Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My opinion:COPIA future in Napa Reg, Dec. 28,2011

Napa Regisyter Home / News / Opinion / Letters to the Editor / Letters to the Editor
Copia should be mixed-use development with high-end shops
Posted: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 12:00 am | 

On Jan. 2, 2009, I wrote my opinion, “A magnificent emporium from Copia’s ashes,” about the Copia facility and its surroundings and it was published in the Napa Valley Register. Since that time, I have been giving considerable thought to what this area could, and should, become.

First of all, this whole area was once known as “Little Italy.” There was no tourism along First and Third streets, between Soscol Avenue and Silverado Trail. Just about where Copia meets the Oxbow in the Napa River, old man Bacigalupi dumped his collected neighborhood garbage into the river to be carried away. The area was about as “local” as it could be. Those days are gone forever, never to be seen again.

The area has been turned into an exclusive visitor and tourism-oriented world with very expensive hotels (River Terrace and Westin), Napa Valley Wine Train excursions terminus and the Oxbow Public Market as major anchors. And, more exclusive visitor- and tourism-oriented businesses are salivating over the possibilities in the near future to be part of this “Park Place and (Boardwalk)” area of downtown Napa.

With the announcement of the Rogal + Associates partnership with owners of Copia to reopen the defunct building and grounds complex, there will be a horde of entrepreneurial business folks anxious to discuss the possibilities of their involvement in its rebirth. Unfortunately, there will be those who will strongly advocate that the complex should be turned into something community-oriented and, as such, would be a nonprofit activity. This should not be considered for such a primary tax revenue–oriented area for two reasons: The latter exclusive use of the facility would probably displease Copia’s neighbors, who pay healthy property tax, etc. and they would want a change in those taxes since a nonprofit would probably lower property tax values throughout the area; and the costs to remodel the facility, and subsequent annual operating and maintenance costs on such a large complex, would be too great for anything but a highly subsidized nonprofit to raise and keep in annual and long-term endowments from private wealthy interests and government agencies.

Remember that Copia was initially a highly endowed nonprofit business that could not sustain its endowments, nor raise sufficient revenues to keep its doors open.

Copia should become a mixed-use building and grounds complex. As I envision the building complex, the entire first floor would contain for-profit, high-end clothing, jewelry, art and other similar shops. It would have small cafes, wine-tasting bars, etc. All of these features would be designed around high-end products and goods.

The entire front garden area would be replaced by a spectacular glass-enclosed building containing additional high-end shops.

The second floor would become home to a five-star nightclub or restaurant seating 300 or so on the eastern third of the building overlooking Napa River and the downtown lights at night. The remaining two-thirds of the upper floor would contain the American Wine Industry Hall of Fame, Museum and Foundation. Within it could reside the California Vintners Hall of Fame, if they were so inclined to move the location from St. Helena.

Based on its accomplishments to date, Rogal + Associates has obviously displayed the forward thinking and business acumen to carry off such a project as I envision.

John Olney / Napa

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Table of Contents

Copyright information i

Acknowledgements ii

Table of Contents v

PRELUDE vii

SECTION I INTRODUCTION 1

SECTION II "Quick Reference" to the Tasting Room Facilities 3


Getting Around the Wineries of Nevada County 3
Nevada City Tasting Rooms 3
Grass Valley Tasting Rooms 4


Other In or Near Town locations 5
Lake of the Pines 5
Truckee 5

Wineries Having No Public Tasting Room Facilities 6

Other Wineries not yet visited 6

How good are the Wines? 6

The Wine Competition Circuit 6

The Prestigious Winemakers 6

    JED STEELE - Indian Springs Vineyards 6
    JACQUES MERCIER - Solune Winegrowers 6
    MARK FOSTER - Nevada City Winery 7
    TONY NORSKEG - Nevada County Wine Guild 7


SECTION III History Overview - Arrival of the Wine Grape in Nevada County 8

Land Possession Before the Gold Rush 8
Land Possession Following the Gold Rush 9

Introduction of Winegrowing 9

The Beginning Wine Industry in Nevada County 11

Pre-Prohibition Years: 1840’s-1930’s 11

A Little Historical Commonality Between Napa, San Francisco & Nevada Counties 15

My Speculations About the Early Winegrowing Industry 16

Background On The Modern Nevada County Wine Industry 16
Wine Producers 18
Grape Growers 17

Marketing and Advocacy Organizations 18

Media Exposure 18

SECTION IV Local Perspectives - The Future of the Nevada County Winegrowing Industry 20

Sierra Vintners - Interview with President Alex Szabo 20
   Recent expansion 20
   Re-branding 20
   Quality of wines produced 20
   Master Plan and Budget 20
   Near future expansion 20

Sierra Wine and Grape Growers Association - Interview with President Tom Besemer. 21

Nevada County Agriculture Commissioner 21
Some Views from Other Winery Owners - Responses to questions asked by John Olney 22

“What do you see happening for this area in the near as well as in the distant future.” 22
Rob Chrisman - Avanguardia 22
Mark L. Henry Montoliva 22
Lynn Wilson - Pilot Peak 22
Jacques Mercier- Solune 22

How do you plan to increase consumer visitation and thus retail sales, or do you even wish to increase these? 23
Rob Chrisman - Avanguardia 23
Mark L. Henry Montoliva 23
Lynn Wilson - Pilot Peak 23
Jacques Mercier- Solune 24

SECTION V Nevada City - Downtown Wineries & Stand-Alone, Second Tasting Rooms 25

The Town of Nevada City 25
Wineries Located Downtown 26
INDIAN SPRINGS VINEYARDS 26
NEVADA CITY WINERY 28
Wineries with a Stand-Alone Tasting Room 31
B.Y.O.B. WINE SELLERS 31
CLAVEY VINEYARDS 32
SZABO VINEYARDS 33

SECTION VI Grass Valley Area - 
Downtown Wineries and Stand-Alone, Second Tasting Rooms 34
The Town of Grass Valley 34
The Holbrooke Hotel 34
The Famous Ladies 35

SIERRA STARR VINEYARD and WINERY 35
AVANGUARDIA WINES    35LUCCHESI VINEYARDS and WINERY 36      
SMITH VINEYARDS   36
       
“Collective” Tasting Rooms 36 151 UNION SQUARE - Event Center and Retail Wine Tasting Room- 36Coufos Cellars 38 Double Oak Vineyards and Winery 38
Montoliva Vineyard and Winery 38
Naggiar Vineyards 38

GRASS VALLEY WINE CO 38
Bent Metal Winery 39
Pilot Peak Vineyards and Winery 39
Solune Winegrowers 39

Hwy 49 Near - Lake of the Pines 39 BEAR RIVER WINE TASTING 40

SECTION VII SOUTHERN COUNTY - LAKE OF THE PINES 41
Bear River Wine Tasting Facility 41
SIERRA KNOLLS VINEYARD and WINERY 42
NAGGIAR VINEYARDS  WINERY  43   
BESEMER CELLARS 45
CHARLES TRAVERS WINERY 47
      
SECTION VIII CENTRAL COUNTY EAST OF HWY  49
The Narrow-gauge Train - Began in 1876 - Colfax- Grass Valley 49
The Transcontinental Railroad - Completed 1869 - Cape Hood 50
Chicago Park 50
CLAVEY WINERY 50
MONTOLIVA VINEYARD and WINERY  
511LUCCHESI VINEYARDS and WINERY 54
SMITH - VINEYARD and WINERY 55
Empire Gold Mine 56
SOLUNE WINEGROWERS 57

SECTION IX CENTRAL COUNTY - WEST OF HWY 49 61
BENT METAL WINERY 61
PILOT PEAK VINEYARD and WINERY 63
The Community of Penn Valley 65
GRAY PINE WINERY 66
OAKSPRINGS VINEYARDS and WINERY 65
SIERRA STARR VINEYARDS 70
 The Town of Rough and Ready 72
COUFOS CELLARS 73

SECTION X NORTH CENTRAL COUNTY AREA 75
SZABO VINEYARDS 75
AVANGUARDIA WINES 77     
VILLANELLE ESTATE 79
Bridgeport Wooden Covered Bridge 80
French Corral - Site of 1st Long Distance Telephone Call 81
DOUBLE OAK VINEYARDS and WINERY 82

SECTION XI EASTERN COUNTY INCLUDING TRUCKEE 85
Hydraulic Mining Scars 85
Washington Township - The Gold Discovery in 2011 Was a Hoax! 86
Almost Lost in the Sierra's 87
The Town of Truckee 89
TRUCKEE RIVER WINERY 90

SECTION XII The Growers 92
Sierra Grape Growers Association 92
“HISTORY OF SIERRA GRAPE GROWERS ASSOCIATION - By Peter Arnold 92
The Current Association 93
Largest Vineyard in the County - S and L Vineyards 93
Other growers Not a Member of Either the Grower or Vintner Associations 93
An interesting Unattended Vineyard 94
Sierra Wine and Grape Growers Association Annual Picnic 95

GLOSSARY 97
BIBLIOGRAPHY 99

History of and Guide (continued)

History of and Guide to the
Winegrowing Industry of Nevada County
By John M. Olney

(Continued)


Mr. Olney incorporates interesting notes and tales of the people and places since wine grape vineyards were first planted in the Gold Rush days in the 1850’s, right up to the Fall season of the year 2011. You will meet the richest of families as they amassed great fortunes in gold mining, water supply and distribution systems, introduction of mechanization with associated energy resources and many more tools that helped transform America from an agrarian society into a mechanized one.


