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New Website Spotlights Certified California Sustainable Wines, Vineyards and Wineries

New California Certified Sustainable Website

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) launched a new website today, the start of Down to Earth Month, dedicated to the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing program at californiasustainablewine.com.

Developed for trade, media, consumers and visitors who want to find sustainable wines, wineries and vineyards that are certified with a rigorous third-party audit, the website also illustrates how sustainable vineyards and wineries are making wine in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

“The new certification website is a tool to convey key sustainability messages and to connect certified wines, wineries and vineyards with interested trade and consumers,” said Allison Jordan, CSWA’s Executive Director. “The California wine industry is a global leader in sustainability and well positioned to meet the growing interest we’ve seen in recent research.”

Feature pages of the new site are:

  • FIND – Users can search for certified wines, wineries and/or vineyards, and sort by varietal, region or appellation. With 2,247 Certified California Sustainable Vineyards that farm 204,000 acres (32% of California winegrape acres; another 22% are certified by other California sustainable winegrowing programs), 171 certified wineries producing 255 million cases (80% of California wine) and 9.4 million cases (113 million wine bottles) bearing the certification logo or claims, the search function is a valuable new tool to discover California wineries and vineyards that are committed to sustainability.
  • VISIT – Visitors can browse an interactive map to plan a wine country trip to certified wineries with tasting rooms open to the public. The website allows users to identify certified wineries within a specific wine region, or see the broad embrace of sustainability across California.
  • LEARN – An overview of certification addresses requirements, key areas of sustainable winegrowing and why supporting vineyard and winery sustainability efforts matter. Additionally, there are insights on Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing’s logos, other California sustainability programs (e.g., LODI RULES, SIP Certified and Napa Green), and definitions for sustainable/organic/biodynamic wines.  Via the Learn page, users can also “dig deeper” for even more details about the program.

About the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance
The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in 2003 by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers. CSWA’s mission is to encourage adoption of sustainable winegrowing practices and communicate the California wine industry’s global leadership through education, outreach, certification and partnerships. The result of this work will be a healthier environment, stronger communities, and vibrant businesses.

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

California Wines “Down to Earth Month” in April Celebrates Sustainable Winegrowing

Eco-Focused Virtual Events, Activities & Wine Tastings Highlight Practices that Protect & Enhance the Land, Communities and Livelihoods

California Wines Down to Earth Month logo

SAN FRANCISCO — April kicks off California Wines Down to Earth Month, an annual celebration of the wine community’s dedication to protecting the land, communities and wine industry for future generations. Wineries across the state will highlight their sustainable farming, winemaking and business practices through a variety of digital events and socially distanced, in-person activities, from virtual wine tastings and cooking demonstrations to behind-the-scenes sustainability tours. Created by Wine Institute, the association of 1,000 California wineries, Down to Earth Month marks its 10th year in 2021.

A world leader in sustainable winegrowing, the California wine community has long embraced earth-friendly practices. As of December 2020, 171 wineries producing 80 percent of California’s total wine production and 2,247 vineyards farming 29 percent of statewide winegrape acreage are certified under the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA)’s Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing program. California’s total certified vineyard acreage is nearly 50% based on the additional 15% of vineyard acreage certified to other state sustainability programs, including Fish Friendly Farming, Lodi Rules, Napa Green and Sustainability in Practice (SIP).

Following are the latest Down to Earth Month winery events at DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com. More events and offers are added daily.

March 18-April 18: Alexander Valley Vineyards Home Delivery Shipping Special
Purchase 2 or more 750ml bottles and shipping is $1 per bottle plus $1 order processing fee at this Certified California Sustainable winery.

March 20-April 20: Down-to-(Mother)-Earth Gift Offer
In celebration of Mother Earth and all moms (just in time for Mother’s Day) Antica Napa Valley is offering a trio of sustainably produced wines (dirt not included), available only at the winery.

March 25-April 25: Down to Earth 25% Discount
Captain Vineyards of Moraga celebrates Down to Earth Month with our family, friends, members & you. Receive 25% off any purchase.

April 1: What is Sustainable Wine? (virtual)
Join Napa Valley sommelier Amanda McCrossin of SommVivant and Aida Mollenkamp of Salt & Wind on Facebook Live to learn about sustainable winegrowing and winemaking practices, and get the inside story on California’s sustainable certification programs.

April 3, 10, 17 or 24: Earth Day Hikes for April
April is Earth Month! Join us for a wildflower-inspired hike at Six Sigma Ranch and Winery in Lake County every Saturday in April to celebrate. Hikes start and end at the tasting room for an optional wine flight and artisanal picnic platter.

April 3: Wine & Art – Paint Your Own Garden Hat
Create your own hand-painted garden hat while tasting Ramona Ranch Vineyard & Winery wines in a hands-on experience at the winery in San Diego County.

April 4: Wine Tasting with Live Music
Ramona Ranch Vineyard & Winery in Ramona is hosting a live musical performance and sampling of five sustainably produced wines on the tasting terrace, overlooking the Ramona Valley.

April 6: Down to Earth Month IGTV Video Series – Meg van der Kruik (virtual)
Meg van der Kruik of This Mess Is Ours demonstrates a recipe inspired by the “Wine Country Table” cookbook, paired with sustainably made wines from California.

April 8: Pinot Noir Deep Dive Virtual Wine Tasting (virtual)
Join us for a deep dive as we take a look at some of our most popular Pinot Noir wines from Rodney Strong Vineyards and walk through the process from vine to bottle.

April 8: What Are Biodynamic and Organic Wines, and How Are They Sustainable? (virtual)
Napa Valley sommelier Amanda McCrossin of SommVivant and Aida Mollenkamp of Salt & Wind Travel host a Facebook Live event exploring the differences between organic and biodynamic practices and how they fit into sustainable winegrowing.

April 10: Alpha Omega’s Spring Revival (virtual)
Join St. Helena’s Alpha Omega Winery for a live virtual tasting of sustainably produced wines and cooking demonstration featuring winemaker Henrik Poulsen.

April 13: Down to Earth Month IGTV Video Series – Jerry James Stone (virtual)
Jerry James Stone of the Jerry James Stone blog demonstrates a recipe inspired by the “Wine Country Table” cookbook, paired with sustainably made wines from California.

April 14: Frey’s April Virtual Tasting (virtual)
Frey Vineyards in Redwood Valley hosts a virtual tasting and cocktail hour in collaboration with Organic Spa Magazine, Katrina Frey and Kwaya Cellars.

April 14: Napa Valley Sessions-Sustainability Session 1 (virtual)
Virtual zoom sessions featuring Trefethen Vineyards, Mumm Napa Valley and Chateau Boswell.

April 15: Why Is There a Chicken in the Vineyard? (virtual)
Join Napa Valley sommelier Amanda McCrossin of SommVivant and Aida Mollenkamp, of Salt & Wind Travel on Facebook Live to learn how animals are helping California vintners with their sustainable farming efforts. The event includes a virtual tasting of sustainable wines.

April 17: Start Your Own Garden – Sustainable Living with Food and Wine
This hands-on workshop at Ramona Ranch Vineyard & Winery in Ramona includes instruction, seeds and supplies for starting 20 veggie and flower plants.

April 17: Sustainably Produced Wine & Coffee
Experience a wine and/or coffee tasting at Ramona Ranch Vineyard & Winery in Ramona. The event is a collaboration between the certified-sustainable winery and Ramona Roasters.

April 20: Down to Earth Month IGTV Video Series – Britney Brown Chamberlain of Britney Breaks Bread (virtual)
Britney Brown Chamberlain of Britney Breaks Bread demonstrates a recipe inspired by the “Wine Country Table” cookbook, paired with sustainably made wines from California.

April 22: J. Lohr: Growing Sustainability – Conservation in the Winery (virtual)
Meet Paso Robles-based J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines on Instagram Live for a behind-the-scenes look at the vineyard technologies and practices that protect and conserve our natural resources.

April 22: Earth Day Webinar (virtual)
Join Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma County Winegrowers for a livestream discussion featuring local sustainability experts.

April 22: How to Look for Sustainable Wines (virtual)
Learn how to identify sustainable wines in this Facebook Live session with Napa Valley sommelier Amanda McCrossin of SommVivant and Aida Mollenkamp of Salt & Wind Travel. The event includes a tasting of sustainable wines from California.

April 27: Down to Earth Month IGTV Video Series – Sarah Gim of The Delicious Life (virtual)
Sarah Gim of The Delicious Life demonstrates a recipe inspired by the “Wine Country Table” cookbook, paired with sustainably made wines from California.

April 28: Napa Valley Sessions – Sustainability: The Real Substance (virtual)
Napa Valley Vintners hosts a Zoom session with ZD Wines, The Hess Collection Winery, and Raymond Vineyards to showcase how the wineries put their bold sustainability words into action.

April 29: How California is a Leader in Sustainable Wines & Sustainable Farming (virtual)
Learn why California is a world leader in sustainable winemaking and winegrowing practices, and how the state’s farmers embrace sustainability in other agricultural sectors. Hosted on Facebook Live by Napa Valley sommelier Amanda McCrossin and Aida Mollenkamp of Salt & Wind Travel, the event also includes a virtual tasting of sustainable wines.

April 30: Talking Dirt at Flying Goat – Sustainability and Down to Earth Month (virtual)
Join two OGs (old goats)—Winemaker Norm Yost, and his partner/wife Kate Griffith—for a Zoom talk about sustainability at Flying Goat Cellars in Lompoc.

Down to Earth Partners

Down to Earth Month is supported by restaurant, retail, association and hotel partners in California and throughout the U.S. including Paul Martin’s American Grill, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Visit Napa Valley, SommSelect, Oakville Grocery and Restaurants Care.

During Down to Earth Month, California wineries are partnering with the nonprofit California Restaurant Foundation’s Restaurants Care program to help sustain their local hospitality communities. The program, which has become especially important during the pandemic, provides relief grants for struggling restaurant workers. Partner wineries are pledging donations to help sustain the people at the heart of hospitality.

 

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 by showcasing California’s wine regions as ideal destinations for food and wine travelers to the state.

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

California Wines Livestream & Video Series Celebrates Down to Earth Month in April

Facebook Live & Instagram Events Share Tips on Enjoying Sustainably Grown & Produced Wines

SAN FRANCISCO — For “Down to Earth Month” in April, California Wines is celebrating the state’s global leadership in sustainable winegrowing with a series of fun and informative virtual events and videos on Facebook Live and Instagram. Throughout April, the free livestream events and videos will present a variety of discussions, cooking demonstrations and virtual wine tastings focused on sustainability.

Hosts for the Facebook Live events include Napa Valley sommelier Amanda McCrossin of SommVivant and Aida Mollenkamp, Food Network personality and founder of Salt & Wind Travel.

Videos shared on the California Wines Instagram channel will demonstrate recipes, how to pair and enjoy California wines, and what makes a wine sustainable. Programs will feature food and beverage influencers, including Meg van der Kruik of This Mess Is Ours, Jerry James Stone of the Jerry James Stone blog, Britney Brown Chamberlain of Britney Breaks Bread, and Sarah Gim of The Delicious Life.

To view details on all Down to Earth Month events, visit: DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com/d2e

Aida and Amanda
Down to Earth Month in April will include Facebook Livestream events with wine experts Aida Mollenkamp (left) and Amanda McCrossin (right) discussing how to find and pair sustainable wines.

Facebook Live: Thursdays, 10am PST

Livestream hosts Amanda McCrossin of SommVivant and Aida Mollenkamp of Salt & Wind taste and discuss sustainably grown and produced California wines. Event replays will be available on the site for later viewing.

April 1 – What Is Sustainable Wine?
It’s time to clear up the confusion around what defines sustainability! Participants will learn what sustainable winegrowing and winemaking practices are and get the inside story on California’s sustainable certification programs, including the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) program.

April 8 – What Are Biodynamic and Organic Wines, and How Are They Sustainable?
Explore the differences between organic and biodynamic practices and learn how they fit into the sustainability equation.

April 15 – Why Is There a Chicken in the Vineyard?
Chickens, sheep and goats don’t just look adorable in California vineyards—each has an important job to do. Learn how animals are helping California vintners in their sustainable farming efforts.

April 22 – How to Look for Sustainable Wines
Finding sustainable wines is easy—if you know what to look for. Participants will learn about the sustainable certifications, logos and terms to look for on wine labels.

April 29 – How California Is a Leader in Sustainable Wines & Sustainable Farming
California is not only a world leader in sustainable winemaking and winegrowing practices, but producers also embrace sustainability in dairy and other agricultural areas. Learn about California’s innovative farming practices and how the state leads in sustainable wine and food.

IGTV Videos: Tuesdays 10am PST

Every Tuesday in April, videos from well-known food and beverage influencers will be shared on the California Wines Instagram channel, each demonstrating a recipe inspired by the Wine Country Table cookbook paired with sustainably made wines from California. Recipes and information about sustainability will be shared on each influencer’s website and social media platforms.

April 6 – Meg van der Kruik of This Mess Is Ours

April 13: – Jerry James Stone of the Jerry James Stone blog

April 20 – Britney Brown Chamberlain of Britney Breaks Bread

April 27 – Sarah Gim of The Delicious Life

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.

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

Winter Salads & California White Wines Offer a Lighter Twist on Winter Fare

Now’s the Time for Produce-Powered Recipes & Golden State Whites

SAN FRANCISCO – After the culinary indulgences of the holiday season, now is a great time to lighten up with fresh winter salads, paired with California white wines. While some people instinctively reach for reds during the winter months, the Golden State’s white varietals and blends do a beautiful job of enhancing lighter-style winter fare.

Thanks to California’s mild, Mediterranean climate, fresh produce is always in season in the Golden State. As the nation’s agricultural leader, it supplies Americans across the country with two-thirds of their fruits and nuts, and a third of their vegetables. California also produces more than 80 percent of the nation’s wines. The state’s wintertime bounty includes bright citrus fruits, along with earthy root vegetables. These ingredients shine in flavor-packed seasonal salads, especially alongside California white wines.

When pairing California whites with winter dishes, Tonya Pitts, wine director at One Market Restaurant in San Francisco and founder at Tonya Pitts Consulting, typically leans toward aromatic varietals and styles. Among her favorites are Chardonnay, Albariño, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Pinot Blanc.

For seasonal produce such as beets, citrus fruits and root vegetables, “The trick is to match the flavors and textures of the dish with the white wine,” she says. “You want to pick up on some of the same flavors.” Pitts recommends exploring white Rhone-style blends from California’s Central Coast, along with locally grown Gruner Veltliner. “There are also some lovely Italian white wine varietals, like Ribolla Gialla, coming out of regions like Lodi, Amador and Contra Costa County,” she says.

While some find it tricky to pair wines with salads due to the vinegar in many dressings, Pitts says it’s easy to find harmonies if you go for a California white wine that isn’t extremely dry. “I would be looking for wines with a bit more body, but not super fruity,” she says. “I would pair them with a richer, fuller Sauvignon Blanc with lots of texture, or a Santa Barbara Gruner Veltliner.”

Recipes to Brighten the Season

Here are three winter salad recipes and California wine pairings to celebrate the pleasures of the season without sacrificing flavor.

Winter Beet and Citrus Salad

Winter Beet and Citrus Salad with Dates and Almonds

Sweet, tart, crunchy, tangy—this colorful salad has it all. Its contrasting textures and surprising flavors keep you coming back for another earthy, refreshing bite. Pair with a California Rhone-style white wine or California Chardonnay.

Prawn avocado salad

Prawn and Avocado Salad with Creamy Orange Chive Dressing

California citrus stars in this zesty and colorful salad with lemony prawns and a bright tangy yogurt dressing. Pair with California Pinot Grigio or California Rosé.

Sesame Crusted Tuna Salad

Black Sesame Crusted Seared Tuna with Arugula and Avocado Salad and Miso Vinaigrette

Black sesame seeds and peppery accents of arugula enliven seared, fresh Ahi tuna. Pair with a California white blend.

For more fresh, seasonal recipes and wine pairing suggestions, visit Discover California Wines.

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.

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

California Wines Launches “Golden State of Mind” Campaign in International Markets

Innovative Strategy Supports 10-Year Plan to Reach $2.5 Billion in Export Sales

 

brand refresh people

San Francisco – Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program has launched a new global brand campaign and business strategy, showcasing California wine as a leader in sustainable winegrowing, innovation, and winemaking advancements while promoting the commitment of generations of family farmers and winemakers to producing high-quality wines. The global campaign is part of a 10-year strategy to boost export sales of California wines across international markets. The first phase aims to grow awareness and appreciation for California wines through digital advertising and consumer-focused promotions to meet wine drinkers where they are most active in discovering and purchasing wine.

Timed to position California wineries for growth as global markets begin to ramp back up following the challenges of 2020, Wine Institute plans to invest more than $10 million over the next two years to support this new initiative. Starting with the introduction of a new look and logo for California wines, the “Golden State of Mind” campaign will roll out beginning in Spring 2021. Built around promoting ideas of optimism, innovation and advancements in California winemaking, key programs include a global digital advertising campaign highlighting the state’s commitment to sustainable winegrowing; an innovative California Wines Virtual Global Marketplace for importers and buyers; and a new comprehensive wine education course with a four-tier certification program.

California wineries are seeking new opportunities to connect with a broader audience of wine consumers. To support them, the new business strategy will reach both established and emerging wine drinkers in leading international markets including Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The campaign will also reach expansion markets for California wines with programs planned in Australia, France, Israel, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine and other Eastern European markets.

“The crises of 2020, felt both locally and globally, have underscored the importance of our enduring relationships with supporters of California wine around the world,” says California Wine Institute’s Vice President of International Marketing Honore Comfort. “We have an opportunity to forge a new path, to share California’s unique attributes, so that we continue to grow and evolve in the minds and glasses of our global audience and build a more robust sales channel for our wineries.”

Last year, Wine Institute launched the 2030 Plan – a 10-year strategy to increase U.S. wine exports, 95% from California, to over $2.5 billion. The three-pronged strategy aims to build sales momentum in current export markets, expand export activity into new markets, and introduce more California wines and wineries to international sales overall. While changes to international trade policy have made sales more challenging in some markets, wine drinkers around the world are eager to expand their choices and discover new wines.

The “Golden State of Mind” campaign includes a robust calendar of successful online programs – such as virtual winery tours for buyers and importers, educational webinars for consumers and trade, and virtual tastings. At the start of the pandemic, California Wines rapidly launched a series of virtual programs including the highly successful “Behind the Wines” series featuring Elaine Chukan Brown. The rapid growth of virtual programming in the spring of 2020 proved to be an effective test for the new business strategy and demonstrated how California wines could reach new customers and drive sales through digital communications.

All initiatives will bring California values to the fore by showcasing family-owned wineries, next-generation winemakers and farmers, and promoting the industry’s deep commitment to sustainability, diversity and inclusion.

“We have faced significant obstacles in recent months, from wildfires in California to the global pandemic,” said Joe Lange of LangeTwins Family Winery in Lodi, “This campaign offers a path to revitalize the industry and kick start the road to recovery at home and abroad. It will provide engagement for California wines while we plan for the day when we can once again invite international trade and media to the Golden State’s wine country.”

The Discover California Wines website features the “Golden State of Mind” video that introduces the new campaign and presents a cultural and historical journey about the spirit, innovation and principles of California’s winemakers in their quest to deliver wines of distinctive character and quality. A digital media kit includes examples of the new campaign and brand assets.

About Wine Institute’s 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, a public-private partnership supported by winery contributions and the MAP Program, features California as an aspirational location and environmental leader with beauti­ful landscapes, an iconic lifestyle and great wine and food. 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 the consumer website: DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com.

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

California Wines Offers Free Holiday E-Cards: Send Cheer with Festive Wine Cocktail Recipes

holiday card

 

SAN FRANCISCO — Since many of us can’t toast the holidays with family and friends in person this year, California Wines is making the holidays a little merrier with e-cards featuring festive holiday wine cocktail recipes. Available on the Discover California Wines website, digital cards can be personalized and sent with a link to download the California Wines’ e-book, “California Wine Cocktails for the Holidays.”

The e-book features seven fresh, fun recipes for seasonally inspired wine cocktails to serve along with your favorite California wines. Recipes include Red Wine Hot Chocolate—a silky medley of chocolate and red wine—and the Raspberry Sparkler, a bubbly blend of muddled raspberries, California port and sparkling wine.

After emailing the celebratory cocktail recipes, you might be inspired to send or drop off a gift of California wine and all the recipe ingredients your friends and family will need to toast the season.

To send California Wines holiday e-cards, visit Discover California Wines.

For delicious seasonal dishes to pair with California wines during the holidays and beyond, sign up to receive the Discover California Wines monthly newsletter—delivered directly to your inbox.

Looking for more holiday culinary inspiration? Pick up a copy of “Wine Country Table,” featuring recipes inspired by the state’s sustainably grown food and wines, along with expert California wine pairing suggestions. The book is available at major bookstores and through Amazon.

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

Challenging 2020 Harvest Will Yield High Quality California Wines

 

Photos by George Rose

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SAN FRANCISCO — With California’s 2020 harvest season—marked by the dual challenges of COVID-19 and record wildfires—behind them, vintners across the state are expressing excitement about the quality of the vintage. Following a cool, mild growing season, an August heat spell accelerated ripening, resulting in an early start to harvest—one to two weeks ahead of normal in most regions. The crop is expected to be smaller than average.

A recap of the 2020 harvest will be presented at a webinar, “The Winemaker Sessions,” on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 10:00 am Pacific Time. A panel of internationally recognized vintners and winegrowers from across California will discuss trends, challenges and opportunities in 2020. To attend this event, register here.

While the wildfire season impacted many individual vintners and growers in some regions, the blazes affected a small percentage of the industry overall. Of the 4,200 wineries in California, fewer than 20 reported significant damage to wineries. In regions that experienced wildfires, growers and winemakers are working together to assess and mitigate any smoke exposure issues.

night harvest

“A dry winter with just half of the region’s typical rainfall, was followed by a warmer-than-average summer. Berries were small, with concentrated flavors. “That’s typically a good recipe for quality,” said Jon Ruel, CEO of Trefethen Family Vineyards in Napa.

Napa Valley’s white wines fared especially well. “The Chardonnay has wonderful fruit character and great stone fruit flavors,” he added. “It’s a little lower in acid than normal, reflecting the warmer vintage. I also think this is going to be a classic vintage for our Riesling.” Ruel decided not to pick some later-ripening reds due to smoke concerns, however other Napa wineries are assessing their red wines and will likely produce Cabernet Sauvignons and other reds. “I’ve had a chance to taste our Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc,” he said, “and they taste great.”

Corey Beck, CEO and head of winemaking at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Sonoma County, is also optimistic about the vintage. Based on small-batch fermentation trials, he said, “It was like, ‘Oh my god, these wines are terrific.’ The bones and the quality of the vintage are there. What we picked and what the consumer is going to see is going to be absolutely incredible.”

harvest workers

Winemaker Comments from Across the State

For Kosta Browne Winery, which produces wines from five coastal appellations, growing conditions were nearly ideal, with the exception of some spring frost in the Russian River Valley that reduced yields, said winemaker Julien Howsepian. In the Sta. Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County, the vines enjoyed a long, leisurely growing season. “I found the flavors in our Pinot Noirs to be sensational at a very early stage.”

In Lodi, vintners overcame challenges stemming from mid-season heat spikes and wildfire smoke. “While Lodi sustained many days of poor air quality,” said Markus Bokisch, owner/winemaker at Bokisch Vineyards, “sensory analysis coupled with lab results showed no smoke impact to the wines. Despite the heat spikes, he added, “The fruit retained its acidity. Phenological ripeness was excellent, leading to fully flavored wines at lower Brix. We are very pleased across the board, but I would say that the later-season reds, such as Tempranillo, Cabernet and Petite Sirah, will be exceptional in our area.”

For vintners in the Sierra Foothills region, warm weather signaled an early start to the season, followed by a mild summer with only one or two heat spells.

“I’ve rarely seen the fruit come in so balanced at relatively lower Brix levels,” said Justin Boeger, winemaker at Boeger Winery in Placerville, El Dorado County. “Our Italian varietals, Negroamaro and Aglianico, really stood out, with the Barbera making a strong showing as well. Not to stray into hyperbole, but I think 2020 will be one of our best vintages of the last decade.”

harvest grapes

In the Central Coast, a cool spring and mild summer temperatures extended the growing season. Harvest timing was average, and yields were typical.

“I think it will be more of a balanced year,” said Nicholas Miller of Miller Family Wines, owners of the Bien Nacido & Solomon Hills Estate Wineries in Paso Robles and Santa Maria Valley. “In Paso Robles, Cabernet came in short in several areas as did our Chardonnay. With no immediate fires around our vineyards, we have felt good so far about the quality of that wine and tests have supported that,” said Miller. “In Santa Maria Valley, we’re pretty excited about what we’re seeing with Pinot Noir. We see potential for some great wines from 2020.”

Chad Melville, head winegrower at Melville Winery in Lompoc, Santa Barbara County, reported a near-perfect growing season. “This year’s fruit was intense, vibrant and beautiful,” Melville said, “Generally speaking, the Pinot Noirs have been darker than usual and they’re more vibrant. We haven’t started fermenting the Syrah yet, but it looks and tastes really good. And Chardonnay has more intensity.”

In Temecula, April brought record rains that challenged vintners with increased mildew pressure. Triple-digit temperatures in late August and early September caused some desiccation and sunburn for later-ripening varieties. “Fruit quality overall was very solid, and while the vintage might be a riper year due to the heat, I believe we managed it well,” said Jon McPherson, master winemaker at South Coast and Carter Estate wineries. I would say 2020 is better than 2019 in respect to richness and depth of character.”

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

“The Winemaker Sessions”: Perspectives on Vintage 2020 from Across the State

“Behind the Wines” Concludes with Star-Studded Cast of California Wine Producers 

SAN FRANCISCO – Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program will present the final episode of the “Behind the Wines” series on Tuesday, Nov. 17, featuring a lineup of some of the state’s most internationally recognized vintners and winegrowers from across the state providing a recap of the 2020 harvest.

“The Winemaker Sessions” will welcome return guests from the “Behind the Wines” series, along with new faces from renowned California wine regions, to taste and discuss one another’s wines and share stories about trends, challenges and opportunities in 2020.

The finale follows “The Harvest Sessions,” a trio of episodes focused on this year’s vintage and concludes the 2020 season of “Behind the Wines” with 30 episodes and more than 50 guests. The series has been creating dynamic conversations with California winemakers and winegrowers, as well as leading authorities in wine media, education, hospitality and science from around the world to gain a greater understanding of California and global market perceptions of the state’s wines.

The Winemaker Sessions” finale will be led by webinar host Elaine Chukan Brown and be an extended episode consisting of five segments, each running 20-25 minutes.

  • Cathy Corison, Corison Winery
  • Rosemary Cakebread, Gallica
  • Julie Johnson, Tres Sabores
  • Tegan Passalacqua, Turley and Sandlands
  • David Gates, Ridge Vineyards
  • Jason Haas, Tablas Creek Vineyard
  • Morgan Twain-Peterson, Bedrock Wine Co.
  • Jasmine Hirsch, Hirsch Vineyard
  • Ross Cobb, Cobb Wines
  • Jean Charles Boisset, Boisset Collection

Register here: https://bit.ly/register-for-behind-the-wines. Recordings of all past episodes are available on the California Wine Institute YouTube channel.

About Wine Institute’s 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, a public-private partnership supported by winery contributions and the MAP Program, features California as an aspirational location and environmental leader with beauti­ful landscapes, an iconic lifestyle and great wine and food. 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 the consumer website: DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com.

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

“Behind the Wines” Inaugural Season Concludes with “The Harvest Sessions”

Webinar Series to Cover 2020 California Harvest Update

harvest
Photo credit: George Rose

SAN FRANCISCO – On Oct. 27, Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program will conclude its “Behind the Wines” webinar series with “The Harvest Sessions,” a unique trio of episodes, moderated by host Elaine Chukan Brown, to give a behind the scenes look at the 2020 vintage across the Golden State. The series culminates with a fourth event, “The Winemaker Sessions” finale on Nov. 17.

During the past six months, Elaine has led discussions with some of California’s top grapegrowing and winemaking talent to provide insights from the vineyards and the cellars, and with thought leaders in wine from across the globe. These discussions have ranged from the reputation of Rhône varieties in California with “The Rhône Ranger” Randall Graham of Bonny Doon Vineyard to the future of California wine and the influential millennial generation with Kelli White, Director of Education at Pacific Union Co., and Esther Mobley, wine critic at San Francisco Chronicle. International guests have included industry leaders such as Jancis Robinson, Jane Anson and Oz Clarke, among others.

“The Harvest Sessions,” the final chapter of the 2020 series, turns the focus to this year’s vintage, exploring the nuances across California’s wine regions and wine styles. Sessions are scheduled on Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time:

  • Oct. 27: The Central Coast
  • Nov. 3: Sparkling Wine
  • Nov. 10: The North Coast

The finale episode will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, guests to be announced.

Register for the upcoming episodes here: https://bit.ly/register-for-behind-the-wines. Recordings of all past episodes are available on the California Wine Institute YouTube channel.

About Wine Institute’s 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, a public-private partnership supported by winery contributions and the MAP Program, features California as an aspirational location and environmental leader with beauti­ful landscapes, an iconic lifestyle and great wine and food. 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 the consumer website: DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com.

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.

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

California Wines Presents Seasonal and Holiday Themed Livestream Series

Facebook & Instagram Events Feature Tips on Pairing California Wines, Cooking Classes and Gift Ideas

CA wines logo

SAN FRANCISCO — California Wines will bring the Golden State’s wine country to consumers across America this fall with a series of inspiring seasonal and holiday themed events on Facebook Live and Instagram Live. Scheduled throughout October, November and December, the livestream events feature cooking classes, wine pairings and edible gift recipes.

Hosted by sommelier Amanda McCrossin of SommVivant on California Wines digital channels, Facebook Live events will include special guests from California’s food and wine worlds. Aida Mollenkamp, Food Network personality and founder of Salt & Wind Travel, will join McCrossin on Instagram Livefor “What Grows Together Goes Together,” in partnership with CA Grown. Mollenkamp will also host holiday themed virtual cooking classes with Kate Ramos, author of the Hola Jalapeño recipe blog.

For more California wine events, visit DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com.

Facebook Live: Thursdays, 1 p.m. (PST)

Livestreams with Amanda McCrossin, chatting with wine and food experts on the California Wines FB page

Oct. 22 – Donald Patz, Mendocino County 
Vintner Donald Patz, co-founder of Patz & Hall Winery and founder of the Donald Patz Wine Group, joins McCrossin for an exploration of Mendocino County wines, and what makes them unique.

Oct. 29 – Incorporating California Wines into Delicious Everyday Meals
McCrossin pairs Golden State wines with easy recipes from guest Teri Turner, food columnist and author of the nocrumbsleft blog.

Nov. 5 – Simply Delicious California Wine & Appetizer Ideas
Aida Mollenkamp presents appetizer recipes with inspired wine pairings.

Nov. 12 – Fabulous California Wine & Cheese Pairings
Learn to match California wines and cheeses with expert help from Sara Gim of The Delicious Life and TasteSpotting, and Real CA Milk.

Nov. 19 – Holiday Wine Pairings, Including Desserts!
Kate Ramos shows you everything you need to know about pairing wine with every course, including dessert.

wine glasses

Instagram Live: Fridays, 3 p.m. (PST) in Partnership with California Grown

“What Grows Together Goes Together,” with Amanda McCrossin and Aida Mollenkamp on @California Wines Instagram

Oct. 23 – Mendocino County
Pair Roasted Garlic and Squash Pepita Pesto Dip with a white Rhone blend.

Oct. 30 – Cal-Ital
California vintners put their own spin on Italian varieties. Featured recipe/wine: Olive Tomato Jamon Palmiers with Barbera.

Nov. 6 – Aida’s Apps Recap
Revisit featured recipes and wines from Aida’s Nov. 5 Facebook Live event, Simply Delicious California Wine & Appetizer Ideas.

Nov. 13 – Perfect Pairings: Fabulous Cheese & Wine 
Tips and techniques for pairing California wines and cheeses, featuring Cabernet Franc and cheeses selected by Real CA Milk.

Nov. 20 – Holiday Sweets
Everything you need to know about pairing sweet wines with desserts. Featured recipe: Pear Fritters with Lemon Ginger Sugar.

