A bit of personal update to start. You may have noticed the lack of posts outside of your weekly news roundup. I’m on the countdown for another WSET Diploma exam, so, indeed, I am taking a hiatus from any original writing for this site. You can still, of course, read my writing in one of the many outlets I write for and I’ll be sure to include links to those articles in my weekly roundups as well.
On that note and in a moment of shameless self-promotion, I will be moderating a session at this year’s (virtual) Three-Tier Symposium, so be sure to sign up if you’re interested in learning more about how the US is navigating both the wholesale and DTC channels as well as innovative new technology and techniques for boosting wine sales.
And a fair bit of warning: This week I’ve categorized the news—Local, National, Around the World and of course Blogs and Press Releases. The warning comes with the Local News. It’s not very nice. But it is happening and it is affecting the local community and to an extent the wine community as well.
That’s all from me for now. Please don’t hesitate to drop a line. Cheers.
SF Chronicle: Fifth woman accuses Windsor Mayor Dominic Foppoli of sexual assault
A fifth woman is accusing Windsor Mayor Dominic Foppoli of sexual assault, saying that during a three-year relationship he forced her to engage in oral copulation dozens of times and, on one occasion, handcuffed her to the bed of the apartment they shared and sexually abused her as she struggled and begged for him to stop.
Press Democrat: A statement about The Press Democrat’s handling of the Dominic Foppoli story
Dear Press Democrat readers: This is Richard Green, editor of our newsroom and chief content officer at Sonoma Media Investments, our parent company.
I have been editor here for about six weeks and obviously have been monitoring your comments related to this Dominic Foppoli scandal. I felt it was important for me to share some thoughts.
First off, I am so proud of this news organization’s longstanding commitment to readers like you and to our community – from our Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the tragic wildfires to raising more than $30 million for those who lost homes and precious possessions during the 2017 Tubbs Fire. Nothing is more important to us than defending the First Amendment and delivering revelatory content that holds our most powerful to account while protecting Northern California’s most vulnerable. READ MORE…
Wine Searcher: Calls for Resignation over Sonoma Sex Claims
There are growing calls for action over allegations of sexual assault by a wine country politician.
Sonoma County is in uproar after a San Francisco Chronicle story last week about women accusing the mayor of Windsor, whose family owns Christopher Creek winery, of sexual assault.
After the lengthy story about Dominic Foppoli appeared in the Chronicle on Thursday, people protested in downtown Windsor on Saturday and outside the winery on Sunday. The mayors of eight other Sonoma County cities have called for Foppoli to resign, but he has not yet done so. His brother Joe Foppoli told KGO TV that Dominic Foppoli has been removed from the company payroll at Christopher Creek.
The story continued to grow over the weekend. Four women’s accusations were in the original story. A former girlfriend came forward and the Chronicle did an additional story two days later. Meanwhile, Foppoli released a statement accusing a Windsor councilwoman of sexually assaulting him, while that councilwoman told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that in fact, Foppoli had assaulted her.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office announced it would open an investigation. READ MORE…
Press Democrat: 5 takeaways from Windsor Town Council meeting seeking Foppoli’s resignation
Three members of the Windsor Town Council convened for a special meeting Wednesday night to determine whether they should demand Mayor Dominic Foppoli, who presided over a portion of the gathering, to resign amid sexual assault allegations from six women, including Councilwoman Esther Lemus.
Here are five takeaways from the six-hour meeting: READ MORE…
Wine Enthusiast: Scenes From a Grocery Store: How ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Turned Wine into a Refreshing Metaphor
The award-winning Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek ended its six-season tenure in 2020, yet the show lives on in many hearts and minds. Created by and starring comedy legend Eugene Levy and his son Dan Levy, it follows the Rose family to a small, rural town after they’ve lost their fortune.
“Um, I do drink red wine, but I also drink white wine. And I’ve been known to sample the occasional rosé. And a couple summers back, I tried a Merlot that used to be a Chardonnay, which got a bit complicated…”—David Rose
They’re forced to discover that there’s more to life than material possessions. Though the theme has been done before, you’ll quickly become entrenched in the quirky personalities, mannerisms and quotable moments that run rampant throughout the show (ew, David). READ MORE…
New York Times: What Is Hospitality? The Current Answer Doesn’t Work.
