Skip to content

Media & Trade

An Insider’s Guide to California’s Wine Harvest

September 14, 2020

Eight Facts on How Wines Go from Grape to Glass 

SAN FRANCISCO  California’s annual winegrape harvest is underway, and wineries across the state are humming with activity as they transform the grapes into wine. Despite this year’s challenges, vintners are pleased with the quality of the 2020 vintage. As a tribute to this special time, Wine Institute presents eight lesser-known facts about California’s winegrape harvest. 

 Want to experience California wine countryharvest? California Wines is offering free Zoom backgrounds of winegrape harvest scenes—from picking to crush. Just download the images and select a California harvest backdrop for your next Zoom session. For instructions, see Zoom’s support page. 

  1. California harvest: largest in the U.SCalifornia produces more than 80 percent of U.S. wine and isthe world’s fourth-largest producer. More than 90 percent of all California wine is produced in a Certified California Sustainable winery. 

  1. Seeds hold the clues. Along with measuring the fruit’s sugar, acidity and pH levels, California winemakerscontinually taste the grapes—making sure to chew the seeds—in the days leading up to harvest. That’s because as grapes mature, their seeds turn brown and become less bitter. By chewing the seeds, winemakers can tell when the grapes have reached perfect ripeness. 

red grapes

  1. Sparkling wines go first.Harvesting early—typically in late July or early August—helps the state’s wineries maintain refreshing acidity in their sparkling wines. While just about any grape variety can be used to make sparkling wine, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the most common choices. 
  2. The grapes come in after dark. Wineries typically harvest between midnight and early morning because the cooler nighttime temperatures help concentrate and preserve the fresh fruit aromas and flavors and stabilize sugar levels. Night harvesting also saves energy in the winery because it eliminates the need to cool down the grapes after they have been picked, and it provides more comfortable working conditions for vineyard crews.

night harvest

  1. Falcons help at harvest time. As part of their sustainable farming practices, many California vintners recruit trained raptors to scare away flocks of starlings and other birds that swoop in to eat ripe winegrapeshanging on the vines.  

falcon in vineyard

  1. Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon: state’s top grapes. Chardonnay is the number grape by tons harvested in California, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon. 
     
  2. 118+grape varieties. The state’s diverse climate and soils provide a hospitable home for dozens of winegrape varieties from Albariño to Zinfandel. 
  1. One ton of grapes = 63 cases. On average, one ton of winegrapes produces about 63 cases of wine, or 756 (750 ml) bottles.

# # #

MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

California Wine Month Launches with Virtual Events and Offers

August 31, 2020

More than 30 Partners Join September Celebration

wine tasting
Consumers can choose among 50-plus California wine experiences, from virtual cooking classes to online wine auctions. See: DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com and view events such as Raymond Vineyards” “Winemaker for a Day.” Raymond Vineyards photo.

SAN FRANCISCO —September is California Wine Month, the state’s annual harvest celebration. Each year, wineries, grapegrowers and regional associations across the state host special events and tastings, and 2020 will be no exception. However, due to COVID-19 concerns, this year’s festivities will take the form of virtual wine tastings and tours, live-streamed auctions, digital cooking demonstrations, special wine discounts and the first-ever virtual grape stomp. California Wines has also created a Harvest 2020 Playlist on Spotify to help put wine lovers in a harvest state of mind, wherever they happen to live.

Now in its 16th year, California Wine Month highlights the state’s 250-year winemaking history, and the innovative spirit of its wine community. Home to 4,200 vintners and 5,900 grape growers, California is the world’s fourth-largest wine producer and the source of 81 percent of the wine made in the United States. More than 90 percent of all California wine is produced in a Certified California Sustainable winery.

Visit https://discovercaliforniawines.com/california-wine-month to view details and descriptions of dozens of virtual events and discount offers for California Wine Month, being updated daily. A pdf list of events as of this writing can also be viewed here.

Some highlights of this year’s offerings include:

Aug. 24-Sept. 20: Sonoma County Wine Auction

Aug. 31-Sept. 30: Explore Lake County AVAs with Lake County Winegrape Growers

Sept. 1-15: Sta. Rita Hills Wine Alliance Wine Club Passport Wine Discount

Sept. 1-30: Taste of Sonoma at Home

 Sept. 1-30: Celebrate California Wine Month with the Santa Lucia Highlands

 Sept. 1-30: Temecula Valley CRUSH Wine & Culinary Extravaganza

Sept. 18: New California AVAs and Trends in California Wine with San Francisco Wine School

 Sept. 27: Calaveras Virtual Grape Stomp: Backyard Edition with Calaveras Winegrape Alliance

 California Wine Month Partners

California Wine Month is celebrated by restaurant, retail, media and association partners in California and throughout the U.S. including:

Albertsons, Archer Hotel, California Avocados, California Figs, California Pears, California Restaurant Association, California Table Grapes, CellarPass, Charlie Palmer Steak, Compline, Dry Creek Kitchen, Epic Steak, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, GuildSomm, Ironwood, Lawry’s Prime Rib, Oakville Grocery, Olea, Pavilions, Raley’s, Real California Milk, Restaurants Care, Safeway, San Francisco Wine School, Sapphire, Sky & Vine, SOMM Select, Vegan Vines, Vine Restaurant & Bar, Visit California, Visit Napa Valley, Vons, Women for WineSense, Women of the Vine & Spirits.

About Wine Institute

 Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the association of 1,000 California wineries and wine-related businesses that initiate and advocate state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine.

# # #

MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

California Wine Sales Reach $43.6 Billion in U.S. Market in 2019

July 9, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO – California wineries shipped 241.5 million nine-liter cases to the U.S. in 2019 with an estimated retail value of $43.6 billion, up 6% in value and down 1% in volume, according to wine industry expert Jon Moramarco of bw166 and Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates.

California wine sales to all markets, including shipments to the U.S. and export markets, were 275.6 million cases in 2019.

“The value of California wine sales in the U.S. grew 6% in 2019 as our vintners attracted consumers with diverse, sustainably produced, high-quality wines,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, Wine Institute President and CEO. “This year will be more challenging, especially for small- and medium-sized wineries because of the closure of tasting rooms and restaurants. Tasting rooms have reopened, and our wineries are working to recover by reaching consumers through DTC, digital sales and virtual experiences.”

“California wine has had a good run over the last 25 years with the wine category incrementally gaining year after year ahead of the 1.2% annual increase of the U.S. legal drinking age population over this time period,” said Moramarco. “But the growth of the LDA population is expected to flatten in the coming years, and overall consumer spending was down 25.5% from March 15 to May 15, 2020 due to the pandemic. Wineries will need to protect their base with Baby Boomers, hold wine’s place as the mealtime beverage and evolve with consumers’ dining habits and also attract younger generations with new products and tasting experiences.”

2019 Wine Stats

“Dietary information is an increasing part of the market landscape as consumer awareness of ‘better for me’ products and social moderation grows,” said Danny Brager, Senior Vice President of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice Area. At the same time, even if consumers drink less, they continue to drink better, as evidenced by the continued premiumization trend, along with an appetite for diverse flavors. These underlying trends go hand-in-hand with the rising sales of smaller-serve packages and flavored and lighter, wine-based cocktails.

“Wineries are expanding the occasions and reasons to enjoy wine by offering food and entertaining experiences, diverse products, convenient ways to access wine online and convenient packaging to drink wine,” said Brager.

According to Nielsen-measured U.S. off-premise sales in food stores and other large volume outlets, top-selling varietals by volume share are: Chardonnay, 18.6%; Cabernet Sauvignon, 15.1%; Red Blends, 10.7%; Pinot Grigio/Gris, 10.0%; Moscato/Muscat, 6.0%; Merlot, 5.9%; Sauvignon Blanc, 5.5%; Pinot Noir,5.2%; White Zinfandel/Blush, 3.3%; and Rosé, 3.1%. Rosé is the only varietal to grow at double digit levels compared to 2018.

The U.S. Wine Market
The U.S. has remained the world’s largest wine market by volume since 2010 and is the fourth leading wine producer worldwide. Wine shipments to the U.S. from California, other states and foreign producers grew 0.3% to 406.4 million cases in 2019, with an estimated retail value of $75.1 billion. California’s 241.5 million cases shipped within the U.S. in 2019 represent a 60% share of the total U.S. wine market.

Total shipments of sparkling wine and champagne to the U.S. from all production sources reached 29.3 million cases in 2019, an increase of 6.2%. Sparkling wines/champagnes accounted for a 7% share of the U.S. wine market.

U.S. Wine Exports
U.S. wine exports, 95% from California, reached $1.36 billion in winery revenues in 2019. Volume shipments were 371 million liters or 41 million nine-liter cases. The European Union’s 28-member countries were the top market for U.S. wine exports, accounting for $427 million; followed by Canada, $424 million; Hong Kong, $113 million; Japan, $92 million; China, $39 million; South Korea, $27 million; Nigeria, $24 million; Mexico, $19 million; Philippines, $18 million; Dominican Republic, $16 million; and Switzerland, $15 million.

California Wine Shipments

Wine Sales US

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

California Winery Tasting Rooms Begin to Reopen in Time for Summer Sipping

June 17, 2020

Enjoy the Vines, Vistas and Wines with Some Changes

iron horse vineyard tasting
Visitors enjoy vineyard views, good weather and wine tasting outdoors, where tables are physically distanced and appointment-only tastings control the flow of guests. Iron Horse Vineyards photo.

SAN FRANCISCO — California wine lovers have good reason to raise their glasses; on June 12, wineries were given the green light by the state to reopen their tasting rooms to visitors in approved counties. Tasting room experiences will look a bit different this summer, but California wine country’s natural beauty and world-class wines are as spectacular as ever.

Protecting the health and safety of their visitors and employees is a top priority for California vintners. Wineries have implemented stringent cleaning and sanitation protocols as well as employee wellness screenings and the use of face coverings among other practices.

Visitors can expect to see several changes during their next California wine country excursion:

  • Visitor flow will be monitored. Vintners are limiting the number of guests who are allowed to visit at any one time. This helps wineries maintain physical distancing and creates a more intimate atmosphere for guests. They are also limiting group sizes.
  • Tables are spaced to meet the six-foot physical distancing requirements and give visitors plenty of room to relax and enjoy the experience.
  • Tastings are moving outdoors. California wine country is known for its gorgeous vineyards and beautiful winery estates, so it’s a great time to get outside and enjoy the views. Many wineries have moved tables outside to ensure proper spacing between tables or are offering outdoor-only tastings. Some are also featuring fresh-air activities such as private vineyard hikes and curated picnics. Check winery websites or call ahead for the latest offerings.
  • Tours have gone private. Wineries are limiting tour groups to members of the same household, so different parties will not be mixed together. This results in a more personalized experience for participants.
  • Masks are in fashion. Guests are asked to wear face coverings while checking in or when coming within six feet of winery staff and other guests. Masks are generally not required while seated or tasting.
  • Reservations are highly encouraged. To help control the flow of visitors, wineries are asking guests to book tasting appointments. Calling ahead also gives visitors the opportunity to find out about any special tastings or experiences the winery is offering. Guests should also check with wineries in advance for county-specific requirements. As always, please stay home and reschedule your visit if you or anyone in your party is unwell.

If you can’t make it to a California winery this summer, many wineries are also continuing to offer virtual tastings and experiences which can be found at discovercaliforniawines.com. You can also recreate the experience at home with Wine Country Table: With Recipes that Celebrate California’s Sustainable Harvest.

Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of more than 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that initiates and advocates state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. The organization works to enhance the economic and environmental health of the state through its leadership in sustainable winegrowing and a partnership with Visit California to showcase California’s wine and food offerings and the state as a top travel destination.

# # #

Journalists requiring further information should contact the Wine Institute Communications Dept.

California Wine Cocktails for Summer 

June 1, 2020

ipad spring cocktails

Free e-Book Showcases Seasonal Recipes for Sipping-in-Place

SAN FRANCISCO — As spring gives way to warmer temperatures, wine lovers naturally gravitate toward crisp, refreshing wines that match the summer season. Not only are wines such as California Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and rosé delicious on their own, they are also wonderful in wine-based cocktails. Light and fresh but big on flavor, wine cocktails are easy to make at home for sipping on the patio or toasting friends during virtual happy hours.

“Wine is a great base for cocktails because it has a balance of acidity and fruit,” says Northern California radio show host, wine educator and cocktail maven Ziggy Eschliman, also known as Ziggy the Wine Gal. “It also has structure, which provides an easy framework on which to build.”

For vibrant summer wine cocktails, Eschliman recommends wines with light and refreshing profiles such as California sparkling wines, crisp whites and rosés, pairing them with garden-inspired simple syrups, artisan bitters, edible flowers and fresh herbs. “Think about the qualities of each wine variety,” she says, “then match them with similar flavors to complement the wine’s natural aromas and flavor profile.”

To provide more inspiration for signature wine-based cocktails for summer, California Wines has released a new free e-book, “Fresh + Delicious California Wine Cocktails.” Available to download here, it features recipes for fabulous seasonal drinks that celebrate the state’s bounty of sustainably grown wines, produce and fresh herbs.

Recipes include:

Fresh Berry Moscato Mule: A bubbly blend of muddled berries, ginger beer and California Moscato wine

Cucumber Herb Spritzer: California white wine, cucumber and lime meet mint and basil for a fresh herbal twist

Strawberry Lemon Smash: Fresh strawberries, California sparkling wine and lemon create a summertime sensation

Raspberry Frosé: California rosé, fresh raspberries and peaches whirl together for a slushy, grown-up treat

SoCal Citrus Sangria: A citrus-kissed combination of California Zinfandel, fresh citrus and a touch of honey

To download a free copy of “Fresh + Delicious California Wine Cocktails” and sign up for the Discover California Wines monthly newsletter, visit here.

Need More Summer Recipes to Try at Home?

For seasonal dishes to prepare and enjoy with California wines and wine-based cocktails, pick up a copy of “Wine Country Table,” featuring recipes inspired by the Golden State’s sustainable winegrowers and farmers. The book is available at major bookstores and through Amazon. You can also find great seasonal recipes at Discover California Wines.

Wine Institute is the public policy association of California wineries producing 80 percent of U.S. wine. California is the nation’s number one state for wine and food tourism with 3,900 wineries.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

Take a Virtual Trip to California Wine Country with Zoom Backgrounds

May 19, 2020

Images from California Wine Regions Provide Beautiful Backdrops for Meetings and Virtual Happy Hours

zoom backgrounds

SAN FRANCISCO —Ever wish you were touring California wine country instead of sheltering in place at home? Now you can—at least virtually. Wine Institute is offering background photos for the Zoom video conference service that depict stunning vineyard and winery scenes across the Golden State. Just download the images to your computer and select a California Wine Country backdrop for your next Zoom meeting or happy hour session with family or friends. Backgrounds include iconic views from between the vine rows, sweeping aerial vistas and more.

Follow these simple steps to virtually transport yourself to California’s wine regions:

1.  Download the desired background images and save them to your computer as .jpg files.

2.  In the Zoom app, click your profile in the top right corner, then choose Settings.

3.  On the menu to the left, click Virtual Background.

4.  To upload a new background photo, click the + icon (Add Image) to the right of Choose Virtual Background. Click on the image you want to upload from your computer and it will appear at    the bottom of the screen as a background option.

To use the virtual background feature, you’ll need a fast computer processor and newer operating system (see Zoom’s support page for requirement details), or a green screen or solid color background.

For more free California Wine Country Zoom backgrounds, see Visit Napa Valley, the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau, Visit Temecula Valley, Visit California, and Discover Buellton.

Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that initiates and advocates state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. The organization works to enhance the economic and environmental health of the state through its leadership in sustainable winegrowing and a partnership with Visit California to showcase California’s wine and food offerings and the state as a top travel destination.

# # #

MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

More Virtual Experiences from California Wineries Statewide at DiscoverCaliforniaWines.Com

May 11, 2020

virtual tasting

SAN FRANCISCO — While initially born of necessity, virtual wine tasting events and experiences have struck a chord with consumers looking to connect with their favorite California wineries. Closed for public visits since March 16 due to the statewide shelter-in-place (SIP) order, many wineries have found virtual events to be so popular that they plan to continue offering them even after their tasting rooms reopen. Virtual tasting experiences present opportunities for wineries to engage with new and existing customers throughout the country—even when they can’t make it to California. To view all the virtual events, see Wine Institute’s consumer website: Discover California Wines.

Virtual tastings have been well received by wine enthusiasts both locally and out of state, according to Michael Haney, executive director of Sonoma County Vintners. “They allow our winery members to continue to build relationships with their consumers during this challenging time, and for the future.”

Local wineries swiftly pivoted from in-person tasting experiences to virtual versions—with immediate positive results, said Stacey Dolan Capitani, vice president of marketing for Napa Valley Vintners. “Wineries are reporting increased consumer engagement, meeting new potential customers and seeing increased wine sales.”

“The Paso wine community quickly embraced the virtual tastings and experiences,” said Joel Peterson, executive director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. “We’ve been impressed with how our fans and followers have hopped on board and participated. The engagement has been fun!”

Following is a sampling of multi-date virtual tastings and experiences by California wineries across the state in May, June and beyond. Visit www.DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com for more events.

Cooking Demonstrations & Food and Wine Pairings

Throughout spring and summer, Baldacci Family Vineyards is hosting online tastings, food and wine pairing seminars, and winemaker meet-and-greets. Choose between Food & Wine, Wine with Friends, and Ask the Winemaker tastings.

Join ‘Sip and Cook’ Facebook Live chats with Justin and Eileen Boeger every Sunday in May as they make a meal, appetizer or dessert and sip wines from Boeger Winery in El Dorado County in the Sierra Foothills.

On May 15, 22 and 29, join Bokisch Vineyards in Lodi for virtual tastings, including a tasting with the winemaker & sangria-making demonstration, a musical happy hour in the vineyard, and a taste of terroir with a Catalan cooking session.

Ceja Vineyards hosts Taco Tuesday – Vino y Más with Amelia and Dalia Ceja on Facebook Live every Tuesday through May 24. Each week, the duo showcases a new recipe, discusses classic and contemporary dishes, and offers fun wine pairings.

Tune in to Instagram Live every Sunday in May for a live cooking demonstration and tasting with J Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg with chef Carl Shelton. Happy hours are Fridays at 3 pm featuring an indepth tasting with winemaker Nicole Hitchcock.

Join La Crema Wines in Windsor through June 1 for the Sips & Tips Virtual Wine & Food Series. Every Friday, the winery’s chef and head winemaker will feature creative food and wine pairings interspersed with virtual tastings of select wines.

Le Vigne Winery in Paso Robles is hosting Winemaker Team Tastings through the end of May. Each week, team members feature two wines in an interactive tasting experience. Cheese pairings for each wine are also available for purchase.

On Instagram, chef Jeffery Russell hosts a live cooking demo pairing Louis M. Martini wines every Saturday at 3 pm. Winemaker Michael Eddy hosts a Friday Happy Hour at 4 pm PST to discuss single vineyard wines, enjoying aged Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and more.

Virtual Tastings, Happy Hours, and Vineyard and Winery Tours

Fridays through May, Ampelos Cellars in the Sta. Rita Hills is hosting educational virtual tastings on Zoom that explore topics such as biodynamic farming, sustainable practices, vine anatomy, flowering, and harvest decisions.

Andis Wines hosts Wine Wednesdays on Zoom. A May 13 virtual tasting focuses on Italian varietals from Amador County, while a May 20 event, “Appreciating all Shapes and Colors,” explores the reasons behind different wine bottle shapes and closures.

Belden Barns is hosting weekly Wine & Wishes virtual tastings through May 24 that explore bottlings from the Sonoma County winery’s portfolio. Learn how the wines’ flavors change when paired with random items from your pantry stockpile.

Join Boisset Collection Virtual Happy Hours every Mon., Wed., Fri. & Sat. through May. Vintner Jean-Charles Boisset explores art, design, fashion, architecture, history, nature, food, great chefs and the finest things in life.

Each Thursday in May, Broken Earth Winery in Paso Robles is hosting the Inophile Virtual Tasting with the winery’s hospitality director, Elise Herrera, and tasting room manager Tim Small. Explore a different wine each week.

Through the end of May, join Calcareous Vineyard winemaker Jason Joyce for Cellar Talk, a virtual tasting and showcase of the Paso Robles producer’s winemaking techniques.

Through May, join Écluse Wine in Paso Robles for Virtual Happy Hour on Facebook Live. Tastings feature one or two wines per week, with a Happy Hour Six Pack available for guests to purchase if they’d like to taste wines with the winemaker.

Join Gary Farrell Winery through June 20 for virtual Cellar Party sessions with the winery’s estate sommeliers. Ask any questions you may have about wine, hear sommelier stories and “virtually” meet special guests.

On Instagram Live, check out virtual events with J. Lohr Vineyards in Paso Robles. The May 20 tasting will present Summer Sippers from Monterey’s Arroyo Seco, and on June 10, Sustainability and the Art of Craft will show earth friendly practices that won the winery its Green Medal Award this year.

