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Rare Wines Net Napa Vintners $6 Million

Rare Wines Net Napa Vintners $6 Million

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When auctioneer Fritz Hatton knocked down Lot #12 — an exclusive 60-bottle lot of 2013 Shafer cabernet sauvignon from its Sunspot vineyards — for $80,000, or $1,333 per bottle, there was little doubt that momentum was building at the 2015 Premiere Napa Valley auction, held over the weekend. A couple of hours later, when the gavel fell on the last of the 225 member mini-lots made expressly for the annual event, the sponsoring Napa Valley Vintners had netted a record $6 million in sales to fund its outreach programs.

Unlike the NVV’s annual charity wine auction, which appeals primarily to private wine collectors, Premiere is a trade-only event that celebrates the vintners’ love affair with the middle men and women of the wine business: the retailers and restaurateurs who are the necessary cog between the people who produce the wine and those who drink it.

“All year long, I go out and visit these people,” says Scott Lloyd, national sales manager for Frank Family wines. “So this is the time I invite them to come see us.” Like many of the major wineries in the valley, Frank Family had invitation-only dinners and meetings with special trade customers and participated in a series of trade tastings hosted by groups of wineries.

For example, Oakville, Rutherford, Spring Mountain, and other regions boasted walk-around tastings featuring their wineries’ auction lots, each between five and 20 cases, as well as a few other widely available bottles. There were also similar tastings of wines by clients of super-consultants Heidi Barrett, Philippe Melka, and Paul Hobbs.

As is generally the case at these events, the parties themselves are the stuff of instant legend. For example, a performer with Cirque du Soleil poured sparkling wines while dangling from a cloth trapeze at Frank Family one night, while the next evening flamboyant Raymond Winery owner Jean-Charles Boisset donned the harness with less elegance but more zest at Raymond’s “Napa Gras” celebration.

The auction itself, the 19th annual, took place on Saturday at the old Christian Brothers winery in St. Helena that is today home to the Culinary Wine Institute at Greystone. It was a hard ticket event for the trade and media that started with all 225 lots available for pre-auction tastings. Many of winemakers and owners were on hand to pour, including such wine legends as Robin Lail and John Shafer. Most of the single barrels from the 2013 vintage were either made from the winery’s best fruit or were special creative experiments. Almost all were also based on Napa’s iconic cabernet sauvignon.

Starting at 1 p.m., an overflowing and quite boisterous crowd, some with wine glasses, had paddles ready when Hatton and alternating auctioneer David Elswood started a rapid-fire sell-a-thon. Two up-front spotters, a woman with a shrill yelp and an animated man barking out “yup-yup-yup” as he flashed hand signals, whipped up the bidders, who were ready for raw meat and cabernet. Some represented clientele looking for rare lots, while others were collecting trophies for their own sales floors and as rewards to pour customers.

Among the top bidders were Total Wine & More (whose Paddle #1 was often the final bid), Cliffewood Wine Syndicate, Gary’s Wine & Marketplace, and Wine Library and Beverage Warehouse. In addition to the Shafer lot, other wineries receiving top bids were Brand Napa Valley, Chateau Boswell, Fairchild Napa Valley, and Gandona Estate. Long-time favorites Silver Oak and Rombauer finished in the top 10. Average bottle price was $286, and there were 70 successful bidders.

Consumers interested in tracking down who bought lots of favorite wineries that may be available for resale can check these out at’s “Top 100 Most Influential People in the U.S. Wine Industry” - 2018

There is currently a raging debate as to the validity of what an “influencer” is. Who are the most influential wine people in the United States, and how exactly do you define ‘influential?’ Does an influential mean a person who moves markets, impacts consumers, inspires winemakers, forms policy, creates debate and helps change the industry itself? Yes. We are not trying to suggest who is “good” or “bad” within America’s wine industry, merely the Top 100 people, from winemakers to law makers, bankers to bloggers, and sommeliers to celebrities who influence wine how it is made, marketed, perceived, sold, shipped, purchased, shared and consumed. A 2017 Nielsen report found that 42% of millennials use social media to post photos of what they're drinking, and 45% are influenced by social media when choosing what they drink – therefore “influence” is a moving target. We sought help to assemble this list from a diverse group of people in the wine community and we are grateful for their input. This list is meant to honor winemakers, wine drinkers and wine lovers of every conceivable demographic. Use this list, comment on it, share it with everyone, learn from it, and continue your joy of being IntoWine.

100-Cheryl Durzy: founder and CEO of Liberation Distribution AKA LibDib. LibDib is rapidly changing the less-than-sexy distribution side of the wine business. Cheryl and her team launched their distribution platform distributing thousands of products to restaurants, bars and retailers in California and New York. Using technology she designed and developed a way for any wine producer to get distribution, no matter their size or production. Retailers are not tied to any one distributor so they can purchase from Southern and LibDib for example. LibDib takes on the small to mid-size producers that the larger distributors typically overlook, opening up channels they never had before.

Visiting wine country? Sniff, Swirl, Sip, and Save with The Priority Wine Pass. Save up to $150 in tastings per Day! It’s good for the year at 250 California wineries.

99-George Milotes: as a Master Sommelier Miliotes brought his expertise to Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort with his new venture, Wine Bar George - the only Master Sommelier-led wine bar in Florida. As one of 230 Master Sommeliers in the world, Miliotes is a passionate educator and curator of wines. A firm believer in education and sharing of knowledge, Miliotes continuously studies wine, identifying the most interesting wines through annual trips to wine-growing regions from France to South Africa. Building relationships with some of the best vintners in the world, he also takes an active role in the winemaking process helping to create custom blends.

98-Alice Feiring: is a journalist, author and former wine and travel columnist for Time magazine, and an advocate for natural winemaking techniques, an idea that is currently gaining wider traction. In addition to contributions to publications such as The New York Times, New York Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, LA Times, Condé Nast Traveler and Forbes Traveler, her blog The Feiring Line is considered to be among America’s leading wine blogs. She has also authored four books on wine.

97-Eddie Osterland: was the first Master Sommelier in the U.S. Today he speaks to CEOs and executives from Fortune 500 companies and professional societies who learn the finer aspects of wine, which Osterland believes, is crucial in terms of social networking. In addition to writing the definitive wine training guide for the restaurant industry and the book "Power Entertaining" (2013), he boasts clients like Ritz-Carlton, Ford, IBM and General Mills.

96-Jon Rimmerman: is often credited with sparking the “email offer” revolution in fine wine sales. Rimmerman started Garagiste on a shoestring budget of just $500 with a simple concept: to bring the winemaker and consumer closer together by taking advantage of a then-new technology known as the email offer. Offering wines described in story form, Garagiste rakes in over $20 million in annual sales with over 100,000 subscribers.

95-Morgan Twain-Peterson: as winemaker and proprietor of Bedrock Wine Company, and Under The Wire, Twain-Peterson is also one of the founders of the Historic Vineyard Society, which advocates for the identification and support of older heritage vineyards. He has also passed the prestigious Master of Wine exam and upon successful completion of the dissertation will become one of less than thirty American M.W.’s. His dedication to older vineyards ensures not only unique wines will continue to have a place, but helps to maintain their historical integrity.

94-Jim Trezise: is President WineAmerica, The National Association of American Wineries. The mission of WineAmerica is to encourage the growth and development of U.S. wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy. He has been involved with the grape and wine industry primarily as President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation which he co-created in 1985. He has served on Boards of Directors of national and international organizations involved with public policy, research, marketing, and trade. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and judges at many wine competitions.

93-Trey Beffa: of K&L wine merchants (with three retail stores in Hollywood, Redwood City, and San Francisco, in California) has a vast selection of wines, from rare to common table wines, at good prices. While the selection of wines from around the world is strong the website distinguishes itself by the breadth of West Coast wines. With a bevy of buyers at his disposal, Beffa oversees one of the largest selections of diverse wines for ay retail establishment. K&L was named best wine website by the Wall Street Journal, and one of the 10 best online wine shops by Food & Wine Magazine.

92-Cameron Hughes: is a consumer advocate who founded Cameron Hughes Wine to produce and deliver the best wine deals in the business. Since its founding the company and the wines have earned the praise of critics, competitions, and wine lovers alike and has become a leader in the lucrative direct-to-consumer (DTC) wine business. Recognizing that even premium wineries had excess wine, his company bought the wine in bulk, blended and repackaged it under its own label, in various limited series of lots and sold it at a discount. A deal with Costco put the wines in front of a loyal customer base who liked the price and quality.

91-Roger Nabedian helped transform Gallo Winery from its modest jug wines in to the powerhouse of diverse premium wines it is today. He oversees 42 brands made at 34 wineries globally including imports and was instrumental in the iconic Stagecoach Vineyard acquisition in 2017 in Napa. Overall he has crafted a strong vision for the largest winery in America and is responsible for nearly 9,000 vineyard acres.

90-Allen Meadows: is publisher of the Burghound, a quarterly newsletter. The related website, offers subscribers newsletters with reviews specific to the Burgundy region and he covers California and Oregon Pinot Noir. But what sets Burghound apart is its comprehensive coverage of Burgundy and Meadows spends usually four months there each year. There are subscribers in all 50 states and more than 62 countries globally. Meadows also regularly speaks on Burgundy and other wine subjects, and is the author of the book, The Pearl of the Côte: The Great Wines of Vosne-Romanée.

89-Craig Kritzer of Frogtown Cellars in the state of Georgia continues to advance that states’ recognition by winning medals at major wine Competitions for his 100% grown, produced and bottled wines from Georgia. Going against the grain Kritzer utilizes only Georgia fruit, while other producers allow more California grapes in their wines, therefore Frogtown truly showcases its terrior. Additionally, Kritzer has expanded his influence by purchasing substantial plots of acreage in Paso Robles in California, making him unique among American winemakers by having multiple AVAs and state designated wines.

88-Marc Noel: along with his father founded Vinventions, which produces engineered corks made from plants. Their Nomacorc closures use co-extruded technology to manage the oxygen transfer rate (OTR) needed for wine, protecting against off-flavors in wine due to TCA, commonly known as cork taint. In addition to their North Carolina headquarters, they have expanded with manufacturing plants in Europe and China, producing over two billion corks annually. In addition they produce a line of analytical equipment that performs a variety of tests on wine including data on the phenolic content of wine, helping to ensure consistent quality.

87-Nigel Dart: is Vice President Business at Gallo Glass, the largest glass wine bottle manufacturer in North America. Few of us consider the vessel that holds our wine but Dart is responsible for finance, supply chain, quality, engineering, and outside sales for wine bottle glass. Gallo Glass is also California's largest single site user of recycled glass, purchasing over 30% of all glass recycled in the state. Nearly 175,000 tons of glass is recycled and diverted from landfills annually. Each Gallo Glass bottle typically contains up to 50% recycled glass, from sand and soda ash to limestone and cullet, thereby helping the environment, and Gallo Glass sources all of its major raw materials from within the state of California.

86-Rob Davis: As the winemaker at Jordan Winery for an astounding 42 years, longer than any other winemaker in the U.S., Davis makes only two wines, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, reminding winemakers and Somms that knowing your vineyard takes a lifetime. Davis remains active in cooperative research at UC Davis, the American Society of Enology and Viticulture and the Sonoma County Technical Tasting Group. He is an avid swimmer, cyclist and runner, and he competes in several triathlons each year. Similar to his mentor, Andre Tchelistcheff, Davis continues to travel the world in an effort to learn more about the miracle of wine and transfer that knowledge to an eager public.

85-Peter Mondavi, Jr.: heads up the flourishing Charles Krug Winery and CK Mondavi Family Vineyards. Amidst corporate buy-outs up and down the Napa Valley, Mondavi has been determined to keep Charles Krug in the family and to preserve the 850 acres of estate vineyards, farming them sustainably. Additionally he has helped preserve the historical legacy of wine in the Napa Valley by refurbishing the original buildings on the property, thus maintaining one of the oldest wineries in California.

84-Kermit Lynch: for 46 years this wine importer, author, and winemaker, has been importing wines from about 140 producers in France and Italy. He is the author of two highly regarded books on wine including Adventures on the Wine Route, and recipient of the James Beard Foundation's Wine Professional of the Year, not to mention the Chevalier de l'Ordre de Mérite Agricole medal presented by the French government for his service to the wine industry. His focus is on wines, which other importers tend to overlook - smaller hidden gems - thus expanding consumer choice and championing the little guy.

