WineAmerica The National Association of American Wineries Tue, 30 Jan 2024 16:18:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 WineAmerica 32 32 Unleashing the Power of Magic Tue, 30 Jan 2024 16:18:33 +0000 Read more]]> 2024 may well be one of the most challenging years in recent history for the American wine industry. Let’s change that.

Multiple Alarm Bells

At the recent Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento, several prominent experts in various fields sounded the alarms during the enormously popular “State of the Industry” session attended by several thousand industry members.

  • Wine Economist Mike Veseth compared the present with the distant past when similar clouds were on the horizon.
  • Wine market analyst Danny Brager cited several troubling trends in consumer demographics, beverage preferences, anti-alcohol pressures, and apparent wine industry apathy.
  • Steve Fredricks of Turrentine Brokerage repeatedly urged California wine grape growers to immediately tear out 30,000 acres of vineyards—roughly the total in New York State for grape juice, wine, and table grapes–to alleviate the current and chronic excess supply situation.

Let’s Get to Work!

We possess the power to unleash the magic of wine—if we all work together. Diversity is our strength, unity is our power.

Wine is produced in all 50 states, which have more than 10,500 wineries who have millions of customers, not to mention scores of winery trade associations which can also spread the magic far and wide. Wine is worth more than $276 billion to the American economy. Why not let the world know?

WineAmerica’s website has three key sections for three key audiences: Compliance Matters for wineries and winery associations to share with their employees; The Magic of Wine for wineries and associations to share with consumers and media; Economics for wineries and associations to share with public officials, media, and others.


Compliance Matters

This section involves matters of compliance that matter. It is general information, and not legal advice, but has the most vital information and appropriate links. Of particular note during a time when anti-alcohol messages are frequent and widespread is the specific language on what wine industry members may or may not say about the health effects of alcohol. We urge compliance with that. We also urge that you share this page with all your employees, and others as you see fit.


The Magic of Wine

There are eight documents, starting with an introductory one (“An Opportunity”) which describes what this overall “Magic” section contains, and how to use it to benefit your business and the greater wine industry. This is primarily aimed at consumers and media, but you should also use it internally to educate your staff, and externally to inform public officials, chambers of commerce, and others. The other pages are:

  • Wine Facts–fun facts about this magic juice
  • Wine Wishes–a sampling of toasts from around the world
  • Wine Sensations–the sensory appeal of fermented grape juice
  • Wine Words–quotes from famous (and other) people including descriptions, wine and nature, food, attitude, moderation, family and friends, and humor
  • Wine Farming–wine’s reflection of place and time, and preservation of land
  • Wine Wealth–the many economic benefits that wine makes from vine to glass
  • Wine Magic: A Toast–an editorial by WineAmerica President Jim Trezise which first appeared in Wine Industry Advisor

Spreading the Magic

Here are some ideas of how you can spread the magic, but please use your imagination to create others.

  • Create links to this section on your own website
  • Use relevant information in your newsletters, advertising, wine club messaging, press releases, social media and other forms of communication
  • For items like international toasts or wine words, add your favorites to your tasting room menus or as decor; print them on point-of-sale materials; create a simple bag stuffer, topped with “Thank You”; train your staff to use them with customers. Just have fun with them.



The Wine Wealth and Wine Farming sections of The Magic of Wine section contain summary information about wine’s economic impact and agricultural roots, and you can forward them just as they are.

However, even better is the Economic Impact Study of 2022 in the Economics section. Conducted for WineAmerica by John Dunham & Associates, it includes detailed data on a national level and for all 50 states, including number of wine producers, jobs, wages, tourism visits, tourism expenditures, and taxes on federal, state, and local levels. It also breaks out Direct, Supplier, and Induced Impacts.

