Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Auction Napa Valley 30: Coming Soon!

It’s just around the corner, and excitement is building for the 30th Auction Napa Valley. The Auction Steering Committee, led by honorary chairs Beth Milliken Novak and Mary Novak of Spottswoode, is in the final stages of planning to create an unforgettable experience for bidders and guests.

Here are some interesting numbers that underscore the amazing collaborative and generous efforts that really add up to raise funds for healthcare, youth services and affordable housing non-profit programs in our Napa Valley community:
  • Member wineries have developed 275 exciting live, e-auction and barrel lots.
  • The live auction on June 5 is less than 6 weeks away, but the bidding fun begins with the first of 4 weekly E-Auctions in only two weeks. These on-line auctions offer bidders anywhere in the world the opportunity to win one-of-a-kind wine collections and vintner experiences. Click here for more information on the lots and how to bid.
  • And while you’re bidding on the E-auction, join our Bidders w/o Borders contest by posting a photo of your whereabouts on Twitter using #AuctionNV and tell us the lot you’re after. (If you don’t have a Twitter account, email your photo and a 130-character description to jcrafton@napavintners.com). Each week of the E-Auction, the public will be invited to vote for their favorite posting and the 4 weekly winners will receive Auction Napa Valley Gift Baskets.
  • 500 tickets to Friday’s Taste Napa Valley sold out in record time (32 minutes!), and the packages for multiple events are moving quickly.
  • Over 100 wineries will pour and 50 restaurants will serve at the Friday Taste Napa Valley festival at Rubicon Estate. A full roster of live musical entertainment performed by local bands will keep the place rocking until the last gavel of the Barrel Auction and E-Auction have echoed through the hills of Rutherford.
  • Nearly 600 volunteers have signed up to help make it all happen, and many more are pouring in. Click here for more information on how you can make a difference.
  • Auction fans are posting fun memories and reasons to attend as part of the Auction Anthology contest currently running on the NVV website. Check it out here, post your story, and help us collect more facets of our 29-year history of fun fundraising.
  • A stellar collection of 18 celebrity chefs is creating daring and delicious menus to delight big bidders on Thursday night and Live Auction guests on Saturday. Here’s the incredible line-up:

Thursday’s Big Bidders’ Dinner will be a feminine feast of fabulousness prepared by:
Lissa Doumani of Terra in St. Helena & Ame in San Francisco
Nancy Oakes of Boulevard in San Francisco
Nicole Plue of Redd in Yountville
Nancy Silverton of Campanile in Los Angeles

Saturday Lunch will be prepared by a mélange of masculine culinary mastery:
Octavio Becerra of Palate in Los Angeles
Jean Joho of Everest in Chicago
Thomas Keller of French Laundry in Yountville and Per Se in NY
Lars Kronmark of the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena
Paul Lemieux of Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford
Walter Manzke formerly of Church & State in LA
Michael Mina of Michael Mina, Charles Nob Hill, and Aqua in San Francisco
Richard Reddington of Redd in Yountville
Frank Stitt of Bottega and Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham, AL
Michael Tusk of Quince in San Francisco

During the Live Auction, Christopher Kosta of Meadowood will serve spectacularly succulent snicky-snacks to keep bidders’ energy electric.

And Dinner Saturday Night will be another girls’ night of gorgeous gastronomy prepared by:
Gina DePalma of Babbo in New York
Suzanne Goin of Lucques in Los Angeles
Carrie Nahabedian of Naha in Chicago
Melissa Perello of Frances in San Francisco
Liz Prueitt of Tartine in San Francisco
Suzanne Tracht of Jar in Los Angeles and Tracht’s in Long Beach

To get you even more in the mood, click here to see a cool compendium of video clips from auctions past, and stay tuned in the next six weeks as we share behind-the-scenes coverage with lots of surprises!

"Racking" up Wines

Racking is a procedure used to remove sediment from wine. It's as simple as removing the "clear" wine (free of sediment) from each barrel, cleaning the barrels, and refilling them once the barrels dry. Here's a shot of my brother Alan with the "bulldog" racking device pulling out the wine. He uses a flashlight on the hose to ensure he's not taking up any solids or sediment with the wine. Our 2009 wines have finished malo-lactic (secondary) fermentation, and so this is the first time they will be racked.

Everyone's philosophy is different when it comes to racking. We usually "rack to tank," meaning we move the wine from several barrels into a tank, clean a whole slew of barrels before refilling from wine stored safely in the tank. The wine is more homogeneous and it is more efficient since we don't have a huge staff on hand (my brother has two helpers and about 200 barrels per vintage). The wine may undergo some more movement with this method, depending on how close the barrels are to the tank, so we reduce the number of times we rack to about 3 times in the two year winemaking process.