Nov. 27: Treat Yourself!
Everyone could use a little self-care, so take time to indulge in oysters, dessert and California bubbles. Featured recipe/wine: Oysters with Pomegranate Mignonette Granita and California sparkling wine.

tomales and cookies
Photo credit: Kate Ramos

Digital Cooking Classes

Zoom classes with Kate Ramos & Aida Mollenkamp, in partnership with CA Grown

Nov. 12 – Tamale Party, 3-5 p.m. (PST) Learn how to make tamales, including Poblano Chile Rajas Tamales with Oaxacan Cheese, Pork Chili Verde Tamales, and Strawberry Tamales with Horchata Sauce. Cost: $35 per person.

Dec. 10 – Edible Holiday Gifts, 3-5 p.m. (PST) Ideas and recipes for making edible holiday gifts, including Homemade Tequila Salt, Spiced Dried Blood Oranges, Candied Cayenne Pecans, Pistachio Marzipan, and Pâte De Fruit Candy Bites. Cost: $35 per person.

Register at the live links in the above class title.

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.

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

An Insider’s Guide to California’s Wine Harvest

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.

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

California Wine Month Launches with Virtual Events and Offers

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.

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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

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

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

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

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.

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

Seven Reasons to Love Springtime in California Wine Country

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

California Wineries Bring Virtual Wine Experiences to Consumers

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.

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

More Virtual Experiences from California Wineries Statewide at DiscoverCaliforniaWines.Com

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.

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

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

Take a Virtual Trip to California Wine Country with Zoom Backgrounds

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.

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

California Wine Cocktails for Summer 

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.

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

California Wine Country Beckons for Winter Getaways

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.

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

California Wine Shines in Holiday Cocktails

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.

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

California Wine 2019 Harvest Report

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

California Vintners Gear Up for 2019 Harvest

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.

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

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.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
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Wine Institute Becomes a Major Supporter of The Institute of Masters of Wine

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.

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

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.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
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Travel California Wine Country’s Back Roads This Summer: Inland Valleys Spotlight

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.

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

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

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.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525
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New Consumer Research Presented at First U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit Shows Strong Interest in Sustainable Wine

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.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
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Summit Hosts:

Summit host logos

Summit Sponsors:

Summit sponsor logos

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

New Book: Wine Country Table

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.

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

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.

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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.

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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”

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.

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

Millennial Vintners to Watch in 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.

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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

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.

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

Wine Institute Donates Archive to UC Davis

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

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.

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

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

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.

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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

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.

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

California Wine Month Events Make September the Time to Visit Wine Country

Harvest Season Events Planned Around the State, from Gourmet Weekends and Festivals to Concerts

CalWineMonth2018 Poster thumbnail

SAN FRANCISCO — September is California Wine Month, and there’s no better time to experience the excitement of the state’s annual harvest season. Across California, wineries, regional associations and other organizations are hosting exclusive tastings, festivals, live music, food pairings, grape stomps, vineyard hikes and much more.

Now in its 14th year, California Wine Month celebrates the Golden State’s 250-year winegrowing history and recognizes the achievements of California vintners and growers in preserving tradition and driving innovation. With 4,800 vintners and 5,900 growers within its borders, California is the world’s fourth-largest wine producer and the source of 81 percent of the wine made in the United States. It is also the most visited state in the U.S. for food- and wine-related activities, attracting 24 million people each year, and the producer of more than 400 specialty crops. Wine lovers can also celebrate with activities and special offers from California Wine Month partner retailers and restaurants during the month of September.

Visit our California Wine Month page to view the full list of regularly updated events and partners and to order a copy of the 2018 California Wine Month poster.

Regionwide events showcasing multiple wineries include:

NORTH COAST

Sept. 1: Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center.

Sept. 7-8: Winesong Weekend, various locations throughout Mendocino County.

Sept. 8: Calistoga Wine Experience, Pioneer Park, Calistoga, Napa Valley.

Sept. 15: Lake County Wine Auction, Boatique Winery, Kelseyville.

Sept. 22: Zinfandel: Stories from Napa Valley, Culinary Institute of America at Copia, Napa.

SAN FRANCISCO BAY & SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS

Sept. 2: Livermore Valley Harvest Wine Celebration, Wineries throughout the region.

Sept. 8-9: Annual Capitola Art & Wine Festival, Capitola Village in Santa Cruz County.

Sept. 8-30: Fall Passport Month, Wineries of Santa Clara Valley.

Sept. 22: Eat Drink Los Gatos, Downtown district, North Santa Cruz Ave.

Sept. 29: Livermore Valley Wine Auction, Wente Vineyards.

CENTRAL COAST: MONTEREY TO SANTA BARBARA

Sept. 1: Highway 46 West Wineries Harvest Block Party, Dark Star Cellars in Paso Robles.

Sept. 9: Taste of the Town Santa Barbara, Riviera Park Gardens.

Sept. 28: Sip & Saunter, San Luis Obispo.

INLAND VALLEYS

Sept. 13-16: Lodi Grape Festival, Lodi Event Center.

Sept. 21: Madera Wine Trail’s California Wine Month Celebration, Papagni Winery, Madera.

SIERRA FOOTHILLS

Sept. 1-30: Find the Gold in Calaveras Wine Country: A Treasure Hunt, Participating wineries.

Sept. 7-9: Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival, Northstar Resort, Truckee.

Sept. 8: WINEderlust River Wine Festival, Henningsen Lotus Park on the American River, El Dorado County.

Sept. 15: Sample the Sierra Farm-to-Fork Festival, Bijou Community Park, South Lake Tahoe.

Sept. 15: Barbera Festival, Terra d’Oro Wines, Amador County.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Aug. 31-Sept. 2: The Taste, Paramount Pictures Studios, Hollywood.

Sept. 8: VINO-Palooza Wine & Music Festival, Marina Del Rey Hotel, Los Angeles.

Sept. 29: Temecula Valley CRUSH, Monte De Oro Winery, Temecula.

SEE THE COMPLETE LIST OF ALL WINERY EVENTS HERE.

For more information about exploring California’s diverse wine regions, see the Navigate the State map and directory. Wine lovers can also celebrate California Wine Month at home using these delicious recipes and wine-pairing tips.

CALIFORNIA WINE MONTH PARTNERS

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

U.S. National/Regional: California Pizza Kitchen, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, The Culinary Institute of America, Dickie Brennan & Co. A Family of Restaurants, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, PF Chang’s, Safeway and Tavistock Restaurants.

California: Albertsons, Blackhawk Grille, Café del Rey, California Restaurant Association, Charlie Palmer Steak Napa, Compline, Dean & Deluca, Della Fattoria, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, Giordano Brothers, LA County Fair, Wine Bar (Macys), Napa Valley Grille, Pavilions, Rio Grill, San Francisco Wine School, Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar, Taj Campton Place, Tarpys Roadhouse, Visit California, VONS and Women for Winesense.

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 initiate and advocate 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, bolstering economies through hospitality, taxes and tourism and enhancing communities through environmental sustainability.

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

California Wine Sales in U.S. Market Hit $35.2 Billion in 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — California wine shipments in the U.S. reached an estimated retail value of $35.2 billion in 2017, up 3% from the previous year. The state shipped 241 million nine-liter cases in the U.S. in 2017, up 1%.

California wine sales to all markets, including shipments to the U.S. and exports worldwide, were 278 million cases in 2017.

“Consumers in the U.S. and worldwide continue to trade up to higher-priced premium wines,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, Wine Institute President and CEO. “The quality, selection and commitment to sustainability make California wines well-positioned for growth.”

“California wine sales in the U.S. market have grown 15% in the past decade from 209 million cases shipped in 2008 to 241 million cases in 2017,” said Jon Moramarco, founder and managing partner of BW166, and editor of the Gomberg-Fredrikson Report. “Last year the growth mainly came from premium wines priced over $10.”

According to Moramarco, demographic trends play a significant role in wine sales. While per capita consumption has been flat over the last decade, wine sales have grown in line with the legal drinking age population, which increased roughly 10 percent over the same time period. Additional trends impacting sales included wineries focusing on tasting room and direct-to-consumer sales, which accounted for nearly $2.7 billion in retail value and 5.8 million cases in 2017. Wineries also found opportunities in independent, local restaurants with wine menus listing limited production wines to appeal to consumers shifting their spending to these smaller eating establishments.

California Wine Stats 2017

“Wine is growing but in a more challenging environment, with rapid and broad retail and consumer changes,” said Danny Brager, Senior Vice President of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice Area. “Wine selling locations in the U.S. are up 20% from a decade ago to 565,000 off- and on-premise locations, with a wide range of formats such as natural/gourmet grocery stores, no frills/value-based formats, theaters, premium bars and fast/casual on-premise outlets. There is also a diverse range of consumers, from Millennials who have less disposable income than a generation ago to Baby Boomers who are retiring and likely slowing their wine consumption as an increasing number of Americans are entering their golden years. Marketers need to find the right balance in attracting these diverse sets of consumers. E-commerce is increasingly having an impact on expanding consumer access to wine, and wineries are working on several digital platforms where wine is being sold,” he explained.

According to Nielsen-measured U.S. off-premise sales, top-selling varietals by volume are: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Blends, Pinot Grigio/Gris, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Moscato/Muscat, Rosé and White Zinfandel/Blush. Rosé continues to be a phenomenal growth story, with sales volume jumping 60% compared to the previous year.

Total shipments of sparkling wine and champagne to the U.S. reached 26.3 million cases in 2017. Up 8% 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 403.4 million cases in 2017, with an estimated retail value of $62.2 billion, up 2% from the previous year. The U.S. has remained the world’s largest wine market by volume since 2010. California’s 241 million cases shipped within the U.S. in 2017 represent a 60% share of the U.S. wine market.

U.S. WINE EXPORTS

U.S. wine exports, more than 90% from California, reached $1.53 billion in winery revenues in 2017. Volume shipments were 380 million liters or 42.2 million cases. The European Union’s 28-member countries were the top market for U.S. wine exports, accounting for $553 million; followed by Canada, $444 million; Hong Kong, $119 million; Japan, $94 million; China, $79 million; South Korea, $25 million; Mexico, $23 million; Singapore, $17 million; and Philippines, $14 million.

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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
2017 277.9 240.7 $35.2 billion
2016 279.7 239.1 $34.3 billion
2015 278.2 233.7 $32.6 billion
2014 273.0 229.7 $31.3 billion
2013 263.8 221.2 $29.7 billion
2012 250.4 210.8 $29.0 billion
2011 265.5 224.3 $28.5 billion
2010 246.1 206.3 $28.5 billion
2009 253.2 213.8 $27.6 billion
2008 255.3 208.8 $26.1 billion
2007 241.2 198.3 $24.8 billion
2006 235.8 196.9 $24.4 billion
2005 231.6 194.1 $23.0 billion
2004 226.3 182.4 $22.2 billion
2003 211.9 177.0 $20.8 billion
2002 195.4 168.3 $21.5 billion
Sources: Wine Institute, BW166/Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates and U.S. Dept. of Commerce. Preliminary. History revised.

1 Includes table, champagne/sparkling, dessert, vermouth, other special natural, sake and others. Excludes cider.
2 Excludes bulk imports bottled in U.S.
3 Estimated retail value includes markups by wholesalers, retailers and restaurateurs.

 

WINE SALES IN THE U.S
(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
2017 336.3 40.8 26.3 403.4 $62.2 billion
2016 333.2 41.2 24.4 398.8 $61.1 billion
2015 325.6 40.2 21.7 387.5 $57.4 billion
2014 323.7 34.6 20.6 378.8 $55.5 billion
2013 327.0 31.6 18.9 377.5 $52.3 billion
2012 319.5 30.3 17.9 367.7 $50.8 billion
2011 308.1 31.4 17.5 357.0 $48.6 billion
2010 290.8 28.9 15.4 335.0 $46.5 billion
2009 282.4 27.2 14.0 323.5 $45.2 billion
2008 272.2 27.7 13.6 313.5 $45.0 billion
2007 272.5 26.7 13.9 313.0 $43.5 billion
2006 258.8 24.3 13.6 296.7 $41.5 billion
2005 255.4 22.5 13.1 290.9 $38.5 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 222.5 15.9 11.5 250.0 $33.0 billion
Sources: Wine Institute, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, and Estimates by BW166/Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates. Preliminary. History revised. Excludes exports. Excludes cider as of 2011 going forward. 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.

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

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

Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards logo

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Green Medal winners have been announced for the fourth 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 (CSWA), 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 on April 11, 2018.

Winners of the 2018 Green Medals are:

Green Medal Leader

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: Bogle Vineyards, located in Clarksburg, CA, embodies leadership in sustainability. For the past three generations, sustainability has been at its core, and they demonstrate their commitment to sustainability by certifying 1,200 acres of estate vineyards to LODI RULES for Sustainable Winegrowing and certifying their winery to Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing. Since 2010, Bogle has encouraged its partner-growers to practice sustainability by paying a total of $2.8 million in bonuses for certifying vineyards to LODI RULES, with over 92% of their grapes coming from certified vineyards. Employees are treated like family, with a dozen employees having spent 20-plus years at the company, and the average employee has been there for more than a decade. Good work relations are fostered through quarterly staff luncheons that feature presentations on the latest sustainability practices and other teambuilding exercises.

Green Medal Leader

ENVIRONMENT AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Environmental Stewardship through maximized environmental benefits from implementing sustainable practices.
Winner: St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery, based in Rutherford in Napa Valley, is a 100% estate grown, sustainably farmed vineyard and winery. Driven by their commitment to environmental stewardship, they have preserved two-thirds of their acreage to promote biodiversity and protect the land for future generations. In the past three years, the winery has reduced their water use by 50% by capturing rainwater and reusing winery water for irrigation, and solar panels cover 80% of their electricity needs. St. Supéry’s Green Team educates employees on green practices and upholds a strict purchasing policy of using materials that are at least 50% post-consumer waste. The company offers incentives for carpooling to work, with 65% of employees participating.

Green Medal Leader

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: KG Vineyard Management, based in Lodi, CA, is a custom farm management business committed to sustainable farming. Having vineyards certified to LODI RULES for Sustainable Winegrowing for the last 12 years, the company believes in maintaining and contributing to the legacy of healthy soil, air, water and the local community. KG is active in the area’s leadership roles and strives to fulfill a vision of success for Lodi and the surrounding community. They invest in the future–the future of the land, human resources, local youth and family. KG is a leader in fostering strong relationships with clients, employees and neighbors. KG’s employees are their biggest asset and safety training is implemented monthly and they provide training in Urdu, native to Pakistan and India, the primary language between the foremen and crews.

Green Medal Leader

BUSINESS AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Smart Business through efficiencies, cost savings and innovation from implementing sustainable practices.
Winner: Cakebread Cellars, located in Napa, CA, has been committed to sustainability since its inception in 1973. Cakebread believes that sustainability means investing in its employees to help them achieve their career objectives and enjoy healthy work/life balance. That’s why they offer a generous vacation policy and host an ongoing “Healthy, Wealthy and Wise” education series featuring outside speakers to share expertise on all elements of a healthy lifestyle. Cakebread invests in the longevity of its employees by tightly controlling operation costs and eliminating waste wherever possible. In fact, they diverted 92% of their total annual waste in the past two years. It’s not just the big initiatives or investments that define Cakebread — it’s the day-to-day details and decisions that have helped save costs and create a culture of conservation.

“The Green Medal recognizes the commitment and dedication to sustainability by California growers and vintners,” said Allison Jordan, CSWA Executive Director. “It’s always a challenge selecting four winners 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 fourth annual California Green Medal. They include Dr. Stephanie Bolton, Sustainable Winegrowing Director, Lodi Winegrape Commission; David Glancy, Master Sommelier, San Francisco Wine School; Allison Jordan, Executive Director, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance; Kelli McCune, Senior Manager, Sustainable Conservation; Michelle Novi, Industry Relations Manager, Napa Valley Vintners; Cyril Penn, Editor in Chief, Wine Business Monthly; Kate Piontek, Vice President of Operations, Sonoma County Winegrowers; and Beth Vukmanic Lopez, SIP Certified® Manager, Vineyard Team.

Award sponsors are — Exclusive Media Sponsor: Wine Business Monthly; Gold Sponsor: Rivercap; Silver Sponsors: Protected Harvest, Farm Credit Alliance and Marin Clean Energy; and, Bronze Sponsors: CC Wine Caves and WM EarthCare.

Partnering organizations include: Fish Friendly Farming, Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association, Napa County Resource Conservation District, Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, San Luis Obispo Wine Country Association, Santa Barbara Vintners, Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance.

Visit the Green Medal Awards website for more information.

Celebrate “Down To Earth Month” in April with California Wine Events

California Sustainable Winegrowing Video
New video on California Sustainable Winegrowing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Yx_LWnBp4Q
 
https://discovercaliforniawines.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/D2E.Logo_.2018_225x225-1.jpg

SAN FRANCISCO — April is the time to celebrate all things green during the seventh annual California Wines Down to Earth Month. Created by Wine Institute, the association of nearly 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses, the month celebrates the wine community’s commitment to the environment with sustainability-focused winery events and offers throughout the state.

Down to Earth Month engages consumers, policy leaders, media and the wine trade with eco-friendly events, such as Earth Day festivals, vineyard hikes, food & wine festivals, eco-tours and more.

“Down to Earth Month events are one of the many ways our wineries provide experiences for visitors to learn why California leads in sustainable winegrowing,” says Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, President and CEO of Wine Institute. “This year’s celebration also marks the first time that some of our wine will bear the new California Certified Sustainable logo when made in a certified winery with at least 85% of the grapes from certified vineyards.”

California is a global leader in sustainable winegrowing practices in terms of wine acreage and case production. As of November 2017, 127 wineries producing over 74% (211 million cases) of California’s total wine production and 1099 vineyards farming 134,000 acres (22% of statewide wine acreage) are CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE.

Nearly two dozen events are happening throughout California in April with new ones being added daily here. Region-wide events include:

Signature Sonoma Valley, April 6-8, Sonoma: Experience an intimate and exclusive deep dive into the wines, terroir and people of Sonoma Valley’s historic wine region. Enjoy vineyard explorations, iconic wine tastings, designer meals and vintner talks in Sonoma Valley, part of Sonoma County, a region committed to 100% sustainability by the year 2019.

Taste of Mendocino, April 7, San Francisco: More than 30 Mendocino wineries will be bringing their best wines, and local artisanal food producers will be serving up delicious bites to complement the wines at Fort Mason in San Francisco. A gourmet marketplace, Taste of Mendocino attendees will be able to purchase products from participating wineries and food producers. Mendocino County has a high enrollment of green certifications for sustainable, organic, biodynamic and Fish Friendly farming.

April Passport Celebration Day, April 21, Santa Cruz: The winegrowing community of the Santa Cruz Mountains will come together on Passport Celebration Day to celebrate the generations of farmers, vintners and families that are the roots of this wine region. Fifty-plus tasting rooms throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains are each offering a unique winery experience, including organic and sustainable wines.

36th Annual Santa Barbara Vintners Festival, April 21, Lompoc: Taste wines from over 100 wineries and gourmet food from 30 regional restaurants. Enjoy live music and live cooking demonstrations. Many growers use sustainable practices, allowing the natural quality of the grapes to flourish. Enjoy the rare opportunity to taste an exceptional number of wines in Santa Barbara County.

50th Anniversary of the Agricultural Preserve, April 21, Rutherford: In 1968, Napa Valley Vintners and others in the community preserved open space by enacting the nation’s first Agriculture Preserve. The 2018 year marks the 50th anniversary of this ordinance establishing agriculture and open space as the best use of land for Napa County. To honor this milestone, Alpha Omega’s winemaker Jean Hoefliger will lead a tour and tasting on April 21 at historic Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard in Rutherford, where 181 acres were placed under a land conservation easement that forever prohibits non-agriculture development. The Alpha Omega Foundation will donate 100 percent of tickets sold to local nonprofits.

27th Annual El Dorado Wine Region Passport Wine Adventure, April 21-29, Placerville: Take a beautiful drive to El Dorado Wine Region in the Sierra Foothills for exclusive hospitality at 22 wineries participating in the Annual Passport Weekends, April 21-22 & 28-29. Sustainable, organic and biodynamic practices are reflected in the wines such as those from Lava Cap Winery and Shadow Ranch Vineyard.

Earth Day Napa, April 22, Napa: Featuring exhibits, food, live entertainment, kids’ activities and wine at Oxbow Commons. Presented by Environmental Education Coalition of Napa County.

Stags Leap District Wineries: Vineyard to Vintner, April 27-29, Yountville: Visit winery open houses with special access to owners and winemakers. Enjoy caves, cellars, barrel tastings, dinners by celebrated chefs. Committed to its community, the association is donating 5 percent of open house tickets to the Napa Valley Community Foundation.

Passport to Dry Creek Valley, April 27-29, Healdsburg: One of Sonoma Wine Country’s premier wine & food festivals featuring 40-plus wineries. Tastings, food and wine pairings, and a vineyard tour highlighting how sustainability operates in the vineyards.

California Sustainable Winegrowing
The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization established by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers more than a decade ago, 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. CSWA now has 2,100 vineyards and wineries as program participants. To learn more, visit: www.discovercaliforniawines.com/sustainable-winegrowing.

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


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MEDIA CONTACT:
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U.S. Wine Exports Total $1.53 Billion in 2017

Premiumization Continues Amid Challenging Exchange Rates

Toronto 2017 Wine Fair
The popular California Wine Fair in Toronto was attended by more than 1,000 trade and media.

SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. wine exports, 97% from California, reached $1.53 billion in winery revenues and 380 million liters (42.2 million cases) in 2017. Golden State exports were down 5.5% in value and 7.9% in volume due in part to the strong dollar, heavily-subsidized foreign wine producers and competitors forging free trade agreements in key markets.

“Global premiumization continues and California wines are well-positioned with our range of offerings, aspirational lifestyle, well-earned reputation for high quality and leadership in sustainable winegrowing,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, President and CEO of Wine Institute.

“California wine exports have grown nearly 70% by value in the past decade. Our global marketing efforts focusing on the quality and diversity of California wine continue to gain traction with our trading partners throughout the world,” said Wine Institute Vice President of International Marketing Linsey Gallagher. Gallagher oversees Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program, involving more than 175 wineries that export to 138 countries, and 15 representative offices conducting programs in 25 countries across the globe.

The top 10 export markets for California wines are: the European Union’s 28-member countries, accounting for $553 million, Canada, $444 million; Hong Kong, $119 million; Japan, $94 million; China, $79 million; South Korea, $25 million; Mexico, $23 million; Singapore, $17 million; Philippines, $14 million; and Dominican Republic, $13 million.

“Free trade agreements that place the U.S. on equal footing with other wine producing countries are absolutely essential to growing U.S. wine exports,” said Charles Jefferson, Wine Institute Vice President of Federal Relations and International Public Policy.

Wine Institute’s Regional Trade Directors in key export markets reported on 2017 exports:

CANADA
“Despite a flat wine market in Canada and ongoing exchange rate challenges, Canada remains the top dollar value market for California wines. Canadian consumers have confidence in the quality and value offered by California wineries whose wines are successful in all price segments,” according to Rick Slomka, Wine Institute Trade Director for Canada. “Although recent price increases may lead to slower growth, new product introductions and line extensions for popular brands have kept the momentum strong for the California wine category. U.S. wines were the number one table wine category by value in Canada in 2017 for the fourth consecutive year with almost Canadian $1.1 billion in retail sales. “We anticipate continued growth in the liquor board stores and are also looking forward to working with the provincial governments to improve and equalize access to new grocery distribution channels.”

CONTINENTAL EUROPE
“As the Euro became stronger in the past 12 months, California wine exports to continental Europe improved. In Germany for instance, our key market on the continent, German customs reported an increase in California wine imports of 7% by volume. The data also shows increases in export value to key markets such as Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark,” said Paul Molleman, Wine Institute Trade Director for Continental Europe.

UNITED KINGDOM
“Sales of premium, super-premium and luxury Californian wines continue to be robust despite very challenging currency-led price increases. In 2016, the pound was valued at $1.46. A year later it dropped 17% to $1.21. Price increases were largely passed through to consumers as increased shelf prices. The pound has strengthened in the past six months, and we expect this will be positive for California wines in the first half of 2018 as importers look to replenish stocks at more favorable prices,” said Wine Institute United Kingdom Trade Director Justin Knock, MW.

JAPAN
“Due to the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, all of the U.S.’s wine region competitors will enter Japan duty free by 2019 while the full 15% import duty will continue to be charged on California wines. Japanese importers have been importing U.S. bulk wine to reduce the import duties, but Chilean and Australian bulk wine is already duty free and European bulk will soon have duty free status. Bottled U.S. wine exports to Japan decreased 20% by volume in 2017, but value increased 12.1%. Ultra-premium wines are less susceptible to the import duty disadvantage, and Wine Institute’s Japan office has been consistently promoting the premium category with its wine-by-the-glass restaurant promotions,” said Ken-ichi Hori, Wine Institute’s Japan Trade Director. “U.S. wine importers in Japan hope the U.S. will establish a Free Trade Agreement with Japan as soon as possible to abolish the heavy import duty disadvantage of U.S. wines, which will help the entire American wine category grow in Japan.”

CHINA & PACIFIC RIM
“U.S. wine exports to Greater China (Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) were strong with 10% growth to over $210 million in 2017. Also experiencing growth were South Korea, Singapore and the Philippines with value increasing more than volume, signaling the premiumization trend. For Asia, the main story is the economic growth in China, the largest country in the world in terms of population. China has a rapidly growing middle class that is traveling outside the country and adopting many Western tastes and lifestyle preferences. Consumption of imported wine has increased 2.5 times in the last five years on the Chinese Mainland. We expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future,” said Christopher Beros, Wine Institute Trade Director for China and Pacific Rim.

Since 1985, Wine Institute has served as the administrator of the Market Access Program, a cost-share export promotion program managed by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Wine Institute’s Export Program supports California Wines worldwide with a consumer website discovercaliforniawines.com in eight languages, social media campaigns in 18 countries, educational tools and videos, and a strong partnership with Visit California to increase tourism to California wine regions. Wine Institute organizes California’s participation in international trade shows and trade missions, offers master classes and seminars as well as tastings for trade, media and consumers worldwide. Last year, the program also hosted 155 international media and wine buyers from 20 countries for visits to California wine country. For information, see: Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program

 

U.S. WINE EXPORTS*
Year to Date: January-December, 2017 and 2016
 
Value (U.S. Dollars)
Revenues to Wineries
Variance
’17 v ’16
Volume (Liters)
Variance
’17 v ’16
PARTNER COUNTRY
Ranked by 2017 Value</strong
2017
2016
Percent
2017
2016
Percent
European Union Total** $553,098,853 $685,230,481 -19.28 197,782,763 221,141,004 – 10.56
Canada $443,865,878 $431,402,689 2.89 83,983,119 88,793,202 – 5.42
Hong Kong $118,803,938 $98,532,044 20.57 9,364,978 12,428,906 – 24.65
Japan $94,103,357 $87,488,237 7.56 23,341,643 23,613,126 – 1.15
China $78,667,031 $81,480,265 – 3.45 14,190,217 14,861,019 – 4.51
South Korea $25,454,842 $23,337,670 9.07 4,898,207 4,261,903 14.93
Mexico $22,543,709 $24,059,600 – 6.30 7,138,570 7,825,030 – 8.77
Singapore $16,579,152 $13,635,128 21.59 2,274,968 2,237,766 1.66
Philippines $13,544,471 $13,202,614 2.59 4,784,109 4,317,825 10.80
Dominican Republic $13,230,785 $13,031,174 1.53 3,199,157 3,156,701 1.34
Taiwan $13,054,883 $12,167,856 7.29 1,456,869 1,645,785 – 11.48
OTHER COUNTRIES $137,320,004 $135,946,628 1.17 $27,631,318 $28,306,756 – 2.39
WORLD TOTAL $1,530,266,903 $1,619,514,386 – 5.51 380,045,918 412,589,023 – 7.89
Sources: Wine Institute & Global Trade Information Services, using data from U.S. Dept. of Commerce. Preliminary numbers. Includes hard cider. History revised.

* Statistics exclude re-exported wine due to U.S. DOC changing its reporting to exclude this wine.
** Stats for the 28 EU countries are combined because transshipments to final destinations in neighboring countries make a country-by-country breakdown not reflective of actual consumption in each country.
To convert liters to gallons, multiply liters by .26418 To convert liters to cases, divide liters by 9.

 

U.S. WINE EXPORTS 1997-2017
Year
Volume

(In millions)

Value

(In millions of dollars)

Gallons
Liters
Cases
Revenues to Wineries
2017 100.4 380.0 42.2 $1,530
2016 109.0 412.6 45.8 <$1,620
2015 121.9 461.3 51.3 $1,603
2014 117.0 442.7 49.2 $1,494
2013 115.1 435.8 48.4 $1,553
2012 106.9 404.8 45.0 $1,336
2011 111.4 421.6 46.8 $1,297
2010 107.6 407.3 45.3 $1,064
2009 106.4 402.8 44.8 $859
2008 125.5 474.9 52.8 $963
2007 115.9 438.8 48.8 $911
2006 105.1 397.9 44.2 $843
2005 101.5 384.1 42.7 $659
2004 119.1 451.0 50.1 $796
2003 92.3 349.2 38.8 $621
2002 73.4 277.8 30.9 $542
2001 78.8 298.3 33.1 $531
2000 77.8 294.4 32.7 $551
1999 74.2 281.0 31.2 $541
1998 71.1 269.1 29.9 $532
1997 58.7 222.1 24.7 $415
Sources: Wine Institute & Global Trade Information Services, using data from U.S. Dept. of Commerce. History revised.

 

U.S. Wine Exports in Millions of Dollars

Sources: Wine Institute & Global Trade Information Services, using U.S. Dept. of Commerce data.

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California Wine 2017 Harvest Report: Strong Quality Across the State as Ample Rain Ends Drought

Left: White grape harvest (Napa Valley Vintners photo); J Vineyards & Winery harvest in Sonoma County (George Rose photo).

SAN FRANCISCO — California’s 2017 wine harvest wrapped up early this fall following summer heat spurts and a growing season that saw significant rain throughout the state ending a five-year drought. While October wildfires in North Coast wine communities made international headlines, the state’s vineyards and wineries were not significantly affected. Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties, the regions most impacted, grow 12 percent of California’s winegrapes, and 90% percent of the harvest in Napa and Sonoma and 85% in Mendocino were already picked and in production at wineries before the fires.

“The vast majority of California’s 2017 winegrape harvest was unaffected by the wildfires and the vintage promises to be of excellent quality,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, president and CEO of Wine. “The outpouring of support locally and from around the world for people in the impacted communities has been phenomenal. We are saddened by the loss of lives and homes and this will truly be remembered as a harvest of the heart. Wineries are at work making their 2017 wines and welcoming visitors during this beautiful late fall/early winter season.”

The Growing Season
With all but late harvest grapes in, vintners are looking back at the 2017 growing season throughout the state. The drought is over with the season beginning with rainfall that refilled reservoirs and replenished soils. Harvest began early at a normal pace in many regions, and then progressed rapidly during a heat wave in late August and early September. Temperatures cooled mid-September, slowing the harvest pace and allowing red grapes to ripen gradually. Many regions are reporting reduced yields due to the heat spell, but vintners are reporting strong quality for the 2017 vintage.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture estimated in early August that the state’s overall crop size would reach 4 million tons, down slightly from 4.03 million in 2016 and above the historical average of 3.9 million tons. The heat wave will likely lower this prediction.

“We had above average rainfall this winter on the Central Coast, but not as much as areas that saw flooding,” said Steve Lohr, CEO, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines. “It was wonderful because it helped fill up the reservoirs and bring new life to cover crops that had been parched after several years of drought. It has been a good year for us, all in all, on the Central Coast,” Lohr said. “From the 30,000-foot perspective, I would say that these wines are going to show particularly nicely in their youth but will have the capacity to age.”

According to Neil Bernardi, vice president of winemaking at Duckhorn Wine Co., the increased rainfall also brought vine-vigor challenges. “It required special focus on cover crops and tillage and closely managing canopies. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in Napa Valley and Alexander Valley look especially healthy,” he said. “Our Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Merlot have excellent color, extraction and flavor, and Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are showing excellent aromatics and great acidity.”

The rainfall helped vines in the Santa Cruz Mountains rebound from the drought, but also caused some problems during flowering. “Zinfandel got caught by spring rain during bloom and most of our Zinfandel sites are down in tonnage anywhere from 15% to 40%,” said Eric Baugher, chief operating officer and winemaker, Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello Winery. “It does appear that the Zinfandel vintage will be an extraordinary one, similar to 1999. I expect similar excellent quality out of Chardonnay since the fruit had such great intensity of flavor from the petite-size clusters and berries.”

