Wine Making // Category

Category based archive
17 Aug

For the last five years, Mr. Terrien and Ms. Henry, along with Mr. Terrien’s childhood friend Eric Martin, and Mr. Martin’s wife, Meredith McMonigle, have been making Bluet, a sparkling wine of wild blueberries with nothing added but yeast for fermentation.

They make two styles: One, in tiny amounts, is made using the same method as Champagne, producing first a still wine and then refermenting it in a bottle to produce bubbles. The other, made in larger quantities, is produced like most Proseccos, carbonated in bulk in a pressurized tank.

Bluet’s most recent version of the Prosecco-style wine, bottled with a screw cap, smelled like violets, roses and, yes, blueberries. It was exuberant yet dry and savory, and, at 7 percent alcohol, deliciously easy to drink.

The bottle-fermented wine, packaged like Champagne in a cork-topped bottle, is more contemplative. The 2017 was deeper, subtler, lightly savory and quietly complex. It, too, was about 7 percent alcohol, near the upper limit for blueberry wines. The two bottles made me wonder, why has this never been done before?

For as long as humans have cultivated fruit, they have made some form of fruit wine. Fermentation is really just another form of preservation, after all, creating a tasty and intoxicating alternative to jams, pickles and other sometimes desperate efforts to conserve every last bit of summer’s abundance.

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17 Aug

PASO ROBLES, Calif., August 13, 2019 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — O’Neill Vintners & Distillers, a leading California producer of premium wine brands, announces the launch of the new wine brand, ‘Intercept’ in partnership with wine aficionado, television personality, retired football superstar, and one of the all-time leaders in NFL interceptions, Charles Woodson. Intercept is a new line of wines from Paso Robles and Monterey County that plans to bring Charles Woodson’s passion for wine to every table in America. Vintages will include a cabernet sauvignon, red blend, pinot noir and Chardonnay. Intercept focuses on the journey instead of the results, leadership instead of influence, and accessibility instead of exclusivity.

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17 Aug

An on-again, off-again rejection and appeal for a proposed 10,000 case winery at 4603 Westside Road is now off and may be permanently scrubbed after it was first filed for zoning and use permits in May 2014 and rejected by the county’s Board of Zoning Adjustments on a 5-0 vote in June 2017.

The Rudd winery proposal was recently scheduled for appeal hearings in front of the Board of Supervisors, first on July 23 and then delayed to Aug. 20. Last week, the applicant, Backen, Gilliam & Kroegar Architects and Broken Hill LLC informed the county it was dropping its appeal. The supervisors will still have the appeal on their Aug. 20 agenda at 3 p.m. At that time, they can acknowledge the withdrawal. With that action, the appellant will not be able to renew any appeals in the future, according to Permit Sonoma staff.

Calls to the applicant this week were not returned.

The BZA panel voted 5-0 in 2017 to deny the project, citing immitigable traffic safety issues at the location between two sharp curves in the road. An updated winery proposal that was to be reviewed Aug. 20 is unchanged except for the addition of a widened entrance, according to Permit Sonoma notices.

The Westside Community Association (WSA) has formally opposed the project at all previous public hearings and in written complaints. Much of the neighbor’s testimony at the hearings focused on the “cumulative impacts” of adding another winery to a 12-mile rural stretch of Westside Road which is already the location of 22 wineries and tasting rooms. The scenic route that parallels the Russian River between Healdsburg, Wohler Bridge and Hacienda is also a popular bicycle event route, adding to weekend traffic totals.

The proposed Rudd winery would be located less than a half mile on each side from two other wineries with public tasting rooms, MacRostie Winery & Vineyards and Bacigalupi Vineyards.

“We want the Board of Supervisors to affirm the BZA decision due to the compelling reasons they cited over traffic safety,” said WSA member Marc Bommersbach. “What they (applicant) are proposing with their changes really doesn’t reduce the road safety issues.”