Another way to rack is "barrel to barrel" - cleaning one barrel at a time and refilling it with the next barrel's wine. This minimizes the agitation of the wine and exposure to oxygen, keeping more of the trapped C02 which serves as a preservative, but also allows for barrel variation, possible reduction smells, and sometimes you get a slight "spritz" in the finished product which usually blows off with decanting as do any notes of reduction. There's also the copper in the cellar trick, but that's another story...

Great wines are created using either racking method, so it is really up to the winemaker to choose his or her winemaking style and priorities.

Cheers from Alan and Delia, mother-son winemaking team! Here they are putting together a mock 2009 VIADER blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

Warm regards,


Janet Viader
sales & marketing at VIADER

Friday, April 23, 2010

Direct Shipping Update - Urgent Challenges Coming Before Congress

A letter to our membership:

In an effort to turn back the clock on the direct shipment of wine to consumers, a bill has been introduced in Congress recently that would, in effect, overturn the 2005 “Granholm v. Heald” U.S. Supreme Court decision that helped pave the way for wineries to ship wine directly to many more consumers around the country.

H.R. 5034, crafted by the National Beer Wholesalers Association would make it practically impossible to bring legal action against states’ wine shipping laws that violate the Constitution’s Commerce Clause by prohibiting wine shipment from out of state, while permitting their own in-state wineries to ship direct. The end result would be a return to discriminatory wine shipping laws within the states, creating economic hardship for wineries that consider direct shipment an important sales channel and greatly restricting choice among wine consumers nationwide.

The NVV believes that consumers in all 50 states should have the ability to directly purchase fine wine. Many medium to small wineries have very limited distribution and garner little attention from the large distributors. These wineries survive by selling wine through mailing lists, wine clubs, and over the internet.

Napa Valley Vintners agree that the existing three-tier system should be augmented, not eliminated, and should provide controls and regulations necessary to respect local laws, avoid underage access and provide provisions to make tax payments. It is not the intent of any winery to sell alcohol to minors or to avoid payment of local, state or federal taxes on their wines.

What the NVV is doing:

The NVV has been deeply engaged in the Direct Shipping issue for more than a dozen years. After several years of championing the cause through its own programs, the NVV formed Free the Grapes! and spun it off as a separate organization in 1998. Free the Grapes! was created so that there would be a complementary consumer advocacy side to direct shipping legislative and legal efforts. Since the creation of Free the Grapes! the NVV has donated nearly $400,000 in direct cash contributions to the organization.

In the years prior to the formation the Free the Grapes! the NVV provided support to the cause through in-kind contributions and continues such efforts to this day. These efforts included urging member wineries to donate funds, providing timely and relevant information to members, grassroots lobbying, and public awareness programs.

Additionally, starting in 2008, NVV has been a main financial sponsor of the Direct to Consumer Symposium, the wine industry's premier summit on direct marketing and sales.

How you can help:

Contact Your Customers
As a Napa Valley vintner, your congressman, Mike Thompson, is already fighting on your behalf. However, it is important that Members of Congress from all across the country hear from consumers as to why H.R. 5034 is bad for them. Use your consumer e-mail database and Facebook page to encourage them to visit www.freethegrapes.org where they may personalize a letter to their congressional representatives. To view Free the Grapes! sample language for a letter to congress click here.

Go Viral
Add your comments to the hundreds on the STOP HR 5034 Facebook site.

Follow the Law
The NVV encourages all members to follow the letter of the law at all times. For a state by state update on direct shipping, visit www.wineinstitute.org. More information may also be obtained at www.freethegrapes.org.

Thank Mike Thompson
Congressman Mike Thompson, as always, is in the corner of the wine industry. Congressman Thompson, along with fellow Wine Caucus Co-Chairman George Radanovich, testified on behalf of the wine industry at last month’s House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on this issue. Additionally, the two members discouraged their colleagues in Congress from signing onto the legislation, pointing out that it would, “Devastate California’s and other state’s wine industries, stunt economic growth, and harm consumers by allowing discriminatory law.”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Calistoga AVA Celebration!

Congratulations to Calistoga on their long-awaited AVA status!

On Monday, April 20th, Napa vintners and community leaders gathered at Chateau Montelena to celebrate Calistoga's recognition as one of America's most historic wine places. Speakers included Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena, Linda Reiff of the Napa Valley Vintners and US Representative Mike Thompson.

Word on the street was that Representative Mike Thompson, who was integral in having the Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the US Department of Treasury recognize Calistoga as an AVA, had given Washington, DC politicians a run for their money on the topic of Calistoga during a congressional hearing. In his opening remarks (see video, above), he referenced the hearing but couldn't recall giving the men a 'drumming' - well, we've got the original hearing video to prove it and we'd like to thank Mike Thompson, Bo Barrett and all the people who played a part in the Calistoga AVA for their unwavering commitment to putting Calistoga on the AVA map!