Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
03.25.2010  
 

El Dorado Vintners Strike Gold

First group tasting in San Francisco brings contacts and customers

 
by Jane Firstenfeld
 
 
Postrio View
 
Live jazz wafted from the mezzanine while tasters chatted with the vintners of El Dorado County at San Francisco’s Postrio in the Prescott Hotel.

San Francisco, Calif.—When the El Dorado Winery Association (EDWA) decided to venture down from the Sierra Foothills to San Francisco to showcase their wares for the first time, they did it right. The result: new friends among the media and the wine consuming public, and new retail and on-premise customers to keep the momentum going. How they put it together, and why the event worked so well, may provide useful guidelines for other winery associations hoping to enlarge their markets.

The tasting was staged Saturday, March 20, in the posh Union Square Postrio restaurant, a Wolfgang Puck project in the Prescott Hotel. The exclusive media/trade tasting started at noon; the public, who paid $38 per ticket, was admitted at 2 p.m. With ample space and just 22 pouring wineries, media and trade attendees were able to taste and talk at length with each of the vintners. (There are 67 wineries in El Dorado County, according to Wines & Vines’ IndustryBase; about 30 of these are EDWA members).

The event was a first, too, for Mike Whipple, who recently founded VinUnderground with fellow sommelier Wesley Box, with the explicit aim of “educating the masses and promoting the little known wines of this world, especially the ones close to home.” Whipple’s 20-year affiliation with The Prescott made the venue an obvious choice, and Postrio’s upscale reputation lent drawing power.

“We thought the size and the ambience of Postrio accommodated the group perfectly,” said Jolaine Collins, who handles public relations for EDWA and worked with Whipple to plan and execute the tasting. She told Wines & Vines that media/trade attendance was about 100-150, a total equaled by the paying public.

Ambience was an important factor at this event: Throughout the tasting, a jazz band played standards from a mezzanine, while servers circled the sunlit room bearing trays of exotic bites including prosciutto-wrapped squab; braised short ribs; hamachi crudo and mushrooms with ponzu sauce. Served in Asian soupspoons, these delicacies went down with nary a spill, and a second server was conveniently at hand to collect the empties and keep the wine stations tidy: a thoughtful touch.

Another nicety: Valet parking, normally $15 per day, was discounted to $10 for the event. This was especially welcome in a downtown area where public parking can exceed $35/day.

 

DJ Latcham
 
D.J. Latcham poured Granite Springs wines at the Postrio tasting. He appreciated the size and ambience of the event.


What the vintners said
Like most in the Sierra Foothills, the El Dorado wineries are mostly artisan operations, with annual productions ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand cases. Their estate vineyards cluster around the 2,500-foot elevation, and tend to favor Rhône and Italian varieties. At the tasting, several vintners commented that they did not currently have a distributor in the Bay Area, although some had distribution in Eastern and Midwestern states.

D.J. Latcham, who handles hospitality and sales for both Granite Springs Winery & Vineyards and Latcham Vineyards, commented, “Financially, it is always difficult opening premium wines if the people tasting are not there to appreciate the wines. An event like this, however, makes sense for us, because of the possible returns to our winery. The attendance was just right for the size of the venue and the scope of the wineries. Having press/trade come and then the public is great, because your focus as a pourer will change depending on who is tasting. I always want people to have enough time to taste, be able to talk to someone about the wine, and actually enjoy the event.”

He noted that his wineries currently focus their Bay Area sales efforts on direct to retailer, and, “We made contact with many retailers and restaurants that were interested in our product.”

“This event opened up several new sales avenues, not only for Lava Cap, but for all of our association’s wineries,” said Beth Jones, owner of Lava Cap Winery and president of EDWA. She reported receiving inquiries from several restaurant buyers regarding price and availability of her wines.

Chris Mericle, general manager of David Girard Vineyards, added, “I was able to make many great contacts both with media as well as wholesale accounts. We were able to set up placements, event pourings and even a radio show from this event.”

Winemaker Marco Capelli and manager Matricia Haigood of Miraflores Winery poured a standout Sauternes-style dessert wine, Botricelli, which paired brilliantly with the hors d’oeuvres. They came away with several restaurant leads for their local distributor. “It was a perfect event for getting in touch with the San Francisco marketplace, and great exposure to consumers who were not familiar with El Dorado,” Haigood said.

Second guesses?
As a first time outing for both the association and the organizer, the event seemed to run seamlessly. Collins commented, howev er, “The opportunity came together very quickly, and so we only had about a month to organize and promote it.” Given the size of the venue, this may not actually have been much of a drawback: Too many more tasters may have diluted the charm. Nevertheless, “Next time, we’d give it several months’ lead-time for promotions,” Collins said.

Whipple had been eager to make this his event-planning debut because, he said, “I’ve been visiting and snooping the Sierra Foothills wineries for years. I would come back to my Bay Area cohorts raving about the juice I’d indulged in, and I’d get these blank stares.” VinUnderground, he said, gave him a vehicle to get the word out.

“It was a day of ‘ahhh nice!’ To see the reactions on the faces of trade and public alike was extremely gratifying.”

EDWA is not resting on its laurels. The association will host its annual Passport Weekends on its home turf April 10-11 and 17-18. For details and tickets, visit eldoradowines.org/events-passport.html.

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  
June 2014 $562 million
5%
$7,549 million
6%
June 2013 $535 million $7,094 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
June 2014 $87 million
17%
$1,669 million
11%
June 2013 $74 million $1,510 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
June 2014 300
34%
220
21%
June 2013 224 182
     
 
MORE » Released on 07.15.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wines & Vines
Packaging Conference
 
Learn More »
 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • July 24
     
    Fresno Food Expo
     
  • July 24-27
     
    Taste our Terroir
     
  • July 25-27
     
    International Pinot Noir Celebration
     
  • July 26
     
    Introduction to Wine Analysis
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
All these arguments could be levied by any industry associated with any gTLD, new or...
Reader: Doug Barnett
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
Do brands get hijacked now? Even though .wine does not yet exist, are there false...
Reader: Larry Chandler
 
Article: Resistant Weeds Threaten Vineyards »
 
Roundup is not benign. It does not always break down in a day or two...
Reader: Robert Rex
 
Article: Resistant Weeds Threaten Vineyards »
 
Mitigating water use in the vineyard in the first place is also an applicable tactic....
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Resistant Weeds Threaten Vineyards »
 
Having managed vineyards that have used both approaches, I would say that a diverse approach...
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 »
2014 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
 On-Premise Sales Reps
 All Territories In Ohio, OH
Sales and Marketing
 Wine Educator
 Glen Ellen, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Pacific Northwest Sale...
 Seattle, WA
Sales and Marketing
 Harvest Help Willamett...
 Sherwood, OR
Winemaking and Production
 Supply Chain Customer ...
 Toronto, ON
General Administration and
 Staff Accountant
 Napa, CA
Finance
 Southern California Sa...
 Southern Ca, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Finance Manager, Repor...
 Napa, CA
Finance
 Wine Technicians
 Napa, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Controller & Financial...
 Napa, CA
Finance
 
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.