Beyond the local road safety concerns, Bommersbach and the WSA also have listed concerns over the larger impacts to the “rural character” of the Westside Road area. “We understand that wineries need tasting room visitors and activities. But too many wineries with so many events leads to a compounding effect.”

Bommersbach is serving on a Winery Working Group task force appointed by the supervisors in 2014. The group’s report and findings have been sitting on a shelf at PRMD while the county government and planners have been working overtime on new cannabis regulations and impacts from the recent wildfires.

There are actually three working groups. Besides Westside, there is a Dry Creek Valley and Sonoma valley group. The groups were tasked with defining allowable uses and activities on agricultural zoned lands and the limits of winery-hosted public and private events.

“That’s the biggest question,” said Bommersbach, who lives 1.3 miles from the proposed Rudd winery. “It’s a countywide issue when you see complaints about parties, crowds and live music. We need specific regulations.”

Commissioner Pam Davis also favors more clear use and zoning definitions. “Right now we have regulation by complaint,” meaning county staff only inspects a winery’s compliance to its original use permit when a neighbor might file a formal complaint.

Editor’s Note: Rollie Atkinson is a Westside Road resident.

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17 Aug

Greg Norman Estates has announced the transition of its business from Treasury Wine Estates to Old Bridge Cellars, the Napa-based wine company. The transition took place on Aug. 1.

Greg Norman Estates launched in 1999 as a joint venture partnership between then Fosters Wine Estates and Australian-born Hall of Fame golfer Greg Norman.

The partnership kicked off with the 1996 vintage Cabernet-Merlot from Coonawarra, South Australia. The brand has grown to encompass a diverse portfolio, including several bottlings from Australia, varietals from California and New Zealand.

Initially, the focus of the partnership with Old Bridge Cellars will include a rebranding and re-appellating of core varietals in the Greg Norman Estates portfolio. They will be responsible for all sourcing, winemaking, strategic planning, sales and marketing for the Greg Norman Estates brand.

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17 Aug

Seedlip, “the world’s first non-alcoholic spirit” has just been acquired (for an undisclosed sum) by global drinks corporation Diageo, owners of Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, and Guinness. This is a bold acquisition for a company that has historically been focussed on alcohol.

The acquisition comes 5 years after Founder Ben Branson quit his job in marketing to follow his entrepreneurial instinct, experimenting with distillation and botanicals on his family farm. The clear signal from Diageo is that they now believe there is a big market opportunity in premium non-alcoholic drinks; that Seedlip is a “game changer” product innovation in FMCG.

Blue Ocean Innovation Success

Founder and teetotaller Ben Branson, 36, has broken through against the odds, by pioneering a new category of non-alcoholic drinks, for adults; ‘distilled non-alcoholic spirits’. The company has demonstrated extraordinary sales potential, and is sustaining a remarkable price point normally costing around $48 (£40) a liter. A non-alcoholic Seedlip cocktail in The Savoy will cost you £12 ($14.44). 

Ben’s first sale was 1,000 bottles to London department store Selfridges, which reportedly sold out within a week. By August 2018, 3-years-since-launch, the little-known and under-stated British start-up was producing 30,000 bottles per month, and is now distributing to 25 countries. Growth has been reported at 170% Y-O-Y by The Financial Times.

Benchmark Seedlip’s astonishing retail price against competitors, and it is easy to recognise this as a Blue Ocean innovation story, breaking all the rules to create white space. Let’s compare it with Bottle Green Elderflower Presse, another up-market soft-drink. Both require mixers. The elderflower is retailing at £4.30/litre, positioned as a cordial (just add water). Seedlip is almost 10X more expensive, positioned as a ‘spirit’, for ‘grown-ups’; served by 300 Michelin star restaurants, and very much aligned with premium gin, in its bottling, retail display, and recommended mixers. It is perhaps not surprising then, that the world’s largest spirit-maker acquired a majority stake in Seedlip at this exciting stage, following on from their earlier investment.

