president of sales and marketing for exclusive brands. Executive vice president Terry Wheatley also has an expanded role with the company and will now oversee direct-to-consumer marketing, direct sales and hospitality and tasting room operations.

 
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November 2014
 

New assistant winemaker at Chalone

 

Soledad, Calif.—Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines announced Yian Lu is the new assistant winemaker at Chalone Vineyard winery located in the Pinnacles area of California’s Central Coast. Lu will work closely with senior winemaker Robert Cook to produce estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. Lu joins Chalone Vineyard after working harvests in France, Australia and California, including at St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery in Napa Valley.

 
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November 2014
 

Applications sought for 'California Green Medal'

 

San Francisco, Calif.—The owners and managers of California vineyards and wineries are being encouraged to apply for the inaugural "California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards." The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, California Association of Winegrape Growers, Wine Institute, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Valley Vintners and the Vineyard Team collaborated to develop the awards as a means to showcase some of the state’s leaders in sustainability in winemaking and grape growing.

Sustainable vineyards or wineries can apply for an award from four categories: 

• Leader Award, given to the vineyard or winery that demonstrates success and innovation in all of the below three areas of sustainable winegrowing.

• Environment Award, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates environmental stewardship through maximized environmental benefits from implementing sustainable practices.

• Community Award, given to the vineyard or winery that is a "good neighbor and employer" using the most innovative practices that enhance relations with employees, neighbors and/or communities.

• Business Award, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates smart business through efficiencies, cost savings and innovation from implementing sustainable practices.

The deadline for award applications is Jan. 31, 2015. Visit www.greenmedal.org for more information or to apply.

 
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November 2014
 

Dierberg names new president

 
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Santa Barbara, Calif.—Charles “AJ” Fairbanks is the new president of the Dierberg Vineyard and Star Lane Vineyard wineries that are both located in Santa Barbara County. Fairbanks most recently was the president of the Hyde de Villaine, HDV, winery in Napa Valley. In his new position, Fairbanks will develop marketing and branding strategies for the wineries and work with managing director and winemaker Tyler Thomas in overseeing all operations. Fairbanks is a Santa Barbara native and descendent of the de La Guerra family, which extends back to Jose de la Guerra y Noriega, the fifth commander of the original Presidio de Santa Barbara.

 
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November 2014
 

Hess agrees to acquisition deal

 

Napa, Calif.—Hess Family Wine Estates (HFWE) announced its plans to accept an offer by the Australian firm Casella Family Brands to buy Peter Lehmann Wines of Tanunda, South Australia. Timothy Persson and Christoph Ehrbar, managing directors of Hess Family Wine Estates, said in a statement they believe the Peter Lehmann sale is a positive development for all parties involved. “This is a time of transition, with the passing of founder Peter Lehmann and the retirement of long-time winemaker Andrew Wigan,” Ehrbar said. “Casella’s investment in PLW will further unlock the full potential of Peter Lehmann while allowing HFWE to invest primarily in its California brands.”

Cassella Family Brands' offer is for $1.50 per share, which amounts to $49.6 million (USD). Hess paid more than $100 million for the Australian winery in 2003. Cassella Family Brands is also the producer of Yellow Tail. 

Persson noted that HFWE has been sharpening its focus on key brands and leading markets, with primary emphasis on the Americas, following an in-depth strategic review to guide the company’s future growth. The deal will provide a “robust foundation” for HFWE’s plans to conduct an $18 million replanting of its estate vineyards at the Hess Collection Winery on Mount Veeder in the Napa Valley as well as a major packaging redesign for the entire Hess Collection portfolio.

 
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November 2014
 

Cejas open new tasting room

 
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Ceja Vineyards owner and president Amelia Ceja, left, and daughter Dalia Ceja.
 

Sonoma, Calif.—Ceja Vineyards announced it has opened its new tasting room located in the Sonoma County side of the Carneros AVA. The winery had been operating a tasting room in downtown Napa, Calif., but has closed that location. The new tasting room features indoor and outside tasting areas and is located on the same property as Carneros Brewing Company, which is also owned and operated by members of the Ceja family. The tasting room is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and is located at 2475 Fremont Drive in Sonoma. 

 
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October 2014
 

Seghesios buy old-vine Zin property

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Seghesio Family Vineyards announced its acquisition of the 24-acre property known as the Montafi Ranch Vineyard located just outside the city limits of Santa Rosa, Calif., in the Russian River AVA. The property is home to 13 acres of old-vine Zinfandel planted in 1916. The purchase brings the Seghesio’s total acreage to more than 300 acres. Seghesio will continue to sell some of the grapes from the vineyard to Carlisle Winery & Vineyards for its Montafi Ranch Zinfandel. “We are thrilled to add this old-vine Zinfandel site to our collection,” said winemaker Ted Seghesio in a press release. “Old-vine Zinfandel is a rarity in the Russian River Valley today, which makes the remaining vineyards treasures.”

 
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October 2014
 

New winemaker at Chase

 
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St. Helena, Calif.—Russell Bevan is the new winemaker at Chase Cellars and will oversee the production of the family-owned winery's entire portfolio of wines including Zinfandels sourced from the 111-year-old Hayne Vineyard. Bevan makes wine under his own label Bevan Cellars and has consulted for other Napa Valley wineries. He assumes the winemaking duties at Chase for Joel Aiken who left to focus more of his attention on his brand and other consulting projects, according to a statement released by Chase Cellars.

 
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October 2014
 

New winemaker at MacMurray

 
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Healdsburg, Calif.—Boyd Morrison is the new winemaker at MacMurray Estate Vineyards, where he will focus on producing Pinot Noir from vineyards in the Russian River Valley and the Central Coast. Morrison comes to MacMurrary after gaining winemaking experience at wineries in Napa County, the Central Coast, Alexander Valley and Chile.

 
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October 2014
 

Kanzler taking over at family winery

 

Sebastopol, Calif.—Alex Kanzler will take over fulltime winemaking duties and become a managing partner of Kanzler Vineyards, which his parents Stephen and Lynda Kanzler founded in 2004. Alex Kanzler first started making wine for the family business in 2011, while also working at the custom crush facility Vinify Wine Services. He most recently was the associate winemaker at VML Russian River Winery and Truett Hurst Winery. “Frankly I didn’t see this coming, but I’m thrilled,” said Stephen Kanzler. He wasn’t given this, he earned it.”

 
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October 2014
 

Diageo appoints Alarcon winemaker at Acacia

 

Napa, Calif.—Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines announced the appointment of Adolfo Alarcon as winemaker for Acacia Vineyard. Alarcon will work alongside fellow senior winemaker Matthew Glynn at the winery in the Carneros AVA and continue to work as winemaker of Orogeny Vineyard in the Russian River Valley AVA of Sonoma County. Alarcon joined Diageo in 2012 to oversee the company’s bottling operations for its wineries in California’s North and Central coast regions.

 
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October 2014
 

New look for 7 Deadly Zins

 
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Lodi, Calif.—Michael David Winery unveiled a new look for its flagship brand 7 Deadly Zins. The winery has produced the brand for more than a decade and distributes 7 Deadly Zins in all 50 states and several international markets. Voicebox Creative in San Francisco, Calif., designed the new label to give the brand a “fresher, cleaner and updated look.” The new label will adorn the 2012 vintage of the wine, which was also the first to be produced and bottled under the Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing.

