How I Fell in Love with Wine: Autumn Leaves and Finding Grape Buyers

Contributed by Victoria Herrera – In 1950 my great grandfather bought 75 acres of farmland outside of the town of Healdsburg in Sonoma, California in the Dry Creek Valley AVA. It was then passed down to my grandfather, who was an immigrant from Italy. Naturally he planted several acres of Zinfandel grapes that he would sell to make a little bit of cash, and also make wine for the family.

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Vineyard Leaves in Autumn

Growing up, I always enjoyed visiting my grandfather at his Healdsburg property. I enjoyed watching him take care of his chickens, vegetable garden, walnut trees, and grapes. He took great pride in everything he grew. One of the best parts for me was to climb to the top of the hill in the autumn time and look down across the vineyards. There was a full 180-degree view of the Dry Creek Valley, and the vine leaves were always beautiful shades of yellow, gold, brown, red, and green.

Recently my grandfather passed away, so my mother and her two sisters had to take over the work of the gardens and vineyards. However, we no longer had any one to sell the grapes to because the connections my grandfather had remained with him. We were left with beautiful grapes, but no idea what to do with them or to whom to sell them.

This is how I fell in love with the wine business. My mother and I reached out to people, and eventually we found someone to buy and harvest our grapes. Experiencing the whole process created a spark within me, and I knew I wanted to be involved in the wine industry. That is why I am studying wine business at Sonoma State University.

Though I am not old enough to drink wine yet, I will be in another year. Then I look forward to falling in love with wine in another way – through exploring taste and texture, pairing with food, and sharing with friends and family.

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Old Vine Zinfandel in Autumn

 

The Unknown Story of Gloria Ferrer Champagne Cave’s First Venture into the US Market

Contributed by Jennifer Schiff – The SSU WineSense Club’s first meeting of the Spring 2017 semester featured Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves, a prominent bubble house located in the southernmost part of Sonoma. The sparkling wine house was established in 1982 by the same folks who brought us the globally distributed Cordon Negro, Freixenet. However, there is a little known story about their first venture into the US in the early 1930’s.

screenshot_20170207-165816Multiple Wars and Unrest Delay Arrival to California

After years upon years of producing cava and becoming the largest producer and exporter of sparkling wines in the world, the Spanish company Freixenet decided to extend their reaches and break ground in the wine world here on US soil. When they first ventured to the United States, their visit was cut short due to civil unrest erupting back home, which would eventually develop into the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s. Shortly following that conflict was World War II, resulting in a less than ideal time for the company’s out of country developments. It wouldn’t be until the 1980s that they would again venture West, this time to the Pacific Coast, in search of a property suitable for the growing of grapes. In 1982 a purchase of 207 acres, now referred to as their Home Ranch, was made. Jose Ferrer, CEO of Freixenet at the time, wisely decided that the estate was suited to be named after none other than his wife Gloria. Over the next four years, vines were planted, buildings constructed, and plans for business drawn up. The doors at Gloria Ferrer opened in 1986 and their adventure as the first sparkling wine house in Carneros began.

Gloria Ferrer Today

Thirty-one years have passed since their opening and Gloria Ferrer has established itself as one of the finest bubble makers here in Sonoma County. Today they are responsible for over 150,000 cases in production, and have accumulated hundreds of Gold Medals in recognition of their wine. The parent company, Freixenet, with over 500 years of winemaking of Metodo Tradicional, took their talents and applied that same expertise to utilizing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay under Methode Champenoise in California.

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SSU WineSense Club Tasting with Gloria Ferrer 

Tasting of Four Gloria Ferrer Wines

During the meeting, we had the pleasure of tasting four different wines from the GF portfolio, all some of their most successful and celebrated products. To ensure no bias or influence was impressed upon us by his words, our speaker opted out of providing any details beyond the name, style, blend, and vintage of the wine, so as to allow us to form our own opinions on tasting notes:

Name Vintage Style Blend Tasting Notes
Sonoma Brut NV Brut 88% Pinot Noir 12% Chard. Citrus, Tart Green Apple
Blanc De Noir NV Brut 92% Pinot Noir 8% Chard. Fruity, Dark Cherry
Royal Cuvee 2007 Brut ⅔ Pinot Noir ⅓ Chardonnay Yeast, Bread, Grapefruit
Brut Rose 2013 Brut 92% Pinot Noir 8% Chard. Red Fruit Straw. Cranberry

 

In the end, all of the wines were delicious and well-received, so it was not possible to select a favorite.