Then after the flash of surface (or “placer”) mining was quickly over he reviews the rebirth of the gold industry as corporations began subsurface operations (also known as “hardrock”) mining. Some of the names you may already be familiar with such as the William Bourn Family of the peninsula who eventually controlled the Empire Gold Mine of Grass Valley (the richest producer in the state), vineyards and the largest stone winery located in Napa’s wine country, the entire water supply to San Francisco County and many more businesses. The notorious Sam Brannan, the exiled Mormon leader, who proclaimed the discovery of gold and continued advertisement of it that led to the mass migration of mostly men and a few women from the states east of the Mississippi River to California thereby upsetting and shifting the power basis in Congress. Brannan built merchandise stores before his proclamation so he could sell mining equipment and food stocks at greatly inflated prices while amassing large land holdings and possibly becoming the first millionaire of California. He was also involved in the wine business in Napa Valley among his many and substantial business endeavors. And, there are more exciting characters of those old days gone by with roots simultaneously in Nevada, Napa and San Francisco Counties.


Mr. Olney traces the major events associated to the very first production of wine in the state of California pointing out the important players and their contribution to the California Winegrowing Industry, indeed for all of America, leading up to the commencement of grape growing and wine production in Nevada County. Then came the disasters! Wine grapevine disease such as Phylloxera, surface gold depletion, and the failed social experiment of the Prohibition era calling for the halt of alcohol production and consumption. All these major factors led to serious declines in the Nevada County population as well as the economy but the subsurface mining continued. This failed economy wiped out the fledging winegrowing agriculture from about the late 1890s through 1940’s.


But A few bright farmers recognized that the fertile soils and moderate climate of the lower Nevada County lands were well suited to fruit and wine grape growing. Slowly wine growing was being re-introduced through a cottage industry type approach in the 1950s through 1970s.


Then a very bright guy was born and raised in Nevada City who went off to law school to find his path in life. Enter one Alan Haley. He acquired a taste for fine wines during his collegiate years at Harvard. He commenced his legal career in Honolulu, Hawaii and noticed that fine wines were not readily available; only ordinary wines, That meant he needed to form an import & distribution system so he could once again enjoy fine wines at home and supply his favorite restaurants with these products too. Bacchus Imports was born. Then he noticed there were no refrigerated facilities available to properly store all the imported wines of not only his business but that of other broker distributors. He leaped into action and built the first refrigerated wine warehouse in Hawaii. But yet another discovery would come to his attention that he found totally unacceptable. Hawaii was taxing imported wines but not locally produced wines. Talented, young and ambitious he feared no one! He attacked the Hawaii laws that taxed imported wine but not domestic wines. He found a very large adversary in Hawaii but like David he eventually slue Goliath taking his unfair taxation case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Along the monotonous court procedures and legal interpretations road he found new friends to support him in his quest for equal playing ground rules such as the giant Gallo Brothers operation of the Central California Valley. They prevailed and taxes that had been withheld over all the long years of court battle were returned to non-resident alcoholic beverage distributors on a percentage basis. By the time of the Supreme Court decision, the amount in escrow that Hawaii could not spend exceeded $100,000,000. That’s correct, over $100 million!. Alan was a hero in the wine business and a key precedent was set because of his tenacious attack of the unfair tax law which is still cited in legal hassles today.


But as would be expected, Alan’s days of successful law practice in Hawaii were numbered. It was time to go home. Hawaii did not need such a rabble rouser! Once back in Nevada City in the late 1970’s Alan discovered that wine was being produced on a very small scale. He made some inquires and eventually got a chance to taste locally made wine from locally grown grapes. During these sessions he realized that Nevada County could support commercial grape growing and wine production. All the essential ingredients were there - soil, climate and interest among locals. He asked what was needed to launch such an industry and the responses were all the same - a locally based grape crushing and production facility. That was all that Alan needed to hear. He responded,
“Maybe I can do something about that!”


With that local wine tasting experience, the first modern era winery in Nevada County was born. When completed about two years later, Alan and partners blessed the rebirth of the winegrowing industry in the county by appropriately naming their facility “Nevada City Winery,” 100 hundred years after the first one to be so named which was also located in the downtown area. Then Mr. Olney provides you with descriptions of how the wine grape growing and wine production facilities have experienced rapid growth since the early 2000s going from just over a handful before that timeframe to the current number of 23 bonded wineries.


For the remainder of the booklet, Mr. Olney shifts from historian to tour guide providing the reader with the experiences he encountered in locating the mostly remote countryside vineyards and wineries, meeting directly with owners and winemakers and tasting their products with them. Mr. Olney commented, “What a unique experience compared to most of the more well known wine country regions surrounding the Bay Area.”


He often describes the wines he tasted in terms of how they pleased his palate as opposed to trying to fit them into some sort of subjective point system as if the wine was in a beauty contest. You will also frequently read the reactions of his friend who often accompanied him on his winery visits and who lives in the Grass Valley community of “You Bet,”


The wineries are typically separated by an average of 30 minute drives between them and/or the major towns of Grass Valley and Nevada City. Because of the travel time and perceived loss of wine sales, the majority of wineries have opened a second individual or collective tasting room away from the original winery building in and/or near the major cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City. Mr. Olney provides the reader with plenty of photographic visual aids to assist the reader in knowing how to find these downtown tasting rooms and what readers can expect once there. Additionally, he provides the reader with a hefty amount of color photography designed to give the reader sufficient visual record of what he or she will encounter as they elect to make the associated vineyards and wineries destination and tasting sites for future visits to the area. The interviews with the owners and/or winemakers will provide you with interesting reading as he and his friend get them to open up and tell us how and why they selected Nevada County to become their winegrowing home.

When interviewing Alan Haley, founder of the first modern era winery in Nevada County (1980) Mr. Olney found quite interesting the sidebar comment made by Alan as they closed out their visit. ”You know John, you have the distinction of having tasted more Nevada County wines than any other Bay Area wine writer I know

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Robert Craig 19th Anniversary & 6th Annual Holiday Party Dec. 3, 2011

Last Thursday, December 1, 2011, I stopped at Cuvee Napa Restaurant (www.cuveenapa.com  )on way home from a business meeting with my associates and had the pleasure of meeting Rachel Miller, Director of Wine Club and Retail Sales at Robert Craig Winery
(http://robertcraigwine.ewinerysolutions.com/ ) who was just sitting down to have her dinner. (Pictured here)

She had a long day at the winery tasting room preparing for the Saturday, December 3, 2011, celebration of their 19th anniversary of operations. We discussed their wines in general and the location of the vineyards and winery all of which certainly perked my interest to know more about the vineyards and winery. She invited me to attend the celebration and I quickly accepted. It was held for wine club members and other invited guests.                                           

When I returned home I immediately went to their web site and learned that the event was also their 6th Annual Holiday Party to be held at their downtown Napa tasting salon (625 Imperial Way at the intersection with Jordon Lane), just a long block off Soscol Avenue and very close to Cuvee Napa. From the web site I learned that their winery facility is located high up Howell Mountain on Summit Lake Drive close to the town of Angwin.  

The event started at 2 pm and by 3 pm it was filled elbow to elbow with well wishers and wine
tasters a bunch.

They were offering tastes of new releases -- the 2010 Durell Chardonnay, 2008 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Zinfandel-Howell Mountain --, in addition to their current releases and some library wines all of which was presented with great appetizers and a four piece group playing soft jazz-like music in the background.  The first wine tasted was the new release 2010 Durell Chardonnay, (Sonoma Valley) lightly oaked and no Malolactic Fermentation which was very much to my liking. This is the style of Chardonnay I find most enjoyable as the fruit is still recognizable.

