The wine industry is a very large and uniqe business. While many of us drink wine on a regular basis there is a general gap of understanding when is comes to growing the grapes, producing the wine, and selling it. We hope that this blog offers some insight on what we do on a weekly basis written by members of the family.
Just finished doing the Ranhco Mirage Food and Wine Festival in Rancho Mirage last Saturday. Mary Ann and I flew ddown the day before. We had visited the Bevmo store in Palm Springs and had a nice visit with Mary, the store manager. The store was very busy. Later that evening we had a wonder dinner at one our favorite Italian restaurants in the Dessert, Mama Gina. We started with Capeillini in a Pomodoro sauce and it was delicious. Mary Ann had scampi and I had seared scallops in a sffaron sauce over a bed of fresh asparagus.
The event itself went very well. Met a lot of people, not only from the Dessert communities, but from LA, San Diego, and from as far away as Canada. The wines were all recieved, especially the Sailors Grave.
I am often asked how the craft beer market is affecting the wine business. It’s a good question. The craft beer market has exploded in recent years. What was initially a niche market has extended into a focal point for beer lovers. Stores and restaurants adorn their alcohol selection with craft beers from all over the country in various styles and flavors. The cases of Budweiser, Coors, and the occasional Sierra Nevada no longer dominate the market. While it is still customary to carry some of these well known mass market beers, people are demanding new exciting brews that are often big, hoppy, and high in alcohol. As a result, people are willing to pay a higher price.
It has always been a challenge to get “beer-only drinkers” to begin buying wine. A big part of this was because of price. But now, as craft beer prices climb to around $10 a bottle, the gap towards premium wine shrinks. I am reminded of a story I heard from the Franzia’s, who own Bronco Wine Company, where they received flak for producing Charles Shaw…or as you may know it, “two buck chuck”. Many people in the industry felt that the production of this wine cheapened the outlook of the industry, especially if other producers wanted their wine to be considered “luxury goods”. It wasn’t until years later that many vintners praised Franzia for what he had done; which was getting people to buy wine when they wouldn’t have otherwise because of the price.
Now, the beer industry has created a large social aspect which also benefits the wine industry. Brew pubs have become a hip place to drink, eat and play games. Many breweries have opened their doors to the public for beer tasting and feature food trucks, pizza ovens, and games such as corn hole or shuffle board. And some of these breweries offer a limited selection of wine to appeal to the few wino’s who join.
So, although craft beer has begun to play a bigger role in the alcohol industry, it also provides more opportunity for wine sales. Cheers to beer!....and wine of course.
In the wine business, there are three little letters with a big meaning: OND. Standing for October, November, December, it is a sales term that has become synonymous with the busiest time of the year. The last three months are when you expect businesses to make a big push to hit their end-of-year sales goals. While most businesses are affected in some way by the Holidays, the wine business goes into a special kind of frenzy as people begin to drink more.
As a producer, we also spend this time working distributor & trade shows. These allow retailers and restaurateurs to set their wine line-up for the holiday season. Every year, come October, we are busy traveling the country in pursuit of these wine placements. And as abruptly as our traveling begins, it ends. Mid October signals the start of the sales staff race as they begin calling on the accounts to secure wine placements for the remainder of the year.
With this increase in sales comes the need for an increase in inventory. Bottling is shut down during the harvest period, so with the end of Harvest comes the beginning of bottling. This means it is full speed ahead to finalize our wine blends. Just in the past few weeks we have put together the Dante Cabernet, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, our Annabella Red Blend, and the Matthew Joseph Cabernet and Chardonnay.
OND can be stressful, exhausting, and will quickly remind you that there is always something happening in the Wine Industry. Luckily, we’re always working with family and have the added benefit of loving what we do. We are thrilled with the wines we produced this OND and can’t wait to share them with our customers.
On Saturday, October 14th, my wife Mary Ann and I returned home after being displaced by the Napa and Sonoma fires. My son Matthew and his family evacuated Monday at 1:30 am and came to our house. By 3 pm that afternoon, we all decided to get out of the valley. Our grandaughter is only four months old and we were especially concerned with the amount of smoke that was accumulating in Napa.
This was the worst act of nature that I have ever experienced. Luckily, all of us are well and our homes escaped destruction. Our hearts go out to friends, family, neighbors, and fellow vintners that were not as fortunate. Napa came together as a community like never beore, and I am proud be a resident.
We are thankful that all of our grapes had been picked and crushed before the fires began. It is now time for us all to move forward and help our neighbors get their lives back to some type of normality.
Thank you to family, friends, and customers that reached out to us during that week. We are grateful for your thoughts and prayers.
A special thanks to fire fighters, police, rescue crews, and all first responders. You are awesome!
Last night my wife, Mary Ann, and I poured our award winning wines for the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. The event was held at the Sonoma fairgrounds in the Pavilion. I am proud to inform you that we won Double Gold on our 2016 Michael Pozzan Russian River Chardonnay. We also won Silver Medals for both Michael Pozzan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and the Michael Pozzan Sonoma County Pinot Noir.
Last night's event brought out hundreds of wine enthusiasts from all over Northern California. We also had the opportunity to speak to people that were visiting from Chicago and Houston. It's always been very enjoyable for me to be able to chat with consumer's and gives me a better understanding of what they look for when selecting wines for themselves.