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SSU WineSense Board Members with Gloria Ferrer Staff

Swimming Pools and a Wine Wonderland – A Delightful Tasting with Francis Ford Coppola Winery

(Contributed by Itze Monserrat Peña-Andrade) This week’s SSU WineSense Club meeting was quite thrilling in that we welcomed Francis Ford Coppola Winery for the very first time. The meeting and educational tasting was led by Kevin Patterson and Kaila Medina, both Hospitality Professionals working in tasting room operations. They provided information about the history, products, and special amenities at the winery.

Swimming Pool at Francis Ford Coppola Winery

The Unique Attributes of Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Sonoma County

Nestled on what was formerly Chateau Souverain Winery in Geyserville, California, Francis Ford Coppola Winery is a winery that is not to be missed.  When the winery was being renovated, Francis had a vision that it:

“Should be like a resort, basically a wine wonderland, a park of pleasure where people of all ages can enjoy the best things in life – food, wine, music, dancing, games, swimming and performances of all types. A place to celebrate the love of life!”

Today his vision is a reality, and the Coppola Winery is truly a Wine Wonderland!  Influenced by Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, the winery offers many delights for the visitors of all ages. With swimming pools, bocce courts, restaurants, event rooms, multiple tasting bars, and a Hollywood movie museum, the winery over delivers with fun activities to while away an afternoon and evening.

Some of the unique features include several of Coppola’s Oscar statues, along with memorabilia from his movies, such as Vito Corleone’s desk from The Godfather and a restored 1948 Tucker Sedan as was used in Tucker: The Man and His Dream. 

Restaurant at Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Kevin Leads Wine Tasting at SSU

Kevin and Kaila led the members of WineSense club through a tasting that featured a diverse selection of five Coppola wines:

  • 2014 Directors Cut Russian River Valley Chardonnay
  • 2014 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
  • 2013 Directors Cut Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
  • 2014 Directors Cut Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2012 Directors Cut Cinema Blend

They explained the special characteristics of each wine we tasted, and provided background information on the labels and unique packaging. These five delicious wines were but a glimpse of the many wines that Francis Ford Coppola Winery offers, and we were invited to visit the tasting room in the future.

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Favorites Wines of the Evening

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Millennial participants were asked to vote for their two favorite wines of the evening. The winners were:

2012 Directors Cut Cinema ($39) – A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, this wine exudes blackberries, violets, spice and vanilla.

2013 Directors Cut Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($27).  Red zinfandel with notes of mixed berries, cherries and licorice, plus a hint of nutmeg.

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SSU WineSense Executive Board at Francis Ford Coppola Eduational Tasting

 

Duckhorn Winery Explains Waterfowl Theme to SSU Millennials

(Contributed by Itze Monserrat Peña-Andrade) The story of Duckhorn Winery and how it has expanded on its waterfowl theme over the years was the topic of our most recent SSU WineSense Club meeting. Led by winemaker, Michael Accurso, he captivated the audience with both words and a tasting of four delectable wines.

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Michael Accurso with SSU Winesense Board Members 

A Little Bit of Duckhorn History

Duckhorn Vineyards was founded by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn in 1976. Throughout the forty years it has been in operation, Duckhorn Vineyards has established itself as one of North America’s premier producers of Napa Valley wines. From its modest inaugural vintage of 800 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and 800 cases of Merlot in 1978, to its addition of Sauvignon Blanc in 1982, Duckhorn Vineyards has crafted a tradition of quality and excellence that continues to this day.

Duckhorn Winery in Napa Valley

As time passed on, Duckhorn added more brands to its winery, making sure to keep to the waterfowl theme. This was not only because Dan and Margaret had a last name of “Duckhorn,” but because they have always enjoyed birds, especially waterfowl. Therefore, the first brand they added was Paradox in 1994, followed by Golden Eye, Migration, and Decoy and Canvas Back in the ensuring years. Today several of these brands have their own winery with tasting rooms open to the public.

Michael Leads Wine Tasting at SSU

Michael led the members of WineSense club through a tasting that featured four of the brands offered by Duckhorn.  These included:

  • 2013 Migration Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley
  • 2012 Goldeneye Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley
  • 2012 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot from the Napa Valley
  • 2012 Paradoxx Red Blend from the Napa Valley

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The Favorite Wine of the Evening

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Millennial students in attendance were asked to vote for their favorite wine of the evening. Each participant could vote once and the favorite of the evening was the 2012 Goldeneye Pinot Noir.

It was an enriching night, the educational tasting that Michael provided kept everyone entertained and laughing. We can’t thank him enough for joining us in leading us all through this fantastic experience!

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Favorite Wine of the Evening — Golden Eye 2012 Pinot Noir

 

What Are Wine Preferences of Different American Generations?

(Based on excerpt from Vineyard & Winery Management article entitled Wine Generations.)