All the rest of the wines I tasted were reds. They included from their current releases the 2008 Affinity Cab (Magnum), 2008 Howell Mountain Cab (Magnum), 2008 Mt, Veeder Cab (Magnum) and new release 2009 Zinfandel from Howell Mountain. From the Library wines I tasted 2006 Affinity Cab, 2006 Howell Mountain Cab and the 2006 Mt. Veeder Cab. To my palate I was wowed by the 2006 Mt. Veeder Cab. My next favorite wines where the Chardonnay, 2008 Mt. Veeder Cab (Magnum) and the 2009 Zinfandel from Howell Mountain. However, all of the wines tasted were very good.

From their web site I learned that the winemaker is Stephen Tebb. Tebb’s holds a B.S. Degree from University of California, Davis. Stephen started his winemaking career with atesa Vineyards & Winery  located in the Carneros District within Napa County. He then moved to Clos LaChance of the Central Coast where he guided all winemaking and the estate vineyard programs. Stephen returned to Napa Valley in the Fall of 2008 to become winemaker at Robert Craig Winery

If you would like to learn more about his philosophy, you can read an interview with him conducted by “Behind the Burner” at
http://www.behindtheburner.com/expert/stephen_tebb.html.
Quoted from web site:
“Behind the Burner is an emerging culinary media brand that creates expert-based content about food, wine, mixology and nutrition. We package the best tips, tricks and techniques from our network of over 500 master chefs, mixologists, restaurateurs and other culinary visionaries and serve them to our viewers in the form of videos, articles and blogs. Our videos are syndicated on TV to NBC New York Nonstop as well as 49 online media properties.”

Founder/Owner Robert Craig (pictured above talking with the guests) comes from a distinguished career in the wine industry. While he was serving as General Manager for the Hess Collection Winery on Mt. Veeder during the 1980’s, he developed 300 acres of vineyard land. While there he was a major player in developing the Mt. Veeder Appellation application and review process and then he provided consulting services on the development of the Spring Mountain Appellation. He started his own winery in 1992 with three others. His first wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon, was released in 1995. Seven years later in 2002, they completed their state-of- the-art winery on the summit of Howell Mountain. Tours of the winery site are arranged by appointment only and I am certainly anxious to visit the site.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wine Tourism Conference - Tourism and Costs - Part 2

By John Olney, Nov 29, 2011

Mr. Gregory, President & CEO of Napa Valley Destination Council (www.legendarynapavalley.com/nvdc/), e-mailed me (11/28/2011 4:00:27 P.M.) his comments regarding my blog posting of Nov. 27, 2011, (www.jolney.blogspot.com/2011/11/tourism-doesnt-come-without-cost.html ).

Mr. Gregory thoughtfully provided me a copy of the Tourism fact sheet for Napa County which I have included below. He also suggested I might want information about TID’s which can be reviewed at:
www.tourismimprovementdistrict.com

I thank him for this information and I pass it on.

Although Mr. Gregory says that the promotional campaign is “strategically” targeting off-season, off-peak days to improve tourism numbers, it is nevertheless a promotional campaign, and as such it increases the general awareness by the reader/viewer audience of the subject location of that campaign, no matter the day of the week or season of the year. I understand the use of special and reduced rates, etc. as incentives to pull in visitors at select times of the year, but those visitors who become enchanted with that destination will likely return and that could be during the regular season as well as off-season.
 

The community should not lose awareness that a successful promotional campaign not only gives rise to increased visitor numbers but it also excites the businessperson who sees opportunity to sell his/her goods to that visitor total. More hotels, more restaurants, more shops, etc., soon follow.   That translates to impacts on the infrastructure for which maintenance and expansion must be considered.  That is not to say this is bad but rather it should be fully understood what impact tourism - indeed, increased tourism - is likely to bring and plan for it in advance.

I reiterate my comment about not being against tourism. But, it does not come for free.! There are associated costs to a community attempting to attract it.
Fact Sheet



Tourism is Everybody’s Business in Napa County
Tourism in Napa County generates over $1.3 Billion in economic impact annually

The visitor serving industry is the second largest sector of Napa County’s economy.

Every 24 hours, guests of The Napa Valley spend approximately $4 million in local businesses. The

Tourism dollar has a tremendous reach - Tourism spending affects 196 different industries in Napa County.

Tax revenue generated by tourism spending is $125 million annually.

Tourism-generated tax revenue directly supports Napa County and its jurisdictions to provide police, firefighting and numerous social services.

If tax revenue generated by the visitor serving industry was to disappear, the annual tax bill of each resident of Napa County would increase by over $1,000.

The visitor serving industry employs 17,500 people in Napa County.

Over $500 million in Payroll is generated by visitor serving businesses in Napa County.

The potential returns generated by effectively managing and marketing tourism in Napa County are enormous. If the NVDC’s targeted marketing activities were to stimulate the spending by just 1.5%, $20 million in additional direct visitor spending would be the result.

A study conducted by California Travel & Tourism Commission indicates that every $1 invested in targeted destination tourism marketing results in $203 in visitor expenditures and $13 in tax revenue.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wine Tourism Conference - Tourism Doesn’t Come Without Cost

Wine Tourism Conference Presentations and Conclusions Aside,
Tourism Doesn’t Come Without Cost
By John Olney Nov 27, 2011

Paul Franson wrote his summary review comments about the recently held “Wine Tourism Conference” (Nov. 16-17) in his article, “Wine Tourism Brings People and Profit - Napa hosts Wine Tourism Conference: Why and how to promote your region.” for the publication, “Wines & Vines,(www.winesandvines.com/) published on its web site ( with date Nov 22). You can read more about the conference and its speakers by visiting the web site www.winetourismconference.org/.

Tickets to the event were $350 each. I could not afford such expensive tickets to attend this undoubtedly prestigious event focused on such an important element of the winegrowing industry of the counties, sub-regions and states of the American Winegrowing Industry in which many of us are involved through study, participation, and writing about it.

Mr. Franson says: “Allen Shoup best summarized the appeal of tourism, however: “Tourism brings in dollars without the need for homes, schools, hospitals and other services. On top of that, tourism creates jobs and makes people happy.”

I find Mr. Shoup’s quoted comment rather interesting. It is, in my opinion, an excellent example of an ox·y·mo·ron: a statement in which incongruous or contradictory concepts are said in the same breath. A couple of examples: “deafening silence, jumbo shrimp, etc.”

He seems to say that tourism increases revenues to a community without requiring reciprocal infrastructure costs. Then he appears to claim that that same tourism creates jobs. Somehow or other I fail to make the same connection that he makes. If tourism creates jobs then it follows that those so employed require housing, roads to get to and from work and their homes, merchants to provide goods, schools for their children, and all the other services that are provided to those in a community not employed directly by tourism.

And, by the way hospitals are needed for the tourists and the service industry employees. How often do we hear about car and pedestrian accidents, heart attacks and clogged throats at restaurants and hotels, recreational boating incidents, and more?

Who is going to pay for the expansion and maintenance of the expanded road system required to accommodate the tourist and those who fill the jobs to provide services to them?

Where are the dollars to provide for the expanded medical, educational, recreational, etc. services to support the tourists in distress and those who fill the jobs created by and for tourism?

Mr. Franson also gives credit to Mr. Clay Gregory, Legendary Napa Valley ( Napa Valley tourism agency), “….for helping to sell a Tourism Improvement District [TID] that adds 2% to lodgings costs to fund promotion. ” I have not yet heard of a tax being collected -- exclusively earmarked for and untouchable by government bodies -- to pay for the costs of the expansion of the infrastructural needs, or for the costs of operation & maintenance of just the existing infrastructure that would be required by an effective tourism promotion campaign until additional infrastructural needs can be constructed.

I am certainly in favor of tourism but not at the expense of not controlling its expansion without developing the co-existent revenue generation plan to support the costs of the changes that we will need to be made to the infrastructure modifications to accommodate growth in tourism and all that such growth requires.


Friday, July 22, 2011

An Argument for an American Wine Industry Hall of Fame - Part 2

By John M. Olney
July 22, 2011
Part Two of a Three Part Series

The Concept of a “Hall of Fame” and the Overlooked Greats



Regarding the Nominees. A Hall of Fame (HOF) needs to be designed to :

1. Recognize those individuals and entities who, after examination of conclusive evidence, have contributed to one or more of these measurement factors:

- A significant skill above that of the average person in that trade/profession

- Design and development of a processing methodology that becomes routinely adopted by the
industry

- Equipment product that significantly improves the overall quality of the end result of the subject industry

2. Recognize multiple recipients’ who as a team contributed to the industry one or more of the aforementioned measurement factors. An example would be a winery owner who supplied all capital backing necessary for his/her winery to produce a quality wine although those owners were not necessarily involved in the daily operation of the wine production. The initial years of founder Jesse Jackson of Konicti Winery and his winemaker Jed Steele producing the award winning Chardonnay that launched K-J on its fantastic growth. Jackson has been inducted into the CVHOF but the man, Steele, who actually was responsible for its production has not been inducted. Another example is only half o the team that most in the trade credit with the development of the sun degree days table has been inducted when both should have gone in at the same time..

