Wine Making // Category

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16 Jun

“The Petite Masters” Panel & Tasting Reception, hosted by P.S. I Love You, a historic journey with the American heritage grape Petite Sirah, and the top taste makers from Napa, Sonoma, and beyond.  

Discover Petite Sirah’s extraordinary journey to America and how the formidable pioneer forged a cornerstone in America’s rich wine history. Today, this all-American varietal is a grape on the move and trending in popularity among winemakers and savvy consumers alike. Enjoy a fascinating and informative roundtable tasting with notable winemakers specializing in premium Petite Sirah.

You’ll hear from top taste-makers, including George Urquiola of Robert Biale Vineyards, Stephanie Douglas of Aratas Wine, Randle Johnson of The Hess Collection and Artezin Wines, Julie Johnson of Tres Sabores Winery, and Miro Tcholakov of Miro Cellars and Trentadue Winery. These panelists will be joined by other Napa Valley producers to share why they are passionate about producing Petite Sirah.

Following an informative conversation, you’ll have the opportunity to sample stylistic Petite Sirah from 20 California producers. The wines will be paired with gourmet bites from CIA chefs.

P.S. I Love You is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote, educate, and legitimize Petite Sirah as a heritage variety, with a special emphasis on its terroir uniqueness.

Participating Wineries:



TICKETS: Admission for this event is $65. Tickets are limited with advance purchase suggested. This event is for guests 21+ only.

WILL CALL: Will Call will be located through the main entrance in our atrium.

FOOD & BEVERAGE: Tickets are all-inclusive of food and beverage. You must be 21 or over to purchase and consume alcohol. We do not allow outside food or beverages.

PARKING: There is parking in the lot directly outside The CIA at Copia as well as across the street, but the lots can get crowded. Plan to arrive early or carpool. Uber and Lyft are good options too!

CELEBRATE: We host a variety of public events throughout the year. See what’s coming up next!

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15 Jun

The UK wine market has long been trying to push the average price of major wine brands up and away from the £5 to £6 price bracket. E&J Gallo went further than most when in 2010 it introduced Dark Horse to push £10. Nearly 10 years on Helen Arnold talks to head winemaker behind the brand, Beth Liston, about how it has grown, what she has brought to the label and how Gallo hopes new varieties such as Malbec can help grow not only Dark Horse’s own position, but branded wines in general.

The UK wine industry has been crying out for major wine brands that can push prices up closer to £10. E&J Gallo’s Dark Horse Californian wine brand was introduced to do just that. 

How did you get into the wine business?
After completing my undergrad work at California Poly in San Luis Obispo, there were hundreds of wineries within an hour in each direction. I had a bunch of friends working in tasting rooms and that seemed like a cool job so the day after I turned 21 I got a job at a tasting room for a winery that specialized in methode champenoise sparkling production.


Head winemaker, Beth Liston, has become very much part of Dark Horse’s success

I immediately fell in love with the industry, the combination of art and science, and how every day – and harvest – presents a new challenge. I got a minor in Wine and Viticulture and then worked in sales for a couple of years before going back to school to study for a Food Science graduate programme focusing on oenology. I’ve been with Gallo for 14 years and have also spent harvests in Napa and in South Australia.

How would you describe your winemaking philosophy?
My winemaking philosophy really revolves around constantly learning and challenging yourself in everything you do. Always asking how we can make better wine, make different wine, or make it more efficiently. Always pulling inspiration from everything around us, not just the wine industry, but everything from craft beer trends, cocktail trends, or travel experiences.

Dark Horse was only launched in 2010. Why was it introduced and what were the brand’s objectives?

We wanted to produce a wine that surprised and delighted consumers, and something we would be happy to share with our family and friends. We wanted to produce a wine that over-delivered on price point, that is affordable to the mass market but something that tastes like it is much more premium. We used premium wine making techniques, something that is not normally done on this scale.

Tell us about the wines in the range, and the newly launched Malbec.

Malbec is the fastest growing of the top 10 wine varietals in the UK, so we have harnessed that growing trend with our new launch. With the varietal up by 18%, we expect it to further help grow the brand as we deliver NPD that meets the needs of our consumers. It’s a bold wine with a big personality, and has rich notes of dark plum and blackberry, dark chocolate and a hint of spice, resulting in a plush, smooth finish. Other Dark Horse wines available in the UK include a Rose, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, all of which retail at £8.50.