83-Paul Hart: Is CEO and founder of Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. the number one wine auction house in the U.S. and a leading online retailer, occupying a unique position in the rare wine market. HDH provides unrivaled expertise and personalized service to collectors and the wine trade, offering a broad range of options for buying and selling wine. The company was founded in October 2004 by three highly-respected industry leaders: Paul Hart, Michael Davis, and John Hart. They built a team of the most experienced professionals in the wine industry and quickly became a trusted source for rare and fine wine.

82-Rajat Parr: as the former sommelier at Michael Mina restaurants turned winemaker, Parr uses his high profile to educate the public and trade at food and wine seminars worldwide. His three wineries, two based in Santa Barbara and one in Oregon, are receiving critical praise. He is the co-author of the acclaimed book, Secrets of the Sommeliers. Parr has attained a level of influence and respect enjoyed by few wine professionals. He has won three James Beard Awards, including recognition as an author and as an outstanding service professional in the drinks space, among other accolades.

81-Edgar B. “Pete” Downs: as Acting President of the Family Winemakers of California, the trade organization of more than 400 wineries that are primarily family-owned and produce less than 5,000 cases annually, Downs champions small important wineries. Downs also has served as President of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, and as Board member of the Sonoma County Wineries Association, and American Vineyard Foundation and the Coalition for Free Trade. He was appointed by the California Secretary of Food & Agriculture to the oversight board tackling Pierce’s Disease and the glassy winged sharpshooter.

80-Fred Dame: was Cellarmaster of The Sardine Factory in Monterey, California for twelve years helping to turn it into a wine destination. Currently Dame is a Master Sommelier and the first American to have served as President of the Court of Master Sommeliers Worldwide. He assists restaurateurs and hoteliers in developing their wine programs thus reaching a wide swath of people. Dame founded the American Branch of The Court of Master Sommeliers in 1986, and he has worked tirelessly over the last three decades to establish and expand the Master Sommelier program in the U.S. Not surprisingly, he has a part in “Somm,” the popular 2012 documentary about the sommelier movement, and regularly contributes to a variety of publications including The Tasting Panel.

79-Jeremy Benson: is the executive director of Free the Grapes!, a national grassroots coalition of wine lovers, wineries and retailers who seek to remove restrictions in states that still prohibit consumers from purchasing wines directly from wineries and retailers. Established in 1998 by five wine industry associations, which together represent thousands of U.S. wineries, Free the Grapes! operations are funded exclusively by contributions from wine consumers, winemakers and retailers and are attempting to change archaic wine laws. Benson also helms his own marketing agency with offices in Napa, New York and Lyon.

78-John Aguirre: is the executive director of Wine Grapegrowers of America, and the president of the California Association of Wine Grapegrowers, who lobby Congress and state governments about legal issues relating to wine, from inclusion in the Farm Bill to taxes to immigration reform which includes guest worker programs, they work behind the scenes to take legislative actions equitable for the wine industry. The California wine industry employs 325,000 people, generates $57.6 billion in annual economic activity, pays $7.6 billion in taxes annually, pays $17.2 billion in wages annually, and attracts more than 23 million tourists to wineries annually. CAWG co-sponsors the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, the largest industry meeting in the Western Hemisphere.

77-Terry Theise: is a wine importer who started importing German wines to the U.S. in the 1980s making previously obscure grapes, such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Grüner Veltliner, now trendy and more widely available. He has received the wine industry’s top prize, a James Beard Foundation medal, for the nation’s outstanding wine and spirits professional. The award hailed Theise for what his loyal followers have long appreciated: his role as champion of small producers, and his holistic approach to the joys of drinking wine. He is the author of the book, Reading Between the Wines.

76-Katherine Cole: is the author of four books on wine, including Rose’ All Day. She is the host and executive producer of The Four Top, a national food-and-beverage podcast streamed on NPR One. Formerly the wine columnist for The Oregonian newspaper for thirteen years, she contributes to national and international food and wine publications including The World of Fine Wine, and Wine & Spirits.

75-Steve Miller: and his brother and father own and farm Bien Nacido Vineyards, the most well-known and respected vineyard on California’s Central Coast. Bien Nacido also has the distinction of being one of the major viticultural nurseries in California for certified varietal budwood. In addition to Bien Nacido, the Millers operate two other vineyard sites, French Camp, and Solomon Hills in Santa Maria, with well over 2,500 combines acres, as well as two custom crush facilities in Santa Maria and Paso Robles where hundreds of winemakers got their start. Bien Nacido was called one of the top 25 vineyards in the world by Wine & Spirits Magazine, and Food & Wine Magazine called them one of the 10 Best Vineyards.

74-Mary Ewing-Mulligan: is an author, journalist and wine educator and Master of Wine, the first American woman to achieve this accreditation. She has been the director of the International Wine Center in New York, and is executive director of the U.S. programs for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. She is also a freelance journalist of wine articles to various publications including Wine Review Online, and the co-author of seven wine books including Wine For Dummies, selling over a million copies and making wine easy to understand for the masses.

73-Chris Tanghe: as chief instructor at the Guild of Sommeliers (commonly known as GuildSomm), a nonprofit educational and networking organization for sommeliers and other wine professionals, Tanghe travels to most major U.S. cities teaching classes to 40 wine professionals at a time. In a given year, he will have influenced, to at least some small degree, a few thousand somms, who will then take that knowledge and experience to their guests in restaurants, resorts, wine shops and wine bars. Tanghe conducts master classes and webinars for GuildSomm members internationally, and contributes study guides and other materials.

72-Merry Edwards: as a Vintners Hall of Fame inductee she was the founding winemaker at Matanzas Creek Winery and as a consultant has made wines for such clients as Pellegrini Family Vineyards, Liparita Cellars, Lambert Bridge Winery and Fritz Winery. She taught the first clonal seminar at UC Davis. She has been making Pinot Noir longer than any woman and most men and was instrumental in showcasing Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Edwards was named Winemaker of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle, one of The 50 Most Influential Winemakers in the World by Wine and Spirits Magazine, and named One of America's Top Fifty Most Influential Winemakers by Forbes.

71-Elin McCoy is an award-winning journalist and author, focusing on the world of wine. She is a wine and spirits columnist for Bloomberg News, where she writes for their global news wire, and is a columnist for Decanter magazine based in London. McCoy’s authored the tell-all book, The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of American Taste, which garnered international praise and has appeared in five foreign editions. She is also the co-author of Thinking About Wine.

70-Eric Solomon: of European Cellars based in North Carolina is an importer of French and Spanish wines to the U.S. who has best expressed his philosophy as “place over process.” Many of his selections receive top scores in the national wine press and thereby expose the American population to everything from Cava to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. He was named by Food & Wine Magazine as the Top Importer in the U.S. and Solomon has been featured in every major wine trade publication.

69-Greg Lambrecht: a medical device inventor and executive with a passion for wine and innovative technology, founded Coravin. He was inspired to bring the two worlds together to create a product that allowed him to enjoy glasses of wine without committing to the whole bottle. Lambrecht spent years testing and improving upon his original design until the Coravin System became fully functional. Restaurants, wine bars and wine professionals can now open an expensive collectable Cabernet, or Bordeaux without sacrificing the entire bottle.

68-Evan Goldstein: as a Master Sommelier, author of two books and co-author of several other books on wine and frequently nominated for James Beard awards as Outstanding Wine Professional, his wine education reach is global. He regularly contributes to Santé magazine, Sommelier Journal, as well as Wine & Dine, Singapore’s wine and food publication, and Wine Review, South Korea’s leading wine and food magazine. He is the president of Full Circle Wine Solutions, a global wine education firm.

67-Alex Ryan: Under Ryan’s leadership as President and CEO of Duckhorn Wine Company, Ryan has established a visionary new model for post-sale wineries (Dan Duckhorn sold his controlling interest to GI Partners). While other wineries have been consolidating production and carving up assets Ryan has charted a dramatically different course successfully rolling out new brands like Decoy, and Migration while building on brands Goldeneye and Paraduxx, and the Washington-based Canvasback all while keeping quality high and continuing to add acreage to their portfolio. With seven acclaimed wineries, including the company’s recent acquisition of Central Coast-based Calera, it is the number one luxury wine supplier in the United States.

66-Clark Smith: is a respected winemaking innovator and wine production consultant. He has built many successful brands, consults on five continents, judges wines at several competitions and teaches winemaking in six universities. He lectures on innovative views of winemaking, presenting new technologies. He is a leading authority on the enhancement of wine structure and a vocal proponent of living soil. He developed a host of winemaking techniques including the use of reverse osmosis to optimize wine grape maturity and tannin refinement through micro-oxygenation. He is the author of the book Postmodern Winemaking.

65-Tim Fish: senior editor at Wine Spectator is based in Spectator’s Napa, Calif., office. He is the lead taster for Oregon, Washington, California Zinfandel and Rhône-style reds, and U.S. sparkling wines. He also assists with news and feature coverage for, for which he writes the popular blog Exploring Wine. Fish helps to deliver the unsung wineries to a broader public, helping to give wine lovers a sense of diversity of choice.

64-Bartholomew Broadbent: is one of the world’s foremost authorities on Port and Madeira and he’s credited for being responsible for the growth of Port consumption and the re-introduction of Madeira to the U.S. His company, Broadbent Selections, is the exclusive U.S. national importer for some of the worlds most sought after family wineries. He also produces his own Broadbent Port, Madeira, and Vinho Verde in Portugal. Broadbent was named one of the 50 Most Influential People in the wine world by Decanter Magazine, and was nominated Importer of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

63-Barbara Banke: of Jackson Family Wines leads this family-owned enterprise and is personally involved in every aspect of Jackson Family Wines, including nearly 30 wineries in North America, not to mention properties in Italy, Australia, South Africa, Chile and France. Kendall-Jackson owns more than 12,000 acres of vineyards in California’s greatest cool, coastal sub-regions, and sources fruit from vineyards throughout Sonoma, Napa, Monterey and Mendocino. Distinguished for its commitment to environment-friendly practices, KJ was a founding force for Chardonnay in America, and its Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay has been the top-selling Chardonnay in the U.S. since 1992.

62-Jon Fredrikson: of Fredrikson & Co. (previously Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates) is a professional consulting firm founded in 1948, providing consulting and real estate services to the wine industry. The firm offers a range of consulting services in wine industry economics, strategic market planning and wine property acquisitions and divestitures. Their clients include wine producers, importers, distributors, financial institutions and other suppliers to the wine trade. The firm also publishes management information, and monitors monthly and annual comparative shipments of leading California wineries and wine imports by country. Their report also provides insightful commentary and analysis of current business conditions and trends shaping the market.

61-Steven Tanzer: is editor and publisher of the critically acclaimed bimonthly International Wine Cellar, an independent journal read by wine lovers in all 50 states and 34 countries, and translated into French and Japanese. Tanzer has also served as Senior Editor and wine columnist for Food & Wine magazine, and wine columnist for Forbes FYI, and has authored two wine books, and writes the wine blog, Winophilia.

60-Tara Q. Thomas: of Wine & Spirits Magazine is their critic for the wines of Austria, Germany, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, giving those wines a wider audience. Thomas has authored two books, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wine Basics, and The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Wine. She has contributed to the Oxford Companion to Cheese, as well as Oxford’s forthcoming volume on spirits.

59-Robert Koch: is President and CEO of Wine Institute, which is the public policy advocacy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses, which work at the state, national and international levels to support California wineries (whose U.S. annual retail sales were $35.2 billion in 2017). Based in San Francisco, with offices in Sacramento, Washington, D.C., six regions across the U.S. and 15 foreign countries, Wine Institute is guided by 80 vintners with Koch at the helm.

58-Kevin Zraly: teaches the Windows on the World Wine School, now in its 36th year, which has graduated over 20,000 people. Zraly’s book Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, one of five wine books he’s written, is among America's best-selling wine books selling over 3 million copies, and Zraly's American Wine Guide is the first book that deals comprehensively with all 50 states as modern wine-producing states. He’s been awarded the prestigious James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award.

57-Meg Houston Maker: started her blog Maker’s Table in 2008 and in early 2018 name-changed to Terrior Review. Her insightful writings of wine and place caused her to win the 2015 Wine Blog Awards. As a wine writer she also contributes to a variety of publications including SOMM Journal, Snooth, Palate Press and others. With 12,000 organically-grown Twitter followers she influences her readers using perceptive skill to communicate about wine.

56-Tim Gaiser: is a nationally renowned wine expert and Master Sommelier. He is an adjunct professor for the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley. With experience in all phases of the wine industry - online, wholesale, retail, winery, and restaurant - he has developed wine education programs for restaurants, winery schools, and wine distributors and taught classes on wine and spirits increasing the awareness of how our minds recognize and code smells and tastes.

