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V. Sattui iphone App First in Napa Valley

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V. Sattui winery recently announced the launch of a free dedicated mobile phone application (app) compatible with Apple’s iPhone. The app has push technology, and once loaded the user can opt-in to receive notifications from the winery. Users can watch videos, get great offers and be the first to know about the wineries upcoming events. A future app will allow users to purchase wine and event tickets. For a limited time to promote the introduction V.Sattui Winery will be offering a complimentary tasting to customers who can prove they have downloaded the app.

For more information visit their website at: www.vsattui.com

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Twomey Cellars buys Monument Tree Vineyards

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Twomey Cellars announced on June 22 2010 the purchase of the acclaimed 17 acre Monument Tree Vineyard located in Anderson Valley California. The vineyard is one of Anderson Valley’s most sought after Pinot Noir vineyards. The 17 acre vineyard is named for a lightning struck redwood tree that stands guard over the hillside vineyard. Monument Tree vineyard is the main source of Pinot Noir grapes for Twomey Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir along with several other critically acclaimed Pinot Noir producers.

Twomey Cellars was founded in 1999 by the Duncan Family well known as owners of Silver Oak Cellars. Winemaker Ben Crane who focuses exclusively on Twomey Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc said “Monument Tree Vineyard is the kind of site you dream about when you love Pinot Noir.” For more information about Twomey Cellars and the sale visit their website at: http://www.twomeycellars.com/news/list_news

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New York State Wine Excise Tax up 58%

If Gov. David Paterson’s proposed budget is passed, the state wine tax will go up nearly 58%. State Senator Michael Nozzolio, (R-Fayette) who called the budget as a whole a “disaster”, went onto say the increase in the wine excise tax in particular “will cost jobs”, wineries will sell less product, fewer people will be working in the wineries, and fewer people will be growing grapes as a result of the tax”. The excise tax on beer is only increasing 27% and the disparity between the two taxes was “one of the big issues,” according to Nozzolio, and one that “we should have had an opportunity to discuss in open conference.” By Nozzolio’s count there are some 160 wineries in the Finger Lakes alone. “I would like to know why the wine industry was singled out,” he said. “That industry is growing jobs in New York State. Why now place this tax? What do you ground it on? What kind of disadvantage will you put on New York wines?”

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Napa Valley Auction 2009

Tickets went on sale yesterday for the Napa Valley 2009 Auction. The annual event is run by the Napa Valley Vintners to raise funds for local nonprofits focusing on health care, youth services, and housing charities. Even in these tough economic times the Napa Valley Vintners are holding to a pledge made in 2007 to raise $5 million a year for five years for the local nonprofits. Auction Napa Valley has given $85 million to local charities since its inception. The event is scheduled for June 4th – 7th.

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February 2009

The effects of the recession continue to be felt by charity wine auctions. The annual Naples Florida Winter Wine Festival and auction held the weekend of February 6th-8th, sold 65 lots in a live auction for $5.06 million, a 64% decrease from last year when 14 million was the total. Organizers said considering the state of the economy they were still happy with the results.
Money raised at the event goes to the Naples Children and Education Fund which supports local children’s charities. The auction was started nine years ago and has raised $74 million for charities since its inception.
Global Wine auctions were down a reported $25 million in 2008. With the Naples auction an early in the year event, the results suggest potential trouble ahead for the 2009 season.

A Los Angeles Times article reports the smaller grape harvest in the fall of 2008 may help the state’s winemakers. A government report states the amount of fruit harvested was down 6%. The drop in grapes harvested was caused by an early season frost, and sparse rain during the growing season last year that should keep inventories down and reduce pressure on wineries to slash prices. The state’s wine industry is already struggling with slow sales caused by the recession, and won’t have to deal with a glut of grapes from last year’s harvest. Most analysts believe California’s wine industry will experience modest growth at best this year and large inventories during a recession tend to hurt pricing.

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California wines featured at the inaugural luncheon

Tomorrow January 19th 2009, the United States will inaugurate our 44th President, and a very special day it will be. In need of a big and positive change we will make history with the inauguration of the first black president. The celebrations will begin soon after Barack Obama is sworn in with the inaugural luncheon. About 230 dignitaries will be treated to a three course lunch of seafood stew, duck and pheasant, and apple cinnamon sponge cake, as well as some of California’s finest wines, and all will toast our new president with a Korbel Natural “Special Inauguration Curvee” California Champagne. The food and wines were selected by a bi-partisan committee, chaired by California Senator Diane Feinstein, after tastings that were held for senators and representatives. The first course, a seafood stew filled with lobster, scallops, shrimp and cod, will be served with Duckhorn Vineyards’ 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, which was released April 3, 2008. The main course, a brace of duck and pheasant served with sour cherry chutney and molasses sweet potatoes, will be accompanied by Goldeneye, 2005 Pinot Noir, from California’s Anderson Valley. The Korbel Natural will be served with the sponge cake for desert. The luncheon will kick off the all day celebration that includes a parade, inaugural balls and many private parties. Senator Feinstein, a longtime ally of the wine industry who has promoted its interests on Capitol Hill is also the first women and the first Californian to head the inaugural committee. She was a key supporter in having California wines be the featured wines for the inaugural luncheon.