Generations

American Generations from WMC Study

There is an old adage that as people age, they drink more wine. In many cases, research has validated this concept. Yet in the early 2000’s, members of the Millennial generation turned 21 and began adopting wine in large percentages. This has continued over the past 15 year, until in 2016, the Wine Market Council reported that US Millennials consume more wine (36%) than Baby Boomers (34%). At the same time, Gen Xers, now in their 40’s, have still not adopted wine to the extent that Millennials have.

So why are there these generational fluctuations when it comes to wine, and what differences are apparent in the various American generations? The fact that the newest Generation Z (also called the iGeneration) just turned 21 in 2016, makes this a more compelling issue for the wine industry.

Vineyard & Winery Management magazine published one of my articles, written with Dr. Chang, describing our recent study on this topic. This posting is an excerpt of some of the highlights in the study. Millennials were divided into Older (30 – 38) and Younger (21 – 29), due to previous research showing that as Millennials age and obtain jobs with higher income, they drink more wine.

Overview of the US Generations

Though there are different definitions regarding the names and dates of American generations, we will use those provided by the Wine Marketing Council; illustrating age ranges in 2015. We have also included characteristics of each generation:

  • Swing Generation – aged 70 – 82. Currently around 30 million Americans. Grew up during several wars and part of the Great Depression. Considered to be cautious, disciplined and self-sacrificing. They are drinking less wine due to health reasons.
  • Boomer Generation – aged 51 – 69. Currently around 77 million Americans. The largest generation in history. The first TV generation. Started the “free love movement. Considered to be optimistic and driven. Currently buying and drinking a lot of  wine in America.
  • Gen Xers – aged 39 to 50. Currently around 44 million Americans. Called the “latch key” kids because they were often the children of divorce. Skeptical, individualistic, but also community minded. Primarily a cocktail generation, but now drinking more wine.
  • Millennials – aged 21 – 38. Currently around 70 million Americans. Also called Gen Y and Echo Boomers. Grew up with the Internet, and parents who told them how special they were. Optimistic, team-oriented, assertive, and believe in work/life balance.  Buying and drinking a lot of wine.
  • iGeneration – aged 6 – 20. Currently 61 million Americans. Also called Gen Z. Born into a period of terrorism. Grew up with cell phones. Very technology savvy. Entrepreneurial, seek face to face interaction and honesty. Unclear of their wine interests at this early stage, but very interested in healthy food. 

Consumption Frequency:  Boomers and Older Millennials Drinking the Most Wine

The results showed that Boomers (41%) and Older Millennials (43%) drink wine more often, but Older Millennials actually scored significantly higher than the other generations in terms of drinking wine on a daily basis. This suggests that Older Millennials are an important segment for wineries to focus on, especially as Boomers continue to age and may not be able to drink as much wine in the future due to health reasons.

Table 1: Frequency of Wine Consumption by Generation

Generation Daily Several Time Per Week Occasional

(Once a week or less often)

Younger Millennial 12% 39% 49%
Older Millennial 22% 43% 35%
Gen Xer 16% 39% 45%
Boomer 13% 41% 46%

 Major Findings:

  • Preferred Wine Types – All Generations Love Red Wine, but Disagree on Other Types
  • Involvement: Millennials Much More Involved With Wine than Other Generations
  • Risk Taking: Millennials and Gen Xers Much More Willing to Try New Wines
  • Price: Millennials Willing to Pay More for Wine
  • Purchase Locations: Wine Shops and Grocery Stores Preferred by All, but Older Millennials Most Likely to Purchase Online

Social Media & Ecommerce Findings

  • Social Media: Agreement on Facebook, but Younger Millennials Prefer YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest
  • Social Media to Discuss Wine: Older Millennials Talk About Wine the Most, and Boomers the Least
  • Wine Apps: Used Most by Millennials, but Boomers Like Wine Searcher

Table 2: Percentage of Generations Using Wine Apps

Use Wine Apps Vivino Hello Vino Delectable Wine Searcher
Young Millennials 32% 18% 14% 10% 14%
Older Millennials 44% 29% 25% 18% 19%
Gen Xers 30% 13% 15% 10% 15%
Boomers 13% 3% 3% 2% 9%

 Key Take-Aways

Though it is not possible to list all implications of this research here, there are a few key take-aways that may be helpful to wine marketers and strategists who are trying to sell wine to the different generations:

