Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
02.11.2008  
 

'Alsace Fest' Reflects Riesling's Popularity

Third annual event doubled last year's attendance

 
by Tina Caputo
 
 
'Alsace Fest' Reflects Riesling's Popularity
Kristy Charles
Boonville, Calif. -- The third annual International Alsace Varietals Festival, held Feb. 8-10 at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds, drew nearly 300 attendees--double the number of last year's event. Thirty-six wineries--up from 17 last year--participated in the three-day festival, which included a technical conference, grand tasting, winemaker dinner and open-house events.

Kristy Charles, executive director of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association (AVWA), attributed the event's growth to a combination of increased interest in Alsace varietals--particularly Riesling--as well as outreach to other regions, such as Michigan, Oregon, France and Australia. "People were really interested in the event this year," Charles told Wines & Vines. Wineries from New York's Finger Lakes region, as well as Alsace producer Trimbach, have already expressed interest in the 2009 event, she added.

Vintner Larry Londer, of Anderson Valley's Londer Vineyards, said that the success of the event reflects Americans' desire to try new wines. "All of us like to discover something a little bit different," he said. "Plus, these wines are really food friendly."

Many producers, like Londer, presented Gewürztraminer wines, along with Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. But due to its status as America's fastest-growing white varietal, Riesling was the star of the show.

'Alsace Fest' Reflects Riesling's Popularity
Sean O'Keefe
Sean O'Keefe, whose family owns Chateau Grand Traverse in Northern Michigan, poured samples of his own wines, as well as those of other Michigan producers including Brys Estate, Left Foot Charley and Peninsula Cellars. Chateau Grand Traverse is the largest Riesling producer east of the Rockies, O'Keefe said, and sells a total of 35,000 cases of Riesling each year--ranging in style from dry to late harvest. "If I only had Riesling I'd be really happy with that," he said. The winery also produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Edelzwicker, Pinot Grigio, and several other wines.

Of the five Riesling wines that Chateau Grand Traverse produces, its biggest seller is the late-harvest version. "We could sell 100 times as much of that wine if we had it," O'Keefe said. Though most of the winery's customers still prefer the sweeter style, he added, "We're trying to move people into a drier style of Riesling."

Interest in the Chateau Grand Traverse wines is expanding to states beyond Michigan, O'Keefe noted, and the wine is now being distributed in California. "That's why we're here," he said.

For Navarro Vineyards, in Philo, Calif., drier Rieslings are more popular than the sweeter versions. The winery's slightly sweet Gewürztraminer is its top-selling wine, but when it comes to Riesling, "Dry tends to sell better," said winery representative Bill Mitchell. Navarro produces 1,400 cases of Riesling each year.

The strategy for many Riesling producers, it seems, is to offer wines in dry, off-dry and sweet styles, to satisfy a wide range of consumer preferences.

'Alsace Fest' Reflects Riesling's Popularity
Mendocino's Alsace Festival
Riesling's future

Though Riesling is currently being hailed as America's "it" variety, its market share remains relatively small (2.2% by dollar value, versus 22.2% for Chardonnay, according the latest Nielsen figures). Will it ever give mainstream varietals, like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, a run for their money?

"I think both volume and dollar sales will increase as the varietal becomes more popular with U.S. wine drinkers, and wineries that have the marketing funds to put behind it--like Chateau Ste. Michelle and Bonny Doon--really start pushing (Riesling) in the marketplace," Kristy Charles predicted.

But even so, she said, "(Riesling) has a lot of ground to make up before it beats out Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. I think the key is that demand has to increase, and prices for Riesling wines will also have to increase before the variety can truly become a competitor at the top of the white wine market."

Though sweeter-style Rieslings are easier and cheaper to produce in regions like California's Central Valley, Charles noted, drier wines from cooler regions like the Anderson Valley, Washington state, parts of Oregon and the Northeast are where the real potential lies. "Plantings in these latter regions will be slower to come on line… but I believe they'll leave a lasting impression on wine drinkers who are used to the sweet, sticky Rieslings of the past."

As Riesling's popularity increases, the biggest challenge will likely be in keeping up with demand. As one Anderson Valley producer said, "The problem is, there's not enough fruit to go around."
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  
October 2014 $570 million
6%
$7,775 million
6%
October 2013 $539 million $7,342 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
October 2014 $284 million
18%
$1,751 million
13%
October 2013 $240 million $1,556 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
October 2014 139
6%
226
18%
October 2013 131 192
     
 
MORE » Released on 11.13.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • December 2-4
     
    Vinitech Sifel in Bordeaux
     
  • December 3
     
    Sustainable/Organic Wine Production Seminar
     
  • December 4
     
    North Coast Wine Industry Expo
     
  • December 6-7
     
    Wine Chemistry Workshop in Oregon
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Kluge Saga Continues in Virginia »
 
Not everybody likes Pat Kluge, but she and Moses built a first class winery /...
Reader: Josh Moser
 
Article: Canada Adapts to Kegged Wines »
 
I am a wine agent in Manitoba & there certainly are kegs of cider here....
Reader: Guest
 
Article: What's Your Winery's IP Worth? »
 
If you would like more information on this seminar please visit The Seminar Group's website....
Reader: Danielle Bingham
 
Article: DtC Is Lifeblood of Wineries, Banker Says »
 
Seems like another locical option would be to have more small niche distrbutors. Consolidation of...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Tasting Wine From PD-Resistant Grapes »
 
Congratulations Andy! Lots of grapebreeders and southern growers will be looking through the catalogs. i...
Reader: Guest
 
 


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
 Cellar Club Coordinato...
 Dundee, OR
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Customer Service & Rel...
 Healdsburg, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Brand Manager
 Woodland Hills, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Senior Vineyard Manage...
 Rutherford, CA
Vineyards
 Brand Director, Austra...
 Napa, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Sales Representative O...
 Sacramento, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Production Forklift Op...
 Yountville, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Project Manager
 Santa Maria, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Wine Salesperon
 Bay Head, NJ
Sales and Marketing
 Communications Special...
 St. Helena, CA
Sales and Marketing
 
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.