Cheers January/February 2013

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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NORTH COAST FAST FACTS Counties: Humboldt, Lake and Mendocino (and parts of Marin and Solano) Major AVAs: Mendocino (est. 1984), North Coast (est. 1983). Growing conditions: Cool climate, high annual rainfall and ideal conditions for sustainable wine production Popular varietals: Pinot noir, riesling, sparkling wines Major vineyards and wineries: Parducci Wine Estates, Roederer Estate, Bonterra Vineyards The Toasted Oak Grill & Market in Novi, MI, offers several wines from the North Coast. FLAVOR AND VALUE Operators say that many of the North Coast's brands can require a hand-sell, as consumers aren't necessarily familiar with the wines beyond the area's biggest names such as Roederer Estate and Bonterra Vineyards. Many restaurant owners and retailers find that merchandising their wines by varietal also helps to get more of their customers acquainted with the area's wine styles and flavors. Price points for wines from the region are certainly competitive with those of Napa and Sonoma. "The bulk of the wineries in Mendocino County are extremely low-production, boutique wineries, and as such are not significantly distributed," says Brendan McGuigan, director of interactive media at Visit Mendocino County. Many wineries sell direct only, he notes. Some of the larger brands (Parducci, Fetzer) are nationally distributed, he notes, as are smaller labels owned by larger brands, such as Lazy Creek, under FerrariCarano and Edmeades under Kendall-Jackson, he says. The area is home to "an enormous proportion of small-scale, family-owned wineries creating hand-crafted, small-batch wines," McGuigan says. "When people from many regions talk about small production, they mean less than 5,000 cases. In Mendocino County, we generally mean less than 1,000 cases." And in some cases, he notes, "a wine may be produced in quantities of 50 or 60 cases." David Jabour, co-owner and CEO of the 74-location, Austin, TX-based Twin Liquors chain, carries a handful of wines from these regions, priced from $9.99 to $55.99. He confirms that while the big brand players are well known, "additional education and marketing is needed to bring awareness to the wine styles." Jared Chorney, general manager of Toasted Oak Grill & Market, a farm-to-table restaurant and retail shop in Novi, MI, agrees that many of the area's wines require hand selling. "But when speaking with our guests about the values they are getting, they are very receptive," he adds. Toasted Oak's offerings from the North Coast sell at accessible price points such as $8 a glass for on-premise consumption and $12 a bottle retail for the Bliss Family Vineyards Blend. Chorney also offers Paul Dolan zinfandel at $15 a bottle retail and Lang & Reed cabernet franc for $28. Any wines purchased at retail at Toasted Oak can also be consumed at the restaurant for a $7 corkage fee. The flavors of many of the North Coast's wines "complement our food extremely well," Chorney says. "I personally love wines from the North Coast and Mendocino, and drink them at home frequently due to their quality for such great value." At Café Adelaide & the Swizzle Stick Bar in New Orleans, general manager Lauren Kaplan steers customers to North Coast wines when they are seeking specific flavors at certain price points. She carries seven wines from the region, priced from $30 to $110 a bottle, including the Dry Creek Vineyards Clarksburg chenin blanc and viognier blend for $30. The appealing pricing with North Coast wines helps to move these bottles, Kaplan says, as does an attentive focus from her sales staff. "For our guests, these wines are often a great value, providing quality wines and more reasonable prices." CLICK FOR MORE For more information about North Coast wines, including a podcast featuring the sources from this story, please visit, or use your smart phone to activate this QR Code. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2013 | 15

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