Dark Horse has looked to push brands up the premium ladder

What are the key consumer trends driving wine sales?

One of the key trends we are seeing is the shift towards dry rosé. Despite the US as a whole being slow in getting onto the rosé bandwagon, we came out early and strong with our Provencal varietal, and were pretty successful getting ahead and being competitive with that trend. The versatility of a dry rosé such as Dark Horse means that it’s very easy to pair with a range of foods and summer occasions relative to other grape varietals. It’s the perfect wine to accompany summer barbecue foods such as burgers and chips and dips. In the US we are also seeing a move towards new formats and packaging.

Cans are an area we are moving into and this is a sector which has exploded dramatically. Where once you used to only see five or six brands in cans, there is now much more choice, and I think in the next 12 months you will see a huge growth in the format, and also a growth in premium wines in cans.

Premium wines are also driving still wine growth with consumers increasingly 
spending more on their wine choices, with an additional £200+ million spent on
wine priced at £7+ in 2018 versus 2017. This more premium price point is growing in revenue by 21% while Dark Horse has grown by over 50% in value.

What do you think is the appeal of these alternative formats?

I think cans open the door to lots of venues such as sporting events, music festivals, and concerts. If you are going camping or to the beach with friends, cans are extremely portable, and are far more convenient than bag in box wines. Tetra hasn’t taken off in the US the way it has elsewhere, though I can see the appeal of basically having wine on tap in your fridge. But I think from a portability standpoint cans are really appealing to a lot of people.

What is the most challenging and frustrating aspect of launching a new brand?

Trying to stand out in a sea of wine, and how to differentiate yourself. What is going to make someone standing in an overcrowded wine aisle pick your bottle rather than someone else’s has to be the biggest challenge. Also, trying to stay ahead of trends and the whole alcohol beverage industry. How do you ensure that you stay ahead of the pack instead of following?

Another challenge in the wine industry is that it typically takes three to four years for wines to come on stream, and at the same time different varietals come into and go out of fashion. So trying to adapt to the changing trends and consumer needs can prove tough. For example, we have launched our new Malbec into the UK market, where demand for the varietal is high, but not in the US, where interest is stagnating. It is hard in a global economy to adapt emerging trends to different markets.

Imagery, branding and personality is very much the focus of Dark Horse

One of Dark Horse key messages is over delivering on quality/price. How do you do that and is that hard to achieve?

We are very fortunate in that we source from so many growers and have so many varietals to experiment and play with. When you have that scale then that helps to maintain consistency year in year out. However, wine is an agricultural product so every harvest is going to be a little bit different, and the challenge is how you control those differences. Understanding what the vineyards are going to give us and knowing what we can do in the winery, maybe changing fermentation temperatures, or the oak profile or the time we spend on skins for red ferments, or other grape varietals we are blending depending on the fruit or aroma profiles. This is where some of the artistry comes in, blending all these flavours and textures.

Who is your target consumer?

I think our target consumer is anyone who is looking for good value and consistent quality, as well as wanting something a bit surprising and different. Someone who doesn’t want to spend a fortune on their everyday wine.

The new Malbec variety from Dark Horse

What growth has the brand experienced in the UK since its launch?

Growth here has been incredible, with Dark Horse now the number seven premium wine brand in the UK, and has enjoyed strong growth in the past year, up by 47% in volume and 47% revenue. The Dark Horse Rosé, which launched last year, has helped drive growth for both the brand itself and for the premium rosé category which is up by 41% in value year on year. Our Cabernet Sauvignon is the best selling Dark Horse varietal in the UK, and is continuing to record strong growth, up by 35% in volume and value, making it the number two premium (plus £7) Cabernet Sauvignon in the UK.

How has the brand been performing in other markets?
Dark Horse is the number one premium brand in the US, and is growing more than eight times faster than the overall premium category while Dark Horse is the number one premium rosé. As we see the trend towards premiumisation within wine across the globe, we are continuing to expand our distribution of Dark Horse into new markets with the brand showing strong performances in Germany, Poland and Denmark – with plans to further expand our distribution to more new markets this year.