Regarding the Electoral College of a HOF. The HOF has to have a comprehensive understanding of the background and experience levels of those associated to the subject industry of the HOF who would be voting upon the nominees. One must avoid establishing a voting body consisting of a great number of individuals whose age, historical knowledge of the wine industry and experience level preclude them from comparing “old timers” to their contemporizes so they vote for the “known entity” thereby bypassing some of the most important contributors to the American Wine Industry or a smaller segment of it like say the State of California.

1. A HOF needs to be based on a solid foundation recognizing those throughout the history of the subject industry of that HOF.

2. The HOF must include all of the various aspects of that industry. In the case of wine, it must include recognition of individuals and groups from the planting and management of the vineyard, to the winemaker & winery owner, public relations & marketing divisions, wine writer/critic & historian, to the distributor & retailer, all of which make it an industry.

3. The HOF needs to have the ways and means to verify the “credentials” of the names submitted for possible nomination for election to, and induction, in such HOF

4. It is essential that the organizational body of a HOF design and prepare unbiased, accurate and complete biography sheets on each candidate for the voting body to review and consider in their individual selection process.
This latter point is where I believe the creators of the CVHOF make their most crucial misjudgment. They believe that they must use short statement abstracts of no more than about three sentences because they believe that the electoral college members would not take the time to read a full biographic background on each of the 30 plus nominees the CAHOF normally proposes on its ballot each year. This abstract or biographical write-up is what I consider the most crucial criteria in order to have a valid HOF of the most worthy inductees and not just a bunch of inductees decided by “popular vote.”

When the HOF organizations selects individuals to be part of the electoral college, that prospective voter needed to be aware that he will be reading biographical statements that may require his/her time in order to understand the true value of that nominees contributions relative to that of another candidate. If the candidate of the electoral college does not feel he/she can commit to such time then they should be forthright and upfront and decline to become part of the voting body.

http://www.ciaprochef.com/winestudies/events/vhf_inductees.html   The CVHOF has been in existence now for four (4) years and has inducted 33 individuals. You can review its history at the web site shown above. Many of these individuals are important contributors to the California Wine Industry but they are certainly not more important than many other individuals, who in my opinion, made much greater significant contribution to the industry and should already be inducted into the CVHOF.

I do not understand how such giants as the following - some of whom have been nominated at least once and some more - are not inducted.

I know of at least one other writer who appears to think along similar lines to me and it is Dan Berger, who published in February 25, 2011, in his article, ““Not in the Vintners Hall of Fame — but they should be,” for the Napa Register the following paragraphs in quotation and italics. Dan Berger’s mentioning of Petri reminded me of the list of large wine operations shown below.

Big Five U.S.A. Winemakers as of the 1952-53 timeframe (listed by capacity in gallons)
1 - Roma - 30 million

2 - California Wine Association (CWA) - 29.65 million

3 - Italian Swiss Colony (ISC) - 26 million

4 - Wine Growers’ Guild - 22 million

5 - Petri - 20 million


“Louis Petri. One of the most important people in the history of the wine industry, Petri, president of powerful Allied Grape Growers, was the dominant force in American wine following World War II — a marketing force, innovator, and the man who changed the way wine was shipped to market.” By Dan Berger
Let me give you an example of the magnitude of his accomplishments with just the comments listing below

Petri’s purchase of ISC moved him to the largest producer in the USA. Nobody from any of these five companies (Except as a member of a subsidiary winery) has yet been elected to the CVHOF, yet Gallo Brothers are in! Robert Mondavi is in! How can that be a true HOF?

Let me add a little to the Petri legend. Petri was so forward thinking that he modified a tanker ship renaming it the “Petri.” He was shipping by sea his wine to the East Coast cheaper than anyone else at the time using all the other transportation methods.

Allied Grape Growers was the sister company of United Vintners, the marketing firm, also headed by Petri, that eventually absorbed the great Napa-based Inglenook Estate created by Gustave Niebaum and then taken to new fame under his great grand nephew, John Daniel. His firm also maneuvered the Napa Valley-based Beaulieu Vineyard estate created under Georges de Latour and its famed winemaker Andr√® Tchelistcheff, into the Allied/Vintners domain. All four of these gentlemen are inducted in the CVHOF but Louis Petri is not? What Petri accomplished during his lifetime in the American Wine Industry is, in this writer’s opinion, well deserving of being inducted into the CVHOF.
Berger goes on to mention other greats in the earlier history of the California Wine Industry.

Eugene Hilgard, the 19th-centurybotanist and visionary who paved the way for grapes to be planted in Livermore Valley and numerous other locations where he theorized great wine could result.” By Dan Berger
 “Byron and Alice Nightingale of Cresta Blanca and later Beringer? The two jointly invented a complex process to make world-class dessert wine. Myron, chief wine maker at Beringer, was one of the most respected wine makers until his death in 1988.” By Dan Berger
I would both agree with and add to Mr. Berger’s list the following candidates.

Percy Morgan
He who essentially designed and then managed the giant California Wine Association (CWA) and lead it to become a completely vertical integrated wine producer. It once owned and/or controlled over 80% of the wine produced in California from 1894 to 1920 At that time CWA was also the largest wine company in the world. It included all seven of the great San Francisco based wine brokers and merchants of the times and the Napa Valley Wine Company. By 1900, the majority of the state's wineries had joined the CWA, including Stag's Leap Cellars, Greystone Cellars at St. Helena, the Italian Swiss Colony, Cucamonga Vineyards, Glen Ellen Vineyards and more. At its peak, 52 wineries were members of the CWA. It was totally vertically integrated because it controlled all aspects of winemaking from the planting of the grapes, to production, bottling, marketing and shipment of its wine. Some of those who were the directors and/or shareholders in the winery operations owned/controlled by the CWA have already been inducted into the CVHOF, but why not Percy Morgan?

Kohler and Frohling
The most likely beginning point for wine production, distribution and marketing of California wine can be attributed to Charles Kohler and John Frohling of San Francisco. They originally operated out of the Los Angles area in the year 1853. By 1856, Kohler & Frohling were exporting bulk wine from their large Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City wine warehouses to European, South American, Asian, and Pacific Rim countries. At the high point of their operation they owned wine production facilities in Los Angeles, Sonoma County, and the Central Valley.

Hamden McIntyre
/He completed conceptual design of several wineries during the 1870s to 1890s that still stand today as monuments of the early Napa Valley Wine Industry. They are:

The great stone structures

Inglenook (Now owned by movie mogul Francis Ford Coppola)

Chateau Montelena (now owned by the Barretts family)

Far Niente (Now of Nichol and Nichol ownership)

Bourn and Wise nicknamed “Greystone” was the largest stone winery in the world. (Became best known under the ownership of Christian Brothers 1945-1996 and now occupied by the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and home of the California Vintners Hall of Fame.)

Ewer and Atkinson (Now the inner-core of Beaulieu Vineyards winery complex)
The giant wood structures

He also was a significant contributor to the Leland Stanford giant winery, Vina, located in Tehema County.
Eschol (Now home of Trefethen winery)

Christian Pugh Adamson, (Now home to Frog’s Leap)


It should also be remembered that although Gustave Niebaum (inducted into the CVHOF) was well read on the subject of vineyard management and winery operations, he did not do the work. It was Hamden McIntyre who was vineyard and winery manager.

The Concept of a “Hall of Fame” and the Overlooked Greats

Regarding the Nominees.  A Hall of Fame (HOF) needs to be designed to

1. Recognize those individuals and entities who, after examination of conclusive evidence, have contributed to one or more of these measurement factors:

- A significant skill above that of the average person in that trade/profession

- Design and development of a processing methodology that becomes routinely adopted by the
industry

- Equipment product that significantly improves the overall quality of the end result of the subject industry

2. Recognize multiple recipients’ who, as a team, contributed to the industry in one or more of the aforementioned measurement factors. An example would be a winery owner who supplied all capital backing necessary for his/her winery to produce a quality wine although those owners were not necessarily involved in the daily operation of the wine production. The initial years of founder Jesse Jackson of Konicti Winery and his winemaker Jed Steele producing the award winning Chardonnay that launched K-J on its fantastic growth. Jackson has been inducted into the CVHOF but the man, Steele, who actually was responsible for its production has not been inducted. Another example is only half o the team that most in the trade credit with the development of the sun degree days table has been inducted when both should have gone in at the same time.