 
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October 2014
 

Diageo names vineyard operations director

 

Napa, Calif.—Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines announced the promotion of Mayacamas Olds to the position of vineyard operations and grower relations director. Olds joined Diageo in 2012 as grower relations representative and statewide viticulturist to enhance the sustainable farming practices for more than 5,000 acres. Olds is also a member of the boards of the Napa County Farm Bureau and the Napa County Resource Conservation District.

 
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October 2014
 

Chateau St. Jean honored in Six Nations challenge

 
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U.S. Ambassador John Berry, left, accepts the Bordeaux Blend trophy on behalf of Chateau St. Jean winery.
 

Sydney, Australia—Chateau St. Jean Winery & Vineyards in Kenwood, Calif., won the Bordeaux Blend trophy for its Cinq Cepages 2010 red blend in the recent Six Nations Challenge contest in Australia. U.S. Ambassador John Berry accepted the award on behalf of the winery and winemaker Margo Van Staaveren. The United States won the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon classes. New Zealand won “Nation of the Show” honors and a New Zealand winery took best red wine honors while a South African winery won the best white wine award.

 
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October 2014
 

Terroir names new COO, general counsel

 

San Francisco, Calif.—Terroir Inc., founded by Charles and Ali Banks, announced Kevin McGee is the company’s new chief operating officer and general counsel. Prior to joining Terroir full time, McGee worked for the company on a per-project basis helping with several acquisitions including Qupé, Evening Land Vineyards, Whetstone Wine Cellars and Mayacamas Vineyards. McGee will now oversee all partner relationships and act as the general counsel and chief legal officer for Terroir. 

 
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October 2014
 

Stowe to head sales at Truett-Hurst

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Scott Stowe is the new national sales manager and director of national accounts for Truett-Hurst Inc. Stowe will manage the company’s distribution network in the eastern United States and is charged with expanding its on- and off-premise business in the region while also boosting the company’s presence in national on-premise accounts. Prior to joining Truett-Hurst, Stowe was the director of national on- and off-premise accounts for Mendocino Wine Company in Ukiah, Calif.

 
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October 2014
 

SF Chron wine competition seeks entries

 

San Francisco, Calif.—The annual San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is now accepting entries through Nov. 20. Wines will be evaluated in January for the contest now in its 15th year. The competition is one of the largest in the United States and its panel of judges evaluated 5,800 entries in 2013. A public tasting of wines submitted to the competition will be held at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco on Feb. 14. For entry forms and more information visit: winejudging.com/wineries.htm

 
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October 2014
 

SSU partners with winery for seminar series

 

Yountville, Calif.—Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute announced a partnership with Domaine Chandon winery to offer a series of seminars for wine industry professionals in the Napa Valley, as well as Chandon employees Nov. 4-5.

 
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October 2014
 

Paso Robles AVA changes approved

 

Washington D.C.—The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) announced it is publishing a final rule establishing 11 new American Viticultural Areas within the existing Paso Robles AVA area in San Luis Obispo County, California. The 11 new viticultural areas are: Adelaida District, Creston District, El Pomar District, Paso Robles Estrella District, Paso Robles Geneseo District, Paso Robles Highlands District, Paso Robles Willow Creek District, San Juan Creek, San Miguel District, Santa Margarita Ranch, and Templeton Gap District. The 11 AVAs are the result of a petition submitted by a group of growers and vintners in the area. See the Oct. 1, 2013 Wines & Vines report “Paso Winegrowers Back on TTB Track” by contributing editor Jane Firstenfeld for more details.

 
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October 2014
 

Lula opens new facility in Mendocino

 
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Philo, Calif.—Lula Cellars opened its new winery and tasting room in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County, California. The 22-acre property includes a small production facility, tasting room, 14-acre Pinot Noir vineyard and plans are in place to open a 10,000-square-foot event space by next year. “This is a huge expansion for us,” said winemaker and "grand fromage" Jeff Hansen. “The new property will offer visitors an interactive experience that will engage all the senses, and is the perect vehicle to showcase our award-winning wines and the beauty and bounty of Anderson Valley.”

 
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October 2014
 

Paso's Robert Hall dies

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—Robert L. Hall, owner of Robert Hall Winery, passed away peacefully at his home Oct. 4 at the age of 85 from complications related to an extended illness.

 
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October 2014
 

New winemaker for Uppercut

 

Napa, Calif.—Trevor Durling is the new winemaker at Uppercut wines, which is produced by Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines. Durling has been working with the brand since 2010 and will now oversee the entire Uppercut portfolio as well as continue to work as the associate winemaker for Provenance Vineyards and Hewitt Vineyard.

 
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October 2014
 

Industry mourns PR innovator

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Harvey Posert, Jr., an influential leader in the California wine industry for nearly 50 years, died Oct. 3 at the age of 84 after a brief illness, with his three sons and their mother at his side.

Known in the wine business as the “Top PR Man” and “The Wine PR Guru,” the native of Memphis, Tenn., had been a newspaperman and a PR agency executive in New York and Chicago before coming to California in the mid 1960s. Posert’s career saw the success of his life-long mission to change American attitudes towards wine with the result being California wine having become an everyday beverage in our society.

With a keen sense for news stories, and a solid journalistic background, Posert quickly rose through the ranks of the Daniel J. Edelman PR Agency beginning in Chicago and then headed the New York branch of the firm. In 1965, Posert went to California to lead the Wine Institute’s PR program for Edelman. He later served as the Director of Public Relations for the Wine Institute until 1980 when he joined Robert Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley. “He was more than a co-worker, he was our partner, a wonderful friend whom we admired greatly.” Margrit Mondavi said.

Posert is survived by his first wife Myra (Gainsboro) Posert of Laguna Woods, California with whom he had three sons: Harvey Peres Posert III of Berkeley, California, Robert Lee Posert of Newport Coast, California and Peter David Posert of Petaluma, California. Posert is also survived by three grandsons and two granddaughters. His second marriage to former wife Carolyn (Bloom) Posert lasted 10 years.

“At Bronco Wine Company we were fortunate to work with Harvey for more than 30 years. As a former journalist he was skilled at discovering and telling stories that truly changed the world of wine. He will be missed by the wine industry and especially here at Bronco. We will all remember what a rewarding experience it was working with Harvey,” SAID Fred Franzia, Bronco Wine Company CEO and COB.

 
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September 2014
 

Belle Glos, Meiomi founder forms new company

 

Rutherford, Calif.—Joe Wagner, the founder and winemaker of the Belle Glos and Meiomi Pinot Noir brands, announced the formation of his new wine company Copper Cane Wines & Provisions. The new company will be the home of Meiomi, which it projects to sell more than 500,000 cases this year. Copper Cane also plans to release a Meiomi Chardonnay as well as Elouan an Oregon Pinot Noir and Carne Humana a red blend from Napa Valley. 

 
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September 2014
 

New hires at Terravant

 

Buellton, Calif.—Mari Kelly is the new director of sales for the East Coast market for Terravant Wine Company. The private label wine company also announced that Laryssa Adame was promoted to the post of brand manager for the new Wines & Designs Portfolio division. Kelly is based in Virginia and is the former director of business development for Delicato Family Vineyards. Adame joined Terravant as a brand ambassador in April 2014.

