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Updated: 16 hours 14 min ago

Somersaulting Toward A Conflict Between Wine and Cannabis

October 19, 2017 - 9:42am

There are certain things that, when they inadvertently catch my attention, waylay me and what I had planned on accomplishing doesn’t get done. An episode of The West Wing appears out of nowhere. A call comes in and the conversation turns to baseball history. My son insists I engage him in a somersault session or discussion on the merits of red versus black M & M’s. (I insist they are identical, but HG assures me they taste different since one...

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Key To Wine Country Fire Recovery: Buying and Selling

October 17, 2017 - 8:16am

Here in Napa wine country, I spent most of last week keeping an eye on the danger, checking in with vulnerable friends and clients and reading the Twitter feed of Sarah Stierch. But I was also exposed to various news articles predicting doom for the Napa, Sonoma and California wine industries. There was a slew of shoddy articles that together gave the impression that either Napa was wiped off the map or that there will be no drinkable wine for...

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The Heroic Efforts of Wine Writer Sarah Stierch During the Wine Country Fires

October 13, 2017 - 11:51am

In moments of disaster, there are always people who step up and go well beyond what could well be expected of them. At 4:11am on Monday Morning, Sarah Stierch, a wine writer located in the town of Sonoma, set out on what has and continues to be a heroic effort to keep her community members informed during what is surely the most trying moments of their lives. At 4:11am on that early morning Sarah sent out this message via Twitter: Westside of...

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What Happens When the Napa Fires Are Out?

October 12, 2017 - 9:51pm

What happens when the fires are out? Clearly, that depends on what you’ve suffered or not suffered. But the question isn’t directed at any individual or at individuals at all. It is directed at the “Napa Valley”. Napa Valley is in the business of growing grapes, making wine and selling that wine. It’s in the business of hospitality. Hosting. The key issue for the industry (and the entire community that depends on the successful industry) is demonstrating to potential customers...

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Cannabis is Coming After the Wine Industry

October 8, 2017 - 7:36pm

The cannabis industry is coming after wine and alcohol. The Cannabis message du jour (and it’s likely to become the message du always) is that cannabis is better for you than alcohol. The claim is often being used as an argument for legalization. But it’s equally as common to find messaging in cannabis marketing and promoting cannabis by its advocates. I could have posted 100 examples of this kind of cannabis marketing. But what’s the point? A quick Google search...

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A Little Hell Just Broke Loose in Napa Wine Country

October 4, 2017 - 12:11pm

A little bit of hell broke loose in Napa Valley recently. And the devil still seems to be on the loose. In 2016 a group of “environmentalists” who seem to be bent on rolling back the wine industry in the Valley gathered enough signatures to put an “Oak Woodlands Preservation” initiative on the local ballot. It was an onerous piece of legislation that would have essentially removed property owners’ rights to plant new vineyards in the Valley because five-inch wide...

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Top Ten Wine Country Golf Courses

October 3, 2017 - 5:43am

This is the week the Professional Golf Tour comes to Wine Country in the form of the Safeway Open being played at Silverado Country Club in Napa. By all accounts, it’s becoming a more and more popular stop on the top professional golf tour based on its location and the hospitality of the Silverado Country Club. Equally alluring is that it occurs in the middle of harvest. In honor of the Tour coming to Napa this week and the deep...

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Wine Wholesalers: It Looks A Lot Like Corruption

September 28, 2017 - 9:56am

It’s sheer arrogance….and an abdication of the responsibility to make an argument. At a recent conference for alcohol beverage attorneys held in Portland earlier this month, a discussion ensued concerning Franchise Laws. Franchise laws generally state that once a producer of alcohol chooses a distributor in a given state, they may not remove themselves from that relationship no matter how incompetent the wholesaler and even if the wholesaler is sold to another wholesaler. They amount to protection for alcohol wholesalers...

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The Amazon Wine Store May Need To Shut Down — Or Change

September 24, 2017 - 4:19pm

Does AmazonWine need to disappear because it’s unlawful? Recall that the AmazonWine service is a departure for the behemoth retailer. Wine is not sold by Amazon. Instead, wineries pay what amounts to a listing or advertising fee to display their products on Amazon, but it’s the wineries that actually sell the wine, not Amazon. In fact, AmazonWine was created without Amazon possessing any alcohol retailer licenses. Now, consider a recent ruling in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California...

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Jesus, Confucius, Mohammed, Buddha and Wine Wholesalers

September 20, 2017 - 9:47am

America’s wine and spirit wholesalers are touting a new “economic impact study” (which they paid for), that shows American wine and spirit wholesalers are the most wonderful people ever—only slightly less important than Jesus, Confucius, Mohammed and the Buddha. “American Family-owned wine and spirits wholesalers are local marketing, brand building and logistics experts for beverage alcohol brands…and are the central link of the three-tier beverage alcohol market between wineries, distilleries, and retailers…Our industry is a powerful economic engine that supports...