Innovation Timing – The Kairos Moment

Timing seems instrumental to the success of any breakthrough product innovation. Ancient Greek philosophers called this kairos – why now? It is very hard to imagine this succeeding 10 years ago. Ben has lucked out on timing. Indeed, Seedlip was Diageo’s first ever investment in non-alcoholic drinks, taking a minority stake in 2016, through Distill Ventures, which has helped with start-up costs, distribution and marketing. 

The investment broke a 257-year-rule, of betting on alcoholic drinks exclusively. How times change. Perhaps they were encouraged by the meteoric rise of drinks brand Fever Tree, the British unicorn start-up that has similarly challenged incumbents, and subsequently IPOed on the London Stock Exchange. FeverTree’s share price has risen by more than 1,000% since flotation in 2014, to a market cap of $2.63 billion (£2.19 billion). Not a bad result for start-up innovators with the vision and passion to reinvent the market for tonic water.

Concurrently, there has been negative pressure to innovate, with UK alcohol consumption falling 26% between 2002 and 2012. Changing tastes have lead to some winners, with gin becoming a surprise hit; helping Fever Tree to no end. Booze is down, but gin is up. Macro-market forces are pressuring big alcohol companies to think differently; enough incentive to risk capital on this counter-intuitive start-up innovation, that many would have viewed as outlandish. Or mad. Diageo appear to have done very well from this gutsy seed investment however, getting a privileged view on the company from the early stages. It is theirs to play with now.


Product Positioning

Seedlip’s seductive product positioning has been its core genius. The 3 current products elegantly bridge the gap between a conventional soft drink, and ‘grown-up’ drinks like wine or whisky. It’s a kind-of-gin-without-the-gin option, appealing to people who like gin, but can’t drink because they are driving, or are in the growing ranks of the sober curious. 

You don’t even need to like gin to like Seedlip, although a taste for tonic water is essential. Don’t drink it on it’s own. No. The novelty makes for good ice-breaker-conversation at corporate events, no doubt, and it works well as a placebo for those experimenting with Dry January. For the growing number of tee-totallers, it’s a new way to drink at events, at bars or at home, and feel completely at ease about it. Classy, and sophisticated even. Definitely grown-up.

Alcohol Market Changes in 2019

A cynic would say that Diageo is using this brand as a stalking horse, to deflect the attention of regulators, politicians, and public health pressure groups. They might point to Seedlip’s tiny market share, or the percentage of sales against Diageo’s dozens of alcoholic products, or indeed, Diageo’s track record on acquisitions. At this stage, sales of Seedlip are tiny by comparison to any big brand liquor. The relative sums involved in the investment will be similarly small. Ignore all this.

Seedlip’s growth hypothesis is now about to be tested aggressively. Diageo clearly believe that this is the beginning of a new market category – foreseeing a significant market change. They are going to pursue this as a major growth opportunity. Craft drink sales are on the rise. There’s a measured and sustained increase in people actively seeking non-alcoholic drinks. Dry January has gone mainstream in awareness; 10% of alcohol drinkers planned for it in 2019 (4.2 million people in the UK).

There is evidence of a resilient trend for premium products with story value; demand for ‘everyday luxuries’. We have seen this trend across all kinds of consumer products in recent years, from memory-foam mattresses going mainstream, to $1,000 iPhones, to premium burger brands challenging McDonald’s on quality. 

Scotch single malt brands have positioned as premium for many years now, as has gin more recently. High margins make business sense, and ultimately pulling this off comes down to brand and distribution. Diageo has made handsome profits by doing this with spirits for generations, carefully acquiring products on the rise, and positioning their vast portfolio as premium; generally avoiding low-margin commodity plays. Now, they plan to do it again with non-alcoholic drinks that could otherwise threaten their market share. They are investing in disruption, to stay ahead.

How Much Does Seedlip Cost to Make?

Seedlip costs of production are a commercial secret. It is too soon to reverse-out an estimate from company accounts and reported sales figures. Diageo will find ways to keep it secret. We do know that the company reports a 6-week production process. While it does require distillation, this type of product doesn’t need to age in a barrel for 3 years (or 30), like whisky. Some herbs are required, and of course water.

