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Unified Boosts Attendance

March 2009
by Kate Lavin
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Jon Fredrikson (left) discusses California's proposed 'nickel-a-drink' tax. (right) Greg Gessner (left) and Chris Phelps chat outside a session at Unified.
LEFT PHOTO: Ken Freeze
Sacramento, Calif. -- About 11,900 wine industry professionals attended the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in late January, topping last year's attendance figure by 400. Highlights of the annual event, hosted by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture and the California Association of Winegrape Growers, included three general sessions--one focusing on sustainability, another about the state of the industry, and the last covering change in changing times.

Jon Fredrikson of Gomberg-Fredrikson and Associates had harsh words for the "nickel-a-drink" excise tax being proposed in California. "The state only gets one-half to one-third of the actual surtax increase," he said, calling the proposal "detrimental to both industry and consumers."

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James Harbertson (left) and John Thorngate prepare for the start of a session.The day-long aroma symposium covered topics such as the link between crop load and wine quality.
During the second day of sessions, wine writer Paul Lukacs proved to be one of the crowd's favorite speakers, delivering a message about making wine part of American culture and eliminating the snob factor.

"For a long time we have presented wine as something special, as something fancy, not as something (consumers) should have every day," Lukacs said. "For the first time, I think, in history, we are poised to really make wine a foundational part of the American lifestyle."

Unified Symposium
Stuart Weiss (left) and John Hilliard share information prior to the start of the Aroma Symposium.
In the tradeshow area of the Sacramento Convention Center, hundreds of vendors took the unique opportunity to connect with decision-makers from North America's top winemakers and grapegrowers all in one spot.
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