Regarding the Electoral College of a HOF. The HOF has to have a comprehensive understanding of the background and experience levels of those associated to the subject industry of the HOF who would be voting upon the nominees. One must avoid establishing a voting body consisting of a great number of individuals whose age, historical knowledge of the wine industry and experience level preclude them from comparing “old timers” to their contemporizes so they vote for the “known entity” thereby bypassing some of the most important contributors to the American Wine Industry or a smaller segment of it like say the State of California.

1. A HOF needs to be based on a solid foundation recognizing those throughout the history of the subject industry of that HOF.

2. The HOF must include all of the various aspects of that industry. In the case of wine, it must include recognition of individuals and groups from the planting and management of the vineyard, to the winemaker & winery owner, public relations & marketing divisions, wine writer/critic & historian, to the distributor & retailer, all of which make it an industry.

3. The HOF needs to have the ways and means to verify the “credentials” of the names submitted for possible nomination for election to, and induction, in such HOF

4. It is essential that the organizational body of a HOF design and prepare unbiased, accurate and complete biography sheets on each candidate for the voting body to review and consider in their individual selection process.

This latter point is where I believe the creators of the CVHOF make their most crucial misjudgment. They believe that they must use short statement abstracts of no more than about three sentences because they believe that the electoral college members would not take the time to read a full biographic background on each of the 30 plus nominees the CAHOF normally proposes on its ballot each year. This abstract or biographical write-up is what I consider the most crucial criteria in order to have a valid HOF of the most worthy inductees and not just a bunch of inductees decided by “popular vote.”

When the HOF organizations selects individuals to be part of the electoral college, that prospective voter needed to be aware that he will be reading biographical statements that may require his/her time in order to understand the true value of that nominees contributions relative to that of another candidate. If the candidate of the electoral college does not feel he/she can commit to such time then they should be forthright and upfront and decline to become part of the voting body.

(www.ciaprochef.com/winestudies/events/vhf_inductees.htmlT ) The CVHOF has been in existence now for four (4) years and has inducted 33 individuals. You can review its history at the web site shown above. Many of these individuals are important contributors to the California Wine Industry but they are certainly not more important than many other individuals, who in my opinion, made much greater significant contribution to the industry and should already be inducted into the CVHOF.

I do not understand how such giants as the following - some of whom have been nominated at least once and some more - are not inducted.

I know of at least one other writer who appears to think along similar lines to me and it is Dan Berger, who published in February 25, 2011, in his article, ““Not in the Vintners Hall of Fame — but they should be,” for the Napa Register the following paragraphs in quotation and italics. Dan Berger’s mentioning of Petri reminded me of the list of large wine operations shown below.

Big Five U.S.A. Winemakers as of the 1952-53 timeframe (listed by capacity in gallons)

1 - Roma - 30 million
2 - California Wine Association (CWA) - 29.65 million
3 - Italian Swiss Colony (ISC) - 26 million
4 - Wine Growers’ Guild - 22 million
5 - Petri - 20 million

“Louis Petri.  One of the most important people in the history of the wine industry, Petri, president of powerful Allied Grape Growers, was the dominant force in American wine following World War II — a marketing force, innovator, and the man who changed the way wine was shipped to market.” By Dan Berger
Let me give you an example of the magnitude of his accomplishments with just the comments listing below

Petri’s purchase of ISC moved him to the largest producer in the USA. Nobody from any of these five companies (Except as a member of a subsidiary winery) has yet been elected to the CVHOF, yet Gallo Brothers are in! Robert Mondavi is in! How can that be a true HOF?

Let me add a little to the Petri legend. Petri was so forward thinking that he modified a tanker ship renaming it the “Petri.” He was shipping by sea his wine to the East Coast cheaper than anyone else at the time using all the other transportation methods.

Allied Grape Growers was the sister company of United Vintners, the marketing firm, also headed by Petri, that eventually absorbed the great Napa-based Inglenook Estate created by Gustave Niebaum and then taken to new fame under his great grand nephew, John Daniel. His firm also maneuvered the Napa Valley-based Beaulieu Vineyard estate created under Georges de Latour and its famed winemaker Andr√® Tchelistcheff, into the Allied/Vintners domain. All four of these gentlemen are inducted in the CVHOF but Louis Petri is not? What Petri accomplished during his lifetime in the American Wine Industry is, in this writer’s opinion, well deserving of being inducted into the CVHOF.

Berger goes on to mention other greats in the earlier history of the California Wine Industry.

“Eugene Hilgard, the 19th-century botanist and visionary who paved the way for grapes to be planted in Livermore Valley and numerous other locations where he theorized great wine could result.” By Dan Berger
Byron and Alice Nightingale of Cresta Blanca and later Beringer? The two jointly invented a complex process to make world-class dessert wine. Myron, chief wine maker at Beringer, was one of the most respected wine makers until his death in 1988.” By Dan Berger
I would both agree with and add to Mr. Berger’s list the following candidates.
Percy Morgan
He essentially designed and then managed the giant California Wine Association (CWA) and lead it to become a completely vertical integrated wine producer. It once owned and/or controlled over 80% of the wine produced in California from 1894 to 1920 At that time CWA was also the largest wine company in the world. It included all seven of the great San Francisco based wine brokers and merchants of the times and the Napa Valley Wine Company. By 1900, the majority of the state's wineries had joined the CWA, including Stag's Leap Cellars, Greystone Cellars at St. Helena, the Italian Swiss Colony, Cucamonga Vineyards, Glen Ellen Vineyards and more. At its peak, 52 wineries were members of the CWA. It was totally vertically integrated because it controlled all aspects of winemaking from the planting of the grapes, to production, bottling, marketing and shipment of its wine. Some of those who were the directors and/or shareholders in the winery operations owned/controlled by the CWA have already been inducted into the CVHOF, but why not Percy Morgan?

Kohler & Frohling
The most likely beginning point for wine production, distribution and marketing of California wine can be attributed to Charles Kohler and John Frohling of San Francisco. They originally operated out of the Los Angles area in the year 1853. By 1856, Kohler & Frohling were exporting bulk wine from their large Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City wine warehouses to European, South American, Asian, and Pacific Rim countries. At the high point of their operation they owned wine production facilities in Los Angeles, Sonoma County, and the Central Valley.

Hamden McIntyre
He completed conceptual design of several wineries during the 1870s to 1890s that still stand today as monuments of the early Napa Valley Wine Industry. They are:

The great stone structures

Inglenook (Now owned by movie mogul Francis Ford Coppola)

Chateau Montelena (now owned by the Barretts family)

Far Niente (Now of Nichol and Nichol ownership)

Bourn & Wise nicknamed “Greystone” was the largest stone winery in the world. (Became best known under the ownership of Christian Brothers 1945-1996 and now occupied by the Culinary Institute of America (CIA
Ewer and Atkinson  (Now the inner-core of Beaulieu Vineyards winery complex)

The giant wood structures
Eschol (Now home of Trefethen winery)

Christian Pugh Adamson, (Now home to Frog’s Leap)
He also was a significant contributor to the Leland Stanford giant winery, Vina, located in Tehema County.

It should also be remembered that although Gustave Niebaum (inducted into the CVHOF) was well read on the subject of vineyard management and winery operations, he did not do the work. It was Hamden McIntyre who was vineyard and winery manager.
) and home of the California Vintners Hall of Fame.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

MARKETING THE NEVADA COUNTY WINE INDUSTRY

By John M. Olney, July 19, 2011
Copyright, all rights reserved by Wine Country Marketing and Promotions,
1370 Trancas St., #409, Napa, CA 94558 Phone: 707-299-9548
Web site: http://www.twccwcmp.blogspot.com/ E-mail: winecountrypromo@aol.com



THE GOAL: Attracting New Vineyard Growers, Vintners & Consumers to Nevada County

Growth/Expansion
The Nevada County Wine Industry underwent tremendous growth and expansion during the last 12 months covering the period July 2010 through June 2011 Clearly all of the changes and expansions listed below speak of an enthusiasm, individually and/or collectively, to build a solid wine industry in the county. These moves also seem to represent that the Nevada County Wine Industry is on an economically sound footing particularly when considering the current depressed economic conditions.

Here is what happened during the past 12 months:
New wineries were added to the already existing 17 wineries to bring the current total to 19.