  • You can find out more about what is happening in the Californian wine scene at Wine Institute of California and if you want to find out more about the opportunities of working with Californian producers and other UK importers specialising in Californian wine  then you can contact the UK office of the Wine Institute of California or email Justine McGovern, director UK & Ireland, on 

New Wave California


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15 Jun

Vineyards at Pope Valley Winery

The Pope Valley Winery’s holdings include slightly more than 80 acres of vineyards in Pope Valley planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Petite Verdot.

David Eakle and his sister Diana Eakle Hawkins are pretty busy – they run two companies and a winery, all in Pope Valley.

Their father, Sam, is the sole owner of Eakle Construction & Trucking, which he established in 1974. He runs it with David and Diana.

Diana Eakle Hawkins and David Eakle

Diana Eakle Hawkins is general manager and her brother, David Eakle is production director at the Pope Valley Winery, which they bought with their father, Sam, about two years ago. The sister and brother, who are 17 months apart, have always been close.

David and Diana started Eakle Vineyard Management LLC two years ago, to provide vineyard management and farm labor to remote areas of Napa County, and to Lake and Solano counties;

Also in 2017, Sam, David and Diana bought out family partners in the Pope Valley Winery, which was established more than 120 years ago.

David and Diana are third generation from Pope Valley and the fifth generation in the Napa Valley. David is director of production and works with Garrett Cosenza, assistant winemaker. Diana is general manager.

Pope Valley Winery

Just a few miles north of Pope Valley on Butts Canyon Road is the Pope Valley Winery, which as the sign says, was established in 1897. It is not a ghost winery, since it has been used as a winery since its founding, even during Prohibition, when wine was sent to Al Capone in Chicago.

“I remember being at this winery under a previous owner as a little girl, about 4 or 5, running around in the cellar,” Hawkins said. “To us, growing up here, being stewards of the history and this valley, it’s nice (for the history) to be showcased. And we are showcasing the grapes, terroir, vineyards and the experience to other people.”

First stop on a recent spring tour was in the cellar, hand-dug into a hillside.

Ed and Bertha Haus and family

Ed and Bertha Haus with their two children, Sam and Lillian. The Hauses established The Burgundy Winery and Olive Factory in 1897. Sam and Lillian operated the winery, which today is called the Pope Valley Winery, until 1959.

Swiss immigrant Ed Haus, a blacksmith by trade, bought a farm in Pope Valley in 1882 and opened a blacksmith shop. It took Haus nine years to dig the cellar and build the winery. In 1897, he and his wife established Burgundy Winery & Olive Oil Factory. “It was set up as a three-story, gravity flow winery,” Hawkins said.

The grapes were hauled to the top story and crushed there. They went down a chute to the second story, where the wine was fermented in big redwood tanks and the grapes went down another chute to be put in barrels for aging.

Huge beams used

The cellar and winery includes huge beams that were brought by wagon from the Oat Hill Quicksilver Mine, which borders Napa and Lake counties. The 40-by-60 foot cellar was seismically retrofitted in the early 1990s. “This is where they barrel-aged their wines and where we still barrel-age them today,” Hawkins said.

Barrels in a hand-dug cave

In 1882, Ed Haus bought property in Pope Valley and spent nine years digging a cellar for his gravity-feed winery. Today, the cellar remains in use for the renamed Pope Valley Winery.

Eakle said it’s always challenging to make wines with an older facility, although as a 100-year-old building, the temperature stays pretty consistent at 58 degrees.

“Right now, we are just getting the wines through ML (malolactic fermentation) from the last harvest, because the cellar is so cold,” he said, adding, “In the winter, it is even colder.”

On that spring day at the end of May, they had pulled barrels out from the cellar to warm them up, so the malolactic fermentation could finish.

The cellar holds 300 barrels and the 2017 vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese will be released in some 18 months, after being bottled and aged.

Pope Valley Winery

A massive oak tree towers over the 120-year-old buildings that make up the Pope Valley Winery, first established in 1897 by Ed and Bertha Haus.

The 2018 vintage wines, also in barrels in the cellar, will be racked and then aged in barrels, before being bottled and aged.