55-Patrick Comiskey: serves as the Wine & Spirits magazine critic for all domestic wines outside of California - including New York, Oregon and Washington - and contributes articles on the wines and viticulture of these areas. Comiskey’s writing credentials include contributions to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, Bon Appétit, and Robb Report, and he also teaches classes and moderates panels on viticulture, wine tastings and various wine regions. His most recent book is American Rhône: How Maverick Winemakers Changed the Way Americans Drink.

54-Heidi Peterson Barrett: is a winemaker and entrepreneur who has been responsible for some of California's most notable cult wines. Her success and her influence is on the art of blending. Though best known for crafting the wines of Screaming Eagle and Dalla Valle Vineyards, she has also worked with Paradigm Winery, Grace Family Vineyards, Amuse Bouche, Lamborn Family, Showket Vineyards, Revana Family Vineyards and Fantesca, showcasing a wide diversity of winemaking styles. Barrett is a consultant for Diamond Creek Vineyards and Niebaum-Coppola, Kenzo Estate, and has her own wine label, La Sirena.

53-Gordon Burns: established ETS Labs in St. Helena to provide technical and laboratory assistance to the wine industry, offering 250 analytical tools to help wineries reach their potential. ETS has continued to expand its technical expertise and new methodology in the analysis of wine in ways most people have no clue about. ETS was awarded ISO 17025 accreditation making it the first and only independent domestic wine laboratory with this accreditation. Burns has been a member of the American Society for Enology & Viticulture, Association of Official Analytical Chemists.

52-Karen Ross: is the Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Prior to that she served as president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers for 13 years, and as the Executive Director of Winegrape Growers of America. In these types of leadership positions, Ross helped sponsor scholarships for children of vineyard employees, created the nationally-recognized Sustainable Winegrowing Program and under her leadership CDFA has set an ambitious new 5-year plan to support California agriculture including continued work on preventing Pierce’s Disease.

51-Tim Hanni: is a professionally trained chef, Master of Wine, and Certified Wine Educator. His unique, progressive take on food and wine has allowed him to create wine lists for clients like Ruth’s Chris and P.F. Chang, focused on balancing food and wine flavors from physiological, biological and psychological perspectives. Hanni is also recognized for introducing the concept of “umami” to the wine and food community. He has lectured in over 27 countries and has been featured in Sommelier Journal, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. His latest book is Why You Like the Wines You Like.

50-Gregory V. Jones: known globally as one of the preeminent wine climatologists, is director of wine education at Linfield College in Oregon. He was named one of the Top 50 Most Influential People in the Wine World by Decanter magazine, one of the Top 50 Wine Industry Leaders by Wine Business Monthly, Person of the Year by the Oregon Wine Press, and was on this list in 2012 and 2013. His ability to present conceptually and practically the nuts and bolts of climate change to wineries is unmatched. Most recently, he became only the 10th American to be named an Infanção (nobleman) by the Confraria do Vinho do Porto for his work with the Portuguese wine industry. His efforts to explain the relationship between climate and grapevines is known worldwide.

49-Jon Kapon: is the president of Acker, Merrall & Condit, America's oldest wine store and has, under his watch, become the world’s leading vendor of fine wine at auction, including on-line auctions. In addition to auctions, they are a retail wine store and wine club. Kapon has made Acker the leading vendor of fine wines in America, with auctions from New York to Hong Kong. Revenue for 2017 was $80 million. In the third quarter of 2017, global sales of fine and rare wine at auction (consisting of sales in the U.S., Hong Kong and London markets) totaled $53.7 million.

48-Robert Whitley: His syndicated Wine ReviewOnline reaches nearly a million people, offering reviews of wines and wineries globally from a large staff of writers. But it is his authoritative approach as producer of four separate wine competitions: Critics Challenge, The San Diego Wine and Spirits Challenge, the Sommelier Challenge, and the Winemakers Challenge, that help to move wine by virtue of winning coveted awards and gaining widespread recognition.

47-Doug Cook: is the proprietor of the Able Grape, a wine search engine with a database of over 26 million pages from over 41,000 websites, all related to wine. This self professed “computer geek turned wine geek” has amassed a social media empire with nearly 250,000 Twitter followers, and he contributes to Wine Business Magazine. Able Grape has become one of the largest wine search engines on the Internet. If you need to find something related to wine, you will find it here.

46-Eric Levine: a former Microsoft program manager, created Cellar Tracker after he had made the program for himself, in order to track his own wine. Cellar Tracker has over 500,000 users with entries for nearly 88 million individual bottles, and nearly six million wine reviews from across the globe, making it one of the largest wine databases in the world. It has become a social media whirlwind, connecting wine lovers from all points of the planet. Cellar Tracker has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Wall Street Journal.

45-Linda Reiff: is the president and CEO of the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV), a trade association representing the Napa Valley wine industry, with 550 vintner members. Reiff has been a driving force in growing the NVV into what is widely-recognized as one of the leading wine trade organizations in the world. The NVV is an advocate for its membership on industry issues and creates and hosts scores of marketing and promotional events and programs, including Auction Napa Valley, which has given more than $180 million to local children’s education and community health non-profits since its inception in 1981. As of 2017 the economic impact of Napa County’s grapes and wines is $9.4 billion in Napa County, $17.3 billion in California and $33.5 billion in the U.S.

44-Alder Yarrow: founded Vinography in 2004 and has helped transformed wine blogging into what it is today, a respected social media influence and source for independent wine information, opinion and thought. He regularly speaks at wine events and is the author of the book, The Essence of Wine. Additionally he writes a column for Jancis Robinson focusing on American wines and wine industry trends.

43-Virginie Boone: has been with Wine Enthusiast since 2010, and reviews and reports on the wines of Napa and Sonoma. She is also the author of the book Napa Valley and Sonoma: Heart of California Wine Country, and a regular panelist and speaker on wine topics in California and she is a frequent wine judge.

42-Cyril Penn: is editor in chief of Wine Business Monthly, the largest circulation of any wine trade publication in North America. The magazine focuses on the most up-to-date and comprehensive editorial, including legislative changes, winery marketing, covering everything from tank presses and mobile bottling lines, to how to properly clean a stainless steel tank, to ATV’s for your vineyard, and yeast selections. It’s the nuts and bolts of the wine industry and the publication family includes Wine Business Monthly, Wines & Vines, and Practical Winery and Vineyard.

41-Jon Bonné: formerly the San Francisco Chronicle’s wine editor, currently he is the contributing senior editor at Punch, and has authored two books on wine. His work has earned him two James Beard awards and multiple awards from the Association of Food Journalists. Previously Bonné was wine columnist for Seattle Magazine and has written about wine for Food & Wine, Decanter, SevenFiftyDaily, and Saveur. He has also reported about wine for The New York Times, Court TV, and National Public Radio.

40-Dorothy J. Gaiter conceived and wrote The Wall Street Journal's wine column, Tastings. She has been tasting and studying wine since 1973 and currently contributes to Grape Collective. She has had a distinguished career in journalism as a reporter, editor, columnist and editorial writer at The Miami Herald and The New York Times as well as at The Journal. Dottie and husband John Brecher are well-known from their many television appearances, especially on Martha Stewart's show, and as the creators of the annual Open That Bottle Night celebration of wine and friendship.

39-Joshua Greene: As Editor and Publisher of Wine & Spirits since 1986, read by over 200,000 members of America’s wine community. Consumers and wine professionals read the magazine for information on established and up-and-coming regions and producers, the art and science of viticulture, industry happenings and food and wine pairing. Wine & Spirits, the only wine publication to win the James Beard award five times for excellence in wine writing, evaluates more than 15,000 wines every year.

38-Paul Mabray: As CEO of Emetry, Mabray has created significant change in the wine industry for over two decades. Beginning working in traditional three-tier sales and marketing, and later innovating DTC models with Niebaum Coppola, Mabray has been at the forefront of all major digital trends for the wine industry. He founded two companies that have significantly changed the US wine landscape toward digital, first by introducing winery e-commerce with Inertia Beverage Group (the forerunner of then introducing social media and social customer relationship management with He is considered the wine industry’s foremost futurist and thought leader promoting digital tools and methodologies to move the industry into the future.

37-Lisa Perrotti-Brown is the Editor in Chief for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and author of Taste Like a Wine Critic: A Guide to Understanding Wine Quality. She has achieved the Master of Wine qualification, and the Madame Bollinger Medal for excellence in wine tasting, and focuses her energies on Bordeaux, Napa Valley and Sonoma County for Robert Parker's "Wine Advocate".

36-Sandra LeDrew: As president, winery operations, and chief development officer of Terlato Wine Group, she helms a portfolio that totals 2.1 million cases. Revenue in 2016 was $300 million. Terlato Wines has a portfolio of more than 85 wine brands from world class wine producers in more than a dozen countries and is the leading marketer of wines $20 and up. Formerly she was president of Treasury Wine Estates Americas, helping to turn around a business that had been flailing prior to her arrival. Before that, LeDrew was president of Diageo Chateau & Estate.

35-Karen MacNeil: is the author of the award-winning book, The Wine Bible. The former wine correspondent for the Today Show, the first Food and Wine Editor of USA Today, and she has been published in more than 50 newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, Town & Country, and Worth. Karen’s firm, Karen MacNeil & Company, creates customized corporate events and wine tours around the world for companies and individual groups. Among Karen’s corporate clients are Lexus, Merrill Lynch, Disney, General Electric, UBS, and Singapore Airlines, as well as numerous law and biotech firms. Karen is the creator and Chairman Emeritus of the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America in the Napa Valley.

34-Terry Wheatley: Executive Vice President of Vintage Wine Estates, oversees all commerce channels for Vintage Wine Estates portfolio of wines (with 34 distinct labels) including domestic and international wholesale, direct-to-consumer, exclusive labels, wine telesales, clubs and winery tasting rooms (nine of them) with her staff of 75 people. Recognized as one of the wine industry’s 2016 Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink by Fortune, and Food & Wine Magazine, Terry is known for her deep respect for wine and the range of capabilities and strategies she employs to create, develop, promote, and sell them.

33-James Suckling: is CEO/Editor of, the wine media platform and events company with offices in Hong Kong and Bangkok. currently has more than 600,000 unique visitors per year with about 4 million followers with coverage with its website, social media, newsletters (Chinese, Thai and English), Asia Tatler magazine, Noblesse magazine, WeChat, COFCO, Alibaba (preferred score source for all wines sold in China) and Suckling also organizes more than a dozen wine events each year including Great Wines of the World, Great Wines of Andes, Great Wines of Italy, and Bordeaux Confidential.

32-Phillipe Melka: is one of the most in-demand red winemakers working today. Melka, whose list of clients includes highly regarded producers such as Seavey, Quintessa and Vineyard 29 is not following in anyone's footsteps. Trained in Bordeaux but passionate about California, this Frenchman has his own take on Napa Cabernet and cut his teeth at Chateau Haut-Brion, Badia O Coltibuono (Italy), Chateau Petrus (France) and Chittering Estate (Western Australia). Realizing the potential of Napa he’s dedicated his life’s work to consulting and eventually starting Melka Wines. Other consulting projects have included Gemstone, Dominus Estate, Cliff Lede, Hundred Acre, Parallel, Moone-Tsai, Dana Estates, and Lail Vineyards. His influence is apparent in his fingerprints being at more wineries than anyone else.

31-Rob McMillan: founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division, writes one of the wine industry’s most authoritative annual reports that assesses current conditions and provides a unique forecast based on a survey of more than 500 wineries. McMillian publishes reports on emerging trends and is author of the bank’s Annual State of the Wine Industry Report, which has become one of the most widely read reports of its kind. Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division is the leading provider of financial services including capital to wineries and vineyards in the western U.S. with over 300 winery and vineyard clients in Napa, Sonoma, California’s Central Coast, Oregon and Washington.

30-Heini Zachariassen: with 30 million users worldwide Vivino is impressively encyclopedic in terms of what it tells you about wine. Their app is one of the most widely used in the world and provides not just tasting notes but community wine ratings and how a particular wine stacks up against other wines, where you can buy it, the winemakers’ notes, even the grapes that were used. You can also find food pairing suggestions articles, and an individual wine’s ranking within the winery, region, country, and world and price comparisons for different vintages.