A heat spell impacted many California regions in late summer, speeding up harvest schedules and requiring extra vigilance. “Some vineyards that had exposed fruit showed desiccation,” said David Hayman, vice president of winegrowing for Delicato Family Vineyards, which farms grapes across the state. “Ripeness was accelerated and a lot of fruit became ready all at once. Flavors across the board look good.”

Harvest Report Cover

Click here to view full report, including regional reports from Amador/Sierra Foothills, 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.

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New Wine Institute Video Series Celebrates “California Wines: Behind the Glass”

California Wines Behind the Glass Video Series Still
View the video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHnENDwN2LE&list=PLd4vf2_4_2gvPg7WxbzkSN8_B_CpWgXsp

SAN FRANCISCO — Vineyard rocks absorb water like a sponge; a novice wine drinker’s eyes widen as she tastes the difference between two California Chardonnays guided by a pair of sommeliers; a winemaker describes wine as the elixir that brings people together. Wine Institute’s new video series, “California Wines: Behind the Glass,” conveys the appeal of the regions, climates, grapes and people that come together to make California wine. The short films are set with backdrops of the Golden State’s iconic and aspirational landscapes.

California Wine Month,” the first in the 23-part video series, debuted Sept. 6 on Instagram before rolling out across social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and going live on www.DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com A new video will be posted every week with the final video, “Road Trip,” wrapping up the series on Feb. 7, 2018. The videos travel the length of California’s 800 miles of coastline, climb the mountains to consider fog and microclimates, capture sustainable winegrowing practices in action and reflect on California’s winemaking culture with its tradition of experimentation and innovation.

California produces 85 percent of U.S. wine and is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 138 American Viticultural Areas and 4,700 wineries. The California industry generates 786,000 jobs in the U.S. and attracts 24 million tourist visits to the state’s wine regions each year.

Instagram: california.wines
Twitter: CalifWines_US
Facebook: CaliforniaWines
YouTube: California Wine Institute
Website: www.DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com

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Celebrate California Wine Month in September

Raise a Glass to Harvest at More Than 50 Winery Events Around the State

image name
Order this year’s California Wine Month poster, highlighting facts at a glance.

SAN FRANCISCO — September marks the 13th annual California Wine Month, and it’s the perfect time to experience the annual harvest season. Wine enthusiasts can enjoy special tastings, festivals, concerts, wine and food offerings and more at wineries and other venues throughout the state.

Vines have been grown in California for nearly 250 years, and the state is the fourth largest producer of wine in the world. California Wine Month was created to honor the culture of tradition and innovation built by the state’s 4,700 vintners and 5,900 growers and to recognize wine’s many contributions to the state and nation. 

California is the most visited state in the U.S. for food and wine-related activities, with 24 million visits to the state’s wine regions each year. California wineries offer a vast array of activities and amenities such as music, art, theater and gardens as well as hands-on visitor experiences.

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com/californiawinemonth to view a full list of events by date and get a copy of this year’s “2017 California Wine Month Facts at a Glance” poster. Or, download a map of California wine regions and the 138 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) here. Event highlights include:

North Coast
Celebrate Sept. 1-3 with Sonoma Wine Country Weekend at Sonoma State University where top winemakers, growers and chefs will come together to celebrate the region’s finest wine and food. Stay in Sonoma for the Sonoma Valley Crush which offers hands-on harvest experiences at 12 boutique wineries Sept. 8-10.

Winesong, now in its 33rd year on Sept. 8-9, invites attendees to stroll through the lush Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens while enjoying vintages poured by wineries from Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, and beyond. The wine and food tasting is accented by various musical groups performing jazz, classical, blues and more.

Voted on as one of the top 10 wine destinations in the world by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, the Calistoga Wine Experience on Sept. 9 in Napa Valley features wines from more than 35 Calistoga wineries and a chance to meet the owners and winemakers, enjoy appetizers and live jazz at a spectacular harvest setting.

The Lake County Wine Auction Sept. 16 is a gala evening under the stars at Cache Creek Vineyard and Winery. The evening begins with a tasting of food from a selection of 10 juried purveyors paired with local wines. Guests enjoy a gourmet meal in the farm-to-table spirit as the sun sets, followed by the live auction and dancing, all to benefit the arts and health and community organizations

San Francisco Bay & Santa Cruz Mountains
On Sept. 3 of Labor Day Weekend, wineries celebrate the exciting crush season at the Livermore Valley Harvest Wine Celebration. Wine lovers have enjoyed this unique event the last 35 years. Later in the month on Sept. 23, Livermore hosts a live auction with prizes ranging from wine to vacations to private dinners and more. The event will benefit underserved children in the East Bay with nutrition, healthcare and education.

Also on Sept. 23, the annual Eat Drink Los Gatos features restaurant food booths, live music, and shopping in charming downtown Los Gatos. Sip tastings from dozens of local wineries while touring through downtown Los Gatos enjoying wine and food at local shops and restaurants.

Central Coast: Monterey to Santa Barbara
As the sun sets Sept. 2, the Highway 46 West Harvest Block Party will take place at Dark Star Cellars. This mini wine festival is one of the more popular events on the Central Coast.

Enjoy an afternoon at Santa Barbara’s Taste of the Town featuring area wineries and more for the ultimate epicurean adventure in Santa Barbara. The event, which benefits the Arthritis Foundation, will take place on Sept. 10 at Riviera Gardens. Later in the month on Sept. 29, kick off four days of wine and culinary experiences at The Taste of Santa Barbara Wine Country. Attendees can expect to enjoy library wines, fall releases and small bites from local restaurants.

Whether you have a grand car to show or just want to stroll through the gold course enjoying the views or tasting the best of Central Coast wines, the Automotive Concourse at Monarch Dunes, on Sept. 24, offers something for everyone. Admission for spectators is free.

Inland Valleys
The 80th Annual Lodi Grape Festival celebrates Lodi agriculture while raising funds for community and charitable projects. The event is on Sept. 14-17 and will feature live music, activities for families and kids and a Friday wine tasting with Lodi wines.

On Sept. 15, guests 21+ are invited to celebrate Madera Wine Trail’s California Wine Month Celebration. This event will offer wine tasting from local wineries, food by a variety of local restaurants and live music. The Madera Vintners Association will also honor and award partners and associates that have influenced the local wine industry, the MVA and its winery members.

Sierra Foothills
Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival takes place the weekend of Sept. 8. Enjoy three full days of cooking seminars and demonstrations, culinary competitions, wine tastings, a Farm-to-Tahoe dinner, live music, a gourmet marketplace, and more. This is an incredible opportunity to sample the culinary and winemaking talents of regional chefs.

In South Lake Tahoe, Sample the Sierra is a unique farm-to-fork festival held on Sept. 16. The festival offers the chance to taste the creations of local Sierra Nevada talent – from food, wine and spirits to fresh produce and art. The event’s Sierra Chefs Challenge features local chefs competing for the coveted Sierra Chef title.

Southern California
At the Los Angeles TimesThe Taste, wine and food are the stars Sept. 1-3. Celebrate Southern California’s vibrant culinary scene at Paramount Pictures Studios iconic backlot, presenting five events with leading chefs and restaurants in L.A. and tastings. Guests can learn more about wine and food during special seminars and live demos.

On Sept 10, enjoy complimentary tastings from more than 25 wineries at VINO-Palooza — a wine & music festival at The Marina Del Rey Hotel, LA.

Celebrate California Wine Month Temecula style at CRUSH, a Wine & Culinary Showcase on Sept. 30. This harvest festival features 100-plus wines from more than 30 Temecula Valley wineries, paired with food from local restaurants and farms and live music. Wine lovers can purchase a SIP, Temecula Style passport, which offers savings at up to five of the 19 participating wineries any weekday during the month of September.

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

National/Regional: California Pizza Kitchen, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, PF Chang’s, Safeway and Tavistock Restaurants

California: 1313 Main, Albertsons, Bistro Boudin, California Restaurant Association, Compline, Dean & Deluca, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, Giordano Brothers, Napa Valley Wine Train, Pavilions, San Francisco Wine School, Visit California and Vons

New York/New Jersey: Astor Wine & Spirits, BevMax, Bottle King, Chambers Street Wines, Fairway Market, Flatiron Wine & Spirits, Gary’s Wine & Marketplace, Shop Rite, Verve, Wine Awesomeness

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines  and winery amenities to plan a trip to California wine country. Established in  1934, Wine Institute is the association of nearly 1,000 California wineries and  wine-related businesses with the mission 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.

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California Wineries Offer Top Wine and Food Experiences Year-Round

Wine Lovers Can Sip and Savor
at Winery Restaurants, Too
 

Farm-to-table wine and food experiences abound at California wineries. (Left) Culinary pairings at Ram’s Gate Winery in Sonoma County. (Right) A wine and food tasting experience at Cima Collina Winery in Carmel Valley, Monterey County.

SAN FRANCISCO – Whether a beginner or experienced wine taster, kick your California wine country experience up a notch by pairing regional wines with farm-to-fork tastes and meals.  For those who want the inside scoop on the ultimate wine and food experiences in California, Wine Institute created a list of wineries offering delicious pairings and restaurant menus year-round.

Here’s a sampling from around the state.  Discover more about winery amenities, recipes and all things California wines at discovercaliforniawines.com.

Great Wine and Food Pairing Experiences

NORTH COAST

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens, Sonoma County
The “Wine & Food Pairings” program includes three options.  Enjoy limited-production wines paired with cheese or chocolate, or taste through five original courses designed by Kendall-Jackson Executive Chef Justin Wangler.  Taste seasonally-changing dishes such as Sunchoke Soup with Liberty duck confit, dried cherries, mushroom and a sunchoke chip.

Ram’s Gate Winery, Sonoma County
The “Palate Play Wine & Food Pairing” lets you taste artfully crafted pairings to bring out the best in Ram’s Gate wines.  The experience begins with a glass of wine in hand for an in-depth winery tour before relaxing in a private room.  There, compare four single-vineyard wines alongside their culinary pairings in a guided, seated tasting.

B Cellars, Napa Valley
The “Oakville Trek” offers a taste of wine accompanied by a food pairing, followed by a personally escorted tour of the culinary gardens, production facilities and extensive wine caves, glass-in-hand.  After the tour, partake in a custom “B-Bite,” carefully selected and created by the chef to complement a selection of current release wines.

HALL, Napa Valley
Each month, check out “A Taste of HALL,” a culinary workshop featuring an all-star line-up of Napa Valley chefs paired with a seasonal theme.  This lively, family-style workshop teaches modern pairing techniques while tasting new release wines.

Long Meadow Ranch, Napa Valley
An elegant, intimate guided experience, “Chef’s Table” is a multi-course lunch or dinner paired with Long Meadow Ranch wines in the historic Logan Ives House. The estate chef brings the best of the season from their farm-to-guest plates, showcasing organic produce, grass-fed beef and lamb, and olive oils to complement a selection of wines.

Pine Ridge Vineyards, Napa Valley
The “Savor Pine Ridge Wine & Food Pairing” offers a tailor-made experience nestled in the wine cave, surrounded by candlelight and oak barrels. Wine educators guide you through a tasting of five Estate Cabernet Sauvignons, each paired with small bites prepared by Estate Chef Susan Lassalette. The featured wines hail from the winery’s five estate-owned vineyards in the Napa Valley – Stags Leap District, Rutherford, Oakville, Howell Mountain and Carneros.

Round Pond Estate, Napa Valley
At the “Il Pranzo Tasting Experience,” the afternoon begins with an intimate and informative estate garden tour and guided tasting of their artisan olive oils, red wine vinegars and estate wines.  While enjoying the beautiful view from the terrace, savor local artisan cheeses, meats, breads and other delectable accoutrement, as well as the season’s freshest fruits and vegetables right from their garden.  Top it all off with dessert prepared by the winery chef.

Sequoia Grove, Napa Valley
“A Taste for Cabernet” is a private small group experience that uses Sequoia Grove’s vineyard-designated Cabernets to show how what’s in the vineyard gets into the glass and how to maximize enjoyment of Cabernet with a meal. A top-rated experience according to Where Traveler magazine.

Silver Oak, Napa Valley
The winery’s “Silver Wine & Food Pairing” gives the opportunity to experience delicious bites with Silver Oak and Twomey wines.  Chef Dominic Orsini uses local ingredients, including herbs and vegetables from their garden to create a delicious seasonal menu.

Trinchero, Napa Valley
Enjoy the “Food & Wine Pairing” in Trinchero’s Legacy Lounge to taste four delectable bites crafted by their culinary team, paired with four of the Single Vineyard wines.  The tasting will finish with a Vin Santo style Semillon with house-made Cantucci. The program also includes a tour of the winery and barrel room.

Lynmar Estate, Sonoma County
At “The Lynmar Lunch,” savor a three-course farm-to-table lunch, featuring delightful creations made from estate-grown and locally sourced ingredients paired with select Lynmar wines.

Alexander Valley Vineyards, Sonoma County
The “Wine & Cheese Pairings” at Alexander Valley Vineyards offers local artisan cheeses paired with four of their most limited-availability wines, while enjoying the views from the tasting room deck.

Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Sonoma County
Choose from three experiences at Dutton-Goldfield Winery: a Wine and Sushi Flight, Wine and Cheese Flight or Beast and Pinot Flight, all paired with limited production wines such as unoaked whites or single-vineyard Pinot Noirs. Click here for more details.

SIERRA FOOTHILLS

Vino Noceto Winery, Amador County
This Amador County winery offers a hyper-local wine and food experience.  The new “Farm-to-Fork Tour” provides in-depth education on seasonal gardening, including a trek through Noceto Farm’s Garden while sipping on Vino Noceto’s award-winning wines.

CENTRAL COAST

Cima Collina Winery, Monterey County
Hosted by Winemaker Annette Hoff Danzer, Cima Collina’s Certified Wine Specialist Shawn Bruce or a local favorite chef, the “Bring in the Experts” enhanced tasting experience offers a focus of wine production and food pairing specifically created for each group.  Cost varies depending on group size and needs.

INLAND VALLEYS

Peltier Winery & Vineyards, Lodi
The “Fruit of our Labors Day” begins with a tour through the crush pad, vineyards and winery, followed by a tank tasting and light lunch fare. The two-hour experience is on Labor Day Weekend 2017 in Acampo in the Lodi appellation.

Winery-Owned Restaurants

CENTRAL COAST

Wente Vineyards, Livermore Valley
The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards features ingredient-driven California wine country cuisine using sustainably and organically grown local ingredients.  While the menu holds its foundation in American dishes, it is influenced by French and Italian provincial cuisine.  The seasonal menu changes daily, using produce from The Restaurant’s organic garden.  The wine list offers more than 1,000 selections, providing numerous options for wine pairings.

Justin Winery, Paso Robles
The Restaurant at JUSTIN, which was named Winery of the Year 2015 by Wine Enthusiast magazine, offers fresh local ingredients in dishes that reflect the changing seasons, as well as an extensive wine list.  Executive Chef Will Torres takes full advantage of “farm-to-table” local offerings, blending savory and sweet, nouveau and traditional, and urban panache with down-home delicious.

Niner Wine Estates, Paso Robles
The Restaurant at Niner Wine Estates is one of Food and Wine magazine’s “Best Winery Restaurants in America” for 2017.  The winery team leverages close relationships with local farmers, butchers and artisans to offer farm-to-fork dishes.  Niner also mills their own estate olive oil, picks fresh eggs from their flock of chickens, and works with local roaster JOEBELLA to age their coffee beans in old NINER Wine Barrels.  Their open-kitchen lunch service reflects their goal of food-chain transparency.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards, Temecula Valley
At the Creekside Grille, Chef Steve Stawinski shaped the menu using Wilson Creek wines, locally grown fruits, vegetables, cheeses and olive oils, line-caught fresh fish and fresh herbs to create a unique blend of menu items.  Surrounded by 30-year-old Cabernet grapevines, an herb garden and flower-filled hanging baskets, the view sets the scene for an enjoyable day in wine country.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, Temecula Valley
The Vineyard Rose Restaurant at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, holder of Wine Spectator’s 2015 Award of Excellence, provides a dining experience with wine for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  A casual but elegant atmosphere highlights menus featuring fresh local ingredients. Indoor/outdoor seating and an extensive wine list enhance the vineyard experience.

Thornton Winery, Temecula Valley
Café Champagne, which has earned the Gold Award for Contemporary Cuisine for over 11 years from the Southern California Restaurant Writers Association, is open daily for lunch and dinner. Executive Chef Steve Pickell, combines “Contemporary Fusion Cuisine” made with local ingredients with premium wines in a stylish indoor or outdoor patio setting.

Baily Winery, Temecula Valley
At Carol’s Restaurant, dine in style outside under the pergola next to Cabernet vines or in Bacchus Hall with its stone walls, floor to ceiling fireplace and vineyard views.  An adjacent vegetable and herb garden provides seasonal produce that Carol Baily uses in her cuisine, which you can pair with Baily’ wines.

Ponte Winery, Temecula Valley
Bouquet Restaurant offers vineyard-inspired menus and dishes that focus on fresh, seasonal and local ingredients.  Dine indoors or out at this wine country eatery, located at Ponte’s AAA Four Diamond Inn, surrounded by manicured gardens with views of the vineyard and one-acre pond.

For ideas on California wine and food road trips in more than a dozen other regions of the state, click here.

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with 24 million visits to its wine country annually, 138 American Viticultural Areas and 4,700 wineries that produce 85 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org.

# # #

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

Winery Concerts, Festivals, Picnics and More: Great Ways to Experience California Wine Country this Summer

Roll out the Barrels_Credit San Luis Obispo Wine Country Association

Roll Out the Barrels is a three-day event June 22-24, offering Edna Valley wine, food and music in downtown San Luis Obispo, one of dozens of great events in California wine country throughout the state this summer.

SAN FRANCISCO — Summer in California is great for surfing, hiking and visiting theme parks with the family, but wine lovers know it’s also the perfect time to visit the dozens of distinct wine regions across the Golden State. Throughout the summer, wineries host concerts, festivals and experiences that range from scenic picnics and pool parties to unique pairing experiences and movie nights.

To help wine-focused travelers plan their summers, California’s Wine Institute has compiled dozens of a list winery experiences that’s a starting point for exploring activities and events around the state. Wine fans can find more and also learn about year-round winery amenities, recipes and information about California wines at www.discovercaliforniawines.com.

1) Winery Concerts

Free Summer Concert Series at Halter Ranch Vineyard, Paso Robles (June-Aug.)
Halter Ranch Vineyard in Paso Robles kicks off its first-annual complimentary Summer Concert Series, where guests can pair award-winning wines with an impressive range of local music and vineyard views. The concert lineup includes Rewined (June 16), Kenny Taylor Band (July 14), Bear Market Riot (August 25) and more.

Robert Mondavi Winery Concert Series, Napa Valley (July)
Robert Mondavi Winery’s annual Summer Concert Series benefit the Napa Valley Unified School District Music Program. Artists include Andrew McMahon (July 1), Patti LaBelle (July 8), Michael Franti & Spearhead (July 22) and more.

Summer Sundays at Edna Valley Vineyard (July-Aug.)
Enjoy live music at the newly renovated Edna Valley Vineyard tasting room and deck with views of Islay Peak. Lineup includes: Bear Market Riot, Black Market Trio, Dan Curcio and more. Food and wine are available for purchase. Bring a blanket or low-back lawn chair.

Rodney Strong Vineyard’s Annual Summer Concert Series, Healdsburg (July-Sept.)
Every summer, fans of this series look forward to intimate performances by headliners in a stunning vineyard setting. Attendees can bring a picnic meal or purchase food from local purveyors and listen to Chris Isaak, Kenny Loggins, Chris Botti and Kool & The Gang.

Vina Robles Concert Series, Paso Robles (Ongoing)
This boutique amphitheater offers a variety of outdoor concerts this summer, from Dustin Lynch (June 15) and Trevor Noah (June 24) to REO Speedwagon, Styx & Don Felder (June 25), Michael MacDonald & Boz Scaggs (Aug. 16), Doobie Brothers (Aug. 22) and Idina Menzel (Aug. 27) and Chicago (Sept. 2).

Wente Vineyards Concert Series, Livermore (July – Sept.)
For more than 30 years, The Concerts at Wente Vineyards have showcased world-renowned entertainers in the winery’s picturesque natural amphitheater. Guests enjoy pre-concert sunset dinners outdoors or in The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards. This year’s headliners range from Alanis Morissette and Diana Krall to Seal, Smokey Robinson, Dwight Yoakam and Collective Soul.

2) Wine Events, Festivals and Passports

Rhone Rangers California Tour, San Francisco (June 10)
Join the Rhone Rangers at the Golden Gate Club in San Francisco to celebrate California’s Rhone-style wines. Start the afternoon with lunch honoring 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Sondra Bernstein of the Girl and the Fig restaurant followed by a live auction, grand tasting and special seminars.

Taste of Mendocino, San Francisco (June 10)
More than 30 Mendocino wineries will be pouring their best wines at Fort Mason Center and Mendocino County artisanal food producers will serve up delicious bites to complement the wines.

2nd Annual Tunes, Trucks & Tastes, Monterey County (June 11)
Enjoy the boutique wineries along Salinas’s River Road at this fun festival, which also features local food trucks and bands. Participating wineries include: Pessagno, Manzoni, Scheid and Ventana.

31st Annual Ojai Wine Festival, Ojai (June 11)
The Ojai Wine Festival, in this sub-region of Santa Barbara recently named by Sunset magazine as one of the top five “Food and Wine Havens in the West,” lets wine visitors enjoy 60 award-winning wineries serving more than 250 selections of wine at the beautiful Lake Casitas Recreation Area.

22nd Annual Taste of Howell Mountain, Napa Valley (June 17)
Guests can indulge in wines from 50 Howell Mountain wineries at this event, which takes place noon – 5 p.m. and includes gourmet food pairings from winery chefs, a silent auction, prizes, live music and more.

Carmel Valley Art & Wine Celebration, Monterey County (June 17)
The event showcases over 50 artists, local wines and strolling musicians at restaurants, shops and galleries throughout the Carmel Valley Village.

Roll Out the Barrels, San Luis Obispo (June 22-24)
Come celebrate San Luis Obispo Wine Country’s 27th anniversary at Roll Out the Barrels, a three-day event offering Edna Valley wine, food and music in downtown San Luis Obispo.

Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival, Santa Barbara (June 24)
Taking place along the banks of Mission Creek at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, guests can enjoy the best of wine and food from this Central Coast region while mingling with winemakers, bakers, and chefs.

21st Annual Atascadero Lakeside Wine Festival, Atascadero (June 24)
This unique wine festival supports the local Charles Paddock Zoo. Featuring local wines, live music, craft beer, tasty eats, craft vendors and local artists, the event also includes the Mayor’s Winemaker Dinner, Wine Festival Golf Tournament and Wined Down with Favorite Local Wineries.

Wine Showcase Day, Madera Wine Trail (July 1 & Aug. 5)
Wine lovers can go off the beaten path on Madera’s Showcase days, which take place July 1 and August 5 from 12 to 4 p.m. Each day features a different wine varietal and special tasting.

14th Annual California Wine Festival, Santa Barbara County (July 13-15)
Enjoy wine, food and a seaside setting at this festival, touted as one of the largest and best outdoor wine festivals in the state, featuring hundreds of wines complemented by dozens of top regional chefs and specialty food purveyors.

Mammoth Food & Wine Experience, Mammoth Lakes (July 14-15)
The event offers tastings from more than 20 wineries, food, beer and dessert tasting from local establishments, a wine walk, auctions and more—and it all takes place in Mammoth Lakes, the gateway to Yosemite. For more information, visit www.mammothfoodandwine.org.

2nd Annual Blind Barrel Event, El Dorado (July 15)
Put on your suspenders, bow ties, hats, flapper dresses, pearl necklaces, and dancing shoes and step into the Roaring Twenties for El Dorado Winery Association’s 2nd annual Blind Barrel event, which features food trucks, a live swing band and fine wine.

Santa Cruz Mountains Passport Celebration Day (July 15)
“Passport” holders can choose among 50+ wineries throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains, each offering a unique winery experience and various specials, such as discounts on wine purchases, live music, food and other extras.

Taste Our Terroir, Livermore Valley (July 20-23)
Livermore Valley’s premier food and wine affair returns for four days to educate visitors about its unique “taste of the land.” Livermore Valley wineries will offer 13 different events, including the popular food and wine pairing competition, a progressive dinner, cooking demonstrations, wine tasting seminars and vineyard tours.

Salinas Valley Food & Wine Festival, Salinas (Aug. 12)
Stroll charming Oldtown Salinas while tasting the bounty of Monterey County, from its wines and craft brews to culinary delights straight from “The Salad Bowl of the World,” paired with live music.

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, Sonoma County (Sept. 1-3)
Guests can sample wares from wineries across the county’s 17 diverse wine regions, engage in conversation with Sonoma County’s winemakers and winegrowers, and nibble locally sourced food from the county’s premier chefs.

3) Winery Experiences

Tours

Benziger Family Winery, Glen Ellen (Year-round)
Eco-conscious wine enthusiasts can take a behind-the-scenes look at Benziger’s Biodynamic estate vineyard and wine caves, finishing with an exclusive tasting of estate wines. The educational tram tour, pulled by tractors, lets visitors enjoy the scenery – shown in the Keanu Reeves film “A Walk in the Clouds” – filled with long-haired Scottish Highland cattle.

Korbel Winery Bubbles & Bags Event (June 24); Garden Tour, (Now-Oct. 11) Guerneville
Compete in Korbel’s 2nd Annual Cornhole Tournament paired with BBQ and DJ music on June 24. Take an in-depth tour of Korbel’s historic California champagne cellars and the elaborate rose garden now through Oct. 11 – ending with a tasting. Enjoy lunch at the Korbel Delicatessen and Market with patio seating amid the redwoods.

Trefethen Re-opening & 50th Anniversary, Napa (Year-round)
The historic Trefethen winery has re-opened after a 6.0 Earthquake in 2014. Enjoy a Classic or Reserve tasting or a vineyard/winery tour to learn about the architecture and recent restoration of the winery and guided walk through a teaching vineyard.

Unique Wine Pairings

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates and Gardens, Santa Rosa (Year-round)
Foodies can enjoy an exceptional seated food and wine pairing experience, featuring tastings of limited-production wines and original bites created by K-J’s culinary team. The educational pairings reflect the seasonal nature of the 2+ acre Kendall-Jackson culinary gardens where the ingredients are harvested.

First Friday Movie Nights at Rosenthal, Malibu (June-Sept.)
Located on the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, Rosenthal – The Malibu Estate Vineyard & Tasting Room offers spectacular ocean views and great food and wine tasting opportunities. For those who like to pair wine with blockbuster movies, Rosenthal offers free First Friday Movie Nights this summer, including: "Beverly Hills Cop" (June 2), "Dirty Dancing" (July 2), "Jaws" (Aug. 4) and “Friday” (Sept. 1). Bring your blankets to cuddle under the stars while sipping wine.

Summer Sip and Shop, Livermore (June 21)
Savor fine Livermore Valley wines while you shop at Livermore Premium Outlets. Tickets include wine tasting, a commemorative wine glass and discounts at participating stores.

Shakespeare in the Vines, Baily Vineyard & Winery, Temecula (June-Aug.)
Pair the performing arts with your wine at Shakespeare in the Vines, now in its 11th season, at Baily Vineyard & Winery. Shows include “A Winter’s Tale” (June 8-24), “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (July 13-29), “MacBeth” (Aug. 10-26) and more. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own picnic baskets to fully enjoy the evening.

J Vineyards Food & Wine Pairings, Healdsburg (Now-Nov.)
Enjoy a flight of four of J’s award-winning varietal or sparkling wines with four bites on the scenic winery terrace Friday, Saturday or Sunday, 11-4 pm. Dine among the vines at J’s Bow Tie Vineyard dinner party July 15 or enjoy pink pairings at J’s Pink Party Aug. 26.

Sunset Yoga and Wine, McGrail Vineyard, Livermore (June 13)
Begin the evening at McGrail Vineyard with an hour-long yoga class, which will prepare the body for a special tasting of three wines.

Wine Ice Cream at LangeTwins Winery, Acampo (Lodi) (June 25)
Take wine and ice cream pairings to a deeper level by tasting wine-infused ice cream on the sunny patio or in the cool barrel room.

Joseph Phelps Vineyards Wine & Cheese Pairing, St. Helena (Year-round)
Learn how different foods and wines interact with each other and discover your favorites.

Black Stallion Annual Barbeque, Napa (July 15)
Savor the culinary delights of Back Forty Texas BBQ paired with Limited Release award-winning wines.

Wine & Ice Cream Pairing, Concannon Vineyard, Livermore (Aug. 30)
Cool down with a little ice cream and wine as you learn how to pair them. While most wine professionals say this is an “impossible pairing,” Estate Sommelier LeeAnn Kaufman proves it is definitely doable!

Picnics and Pools

Sip and Swim at Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Geyserville (Seasonal)
Guests can add a splash to their summer wine tasting by renting a cabine by Francis Ford Coppola Winery’s pool. Enjoy wines by the glass and tasty crepes, pizzas, salads, panini, gelato or cocktails, delivered to your poolside lounge chair.

Scenic Picnic Spots, Livermore Valley (Year-round)
Summer is the perfect time to sit back and take in the scenic Livermore Valley wine region as you sip local wines. Concannon Vineyard offers beautiful seating areas on the lawn reserved for groups up to eight people. At Retzlaff Vineyards and Estate Winery, visitors can lounge on the lush lawn, framed by organic certified vineyards and mature pepper trees and conveniently close to the tasting room. Charles R Vineyards offers a picnic area by the tranquil tasting room nestled among oak trees, as well as photos and artifacts telling the area’s mining history. Steven Kent Winery’s Party on the Patio Series lets wine lovers sip and sway to local bands, while food trucks offer delicious treats.

Paso Robles Picnics, Paso Robles (Year-round)
Various wineries offer outstanding opportunities to picnic overlooking magnificent views of Paso Robles wine country. At Thacher Winery’s historic Kentucky Ranch, guests can grab a picnic lunch in town and pair it with the winery’s California Rhone, Bordeaux and Zinfandel wines. Wine lovers can choose among various picnic-ready lawns and check out shaded groves, vineyards and historic barns. Castoro Cellars features assorted cured meats and cheeses for sale, as well as drinks and crackers, while Eberle Winery, lets you order a gourmet picnic lunch 72 hours in advance or bring your own. Peachy Canyon, Pear Valley Vineyards, Pomar Junction and Zenaida Cellars also offer picnic areas.

Temecula Valley Picnics, Temecula (Year-round)
Temecula Valley in Southern California also offers wonderful winery picnic spots. Maurice Car’rie Winery’s expansive grass picnic area includes picnic tables and an outdoor artisanal marketplace with homemade sourdough and brie bread baked to order. Robert Renzoni Vineyards features a hilltop picnic area with tables and its own tasting bar as well as a panoramic view of De Portola Wine Trail. Wilson Creek Winery boasts a grassy creek area with picnic tables and a playground for the children. They also offer picnic snacks for purchase in the tasting room that pair wonderfully with their wines.

For ideas on California wine and food road trips in more than a dozen other regions of the state, click here.

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of wine regions, 138 American Viticultural Areas and 4,700 wineries that produce 85 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org.

# # #

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

2016 California Wine Sales in U.S. Hit New Record: 238 Million Cases with Retail Value of $34.1 Billion

SAN FRANCISCO — California wine shipments to the U.S. reached an estimated retail value of $34.1 billion in 2016, up 4.6%. The state shipped an all-time high of 238 million cases to the U.S. in 2016, up 2% from the previous year.

California wine sales to all markets, including shipments to the U.S. and exports, also set a record of 285 million cases in 2016.

“Consumers worldwide recognize the high quality of California wines from diverse regions across the state,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, Wine Institute President and CEO. “As consumers in the U.S. and around the world continue to trade up to premium wines, California is ideally positioned.”

“California wines in the U.S. market have increased from 191 million cases shipped in 2006 to 238 million cases in 2016,” said Jon Moramarco, founder and managing partner of BW166, who purchased The Gomberg-Fredrikson Report with partners last year. “The growth trend has been driven by population, which is up more than 12% over the last decade, and by the fact that baby boomers, traditionally the large population segment of frequent wine consumers, have been joined by millennials aged 21-38 who are also driving the growth in wine consumption,” Moramarco explained.