L’Aventure Wine in Paso Robles is hosting a Virtual Tasting Room Experience on Google Meet until the end of May, featuring Stephan, Dave and Patrick—aka the winery’s production team. Reserve a time slot, then choose the wines you’d like to taste and talk about.

Lynmar Estate in Sebastopol is offering virtual tastings through June 30 via Zoom, including a Wine Masterclass with winemaker Pete Soergel that addresses common winemaking and farming questions. Wine tasting kits are available for those who’d like to taste along.

Wednesdays through May 31, Palmaz Vineyards in Napa is offering Virtual Wine Tasting on The Wine Stream, where they’ll preview wines and share memories from 20 years of Napa Valley winemaking.

Every Wednesday and Friday through May 22, get a peek behind the curtain of Paso Robles Wine Country at Paso Zoom Hangouts. Topics may include what’s happening in the cellar and vineyard, experimental winemaking vessels and more.

Join Peachy Canyon Winery Thursdays through the end of May via Zoom and Instagram Live for Virtual Webinars with Josh & Jake, as they come to you live from the wine cellar, vineyards and more. Explore new release wines and some older gems.

Thursdays at 5 pm through May 28, join Samsara Wine Company for a Virtual Happy Hour and discussion of Santa Barbara County Wines, with new topics each week.

Through the end of May, Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles gives virtual tasting participants an inside look at what’s happening in the vineyard and winery. Events take place each Wednesday via Instagram Live.

Every Tuesday through May 26, Tolosa Winery in San Luis Obispo hosts Tasting Tuesdays with winemaker Frederic Delivert, featuring a new wine each week and a Q&A session. Through May 28, Tolosa offers Technical Thursdays—a behind-the-scenes tour of the winery’s estate vineyard and cellar.

For those looking for additional ideas to spice up their SIP meals, the Wine Country Table: Recipes Celebrating California’s Sustainable Harvest cookbook offers easy, inspiring recipes and suggested pairings for wines you can order directly from producers or purchase through grocery stores and online retailers.

Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that initiates and advocates state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. The organization works to enhance the economic and environmental health of the state through its leadership in sustainable winegrowing and a partnership with Visit California to showcase California’s wine and food offerings and the state as a top travel destination.

# # #

Editors: Download photos at: https://app.box.com/s/uuay48wk61kfyipa070tysinc7jo3ju9

MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

California Wineries Bring Virtual Wine Experiences to Consumers

April 20, 2020
Wine glass and laptop on outdoor deck. Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash.
Virtual vineyard and winery tours, dinner-and-wine kits, video cooking demonstrations and more are being offered by California wineries. Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash.

SAN FRANCISCO — With winery tasting rooms temporarily closed due to California’s statewide shelter-in-place order, wine lovers are looking for new ways to connect with their favorite wineries without leaving home. Golden State winemakers have responded with a variety of fun, creative offerings to bring California wine country to consumers across the country. Along with putting innovative and educational twists on “virtual tastings,” many are now offering takeout dinners, meal kits, stay-at-home pantry boxes and more.

Following are some of the unique offerings from California wineries across the state. To see all 80 virtual experiences, go to: Discover California Wines. Check back often as new experiences are being added daily.

MEAL KITS, CARE PACKAGES & COOKING DEMOS

On April 23, Stacey Combs, executive chef at Sonoma’s Ram’s Gate Winery, will lead a virtual cooking demonstration of Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta. See here to register for the Zoom session and get an advance list of ingredients and wine pairing suggestions.

On April 24, join Kendall-Jackson Winemaster Randy Ullom and Executive Chef Justin Wangler for an interactive virtual tasting (participants are invited to purchase the wines in advance) and cooking demonstration of recipes from the Sonoma County winery’s cookbook.

Join Napa Valley’s Cakebread Cellars each week in April for live Cooking with Cakebread demonstrations on Facebook Live. Learn how to make comforting dishes like the winery chef’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Point Reyes Farmstead Toma Cheese, Pickled Golden Beet Slaw & Whole Grain Mustard.

Clif Family Wines in the Napa Valley is offering Stay-at-Home-Pantry Kits featuring four different wines, plus Clif Family gourmet goodies including apple butter, barbecued nuts, porcini spice blend, and dark chocolate sea salt almonds.

Tune in to Instagram Live and click on “Events” every Sunday for a live cooking demonstration with J Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma County, featuring the winery’s executive chef, Carl Shelton.

Along with virtual tastings with cheese pairings each Wednesday via Zoom and Facebook Live, Le Vigne Winery in Paso Robles is shipping Shelter-in-Place Care Packages filled with wine, charcuterie, cheeses and crackers.

Mendocino County’s Pennyroyal Farm is offering a Wine + Cheese Combo Pack for shipping across the U.S., featuring Pennyroyal’s own farmstead cheeses and wines.

Join chefs Charlie Palmer and Scott Romano every Thursday on Instagram Live for the Pigs & Pinot Tutorial Series. Each week, the chefs host a live cooking demonstration with wine pairings from a rotating lineup of Sonoma County winemakers.

Join Amelia and Dalia Ceja of Ceja Vineyards for Taco Tuesday, Vino y Más in Los Carneros in Napa, streaming on Facebook Live every Tuesday through May 12 at 6:30 p.m. PST to learn about classic and contemporary dishes and fun wine pairings. 

SEMINARS & VIRTUAL TASTINGS WITH A TWIST

For virtual tastings that focus on specific wines, participants are invited to purchase the featured selections in advance so they can taste along.

On April 21, Join Napa Valley’s Groth Vineyards & Winery for a Happy (Half) Hour Virtual Concert featuring Justin Diaz on Instagram Live. Sip wine while enjoying an uplifting 30-minute set of classic pop, rock, soul and blues.

On April 24, join Napa Valley’s Alpha Omega for Final Final Friday on Instagram Live, when Winemaker Henrik Poulsen and Vineyard Manager Joel Antonio will recap the week in the cellar and vineyards.

On April 24, Knights Bridge Winery in Calistoga will lead a Pairing Wines With Glassware session Facebook Live to show participants how a serving vessel’s shape and size can affect a wine’s taste.

April 28, Merryvale Vineyards will host Tasty Tuesday, a virtual tour on Facebook Live of the winery’s Profile Estate Vineyard and a virtual tasting of the wines exclusively sourced from the vineyard site.

On May 2, the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association is organizing a free Zoom seminar on the region’s history, terroir and wines. Moderated by local sommelier Corrina Strauss, the session will feature vintner Allan Green, wine writer Thom Elkjer and Evan Hufford, formerly of Single Thread Farm Restaurant.

Ampelos Cellars in the Sta. Rita Hills is hosting educational virtual tastings on Zoom every Friday through April 24 that cover topics such as biodynamic farming, sustainable practices, vine anatomy, flowering, and harvest decisions.

Belden Barns is hosting weekly Wine & Wishes virtual tastings that explore bottlings from the Sonoma County winery’s portfolio. Winemakers will explore how the wines’ flavors change when paired with random items from their pantry—from beans to peanut butter to boxed macaroni and cheese.

Join DAOU Family Estates in Paso Robles for Instagram Live Happy Hour Fridays through April 25. Hosted by Katherine Daou, each virtual event features a particular wine and a special guest—such as DJ and music producer Morgan Page—announced the Monday before the session.

El Dorado Wines presents El Dorado Edge virtual tastings each Monday evening on Facebook Live, with each episode taking an edgy dive into a different sub-region of the Sierra Foothills AVA (American Viticultural Area).

Law Estate Wines in Paso Robles is offering interactive tastings on Facebook Live, Events, with winemaker Philip Pfunder every Friday through May 8. Each week he will provide a recipe to make at home and feature a local restaurant offering a take-out special that pairs perfectly with the featured wines.

Each Wednesday via Instagram Live, Tablas Creek Vineyard provides an inside look into what is happening in the Paso Robles producer’s vineyard and winery through interviews with staff members and celebrities.

Tolosa Winery in San Luis Obispo presents Technical Thursdays via Instagram Live or Facebook Live each week, where winemaker Frederic Delivert takes virtual guests to the vineyard and winery to explore their farming and production methods. Wednesdays through May 6, the winery will also host free Yoga Sessions with virtual vineyard views, finishing with a toast.

Join Francis Ford Coppola Winery for its virtual tastings and educational series with winemaking, culinary and gardening experts every Friday at 5:30 pm PST through May 1. View on IGTV or Facebook.

For updates on virtual events by region, see Anderson Valley Winegrowers, Mendocino Winegrowers, Sonoma Valley Wine, Sonoma Wine, Napa Valley Vintners, Visit Napa Valley, Lodi Wine, El Dorado Wines, Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association, Paso Robles Wine Country, San Luis Obispo Coast Wine, Santa Barbara Vintners and Temecula Wines.

FOR LOCALS

Ram’s Gate Winery in Los Carneros has launched Ram’s Gate in Your Kitchen, a food and wine pairing dinner kit delivery service for local delivery and pickup. Weekly-changing kits include a two-course menu featuring local produce and cheeses, with Ram’s Gate wines.

Bricoleur Vineyards in Windsor, Sonoma County, is offering Quarantine Kitchen pasta kits with wine for pickup and local delivery, such as Black Pepper Strozzapreti Arrabiata with a bottle of Pinot Noir.

Participants who pick up their wines for Broken Earth Winery’s Inophile Virtual Tasting, weekly, through April, can also take home a grab-and-go meal prepared by the Paso Robles winery’s executive chef.

Mendocino County’s Pennyroyal Farm is offering a Farm Box for pickup, filled with farmstead cheeses, free-range eggs, and fresh produce.

Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that initiates and advocates state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. The organization works to enhance the economic and environmental vitality of the state through its leadership in sustainable winegrowing and a partnership with Visit California to showcase California’s wine and food offerings.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

Winners Announced for Sixth Annual California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards

April 6, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Green Medal winners have been announced for the Sixth annual Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards. The California Green Medal recognizes the leadership of wineries and vineyards committed to sustainability and is presented 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. Four Green Medals are presented in the following categories: Leader, Environment, Community and Business. The recipients of the Green Medal Awards will be honored at a ceremony at the California State Capitol in Sacramento in the coming months.

Winners of the 2020 Green Medals are:

LEADER AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that excels in the three “E’s” of sustainability—Environmentally sound, socially Equitable and Economically viable practices.

Winner: J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines

With wineries in Paso Robles, San Jose and Greenfield, family-owned and operated J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines embodies leadership in all three aspects of sustainability – environment, community and business; all of its vineyards and wineries are Certified California Sustainable. The winery has been instrumental in several groundbreaking water efficiency initiatives, using innovative technologies to increase irrigation efficiency and recycle process water. In J. Lohr’s Paso Robles winery, they reduced the amount of water needed to make one gallon of wine from 3.5 to 1.3 gallons. The winery has also invested heavily in energy-efficient technologies, with a 756 KW solar (photovoltaic) tracking system that supplies 65% of electrical needs in Paso Robles and a 920.7 KW flat mount system that covers nearly 100% of energy needs at its new winery in Greenfield. Owl boxes, located every 30 to 40 acres in all of its vineyards, provide gopher control; while songbird boxes are installed to attract native species for biodiversity. J. Lohr has carried out extensive habitat and riverbank restoration along 3,900 feet of the Napa River that borders its Carol’s Vineyard in St. Helena. On the social aspect of sustainability, J. Lohr was one of the first vineyard companies to provide long-term employment and year-round health benefits to vineyard workers and their families. It also provides ongoing career education for all associates and an employee garden. A 16-member J. Lohr Sustainability Committee guides company-wide efforts and best practices, and employee newsletters and online Town Hall meetings keep associates informed and engaged in sustainability efforts. With a philosophy of “raising all boats,” J. Lohr shares knowledge and experience, invests money and time in research and educational infrastructure, participates and serves in leadership roles in policy, industry and trade organizations, and supports local and national charities and non-profits devoted, in part, to family health and well-being. Since its founding in 1974, J. Lohr has been a conscientious partner and leader in every aspect of the wine business – in the true spirit of cooperation and the desire to build a better, forward-looking sustainable wine industry.

ENVIRONMENT AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Environmental Stewardship through maximized environmental benefits from implementing sustainable practices.

Winner: Bonterra Organic Vineyards

With a deep respect for the environment, Bonterra Organic Vineyards in Mendocino County has been farming organically for more than 30 years. Bonterra’s green roots run deep and are exemplified in the winery’s approach to defining, measuring and growing its sustainability impact, as well as examining ways to continue to innovate and lead sustainability efforts in the wine industry. What initially began as an exploration of how organic farming could bring enhanced vitality to vineyards and wine has in recent years evolved into a deeper project at Bonterra, with the aim of understanding how winegrowing can produce resilient, biodiverse landscapes and positive climate impacts. Bonterra’s focus today is regenerative agriculture, a practice that helps restore ecosystems through farming – comprising methods such as reduced tillage, cover cropping, compost application, animal grazing, integrated pest management, wildlife integration and wildland conservation – ultimately increasing soil fertility and enhancing the resilience of Bonterra’s vineyards. Made in a Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing winery, Bonterra operates entirely on green energy, its facility is certified Zero Waste and CarbonNeutral®, and it logged significant reductions in water, energy use and emissions in the winery’s most recent sustainability reporting period. Bonterra’s glass is made from 35% recycled material and it is actively expanding alternative packaging offerings including cans, bag-in-box and kegged offerings. The winery—whose parent company is the world’s largest wine company certified as a B Corporation—also looks beyond its own practices to its supply chain, working with grower partners to convert to organic farming practices.

COMMUNITY AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that is a Good Neighbor & Employer using the most innovative practices that enhance relations with employees, neighbors and/or communities.

Winner: Clif Family Winery

Clif Family Winery’s approach to sustainability is to build a company that sustains and regenerates its people, the planet and its community, while creating engaging food and wine brands that sell, and building a successful profitable business. Every decision made is aimed at achieving its Five Aspirations, dedicated to business, brands, people, community and planet. Certified to Napa Green, Clif Family’s achievements include practices to support the local community through philanthropy, community service and many other activities. In 2019, the winery supported 344 charities through product and time donations and donated 20% of proceeds to local non-profits through its Sip and Support program. They close the business one day/year for community service, and the staff has served 950 volunteer hours. In addition, Clif Family Winery offers employees generous benefits (medical/dental/vision, an Employee Assistance Program, life insurance, continuing education) in addition to more unusual opportunities such as a $75 wellness stipend per month, $100 reimbursement for National Parks Passes and annual performance bonuses measured against its Five Aspirations. Equally important is the winery’s approach to the stewardship of natural resources, including conservation of water, biodiversity, energy and soil, as well as the investment in renewable energy.

BUSINESS AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Smart Business through efficiencies, cost savings and innovation from implementing sustainable practices.

Winner: Pisoni Family Vineyards

Now in the hands of the third generation, Pisoni Family’s holistic and inclusive approach to practicing sustainability in their vineyards and winery in the Santa Lucia Highlands began with their grandparents, Eddie & Jane Pisoni, who started the family farming legacy in 1952. Their ethos is that the best approach to having a successful sustainability program is to be inclusive, transparent and open to new ideas. “Leaders don’t dictate—they inspire.” Examples of their focus on efficiency include monitoring every drop of water applied to their vineyards, and recording annual water usage, winter rain fall, shoot tip growth, leaf angle and vine color. To conserve water, a pressure bomb tracks leaf water potential, soil moisture probes are placed at different soil depths, the Tule System measures evapotranspiration and distribution uniformity tests are regularly conducted. In 2018, they installed a solar system which meets 80% of their electricity needs and offsets 240,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year. In addition, they upgraded winery lighting to LED and use variable frequency drive pumps in the vineyard to improve efficiency. The Pisoni Family welcomes local students and visitors from around the globe to visit their 1.5-acre insectary garden to learn about sustainable practices. When it comes to environmental stewardship and sustainability, Pisoni Family leads by doing and by being inclusive. A SIP-Certified vineyard, Pisoni Family loves their land as much as they love their community in Monterey County. It is through sustainability that they hope to give back for many generations to come.

“The Green Medal recognizes the commitment and dedication to sustainability by California growers and vintners and shines a spotlight on industry leaders,” said Allison Jordan, CSWA Executive Director. “Once again, the judging panel was impressed by the breadth and depth of sustainable practices being used by growers and vintners across the state to conserve water and energy, maintain healthy soil, protect air and water quality, preserve wildlife habitat and enhance relations with employees and communities, all while improving the economic vitality of vineyards and wineries and growing and making high quality wine.”

A panel of wine and sustainability experts judged the applications for the sixth annual California Green Medal. They include Karen Block, PhD, UC Davis Viticulture and Enology; Stephanie Bolton, PhD, Lodi Winegrape Commission; Anna Brittain, Napa Valley Vintners; Lisa Francioni, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance; David Glancy, MS, San Francisco Wine School; Frances Knapczyk, Napa Resource Conservation District; Emily Pelissier, UC Berkeley Center for Responsible Business; Cyril Penn, Wine Business Monthly; Katie Piontek, Sonoma County Winegrape Commission; Mike Taylor, Nugget Market, Inc.; and Beth Vukmanic Lopez, Vineyard Team.

Award sponsors are: Exclusive Media Sponsor: Wine Business Monthly; Silver Sponsors: Farm Credit Alliance, Grow West, MCE; Bronze Sponsors: ETS Laboratories, Protected Harvest

Visit: www.greenmedal.org for more information.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

California Wines “Down to Earth Month” Celebrates Sustainability in April

March 26, 2020

Earth-friendly Practices Protect the Health of the Land, Communities and the Industry

Natural pest control with beneficial insects such as ladybugs is one of many sustainable winegrowing practices of California wineries, which are celebrating “Down to Earth Month” in April. George Rose photo.

SAN FRANCISCO — April is California Wines Down to Earth Month, an annual tribute to the California winemaking community’s decades-long commitment to sustainable winegrowing. Created by Wine Institute, the association of 1,000 California wineries, the month-long celebration highlights winery and business practices that ensure the health and vibrancy of the land, communities and the industry for generations to come.

While taking care of the environment is a key element of sustainability, promoting the well-being of employees and the community is equally important. Following California Governor Newsom’s statewide order for Californians to stay at home to help curtail the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), California wineries have suspended all public tastings and events. While essential winery and vineyard production and business operations as well as purchase and pick-up of wine are permitted, this directive presents challenges for the state’s predominantly small, family-owned operations. However, vintners recognize that this is the right thing to do.

In previous years, California wineries have celebrated Down to Earth Month, now in its ninth year, by offering sustainability focused events across the state. This year, many of California’s sustainable wineries are offering special discounts on wine and shipping fees. Wine consumers can still enjoy their favorite California wines at home and support wineries during this challenging time by ordering from winery websites, purchasing and picking up at wineries or signing up for wine clubs.

Visit the Down to Earth Month page on Discover California Wines to see the latest offers.

California is a global leader in sustainable winegrowing and home to one of the world’s most widely adopted sustainable winegrowing programs in terms of both winegrape acreage and case production. As of 2019, 149 wineries producing more than 85% of California’s total wine production are Certified California Sustainable. See the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance website for lists of certified wineries, vineyards and wines. In terms of vineyards, 44% of statewide wine acreage is certified by Certified California Sustainable and by other state sustainability programs, including Lodi Rules, Napa Green and Sustainability in Practice (SIP). All of these programs play an important role in the California wine community’s efforts to produce high quality wine that is environmentally sound, socially equitable and economically feasible.

Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that initiates and advocates state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. The organization works to enhance the economic and environmental health of the state through its leadership in sustainable winegrowing and a partnership with Visit California to showcase California’s wine and food offerings and the state as a top travel destination.

The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) is a nonprofit organization established by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers. CSWA promotes the benefits of sustainable practices, enlists industry commitment, implements the Sustainable Winegrowing Program, and administers Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing – a third-party certification program for California vineyards, wineries and wines that adheres to international sustainability standards.

###
Journalists requiring further information should contact the Wine Institute Communications Dept.

Seven Reasons to Love Springtime in California Wine Country

February 26, 2020

Blooming gardens, baby animals, farm-to-table meals and other spring pleasures beckon

SAN FRANCISCO — California wine country is a fabulous place to visit all year long, but there’s something about springtime that is magical. As winter gives way to milder temperatures, the state’s vineyards, hillsides and winery gardens burst into life—not only with buds for the coming year’s winegrape crop, but with wildflowers, newborn farm animals and fresh produce destined for farm-to-fork wine pairings. Wine Institute offers seven reasons to enjoy springtime in California wine country:

1. Mild Weather & Smaller Crowds

Cambria picnic
Visitors enjoy a vineyard picnic at Cambria Winery, Santa Barbara County. Robert Holmes photo.

Springtime brings mild weather across the state, often with clear, blue skies. This is the start of picnic season, when wineries invite visitors to enjoy gourmet provisions at outdoor tables with stunning vineyard views. Search for wineries with picnic areas at DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com. As a bonus, springtime is typically less busy, so visitors can enjoy an intimate, leisurely experience.