Expansion - Both began bonded operation in late 2010

Besemer Vineyards - Grass Valley area - Tom & Kristi Besemer. He is also President of the Sierra Wine & Grape Growers Association - http://www.besemercellars.com/ /

Gray Pine Winery - Penn Valley, - R Guy Lauterbach, no web site developed yet

Bonded and Calif. ABC licensed are listed below but they do not advertise in any publications nor are they a member in any of the local county wine industry associations



Villanelle Wine - Nevada City area -" founded in 1996, by G. M. Johnson" - http://www.villanellewine.com/ - no email address provided on web site

Oaksprings Vineyard and Winery - Penn Valley - www.oakspringsvineyardsandwinery.com/California_Wines.html

Leslie G. Fleming - Penn Valley - have not found a web site yet thus no email available

Charles Travers Winery - near Lake of the Pine intersection Hwy 49 - Nick C. Robunson - have not found a web site yet thus no email available


Actual and commitments to expansion of the number of acres of new vineyard planting:

Expansion acreage:



Clavey Vineyards adding seven (7) acres bringing it to a total of about 14.5 acres.

Sierra Starr adding three and a half acres bringing it to a total of about 15 plus acres

Committed expansion:
Szabo Vineyards adding 12 acres bringing it to a total of about 52 acres

Expanding/relocating Winery production facility:


Sierra Starr’s and its new winery and barrel storage facility currently under construction taking its production Facilities from about 1,000 to over 4,000 sqft,.

Clavey Vineyards production facilities moving from Meyers to Power Line

Tasting room additions/relocations:

Winery License



Clavey Vineyards opened its off-site tasting room in downtown Nevada City

Grass Valley Wine Company relocated its multiple member of participating wineries (Bent Metal, Pilot Peak and Solune) from its inaugural location to a new, remodeled site across the street.

Sierra Knolls constructed off-site second tasting room located along Hwy 49 near Lake of the Pines in thesouthern part of the county.

Szabo Vineyards opened its off-site tasting room in downtown Nevada City

Retail License



151 Union Square, a retail wine licensed event center features the wines of four local wineries - Coufos, Double Oak, Montoliva and Naggiar

B.Y.O.B. Wine Sellers opened a unique tasting room and sales outlet just outside of Nevada City with the environmentally focused concept of refillable wine bottles.

With these additional tasting rooms, now the wines of 15 of the 19 plus wineries located in Nevada County can be experienced within the two communities of Grass Valley and Nevada City located only about 3.5 miles apart. Before June 2010 there were only eight wineries spread among the two towns.

Sierra Vintners - Re-Branding of organization representing 15 of the wine producers of the county who have joined forces

Attracting New Vineyard and/or Winery Owners

When I interviewed Mr. Alex Szabo, President of the Sierra Vintners association representing 15 of the Nevada County wineries, I asked him about what he sees as the future growth of the wine industry in the coming years. He responded that it might be possible to see as many as 10 new wineries come into product in the next about 8-10 years.

The new tasting room constructed by Sierra Knolls Vineyard and Winery along Hwy 49 in the southern part of Nevada County community of Lake of the Pines will become the wine country gateway site for all the wine outlets in the county because it will significantly raise the awareness of the traveling public that Nevada County has wineries. This will be particularly true should the owners continue to plan for and then implement planting of a vineyard on the land surrounding the tasting room property.

Coupling this new Hwy 49 roadside wine tasting room with the fact that the two downtowns of Grass Valley (11 wineries) and Nevada City (4 wineries) now have the wines of 15 of the county’s wineries readily available to the wine consumer who does not need to travel 20-40 minutes along winding and narrow two lane backroads between wineries to taste the wines of Nevada County.

Now add the fact that travelers on their way to camping sites, swimming & fishing spots and gambling casinos of the Sierra Foothills, Tahoe and Reno who will come to these downtown cities for interim lodging, dining and shopping will suddenly discover themselves running into six (6) storefronts in Grass Valley serving the wines of 11 wineries while four (4) storefronts in Nevada City represent four more wineries of the county.

Many travelers would not have realized that Nevada County had this many wineries if it were not for those who will gain their first exposure to Nevada County wines at the Hwy 49 location of “Bear River Wine Tasting” facility of Sierra Knolls and then pursued the tasting rooms located in town. Truckee River Winery could also become such an initial marketing arm for all the Nevada County Wine Industry. In order for these entities to realize such positions, they will need to lobby for very visible signage marking them as the “Northern Nevada County Wine Industry Gateway” [Truckee River] and “Southern Nevada County Wine Industry Gateway” [Bear River Wine Tasting-Sierra Knolls Vineyard and Winery]

There are a few market analysis and programs that I believe would substantially assist the Nevada County Wine Industry to realize its dreams of sustained but controlled growth.

Statistical Data Collection and Analysis
I want to suggest that those involved in the Nevada County Wine Industry participate in a questionnaire survey designed to assess where these entities are deriving their tasting room clientele. To encourage the consumer to complete the survey, the wineries might consider waiving the tasting fee for those who participate. The questionnaire needs to be simple so it does not scare off the participant but thorough enough to provide an accurate measurement of the way consumers discover the Nevada County Wine Country . The survey needs to be sure that it covers the many ways the consumer could have learned about the wineries of Nevada County. It should probably run continuously for the next three to five years so that the Nevada County Wine Industry can access their strong and weak points in marketing and acquiring consumers.

A Nevada County Wine Industry Master Plan for Future Growth
The Nevada County Wine Industry needs a document that lays out all the important factors about the vines-to-wines industry from which potential investors in that industry can reasonably gage the chances for them to be successful as a new operation in the county. After 15 months of document research and data collection, and contact and interviews with private and governmental entities, I can conclusively say that no such comprehensive document and/or plan exists, or at least was exposed to me for review.

Such a document should show and/or include at minimum:

- location of all the existing wine grape vineyards (whether part of a collocated winery operation or not) with elevation range, associated list of varietals being grown, and wineries and separate off site tasting rooms (if applicable).

- geographical land areas of highest to lowest probability of successful wine grape production where county land zoning codes will allow for such use and in association with list of “best” or “most suitable” grape varietal for planting

- statistical information on annual vineyard grape harvest tonnage and wine production by gallons & cases separated by varietal

- And other import economic investment indicators

This publication should not be formatted as a boring ”government” tool but rather as a marketing instrument that presents the story in a business-like prospectus format.

“Take It On The Road!” Marketing Events
I would suggest that the Nevada County wineries who have a large enough number of wine case production to do so, provide a sufficient amount of wine each that could be used in a ‘traveling road show’ approach to marketing the NC wineries and growers to attract new consumers and new growers/vintners. Such events should have “trade only” as well as “Open to the public” tasting hours.

Since the Nevada County Wine Industry does not, to my knowledge, have a master/comprehensive growth plan to show those in the trade and the consumers, I would of course, have my booklet, "Olney's Guide to the Wineries of Nevada County" (in draft) at each show and would do autograph sessions. Although this may sound self serving, my booklet nevertheless will be the most comprehensive summary in print of the past and present history of the Industry and thus it can be used to show the attendees what they can expect to find - not to mention increase sales of my booklet. You can click on the picture to enlarge it.



The initial road show might consist of seven stops visiting Sacramento, Roseville, Rocklin/Loomis, Grass Valley/Nevada City, Truckee, Tahoe and Reno. I’m still thinking about whether a tasting charge should be made or not. If a charge was made it should be fairly low. I would also hold a separate “for free” tasting period - say two hours before letting the general public in the door - conducted for “trade only,“ registered attendees. For this latter portion of the marketing events all wineries would hopefully provide tasting samples for the trade folks.

I would suggest that Corti Brothers ( http://www.cortibros.biz/ ) be invited to host the first such tasting and book autographing event for the Sacramento area. Darrell Corti helped establish Bob Trinchero/Sutter Home in the Zinfandel wine business, and is probably the most respected wine retailer in California at this time. He was recently inducted into the California Vintners Hall of Fame. We would want to find the “best and most popular” retailers of wines in the other communities to host such a special tasting and book autographing event.

I also believe that witnessing and participating in these events might help to entice Besemer, Gray Pine, Clavey and Truckee River as well as possibly some of those winery operations mentioned above who I recently learned about, and make them realize that membership in the Sierra Vintners would indeed benefit their individual business interests and therefore they might reconsider their position and join.

I also think that this road show should include representation from the Sierra Wine and Grape Growers Association to speak about their successfull operations and the benefits they realize as only growers selling their crops to vintners instead of producing their own wine label.