Seedlip has another secret in its pricing that vastly inflates the profit margins. It’s premium price point of $48 a litre puts it on a par with high end gins and malt whiskys, the kinds of products that consumers are encouraged to compare it to. But alcoholic spirits face 61.1% tax through British alcohol duty and VAT. Avoiding the U.K’s alcohol tax means Seedlip nets an estimated £11.49 ($13.83) bonus margin per litre in its home market. The retailers will enjoy higher margins, for their share of this, which motivates them to sell it. At scale, Seedlip can afford to do crazy things with the brand. Perhaps they will sponsor three Formula1 racing teams at the same time?

Manufacturing and distribution is likely to cost less than the retail price of Bottle Green’s cordial. The most expensive element of the product is probably the bottle, which has been elegantly designed to distinguish the brand and signal ‘sophisticated adult drink’ without trying too hard. 

“Game Changing Drinks Product”

Having proven the value hypothesis, and distributed widely, they can now expect some fierce competition. The category will likely broaden too, welcoming new entrants like Nine Elms; a surprisingly sophisticated alternative to wine, which has similarly attracted the attention of top restaurateurs, retailers, and bars. Successes like this won’t go unnoticed at Coca-Cola, for example, who have recently acquired British-international coffee brand Costa for $5.1 billion. Diageo will in turn have to invest heavily in this brand to sustain their competitive advantage, and to scale-up successfully. This is what they do. But it will require a lot more money.

John Kennedy, President Europe, Turkey and India at Diageo commented: “Seedlip is a game-changing brand in one of the most exciting categories in our industry. We’re thrilled to continue working with [Ben] to grow what we believe will be a global drinks giant of the future.”

The race for market dominance is now on. Will competitors rush to market now with well-funded copy-cat products? Whether Seedlip can maintain its pricing under pressure remains to be seen, but having an authentic start-up story and keeping the founder involved will help. 

This is a great British start-up success going global, and definitely one to watch. Bold moves and great timing have paid off for the founder. Seedlip is marketing genius. The product is genius. More than anything, the profit margins are genius. Ben Branson has out-foxed the market, seizing the moment, and broken new ground on premium pricing. Notably, The Founder maintains a minority share and Directorship in the business, giving him a free swing at future success following this sale. Presumably he’s not yet ready to retire in his mid-thirties, so let’s hope he comes back to market soon, with another exciting innovation that surprises, and delights. 

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17 Aug

An elusive wreath of carbon has made its long-awaited debut.

Scientists created a molecule called cyclocarbon and imaged its structure, describing the ring of 18 carbon atoms online August 15 in Science. The work unveils a new face of one of chemistry’s most celebrated elements.

“It’s not every day that you make a new form of carbon,” says chemist Rik Tykwinski of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, who was not involved with the research. The result had eluded chemists for so long that Tykwinski had placed a bet about whether cyclocarbon would be created and imaged. “I basically won a bottle of scotch from a friend,” he says.

Cyclocarbon joins other forms of the versatile element, including diamond, graphite, thin sheets called graphene, tiny spheres known as buckyballs and miniature cylinders called carbon nanotubes.

Chemists thought that it should be possible to create the ring-shaped molecules of carbon. But until now, nobody knew what their properties would be, says physicist Katharina Kaiser of IBM Research in Zurich.It’s really amazing that we found it and it’s absolutely great that we could characterize it.”

In the lab, Kaiser and colleagues started with molecules of cyclocarbon oxide, which consist of carbon atoms arranged in a loop with additional carbon monoxide groups attached to the atoms. Removing the carbon monoxide to create the coveted new form of carbon is no easy task; those groups help to stabilize the molecule. Using an atomic force microscope, the researchers managed to pluck off the extraneous carbon monoxide by applying voltages to the molecule.


Eventually, the procedure yielded a bare ring of carbon, which the team imaged with the microscope. Cyclocarbon reacts easily with other substances, so to isolate it, the team created the new carbon molecule on an inert surface of table salt.