2. Mustard, Cover Crops & Wildflowers

Mustard grass begins to flower in a Los Carneros vineyard, North Coast. Robert Holmes photo.

Following the winter rains, spring is California’s greenest season. This is the ideal time to admire the emerald hillsides and valleys along wine country back roads, and keep an eye out for bright yellow mustard flowers and lush cover crops between vineyard rows that aid winegrowers in their sustainable farming efforts. Wildflowers are a natural attraction in most wine regions, including Sonoma County, San Luis Obispo County, Monterey County, Calaveras County and Lake County.

3. Vineyards Come to Life

Owl box
An owl takes flight from a nesting box at Chamisal Vineyards, San Luis Obispo County. Robert Holmes photo.

Watch vineyards awaken from their winter slumber as the first buds of the season appear and tiny flower clusters form on the tips of young vine shoots. More than 2,100 vineyards representing 29 percent of statewide wine acreage are Certified California Sustainable by third-party auditors of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, and springtime heralds a host of eco-friendly activities among the vines. Nesting boxes installed by vintners attract birds that hunt down gophers and other vineyard pests, and winery estates literally buzz with activity as resident bees pollinate cover crops between the rows.

4. Winery Gardens in Bloom

Left: Call the “tulip hotline” to find out when the tulips are in bloom, Dry Creek Valley. Ferrari-Carano photo. Right: Korbel Winery has a garden tour, Russian River Valley. Korbel photo.

Winery gardens burst into bloom with a stunning array of flowers, trees and estate-grown produce. Meander through seven distinct educational, sensory and culinary gardens at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens, or stop and smell the roses—150 fragrant varieties—during the Korbel Champagne Cellars Garden Tour. More than 10,000 tulips steal the show each spring in the five-acre Ferrari-Carano Japanese tea garden. Call the “tulip hotline” to find out when they’re in bloom. Quivira Vineyards offers tours of its sustainability-focused garden, home to dozens of varieties of heirloom vegetables, fruit trees and herbs. Benziger Family Winery’s Insectary Garden attracts insects essential to the health of the surrounding vineyards. Deaver Vineyards’ sister operation, the Amador Flower Farm, offers walks among its thousands of day lilies.

To find winery gardens by region, search DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com.

5. Baby Animals

Babydoll sheep in vineyard
Babydoll sheep provide natural weed control by grazing between vineyard rows, Mendocino County. Pennyroyal Farm photo.

Animals abound in the spring, when newborn lambs frolic along hillsides, and wineries send crews of sheep and goats into the vineyards to help with sustainable farming. Many California wineries—including Cline Family Cellars in Sonoma and Concannon Vineyard in the Livermore Valley–recruit sheep and goats as “wooly weeders” to munch spring growth between the vine rows. You can even visit resident baby farm animals at wineries such as Buttonwood Winery & Vineyard in Solvang in the Santa Ynez Valley, Castello di Amorosa in the Napa Valley, Domaine Artefact in San Diego County, Pennyroyal Farm in Mendocino County, and Truett-Hurst Winery in Sonoma County.

6. Spring Produce Stars at Winery Restaurants

Left: Guests enjoy patio dining at Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Sonoma County. Robert Holmes photo. Right: Local seasonal ingredients star at The Restaurant at Ponte, Temecula. Ponte Winery photo.

California vintners love to showcase local spring produce, and some wineries have their own on-site restaurants with patios for outdoor dining. Vineyard Table & Tasting Lounge at Livermore Valley’s Wente Vineyards offers sharable plates featuring estate-grown produce and beef. Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch in the Napa Valley highlights produce from the family farm. Overlooking the vineyards at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Sonoma County, Rustic sources herbs and produce from the winery gardens. Local, seasonal ingredients star at The Restaurant at Ponte (Ponte Winery) and The Vineyard Rose at South Coast Winery—both in Temecula—as well as The Restaurant at Justin (Justin Vineyards & Winery) and Niner Wine Estates in Paso Robles. Serving breakfast and lunch, the café at Lodi’s Michael-David Winery features meats sourced from the local 4H program and produce grown locally or onsite.

To find winery dining options, see DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com.

7. Homegrown Food & Wine Pairings

Cakebread dining
A wine and garden produce pairing is offered at Cakebread Cellars, Napa Valley. Robert Holmes photo.

California’s spring produce inspires vintners to take food and wine pairings to the next level. You’ll find elaborate pairings at Lynmar Estate in the Russian River Valley with its three-course, farm-to-table lunch and Pinot & Pizza experiences; Ram’s Gate in Sonoma with its Chef’s Table interactive pairing; J Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma with its Bubble Room five-course pairing; Round Pond Estate in the Napa Valley with its multi-course Il Pranzo lunch; The Prisoner in Napa Valley with its Makery Experience; C.G. di Arie in Amador County with its weekend collaborations with nearby Taste restaurant; Edna Valley Vineyard in San Luis Obispo with the Perfect Pairing Experience; and Daou Vineyards & Winery in Paso Robles, with its Lebanese-inspired Culinary Pairing Experience.

Search DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com for more pairing experiences.

WCT book

Even if you are unable to visit California wine country this spring, it’s easy to taste its wines and cuisine at home. California wines are in stores across the nation and wineries can ship direct to consumers in 44 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. Pair favorite wines with California-inspired, seasonal recipes from Wine Institute’s new book, “Wine Country Table: With Recipes that Celebrate California’s Sustainable Harvest,” or at DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com.

Wine Institute is the public policy association of California wineries producing 80 percent of U.S. wine. California is the nation’s number one state for wine and food tourism with 3,900 wineries to visit.

###
Journalists requiring further information should contact the Wine Institute Communications Dept.

California Wine Country Beckons for Winter Getaways

December 12, 2019

Soul-warming Wines, Cozy Tasting Rooms and Seasonal Events Are Highlights

SAN FRANCISCO — When temperatures plummet in other parts of the country, it’s time to warm up to a winter getaway in California wine country. Not only does the Golden State enjoy sunny skies and comparatively mild temperatures year ‘round, California’s distinctive wine regions offer a host of seasonal activities and events, from food festivals to barrel tastings. Here are just some of the activities and events happening in California wine regions this season.

Sonoma Vineyard

The Sonoma County landscape of gnarly vines and yellow mustard grass is part of the experience of winter in wine country. Photo: Wine Institute.

Wine Tasting

For those who prefer hands-on pursuits, many California wineries offer wine-blending workshops, cooking classes that focus on seasonal ingredients and in-depth, educational tastings. See DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com to search for wineries by region, varietals and amenities.

For great wine tasting deals in Napa Valley, pick up the Winter in the Wineries Passport ($60), which includes tastings at 16 Calistoga wineries, or St. Helena’s Little Book of Big Experiences passport ($75), which offers enhanced wine experiences and curated pairings at 15 wineries throughout the season.

Annual Wine & Food Events
Some of California’s best wine and food events happen in the winter months. During California Restaurant Month in January, eateries across the state offer special rates on prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus. Restaurant Week promotions run in various cities throughout the month. This year, Sonoma County extends its Restaurant Week celebration from Feb. 21-March 1.

The Napa Truffle Festival (Jan. 17-20) includes mushroom foraging and truffle cultivation seminars, plus chef-led cooking demonstrations. Crab Feast Mendocino (Jan.24-Feb. 2) features all-you-can-eat crab feeds, a wine competition showcasing local producers and a Crab Cake Cook-off.

Mendocino Crab Fest

Fans of crab and wine enjoy the Mendocino Crab Feast. Photo: Visit Mendocino.

Tour northern Sonoma County during Winter Wineland (Jan. 18-19), when vintners pour samples of new releases and limited-production library selections.

Enjoy special tastings at the Santa Cruz Mountains Passport Celebration Day (Jan. 18), when more than 40 participating wineries throughout the region open their doors to visitors. The Temecula Valley Barrel Tasting Event (Jan. 25-26) offers a self-guided taste and tour to sample barrel and tank wine samples, as well as new releases. The Zinfandel Experience (Jan. 30-Feb. 1) is a three-day wine and food fest in San Francisco that presents wine seminars, an auction and dinner and a grand tasting—all centered around California’s distinctive Zinfandel wine.

Zinfandel Fair

The Zinfandel Experience in San Francisco features Zinfandels from all of California’s growing regions. Photo: Zinfandel Advocates & Producers.

Sweet treats abound at two February events: the Lodi Wine & Chocolate Weekend (Feb. 7-9), and the Madera Wine Trail Wine & Chocolate Weekend (Feb. 8-9), held at multiple wineries. The Presidents’ Wine Weekend (Feb. 15-16) in Calaveras County presents wine experiences and special events throughout the weekend in the Gold Rush town of Murphys.

Lodi Winery

Good times, good friends are part of the Lodi Wine & Chocolate Weekend. Photo: Lodi Winegrape Commission/Codi Ann Backman.

The Garagiste Festival: Northern Exposure (Feb. 15) in Sonoma gives tasters access to under-the-radar, micro-production wines from Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Mendocino County, the Santa Cruz Mountains and more. Central Coast winemakers show off their blending expertise at BlendFest on the Coast in Paso Robles (Feb. 20-23), a tribute to the region’s rule-breaking wines. This year’s Anderson Valley Winter White Wine Festival (Feb. 22-23) highlights Riesling and other Alsace varietals with seminars, a grand tasting featuring local and international vintners and winery open house events.

Amador County wineries present educational seminars, food pairings and hard-to-find wines at Behind the Cellar Door (March 7). Taste barrel samples and meet the winemakers behind them at the WineRoad Barrel Tasting (March 6-8 and 13-15), a tasting tour of the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River valleys in Sonoma County. Sip some of Mendocino County’s finest wines in shops and galleries throughout Mendocino village while scouting the coastline for giant aquatic mammals at the Mendocino Whale Festival (March 7).

Wintertime Winery Activities
California wineries host special activities and tastings throughout the winter season.

North Coast
Acumen in the Napa Valley now offers Wine and Chocolate Tasting Thursdays through Sundays in partnership with Napa’s Annette’s Chocolates. Learn about chocolate production while sampling three PEAK Cabernet Sauvignons paired with six chocolate selections. Reservations must be made online or by phone 72 hours in advance.

Every Friday through April, Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena hosts a Winter Farmers Market featuring organic produce, beef, honey and other farm-grown goodies.

Head to V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena on Jan. 18 for a Coq Au Vin and Cabernet Pairing in the glow of the winery’s crackling fireplace. Steaming bowls of slow-cooked coq au vin with porcini-parmesan polenta are matched with Napa Valley Cabernets, including older vintages.

On  President’s Day Weekend, Black Stallion Winery in Napa is celebrating  with a wine and oysters event Feb. 15. No reservations needed.

For more fun winter experiences and events around the state, visit DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com.

Wine Institute is the public policy association of California wineries producing 80 percent of U.S. wine. As the nation’s number one state for wine and food tourism with 3,900 wineries, California attracts 24 million visitors to its wine regions each year.

###
Journalists requiring further information should contact the Wine Institute Communications Dept.

California Wine Shines in Holiday Cocktails

November 22, 2019

Holiday Cocktails

SAN FRANCISCO — You’ve carefully selected the wines for each course of your holiday dinner, from the roast turkey to the dessert spread. From California Chardonnay to Pinot Noir to Zinfandel, you’ve got all your wine bases covered. The only thing missing is a festive wine-based cocktail to kick off the celebration.

Craft cocktails are a huge trend for holiday gatherings and beyond, and both still and sparkling wines can be a part of that experience. Not only does wine provide a lighter alternative to spirits, it pairs exceptionally well with a variety of cocktail components. California wines make a particularly fitting match for the state’s bounty of local, sustainably grown produce and fresh herbs.

“Wine can create a lot of versatility in a cocktail,” says Christopher Longoria, beverage program director at Che Fico in San Francisco. “It can bring characteristics such as fresh and dried fruits, tannins, roundness and structure.”

To provide inspiration for signature wine-based cocktails, California Wines has released a new free e-book, “California Wine Cocktails for the Holidays.” Available to download here, it features recipes for deliciously creative seasonal drinks such as the California Gold Rush—a blend of California Chardonnay, fresh lemon juice and lemon-thyme honey—and the Cranberry Rosé, made with California dry rosé wine, cranberry juice and orange bitters.

Whether you’re looking to create a savory drink with complex, spicy notes, or a light cocktail brightened with winter citrus, there’s a California varietal wine or blend to complement just about any ingredient—not only during the holidays, but all year long.

Recipes include:

California Gold Rush: An herbaceous blend of California Chardonnay, lemon juice and lemon-thyme honey

West Coast Warm Winter Wine: A fruit-forward spin on mulled wine, accented with pomegranate and fresh citrus

Cranberry Rosé: Dry California pink wine meets cranberry juice and orange bitters

Red Apple Sangria: California red wine and apple cider get a spicy twist with cinnamon and fresh fruit slices

Vineyard Mule: A refreshing take on the Moscow Mule, featuring California white wine

Raspberry Port Sparkler: California port-style wine and bubbles mingle with muddled raspberries

Red Wine Hot Chocolate: Luscious chocolate and full-bodied California red wine chase away winter chills

To download a free copy of “California Wine Cocktails for the Holidays,” visit http://discovercaliforniawines.com/holiday-cocktails

Need More Holiday Entertaining Ideas? For holiday dishes to pair with California wines and wine-based cocktails, pick up a copy of “Wine Country Table,” featuring recipes inspired by the state’s sustainably grown food and wines. The book is available at major bookstores and through Amazon.

Wine Institute is the public policy association of California wineries producing 80 percent of U.S. wine. As the nation’s number one state for wine and food tourism with 3,900 wineries, California attracts 24 million visitors to its wine regions each year.

###
Journalists requiring further information should contact the Wine Institute Communications Dept.

California Wine 2019 Harvest Report

November 20, 2019

Cool Temperatures and Long Growing Season Result in a High-Quality Crop

SAN FRANCISCO — The 2019 winegrape harvest started one to two weeks later than usual in many California wine regions. February brought heavy rain to Temecula Valley and Sonoma County—particularly the Russian River Valley area—but because the vines were in their winter dormancy, it did not affect the 2019 crop. Spring continued to be wet with some rain during flowering, followed by cool temperatures that allowed the grapes to mature gradually.

Winegrapes across California ripened at lower sugars, thanks to the extended, cool growing season, and vintners are praising the full flavors, fresh acidity and superb balance of the 2019 fruit.

Wildfires in October did not impact this year’s harvest as the vast majority of the winegrapes were already brought in, and while there were a few individual losses, the rest of the state’s 3,900 wineries are operating as usual.

The USDA’s August Crop Report estimated the 2019 yield at 4.2 million tons, 2% less than the state crush total for 2018 and a bit higher than the historical average of 3.9 million tons. However, vintners in many California appellations are predicting light-to-normal size yields this year.

Sustainable Practices Reap Benefits at Harvest – and Beyond

California produces about 80% of the nation’s wine, and if it were a country, it would be the world’s fourth-largest wine producer. Eighty-five percent of California wine is made in a Certified Sustainable California Winery and 30% of the state’s 637,000 vineyard acres are certified sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. Along with preserving the land for future generations, many of the sustainable practices used by the state’s vintners help make the harvest and growing season run more smoothly and increase wine quality.

For the last four years, Spottswoode Winery in St. Helena, Napa Valley has used an optical fruit sorter to increase efficiency and quality at harvest time, while cutting back on water usage.

“The sorter allows us to bring in more fruit on any given day so we can minimize the negative effects of any untimely hot spells,” said Beth Novak Milliken, president and CEO at Spottswoode. “On our sorting line, the machine cleans far more easily than our old equipment which has allowed us to save a significant amount of water each day that we crush.”

The winery also measures sap flow in order to determine the precise water needs of the vines and prevent overwatering.

Nesting boxes attract owls that are natural predators of vineyard pests. Robert Holmes photo.

Turley Wine Cellars conserves water in its Amador County, Paso Robles and Napa Valley vineyards by dry farming and limiting yields. The winery also employs sustainable practices such as compost, cover crops, biological sprays, and encouraging natural predators to deal with vineyard pests.

“When you’re working with grapes with limited yields, they have better pH and acids at harvest, so you have a more stable end product,” said Tegan Passalacqua, Turley’s director of winemaking. “There’s also less need for irrigation with smaller yields. If you’re overwatering and getting bunch rot or mildew in the clusters, you’re going to be dealing with less perfectly clean fruit at harvest time.”

Jackson Family Wines, which farms vineyards across California, uses wind machines for frost protection and reuses winery process water for irrigation. Maintaining soil health helps the winery reduce inputs while enhancing quality.

“We’re focused on techniques such as spreading compost, enhancing biodiversity, planting cover crops, and evaluating how vibrant, healthy soils can help us address persistent issues, such as vine disease, invasive weed control or frequent fertilizer applications,” said Katie Jackson, SVP corporate social responsibility for Jackson Family Wines, headquartered in Santa Rosa. “Healthier vines require fewer inputs, have greater longevity and result in higher quality grapes that produce higher quality wines.”

Fog cools a Sonoma County vineyard, extending the growing season for more concentrated fruit flavors and color in the grapes. Robert Holmes photo.

For Aaron P. Lange, head of vineyard operations at LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards in Lodi, there is no single practice in the vineyard or winery that leads to better fruit at harvest.

“Being a sustainable grower is a constant pursuit of growing the highest quality winegrapes while trying to reduce the negative impacts of farming and increase the positive ones,” he said. “It’s a confluence of factors involving soil management, appropriate rootstock selection, some fancy monitoring tools, and good old-fashioned experienced eyes in the vineyard. I believe that skilled farmers, vintners and land stewards result in the best chances for an exceptional vintage.”

John Terlato of Terlato Vineyards, whose family owns Sanford Winery in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation of Santa Barbara County, also believes that it takes a culmination of sustainable practices throughout the season to produce better fruit at harvest time.

“Many small actions and steps add up to a critical mass that makes a genuine difference,” Terlato said. At Sanford those actions include water management and conservation, composting to improve soil health, integrated pest management, cover crops to prevent soil erosion, and installing raptor perches and owl boxes for rodent control.

The winery also dry farms its La Rinconada and Sanford & Benedict ranches, which significantly reduces water usage and helps produce higher-quality fruit. “Dry farming had a very positive impact this year on our winegrowing and the harvest and crush,” Terlato said. “We saw the vine canopies reacting well, even through heat spikes, and it gave us great fruit concentration.”

California Wine 2019 Harvest Report Cover

Click here to view the full report including regional reports from El Dorado County, Lake County, Livermore Valley, Lodi, Madera, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa Valley, Paso Robles, San Diego County, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains, Sonoma County and Temecula Valley.

###
Journalists requiring further information should contact the Wine Institute Communications Dept.

Travel California Wine Country’s Back Roads: Southern California Spotlight

September 23, 2019

Wine Institute Series Highlights the Wine Roads Less Traveled

SAN FRANCISCO — Wine Institute concludes its California Wine Country Back Roads series this month with highlights from Southern California wine country, extending south from Ventura County to San Diego County. California is home to some of the world’s most famous wine destinations. Yet, even the high-profile appellations have less traveled wine roads, featuring gorgeous scenery, acclaimed wines and fewer visitors. Before the warm weather slips away, explore the off-the-beaten-path wine roads and wineries among the surf and sand in Southern California.

 

Winegrape gondolas at Briar Rose Winery in Temecula. Briar Rose Winery photo.
Visitors can enjoy harvest views and discover limited-production wines in Temecula Valley and throughout California. Above: Winegrape gondolas at Briar Rose Winery in Temecula. Briar Rose Winery photo.

TASTE: Just a short distance from Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County, Temecula Valley has been growing winegrapes since the late 18th century. With more than 40 wineries within its borders and 2,500 acres under vine, Temecula is Southern California’s largest wine-producing region. The warm climate makes it well suited to growing Syrah and Tempranillo, as well as Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. The De Portola Wine Trail, just south of Rancho California Road, is set on the valley’s rural, equestrian side, while the off-the-beaten path Calle Contento Wine Trail offers sweeping views.

Wine lovers can explore over 100 wineries in San Diego County and a few are horse accessible, such as the vineyards at Woof ‘n Rose Winery. Woof ‘n Rose photo.

Celebrated as the birthplace of California winemaking, San Diego is where Franciscan monks planted the state’s first grapevines in 1769 and made wines for mass at Mission San Diego de Alcala, California’s first mission. San Diego County boasts more than 100 wineries—most of them small and family owned. With a Mediterranean climate rich in microclimates that allow vintners to grow approximately 60 different grape varieties, the region is best known for its Merlot and Chardonnay. San Diego is also famous for its long beaches, making it one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations.

In Ventura County, one hour north of Los Angeles, find the Ventura County Wine Trail. The route features nearly a dozen wineries, located a few minutes away from each other in a relaxed, coastal setting.