29-Michael Osborn: is the Founder and VP Merchandising at Wine.Com, the nation’s leading online wine retailer offering over 27,000 unique labels with an inventory of over a million bottles. In addition to their recently released app they offer live chat wine experts available 7 days a week. And $120 million in revenue is nothing to ignore. They have also partnered with Walgreens and Albertson’s as pick locations for physical wine shipments, bypassing antiquated state shipping laws and making it easier for customers to get their wine from one of 10,000 secure locations.

28-Lettie Teague: Before joining The Wall Street Journal with her On Wine column (for which she received a 2012 James Beard Award), Teague was the executive wine editor at Food & Wine Magazine, where she wrote the monthly column Wine Matters. She received the James Beard Foundation's M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award in 2003 and won a 2005 James Beard Award for her magazine columns. Her writing at both the Wall Street Journal, and Food & Wine reach a massive market, and that translates to sales.

27-Jeb Dunnuck: formerly of the Wine Advocate he now runs, a subscription based, bi-monthly publication dedicated to providing independent commentary and reviews on the top wines and wine regions of the world. The core editorial focus is on Southern France, Bordeaux, California and Washington State, but Dunnuck also features other world-class and emerging global wine regions, as well as in-depth coverage on the wine portfolios of top US importers.

26-Andrea Robinson: continues as one of the country’s’ leading wine educators and is one of only 18 women in the world appointed Master Sommelier by the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers. She has produced food, wine and travel video content for Delta Air Lines and broadcast media for the Food Channel, and PBS. She is the author of eight wine and food books and her articles have appeared in publications such as Health, Eating Well, Esquire, Real Simple, Money, and Bon Appétit, She has received three James Beard Awards and if that’s not enough, she created a new line of wine stemware.

25-Doug Frost: is one of only five people in the world to have achieved the title of Master Sommelier and Master of Wine, which puts him in demand as a writer, speaker and wine judge. He has authored three books on wine, contributes to the Oxford Companion of Wine, the San Francisco Chronicle, Underground Wine Journal, Drinks International, Practical Winery & Vineyard, Wines & Vines, Wines & Spirits, Cheers Magazine, and Santé Magazine, among others. His incredible depth of knowledge and understanding of wine makes him sought after as an educator, impacting a variety of wine lovers, and he does this with humor and pinpoint accuracy.

24-Jon Thorsen: AKA the reverse wine snob, started his anti wine blog in 2011. His distinctive and algorithmic wine rating system starts at wines below $6, and stops at $19.99. That’s right, he doesn’t review wines over $20. Given that the majority of wine sold in the U.S. falls within these financial parameters, it’s no wonder Thorsen has over half a million devoted followers on various social media platforms.

23-Tyler Colman: is better known to most people as Dr. Vino, an award winning wine blogger and author of two wine books, and he teaches at NYU. He is also among the contributors to The Oxford Companion to Wine. His blog is one of the most consistently highly rated wine blogs, no small feat in todays over saturated wine blog market. In addition to being nominated for a James Beard Foundation award, his articles have appeared in The New York Times, Food & Wine,, Wine & Spirits, Decanter and a host of others where he intelligently explores the intersection of wine, politics and business.

22-Joe Roberts: is known as 1 Wine Dude, the author of a wine blog that has reached stratospheric heights. Roberts, a CSW, has won nearly 30 awards for his blog in part because he seamlessly combines his own unique voice with a rigorous and thorough understanding of wine, all explained in a pragmatic uncensored communication style. He is now a wine consultant and a member of the U.S. based Society of Wine Educators, and other organizations. Wine Enthusiast has ranked him as one of the top three wine bloggers in the U.S.

21-Chris Underwood: CEO of Young’s Market Co. is one of only two distributors based on the West Coast. It serves 663 wineries in 11 western states from its headquarters in Orange County, California. Young’s has completed its share of mergers and acquisitions, absorbing six other companies since 2010, including regional leader Columbia in Oregon and Washington. The family-owned company reports annual revenue of more than $3 billion and has a staff of 3,000 employees.

20-Matt Kramer: since 1985 he has contributed to Wine Spectator but he has been writing about wine since 1976, utilizing a style less formal and more open than most wine writers. He was the wine columnist for The Oregonian, and formerly wrote about wine for The New York Sun, and the Los Angeles Times. Praised for lucidity in his writing he has helped champion small wineries and now the commonly understood idea of terrior. He has seven books published about wine.

19-Jeff Dubiel: As chief marketing officer for The Wine Group, Dubiel has a knack for effectively marketing and selling lots of wine. Jeff spent nearly a decade at Pepsi Cola in several marketing roles, then helped lead brand management for E&J Gallo Winery in international sales. The Wine Group is a California-based producer of such well-known brands as Franzia, Cupcake Vineyards, Concannon Vineyards, Big House, Almaden, Fish Eye, and flipflop. Founded in 1981, The Wine Group is the world's third largest wine producer by volume.

18-Greg Baird: of Breakthru Beverage ranks third among the top wine distributors in the United States, selling products from 691 wineries into 15 states from its sales force of approximately 10,000 people in 37 offices. Operating in mostly central, eastern and southern states, Breakthru has headquarters in both New York City and Illinois. Its 2016 revenues were estimated at $5.4 billion.

17-Tom Cole: is President and CEO of Republic National Distributing Co., known as RNDC to the wine trade. They are the nation’s second-largest wine distributor, representing 751 wineries, and bringing in an estimated 2016 revenue of $6.5 billion from sales in 22 states, largely in the East, South and Midwest.

16-Leslie Sbrocco: is an award-winning author, speaker, wine consultant, and the author of two national wine books. As host of the PBS series Check Please!, she has won a coveted James Beard award, two Taste Awards, and three Emmy awards. Sbrocco was also a featured judge on the PBS national series, The Winemakers, and she is a regular guest on NBC’s Today Show. She appears frequently on national television outlets including CNN, The Hallmark Channel’s Better TV, QVC and her work has been published in, Oprah magazine, Good Housekeeping and Glamour among others. She is also the founder of the multi-­media company, Thirsty Girl LLC, and through her social media, print, online outlets and television appearances, Leslie reaches millions of consumers.

15-Meridith May: is Publisher and Editorial Director, and Co-Owner of The Tasting Panel Magazine, and owner of SOMM Journal, and The Clever Root magazines. May has helped create The Tasting Panel into one of the fastest growing and most widely read magazines for the beverage industry over the last decade. With over 250,000 readers, of which over half are on-premise wine buyers, these magazines wield a lot of power staying current with the latest trends and up and coming wine regions along with wine and spirits reviews. The Tasting Panel also holds media, trade and consumer tastings, including SommCon, Society of Wine Educators, ZAP, World of Pinot Noir, Hospice du Rhône, and many others.

14-Ray Isle: is Executive Wine Editor at Food & Wine Magazine, with a circulation of nearly 1 million, where he oversees wine coverage. His articles about wine, beer, food and spirits have appeared in a wide range of publications, and he has been nominated twice for a James Beard Award, and has twice won the IACP Award for Narrative Beverage Writing. He is a frequent guest on national media, appearing on programs such as Today, CNBC’s On the Money, and Squawk Box, NPR’s All Things Considered, and American Public Media’s Splendid Table.

13-Anthony Dias Blue: His work in various print and on-line media about wine is circulated to more than 30 million global consumers and trade members each month. His radio show, Blue Lifestyle is in 35 markets across the U.S. Blue also runs the San Francisco International Wine Competition, the largest international wine competition in the U.S. In 2007 Blue purchased, in partnership with Publisher Meridith May, Patterson's Beverage Journal, a 65-year-old beverage trade publication that was renamed The Tasting Panel. It has become the highest circulation beverage industry publication. In 2013, The Tasting Panel magazine acquired The Sommelier Journal with Blue as the new Editor-in-Chief. Blue now runs one of the nation’s most successful producers of wine and food events, creating large trade tastings, wine seminars, lunches and dinners for wineries and wine associations around the world. For more than 40 years Andy Blue, a James Beard Award-winner and former Wine & Spirits Editor of Bon Appetit Magazine, has been reviewing and rating wines and spirits.

12-Eric Asimov: is the chief wine critic of The New York Times, and the author of the books How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto, and, Wine With Food: Pairing Notes and Recipes From The New York Times. He is lauded by his followers for his thoughtful, objective, yet inclusive approach to wine. An advocate for less powerful, more balanced wines, Asimov is in a position of influence with the Times to promote this goal. In 2013 he was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.

11-David Trone: As the CEO of Total Wine, Trone operates 172 stores in only 22 states, and over 6,000 employees with $3 billion in annual sales. There are, on average, 8,000 wines represented at each of their stores and nearly half of those are imports, exposing wine lovers to a broad diversity of wines they may not otherwise be aware of. Total has also expanded their stores to include tasting bars, and education centers. Philanthropy is also part of their equation. In 2016, Total Wine donated more than $6 million to 6,000 local charities in 18 states.

10-Robert Parker: of The Wine Advocate and his eponymous website covers the wines of Northern California and Bordeaux, and acts as a critic-at-large, conducting vertical tastings and horizontal tastings of older vintages of California and elsewhere. Parker has published several wine books and has received so many honors it’s hard to count them all, but have included the first wine writer/critic to receive the Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit, Spain’s highest civilian honor, and the first wine critic inducted into the Culinary Institute Of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame in Napa Valley.

9-James Laube: Everyone knows his name and as the lead taster and wine writer for Wine Spectator, Laube’s influence has been non-stop for over 37 years. His four books on wine helped earn him a James Beard Award for best wine book of the year. Laube’s influence is best expressed via the incredible sales that his recommendations provide to high-end and low-end wineries alike. People read and respect his opinion and therefore wines are bought and sold based on his recommendations. You may not agree with him, but you cannot doubt his influence.

8-Adam Strum: as Founder and Chairman of Wine Enthusiast Companies, and Editor and Publisher of Wine Enthusiast Magazine Strum heads up the largest group of wine commerce and media companies in the world. With more than 800,000 readers Wine Enthusiast Magazine provides editorial content and authoritative reviews and ratings of tens of thousands of wines every year. The Wine Enthusiast catalog and web business is the world’s leading seller of wine accessories and wine storage with catalogs distributed to more than 300 million wine-related publications in the United States and around the world. They recently launched another innovation $40 Gourmet, a make-at-home food product that includes a bottle of wine paired to the meal.

7-Antonio Galloni, Vinous is one of the world’s most influential wine publications. Founded in 2013 by Galloni after a stint with Robert Parker, Vinous expanded its digital platform in 2016 through the acquisition of Delectable. Vinous has readers in over 90 countries around the world and Delectable Premium seamlessly integrates Delectable’s library of more than five million user reviews with Vinous’ database of nearly 250,000 critic reviews in a state of the art, mobile platform that gives consumers unparalleled access to information about their favorite wines.

6-Stephanie Gallo: is Vice President of Marketing for E. & J. Gallo Winery the largest family-owned winery in the world, exporting 24 wine brands equaling over 70 million cases to 90 countries. Under her leadership, Barefoot has grown from 500,000 cases to the largest bottled wine brand in the world. She also plays an integral role in the development of innovative new products like Naked Grape, Vin Vault and Dark Horse. Stephanie’s other key contributions to the business have included repositioning the Gallo Family brand globally and pioneering the winery’s online advertising, social media programs and event marketing initiatives. She is also a regular speaker on women in business, family business and the importance of community giving.

5-Rob Sands: As CEO of Constellation Brands, Sands oversees 10,000 employees, sales in 125 countries and operations at approximately 40 facilities. Yes, they are a publicly traded Fortune 500 company and yes as a distributor, not everyone likes them, but they move an immense amount of wine. Brands include Clos du Bois, Robert Mondavi, Franciscan Estate, and Ravenswood. They remain the biggest seller by volume of premium-category wines priced between $5 and $15.

4-Marvin Shanken: is editor and publisher of Wine Spectator, one of the top wine magazines in the world. Spectator’s Top 100 Wines has become something of an annual wine bible. In addition to Spectator, Shanken exerts influence via Impact Databank Reports, an annual industry publication which provides raw wine data, and trade publications Market Watch and Food Arts. Today Wine Spectator is read by three million people and exerts tremendous influence with its reviews on wines, up and coming wine regions, and food. Shanken also publishes Cigar Aficionado, and Whiskey Advocate.

3-Tim Turner: joined Walgreen’s company seven years ago, and he has grown the category’s annual sales to $1 billion throughout the chain’s 8,200 stores. Under Turner’s guidance, Walgreen’s runs a lean, efficient unit with targeted larger brands. No, he doesn’t promote smaller wines, unique offerings or anything under the radar, in fact they stock just 150 wine options, all national brands, which makes the billion dollars of sales rather impressive. Additionally roughly 7,500 of those stores hold a FedEx drop off for physical wine shipments.

