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[caption id="attachment_47314" align="alignright" width="350" caption="Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery's 28 vine blocks at elevations of 1,200 to 1,700 feet near the Pacific Ocean are examples of the type of warmer, above-the-fog conditions that led to the approval of the Fort Ross-Seaview American Viticultural Area. (courtesy of Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery)"][/caption]

Two new tightly focused American Viticultural Areas budded in the North Coast last week. Effective Jan. 13, the U.S. Trade & Tax Bureau established AVAs for Coombsville in southern Napa Valley and for Fort Ross-Seaview in western Sonoma County.

The 11,075-acre Coombsville subappellation is inside the Napa Valley and North Coast AVAs. The Coombsville district has 26 commercial vineyards with 1,360 acres of vines, including Farella-Park Vineyards, one of the petitioners for the subappellation; Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ Arcadia Vineyards; Far Niente Winery’s Barrow Lane, Carpenter, and John’s Creek Vineyards; Berlenbach Vineyards; and Richard Perry Vineyards.

At the time of the Coombsville petition, Bighorn Cellars, Laird Family Estate, Farella-Park and Monticello Cellars used the name on the label of some wines. All use more than 85 percent Coombsville grapes in those wines, the minimum requirement for use of an AVA name on the label under federal law, according to the bureau's final rule.

The Coombsville district is named after Napa founder Nathan Coombs and stretches east of the city to the Solano County border. In 2008 the TTB rejected a petition to create a Tulocay AVA on a slightly larger footprint as Coombsville's because of the Tulocay Winery's use of the name since 1974.

The 27,500-acre Fort Ross-Seaview viticultural area is within the Sonoma Coast and North Coast AVAs and includes vineyards for A-list producers such as Fort Ross, Flowers, Hirsch, Wild Hog, Marcassin, Failla, Pahlmeyer, Martinelli and Peter Michael. At the time of the vintner David Hirsch's 2003 petition, the new district had 18 commercial vineyards on 506 acres.

Of the seven comments initially received, named after the 19th century Russian coastal fort and the Seaview community, four opposed it because it didn't extend north to include the Annapolis community. Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery was concerned for the brand name, but last month publicly praised the establishment of the new AVA.

The Fort Ross-Seaview petition was delayed because of a 2005 petition to add 15,726 acres to the north, bringing in 28 more commercial vineyards on 900 acres.

After opening public comment last April and getting three comments in support of the original petition, the TTB decided to go with the first proposal because of the historical link to the Fort Ross and Seaview names and the above-the-fog location of the coastal vineyards in the original area, according to the final rule document.***

In other U.S. Trade & Tax Bureau news, the agency published a notice and requestion for comments in the Federal Register on Dec. 27 on proposed changes to the Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) form. The agency said it's part of an effort to streamline the COLA application and review process.

One of the significant changes to TTB Form 5100.31 is to the “allowable revisions” list, providing for certain repositioning of mandatory information on labels without having to resubmit for approval, according to the San Francisco-based trade group Wine Institute, whose COLAs Working Group is reviewing the changes.

Comments are due on Feb. 27 via P.O. Box 14412, Washington, DC 20044-4412; fax 202-453-2686; or Formcomments@ttb.gov.***

WineForce Consulting Partners (www.wine-force.com) is a relatively new North Coast wine marketing advisory. Paul Young of Petaluma and Gregg Bell of Florida started the company last March. Mr. Young has 35 years of wine and spirits industry experience, most recently as sales and marketing director for Heck Estates, which produces Korbel. Mr. Bell is another Heck Estates alum, serving as sales operations manager for nearly four years, and before that he served for an equal amount of time as managing director of Gulf Atlantic Vintage Selections.

Tim Widnes of San Rafael joined WineForce in June as national sales director. His 33-year career in alcoholic-beverage sales and marketing includes nearly 28 years with Victoire Imports Co. and Southern Wine & Spirits.

Recently, WineForce announced it signed up as a client Vellum Wine Craft, a 5-year-old boutique Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon producer.***

St. Helena-based Wine Opinions (www.wineopinions.com) will be offering omnibus surveys of its wine trade and consumer panels, starting in February. Wineries, wine marketers and wine trade associations will be able to insert one or more inquiries -- simple yes/no, multiple choice or matrix, attribute lists, rankings or open-ended comment -- to get quick marketing feedback.

“Most of our research to date has been comprehensive surveys of multiple issues for a region or winery, or controlled tests of multiple variables such as label options,” noted Christian Miller, director of research. “But we also get a lot of requests from companies seeking answers or tracking data on just one or two key questions, and the omnibus survey approach will allow them to do that.”

Graphic elements such as wine labels can be included. The consumer surveys will be segmented by age, gender, state, wine consumption frequency and frequency of wine purchase by price point. Trade survey segmentation includes trade tier (producer, importer, distributors, on-premise and off-premise) and state. Clients can insert their own segmentation questions.

Pricing will depend on the kind and number of questions.•••

Submit items for this column to Business Journal Staff Writer Jeff Quackenbush at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4256.