The scenic Malibu Coast Wine Trail offers more than 50 vineyards and seven tasting rooms, with the chance to sample wines influenced by the Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica Mountains.

East of Los Angeles, the Cucamonga Valley was one of the state’s dominant winegrowing regions during the first half of the 20th century, and now hosts a handful of historic wineries, mainly producing Old-Vine Zinfandel and Port-style wines.

With the Pacific Ocean in view, the hillside vineyard of Rosenthal Malibu Estate is one of more than 50 vineyards and seven tasting rooms along the Malibu Coast. Robert Holmes photo, courtesy Wine Institute.

TOUR: Sample and sip your way around Ventura’s historic downtown at the annual Ventura Winter Wine Walk or explore the Ventura Pier Beachfront Promenade, one of California’s oldest wooden piers, built in 1872.

In Malibu, stroll along a wide stretch of sand at Zuma Beach or join fellow foodies at The Food Event on Oct. 13, showcasing 40 of L.A.’s best restaurants and 20 boutique wineries.

Take an e-bike tour of Temecula Valley’s wine country, glide over vineyards in a hot air balloon or sample wines from more than 30 producers, plus local restaurants, at Temecula’s annual CRUSH event on Sept. 28.

Explore the historic Gaslamp Quarter’s shopping, galleries and dining, paired with a wine-focused San Diego Food and Drinks Tours walking excursion. Moving inland, visit the gold-mining town of Julian or enjoy locally made wine, food and art in the town of Ramona—15 minutes away from the world-famous San Diego Zoo—at the Ramona Art & Wine Festival Nov. 2.

For more information on lodging, dining and upcoming events, see: San Diego Tourism Authority, San Diego Vintners Association, Temecula Valley Winegrowers and Ventura County Wine Trail.

For all of the wine regions included in this series, use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens and picnic areas, and view winery events around the state.

To see Wine Institute’s Back Roads guides to other California wine regions, visit https://discovercaliforniawines.com/media-trade/news.

###

MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

Explore California Wine Country’s Back Roads: Central Coast (South) Spotlight

September 10, 2019

Wine Institute Series Highlights the Wine Roads Less Traveled

SAN FRANCISCO — This month, Wine Institute’s Wine Country Back Roads series focuses on California’s southern Central Coast, extending from Paso Robles in the north to Santa Barbara County in the south. Hidden among California’s world-famous wine regions are wine roads less traveled that feature stunning scenery, delicious wines and, often, fewer visitors.

The entire Central Coast wine region stretches roughly 325 miles along the California coastline from San Francisco to Santa Barbara County. It is home to about 700 wineries.

SLO

Fall colors add to the scenic tour at Chamisal Vineyard in San Luis Obispo County, California. Photo by Robert Holmes, courtesy California Wine Institute.

TASTE: Located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo County includes 13 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs): 11 in Paso Robles and two in San Luis Obispo. Grapes were first planted in the region more than two centuries ago by Spanish missionaries, and today SLO County is home to over 230 wineries.

The cool San Luis Obispo coast, known for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, has six wine trails including Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande.

Llama

Sheep and their guardian llama improve the soil at the organically farmed Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles. Photo Robert Holmes, courtesy California Wine Institute.

Paso Robles is celebrated for Rhône varieties such as Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Italian and Spanish varieties thrive there as well. Explore Paso’s west side via the 46 West Wine Trail. Discover wineries just east of town on the Pleasant Valley Wine Trail, or take in ocean views along the Pacific Coast Wine Trail.

Santa Barbara

Visitors tour the barrel aging cellars at Sanford Winery in Lompoc, Santa Barbara County while bicyclists tour Santa Maria wine country. Photo credits: Left—California Wine Institute; Cyclists—Visit Santa Maria Valley.

Santa Barbara County, located halfway between San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles, is defined by the east-west traverse valley, open to the inland flow of fog and marine breezes. The region’s wind-swept valleys provide hospitable growing conditions for more than 50 grape varieties—from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling in the west to Bordeaux and Rhône grapes in the east.

Santa Barbara County has more than 200 wineries and nine wine tasting routes, including the estate wineries along the Santa Ynez Wine Trail, adjacent to Los Olivos, Solvang and Buellton wine trails. Taste Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on the Sta. Rita Hills Wine Trail or Lompoc Wine Trail. The Foxen Canyon Wine Trail offers a taste of the Santa Maria Valley, including the area’s famous tri-tip barbecue.

TOUR: With its Old West, cowboy vibe, Paso Robles—named the 2016 Best Wine Country Town by Sunset magazine—features wine and olive oil tasting rooms, sophisticated eateries and fun boutiques. On Sept. 27, SLO County wineries and local chefs offer Sip ‘n Saunter with wine and food tastings. Fifteen miles down the coast, find Hearst Castle, the grand estate built by newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst in 1919. Further south are Avila Beach and Pismo Beach, known for surfing and seafood. Just 10 minutes inland from Pismo lies the college town of San Luis Obispo, home to downtown shopping and hip cafes. Old Mission Santa Barbara, where Franciscan monks made wine 200 years ago, is considered one of California’s grandest missions. Stearns Wharf, a few minutes away, offers seaside restaurants, beach activities and wine tasting.

For more information on lodging, dining and upcoming events, see Paso Robles Wine Country, SLO Coast Wine, Santa Barbara Vintners and Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.

For all of the wine regions included in this series, use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens and picnic areas, and view winery events around the state.

To see Wine Institute’s Back Roads guides to other California wine regions, visit https://discovercaliforniawines.com/media-trade/news.

###

MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

California Wine Month Kicks Off in September with Celebrations Across the State

August 20, 2019

Dozens of Harvest Season Events, from Concerts to Food and Wine Festivals, Planned Statewide

WineSong
Winesong features wine tasting while strolling the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Photo: John Birchard.

SAN FRANCISCO — September is California Wine Month, Wine Institute’s annual celebration of the harvest season. Throughout California, wineries, regional wine associations and other organizations will host special tastings, concerts, food and wine festivals, immersive harvest experiences, grape stomps and more.

The 15th annual California Wine Month highlights the state’s storied winemaking history, dating back more than 250 years, and recognizes the innovative spirit of California vintners and growers. As the world’s fourth-largest wine producer and the source of 81 percent of wine made in the U.S., California is home to 3,900 wineries and 5,900 grapegrowers. It is also the nation’s most-visited state for wine and food experiences, attracting 24 million visits annually to its wine regions.

Wine lovers can enjoy activities and special offers from California Wine Month partner retailers and restaurants. See partner listing below.

Visit https://discovercaliforniawines.com/california-wine-month to view maps and descriptions of nearly 100 California Wine Month events, searchable by wine region, or download the complete list of winery events here.

Some highlights of regional events with multiple wineries include:

NORTH COAST

Aug. 31: Taste of Sonoma, 100 wineries. Green Music Center, Sonoma State University
Sept. 6-7: Winesong, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, Fort Bragg
Sept. 7: Calistoga Wine Experience, wine and food tasting, Pioneer Park, Calistoga
Sept: 19-21: Sonoma County Wine Auction, La Crema Estate, Windsor
Sept. 21: Lake County Wine Auction, Chacewater Winery, Kelseyville

Trefethen Harvest Boot Camp
Guests enjoy picking grapes at the Harvest Boot Camp at Trefethen Family Vineyards in Napa Valley, to be held this year on Sept. 28, 2019. Photo: Trefethen Family Vineyards.

SAN FRANCISCO BAY & SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS

Sept. 1: Barrels of Corralitos, tastings at wineries in Corralitos and Aptos
Sept. 1: Livermore Valley Harvest Wine Celebration, wineries throughout the region
Sept. 1-30: California Wine Month Educational Experiences, San Francisco Wine School, South San Francisco
Sept. 6-30: Santa Clara Valley Fall Passport Month, special tastings at wineries throughout the region
Sept. 7-29: Organic Wine Trail of Santa Cruz Mountains, eight wineries on Saturdays and Sundays in September.
Sept. 8: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay Harvest Dinner, Aptos, SCMWA
Sept: 14-15: Capitola Art & Wine Festival, Capitola Village
Sept. 21: Livermore Valley Wine Auction, Wente Vineyards, Livermore

MONTEREY TO SANTA BARBARA

Sept. 7: Magical Mystery Monterey Wine Tours, visit surprise winery locations in Carmel Valley
Sept. 8: 38th Annual Taste of the Town, local wines and food at Riviera Park, Santa Barbara
Sept. 14: Second Saturdays in Haley Corridor, multiple Santa Barbara wineries
Sept. 27: Downtown SLO Sip ‘n Saunter, food and wine tasting, San Luis Obispo

INLAND VALLEYS

Sept: 12-15: Lodi Grape Festival, Lodi Grape Festival Grounds, Lodi
Sept. 20: Madera Wine Trail’s California Wine Month Celebration, local wines and food, Toca Madera Winery, Madera

SIERRA FOOTHILLS

Sept. 7: WINEderlust Renegade Wine, Art & Music Festival, Placerville, El Dorado County
Sept. 14: Barbera Festival in Amador County, Terra D’Oro Winery, Plymouth
Sept. 14: Sample the Sierra, local wines and food, South Lake Tahoe
Sept. 20-22: Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival, Northstar Resort, Truckee

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Aug. 31-Sept. 1: The Taste, wine, food and seminars, Paramount Pictures Studio, Hollywood
Sept. 28: Temecula Valley CRUSH, taste with multiple winemakers at Monte De Oro Winery, Temecula

Visitors get down at the Ramona Grape Stomp
Visitors get down at the Ramona Grape Stomp in San Diego County, to be held Sept. 14. Photo: Ramona Grape Stomp

Wine lovers can learn more about California wine and celebrate California Wine Month wherever they are, using 100 recipes and wine pairings at: DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com. They can also tour the state with a new cookbook, “Wine Country Table, With Recipes that Celebrate California’s Sustainable Harvest.”

California Wine Month Partners

California Wine Month is celebrated by restaurant, retail, media and association partners in California and throughout the U.S. including:

U.S. National/Regional: GuildSomm, Not Your Average Joe’s, Safeway, Tavistock Group

California: Albertsons, Charlie Palmer Steak, Compline, The Culinary Institute of America, Dry Creek Kitchen, Epic Steak, Napa Valley Wine Train, Oakville Grocery, Pavilions, Raley’s, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch, San Francisco Wine School, Taj Campton Place, Vons, Women for Winesense

About Wine Institute

Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the association of nearly 1,000 California wineries and wine-related businesses. Its mission is to initiate and advocate state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. See: wineinstitute.org.

###

MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

California Vintners Gear Up for 2019 Harvest

August 8, 2019

Behind the Scenes with Winemakers and Vineyard Managers

SAN FRANCISCO — Long hours. Seven-day work weeks. Grape-stained clothing, boots and skin. These are just a few of the challenges that await California vintners in the coming weeks and months. But before the bustle of crush begins, winemaking and vineyard teams are making careful preparations to ensure that the harvest process runs as smoothly as possible.

Wine Institute asked four California winemakers and vineyard managers to share how they’re getting ready for harvest and to deal with whatever Mother Nature decides to send their way.

Linda McWilliams
Owner / Winemaker, San Pasqual Winery, San Diego County

McWilliams normally starts her harvest preparations around mid-July, after veraison (when grapes turn from green to their ripe color), by estimating the crop size.

Then, she decides how that fruit will be handled in the cellar. “Is it going to be in stainless steel tanks or in barrels?” she says, “And how much space do we need to allocate and have ready?”

Around the same time, McWilliams and her team empty barrels and try to bottle as much wine as possible to free up barrel space for the incoming juice.

“In the vineyard, the team is gearing up for harvest, making sure that fruit thinning is done, that we’re into veraison and keeping powdery mildew in check,” she says.

Once veraison is underway, new concerns emerge. “We’re worried about attack by birds,” says McWilliams, “so netting or sound systems are applied.”

Lining up harvest help is also essential in San Diego County, where the wine industry is smaller, and labor can be hard to come by. “We recruit family and tasting room staff to help. Everybody gets out there to help pick.”

Picking usually begins for white grapes just after Labor Day, but in recent years, heat spikes have accelerated it to as early as the third week of August. This year, McWilliams is predicting a return to normalcy—as long as the weather holds out. “We can’t control Mother Nature. The key in this business is to be flexible and ready for anything.”

Mark Houser
Vineyard Manager, Alexander Valley Vineyards, Sonoma County

At Alexander Valley Vineyards, the most intense harvest prep begins around late July.

“It’s kind of like grooming,” says vineyard manager Mark Houser. “We’re going through and taking a few leaves off, removing ugly fruit, looking for mildew.”

The vineyard team also estimates the size of the crop to help determine the amount of tank and barrel space needed for the harvested fruit. Along with historical data, the calculation is based on the average number of clusters per vine, average weight per cluster, number of vines per acre and the total number of acres.

Other pre-harvest prep includes getting the equipment ready, from reserving rental trucks and trailers to cleaning grape bins. “There’s always something that needs attention,” says Houser, “so you start early to make sure it’s going to work.”

A typical harvest for Alexander Valley Vineyards begins just after Labor Day with Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, and this year’s timing appears to be right on target—barring any last-minute weather changes.

Cameron Parry
Director of Winegrowing, Groth Vineyards & Winery, Oakville, Napa Valley

Parry starts planning for next year’s harvest immediately after the current one ends.

“Shortly after we finish, the winemaking team gets together and has a debrief,” he says. “We talk about what worked, what didn’t and what we need to fix. Then we get it down on paper while it’s fresh.”

In June and July, harvest preparations begin ramping up. Parry and his team check and repair winery and vineyard equipment as necessary and start ordering supplies such as yeast and nutrients. The vineyard team starts pulling unwanted shoots that can potentially produce a second crop of inferior fruit—and removing extra vine leaves to ensure the appropriate amount of light is hitting the grape clusters. When the reds begin the onset of ripeness and the grapes change color during veraison, there’s more work to do.

“We’ll make a crop-thinning pass to eliminate undesirable fruit once we’re at about 50 percent veraison. We’ll drop any clusters behind in maturity, just to ensure good uniformity and homogeneity,” Parry says.

A month from the start of harvest, the Groth team spends lots of time walking the vineyard rows and tasting in order to determine the optimal picking dates. “Closer to harvest, we’ll start taking bigger fruit samples for analysis of sugar, pH and acidity levels,” Parry says.

Days before harvest, he’ll make a last sampling and decide the picking schedule. Because harvest is done at night, when it can be difficult for the crew to see the clusters, the vineyard team goes through a few days in advance and strips the extra leaves from the fruiting zone, removing any clusters that are damaged, sunburned, raisined or moldy.

Groth’s harvest typically begins with Sauvignon Blanc in late August, but Parry predicts a later start this year—around Sept. 6.

Chris Eberle
Winemaker, Eberle Winery, Paso Robles

At Eberle Winery, harvest preparations begin as early as February, when winemaker Chris Eberle places his annual barrel order for the coming year. Planning ahead helps him avoid last-minute surprises—such as strikes at the docks—and helps save money with certain discounts by ordering far in advance or accepting barrels early. “When you’re talking about a $100,000 order, a 3% discount adds up,” Eberle says.

A month or a few weeks out—Eberle schedules yearly maintenance on presses, destemmers and other essential equipment.

Around the same time, new harvest interns arrive for training, which usually involves reviewing important safety procedures and washing tanks. “There’s lots of cleaning—clean, clean, clean—and it just doesn’t stop,” Eberle says.

Walking the vineyards is essential in the weeks leading up to harvest, so Eberle will spend time among the rows each day, checking on fruit development. “We’ve got about 30 percent of our production in estate fruit, and the rest is contracted,” he says, “so I deal with 15 different growers and 50 different vineyards.”

Along with monitoring crop sizes, he checks that the vines are in balance and decides whether or not to adjust the canopy or drop fruit. Two weeks from the estimated harvest date, he’ll start sampling white grapes and early-ripening reds such as Zinfandel and Grenache to check progress.

While harvest normally begins between the end of August and mid-September, Eberle predicts this year’s crush will kick off closer to mid-September.

Harvest Experiences for Wine Lovers

Consumers can get a taste of the California harvest experience at several wineries. Alexander Valley VineyardsBenessere Vineyards and Grgich Hills Estate offer grape-stomping events, while Schramsberg/Davies Vineyards and Trefethen Family Vineyards host immersive harvest boot camps that allow wine lovers to get hands-on in the vineyard and winery.

About Wine Institute

Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group for California wineries, which produce 80 percent of U.S. wine and account for more than 95 percent of U.S. wine exports. As the nation’s number one state for wine and food tourism and home to 139 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), more than 24 million visitors experience California wine regions each year.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

Fifteen Wine Importers from the United Kingdom and Ireland to Visit California on First-Ever Buying Trip

August 7, 2019

California Wine Institute Invites California’s Entire Wine Industry to Participate

SAN FRANCISCO — The week of Oct. 6, 2019 kicks off the first ever visit to California wine country solely dedicated to wine buyers from the United Kingdom and Ireland searching for new-to-market wines. The California Wine Institute Export Program is hosting this ground-breaking series of events and inviting any and all “new to market” wineries in the Golden State to submit their wines for consideration for this sales opportunity. More than 100 wineries will be selected to meet and make deals with this elite group of wine buyers. The United Kingdom and Ireland are part of the second largest export market for California Wines after Canada and this group of buyers includes importers from throughout these key markets looking for California Wines at all price points, but with a focus on the $5-$15 (U.S.) per bottle ex-cellars price points.

Last year exports of California Wines reached just under $1.5 billion and despite the headwinds of Brexit and other global economic uncertainties, the demand for California wine continues to grow. Wine Institute’s VP of International Marketing, Honore Comfort, says, “We have never before led such a focused sales initiative – one that’s solely dedicated to importers looking to bring new wines into the market, and we are pleased to offer this opportunity to vintners wishing to sell their wines in the United Kingdom and Ireland.”

California Wine Institute Trade Directors Damien Jackman and Justine McGovern are leading the prestigious delegation and have hand selected the participating buyers. They commented that “the UK and Irish markets are excited about California wines and these buyers are looking for wines from the Golden State that are interesting, fresh and offer something new for their customers.”

California vintners who are not currently selling in the UK and/or Ireland are invited to apply for one of the 120 tasting opportunities with this group the week of Oct. 6, 2019. They must make at least 2,500 cases of wine, be willing to travel to the UK to “work the market” and have a long-term approach to developing their export business. For more information or to apply for one of the 120 tasting time slots, call 707/217-6327. Click here to complete the qualification survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CPTPWYL.

About the California Wine Export Program

Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the administrator of the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) for California vintners who represent 80% of U.S. wine production and 95% of U.S. wine exports. More than 170 California wineries exporting to 142 countries participate in Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program. The program has 15 California Wine Institute representatives in key export markets around the world who provide on-site support to wineries and help develop markets for California wines in 25 countries.

The California Wine Export Program is a public-private partnership supported by winery contributions and the MAP Program, featuring California as an aspirational place with beauti­ful landscapes, iconic lifestyle, great wine and food, and as an environmental leader. In addition to marketing and promoting California wine overseas, Wine Institute conducts a comprehensive International Public Policy program focused on regulatory coopera­tion, removing trade barriers and growing California wine exports. See:calwinexport.com or its consumer website at: DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

Wine Institute Becomes a Major Supporter of The Institute of Masters of Wine

August 2, 2019

LONDON — The Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) has announced California Wine Institute as a Major Supporter, creating a partnership that will provide an in-depth educational program focused on the diverse wine regions throughout California.

“Wine Institute’s team views our partnership with the Institute of Masters of Wine as an important element of our global wine education strategy, and a clear opportunity to work with leading wine educators to better inform industry influencers about the quality, character and diversity of California wines,” said Honore Comfort, Wine Institute Vice President, International Marketing. “We are confident that our winery members will benefit from Wine Institute’s engagement as a supporter of the Institute of Masters of Wine.”

The alliance between the IMW and Wine Institute underlines the growing interest in the area. Adrian Garforth MW, IMW Chairman said, “We have more students in the U.S. than anywhere in the world and interest from the trade is growing apace. California Wine Institute did an outstanding job in hosting the recent trip to the area for 50 MWs and we are delighted to extend the relationship formally as they become a Major Supporter. We recognise there are lots of areas in which we can collaborate both in the U.S. and globally and I look forward to working closely with their team.”

Wine Institute plans to work with the IMW’s network of MW wine educators in local markets around the world to participate in education programs and bring MWs both to and from California to be included in education efforts for media and trade. The alliance provides opportunities to educate the trade and consumers worldwide about the importance of sustainable winegrowing in California, what it means, how it will shape the future of the wine business, and how it impacts the quality of wine in their glass. The programs will also cultivate an understanding of and an appreciation for wines from lesser known California regions in key markets around the world.

Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group representing 1,000 wineries and affiliated businesses from wine regions throughout California that produce 80% of U.S. wine from the state’s 139 diverse American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) and 120 grape varieties. The IMW is the global membership organisation which promote excellence, interaction and learning across all sectors of the global wine community – from running tastings and seminars to the public, to administering the Master of Wine examination. There are 382 people in the world today who can call themselves Masters of Wine, the highest qualification in the world of wine. They can do so as they have passed the MW examination which authenticates the highest standard in all aspects of tasting, production, trade, and marketing of wine, as well as related health, social and environmental issues.

The new partnership follows an October 2018 IMW educational summit in California attended by 50 MWs from 16 countries who toured the wine regions around the state, met with more than 300 vintners and tasted 600 wines from 60 AVAs.

Of the 382 Masters of Wine around the world, 59 are in North America. Wine Institute joins an exclusive international network of IMW supporters, which includes the Madame Bollinger Foundation, Istituto Grandi Marchi and AXA Millésimes.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

Travel California Wine Country’s Back Roads This Summer: Central Coast (North) Spotlight

July 18, 2019

Wine Institute Series Highlights the Wine Roads Less Traveled

SAN FRANCISCO — California’s northern Central Coast, extending from the San Francisco Bay to Monterey County, is the focus this month as part of Wine Institute’s Wine Country Back Roads series. California is home to dozens of distinct wine regions, including some of the world’s most famous destinations. But hidden among even the high-profile appellations are the wine roads less traveled. These welcoming regions feature stunning rural scenery, delicious wines and, often, fewer visitors. There’s still plenty of time this summer to discover off-the-beaten path wine roads and regions, and the Central Coast is a great place to do it.

The entire Central Coast wine region and Santa Cruz Mountains stretches roughly 250 miles along the California coastline, extending from San Francisco County to Santa Barbara County. Grapes there are among the oldest in the state, planted by Franciscan monks in the late 18th century as they made their way north on El Camino Real (known today as Highway 101). Now hosting thousands of acres of vineyards and hundreds of wineries, California’s Central Coast and Santa Cruz Mountains are home to 14 percent of the state’s winegrapes.

Livermore Wine Country

Livermore Valley wineries will hold Taste Our Terroir events July 25-28, their premier food and wine affair. Photo: Livermore Valley Wine Country.

TASTE: Not far from San Francisco, with its famously steep hills and Victorian architecture, you’ll find several hospitable wineries near the East Bay cities of Moraga, Oakland, Berkeley as well as Treasure Island to help you kick off your Central Coast adventure.

Nearby Livermore Valley, 35 miles east of San Francisco, is the one of the state’s oldest wine regions and the genetic source of 80 percent of California’s Chardonnay vines. Along with its iconic Chardonnay, Livermore is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Italian, Rhone and Spanish varieties. Discover the region's scenic wine trails with these suggested itineraries.

Santa Cruz Passport Event

The Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Passport offers special tastings at 40 participating wineries and can be redeemed a full year after the July 20 event. Photo: Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association.

The Santa Clara Valley, also known today as Silicon Valley, includes more than 30 wineries, many clustered near Gilroy and San Martin. The Santa Cruz Mountains, west of Santa Clara Valley, was among the first American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) to be defined by its steep mountain topography. The area played a pivotal role in California’s winemaking history with viticultural roots going back more than a century. Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot predominate on the warmer eastern inland side of the AVA, while Pinot Noir thrives on the coastal side and ridge tops. The region boasts more than 60 wineries. For a scenic overview, try the Silicon Valley Wine Trail in the hillsides above Silicon Valley, or the coastal Corralitos Wine Trail, at the sunny, southern portion of the AVA.

San Benito County, set in an idyllic valley about 75 miles southeast of Santa Cruz, has been growing winegrapes since the mid-1800s, planted by French and German immigrants. The region grows a wide variety of grapes but is best known for Pinot Noir and Syrah. Find wineries near the towns of Hollister and San Juan Bautista.

River Road Wine Trail

Monterey County’s River Road Wine Trail winds along the Santa Lucia Highlands where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay winegrapes flourish. Photo: California Wine Institute..

Heading back to the coast, Monterey County is known or having one of California’s longest growing seasons, thanks to cool marine air that blows in from Monterey Bay. Franciscan friars introduced winegrapes to the area more than 200 years ago, and over 40 varieties are planted there today—including more Chardonnay than in any other county in America. Monterey is also well known for its cool-climate Pinot Noir. With eight distinctive AVAs within its borders and 82 wineries, Monterey offers an array of tasting opportunities. The River Road Wine Trail, set among the canyons and slopes of the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, highlights Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, along with northern Rhône varieties such as Syrah. Beautiful Carmel Valley is renowned for producing rich, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

TOUR: The Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Passport event on July 20 includes special tastings at more than 40 participating wineries. (As a bonus, passport experiences can be redeemed for a full year after the event.) The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park is nearby with its multiple attractions. Livermore Valley hosts Taste Our Terroir July 25-28, a four-day food and wine affair offering wine tasting adventures, garden tours, food pairing events, seminars, falcon demonstrations and more. Music in the vineyards is a Santa Clara specialty, with performances scheduled at individual wineries throughout the summer. While visiting San Benito County, take a hike among towering rock spires and observe falcons and golden eagles in flight at Pinnacles National Monument, formed by ancient volcanos. On Monterey’s Cannery Row, sample local wines at A Taste of Monterey and visit the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium or John Steinbeck Museum.

For more information on lodging, dining and upcoming events, see San Francisco Travel, Livermore Valley Wine Country, Wineries of Santa Clara Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association, Discover San Benito County and Monterey Wine Country.

For all of the wine regions included in this series, use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens and picnic areas, and view winery events around the state.

To see Wine Institute’s Back Roads guides to other California wine regions, visit https://discovercaliforniawines.com/media-trade/news.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

Travel California Wine Country’s Back Roads This Summer: Inland Valleys Spotlight

July 1, 2019

Wine Institute Series Highlights the Wine Roads Less Traveled

SAN FRANCISCO — Wine Institute’s California Wine Country Back Roads series takes a look this month at the Inland Valleys, formed by the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys, and also explores the Far North of the state. California is home to dozens of distinct wine regions, including some of the world’s most famous destinations. But hidden among even the high-profile appellations are the wine roads less traveled featuring stunning rural scenery, delicious wines and, often, fewer visitors. Discover new, off-the-beaten path wine roads and wineries this summer in these expansive, welcoming regions.

INLAND VALLEYS WINE REGION

Map of California Wine Regions

Running 450 miles from the San Joaquin Valley in the south to the Sacramento Valley in the north, the Inland Valleys are located in California’s geographic center, one of the world’s most fertile agricultural regions. More than 230 crops are grown in this area—including a majority of the state’s winegrapes—plus almonds, apricots, tomatoes, cotton, asparagus, rice and more. Numerous wineries call the Inland Valleys home, the majority of which are small, family-owned producers. This means that winery visitors can usually find the winemaker or owner—often one and the same person—pouring in the tasting room.

TASTE: California’s capital city of Sacramento is surrounded by a diverse collection of wine regions and is also known as the state’s “farm-to-fork capital,” making it a popular home base for wine tasting in the Sacramento Valley. The Lodi wine region, just south of Sacramento, was named Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2015. Winegrapes came to Lodi with the Gold Rush, and the local wine industry continued to flourish through Prohibition, thanks to farmers who maintained their vineyards for legal “home winemaking.”

Lodi visitor center
The Lodi Wine & Visitor Center features hundreds of wines from 80 local wineries. Photo: Lodi Winegrape Commission.

Today, nearly 80 Lodi vintners craft some of the country’s finest Zinfandel from those same historic vines and also produce other red varietals, blends, rosés and whites from the more than 100 grapes grown in the region including Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian and Southern Rhone varieties. Numerous wineries are easily reached from Highway 99, and a detour along Highway 12 to the east presents even more tasting options.

Nearby Clarksburg is famous for its Chenin Blanc, and the Old Sugar Mill—built in 1934 as a beet sugar refinery—now hosts 15 wineries that offer samples in a single space. Wineries in the Chico-Oroville area are in the northern reaches of Sacramento Valley. Find them on the North Sierra Wine Trail.

The San Joaquin Valley, south from Lodi, has been called “the food basket of the world,” producing asparagus, almonds, pistachios, oranges, peaches, garlic and—of course—winegrapes. More than 30 wineries call this region home, many accessible from State Route 180, producing a wide variety of wines that include Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Moscato.

Yosemite National Park is adjacent to the valley and just south of the park is Madera County, one of California’s oldest appellations. The region is known for its dessert and port-style wines, and there are plenty to sample along the Madera Wine Trail. Further south, explore the Fresno County Wine Journey with 13 wineries offering signature wines at each location.

Westbrook Wine Farm
The Madera Wine Trail is just south of Yosemite National Park and one of the oldest wine regions in California. Photo: Westbrook Wine Farm.

Approaching California’s northern border is the majestic beauty of the Far North wine region with its giant redwoods and teeming wildlife. Residents of this area enjoy a quieter lifestyle, as evidenced by its rural homesteads and eclectic wineries. The scenic Shasta-Cascade region, which includes Mount Shasta and the Lassen Volcanic National Park, is home to more than 25 wineries. Humboldt County began growing grapes in the 1980s—many of them organic—and now there are more than 150 acres planted there.

TOUR: While visiting Sacramento, take a food-focused walking tour to meet some of the city’s most fascinating chefs, shop owners and local farmers with Local Roots Food Tours. The Madera Wine Trail hosts Red, White and Cool on July 6, a self-guided tour that features special wines at each stop and a California Wine Month celebration Sept. 20. While in the area, don’t miss stunning Yosemite National Park. Lodi’s Wine & Visitor Center, located on the picturesque grounds of the Wine & Roses Hotel, provides a great introduction to the region’s wines, with a rotating selection available for tasting each day. The Shasta-Cascades area is a haven for hikers, cyclists, bird-watchers, and anyone else who appreciates gorgeous scenery. Tour the slopes of Mount Shasta—a dormant volcano that peaks at nearly 15,000 feet, or visit Lassen Volcanic National Park, with its steaming fumaroles, clear mountain lakes and volcanoes. In Humboldt County, marvel at the magnificent redwoods or book an outdoor Adventure Tour.

For more information on lodging, dining and upcoming events, see Visit Lodi, Visit Sacramento, Fresno County Office of Tourism, Visit Mount Shasta and the Eureka-Humboldt Visitors Bureau.

For all of the wine regions included in this series, use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens and picnic areas, and view winery events around the state.

To see Wine Institute’s Back Roads guides to other California wine regions, visit https://discovercaliforniawines.com/media-trade/news.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

California Wine Sales in U.S. Market Hit $40 Billion in 2018

June 24, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO — California wine shipments in the U.S. reached an estimated retail value of $40.2 billion in 2018, up 3% from the previous year. The state shipped 248 million nine-liter cases to the U.S. in 2018, up 3%.

California wine sales to all markets, including shipments to the U.S. and export markets, were 285 million cases in 2018.

“Consumer interest in premium wines continues to be the dominant trend,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, Wine Institute President and CEO. “As consumers trade up, our California wines are emphasizing high quality, value and sustainable winegrowing.”

“California wine shipments experienced a 15% volume growth in the U.S. over the last decade, and increased 6 million cases in 2018 over the previous year,” said Jon Moramarco, founder and managing partner of BW 166 LLC, and editor of the Gomberg Fredrikson Report. “Baby Boomers are still the driving force in wine consumption, but while sales are still growing, it’s slowing as the Boomer generation ages and presumably drinks less. Wine marketers are working to maintain the interest of Boomers and attract Gen X’ers and Millennials with new and different wines.”

Moramarco also noted that direct-to-consumer wine sales continue to grow as important channel with over 6 million cases sold with a retail value of $3 billion in 2018, an increase of 9% in volume and 12% in value over the previous year.

2018 California Wine Stats Graphic

“Consumers are drinking better but not a lot more, as overall alcohol per capita consumption has changed very little,” said Danny Brager, Senior Vice President of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice Area. “They are being more mindful of drinking in moderation, thus underlining a trend to smaller serve packaging, and seeking ‘experiences’ in a wide variety of eating and drinking venues such as theaters, museums, concerts, festivals, sports/activity venues, ‘groceraunts’ and other premises offering combined experiential and food/drink occasions. This diverse landscape has resulted in wine selling locations in the U.S. being up 8.5% from five years ago to 567,000 off- and on-premise locations.”

Brager explained that consumers are also shopping more online and want a convenient and effective online browsing and shopping experience. Adopting e-commerce platforms to make wine more accessible to consumers is having an impact on wine sales. Alternative packaging such as 3-liter boxes and cans is another trend expanding occasions to enjoy wine.

According to Nielsen-measured U.S. off-premise sales, top-selling varietals by volume share are: Chardonnay, 18.6%; Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.6%; Red Blends, 10.6%; Pinot Grigio/Gris, 9.7%; Merlot, 6.4%; Moscato/Muscat, 6.2%; Pinot Noir,5.2%; Sauvignon Blanc, 5.1%; White Zinfandel/Blush, 3.6%; and Rosé, 2.7%. Rosé continues to show phenomenal growth, with sales volume jumping 46% compared to 2017.

Total shipments of sparkling wine and champagne to the U.S. reached 27.4 million cases in 2018. Up 4% from the previous year, sparkling wines/champagnes accounted for a 7% share of the U.S. wine market.

The U.S. Wine Market

Wine shipments to the U.S. from all production sources—California, other states and foreign producers—grew 1% to 406.5 million cases in 2018, with an estimated retail value of $68.1 billion. The U.S. has remained the world’s largest wine market by volume since 2010 and the U.S. is now the third leading global wine producer. California’s 245 million cases shipped within the U.S. in 2018 represent a 61% share of the total U.S. wine market.

U.S. Wine Exports

U.S. wine exports, 95% from California, reached $1.46 billion in winery revenues in 2018. Volume shipments were 375 million liters or 41.7 million cases. The European Union’s 28-member countries were the top market for U.S. wine exports, accounting for $469 million; followed by Canada, $449 million; Hong Kong, $130 million; Japan, $93 million; China, $59 million; Mexico, $27 million; South Korea, $25 million; Nigeria, $15 million; Dominican Republic, $14.4 million, and Singapore, $14 million.

CALIFORNIA WINE SHIPMENTS1

(In millions of 9-liter cases)

Year California Wine Shipments to All Markets in the U.S. and Abroad2 California Wine Shipments to the U.S. Market2 Estimated Retail Value of CA Wine to U.S.3
2018 284.8 248.1 $40.2 billion
2017 280.5 241.8 $38.7 billion
2016 280.8 240.3 $37.1 billion
2015 279.4 234.8 $35.4 billion
2014 277.6 233.0 $33.8 billion
2013 266.1 221.4 $30.6 billion
2012 257.8 214.3 $31.2 billion
2011 270.2 224.1 $30.5 billion
2010 254.7 210.1 $30.4 billion
2009 255.6 213.3 $30.7 billion
2008 254.5 208.4 $27.3 billion
2007 245.8 200.39 $26.0 billion
2006 239.3 196.6 $26.6 billion
2005 233.5 193.8 $24.1 billion
2004 221.4 182.2 $22.2 billion
2003 209.1 177.0 $20.8 billion
2002 194.9 168.4 $21.5 billion

Sources: Wine Institute and BW166/Gomberg-Fredrikson Report. Preliminary. History revised.
1 Includes table, sparkling, dessert, vermouth, other special natural, sake and others. Excludes cider.
2 Excludes bulk imports bottled in California.
3 Estimated retail value includes markups by wholesalers, retailers and restaurateurs.

WINE SALES IN THE US

(Wine shipments in millions of 9-liter cases from California, other states and foreign producers entering U.S. distribution)

Year Table Wine1 Dessert Wine2 Sparkling Wine/
Champagne
Total Wine Total Retail Value3
2018 338.7 40.4 27.4 406.5 $68.1 billion
2017 336.1 40.8 26.4 403.3 $65.3 billion
2016 332.0 41.2 24.4 397.6 $63.3 billion
2015 324.7 40.2 21.7 386.6 $60.5 billion
2014 323.4 34.6 19.8 377.8 $56.8 billion
2013 326.2 31.6 18.4 376.2 $53.4 billion
2012 319.1 30.3 17.5 366.9 $51.7 billion
2011 307.6 31.4 17.2 356.2 $50.3 billion
2010 291.4 28.9 15.3 335.6 $47.7 billion
2009 287.7 27.2 13.9 328.8 $45.6 billion
2008 273.1 27.7 13.5 314.3 $44.7 billion
2007 273.3 26.7 13.8 313.8 $43.7 billion
2006 259.4 24.3 13.6 297.3 $42.2 billion
2005 253.5 22.5 13.1 289.1 $39.5 billion
2004 245.3 20.3 13.2 278.8 $36.2 billion
2003 237.0 17.6 12.0 266.6 $34.0 billion
2002 222.6 15.9 11.5 250.0 $33.0 billion

Sources: Wine Institute, Department of Commerce, Estimates by BW166/Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates. Preliminary. History revised. Excludes exports. Excludes Cider. Totals may not add up exactly due to rounding.
1 Includes all still wines not over 14 percent alcohol, including bulk imports bottled in the U.S.
2 Includes all still wines over 14 percent alcohol and sake, including bulk imports bottled in the U.S.
3 Estimated retail value includes markups by wholesalers, retailers and restaurateurs. Includes on- and off-premise expenditures.

###

MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

New Consumer Research Presented at First U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit Shows Strong Interest in Sustainable Wine

June 20, 2019

Summit Banner

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), with wine and grape association partners from New York, Oregon and Washington, and others around the country hosted the inaugural U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit | West on June 6-7 in Sonoma County. A highlight of the Summit was a presentation by Lulie Halstead, CEO of Wine Intelligence, on consumer perceptions of sustainable winegrowing. The research indicated high interest in purchasing sustainably produced wine in the future, a favorable perception of sustainable certification programs and certification logos, and a willingness to pay more for sustainably produced wine, particularly by Millennials and Gen Z.

St Francis Winery Tour
The Summit kicked off with tours at Benziger Family Winery and St. Francis Winery & Vineyards.

The Wine Intelligence consumer research was based on an April 2019 survey of 2,000 regular wine consumers (U.S.), three domestic focus groups and surveys in Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Among the key findings:

  • While organic wine is more universally understood, sustainably produced wine has the highest future purchase consideration, with 74% of U.S. respondents indicating that they would consider buying sustainably produced wine in the future.
  • In Canada, Sweden and the UK, sustainably produced wine had the highest percentages for future purchase consideration – 70%, 60% and 63% respectively, except in Sweden where organic still ranked higher (68%).
  • The survey also questioned affinity (“right for me”) and sustainably produced again performed well across countries – U.S. (68%), Canada (65%), Sweden (60%) and UK (56%).
  • For U.S. consumers, sustainable wine is most strongly associated with U.S. States and, in particular, California.
  • Millennials lead the way in purchasing from the range of sustainably and environmentally produced wine, and nine in 10 are “willing to pay” more for sustainably produced wine. Among all U.S. wine consumers, $3 was the average extra value that consumers indicated they were “willing to pay” for a sustainably produced wine.
  • Younger consumers (Millennials and Gen Z of legal drinking age) are significantly more engaged with sustainability, viewed as increasingly important to protect the future, and sustainable wine certifications have a strong appeal for younger drinkers, particularly Millennials.
  • Consumers seek easy ways to find and identify sustainable wine such as clear and simple visual cues or clearly identified sections in a store. Sustainability certifications for wine provide transparency and reassurance. While “Award Winning” endorsements deliver the most reassurance and positive impact on likelihood to buy, both CSWA’s Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (California CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE) logo and a generic Certified Sustainable logo were viewed as credible and visually appealing. When explicitly tested, wine endorsed with a CSWA logo yields the highest likelihood to buy among U.S. wine consumers.
  • While winery websites and wine tasting events are more effective at communicating wine sustainability, wine labels and peer recommendation are more frequently used sources.

Alternative Wine Styles: Consideration by Country
% who would consider buying the following alternative wine styles in the future.
Base = All aware of the following alternative wine styles

Research Graph
Light blue = Top 3 in each segment (exc. small sample size). Dark gray = Small sample size (n<50). Sources: Wine Intelligence, consumer focus groups in LA, April 2019, n=3 groups; Wine Intelligence, Vinitrac© U.S. (n=2,000), Canada (n=2,479), Sweden (n=1,000) and U.K. (n=1,000), April 2019 U.S., Canadian, Swedish and U.K. regular wine drinkers.

About the U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit

Six states were represented among the 65 summit attendees at the inaugural U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit | West, which included regional winery and vineyard associations, grower and vintner leaders, and other organizations committed to the sustainability of local vineyards, wineries and regions. Several panels explored “the value of sustainability” from the perspective of vineyards and wineries, other industries and trade, as well as lessons learned from various U.S. state sustainability programs. A second Summit, the U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit | East will be held in New York in 2020.