2-Wayne Chaplin: is the president and COO of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, the nation’s largest spirits and wine distributor with estimated revenues of more than $9 billion, about half of that being wine. You may dislike the distribution system in the U.S., but you cannot ignore them. The company has operations in 36 states, employs nearly 12,000 people promoting 1,178 wineries, from 152 offices. The firm generated revenue estimated to be at $17 billion in 2016. It sold 150 million cases of wine and spirits that same year to more than 350,000 retail and restaurant accounts.

1-Annette Alvares-Peters: Costco’s assistant general merchandise manager for beverage alcohol includes wine, spirits and beer purchases for Costco, and Costco is America’s largest alcohol retailer selling wine in 488 stores in the U.S and Puerto Rico, and additional stores in seven foreign countries with 70 million members. Wine revenues alone reached an astounding $1.69 billion for 2016 - and including all alcohol they sold $3.6 billion worth. Factor in their own Kirkland label, which comprises 15% of their total wine sales, and she has helped wine be much more accessible to the masses. And it’s not just the under $10 or $20 category either, they sell more Dom Perignon than anyone else in the US. Simply put, Costco moves a lot of wine, and that moves markets.

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5 They Price The Wine Just Right

Pricing wine is part science and part guessing. There are many wine drinkers, seasoned and non-seasoned, and they each have their own expectations on how much a bottle of “good” wine should cost. This essentially means that there are no industry standards on pricing. Naturally, cost dictates the minimum price, like in most industries, but once wine producers, importers, and retailers have calculated the cost of production, care, transport fee, and labor, the final price is determined by perceived quality and good old scarcity – or perceived scarcity.

In the end, wine is priced based on what retailers feel people will pay for it. Inevitably, the final price is actually a hunch. Certain wines are also priced differently in different regions – again, another hunch that “region X will pay more for this type of wine.” Like most specialized products, the retail price is not a consistent formula. Once cost is out of the way, the key is to price the wine high enough to convince consumers they are buying quality, but keep it within the highest possible range of what it is worth.

Got several years and several million dollars? You probably still can't plant a Napa Valley vineyard

Leslie Caccamese understood that owning a vineyard in Napa Valley wouldn&rsquot be easy. But she could not have imagined just how difficult it would be.

A self-described &ldquoregular person&rdquo &mdash by which she means &ldquonot a billionaire&rdquo &mdash Caccamese had moved to Napa from San Francisco with her long-term partner. She was working in marketing for a human resources consulting company, but living in beautiful Napa was giving her &ldquoagrarian fantasies,&rdquo as she puts it. After she and her partner broke up, she decided to stay in town. &ldquoI wanted to grow my own food, work in a vineyard,&rdquo she says.

In 2012, she saw that a 12-acre parcel on Atlas Peak, a desirable area in the valley&rsquos eastern hillsides, was for sale. It was a stretch for her finances, but Caccamese took out a loan from the bank, borrowed against her 401(k) plan and cashed in childhood savings bonds. For $500,000, the land was hers.

&ldquoI was 32 years old at the time, and I had no clue what I was getting myself into,&rdquo Caccamese says. The plot was grassland. Her hope was to install a small, prefabricated home on the lot and to plant a 5-acre vineyard: the Napa Valley dream.

Napa County has always been an expensive and highly regulated place to plant a vineyard. In recent years, however, the expense and regulations have grown exponentially.

Vineyard land in the valley is now going for about $300,000 to $350,000 an acre on average, says Cyd Greer, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in St. Helena who specializes in vineyards, wineries and luxury properties. Of course, Greer emphasizes, prices range widely, &ldquoand it all ties back to the price of the wine that comes from the property.&rdquo She recently sold a 10-acre property on Diamond Mountain, which already had a vineyard planted, for $6.5 million.

&ldquoThe market is stronger than it&rsquos ever been,&rdquo Greer says, &ldquoand we&rsquore not expecting a slowdown.&rdquo Whereas 10 acres was once the minimum parcel size that most prospective vintners would consider, they&rsquore now willing to settle for smaller plots, she says, and areas that were previously not considered the most elite vineyard zones &mdash Oak Knoll and Coombsville, for instance &mdash are suddenly red-hot.

But buying the land is the easy part. Turning it into a vineyard is near impossible for many.

Once you&rsquove got your patch of dirt, you have to apply for permits to plant a vineyard. This process requires a range of steps, from biological resources analyses (if the planting could disrupt an animal habitat, for example) to cultural artifact reviews (if it might disturb, say, an American Indian burial ground).

According to James Bushey, owner of PPI Engineering in Napa, a firm that plans and designs vineyards, the vineyard permitting process &ldquotakes 12 to 18 months at the least.&rdquo As for the cost, he says, &ldquothe minimum is going to be many tens of thousands of dollars, and it goes up into the millions.&rdquo

Is it too difficult to plant in Napa, or not difficult enough? That&rsquos now a matter of considerable controversy, as county residents prepare to vote in June on Measure C, a ballot initiative that would curb further vineyard development on Napa&rsquos hillsides to preserve oak trees and water sources. The Measure C conversation has engendered fierce debate: The initiative&rsquos supporters argue that limitations on vineyards are necessary to preserve the health of the county&rsquos environment its opponents contend that Measure C would put excessive regulatory burdens on the wine industry.

While the debate rages, cases like Caccamese&rsquos suggest that forces neither environmental nor industrial, but simply economic, have already determined the future of vineyard plantings in Napa. Her experience is emblematic of the reality of land ownership here today: financially and practically nonviable for most, especially for those, like Caccamese, who lack fortunes.

&ldquoIf you&rsquore a regular person,&rdquo she says, &ldquoyou don&rsquot stand a chance.&rdquo

So what, precisely, does it take to plant a vineyard here?

&ldquoNapa County has the strongest regulations on agriculture not only in the country but in the world,&rdquo says PPI Engineering Vice President Rachel LeRoy.

That&rsquos largely because hillside vineyard developments in Napa are subject to the rigorous standards of the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. This process came into place after the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against Napa County in 2000, saying its existing hillside planting regulations were too weak. CEQA is typically reserved for major public works projects &ldquoNapa is the only county in California that subjects an agricultural product like vineyards to CEQA,&rdquo LeRoy says.

Peruse the 426 pages of CEQA guidelines, and you&rsquoll find a checklist for the required Environmental Report, a summary of all the ways a proposed project might affect its surroundings. Once finished, the report must be posted in a public forum, such as a newspaper.

The public may respond with comments, and the agency that prepared the report is legally required to respond to every comment. PPI Engineering, for large projects, has received as many as 2,000 comments responding to them can take more than a year. &ldquoSome comments raise legitimate concerns,&rdquo Bushey says, &ldquolike, could there be this rare moss out there? So we have to go out and look at that.&rdquo

The major component of Napa vineyard applications is the erosion control plan, required for any site with a slope of 5 percent or greater. (Virtually all remaining plantable land in Napa County exceeds this grade. Planting is prohibited on slopes greater than 30 percent.) The plan must show that the vineyard will not increase any soil loss or runoff.

For Caccamese, who was proposing to plant 5 acres of vines, obtaining an erosion control plan took two years and cost $45,000, mostly in consulting fees.

In addition to geological concerns, a CEQA analysis must also address a project&rsquos impact regarding air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, hazardous materials, water quality, mineral resources, traffic, noise, housing, public utilities and more. Typically, a landowner will hire a civil engineering firm such as PPI, which will then hire experts to consult on each of these categories. For instance, a biologist must assess a site&rsquos plant and animal habitat &mdash which often takes a full year.

Separate consultants must be hired to advise on groundwater and storm runoff water. &ldquoThe hydrology analyses are very detailed,&rdquo Bushey says. &ldquoWe use complex computer models to predict what might happen to neighboring wells and estimate the amount of recharge on a particular property.&rdquo

There&rsquos more: An archaeologist must perform a cultural artifact review. The most common findings, according to LeRoy, are rock walls and obsidian flakes, which may be remnants of arrowheads used by American Indians. Some prehistoric pieces have been discovered in Napa County, but materials need only be 50 years old to qualify as archaeological.

&ldquoSo a garbage dump from the early 1900s counts,&rdquo Bushey says. &ldquoWe would avoid planting there.&rdquo A tribal council must sign off on the report.

In Caccamese&rsquos case, the cultural artifact review determined that an old stone wall on her property had historic value and could not be disturbed. She would have to increase the setback of any vines from the wall.

RAVENS TO RICHES / Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson could retire wealthy -- but he still loves making wine

1 of 8 RAVENSWOOD27_618_cl.JPG Profile of Ravenswood winemaker Joel Peterson. He took Ravenswood public in 1999 and it was bought by Constellation. Photo of Joel Peterson (left) and his son, Morgan Twain-Peterson (also a winemaker) riding some wine barrels at Ravenswood. Craig Lee / The Chronicle MANDATORY CREDIT FOR PHOTOG AND SF CHRONICLE/ -MAGS OUT Craig Lee Show More Show Less

2 of 8 RAVENSWOOD_S1_008_RAD.jpg For the Ravenswood story, tasting notes sidebar. Three bottles together, L to R: 2004 Ravenswood California Zinfandel, 2003 Ravenswood Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel, 2004 Ravenswood Dickerson Napa Valley Zinfandel. Two bottles: 2003 Ravenswood Pickberry vineyards Somona Mountain, 2001 Ravenswood Rancho Salina Vineyards Sonoma Valley Photo taken on 7/13/06, in San Francisco, CA. (Katy Raddatz/The S.F.Chronicle) **Ravenswood, Sonoma, Zinfandel, Salina, Dickerson Mandatory credit for photographer and the San Francisco Chronicle/ -Mags out Katy Raddatz Show More Show Less

4 of 8 RAVENSWOOD_S1_006_RAD.jpg For the Ravenswood story, tasting notes sidebar. Three bottles together, L to R: 2004 Ravenswood California Zinfandel, 2003 Ravenswood Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel, 2004 Ravenswood Dickerson Napa Valley Zinfandel. Two bottles: 2003 Ravenswood Pickberry vineyards Somona Mountain, 2001 Ravenswood Rancho Salina Vineyards Sonoma Valley Photo taken on 7/13/06, in San Francisco, CA. (Katy Raddatz/The S.F.Chronicle) **Ravenswood, Sonoma, Zinfandel, Salina, Dickerson Mandatory credit for photographer and the San Francisco Chronicle/ -Mags out Katy Raddatz Show More Show Less

5 of 8 RAVENSWOOD27_483_cl.JPG Profile of Ravenswood winemaker Joel Peterson. He took Ravenswood public in 1999 and it was bought by Constellation. Craig Lee / The Chronicle MANDATORY CREDIT FOR PHOTOG AND SF CHRONICLE/ -MAGS OUT Craig Lee Show More Show Less

7 of 8 RAVENSWOOD27_167_cl.JPG Profile of Ravenswood winemaker Joel Peterson. He took Ravenswood public in 1999 and it was bought by Constellation. Photo of Joel Peterson, (middle) with his son, Morgan Twain-Peterson (left), and Joel's mother and Morgan's grandmother, Frances Peterson. Morgan is winemaker as well. They are visiting at the home where Joel grew up as a child and where Frances still lives, in Point Richmond. Craig Lee / The Chronicle MANDATORY CREDIT FOR PHOTOG AND SF CHRONICLE/ -MAGS OUT Craig Lee Show More Show Less

When Joel Peterson reaped a multimillion-dollar payoff from the sale of Ravenswood, the winery he founded, he could have taken the money and run. Most winemakers who strike such gold do.

But five years later, Peterson still loves what he now calls a "brand." He has proven to be surprisingly good at, and interested in, being a corporate executive -- albeit one who wears Hawaiian shirts and cowboy hats.

It would be easy to lump him in with other ex-hippies gone corporate, but Peterson, 59, is not as simple as his famous slogan "No wimpy wines." That suggests big, bold, straightforward wines without nuances, but Ravenswood's best wines have plenty of complexity, and so does Peterson.

He started out as a part-time, small-time winemaker, making single-vineyard Zinfandels in the 1970s when the grape had little respect. He's a microbiologist and adventurer who tells great stories about riding his motorcycle across the country without a dollar in his pocket, or earning meal money in Portugal by arm-wrestling a merchant marine.

He's also the head of an unusual family his wife and ex-wife are spending the summer together.

Peterson has been into wine since he was 10, when his father asked him to take tasting notes for his parents' East Bay wine tasting group. In 1976, at the age of 29, he and business partner Reed Foster, whom he met in that group, started Ravenswood with $4,000, no vineyards and no winery. For labor, they called all their friends to help for free.

