Sonoma-Cutrer, most distinguished for producing world-class, award-winning Chardonnay, recently received two top awards for its Pinot Noir wines. The 2012 Founders Reserve Pinot Noir took home the highest honor at the 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition with the Sweepstakes Red award, while the company’s flagship 2013 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir won the Platinum award at the 2015 San Diego International Wine Competition.
When Sonoma-Cutrer began crafting Pinot Noir in 2002, it was a natural extension from Chardonnay for a winery focused on the winemaking traditions of Burgundy, France. Today, Sonoma-Cutrer produces four distinctive Pinot Noir wines. Sonoma-Cutrer’s separate, artisan Pinot Noir winery takes many special steps to craft its Pinot Noir from early morning hand harvesting and hand sorting to a hand punch-down in open top fermenters. The same care and respect is used to craft Pinot Noir as with Chardonnay.
“Sonoma-Cutrer has always been recognized as a world-class producer of Chardonnay, with the Pinot Noir program being our best kept secret for years,” said Winemaking Director Mick Schroeter. “To receive honors and recognition for our Pinot Noirs from some of the most prestigious and highly competitive competitions in the United States has the entire Sonoma-Cutrer team over the moon with excitement.”
The care for these Pinot Noir wines is evident through the prestigious awards the winery has recently received, including the Sweepstakes Red award for the 2012 Founders Reserve, and Double Gold for the 2012 Vine Hill Pinot Noir at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The competition, which received more than 6,300 wine entries, is known as the largest competition of American wines in the world. Of all these wines, only eight Sweepstakes awards are given in the categories of Sparkling, White, Pink, Red, and Dessert/Specialty wines.
“Sonoma-Cutrer’s Founders Reserve Pinot Noir was deemed the best of more than 4,000 red wines entered into the 2015 competition,” said San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition director Bob Fraser. “Mick Schroeter and his staff should be complimented for their excellence in viticulture and winemaking.”
The most highly acclaimed and requested Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir, the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, recently received the Platinum award and a 95 point rating for the 2013 vintage at the highly esteemed San Diego International Wine Competition.
“Sonoma-Cutrer has long been a benchmark producer of California Chardonnay. Situated in the cool Russian River Valley, it makes Chardonnay that possesses structure and elegance, giving it the ability to improve with age,” said San Diego International Wine Competition director Robert Whitley. “Because of the success of its Chardonnay, the Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir is one of the best-kept secrets in the world of wine.”
All award-winning wines can be purchased at the Sonoma-Cutrer winery as well as through the wine club, Club Cutrer. Additionally, the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is available nationwide in stores and at restaurants.
From the rocky coastline to the mountain vistas and the lush river valleys, the land has always been the hero in the story of Sonoma County, California. Through it all, the dedicated efforts of farmers and ranchers have been at the forefront of taking care of the land, protecting it and managing it in a way that has provided a bounty of apples, prunes, pears, poultry, lamb, beef and, more recently, winegrapes for nearly 150 years.
With this in mind, Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, also known as Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), has created a 100-year business plan to preserve agriculture in Sonoma County well into the 22nd Century. The 100-year plan is believed to be the first of its kind in agriculture and the global wine industry. It is also the next step in the evolution of Sonoma County’s efforts to become the first wine region in the United States to have all of its wines grown and made in a sustainable manner.
“Last year when we announced our intent to be 100-percent sustainable by 2019, it was always viewed as the starting point, not the end goal,” said Karissa Kruse, President of the Sonoma County Winegrowers. She added, “It is our job as farmers to be caretakers of the land in Sonoma County and preserve our agricultural legacy and way of life for future generations. Just as we inherited the land from previous generations, we have a fundamental responsibility to make the land better for those who inherit it from us.”
The existence of the 100-year plan was announced nearly one year to the day when Sonoma County Winegrowers generated worldwide attention for its bold commitment to become the nation’s first 100 percent sustainable wine growing region by 2019. Sonoma County winegrape growers are currently following a rigorous sustainability self-assessment and third party certification program focused on 138 farming and business practices, such as land use, canopy management, energy efficiency, water quality assessments, carbon emissions, healthcare and training for employees and being a good neighbor and community member.