Spreading the Magic

  • Include appropriate state-level documents on your website, and provide a link to the WineAmerica website section on “Economics”
  • Tout specific economic benefits (like number of tourists, and expenditures) in your newsletter, press releases, wine club communications, social media, and elsewhere
  • Highlight the amounts of state and local taxes generated by wine
  • Frame the state infographic, and display it in various places in your tasting room
  • Contact your federal, state, and local legislators to let them know of wine’s economic impact on your state by including the three documents on the WineAmerica website (see list of officials below). Important Note: Do this when they are NOT busy with legislation or other matters. Also, invite them to your winery so they can stroll through your vineyard, touch tanks and barrels, meet your employees, and taste your wines, all of which make your business come alive.
  • Share information with your state Farm Bureau, Grange, agricultural suppliers, and Chambers of Commerce
  • Make friendly signage near your checkout counter thanking customers for buying your wine and showing how it helps the local economy (the number of people you employ, the tourism figures, state and local taxes, etc.)
  • Create a simple bag stuffer thanking customers, mentioning the jobs they’re supporting, and inviting them to join your wine club.

Public Officials to Contact (including Chiefs of Staff in all cases)


  • Mayors
  • Country Executives
  • Legislative Leaders


  • Governor and Lieutenant Governor
  • Heads of Key Agencies/Departments: Agriculture, Finance, Tourism, Alcohol Regulation
  • Top Legislative Leaders
  • Members of Key Committees: Agricultural, Finance, Tourism, Regulation
  • Your local representatives


  • Senate and House Leaders (both parties)
  • Your Senators
  • Your Representative

By contacting your federal legislators, you will make WineAmerica’s work in Washington far more effective because legislators love to hear from their constituents—YOU—since you are who they represent.


Use Your Power!

This may seem like a lot, but if you devote just a day or two to making plans and setting up your system, it will take little time after that—and will pay huge dividends to your business and our industry. You can’t do it alone, but all of us can do it together.

Rich Smith Award of Excellence, Presented to Nick Dokoozlian Mon, 29 Jan 2024 02:08:55 +0000 Read more]]> SACRAMENTO, CA, January 24, 2024–The eighth annual Rich Smith Award of Excellence for outstanding contributions to the American grape and wine industry was presented today to Nick Dokoozlian, Vice President of Winegrowing Research at E. & J. Gallo Winery in Modesto, California.

The prestigious award annually reflects the spirit and accomplishments of the late Richard (Rich) Smith, founder of Valley Farm Management and Smith Family Wines in California’s Santa Lucia Highlands wine region. Rich was first and foremost a family man, but also a successful grape grower and winery owner, and a highly respected colleague known for the combination of passion, commitment and collaboration which helped advance the American grape and wine industry.

After Rich passed away in December 2015, WineAmerica invited two other organizations–National Grape Research Alliance (NGRA), and Winegrape Growers of America (WGA)–to collaborate with Rich’s family to create this annual award since Rich had been a loyal member of all three groups. The 2024 award was presented at WGA’s annual Leadership Luncheon during the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento.

“We are pleased to present this award to Nick Dokoozlian, a colleague greatly respected by my Dad,” said Rich’s son Jason Smith on behalf of Rich’s wife Claudia and daughter Kacy. “Not only did the two friends share a passion for research, but they also shared the innate spirit of collaboration which makes things happen.”

Nick has been a leader for collaborative efforts locally, nationally, and internationally. He has been the Research Chair of the National Grape Research Alliance (NGRA) since 2017 and was instrumental in NGRA’s formation in 2003. He is also Board Chair of the American Vineyard Foundation (AVF) where he has long been an active member. He recently successfully advocated, with NGRA, for permanent federal funding for the USDA-ARS Grape Genetics Research Unit in Geneva, NY, and the Sustainable Agricultural Water Systems Research Unit in Davis, CA.

“It is impossible to overstate the impact Nick Dokoozlian has had—and continues to have—on the grape and wine industry,” said Donnell Brown, President of NGRA. “In previous roles, he was a career-launching former professor and an impactful extension educator, applying his learnings not only from his academic tenure but from growing up working in his family’s wine, table and raisin grape vineyards. As a founder and research chair of NGRA, Nick has played a vital leadership role, and is always an enthusiastic collaborator and sage advisor. Somehow, he finds the time to contribute his laser-focused attention to other research organizations and initiatives, and is a popular speaker on the conference circuit, helping steer us all toward that rising tide that lifts all boats. Nick is a leading light of the research community, and it is a profound honor to call him a colleague.”