 
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September 2014
 

Stag's Leap opens new visitor center

 
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Napa, Calif.—Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars announced the opening of its new, $7 million visitors’ center. The 6,000-square-foot facility overlooks the winery’s historic FAY and S.L.V. vineyards. Barcelona-based architect Javier Barba designed the building and Daniel Macdonald AIA Architects in Novato, Calif., and landscape architect Sandra Reed of ZAC Landscape Architects in Petaluma, Calif., oversaw construction.

 
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September 2014
 

Winery owner gets prison for tax evasion

 

San Jose, Calif.—Brenda Jo Kibbee received a nine-month prison sentence and was ordered to pay $877,127 in restitution to the TTB for failing to pay excise taxes on wine sold through her Monterey Wine Services facility in Salinas, Calif. According to a statement released by the TTB, Kibbee failed to pay taxes on wine taken out of her cellar between August 2008 and May 2009 yet still charged clients for the tax costs.

Kibbee, 41, was indicted on Sept. 26, 2012 on 11 counts of failing to pay an excise taxes on wine. She pleaded guilty to one count in December of last year. At the sentencing held Sept. 16, U.S. District Court Judge D. Lowell Jensen gave Kibbee three years of supervised release in addition to the prison sentence. The TTB brought the charges against Kibbee after an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service.

 
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September 2014
 

Jackson Family Wines launches wine group

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Jackson Family Wines announced the launch of its West Burgundy Wine Group focused on producing estate-grown, site-specific Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. Fred Reno will lead strategic development and market distribution as the group’s director.

The group will based at Jackson Family Wine’s Carneros Hills Winery, which is the former Buena Vista production facility in the Sonoma County half of the Carneros AVA. West Burgundy Wine Group is comprised of the following wine brands:

• Champ de Reves, focused on high-elevation Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley in Mendocino County

 
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September 2014
 

Wine Business Monthly to host conference for ultra-premium wineries

 

Sonoma, Calif.—Wine Business Monthly, WBM, announced the first Innovation + Quality conference, IQ 2015, featuring seminars and a tradeshow for ultra-premium wineries. IQ 2015 will take place March 4, 2015 at Charles Krug Winery in the Napa Valley.

“Ultra-premium wineries have expressed a need for a conference dedicated to their unique issues,” said WBM Publisher Eric Jorgensen. “This led WBM to create an exclusive gathering for ultra-premium wineries dedicated to the concept of using innovation to advance wine quality.”

The goal of IQ 2015 is to focus on the latest innovations and best practices that will drive the advancement and quality of the world's finest wines. IQ 2015 will feature educational sessions and tastings as well as hands-on demonstrations of the latest equipment and techniques curated by WBM editors and ultra-premium wineries.

The Advisory Board for IQ 2015 includes the following industry leaders:

 
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September 2014
 

Comfort leaving post at Sonoma Vintners

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Sonoma County Vintners announced that executive director Honore Comfort will step down from her post in January after nine years of leading the organization.

“Over the past nine years Honore has brought a great deal of focus and energy to supporting Sonoma County’s wine industry,” said the group’s board president Corey Beck who is the president of Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville, Calif.

During Comfort’s tenure with the vintners, the group spearheaded a joint marketing and branding campaign for Sonoma County’s wine industry as well as led an effort to pass a conjunctive labeling law for all wines made with Sonoma County grapes. The group also raised nearly $2.5 million to support children’s literacy programs and the recent Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction raised more than $4 million for local charities.

“It’s been a hugely rewarding experience working with the vintners and growers of Sonoma County,” Comfort said. “The Board of Directors is extremely supportive and engaged, and the organization has never been stronger as we head into this transition and the next stage of growth.”

The board has retained an executive recruitment firm to conduct a nationwide search for Comfort’s replacement.

 
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September 2014
 

Atlas, Price purchase Sonoma Coast vineyard

 

Annapolis, Calif.—Atlas Vineyard Management and Price Family Vineyards announced their formation of a joint venture and purchase of the 17-acre Walala Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA.

The vineyard, which has been farmed by Atlas since it was planted in 2005, is located along a ridge at 1,200-feet elevation on a 97.5-acre property just a few miles from the ocean. Atlas approached Bill Price, owner of Classic Wines and Price Family Vineyards, about acquiring the property from The Conservation Fund, which purchased the land from CalPERS in 2013. The Conservation Fund sold the property for an undisclosed sum to Atlas and Price after they agreed not to expand the vineyard into the surrounding forest.

“Walala is a unique and one-of-a-kind vineyard that produces amazing fruit. It’s very balanced vineyard that has never frosted,” said Atlas president Mike Cybulski in a statement released by the companies.

 
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September 2014
 

Young's Market donates to SSU

 

Rohnert Park, Calif.—The distributor Young’s Market Company is making a $250,000 gift to the Sonoma State University Wine Business Institute to help fund the construction of the institute’s building on the SSU campus. “We are especially proud to be associated with Sonoma State and its Wine Business Institute of which we’ve already hired several of its graduates and plan on sending current employees to attend its premier educational programs,” said Chris Underwood, Young’s CEO. The donation will be used to complete a boardroom at the Wine Spectator Learning Center, which is expected to be complete in 2016.

 
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September 2014
 

J Vineyards buys 44 vineyard acres in Sonoma Coast

 
Healdsburg, Calif.—Russian River Valley wine producer J Vineyards & Winery on Tuesday announced the acquisition of two vineyards in the Sonoma Coast AVA, boosting the brand’s number of estate vineyards to 10. Fruit from the two vineyards will go toward the label’s Pinot Noir program (the label is also well-known for its sparkling wines).
 
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August 2014
 

The Other Guys makes key hires

 

Sonoma, Calif.—The Other Guys wine company announced it had appointed Andres Faustinelli as its director of procurement. Faustinelli will oversee sourcing strategy for the company and most recently worked as a category manager for in the whiskey and spirits sector for Diageo North America. Ryan Wycoff was also named The Other Guys’ new marketing manager.

 
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August 2014
 

New estate director for Brand Napa Valley

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Greg Gregory is the new estate director at Brand Napa Valley winery located in the Pritchard Hill area of Napa Valley. Gregory will oversee the winery’s sales and marketing, winemaking and philanthropic programs. Gregory is the former client service manager of Staglin Family Vineyard, also in Napa Valley.

 
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August 2014
 

Sonoma Winegrowers name commissioners

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Sonoma County Winegrowers announced the election of six new members to its board of commissioners. The new members include George Martinelli, a fifth generation grape grower; Bret Munselle, a fifth generation grower whose family’s Munselle Vineyards in Alexander Valley dates back to the late 1800s; Mark Sanchietti, a fourth generation wine grower whose family has farmed in the Russian River Valley since 1919; Rich Schaefers of Silverado Investment Management Company who has managed vineyards in Sonoma County for more than 20 years; Joe Judge a vineyard owner and former president of the Bennett Valley grape growers association and Ray Johnson the director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University.

 
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August 2014
 

New COO at Hess Collection

 

Napa, Calif.—John Grant is the new chief operating office for the Hess Collection Winery and will oversee sales, marketing and business operations at the winery in the Mount Veeder AVA. Grant was most recently the managing director for Treasury Wine Estates’s Berigner portfolio after serving in senior global marketing and sales roles at Treasury.

 
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August 2014
 

Eck named assistant winemaker at Fess Parker

 

Los Olivos, Calif.—Tyler Eck is the new assistant winemaker at Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard in Santa Barbara County. Eck previously worked at a winery in the Rhone Valley of France as well as wineries in New Zealand and at Peay Vineyards in Cloverdale.