In the twelve months since announcing its sustainable intentions, the local wine industry reached one-third of its targeted goal of becoming 100-percent sustainable. More than 43 percent (25,987 vineyard acres) of the county’s 59,772 vineyard acres have completed a sustainability assessment. In addition, 33 percent of the county’s vineyard acres (21,491 vineyard acres) have taken the next step and are now certified under a third-party auditor program. The 59,772 vineyard acres in Sonoma County only accounts for 6 percent of the county’s one million acres with the rest being utilized as pasture land (36 percent), forests (49 percent) and urban land (9 percent). More than 950 winegrape growers have attended sustainability workshops, meetings or other sustainability-related events. There were 26 sustainability workshops and meetings hosted by the Sonoma County Winegrowers in 2014. Eight of the county’s 16 AVAs held sustainability workshops in the past year.
As the past year evolved, industry leaders met and the 100 year plan was written. It is designed as a living document and will be executed through both annual and five-year benchmarks that will identify transformational opportunities for collaboration and seek partnerships with a variety of groups including agricultural, business, community and education as well as government leaders to find tangible solutions and provide flexibility for the unexpected. The time period of 100 years was chosen as a natural period that touches everyone in a tangible way – it represents two generations before and the next two future generations in essence spanning from grandparents to grandchildren. The plan addresses such issues as innovation and research, natural resources, the regulatory environment, community engagement and marketing while building coalitions throughout the community in support of sustaining agriculture in Sonoma County forever.
“This effort is charting a path to preserve agriculture in Sonoma County for the next 100 years,” said Brad Petersen, a third-generation grape grower who manages vineyards at Silver Oak Cellars and chairman of the Sonoma County Winegrowers board of directors. He added, “It provides us and those who follow with a set of guiding principles to ensure agriculture is successfully preserved and that Sonoma County will remain the best wine region in the world for the next 100 years and beyond.”
The verdict is in. A whisky distilled more than two decades ago, then tucked away and forgotten, is the best Canadian whisky of 2014. A jury of nine independent whisky experts named Collingwood 21 Year Old Rye the Canadian Whisky of the Year at the fifth annual Canadian Whisky Awards. They announced the results of this annual blind tasting competition Thursday evening, January 15, at the Victoria Whisky Festival in Victoria, B.C.
Chairman of the judges, Davin de Kergommeaux, described Collingwood Rye as: “A Canadian whisky connoisseur’s dream come true.” Only 50 barrels of Collingwood 21 Year Old Rye were distilled at the Canadian Mist Distillery in Collingwood, Ontario. Canadian stocks are almost gone, though limited quantities are still available from select U.S. liquor stores.
Other top winners include Lot No. 40, Canadian Club Chairman’s Select 100% Rye, Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve, Masterson’s 10-Year-Old Rye, and Crown Royal Monarch. Forty Creek distillery’s John Hall received a lifetime achievement award.
“Interest in Canadian whisky continues to grow and Canada’s whisky makers have responded with a wealth of new high-end whiskies,” said de Kergommeaux as he revealed the winners. “For the first time a major legacy brand, Canadian Club, has released 100 percent rye grain whisky as a core offering. Canada’s best-selling whisky, Crown Royal, became the first major brand to release high-proof single barrel whisky, and Collingwood bottled long-aged rye whisky. Overall, distillers have released more small batch and top-end deluxe whiskies than ever before.”
Sales of flavored whisky also remain strong with Forty Creek, Centennial, and Sortilège making strong gains.
The list of all the winners is now available at http://www.canadianwhisky.org.