“The estimated retail value for wine was calculated with an updated methodology that uses a wide variety of government, private, and other statistical data that have not historically been available, such as the direct-to-consumer sales report and Dept. of Commerce data,” Moramarco continued. “Consumer expenditures had been growing at a 6.1% annual rate as opposed to the historical estimates of 5.5% previously published, so the retail value was reset for more recent years. The new data sources provided a more comprehensive methodology for calculating consumer expenditures.”

2016 STATS AT A GLANCE

  • Estimated retail value of 2016 California wine sales in the U.S. was $34.1 billion
  • The state shipped an all-time high of 238 million cases to the U.S. in 2016
  • Total California wine sales to the U.S. and exports was a record 285 million cases
  • The U.S. has been the world’s largest wine market since 2010

Pinot Noir Tasting

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

Americans’ access to wine continues to expand with over 550,000 locations that sell wine, according to Nielsen, a global provider of information and insights into consumer preferences and purchases. The number of on- and off-premise locations is about 120,000 more than a decade ago.

“Consumers are finding more “in store” restaurants and bars and also wine service in less traditional locations such as bookstores, nail salons, coffee shops and movie theaters, even car wash and car repair shops,” said Danny Brager, Senior Vice President of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice Area. “Wine is a growing category, and it is being offered in new and different venues, as well as interesting, alternative packaging vehicles, such as cans, single-serve containers, premium boxes and wines on tap.”

According to Nielsen measured U.S. food store volume, Chardonnay remains the largest varietal of all wine types accounting for 20% share of the cases, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon (15%), Red Blends including Sweet Reds (12%), Pinot Grigio/Gris (9%), Merlot (7%), Pinot Noir (6%), White Zinfandel/Blush (6%), Moscato/Muscat (5%) and Sauvignon Blanc (5%). The largest gains for whites came from Sauvignon Blanc with Pinot Grigio following well behind. Red wine growth was driven by Red Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. From a smaller base of 1% share, Rosé is on fire with a 35% volume gain, but more than 60% on dollars.

Total shipments of sparkling wine and champagne to the U.S. reached 25.6 million cases in 2016. Up 14% from the previous year, the category is showing very strong growth with Prosecco a key growth driver. Sparkling wines/champagne accounted for a 6% 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 to 399 million cases, up 3% from 2015, with an estimated retail value of nearly $60 billion. The U.S. has remained the world’s largest wine market by volume since 2010. California’s 238 million cases shipped within the U.S. in 2016 represent a 60% share of the U.S. wine market.

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

 

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
2016 285.1 238.1 $34.1 billion
2015 282.1 232.7 $32.6 billion
2014 268.6 227.5 $31.3 billion
2013 259.1 215.4 $29.7 billion
2012 249.5 207.2 $29.0 billion
2011 260.0 215.3 $28.5 billion
2010 243.5 201.2 $28.5 billion
2009 246.3 205.9 $27.6 billion
2008 245.2 201.6 $26.1 billion
2007 236.4 195.3 $24.8 billion
2006 228.7 190.6 $24.4 billion
2005 224.0 185.5 $23.0 billion
2004 219.0 179.7 $22.2 billion
2003 206.8 174.7 $20.8 billion
2002 194.4 167.8 $21.5 billion
2001 188.9 162.8 $20.0 billion
2000 187.5 164.9 $17.2 billion
1999 186.4 167.0 $14.3 billion
Sources: Wine Institute and BW166/Gomberg-Fredrikson Report. Preliminary. History revised.

1 Includes table, champagne/sparkling, dessert, vermouth, other special natural, sake and others. Excludes cider
2 Excludes bulk imports bottled in U.S.
3 Estimated retail value includes markups by wholesalers, retailers and restaurateurs.

 

WINE SALES IN THE U.S
(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
2016 331.7 41.9 25.6 399.2 $59.5 billion
2015 324.9 40.4 22.5 387.7 $57.1 billion
2014 323.7 34.6 20.6 378.8 $55.5 billion
2013 327.0 31.6 18.9 377.5 $52.3 billion
2012 319.5 30.3 17.9 367.7 $50.8 billion
2011 308.1 31.4 17.5 357.0 $48.6 billion
2010 290.8 28.9 15.4 335.0 $46.5 billion
2009 282.4 27.2 14.0 323.5 $45.2 billion
2008 272.2 27.7 13.6 313.5 $45.0 billion
2007 272.5 26.7 13.9 313.0 $43.5 billion
2006 258.8 24.3 13.6 296.7 $41.5 billion
2005 255.4 22.5 13.1 290.9 $38.5 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 222.5 15.9 11.5 250.0 $33.0 billion
2001 215.4 14.3 11.4 241.4 $29.7 billion
2000 213.2 13.9 11.8 238.9 $26.3 billion
1999 199.8 13.0 15.6 228.4 $22.9 billion
Sources: Wine Institute, Department of Commerce, Estimates by BW166/Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates. Preliminary. History revised. Excludes exports. Excludes cider as of 2011 going forward. Totals may not add up exactly due to rounding.

1Includes all still wines not over 14 percent alcohol, including bulk imports bottled in the U.S.
2Includes all still wines over 14 percent alcohol and sake, including bulk imports bottled in the U.S.
3Estimated retail value includes markups by wholesalers, retailers and restaurateurs. Includes on- and off-premise expenditures.

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

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

  Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards logo

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Green Medal recipients have been announced for the third 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 luncheon in Sacramento on April 19, 2017 featuring CalEPA Undersecretary of Environmental Protection Gordon Burns as the keynote speaker. The awards ceremony is part of the California Wines: Down to Earth Month celebration of sustainable winegrowing in April.

Recipients of the 2017 Green Medals are:

Green Medal LeaderLEADER AWARD: Francis Ford Coppola Winery was given this honor for excelling in the “3 E’s” of sustainability — Environmentally sound, socially Equitable and Economically viable.
Francis Ford Coppola Winery, based in Geyserville, Sonoma County, demonstrates exceptional leadership in all areas of sustainability. Last year the winery made a firm commitment to source 100% sustainably certified grapes by 2019, while providing technical and financial assistance to growers to help them achieve certification. Within the company, employees receive sustainability training opportunities and generate ideas on how the company can take the most sustainable approach to address water and energy usage and waste management among other activities. To spearhead these efforts, a volunteer Green Team comprised of employees is active throughout the vineyard and winery operations to implement ideas, identify areas of improvement and seek opportunities to innovate under the guidance of the company’s five-year sustainability plan.

Green Medal EnvironmentENVIRONMENT AWARD: Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery received this recognition for best demonstrating Environmental Stewardship through maximized environmental benefits from implementing sustainable practices.
Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery, based in St. Helena, Napa Valley, has been a pioneer in green leadership for over 30 years, transitioning its historic estate to organic farming in 1985 and earning organic certification in 1992, one of two organic vineyards in Napa Valley at the time. Spottswoode helped cultivate the idea that going green leads to superior quality. In addition to organic farming, Spottswoode’s commitment to environmental stewardship is reflected in its biodynamic practices, almost exclusive use of solar power, preservation and conservation efforts, and its philanthropic practice of donating 1% of annual profits to environmental organizations.

Green Medal CommunityCOMMUNITY AWARD: St. Francis Winery & Vineyards was given this recognition for being a Good Neighbor & Employer using the most innovative practices that enhance relations with employees, neighbors and/or communities.

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, operates under the belief that good neighbors help each other and that employees are part of the success of sustainability. The winery offers a comprehensive benefits package and annual health and wellness screenings. Actions like these led to recognition in regional “best places to work” awards for the past six years. Local outreach is also part of their good neighbor ethos, by funding an annual day of service for employees to work at local non-profits. Understanding the importance of education, St. Francis shares a strong message of sustainability with the public through informative vineyard tours and offers technical and financial assistance to local grape growers for sustainability certification and education.

Green Medal BusinessBUSINESS AWARD: Monterey Pacific, Inc. was given this honor for best demonstrating Smart Business through efficiencies, cost savings and innovation from implementing sustainable practices.

Monterey Pacific, Inc., with vineyards throughout California’s Central Coast, takes the most efficient parts of organic, biodynamic and sustainable farming and creates a successful, economically and environmentally sound management style designed for growing grapes. Their commitment is reflected in virtually no employee turnover, providing continuing education benefits, and offering dual language programs for improvement of overall communication. In 2016, Monterey Pacific certified 6,000 acres to SIP Certified or Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing with a commitment to certify the remaining managed acreage this year. Understanding that vineyard management involves more than just land, but also people and sound business practices, the company has remained steadfast in its commitment to sustainability since its inception.

“The awards program provides an exciting opportunity for California growers and vintners to be recognized for their hard work and dedication to sustainability,” said Allison Jordan, CSWA Executive Director. “All the vineyards and wineries of all sizes from throughout California that submitted applications were outstanding. 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 third annual California Green Medal. They include Stephanie Bolton, Grower Communications & Sustainable Winegrowing Director, Lodi Winegrape Commission; David Glancy, Master Sommelier, San Francisco Wine School; Lindsey M. Higgins, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Agribusiness Department, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; Allison Jordan, Executive Director, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance; Emily Farrant, Sustainability Manager, Sonoma County Winegrowers; Michelle Novi, Industry Relations Manager, Napa Valley Vintners; Cyril Penn, Editor in Chief, Wine Business Monthly; and Beth Vukmanic Lopez, SIP Certification Manager, The Vineyard Team.

Award sponsors are — Exclusive Media Sponsor: Wine Business Monthly; Silver Sponsors: CC Wine Caves, Farm Credit Alliance, and Marin Clean Energy; and Bronze Sponsors: Ag Unlimited, SureHarvest, and WM EarthCare.

Partnering organizations include: El Dorado Wine Grape Growers Association; Fish Friendly Farming; Mendocino County Resource Conservation District; Mendocino WineGrowers Inc.; Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance; San Luis Obispo Wine Country Association; and Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley.

Visit: www.greenmedal.org for more information. Tickets to the Green Medal awards luncheon on Wednesday, April 19th in Sacramento can be purchased here.

Raise a Glass to “Green” California Wines During Down to Earth Month in April

Celebrate at Dozens of Eco-Friendly Winery Events Statewide

D2E 2017 Logo D2E Logo 2016
Down to Earth Month in April offers eco-focused winery events statewide, including Earth Day in Green Valley featuring 10 wineries at Iron Horse Vineyards, pictured right.
 

 

SAN FRANCISCO — Eco-conscious consumers have several fun ways to celebrate with sustainably produced wines during California’s 6th Annual Down to Earth Month in April. California wineries will be offering dozens of sustainability-focused events and activities throughout the month from Earth Day wine festivals, farm-to-glass tours and walks with the winemaker to vineyard hikes, VIP eco-tours and more.

Created by Wine Institute — the association of nearly 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses — Down to Earth Month raises awareness about the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance’s (CSWA) Sustainable Winegrowing Program, one of the most comprehensive and widely adopted across the globe, involving wineries and vineyards that grow 70 percent of winegrapes and ship 80 percent of all California wine. This is a remarkable accomplishment as California is the world’s fourth-largest wine producer.

“Consumers want to know how their wines are grown and made, and our Down to Earth Month celebration is a way for people to learn about California’s world leadership in sustainable winegrowing,” said Bobby Koch, President and CEO of Wine Institute. “In a recent study, wine trade experts indicated that they anticipate consumer demand for wines produced with sustainable practices to grow substantially over the next decade. Most of California’s wineries and vineyards embrace sustainable practices, so much of what is available is ‘green’ California wine.”

To recognize the commitment of California’s vintners and grapegrowers to sustainable winegrowing, the California Legislature has introduced a joint resolution proclaiming April 2017 as “Down to Earth Month” in California.

Check out April’s winery events throughout California to learn more about sustainably produced wines at: www.discovercaliforniawines.com/d2e.

April’s events are happening throughout California with new ones being added daily. View events by region here.

North Coast

On April 22, visit Napa Valley wineries and restaurants and stop by the Earth Day Festival in downtown Napa’s Oxbow Commons. Enjoy local wines and foods, local bands and kids’ activities. Napa Valley Vintners, an event sponsor, has committed to having all its eligible members in the Napa Green program by the end of 2020.

Sonoma County Winegrowers are committed to the county’s wines being 100 percent sustainable by 2019. A great way to explore Sonoma wines and green practices is at the Dry Creek Valley Passport Weekend April 28-30. More than 45 wineries are offering elaborate themed parties with food and wine pairings, chances to meet regional chefs and vintners, and vineyard tours that offer a closer look at their winegrowing practices.

In the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, the Celebrate Earth Day in Green Valley festival April 23 offers the chance to taste wines from nearly 10 local wineries at Iron Horse Vineyards. California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross will discuss the future of food, while Chef Traci Des Jardins will showcase the “Impossible Burger” made entirely of plants. Guests can enjoy a National Geographic food photography exhibit, and proceeds benefit Sustainable Conservation.

Inland Valleys

About 90 miles northeast of the San Francisco Bay Area is Lodi, Wine Enthusiast’s 2015 Wine Region of the Year. The 2nd Annual Lodi Wine & Food Festival on April 1 provides an opportunity to taste wines from more than 30 wineries, many of which use sustainable practices. Gourmands can enjoy a bounty of dishes from local restaurants and caterers, wine pairings, blind wine tastings, olive oil tasting and live music.

Sierra Foothills

The Sierra Foothills wine region offers some of California’s highest elevation vineyards. El Dorado Wine Association’s 26th Annual Passport Event takes place April 22-23 and April 29-30 and is a chance to explore 20 of the region’s wineries, including participants in sustainable winegrowing efforts. Guests can sample local wines, buy gifts made by regional artisans and enjoy delicious food tastings.

Central Coast & Santa Cruz Mountains

In the Santa Cruz Mountains wine region, more than 50 wineries will offer special tastings during Passport Day on April 15, one of four times a year when wineries of this region come together to offer their wines. Another area tour is the Organic Wine Trail of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The Santa Barbara Vintners Festival Grand Tasting on Earth Day April 22 is the largest tasting of Santa Barbara County wines of the year. Wine lovers can celebrate with more than 100 wineries and winemakers, more than 30 food purveyors and chefs, regional artists and more.

Southern California

San Diego offers the VinDiego Wine and Food Festival, a fun experience with 70 wineries, including many certified sustainable, on April 8. Known as the largest wine tasting in San Diego, the event offers guests a chance to sip among hundreds of California’s finest award-winning wines and enjoy gourmet bites and live music at NTC Liberty Station arts district.

California Sustainable Winegrowing

California is a world leader in sustainable winegrowing practices. The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), established by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers 15 years ago, is a three-time recipient of the governor’s top environmental award for increasing adoption of sustainable winegrowing practices in California. More than 2,000 wineries and vineyards in California participate in the CSWA program.

Wineries and vineyards around the state have taken an extra step by earning CSWA’s Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing status verified by a third-party auditor. Certified wineries will soon be able to include a “CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE” logo on their bottle labels following the 2017 harvest.

Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing and other statewide and regional programs such as Bay Area Green Business Program, Fish Friendly Farming, Lodi Rules, Napa Green and Sustainability in Practice (SIP) play vital roles in the California wine community’s successful efforts to produce high quality wine that is environmentally sound, economically feasible and socially responsible. To learn more, visit: www.discovercaliforniawines.com/sustainable-winegrowing.

Explore all of the Down to Earth Month activities at www.discovercaliforniawines.com/d2e or to earn a certificate as a Sustainable Winegrowing Ambassador, take a free one-hour course here.


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Explore California’s Wine Regions on the Rise

Wine Institute’s Road Trip Series Offers Tips on How to Sip, Stay and Play

Regions on the Rise Road Map

SAN FRANCISCO — California’s dozens of scenic wine regions offer a wide variety of experiences and wines to enjoy. To help visitors explore them all, Wine Institute’s California Wines Road Trip series highlights different regions each month. For March, the series offers tips for adventurous wine lovers looking for a taste of something new, which they can find in California’s memorable, off-the-beaten-path regions.

SIP: For those traveling on California’s Central Coast, turn east from Monterey County wine country and check out San Benito County’s wine region, known for Syrah and Pinot Noir. Technophiles are often surprised to find rustic vineyards in Silicon Valley’s backyard of Santa Clara County, which boasts 25 wineries and lies east of the Santa Cruz Mountains region. Napa Valley fans looking to venture off road can head just a few miles east to Suisun Valley, located in Solano County, midway between San Francisco and Sacramento. San Francisco travelers need only head north over the Golden Gate Bridge to find the Marin County wineries or east over the Bay Bridge to explore the Oakland Urban wine trail, which is walkable and easily accessible by ferry, BART, Oakland’s free Broadway shuttle and Amtrak.

Those looking for wine, mountains and wildlife can check out the wineries in the Far North of California. Humboldt County wineries are near the coast and Redwood National and State Parks. The Shasta-Cascade Viticultural Association represents the 25-plus wineries set amongst the mountain scenery of five North State counties. Manton Valley wineries (Tehama County) span the Trinity Alps to the west and Lassen Volcanic National Park to the east.

To explore these regions, use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens, art, food for purchase and more.

STAY: Looking for a place to stay after a day of wine discovery? There are plenty of options in or near San Benito County and Santa Clara County on the Central Coast. In the San Francisco Bay Area and surrounds, check out these Marin County, Oakland and Solano County accommodations. Click here for hotel directories in Humboldt County and here for Shasta Cascade and Manton Valley options.

PLAY: Wine trails and passport weekends are a great way to dip your toe into California’s under-the-radar regions. Santa Clara Valley recently launched a new wine trail with wayfinding signage, and their next passport weekend runs March 17-18. Many tasting experiences can be found along the Marin County wine trail and San Benito wine trail. The annual Suisun Valley Passport Sunday takes place this year on April 23, 2017. In June, Tehama County’s agricultural producers along the Tehama Trail open their doors for Passport Weekend, where culinary enthusiasts can visit wineries and vineyards along with family farms growing a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beef, olives and olive oil. Those visiting at other times of the year can download this self-guided trail map. On winding roads through redwood forests, Humboldt County wineries boast no clear wine trail, but finding them on off road adventures will reward visitors with the interesting people and wines they can discover.

MAKE: When one thinks wine, the first food that comes to mind is cheese. The California Cheese Trail runs through several of these regions. Many of these creameries offer cheese-making classes, especially in Marin, which along with Sonoma boasts the largest concentration of artisan and farmstead cheese makers, second only to Vermont. Marin’s Cowgirl Creamery offers an ongoing Cheese 101 cheese making and tasting class, which is very popular so reservations are required. Humboldt County’s Artisan Cheese Factory also offers classes.

GROW: Located along El Camino Real, or the King’s Highway, rugged San Benito County was settled by Spanish missionaries in the late 1770s, but it was French and German immigrants who established its wine culture, planting the first grapes there in the mid-1800s. Although better known as Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County has one of the oldest wine regions in California. The first grapes were planted at the Santa Clara Mission in 1798. During the Gold Rush era, French and Italians recognized the rich soils and Mediterranean climate as a New World home for their European grape varieties.

The Suisun Valley American viticultural area was established in 1982 and is between two coastal mountain ranges southeast of Napa Valley. Growers produce 23 winegrape varieties with Petite Sirah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon most predominant. Shasta Cascade and Manton Valley are found in the highly volcanic region of Far North California, featuring red volcanic soils with unique composition that produce both red and white winegrapes from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Pinot Noir. Humboldt County in the Far North has a wide variety of soils and microclimates. In general, the southern portion of the county is informally known as “Pinot Noir country” and the northeast corner has earned acclaim for its Bordeaux-style wines.

EAT: These regions on the rise pose great opportunities for epicures not just for the wines, but for the abundant farm country surrounding them. Farm Trails are popular and offer opportunities to taste California’s 400 specialty crops from olives and almonds to apples and avocados. Great examples are this map of San Benito and Santa Clara county farm trails, the Happy Valley Farm Trail in Shasta County, the Tehama Trail in Tehama County, the Sonoma-Marin Cheese Trail and the Humboldt Bay Oyster Tours, where visitors can go to oyster nurseries and pick fresh oysters. Solano Grown offers diverse wine experiences and events.

For ideas on California wine and food road trips in more than a dozen other regions of the state, click here.

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 138 American Viticultural Areas and 4,600 wineries that produce 85 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org.


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California Wine Exports Reach Record $1.62 Billion in 2016

Global Trend Toward Premiumization Continues

The California Wine Export Program exhibited at Vinexpo Hong Kong, the hub of the growing Asia-Pacific market.
The California Wine Export Program exhibited at Vinexpo Hong Kong,
the hub of the growing Asia-Pacific market.

SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. wine exports, 90% from California, reached $1.62 billion in winery revenues in 2016, a new record. Despite challenges from a strong dollar, winery revenues were up 1% from 2015. Volume was 412.7 million liters or 45.9 million cases.

“California wine exports continue to reflect the trend toward premiumization with the dollar value of our wine sales outpacing volume shipments. California wines are well positioned for this trend—our vintners are offering quality, value, diverse styles and environmental stewardship in their winemaking. Combined with the state’s iconic lifestyle, innovative cuisine and beautiful destinations, California wines continue to gain attention from consumers worldwide,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, Wine Institute President and CEO.

The top 10 export markets for California wines are: the European Union’s 28-member countries, accounting for $685 million, followed by Canada, $431 million; Hong Kong, $99 million; Japan, $87 million; China, $82 million; Mexico, $24 million; South Korea, $23 million; Switzerland, $19 million; and Singapore, $14 million; and Philippines, $13 million.

“California wine exports have grown 78% by value in the last decade despite heavily-subsidized foreign competitors and high tariffs. Our global trading partners are increasingly acknowledging the high quality of wine from the Golden State and responding to our California Wines marketing efforts throughout the world,” said Wine Institute Vice President International Marketing Linsey Gallagher. Gallagher manages Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program, involving more than 170 wineries that export to 138 countries, and 15 representatives and offices in 25 countries across the globe.

“Trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), have helped to dramatically grow U.S. wine exports yet discriminatory non-tariff trade barriers continue to be crafted by foreign governments at a steady pace,” said Tom LaFaille, Wine Institute Vice President and International Trade Counsel. “We applaud U.S. government efforts to eliminate these barriers and strengthen our competitiveness globally, including the World Trade Organization (WTO) challenge against Canada which seeks to ensure that British Columbia grocery store consumers can choose from the vast array of the world’s great wines.”

Wine Institute’s Regional Trade Directors in key export markets reported on 2016 exports:

CANADA
“Canada remains a strong market for California wines and despite a slowdown in momentum, U.S. wines were still #1 in the table wine category in Canada in 2016. Retail sales of U.S. wines are now at a record 6.5 million cases and $1.1 billion dollars with the strongest increases in the provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. We anticipate continued growth and are also hopeful that provincial governments will extend to California wineries equal access to retail distribution channels,” said Rick Slomka, Wine Institute Trade Director for Canada. “Canadian consumers have confidence in the quality and value offered by California wineries whose wines are successful in all price segments. Recent price increases resulting from exchange rate fluctuation may lead to slower growth.”

CONTINENTAL EUROPE
“As the dollar moves towards parity with the Euro, export volumes to Europe are down in most countries, mainly in the lower priced segment. The good news is that the dollar value of California’s exports to the EU countries (excluding UK) is up 2.7% as the interest in premium California wines continues to be strong,” said Paul Molleman, Wine Institute Trade Director for Continental Europe.

UNITED KINGDOM
“It’s a fantastic result for California wine in the UK, continuing three years of accelerating growth. There is a very clear trend towards premiumization with +18% value growth and rising volumes (+5%). The conversation is increasingly about exceptional wine quality from California across both powerful and elegant styles. Volume shipped exceeded 13 million 9-liter cases to the UK, making it the top volume export destination for California wines globally. With the value of California exports to the UK now worth $337 million, the industry is on track to meet its target of $400 million in export sales by the end of the decade,” said Wine Institute United Kingdom Trade Director Justin Knock.

JAPAN
“U.S. bulk wine exports to Japan have been growing as major Japanese importers are now importing popular-priced California wine brands in bulk and then bottling in Japan. This reduces the burdensome import duty to a limited extent and makes inventory control easier. In 2016, we saw the last major generic California wine brand switch to local bottling,” said Ken-ichi Hori, Wine Institute Japan Trade Director. “Japanese importers of U.S. wines were disappointed to learn of the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. They now hope the U.S. will establish a Free Trade Agreement with Japan as soon as possible to abolish the heavy import duty on U.S. wines, which will help the entire American wine category grow in Japan. This is critical for the U.S. wine industry, since our competitors, Chile and Australia, already have free trade agreements with Japan and benefit from a duty advantage over U.S. wines.”

CHINA
“The significant growth in U.S. wine exports to China in 2016 is particularly important because it demonstrates a meaningful growth in higher value products. A 47% increase in value in one year, coupled with an 11% increase in volume, speaks to the inherent strength in consumer acceptance of California wines in China, despite the rising value of the U.S. dollar versus the Chinese RMB currency throughout the year. Additionally, according to research firm Wine Intelligence, the total number of imported wine consumers in China increased by 26% over the last two years. These concurrent developments signal an increasing healthy market in China and Chinese consumers’ burgeoning interest in California wines,” said Christopher Beros, Wine Institute Trade Director for China and Pacific Rim.

Since 1985, Wine Institute has served as the administrator of the Market Access Program, a cost-share export promotion program managed by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Wine Institute’s Export Program supports California Wines worldwide with a consumer website discovercaliforniawines.com in eight languages, social media campaigns in 16 countries, an educational California Wines PowerPoint tool and videos, and a strong partnership with Visit California to increase tourism to California wine regions. Wine Institute organizes California’s participation in international trade shows and trade missions, offers master classes and seminars as well as tastings for trade, media and consumers worldwide. Last year, the program hosted 150 international media and wine buyers from 15 countries for visits to California wine country. For information, see: Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program

 

U.S. WINE EXPORTS*
Year to Date: January-December, 2017 and 2016
 
Value (U.S. Dollars)
Revenues to Wineries
Variance
’17 v ’16
Volume (Liters)
Variance
’17 v ’16
PARTNER COUNTRY
Ranked by 2017 Value</strong
2017
2016
Percent
2017
2016
Percent
European Union Total**

$685,170,785

$622,325,431

10.10

221,188,826

238,843,833

-7.39

Canada

$431,402,639

$461,217,774

– 6.46

88,776,570

99,780,645

– 11.03

Hong Kong

$98,615,294

$97,293,559

1.36

12,438,896

12,540,529

– 0.81

Japan

$87,488,237

$96,602,621

– 9.43

23,613,126

29,474,848

– 19.89

China

$81,689,265

$55,742,263

46.55

14,871,716

13,385,112

11.11

Mexico

$24,059,600

$25,973,601

– 7.37

7,839,002

9,382,894

– 16.45

South Korea

$23,337,670

$23,452,775

– 0.49

4,261,903

4,401,293

– 3.17

Switzerland

$18,568,360

$21,155,711

– 12.23

2,304,460

2,693,876

– 14.46

Singapore

$13,606,568

$14,965,175

– 9.08

2,227,056

2,773,251

– 19.70

Philippines

$13,202,614

$11,722,946

12.62

4,317,825

4,075,393

5.95

Dominican Republic

$13,031,174

$11,091,842

17.48

3,156,701

3,160,844

– 0.13

Taiwan

$12,173,291

$10,557,798

15.30

1,646,567

1,858,293

– 11.39

Vietnam

$9,949,863

$11,745,692

– 15.29

346,954

1,134,683

– 69.42

Bahamas

$9,368,438

$8,346,776

12.24

1,525,134

1,712,806

– 10.96

Norway

$7,667,471

$5,732,539

33.75

4,130,418

2,991,410

38.08

United Arab Emirates

$6,485,273

$9,290,287

– 30.19

1,026,694

1,674,586

– 38.69

Panama

$5,030,911

$3,748,279

34.22

1,018,050

852,534

19.41

Bermuda

$4,937,744

$4,484,424

10.11

1,046,962

881,057

18.83

Thailand

$4,338,664

$5,379,211

– 19.34

807,008

1,177,739

– 31.48

Cayman Islands

$4,313,943

$4,685,239

– 7.92

389,836

500,622

– 22.13

OTHER COUNTRIES

$65,288,952

$97,730,084

-33.19

22,351,679

27,831,678

-19.69

WORLD TOTAL

$1,619,726,756

$1,603,244,027

1.03

412,650,737

461,196,309

– 10.53

Sources: Global Trade Information Services, using data from U.S. Dept. of Commerce. Preliminary numbers. Includes hard cider. History revised.

* Statistics exclude re-exported wine due to U.S. DOC changing its reporting to exclude this wine.
** Stats for the 28 EU countries are combined because transshipments to final destinations in neighboring countries make a country-by-country breakdown not reflective of actual consumption in each country.
To convert liters to gallons, multiply liters by .26418
To convert liters to cases, divide liters by 9

 

U.S. WINE EXPORTS 1997-2016
Year
Volume

(In millions)

Value

(In millions of dollars)

Gallons
Liters
Cases
Revenues to Wineries
2016 109.0 412.7 45.9 $1,620
2015 121.8 461.2 51.2 $1,603
2014 117.0 442.7 49.2 $1,494
2013 115.1 435.8 48.4 $1,553
2012 106.9 404.8 45.0 $1,336
2011 111.4 421.6 46.8 $1,297
2010 107.6 407.3 45.3 $1,064
2009 106.4 402.8 44.8 $859
2008 125.5 474.9 52.8 $963
2007 115.9 438.8 48.8 $911
2006 105.1 397.9 44.2 $843
2005 101.5< 384.1 42.7 $659
2004 119.1 451.0 50.1 $796
2003 92.3 349.2 38.8 $621
2002 73.4 277.8 30.9 $542
2001 78.8 298.3 33.1 $531
2000 77.8 294.4 32.7 $551
1999 74.2 281.0 31.2 $541
1998 71.1 269.1 29.9< $532
1997 58.7 222.1 24.7 $415
Sources: Wine Institute & Global Trade Information Services, using data from U.S. Dept. of Commerce. History revised.

US Wine Exports in Millions of Dollars

Sources: Wine Institute & Global Trade Information Services, using U.S. Dept. of Commerce data.

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Explore Southern California on a California Wines Road Trip

Wine Institute Offers Tips on How to Sip, Stay and Play in Wine Country, from Temecula and San Diego to Los Angeles

Southern California Wine Road Trip 2017

SAN FRANCISCO—California’s many scenic wine regions offer a wide variety of experiences and wines to enjoy. To help visitors explore them all, Wine Institute’s California Wines Road Trip series highlights a different region each month. To ring in the new year in style, take a trip to Southern California, a region famous for surfing, Hollywood and theme parks, but also home to several surprising wine regions, from Temecula Valley and San Diego County to Cucamonga Valley and the Los Angeles area.

SIP: Southern California’s wine region is home to about 200 wineries. Taste your way through this roster of Southern California wineries or use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens, art, food for purchase and more. Wine lovers can choose a variety of ways to sip. Explore the San Diego Urban Wine Trail or leave the car behind and board the San Diego Wine Train Tour, where you can enjoy coastal scenery and tastes at urban wineries and restaurants.

Wine trails are a great way to sip, such as the acclaimed North Mountain Wine Trail, 25 miles south of Temecula Valley in east San Diego County. In Temecula Valley, 60 minutes from San Diego and 90 minutes from Los Angeles, the De Portola Wine Trail features wineries set in a rural, equestrian area, while the off-the-beaten path Calle Contento Wine Trail offers sweeping views. North of Los Angeles, try the Ventura County Wine Trail with its artisan wineries, outlet shopping, fine dining and five top museums or the Malibu Wine Trail with the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains and Pacific Ocean as a backdrop.

STAY: There are any number of wine country resorts, golf resorts, boutique hotels and bed and breakfast inns in Southern California, from Temecula Valley and San Diego to Los Angeles and Ventura. Stay on site at a winery at Temecula’s South Coast Winery, Ponte Vineyard Inn and Wilson Creek Winery.

PLAY: Southern California offers many ways to play while enjoying wine county. See movie sets and catch a glimpse of a celebrity on the Malibu Wine Tasting & Sightseeing Tour. In Ventura County, take part in guided weekend Sip & Savor Wine Tours, starting from Ventura’s historic downtown. In Temecula Valley, visitors can pedal to their favorite wineries, or take a hot air balloon ride over vineyards. Explore the historic Gaslamp Quarter’s shopping, galleries and dining, paired with a So Diego Tours walking wine tasting tour. Moving inland, wine lovers can enjoy wine country towns in Ramona Valley, including the gold-mining town of Julian and Ramona with its numerous antique shops—about 15 minutes away from the San Diego Zoo. Other favorite towns include Fallbrook and Escondido, both of which have thriving art and dining scenes.