"I went through a lot of friends in the first year," Peterson says.

Thirty years later, Peterson is still an excellent winemaker producing some of the most terroir-driven Zinfandels in California, even though his now much larger winery doesn't appeal to wine aficionados the way it once did.

"This is a business. At the end of the day I can't do what Helen Turley does," says Peterson, referring to one of California's most-sought-after winemaking consultants for top-end wines. "I can't tell people . it doesn't matter if we make money. Because it does. Otherwise it becomes a hobby, unless you charge exorbitant prices for it. But I've never wanted to put wine up on a pedestal. Wine should be part of your everyday life."

In 2001, two years after going public, Ravenswood was bought by Constellation Brands for $148 million. Peterson, whose hair reached his hindquarters in the winery's early years, was the largest stockholder, making him that rare bird many students at UC Davis' Department of Viticulture and Enology aspire to become -- a winemaker-turned-multimillionaire.

But instead of retiring or starting over with a tiny winery, Peterson became a senior vice president at Constellation -- now the world's largest wine company -- and stayed on as Ravenswood's head winemaker.

"Joel really epitomizes one of the greatest leaders and brand champions in our company," says Constellation chairman and chief executive officer Richard Sands. "He really was the heart and soul of that brand up to the point when we bought it. Thereafter, he has committed himself to the brand. That's quite unusual in our business. But Joel and the brand are merged. They are one."

If it's true that Peterson has become one with Ravenswood, he should be Joel the Giant. In five years, Constellation has more than doubled Ravenswood's production, putting the company's cool three-raven logo in supermarket aisles nationwide beside wallabies, monkeys and the rest of the menagerie of cheap "critter wines." (Peterson says he's seen the Ravenswood logo tattooed on more than 70 visitors to the Sonoma winery.) The slogan "no wimpy wines" still excludes White Zinfandel, but there's a Ravenswood Chardonnay now, and it's not bad.

For the first 15 years of the winery, the loquacious Peterson earned his living in a job with almost no conversation required, working in the clinical laboratory at Sonoma Valley Hospital from 1977 through 1992. (He didn't draw his first salary from the winery until 1991.)

"Microbiology is very meditative," Peterson says. "Your only responsibility is to the petri dish in front of you."

He's among the men most responsible for establishing Zinfandel as a world-class grape. The winemaker is a strong advocate of terroir, the French idea of showcasing a vineyard's distinctive climate and soils through the unique flavor of wine produced there.

Yet he's best known for the mass-produced, California appellation Ravenswood Vintners Blend wines found in supermarkets and drugstores across the country. And he's loyal enough to the corporation that, upon Constellation's orders, he fired his wife, who was the company's East Coast broker for 16 years, representing Ravenswood wines to distributors and retail accounts.

"That was not fun," Peterson says, though he comforted her by buying a beach house on the New Jersey shore, where she spent summers as a child.

In fact, Peterson's large and somewhat unconventional family is spending much of the summer on the East Coast without him: his wife, their son, his ex-wife, two of her daughters by other men -- one of whom she gave up for adoption and Peterson later tracked down and reintegrated into the family -- and several grandchildren whose provenance is too complex to detail. Only two sons are his biological children, but he talks about them all as his kids.

"The children all think they're only children because they're spaced 10 years apart," Peterson says.

Peterson lavishes attention on them, just as his parents Frances and Walter did for him.

Peterson's mother still lives in the Point Richmond house where he grew up, which his father, who died in 1972, built himself. Both of Peterson's parents were chemists they were also an influential part of the Berkeley food-and-wine scene beginning in the 1950s. His mom once moonlighted as a recipe tester for Chez Panisse chef Alice Waters, and both parents were leaders of the San Francisco Wine Sampling Club, a number of whose members became local food and wine luminaries. That's where Peterson developed his palate.

"What people say in music is perfect pitch, Joel has that in taste," says Cris Strotz, owner of the Pickberry Vineyards on Sonoma Mountain, from which Peterson makes a delicious Bordeaux-style blend. "He has great taste memory. I've never met anybody like that."

Peterson believes his early experiences tasting wine and discussing it had great impact on his life, so he gives his children similar opportunities. His son Galen, 8, spends a lot of time at the winery in Sonoma but currently is only allowed to taste grapes before they ferment. That puts him far behind his half- brother Morgan, now 25, who made his first wine at age 5.

"Morgan wanted to make Pinot Noir. He told (grape grower) Angelo Sangiacomo he was going to make wine like Domaine de la Romanee-Conti," Peterson says, of the revered Burgundy producer. "Angelo says, 'If you're going to make Romanee-Conti, I'll give you some grapes, but you're not going to get them for free. You're going to have to give me some of the wine.' Morgan thinks for a minute and says, 'That's OK, I can't drink it anyway.' "

Morgan Peterson made wine every year at Ravenswood until he headed off to study political science and history at Vassar. While there, he held a "library sale" of his old vintages and raised enough money to pay for a semester of college.

Though Zinfandel was not well regarded in 1976, Peterson was interested in it from the beginning he had prepared for entrepreneurship by helping Zinfandel pioneer Joseph Swan make five vintages.

"Joe told me not to make Pinot Noir," Peterson says. "I'm a Europhile, and I believed that older vines planted in the right location make the great wines. The only grape that filled the bill in California in 1976 was Zinfandel. The vines were old. They were dry-farmed, and they had to be planted in the right places to be dry-farmed. Cabernet was expensive, and I wasn't a rich guy. It was better for me to be a tiny fish in a small pond."

Much of Peterson's seemingly boundless energy was spent in the first years on establishing relationships with vineyard owners, which required some interesting negotiation tactics, from running foot races to bacchanalian drinking fests.

"The idea initially was to buy a vineyard when we had cash flow," Peterson says. "It turns out it's a good strategy to not own any vineyards. You get to work with the best vineyards in California. People would never sell you vineyards like that. If you buy a vineyard, you're stuck with it."

Despite the lack of real estate -- Ravenswood had no physical winery until 1981 -- and the infusion of $100,000 from limited partners in 1979, the company's balance sheet was weak in 1983. Foster said Ravenswood needed cash flow and couldn't survive only on single-vineyard Zinfandels he suggested that Ravenswood forget its slogan and make a White Zinfandel.

"I said, 'No pink, sweet, wimpy wine, no way,'" Peterson says.

Instead, they came up with the concept of the cheaper Vintners Blend line.

"In 1983 I made 1,000 cases of Vintners Blend and thought it was an immense amount of wine," Peterson says.

Today, Vintners Blend makes up about 80 percent of the nearly 1 million cases of wine Ravenswood makes, according to Peterson. Ravenswood had been in Constellation's more prestigious Icon Estates subsidiary, but is now marketed by Centerra, the subsidiary that handles Almaden and Wild Irish Rose, because Icon sales representatives weren't set up to handle the mass-market phenomenon Ravenswood Vintners Blend has become.

Vintners Blend wines, which may include juice from anywhere in the state, are where the growth is, but that took a toll on Peterson, who says, "I was tasting so much I was getting bloody noses. Also I was going through awful stuff, really terrible stuff."

But ultimately Vintners Blend wines are not awful in fact, for $11 they are decent value, and a number have been recommended in The Chronicle's Bargain Wines column during the past three years. They are the bottom of Ravenswood's three-tier system.

The middle layer is made of county appellation wines like Ravenswood Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon. These cost $15 to $20 and are generally better than the less complex Vintners Blend wines. These are often found in restaurants at affordable prices.

"They're definitely a great benchmark when it comes to Zinfandel," says Joe Kohn, chef and partner of Izzy's Steaks and Chops. "They're not like some Zinfandels, where you get a lot of heat. It's a sturdy wine, and it's consistent. With our food, it's great."

At the top are Peterson's first loves, the single-vineyard wines, which start at about $25 and top out at $60 for the Old Hill Sonoma Valley Zinfandel.

These higher-end bottles seem to have lost the cachet they once had, when Ravenswood was one of the "three R's" of quality Zinfandel, along with Cupertino's Ridge Vineyards and Rosenblum Cellars in Alameda. Those two wineries have stayed independent and remain sought after by wine geeks.

In a February poll of "favorite Zinfandel producers" on, a site frequented by wine fanatics, Ravenswood was not even included as a possible choice, and only one person posted a favorable note about it. The buzz has moved from Ravenswood to small wineries that are like Peterson's was when he started out. Ridge still has cachet -- it won the poll.

"Compared to our wines, Joel tends to make wines that are more extracted and more highly structured," says Ridge winemaker and chief executive officer Paul Draper, who first met Peterson at his parents' tasting club. "It's as if he's saying Zinfandel can be Cabernet. I've loved what he's done with the small vineyards and I've been astounded with what he's done with Vintners Blend, which is a very different animal."

Any dismissal of Ravenswood's single-vineyard Zins is premature. A recent tasting showed that Peterson hasn't lost his edge Ravenswood's top-end wines are not only still well made and good tasting, but also distinctly different from one another. (See "A taste of Ravenswood," Page F2.)

Unfortunately, not one Bay Area restaurant carries more than one of these wines, according to Charla Metcalf, director of public relations for Constellation Wines U.S. This is a shame: If you want to taste the impact terroir has on a grape, there's no better demonstration than to sample several of these.

"Joel really has approached winemaking from a vineyard basis," says Diane Kenworthy, who oversees grower relations for Ravenswood. "All winemakers say they put the vineyard first, but most don't really believe it. They believe it's their yeast selection or their protocols or whatever. Joel really does believe it. When I took this job, people asked me, 'Why are you going to work for Ravenswood? They don't have any vineyards?' But they're all about vineyards."

Over his lunch at Juanita Juanita, a Mexican restaurant near the Sonoma winery that is patronized by Ravenswood employees so often that all checks arrive attached to a Ravenswood label, Peterson and his vineyard-relations team talk about how he makes final blending decisions. In some cases, grapes can actually be too good for their original purpose grapes can be promoted to a County Series wine or demoted into Vintners Blend.

"You have a good sense of what's good enough," says Kenworthy.

Peterson, a non-dairy vegetarian who enjoys the Garlic Garlic Burrito with mushrooms instead of meat, chuckles. Later, at a tasting session in Ravenswood's second winery, a large facility farther south in Sonoma, he explains what he looks for when buying grapes.

"For the Sonoma County series we buy about 150 percent of the grapes we need," he says. "We can just move the grapes that don't make it into Sonoma County into Vintners Blend.

"For Vintners Blend, we don't just buy the best samples. The trick to buying for Vintners Blend is buying lots that give you complementary characteristics -- or are neutral. If you can buy samples that are neutral and aren't very expensive, you've done a good thing. You've kept your internal costs down and haven't affected the overall blend's characteristics."

Peterson's first love may be Zinfandel, but he works with many red grapes at all three price levels and a few whites -- the tasting-room-only Gewurztraminer is delicious.

In the course of a workday, Peterson swings back and forth from large-scale corporate winemaking to more unique projects, such as evaluating Carignane samples from a Cloverdale vineyard full of century-old vines and deciding whether or not to make that a single-vineyard, tasting-room-only wine, or to blend it into a different wine.

He also meets with vineyard owners, sales representatives and others, and uses his flippant charm and amusing storytelling to win them to his side.

One recent morning, he met with Pickberry Vineyards owners Cris and Lorna Strotz. Peterson said before meeting the Strotzes that while he loves their Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, the Cabernet Franc grapes in their vineyard haven't gotten ripe enough in the last few years, and that they need to trim some grape clusters from the vines to allow the remaining ones to ripen.

But he didn't bring up the issue they did, asking why he stopped including their Cabernet Franc in the final blend of the wine.

"It's been very green," he says, prompting Cris Strotz -- whose day job is as an orthopedic surgeon in Berkeley, specializing in knees -- to ask about dropping fruit.

"It's so hard to do that with the knife. They're like my babies," Cris Strotz says.

"You wouldn't hesitate if that was a patient," Peterson says. " 'That cartilage has to come out,' you'd say."

Scott Cleek

Cleek began his exploration of art while growing up in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. He moved to Southern California after high school and honed his technical skills with a degree in Graphic Design and Advertising from San Diego State University. After graduation, he spent several years working for design agencies in San Diego and Los Angles before turning his full-time focus to fine art.

Although he has shown his work all over the country with shows in New York City, Las Vegas, and Maui, he thinks there is a special connection between wine and art.

