Unified Wine Symposium Showcased Trends

Wine Industry Gathered in Sacramento 

By Muriel Bañares Miller, Brown·Miller Communications

Every facet of the wine and grape industry, from science and technology to trends and markets, was examined and discussed at the 25th Unified Wine & Grape Symposium (Unified), which wrapped up Jan.  31

The largest wine and grape trade show of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, the Unified drew thousands of industry professionals from all over the world eager to hear about the impact of regulatory changes, trends, technology, research, and issues shaping their business decisions.

At Unified, the wine industry exhibits their products and services.

Presented by two nonprofit organizations, the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) and the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG), the Unified’s comprehensive format responds to the wine and grape industry’s critical need for information, discussion and connections.

“If you want to understand what’s happening in the industry and how to stay competitive, the Unified is the place to be,” said John Aguirre, CAWG president. “The Unified draws nearly 14,000 from all over the globe, including exhibitors from nearly 30 countries. For 25 years, the Unified is where industry leaders and professionals meet to discuss the latest news and share strategies for staying abreast of changing markets, technologies and regulations.”

Put on by the industry for the industry, the three-day conference draws on some of the most respected industry experts. The three days of sessions included 26 presentations and panel discussions organized by a diverse panel of volunteers who recruited nearly 100 experts to speak on topics ranging from digitalization in the vineyards to how cannabis is affecting the wine industry. Complementing those talks was a two-day, 170,000-square-foot trade show that housed nearly 700 exhibitors.

In 2020, the Unified will be at Cal Expo, a temporary host site, due to the Sacramento Convention Center’s large-scale renovation that will close it down starting this summer. With the Unified set for February 4-6, Cal Expo will provide an alternative to the Convention Center with ample space, parking and facilities for a conference of Unified’s size.

“Cal Expo, as a premier regional event facility, is excited to host the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in 2020,” says Rick Pickering, CEO and General Manager of California Exposition and State Fair.  “We look forward to working with Unified and the City of Sacramento to make the transition extremely smooth and the 2020 show a huge success.”

The organizers of the Unified share that optimism.

“We are confident that, while the 2020 show will have a slightly different feel, the quality of exhibits, presentations and networking opportunities will again deliver an invaluable service to all of our guests and the industry,” says ASEV Executive Director Dan Howard. “We’re excited to return to the newly renovated Sacramento Convention Center in 2021. It will offer opportunities for expansion, including additional nearby hotels.”

Franzia Credits SJV Wine Growers

Fred Franzia: SJV Is Critical for Nation’s Wine Industry

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

California Ag Today recently had an exclusive interview with Fred Franzia the CEO and co-founder of one of the biggest wineries in the nation, Franzia Winery, which is the maker of the famous Two Buck Chuck sold in Trader Joe’s. We asked him how it all started.

“My Grandfather came to America in 1893, arrived in Ellis Island, went to San Francisco, eventually got into the Lodi/Linden area. He saved enough money to buy his first ranch in an area between Ripon and Manteca in an unincorporated community called Atlanta, and that’s where he started with 80 acres – the place where Franzia Winery is today,” he said.

Franzia said the major factor in the U.S. wine industry is the San Joaquin Valley where 76 of the total wine grapes in California are produced.

“There wouldn’t be a wine business in the U.S. if it wasn’t for the San Joaquin Valley. It’s as simple as that,” according to Franzia.

And he explained the reasons behind that pronouncement.

“We have all the right varieties, and they’re priced right, so the consumer can afford to buy them every day and enjoy it. That’s what we’re trying to do with the wines,” he said.

And there is a misnomer among some consumers that quality wine cannot be produced in the San Joaquin Valley.

“All they have to do is have blind tastings with any wines they want, and we’ll win nine out of 10,” Franzia said.

And Franzia Winery, which also owns the Bronco Wine Company, produces a lot of wine.

“We have close to 150 labels. The most famous one, I think, is the Charles Shaw, which is one of the best selling products ever sold at Trader Joe’s. And that wine is affectionately known as Two Buck Chuck,” he said. “It’s sold over a billion bottles so far, so we’re into that one pretty heavy.”