In California, which produces more than 80% of U.S. wine, vineyards and wineries that represent the vast majority of the state’s acreage and wine production are participating in the California Sustainable Winegrowing Program and other educational and certification programs and adopting sustainable practices. In fact, 85% of California wine is now made in a Certified California Sustainable Winery and more than 40% of California’s statewide acreage is certified to Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, Lodi Rules, Napa Green and/or SIP Certified. Other programs that were included on the program panel at the Summit include Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing, Washington Wine’s Vinewise/Winerywise, and LIVE Certified.

The Summit’s keynote speaker, Karen Ross, California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary, highlighted the impressive progression of sustainable winegrowing in the U.S. wine industry, and the unique ways in which winegrowing regions around the country are interconnected – with a common bond of dedication to future generations.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

 

Summit Hosts:

Summit host logos

Summit Sponsors:

Summit sponsor logos

Travel California Wine Country’s Back Roads This Summer: Sierra Foothills Spotlight

June 3, 2019

Wine Institute Series Highlights the Wine Roads Less Traveled

SAN FRANCISCO — California is home to dozens of distinct wine regions, including some of the world’s most famous destinations. But hidden among even the high-profile appellations are the wine roads less traveled featuring stunning rural scenery, delicious wines and, often, fewer visitors. To help consumers discover new wines and wineries this summer, Wine Institute’s California Wine Country Back Roads series highlights off-the-beaten path wine roads and regions.

 

SIERRA FOOTHILLS WINE REGION

The California Gold Rush from 1848-1855 occurred in the heart of the Sierra Foothills wine region which covers 2.6 million acres of rolling hills, old mining towns and several of the coolest and highest elevation vineyards in the state. The region is a haven for small, family-run wineries known for their rich history, 100-plus-year old grapevines and full-bodied red wines, located throughout eight counties—Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mariposa, Nevada, Placer, Tuolumne and Yuba. Here, visitors can enjoy pairing the latest vintages with some of California’s spectacular scenery, as this wine region has three national parks and 20 wilderness areas that include Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe.

El Dorado County Spring Vineyard
El Dorado County has more than 70 wineries and mountain vineyards that produce more than 70 winegrape varieties. Photo credit Lava Cap Vineyard.

TASTE: The Sierra Foothills region is home to more than 200 wineries and a diverse range of grape varieties. Amador County, tucked into the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, includes more than 40 wineries—many specializing in Zinfandel, Barbera and Rhône-style wines. In Calaveras County, where Mark Twain gave the county its claim to fame with his bestselling story “The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” there are more than 25 tasting rooms on the charming Main Street of Murphys. El Dorado County, with its mountain vineyards perched high above the valley, features 70 wineries producing everything from Cabernet-based varietals to wines made from Rhône, German, Italian and Spanish grape varieties. Back-road gems can also be found in Nevada County, Placer County and Yuba County. For a taste of several sub-regions, take a scenic excursion up historic Highway 49. The road begins in Oakhurst, then winds its way north through several winery-rich counties, including Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Nevada and more.

Gnarly Vines Murphy's Hotel
Visitors can attend Amador County’s Barbera Festival and might also go past 140-year-old vines. Photo courtesy Deaver Vineyards. In Murphys, Calaveras County, there are over 25 wine tasting rooms and the historic Murphys Hotel along Main Street. Photo courtesy Calaveras CVB.

TOUR: Celebrate local wine, food and agriculture June 20-21 during the Placer Wine Trail’s Grape Days of Summer, a self-guided tour that features food, music and educational experiences at every stop in Placer County. Amador County’s annual Barbera Festival in September during California Wine Month offers tastes from more than 50 local wineries, plus fabulous food, live music and artisan vendors. Also, in September is the WineDerLust Renegade Wine Festival in Placerville, a wine bazaar and concert showcasing the best of El Dorado wines.

Placer County Grape Days
Visitors enjoy wine in a cavern tasting room during Placer County Wine Trail’s Grape Days of Summer. Photo courtesy of Placer County Wine Trail.

For more information on lodging, dining and upcoming events, see Amador County Vintners, Calaveras Winegrape Alliance, El Dorado Wines, Go Nevada County and Placer Wine Trail.

For all of the wine regions included in this series, use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens and picnic areas, and view winery events around the state.

To see Wine Institute’s Back Roads guides to other California wine regions, visit https://discovercaliforniawines.com/media-trade/news.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

Summer Travel on California Wine Country Back Roads: Part 1, North Coast

May 20, 2019

Wine Institute Series Highlights the Wine Roads Less Traveled

SAN FRANCISCO — California is home to dozens of distinct wine regions, including some of the world’s most famous destinations. But hidden among even the high-profile appellations are the wine roads less traveled, featuring stunning rural scenery, delicious wines and, often, fewer visitors. To help wine lovers discover new wine roads and wineries this summer, Wine Institute’s California Wine Country Back Roads series highlights off-the-beaten path wine roads and regions. The five-part series begins with the back roads of California’s North Coast.

 

SONOMA COUNTY

Home to nearly 500 wineries, plus green valleys, rolling hills, regal redwoods and 55 miles of spectacular coastline, Sonoma County is one of the most well-known wine regions in California. Even so, there’s always something new to explore along Sonoma’s rural roads.

J. Rickards Winery Tour
Guests enjoy the vineyard tour at J. Rickards Winery during Experience Alexander Valley June 22-23. Photo copyright 2018 J. Rickards Winery

TASTE: The region is best known for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, but Sonoma’s diversity of climate and soils allows vintners to grow dozens of other varieties as well. You’ll find a more relaxed pace in the Alexander Valley where winding country roads lead to some of the county’s most delicious Cabernet Sauvignon wines, known for their restrained, elegant style. As one of Sonoma’s larger appellations in terms of vineyard acres, Alexander Valley’s back roads include more than two dozen wineries. Hidden treasures can also be found in the nearby Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley or the next county just south of Sonoma in Marin County.

TOUR: On June 22-23, Experience Alexander Valley invites small groups of 20 or less to experience everything from blending seminars with winemakers to ravioli-making workshops to bocce in the vineyards. Also on June 8 – July 14 is the Art of Wine with a Vintage Palette at the Healdsburg Center for the Arts, featuring 60 artists celebrating the wine country culture of the North Bay. The free opening reception is June 8.

For more information on lodging, dining and upcoming events, see Sonoma County Tourism.

 

NAPA VALLEY

A small region with a deservedly large reputation, the Napa Valley is known the world over for its acclaimed wines—primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Bordeaux varieties—and a thriving culinary scene that includes Michelin star restaurants, delicious food truck fare and every level of cuisine in between.

Calistoga Harvest Table
Guests enjoy the Calistoga Harvest Table event featuring local restaurants and 40-plus wineries.

TASTE: Bordered by two mountain ranges—the Vaca on the east and the Mayacamas on the west—the Napa Valley is rich with less-traveled mountain roads that invite visitors to meander and discover.  Spring Mountain Road, just a few minutes off busy highway 29, is a rural respite of family owned and operated wineries, along with 1,000 acres of gorgeous hillside vineyards. Likewise, Mount Veeder, Atlas Peak, Howell Mountain and Diamond Mountain reward travelers with mountain vistas and limited-production wines. (Due to their remote locations, some wineries require advance appointments.)

TOUR: Festival Napa Valley is in July, featuring SEAL, performers Patti Lupone, jazz artists the Yellow Jackets, and a full slate of the finest concerts, operas and fabulous winery parties. Free outdoor concerts will be at the St. Helena Concert Series, held on alternating Thursdays, June-August, in Lyman Park. Wind down the summer season at the Calistoga Harvest Table on Sept. 8, where local restaurants and 40-plus wineries team up to produce an epic feast laid out on 1,000 feet of tables in the center of Calistoga’s picturesque downtown.

For more information on lodging, dining and upcoming events, see Visit Napa Valley.

 

MENDOCINO COUNTY

Fifty miles north of Healdsburg lies ruggedly beautiful Mendocino County, home to towering redwoods and a foggy coast. More than 90 percent of the land is wild and undeveloped, and the region is known for its small-town vibe and relaxed hospitality.

Tasting from the barrel
Sample yet-to-be-released wines at the Barrel Tasting Weekend July 20-21 in Anderson Valley.

TASTE: Drive along Highway 128 in the Anderson Valley and find more than two dozen small wineries producing everything from crisp sparkling wines to gorgeous cool-climate Pinot Noir to aromatic whites. The region’s producers are proudly “green,” with a high percentage of wineries using sustainable, organic or Biodynamic methods.

TOUR: Celebrate Father’s Day weekend June 15-16 with A Taste of Redwood Valley, a chance to sample library wines, small-production lots and even spirits. Anderson Valley wineries host their Barrel Tasting Weekend July 20-21, featuring previews of new wines and tastes of current releases.

For more information on lodging, dining and upcoming events, see Visit Mendocino.

 

LAKE COUNTY

Bordering Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties, Lake County was named for the region’s many picturesque lakes. Vineyards are planted throughout the county, from the agriculturally rich valley at 1,370 feet elevation to the rocky red soil around Mt. Konocti—a dormant volcano—at elevations above 2,000 feet.

Lake County landscape
The picturesque vineyards of Lake County wine country. Photo George Rose.

TASTE: Home to more than 30 wineries, Lake County is known for its high-elevation Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc wines. Mini-tours around Clear Lake include Upper Lake and Lakeport, Nice and Clearlake Oaks, Lower Lake, Middletown, and the volcanic hillsides of Red Hills.

TOUR: On June 16, the Lake County Beer, Wine & Swine Baconfest brings together dad-friendly favorites for Father’s Day.  Red, White, & Blues celebrates the best of Lake County wines on July 6 at Langtry Estate Vineyards in Middletown.

For more information on lodging, dining and upcoming events, see Lake County Wineries.

For all of the wine regions included in this series, use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens and picnic areas, and view winery events around the state.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

California’s ‘Family-Friendly’ Wineries Welcome Kids to Wine Country

May 13, 2019

Tasting rooms offer juice tastings, farm animal visits and more

Kids in Vineyard
Exploring the vineyards is one of the ways kids can enjoy California wine country.

SAN FRANCISCO — While some people visit California wineries for much-needed “grown-up” time in one of the world’s most beautiful wine regions, many parents prefer to travel and taste with their little ones in tow. This has increasingly become the trend, according to Wine Institute, inspiring many of the state’s wineries to offer special accommodations for kids, including grape juice tastings, play areas, visits with farm animals and outdoor games. These activities keep children happy and engaged while their parents sample the latest vintages.

The key to a successful and fun family outing in California’s wine country is to call ahead or check the producer’s website to see if kids are welcome. For reasons of liability or preference, some wineries do not allow guests under age 21. If the winery does allow minors, kids are permitted to join their parents in the winery and can often take part in winery tours.

Baby animals and Coppola Pool
Kids can view baby animals at Raymond Vineyards and swim at Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

Following is a list of family-friendly wineries throughout California:

ACORN Winery/Alegria Vineyards, Healdsburg, Sonoma County 
Legos, crayons and cornhole keep kids entertained while parents taste. Children may also explore the vineyards adjacent to the tasting room, join parents on a guided vineyard walk and taste grapes during harvest.
 
Alexander Valley Vineyards, Healdsburg, Sonoma County
Kids can join in winery and cave tours with their parents, visit the vineyards and enjoy the winery’s picnic area.
 
Alpha Omega, St. Helena, Napa Valley
The winery offers the coloring book, "Exploring the Napa Valley with Traveler Teddies," a kid-friendly guide to the Napa Valley, presented with a box of crayons. 
 
Austin Hope & Treana Tasting Cellar, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County
While parents enjoy a glass or a bottle outside overlooking the vineyards, children are invited to play cornhole or giant Jenga.     
 
Benziger Family Winery, Glen Ellen, Sonoma County
A 45-minute educational tram tour showcases the winery’s Biodynamic vineyards, caves and insect-friendly gardens.
 
Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma, Sonoma County
Tours led by period actors include wine caves and the Historic Wine Museum, which features an entertaining multi-media show. There’s also a picnic area and hedge maze.
 
Buttonwood Winery, Solvang, Santa Barbara County
Explore the large fruit tree orchard and picnic areas or visit the estate farm animals.

Pruning at Captain Vineyards.
Pruning at Captain Vineyards.
Captain Vineyards, Moraga, Contra Costa County
Tour the first green, sustainable, dry farmed vineyard and winery in the Lamorinda AVA, which offers a 4-H program for middle and high schools through the University of California at Davis.
 
Castello di Amorosa, Calistoga, Napa Valley
Tour a massive replica of an Italian castle, complete with a dungeon, then meet the estate peacocks and farm animals. Kids can sample grape juice and enjoy their own play area.
 
Castoro Cellars, Templeton, San Luis Obispo County
Games for kids include cornhole, giant Jenga and disc golf.
 
Cline Cellars, Sonoma, Sonoma County
The park-like grounds feature expansive lawns, ponds stocked with fish and turtles, caged exotic birds, vintage train cars and the California Missions Museum.
 
DeLoach Vineyards, Santa Rosa, Sonoma County
The winery offers educational, family-friendly tours detailing DeLoach’s history, winemaking techniques and farming practices. Families can end their tour with a picnic in the winery grove. 
 
Domaine Artefact, Escondido, San Diego County
Pack a picnic and play cornhole and giant Jenga, or visit the ranch’s resident horses, chickens, dogs and pigs.
 
Eberle Winery, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County
Cave tours and bocce courts keep the kids entertained.
 
Fawnridge Winery, Auburn, Placer County
Children are welcome in the Fawnridge tasting room, where they offer “juice boxes” and fawn deer statues to sit on outside.
 
Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Geyserville, Sonoma County
Coppola welcomes families with a large swimming pool, bocce ball court, children’s library, board games and more.
 
Heritage Oak Winery, Acampo, Lodi/San Joaquin County
Outdoor family fun includes picnicking, hiking down to the river, kayaking and camping.
 
Honig Vineyard & Winery, Rutherford, Napa Valley
The winery offers eco-tours of the vineyard, plus kids’ toys and books.
 
Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate, Fulton, Sonoma County
Kids can taste grape juice and tour the extensive vegetable garden, which includes a chicken coop, bat boxes and a demonstration bee hive.
 
Landmark Vineyards, Kenwood, Sonoma County
The free Horse Drawn Carriage Tour delves into farming practices and Sonoma wine history. There’s also a picnic area and expansive lawn.
 
Mauritson Wines, Healdsburg, Sonoma County
Grape juice tastings are offered during the harvest season.
 
Meyer Family Cellars, Yorkville, Mendocino County
The winery includes an outdoor children’s play area.
 
Navarro Vineyards, Philo, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County
Kids can enjoy a grape juice tasting of Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer.
 
Pennyroyal Farm, Boonville, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County
The winery’s Farm Tour lets kids meet resident farm animals and sample grape juice.
 
Raymond Vineyards, St. Helena, Napa Valley
The outdoor Theater of Nature showcases how all of nature’s “actors”—including chickens and goats—play a crucial part in crafting quality wine, from the soil to the vineyards. 
 
Retzlaff Vineyards, Livermore, Livermore Valley
The winery has a picnic area and a lawn with big toy tractors for kids to play on.
 
Six Sigma Ranch and Winery, Lower Lake, Lake County
Meet "Topper", the winery’s pot belly pig who loves to have his ears rubbed. Select Saturdays, jump on the flat bed and help feed the livestock. Picnic or play a game of cornhole. 
 
Truett-Hurst Winery, Healdsburg, Sonoma County
Families are free to roam the working farm, which features goats, chickens and sheep.
 
Zaca Mesa Winery, Los Olivos, Santa Barbara County
Families are invited to picnic or play a game on the giant chess board.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

Fifth Annual California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards Recipients Announced

April 2, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Green Medal recipients have been announced for the fifth annual Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards. The California Green Medal recognizes the leadership of wineries and vineyards committed to sustainability and is presented by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, California Association of Winegrape Growers, Wine Institute, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrowers and the Vineyard Team. Four Green Medals are presented in the following categories: Leader, Environment, Community and Business. The recipients of the Green Medal Awards will be honored at a ceremony at the California Department of Food and Agriculture in Sacramento on May 1, 2019. The event will be held in conjunction with a Legislative Reception, celebrating California Wines Down to Earth Month in April recognizing the California wine community’s commitment to sustainable winegrowing.

Recipients of the 2019 Green Medals are:

Green Medal Recipients 2019
From left to right: Jason Smith, President/CEO, Smith Family Wines (Community Award); Kurt Gollnick, Chief Operating Officer, Scheid Family Wines (Environment Award); Kellie Hoppe, Lab Technician, Domaine Carneros (Business Award); Nate Weis, Director of Winemaking, Silver Oak Cellars (Leader Award).

LEADER AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that excels in the three “E’s” of sustainability—Environmentally Sound, Socially Equitable and Economically Viable practices.

Recipient: Silver Oak Cellars, located in Healdsburg and Oakville, California, understands that sustainability is a long-term strategy to achieve a healthy and thriving business, without compromising future generations’ ability to use and enjoy natural resources. Some innovative ways they achieve their sustainability goals include the design of the wineries for maximum efficiency through LEED certification. Their Oakville Winery was the first production winery to achieve LEED Platinum certification in 2016 and their Alexander Valley winery earned LEED Platinum certification in 2018. Most of their energy needs are met through onsite solar and 100% of their process water at the Alexander Valley winery is treated onsite and reused. Silver Oak Cellars provides rich benefits and fosters a family-focused work atmosphere. Silver Oak’s sustainability leadership is further evidenced by their integration of Living Building Challenge (LBC) standards in the design of their new Alexander Valley winery, with the goal to become the first LBC certified winery in 2019, on top of comprehensive vineyard and winery certification to Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE) and the Napa Green Land and Winery programs.

Water tower at Silver Oak Cellars in Alexander Valley.
Water tower at Silver Oak Cellars in Alexander Valley.

ENVIRONMENT AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Environmental Stewardship through maximized environmental benefits from implementing sustainable practices.

Recipient: Scheid Family Wines, based in Salinas, California, holds sustainability as a core value. Scheid Family Wines strives for sustainability in the broadest sense of the word every day in all that they do. They installed a wind turbine that provides power to run the entire winery operation plus an additional 125 homes. Skylights were placed in the winery to provide a more pleasant work environment and reduce electricity usage. All the vineyards and the winery are Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE). They recycle and reuse 100% of the grape pomace and wastewater generated in their winery. In the vineyard, they invest in human assisted technology to ease the physical demands of pruning, increase safety, enhance the well-being of their employees and extend their careers. Scheid Family Wines believes that being a leader in the wine industry requires a deep commitment to environmental stewardship and the well-being of their employees and local community.

Scheid Family Wines wine turbine.
Scheid Family Wines wine turbine.

COMMUNITY AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that is a Good Neighbor & Employer using the most innovative practices that enhance relations with employees, neighbors and/or communities.

Recipient: Smith Family Wines, based in Monterey County, California, is a strong supporter of their local community and fosters a quality environment for their employees. A full spectrum of benefits is offered to all employees and they run a companywide wellness program with weekly outreach to employees and their families, including exercise, nutrition, biometric analysis, and lifestyle education. The wellness program alone reflects a $200,000 commitment to their employees. Employees are also paid to participate in education and professional associations, and there is comprehensive safety training. The company participates in both SIP Certified and Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE), with a full-time employee dedicated to sustainability. Smith Family Wines is a leader in providing their employees a safe, socially equitable, and economically just place to work.

The Smith Family Wines team.
The Smith Family Wines team.

BUSINESS AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Smart Business through efficiencies, cost savings and innovation from implementing sustainable practices.

Recipient: Domaine Carneros, located in Napa, California, understands how sustainability leads to efficiency and cost effectiveness. The company was built on a pillar of sustainability and as part of their open book management plan, they set measurable goals every three years in the category of sustainability and visit these goals annually to ensure goals are being met. This type of management plan allows for all employees to be involved. One of the ways they realized significant cost savings is through their packaging reuse program. Since starting the program, the company has saved about $75,000 per year in packaging costs. This program also has helped divert solid was from landfills, while recognizing that reuse uses less energy and resources than recycling. Domaine Carneros’ smart business sense and commitment to sustainably is apparent in every facet of their operation, with both vineyards and the winery comprehensively certified to Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE) and the Napa Green Land and Winery programs.

Domaine Carneros cover-cropped vineyard in winter.
Domaine Carneros cover-cropped vineyard in winter.

“The Green Medal recognizes the commitment and dedication to sustainability by California growers and vintners,” said Allison Jordan, CSWA Executive Director. “The hardest part is selecting only four recipients from the many amazing applications received from vineyards and wineries of all sizes from throughout California. The judging panel was impressed by the breadth and depth of sustainable practices being used to conserve water and energy, maintain healthy soil, protect air and water quality, preserve wildlife habitat, and enhance relations with employees and communities, all while improving the economic vitality of vineyards and wineries.”