MAKE: Apple pies are a specialty in Julian, and you can learn how to make them at Mom’s Pies. Aspiring amateur chefs can enjoy any number of cooking classes in San Diego, or sample hands-on educational programs at many wineries or wine schools such as Wine Smarties in San Diego. Combine these passions at Curds and Wine, where guests learn to make wine and cheese. Make great art with wine as your muse at Red Brick Art’s Paint & Sip classes at a local Ventura winery. Or take a fun hands-on cooking class at a Temecula winery with take-home material to make cooking at home successful.

GROW: The South Coast AVA is the largest viticultural area in the region, stretching from Malibu to the Mexican border. San Diego County is home to 115 wineries and where California wine began. Franciscan monks planted winegrapes in 1769 and produced wine at California’s first mission, Mission San Diego del Alcala. Today about 60 varieties are farmed by its small, family owned wineries. Temecula Valley is a viticultural area in Riverside County, located between Los Angeles and San Diego, home to more than 40 wineries. The region’s Mediterranean climate is marked by warm days moderated by cool ocean breezes at night—producing a veritable A-Z of grapes. East of Los Angeles, the Cucamonga Valley—known for Old Vine Zinfandels and Port-style wines—was a dominant region during the first half of the last century and some founding families are still making wine here. North of Los Angeles, visit the Malibu Coast Wine Trail and its seven wineries growing limited production wines in this marine climate near the Santa Monica Mountains. Ventura County’s dozen wineries are all located within minutes of each other in a casual coastal setting.

EAT: Temecula Olive Oil Company’s Old Town store offers free tastings of their locally grown and produced olive oils and balsamic vinegars for sale. A new crop of Temecula Valley chefs are using regional ingredients and creating innovative menus at eateries such as Baba Joon’s Kitchen at Fazeli Cellars and PUBlic House. With San Diego County’s proximity to the border, it’s no surprise it has some of the best Mexican cuisine in the state. Los Angeles has one of the most dynamic dining scenes in the country, offering everything from street food to 5-star restaurants; try them all during the Dine L.A. restaurant weeks in January and July. Visitors can also enjoy a Downtown Ventura Tasting Tour, stopping at six shops and restaurants for tastings and conversations with the chefs and shop owners behind some of the county’s best eats.

SHOP: In addition to regional wines and antiques in Ramona, a unique gift one can find there is the camel’s milk soap at Oasis Camel Dairy, the first camel farm in the United States. Camel milk is not sold for consumption, but the farm offers an entertaining, up close experience with these animals. The Temecula Lavender Company offers farm tours in summer, showing how the oil is extracted and offering tastings such as lavender cookies and lavender lemonade. They also sell handmade lavender body and beauty products at their year-round store in Old Town.

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of wine regions, 138 American Viticultural Areas and 4,600 wineries that produce 85 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org.


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Explore the Inland Valleys on a California Wines Road Trip

Wine Institute Offers Tips on How to Sip, Stay and Play in this Wine Region—Rich in Agritourism and Fertile Farmland

Inland Valleys California Wines Road Trip

SAN FRANCISCO—California’s beautiful wine regions offer a wide variety of wines and experiences to enjoy and are a key reason that many travelers choose the Golden State as a vacation destination. To help visitors learn more, Wine Institute’s California Wines Road Trip series highlights different wine country destinations. This month take a trip to California’s Inland Valleys wine region, a bountiful cornucopia that’s ripe for exploration.

Running 450 miles (720 km) from 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 productive agricultural regions. More than 250 crops are grown in this area, including winegrapes, almonds, apricots, tomatoes, cotton, asparagus and rice.

SIP: Numerous wineries call the Inland Valleys home, the majority of which are family-owned, small producers. As in most of California, this often means that winery visitors can find the owner – usually the winemaker – pouring in the tasting room. Browse this list of wineries in the San Joaquin Valley, Madera County, Sacramento Valley and Lodi or use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens, picnic areas, food for purchase, concerts, art and more.

STAY: Wine enthusiasts can find a number of boutique and resort properties throughout the region, from quaint inns to trendy lifestyle hotels. Top picks for Sacramento include: The Westin, where it’s all about the location on the Sacramento River; the historic 1926 Citizen Hotel, located two blocks from the State Capitol; and the Delta King Hotel, an authentic riverboat permanently docked in Old Sacramento. In Madera, sure bets include Chateau du Sureau, Chukchansi Resort and Casino and Queen’s Inn. Another great home base for traveling north of Sacramento is the Chico/Oroville area, featuring a wide variety of lodging options.

PLAY: A great way to experience the Inland Valleys is through wine trails and passport events. The Madera Wine Trail features nine wineries serving their renowned dessert, port-style and late-harvest wines, among others. Many visitors start tasting at the wineries near Yosemite National Park, and work their way down to Madera. Further to the south, the Fresno County Wine Journey is a passport event taking place each spring, fall and Valentine’s weekend, offering tastings at 11 wineries, two breweries and two retail tasting rooms. Don’t miss Fresno State Winery, the first university in the U.S. to have a fully licensed winery. Visitors can taste or buy the wine at Fresno State Gibson Farmers Market where offerings are all produced by Fresno State students. Up in Sacramento, taste at multiple wineries in one stop at the Old Sugar Mill. Or go further north and experience the Sierra Oro Farm Trail in the Chico/Oroville area in Butte County where one can taste at 16 wineries and explore working farms offering olive oil, cheese, farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, and more.

MAKE: As the most productive growing region in the state, the Inland Valleys offer the most abundant agritourism experiences. A standout is Sacramento, known as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital. The region boasts a variety of cooking experiences sourcing abundant local ingredients. One unique option in the region is The Kitchen, where guests can sip local wines and view their dinner being prepared in “acts” by expert chefs who actively engage the audience. Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op lets food lovers can try their hand at making everything from Indian Street food to udon noodles, while Taylor’s Market teaches guests the basics of butchering, using regionally-grown meats, and includes lunch at one of the Sacramento region’s most well-known marketplaces.

GROW: The Inland Valleys stretch far across the state and naturally feature diverse soil types, topography and microclimates. The two valleys, Sacramento and San Joaquin, encompass about 49 percent of the state’s winegrape acreage, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay the biggest red and white varieties. As one of the oldest grapegrowing regions in America, Madera County boasts a rich wine heritage, producing winegrapes since the late 1800s. Just 20 minutes northwest from downtown Sacramento on the Sacramento River, the Clarksburg appellation spans 7,000 acres and grows over 35 varieties, the most popular being Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Sauvignon Blanc.

EAT: It’s no surprise that the region is known for its farm-to-fork lifestyle. Local Roots Food Tours takes serious gourmands on a walking tour of farm-to-fork Sacramento eateries. Visitors can go nuts at the downtown Sacramento visitor center and gift shop for the local Blue Diamond Growers, which has the largest almond processing plant in the world. Another local specialty is Sterling Caviar, which sustainably farms 80 percent of domestic caviar (white sturgeon) and is principal supplier to many top restaurants around the world. Popular foodie festivals include the Grape Escape in June and the Farm-to-Fork Festival in September. Over in Madera County, the top fig producer in the state, figs are celebrated in restaurants, specialty food products and the big Fig Fest event every August. Pomegranates are also a prominent crop and featured in the annual Pomegranate Festival every October or November. Down in Fresno, billed as the Agricultural Capital of the World, visitors won’t go hungry on the Fresno County Fruit Trail, a self-guided tour with food ranging from seasonal fruits and vegetables to nuts and olive oil tasting rooms. Home to the town of Selma, the Raisin Capital of the World, the Selma Raisin Festival takes place each May. Every October the Big Fresno Fair celebrates the region’s bounty with exhibits including agriculture, livestock and floriculture, paired with food, rides, entertainment and horse racing.

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 138 American Viticultural Areas and 4,600 wineries that produce 85 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org.


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California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) Receives Drinks Business 2016 Green Award

Drinks Business Green Awards 2016

SAN FRANCISCO — CSWA is the winner of the 2016 Green Award, the Amorim Sustainability Award for a Generic Organization, given by The Drinks Business, an industry trade publication based in London. The publication judges lauded CSWA for building on nearly 15 years of accomplishments in promoting sustainable winegrowing and winemaking practices throughout California.

Among CSWA’s achievements in 2015 and 2016 are the release of the 2015 California Wine Community Sustainability Report, a dramatic increase in participation in Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, and the launch of the California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards.

The Drinks Business Green Awards are in their seventh year, a testament to how the green agenda has increasingly gained importance in the global wine industry.

CSWA’s Sustainability Report documents broad participation in the Sustainable Winegrowing Program and wide adoption of the practices by California wineries and vineyards representing 170,000 hectares (69% of the state’s winegrape acreage) and over 212 million cases (79% of cases produced in the state). Since the program’s inception in 2002, nearly 14,000 vintners and growers have attended CSWA workshops. CSWA’s third-party audit program, Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, also shows increased participation. To date, certified wineries and vineyards account for 64% of the total cases produced in California and 18% of California’s total winegrape hectares/acreage. Additionally, CSWA, along with other California wine industry partners, also introduced a new annual awards program to showcase some of the leading California vintners and growers committed to sustainability.

“We are so honored to receive international recognition of our program by The Drinks Business,” said Allison Jordan, executive director of CSWA. “With California as the fourth largest wine region in the world, we hope the scale of this accomplishment will help us realize our vision of vibrant businesses, stronger communities and a healthy environment.”

The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in 2003 by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers. CSWA’s mission is to ensure that the California wine community is recognized globally as the leader in sustainable winegrowing in the marketplace and public policy arena through the development and promotion of sustainable practices, tools for education and outreach, partnerships with key stakeholders, and prioritizing research.

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Explore Monterey County on a California Wines Road Trip

Wine Institute Series Offers Tips on How to Sip, Stay and Play in Wine Country

Monterey California Wines Road Trip 2016

 

SAN FRANCISCO—California’s dozens of scenic wine regions offer a wide variety of experiences and wines to enjoy. To help visitors explore them all, Wine Institute’s California Wines Road Trip series highlights a different region each month. For November, take a trip to Monterey County, a region famous for scenic beauty, world-famous golf, and its unique geological feature—the undersea “Blue Grand Canyon™”—which has a profound influence on the region’s climate and wines.

SIP: The Monterey County wine region is home to more than 60 tasting rooms, 85 wineries and 225 vineyards with nearly 46,000 winegrape acres. Browse this list of Monterey County wineries or use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens, art, food for purchase and more. The Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association website is a good resource for wineries, tasting rooms and local events. On Monterey’s Cannery Row, made famous in John Steinbeck’s novel, receive a Monterey wines overview and tasting at the Taste of Monterey Visitor Center. Another great way to explore Monterey wines is at the charming and completely walkable village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, home to several downtown tasting rooms and wine bars and the Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea, a “passport” collection of 15 tasting rooms all within one mile.

STAY: Named one of Wine Enthusiast magazine’s “Top Ten Travel Destinations” in 2013, Monterey County is located just an hour from Silicon Valley and two hours from San Francisco. There is a range of accommodations from boutique inns and hotels to world-famous resorts. Whether choosing a gabled Victorian B&B in Pacific Grove, a seaside view of Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf, an historic hideaway in Carmel-by-the-Sea or a luxurious resort stay in Pebble Beach, there’s an option for every visitor.

PLAY: Leave the car and board the Wine Trolley for a guided trip to the wineries of Carmel Valley, enjoying food and beautiful vistas along the way. The Monterey peninsula is on the migration path of whales, making for spectacular seasonal sightings. Don’t miss the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which Zagat Survey rated as the nation’s top aquarium and the third best attraction in the U.S.

John Steinbeck fans can make a pilgrimage to the National Steinbeck Center in the author’s hometown of Salinas or tour locations featured in his writings. In Steinbeck’s Salinas Valley, hike the craggy rocks of Pinnacles National Park, formed by the ancient volcano Neemash, and go wine tasting at one of the 12 wineries.

A popular attraction in Monterey is a trip to Big Sur for hiking, camping or a drive on the 90-mile coastline of Highway One, stretching between Carmel and Ragged Point. The region’s other scenic route is Pebble Beach’s 17-mile drive, home to the 250-year-old Lone Cypress tree and Pebble Beach’s spectacular oceanside golf courses. Or just explore the tide pools along the rocky beaches of the Pacific Coast.

MAKE: Monterey County is well known for its visual community, especially the “Plein Air” style of painting. Try a workshop offered by Carmel Visual Arts, Pacific Grove Art Center or Monterey Bay Plein Air Painters Association. Or attend a “Paint and Sip” event at one of the tasting rooms along the River Road Wine Trail.

GROW: Franciscan friars first introduced winegrapes to Monterey County near the Soledad Mission more than 200 years ago. While more than 40 winegrape varieties can be found today in Monterey, more Chardonnay is grown here than in any other county in the U.S. The region has nine American Viticultural Areas and is also part of the larger Central Coast AVA.

But what grape to plant where depends largely on where the area lies along the “The Thermal Rainbow™”, which illustrates the climate effect of Monterey Bay’s undersea secret: the “Blue Grand Canyon™.” This enormous submarine canyon is filled with deep, cold water that brings cooler temperatures to the northern district of Monterey wine country closest to the ocean, where Chardonnay and Pinot Noir thrive. The warmer areas are farthest from the ocean in the south of the county, where Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and many Rhone grape varieties flourish. The canyon brings fog and moderate temperatures throughout the growing season, often as much as one month longer than many other winegrowing regions. The extra time on the vine results in smaller berries and vibrant fruit with concentrated flavors and balance.

EAT: Monterey County is a foodie’s paradise, with farm-fresh produce from Salinas Valley and abundant seafood including a local favorite, the Monterey Bay Sand Dab, recommended as a “Best Choice” by sustainability watchdog Seafood Watch. Carmel Valley, Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel-by-the-Sea all offer dining options for every budget and taste preference; explore them here. Serious food and wine lovers should try attending the next Pebble Beach Food & Wine event (April 20-23, 2017) featuring 75 chefs and 250 wineries.

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 138 American Viticultural Areas and 4,600 wineries that produce 85 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org.


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MEDIA CONTACT:
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415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

2016 California Winegrape Harvest: Early, Normal Yield, Exquisite Quality

Harvest Worker. Photo by George Rose
SAN FRANCISCO—The 2016 California winegrape harvest was early, with a mostly normal yield of exceptional quality fruit throughout the state. A relatively even growing season followed welcome winter rains that helped to alleviate the drought. “It’s been a good season so far—the grapes are in great condition, showcasing spectacular flavors,” said Randy Ullom, winemaster at Kendall-Jackson Wines, with vineyards in Sonoma County and statewide. Cathy Corison, owner/winemaker at Corison Winery in Napa Valley is equally pleased: “2016 was early, small and delicious. The entire ripening season enjoyed cooler than average daytime highs and cold nights—perfect for inky, complex wines. Measured in pace, it was also easy on the winemakers.”

The overall state winegrape crop was estimated to be near the historical average of 3.9 million tons by the California Department of Food and Agriculture in August 2016.

“Anticipated El Niño rainfall was less than hoped for (eight inches) in Paso Robles, but still greater than the prior four vintages of drought, and appears to have had a positive effect on yields and quality in our Bordeaux and Rhone varietals in 2016,” said Jeff Meier, director of winemaking/president, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines. “Yield projections for 2016 were slightly below long-term averages, but most varieties are coming in at or above estimates—a welcome outcome for Paso Robles growers. Overall, the vintage of 2016 is delivering high quality, high color density Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from the cooler microclimates and fruit-intensive Rhone varietals.”

In Lodi, Michael David Winery hit the halfway mark at the end of September. “The harvest pace was steady and extremely level with little peaks of chaos. Small heat spikes followed by fairly moderate weather have pushed sugars up in vineyards where needed and then allowed time for growers and wineries to get fruit off in a timely manner without major fruit breakdown or raisining. Fruit looks exceptional so far—probably the cleanest Zinfandel crop I have seen in some time. The wines are coming out beautifully, and it’s another fantastic harvest in Lodi,” said Adam Mettler, director of winemaking.

“Here in Santa Barbara, we have seen another early harvest, and much of the Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc was harvested in the last two weeks of August,” said Frank Ostini, owner/winemaker of Hitching Post Wines. “We had a very warm spring and early summer, but July and August brought cool nights and gentle warmth that allowed the medium-sized crop to mature perfectly—small berries in pristine condition. We are excited to be making some of our best-ever balanced wines with fine color and intensity.”

“The 2016 harvest in Sonoma County looks a lot like the 2015 harvest,” said Ryan Decker, winegrower at Rodney Strong Vineyards. “We started early, we will finish early, and the winemakers are very excited with what they are seeing in the fermenters. One of the main differences—a welcome one—was the seven to 10-day break we had between the Pinot/Chardonnay harvest and the Merlot/Cabernet harvest. This year we had some unseasonably cool temperatures in mid-September that put the brakes on harvest, albeit temporarily, allowing us to free up some tank space. The yields are down just a bit from the long-term average, but wine quality looks to be stellar.”

“Another high quality California vintage is great news for wine consumers here and abroad who continue to drive sales of Golden State wines to record levels,” said Wine Institute President and CEO Robert P. (Bobby) Koch. “With California wine’s economic contribution of $57.6 billion annually to the state economy and $114 billion annually to the U.S. economy, it’s also excellent news for our state and nation which benefit from jobs, tax revenues, hospitality, tourism and community enhancement.”

Leaf & Grapes. Photo by George Rose
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California Quotes & Notes on Harvest 2016

LAKE COUNTY
Tracey Hawkins, co-founder, Hawk and Horse Vineyards

Lake County winegrape growers are proclaiming 2016 an exquisite year for quality. From bud break, through bloom and veraison, the county saw textbook weather patterns. Warm spring days, shifting to a hot, bright summer with cooling coastal breezes in the evenings, is typical of this mountainous region. Harvest was slightly early—not as early as last year’s vintage—but about two weeks earlier than normal. Countywide, growers are reporting even maturity and ripening. Yields for whites are slightly above average. Yields for red varietals have been more variable, with some yields above average and some slightly below average.

LIVERMORE
Mark Clarin, winemaker, McGrail Vineyards and Winery

The winter rains were a blessing after several years of drought. The vines woke up on time and had excellent growth. Our yields in the Livermore Valley have bounced back from the lighter 2015 vintage. The flavors are great, fruit is ripening perfectly, and the color is excellent across the board. I anticipate a spectacular vintage in quality and quantity.

LODI
Joseph Smith, winemaker, Klinker Brick Winery

Klinker Brick Winery started harvesting eight days later than last year. The quality for the whites is excellent, with uniform, flavorful grape clusters and all analysis in balance. As for the reds, yields—especially Zinfandel—seem to be a little heavy, but the quality is showing well; fermentations are all healthy, and colors across the board are great. Cabernet Sauvignon seems to be average with small concentrated berries and nice loose clusters. This harvest was more of a steady but manageable pace compared to last year. We had an amazing growing season in Lodi with just enough heat during the day and cool nights to keep the grapes hanging until peak ripeness. I am really eager to see the development of this vintage, which I believe is going to be great!

MADERA
Ray Krause, vinificator, Westbrook Wine Farm

Madera County, and the Madera Appellation-grown fruit, enjoy a variation of altitudes from 200 to 1500 feet. After five years of accumulated drought effects, the 12 inches of valley and 34 inches of foothill area rainfall were welcomed by plants and people alike. Yields from foothill vineyards were lower than average as were sugar levels at physiological maturity. There was some early season mildew pressure, minimal bird damage, “hen and chicks” in some varieties, such as Cabernet Franc, but little raisining or sunburn. Good color, pH and solids to juice should contribute to this vintage’s balance and structural stability. A harvest spread from early August (whites) through late September (reds) has given vintners adequate windows for proper processing.

MENDOCINO
John Killebrew, winemaker, Z. Alexander Brown Wines

Sufficient rainfall last winter has allowed the vines in the North Coast to develop strong roots and produce full canopies. This has really helped the vineyards in Mendocino, Red Hills and Alexander Valley thrive through the late season heat that pushed our Cabernet, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Syrah to ripeness after a long, cool summer of even and steady fruit maturation. We are pleased with the excellent flavor development, acid, and tannin balance that we will reap from this excellent vintage!

George Phelan, director of winemaking/winery manager, Dunnewood Vineyards & Winery
Oct. 2 marked the first storm of the 2016 harvest and followed a near-perfect growing season, coming after the majority of the fruit in Mendocino County had been picked. The 2016 growing season started with winter and spring rains that were near normal, compared to the drought conditions of 2012-2015. The warm and dry summer contributed to an early harvest. The resulting wines are flavorful, and the red wines deeply colored.

MONTEREY
Sabrine Rodems, winemaker, Wrath Vineyards

In the Monterey area, we had an earlier-than-normal start of harvest because of early bud break. Due to little rainfall and warm spring temperatures, bud break was as early as mid-February in some areas. The Pinot Noir shows great color, sugar acid balance and flavor. We can taste the concentration of flavors and are thrilled with the quality of these young wines.

NAPA VALLEY
Marcus Notaro, winemaker, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Although bud break in Napa Valley was early this year, it’s been a cooler season. We didn’t get the normal high heat in July and August, which provided for a longer hang time for the grapes. Overall, quality is high and particularly at our FAY and S.L.V. estate vineyards, where we are harvesting Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes ripened uniformly and, while yields are a bit lower than normal, the flavors are great. The harvest has been smooth and progressed from varietal to varietal. For the whites, the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are crisp and allow you to taste the coolness of the season. It’s been interesting that the grapes—from the cooler Coombsville area up to the warmer parts of St. Helena—are ripening at the same time.

SAN LUIS OBISPO/PASO ROBLES
Jason Diefenderfer, director of winemaking, Treana Winery

The 2016 vintage started off with respectable weather through bloom and set. Our first bit of 100-degree weather came during the sizing phase which effected berry growth on many of our varietals. In September, the ripening was lengthened with the hot and cool temperature swings. These fluctuations caused some varietals to ripen earlier, while Cabernet reached maturity within the last week of September.

SANTA BARBARA
Wes Hagen, brand ambassador, raconteur, J. Wilkes Wines, Turn Key Wine Brands

As of Sept. 30, Santa Barbara County was more than half picked-out, yields are slightly lower than average and quality seems strong to excellent. Pinot noir is nearly all harvested, and yields have been mostly around two tons per acre. The extended hang time has produced the darkest color I’ve seen in Pinot Noir since 2010. The young wines show intense ruby color, good extract and dense blueberry and blackberry fruit with excellent grip, acidity and a “sauvage” character. I expect the 2016 vintage of Chardonnay will show excellent consistency, cut, balance and flavor. The Santa Barbara County vintage can be described as long and cool with a heat spike in September that helped define the harvest window and the quality. The color, quality and depth of the 2016 vintage were strongly impacted by the cool July and August that the county enjoyed.

SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS
Bill Cooper, winemaker and sales, Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards

In the midst of nearly normal winter rains, much of the Santa Cruz Mountains experienced a warm January that advanced bud break. A cool summer then delayed harvest to give vines a long hang time and ideal phenological ripeness, at sugar and acidity levels that are expected to produce balanced and age-worthy wines. Ben Cooper, assistant winemaker at Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards in Saratoga, added that “yields are almost back to normal after the drought. We brought in seven varieties, nicely spaced through the harvest, all with long hang times and excellent fruit development.”

Valeta Massey, owner & assistant winemaker, Clos de la Tech
Our Pinot harvest will be about 25 percent of normal due to rain during flowering, but the quality is excellent.

Jim Schultze, proprietor/winemaker, Windy Oaks Winery and Vineyards
Overall, quality is excellent, with fully developed clusters and even ripening.

SIERRA FOOTHILLS
Chaim Gur-Arieh, Ph.D., winemaker/proprietor, C.G. Di Arie Vineyard and Winery

The 2016 harvest lasted three weeks—from Sept. 7-28—and had the highest yield in six years, 34 percent higher than 2015. In general, harvest was very short and intense with exceptional quality. In my experience, the quality in the last six years has not varied very much, with the exception of 2011 which was cooler and took a longer time for the fruit to ripen. Judging from what I see now, 2016 will be known as an outstanding vintage year.

SONOMA COUNTY
Paul Ahvenainen, director of winemaking, F. Korbel & Bros.

The 2016 sparkling wine harvest for Korbel started early and went by quickly. Statewide, we started on July 29 and ended just 43 days later. In the lower Russian River Valley, the harvest was even more compact, with Pinot Noir starting on Aug. 9, and Chardonnay finishing 24 days later. Overall quality and balance seem to be quite good.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA/TEMECULA
Les Linkogle, owner/winemaker, Briar Rose Winery

This year’s harvest in Temecula Valley was unusual, because a heat wave brought extreme temperatures in the triple digits just weeks before harvest. The heat brought intense flavor to the fruit and in some cases a slightly early harvest. Due to the unexpected prolonged heat and good defoliating, many wineries experienced sunburned grapes. Every vineyard was affected to some extent, resulting in a loss of yield that ranged from 30 to 50 percent. However, the fruit that survived the heat was harvested and is exceptional in quality. Wines from this appellation and vintage year will be stellar.


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Explore Paso Robles & San Luis Obispo on a California Wines Road Trip

Wine Institute Series Offers Tips on How to Sip, Stay and Play in Wine Country

SLO&Paso California Wines Road Trip 2016

 

SAN FRANCISCO—California’s beautiful wine regions offer a wide variety of wines and experiences to enjoy and are a key reason that many travelers choose the Golden State as a vacation destination. To help visitors learn more, Wine Institute’s California Wines Road Trip series highlights different wine country destinations. This month take a trip to San Luis Obispo County, home to the renowned Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo wine regions, which continue to garner accolades, particularly for blends of Rhône, Bordeaux, and heritage Zinfandels, as well as Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and aromatic whites.

Located on California’s iconic Central Coast and home to the world-famous Hearst Castle, San Luis Obispo County contains 13 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs)—11 in Paso Robles to the north and two in San Luis Obispo to the south. These regions are part of the Central Coast AVA, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

SIP: Well over 230 wineries call San Luis Obispo County home, like most California wineries, a majority are family-owned, small producers. This means that the owner is often the winemaker, and can be found in the tasting room pouring for visitors. Browse this list of Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo wineries or use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens, picnic areas, food for purchase, concerts, art and more. A wonderful way to explore these regions is through their wine trails. Paso Robles boasts nine wine trails while San Luis Obispo offers six to explore. Visitors looking for ocean views can check out the wine trails of Pacific Coast, Avila Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley, while urbanites can savor wineries along downtown Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo. Many wine festivals take place throughout the year, including Harvest Wine Weekend (Oct. 14-16) and the Harvest on the Coast Festival (Nov. 4-6).

STAY: Wine enthusiasts can sleep among the vines at several Paso Robles wineries, offering an unusually immersive experience. The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance recommends various accommodations. The historic Paso Robles Inn offers winery-themed spa rooms. For those looking to stay in Edna Valley or Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo Wine Country Association recommends these hotels.

PLAY: Visitors can enjoy a variety of wine and beach towns, such as Paso Robles—named the 2016 Best Wine Country Town by Sunset magazine and featuring a variety of wine and olive oil tasting rooms, sophisticated eateries and fun boutiques. Heading west out of town is the enjoyable Highway 46 West wine trail, which runs to the coast and lies just south of the world-famous Hearst Castle, where the Kitchen & Cottages Tour includes an insider’s peek at William Randolph Hearst’s expansive wine cellar. Further south on the coast is Avila Beach and its wine tasting rooms and Pismo Beach, both known for their beautiful beaches, surfing and seafood restaurants. Pismo Beach also has a celebrated farmer’s market, one of many in the county. Just 10 minutes inland from Pismo is the college town of San Luis Obispo, home to the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, Bubblegum Alley and hip cafes.

MAKE: Agritourism is a big part of San Luis Obispo County’s appeal. FARMstead ED promotes locally grown and made products through pop-up events, getting people out to the farms, ranches and production facilities where food is produced. Guests can take part in hands-on classes in a variety of locations, as well as tours and demonstrations. Pop-up stores sell the goods necessary for guests to do-it-themselves at home. Learn how to make infused oils, vinegar, beverages and salts at the Holiday Infusions workshop Nov. 20. Chef Brigit Binns, author of 28 best-selling cookbooks, teaches guests cooking and entertaining skills with local products along with wine tasting at her Refugio Kitchen classes.

GROW: The region’s diverse soil types (30 in Paso Robles alone), varying topography and microclimates produce nearly 50 winegrape varieties. With clear sunny days and cool ocean breezes filtering through the coastal range, Paso Robles has one of the widest day-night temperature swings of any region in California. While many varieties are grown in Paso, the conditions are particularly ideal for growing bold red grapes including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and heritage Zinfandel. The San Luis Obispo wine region occupies the cooler south county—the seafront side of the coastal mountain range—with vineyards on average just five miles from the Pacific Ocean. The focus here is on cool-climate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and aromatic whites.

EAT: No visit to San Luis Obispo County would be complete without enjoying the Central Coast’s signature food—Santa Maria Style Barbecue—where tri-tip is seasoned with a dry rub and cooked over red oak for a uniquely delicious experience. With so many miles of coastline, seafood abounds, which is celebrated at the Annual Pismo Beach Clam Festival each October, scheduled this year for Oct. 21-23. Another regional delicacy is olives, enjoyed in olive oil tasting rooms and the Annual Paso Robles Olive Festival held each June.

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 138 American Viticultural Areas and 4,600 wineries that produce 85 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org.


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MEDIA CONTACTS:
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415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

Explore Santa Barbara on a California Wines Road Trip

Wine Institute Series Offers Tips on How to Sip, Stay and
Play in Wine Country

Santa Barbara County California Wines Road Trip 2016

 

SAN FRANCISCO—California’s beautiful wine regions offer a wide variety of wines and experiences to enjoy and are a key reason  that many travelers choose the Golden State as a vacation destination. To help visitors learn more, Wine Institute’s California Wines Road Trip series highlights different regions. This month, take a trip to Santa Barbara County, a
region with a 200-plus year history that was put in the spotlight by the indie hit film, Sideways, and travel magazines worldwide. Santa Barbara’s “mountains meet the sea” picture-postcard geography produces diverse microclimates, making it possible for winegrowers to grow dozens of winegrape varieties – especially Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Santa Barbara County contains six American Viticultural Areas (AVA) and is part of the larger Central Coast AVA. Located about 90 miles north of Los Angeles, this wine region hugs the Pacific coastline and visitors can enjoy sun, scenery, excellent restaurants, boutique shops, art galleries and outdoor activities as they explore the region’s wineries.

SIP: Nearly 200 wineries call Santa Barbara County home. Browse this list of Santa Barbara County wineries or use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens, picnic areas, food for purchase, concerts, art and more. The Santa Barbara County Vintners Association also features an in-depth wine country touring guide and two-for-one tasting passes for purchase online, as well as free tasting route maps to nine wine trails. These include downtown Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone urban wine trail, a dining, nightlife and arts scene where entertainment in the waterfront district is within walking distance of more than two dozen tasting rooms. Movie buffs can follow in Miles’ and Jack’s footsteps along the Sideways Wine Trail. Other wonderful wine routes include the Santa Ynez Wine Trail and Foxen Canyon Wine Trail—with beautiful estate wineries—and the town of Los Olivos, boasting 20-plus tasting rooms as well as charming shops and artisanal eats.

STAY: Those looking to stay in the Santa Barbara County wine region can choose from charming inns in the historic Danish town of Solvang or upscale boutique hotels in downtown Santa Barbara to luxurious beach resorts. Notable wine-centric hotels include Bacara Resort and Spa, The Landsby and Santa Ynez Valley Marriott.

PLAY: One “must see” is Old Mission Santa Barbara, a picturesque mission where wine was originally made by Franciscan monks two centuries ago. The site, considered one of California’s grandest missions, is the 10th of 21 built along the state’s “mission trail” and features a museum, docent-led tours and 12 acres of gardens. Stearns Wharf offers seaside restaurants, a fishing shop, old-fashioned candy store, wine tasting and shops, close to the beach where visitors can surf, play volleyball, rent bicycles, paddleboard and more. Or visit the historic Danish village of Solvang, known for its authentic architecture and bakeries, the latter of which you can explore on the Sweet Treats Trail. Sip and stroll along the Solvang Wine Walk to get a full taste of the town.