Nick has also played vital roles in several visionary projects, including but not limited to:

  • The landmark GRAPEx (Grape Remote Sensing Atmospheric Profile and Evapotranspiration eXperiment) with E. & J. Gallo, USDA-ARS, Utah State and NASA. Now in its tenth year, with findings pointing to critical reductions in water usage, this project has been expanded to tree fruit (olives and almonds);
  • The SCRI VitisGen projects, USDA National Clean Plant Network, and UC Davis Foundation Plant Services to support national grape germplasm improvement;
  • The NGRA-initiated SCRI Efficient Vineyard project for advancing precision viticulture in the U.S., and the NGRA-initiated SCRI Vineyard Nutrition team;

“Nick’s brilliance as a scientist is matched by his commitment to collaboration,” said Jim Trezise, President of WineAmerica. “He works for the world’s largest winery in the country’s largest wine state, yet just like Rich, Nick understands the power of working together with others as equals to achieve common goals. He is as good a listener as a speaker, which makes him a true leader.”

Representing the Winegrape Growers of America, Colleen Frei added, “Nick showcases the collaboration and engagement with others that makes our industry a place for dynamic development, based on passionate thinking and research and the desire to share knowledge.”

The actual Rich Smith Award is a solid bronze, circular depiction of Rich holding a glass of wine in a vineyard mounted on a large marble back, emblazoned with the words, “Rich Smith Award of Excellence”, plus “Passion, Commitment, Collaboration”, and the name of the recipient.

Prior recipients, starting in 2017, were: John Martini, Anthony Road Winery, Finger Lakes, New York; Pete Downs, Family Winemakers of California; Jerry Lohr, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Monterey, California; Jim Trezise, WineAmerica, Washington, DC; Donniella (Donnie) Winchell, Ohio Wine Producers; Tom Davenport of National Grape Cooperative; and Marty Clubb, L’Ecole No.41, Walla Walla, Washington.

Wyoming Wine Country Mon, 15 Jan 2024 03:11:26 +0000 Read more]]> Wyoming is one of the smallest and coldest wine states, with no AVAs, but some wineries partner with their Nebraska counterparts to the south to highlight emigration trails such as the Oregon Trail. The Wyoming Grape and Wine Association helps to promote the state’s wineries, which are also supported by the University of Wyoming’s grape research and extension program.

Table Mountain Vineyards actually grew out of a 2001 research project and thesis at UWYO by Patrick Zemmerer, from a family that started a farm in 1926 and has had four generations involved. His project proved that cold-hardy grapes could survive in Wyoming’s challenging climate, so he began planting what is now 10,000 vines with 12 varieties on 10 acres. The winery opened in 2004 with grape, fruit and honey wines and the philosophy, “Let the fruit do the talking”. The wines’ names reflect their state pride, with Cowgirl Blush and Red, Cowboy Red, Wyoming Gold, Wyoming Nectar (honey with cinnamon), and S.O.B (Son of Berry) from Raspberries.

Great Grapes: Valiant

South Dakota State University developed this variety, which is cold hardy down to minus 50F! Normally used in blends of wine, it can also produce nice jellies and serve as a very small berry table grape.

Policy Perspectives Mon, 15 Jan 2024 03:07:42 +0000 Read more]]> DC Update: New Shutdown Showdown

Congress is back, fighting again while a possible government shutdown looms in just a week. Last year was the least productive legislative session since 1931 (92 years), but this year is likely to break a new record, given the Congressional dysfunction exacerbated by the upcoming election. I hope to have some news to report in the future, but right now this is it. Sorry!

Los Angeles International  Wine Competition—Enter Now!