The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance (PRWCA), in conjunction with the Cambria Tourism Board, San Simeon Tourism Board and Wine Coast Country announced a new partnership to bring a Paso Robles wine event to the north coast of San Luis Obispo County. On February 21, 2015 the 1st Annual Paso BlendFest on the Coast will showcase the best characteristics of each partner, combining the scenic beauty of the coast with Paso Robles Wine Country, only miles away. Held during off season, BlendFest is sure to become an annual marquee event helping to promote stays at the area’s lodging properties and celebrate Paso Robles Wine Country in a beautiful setting.
BlendFest will invite visitors to San Simeon and Cambria to Grow Wild beyond a glass of everyday wine and will feature 25-30 of Paso Robles’ renowned wineries, each featuring two distinct blends! Held at The Cavalier Resort in San Simeon, guests will be able to enjoy spectacular wines, only surpassed by the stunning coastal views.
“As evidenced by Paso’s recent honor as Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine, the region has become known for rule breaking, unconventional blends,” said Jennifer Porter, Executive Director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. “It is now time those blends got their own dedicated festival!”
South Australia wine producer, Mollydooker Wines from McLaren Vale has just been honored by Winestate magazine at the 2014 Australasian Winestate Awards, held on November 14, 2014 at the Adelaide Convention Centre.
The Mollydooker 2012 Carnival of Love Shiraz was awarded twice as the 2014 Wine of the Year for Australia and New Zealand and the 2014 Shiraz Wine of the Year for Australia and New Zealand.
Owners and winemakers, Sarah and Sparky Marquis, have been wine industry innovators and have triumphed over moments of near disasters in the competitive, global wine marketplace for over 20 years in Australia.
Winestate, the prestigious and oldest wine publication of Australia, awarded Mollydooker Wines and their 2012 Carnival of Love Shiraz from over 2,400 Australian and New Zealand wine producers and over 11,000 wine entries.
By David Bernard
Last month, as the St. Regis New York Hotel was busy celebrating the 80th anniversary of the U.S. debut of the bloody mary in the hotel’s King Cole Bar, a bartender at Todd English P.U.B. in Las Vegas was busy adding a skewer of corn dog pup and crispy chicken wing to a $35 bloody mary already stacked with a slider, chilled shrimp and pickled asparagus, among other garnishes. Still popular decades after its creation and continuously reinterpreted, bartender Fernand Petiot would no doubt be pleased with the legacy of the perennial cocktail classic he first mixed in Paris in 1921 before serving it at the St. Regis in 1934.
Capitalizing on consumer hunger, a thirst for spice and the growing desire for healthy ingredients, retailers of all things bloody mary, including mixes, seasoning blends and rimmers, are finding a wealth of products to choose from and a strong market to which to sell.Some retailers and producers describe two distinct markets for bloody marys. Jerry Ciesielski, Fine Foods Buyer for Premier Gourmet in Buffalo, New York, noted that a lot of the store’s older customers “stick with what they know,” buying mixes that are more representative of the classic bloody mary recipe. “For the younger customers coming in, it’s all about spicy hot,” he said.
Of the 16 brands of mixes sold in Ciesielski’s store, Tabasco Extra Spicy has become the second best-seller – up from fourth place. Tabasco Extra Spicy is followed by another spicy offering, the horseradish-flavored Mr & Mrs T Premium Blend. The top-seller at the store, as well as one of the leaders nationwide, is the medium-hot Zing Zang.Ciesielski said that customer requests, along with the trend toward spicy across many food categories, spurred the store’s move toward spicier offerings. “I’m looking for more and varied spicy mixes,” he said.
The good news for retailers like Ciesielski is that there is certainly no shortage of spicy bloody mary mixes on the market today from which to choose. The Murph’s Famous Bloody Mary Mix, based in Long Island, New York, already had a successful, more traditional mix sold in 26 states when it decided to add a spicy version a year ago. “The response has been amazing,” said Stephen Murphy, CEO of The Murph’s Famous Bloody Mary Mix. The new mix includes cayenne, horseradish and black pepper. “When we did production runs initially, we thought it out and made 70 percent of the original mix and 30 percent hot and spicy. Within six months, it was 50-50. And now we’re 60-40 hot and spicy.”
