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February News 
 
Greetings from New Orleans, the capital of the Carnival season in the U.S. I'm fortunate to roll with one of the most creative krewes in the city, that of St. Anne. The costumes here make Halloween look like amateur hour. 

February is naturally a month of full hearts, it is also the time for the annual Wine Market Council research conference, the results of which we highlight here. Our guest blogger and Australia/New Zealand wine encyclopedia Chuck Hayward reports on the state of the Oz wine market as harvest gets underway this month. Always proponents of education, Jonathan Cristaldi reports on the great offerings of the Napa Valley Wine Academy and we share our popular favorite Must Reads.    

Happy Spring!
 
- Kimberly Noelle Charles, DWS 
Founder, Charles Communications Associates
 
 
by Chuck Hayward

Australia is one of the world's most important wine producing regions, yet after more than 30 years in the American market, the facts about Australia’s wine industry remains an enigma for most Americans—easy to understand for a country that has 65 growing regions in a landmass the size of the United States. And years of platitudes and derision by journalists and sommeliers alike, certainly hasn’t helped.

However, there has been a renewed interest in Aussie wines fueled partly by the appearance in the U.S. of smaller producers from cooler Australia wine growing regions—we are just beginning to see imports of the handcrafted Aussie wines that make wine enthusiasts swoon.

So, take note: While it's February here in the Northern Hemisphere, it's actually “August” (weather-wise) Down Under, and some winemakers are currently in the thick of...


 
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Q&A with Christian Oggenfuss
of the Napa Valley Wine Academy

 
by Jonathan Cristaldi

For the American wine industry, 1981 was a big year. According to the Wine Institute, the first four American Viticultural Areas (AVA) were officially established that year: Guenoc Valley (Lake County), Napa Valley, San Pasqual Valley (San Diego County), Santa Maria Valley (San Louis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County).

In 1982, another 14 more AVAs were approved, and in 1983 another 24 came into being—on and on. And as of last year, 2014, the TTB approved another 24 new AVAs. Today, there are 217 approved AVAs across the U.S.

And here’s a little snapshot into the past, from a federal register published on January 28, 1982:

“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) feels that the establishment of the Napa Valley viticultural area and the subsequent use of its name as an appellation of origin in wine labeling and advertising will help consumers of wine to better identify wines from Napa Valley.”

Well: it seems safe to say that it worked. And today, every state in the U.S. is producing wine. New labels are hitting shelves faster than the industry can sell them. Wine bars with local and imported accents are springing up around the country, and urban wineries are the latest trend in major cities’ downtown areas. From the winegrowing and production perspective, there is an overwhelming diversity of microclimates, soils, plantings and approaches to winemaking right here in the U.S.—so much so that Christian Oggenfuss, former Director of Marketing for The Plumpjack Group...
 
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by Alex Fondren

The Wine Market Council (WMC) gave its 10th annual presentation of U.S. wine consumer trends in Yountville, California earlier this month. Wine Opinions CEO John Gillespie serves as president of the Council, and he kicked off the presentation with a summary of the WMC’s yearlong research on wine consumer trends.

Gillespie cited a dip in growth for occasional wine drinkers, thanks to the proliferation of craft beer and spirits drinkers (more on that later), leading the WMC to focus more on high-frequency buyers. High frequency wine drinkers made up roughly 13 percent of the total US population of 228 million (the balance is comprised of 36 percent abstainers, 27 percent occasional drinkers, and 24 percent who don’t drink wine).

It is within that 13 percent of high frequency wine drinkers where Gillespie cited the greatest opportunity for growth, as over one-third of that group...
 
All The Swirl Must Reads
Each month, we look back at the great food, beverage and lifestyle stories that caught our attention. Click on the banner above, to peruse our January "Must Reads"
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