 
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August 2014
 

Applications sought for innovation award

 

Napa, Calif.—Bank of the West’s Premium Wine Group and vineyard analytics company Fruition Sciences is seeking applications for the companies’ Vintage Report Innovation Awards that honor research and sustainability in viticulture. This year’s panel of judges includes Paul Goldberg, vineyard manager at Bettinelli Vineyards; James Kennedy, professor and chair of the Department of Viticulture and Enology at California State University, Fresno; Curtis Phillips, senior editor at Wine Business Monthly; Aaron Pott, winemaker for Pott Wine and Huis Clos Consulting and Jennifer Putnam, executive director and CEO of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers. The deadline for award submissions is Dec. 1. For more information about the award visit: fruitionsciences.com

 
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August 2014
 

Madrigal opens second tasting room

 
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Sausalito, Calif.—Madrigal Family Winery of Napa Valley has opened a second tasting room in the center of Sausalito, which is located on the San Francisco Bay. “Opening this tasting room is the perfect way to celebrate our winery’s 20th anniversary,” said winery president Chris Madrigal. The Madrigals have grown grapes in Napa Valley since the 1930s. Madrigal Family Winery is part of the Bacchus Capital Management’s portfolio of wineries in California and Oregon.

 
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August 2014
 

New assistant winemaker at Pine Ridge

 

Napa, Calif.—Michael Conversano is the new assistant winemaker for Pine Ridge Vineyards. Conversano joins Pine Ridge after overseeing daily winemaking operations as the assistant winemaker at Bell Wine Cellars in Yountville, Calif. Conversano takes over for Jason Ledbetter, who was promoted to the post of winemaker at Double Canyon, Pine Ridge’s sister winery based in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA of Washington state. Conversanao will work with winemaker and general manager Michael Beaulac on all vineyard and winery operations.

 
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August 2014
 

Keplinger joins Grace Family

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Helen Keplinger is the new winemaker at Grace Family Vineyard. Keplinger will oversee the production of the Grace estate wines and work with vineyard manager Kirk Grace. “We were determined to find a winemaker who was well-traveled, widely experienced and an excellent fit for the winery,” said Dick Grace, founder and owner of the winery. “Helen is extremely talented and brings a new perspective that will steer the winery into the future, while remaining a careful steward of its heritage.”

 
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August 2014
 

Promotion at Kistler Vineyards

 

Sebastopol, Calif.—Jason Kesner was promoted to the position of winemaker at Kistler Vineyards. Kesner joined the winery in 2008 after overseeing vineyard operations at Hudson Vineyards in Napa, Calif. “This promotion is a recognition of the progress Jason has made over the last six harvests at Kistler,” said Steve Kistler. “I look forward to continue working with Jason at Kistler for years to come.”

 
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July 2014
 

New president at Clos Du Val

 
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Napa, Calif.—Steve Tamburelli is the new president of Clos Du Val Wine Co. and will be responsible for all operations at the winery located in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley. Tamburelli is a native of Napa, Calif., and has worked in the wine industry for his entire career. Before joining Clos Du Val, Tamburelli was the chief operating officer at Flora Springs Vineyards & Winery in St. Helena, Calif.

 
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July 2014
 

Harvest begins in Sonoma County

 
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Scott Zapotocky, director of vineyard operations, and a crew from Atlas Vineyard Management at J Vineyards & Winery’s first pick of 2014. Photo by George Rose.
 

Healdsburg, Calif.—J Vineyards & Winery kicked off the 2014 vintage in Sonoma County with a Wednesday night pick of about 8 tons of Pinot Meunier for sparkling wine at the winery’s Nicole’s Vineyard in the Russian River Valley AVA. To see more photos of the pick, visit our Facebook page

 
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July 2014
 

Niner hires associate winemaker

 
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Paso Robles, Calif.—Molly Bohlman is the new associate winemaker at Niner Wine Estates and will focus on the winery’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnay programs. Prior to joining Niner, Bohlman worked in winemaking at Paul Hobbs' CrossBarn winery in Sebastopol, Calif. Bohlman will work closely with Niner’s winemaker Patrick Muran and will make wine in the separate “craft” winery with grapes from Niner’s Jespersen Ranch estate vineyard in the Edna Valley near San Luis Obispo, Calif.

 
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July 2014
 

Wine Foundry acquires Juice Box

 

Sonoma, Calif.—The Wine Foundry announced its purchase of the custom crush business and facility of Juice Box at 45 Enterprise Ct. in Napa, Calif., and will move there from its current location at Opal Moon Winery in the Eighth Street winery complex in Sonoma, Calif. The Wine Foundry provides small lot custom crush winemaking services, and according to a statement the company, it plans to retain several members of Juice Box’s winemaking team, which is led by Patrick Saboe. The new location includes a tasting room that will provide a hospitality venue for The Wine Foundry’s clients. 

 
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July 2014
 

Vera Trinchero dies at 76

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Vera Trinchero Torres who, with her brothers Bob and Roger, helped build Sutter Home into a national wine brand and established Trinchero Family Estates as one of the industry’s top wine companies, died July 22 at the age of 76. Trinchero was 10 when her family purchased Sutter Home Winery in St. Helena, Calif. in 1948. She later married Ray Torres and worked in the family business as company secretary and overseeing its charitable activities. Vera Trinchero Torres was a breast cancer survivor and raised more than $1 million to fund breast cancer research. She is survived by her sons Tony Torres, principal and senior vice president of administration and Bob Torres, principal and senior vice president of operations; her brothers Bob Trinchero, principal and chairman and Roger Trinchero, principal and CEO and her four grandchildren Laina, Michael, Mathew and Julia.

 
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July 2014
 

Promotions at Merryvale, Starmont

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Simon Faury is the new winemaker at Merryvale Vineyards in St. Helena, Calif., and Jeff Crawford is the new winemaker at Starmont Winery in Carneros. Both wineries are owned by Schlatter Family Wines, which also announced Charlie Plummer is the company’s new national sales manager. Crawford has been with Starmont since 2007 and most recently was the associate winemaker. Faury joined Merryvale Vineyards in 2013 as assistant winemaker.

 
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July 2014
 

Chinese-owned firm buys Quixote

 

Napa, Calif.—Carl Doumani has sold his Quixote winery, vineyard and home in the Stags Leap District to a subsidiary of Le Melange, an American company owned by a Chinese firm. Doumani said he sold for close to his asking price of about $29.5 million for the 42-acre parcel with 29 acres of vines. He kept a nearby parcel of 2 acres, and intends to move into a house there and tend the Petite Sirah vines planted on that property.

Jinta, the subsidiary Le Melange that bought Quixote, bought Hannah Nicole Vineyards & Winery in Brentwood, Calif., in Contra Costa County in 2013. Hannah Nicole produces a number of wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah and Zinfandel.

Doumani said he understands that the new owners would retain the winemaking team, headed by Aaron Pott and vineyard manager Micheal Wolf, and continue direct sales at the winery.

The sale is the latest in a string of recent deals involving Asian personalities and companies. They include Sloan Estates sold for a reported $40 million, Dana Estates, Kenzo Estate and Bialla winery as well as Vietnamese-American Kieu Hoang’s recent acquisition of Michael Mondavi family’s Folio winery facility and adjoining vineyard in Carneros. Kieu Hoang has also opened escrow on John and Shawn Guilliams’ 7-acre vineyard in the Spring Mountain AVA.