Previous research had found hints of cyclocarbon molecules in a gas. But that work didn’t satisfy chemists’ curiosity because it wasn’t possible to image the molecule and confirm its structure. In particular, it was unclear if the bonds between each atom would alternate between longer and shorter lengths, known as single and triple bonds, or whether all the bonds would be the same length, or double bonds. The new study resolves the debate, revealing that the carbon atoms are held together by alternating single and triple bonds.

That conclusion could help scientists refine the complex computer calculations that are used to predict the structures of unknown molecules. “There’s still a big question whether many of these … calculations give the right answer, so it’s very important to confirm by experiment,” says chemist Yves Rubin of UCLA, who was not involved with the study.

Previous work on new forms of carbon has been received with great excitement. The discovery in the 1980s of buckyballs and the family of molecules that includes them, fullerenes, garnered a Nobel Prize and much additional research (SN: 10/19/96, p. 247). Likewise, the 2004 discovery of graphene was honored with a Nobel and followed by investigations of potential applications in electronics, for example (SN Online: 10/5/10).

But because cyclocarbon isn’t stable, it can’t be bottled up for further study. So, for now, it’s not clear how wide-ranging the new molecule’s impact will be.

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16 Aug

“We have a built environment that we would probably never do today in the density that’s here,” said David Noren, a Sebastopol resident and a longtime member of the North Coast water board, which is based in Santa Rosa. “And so we’re looking at trying to retrofit, through a program of implementation here, to retrofit and make better a wastewater collection and treatment system, whether it be collectively or individually. And that’s a tall order, no doubt about it.”

With its headwaters in Mendocino County, the Russian River supplies drinking water to over 600,000 people, while bolstering irrigation supplies for farms, sustaining wildlife, and serving as a popular destination for generations of visitors, from fishermen to paddlers and sunbathers.

But the water body has suffered under the pressures of urban and rural development, dam building and the heavier-handed legacies of logging, mining and farming that take a toll to this day.

It remains impaired in the eyes of water quality regulators because of problems not only with bacterial contamination, but also excessive sediment loads and high water temperatures. The new regulations were needed, officials said, to address the bacteria issue and comply with state and federal laws governing water standards for recreational use.

The Sonoma County Health Department monitors the 10 most popular public river beaches to ensure fecal bacteria levels remain below acceptable thresholds, so the river remains safe for swimming and other recreation, officials said.

Hopkins made that point to applause on Wednesday.

“I would take my 6-month old son to vacation and have fun and swim in the Russian River,” she said. “Please know that it’s open for business.”

But the regional board has an obligation to ensure the watershed can consistently meet water quality objectives and does not decline. It has sought to address bacterial sources through a variety of means, including a follow-up discussion on Thursday focused on dairies, but the issue of septic systems has consistently garnered the greatest public interest.

“I’m here out of grave concern for my neighbors in Hacienda, and all up and down the Russian River,” said Phil Grosse, who emerged Wednesday from a crowd of local residents opposed to the new regulations

Grosse read words and phrases culled from written comments submitted by the public: “Overly expansive, unreasonable, inequitable, unsupported, overkill, unaffordable, unconscionable, impossible and potentially catastrophic.”

“This will be a disaster for the lower Russian River,” he said. “People will lose their homes.”

The final plan targets parcels that are within at least 600 feet of certain areas of the Russian River and specific tributaries. Less extensive zones were drawn around seasonal streams.

Many of the program details are not yet worked out, though water board staff members promised robust public outreach in the months and years ahead.

The first step will be for property owners notified by the water board to report back with whatever they know about their waste treatment system: what it includes, how it works, when it was installed, for example.

The water board staff expects this assessment to take about five years and provide information that will help guide how they proceed with the rest of the program.

After that, affected property owners will need to start having their waste systems inspected every five years and make appropriate repairs or upgrades where required, including replacing cesspools, which will no longer be allowed in the county, and, in many cases, adding enhanced treatment components, like ultraviolet radiation, to ensure all waste is fully treated.