-------------------------------------------

ABOUT THE "OLNEY'S GUIDE TO...." The Nevada County Guide will be the first in a series of booklets that will eventually encompass all the gold counties of the Northern Sierra's

Additionally, Mr. Olney has been developing a book which will include the history of the rise of wine production amoing the early days of mining through the present day in the industry. The draft cover to this book is shown below. You can click on the picture to enlarge it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

An Argument for an American Wine Industry Hall of Fame

By John M. Olney
July 4, 2011
Part One of a Three Part Series
The Premise

The thought of a Vintners Hall of Fame for those who own and/or are employed in and about the California Wine Industry is a noble notion but what is really needed is an American Wine Industry Hall of Fame that recognizes those individuals, institutions, private corporations and governmental agency’s who have contributed to the birth of wine in what would become the USA, nurturing it through its adolescent years and then managing it into its current state of maturity where its wines are produced for the appeal of the palate of just about every possible consumer market across the USA; indeed the world!

Background

Although the wine snob cannot stand to hear about, see, smell or taste “sweet wines” or acknowledge that there are wine producers who dare to invent or create “designer” or “fad” wines, nevertheless the market sales numbers tell us that the wine snob is distinctly in the minority view.

In today’s market place, the consumer can pick from bottles of wine that are allegedly “premium” and are “what any wine consumer of any real quality should be drinking” - at least so says the wine snob and critic - that cost hundreds of dollars; indeed even ranging into the thousands per bottle! These wines are produced in quantities of way less than hundreds of thousand cases per year. Compare that to the sales of wines with catchy names and clever eye catching labels that are produced in the millions of cases per year at large winery facilities that sell for less than five dollars per bottle down to three dollars a bottle or less! Wow, what a range of diversity in price but not necessarily in quality, since “quality” is a relative term that depends on the likes and dislikes of the consumer making an evaluation of a wine being tasted. What one person or critic thinks is a quality wine, another turns their nose at it. And, in my way of thinking, there is no problem with this concept!

The most important point here is that the above description of the range of wine styles produced in America is exactly what growing regions of those countries. Such rules & regulations can makes it a wine industry! You have the small, family vineyard of a few acres and winery owner personalizing everything he or she does in the vineyard and in the winery to manufacture the product they believe represents the type and quality of wine to which they wish to associate their name. At the other end of the wine industry scale is the wine producer, whether family-owned or a corporation, which is totally vertically integrated owning thousands of acres of vineyard, its own harvesting equipment, one or more wine production facilities - each looking more like a giant oil refinery operation than what one usually thinks of as a quaint farm like scene - analytic laboratory, bottling building and lines capable of handling millions of bottles - indeed cases, label, carton & box design & printing shop, trucking line distribution system, and marketing & public relations divisions and more. The only significant difference between these two ends of the spectrum is the likes and dislikes of the consumer when drinking the wine produced by these completely different operations both in style and magnitude.

The difference in the above spectrum of wine production is also what America experienced as it hungered for the wines of the “Old Country” when the 13 Colonies were organizing, growing and maturing into a cohesive body that would no longer suffer the rule of a distant foreign government trying to control and absorb the abundant resources found in the North American Continent and specifically what would become the United States of America. While enduring this foreign rule, the colonists found an abundant amount and species of grapes in their “New World” that certainly suggested they could produce a wine product for their tables. Indigenous grape varietals were everywhere. Soon the idea of picking and crushing the local grape, fermenting the juice and aging the resultant wine became almost an obsession for many who relished wine as they knew it from their home countries.

The Palate

The driving force to “premium” wine consumption from our earliest days in the Colonies to what we drink today is that our forefathers and the wine critics of the times were and remain as palates used to the familiar tastes of wines pro-duced from foreign varietals and made in foreign vintner fashion as prescribed by the laws of each foreign country controlling the classifications of wines in the various stifle individuality, ambition to improve varietal development, wine production techniques and thus quality of the wines that can be produced.

The USA does not have such strict government involvement in the business of wine grape planting and production. Growers and vintners can plant what they want on their land and as many vines per acre as they feel will work for them. We do not employ a strict “classification system” such as used by the French where traditional classifications of wineries within regions that were defined centuries ago regardless of the current quality of the wine being produced today nevertheless remain carved in stone.

In the USA, the winery and the wines, stand alone to be judged by each consumer and critic!

As our forefathers learned from their many experiments attempting to make wines from the indigenous grape of the USA that tasted like from their original homeland, the resultant wine just did not have the “right” taste. Thus, they would start importing rootstock from their homelands in attempt to reproduce a fine European wine in and on American soil and climate. Once again these ambitious and industrious wine producers experienced set backs as the foreign varietals did not hold up well in the soils and climates of our eastern states. This forced those interested in “fine” wine production to start experimenting in crossing foreign varietals with indigenous varietals. Meanwhile others took a completely different road in wine production. They looked to other sugar developing fruits and berries, and the ancient source of wine - honey - to produce a wine product. Once again the traditional wine snob pushes his/her nose up in grimace at the thought of having to tolerate the existence of these wine products much less to be stuck having to drink any!

All this background information now brings us back to the concept of an American Wine Industry Hall Of Fame. This title purposely avoids the use of the word “grape” because there are a number of states in the USA where many wineries make their product not from grapes but from other sugar-based crops. If you are of the grape exclusive persuasion you wouldn’t even bother to read further or to experiment with or train your palate to enjoy non-grape generated wines. But, such wines enjoy a very large following that results in serious agriculture derived revenues to those producing states.

A Little Bit of Interpretive History

As we began our expansionist movement from a nation of just 13 former British Colonies and dared to push west and south while justifying such conquests of indigenous people and their lands under the delusion that it was our “manifest destiny” to populate the land from ocean to ocean and the Great Lakes to Gulf of Mexico, we brought with us our appetite for wine. We pushed aside indigenous peoples as we moved into the great Ohio and Missouri Basins and plains. The Louisiana Purchase gave us the largest acquisition of land more than doubling the size of our nation. We annexed the Mexican controlled lands of Texas and started a war with Mexico to gain even more of their lands north of the Gulf of Mexico and stretching to the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile we negotiated a settlement with the British thereby avoiding another war where land in the Pacific Northwest was divided between the two nations with the USA gaining what we now call Oregon and Washington and other lands stretching along the latitude line intersecting with the Great Lakes.

Upon finally reaching the Mexican controlled land of California and winning rights to it along with other important lands of the southwest during the great war with Mexico, we finally had what would prove to be control of the perfect land and climatic conditions upon which we could grow the European varietals we so longed for our palate - Washington, Oregon and California.

Since those adolescent years of our national growth, wine production in the USA has been dominated by the eastern states of New York, and Pennsylvania, the mid west states of Ohio and Michigan, the south with Texas and Virginia and western states of California, Washington and Oregon. Many of the early names who helped to develop the wines as we migrated west came from the east and settled in the west when they realized what an asset it was for wine production. However, that migration did not mean the doom of wine production elsewhere in the USA. Just the opposite occurred as migration pushed all the other wine growing regions to search for ideal varietals clones and cross breading from which wines could compete in an open market place. The best evidence of this is the fact that every state in the union today has wineries with product in the market place. This achievement is exactly why there should be an American Wine Industry Hall of Fame that recognizes the talents that brought us to this point of our maturity in the wine industry of our country.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Future Growth of Nevada County Wine Industry

By John M. Olney
Phone: 707-299-9548 Web: http://jolney.blogspot.com/ Email: OlneyJohnM@aol.com

(You can click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

In the past year the wineries associated to the two towns of Grass Valley and Nevada City have undergone a phenomenal change and all for the better. The highlights of what I have witnessed are cited below.

Nevada City has gained two tasting rooms that are an extension of the tasting room they each have at their vineyard and winery site. This means that Nevada City now represents four (4) of the 15 wineries in close proximity to each other. They are Nevada City, Indian Springs, Clavey and Szabo. The latter two wineries opened their new tasting rooms in the second half of 2010.

Then there has been the addition of a very interesting new concept in wine retailing. It is called “B.Y.O.B Wine Seller” and is located in Nevada City. Here, you buy a BYOB bottle of wine and the concept is to reuse, not recycle, the bottle by returning to the shop and refilling the bottle at a discounted price.

Grass Valley has also made great gains in looking like a wine industry. Avangardia, Lucchesi, Smith and Sierra Starr continue their individual tasting room presence in the cities where they are now joined by two “collective” like tasting rooms. The Grass Valley Wine Company represents three wineries (Bent Medal, Pilot Peak and Solune). 151 Union Square, a retail wine licensed tasting room and events center offers four more of the outskirt wineries: Coufos, Double Oak, Montoliva, and Naggiar. Both of the latter collective-like tasting rooms opened during the second half of 2010.

Between the two cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City 15 of the 17 Nevada County wineries are represented in the downtown shopping and socializing areas.

