StateWays - July/August 2015

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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Page 43 of 51

StateWays ■ ■ July/August 2015 44 acquired by Sebastopol's Paul Hobbs Winery, which is known for both its widely distributed Napa Valley and wine-collector-worthy Nathan Coombs Estate vineyard designate blends. "The most exciting thing about having a winery in an on-the-rise AVA is the sense of community and pioneering discovery that come along with it," says Megan Baccitich, Paul Hobbs Winery's direc- tor of winemaking. "Additionally, I fi nd it rewarding to have the opportunity to be instrumental in the creation of the AVA's reputation." Baccitich notes that California wines are fi - nally becoming better understood among cus- tomers, that it is "a multifaceted region, meaning it has variable climates, soils, varietals, vintages and wine styles. Specifi c to the Coombsville AVA, we've seen it perform very well in both hot and cool vintages. We understand it to have a strong diurnal shift, which makes for intense color and concentration in the wine. This challenge of shifting weather patterns has turned out to be a positive for us." Likewise, Laura Barrett, winemaker of Casey Flat Ranch in the Capay Valley AVA, enjoys surprising people with the likes of Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and a Syrah/Cabernet Sauvi- gnon blend made "from a place they have never heard of. I love educating them on the Capay Valley — where it is located, the history of the valley, the climate and soil. The challenges are that we have no coattails to follow, so we are creating our own path to success from the ground up. This began with fi guring out which grape varieties to plant, originally an experiment in 2003." Malibu Wine One of the most exciting AVAs to recently emerge is Malibu Coast. In 2014, after three years of applying for AVA status, more than 50 local vintners were granted the power to grace their bottles with the Malibu Coast AVA designation. "Unbeknownst to most people, there is documented history of the existence of vineyards in Malibu close to 200 years ago," explains El- liott Dolin of Dolin Malibu Estate Vineyards. "Over the course of time — between diseases, Prohibition and in- creased development — vine- yards disappeared from the scene until the mid-1980s, when restaurateur Michael McCarty planted what we consider the fi rst 'modern-day' vineyard in Malibu." "Excellent growing conditions led others to follow, and the Saddle Rock and Rosenthal Vineyards appeared several years later, each obtaining their own unique AVAs (Saddlerock-Mal- ibu and Malibu-Newton Canyon)," Dolin adds. "Throughout the years of late 1990 and early 2000, a number of other vine- yards sprung up and the movement gained momentum. During this time, Malibu wines were gaining recognition and winning awards in major wine competitions. However, other than the Saddlerock and Newton Canyon wines, the wines originating from Malibu grapes could only be designated as 'Los Angeles County' or 'California.' Neither offered the 'sense of place' or origin that we felt our wines deserved." Now that the group's efforts have led to the establishment of a proper AVA, Dolin is reveling in the attention it's received for, say, its Chardonnay. However, marketing, he says, remains a signifi cant challenge. "We have proven that we can produce award-winning wines, but we must raise public awareness of the quality and unique character of the wines coming out of our region," he explains. "Our most convenient target is the local audience, and Malibu wines are featured in most every wine shop in the area. But we hope to expand our audience throughout the state and nation- wide, perhaps internationally." "Malibu is a recognized name for many reasons, but wine is not yet at the forefront of that recognition," he adds. "While the mystique of 'Malibu' can work to our advantage and entice consumers to try our wines, we want them to be viewed and appreciated as se- rious efforts worthy of recog- nition, not just for the novelty of originating from Malibu." This is when the power of social media to engage audiences and build inter- est is an especially poignant tool to encourage action among buyers. "I like seeing these like-minded producers working together in order to promote the wines as a whole," says Story. "Having these wines placed in local wine shops, which are well thought out and mindful, is a major boost as well. But, bottom line, it all starts by getting a fi lled glass into the consumer's hand." " WE HAVE PROVEN THAT WE CAN PRODUCE AWARD-WINNING WINES, BUT WE MUST RAISE PUBLIC AWARENESS OF THE QUALITY AND UNIQUE CHARACTER OF THE WINES COMING OUT OF OUR REGION " - ELLIOTT DOLIN OF DOLIN MALIBU ESTATE VINEYARDS

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