Murphy got the idea for The Murph’s Hot & Spicy Bloody Mary Mix, which recently won a Chile Pepper Magazine award for Best Bloody Mary Mix, after attending a number of hot sauce trade shows. As a sponsor himself of the New York City Hot Sauce Expo, which doubled its attendance to more than 10,000 this year, Murphy has observed firsthand the trend toward spicy. “I have really seen, particularly among 21-35 year olds, that it’s all about hot sauce and different flavors of hot foods and sauces,” he said.
One of the country’s top bloody mary seasoning producers, Demitri’s of Seattle, Washington, happened upon its spiciest flavor, chipotle-habanero, quite by accident. According to founder Demitri Pallis, the company, which has won 25 Scovie Awards since 2012, created the extra-hot variety as a “marketing stunt” for the 2010 Nightclub & Bar Show Convention in Las Vegas. “We kind of told the joke on ourselves,” said Pallis. “The response came back so well that, while we didn’t intend to actually put a label on it, we decided to go ahead and add it to our lineup.” While the chipotle-habanero blend is too hot for most bars to stock as their house mix, it does very well on the retail shelf, just as has done another of Demitri’s spicy offerings, Chilies and Peppers, which has increased in popularity in recent years.
While some retailers stick to a two-fold offering of more traditional mixes in addition to hot and peppery options, producers today are stepping up with unique flavors as well. Jason Poole, Brine Boss at Preservation & co. in Sacramento, California, recently turned a Dijon mustard-caper-balsamic-pickling-brine recipe he perfected as a bartender into a successful product sold in 150 California locations. (Expansion to surrounding states is in the works.) Developed for entry into the national Absolut Vodka Bloody Mary Search contest, in which it took second place, the viscous mix also contains sriracha.
“The thing that would really frustrate me about bloody marys as a bartender was that people would drink about three-fourths of their drink and wouldn’t finish it, because, by the end, it would be too diluted and it wouldn’t have the flavor it began with,” said Poole. “Our goal was to create a drink where they could actually enjoy the whole thing.” By making the mix thick and adding heat with sriracha, Poole created a buffer against the dilution that comes from adding ice and vodka, ultimately preserving the mix’s briny/tangy and sweet tones.
Preservation & co., which produces a variety of pickled and other vegetable products and seasonings, also offers a sriracha salt bloody mary rimmer. Spicy rimmers like this one have risen in popularity alongside spicy mixes. Bacon-flavored rimmers are also trending.
Just a year old, Austin, Texas-based Bloody Revolution, has taken variety to a new level, recently expanding its reach to over 600 locations, including gourmet shops and major retailers, like one of the largest grocers in the state, HEB. The company offers five mixes, with the unique twist that none of the four “variation” flavors are based on the company’s original recipe. The company’s four co-founders started Bloody Revolution to fill what it saw as a gap in the marketplace, crafting unique flavors like wasabi ginger, ribeye, pickle zing and smoked habanero.
“We had the idea to do something totally different from what we’d ever seen,” said Chantz Hoover, Managing Partner of Bloody Revolution. “We decided to mix things up.” While the company’s more unique flavors have proven a hit among adventurous cocktail enthusiasts, Bloody Revolution’s standby original and smoked habanero offerings serve as a point of entry for bloody mary beginners. “Customers will try the original or the smoked habanero first,” Hoover said. “Retailers are telling us that they come back and say, ‘Hey, that was awesome, I’m ready to try one of these other flavors now.’”
Bloody Revolution’s offerings fit perfectly with another bloody mary trend: the bloody mary “bar within a bar” concept. Restaurants and bars across the country are setting up a bloody mary carts or mini-bars where customers can choose their own garnishes, extra spices and rimmers. While establishments typically offer only one or two mixes at the “front” of the cart, Bloody Revolution clients have found success when they choose to offer all five of the company’s mixes. The renowned Austin hotel, The Driskill, whose popular Saturday Bloody Mary bar had featured two housemade original mixes for 30 to 40 years, recently added three Bloody Revolution mixes, with impressive results.