One of my last restaurant meals before the shutdowns started last year was at Swan Oyster Depot in San Francisco. I waited on the street by a fishy-smelling puddle until I was waved toward a seat at the well-worn counter.
Crushed between two strangers on a wobbly stool, I happily ate as much fresh, sweet, cold Dungeness crab meat as I could. Happily, because the server across the bar was making me feel comfortable and cared for, safe and unhurried, though I can’t say exactly how he did this.
Unlike service, which is technical and easy to describe, hospitality is abstract, harder to define. It can’t be summed up in a checklist. It can’t be bought. It doesn’t hinge on the quality of the glassware, or the folding of a napkin while you’re in the bathroom. And it can’t be eroded by a slightly-longer-than-you-expected wait, or other little inconveniences, like picking a piece of crab shell off your tongue. READ MORE…
VinePair: When the Customer Isn’t Right: What the Pandemic Can Teach Guests
As a veteran of the hospitality business, my greatest successes have been measured by the width of customers’ grins. The happiness of diners has the power to give hospitality workers intense personal joy and satisfaction. Upon entry to the business, one of the first lessons hospitality workers learn is that the word “guest” should replace the word “customer.” “Guest” is used to remind us waiters, hostesses, and sommeliers alike that customers are to be treated as though they’ve been invited into their homes.
This sentiment is a part of every move hospitality workers make in a restaurant. We strive to make people comfortable. We do everything in our power to ensure that their guests feel at home. We run to the store for off-menu items. We adjust the volume of music. We tweak recipes and isolate allergens and hold in our pee until the end of service because, God forbid, table 48’s pasta sits on the pass for more than 30 seconds. We also make conversation, find personal connections, and dodge unwanted flirtations, all of this in the pursuit of a guest experience that evokes “home,” without in any way looking, smelling, or feeling like it. READ MORE…
Eater: The Restaurant Industry Is Structured on Racism. This Nonprofit Wants to Rebuild It.
The Restaurant Workers Community Fund gained prominence for providing financial relief to service workers during COVID-19. Now it wants to create a racially just system.
Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurant workers have been deemed essential — perhaps not officially by local authorities, but certainly by consumers, who continued to want the convenience of meals prepared and brought to them by someone else. Without substantial support from the government, the chefs, waiters, dishwashers, bartenders, and grocery store clerks that make up the food industry were pushed to work in hazardous conditions. Choices for many were limited: keep working, get paid, and risk getting sick or stay home, lose income, and possibly be fired.
With support sparse as it was, one organization swooped in to fill the gaps: The Restaurant Workers Community Foundation, a nonprofit created by industry veterans. READ MORE…
Wine Spectator: U.S. Authorities Deport Wine Counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the man known as Dr. Conti was flown to Indonesia on April 8. What he’ll do next is a mystery
Less than a week ago, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers escorted Rudy Kurniawan onto a commercial flight at Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport to begin the final chapter of deportation proceedings. Just over 24 hours later, and after one layover, the convicted wine counterfeiter arrived in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, just outside Jakarta, Indonesia, according to an ICE bulletin, ending more than two decades in the United States.
What’s unclear is what the man once known in wine collecting circles as Dr. Conti will do next. READ MORE…
New York Times: One Year Later—How U.S. Winemakers Averted Disaster
Pandemic disruptions seemed to pose the biggest obstacles, but West Coast fires were far more damaging.
Brianne Day makes a wide array of wines from the Willamette and Applegate Valleys in southern Oregon. Along with the usual pinot noirs and chardonnays, she also uses unexpected varieties and makes creative blends that are always a treat to try.
When the pandemic struck in March 2020, she feared the worst, as her Day Wines tasting room closed along with the restaurants where many of her wines were sold.
“I freaked out,” she said. “I couldn’t see how my winery and many like mine would make it. I couldn’t see how our distributors were going to make it. And without them, my entire business changes.” READ MORE…
Around the World
Wine Enthusiast: How Some Noblemen, a Train and a Louse Helped Rioja Become a Global Superstar
The earliest record of winemaking in Rioja, Spain, is from the 11th century B.C., when the Phoenicians settled the region. Local populations have made wine almost continuously since then. While Rioja’s geography isn’t conducive to wine exports, the climate is excellent for production. As a result, most of Rioja’s wine was consumed by residents or pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago until the 1800s.