The regional board also anticipates that some neighborhoods will come together to work on a collective treatment approach, particularly where the landscape is not hospitable to a septic system.

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16 Aug

Treasury Wine Estate’s Barossa expansion to fuel Chinese wine boom

The world’s largest publicly listed winemaker has announced a huge investment in a leading Barossa Valley winery in South Australia.

Australia-based Treasury Wine Estates told investors yesterday morning that it would spend up to $215 million at its Wolf Blass Bilyara winery site near Nuriootpa, about 70 kilometres northeast of Adelaide, over the next 24 months.

The funds will be pumped into expanding production, processing and storage infrastructure at the Barossa Valley facility.

Treasury – which owns Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Rosemount Estates – also unveiled a $419.5 million full-year net profit yesterday.

The figure is 16 per cent higher than last year.

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, the company said the infrastructure spend at Bilyara winery would increase its winemaking capacity, drive production efficiency and expand its storage capacity.

“The investment includes an additional production line, processing infrastructure and the construction of additional barrel storage facilities,” the report says.

“Total capital investment is expected to be between $150 million and $180 million and will be incurred over the course of (financial year 2020) and (financial year 2021).

“In addition, one off costs of approximately $35 million are expected to be incurred in FY20.”

The wine giant says the investment is part of its continuing “premiumisation strategy”, which also includes buying production and vineyard assets in the Bordeaux region of France.

The company’s total revenue rose 15.5% to $2.88 billion for the 12 months to June 30 and then lifted its fully franked final dividend by 3 cents to 20 cents.

Wine Australia last month released its Export Report for the 12 months to June 2019, which showed Australian wine exports to China (including Hong Kong and Macau) had reached a financial year record, increasing 7 per cent in value to $1.2 billion.

Overall, the value of Australia’s wine exports increased by 4% in value to $2.86 billion over the 12 months, driven by the Chinese exports and a return to growth in the United States.

TWE’s earnings in Asia jumped 43% to $293.5 million for the year.

“The results announced today demonstrate the exceptional returns we are delivering for our shareholders, and they are a direct result of the investments and structural change our team has made in our global business over the past five years,” TWE chief executive Michael Clarke said.

“We look to the future with confidence, knowing that we have the people, the brands, the wine, the business models and the customer partnerships to continue delivering sustainable, margin accretive growth.”

South Australia produces about half of Australia’s wine and 80% of its premium wine, much of which is produced in the Barossa Valley.

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16 Aug

A new study finds tiny pieces of plastic pollution permeate the Earth’s atmosphere, falling down to earth in snowfall even in the most remote corners of the globe. Samples taken off the remote Arctic island of Svalbard showed an average of nearly 1,800 microplastic particles per liter of snow, with pollution levels at some European sampling locations more than 10 times higher. Writing in the journal Science Advances, researchers called for more studies on the effects of plastic pollution on human health. They cited a 1998 study that found inhaled microplastics may contribute to the risk of lung cancer.

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16 Aug

Auctioneer Ursula Hermacinski and Steve Warner – Private Barrel Auction, Auction of Washington State Wines

Woodinville, Wash., – It’s good to be a premium winemaker in Washington state. On August 15, Auction of Washington State Wines Private Barrel Auction raised $300,000 at Novelty Hill-Januik Winery to benefit Seattle Children’s and Washington State University (WSU) Viticulture and Enology Program.

Part of the three-day Auction of Washington Wines (AWW) program, the Private Barrel Auction provides wine trade, collectors and industry members the opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind Washington state prestige wines unavailable elsewhere. Auctioneer Ursula Hermacinski gaveled with gusto, with a little assistance from Steve Warner, President of Washington State Wine. Now in its fifth year, over forty Washington state wineries from Walla Walla to Woodinville offered up their best lots, blends and barrels.