We asked Franzia why Two Buck Chuck is so popular? Of course, we know it’s got a good price and the quality’s there. “Can’t say it any better,” Franzia said.

 

Wineries Need Business after Napa & Sonoma Fires

Following Disastrous Fires, Napa/Sonoma Valleys Need Visitors Back

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

The recent Napa & Sonoma fires have left wine country reeling.

“Our message is, please come back to the wine country,” said John Winkelhaus, vice president of operations and general manager of V. Sattui Winery, the number one visited winery in Napa Valley.

The region just had some devastating fires.

“It was absolutely dramatic. We certainly just have heartfelt feelings for the folks that have lost their homes and their businesses. And of course, you can’t measure the sorrow we feel for those who lost their lives,” Winkelhaus said.

Sonoma and Napa counties were hit pretty hard. Sonoma County was perhaps worse than Napa because of the devastation that was in that residential area.

It rained last Thursday, the fire was put out and the smoke was washed out of the sky, but now there’s another problem.

“It cleared the air. I mean, we have beautiful blue skies here. But visitor traffic is way down,” Winkelhaus said. “We always have a lot of complaints about the traffic here in the Valley, especially on weekends. But there’s no traffic here.”

“So, what’s happened is that the people, our guests, our visitors who we depend on, allow our staff to come to work every day. They’re not coming,” he said.

“Everybody has a mortgage or rent to pay, or food to buy, or bills to pay as well. … In Napa Valley, 70% of the wage earners are earning their money through the hospitality business, whether it’d be the restaurants, or the hotels, or the wineries,” Winkelhaus said.

“There are 500 wineries in the area, and only seven were damaged or destroyed by the fire. So 447 are open for business and need business,” he explained.

 

Unique Wines Earn Packaging Design Awards

California Wines Win Packaging Design Awards for Innovation

By Laurie Greene, Editor 

 

Some interesting smaller California wineries won special awards during the third annual Wines & Vines Packaging Conference last month in Yountville, California, but not for the quality of their wine. It was all about what contained the wine—the packaging.

 

Jim Gordon, editor of Wines & Vines magazine that sponsored the awards, said, “One of the most interesting developments these days is the proliferation of different wine packaging types and designs. We decided to get a handle on that by starting the Wines & Vines Packaging Design Awards a couple of years ago.”

 

Out of 135 vintner and supplier entries from North American wineries, five wine packaging designs convinced a panel of five experts that they have what it takes to sway consumers to stop in the wine aisle to give the product a closer look. Packages were judged on their creativity, visual appeal, design functionality, appropriateness for the price segment and the package’s ability to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

 

Each package entered contained wine, was filled between Aug. 1, 2014, and July 31, 2016, and is currently available or was available to the general public between those dates. Submissions included wine boxes, wine bottles, wine bags or cans.

Wines & Vines 2016 Packaging Design Awards Winners (Source: Wines & Vines)
Wines & Vines 2016 Packaging Design Awards Winners (Source: Wines & Vines)

The winners of the 2016 Wines & Vines Packaging Design Awards are:

Supplier Contest

Most Outstanding Package–Supplier 

Stranger & Stranger’s design of Run Riot Pinot Noir

Run Riot, a Treasury Wine Estates brand created by Stranger & Stranger, an international design firm, is a “critter” brand with a purpose and a story about a wild boar that rampages through the vineyard. The wine label includes a fascinating die-cut and graphic.

Most Innovative Package–Supplier 

Quest Industries’ “masked spray” on a bottle of Reed Wine Cellars’ 2011 Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon

The bottle exterior is spray-coated in a unique process on the upper half in dark red.

 

Winery Contest

People’s Choice Most Innovative Package

One87 Wine & Cocktails’ single-serving plastic wine “glass” and “stem”

Designed by OGW/France, this single-serve container is a PET plastic, BPA-free vessel, 100% recyclable with a smooth glass-like rim and a guaranteed shelf life of 12 or more months.

 

Most Innovative Package–Winery

Rubin Wines’ Q&A brand packaging

A traditional bottle as well as a box wine was recognized for its large graphics. Each bottle of this new brand, known as “Q & A,” included sets of questions and answers that differed from bottle to bottle.