A series of technological advances and ecological disasters from the 18th century to the late 20th century helped to not only improve the longevity of Rioja’s wine, but also make it one of Spain’s most famous wine regions. READ MORE…
The New Daily: Australia mulls taking China to court over trade war wine ban
Trade Minister Dan Tehan is considering taking Australia’s dispute with China over wine exports to the World Trade Organisation.
Australia has already taken its grievance about blocked Chinese barley exports to the WTO, as one of many commodities that are in dispute with its number-one trading partner, including beef, lobster and coal.
“One of the things we are very keen to do is to make sure with our trade disputes with China is that we are using every means we can to deal with them,” Mr Tehan told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program on Sunday.
“Obviously the World Trade Organisation is one of those mechanisms.
“We are using that when it comes to barley and we are under very deep consideration now when it comes to wine, as to whether we will also refer that.”
The minister is about to embark on a trip to Europe, which will include a meeting with the WTO director general in Geneva. READ MORE…
The Drinks Business: Viña Concha y Toro expands in China
Chilean wine producer Viña Concha y Toro has launched two key initiatives in the Asian market and announced plans to expand in China.
Concha y Toro has added a new distribution subsidiary VCT China (Gan Lu Wine Trading), which used to be the company’s sales office in Shanghai, to its network of global offices.
Cristián López, Viña Concha y Toro’s corporate export director, commented, “China is a key market for our commercial strategy, and as such, incorporating this office was the next step in our plan. Our network of offices—nine globally, including offices in the United Kingdom, Brazil and Nordic countries—have performed strongly, and have been key to the outstanding results in those markets, where proximity to our customers has been a major strength. We are convinced that establishing direct distribution will be a decisive factor for our growth in China.” READ MORE…
Blogs Worth a Read
Taken from the list of Blogs I follow regularly, here are just a few posts from this past week I think are worth a read. Shoot me a note if you have suggestions of blogs to follow or want your blog included on that list.
Jancis Robinson: Who actually drinks fine wine?
Richard considers who, if anyone, actually drinks fine wine – in Asia or anywhere.
This month, a study by published by Areni in conjunction with Bordeaux négociant Mestrezat looked into the identity of the fine-wine consumer. By surveying fine-wine customers in Hong Kong, China, Britain and America, they shed light on who is buying these wines, and why. Some of the conclusions are very familiar – for example, that ageability and critics’ scores are important attributes when consumers consider which fine wines to buy.
What is perhaps more interesting is that complexity of flavour is considered the least important fine-wine attribute for consumers in China and Hong Kong, whereas it’s the most important factor for the British. READ MORE…
Fermentation: Bad Faith Negotiating in Oregon’s Alcohol Debates
Proponents of increasing the State of Oregon’s alcohol taxes in a comically excessive way are becoming more creative and more faithless in their arguments for increasing the state taxes in an effort to fight alcohol dependency.
As a reminder, earlier in the year Oregon State Representatives Tawna Sanchez sponsored House Bill 3296. If passed, the bill would have increased the excise taxes on beer and cider in Oregon from $2.60 per barrel (31 gallons) to $72.60 per barrel. READ MORE…
Vinous: Vino Nobile & Carmignano—Italy’s Forgotten Noble Reds
Italy is one of the world’s most fascinating and diverse countries. There are of course famous wines like Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo and Chianti Classico. But the country is also home to many other wines that have enjoyed periods of prominence mixed with less brilliant eras of near obscurity. Vino Nobile and Carmignano are two wines with long, rich histories, deep connections to the land and much for the curious wine-lover to explore. READ MORE…
Jancis Robinson: Hot debates on cool-climate Canada
Tam listens to a panel of wine merchants arguing about how to sell Canadian wine, in a webinar organised by the High Commission of Canada in the UK with Harpers Wine and Spirit magazine.
When a bunch of UK wine merchants and buyers gather for a Zoom tasting and panel discussion on a niche wine region, the discussion takes a rather different turn from the usual clones-and-climate – even if the tasting is headlined ‘Canada: Wines with a Cool Climate Sensibility’.
What matters, very reasonably, to buyers and merchants is whether you can sell the stuff: climate is only of concern if it’s a cool-climate wine slot that needs to be filled in the portfolio. The problem, they argued, with selling Canadian wines (in the UK, at least, but I would assume there would be similar problems elsewhere) is that consumers don’t know anything about Canadian wine, the industry is still maturing, and the wines are very expensive. On this they all agreed. READ MORE…
Jamie Goode: Red wines from the Loire – a spotlight on an exciting category
I’ve recently been tasting through red wines from the Loire, and I’ve been really excited by what I found.