MAKE: A fun experience is Santa Barbara’s Market Forays, where every Saturday attendees shop for seasonal local ingredients with a chef and learn how to use them to easily create delicious meals paired with local wines. Creative wine consumers can sip and paint at The Painted Cabernet, an urban studio on State Street where an artist gives one-on-one instruction while guests enjoy local wines. Learn to make great food and wine photos while consuming the subject matter with the Eat This, Shoot That! Tour.

GROW: Santa Barbara County’s geography and climate is unique because of its transverse mountain range that runs east to west rather than north to south. Many of the vineyards sit open-mouthed to the Pacific Ocean. This maritime climate sweeps into the western part of the county with a daily influx of fog and cold ocean wind, while inland brings more sun and warmer temperatures. These diverse microclimates produce more than 50 winegrape varieties, from Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the west to Bordeaux and Rhone grapes in the warmer east.

EAT: Santa Barbara serves up a good portion of farmer’s markets, celebrity chef restaurants, and wine and food events. In October, visitors can partake in the Celebration of Harvest, where nearly 150 wineries pour at the Santa Inés Mission in Solvang and food purveyors and winemaker dinners abound. See the best throughout October in local cuisine, libations and culture. Other standouts include the Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend in April and the California Lemon Festival in September.

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 138 American Viticultural Areas and 4,600 wineries that produce 85 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org.


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MEDIA CONTACTS:
Wine Institute Communications Dept.
415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

Cheers to California Wine Month this September

Raise a Glass to Harvest at More than 50 Winery Events Around the State

California Wine Month 2016 Poster

SAN FRANCISCO—September is the time when California’s winegrape harvest is in full swing. Visitors can experience the excitement of harvest during California Wine Month in September with more than 50 winery events and immersion experiences—from wine festivals and winemaking classes to winemaker dinners, VIP tastings and tours happening around the state.

This September marks the 12th annual California Wine Month, created by Wine Institute to honor America’s top wine-producing state. “The celebration recognizes the contributions of vintners and growers to our state economy, culture and lifestyle,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, president and CEO of Wine Institute. “With an economic contribution of $57.6 billion annually to the state economy and $114.1 billion annually to the U.S. economy, California wine is an important economic engine for our state and our nation. Our scenic wine regions draw visitors worldwide to enjoy California’s great wine, cuisine and attractions.”

Here’s a complete listing by region of all the events. Visit discovercaliforniawines.com to view events by date and order a map of California wine regions and their 138 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). For great California wine and food road trip ideas click here. Event highlights include:

North Coast

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, Sept. 2-4 over Labor Day weekend has been named one of the “10 Best Wine & Food Events in the U.S.” As Sonoma County’s largest charity event, it brings together over 200 of Sonoma’s top winemakers and growers, along with a collection of the area’s best chefs. For three delicious, decadent days, guests can enjoy the Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch, as well as a wine auction, seminars, cooking demonstrations, vineyard tours and multiple winery parties.

Up in redwood country, Mendocino’s Annual Winesong Charity Auction & Tasting begins with a Pinot Noir Celebration on Sept. 9 with 25 wineries paired with culinary offerings, overlooking the ocean at Little River Inn. On Sept. 10, guests can stroll through the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens at the Winesong Food & Wine Tasting, enjoying regional vintages, 50 food purveyors and music groups.

The Lake County Wine Auction is Sept.17 at Cache Creek Vineyards in Clearlake Oaks. Enjoy a gourmet dinner and dancing under the stars while mingling with the county’s star winemakers.

Finish out the month at the 2016 Sonoma Valley Crush Sept. 16-18, where wine lovers can get their grape on. For three days, wineries will be offering a variety of harvest activities including grape sampling in the vineyards, crush pad tours, samples of just-pressed juice and grapes picked fresh off the vine. Guests can sip wine while it’s fermenting and chat with artisan winemakers about harvest.

Napa Valley boasts many fantastic events and immersion experiences, from barn bashes and winemaker tours to harvest balls. On Sept. 10, the Calistoga Wine Experience combines all the best features of Calistoga: delicious wines, culinary offerings and a spectacular harvest setting. Guests will taste wines from more than 35 Calistoga wineries, meet the owners and winemakers, enjoy appetizers and live jazz music.

Inland Valleys

Head to the beautiful Madera County foothills Sept. 16 for the Madera Wine Trail’s California Wine Month Celebration. This delectable event will offer wine tasting from local wineries, food by a variety of local restaurants and live music. The Madera Vintners Association will also honor and award partners and associates that have influenced the local wine industry, the MVA and its winery members.

Sept. 15-18, check out the lively Lodi Grape Festival for music, food, wine and even a circus! Sept. 16 join the festival’s Wine Cellar tasting experience where nine local wineries will be showcasing a variety of wines from floral Pinot Grigios to the region’s renowned peppery Zinfandels.

San Francisco Bay Area & Santa Cruz Mountains

Labor Day weekend is Livermore Valley’s 35th Annual Harvest Wine Celebration on Sept. 4-5 where you can visit more than 40 Livermore Valley wineries sharing their finest wines and take in local music, art and food.

In the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Capitola Art and Wine Festival brings together 23 wineries, local restaurants, more than 160 artists, crafts and music for a fun weekend Sept. 10-11 near the beach in Capitola. Gourmet Grazing on the Green in Aptos Village Park on Sept. 24 offers another day to taste fine wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains, along with food and live music. Buy tickets early for the Los Gatos Fall Wine Walk in the downtown area Sept. 10. Enjoy tastings from over 40 local wineries and food samples at local shops.

South Central Coast

Taste of the Town Santa Barbara is on Sept. 11, with tastings from 80 of the finest local restaurants and Central Coast wineries at Riviera Park Gardens. Solvang’s Third Wednesday Wine and Beer Walk on Sept. 21 includes a ticket to sample two wines at five participating wine tasting rooms from 3-7 pm. Receive a logo glass, tasting vouchers and map to navigate the fun.

Highway 46 West Harvest Block Party, the annual wine tasting event with the member wineries of 46 West, will be held Sept. 3 in Templeton near Paso Robles. Enjoy a casual ‘mini-wine festival’ atmosphere, along with great grub and rockin’ live music. Early ticket purchase is recommended as the event will sell out.

Sierra Foothills

In South Lake Tahoe, Sample the Sierra on Sept. 17 is the area’s only farm-to-fork festival, giving guests the chance to taste the creations of Sierra Nevada talent—from food, wine and spirits to fresh produce and art. Each dish is prepared with local ingredients and paired with just the right wine to create a unique local experience. Don’t miss the event’s Sierra Chefs Challenge, which features local chefs competing for the coveted Sierra Chef title!

The 31st Annual Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival on Sept. 9-11 offers wine and food pairings, celebrity chefs, wine seminars, cooking demos, Farm-to-Tahoe Dinner, the Blazing Pans Mountain Chef Cook-Off, kids’ cook-off, a “winemaker for a day” immersion class, “Take a Hike” progressive picnic, gourmet marketplace, culinary competition and grand tasting, winemaker dinners and live entertainment.

Southern California

At The Los Angeles Times’ The Taste, wine and food are the stars Sept. 2-4. Celebrate Southern California’s vibrant culinary scene at Paramount’s iconic backlot, presenting five events with leading chefs and restaurants in L.A. and tastings. Guests can learn more about wine and food during special seminars and live demos.

Celebrate California Wine Month Temecula style at CRUSH – A Wine & Culinary Showcase on Sept. 19. This harvest festival features 100-plus wines from more than 30 Temecula Valley wineries, paired with food from local restaurants and farms and live music. Wine lovers can purchase a SIP, Temecula Style passport, which offers savings at up to five of the 19 participating wineries any weekday during the month of September.

California Wine Month Partners

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

National: Safeway, California Pizza Kitchen, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Ocean Prime, Tavistock Restaurants

California: Albertsons, California Restaurant Association, Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar, Farmhouse Inn, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, Flatiron Wines & Spirits, Giordano Bros., Hyatt Regency Monterey Bay, Inn on Randolph, Pavilions, San Francisco Wine School, Visit California, Vallarta Supermarkets, Von’s

Georgia: Savannah Wine Cellar

Montana: Mackenzie River Pizza Co., Montana Retail Association, Montana Restaurant Association

International: Beckford Bottle Shop, Borough Wines London, Grape & Grind, Lea & Sandeman, Lewis & Cooper, Loki Wine Merchant & Tasting House, South Downs Cellars, Stannary St. Wine Co., WoodWinters Wines and Whiskies

Visit www.discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines and winery amenities to plan a trip to California wine country. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the association of nearly 1,000 California wineries and wine-related businesses with the mission to initiate and advocate state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. See: www.wineinstitute.org.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Wine Institute
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

California Wine Shows Strength in Challenging Economy: 2015 Annual Economic Impact Grows to $57.6 Billion in California, $114.1 Billion in U.S.

San Francisco—The California wine and winegrape sector and allied businesses deliver a total economic contribution of $57.6 billion annually to the state’s economy and $114.1 billion annually to the U.S. economy according to a new report commissioned by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers. California wineries and vineyards also directly and indirectly generate 325,000 jobs in California and 786,000 jobs across the nation. The report, “The Economic Impact of California Wine and Grapes 2015” prepared by John Dunham & Associates of New York, was presented today at a Joint Informational Hearing of the California Assembly Committee on Agriculture and Assembly Select Committee on Wine held at UC Davis.

The report shows growth of 17% in statewide impact (from $49.2 to $57.6 billion) and 19% in national impact (from $96.0 to $114.1 billion) in the past seven years. This strong growth during a period that started with the Great Recession and continued with slow recovery shows the strength and resiliency of the nation’s number one wine-producing state as a positive economic force across the nation. John Dunham & Associates used new methodology for the 2015 report and has also adjusted the 2008 economic impact numbers so that the comparison in growth would be comparable.

“California wine is an economic engine for our nation. Our predominantly small, family-owned businesses create jobs, pay significant taxes, and give back generously to charities and communities,” said Wine Institute President and CEO Robert P. (Bobby) Koch. “These are significant accomplishments when the strong dollar and pressure from imports make the U.S. the most competitive wine market in the world, and we continue to face the threat of increased taxes and regulation at every level of government.”

“Vineyards and wineries are iconic images of the California landscape, but today’s report reminds us that wine and winegrapes are also integral to a vibrant state economy,” said California Association of Winegrape Growers President John Aguirre. “The scenic views and tasting rooms found in wine country attracted nearly 24 million tourist visits in 2015, and the commitment of California growers and vintners to sustainable practices forms a foundation that supports 325,000 jobs while also promoting important social and environmental benefits.”

The report measures the full economic impact of the wine and grape industries in terms of employment, wages, taxes, tourism spending and visits, and charitable giving. It uses a standard and widely used methodology which includes direct, indirect and induced economic impact in order to present the full picture. The IMPLAN model, developed by the U.S. Forest Service and University of Minnesota, is used by many companies around the world as well as government agencies such as the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Economic Research Service and Federal Reserve Bank. For a copy of the methodology, click here.

HIGHLIGHTS

Impact of California wine and winegrapes on the U.S. economy in 2015:

  • Employment – 786,000 full-time equivalent jobs: 325,000 jobs in California, 461,000 jobs in other states
  • Annual Economic Activity – $114.1 billion
  • Wages – $34.9 billion annually
  • Taxes – $15.2 billion total: $8.9 billion in federal taxes, $6.3 billion in state and local taxes
  • Charitable Contributions – $249 million annually

Impact of California wine and winegrapes on the California economy in 2015:

  • Employment – 325,000 full-time equivalent jobs
  • Annual Economic Activity – $57.6 billion
  • Wages – $17.2 billion annually
  • Taxes – $7.6 billion total: $4.5 billion in federal taxes, $3.1 billion in California and local taxes
  • Tourism Visits – 23.6 million wine-related tourist visits annually to wineries
  • Tourism Spending – $7.2 billion in estimated wine visitor-related expenditures annually
  • Charitable Contributions – $101 million annually

Click here to download Statistical Highlights of California Wine 2015.

About The California Association of Winegrape Growers
CAWG provides industry leadership to advocate for public policies, research and education programs, and sustainable farming practices to enhance the business of growing California winegrapes. The organization represents the growers of more than 50 percent of the gross grape tonnage crushed for wine and concentrate in California. For more information, visit www.cawg.org.

About Wine Institute
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 ability to responsibly produce, promote and enjoy wine. The organization works to improve the economic and environmental health of its communities and the state through sustainable winegrowing and winemaking practices and partnerships with Visit California and California Grown to showcase California’s wine and food offerings. Wine Institute membership represents 85 percent of U.S. wine production and 90 percent of U.S. wine exports. Visit: www.wineinstitute.org.

2015 California Wine Sales in U.S. Hit $31.9 Billion Retail Value, 12% increase since 2010

SAN FRANCISCO — California wine shipments to the U.S. reached an estimated retail value of $31.9 billion in 2015, a 12% increase since 2010. The state shipped an all-time high of 229 million cases to the U.S. in 2015, growing 14% since 2010.

California wine sales to all markets, both domestic and international, were 276 million cases in 2015, a record high.

“California wines continue to garner global recognition for their outstanding quality and value,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, Wine Institute President and CEO. “Consumers are comfortable with wine, and well informed about it, which is translating to growing interest in California’s regions, American Viticultural Areas, sustainable winegrowing practices and how wine complements their lifestyles.”

“The premium wine segment $10 and above is continuing its long-term growth trend,” said Jon Moramarco, founder and managing partner of BW166, who recently purchased The Gomberg-Fredrikson Report along with along with Wine Communications Group. The Gomberg-Fredrikson Report has been the authoritative resource for statistics used by Wine Institute for many decades. “The premium segment accounts for about a quarter of the shipments but half of the revenues. These sales offset the shrinking volume of value-priced wines $9 and under.”

Stats at a Glance

  • Estimated retail value of 2015 California wine sales in the U.S. was $31.9 billion
  • Total California wine sales to U.S. and to exports was a record 276 million cases
  • The U.S. has been the world’s largest wine market since 2010

Wine Institute has reported on the value of consumer expenditures on wine for two decades using volume data, scan pricing and other spending estimates. BW166 has reset the baseline for these figures using revised methodology and new sources of information from the U.S. Census Dept. and U.S. Commerce Dept. Consumer spending now reflects a compound annual growth rate of 6.1% versus the 5.5% rate used previously.

Moramarco pointed out several developments in the U.S. marketplace last year. The lower 2015 winegrape crop has helped drive the premium wine emphasis. The U.S. consumer base is changing—millennials are reaching legal drinking age and now make up about a third of consumers over 21 years of age, with wineries tailoring their wines and marketing to appeal to this younger group seeking new and more upscale offerings. Competition was fierce with a strong dollar paving the way for foreign wines crowding U.S. distribution channels which continue to consolidate. More than 160,000 wine labels are approved annually by TTB for sale in the U.S. Smaller wineries seeking distribution looked to direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipping, which will be legal in 44 states (when Pennsylvania’s DTC law comes into effect Aug. 7) and the District of Columbia.

Because of the move to higher value wines, dollar sales grew significantly faster than case sales in 2015, according to Nielsen, a global provider of information and insights into consumer preferences and purchases. In U.S. food stores, total wine volume sales grew 2% while total revenues increased 6%.

“The number of U.S. supermarkets selling wine is increasing, hitting about 30,000 last year, an increase of over 1,700 stores compared to 2011,” said Danny Brager, Senior Vice President of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice Area. “No longer confined to specialty shops and liquor marts, many grocery stores are offering a cornucopia of wines to be part of a growing category. Both consumers and retailers are reaping the benefits.”

According to Nielsen, in measured U.S. food stores, the most popular table wine types by volume were Chardonnay (21% share), Cabernet Sauvignon (14%), Red Blends/Sweet Reds (10%), Pinot Grigio/Gris (9%), Merlot (8%), followed by Pinot Noir (5.5%), Moscato (5%), Sauvignon Blanc (5%) and White Zinfandel (4%). Sauvignon Blanc accounted for the strongest volume gains followed by Red Blends, and then Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio/Gris and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The U.S. Wine Market
Wine shipments to the U.S. from all production sources—California, other states and foreign producers—grew to 384 million cases, up 2% from 2014, with an estimated retail value of $55.8 billion. The U.S. has been the largest wine consuming nation in the world since 2010. California’s 229 million cases shipped within the U.S. in 2015 represent a 60% share of the U.S. wine market.

Sparkling Wine and Champagne
Shipments of sparkling wine and champagne to the U.S. reached 21.7 million cases in 2015, up 9% over the previous year. The category appears to be growing at a healthy rate since the U.S. started emerging from the 2008 recession. The popularity of Prosecco may also have affected sparkling wines, which are now trendy beverages that include single serve bottles and cans.

U.S. Wine Exports

U.S. wine exports, 90 percent from California, reached a record $1.61 billion in winery revenues in 2015. Volume shipments were 461 million liters or 51.2 million cases. The European Union was the top destination for U.S. wine exports, accounting for $622 million; followed by Canada, $461 million; Hong Kong, $97 million; Japan, $96 million; China, $56 million; Nigeria, $29 million; Mexico, $26 million; South Korea, $23 million.

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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. Market Estimated Retail Value of CA Wine to U.S.3
2015 273.3 229.0 $31.9 billion
2014 271.1 226.5 $30.3 billion
2013 259.1 215.4 $29.1 billion
2012 249.5 207.2 $29.0 billion
2011 260.0 215.3 $28.5 billion
2010 243.2 201.2 $28.5 billion
2009 246.3 205.9 $27.6 billion
2008 245.2 201.6 $26.1 billion
2007 236.4 195.3 $24.8 billion
2006 228.7 190.0 $24.4 billion
2005 224.0 185.5 $23.0 billion
2004 219.0 179.7 $22.2 billion
2003 206.8 174.7 $20.8 billion
2002 194.4 167.8 $21.5 billion
2001 188.9 162.8 $20.0 billion
2000 187.5 164.9 $17.2 billion
1999 186.4 167.0 $14.3 billion
1998 181.9 161.9 $12.6 billion

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

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

Year Table Wine1 Dessert Wine2 Sparkling Wine/ Champagne Total Wine Total Retail Value3
2015 327.7 34.5 21.7 383.9 $55.8 billion
2014 324.0 32.7 19.7 376.4 $53.1 billion
2013 323.5 30.9 18.4 372.8 $51.3 billion
2012 319.4 29.9 17.6 366.9 $50.8 billion
2011 306.2 31.5 17.2 354.9 $48.6 billion
2010 292.1 28.8 15.4 336.3 $46.5 billion
2009 295.3 26.6 13.9 335.8 $45.2 billion
2008 279.7 27.4 13.5 320.6 $45.0 billion
2007 276.9 26.3 13.9 317.1 $43.5 billion
2006 266.0 27.4 13.6 304.3 $41.5 billion
2005 255.4 22.5 13.1 290.9 $38.5 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 222.5 15.9 11.5 250.0 $33.0 billion
2001 215.4 14.3 11.4 241.4 $29.7 billion
2000 213.2 13.9 11.8 238.9 $26.3 billion
1999 199.8 13.0 15.6 228.4 $22.9 billion
1998 196.0 13.0 12.2 221.2 $20.1 billion

Sources: Wine Institute, Department of Commerce, Estimates by BW166/Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates. Preliminary. History revised. Excludes exports. Excludes cider as of 2011 going forward.
1Includes all still wines not over 14 percent alcohol.

2Includes all still wines over 14 percent alcohol and sake.

3Estimated retail value includes markups by wholesalers, retailers and restaurateurs.

 

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

Explore Santa Cruz Mountains on a California Wines Road Trip

Wine Institute Series Offers Tips on How to Sip, Stay and
Play in Wine Country

Santa Cruz California Wines Road Trip 2016

 

SAN FRANCISCO—California’s many beautiful wine regions offer an extraordinary variety of wines and experiences to enjoy. To help visitors explore them all, Wine Institute’s California Wines Road Trips series highlights a different region each month. This month, take a trip to the coastal Santa Cruz Mountains wine region, known for its wooded peaks and small, family-owned vineyards tucked into serene hillsides. The diverse microclimates allow growers to cultivate a variety of winegrapes, but the region is known primarily for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

One of California’s first American Viticultural Areas (AVA), the Santa Cruz Mountains wine region is located adjacent to the Central Coast AVA. San Francisco is just an hour’s drive to the north and Monterey is to the south.

SIP: The Santa Cruz Mountains is home to more than 60 wineries. Browse this list of Santa Cruz Mountains wineries or use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens, picnic areas, food for purchase, concerts, art and more. The Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association also lists wineries, events, and even a selection of passport participants and wine trails. Love to surf and sip? The popular beach town of Santa Cruz offers several urban wineries.

STAY: The Santa Cruz Mountains wine region straddles the coastal town of Santa Cruz to the west and Silicon Valley to the east, so visitors have a wide variety of accommodations from which to choose. City seekers can stay in San Jose, just 15 minutes from wine country, while beach seekers can choose Santa Cruz, just minutes away from coastal foothill wineries. Those who prefer rustic and charming wine country towns will particularly enjoy Los Gatos and Saratoga in the mountains.

PLAY: One of the most pleasant ways to explore wine country is through various wine trails. Try the Summit to Sea Wine Trail, where you can see the Pacific Ocean from summit wineries and make your way down to wineries close to the coast. Just south of Santa Cruz on the coast is the Corralitos Wine Trail, while up in the hills is the Saratoga Wine Trail. Active travelers can ride horseback through Cooper Garrod Estate’s organic vineyards, take a surf lesson, or hike the redwoods. Families can take in elephant seals or ride an old-fashioned train to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park. A great way to taste your way through the region is the Passport Day event on July 16, which is also held every January, April and November.

MAKE: Culinary travelers can try vegetable gardening classes at Love Apple Farms, which also offers cheese-making instruction. Or they can switch gears and take a class at the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center, where they can paint, sculpt, draw and more.

GROW: The Santa Cruz Mountains has played a pivotal role in the history of winemaking in California, with roots going back over 100 years, and including legendary winemakers such as Paul Masson, Martin Ray, David Bennion (Ridge), and David Bruce. The region has been known for its strong commitment to sustainable winegrowing practices for decades, from cover crops and erosion control to canopy management, alternative energy and animals in vineyards.

Recognized as an AVA in 1981, the Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation was among the first to be defined by its mountain topography, following the fog line along the coast to encompass its highest vineyards on the 2,600-foot-high ridge tops. This broad region is marked by diverse microclimates: warm on the eastern inland side where Zinfandel, Cabernet, and Merlot predominate; and on the coastal side and ridge tops, cooled by ocean breezes and fog, where cooler climate varieties such as Pinot Noir are grown.

EAT: With a wealth of farms, ranches and fisheries in their backyard, many of the Santa Cruz Mountains region’s restaurants source local ingredients and wines and use farm-to-table methods. Fun events this season are the 22nd Annual Watsonville Strawberry Festival (Aug. 6-7), the Scotts Valley Art, Wine & Beer Festival (Aug. 20-21) and the 34th Annual Capitola Art & Wine Festival (Sept. 10-11).

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 138 American Viticultural Areas and 4,400 wineries that produce 85 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org.


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MEDIA CONTACTS:
Wine Institute Communications Dept.
415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

California Wine Country and National Parks Centennial: The Perfect Summer Travel Pairing

Yosemite Half Dome Madera Wine Trail Signs
(L-r) Visitors to Half Dome at Yosemite National Park travel through California wine country on the way. The Madera Wine Trail is a gateway to the park entrance. (Yosemite photo: Visit California)

SAN FRANCISCO—For California wine lovers, one of the most enjoyable experiences is the chance to sip while overlooking spectacular scenery—from hillside vineyards and snow-capped mountains to redwood forests and rugged beaches. With the National Park Service hosting Centennial events this year, it’s a great time to pair park scenery with a nearby wine country experience.

Many travelers to California’s 27 national parks pass through or near wine regions. To help these visitors with their journey, Wine Institute has put together a list of great wine regions near national parks. With 138 AVA’s (American Viticultural Areas) and 100-plus winegrape varieties across the Golden State, wine consumers can find their favorite wines and discover new ones on their way to great parks from Yosemite in the High Sierra to Joshua Tree in the desert. Like the stewards of California’s national parks, winemakers and growers also feel a deep connection to the land, making California a world leader in sustainable winegrowing, providing an outdoor experience that eco-travelers can appreciate.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Redwood National and State Parks and Mendocino County Wine Country
If going in June, visit the Mendocino County wine region on the way to or from Redwood National and State Parks, home to the world’s tallest trees. The parks are hosting the Centennial Festival (June 26), featuring talks and activities celebrating the parks’ heritage and contribution to the region. The parks border Mendocino’s wine region, which has a high percentage of vineyards farmed with sustainable, organic or biodynamic practices. The region produces a wide variety of wines, including Pinot Noir and Alsatian varietals. After wine tasting, enjoy an overnight stay in the picturesque Mendocino village, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A great time to visit is during the Anderson Valley/Yorkville Highlands Barrel Tasting Weekend (July 23-24), where visitors have unprecedented access to winery cellars, including tastings of yet-to-be-released wines and the chance to purchase futures of barrel tastings at a discount.

Point Reyes National Seashore and Sonoma County/Lake County Wine Country
Ninety minutes north of San Francisco, Point Reyes National Seashore features ocean waves crashing against rocky headlands, expansive beaches, grasslands and forested ridges. This scenic park pairs well with the Sonoma County and Lake County wine regions. Gourmet farm and vineyard dinners are common in these areas—along with great wine, homegrown culinary culture and the great outdoors. This June 24 don’t miss the Russian River Valley Somm Challenge, where guests can judge which of three top sommeliers picked the best wine for each course created by celebrity chefs. The place to be on Labor Day Weekend is the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, featuring more than 200 wineries and chefs, a Taste of Sonoma event and popular Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction. In Lake County, be a judge for the day and vote for your favorite wines from the region’s Wine Awards Competition at the People’s Choice Wine Tasting July 30. Point Reyes National Seashore will host various centennial events this summer, such as the Western Weekend Parade (June 4-5), Big Time Festival (July 16) and Sand Sculpture Contest (Sept. 4).

Muir Woods and Napa Valley Wine Country
Muir Woods, north of San Francisco and home to towering redwoods, is just an hour’s drive to the Napa Valley wine region. Recognized on the global stage at the Judgment of Paris in 1976, Napa Valley wines have found an equal match in the region’s cuisine. If in town July 15-24, try the 11th Annual Festival Napa Valley, an event the New York Times calls a “feast for the senses.” This 10-day experience features top music, gourmet cuisine, fine wines and lifestyle programs.

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and Livermore Wine Country
San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf is home to the Maritime National Historic Park, with its fleet of historic vessels, visitor center and maritime museum. Their centennial events include the Festival of the Sea (Aug. 20), the Sea Music Concert Series (Sept. 17 and Oct. 15) and other ongoing programs. The city is a short drive to the historic Livermore Valley wine region. Visit July 21-24 to enjoy Livermore Valley’s Taste Our Terroir, featuring 19 wineries, partnering with Bay Area restaurants, as well as cooking classes, vineyard tours and seminars.

Tahoe National Forest and Sierra Foothills/Lodi Wine Country
Tahoe National Forest, an 800,000-acre national forest just east of Sacramento, offers year-round hiking, camping and skiing near beautiful Lake Tahoe. Add a visit to the Sierra Foothills wine region, the heart of California’s Gold Country, known for its rich history and red wines. Check out Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Nevada and Placer counties. The El Dorado Wine Association’s Blind Barrel event on June 25 with 16 wineries celebrates the repeal of Prohibition and the passage of the Twenty-first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on Dec. 5, 1933, with hosts dressed in period garb serving local wine on a Gold-Rush era homestead. This fall, Amador hosts the Big Crush Harvest Festival (Oct. 1-2) where guests can take in the harvest scenes in the vineyards and crush pads and enjoy food and wine pairings, live music and family activities. On the way to Tahoe, stop by the Lodi wine region, known for old-vine Zinfandel and home to 80 wineries. Celebrate the harvest with the Lodi Grape Festival (Sept. 15-18), featuring murals and competitive exhibits, a music concert, wine and food tastings and more.

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

Yosemite and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks and Madera County/Fresno
Rock-climbing mecca Yosemite National Park is world renowned for its soaring granite walls and cascading waterfalls. The park will host special events for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (Aug. 25) with educational talks and recreational activities, such as a “Yosemite Anniversaries” symphony performance. Madera County vineyards are adjacent to the entrance of Yosemite. Visit the Madera Wine Trail, featuring local wineries serving their acclaimed dessert, port-style and late-harvest wines, among others. The region’s Wine Trail Weekend (Nov. 12-13) will kick off the holiday season for wine lovers. Those going to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks can visit Fresno State Winery, the first university in the U.S. to have a fully licensed winery. Taste or buy the wine at Fresno State Gibson Farmers Market where offerings are all harvested, created and grown by Fresno State students, or check out Grape Stomping Good Times (Aug. 27).

Pinnacles National Monument and Monterey/Paso Robles Wine Country
Rising out of the Gabilan Mountains is Pinnacles National Monument, the remains of an ancient volcano with massive monoliths, spires and sheer-walled canyons. The park will celebrate the centennial with activities such as monthly Night Hikes, Stargazing Nights, volunteer service days, a National Trails Day Celebration (June 4) and an Eastside Centennial Celebration (Sept. 24).

The park is an hour from Monterey County wine region and about 90 minutes from Paso Robles wine country, both scenic areas to explore, wine and dine. Wines from Monterey and the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains wine region were both recognized in the “Judgment of Paris” tasting. While in Monterey, check out its Taste of Monterey Visitor Center where the area wines can be tasted in one stop. On June 18, stop by the 12th Annual Art & Wine Festival in quaint Carmel, featuring regional wineries, local bands and family activities from pony rides to arts and crafts. If exploring Paso Robles wine country, a hot spot for Rhône blends and other classic and emerging varietals, tour the rustic downtown plaza or nearby Hearst Castle on the coast. Attend the Harvest Wine Weekend (Oct. 14-16), where guests can enjoy 140 weekend activities, including winemaker dinners, grape stomps, barrel tastings, artisanal food pairings, live music and more.

Channel Islands and Santa Barbara/Ventura Wine Country
Take a short ferry ride or boat tour from Santa Barbara wine country or Ventura wineries to Channel Islands National Park, known as the “Galapagos of North America.” The park’s centennial activities include an ongoing lecture series and special events at the Museum of Ventura County. Get more inspiration with a visit to Santa Barbara wineries, immortalized by the 2004 film “Sideways,” which celebrated the area’s Pinot Noir. Santa Barbara Harvest Weekend is Oct. 7-10, and includes a grand tasting at Mission Santa Inés in Solvang.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Joshua Tree National Park and Temecula Wine Country
This desert park has beautiful Joshua trees and a variety of plants and animals in this land shaped by strong winds, rains and climatic extremes. Adding to the attraction of this place are dark night skies for astronomy buffs and surreal geologic features. A visit to Joshua Tree could include a tour of Temecula wine country, about 2.5 hours southwest. Tempered by coastal fog, this region is known for its Italian and Rhône varieties. A great way to sample wines is with the Sip Temecula Wine Tasting Passport during weekdays where guests can choose experiences at five of 17 participating wineries.

Mojave National Preserve and Cucamonga Valley
Sand dunes, volcanic cinder cones, Joshua tree forests and carpets of wildflowers are found at the 1.6 million-acre Mojave National Preserve, where visitors can take part in ongoing Artist in the Park Centennial Observances, as resident artists share work in various mediums about the area’s historic structures, desertscapes and night skies. A visit to its mountains reveal abandoned mines, homesteads, and military outposts. Stop and stay on the way to Los Angeles in the Cucamonga Valley, known for historic wineries specializing in old vine Zinfandels and port wines. A cool happening in the region is the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival (Aug. 25-28), featuring tastes from 150 celebrity chefs and 300 wineries.

About Wine Institute

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines and wineries throughout California. The Golden State is first in the U.S. for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 138 American Viticultural Areas and 4,400 wineries that produce 85 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org.


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Explore Livermore on a California Wines Road Trip

Wine Institute Series Offers Tips on How to Sip, Stay and Play in Wine Country

Livermore California Wines Road Trip 2016

 
SAN FRANCISCO—California’s dozens of scenic wine regions offer an exceptional variety of experiences and wines to enjoy. To help visitors explore them all, Wine Institute’s California Wines Road Trips series highlights a different region each month. For May, take a trip into California history in Livermore Valley, where Robert Livermore planted the valley’s first winegrapes in the 1840s. One of California’s oldest wine regions, Livermore Valley is enjoying a renaissance with a flourish of vineyards, wineries and experiences.