As for Doumani, at 81 he said he doesn’t feel any need to predict his next steps beyond producing a small amount of Petite Sirah wine under the Encandato label. He used that label for a tequila brand he developed with the late Pamela Hunter.

 
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July 2014
 

Fetzer to retire, close Ceago winery

 

Nice, Calif.—Jim Fetzer announced his decision to retire as well as the closure of his family’s Ceago Vinegarden winery on the shores of Clear Lake in Lake County. Fetzer made the announcement in a statement that was posted to the winery’s website earlier this month. “The fruition of Ceago’s success has now given me the gift of retirement and the opportunity to change my focus,” he said.

 
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July 2014
 

LangeTwins winery wins sustainability award

 

Fort Worth, Texas—LangeTwins Winery and Vineyards in Lodi, Calif., won top honors in the Botanical Research Institute of Texas' International Award of Excellence in Sustainable Winegrowing competition. Five other wineries, four from Europe and one from Texas, also won awards in the competition.

 
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July 2014
 

Cuban somms to visit California

 

Sonoma, Calif.—A group of Cuban sommeliers has been granted travel visas to participate in a tour of wine regions in California’s Sonoma and Napa counties later this month. Californians Building Bridges, an advocacy group focused arranging cultural and humanitarian exchanges between Cuba and California, is hosting the group of 19 sommeliers. According to a statement released by the CBB, recent changes in Cuba have opened new distribution opportunities for U.S. agricultural products including wine. 

 
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July 2014
 

California wine laws passed

 

Sacramento, Calif.—Wineries will be able to offer samples of their wares at farmers markets, and underage winemaking students at California colleges can taste wine after state lawmakers passed two new laws

 
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July 2014
 

Wine Spectator Foundation donates to SSU

 
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Rohnert Park, Calif.—Sonoma State University announced that Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator magazine, is making a $3 million gift to the university through the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation. The funds will be used to help pay for the construction of a new home for the school’s Wine Business Institute, which will be named the Wine Spectator Learning Center. Construction on the 15,000-square-foot building is expected to begin in late 2015 and be completed by mid-2016. Ray Johnson, director of the Institute, said he’s glad the school found a new partner in Shanken. “His personal involvement is helping to shape not merely the design of the building, but more importantly the nature and impact of the learning experience for our students.” 

 
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July 2014
 

Ledbetter family honored by CAWG

 

Sacramento, Calif.—The Ledbetter family, which owns and operates Lodi-based Vino Farms, received the California Association of Winegrape Growers’ Grower of the Year Award. The Ledbetters maintain 15,000 acres of vineyards throughout California, growing more than a dozen wine grape varieties and selling to nearly 150 wineries. The business is led by John Ledbetter, Jim Ledbetter, Kim Ledbetter-Bronson, Craig Ledbetter, Marissa Ledbetter and Megan Ledbetter. “Vino Farms leads by example,” said Rodney Schatz, past chairman of the CAWG board of directors and Lodi wine grape grower in a news release. “They are always engaged in the issues and challenges that growers face, not only in Lodi but also throughout California."

 
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July 2014
 

Kieu Hoang buying another wine property

 

Napa, Calif.—Shortly after buying the Carneros winery and property that had been used by Michael Mondavi Estates, and pledging $1 million last month to the Fund A Need lot at Auction Napa Valley, Kieu Hoang has opened escrow on John and Shawn Guilliams’ 7-acre vineyard in the Spring Mountain AVA of Napa Valley.

 
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July 2014
 

Hackett named winemaker at Andis

 
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Plymouth, Calif.—Doug Hackett is the new winemaker at Andis Wines in Amador County. Hackett is the former winemaker of Dogwood Cellars, which he founded in Healdsburg. “His talents and passion for making world-class wine will be a welcome addition to the Andis team,” said Andrew Friedlander, owner of Andis Wines in a statement released by the winery. 

 
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July 2014
 

CAWG names leader of the year

 

Sacramento, Calif.—The California Association of Winegrape Growers announced Richard Keehn, the founding chairman of CAWG and a former Mendocino County grapegrower and winemaker, is the group’s Leader of the Year.

Before growing grapes, Keehn was a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army and served deployments in Korea, Germany and Vietnam, earning two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star. In 1971, while stationed at 6th Army Headquarters in San Francisco, Keehn married Karen Crawford, a widow and owner of historic McDowell Valley Vineyards located in the coastal range of the Mayacamas Mountains in Mendocino County. He and Karen would eventually run their own winery using fruit from the family vineyard. 

Keehn took over grapegrowing at the property, and in 1974 he led a group of growers in forming the California Association of Winegrape Growers. Keehn would serve four years as chairman and seven years as a member of the board of directors. Keehn retired from the industry in 1998. 

 
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July 2014
 

Grapevine moth found in Sonoma County

 
A single male European grapevine moth was detected in a vineyard trap in western Sonoma County on June 26, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).
 
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June 2014
 

Napa Grapegrowers to host 'Rootstock'

 

Napa, Calif.—The Napa Valley Grapegrowers group announced a new conference for growers, vineyard managers and winemakers called Rootstock to be held Nov. 13. The new event is designed to bring the Wine + Grape Expo and Viticulture Fair into one event.

 
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June 2014
 

Parry joins Groth as winemaker

 

Oakville, Calif.—Cameron Parry has been picked to be the new winemaker at Groth Vineyards & Winery and will start July 7. Owner and founder Dennis Groth, however, said in a statement that outgoing winemaker Michael Weis’s departure from the winery will be “slow and measured ensuring our wines have the gentle continuity that we’ve staked our reputation on.” Prior to accepting the position at Groth, Parry was the winemaker at Chateau Montelena Winery in Calistoga, Calif.

 
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News Briefs California

 
June 2014
 

Sonoma growers honor Michalczyks

 
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Photo by George Rose
 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Sonoma County Winegrowers awarded Paul and Vicki Michalczyk its 2014 Viticulture Award of Excellence during its annual grower seminar and barbecue on June 6. Both Michalczyks have been active in the growers’ group holding leadership roles on various committees and helping to set strategy and conduct marketing campaigns. The couple, who have recently retired from growing, developed a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyard near Sebastopol in the early 90s. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
June 2014
 

West Coast Wine Partners names winemaker

 
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Sonoma, Calif.—David Marchesi is the new director of winemaking at West Coast Wine Partners, a family-owned company that owns a portfolio of California wineries. Marchesi is the former winemaker at Paraduxx Winery in Napa Valley. At West Coast Wine Partners, Marchesi will be responsible for all the winemaking, cellar and vineyard operations at the company's wineries. West Coast Wine Cellars owns Valley of the Moon Winery, The Madrone Vineyards Estate, Lake Sonoma Winery and Plume Winery
 
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News Briefs California

 
June 2014
 

Napa seminar on wine and innovation

 

Napa, Calif.—The French-American Chamber of San Francisco is hosting a seminar on innovations in winemaking and viticulture technology on June 24 at the Napa Valley Country Club. The event features panel discussions by experts in winemaking and viticulture about new technology as well as a panel on traceability, e-commerce, digital marketing and other business trends. The session concludes with a panel of Napa Valley winemakers discussing what innovations have, and have not, worked as well as how to achieve returns on investing in technology and other developing issues. Details: faccsf.com

 
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News Briefs California

 
June 2014
 

Farm workers graduate from literacy program

 
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Napa, Calif.—The Napa Valley Grapegrowers’ announced that 65 farm workers recently graduated from the group's English literacy program. The free program is hosted by the grapegrowers’ Farmworker Foundation and took place at Napa Valley College and the Napa Valley Adult Education. Several companies either paid their employees to attend the evening classes or offered raises, bonuses and other incentives to complete the four-month course, according to a statement released by the growers’ group.