A panel of wine and sustainability experts judged the applications for the fifth annual California Green Medal. They include: Karen Block, Ph.D., Directory of Industry Relations, UC Davis Viticulture & Enology; Stephanie Bolton, Ph.D., Sustainable Winegrowing Director, Lodi Winegrape Commission; Renata Brillinger, Executive Director, California Climate Action Network; Anna Brittain, Sustainability Consultant, Napa Valley Vintners; David Glancy, Master Sommelier, San Francisco Wine School; Allison Jordan, Executive Director, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance; Cyril Penn, Editor in Chief, Wine Business Monthly; Kate Piontek, Vice President of Operations, Sonoma County; Mike Taylor, Director of Adult Beverages, Nugget Market Inc.; Ann Thrupp, Executive Director, Berkeley Food Institute at UC Berkeley; and Beth Vukmanic Lopez, SIP Certification Manager, The Vineyard Team.

Award sponsors are — Exclusive Media Sponsor: Wine Business Monthly; Gold Sponsor: Rivercap; Silver Sponsors: Farm Credit Alliance, G3, Marin Clean Energy and Protected Harvest; and, Bronze Sponsors: AG Unlimited and ETS Laboratories.

Visit www.greenmedal.org for more information.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

New Book: Wine Country Table

March 28, 2019

With Recipes that Celebrate California’s Sustainable Harvest

Wine Country Table Book Cover

 
“Janet Fletcher, Robert Holmes, and Sara Remington have brilliantly captured the spirit of California wine country—its harvests, its flavors, its delights, and its humility. Page after page, farmers and winemakers share their stories and in doing so, they wrap us up in their profound love of the land and the delicious things the land gives us.”
— Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible

SAN FRANCISCO — Wine Institute has released its new book, WINE COUNTRY TABLE: WITH RECIPES THAT CELEBRATE CALIFORNIA’S SUSTAINABLE HARVEST, published by Rizzoli New York. The book offers compelling stories and 50 recipes that showcase the diversity of the California’s wines and regions, its agricultural bounty and the seasonal spirit that continues to define the produce-driven and ethnically influenced essence of California wine country cooking. See: www.discovercaliforniawines.com/wine-country-table.

“Wine Country Table showcases the true rock stars of California’s world-renown culinary scene – all of the vintners and farmers throughout the state who grow more than 100 winegrape varieties and 400 specialty crops,” said Nancy Light, Wine Institute VP of Communications who with VP of Environmental Affairs Allison Jordan, conceived and edited the new book.

Beautifully photographed, the book offers a visual tour of 23 stunning farms and wineries where sustainable practices highlight the future of responsible farming and winegrowing embraced throughout California. Profiled wineries are: Cakebread Cellars, Cambria Estate Vineyard & Winery, Chamisal Vineyards, Concannon Vineyard, Domaine Carneros, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Handley Cellars, Heringer Estates, Palumbo Family Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, Scheid Vineyards, Six Sigma Winery, Tablas Creek Vineyard, The Lucas Winery and Turley Wine Cellars. Featured farms are: Couture Farms (asparagus), Enzo Olive Oil Company, Hilltop & Canyon Farms (avocados and citrus), Henderson Family Farms (pears), J. Marchini Farms (figs), Lodi Farming (cherries), Resendiz Brothers (cut flowers) and Taylor Brothers Farms (dried plums).

Written by award-winning author Janet Fletcher, the book also spotlights California’s key wine regions and winegrape varieties and its most important fruit and vegetable crops, with tips on how to select and use them. The recipes cover all bases, from breakfast (Golden State Granola), lunch (Frittata with Broccoli Rabe and Sheep Cheese), and dinner (Lamb Meatballs with Artichokes and Olives) to dessert (Almond, Orange, and Olive Oil Cake), with helpful California wine suggestions. Master the art of making Vietnamese Chicken Pho, learn the proper way to eat it, and complement it with a glass of California Riesling. For Spring Vegetable Tabbouli with Fava Beans, Radishes, and Spring Herbs, pour a Chardonnay, Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio. Stir-fried Skirt Steak with Chinese Broccoli and Shiitake pairs well with both Cabernet Sauvignon and dry rosé. Taste Mexico’s influence on the California kitchen in dishes like Roasted Tomato Soup with Tortilla Crisps, ideal with Zinfandel or Sauvignon Blanc.

About the Author: Janet Fletcher is the author or co-author of nearly 30 books on food and beverage, including Cheese & Wine; Cheese & Beer; Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner; and Eating Local: Recipes Inspired by America’s Farmers. Fletcher’s journalism has received three James Beard Awards.

Wine Country Table: With Recipes that Celebrate California’s Sustainable Harvest by Janet Fletcher, photographs by Robert Holmes and Sara Remington, in collaboration with Wine Institute. Hardcover / 8.4” x 10.5” / 352 pages / 300 color photographs / $45.00 U.S., $60.00 Canadian / ISBN: 978-0-8478-6543-7 / Release Date: April 2019 / www.rizzoliusa.com / www.discovercaliforniawines.com/wine-country-table.

Book Credits: © Wine Country Table: With Recipes that Celebrate California’s Sustainable Harvest by Wine Institute, Rizzoli, 2019. All Wine Country Table images credit © Wine Institute by Robert Holmes and/or © Sara Remington. Certified sustainable producer Jordan Winery has consented to Wine Institute’s use of the title “Wine Country Table” for this book. Find food, wine, entertaining and travel tips at Jordan Winery’s site www.winecountrytable.com. No images or text may be reproduced in any way, published or transmitted digitally without written permission from the publisher.

###

MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

California Wines “Down To Earth Month” Kicks Off in April with Eco-Friendly Events Across the State

March 19, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO — The eighth annual California Wines Down to Earth Month kicks off in April with sustainability-focused wine events and offers across the state, including Earth Day festivals, vineyard hikes, food and wine events, eco-tours and more. Created by Wine Institute, the association of nearly 1,000 California wineries, the month-long celebration highlights the winemaking community’s commitment to protecting the environment, being a good neighbor and producing high quality wines with sustainable farming and business practices. See: www.discovercaliforniawines.com/d2e.

Down to Earth Winery Events
The Taste of Mendocino is at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco April 27, and Handley Cellars (left) will be one of 30-plus wineries pouring wines, including many that are sustainable, organic or biodynamic. April 20 is Santa Cruz Mountains Passport Day with 40-plus participating wineries, many with “green” certifications. Ridge Vineyards (right) is celebrating that day with a special flight of organic wines.

Coinciding with this year’s Down to Earth Month is the release of “Wine Country Table, With Recipes that Celebrate California’s Sustainable Harvest,” a book showcasing California’s rich sustainable bounty and the winegrowers and other farmers across the state who are helping to set the standard for innovation and responsible farming, along with 50 recipes and tips on food and wine. Acclaimed food writer, Janet Fletcher, is the author.

California is a global leader in sustainable winegrowing based on vineyard acreage and winery case production following these practices. As of 2018, 70% (209 million cases) of California’s total wine production and 25% of statewide wine acreage (150,000 acres) are CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE.

To celebrate California sustainable winegrowing, 40 Down to Earth Month events are happening in April at wineries statewide including the region-wide events listed below. New events are being added daily to the downloadable list here:

11th Annual Wine 4 Paws Weekend, April 5-7, Paso Robles: Visit San Luis Obispo County wineries and stock up on fine wines during this benefit weekend to help homeless cats and dogs. Nearly 100 wineries and other participating businesses will share their proceeds with the pets of the Woods Humane Society.

Drink Green: A Toast to Sustainable Winegrowing, April 6, Madera County: Participating wineries of the Madera Wine Trail will celebrate the region’s sustainable winegrowing and winemaking practices by offering special tastings and education about eco-conscious winery practices.

El Dorado Passport Wine Adventure, April 6-7, Placerville: Pick up your passport for access to more than 20 participating wineries in El Dorado County in the Sierra Foothills, including many committed to sustainable growing and winemaking practices.

Santa Cruz Mountains Passport Celebration Day, April 20: Join more than 40 participating Santa Cruz Mountains wineries—many of them pouring sustainable and organic wines—for a day of tasting throughout the region.

Stags Leap District Wineries: Vineyard to Vintner, April 26-28, Napa Valley: Celebrating 30 years as an American Viticultural Area, the Stags Leap District Vineyard to Vintner anniversary celebration includes dinners, seminars on terroir and winegrowing, and tastings that include coveted library wines and new releases. A portion of the proceeds benefit a scholarship fund.

Taste of Mendocino, April 27, San Francisco: Head to Fort Mason Center in San Francisco to sample wines from more than 30 Mendocino County producers—known for their high rate of participation in certifications for sustainable, organic, biodynamic and fish-friendly farming practices—along with artisanal food bites.

Passport to Dry Creek Valley- 30th Anniversary, April 27-28, Healdsburg: Join more than 40 Dry Creek Valley wineries for tastings, food and wine pairings, fine cuisine from acclaimed Sonoma County chefs, and educational tours that highlight sustainable operations in the vineyards.

Earth Day Napa, April 28, Napa Valley: Come to Oxbow Commons and celebrate Earth Day with the Environmental Education Coalition of Napa County. The event features music, activities for all ages, delicious local food, wine and beer. More than 75 organizations and vendors will provide information about green products, services, the local environment, and how to make a difference for the good of the planet.

View all 2019 Down to Earth events, tours and offers in California Wine Country at: www.discovercaliforniawines.com/d2e.

###

Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of nearly 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that initiates and advocates state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. California wineries generate $114 billion annually in economic activity to the U.S. economy and create 786,000 jobs across the country of which 325,000 are in California. The organization also works to enhance the economic and environmental health of the state through its leadership in sustainable winegrowing and a partnership with Visit California to showcase California’s wine and food offerings and the state as a top travel destination.

The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization established by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers, received the governor’s top environmental award for increasing adoption of sustainable winegrowing practices in California and for initiating new educational tools and program improvements. Learn more at: www.discovercaliforniawines.com/sustainable-winegrowing.

CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE wine bottle logo

Wineries and vineyards around the state have also earned Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing status through the third-party certification program launched by CSWA. Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing and other programs such as the Bay Area Green Business Program, Fish Friendly Farming, Lodi Rules, Napa Green and Sustainability in Practice (SIP) play a vital role in the California wine community’s successful efforts to produce high quality wine that is environmentally sound, economically feasible and socially responsible.

###

MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

Editors: download all the Down to Earth Month winery events by region here and photos of winery events and California sustainable winegrowing here.

New Wine Institute Video Series Spotlights “California Wines: UNRESERVED”

March 5, 2019

View the video at: www.facebook.com/CaliforniaWines

In One Glass Video
Grapes Vine Hand Toasting on the Coast

SAN FRANCISCO — Sipping sparkling wine beneath towering redwood trees; shucking oysters just pulled from the Tomales Bay; contemplating ocean waves while sampling wines uniquely shaped by sunshine, wind and fog. This could only be California.

Wine Institute’s new video series, “California Wines: UNRESERVED,” highlights some of the state’s most iconic landscapes as young sommeliers, wine directors and educators explore the role of the senses in enjoying wine, the meaning of terroir, the magic of California’s old vines, and the ways in which food and wine enhance each other. The videos emphasize the approachability of California wine and the many ways that it fits into relaxed, informal settings.

“In One Glass,” the first in the 50-part video series, delves into the diversity of flavors found in California wines, as described by wine writer Elaine Chukan Brown. It debuts Tuesday, March 5 on Wine Institute’s U.S. Facebook page before rolling out across global social media channels including Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, and going live on www.DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com. Two new videos will be posted every week through September.

WATCH THE VIDEOS AT:
Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube Website

Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group for California wineries which produce 80 percent of U.S. wine and account for more than 90 percent of U.S. wine exports. California is home to dozens of distinct wine regions, 139 American Viticultural Areas and 4,800 wineries. As the nation’s number one state for wine and food tourism, California attracts 24 million visitors to its wine regions each year.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

Millennial Vintners to Watch in 2019

February 28, 2019

Young California Vintners Inspire Millennial Generation

 
SAN FRANCISCO — In 2019, millennials, ages 23-38, will number 73 million people, surpassing Baby Boomers to become America’s largest generation. These consumers, distinguished by their openness to trying new and unusual wines, are naturally of great interest to California wineries. Because millennials are known to value the advice of their peers, what better place to look for opinions and wine recommendations than their own generation of vintners?

With millennials playing a role in U.S. wine sales, Wine Institute has identified several inventive young vintners who are taking the reins of their families’ multi-generational wineries. The following “Millennial Vintners to Watch for 2019” are just a handful of the many leaders bringing new ideas and innovations to their family businesses to help them thrive long into the future.
 

Jacqueline Balletto – Balletto Vineyards, Sonoma County
 
As Balletto’s tasting room and direct-to-consumer sales manager, this third-generation vintner has made the family business more digitally savvy by upgrading the winery’s tasting room technology, creating a mobile-friendly website and connecting with consumers via social media. In the tasting room, Jacqueline also carries out the family’s vision of building lifelong relationships with customers by introducing people to their estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Prior to her current role, she was a viticulture assistant for the winery and helped maintain relationships with wineries that purchase fruit from Balletto’s Russian River Valley vineyards.

Jamie Benziger – Imagery Estate Winery, Sonoma County
 
Jamie is the daughter of Imagery founder Joe Benziger. As winemaker, she is the artist behind the winery in Glen Ellen. In addition to annually crafting more than 35 wines, she launched a new tier in 2017 designed to broaden consumers’ palates with unique varietal blends. (For example, the Sauvignon Blanc is blended with 20% Muscat and the Pinot Noir contains 10% Petit Verdot.) Jamie’s collection is introducing Imagery to a new generation and includes the first wines Imagery has ever distributed outside the tasting room.

Nicholas Bleecher – Jericho Canyon Vineyards, Napa Valley
 
The son of founders Dale and Marla Bleecher, Nicholas is the winemaker and general manager at Jericho Canyon Vineyard. He grew up spending years working in the vineyards after school and during summers and later on in the winery when the building was completed in 2006. Earning UC Davis degrees in viticulture and enology and managerial economics, he worked abroad as many young winemakers do. He returned to Jericho in 2011, working alongside winemakers Heidi Barrett, Bo Barrett, Thomas Brown, Aaron Pott and Michel Rolland. Today, he makes Jericho Canyon Vineyard’s wines as well as wines for personal clients.

Sarah Cahn Bennett – Navarro Vineyards, Mendocino County
 
Sarah is the daughter of founders Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn, leading the family’s vision for the next generation. When she first took over running the family winery with her brother, Aaron, Sarah reintroduced sheep to the estate (it was formerly a sheep ranch) and put the animals to work suckering vines. She also brought more scientific rigor to the business using her UC Davis training. With the development of Pennyroyal Farm, Navarro’s sister wine estate in Boonville, Sarah created a unique program with excellent wines, acclaimed artisan cheeses and a dairy farm.

Bryan Cass – Cass Vineyard and Winery, Paso Robles
 
Bryan’s start in the wine business began in high school, shortly after his family purchased the property on which Cass Winery and Vineyards now stands. The summer before his junior year of high school, he and his friends worked away the days repairing fences, clearing out debris, and avoiding rattlesnakes on the property. After graduating from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo with a degree in wine and viticulture, Bryan went on to earn a master’s degree in wine business from the University of Adelaide in Australia. After graduation in 2007, he returned to Cass to apply his skills and knowledge to the family business. Today, as the winery’s general manager, he handles everything from payroll and administrative management, to sales, to working in the tasting room.

Megan Cline – Cline Cellars & Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, Sonoma County
 
Megan is the daughter of Fred and Nancy Cline and has worked with her family for the past four years learning every part of the business from winemaking and marketing to sales and hospitality. She’s been working with Cline’s associate winemaker experimenting with a range of varietals made in amphorae. Megan believes there is a purity in flavor and texture in these wines because the amphorae do not overshadow the grapes. Megan is also a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Diana Eakle Hawkins & David Eakle – Pope Valley Vineyards, Napa Valley
 
Diana and David have been managing the operations of their family winery since 2012. David is the “boots on the ground” vineyard and winemaking director while Diana manages the sales, marketing and everything in between. They both graduated from CSU Chico with a B.S. in Agricultural Business. David’s concentration was on crop science while Diana focused on marketing & business. They recently became equal partners with their father Sam Eakle to carry on their family legacy. They produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese and Zinfandel from their estate vineyards that they played and worked in since they were young. As proprietors of a pre-prohibition winery, David and Diana have maintained the rich history and original historic winery and cave that have been on the property since it was established in 1897.

Chris Hall – Long Meadow Ranch Wine Estates, Napa Valley/Mendocino
 
Chris is the winery’s COO and executive vice president and he and his parents, Ted and Laddie Hall, run Long Meadow Ranch which includes cultivating over 2,000 acres of land that produce estate-grown grapes and wine, olives and olive oil, fruits and vegetables, eggs and grass-fed lamb and beef. They pioneered the Full Circle Farming concept, an organic, sustainable, integrated farming system that contributes to the health of the full operation. Besides managing the winery’s diversified farming activities, Chris drove the development of Farmstead, a food and wine destination that includes a restaurant, general store, tasting room and outdoor café.

Lindsay Hoopes – Hoopes Vineyards, Napa Valley
 
The daughter of winery founder Spencer Hoopes, Lindsay is the winery owner and general manager. She joined the winery in 2013 after a law career in the San Francisco district attorney’s office. Under the leadership of her father, she expanded the winery’s portfolio of wines, focusing on limited-production Cabernet Sauvignon of the Napa Valley. She bought and developed a new winery at the former Hopper Creek Winery in Yountville and sources grapes from there and the flagship property in Oakville. She is continuing the goal of capturing the truest expression of the terroir and grape and is dedicated to organic and sustainable farming.

Katie Jackson – Jackson Family Wines, Sonoma County
 
The daughter of Barbara Banke and Jess Jackson, Katie is the winery’s Senior VP of Corporate Responsibility. She has championed innovative water and energy management, sustainable farming practices, greenhouse gas reduction and enhanced social equity initiatives in the company since 2011. Under her leadership, Jackson Family Wines has continued efforts to cut water usage by 34% since 2008, and JFW is now the Sonoma County wine industry’s largest solar generator. In 2016, Katie launched the company’s first Family Responsibility Report with comprehensive five-year goals outlining its commitment to reduce its environmental footprint and drive social equity. With Famlia Torres, she formed a working group called the International Wineries for Climate Action to reduce the carbon footprint across the global wine industry.

Kevin Jones – Lava Cap Winery, El Dorado County/Sierra Foothills
 
Kevin is the marketing director and assistant operations manager at Lava Cap winery in Placerville, Sierra Foothills. In response to consumer interest in more immersive winery experiences, Kevin is striving to create an atmosphere that inspires guests to relax and stay a while. He also expanded the wine club to make it customizable to members’ preferences and introduced a “modern country club” concept in which visitors can bring their friends along and feel like they’re part of the brand. While others focus on digital marketing, he emphasizes real-life connections by ensuring that family members are present at all public tasting events.

Elizabeth Neuman & Will Phelps – Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Napa Valley
 
The grandchildren of winery founder Joe Phelps, Elizabeth and Will both knew they wanted to pursue a career in the wine business, joining the winery in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Elizabeth is director of business development and marketing in charge of evaluating the winery’s business from a large-scale perspective and identifying areas of opportunity in marketing, production and operations. She also oversees Joseph Phelps’ brand management and communication of the winery’s strategic vision. Will has worked at the winery as a California sales representative and its marketing director and was promoted in 2017 to director of hospitality and consumer sales, overseeing Phelps’ direct-to-consumer business.

Reid & Sophie Patterson – Mount Eden Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains
 
They are the son and daughter of Jeffrey and Ellie Patterson. As their parents ease out of full-time work, Reid is taking over the winery production side of the business and Sophie is handling the marketing, tasting room and sales aspects. They are both owners of the winery and are passionate about continuing the family legacy producing small lots of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from their mountaintop estate vineyards as well as non-estate Chardonnays from the Central Coast, primarily Edna Valley.

Jamie & Emily Peterson – Peterson Winery, Sonoma County
 
As son and daughter of founder Fred Peterson, this brother-sister team manages much of the day-to-day operations of their father’s Dry Creek Valley winery. Winemaker/General Manager Jamie stays true to his father’s traditional winemaking values while weaving in innovative ideas and techniques. Introducing bag-in-box wines to attract more millennial buyers is just one of Jamie’s successes. As the direct-to-consumer and trade Marketing Manager, Emily brings a fresh perspective to the sales efforts by embracing social media and other technologies to connect with wine buyers. Whether on the road, in their intimate tasting room, or during events, Emily’s goal is to engage with like-minded wine drinkers as they sip and fall in love with Peterson wines.

Scott Saunders – Hearst Ranch Winery, Paso Robles
 
The son of winery owners Jim and Debbie Saunders, Scott entered the wine industry in the summer of 2011 after a job in construction. With an appreciation for crisp white wines and balanced reds, he then joined his dad at the winery. Fast forward several vintages, and Scott has gone “all in” at Hearst Ranch, diving into the marketing and sales side of the business. Bringing creative energy and a passion for sales, Scott’s mission is to share with trade customers the thought and effort his family puts into each wine. He also has a hand in the winemaking side of the business and is currently contemplating a carbonic fermented Petite Sirah for the next harvest.