“Their beverage director said, ‘This is going to take our bloody mary bar to another level,’” said Hoover. “And now, six months later, it’s gone really well for them. They’ve given us great feedback.” The company’s mixes have performed similarly well at other clients’ bloody mary bars.
The growing preference among consumers for natural and healthy products is also driving today’s bloody mary market. While the drink uses vodka or another type of alcohol, it also contains a healthy dose of tomato juice and often cayenne and other beneficial spices.
“I find that a lot of our customers are vegetarians,” said Mel Gonzalez, COO of Backyard Mary, a Huntington Beach, California company whose medium heat mix is sold in four western states. “They look at it as a liquid salad, basically as a meal in a drink.” Backyard Mary Bloody Mary Mixer, which carries just enough heat derived from horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and peppers, gives the drinker a light kick, yet it is still bright and flavorful. The mixer was a Platinum Best of Class winner at the Spirit International Prestige Awards.
Of course, some bloody marys are not so healthy, and consumers can thank the blogosphere in part for that. Spurred on in a “can-you-top-this” fashion, some restaurants, bloody mary bloggers and individual consumers are carving out a spot at the bar (or on the internet) by posting outrageous pictures of lavishly garnished bloody marys. A bacon cheeseburger, King Crab claw, and chicken and waffles are just a few of the indulgent garnishes that demonstrate how the bloody mary can serve as a “meal in a glass.”
While possibly alarming some fans of the classic recipe, elaborate versions of this classic cocktail may be contributing to an overall boost in the category. “I’d say the Bloody Mary is getting more popular,” said Shelley Buchanan, author of “The Drunken Tomato: A Definitive Guide to the Best Bloody Marys in Los Angeles and Orange County.” “Especially with everyone sharing all these pictures of the crazy garnishes, bloody marys are really coming out in social media a lot more, and they’re getting more attention that way.”
This story was originally published in the November 2014 issue of Gourmet News, a publication of Oser Communications Group.
Arrowhead Farms is the passionate company behind an extensive line of artisanal cocktail mixers and salad dressings. The company offers a variety of cocktail mix gift sets that are the perfect treat to present to any cocktail loving party host. Arrowhead Farms’ Complete Cocktail Mix Gift Set features the company’s cult-classic Hellfire Club Bloody Mary Mix, the spicy Spitfire Margarita Mix and the company’s three newest mixers: Dark Harbor Southside Mix, Mexican House Margarita Mix and Giovanni’s Nectar of the Gods Bellini Mix. Each mix contains 25 delicious ounces. The Complete Cocktail Mix Gift Set comes in Arrowhead Farms signature gift packaging. In addition, Arrowhead Farms offers a number of other gift sets, including the Ultimate Deluxe Decadence Gift Set (five cocktail mixers and three salad dressings), the Morning After Cocktail Mix Gift Set (Hellfire Club Bloody Mary Mix and Nectar of the Gods Bellini Mix) and the Margarita Cocktail Mix Gift Set (Spitfire Margarita Mix and Mexican House Margarita Mix).
For more information on Arrowhead Farms or to see a complete list of the products the company offers, visit www.arrowheadfarms.com.
Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Hella Bitter’s new Craft Your Own Bitters kit combines a passion for craft, creativity and delicious cocktails into an innovative kit that enables any cocktail enthusiast to make his or her own unique bitters at home. Seeking to change the way people think about what they drink, the Craft Your Own Bitters Kit makes it easy to add a touch of bitterness to everything from the perfect old fashioned to homemade marinades. With sophisticated modern palates craving bitter flavors, the kit helps consumers imagine up new flavor combinations that they might not have yet considered. The Hella Bitter Craft Your Own Bitters kit includes a custom funnel, a fine mesh steel strainer, two infusion jars, four dropper bottles and two spice blends – an aromatic blend and a citrus blend. The Craft Your Own Bitters kit offers an artisanal handcrafted alternative to the mass-produced bitters that have their place at nearly every home bar.