 
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News Briefs California

 
June 2014
 

New winemaker at Montelena

 
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Calistoga, Calif.—Matthew Crafton is the new winemaker at Chateau Montelena Winery. Crafton, a native of Virginia, joined the winery in 2008 as assistant winemaker and took the lead on the Chardonnay program. “After working alongside and observing Matt’s performance through six vintages, including the high workload in 2010 and 2011, we are very confident he will excel in his new position as Montelena’s winemaker — after all, he’s Montelena trained,” the winery’s chief executive officer Bo Barrett said in a statement announcing Crafton’s promotion. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
June 2014
 

Wente new chairman of Wine Institute board

 

San Francisco, Calif.—Carolyn Wente, chief executive officer of Wente Vineyards in Livermore, Calif., was elected to the post of board chairman for the Wine Institute. The election was held recently at the Wine Institute’s 80th annual meeting in Half Moon Bay, Calif., where the group elected other board members including Greg Coleman of E. & J. Gallo Winery in Modesto, Calif., first vice chairman; Margie Healy of Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guerneville, Calif., second vice chairman; Steve Lohr of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines in San Jose, Calif., treasurer; and Chris Indelicato of Delicato Family Vineyards in Napa, Calif., secretary.

 
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News Briefs California

 
June 2014
 

Truett Hurst hires top executive

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Truett Hurst Inc., announced it had appointed Paul A. Forgue as chief financial officer and chief operating officer. Prior to joining Truett Hurst, Forgue was a senior director of Alvarez & Marsal, a global financial firm, and before that he worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

 
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News Briefs California

 
June 2014
 

New winemaker at Bryant Family

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Marc Gagnon is the new winemaker at Bryant Family Vineyard. Gagnon is the former assistant winemaker for Screaming Eagle Winery in Oakville, Calif., and previously held winemaking positions at Round Pond Estate in Rutherford, Calif., and in New Zealand. “I am confident he will respect our traditions and deliver what people have come to expect and admire from Bryant Family Vineyard,” said the winery’s new president Bettina Bryant in a press release.

 
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News Briefs California

 
June 2014
 

Opus One cellarmaster retires to launch brand

 

Napa, Calif.—Mike Farmer has launched his own wine brand after recently retiring from Opus One winery where he worked for more than 20 years as assistant winemaker and cellarmaster. Farmer and his son Lucas Farmer are calling their brand Euclid Wines in honor of Mike Farmer’s grandfather whose first name was Euclid. The Farmers’ current release is a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Howell Mountain area of Napa Valley and a Sierra Nevada Foothills Syrah.

 
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News Briefs California

 
June 2014
 

Shannon Ridge hires director of winemaking

 
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Lower Lake, Calif.—Joy Merrilees is the new director of winemaking and production at Shannon Ridge Family of Wines winery. Merrilees worked in winemaking at Steele Wines in Lake County as well as spending several years at wineries in New Zealand. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
June 2014
 

Sonoma-Cutrer helps raise $773,000

 

Windsor, Calif.—Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards and the Make-A-Wish Foundation raised a little more than $773,000 in cash and donations during the Wishes in Wine Country event held May 17. The fundraiser, held on the croquet grounds at the winery in Windsor, raised enough to fund 69 “wishes” for children with life-threatening conditions. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2014
 

Terravant to deploy wine ambassadors

 

Buellton, Calif.—Terravant Wine Co. is set to deploy “brand ambassadors” to promote the company’s portfolio of private-label wine brands. The four new ambassadors will run tastings in retail locations. “Our brand ambassadors will bring the tasting room experience to consumers while they are doing their weekly grocery shopping,” said Jacquie Pfyl, Terravant’s trade marketing manager. Based in California’s Central Coast, Terravant is a dedicated private-label company that creates wine brands for grocery stores, bars restaurants and corporate clients. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2014
 

VWE acquires Canopy Management Wine

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Vintage Wine Estates announced its acquisition of Canopy Management Wine Co. in Napa, Calif., and its portfolio of brands, which includes Middle Sister, PromisQous, Purple Cowboy, Wine Sisterhood, Deep Purple, Girl & Dragon and Lady La Femme. The deal follows Vintage Wine Estates’ purchase of Napa Valley-based Clos Pegase Winery as well as Viansa Winery, located on the Sonoma County side of the Carneros AVA, in 2013. Terry Wheatley and Brian Wurtz founded Canopy in 2008. Wheatly will join Vintage Wine Estates as executive vice president of sales and marketing, and Wurtz will oversee the transition of wine supply, distributors and exporters during the initial phase of consolidation. Nancy Walker has been appointed head winemaker of the Canopy portfolio as part of VWE. 

 
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May 2014
 

Hanzell names new president

 
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Sonoma, Calif.—Jason Jardine is the new president of Hanzell Vineyards effective June 1. Jardine had been the president of Clos Du Val winery in Napa Valley, and prior to the announcement he was president and director of winemaking at Flowers Vineyard & Winery on the Sonoma Coast. “Jason’s strong belief in terroir and his personal pursuit to craft wines with meaning make him a perfect fit for Hanzell Vineyards,” said owner Alexander de Brye. Jardine will succeed current president Jean Arnold Sessions, who will continue to offer winemaking consulting through the Jean Arnold Group and has plans to launch a new project this fall with the Jean Arnold Group Foundation.

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2014
 

Huntsinger to retire from Trinchero

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Jim Huntsinger, executive vice president of production for Trinchero Family Estates, announced his plans to retire at the end of the year after working for more than 50 years in the wine industry. Huntsinger started his career at Almaden Wines and then Korbel Champagne Cellars, where he worked for 14 years before joining Sutter Home in 1987. At the time Sutter Home was the Trinchero’s only brand, and Huntsinger helped grow the company’s portfolio to more than 40 brands and 500 SKUs. In addition to managing production, Huntsinger also oversaw new facility development and acquisition including the company’s new winery in Lodi, Calif., which will open in 2015. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2014
 

Water efficiency workshop in Sonoma County

 

Santa Rosa, Calif.—The Sonoma County growers and vintners groups, along with Pacific Gas & Electric and the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, are hosting a free, agricultural and winery water-efficiency workshop May 28 at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville, Calif. The session will cover advanced pumping efficiency including pump testing, incentives for repair and variable speed drives. A team of winery wastewater auditors will discuss water efficiency and conservation in the winery, and PG&E staff will detail energy efficiency incentives as well as programs to replace or retrofit agricultural pumps. RSVPs are required for the session, and the registration deadline is May 23. For more information, contact Lloyd Coker at (707) 577-7047 or visit sonomawinegrape.org.

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2014
 

Domaine Anderson opens in Mendocino County

 
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Philo, Calif.—Domaine Anderson winery opened in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County during the recent Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival held May 16-18. The winery is owned by the Rouzaud family behind Champagne producer Louis Roederer, and it is focused on producing premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. Winemaker Jerry Murray will be making wines from a 17-acre vineyard adjacent to the new facility as well as 35 acres of vines located throughout the valley. Details: domaineanderson.com.
 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2014
 

Fundraiser for scholarships

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Soda Rock Winery hosted the 13th annual fundraiser for the Children of Vineyard Workers Scholarship Fund on May 10. Nearly 300 people attended the event, raising more than $60,000 for the fund, which was established in 2001 by Ken and Diane Wilson, owners of Wilson Winery & Vineyards and other Sonoma County wineries. In cooperation with the Community Foundation of Sonoma County, the program has meted out more than $200,000 in scholarships. Details: sonomacf.org.