The remaining two wineries are located a good distance from these two towns. In the far eastern corner of the county is the Truckee River winery which is just outside of downtown Truckee. Located along Hwy 49 near Lake of the Pines, the southern most populated community of the county, is the new second tasting room of Sierra Knolls winery which just opened in May 2011.The latter is named "Bear River Wine Tasting."

On Saturday and Sunday (May 28-29), of Memorial Day weekend the Sierra Vintners (http://www.sierravintners.com/) association (formerly known as Northern Sierra Wine Country) consisting of 15 of the 17 Nevada County wineries, conducted their annual Wine Trail event. Last year I attended this event on just Sunday but this year I went both days .Attendance this year was noticeably down from that I witnessed last year and it maybe that the cold and rainy weather both days this year kept many away from attending. It rained on and off both days and was cold ranging between the upper 30’s and low to mid 40’s.

Solune Winegrowers
On Saturday, I had my good friend Nanc Boyce with me who lives locally in the community of “You Bet,” located along Hwy 174 between Colfax and Grass Valley. The first winery we visited was Solune Winegrowers ( www.solunewinery.com/ ), also located along Hwy 174. We tasted mostly reds but we were not long at this winery because we wanted to get to the next where we would be able to listen to live Blue Grass music.

Montoliva Vineyard and Winery
Our next stop was Montoliva Vineyard and Winery (www.montoliva.com/) located in the old Italian farming community of Chicago Park. The one acre vineyard is shown to the left with livestock of the neighbor in the background. It is still a rather pleasant farming community atmosphere.


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The owner/winemaker Mark Henry- shown to right explaining Italian varietals to attendees - has a beautiful black cat that absolutely demands that all visitors pay attention to it. After awhile the cat decided to survey the attendees from a height about eye level to them.

Notice the Owl (statue) to the right looking at the cat with a question as to why the cat is perched up there on the vine post!









Naggiar Vineyards
The next winery we visited was Naggiar Vineyards ( www.naggiarvineyards.com/ ) who is the largest grower among the 17 wineries with 60 acres of vineyards of which he sells 70%
of his crop to other wineries both in and outside of Nevada County, including both Napa and Sonoma Counties. The remaining 30% of crop is used for their own labels for the 4,000 cases they produce annually. The relatively new tasting room and event center is shown here.


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Szabo Vineyards
The final winery we visited was Szabo Vineyards ( www.szabovineyards.com/ ) which is located northwest of Nevada City. Pictured to the left is the tree that Alex Szabo, owner/winemaker retained in the middle of the vineyard when he excavated the land and planted the vines. He loved the tree and just could not bring it down. His eye saw that it would make a great background for his labels.












Alex is also the President of the 15 member Sierra Vintners Association.


His winery and grounds have earned him a number of awards and honors for being environmentally friendly and energy efficient.








Overall, the attendance appeared to be quite a bit down from that I saw the year before. This winery had the most visitors at it of the four we visited on Saturday. It was cold all afternoon, hovering in the low 40’s and the rain really came down about 3:00 pm until 4 pm.










Kane’s Restaurant
Nanc and I then went out to dinner at both our favorite restaurant in downtown Grass Valley, “Kane’s “ ( www.kanesrestaurant.net/ ) where we shared a delicious steak dinner.

It was the same night as the Nevada High School Senior Ball so we got quite a fashion show as all the young ladies escorted by their gentleman wore their stunning evening gowns

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Lucchesi Vineyards and Winery
The next day, Sunday, I visited wineries by myself as Nanc had other obligations she had to pack for and make arrangements to travel. My first stop was Lucchesi Vineyards and Winery ( http://www.lucchesivineyards.com/ ) which located on a very narrow backwoods dirt and gravel road that ends at the winery on a street appropriately named “ View Forever Lane,” Grass Valley . As you can see from these scenic pictures, the name is very accurate!











Owners, Mario and Linda Clough, created a great attraction at their event. As you might notice there are three boxes to the right of them filled with wine bottles. Each attendee had the opportunity to throw three wicker rings at these boxes. The closest box was marked 30% discount, the middle 40% and the furthest away 50%, I was lucky enough to ring a bottle worth a 40 % discount on any and everything I bought that day at the winery. I liked their Sauvignon Blanc very much so I bought a couple of bottles using my 40% discount to give me a great price on the wine.

They had an interesting presentation where they had Tahoe artist Red Regan, pictured here with his wife Julie, conducting real time art painting for all attendees to watch and enjoy.










Smith Vineyard
Next on my schedule is Smith Vineyard ( http://www.smithvineyard.com/ ) pictured to the left behind 2nd generation owners Gary and Chris Smith. The winery tasting area is show to the right. I also stopped by their downtown second tasting room which I will discuss later.











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Sierra Starr Vineyard

The third winery I would visit is Sierra Starr Vineyard. (http://www.sierrastarr.com/) Last year this was the busiest winery I visited (pictured to the left). But this year, there was less attendance (pictured to the right). The Starr’s have been undergoing expansion with planting new vineyards and constructing a new winery and barrel storage building.







Shown to the right is what the winery barrel cave looked like at last years’ Wine Trail. To the left is the new construction under-way at this time which is right on top of the old cave area.


Downtown Grass Valley
After this winery, I went into downtown Grass Valley and found that there was a street closure art display event along central Mill Street which is perpendicular to Main street. It ran on the same blocks where four of the downtown tasting rooms are located.








To the right is the traffic at the Grass Valley Wine Company
(http://www.gvwineco.com/ collective like tasting room feature the three wineries of Bent Medal, Pilot Peak and Solune. To the left is the traffic at the Smith Vineyards ( http://www.smithvineyard.com/ ) tasting room.







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Sierra Knolls Vineyard and Winery
The fourth winery I visited on Sunday was the new Sierra Knolls “Bear River Wine Tasting”(http://www.sierraknollswinery.com/) building that just opened in mid May 2011, It is located about a mile south of the Wolf/Combie road intersection at the entry to the southern most populated community, Lake of the Pines.





This site had the most people both in the tasting room and outside on the grounds. They were serving both drop-in traffic from people stopping as they drove by and saw the winery as well as serving those who bought the ticket to the Wine Trail event.



A Suggestion
On May 7 , 2011, I published my predictions (http://jolney.blogspot.com/2011/05/sierra-knolls-bear-river-wine-tasting.html ) about the near term future of the 17 Nevada County wineries. I mainly focused on the new tasting room constructed by Sierra Knolls Vineyard & Winery along Hwy 49 located only about a mile plus south of the Nevada County community of Lake of the Pines. I believe that this location, because its easily visible along a major highway route into Grass Valley and Nevada City, while cause the passing traffic to think much about wine and Nevada County.

I believe that this tasting room will become the wine country gateway site for all the wine outlets in the county because it will significantly raise the awareness of the public that Nevada County has wineries. This will be particularly true should the owners continue to think and then implement planting of a vineyard on the land surrounding the tasiting room property. These predictions were based on my observations over the past one year plus that I have been visiting, tasting the wines, talking to the winery owners and winemakers and attending events where I could roughly estimate attendance.

Coupling this new Hwy 49 roadside wine tasting room with the fact that the two downtowns of Grass Valley (11 wineries) and Nevada City (4 wineries) now have the wines of 15 of the county’s 17 wineries readily available to the wine consumer who does not need to travel 20-40 minutes along winding and narrow two lane backroads between wineries to taste the wines of Nevada County.

Now add the fact that travelers who come to these downtown cities for lodging, dining and shopping will suddenly discover themselves running into six (6) storefronts in Grass Valley serving the wines of 11 wineries while four (4) storefronts in Nevada City represent four more wineries of the county. Many of these visitors would not have even realized that Nevada County had this many wineries if it were not for the Hwy 49 location and the downtown tasting room locations.

I am aware that the Sierra Vintners have contracted a consultant to assist them in their branding marketing plan but I would still like to make a suggestion based on my operations analysis background. If the marketing firm has not already developed a plan for statistical analysis, I want to suggest that it try to convince the 17 wineries, Sierra Vintners, GVWC, 151 Union Square and BYOB Wine Sellars to participate is a questionnaire survey designed to assess where these entities are deriving their tasting room clientele. To encourage the consumer to complete the survey, the wineries might consider waiving the tasting fee for those who participate. The questionnaire needs to be simple so it does not scare off the participant but thorough enough to provide an accurate measure of the way consumers discover Wine Country Nevada County. The survey needs to be sure that it covers the many ways the consumer could have learned about the wineries of Nevada County.

I believe that the Nevada County Wine Industry is going to experience a rapid growth in interest and retail sales during the next two-three years that none of the 17 wineries would have thought might occur just a couple years ago.






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