Located within the San Francisco Bay American Viticultural Area (AVA), Livermore Valley is a hidden gem region just 30 miles east of San Francisco. As the only California wine region accessible by the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART), it’s easy to access no matter where you are in the area. Both the Livermore Valley and San Francisco Bay AVAs are within the larger Central Coast appellation.

SIP: The Livermore Valley wine region is home to more than 50 wineries. Browse this list of Livermore Valley wineries or use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens, picnic areas, food for purchase and more. The Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association also lists wineries, events and even a helpful selection of pre-planned visit itineraries. Want to bring your furry best friend? About half of Livermore’s wineries welcome dogs; you can sort this winery list to find dog-friendly options.

STAY: Located just 45 minutes from Silicon Valley or San Francisco, Livermore Valley offers a range of accommodations from countryside resorts to boutique downtown hotels, some of which are even served by BART. Use this list to find your perfect lodging option.

PLAY: One of the most convenient and fun ways to experience Livermore Valley is on the Livermore Wine Trolley, which offers group and private tours of the region. The six-hour group tour stops at four wineries and provides lunch for only $99 per person. Like to mix the great outdoors with your Chardonnay? Wine tasters visiting Livermore Valley have a range of options, including a huge network of scenic bike and hiking trails with views ranging from vineyards to coastal mountains. It is possible to visit at least 16 Livermore Valley wineries using more than eight miles of multi-use trails and bike lanes. Learn about sustainable gardens on the Livermore Valley Drought Resistant Garden Trail, which offers six winery locations that feature beautiful native plantings to complement their beautiful wines. Cap your evening by taking in a music, dance, theater or film performance at the Livermore Performing Arts Center.

MAKE: Uncork your inner winemaker at The Winemakers Studio at Wente Vineyards, where you’ll get hands-on with several signature experiences including a blending class, wine aroma discovery, and wine and cheese pairing seminar. At Concannon Vineyard, groups of 12 or more can enjoy a friendly competition to see which team’s custom red blend takes the prize at The Art of Blending. See tours and tastings at the website.

GROW: Surrounded by coastal range mountains and foothills, the Livermore Valley has an east-west orientation, making it unique among northern California winegrowing regions. This feature allows the coastal fog and marine breezes to come in from the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay and cool the valley’s warm air, resulting in warm days and cool nights, ideal conditions for producing fully-ripened, balanced fruit.

Pioneer Livermore winemakers C. H. Wente and James Concannon planted their vineyards in the early 1880s, having recognized the area’s winegrowing potential. Today, both wineries continue to thrive and have celebrated more than 130 consecutive harvests. California winegrowing owes a great deal to Wente and Concannon’s early grapevine plantings: most California Chardonnay can be genetically traced to the Wente Chardonnay clones and 80 percent of California Cabernet Sauvignon can be traced to a Concannon clone. Fun fact: Livermore Valley was also the first region in California to label Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Petite Sirah as varietal wines.

EAT: Visit July 21-24 to enjoy Livermore Valley’s premier food and wine affair, Taste Our Terroir. The event opens with 19 Livermore Valley wineries partnering with Bay Area restaurants to compete for honors such as best classic pairing and the coveted People’s Choice Award. The remaining days will offer a variety of cooking classes, vineyard tours and seminars. While Livermore has a number of dining options, you can also enjoy a meal at some wineries, including The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards.

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 138 American Viticultural Areas and 4,400 wineries that produce 85 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org.

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MEDIA CONTACTS:
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Second Annual California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards Announced

Green Medal Winners

Accepting the 2016 California Green Medal Awards were: (L-R) Lucas Pope of Halter Ranch Vineyard; Katie Jackson of Jackson Family Wines; Jason Haas of Tablas Creek Vineyard; and Dirk Heuvel of McManis Family Vineyards.

SAN FRANCISCO—Recipients of the second annual California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards were announced and honored at a lunch reception and ceremony April 20 in Sacramento. The California Green Medal, developed to showcase leading wineries and vineyards committed to sustainability, is presented by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, the California Association of Winegrape Growers, Wine Institute, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrowers and The Vineyard Team. Many association partners also helped to promote the awards which were selected by a panel of wine and sustainability experts.

Awardees of the four 2016 Green Medals are:

Green Medal LeaderLEADER AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that excels in all “3 E’s” of Sustainability—Environmentally sound, socially Equitable and Economically viable.
Winner: Jackson Family Wines has been a sustainability innovator and an early adopter of healthy land management practices since the winery’s founding in 1982, with more recent actions guided by a company-wide sustainability strategy and a comprehensive audit of environmental impacts in 2008. Incorporating triple bottom-line sustainability principles across all aspects of their business, the company deployed solar arrays at eight wineries and collaborated with Tesla to reduce energy demand and increase grid reliability, utilized industry-first water conservation technologies, introduced human resource initiatives to improve employees’ well-being, paid a price premium for certified sustainable winegrapes and led voluntary drought initiatives.

Green Medal EnvironmentENVIRONMENT AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Environmental Stewardship through maximized environmental benefits from implementing sustainable practices.
Winner: Halter Ranch Vineyard. The environmental stewardship commitment by Halter Ranch Vineyard owner Hansjörg Wyss is demonstrated by the decision to preserve 1,700 acres of the Halter Ranch property with 18% planted to vineyards that work in harmony with the undeveloped acres to provide habitat, wildlife corridors and biodiversity. The winery also works with the Wyss Foundation to help local communities and partners conserve millions of acres. Halter Ranch conserves water, resulting in over a 50% reduction in irrigation; captures rain and winery water bringing over two million gallons back to irrigation ponds; and farms 281 acres of vines without removing oak trees or displacing existing wildlife and plant life.

Green Medal CommunityCOMMUNITY 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: Tablas Creek Vineyard. Since its establishment in 1989, Tablas Creek has been a trendsetter for its wine region, actively involved in the Paso Robles community through the local winery association and by hosting workshops to share sustainability practices. The winery has partnered with organizations such as must! charities, the local animal shelter, arts and youth sports organizations and has donated more than $100,000 to support local youth and arts programs since 2002. Tablas Creek promotes productivity and job satisfaction by compensating employees with fully funded medical, dental and vision benefits, employer-matching 401k plans, educational support, wine shares and annual profit-sharing bonuses to both part-time and full-time employees. Staff are encouraged to continue education.

Green Medal BusinessBUSINESS AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Smart Business through efficiencies, cost savings and innovation from implementing sustainable practices.
Winner: McManis Family Vineyards. With a focus on constant improvement of practices and adoption of the latest farming and winemaking technologies, McManis Family Vineyards’ water use efficiency measures in the vineyard include the use of soil moisture sensors, flow meters and distribution uniformity tests; while their winery recycles water and averages one gallon of water to produce one gallon of wine. Sustainable practices have also decreased energy use, diesel use and tractor work and limited the impact on soil. Making sustainability a core part of their business strategy has not only benefited the environment, surrounding community and employee retention, but has streamlined processes in the vineyard, winery and office, resulting in economic gains that help ensure a thriving business for future generations.

“The awards program provides an exciting opportunity for California growers and vintners to be recognized for their hard work and dedication to sustainability,” said Allison Jordan, CSWA Executive Director. “The challenge was selecting four winners from the stellar applications we received from vineyards and wineries of all sizes from throughout California. The committee and judging panel were 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.”

The second annual California Green Medal was judged by a panel of wine and sustainability experts. They include: Karen Block, Industrial Relations Manager, Viticulture & Enology, UC Davis; Hunter Francis, Director/Founder, Center for Sustainability in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; Allison Jordan, Executive Director, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance; Camron King, President, Lodi Winegrape Commission; Karissa Kruse, President, Sonoma County Winegrowers; Kelli McCune, Senior Project Manager, Sustainable Conservation; Michelle Novi, Industry Relations Manager, Napa Valley Vintners; Cyril Penn, Editor in Chief, Wine Business Monthly; and Beth Vukmanic Lopez, SIP Certification Manager, The Vineyard Team.

Sponsors are:
Exclusive Media Sponsor, Wine Business Monthly

Platinum Sponsors, Nomacorc

Silver Sponsors, CC Wine Caves, Farm Credit Alliance, Marin Clean Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, SureHarvest
Bronze Sponsors, Ag Unlimited, Preserva Products, Ltd.

Partnering organizations: Bay Area Green Business Program, Fish Friendly Farming, Lake County Winegrape Commission, LandSmart, Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association, Madera Vintners Association, Mendocino WineGrowers, Inc., Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association, Napa Sustainable Winegrowing Group, Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Paso Robles Wine County Alliance. Russian River Valley Winegrowers, San Luis Obispo Vintners and Growers Association, Santa Barbara County Vintners Association, Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association, Santa Rita Hills Vintners and Growers Association, Sonoma County Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrape Commission and Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association.

Visit: www.greenmedal.org for more information.

Celebrate California Sustainable Winegrowing During Down to Earth Month in April

Dozens of Eco-Friendly Winery Events Statewide

Earth Day Paso Robles D2E Logo 2016
California wineries are raising awareness of their green, sustainable practices with April events, such as the hands-on sustainability seminar at Captain Vineyards in San Francisco’s East Bay.

SAN FRANCISCO—Wine consumers’ thoughts turn to “green” this spring during California’s 5th Annual Down to Earth Month in April. Celebrating California’s world leadership in sustainable winegrowing all month long, wineries will host dozens of sustainability-focused events and activities, from Earth Day wine festivals and horseback rides and hikes though green vineyards to Passport Days, VIP eco-tours, wildlife talks, green wine trails and more.

Created by Wine Institute—the association of nearly 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses—Down to Earth Month raises awareness about California’s Sustainable Winegrowing Program, one of the most comprehensive and widely adopted in the world involving vineyards that grow 70 percent of winegrapes and wineries that produce 80 percent of all California wine, a remarkable accomplishment for the world’s fourth-largest wine producer.

“People are interested in how their wines are grown and made, and our Down to Earth Month celebration is a way for wine consumers to learn about California’s world leadership in sustainable winegrowing. A majority of the state’s wineries and vineyards embrace sustainable practices, reflecting a major trend in California’s wine community.” said Bobby Koch, president and CEO of Wine Institute.

A joint resolution by the California Legislature proclaiming April 2016 as “Down to Earth Month” in California has been introduced to celebrate the sustainable leadership of California wineries and winegrape growers.

Here are some of the ways you can join in the fun. More events are being posted at www.discovercaliforniawines.com/d2e.

North Coast

In Mendocino—a place of rocky coasts, fog and redwoods—Party for the Planet will be held April 16-25 featuring organic gardening demos, musical performances, organic foods and sustainably-made wines from local purveyors and farmers, and lodging specials.

On April 23, visit world-renown Napa Valley wineries and restaurants, and stop by the Earth Day Festival in Downtown Napa. Enjoy local wines and foods, local bands and kids’ activities. Napa Valley Vintners, a sponsor of the event, has committed to having all wineries 100 percent certified Napa Green by 2020.

Sonoma County Winegrowers has also made a commitment to being 100 percent sustainable by 2019. A great way to see their commitment first hand is at the Dry Creek Valley Passport Weekend April 23-24. More than 45 wineries are offering food and wine tasting, and vineyard tours that offer a closer look at their winegrowing practices.

San Francisco Bay Area

The San Francisco Bay Area is famous for its scenic beauty, and top-rated restaurants. The Livermore Valley wine region, about 45 minutes east of San Francisco, Gets Down to Earth the weekend of April 22-24 with wineries hosting guided tastings and earth-focused events. Visitors can also take vineyard and winery tours to learn about energy conservation, solar power and sustainable methods for pest, soil and plant management—such as hawks, owls and baby doll sheep.

South in the Santa Cruz Mountains wine region, more than 50 wineries will offer special tastings during its Passport Day on April 16, one of four times a year when wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains come together to offer their wines.

Sierra Foothills

The Sierra Foothills wine region offers some of California’s highest elevation vineyards. El Dorado Wine Association’s 25th Annual Passport Event takes place April 9-10 and April 16-17 and is a chance to explore 20 of the region’s wineries and visit with their winemakers.

Central Coast

On California’s Central Coast, known for dramatic beaches, farms, ranches, the Earth Day Food & Wine Festival on April 23 offers a fun, casual experience with more than 200 growers, vintners and chefs serving local wines and foods with music, dancing and more. This event strives for Zero Waste; last year they generated less than two pounds of trash for over 1,500 visitors!

Southern California

In Southern California’s Temecula wine region, South Coast Winery will host its annual Blessing of the Vines on April 10. This event includes great wines, a buffet of farm-to-table locally-sourced food and tours through the vineyards.

Or embark on Ponte Estate’s electric bus and tour their 310-acre ranch, then visit their winemaking facility to learn about the art and science of sustainable winemaking, followed by a taste from a giant oak cask.

California Sustainable Winegrowing

California is a world leader in sustainable winegrowing practices. The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), established by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers more than a decade ago, received the governor’s top environmental award for increasing adoption of sustainable winegrowing practices in California. More than 2,000 wineries and vineyards in California participate in the CSWA program.

Wineries and vineyards around the state have taken an extra step by earning Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing status verified by a third-party auditor through CSWA. Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing and other statewide and regional programs such as Bay Area Green Business Program, Fish Friendly Farming, Lodi Rules, Napa Green and Sustainability in Practice (SIP) play vital roles in the California wine community’s successful efforts to produce high quality wine that is environmentally sound, economically feasible and socially responsible. To learn more, visit: www.discovercaliforniawines.com/sustainable-winegrowing.

Explore all of the Down to Earth Month activities at www.discovercaliforniawines.com/d2e and check out the California Wines Green Tour video.

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MEDIA CONTACTS:
Wine Institute Communications Dept.
415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

2016 Down To Earth Events, Tours and Offers
in California Wine Country

Check www.discovercaliforniawines.com for updates as events are being added continuously. Listing as of 3/22/16

NORTH COAST

Earth Month at Alpha Omega
April 1-30, 2016
Time: 10:00 am-6:00 pm
Cost: Complimentary
Alpha Omega Winery, St. Helena, Napa Valley
707/963-9999, concierge@nullaowinery.com
Enjoy a complimentary tasting for two when you arrive in a hybrid or electric vehicle.

A Taste of Spring Dinner at Jordan
April 9, 2016
Time: 5:30 pm-9:30 pm
Cost: $295
Jordan Vineyard, Healdsburg, Sonoma County
800-654-1213, rewards@nulljordanwinery.com
Celebrate the arrival of spring with a lavish tasting menu dinner. In the spirit of Earth month, each course showcases spring ingredients from our garden and local farms, paired with Jordan Russian River Valley wines.

Mendocino’s Party for the Planet
April 16-25, 2016
Time: 10:00 am-5:00pm
Cost: Varies
Various locations throughout Mendocino County
707/734-0177, gracia@nullvisitmendocino.com
You’re invited to celebrate the “green-ness” of Mendocino County at the 4th Annual Party for the Planet.

Barra of Mendocino Organic Wine and Olive Oil Tasting
April 22-23, 2016
Time: 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Cost: Free
Barra of Mendocino, Redwood Valley
707/485-0322, katrina@nullbarraofmendocino.com
In honor of Earth Day, BARRA of Mendocino will be hosting an organic olive oil tasting with their organic wines.

Earth Day Napa
April 23, 2016
Time: 11:00 am-4:00 pm
Cost: Free
Oxbow Commons, Napa
taylorradek@nullgmail.com
Featuring exhibits, food, live entertainment, kids activities – and of course, wine.

Passport to Dry Creek Valley
April 23-24, 2016
Time: Varies
Cost: $55-$135
Venues throughout Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County
707/433-3031
Tastings, food and wine pairings, and a vineyard tours, highlighting how sustainability operates in the vineyards.

Spring Vineyard Hike
April 30, 2016
Time: 9:45 am -2:00 pm
Cost: $75
Jordan Winery, Healdsburg, Sonoma County
800-654-1213, rewards@nulljordanwinery.com
Celebrate Earth Month with a Jordan Vineyard & Winery hiking excursion, featuring mountain views, wildlife, vineyards, lakes, wine tasting and more.

SAN FRANCISCO SOUTH & EAST BAYS, SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS

Cooper Garrod Walk with the Winemaker
April 2, 2016
Time: 11:00 am
Cost: Free
Cooper Garrod Estate Vineyards & Silver Mountain Vineyards, Santa Clara County
408/867-7116, doris@nullcgv.com
Go from grape to glass and find out about this Certified Sustainable estate vineyard and winery.

Passport Day at Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards
April 16, 2016
Time: 11:00 am-5:00 pm
Cost: $10/person tasting fee
Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards, Saratoga, Santa Clara County
408/867-7116, doris@nullcgv.com
Sustainable winegrower Cooper-Garrod offers antipasti by the Picnic Guild alongside estate wine.

Silicon Valley Wine Auction
April 16, 2016
Time: Noon-4 pm
Cost: $90-$125
Levi Stadium, Santa Clara
This charity auction benefits education and highlights wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Eco Tour at Cooper-Garrod Estates
April 23, 2016
Time: Saturdays at 10:00 am-noon
Cost: Free
Cooper Garrod Estate Vineyards & Silver Mountain Vineyards, Santa Clara County
408/867-7116, doris@nullcgv.com
Join the Eco-Tour with local expert Bill Bosworth and learn a little more about where the grapes are grown.

Patrali Paul Art Show & Wine Tasting at Cooper-Garrod
April 23, 2016
Time: 11:00 am-5:00 pm
Cost: $10/tasting fee
Cooper Garrod Estate Vineyards, Saratoga, Santa Clara County
408/867-7116, doris@nullcgv.com
Celebrate Earth Day as Cooper-Garrod features a single-artist show by Patrali Paul

Wines & Vines Class at Captain Vineyards
April 17, 2016
Time: 1:00 pm-3:00 pm
Cost: $43
Captain Vineyards, Moraga, Contra Costa County
925/631-0714
Captain Vineyards, the first green winery in Contra Costa County, will show you how wine is processed using green and sustainable practices. Barrel tasting and cheese pairing included.

Passport Day Santa Cruz Mountains
April 16, 2016
Time: Varies
Cost: $55
Wineries throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains
831/ 685-8463, contact@nullscmwa.com
Four times a year the winegrowing community of the Santa Cruz Mountains comes together to celebrate the farmers, vintners and families of the Santa Cruz Mountains wine region.

Livermore Valley Gets Down To Earth
April 22 – 24, 2016
Time: Varies
Cost: Varies
Various locations throughout Livermore Valley
925/447-9463, marketing@nulllvwine.org
On April 22 – 24th, wineries across the region will highlight sustainable winegrowing and winemaking practices used to craft Livermore Valley’s award-winning wines.

B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bottle)
April 17, 2016
Time: 12:00 pm-4:30 pm
Cost: $9.99/bottle
Page Mill Winery, Livermore
925/456-7676, info@nullpagemillwinery.com
Recycling is good, reusing is better! Bring in your old/clean 750 ml wine bottle and fill it up with Recovery Red.

SACRAMENTO & INLAND VALLEYS

Lodi Wine & Food Festival
April 2, 2016
Time: Varies
Cost: $50-$60
Ole Mettler Grape Pavilion, Lodi
Located in Lodi, Wine Enthusiast’s 2015 Wine Region of the Year.

Single Vineyard Night hosted by Russian River Valley Winegrowers
April 7, 2016
Time: VIP entrance 5pm, general public, 6pm
Cost: $60-$90
Tsakapoulos Library Galleria, Sacramento
707/521-2534, info@nullrrvw.org
More than 20 winemakers and winegrowers — including sustainably-focused J Vineyards & Winery and MacRostie Winery and Vineyards — will be pouring small-lot, single vineyard wines from the Russian River Valley

SOUTH CENTRAL COAST

Central Coast Earth Day Food & Wine Weekend
April 22-24, 2015
Time: Varies
Cost: Varies
Various locations throughout the Central Coast
kyle@nullvineyardteam.org
The Earth Day Food & Wine Weekend celebrates the Central Coast region’s sustainable food and wine culture.

Central Coast Earth Day Food & Wine Main Event
April 23, 2016
Time: 1:00 pm-4:00 pm
Cost: $75-$115
Castoro Cellars, San Luis Obispo County
805/466-2288, kyle@nullvineyardteam.org
Fine wine, craft beers, delectable foods, live music Earth Day Food & Wine has become the acclaimed culinary experience of the Central Coast with a sophisticated array of farmers, chefs, and winemakers gathering with guests under the oaks.

SIERRA FOOTHILLS

El Dorado Passport
April 9-17, 2016
Time: Varies
Cost: $20-$95
Venues throughout El Dorado County
800/306-3956, passport@nulleldoradowines.org
Access to 20-plus participating wineries.

Vino Noceto’s 16th Annual Open House
April 16, 2016
Time: 11 am-4 pm
Cost: $20/per person
Vino Noceto, Plymouth, Amador County
Enjoy a gourmet lunch, wine and music at this sustainable vineyard and winery.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Ponte Winery Vineyard Estate Tour
April 1-30, 2016
Time: Varies
Cost: $32-$40
Ponte Winery, Temecula, Riverside County
951/694-8855, info@nullpontewinery.com
Tour a sustainable, working winery by electric bus.

Blessing of the Vines
April 10, 2016
Time: 4pm – 7pm
Cost: Contact South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, Temecula, Riverside County
951/587-9463 x350
This fun event includes great wines, buffet of farm-to-table locally-sourced food, unlimited games with vine-based prizes and tours through the sustainable vineyards.

Explore the Sierra Foothills on a California Wines Road Trip

Wine Institute Series Offers Tips on How to Sip, Stay and Play in Wine Country

Sierra Foothills California Wines Road Trip 2016

 
SAN FRANCISCO—California’s dozens of scenic wine regions offer an exceptional variety of experiences and wines to enjoy. To help visitors explore them all, Wine Institute’s California Wines Road Trips series highlights a different region each month. For March, the spotlight shines on regions in the western foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. The region was the epicenter of the Gold Rush, which attracted thousands of prospectors who sought their fortunes in the precious metal—and left vines in the soil.

In the heart of California’s storied Gold Country, the Sierra Foothills wine region includes Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mariposa, Nevada, Placer, Tuolumne and Yuba counties, known for their rich history and rich red wines. Here, visitors can enjoy pairing glasses of local Zinfandel or Syrah with some of California’s most breathtaking scenery including famous attractions like Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America.

SIP: The Sierra Foothills wine region is home to more than 200 wineries. Browse this list of Sierra Foothills wineries or use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens, picnic areas, food for purchase and more. The Amador Vintners make it easy to plan a winetasting route through the Shenandoah Valley with their downloadable map. Calaveras offers a year-round Passport program for visitors to 23 participating wineries. Explore more than 20 El Dorado wineries at the county’s 25th annual El Dorado Passport events April 9-10 and 16-17. Taste Nevada County wines in quaint downtown Nevada City or visit this region with the Sierra Vintners map. On the Placer County Wine Trail, learn how winemaking came to the area in 1848—the same year that gold was discovered there.

STAY: From cozy lodges and historic hotels to lakeside cottages and camping, the Sierra Foothills offers wilderness and Wild West charm. Plan a route with overnights in Gold Rush towns such as Grass Valley or Murphys, location of the famous Murphys Historic Hotel where many historical figures slept, including Mark Twain, author of “The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” Placerville is home to inns, B&Bs and camping. Or enjoy a room with a lakeside view at South Lake Tahoe.

PLAY: Outdoor enthusiasts will find outstanding recreation year-round in the Sierra Foothills. The 850,000-acre Tahoe National Forest offers hiking, camping, skiing and swimming and boating in nearby Lake Tahoe in warmer months. Enjoy the giant sequoias on a hike in Calaveras’ Big Trees State Park. Take an adventure on the whitewater rapids of the North and South Forks of the American River or relax on the more placid South Fork of the Yuba River. Yosemite National Park is the star in the crown of the Sierra Nevada range’; plan your visit here.

Most of El Dorado’s wineries are located within 30 minutes of downtown Placerville, an historic Gold Rush town with unique shops, farm-to-table restaurants and the oldest hardware store west of the Mississippi. Pan for gold where it was first discovered at the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. Get in on the food and fun May 19-22 at the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee—the name a nod to Twain’s famous story.

The Sierra Foothills are a great place for rock hounds and geology buffs. Explore underground limestone caves at Moaning Caverns (which also offers zip line rides), California Cavern State Historic Landmark, Black Chasm Cavern and others

MAKE: The Sierra Foothills offers world-class views for photographers. Learn to take outdoor photographs at a multi-day Yosemite Photography Workshop or four-hour Ansel Adams Photography Class. Artsy types will enjoy classes and workshops in drawing, painting, mosaics, printmaking and more at ASiF Studio in Grass Valley or the El Dorado Hills Arts Association. For cooks, make a dish or two in fun cooking classes at Tess’s Kitchen Store, Newcastle Produce or BriarPatch Co-op’s Cooking School.

GROW: Many gold miners became vintners as the region slowly transformed from Gold Country to farmland. Not surprisingly, some of California’s earliest plantings of Zinfandel, Barbera, Syrah and Sangiovese were found here. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes—as well as a variety of white grapes such as Viognier—also thrive in this mountainous terrain, which features high elevations, warm days and wide day-to-night temperature swings. Amador in particular is old vine country; nearly 600 acres of the county’s vines are at least 60 years old, while several vineyards date back to the 19th century. Many Sierra Foothills growers and vintners participate in the California Sustainable Winegrowing Program, adopting best practices for high wine and grape quality that benefit the environment and community.

EAT: A stroll through nearly any of Gold Country’s historic downtowns and surrounding areas will reveal an array of options from casual to fine dining, featuring local products and wines. Check out these suggestions for Murphys, Placerville, Grass Valley, Angel’s Camp and more. Summer in El Dorado’s Apple Hill area abounds with farmers markets and hands-on experiences such as fruit picking and other agritourism activities. Visit in fall for the apple harvest and make your own apple cider or visit bake shops full of buttery turnovers and the locally famous “Apple Hill Cake.”

See several fun itineraries from Visit California for more Gold Country trip ideas.

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 138 American Viticultural Areas and 4,400 wineries that produce 85 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org.

# # #

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Wine Institute Communications Dept.
415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

California Wine Exports Set Record in 2015: Worldwide Demand Grows, Despite Strong Dollar

SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. wine exports, 90% from California, reached $1.61 billion in winery revenues in 2015, an all-time record and a 7.6% increase from 2014. Volume was up 4.1% from the previous year to 461 million liters or 51.2 million cases.

“California wines appeal to consumers across the globe who recognize the unique quality and excellent value of our wines. Consumers are also attracted to California’s trend-setting lifestyle, innovative cuisine, beautiful wine country destinations and emphasis on environmental responsibility—all of which are reflected in our wines,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, Wine Institute President and CEO.

Of the top 10 export markets for California wines, the European Union’s 28-member countries were the largest, accounting for $622 million, followed by Canada, $461 million; Hong Kong, $97 million; Japan, $96 million; China, $56 million; Nigeria, $29 million; Mexico, $26 million; South Korea, $23 million; Switzerland, $21 million; and Singapore, $15 million.

“More than 170 California wineries participate in Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program and export to 138 countries supported by 15 representative offices around the world which develop markets in 25 countries,” said Wine Institute Vice President International Marketing Linsey Gallagher. California wine exports have increased 91% by value in the last decade and we’re seeing a “premiumization” trend with dollar sales outpacing volume growth. This growth is occurring despite heavily-subsidized foreign competitors, high tariffs and strong dollar.”

“Removing obstacles to trade and ensuring that California wines have fair and equal access to international sales channels remain our top focus,” said Tom LaFaille, Wine Institute Vice President and International Trade Counsel. “Unfortunately, more and more countries and provinces are “modernizing” their laws to benefit only local wine producers. Wine Institute works closely with the U.S. government to continue to lead initiatives against discriminatory trade barriers which violate international agreements.”

Wine Institute’s Export Program offers many tools to support California Wines category building efforts around the world, including a consumer website discovercaliforniawines.com in eight languages, social media campaigns in 16 countries, an educational California Wines PowerPoint tool, educational and entertaining video assets, and a strong partnership with Visit California to increase tourism to California wine regions. The program organizes California’s participation in international trade shows and trade missions, hosts master classes and seminars as well as tastings for trade, media and consumers worldwide. Last year’s active schedule of California wine country visits brought in 150 international media and wine buyers from 15 countries.

Wine Institute’s six Regional Trade Directors in key export markets reported on 2015 exports:

Canada

“California wine sales continued to be strong in Canada last year despite unfavorable exchange rates. In 2015, U.S. wine sales surpassed wines from France and Italy for the first time to claim the largest share of import table wines in the Canadian market,” said Rick Slomka, Canadian Trade Director for the Wine Institute. “California wines have built a solid consumer base and enjoy substantial momentum in this market. California wineries have invested significantly to develop their business in Canada and anticipate continued growth, although at a slower pace.”

Continental Europe

“Despite a strong U.S. dollar and fierce competition from Old and New World wine countries, nearly all export markets in Continental Europe showed an increase. It is especially encouraging to see that our educational and promotional efforts in Germany, our largest market on the continent, are paying off with an increase of 32% in revenues,” said Paul Molleman, Wine Institute Trade Director for Continental Europe. “The 28-member European Union countries accounted for nearly 40% share of total U.S. wine exports in 2015.”

United Kingdom

“The United Kingdom has always been a receptive market for California wines, and a quarter of all U.S. wine exports by volume come to this country. Value increases are now out-stripping volume growth, with U.S. wine export value to the UK rising by 28% last year. The wine trade here has shifted emphasis to restaurants and casual dining, and a burgeoning independent retail sector, leading to increased interest in premium wines from the Golden State. California is better placed here than it has ever been before, and we expect further growth in 2016 and beyond,” said Wine Institute United Kingdom Trade Director John McLaren.

Japan

“California wine has been selling well in Japan but supply was a major challenge in the first quarter of 2015 due to the slowdown at the ports along the U.S. west coast. Japan’s California wine imports in January 2015 were down 40.5% by volume from the previous year, and the situation prevented Japanese importers from promoting our wines. After April 2015, the port issue was resolved and supply was back in line with growing demand,” said Ken-ichi Hori, Wine Institute Japan Trade Director.

“Once the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement goes into force, the import duty on U.S. wines will be completely abolished in eight years which will help the entire California category grow in Japan. This is critical for the California wine industry, since our competitors, Chile and Australia, already have free trade agreements with Japan, and benefit from a duty advantage over California wines.”

China

“With no reliable country-wide sales data, the 2015 numbers based on import/export data for China don’t tell the whole story on California wine performance, and, in fact, are misleading. Looking at consumption of California wines in the premium and super premium categories, the price range for most California wines, sales were up last year. The export decline was due to a drop in less expensive wines being imported following excessive importation in 2013-2014. Sales of higher-priced wines are quite healthy, while even lower-priced wines are selling through as depletions continue. The export data to Hong Kong shows a healthy 41% increase by value in exports, and we know that a portion of volume shipped to Hong Kong is destined for China. The market for California wines in China remains healthy and more consumer driven than in years past when gifting and group purchasing were significant drivers of sales,” said Christopher Beros, Wine Institute Trade Director for China.

Emerging Markets

“The strong dollar and difficult trading conditions affected California wine’s performance in emerging markets. However, the region produced clear success stories in 2015, such as Hong Kong, Mexico and South Korea where export value grew 41%, 7% and 5% respectively,” said Eric Pope, Wine Institute Regional Director for Emerging Markets.