The Los Angeles International Wine Competition is now accepting entries until February 23, and I strongly encourage wineries to get involved ( 

This event is 85 years old, and as a judge for the past 25+ years, I can attest to its professionalism, fairness, and marketing value. There are judges from around the country and world, and wines from many states and countries bring home medals, with numbers attached (90 and above) to all Gold and Double Gold wines to enhance marketing. This event, held in March at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds (Fairplex), also includes parallel contests for wine labels, spirits, and olive oil. Part of their post-competition marketing program involves wine education classes during the LA County Fair in May which I always have the pleasure of teaching.

Covid hurt all competitions, but some like LA soldiered through it and are growing again. If you don’t enter, you can’t win, so enter today.

State Profile: Wisconsin Wine Country Sun, 07 Jan 2024 01:16:35 +0000 Read more]]> Wisconsin’s history as a wine region goes back to the mid-19th Century when future California wine pioneer Agoston Haraszthy planted grapes near the Wisconsin River and created what is now Wollersheim Winery. The first modern era winery, von Stiel, opened in 1967, and today the state has more than 100 producers.

Wisconsin is part of the multi-state Upper Mississippi River Valley AVA as well as having two of its own: Lake Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Ledge. The Wisconsin Winery Association works to promote the state’s wines, which are made from grapes and several other fruits. Wisconsin wineries focus on cold-climate “Minnesota” varieties, food, and fun.

Dancing Dragonfly got its playful name when retired actuarial Bill Bluhm went on a solo canoe trip, survived bad weather, and was later surrounded by a bunch of dragonflies in the Wisconsin wilderness. He and wife Christine’s home winemaking experiment turned into a 60-acre vineyard, and their wines have playful names like Frontessa (made from Frontenac grapes) and Marquessa (Marquette).

Spirits of Norway Vineyard—located in Norway, WI which was created by 40 Norwegian immigrants in 1839—is owned by Randy Larson, and has tons of awards from many competitions around the country. The wines include “Attitude Adjustment”, “Best of Times”, cold-hardy varietals like Brianna, and fruit wines like Tropical Lime and Honeydew.

Vines & Rushes Winery, owned by Ryan and Megan Prellwitz, uses the Minnesota grapes both as varietal wines and blends like Ceresco (Itasca, St. Pepin and LaCrescent). They also have a wood-fired brick oven made in Italy, with a floor temperature of 800 degrees and dome at 1,000, making it possible to cook a pizza in 90 seconds. They offer specialty pizzas, but you can also build your own from scratch.

White Winter Mead, Cider and Spirits, established in 1996, specializes in those products (especially mead) made from locally sourced ingredients. Owners Jon and Kim Hamilton  have garnered more than 110 awards in different competitions.

Wollersheim Winery, the granddaddy of Wisconsin wineries, sits on a hillside overlooking the Wisconsin River with Prairie du Sac on the other side, and is where Hungarian wine pioneer Agoston Haraszthy first planted grapes in the 1840’s before moving to California. Robert and Ann Wright purchased the winery in 1972, hired Beaujolais winemaker Phillippe Coquard in 1984, who with his wife Julie (the Wright’s daughter) now run the operation. They focus on quality and sustainability, as well as being official sponsors of the Green Bay Packers!

Great Grapes: Itasca

Named after Lake Itasca, the source lake for the Mississippi River in northwestern Minnesota, the Itasca grape is known for its extreme cold hardiness, high quality fruit chemistry and low acidity, and disease resistance. The elegant white wine can take on notes of pear, quince, kiwi, starfruit, and honeydew melon. It is marketed as a varietal and as part of blends.

Policy Perspectives Sun, 07 Jan 2024 01:13:28 +0000 Read more]]> DC Update

DC is still very quiet these days in terms of legislation of interest to WineAmerica, but next week we expect the conflict to resume in battles over the budget—again. One of the continuing resolutions to avoid a government shutdown expires on January 19, and another in early February, so the usual fighting will begin again in earnest next week. Stay tuned.

State Profile: West Virginia Wine Country Mon, 18 Dec 2023 16:39:23 +0000 Read more]]> West Virginia is one of the smallest wine states but has three AVA’s: Kanawha River Valley, Ohio River Valley, and Shenandoah Valley, with the latter two shared with neighboring states. The climate can be challenging, but French-America varieties generally do well.