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Marketing Wine, Sex Toys and Cannabis — Differences and Similarities

September 13, 2017 - 4:14pm

What if wines were reviewed like cannabis strains? 2015 Fermentationblog Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Just looking at this beastly purple grog tells me I’m in for a sloshy night. It sports dense, heady blueberry aromas that beckon and the taste is not so different, but with a premonition of its potency. After a glass, I already felt the first jolt of its 14.5 alc. Two glasses and my eyes felt that familiar heaviness that comes of cab imbibing. After four glasses its fruity...

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14 Ways To Present Wine To Consumers

September 11, 2017 - 10:19am

In a three-minute speech at the London Institute of Masters of Wine, reproduced at Decanter Magazine, Master of Wine Natasha Hughes warned her peers that by presenting, talking about and categorizing wine in the same old ways—by country, varietal or style—they will fail the consumer and fail the wine trade. She concludes her flash talk this way: “We’ve got to remember that for most people, wine is part of a lifestyle that includes food and conviviality, rather than being a goal...

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Napa Valley’s Appellations Are Near Meaningless

September 8, 2017 - 10:57am

Richard Mendelson’s newish book, “Appellations Napa Valley” is a fantastic tome. Written in a personal, first person voice that reflects Mendelson’s vast experience with the development of the Valley’s various sub appellations as well as his obvious and genuine affinity for this part of the world, the coffee table-style book is a unique and necessary addition to the Napa Valley Wine bibliography. However, the subject of the book brings up an important question that has been asked before: Do Napa...

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Dear Wine Lovers….30 Seconds Is All It Takes

September 4, 2017 - 9:22am

Seven years ago, Massachusetts wine shipping law was ruled to be discriminatory and unconstitutional. It took four years for the state to pass a new wine shipping law. Now, three years after that, the state can finish the job. When Massachusetts passed its wine shipping law in 2014, it failed to allow Bay Staters to purchase wine from out-of-state wine stores and retailers, only from out-of-state wineries. The result was a severely flawed law that left thousands and thousands of...

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Wine and the Seduction of Drinkers

August 24, 2017 - 10:58am

How can wine be an emotional trigger point for drinkers? How can it invoke emotion in its users that in turn provokes them to invest more time and money in the product and, potentially, a brand? These were the questions left unanswered by Reka Haros in a recently published and well-circulated article in which she admonishes the wine industry for a lack of emotionally engaging content in its advertising and marketing. Ms. Haros’ case is best summed up when she...

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A Tale of Crime, Greed, Stupidity and Excess in the Wine World

August 21, 2017 - 9:05pm

Among those arts and crafts that inspire possession by collectors and connoisseurs, wine is the only one that cannot be appreciated and experienced collectively. Wine also delivers the shortest period during which a collectible can be experienced. While a Picasso will be experienced and appreciated for ages as long as visual images are preserved, a wine can only offer its true nature from the time it is opened until consumed. I mention this important fact in the context of recommending...

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Confirmation Bias Distorts Understanding of Wine Industry

August 21, 2017 - 7:24am

Robert Joseph writing in Meininger’s Wine Business International cogently reminds wine industry observers that the tendency toward unreliable reliance on confirmation bias is far too likely to skew our understanding of trends and change in the wine industry and warns that things like Natural Wine, mineral-driven wine styles, and artificial cork may not be the fast-evolving trends many claim: The fact that a vociferous group of people with hipster beards in New York restaurants are to be seen drinking natural...

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Wine in the Wake of Charlottesville

August 17, 2017 - 6:55am

Do Americans drink more during moments of cultural upheaval? Do they reach for the bottle when its culture and people are ignited and roiled by doubt, consternation and the unknown? We know Americans drink more when they collectively celebrate. Just ask beer producers around Independence Day. Talk to wine retailers about their sales in advance of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Query sparkling wine producers about sales on December 31. As we watch the Charlottesville debacle and tragedy play out, are we examining...

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It’s Official: Cannabis and Wine are a Poor Pairing

August 3, 2017 - 8:42pm

Cannabis and wine are alike only in the same way that wine is like carrots. Both are produced with plants. I’ve been inching toward this conclusion for quite some time. However, it took the experience of listening to presenters and exhibitors at Wine Industry Network‘s brilliantly produced Wine & Weed Symposium on Thursday, for me to fully embrace this conclusion. This was not, however, the conclusion being delivered at the Symposium. Nor is it the position that the Cannabis legalization...

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The Pros and Cons of Living in Napa Valley

July 28, 2017 - 2:34pm

The longer you live in the paradise known as Napa Valley, the more you appreciate the benefits and downside of being a resident of paradise and the more apparent the “Quality of Life Equation” becomes. And there is an equation. On The Positive Side: CLIMATE: There simply is no arguing this point: The climate in Napa Valley is a near perfect environment for humans. The air is dry, save for the quickly developing and dissipating fog, which is itself moderate and...

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