The Russian River Chardonnay was the big hit of the night. So many people commented on the fact that the wine wasn't dominated by too much oak and how it showed wonderful balance and finesse.
Mary Ann did a great job decorating our table. She shopped for flowers earlier that day and brought bunches of grapes that she picked from our backyard.
Harvest 2017 is far from done and has already proven itself memorable. Temperatures in the valley soared into the triple digits in late August, and parked in the high 90’s for almost a full week. Many locations up valley registered 109F on the two hottest days of the relentless heat spike. Temperatures briefly cooled into the 80’s before topping 100F again the 2nd week of September. The intense, prolonged heat initially seemed to super charge harvest - thin skinned, early-ripening varietals were ripening quickly and threatening to be damaged by the extreme temperatures. Once the early picks were in, however, it became clear that the heat had impacted later-ripening varietals in far more than visible ways. The word from all parts of the valley was that winemakers and vineyard managers were seeing a complete stall in sugar accumulation in the grapes. The heat seemed to have interrupted the vine’s ability to push the sugar load into the grapes. During a month which usually contributes to slow, even ripening in the vineyard, there were little to no changes in the ripeness of the grapes for roughly 20 days between Labor Day and the last week of September. It had a lot of industry folk scratching their heads.
October has broken with a long-ranging forecast that looks dry and mild - and what ought to be perfect ripening weather. Cabernet vineyards are beginning to adopt a more regular pattern of sugar accumulation, and the peculiar “pause” seen in harvest in September seems to be behind us. There are still plenty of tons left to harvest in Napa Valley, and it’s shaping up to be a spectacular vintage.
I was a presenter last weekend at the legendary Epcot Food and Wine Festival at Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida. We were thrilled that the festival was still able to take place after Hurricane Irma. Orlando came out pretty good compared to the Florida Keys – Disney World only closed for 2 days to be on the safe side. By the time we arrived the resort was bustling and looked to be totally in order.
We had over a 100 people at our tasting event. I shared some history of our family and Michael Pozzan Winery. Mary Ann and I started the business on a shoestring budget and only produced 200 cases our first year. We’ve since grown production to over 125,000 cases. I tasted the group through the Michael Pozzan 2016 Russian River Chardonnay, 2012 Sailors Grave, and Annabella 2015 Cabernet – which was showing exceptionally well.
One highlight of the trip was a question and answer session after the tasting. I was also able to chat with guests one-on-one during a bottle signing, where we sold out of the Sailors Grave! Luckily, we have the new vintage ready to go.
The food was another highlight of our trip. We went to two fantastic restaurants and had meals we will not soon forget. First, our family had dinner at Il Molino at the Disney Swan Hotel. We started with a wonderful caesar salad and linguini marinara, and finished the meal with Veal and Eggplant Parmesan. We enjoyed a gorgeous Italian red blend to compliment the food.
Next we dined at the California Grill, where manager Andrey took exceptional care of us. Our table was overlooking the Disney Castle, and the evening ended with a firework show. They currently have the Michael Pozzan 2014 Russian River Pinot Noir as part of their wine list, so we enjoyed a bottle with our meals of grouper, filet & risotto, and a lobster tempura roll. A sincere thanks to Florida for hosting us on such an outstanding trip!
My wife Mary Ann and I are in Boston doing a trade show with our Massachusetts distributor, Martignetti Wines. This is is a semi-annual event that we do in Spring and Fall. The goal behind these shows are to meet one on one with retailer's and restauranteer's to showcase our wines and to chat about new releases and upcoming vintages. Typically, as a producer, we will work with the distributor's sales representatives traveling to different accounts to taste the buyers on our wines individually. While this is a great way to showcase our wines on a personal level, it is nearly impossible to reach everyone in the state. These tradeshows provide exactly that.
We have been working with the Martignetti family for close to twenty years and have enjoyed a close relationship based on mutual respect. The highlight for us today is to present our newest wine, Giapoza, that is named after our first grandchild, Gianna Pozzan.
For dinner we went to the Bristol Lounge Bar at the Four Seasons. They offer our Michael Pozzan 2014 Russian River Pinot Noir by the glass and enjoyed it with my burger.
The man on the right in the picture is Brian Keeping. Director of Fine Wines for Martignetti in Boston.
Our New Wine Project – Giapoza
I am happy to say that we have just completed our newest wine project, Giapoza! Being a family owned and operated winery, we try to stress this theme by naming wine labels after our loved ones. As a result, Giapoza comes from my first child, and daughter, Gianna. However, we hit a speed bump getting there. The name Gianna was already used as a wine label. The wine industry is so large with the so many wines in the market, past and present, that many common names at one time or another have already been used. I was recently speaking with a friend of mine whose family has a new winery in Coombsville and, when creating the name for the winery, he was surprised by how many were already taken. Eventually after much research on the many variations of Gianna or Gia, we centered on the combination of Gianna and Pozzan, thus creating Giapoza; dropping a “z” for the sake of symmetry.
Luckily, the difficulty of trade marking the name is over and we can focus on the winemaking. For now Giapoza comes in only 2 varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. 1,000 cases made of each; they are California appellated wines that are meant to retail around $18. This is currently where we have a gap in pricing. Even though they are California appellated we decided to some Napa fruit in the Cabernet and Russian River fruit in the Pinot inorder to boost the quality. These wines will first be released in our September wine club, and be released to the public sometime thereafter.