Today, total production is just less than 5,000 cases a year. The winery’s holdings include two estate vineyards in Pope Valley planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Petite Verdot.

During a luncheon and wine tasting, Eakle poured estate wines, either from the four acres of grapes grown on the 40-acre property on Pope Valley Road, or from the Eakle Ranch on Hardin Road, which has 60 acres of grapes planted.

Pope Valley Winery

The brother-and-sister team of David Eakle and Diana Eakle Hawkins own and operate the Pope Valley Winery, which was established in 1897. They produce about 5,000 cases of wine per year, primarily from two Pope Valley vineyards.

“The cool thing about us is we have our own trucking company and people to harvest our fruit, so we literally call the pick. We pick the next day, or that night, drive it down the road five miles, process the fruit there, ferment it and then after that, we have our own bottling facility here, so we are very streamlined in our production,” Eakle said. It gives them “the ability to do things when we want to do them, when it is best for our wine, which makes it unique,” he added.

Wall of Ed Haus' blacksmith shop

By trade, Ed Haus was a blacksmith. In 1882, he bought a farm in Pope Valley and opened his blacksmith shop. His shop and tools remain at the Pope Valley Winery today and are open to guests.

Hawkins jumped in, “We farm not only for ourselves but for other companies as well. We created the company (Eakle Vineyard Management LLC) because we found we were needing more good labor and more reliable labor.” She added that the end product, the wine, is dependent on how the grapes are farmed.

Blacksmith shop

The next stop on the tour was Ed Haus’ intact blacksmith shop, complete with tools on the walls. “This is the place where if your wagon wheel broke, or something broke around the winery, you’d fix it,” Hawkins said. The smithy had to forge iron to make the repairs. “We’re lucky enough to preserve that history and keep it for other people to see,” she added.

Poppies at Pope Valley Winery

California’s state flower, Golden Poppies, provide a bit of color in a fenced corner on the property of the Pope Valley Winery.

“This year, we’re hoping to bring in a blacksmith to do our own demonstrations, once or twice,” Hawkins added. “We have a list of different blacksmiths.”

Unusually, Pope Valley has another historic blacksmith shop, owned and maintained by the Napa County Historical Society. It was opened more than 100 years ago by Ed’s brother, Henry, and is next to the Pope Valley Garage and across from the grocery store.


Haus family on their Pope Valley homestead

Ed and Bertha Haus with their two children, Sam and Lillian, on their Pope Valley farm, the site of Ed’s blacksmith shop, established in 1882.

With a winery that’s 122 years old, there’s bound to be family stories. One of them is from Prohibition. Ed Haus’ son, Sam, served in the military and was friends with Chicago gangster Al Capone. The winery used a horse cart to transport its wines to Napa, where it was put on a train and shipped to Chicago, to be served in Capone’s speakeasies and brothels. Hawkins said Haus sold wine to Capone for a while, “then he realized it was not the best life choice to continue bootlegging for the Capone family.”

Pope Valley natives

Hawkins and Eakle grew up in Pope Valley and are 17 months apart. Both went to California State University, Chico, graduating with bachelor’s degrees in Agricultural Business. Diana is a 2006 grad, David graduated a year later.

“We were always very close growing up,” Eakle said. But, as with all children, the two had squabbles. “I think my Dad had had it one day and he said, ‘Just so you know, when I’m gone, your sister is going to be the only person you can rely on. You can have friends, you can have other people in your life, but the only person you can really, 100 percent rely on, is your sibling.”

Burgundy Winery

The past and present mix together at the Pope Valley Winery, which was established in 1897 by Ed and Bertha Haus (and called Burgundy Winery.) Today, owners David Eakle and Diana Eakle Hawkins use the same hand-dug cellar to store their wine.

Sam’s advice has stuck with them both. “I remember it to this day,” Eakle said. His sister adds, “I tell it to my kids.”

Hawkins lives in Middletown with her husband Justin, a Cal Fire bulldozer operator, and three children, Jon, 11, Owen, 9, and Grace, 4.

Eakle lives a short drive from the winery with his wife Kilee Lockwood, their daughter Ryen, 6, son Chet, 5, and dogs KC and Gus.