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2014
 

Strong turnout for craft beverage expo

 

San Jose, Calif.—The inaugural Craft Beverage Expo held May 6-8 in San Jose drew more than 1,300 people from the craft segments of the wine, spirits, beer and cider industries. The expo featured seminars and networking opportunities as well as 160 exhibitors. “The turnout was simply incredible,” said Kellie Shevlin, the expo’s executive director. “The educational sessions were thought-provoking, and the networking events had great energy.” Next year’s expo will take place May 6-8 in Santa Clara, Calif. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2014
 

Noted winemaker Bob Sessions dies

 

Bob Sessions, the pioneering vintner best known for his work for more than 41 years at Hanzell Vineyards, died peacefully surrounded by family in Sonoma on Tuesday, May 13, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 82 years old. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2014
 

Petaluma Gap looks to become AVA

 

Petaluma, Calif.—Growers in the Petaluma Gap region of Sonoma County have begun the process of applying for their own AVA. Located near the town of Petaluma, the cool region buffeted by regular and often strong winds is known for producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2014
 

Guarachi Family purchases Napa Valley vineyard

 

Sebastopol, Calif.—Guarachi Family Wines announced its purchase of Meadowrock, a 62-acre vineyard in the Atlas Peak AVA of Napa Valley. The deal is the second vineyard purchase by Guarachi, which acquired Sun Chase vineyard in Sonoma County last year. Meadowrock includes 30 acres of vines at 1,400 to 1,760 feet elevation. Most of the vineyard is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, but the property also includes Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, according to a statement released by Guarachi Family Wines.

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2014
 

Tooley named director of finance

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—Justin M. Tooley is the new director of finance at Villa San-Juliette winery in Paso Robles. As the former assistant controller for Roll Wine Holdings, Tooley was in charge of daily finance and compliance operations for Justin Winery in Paso Robles and Roll Vineyards and Landmark Vineyards in Sonoma County.

 
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News Briefs California

 
May 2014
 

California wine sales up 3%

 

San Francisco, Calif.—The Wine Institute reports California wine shipments within the U.S. reached 215 million in 2013, which is an increase of 3% over the previous year. Domestic wine sales also grew by 5% in value to $23.1 billion. The total U.S. wine market grew 3% to 375.2 million cases, and California’s share of that reached 57%. The state accounted for 90% of the 48.4 million cases of U.S. wine that was exported in 2013. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2014
 

Rack & Riddle announces date for grand opening at new facility

 
Healdsburg, Calif.—Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services’ new Healdsburg facility on Moore Lane near the town square is expected to be fully operational Aug. 1. The custom-crush operation will hold a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony Aug. 27. In 2013 Rack & Riddle produced more than 1 million cases of wine for more than 100 winemaking clients. Details: rackandriddle.com.
 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2014
 

LaVine named Aveníu president

 
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Napa, Calif.—Keith LaVine is the new president of importer Aveníu Brands. LaVine is the former president of Artesa Vineyards & Winery, which is owned by Aveníu's parent company Bodegas y Vinedos Codorníu Raventos. Prior to joining Artesa, LaVine led national sales for Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, St. Supery Vineyards & Winery, Lynmar Estate Winery and Brown Forman Wine Estates.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2014
 

Hanzell president takes on new role

 
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Sonoma, Calif.—Jean Arnold Sessions announced she is leaving her position as president of Hanzell Vineyards to become the winery’s board director and brand consultant. Arnold Sessions has been with Hanzell since 1999 and was appointed president in 2002 taking over for Bob Sessions who is now winemaker emeritus. According to a statement by the winery, Arnold Sessions will work to ensure a smooth transition with the new president to be appointed by winery owner Alexander de Brye.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2014
 

New winemaker at Bello

 
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St. Helena, Calif.—Ross Wallace is the new head winemaker at Bello Family Vineyards. Wallace joins Bello after working as the winemaker at Hunnicutt Wine Co. and Bryant Family Vineyards. He replaces consulting winemaker Aaron Pott.

 
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News Briefs California

 
April 2014
 

Promotions at Ferrari-Carano

 

Healdsburg, Calif.—Sarah Quider is the new executive winemaker for Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery and Lazy Creek Vineyards. Quider was promoted from the post of white wines and Pinot Noir winemaker. Rebecka Deike was promoted to the role of associate winemaker in charge of red wines and the company’s mountain winery. Former winemaker Aaron Piotter left to pursue his own winemaking projects, according to a statement released by the winery. 

 
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April 2014
 

ShipCompliant acquired by Sovos

 

Boulder, Colo.—Sovos Compliance announced its acquisition of Boulder-based ShipCompliant, the leading compliance and tax solution provider for the beverage alcohol market. The two companies will integrate their complementary compliance services to assist businesses navigating the demanding regulatory environment for beverage alcohol registration, tax rate determination, compliance management and reporting, according to a press release on the merger. Founded in 2000, ShipCompliant provides an integrated SaaS-based platform for wineries, breweries, distilleries, and importers of beverage alcohol products, enabling clients to easily access consumer and wholesaler markets throughout the United States.

Wines & Vines and ShipCompliant developed a model to track direct-to-consumer wine shipments by North American wineries. Those DtC figures are a key element of the regular monthly wine industry metrics report by Wines Vines Analytics as well as an annual report provided a complete overview of DtC wine sales.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

Strupp promoted at Halter Ranch

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—Molly Strupp is the new assistant winemaker at Halter Ranch Vineyard and Winery. Strupp, a graduate of California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, joined the winery in 2011 as lab manager before being promoted to enologist.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

Winery Exchange acquires Chronic Cellars

 

Novato, Calif.—Winery Exchange announced its acquisition of Chronic Cellars winery located in Paso Robles, Calif. Founded by brothers Jake and Josh Beckett in 2008, Chronic Cellars positioned itself as a counter-culture brand with edgy labels like Sofa King Bueno. Josh Beckett will stay on as winemaker, Jake Beckett will oversee marketing and brand development, and Jake’s wife Dawn Beckett will continue to manage the tasting room and wine club. Winery Exchange manages a portfolio of brands and develops, markets and sells custom wine, beer and spirits brands for retailers in the United States and abroad. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

SSU names 'Korbel professor'

 

Rohnert Park, Calif.—Dr. Armand Gilinsky is the new Korbel Professor of Wine Business at Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute. With the support of Korbel Champagne Cellars, the university established the professorship in 2011 and first conferred it to Dr. Liz Thach. Gilinsky plans to put together a wine business case study book as well as help the Sonoma County Winegrowers association with its goal of making the county the first wine region that is 100% sustainable. 