Since 1985, Wine Institute has served as the administrator of the Market Access Program, a cost-share export promotion program managed by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. For more information, see: Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program

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U.S. WINE EXPORTS
Year to Date: January-December
2015 and 2014

 

Value (U.S. Dollars)

Variance
’15 v ‘14

Volume (Liters)

Variance
’15 v ‘14

PARTNER COUNTRY
Ranked by 2015 Value

2015

2014

Percent

2015

2014

Percent

European Union Total**

621,904,744

517,622,655

20.15%

238,587,949

225,918,167

5.61%

Canada

461,192,662

487,047,858

-5.31%

99,757,425

94,260,404

5.83%

Hong Kong

97,301,392

69,067,833

40.88%

12,538,952

10,872,176

15.33%

Japan

  96,343,245

87,789,176

9.74%

29,460,014

25,317,763

16.36%

China

55,556,831

71,330,769

-22.11%

13,384,686

17,126,232

-21.85%

Nigeria

28,503,088

21,786,035

30.83%

5,985,186

7,431,449

-19.46%

Mexico

25,973,601

24,332,594

6.74%

9,377,037

9,973,358

-5.98%

South Korea

23,374,363

22,211,426

5.24%

4,380,885

5,262,653

-16.76%

Switzerland

21,155,711

14,088,399

50.16%

2,693,876

2,565,119

5.02%

Singapore

15,197,329

15,445,349

-1.61%

2,804,425

3,720,924

-24.63%

Vietnam

11,745,692

19,070,724

-38.41%

1,134,683

2,046,025

-44.54%

Philippines

11,722,946

8,623,966

35.93%

4,075,393

3,235,127

25.97%

Dominican Republic

11,084,805

10,091,418

9.84%

3,160,844

2,693,131

17.37%

Taiwan

10,472,125

12,344,476

-15.17%

1,861,286

2,115,103

-12.00%

Brazil

10,303,626

6,125,959

68.20%

5,477,352

1,703,758

221.49%

United Arab Emirates

9,290,287

7,228,898

28.52%

1,674,586

1,845,449

-9.26%

Bahamas

8,346,776

6,673,886

25.07%

1,712,806

1,538,201

11.35%

Norway

5,732,539

4,206,375

36.28%

2,991,410

2,456,841

21.76%

Thailand

5,481,811

6,075,973

-9.78%

1,182,239

1,147,134

3.06%

Cayman Islands

4,685,239

4,626,070

1.28%

500,622

549,039

-8.82%

OTHER COUNTRIES

71,457,570

78,267,876

-8.70%

18,272,940

20,915,135

-12.63%

WORLD TOTAL

1,606,826,382

1,494,057,715

7.55%

461,014,596

442,693,188

4.14%

Source: Wine Institute & Global Trade Information Services, using data from U.S. Dept. of Commerce.  Preliminary numbers. Includes hard cider. History revised.

*Statistics exclude re-exported wine due to U.S. DOC changing its reporting to exclude this wine.

**Stats for the 28 EU countries are combined because transshipments to final destinations in neighboring countries make a country-by-country breakdown not reflective of actual consumption in each country.

To convert liters to gallons, multiply liters by .26418

To convert liters to cases, divide liters by 9

 

U.S. WINE EXPORTS 1995-2015

Year

Volume
(In millions)

Value
(In millions of dollars)

Gallons

Liters

Cases

Revenues to Wineries

2015

121.8

461.0

51.2

$1,607

2014

117.0

442.7

49.2

$1,494

2013

115.1

435.8

48.4

$1,553

2012

106.9

404.8

45.0

$1,336

2011

111.4

421.6

46.8

$1,297

2010

107.6

407.3

45.3

$1,064

2009

106.4

402.8

44.8

$859

2008

125.5

474.9

52.8

$963

2007

115.9

438.8

48.8

$911

2006

105.1

397.9

44.2

$843

2005

101.5

384.1

42.7

$659

 2004

119.1

451.0

50.1

$796

 2003

92.3

349.2

38.8

$621

2002

73.4

277.8

30.9

$542

2001

78.8

298.3

33.1

$531

2000

77.8

294.4

32.7

$551

1999

74.2

281.0

31.2

$541

1998

71.1

269.1

29.9

$532

1997

58.7

222.1

24.7

$415

1996

46.5

175.9

19.5

$320

1995

37.9

143.5

15.9

$236

Source: Wine Institute & Global Trade Information Services, using data from U.S. Dept. of Commerce. History revised.

US Wine Exports in Millions of Dollars

Source:  Wine Institute & Global Trade Information Services, using U.S. Dept. of Commerce data. History revised.

Explore Lodi on a California Wines Road Trip

Wine Institute Series Offers Tips on How to Sip, Stay and Play in Wine Country

Lodi California Wines Road Trip 2016


SAN FRANCISCO—California’s many scenic wine regions offer an array of experiences and wines to enjoy. To help visitors explore them all, Wine Institute’s California Wines Road Trip series highlights a different region each month. For February, visitors are invited to discover Lodi, California.

Lodi has some of the oldest Zinfandel vines in California, many dating back to the Gold Rush of 1849. Lodi’s wine industry continued to flourish through Prohibition, thanks to farmers who maintained their crops for legally sanctioned “home winemaking.” Today, Lodi is Wine Enthusiast’s 2015 Wine Region of the Year and a leading producer of California’s top varieties. However, with over 100 varieties now in production, Lodi offers a vast portfolio of diverse and interesting wines, all of which thrive in the region’s Mediterranean climate of warm days and cool nights.

Wine consumers can reach Lodi by driving 45 minutes south of Sacramento or two hours northeast of San Francisco. Here are recommendations for enjoying Lodi Wine Country:

SIP: Visitors can choose among nearly 80 wineries in Lodi. Check out this printable map or use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens, picnic areas, food for purchase and more. A great way to start a Lodi wine road trip is to visit the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center, which offers a tasting bar with a wide selection of local wines, an educational demonstration vineyard and a gift shop with handcrafted products. One can then set out to wine country from there.

STAY: The destination offers various accommodations for every budget, from charming B&Bs and hotels to motels and vacation homes – all located close to the historic downtown and area wineries.

PLAY: The Lodi Wine & Food Festival on April 2 is offering wine tasting and pairings, dishes from 15 local restaurants, olive oil tasting and the chance to meet the winemakers. The 12th annual Zinfest May 13-15 at Lodi Lake is a tasting of handcrafted Zinfandels and other wines from over 40 wineries, along with cooking and wine education classes. Celebrate the harvest with the Lodi Grape Festival on Sept. 15-18, featuring murals and competitive exhibits, carnival experiences, wine and food tastings and more

Surrounding Lodi wine country are thousands of acres of nature preserves—a river-rich basin and marshes that sustain hundreds of species of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and fish. The Cosumnes River Preserve is a favorite among visitors and offers year-round hiking trails and an educational visitor center. Lodi Wine & River Tours lets guests glide down the beautiful Mokelumne River while sipping local wines and looking for wildlife. For those who’d rather stay on land, Lodi features a variety of zoos and museums, golfing, galleries and quaint downtown shopping.

MAKE: Those who like to get hands-on can take part in a variety of classes from art to cheese-making. The Lodi Community Art Center features art classes for adults and teens, while the Mudd Mill offers pottery painting classes for the family. Cheese Central designed its workshops for those who consider food a work of art, with instruction on how to make cheese, bread, pastas and more.

GROW: Closely identified with Zinfandel, Lodi is predominately a red winegrowing region, with approximately two-thirds of Lodi’s winegrape acreage dedicated to red varieties. Lodi’s winegrowers created the Lodi RulesTM program, which awards third-party certification for sustainable winegrowing practices to ensure green claims for vineyards are accurate and substantiated. And more than grapes grow in Lodi: each summer the Lodi Farmers Market takes place on Sundays, offering a cornucopia of fresh produce as well as baked goods, crafts, food vendors and live entertainment.

EAT: Lodi winery dinners and farm-to-fork experiences are abundant. Lodi restaurants offer visitors an abundance of dining options, from American to ethnic fusion menus.

For more fun facts about Lodi click here.

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 137 American Viticultural Areas and 4,400 wineries that produce 85 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org.

# # #

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

Explore Lake County on a California Wines Road Trip

Wine Institute Series Offers Tips on How to Sip, Stay and Play in Wine Country

Lake County California Wines Road Trip 2016

SAN FRANCISCO—California’s dozens of scenic wine regions offer an exceptional variety of experiences and wines to enjoy. To help visitors explore them all, Wine Institute’s California Wines Road Trip series highlights a different region each month. For January, visitors are invited to discover Lake County, located in California’s beautiful North Coast region.

Lake County takes its name from its many lakes, most prominently Clear Lake, which is one of the largest natural freshwater lakes in California and a popular destination for water skiing, bass fishing and kayaking. Estimated at 2.5 million years old, Clear Lake is thought to be one of the oldest lakes in North America.

Located midway between the Pacific Coast and California’s Inland Valleys in the state’s coastal mountain range, Lake County’s 8,700 acres (3,520 hectares) of vineyards are 1,370-2,600 feet (418-792 meters) above sea level. These dramatic high-elevation vineyards receive approximately 265 days of bright sunny days and cool afternoon breezes, making the region ideal for winegrowing and outdoor recreation.

SIP: Lake County is home to more than 30 wineries and 160 growers. Browse this list of Lake County wineries or printable map. Or use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens, picnic areas, food for purchase and more. A few starters: with four tasting rooms on Main Street, the town of Kelseyville offers a fun, leisurely way to enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting. And there are about a dozen wineries to discover in and near the volcanic hillsides of the Red Hills American Viticultural Area along with spectacular views of Mt. Konocti, a dormant towering volcano.

STAY: Lake County’s charming accommodation options include small inns and hotels, lakeside cottages, winery properties and even vintage railroad cabooses. For more information visit lakecountywineries.org or lakecounty.com.

PLAY: Chocolate lovers should check out Wine & Chocolate on Feb. 6. This charity fundraiser for the Lake County Family Resource Center features Lake County wineries pouring their fabulous wines under one roof as well as wine and olive oil sensory classes. Another great time to visit Lake County is during the 2016 Lake County Wine Adventure May 20–22. The Gala kick-off evening May 20 is followed by a two-day passport adventure with 25-plus wineries offering wine, food pairings, music and fun.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find much to do in Lake County. A hiker’s paradise, it offers 100 miles of trails to explore including Mt. Konocti County Park, part of the Mendocino National Forest and many more. Fishing, camping and birding are also popular pursuits here. Clear Lake was designated as an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society long ago because it serves as a vital resting spot for migrating birds on the Pacific Flyway. Take an Eyes of the Wild pontoon boat tour or join the Heron Days boat tours this spring (usually April or May), where the local Audubon Society points out Great Blue Herons and other amazing avians. Biking is also big here, boasting 11 Konocti Trails.

MAKE: Crafty types can draw inspiration visiting California’s first Quilt Trail, featuring 79 painted quilt squares on highly visible barns and buildings throughout Lake County. Enjoy local wines while learning to paint with oil or join the fun at a Wineglass Painting Party on Jan. 31, just a few of the events offered at the Lake County Wine Studio.

GROW: Lake County is a thriving agricultural area with winegrapes, pears and walnuts as the three main crops. Most known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, the region’s moderate climate allows a diverse range of other grape varieties to thrive here including Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, Malbec, Barbera and Syrah. Sustainable winegrowing efforts are central to Lake County’s approach. To support and enhance Lake County vineyards, the Lake County Winegrape Commission has two programs to assist growers. The Master Vigneron Program (MVP) provides education and training to vineyard managers and foremen in leading industry viticultural practices and leadership. Growers and vintners also participate in the California Sustainable Winegrowing Program to adopt best practices for high wine and grape quality that benefit the environment and community.

EAT: Where winegrapes grow, olives are often found nearby. Lake County is gaining a reputation for award-winning olive oils. Discover the products of The Villa Barone, located on a 160-acre ranch that also offers weekend immersion experiences. Or enjoy olive oil samples, wine tasting, hula hooping and even an olive pit spitting contest at the Kelseyville Olive Festival April 24.

In 2015, Lake County produced 40 percent of the pears that were sold on the fresh market in California. Taste why they are so popular at the Kelseyville Pear Festival, held the last Saturday of September. For artisanal goat cheese, visit the Bodega & Yerba Santa Goat Dairy in Lakeport for a farm tour and tasting; phone ahead for a reservation at 707/263-8131.

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 136 American Viticultural Areas and 4,400 wineries that produce 85 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org.

# # #

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

Explore Napa Valley on a California Wines Road Trip

Wine Institute Series Offers Tips on How to Sip, Stay and Play in a Different California Wine Region Each Month

Sonoma County California Wines Road Trip 2015

SAN FRANCISCO—With dozens of diverse wine regions, California wine country offers a dazzling variety of experiences to enjoy. To help visitors explore them all, Wine Institute’s California Wines Road Trips series highlights a different region each month. For December, visitors are invited to discover where to sip, stay and play in Napa Valley, located in California’s scenic North Coast region.

Napa Valley is a small region with a deservedly big reputation. Only 30 miles long and a few miles wide, Napa Valley produces just four percent of California’s winegrapes. However, in 1976, Napa wines won global recognition when they famously bested French wines in the “Judgment of Paris” tasting. Napa Valley’s world-renowned wines have found an equal match with the area’s thriving culinary scene, where visitors and locals alike enjoy a range of options, from Michelin-starred restaurants to quirky and delicious food trucks.

SIP: Napa Valley is a wine lover’s paradise. Start exploring the region’s wineries with this helpful map from the Napa Valley Vintners. Or use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens, art displays, concerts and picnic areas. While tasting, it is best to pace oneself by using the spit bucket, which is considered polite, and have a designated driver or take an escorted tour.

STAY: From exclusive five-star resorts to charming little inns and even budget-friendly campgrounds, Napa Valley has accommodations to suit every traveler’s preference. Start the journey with a ramble through vineyard hideaways and B&Bs listed at Visit Napa Valley.

PLAY: Take your wine country experience to new heights with an iconic hot air balloon ride above the vineyards. Stroll through “Old West” style Calistoga, where you’ll find dining, shopping and the town’s famous thermal mud baths, a fun activity to pair with wine tasting. Napa Valley also has some 40 other spas and fitness centers to experience.

For art lovers, spend an afternoon at the di Rosa Preserve, which houses some 2,000 works of contemporary art by 800 artists. Take in the symphony or ballet at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater in Yountville. Or visit during Arts in April, when cities throughout Napa Valley feature art installations, pop-up exhibitions, live performances, tours and access to private collections.

For nightlife, find live music in many of Napa’s downtown establishments, and the Uptown Theater is a restored art deco building showcasing world-famous music and comedy acts.

The ultimate Napa Valley wine experience takes place each June during Auction Napa Valley, a world-recognized charity wine event. Enjoy Napa Valley’s exceptional wines, culinary treats and intimate time with its renowned vintners wrapped in the splendor of the valley’s incomparable scenery. Proceeds from Auction Napa Valley benefit community health and children’s education nonprofits. Tickets go on sale Feb. 1, 2016.

MAKE: Many Napa wineries offer special blending seminars, where visitors can play winemaker for a few hours creating their own red wine blend. Find tasting and blending experiences here. For cooking classes, the famous Culinary Institute of America offers anyone who loves wine and food to perfect their technique with the Saturday Kitchens program or a Samplings demonstration class. View more culinary adventures here.

GROW: Named California’s first American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1981, Napa Valley has an abundance of diverse soils and microclimates and is part of or contains 18 AVAs. While internationally acclaimed for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, fine Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc and many other varieties are grown here. Home to the first Agriculture Preserve in the U.S., Napa Valley Vintners has established the goal that every eligible member will be in the Napa Green Certified Land or Napa Green Certified Winery program by 2020.

EAT: Napa Valley has a vibrant wine and culinary culture. The tiny town of Yountville alone is home to more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else in North America. For a casual adventure, visit the many purveyors at the Oxbow Public Market or grab a picnic lunch at the Oakville Grocery—the oldest continuously operated grocery store in California. For restaurants with a Napa Valley Wine List Award, check out these establishments with outstanding selections of Napa wines.

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 136 American Viticultural Areas and 4,400 wineries. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses.

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Wine Institute Communications Dept.
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Explore Sonoma County on a California Wines Road Trip

Road Trip Series Offers Tips on How to Sip, Stay and Play in a Different California Wine Region Each Month

Sonoma County California Wines Road Trip 2015

SAN FRANCISCO—As the leading wine and food destination in the U.S., California attracts culinary travelers from across the globe. With dozens of wine regions to explore, Wine Institute is helping visitors by turning the spotlight on a different region each month, highlighting where to sip, eat, drink and play. This month, explore a gourmet journey to Sonoma County, the largest producer of Pinot Noir in California.

Home to 500-plus wineries, a renowned cheese trail, farm and vineyard dinners, artsy beach and wine country towns and 55 miles of ruggedly beautiful coastline, Sonoma County is one of the most well-known wine regions in California, but there’s always something new to explore. Winemakers, inspired by the region’s incredible abundance and diversity of varietals, are creating some of the state’s most celebrated wines.

SIP: Sonoma County is most known for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, but it grows many of California’s 100-plus grape varieties.  Explore the region’s 500-plus wineries in 18 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) with this interactive map of Sonoma County wineries.  Or visit the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by their many amenities such as gardens, art displays, concerts, tours and picnic areas. For those travelers looking for themed tasting routes, from dog-friendly wineries to specific wine varietals, they can check out www.sonomawine.com/visit-our-wineries/suggested-tasting-routes.

STAY: Choose from luxury and full-service resorts, B&Bs tucked among the vines, charming seaside lodges, cabins and campgrounds, trendy downtown hotels or small inns on vineyard hillsides. Many prefer to pamper themselves at one of the area’s 40-plus spas and wellness centers, some of which offer access to natural thermal springs. Popular towns to stay in range from Bodega Bay on the coast and charming wine country towns such as Sonoma, Healdsburg, Sebastopol or Petaluma.  Explore all the options at Sonoma County Tourism.

PLAY: Nov. 21-22 the Holiday in Carneros kicks off the holiday season with wineries opening their doors for wine and food pairings, barrel and new release tastings and more.  After the holidays, make merry in the new year with the annual Winter WINEland Jan. 16-17, featuring tours, tastings of limited production wines and more at 140 wineries.  Check in regularly for more wine events at www.discovercaliforniawines.com/events.

More fun things to do: Hike among the giant trees at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, along the wild coast of Bodega Head in Sonoma Coast State Park, with a docent at Jack London State Historic Park or on one’s own at Sonoma State Historic Park—site of the northernmost Franciscan Mission in California.  Pair local wines with wildlife at Safari West, which features private safaris from Winos and Rhinos to Cheetahs and Chardonnay.  Sip, taste, shop and stroll along historic wine town squares such as Sonoma Plaza and Healdsburg Plaza.

MAKE: Guests can make their own version of the state’s signature beverage at one of many blending classes at area wineries, some of which offer cooking classes or wine and food pairing sessions.  With more artists than any other county in the Golden State (27,000-plus), the region is known for its relaxed, freethinking spirit and art galleries.  Get inspired and make art at occasional classes hosted by the Sebastopol Center for the Arts and Petaluma Arts Center.

GROW: Sonoma County has a variety of micro-climates from coastal ranges perfect for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to warmer inland areas where Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel thrive.  Reflecting the community’s commitment to green practices, Sonoma County Winegrowers aim to have 100 percent sustainable vineyards by 2019.  In addition, more than 100 organic farms and dozens of farmer’s markets are held, giving travelers the chance to select fresh ingredients for a snack or meal.

EAT: Besides grapes, Sonoma County produces a variety of specialty foods from seafood, meats and artisan cheese to honey, lavender, olives, pumpkins and olive oils, most of which can be tasted at various gourmet shops or farms.  The region’s more than 500 restaurants range from Michelin- and Zagat-rated stars to casual eateries like gastropubs.  Savor fresh local oysters at Bodega Bay Oyster Company or taste along the Sonoma-Marin Cheese Trail, where many creameries are open to the public (call ahead to make sure).

For another kind of comfort food, save some space for Mom’s Apple Pies in Sebastopol, which bakes fresh daily from local Gravenstein apples and other local fruit.  To get hands on, sign up for an agri-tourism or farm trail experience.  Each September the region’s farms open their doors during Weekend along the Farm Trails, where visitors can meet the artisan producers, enjoy tastes, tours and demonstrations, take hayrides and experience life behind the barnyard gates.

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 136 American Viticultural Areas and 4,400 wineries that produce 90 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Wine Institute Communications Dept.
415/356-7525
communications@nullwineinstitute.org

2015 California Winegrape Harvest: Early, Light and Exceptional Quality

The winegrape harvest at Bien Nacido Vineyards in Santa Barbara County  on California’s Central Coast. Photos by George Rose

The winegrape harvest underway at Bien Nacido Vineyards in Santa Barbara County on California’s Central Coast. George Rose photos.

SAN FRANCISCO—The 2015 year delivered California vintners and growers across the state another stellar vintage.  Despite a lighter crop—compared to last year—from one of the earliest seasons on record, wildfires during harvest in some regions and a fourth year of drought, quality is high across the board.  A mild winter causing early bud break, followed by protracted bloom and unseasonably cool weather in spring, contributed to smaller grape clusters and variable crop size.  An intense, compacted harvest began in July for sparkling wines and some still white wines, and was finished for most wineries by the end of September.  The crop is estimated to be nearly 3.8 million tons, according to industry experts.

“The quality of the 2015 vintage for California statewide is excellent,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, president and CEO of Wine Institute. “After three record harvests, a lighter vintage will not impact our supply of California wines for wine lovers nationwide and throughout the world.”

“Harvest started 10 days or so early in our north and central coast vineyards because of the warm weather and reduced crop size,” said Keith Horn, VP Grape Management for Constellation Brands. “Happily, we harvested superior quality grapes, just a little lighter crop.”

“This year is only the third time since 1982 that harvest has finished in September, so to say that this is an early season understates the point a bit,” said Cameron Parry, winemaker for Groth Vineyards & Winery in Napa Valley.  “This year lines up fairly well with 1997, one of the other three September finishes. Yields have been down across the board, but this is not surprising, as we are coming off of an unprecedented run of three large harvests (’12, ’13, and ’14). Though there isn’t a lot of it, the quality of the crop this year is exceptional.  All the Cabernet ferments are showing big, rich, ripe fruit in great balance with the tannins, and the color metrics are off the chart this season.  2015 should prove to be another in an epic string of superior quality vintages.”

“This year was the earliest harvest in my 46 years as a winegrower,” said Richard Sanford, owner of Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards in Santa Barbara County, primarily producers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. “We began on August 10 and were finished by September 8. Others in our area have experienced similar early ripening. The tonnage of grapes is lower than the last two vintage. The quality is superb and will make excellent wine. I would say 2015 is an excellent vintage for wines from the Santa Rita Hills.”

Tracey Hawkins, co-founder of Hawk and Horse Vineyards in Lake County, is also excited about the harvest, in spite of the Valley Fire that swept through parts of the region in September. “Lake County has seen an early and slightly light 2015 harvest, with some wineries recording their earliest harvest to date,” said Hawkins.  “It was a hot, dry summer, which made the fruit from this vintage very flavorful—and may account for the lightness and earliness of the vintage. Most report tonnage approximately 10 percent lighter than usual, however, others report slightly larger than normal tonnages. Fruit quality across the board is stellar. Harvest was delayed for some when the Valley Fire struck, but harvest resumed in most areas within four days.”

“The drought clearly had an effect in this 2015 vintage,” stated Montse Reece, winemaker for Pedroncelli Winery in Sonoma County. “This has been an early and light harvest, with smaller berries and concentrated fruit flavors. The high temperatures in August and early September accelerated maturity and picking times. Yields were 20 percent lower on average. I’m seeing mild acids, moderate to low alcohols and intense aromatics in all our varieties. This is a vintage of exceptional quality.”

There was more praise for fruit quality from Aaron Lange, who is in charge of viticulture operations at LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards. “The 2015 vintage in the Lodi appellation was early, light, and intense,” said Lange. “The season began almost three full weeks ahead of normal and was complete by the end of September.  Red varietals, like Cabernet Sauvignon, had light yields across the board, mostly due to loose clusters and small berry size. Throughout the season, we worked hard to keep up with the fast-paced harvest to deliver winegrapes to wineries at the optimal time with winemakers loving the concentrated colors and flavors of the fruit.”

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2015 Vintner Quotes from Throughout California

LAKE COUNTY
Matt Hughes, Winemaker
Six Sigma Ranch and Winery

For Lake County and Six Sigma Ranch it’s easily been the most challenging harvest to date. The fires devastated the area and our community is in full recovery mode. Our thoughts go out to those who have had significant losses.  Our ranch was evacuated three times, all during harvest operations, but we managed to keep things rolling and haven’t had to make any changes directly related to the fires.  One of the major concerns was the possibility of smoke taint and I’m happy to report that after talking with many other growers and winemakers, not one test result or sensory assessment has shown a perceptible level of taint. Overall yields have been average to below average for some varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc.  Most whites came in very early and wineries finished harvesting those grapes by the first week in September with the fruit retaining a very nice acid balance due to the quick season.  Cabernet Sauvignon is shaping up to be one of the stars of the vintage; with light, loose clusters contributing to complex and dense berries.  We have high expectations.

LIVERMORE
John Concannon, Fourth Generation Vintner
Concannon Vineyard

We at Concannon are experiencing another high quality fruit year in 2015.  Although our yields are lower than the previous three years, we are very excited to see the high concentration of fruit flavors in our whites and reds.  Livermore Valley temperatures have been warm during the days, but at night we have received the coastal-influenced cooler temperatures to maximize optimal ripeness. Overall, Vintage 2015 is shaping up to be an amazing harvest.

LODI
Keith Horn, VP Grape Management
Constellation Brands

The vineyards in Lodi did not appear to be heavily stressed during the growing season. Rains in December helped alleviate some drought issues. January was completely dry, and February rainfall was below average. Dry conditions were mitigated by cold mornings, fog and low weed growth. Rain events in April helped ease dry soil conditions. Harvest 2015 started out fast and furious with Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. This was one of the earliest harvests on record. With a prolonged bloom and cool weather, we saw reduced berry set resulting in cluster size that was smaller than 2014.  Overall crop size is short of last year, especially in reds. Red varietals matured rapidly. Despite early ripening, color and quality appear to be good.

MADERA
Darin Peterson, Winemaker
Quady Winery

The harvest of 2015 in Madera could be summed up in three words—early, quick and intense. After another dry winter and warm spring, some varieties were as much as two weeks ahead of their historical average harvest dates. Then in the middle of the harvest, hot weather compressed picking schedules for remaining varieties. Growers and wineries reported finishing harvest earlier than ever. Many growers reported average yields and in some cases slightly above.

Steve Schafer, Owner
San Joaquin Wine Company

Harvest this year is even earlier than last year, with white varietals maturing in early August. Crop size on white varietals is average with brix, pH, and total acids within the normal ranges. Red varietals are proving more of a challenge with the crop being slightly lighter than normal with quite a variability of maturity within districts, as well as individual vineyard blocks.

MENDOCINO
Michael Fay, Winemaker
Goldeneye

Another great vintage emerged from Anderson Valley from what originally looked like a potentially challenging year. We had the earliest start to our estate harvest ever (Aug. 13), and our earliest finish (Sept.14). Early harvest is a blessing here as it can get very cold and wet mid-October. We were able to pick at ideal physiological ripeness. While yields were down and approaching near average levels after three vintages in a row of abundant crops, the quality and purity of the 2015 fruit is evident. The wines show the hallmarks of great Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, with equal parts lushness and beauty, mixed with rustic savory notes, and a touch of wildness.

NAPA VALLEY
Delia Viader, Ph.D., President & Founder
Viader Vineyards and Winery

2015 harvest is the first in 30 years that we started picking on August 30. Tannins are firm and enduring, but without the up-front boldness delivered in 2013; they seem to have more of the nuanced finesse of the 2014’s and flavors are more in the realm of ripe “black fruits.” This harvest accelerated much in the same way 1990’s did—heat at the last possible “minute.” Again the persistent drought in California has posed an interesting challenge to our “veteran” vines that, with their very deep roots, weathered the drought magnificently.

PASO ROBLES
Jeff Meier, Director of Winemaking, President
J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines

In Paso Robles, four years of drought and unseasonably cold, windy and cloudy weather in May, greatly impacted berry set. 2015, in many respects, is very reminiscent of the 2004 vintage in terms of crop size and warm growing season. Fortunately, unlike 2004, weather during veraison was mild, preserving color development of most Bordeaux and Rhone varietals.  This very warm year in concert with the extremely small crop size prompted an early vintage start in late August. Cabernet Sauvignon yields were down by as much as 60 percent!  Other Bordeaux varietals are down closer to 10 percent. One silver lining is the very high quality red wines.  Color densities are the highest seen in more than a decade.

SAN LUIS OBISPO
Brian Talley, Owner/Winegrower
Talley Vineyards

The consensus of growers and winemakers in San Luis Obispo wine country is that it was early and light. Our region experienced the same early harvest that was typical throughout the state with most growers completing harvest by the third week of September, assisted by the fact that our region is widely planted to the early ripening cool climate varieties of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Low yields resulting from the ongoing drought also contributed to the early harvest. Acidity is higher than 2014 and I expect more concentration of flavor due to the low yields.

SANTA BARBARA
Louis Lucas, Third Generation Grape Grower
Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards

Harvest started a couple of weeks earlier than ever before. Our yields in some varieties, like Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio, are unbelievably low. Both bunch size and berry size are small. This situation is statewide, especially in the coastal regions. Everyone is questioning why. Many things enter into it, like the fact that we had three large crops in a row, an early fall frost, a warm winter, bad weather during flowering, irregular berry set, a lack of winter rains and no deep soil moisture.  Our total production will be down about 50 percent. I do expect the 2015 vintage to be a quality one. We were done harvesting a month early.

SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS
Jason Robideaux, Winemaker
Clos LaChance Wines

The 2015 harvest, much like 2014, came quite early, the earliest harvest to date by nearly a week.  The yields are well below average and looking to be about 20 percent down on our estate in San Martin, and close to 50 percent down on Santa Cruz Mountains’ fruit.  Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards in the mountains took the biggest hit, and in some cases there was not even enough crop load to warrant picking.  On the upside, we are seeing quality in the grapes that we have never seen before.  Berry size is tremendously small, contributing to lower yields, but giving us much higher skin to juice ratio in the fermenter.  We are expecting outstanding quality in 2015 wines, which will make up for lack of quantity.  This will be our earliest finish ever by close to a month on our estate.  Just in time for rains to start filling our thirsty soil profile.

SIERRA FOOTHILLS
Bill Easton, Winemaker
Terre Rouge & Easton Wines

This is our earliest harvest on record due to the ongoing drought and vine set. Quality is very high. Harvest weather has been perfect. In the eight-county Sierra Foothills AVA, some higher-elevation vineyards were affected by wet, cold weather in May with hail, resulting in a poor set and a reduced crop. In much of the Shenandoah Valley, California AVA, the Zinfandel crop remained about the same quantity as last year with good ripeness and acidity. The substantial Butte Fire in Northern Calaveras County had a mostly negligible effect on the Sierra Foothills grape harvest. Its activity was mostly north of important Calaveras County growing regions, and it stayed far south of Amador County wine regions. The smoke from the fire tracked east towards Lake Tahoe and into Nevada. The 2015 vintage will be an exciting year to watch as it matures in our cellars.

SONOMA COUNTY
Pat Henderson, Senior Winemaker
Kenwood Vineyards

The vintage of 2015, the 110th at our Sonoma winery, began early with our Sauvignon Blanc reaching maturity August 18. The early and quick start was due primarily to the weather and the light vineyard yield. Even though the summer was generally mild, last spring’s dry warm weather contributed to early vine development. The quality of the fruit is exceptional: our Sauvignon Blancs are particularly fragrant, and our red wines are showing excellent color and body only a few days into fermentation. While I wish we had more fruit, I couldn’t be happier with how things taste.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA/TEMECULA
Jon McPherson, Master Winemaker
South Coast Winery and Carter Estate Winery

The warm, dry winter and spring seemed drive the vintage once again. The 2015 harvest started early. Most of the white varieties for table wine had been picked by mid-August. Yields on the whites were average to slightly below average. For most of the red varieties, high winds and warm temperatures followed by cool, damp conditions in the spring gave rise to poor set and overall low cluster weights for everything from Alicante to Zinfandel. Many of the Bordelaise varieties were off yield as much as 50 percent. A couple of light monsoonal rainstorms gave a much needed drink to the vines in early September with little to no damage to any of the grapes still hanging. While the actual yields have been low, most of the local producers find that the quality this vintage is exceptionally high.

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Explore Mendocino County on a California Wines Road Trip

New Series Offers Tips on How to Sip, Stay and Play in Wine Country

Mendocino County California Wines Road Trip 2015

SAN FRANCISCO—California wine country offers a variety of experiences to enjoy, from wine regions in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to those along the state’s 800-mile coastline where visitors—and winegrapes—enjoy warm days, cool nights and beautiful beaches. To help visitors explore them all, Wine Institute is launching a new series of California Wines Road Trips. First up in the series: where to sip, stay and play in Mendocino County, located in the North Coast region of the state.

Home to towering redwoods and a foggy coast, Mendocino County winemakers, farmers and artists are drawn to its rugged beauty—more than 90 percent of the land is wild and undeveloped. With a small-town vibe and relaxed hospitality, Mendocino County is a great place to start touring wine country.

SIP: Explore the region’s wineries with this map of Mendocino County wineries. Or use the