Enjoy yourself & relax

Pope Valley Winery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week and no appointments are needed for general wine flights. Hawkins said they offer seated experiences in the second story of the cellar, where wines are paired with cheeses, for example. “We encourage people to bring a picnic lunch, come out, eat, play a game of bocce, grab a glass of wine. And really enjoy themselves, the surrounding vineyards, the history and the experience,” Hawkins said.

“I feel like we’re the embodiment of how the wine industry started, where you can take a glimpse of how everything began in the Napa Valley. Enjoy yourself, relax, learn about the wines, the grapes and experience the wine and terroir. Experience everything that embodies Napa Valley.”

The two are creating a boutique winery, which Eakle defines as making less than 10,000 cases. They work closely with their small staff, which includes Garrett Cosenza, assistant winemaker; Sam Theodorou, tasting room manager; Kenny Werle, wine club manager and Elizabeth Phillips, national sales and marketing director.

From 2008-2015, Eakle was acting winemaker, learning from winery consultant Shaun Richardson. To him making boutique wines is attractive “because you’re making smaller lots and you have your hands on every lot. You get any bigger than that and you’re losing touch,” he said, bringing up questions: Where are the barrels and what fruit is being brought in?

Being smaller, Eakle said he has control over the products. “It’s nice to focus on specific lots and specific programs and make that wine to go into that program.”

For Hawkins, a boutique winery is about having connections. “We have wine club members who have been members for 10-12 years,” she said. “They have seen the winery grow and David and I grow along with the winery. It is an amazing thing to have these connections with people who support you and love your wine.”

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15 Jun

The EPA’s latest proposal to define which waters can be regulated by the federal government and which by state and local authorities is a vast improvement over previous efforts, Wyoming Farm Bureau President Todd Fornstrom told the Senate Subcommittee on Fisheries, Waters, and Wildlife.

Expensive professional services needed to comply with the Clean Water Act, he said, too often make it impossible for farmers to use their own land to its fullest.

“Farm Bureau cannot overstate the importance of a rule that draws clear lines of jurisdiction that farmers and ranchers can understand without needing to hire armies of consultants and lawyers,” Fornstrom told the subcommittee. “The (Clean Water Act) carries significant fines and penalties for persons who violate the Act’s prohibitions. Historically, farmers and ranchers have chosen to forfeit full use and enjoyment of their land rather than go down the onerous and expensive path of seeking CWA 404 permits. The cost to obtain a general permit can exceed tens of thousands of dollars and individual permits can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Farmers and ranchers know these costs exceed the value of their land, which leads them to simply stay out of the regulatory quagmire by forgoing the use of their land without compensation.”

Fornstrom praised the latest proposed rule for its preservation of the Clean Water Act’s partnership among federal, state and local regulators.

“The CWA requires the federal government to work hand-in-hand with states, because the federal government cannot and should not regulate every single wet feature in every community, he said. “By drawing clear lines between waters of the U.S. and waters of the state, the proposal strengthens the cooperative federalism Congress envisioned and that the Supreme Court has long recognized as fundamental to the Clean Water Act.”

Source: American Farm Bureau Federation

Sponsored Content

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15 Jun

Wine Intelligence has released a new report which has highlighted a change in consumer habits which is driving awareness in sustainable, organic and lower alcohol wines (SOLA), which is creating new opportunities in many markets around the world, including Australia.

The Global SOLA: Opportunities in Sustainable, Organic and Lower Alcohol Wine 2019 report, takes a multi-market, multi-category, in-depth view of the alternative wine sector and the opportunities within it.

Wine Intelligence has developed an ‘Opportunity Index,’ which crosses 15 global wine markets to determine where SOLA wines have the greatest chance of success and which of the individual product types within the group might work best.

Wine Intelligence said: “According to the report, awareness of SOLA wines is growing in all but one of the 13 categories tracked. With the rise of ethical consumerism from niche to mainstream, consumers are now increasingly paying attention to the impact of their purchasing habits on their own health, and that of the environment generally.

“This global health and wellness trend appears to be the primary driver for increasing awareness of SOLA wines. Wine consumers are increasingly looking for certification of ethical practices, and this is becoming increasingly found on wine labels.”