Peter Stolpman – Stolpman Vineyards, Santa Barbara County
 
In 2009, Peter took over day-to-day management of the winery founded by his father, and he is now the company’s managing partner. One of his proudest innovations is the Fresh Wine program, which focuses on wines that buck the “jammy and high-octane” trend with such offerings as carbonic Sangiovese. The wines have been so successful that Stolpman is considering making Fresh Wine a separate brand. Under Pete’s leadership the winery has also planted more than 150,000 own-rooted vines, because he believes they produce more nuanced fruit. He’s also having fun with obscure grape varieties such as Trousseau, Savagnin, Mondeuse and Poulsard.

Anthony Terlato II – Terlato International
 
Fourth generation Anthony Terlato II joined Terlato Wines two years ago and has made significant contributions as region manager of the Midwest market. His experience includes successful sales and management roles at Empire Merchants and Southern Wine & Spirits. As a young adult, Tony completed multiple internships at Sanford, Chimney Rock and Rutherford Hill wineries in California. He has studied both the production and retail aspects of winemaking. Tony brings the same entrepreneurial passion to his family’s business that his father, grandfather and great-grandfathers did before him.

Hailey Trefethen – Trefethen Family Vineyards, Napa Valley
 
The daughter of John and Janet Trefethen, Hailey and her brother, Loren, are taking the reins of the family winery. Along with managing the winery’s participation in the Napa Green and California CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE Winegrowing programs, she is actively involved in the winery’s vineyard and winemaking decisions. Hailey recently spearheaded the 2.5-year restoration of Trefethen’s 1886 winery building, which was severely damaged in Napa’s 2014 earthquake.

Luke Udsen – Castoro Cellars, Paso Robles
 
As the son of owners Niels and Bimmer Udsen, Luke has worked, in some capacity, for the winery since the age of 13. He started out in the vineyards with jobs such as pruning and picking and spent summers in the winery cellar throughout high school and college. He found his calling working in sales, marketing and social media, and today he spends most of his time traveling around the state to promote his family’s wines, pouring at events and building relationships. Luke also manages Castoro’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and pours his love of writing into the winery’s weekly blog, providing insights into the happenings at the winery, on the road and in the tasting room.

Alan Viader – Viader Vineyards, Napa Valley
 
Alan is the son of Delia Viader, who founded the winery in 1986. Since 2002, he has acted as both vineyard manager and winemaker of the Howell Mountain estate. Alan has spent the past seven years working to install and perfect a sophisticated combination of sap-flow sensors, weather station, and other cutting-edge technologies that provide invaluable information about the vineyards’ soil, vines, canopy, fruit and more. This lets him farm at a granular level, unavailable to previous generations of vintners. As a result, the winery has reduced water use by 50 percent.

Niki & Jordan Wente – Wente Vineyards, Livermore Valley
 
Both are the daughters of fifth generation winegrower, Phil Wente. Niki joined the family business in 2017 and is now the winery’s viticulture supervisor, in charge of buying and selling grapes and managing winegrower relations. Vineyard sustainability is important to Niki, and under her guidance, the winery has added more owl boxes in the vineyards and implemented the compost of lees solids and re-application to the soil. Jordan is Wente’s procurement project manager. She joined the business in 2015 and was instrumental in the recent winery and branding renovation of Murrieta’s Well. In her current role, she supports custom and private label projects.

 

Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of nearly 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that works to enhance the environment to responsibly produce, promote and enjoy wine. Wine Institute also supports the economic and environmental health of its communities through its leadership in sustainable winegrowing and a partnership with Visit California to showcase California’s wine and food offerings and the state as a top travel destination. Wine Institute’s membership represents 80 percent of U.S. wine production and over 90 percent of U.S. wine exports.

###

Note to editors: Images of vintners here.

Wine Institute member millennial vintners working at their multi-generational family winery can be added to this listing by contacting: communications@nullwineinstitute.org. Submissions should include a photo, bio and information describing the vintner’s focus of work. Vintners must be in age range of 23-38 as of 2019.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

Sommeliers Offer California Wine and Food Pairing Tips During Restaurant Month

January 14, 2019

Discover New Varietals and Regions on Wine Lists Around the State

California Wine Summit 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — January is California Restaurant Month, when participating eateries across the state offer special menus and fabulous great-value meals that showcase the Golden State’s incredible cuisine and culinary talent. California is the nation’s top agricultural state producing more than 100 winegrape varieties and 400 crops, so it’s also a great time to celebrate California’s vinous bounty on restaurant wine lists and fresh farm-to-fork meals. Along with the classics, California vintners are producing wines in an increasingly diverse range of varietals and styles—offering diners much to explore while they discover new restaurants.

To guide diners in discovering new wines during California Restaurant Month, Wine Institute asked three renowned California sommeliers—Tonya Pitts of One Market Restaurant in San Francisco; Wendy Shoemaker, most recently with Californios in San Francisco; and Jim Rollston of Manresa in Los Gatos—to share their insights about trends, wines they’re most excited about, and how to pair California wines with local cuisine.

From left to right: Wendy Shoemaker, Jim Rollston and Tonya Pitts
From left to right: Wendy Shoemaker, Jim Rollston and Tonya Pitts. (Alana Hale photo of Jim Rollston)

What trends are you seeing now with California wines? 

Wendy Shoemaker, Californios: California wines are becoming even more food friendly and we’re seeing more single-vineyard designations on the labels. We are also seeing a trend toward varietals commonly found in other places, like Tempranillo, Albariño, Sangiovese and Trousseau.

Jim Rollston, Manresa: The main trend continuing right now that has been percolating for several years is a new look at unconventional varietals and blends. The number of non-mainstream varietal wines from California has been steadily increasing, and the quality is higher than ever.

Which California wine regions are you into right now?   

Wendy Shoemaker, Californios: The “limestone belt” running through San Benito/Monterey counties in American Viticultural Areas such as the Cienega Valley, Lime Kiln Valley, Mt. Harlan and Chalone.

Tonya Pitts, One Market: I’m excited about aromatic white wine varietals grown in Santa Barbara County. There are some great examples of old vine Chenin Blanc and Grüner Veltliner being grown in the region, and they are truly versatile with an array of dishes.

Jim Rollston, Manresa: Amongst established American Viticultural Areas, I am most excited about the Santa Cruz Mountains. The quality of classic varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, for me, stand alongside California’s greatest examples of those wines.

What kinds of dishes would you pair with some of California’s more traditional varietals?  

Wendy Shoemaker, Californios: This sounds a bit crazy, but one of my favorites is Merlot and Indian food. The velvetiness of the wine is great with the curry spices! Another is Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir with duck and molé sauce.

Tonya Pitts, One Market: There are two dishes at One Market that pair really well with Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. The first is seared snapper with butter beans, escarole and lobster sauce. The wine complements all the elements of the dish without upstaging it—it becomes part of the dish. The other pairing is mushroom and sunchoke risotto with green apples, parmesan and cider reduction. The wine has a fair amount of mineral character on the palate, and the sunchoke, parmesan and cider reduction bring out more fruit in the Chardonnay.

Jim Rollston, Manresa: One of the best wine pairings I tasted this year was with a California Sauvignon Blanc. It was matched with a citrus-heavy dish that also included daikon, Imperial miso and komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach), and the intensity of flavor from the wine was perfect. When it comes to Cabernet Sauvignon, I’m old school; I like to pair it with beef!

In general, what influence do sauces, spices and preparation have on wine affinity? 

Wendy Shoemaker, Californios: They have a huge effect—especially how a dish is cooked. Working with Mexican-inspired cuisine at Californios really helped me think outside the box with pairings, and I’ve found that California Zinfandel with juicy, dark fruit can be the perfect match for food with a bit of spiciness.

Tonya Pitts, One Market: My pairings are based on the protein, but the sauce and spices play a big role in the outcome of the pairing. I look for similar profiles in the wine and the dish, and highlight those similarities.

California Restaurant Month celebrations will take place at various times throughout the month of January, lasting from one week to 10 days. To find dates for participating cities and regions across California, visit www.visitcalifornia.com/california-restaurant-month

Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of nearly 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that works to enhance the environment to responsibly produce, promote and enjoy wine. Wine Institute also supports the economic and environmental health of its communities through its leadership in sustainable winegrowing and a partnership with Visit California to showcase California’s wine and food offerings and the state as a top travel destination.  Wine Institute’s membership represents 80 percent of U.S. wine production and over 90 percent of U.S. wine exports. For information visit www.wineinstitute.org or its consumer website at: www.discovercaliforniawines.com.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

Wine Institute Donates Archive to UC Davis

January 7, 2019
The poster "California: Wine Land of America," by Mexican-American artist Amado Gonzalez, depicts California wine regions and was part of a series used to promote California wines, circa 1965.
The poster “California: Wine Land of America,” by Mexican-American artist Amado Gonzalez, depicts California wine regions and was part of a series used to promote California wines, circa 1965.

Airline menus boasting California wines, vineyard growing histories and even a movie screenplay set during Prohibition are among the latest additions to the wine collections of the library at the University of California, Davis.

Wine Institute, the leading association for the California wine industry, has donated its organizational archive and book collection to UC Davis. They complement the extensive wine collections already at the university and will help researchers understand how California wineries recovered from Prohibition and rose to the level of international prominence it enjoys today.

“We’re delighted to see our materials become part of the university’s rich collection on California wine and to make them broadly available to scholars, researchers, writers and wineries,” said Robert P. ‘Bobby’ Koch, president and CEO of the institute.

The three most significant organizational archives covering the rise of California wine since Prohibition are those from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, and Wine Institute,” said Axel Borg, the library’s wine subject specialist. “We had the government papers and the scientific research. Now we have the leading industry voice represented as well.”

Read the full press release: https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/wine-institute-donates-archive-uc-davis

Wine Institute Launches Mobile Version of DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com

December 7, 2018

Consumer/Trade/Media Website for U.S. and International Audiences Gets Major Upgrade

Discover California Wines Website on Mobile, Tablet and Desktop

SAN FRANCISCO — Wine Institute has relaunched its DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com consumer website as a comprehensive resource on California wines, wineries and planning a tour to California wine country. The website is available for the U.S. and customized for top export markets in nine localized and foreign language versions.

The website has been updated for mobile and tablet viewers, and users can view new state-of-the-art wine region maps that display wineries, events and American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in an interactive manner similar to Google maps. Map content is dynamic so that visitors can see winery locations within AVA boundaries and view details about events, winery profiles and amenities. Popular existing content such as the winery directory, recipes and region and varietal information remains with updated formats.

DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com is the ultimate source for information on California AVAs, wineries and events, presented in an easy-to-navigate, visually appealing way for our global audience,” said Linsey Gallagher, Vice President of International Marketing for Wine Institute.

“Website visitors have easy access to the information they want most,” said Nancy Light, Vice President of Wine Institute Communications. “In addition to touring maps, there is a collection of delicious recipes with wine pairings and guides to California regions, varietals and sustainable winegrowing practices.”

As before, DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com has been translated and localized for international users in nine countries in addition to the U.S. These international websites support Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program, which has 175 winery participants that export to 135 countries.

Discover California Wines by key regions Discover California Wines in Russian River Valley
From California’s major wine regions, users can select a specific AVA, such as the Russian River Valley, and zoom in more to see wineries and events.
Shrimp Tacos Grilled Steak Noodles
Dozens of recipes, paired with California wine suggestions, highlight the diverse and delicious wine and food offerings of the Golden State.

Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of 1,000 California wineries and wine-related businesses that initiate and advocate public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. The organization contributes to the economic and environmental vitality of California and the U.S. through leadership in sustainable winegrowing, an international marketing program that promotes awareness of and appreciation for California wines throughout the world, and a partnership with Visit California to showcase the state’s diverse and abundant wine and food offerings. Wine Institute membership represents 81 percent of U.S. wine production and more than 90 percent of U.S. wine exports.

###

MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

Fifty Masters of Wine Tour California Regions & Wines: A Photo Review

November 12, 2018

Fifty Masters of Wine in front of the Golden Gate Bridge

SAN FRANCISCO — Fifty Masters of Wine (MWs) from 16 countries participated in a once-in-a-lifetime tour of California wines in late October which showcased 600 wines from 60 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) throughout the state and 300 vintners. Touring California wine regions for 10 days through the Central Coast and North Coast areas, and tasting wines from across the state, the highly regarded group included sommeliers, wine retailers, restaurateurs, wine writers and other leaders in the global hospitality industry. The event, the Masters of Wine “California Dreamin’ Tour,” was a collaboration between Wine Institute and the London-based Institute of Masters of Wine.

See the full program at www.californiadreamintour.com and list of MW guests at www.californiadreamintour.com/participants.

“We were so thrilled to have these MWs join our landmark event and meet many of the best ambassadors from the Golden State wine world,” said Linsey Gallagher, Wine Institute Vice President of International Marketing. “These wine industry influencers are key to enhancing consumer and trade perceptions of our wines and expanding export sales. U.S. wine exports, more than 90% from California, reached $1.53 billion in winery revenues in 2017, and have grown nearly 70% by value in the past decade.”

Photos of the Masters of Wine tour can be downloaded here. Below are some highlights.

CDFA Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross helped officially open the program, and spoke about California’s work on climate change, water and land conservation The MWs attended a tasting of Rhône-style wines from Santa Barbara County at Stolpman Vineyards in the Ballard Canyon AVA
CDFA Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross helped officially open the program, and spoke about California’s work on climate change, water and land conservation. (Elaine Chukan Brown photo)
The MWs attended a tasting of Rhône-style wines from Santa Barbara County at Stolpman Vineyards in the Ballard Canyon AVA. (Alycia Moreno photo)
Bien Nacido vintner Nicholas Miller (right) and winemaker Trey Fletcher presented wines from Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara Vintner Jason Haas led a tour of Tablas Creek Vineyard, followed by a Rhône component tasting with Paso Robles winemakers
Bien Nacido vintner Nicholas Miller (right) and winemaker Trey Fletcher presented wines from Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara. (Alycia Moreno photo)
Vintner Jason Haas led a tour of Tablas Creek Vineyard, followed by a Rhône component tasting with Paso Robles winemakers. (Elaine Chukan Brown photo)
A panel of Paso Robles vintners explored the role of phenolics in the winemaking process at a tasting of the region’s wines at Daou Vineyards Vintner Paul Draper discussed the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA and wines during a Monte Bello Winery tour, followed by a 53-year retrospective of Ridge wines and dinner
A panel of Paso Robles vintners explored the role of phenolics in the winemaking process at a tasting of the region’s wines at Daou Vineyards.
Vintner Paul Draper discussed the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA and wines during a Monte Bello Winery tour, followed by a 53-year retrospective of Ridge wines and dinner. (Alycia Moreno photo)
A tasting with 20 Sonoma County wineries was held at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville The history of California Chardonnays was presented by writer Elaine Chukan Brown at La Crema Winery, Healdsburg, followed by a lunch with wines from the North Coast and Central Coast
A tasting with 20 Sonoma County wineries was held at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville. (Alycia Moreno photo)
The history of California Chardonnays was presented by writer Elaine Chukan Brown at La Crema Winery, Healdsburg, followed by a lunch with wines from the North Coast and Central Coast. (Alycia Moreno photo)
At Timber Cove Lodge on the Sonoma Coast, the MW group experienced a truly blind tasting of wines from across the state, led by Hoby Wedler, PhD Timber Cove was also the venue for tastings of California’s cool-climate wines, including Pinot Noir and sparking wine
At Timber Cove Lodge on the Sonoma Coast, the MW group experienced a truly blind tasting of wines from across the state, led by Hoby Wedler, PhD.
Timber Cove was also the venue for tastings of California’s cool-climate wines, including Pinot Noir and sparking wine. (Alycia Moreno photo)
At Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, a panel of consulting winemakers shared their experiences in Napa Valley and beyond MW guests enjoyed a food truck dinner and tasting of 100-plus Napa Valley wines with 50 vintners at Robert Mondavi Winery
At Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, a panel of consulting winemakers shared their experiences in Napa Valley and beyond.
MW guests enjoyed a food truck dinner and tasting of 100-plus Napa Valley wines with 50 vintners at Robert Mondavi Winery. (Alycia Moreno photo)
MOW group photo
An enthusiastic MW group raise a glass to California Wines. (Alycia Montero photo)

COMMENTS FROM MW PARTICIPANTS

“I hope you are confident that you will have boosted the international reputation of California wine to a serious degree.” – John Hoskins MW, M.D. Huntsbridge Ltd., UK

“I will certainly be listing more Californian wines once the new business is up and running as there were many that were delicious and that I felt would suit my clients.” – Victoria Stephens-Clarkson, MW, VSC Wine and Drink Ltd., UK

“I believe this has opened up many eyes as to the unique and delicious aspects of California wine. Hopefully there will be much writing about and purchasing of CA wines as a result of this trip.” – Dr. Liz Thach, MW, professor, Sonoma State University, & wine journalist

ABOUT WINE INSTITUTE

Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of more than 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that initiates and advocates state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program has more than 175-member wineries exporting to 138 countries. The program’s 15 representative offices conduct activities in 25 countries.

ABOUT INSTITUTE OF MASTERS OF WINE

The Institute of Masters of Wine is a professional education and examination organization based in the United Kingdom that awards the Master of Wine (MW) title to those who pass the MW examination. The MW qualification is regarded as one of the highest standards of professional knowledge in the world of wine. The 380 MWs are working in 30 countries across five continents. IMW was formed in 1955 by the group who passed the inaugural exam in 1953.

###

MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

California Wine 2018 Harvest Report: Slow and Steady Growing Season Brings Excellent Quality Across the State

October 30, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO — Following a long growing season characterized by moderate temperatures throughout the spring and summer, California’s 2018 harvest played out like a dream for winegrowers in regions across the state. Harvest began anywhere from 10 days to three weeks later than in 2017, and vintners are reporting exceptional quality, thanks to consistent growing conditions and cooler temperatures, which allowed the grapes to mature slowly.

A few regions, including Temecula, Paso Robles and San Diego County, experienced issues with heat spikes, but most reported even temperatures throughout the season with little-to-no frost damage. As the season drew to a close, vintners braced for a compacted harvest of later-ripening varieties in early October. Vintners reported abundant yields in line with the United States Department of Agriculture’s August forecast of 4.1 million tons in 2018, up 2% from 2017, and above the historical average of 3.9 million tons. Overall, vintners are enthusiastic about both the quality and quantity of the 2018 vintage.

Experienced vineyard crews are key to a successful winegrape harvest (George Rose photo).

THE GROWING SEASON
“The mild summer weather allowed fruit to mature slowly without heat stress, and canopies are looking healthy,” said John Killebrew, winemaker for Z. Alexander Brown winery in Napa. “Crop levels looked good and quality appears very high, with balanced sugar, acid and tannin levels.”

Like many wineries in the North Coast region, Napa’s Black Stallion Estate Winery began picking two weeks later than in 2017. “Fortunately, compared to previous years, we did not see any major heat waves in the early part of harvest, so the fruit ripened evenly and stress-free,” said winemaker Ralf Holdenried.

Dennis Cakebread, chairman and senior vice president of sales and marketing for Cakebread Cellars in Rutherford, Napa Valley, reported normal to above-average yields and high-quality fruit. “We’re really happy with the grapes,” he said. “They have good flavor and balance.”

Mark Burningham, director of grower relations for Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen, Sonoma County, is equally optimistic about the 2018 vintage. “This is one of those years where everyone is happy,” he said. “Yields are up and quality is excellent, thanks to the moderate temperatures and dry conditions.”

“It was a compacted harvest for the Cabernet Sauvignon, coming in right on top of the large crop of Chardonnay, so tank space was at a premium,” he continued. “Labor was tight, but we managed it by scheduling far in advance.”

In Lodi, vintners began picking old-vine Zinfandel mid-September. “This year we’ve seen a later bud break, set and veraison, followed by a hot July and a cool August,” said Stuart Spencer of St. Amant Winery. “The cool temperatures in mid- to late-September led to gradual sugar accumulation and good flavor development. In general, we saw better flavors at lower sugars and the quality looks great.”

Despite ongoing challenges with drought in Santa Barbara County, vintners reported a healthy crop for 2018. “The vines produced a big, bountiful crop that we began harvesting in mid-September,” said Karen Steinwachs of Buttonwood Winery & Vineyard in Solvang. “The hottest July on record led to cool temperatures in August, continuing into September. Cold, crisp evenings kept our legendary Santa Barbara County acidity in the grapes, and the flavors are simply divine.”

California Wine 2018 Harvest Report Cover

Click here to view the full report including regional reports from Amador County, Calaveras County, Lake County, Livermore Valley, Lodi, Madera, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa Valley, Paso Robles, San Diego County, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains, Sonoma County and Temecula Valley.

###

MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org