Artists, such as Cleek, take an empty canvas and use imagination, creativity, vision, and past experi- ences to create a unique work of art that hopefully affects the person viewing it.

My paintings are created with the intent of capturing moments that stir emotion, evoke a memory, set a mood, or simply allow us to dream.”

Similarly, winemakers are given a varietal of grapes from a particular “terroir” and use their knowledge, tools, and insight to create a wine that they hope will resonate with the person tasting it. An original painting and a beautiful wine can both leave a person totally enamored with the end result. Scott believes this parallelism creates a wonderful connection between artists, winemakers, and people experiencing the final creation. His works can be found on the labels of Steven Kent Winery, where he has partnered in creating 13 labels over the past 14 years for Steven’s Collector’s Circle Club. He has also been the official artist for the Livermore Harvest Festival.

Cleek’s most recent collection of paintings has its roots in human emotion and interaction. Inspired by his travels through- out Europe and North America, Cleek draws upon the memories of his journeys, distilling the flavor, ambiance, and romance of each architecturally and cul- turally diverse destination. Rich with color and texture, the signa- ture canvases of Cleek’s “Good Life Collection” are a fusion of classic romanticism with a con- temporary flair.

The Good Life Collection is exclusively represented by Harte International Galleries in Maui.

Gift of Grace / Napa Cabernet producer Dick Grace saves children with his spiritual philanthropy

1 of 11 Grace Family Winery in St. Helena. Dick Grace and his wife, Anne Grace in their vintage pickup truck with their 1910 Victorian home in the background. Event on 5/17/04 in St. Helena. Craig Lee / The Chronicle Craig Lee Show More Show Less

2 of 11 Grace Family Winery in St. Helena. Bottles of etched and specially painted Grace Family wine bottles. Photo of a bottle on the left, painted by local artist in Calistoga, Lowell Herrero. It is a painting of the likeness of Buddha. It sold for $30, 000 and and the bottle was given back to remain in the Grace Family Winery collection. The person wanted to donate the money but wanted the bottle to stay in the Grace Family collection. Event on 5/17/04 in St. Helena. Craig Lee / The Chronicle Craig Lee Show More Show Less

4 of 11 Grace Family Winery in St. Helena. Dick Grace with two of Grace Family Winery's hand painted and etched wine bottles. He is in the barrel room. The wine bottle on the right is done by an artist in Calistoga named, Lowell Herrero. It is a likness of Buddha. The one on the left is done by artist Pam Morgan which has numerous etchings of charities the winery supports. Event on 5/20/04 in St. Helena. Craig Lee / The Chronicle Craig Lee Show More Show Less

5 of 11 Dick Grace with a Tibetan nomad child. Show More Show Less

7 of 11 Grace Family Winery in St. Helena. Photo of Dick Grace holding a blind girl named Menisha in the Andaman Island which is along the southern part of India. This photo was taken in 2002. Photo courtesy of the Grace Family Winery. Grace family Winery Show More Show Less

8 of 11 John Karma, under-nourished two-year-old Tibetan rescued by the Grace family. Show More Show Less

10 of 11 Ann and Dick Grace with now nine-year-old John Karma (recent shot). Show More Show Less

This is, in part, a love story. Not about a man and woman, not about a man and wine not about a man and money, country, truth, not even God, although it includes all of those. It is about a man who learned to love himself, and in doing so, found himself on the edge, a place he likes, and in a world of children, especially those on the edge.

Dick Grace, head of Grace Family Vineyards, the first "cult" Cabernet Sauvignon producer in Napa Valley, is an enigma. He's a former Marine, yet he's a student of Buddhism. He doesn't make his wine and he does not even drink it, yet his Cabernets, since the first vintage of 1978, always sell out, and single bottles of his wine have fetched as much as $100,000 at auction.

He has carved a singular path out of the splashy lifestyle around wine galas and recast wine auctioning onto a different stage. In a sense, he has revolutionized philanthropy, or at least turned it on its ear. If cynics say winemakers host lavish fund-raising parties and then "oh, by the way" take out their checkbooks to throw money at charities because it's good self-promotion, then this man says, "Wine is the catalyst for healing the planet."

As the Napa Valley Wine Auction begins this week in St. Helena, and huge sums will be raised ($6.6 million last year), it's appropriate to revisit Dick Grace, now 66, whose name, as it turns out, is a synonym for charity.

Grace admits he's led a charmed life. A football player, Marine captain and a senior vice president at investment company Smith Barney in San Francisco, he happened upon the vineyard that now carries his name.

In 1975, he and his wife, Ann, were considering a rural home for their young family. They looked at an abandoned Victorian house in St. Helena and bought it as well as the surrounding acre of land. Someone mentioned to him that it was good grapegrowing acreage and that vines grown close together make superior wines because they compete with each other for water and nutrients and thus produce more intense flavors.

So Grace, who had never farmed before, planted 1,100 Cabernet Sauvignon vines instead of the conventional 570. In 1978, the family hand-picked the grapes and delivered them to Caymus Vineyards to sell them. Charles Wagner, owner of Caymus, happened to be receiving the trucks. He tasted the grapes and declared he would not use them for blending, but crush them separately and make a Grace Family Vineyards-designated wine under the Caymus label.

In 1983, Grace began producing his own wine, at Caymus, and by 1987 he had his own winery and estate-bottled Cabernet Sauvignon. The '78 vintage presaged all other vintages -- it sold out and it commanded the highest prices back then, $25 (it's $65 now to mailing-list customers). To this day, only subscribers receive a limited amount per year. Currently, Grace Family Vineyards sells to 435 customers and keeps 4,000 on a waiting list. In 1988, Grace expanded his planting to include a second contiguous acre. Currently the winery also makes a Cabernet Sauvignon for another small grower under its own label, so the total Grace vineyards output is from 3 acres.

"We make the amount of wine that other wineries evaporate," he says.

When disease struck and the first vines were ripped out in 1994, Grace planted the new vines even more closely, at 3,400 per acre. That's six times the standard at the time in Napa Valley and three times more than Grace started with in 1976. The vineyard has always been organic (and is now biodynamic) and hand-picked, and Grace has had some of the best winemakers working for him (including Gary Galleron, Heidi Peterson Barrett and Gary Brookman). The wine, 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, is typically quite complex and elegant in the way of classic Bordeaux wines, with subtle black fruit aromas and flavors and sublime balance.

It's one of Grace's hallmarks that he aims high and risks high.

"I like risk," he says. It explains Grace's spiritual journey. Chance plays a big role in his success as he tells it, but he recognizes stress as the quality that lifts what is ordinary and extracts out of it something extraordinary and rare. Inner stresses transformed Grace himself, and stress in others lifted out of him the desire to help them.

Grace lets loose with a high volume of words, gifts, stories and promotional materials as soon as you meet him. One is a watch whose face includes his motto, "Be optimystic." The "y" is perhaps cutesy, but intentional and Gracian. He also shows snapshots of the Tibetans he has met and helped. Those snapshots tell of the human spirit shining under stress.

The man, who is a cross between Bob Barker, Billy Graham and someone else who's hard to pinpoint, was transformed through the test of life. By the early 1980s, Grace was depressed and dependent on painkillers prescribed for a football injury he also had an alcohol problem. Calling on what wife Ann labels a ramrod-hard will, he joined Alcoholics Anonymous and has stayed sober for 16 years.

As a vintner dabbling in charity fund-raisers, he attended an event in 1988 that gives terminally ill kids their dream wish. In Alabama he befriended Anthony Frasier, age 9. Grace took Anthony to the zoo, and for the next six months, called him once a week until the boy died. Grace delivered Anthony's eulogy.

That was his epiphany. "I was a drunk and I needed a reminder," he says. Anthony was that reminder. "I kind of felt I deserved this place, that I built it." Then it dawned on him that his winery "is a gift and should be used wisely."

By 1988, Grace fashioned an intense spiritual path of giving that rode on his business savvy and connections.

"I wanted a different course for the winery," Grace says. "Through wineries pass the most considerate, compassionate people. They are also wealthy and they are generous beyond comprehension." These people, he says, "are just waiting to hear a message of kindness."

So Grace delivers it, with vigor.

Depression, alcoholism and children are his teachers, he says, adding, "My gurus come from unusual places." Grace bombards people with an infinite store of tales of those who have touched him in addition to Anthony Frasier, there is a 9 year old he calls John Karma, whom Grace found, lice-ridden and abandoned in a handbasket off a trail in the Himalayas. Grace refused to leave him, cleaned him and eventually found him a home. Like dozens of boys and girls he has met, Grace is committed to bringing John Karma to college in this country.

What was Grace like at age 9?

"I was a hell-raiser and a risk-taker," he says, laughing. That boy lurks in him still, along with the zealot, the promoter and the businessman. But the enigmas and complexities go even further. Dressed neatly, as you would expect of an ex-Marine, in a polo shirt, Grace wears Tibetan beads on a string around his wrist.

"I need reminders of this world," he says. "Otherwise, I'm going to think Napa Valley is the real world."

It seems he is succeeding. Although Grace gives speeches in a neutral, almost military tone, when he tells the stories of Anthony Frasier or John Karma, he tears up at almost each telling.

Since his retirement from Smith Barney four years ago, Grace makes three trips a year with Ann to the Himalayan region, traveling three to four months a year. There are those who say that Ann, married to him for 45 years, is what grounds Dick Grace and makes all he does possible. They are building a mobile hospital for the Himalyan region for $250,000, which, he never forgets to tell you, is what a few bottles of auctioned wine can make.

The Graces' three grown children and their families participate in harvesting the grapes on the property. Son Kirk is vineyard manager. All of them support outreach programs in their communities, Grace says.

Taking himself to the cradle of Eastern spirituality is not his only aim. Grace has taken anyone he can hook, from "cocktail waitresses to CEOs." On the next trip to Tibet, he has already invited the principals from several Silicon Valley firms.

"I take people into the wilds because they can't come away unchanged," he says. "People can do so much with so little. What I sell for a bottle can clothe, shelter, feed and educate one child in Nepal for a year."

To date, the Grace Foundation supports causes in Nepal, Tibet, Mexico, California, Hawaii, Alabama, Illinois and Pennsylvania. The face time that lies at the heart of Grace's own giving feeds his voracious energy.

"When he drank, he drank with real fervor, and when he stopped, he stopped with fervor," says David Reynolds, a wine auctioneer and longtime friend.

Grapes of wrath: When $390 million worth of rare wine was set on fire

IT WAS a spiteful act that cost $390 million. What drove this 136kg man to torch some of the most precious booze?

On the day that wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan is sentenced, we'll take a look at ways for wine lovers on distinguishing fakes from the real deal. MarketWatch's Priya Anand.

On the day that wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan is sentenced, we'll take a look at ways for wine lovers on distinguishing fakes from the real deal. MarketWatch's Priya Anand joins Simon Constable on the News Hub with some helpful tips. Photo: Getty

Devastatingly simple: Ink stamps used to mark corks that were used to bottle fake wines in Kurniawan’s scam. AFP/Getty Images Source:Supplied

IT was a warm day in October 2005, and Mark Anderson, a 136-kilogram man carrying a bucket of petrol-soaked rags, was definitely up to no good.

He walked into the massive Wines Central warehouse in Vallejo, California, where some of the world’s finest wine was stacked on pallets � feet (12 metres) high stretched the length of two football fields.”

He lit the rags with a propane torch, dropped them along the pallets of wine and hauled out of there, running as fast as his massive frame would allow. By the time he was done — it took firefighters eight hours to control the blaze — he had destroyed “more than 4.5 million bottles of premium wine” worth nearly half a billion dollars on the retail market. “It was the greatest crime involving wine in history.”

But the fire, as veteran journalist Frances Dinkelspiel lays out in her new book Tangled Vines, was just the latest, nastiest blow to the industry, as wine fraud had already cast doubt on the identity of some of the supposedly finest wines in the world.

Mysteriously rich businessman Rudy Kurniawan. Now in jail, the damage he idid to the wine world is immeasurable. Photo: AP Source:Supplied


In the past decade, rare wine collecting has taken two major hits.

The first centred around a mysteriously wealthy Indonesian named Rudy Kurniawan, who was “the boy wonder of the fine-wine world,” spending as much as $AU1.4 million a month “to acquire coveted varietals.”

Kurniawan joined three wine-tasting groups — BurgWhores Deaf, Dumb, and Blind and the Royal Order of the Purple Palate — whose members included “Hollywood directors, movie producers and business managers for A-list stars. He started to meet movie stars, like Will Smith and Jackie Chan, and treat them to gourmet dinners filled with special wines.”