For more information on Hella Bitter’s Craft Your Own Bitters kit or to view the company’s other products, visit http://hellabitters.com.
Mead, the alcoholic beverage made from honey, may be the world’s oldest fermented drink. The potable is now creating a buzz throughout the world. And, according to the World Association of Wine Writers and Journalists, the United States’ Moonstruck Meadery produces the best mead in the world. The organization named the company’s Capsumel pepper mead as number one among the 100 best meads in the world.
Every year, the WAWWJ classifies wines and wineries that participate in different wine contests held around the world. Their products are evaluated anonymously by the best specialists. Moonstruck Meadery came in first among meads for its unique pepper mead, Capsumel. Capsumel has traveled the world from the United States to competitions in Argentina, Israel and Ukraine. Each competition brought the unique beverage double gold and gold awards.
Capsumel has a unique taste and the nose of a fresh pepper garden with a harmonious blend of serrano, jalapeño and Anaheim peppers. The company is very grateful to be recognized as the world’s first place mead from professional judges around the world.
“We have a passion about mead, and Capsumel is a direct result of that,” said Brian Schlueter, owner of Moonstruck Meadery. “Mead is exploding in popularity. It’s truly the new delicious flavor people are looking for. One taste is all it takes.”
According to Schlueter, mead production has an all-around positive impact on the economy and the environment. “It directly helps the bees, the farmers, the foods we eat,” he said. “We are very grateful to produce mead and [are] looking forward to expanding our distribution so that others may enjoy this unique beverage from long ago.”
Chris Webber, President of the American Mead Makers Association, is excited for the growth he sees in terms of the overall popularity of mead among U.S. consumers. “The American mead industry is growing by leaps and bounds, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds,” he said.
For more information on Nebraska-based Moonstruck Meadery, visit www.moonstruckmead.com.
The number of U.S. breweries more than doubled from 398 to 869 between 2007 and 2012, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released from the 2012 Economic Census Industry Series. The breweries industry reported $28.3 billion in shipments in 2012, an increase of nearly 33.6 percent since 2007.
Employment in the breweries industry also climbed over the five-year span, rising to 26,077 employees in 2012, up by 3,825 or 17.2 percent from 22,252 employed in the industry in 2007. Still, while overall employment within the brewing industry grew, the average number of employees per brewery decreased sharply from 56 in 2007 to 30 in 2012, a possible indication of the growth of smaller craft breweries within the larger American brewing landscape.
The economic census data also reveals that beer shipments in kegs have grown substantially but still represent just a fraction of overall beer shipments. Specifically, beer shipments in barrels and kegs rose 88.2 percent to $2.4 billion in 2012. However, kegs represented just 8.6 percent of all beer shipments, up from 6.1 percent in 2007.
The newly released economic census data also detailed growth within the American wine and distilled liquors industries. Data shows that the wineries industry employed 37,602 people in 2012, up from 33,390 people in 2007. Average payroll per employee increased 10.7 percent during this period.
Total product shipments of wineries was fairly evenly split between red and white wine: 31.6 percent red wine, 29.2 percent white wine. Meanwhile, rosé grape and other fruit and berry wines accounted for 2.6 percent of total shipments.
Sales of distilled liquor increased 29.9 percent from 2007 to 2012, outpacing the increases observed in wine sales (16.5 percent increase) and beer sales (9.6 percent increase) during the same period. Wine and distilled alcoholic beverage merchant wholesalers reported $78.3 billion in sales, a 23.6 percent increase from 2007 to 2012. By comparison, beer and ale merchant wholesalers reported sales of $57.7 billion in 2012, up 10.7 percent.
Future 2012 Economic Census Industry Series reports will be released through February 2015. For more information on these future releases or to see which industries’ data have been released already, see http://business.census.gov.