Great Grapes: Baco Noir

Created in France in response to the phylloxera epidemic, Baco Noir is suited for heavy soils and cold climates (down to -20F) and makes a high acid, deeply pigmented wine that warrants oak to mellow the flavors, which can resemble Cabernet Sauvignon.

Policy Perspectives Mon, 18 Dec 2023 16:35:23 +0000 Read more]]> DC Update

Congress is now gone for the year, and maintained its record of having the least productive legislative session in 92 years. It also teed up next year as even worse, with new budget deadlines in late January and early February, plus impeachment hearings on President Biden and a possible contempt citation of his son Hunter, not to mention the six-week recess right before the election so everyone can campaign. Meanwhile, key legislative initiatives like the Farm Bill are stalled until further notice.

San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition—Enter Now!

The first and largest wine competition of 2024 is now just a month away, and I strongly encourage all wineries—especially those from non-California states—to enter before the extended deadline of December 23. The event is sponsored by the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, and organized by Scott and Bob Fraser.

I’ve judged “the Chronicle” for 20 years, and can attest to its efficiency, fairness, and marketing benefits. In recent years some 5,000 wines have been entered, a backroom army of 80 volunteers is coordinated by the incomparable Anne Vercelli, and about 60 judges swirl, sip, spit, and score over three days before the final “Sweepstakes” round on Friday morning. It’s tons of fun watching the unveiling of results—sort of like “The Oscars of Wine”.

The Chronicle has always been one of the friendliest competitions to wines from “other states”, with entries from New York, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and other regions often winning the top “Best of Class” honors in various categories. Beyond that, there are lots of Gold medals, along with Silver and Bronze.  And the results are spread far and wide, including at a Grand Tasting in San Francisco a month after the actual competition.

Don’t delay: Enter today. If you don’t play, you can’t win. Visit


New York Vineyard Survey: A Leap Ahead

While Congress ignores WineAmerica’s request for a national vineyard survey, the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, led by Executive Director Sam Filler, is charging ahead with its own statewide version.

With grants from the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority and the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets, NYWGF will initiate the first comprehensive Statewide Vineyard Survey since 2011. It is partnering with Upstate NY-based brand-building firm, Agency 29, along with Ag Access and Deep Planet AI to conduct the survey.

This is a big deal. Last year, WineAmerica retained John Dunham & Associates to conduct a National Economic Impact Study of the Wine Industry, which is on our website. It was detailed and comprehensive—except for the glaring lack of reliable vineyard data, which the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of USDA stopped collecting in 2011. As a result, WineAmerica has been urging Congress to reinstate funding for that, but it’s stalled in the Farm Bill.

New York is an important grape and wine state, both for juice grapes (Concord and Niagara) and a wide variety of wine grapes including Native American, French hybrid, Cornell, Minnesota, and classic vinifera varieties. The survey will be conducted in 2024 and 2025, with the intention of continuing it beyond those two years.

Separately, Fox Run Vineyards on Seneca Lake was recently honored with a “Best of Rochester” award among 17 nominees in the overall “Spirits” category which included wineries, craft brewers, distillers, cideries, and retailers. Co-owner Scott Osborn is the current Vice Chair of WineAmerica, to become Chair in May during our Washington meeting.

State Profile: Washington Wine Country Sat, 09 Dec 2023 20:23:00 +0000 Read more]]> Washington State is like a mini-California and a maxi-New York. 

It is by far the second largest grape and wine producing state, though its 836 wineries are only about a fifth of California’s 4,795—but nearly twice New York’s 470. And the growth has been explosive: When I came to the industry 41 years ago, New York was a clear #2 and Washington a distant #3, but a combination of visionary wineries,  effective organizations, and a collaborative spirit have shaped today’s success.

Washington also has 20 AVA’s (California 147, New York 11), and enjoys several major factors favoring grape and wine production. Its latitude at 46 degrees (between Burgundy and Bordeaux) is ideal in terms of temperature ranges for many different grape varieties. The lack of rainfall, and abundant sunlight east of the Cascade mountains, combine for superb ripening with little disease pressure. Glacial and Volcanic soils are ideal hosts for vines, and Washington has an abundance of own-rooted vineyards.