 
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March 2014
 

Santa Barbara joins effort to protect region names

 

Epernay, France—Santa Barbara County joined the French regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy and Chablis in signing the Joint Declaration to Protect Wine Place & Origin. The effort is intended to help protect the names of the world’s wine regions. Napa Valley and Champagne are two of the group’s founding members. Details: protectplace.com.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

New winemaker at Round Pond

 

Rutherford, Calif.—Muiris Griffin is the new winemaker at Round Pond Estate winery. Griffin joins Round Pond after working in winemaking at Ridge Vineyards. At Round Pond, Griffin will work with consulting winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

Nancarrow joins Goosecross

 

Napa, Calif.—Bill Nancarrow is the new winemaker at Goosecross Cellars. Prior to joining Goosecross, Nancarrow was the winemaker at Duckhorn Vineyards in St. Helena. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

DeVries promoted to COO at Fetzer

 

Ukiah, Calif.—Cindy DeVries was promoted to the position of chief operating officer at Fetzer Vineyards. DeVries has been with the winery since 1993, most recently in the role of vice president and general manager.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

New winemaker at Round Pond

 

Rutherford, Calif.—Muiris Griffin is the new winemaker at Round Pond Estate winery. Griffin joins Round Pond after working in winemaking at Ridge Vineyards. At Round Pond, Griffin will work with consulting winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

Mary Maher named Napa grower of year

 
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Oakville, Calif.—Mary Maher, the vineyard manager for Harlan Estate winery, has been named the 2014 Napa Valley Grower of the Year. After joining the winery in 2001, she developed an in-house vineyard farming and development company that employs more than 50 men and women overseeing the vineyards of Harlan Estate, The Napa Valley Reserve and Promontory. Maher has served on the Napa Valley Grapegrowers Board of Directors for nine years and has been the president of both the Carneros Quality Alliance and Napa Valley Vineyard Technical Group. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

Wine.com hires Wilfred Wong

 

San Francisco, Calif.—Wilfred Wong, the longtime wine buyer for BevMo!, announced his retirement from the retailer and his new role with Wine.com as “chief storyteller.” Wong worked at BevMo! for 19 years reviewing thousands of wines. In his new position at the online wine retailer Wine.com, Wong will research wines and wineries from around the world and create content for the company’s website, email newsletters, blog, video and social media channels. 

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

Eberle to stay with winery

 

Paso Robles, Calif.—After being ousted from his leadership role by the controlling partners of the winery he founded, Gary Eberle announced he is now staying on with Eberle Winery as its brand ambassador. “This is a new chapter in my life at Eberle Winery, and I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Eberle said in a statement released by the winery. In January, Eberle’s partners voted to remove him from the post of general manager. Willis Blakewell is the winery’s new general manager. Co-owner Rob Flory said the rest of the owners are “extremely happy” Eberle is staying with the winery. “We want to continue to evolve, strengthen our vineyards and position the winery for continued success, and Gary is an important part of this plan.” 

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

New general manager at Folio

 
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Napa, Calif.—Paolo Battegazzore is the new general manager at Folio Wine Partners. Battegazzore replaces David Francke, who is leaving the company after eight years in the position. Battegazzore joined Folio in 2005, overseeing the company’s imported wine portfolio. Prior to joining Folio, Battegazzore was the general manager of the Luce della Vite wine company founded by Vittorio Frescobaldi and Robert Mondavi.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

VJB Vineyards buys Wellington Vineyards

 

Kenwood, Calif.—VJB Vineyards & Cellars announced its purchase of nearby Sonoma Valley winery Wellington Vineyards. The purchase includes the winery and 21 acres of vineyards. Founder Peter Wellington will continue to run the tasting room at Wellington Vineyards and retain his existing inventory as part of a two-year lease agreement, according to a statement released by VJB Vineyards.

 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

WiVi takes place this week

 
Paso Robles, Calif.—WiVi Central Coast 2014, the wine industry's largest symposium and tradeshow in California's Central Coast, starts this week at the Paso Robles Event Center. Hosted by Wine Business Monthly and Precision Ag Consulting, WiVi features a tradeshow with more than 100 exhibitors and two days of concurrent sessions that focus on regional viticulture, enology and wine marketing topics.
 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

New winemaker at Marcassin

 
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Windsor, Calif.—Ryan O’Donnell is the new winemaker at Marcassin Winery. O’Donnell is the former associate winemaker at Kosta Browne Winery in Sebastopol, Calif., and prior to that was the associate winemaker at Paul Hobbs Winery, also in Sebastopol.
 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

Beckstoffer purchases vineyards in Mendocino and Red Hills

 
Hopland, Calif.—Beckstoffer Vineyards announced the purchase of the 190-acre Feliz Creek Vineyard in Hopland (Mendocino County) and a 60-acre walnut orchard adjacent to Beckstoffer’s Crimson Ridge Vineyard in the Red Hills of Lake County. Both properties will be planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. Beckstoffer purchased Feliz Creek Vineyard from the Brutocao family. The new purchases will increase Beckstoffer’s holdings to more than 1,900 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in California's North Coast.
 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

O'Neill Vintners partners with Cecchetti Wine Co.

 
Larkspur, Calif.—O’Neill Vintners & Distillers and Cecchetti Wine Co. announced a strategic partnership to combine the winemaking and sales functions of their respective national wine brands. The new business, which will operate under the O’Neill Vintners & Distillers banner, is designed to take advantage of O’Neill’s winemaking and production expertise and Cecchetti’s sales and marketing. The combined national portfolio will feature Cecchetti brands Austerity, Backhouse, Exitus, Line 39 and Redtree as well as O’Neill labels Camelot, Martin & Weyrich (Moscato Allegro), Pepi and Tin Roof Cellars.
 
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News Briefs California

 
March 2014
 

Chamisal Vineyards releases Stainless Pinot Noir

 
San Luis Obispo, Calif.—Chamisal Vineyards is launching its Stainless Pinot Noir, once available exclusively through the tasting room, for national distribution this month. A companion to Chamisal's Stainless Chardonnay, the 2013 Stainless Pinot Noir was sourced from Central Coast vineyards and Chamisal’s estate vineyard. Details: chamisalvineyards.com.
 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2014
 

U.S. wine exports up 16% in 2013

 

San Francisco, Calif.—Led by California wines, total U.S. wine exports reached a record high of $1.55 billion in 2013, according to the Wine Institute. Exports were up 16.4% over the previous year continuing a trend of consecutive value growth in the past four years. Volume shipments reached 48.4 million cases, an increase of 7.5%. The institute reports California wines account for 90% of all exports and most of that wine is going to the European Union. The 28 EU nations imported $617 million worth of U.S. wine, which is 31% more than last year. Canadian exports grew 12% to $454 million and shipments to China increased by 6% to $77 million. Imports to Hong Kong, however, fell 12% to $78 million and Japanese exports slipped 7% to $102 million. Details: wineinstitute.org

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2014
 

Ennis promoted to winemaker at Freestone

 
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St. Helena, Calif.—Justin Ennis was promoted to the position of winemaker at Joseph Phelps Vineyards’ Freestone Vineyards estate on the Sonoma County coast. Ennis will oversee day-to-day operations at Freestone while working with vice president and director of winemaking Damian Parker. Ennis joined Freestone in 2007 as cellarmaster.

 
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News Briefs California

 
February 2014
 

Promotions at V. Sattui, Castello di Amorosa

 

St. Helena, Calif.—Laura Orozco is the new winemaker at V. Sattui winery in St. Helena and Peter Velleno the new winemaker at Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga. Both Orozco and Velleno had been associate winemakers at their respective wineries, which are both owned by Dario Sattui. Before joining V. Sattui, Orozco worked in winemaking at Franciscan Estate and Velleno was the winemaker at Hartwell Vineyards in Napa Valley before joining Castello di Amorosa.

 
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