 

People’s Choice Most Outstanding Package

Wooden Bottle Wine Co.’s 2009 Pinot Noir

This wine was actually in a lathe wooden bottle designed and patented by owner Marcos Oliver crafted entirely of wood from the Thai rubber trees, lined with an FDA-approved, non-toxic product that protects the wine from wood and oxygen infusion.


Featured Photo: Wooden Bottle Wine Co.’s 2009 Pinot Noir, courtesy of Wines & Vines magazine.


Resources:

2016 Wines & Vines Packaging Design Awards

5 wine packaging designs win awards in Napa

Wine Packaging Design Awards Expand

Wooden and Plastic Wine Packages Win

California Wine Sales Grow 3% by Volume and 5% by Value in the U.S. in 2013

California wine shipments within the U.S. were 215 million cases in 2013, up 3% from the previous year, with an estimated retail value of $23.1 billion, up 5%. California wine sales to all markets, both domestic and international, increased 3% by volume to 258 million cases in 2013.

“With two record winegrape harvests in 2012 and 2013, California wineries were able to meet consumer demand, and these recent vintages are receiving high praise worldwide,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, Wine Institute President and CEO.

“In 2013, wineries gradually released the highly acclaimed wines from the large 2012 California harvest, offsetting the slowdown in American wine market growth due to short vintages in 2010 and 2011 and continuing soft economic conditions,” said wine industry consultant Jon Fredrikson of Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates in Woodside.

“In response to these market factors, California wineries focused on sales of premium table wines priced at $10 and above, which increased by 9% in volume and made up nearly half of winery revenues.”

Fredrikson explained that 2013 remained highly competitive. The U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau approved nearly 99,000 wine label registrations, the majority of these from foreign producers, which crowded trade channels and vied for consumer attention and shelf space.

In addition, over the past five years the number of alcohol production permits increased by 4,100, up 47%, not only for new wineries, but for craft breweries, distilleries and cider producers, expanding the product mix offerings.

The large number of beverage alcohol products continued to squeeze distribution channels, and many small- and medium-sized wineries looked to direct-to-consumer sales through tasting rooms, wine clubs, online marketing and other direct sales channels, using social media and other digital communications to reach out to consumers.

Brick and mortar retail outlets selling wine continued to increase, expanding by 62,000 locations over the last five years, up 12% to 550,000 outlets, according to the Nielsen Company, a global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy.

“Retailers are stepping up their game with more sales locations, making wine more accessible to consumers than ever before,” said Danny Brager, Senior Vice President of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice Area. “Consumers have also shown that they’re willing to spend a bit more on a bottle of wine than in previous years.”

According to Nielsen measured U.S. off-premise channel numbers, the most popular wine types were Chardonnay (20% share), Cabernet Sauvignon (13%), Merlot (9%), Red Blends/Sweet Reds (9%) and Pinot Grigio (9%), followed by Moscato (6%), White Zinfandel (5%), Pinot Noir (4%), and Sauvignon Blanc (4%). Moscato, Malbec and Red blends experienced double digit growth, while after that, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir exhibited the next strongest upward trends.

The U.S. Wine Market

Wine shipments to the U.S. from all production sources—California, other states and foreign producers—grew 3% to 375.2 million cases with an estimated retail value of $36.3 billion. This represents 21 consecutive years of volume growth.

The U.S. has been the largest wine consuming nation in the world since 2010. California’s 215 million cases shipped within the U.S. represent a 57% share of the U.S. wine market.

Sparkling Wine and Champagne

Lifted by the popularity of Prosecco, shipments of sparkling wine and champagne to the U.S. reached 18.4 million cases in 2013, up 4% over the previous year.

U.S. Wine Exports

U.S. wine exports, 90 percent from California, reached $1.55 billion in winery revenues in 2013, an increase of 16.4% compared to 2012. Volume shipments reached 435.2 million liters or 48.4 million cases.

Wine Institute is the voice for California wine representing more than 1,000 wineries and affiliated businesses from the beautiful and diverse wine regions throughout the state.