“I think that this is a really unique style of auction,” says Private Barrel Auction Executive Director Jamie Peha. “It follows in the footsteps of Premiere Napa Valley, the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Auction, and the Sonoma County Barrel Auction. We’re all looking for the same audience, which is the trade who want to buy something unique for their top clients. And we’re also trying to raise the acclaim of Washington wine across the country.”

Peha upped the auction ante this year by introducing new ‘Barrel Series’ and ‘Vintner’s Blend’ lots. Barrel Series #1 synced wunderkind sommelier-turned-winemaker Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen of W.T. Vintners (with growers Dick and Luanne Boushey. The partnership produced a single barrel of 2018 Syrah from Boushey Birdhouse Block and Grand Côte, two cool-climate sites. Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen said Barrel Series #1 “defies logic,” made with about 85% whole cluster, foot-trodden, followed by spontaneous fermentation and malo, then aged in neutral barrique. “We actually blended this lot after pressing,” he says, “So it’s been together since day one. It’s not even born yet – it’s got a long way to go in it’s evolution, but I’m really excited for its future.”

Vintner’s Blend #1 combined the triple talents of winemakers Chris Peterson of Avennia, Louis Skinner of Betz Family Winery, and Jason Gorski of DeLille Cellars with sommelier Nelson Daquip of Canlis. Together, they made 15 cases of 2017 Bordeaux Blend. “One of the reasons that we created the Vintners’ Blend,” said Peha, “which is a combination of wineries and a local sommelier, is to develop a unique wine for the local trade to purchase, so they can build awareness for the Private Barrel Auction brand – something just for them. This very first Vintner’s Blend we sold entirely to local trade, retailers and restaurateurs, so we came into the auction with that already on the books.”

Treveri Cellars presented a 2017 Blanc de Blancs brut of 100% Chardonnay, and Syncline Winery offered a 2014 Scintillation Extended Tirage Blanc de Noirs produced from almost 50 year old Pinot Noir vines grown in the Columbia Gorge.“This is the first time we’ve had white wine at all,” admits Peha, “and wines from the Gorge.”

Quilceda Creek commanded over $18,000 for their individual lot of 2016 Syrah from Champoux Vineyard on Horse Heaven Hills. “Every year, I come back, and the quality just keeps getting better and better,”Quilceda Creek’s Alex Stewart said, “And it goes to support an incredibly great cause.”

Newcomer Liminal turned heads with their inaugural Red Mountain 2018 Syrah. Formerly launched as Red Mountain Elevated, Liminal’s entry made a statement. “This is us jumping in with both feet head over barrel into Red Mountain, and we couldn’t be more excited about it,” says Marty Taucher of Avennia, who joins forces on the project with winemaker Chris Peterson and Weathereye Vineyard’s Cameron Myhrvold and Ryan Johnson. “It’s a great time to take advantage of fantastic interest and attention, not just around the Private Barrel Auction, but around the whole Auction of Washington Wine, which is a spectacular event. And, we’re raising money for Washington State University’s Viticulture and Enology program, which is really important for the future of the industry.”

For host winery NoveltyHill-Januik, it was also a chance to give back to the Washington state wine community. “We’ve been very fortunate in our lives in the Washington wine industry,” second-generation winemaker Andrew Januik said. “It’s provided us a livelihood for over 30 years, and a sense of community. So this is a way for us to pay back slightly what we’ve gotten from it. And it’s fun having everybody here, bringing their different and unique wines. We’re just trying to do our little part.”

Participants traveled from all parts of the country to attend the event, from Florida to Colorado, California and Oregon. “We hit another record at $300,000 for the Private Barrel Auction, which is great,” Peha said. “I think that hitting another record two years in row is pretty awesome. And this is just something great to build on.”

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Novelty-Hill Januik Winery – Auction of Washington State Wine Private Barrel Auction

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Andrew Januik and Dr Thomas Henick-Kling, Washington State University Viticulture and Enology program

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Jamie Peha, Executive Director – Private Barrel Auction, Auction of Washington State Wines with Randy McLeod of A Good Year Wine

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