Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
08.05.2013  
 

Where to Taste 'Wines of Danger'

Independent California winemakers seek greater recognition of their brands

 
by Andrew Adams
 
 
sabrine rodems
 
Winemaker Sabrine Rodems organized the Wines of Danger tasting to feature wine brands owned and developed by winemakers. The winemaker for Wrath Wines also has her own label, Scratch.
San Francisco, Calif.—Winemakers who set out to establish their own brands often find the path to success fraught with challenges and obstacles. And the idea of differentiating one brand in a sea of thousands can be downright terrifying.

Knowing this, winemaker Sabrine Rodems organized a group of fellow vintners under the name Wines of Danger. Rodems, winemaker at Wrath Wines in Soledad, Calif., also makes wine under her own label, Scratch. In fact several Wines of Danger members have full-time jobs and produce their wines on the side; others have struck out on their own, devoting all their time to their wine brands. Rodems said the idea of forming a joint marketing effort took hold during a camping trip some winemakers and their families took to the Sierra Nevada.

Rodems said she worked with a friend in public relations to come up with the name and marketing materials, admitting the name “Wines of Danger” is a bit tongue in cheek.

But there is some actual danger to it: Rodems said part of the inspiration for the name came after the tip of one of her fingers was ripped off in a bottling line. The finger was sewn up and is back to normal, but the experience was a telling reminder of the dangers (both financial and physical) that she faces as a winemaker. “It’s like being an acrobat without a safety net,” she said.

Wines of Danger is holding a tasting for trade and media at The Press Club in San Francisco on Aug. 12. For a complete list of the participating vintners, visit winesofdanger.com.

Looking for representation
A small brand can find success by gaining a good foothold in just one major market. Rodems said she’s hoping the tasting will help her and her fellow winemakers land deals with restaurants and other on-premise accounts or even find a distributor. “A lot of us are looking for brokers in the city,” she said.

Scott Sisemore has been making wine for more than 20 years, but he decided to focus on his own brand, Waxwing, in 2006 so he could be a stay-at-home dad for his newborn son.

Right now the brand pays for itself at around 400 cases, but Sisemore would like to see it grow and become more of a commercial success. The winemaking is relatively easy for someone like Sisemore who worked as a winemaker at Ravenswood Winery, Rosenblum Cellars and Pellegrini Family Vineyards. It’s all the other challenges like finding new sales accounts and marketing that’s hard. “Making it viable financially, that’s where the danger comes in for me,” he said.

The winemaking
Sisemore said his winemaking style has evolved to a lighter touch. He seeks to craft wines better suited to pair with food, and to that end he’s turned his attention to cool-climate fruit primarily from the Sonoma Coast. One of Waxwing’s current offerings is a 2011 Pinot Noir that came in at just 12.1% alcohol. “I think it’s a little dangerous throwing that guy out,” he said.

He said some of his winemaker friends suggested ways to bump up the alcohol in order to make the wine a little more consumer-friendly, but he says, “I tried that, and you know, it didn’t make it taste any better.”

Rodems said that is another “dangerous” aspect of brands run by winemakers: The wines reflect their vision and tastes and not that of a marketing department.  “It’s not only that it’s your own money, it’s something that’s not particularly mainstream,” she said.

She said her dry Riesling has a pH of 3.2 and described it as a “screamer,” while her 2011 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir was made with 50% whole-cluster fermentation.

But it’s not just the stylistic touches that make these wines or winemakers different.

After he graduated from the University of California, Davis, Matt Reid and his wife Marcy Webb came to Napa Valley in 2004. Reid said they figured they would stay for a few years before moving on to a less-developed wine region.

Instead they fell in love with the valley and now live in Calistoga, Calif. “The one thing we didn’t like was how expensive the wines were,” he said.

That led him and his wife to found the People’s Wine Revolution winery, with the tagline “Ruling class wine at working class prices.”

Reid’s 2011 Napa Valley Syrah, which is sold out, was priced at $18; his 2012 Dry Creek Valley Viognier costs $15.

As a side project to his full-time winemaking gigs, Reid said People’s Wine Revolution was successful at 2 to 3 tons. In 2012, he began working on the brand full time, and he’s hoping to sustain the same level of success at 12 to 14 tons.

Committing to low prices is a tough road to take, but to keep costs down Reid says he finds “far-flung vineyards” and helpful growers. He lost his Napa Valley Syrah supplier, but this year he has some Bennett Valley Syrah lined up as well as Petite Sirah from Suisun Valley.  He said he’s hoping to build his market in San Francisco by lining up a few more accounts from the Aug. 12 tasting.

SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
September 2014 $575 million
5%
$7,743 million
6%
September 2013 $550 million $7,311 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
September 2014 $163 million
16%
$1,708 million
11%
September 2013 $141 million $1,538 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
September 2014 166
14%
226
18%
September 2013 145 192
     
 
MORE » Released on 10.15.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • October 26
     
    Pinot on the River
     
  • November 1-2
     
    A Wine & Food Affair
     
  • November 1-2
     
    Temecula Harvest Celebration Barrel Tasting
     
  • November 5
     
    Single Vineyard Night
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Tasting Wine From PD-Resistant Grapes »
 
Congratulations Andy! Lots of grapebreeders and southern growers will be looking through the catalogs. i...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: The 'Sideways' Effect »
 
Thank you for this research that confirms what many thought about the pinot noir effect....
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Fine for Volunteer Labor Makes Wineries Wary »
 
This is so incredibly asinine. And my taxes go to help fund these over-reaches? No...
Reader: Philburtonj
 
Article: Paso Winegrowers Back on TTB Track »
 
Unfortunately, they will be named Drought sinkhole #1, #2, #3, etc. Really, 11 different flavor profiles...
Reader: Donn Rutkoff
 
Article: Optimization of limited water resources in irrigated vineyards »
 
Very interesting article! Sap flow monitoring was in the past mostly used for research but...
Reader: Virginie Scoarnec
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2015 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Northeast Manager
 Boston, MA
Sales and Marketing
 Hospitality Assistant
 Sonoma, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Retail Wine Mgmt & Ful...
 Baltimore County, MD
Sales and Marketing
 Fine Wine Sales
 Ny, NY
Sales and Marketing
 It/Operations Manager
 Napa, CA
General Administration and
 It Assistant
 Napa, CA
General Administration and
 Shipping & Receiving C...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Consumer Sales Coordin...
 Healdsburg, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Tasting Room Lead
 Hendersonville, NC
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Bottling Supervisor - ...
 Woodinville, WA
Winemaking and Production
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.