February 26, 2014
The 2013 North Coast harvest wasn’t quite as robust as 2012, yet looking selectively at key North Coast appellations and varietals, we can see the stunning back-to-back turnaround from the weak 2011 harvest.
With the 2013 grapes rolling in and tank space still filled with 2012 and in short supply, wineries were faced with the logistical question of what to do with all those grapes. Now, that harvest is behind us, the question has become, what to do with all that wine.
Now that wineries are again sitting on healthy inventory levels, it is important to understand the prevailing global conditions and how those might impact a winery’s effort to allocate inventories to various channels.
Case sales volume continues to grow, and we expect industry revenue growth to improve, with the high-end strengthening even more. Yet, there will be headwinds for wineries attempting to raise prices.
February 17, 2014
I was reminiscing about the strange wine business journey with a longtime grower client recently over lunch at Willi’s and he said something that surprised me. He said that the single most valuable thing I have done for him over the years was to expand his radar screen to help him detect potential problems before they bit his head off.
January 29, 2014
SACRAMENTO — California wine producers likely shipped 3.6 percent more wine to U.S. markets last year, and higher-end wines such as those made in the North Coast could benefit from a “transition” in supply and consumer tastes that favor quality and distinctiveness, according to experts at a major wine industry conference.
December 9, 2013
Amcor Flexibles is installing its second American Canyon production line for long-skirted Stelvin Plus aluminum screw caps, effectively doubling the production capacity for the bottle closure targeted at higher-end North Coast wines. …
In the North Coast, the most ample varieties could be near 2012 record levels, even topping them in the case of pinot noir. …
Napa Valley Grapegrowers selected Napa County Agricultural Commissioner Dave Whitmer, who retires this month after 33 years in that role, as the first recipient of the Ed Weber Award. …
Patz & Hall plans to move its tasting salon from a south Napa industrial park to near its production facility in the Eighth Street East industrial winery cluster south of Sonoma. …
Longtime North Coast agricultural property appraiser Tony Correia as of Dec. 1 is going back out on his own. …
October 14, 2013
Joe Montana once whispered in the ear of Jerry Rice those words of San Francisco 49ers legend: “Go long!” Big crops are often followed by smaller crops, but Ma Nature seems intent on “going long” for the 2013 North Coast winegrape harvest as well. Let’s review the field, variety by variety.
September 24, 2013
NAPA — Brimming winery tanks from the record 2012 crop are moderating pricing surplus winegrape tonnage and excess wine for what is thought to be another sizable crop this year, according to experts at a major annual gathering in Napa on Tuesday of the industry’s financial decision-makers.
September 16, 2013
Suspicions in the industry that the 2013 North Coast winegrape crop would be sizable are gaining greater weight as many of the grapes for sparkling wine are past that early round of harvest are in the winery, picking white wine grapes is underway and the first red wine grapes are approaching ripeness.
August 19, 2013
A winegrape and wine broker reflects on the birth of His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge and the looming delivery of the 2013 North Coast winegrape crop.
July 22, 2013
As the earliest-ripening North Coast winegrapes barely enter the home stretch for the season, the 2013 crop is expected to start coming in to wineries a few weeks earlier than normal, possibly be smaller than the record-setting 2012 crop yet seemingly welcomed with a bit more tepid though active buying activity than last year.
July 8, 2013
Several days of temperatures around the century mark in late June and early July could bring the start of the 2013 North Coast winegrape harvest later this month. …
Originally a high-end virtual brand, pinot noir specialist Kosta Browne now owns a vineyard as well as having its own new Sebastopol production facility. …
While beer dominated the buzz from first-quarter financial results reported by New York-based Constellation Brands last week, the giant global wine company noted a sales boost from the Mark West pinot noir brand purchased from Graton-based Purple Wine Co. a year ago. …
The Napa Valley name gained more global protection from misappropriation with a trademark registration earlier this month by Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand, a growing exporter of wine, according to Napa Valley Vintners. …
Dan Chapin of Left Coast Marketing and Vickie Norris of marketing firm The Norris Group, both of Healdsburg, launched Wine Country Lifestyle magazine. …
Organizers of the second North Coast Wine Industry Expo (wineindustryexpo.com) on Wednesday said they had sold reservations for all 329 available booths a the event. …
May 20, 2013
So here we are at half-past spring in 2013. Frost danger is just about over. Both the bulk-wine and grape markets have been active, and tonnage available on the spot market is limited. Most vineyards are reporting two clusters per shoot, as seen last year at this time.
Are we caught in a “Groundhog Day” replay of last year? Well, no, we’re not. Here are two differences.
March 25, 2013
Growers are anticipating the 2013 Napa Valley winegrape season will begin with substantial emergence of vines from a winter nap in the last week of March, just ahead of the start of last year’s record crop, according to a major local trade group.
March 11, 2013
Imagine a year in which the San Francisco Giants don’t look that great, but to everyone’s surprise, they clinch their division, make it to the World Series — and win. Imagine that in the very same year the 49ers look pathetic then somehow get better, win their league and finally make it to the Super Bowl — and almost win. Combine all that baseball and football excitement, and you’d have the runup to the 2012 winegrape harvest Super World Bowl.
Winemakers often associate low yields with higher quality, but it doesn’t always work that way. The bounty of 2012, in contrast to that of 2005, came after two light harvests and when consumer demand was starting to revive. Most wineries were delighted to get the extra volume.
February 8, 2013
NORTH COAST — Many wine industry experts figured the 2012 winegrape harvest was going to be the biggest in several years and refill grower pockets after two smaller crops, but the first official tally of the crop released Friday suggests it was the biggest ever, even crushing the giant 2005 harvest in value and tonnage.
January 17, 2013
SANTA ROSA — While the 2012 winegrape harvest in Sonoma County appears to have been among the county’s largest ever, the market for grapes continues to be active early in the 2013 buying cycle, yet rising costs and uncertain ability to increase retail prices is crushing wine producer margins, according to industry supply and finance experts at a major seminar.
December 31, 2012
Brisk mergers-and-acquisitions activity for North Coast wineries, vineyards and brands in 2012 is expected to continue into 2013, even if the estimated huge size of the recent harvest moderates supply pricing underlying a number of the deals, according to the deal brokers.
October 15, 2012
More than half the 2012 North Coast winegrape crop is off the vine and most of the rest is expected to be arriving at wineries by early November.
Many North Coast growers and wineries were surprised to find the crops were much bigger than expected around the beginning of the season.
October 15, 2012
When you play the slots in Vegas, you pull the handle and hope that three symbols line up. If so, bells start to ring and lights flash and money comes gushing out of the machine. Well, it is still early to tell for sure, but the great slot machine of the 2012 North Coast harvest is lining up with: good quality, good yields, good demand.
August 20, 2012
We cannot forget the most urgent game of all: the race — often a marathon — to profitability. In the end, income must break the tape before expenses, and do so by enough margin to make a decent return on investment.
What makes the Grape Games interesting is that growers must engage in all three of these races at the same time.
July 23, 2012
After three straight years of harvests delayed and reduced by unwelcome weather, North Coast winegrape growers see signs of brighter prospects for a 2012 crop that could be, thankfully, average-sized and on time.
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