In the past, Loire reds were dismissed by many critics as being thin, weedy and unripe. In truth, some were very green indeed, especially in cooler vintages, but on this showing, it’s certainly no longer the norm. Whether it’s better viticulture or a bit of a warming trend in temperatures, I wouldn’t have described any of these wines as thin or weedy, and the green elements were almost always really well integrated. READ MORE…
WSET: Understanding grapes—spotlight on Malbec
This variety’s history is deeply rooted in France where it has played a longtime role in classic Bordeaux blends. Having become less relevant to these blends in recent years, Malbec is notably the star in South West France’s Cahors appellation where it has often been referred to as producing ‘black’ wines for its notoriously tannic and long-lived nature. These wines continue to showcase deep colour, high tannins, and intense dark berry fruits, along with cedar and earth upon extended maturity. READ MORE…
Tim Atkin: Vintionary
Wine, like medicine, has its own layers of language. The lay terms are used often to simplify, the technical to add depth to the strata. As students we learn its vocabulary, from sight to smell, from flavour to structure, from start to finish. We believe there to be mastery in precision. Often that is true, but I have equally found there is risk in reduction. It is hard not to let each new tasting become a lesson in learning lines, repeating, and recycling words used by millions before us. I have found the chipping away of intuitive reaction sometimes leaves us only with an inanimate sculpture. READ MORE…
The Gray Report: Beautiful scenes from this spring’s dangerous frost in Tuscany
The story of 2021 for the wine industry in most of France is going to be the devastating frost that might reduce the crop by half or more, nationwide.
Until I got an email this morning from a winery in Tuscany, I wasn’t aware that Italy faced the same fear. Nor, I’m sorry to say, do I know anything about the extent of the damage in Italy.
Take a look at these photos taken on the nights of Apr. 7 and 8 by Enea Barbieri at Tenuta di Trinoro in the Val d’Orcia region of Tuscany. Val d’Orcia is right next to Montalcino, so if it experienced a frost event last week, it’s likely that Montalcino did also, and I worry about nearby Montepulciano as well. READ MORE…
These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!
Wine Industry Network: Wine Industry Sales Symposium Opens Registration
Wine Industry Network (WIN) announced today that registration is now open for the Wine Industry Sales Symposium, a two-day educational conference focused on both wholesale and the direct-to-consumer sales channels. The virtual event is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, May 25th and 26th, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. PST. Registration is free for wine industry professionals.
“Pivot” was the over-used phrase for the wine industry in 2020. Between the global pandemic, lockdowns, and fires that raged across the U.S. western coast, professionals in all sectors of the industry had to shift gears in order to navigate the uncertainty that ensued—particularly when it came to sales and marketing.
Now, in 2021 WIN invites you to put “pivot” aside and look ahead at the industry’s new trajectory. READ MORE…
This is a free symposium for the wine industry, interested professionals can register here: REGISTER
London Wine Competition: 2021 London Wine Competition Winners Announced
The results of the 2021 London Wine Competition are out. This is a competition where wines are judged for end consumers. Wines are rated with three main criteria in mind: quality, value and package. To be a medal winner, wines must show an overall rating in all the three factors. This year’s competition saw entries from more than 36 countries. 135 different types of grape varietals were entered with the top three being Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The top countries to enter were Australia, Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, United States and Moldova. The biggest increase in wines was seen from Moldova.
2015 Anubis Cabernet Sauvignon made by Levrier Wines in Australia won the superlative ‘Wine of the Year’ award. READ MORE…
Press Democrat: Winners Announced In 2021 Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge
Winners have been determined in the 2021 Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge (NCWC), and for the first time in the event’s nine-year history, a sparkling wine has bested the competition. Sonoma-Cutrer’s 2014 Grand Cuvée was chosen by judges as the Best of the Best.
This regional competition rates wines exclusively produced and bottled in Northern California’s premier winegrowing region. Eligible wines must be made from fruit sourced in the North Coast AVAs of Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, Marin and parts of Solano counties. This includes any bottled wine labeled with these AVAs as their main source of grapes and whose winery is in California. READ MORE…
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