At one especially memorable gathering in 2004, Kurniawan and friends “went on a four-day eating and drinking binge at Cru, a restaurant just north of Washington Square in New York famous for its 150,000-bottle wine list.”

The bottles emptied that night contained what wine writer Michael Steinberger called 𠇊 murderer’s row of legendary wines,” including 𠇊 1945 Mouton Rothschild, a 1964 Romanພ-Conti, and a 1971 La Tache, wines so rare and expensive few had ever had the pleasure of drinking them.”

The bill for the meal came to $350,000, which Kurniawan paid with his American Express black card.

But while the night propelled Kurniawan into “the upper echelons of the wine world,” it ended on a strange note, as Kurniawan asked the restaurant to send the empty bottles to his home.

In 2006, Kurniawan enlisted an auction house to sell off wine from his collection, which was so spectacular that, for its first time ever, the house held an entire auction for just the one seller. Promoting Kurniawan’s collection, which included some of the rarest wines, they called it, “the greatest cellar in America.”

The auction took in $14 million, making it “the largest single-owner sale ever by an American collector,” although Kurniawan eclipsed it soon after with an auction that raised $35 million.

Two years later, though, at a similar auction, the bloom came off the rosé. Included in the bottles for sale were � bottles from three French Burgundy estates,” including a 1929 Ponsot Clos de la Roche from Domaine Ponsot. When Laurence Ponsot, the estate’s proprietor, heard about the sale, he was “immediately alarmed,” since his family only began “producing wine under its own name” in 1934.

At Ponsot’s insistence, all 97 of his bottles were pulled from the auction — about $1.4 million worth. One Kurniawan customer who got wind of the fraud was William Koch, brother of David and Charles Koch. William is an energy magnate in his own right, and owner of “one of the world’s most impressive wine collections, with 43,000 bottles scattered across his two cellars.” Koch had spent over $2.8 million on Kurniawan’s wines.

After discovering that $6.3 million worth of wine in his collection (not all Kurniawan’s) was fake, Koch became the most determined enemy wine frauds could have, spending $42 million to $56 million in the coming years to uncover frauds and bring the perpetrators to justice. He also sued Kurniawan and the auction house in 2009. In time, it was discovered that Kurniawan’s home, which he shared with his mother, was 𠇊 veritable wine-counterfeiting factory,” with bottles and fake labels everywhere. Federal agents uncovered intricate recipes for reproducing the taste of classic wines. “One recipe for a fake 1945 Mouton Rothschild called for ‘one-half 1988 Pichon Melant one-quarter oxidised Bordeaux and one-quarter Napa cab.’”

Kurniawan settled with Koch, paying him $4.2 million and agreeing to share everything he knew about wine fraud. In August 2014, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, fined $28 million and “ordered to pay $28.4 million ($AU40 million) to seven victims.”

But the actual damage Kurniawan did to the wine world is immeasurable, as the fake wine he sold is spread throughout collections across the globe.

“Some say Kurniawan’s deceit has tainted — perhaps irreparably — the rare-wine auction market,” writes Dinkelspiel. “Global auction sales of rare and fine wines dropped 19 per cent in 2012 and another 13 per cent in 2013, and some observers believe the doubts about provenance are partially to blame.”

Devastatingly simple: Ink stamps used to mark corks that were used to bottle fake wines in Kurniawan’s scam. AFP/Getty Images Source:Supplied

Spot the fakes: Three bottles of wine used as evidence at the trial of Kurniawan. Photo: AFP/Getty Images Source:Supplied


Meanwhile, Mark Anderson was a man about town in the Sausalito area who wrote hob-nobby columns about town goings-on and sat on the boards of local organisations. He also spun wild yarns, telling people he “invented voicemail,” or “managed the rock ’n’ roll band Iron Butterfly.” He also claimed to have been an Israeli spy and that he once had lunch with Chairman Mao.

In truth, he was living off his sickly father’s savings. The move created a horrible rift between Anderson and his brother, Steven, who created a website called Corpulent Raider to call out what he saw as his brother’s predatory behaviour.

Dinkelspiel describes Anderson as 𠇊 self-taught wine connoisseur” who had a deep love of everything wine-related. “He loved wine so much,” she writes, “that he travelled regularly to Italy and France and spent much of his time eating and drinking.”

In August 1999, Anderson opened a wine-storage facility called Sausalito Cellars and the first few years saw robust business. Somewhere along the way, though, his finances took a fall, and it occurred to him that he had a large, valuable asset at his disposal: his clients’ wine collections.

Anderson began selling wine.

Over the next few years, he sold $391,725 worth of wine to one buyer and $415,302 worth to another. By 2002, his business had grown so successfully that he moved into a larger space.

By 2003, 𠇊nderson had gotten into such a rhythm . that he didn’t even try to hide his illicit dealings from his employees. Anderson would pull out a box, strip off all signs of his client’s name and then hand the boxes over to a hired cellar worker to put in a van.” He was so open about his theft that one of his employees, on the space on his time card used to designate duties, wrote, “Helped Destroy Evidence.”

Later that year, a restaurateur client going through bankruptcy, Samuel Maslak, was ready to pick up the 756 cases of wine he𠆝 stored with Anderson — worth about $900,000 — so he could sell them. When his driver arrived with a truck, though, he found just 144 cases. Anderson offered a furious Maslak a litany of excuses.

Word spread, and Anderson’s other clients began to check on their collections, only to find them largely emptied out.

His buyers stopped buying from him, but Anderson got around that by simply creating a new company under a new name and selling to the same people (who apparently weren’t well-versed in the art of background checks).

Despite the sales, business was faltering, and Anderson needed a new facility for Sausalito Cellars. He found it at Wines Central, a massive wine warehouse where he rented a 2,500-square-foot bin.

By 2004, Anderson was facing civil suits from numerous clients, and in April 2005 a SWAT team raided his home, finding 𠇊 stack of books on how to disappear.” Anderson, meanwhile, continued selling wine.

That June, the owner of Wines Central told Anderson he needed to leave the facility and have his inventory out by September. Anderson — who knew the owner before he opened the warehouse and helped him hunt for investors — considered it a betrayal. He seethed and threatened to sue.

But his biggest concern was that the law was closing in. Searching for a way out, he concluded that a fire at Wines Central would make the embezzlement charges impossible to prove, as he could always say that the missing wine had simply been misplaced and had been elsewhere in the warehouse at the time of the fire.

The prosecutor on the case later estimated that the Wines Central fire destroyed 4.5 million bottles of wine worth around $388 million. Many small wineries had most or all of their inventory at Wines Central and learned that insurance would not cover their losses, as wine in a warehouse was considered “in transit.” Many wineries also stashed their libraries — samples of every wine they ever produced — at Wines Central. The fire wiped out their histories.

Anderson was arrested in March 2007 on 19 counts, including 𠇊rson, interstate transportation of fraudulently obtained property, mail fraud, use of a fictitious name in connection with a scheme to defraud and tax evasion.” He was sentenced to 27 years in prison, and ordered to pay $98.5 million in restitution.

After the fire, when Anderson was still just a suspect, someone — most likely his brother, Steven — posted, on the website he had set up to tell the world what an awful person Mark Anderson was, speculation as to Anderson’s motives.

�ter being charged with embezzlement, Anderson set the warehouse ablaze in an attempt to destroy the evidence,” he wrote. “This is how Mark works . if he doesn’t get his way, he will wreck everything for everybody.”

You can order Trump Winery wines online

If your interest has been sufficiently piqued to where you wish you could try a few of these Trump Winery wines, whether to enjoy a 93-point bottle of actually good stuff or to revel in the taste of Schadenfreude when you sip some swill, you can order a bottle or case of Trump Winery wines online for delivery right to your door. (They currently ship to all but nine states.)

To enjoy the best prices on Trump Winery wines, make sure you buy in bulk, as they offer 10 percent savings on orders that contain six to 11 bottles, and 15 percent off any order of 12 bottles or more — quite the art of the deal. And more good news, right now any order over $249 will ship to you free of shipping costs.

If you happen to live in or to be visiting Ablemarle County, Virginia, you can also try the wines in person at the Trump Winery tasting room, which is currently open for limited days and hours and with numbers of guests restricted due to COVID-19 safety precautions — though actual tasting sessions are not being offered at this time. When they are available, wine tasting session at Trump Winery costs $12 and nets you a souvenir Riedel wine glass. (Sparkling wine tastings cost $20 and come with a wine flute instead.)

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars To Release Rare Library Wines Direct From The Winery

Napa, California, May 19, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, one of Napa Valley’s most iconic producers of Cabernet Sauvignon, will be releasing a limited selection of wines from its library – The Legacy Collection – throughout the year. These rare wines, which have been aged in optimal conditions by the winery since bottling, have pristine provenance and will carry a special designation on each bottle.

“In celebration of last year’s 50 th anniversary milestone and this year’s 45 th anniversary of the Judgment of Paris, we are releasing select vintages from The Legacy Collection – many for the very first time – to give our wine club members and loyal fans a chance to acquire some of these treasures,” said Winemaker Marcus Notaro. “Over the coming months, we will be releasing library vintages of our Estate Cabernets and other small lot wines that we have carefully aged in our cellar. These are wines that are ready to be enjoyed now to celebrate milestones, big and small.”

Wines in The Legacy Collection range from the 1970s until 2015 and include ARTEMIS, FAY, S.L.V. and CASK 23 as well as select wine club-only wines. Collectors of library wines should check the site regularly to find out which wines are available for purchase or join the mailing list to receive library wine notifications.

Explore The Legacy Collection here.

Join the Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars mailing list here to be alerted to exclusive offers.

In addition to purchasing wines directly from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, the winery is offering several consumer experiences (some dependent on in-person COVID restrictions) featuring The Legacy Collection, including:

45 th Anniversary of the Judgment of Paris Virtual Session on Wine – (launches May 20)

Since its founding in 1970, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars has had an unwavering commitment to expressing the true character of the historic S.L.V. and FAY estate vineyards and its CASK 23, S.L.V., FAY and ARTEMIS are among the most highly regarded and collected Cabernet Sauvignons worldwide.

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars stunned the world in 1976 when its 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon bested some of Bordeaux’s first-growth wines in a tasting in Paris. It was the winery’s first commercial vintage, a wine produced from young, three-year-old vines. While the “victory” over the French in “The

“The Judgment of Paris put Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, the Napa Valley wine region, and the entire American wine industry on a path to worldwide renown,” said Winemaker Marcus Notaro. “With the 45 th anniversary this year, we are mindful every day in the winery, in the vineyard and in the tasting room of our legacy while trying to set the bar even higher for the decades to come. We owe Steven Spurrier, the visionary behind the Paris Tasting, a debt of gratitude for the lasting legacy on our winery and the world of wine.”

Since acquiring the winery in the summer of 2007, the historic partnership of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and the Antinori family (Tuscan vintners since 1385) has worked tirelessly to preserve the Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars legacy.

About Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Considered one of the “first growths” of Napa Valley, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars produces renowned Cabernet Sauvignon from its historic Stags Leap District estate vineyards. Founded in 1970, the winery brought international recognition to California winemaking and the Napa Valley when the 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon won the now famous 1976 Paris Tast­ing, also known as the “Judgment of Paris.” Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ three estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignons–CASK 23, S.L.V. and FAY–are among the most highly regarded and collected Cabernet Sauvignons worldwide. The same classic style of the estate wines is expressed in the Napa Valley wines – AVETA Sauvignon Blanc, KARIA Chardonnay and ARTEMIS Cabernet Sauvignon.

About Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is the largest winery in the Pacific Northwest and the third-largest premium winery in the United States. With a distinguished history that dates to 1934, the winery now farms more than 30,000 acres across Washington, Oregon, and California and distributes its wines in over 100 countries. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates pioneered vinifera winegrowing in Washington and remains the driving force behind viticulture and enology research in the state, including the establishment of the Washington State University viticulture and enology program and the construction of the university’s research and teaching winery, now named the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center.

The Ste. Michelle Wine Estates portfolio includes Chateau Ste. Michelle, 14 Hands Winery, Columbia Crest, Intrinsic, Erath, Patz & Hall, Borne of Fire, Northstar, and Spring Valley Vineyard, along with several other premium brands. The winery also has partnerships with Marchesi Antinori (Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Col Solare), Dr. Loosen (Eroica), and Michel Gassier and Philippe Cambie (Tenet). Ste. Michelle Wine Estates serves as the exclusive U.S. importer for Marchesi Antinori and Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte. For more information, please visit

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National Bank Declines After Earnings Underwhelm Investors

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