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January 2009

Historic Sebastiani Winery sold
A slumping wine market, lack of a clear succession plan and years of feuding between third generation family members were behind the sale of Sebastiani Winery, reportedly sold in late December 2008. While terms of the sale were not announced industry insiders say Foley Wine group paid $50 million for the winery with over 225 acres and facilities that dates back to 1904. Sebastiani Vineyards sells about 280,000 cases of wine annually. Similar issues of infighting and struggles between new generations have caused the sale of other famous name California wineries as well.
Foley Wine group is owned by William P Foley II, founder and chairman of Fidelity National Financial Corp. of Jacksonville Fla. Foley started his wine venture 11 years ago with the purchase of a small winery in Ballard California now named Lincourt. Within a year he opened Foley Estates Vineyard & Winery on a 460 acre ranch in nearby Santa Rita Hills. Since then Foley has acquired several other wineries including Firestone Vineyards (another family winery), Three Rivers Winery in Walla Walla, Washington, and Merus, an expensive, cult Cabernet Sauvignon maker in Napa Valley.

Copia Goes Bankrupt

Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts will close after failing to secure Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The center opened in Napa California in 2001 to great fanfare, a late in life project of the late Robert Mondavi. The center never attracted the throngs of visitors that had been expected. With estimates at $80 million of unpaid debts’ Copia has been criticized as costly and unnecessary.

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November 2008

Dan Aykroyd, well known actor/comedian/musician recently launched his own wine label. Known for his acting in the films Ghost Busters, the Blues Brothers and his stint as a comedian on Saturday Night Live, Aykroyd is a passionate wine lover and collector who has tasted some of the best in the world. Aykroyd joined in a partnership with De Loach Vineyards and its owners the Boisset Family. Together they will release a 2007 vintage Chardonnay and Cabernet from the Sonoma region under the Dan Aykroyd Discovery Series label. According to Aykroyd, a white Burgundy fan, his Chardonnay is a blend of seven vineyards. It will be food friendly, made in the Sonoma style with fresh Russian River- style fruitiness, rich complex aromas and flavors. The Cabernet will have a balance of structure, easy tannins, spice and a distinct flavor from the blending of 5 percent Carmenere from Alexander Valley.
Aykroyd was first introduced to wine in 1979 while filming The Blues Brothers. A member of the movie’s band, the famous Memphis guitarist Steve Cropper turned him on to a bottle of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. He is not the first celebrity to produce a wine label with the likes of Raymond Burr who was part owner of Raymond Burr Vineyards before his death, Francis Ford Coppolla who owns Neibaum Coppola Winery, and Rich Frank of Disney and Hollywood fame to name a few.
Aykroyds first release will be around 12,000 cases with a retail price of $18 to $20 per bottle. The wines should arrive in stores early next year.

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October 2008

Wine Spectator magazine reports in their November 2008 issue that Amazon.com is jumping into the wine business. The largest online retailer is launching a new Web site dedicated to wine. Consumers in 25 states will be able to purchase wine on the site by mid autumn, with expansion to other states in the future. A Napa wine executive who has spoken with Amazon stated “I think their intention is to have nearly every wine available on their Web site”. Started in 1994 as an online book seller they moved into many other products including electronics, clothes and movies. Amazon has enormous resources with revenues over 17 billion reported last year. Amazon has tried to recruit scores of Napa Valley estates. Details on wine producers and a range of foreign wines that will be available have not yet been released. For the full article see Wine Spectators November issue or visit winespectator.com.

Authorities in Italy have released thousands of bottles of Brunello Di Montalcino that were seized back in April of this year. Vintner Castello Banfi released a statement today saying there bottles have been released from impound and are back on sale.
Over 600,000 bottles were seized in April after an Italian magistrate alleged that there were too many of them for the wine to be authentic. News reports stated that investigators calculated that the land dedicated to Brunello could not have yielded as many bottles as it did without mixing the wine with another grape variety. Italian authorities had no comment on the investigation.

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August 2008

Napa Valley Grapegrowers Forcast 2008 Harvest

At a press conference held on August 13th at famous Larkmead Vineyards in Calistoga. Napa Valley Grape-growers unanimously that 2008 harvest will be an exceptional vintage with pristine grapes. Yields are expected to be lower than average after a season of extreme growing conditions. Napa Valley Grape-growers Director Jennifer Kopp Putnam said “With the many weather challenges facing the California wine industry in 2008, Napa Valley grapegrowers were prepared with the technology, expertise and experience necessary to navigate a difficult year and produce one of the most successful vintages in recent memory.” A side note, Sonoma County growers are also expecting higher quality grapes with lower yields.

Chateau Cos-d’Estournel Buys Chateau Montelena

As reported by Wine Spectators August issue. ” One of Bordeaux’s top chateaus has bought one of Napa’s most historic estates.” Chateau Cos-d’Estournel owner Michel Reybier completed the sale on July 19th. The purchase price was not disclosed yet sources close with Montelena’s negotiations told Wine Spectator “that owner Jim Barrett had fielded offers between $120 million and $150 million for the winery and 200 acres.” In a statement Barrett said “we could not have asked for a finer team to carry on this legacy.” Many in Napa were not surprised and noted that the strong Euro and weak U.S. economy are helping European vintners looking to expand.
For the full article visit winespectator.com or see their August issue.