Chateau St. Michelle, part of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, provided vision, collaboration, and coattails for the early growth of the Washington wine industry, with leaders like Allen Shoup and Ted Baseler understanding how the winery and the state industry were inextricably linked. Besides producing a large amount of high quality wines distributed internationally, boosting the image of Washington as a serious wine region, they supported the industry in numerous ways, and served as a wedge to help other producers enter markets. The current situation involving significant cutbacks in future grape purchases will be a challenge for the industry and its various organizations.

DeLille Cellars in Woodinville recently celebrated its 30th anniversary as a top producer of Bordeaux style blends under the philosophy that “all good blends transcend the sum of their individual parts”. With a particular focus on grapes from the Red Mountain AVA, DeLille was among the first five wineries in Washington to receive a five star rating from Robert Parker. The winery also features a superb restaurant where WineAmerica had its Fall Retreat dinner last year, a truly memorable occasion.

L’Ecole No. 41 in Walla Walla has been a flagship for quality, collaboration and leadership since its founding in 1983 by Jean and Baker Ferguson, joined in 1989 by their daughter Megan and her husband Marty Clubb, and then their children Riley and Rebecca—a three generation operation. Named after the Historic Frenchtown Schoolhouse it occupied, L’Ecole No. 41 was only the third winery in Walla Walla, and the 20th in Washington—where there are now over 800. Their sustainable vineyards produce high quality grapes resulting in extraordinary wines recognized around the world. Marty received the Rich Smith Award Excellence in January, recognizing “Passion, Commitment, Collaboration” for his years of leadership in multiple state and national organizations, including WineAmerica.

In addition to many great wineries, Washington State has several effective trade associations on state and regional levels, including the Washington Winegrowers AssociationWashington Wine InstituteWalla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, and others. In addition, for many years the Washington Wine Commission, funded with industry assessments administered by the state, has been a major reason why the reputation for quality has spread far and wide across the United States and world. Last, but by no means least, Washington State University has had a robust, largely industry funded, viticulture and enology capability supplemented by smaller but effective programs at smaller institutions.

Great Grapes: Merlot

Many years ago I had the pleasure of participating in a seminar titled, “Merlot Magic”, at the Kapalua Bay Wine Festival in Hawaii which compared Long Island and Washington wines, with the latter presented by the late wine writer Tom Stockley. Oh, and there was Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate in the mix as well. The audience loved it, which is no surprise: What’s not to like?

The film “Sideways” dealt an unfair blow to Merlot, but Washington vintners have consistently shown how truly great this wine can be. With roots in Bordeaux, Merlot has softer tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon, resulting in a velvety essence in taste and mouthfeel, and also making it a good blending partner with Cab and in “Meritage” wines.

Policy Perspectives Sat, 09 Dec 2023 20:20:48 +0000 Read more]]> Chag Sameach!  L’chayim!

Last night’s onset of Hanukkah reminds us that it’s the season for all types of celebrations across countries and cultures, and wine is part of that. If music is the universal language, wine is the global toast.

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to clink glasses, and while “Cheers” always sounds good, many other words are appropriate with friends from around the world.

In preparation for the holidays, here’s a small sampling (with a pronunciation guide), with more to come next week. Share with friends and family.

Cheers (English)

L’chayim (Jewish, “to life”, Le Cha-im)

Chag Sameach! (Happy Hanukkah)

Sante (or A Votre Sante, French, Sahn-tay)

Cin Cin (Italian, cheen cheen)

Kanpai (Japan, Kan-pie)

Ganbei (China, Gan-bay)

Policy Perspectives

DC is quiet these days in terms of legislation, but loud with conflict. The biggest news, after last week’s expulsion of former Rep. George Santos (R-NY), is the announcement that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is retiring this month, with both of those actions leaving Republicans with the narrowest of majorities while other members are pondering early exits as well.

It’s reasonably safe to predict that virtually nothing will get done this month. Happy Holidays!