In detailing the changing consumer trends and how they are impacting the wine category, the report said: “In the past years, ethical consumerism has moved from niche to mainstream. Consumers, especially young consumers, are increasingly paying attention to the impact of their behaviour on the environment and globally, we can see a change in mindset when it comes to ethical products and services.

“This requires companies to act more ethically responsible and more transparent, which naturally also applies to the wine industry. Certification for ethical practices is not only available for all sorts of products, but also increasingly found on wine labels.

“Wine drinkers are looking for alternative wines, extending their sense of responsibility to their wine drinking choices. Younger wine drinkers are a key, growing demographic that present the most opportunity for alternative wines due to their open-minded attitudes and willingness to invest time, education and money into their health.

“Young wine drinkers are not only more likely to purchase alternative wines such as organic, Fairtrade or sustainable wines compared with older drinkers, but are also more willing in general to pay a premium for wine in the off- and on-trade.”

Organic wine ranks as the first in the global SOLA wine opportunity index for the second year in a row, and first in terms of opportunity amongst trade members representing 52 markets. The main opportunities for organic wines derive from the rise in ethical engagement from both consumers and industry professionals, particularly in Finland and Sweden, despite consumers’ weariness of the definition of the term organic.

Wine Intelligence COO Richard Halstead said: “As a highly visible and valued agricultural product, wine is on the frontline of trends relating to health, wellbeing, and the environment generally. This report supports the widespread belief within the wine industry that the 21st century consumer is going to require a lot more genuine progress in terms of developing sustainable and environmentally sound wine production techniques, delivering a product that aligns with their need to live a healthier and more balanced life.”

TheShout will have more information on the SOLA wine opportunities within Australia next week.

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14 Jun

Wine insight company Wine Intelligence sees signs that the market is progressing and starting to look like other developed international markets. But with China leading the drive towards ecommerce, this could open up new opportunities in the country as well.

Quality over quantity

Imported wines account for around 40% of the Chinese wine market. The growth in consumers such wine has slowed: increasing by 7% in 2016-2019 compared to 26% in 2014-2016. Per capita consumption in 2018 was 1.2 litres compared to 1.3 litres in 2017.

But consumers are now willing to spend more for better quality wine, while the low value end of the market is losing traction: similar to the quality over quantity approach seen across the alcohol beverage category in many Western markets.

“Our data suggests that as consumers become more knowledgeable and engaged with this category, they are more selective about what they are going to drink. This partly explains why value remained stable despite declining volumes of imported wine,”​ reports Wine Intelligence.

In fact, value rose by 2.1% in 2018. And while volumes fell in 2018, the total volume is still above those of 2014-2016.

Another explanation for the dip in volume is that the market is still digesting the large volumes of wine imported prior to 2018.

“The latest insight data is starting to show us what China will look like as a mature market. The imported wine drinking population is still growing, but we are not the rapid growth of a few years ago,” ​says Wine Intelligence.

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14 Jun

When I asked for details, the spokeswoman referred me to a single investigation launched by Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Tex.), a climate change denier, in 2016. Gohmert’s probe involved two incidents of alleged data inaccuracies at a single Interior lab in Lakewood, Col., tied to mass spectroscopy equipment. The first occurred in 2008 (that is, before the Obama administration) and the second resulted in the closing of the lab in 2016 (that is, before the Trump administration).

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14 Jun

Napa Valley Wine Library will present its 57th annual tasting in The Grove at Silverado Resort & Spa, Napa on Sunday, Aug. 4.

Selecting from a roster of over 500 wineries in Napa Valley, a group of 60-75 invited producers will pour, share and showcase their wines from 4 to 6 p.m.

Winemakers have chosen wines from their cellars that represent the variety of wine styles achieved from unique vineyard sites throughout our Napa Valley. This could be of appellation, terroir, vintage, variety, or blend.

Drawn from 16 appellations, most of the wines are of extremely limited production, with more than half from productions of 500 cases or less and represent many of the best wines in their stylistic and varietal category.

Taste, and learn about these stellar wines with winery owners and winemakers while supporting our local history of viticulture, enology, and wine lore.

Founded in 1963, by food and wine luminaries MFK Fisher, marketing pioneer Francis Gould of Charles Krug, printer/educator James E. Beard, and Professor Maynard Amerine, the Napa Valley Wine Library collects, preserves, and disseminates historic and contemporary information regarding viticulture, enology and wine lore, particularly as it pertains to Napa Valley.

Housed in its own wing of the St. Helena Public Library, the collection is open to all members of the wine community – winery professionals, winegrowers, educators, journalists, wine enthusiasts, sommeliers, and anyone with a curiosity for the art and science of wine as an integral part of our culture, society and daily lives.

To join the Napa Valley Wine Library Association, and secure your ticket for the event, visit

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13 Jun

Bill Leigon is well-known in the wine industry, having been in the business for more than 40 years.

He’s the former owner of Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, he co-founded The Wine Trust and Ariel Vineyards (the first premium non-alcoholic wine), served as national sales manager at J. Lohr wines for 13 years and worked as vice president of sales and marketing for Associated Vintage Group.

Even with that success, retirement is not on his radar, said Leigon.

Leigon recently launched his latest enterprise: L&S (Leigon and Spear) Beverage Company.

“I think I’ll be working my whole life,” he said. “I love the niche I’ve found; creating and building wine brands.”

1. What was your childhood ambition?

Like everyone else in Houston, be an astronaut!

2. What was your first job?

The first job that I recall was forming a lawn mowing company with one of my best friends when I was 15 years old.

3. How did you get into the wine industry?

It’s my brother’s fault. He took a job at Chevalier Wine Cellar, a small retail chain of stores, that was in Nieman Marcus in Houston, Texas.

He moved to New York and became a stock boy at the Chevalier Wine Cellar that was a retail wine and liquor store on the corner of 69th and 2nd Ave. in Manhattan.

Because of the Tied house laws, the store was put up for a sealed-bid auction. I had just graduated from college. No one dreamed the stock boy and his brother would put in a bid at the auction.

My brother and I borrowed $10,000 from our father to put in a bid. I moved to Manhattan and we won the bid.

I became an owner of a retail wine and liquor store at the age of 21. The rest is history.

4. What is the biggest challenge the wine and spirits industry has faced?

This question is tough. The wine and spirits industry is extremely challenging and faces myriad issues.

Because of the 3-tier system, for practical purposes, a winery has to sell to 50 different countries in the United States.

I believe we are facing our biggest challenges as an industry right now: the proliferation of wine brands, the consolidation of the distribution system — both wholesalers and retailers — shifting demographics, legalization of marijuana, more and more anti-alcohol articles each day, water shortage, labor shortage, governmental regulation, etc. etc. etc. There is no dearth of challenges.

5. What’s on your to-do list?

I want to be a guest on the Stephen Colbert show. I also would like to win an Oscar, Tony or Emmy.

6. Who do you most admire in the business world?

Robert Mondavi, Warren Buffett and Walt Disney.

7. What do you attribute your success to?

I work hard and I follow up. The best advice I once got is: it’s easy to sell wine but it’s very difficult to deliver. I always remembered that.

8. What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?

There are so many things left to do it’s hard to pick one. I guess it would be to live in a true state of humbleness, take no moment in life for granted, and be grateful for each and every day.

9. If you could change one thing about the wine industry, what would it be?

Eliminate the plethora of governmental regulations.

10. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?

I became a member of Actor’s Equity when I was 18 years old and have sung and acted professionally since that time.

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13 Jun

Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, joined other lawmakers Tuesday urging the Trump administration to ensure that any new trade agreements with China or Japan remove tariffs on U.S. wine.

The two sent letters to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer calling on the Trump administration to “do all it can to support the international competitiveness of U.S. agriculture” in talks with China and Japan. They were joined by 17 other federal lawmakers.

They noted that tariffs on U.S. wine sold in China increased to 54% in June, up from 14% in March 2018 as Beijing retaliated in a trade war sparked by President Donald Trump. Japan has a 15% tariff on U.S. wine, though it was scheduled to be lowered under the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trump pulled the United States out of the trade agreement.

“We urge you to ensure that any new agreements result in the removal of all tariffs, retaliatory or otherwise, on U.S. wine,” the letter states.

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