  1. Respect the Boomers: This generation is still drinking  a lot of wine in America today, so though they may spend less than Millennials, they are still an important segment to target. However wine strategists need to develop contingency plans to prepare for the aging of Boomers and the probable likelihood that they will drink less in the future due to health reasons. Traditional marketing channels will still work with this generation, but Facebook and WineSearcher seem to be good ways to connect with them online.
  2. Don’t Ignore Gen Xers: Though this is a smaller generation, and seemed to prefer cocktails over wine when they were younger, their wine consumption behavior has increased as they’ve aged. They also appear to enjoy trying new wines, and do go online to get information about wine. They have almost as high a usage of Twitter and Youtube as the Millennials, and are willing to pay more for wine than Boomers.
  3. Target Older Millennials: This generation appears to be highly engaged in wine and is willing to pay more for it. What may be challenging is that fact that they know so much and are very technology savvy. Wine marketers need to learn how to connect with this cohort across promotion channels, but especially online. Both innovative and intellectual methods are necessary to keep this group engaged with a brand.
  4. Innovate for Younger Millennials: This younger cohort has lower income, but are willing to spend more on wine than Boomers. However, they enjoy trying new wines, and varietal is not as important to them. This points to a need for new innovation wine styles and options for this group, as well as online advertising that is more focused on Youtube, Instagram and Pinterest.
  5. Study Needs of iGeneration: It’s difficult to believe that the iGeneration turned 21 in January of 2016, but very little is known about their wine drinking perceptions. The fact that they are very interested in healthy food and nutrition suggests that focusing on the natural way in which wine is made, especially sustainable, organic, and biodynamics wines, could be useful.

References

FOR A COMPLETE COPY OF THE STUDY, CONTACT VINEYARD & WINERY MANAGEMENT magazine: Thach, L. & Chang, K. (2016). Wine Generations: A new survey looks at consumer wine preferences. Vineyard & Winery Management, Vol. 42, No. 1, pgs. 124-128.

SSU Wine Sense Club Welcomes Korbel – The Oldest California Champagne Cellar Dating from 1882

IMG_5379(Contributed by Itze Monserrat Pena) The SSU WineSense Club kicked off the Spring 2016 semester with a delicious tasting of sparkling wine and port to celebrate the romantic month of February. Obviously Korbel Champagne Cellars was a “natural” choice to invite to campus for an educational and fun tasting.

A Little Bit of Korbel History

Korbel & Bros. Inc. has an interesting tale that dates back to 1862 where believe it or not, the three Korbel brothers: Francis, Anton and Joseph founded Korbel to make cigar boxes in San Francisco, California. It was an immediate success, which led them to become involved in the export of hardwood and timber. That attracted the brothers to the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Over time, they began to plant vineyards on the Russian River property.

By 1882, the brothers were producing up to 30,000 gallons of wine. Due to their success, they decided to devote all their attention to their vineyards. In 1884, they invited Frank Hasek, a champagne master, to assist with production. Hasek brought forth the Methode Champenoise approach to make sparkling wine, and spent the next decade blending the results of different grape harvests to produce the distinctive Korbel style.

Why California Champagne on Label?

Today Korbel is the fourth largest Champagne producer in the United States, and reserves the right to use the term “California Champagne” on its labels. This is because in 2005, the EU and US agreed that the US would no longer use European wine region names, such as Champagne, Sherry, Chablis, etc. on its labels, unless it was a producer that had been doing it for a long time. Korbel fell under these grandfathered rules.  For more info, read.

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A Tasting of Four Korbel Wines

Justin Shushek, a part-time hospitality rep at Korbel and full-time SSU Wine Biz major, led the tasting. The more than 40 people who showed up for SSU’s Wine Sense Club meeting enjoyed a selection of 4 delicious Korbel wines:

  1. 2012 Korbel Natural from the Russian River Valley,
  2. Korbel Brut Rose Romance, a limited edition
  3. Korbel Sec
  4. Korbel Port

Justin walked the students through the characteristics of each wine we tasted and explained that the level of sweetness in a sparkling wine is determined by the dosage, which is added after the wine finishes second fermentation in the bottle.

Favorites Wines of the Evening

FullSizeRenderAt the conclusion of our first meeting, the club members were asked to vote for their favorite wines of the evening.  Each participant could vote once with many going back and forth over their two favorites but in the end, the winner of the evening with not too many votes behind was:

  • SelectorBottles_Natural2012 Korbel Natural from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma

It was a wonderful night and a great way to kick of the start of our Spring 2016 WineSense club with old members and new. The educational tasting is one that students will not forget any time soon and we can’t thank Justin enough for leading us all through the first meeting!

 

SSU WineSense Announces New Executive Board and Fall 2015 Tasting Schedule

2015/2016 Executive Board for SSU Wine Sense Club

2015/2016 Executive Board for SSU Wine Sense Club

The Sonoma State University (SSU) WineSense Club proudly announces the members of the 2015/2016 Executive Board. In addition, they have developed a very exciting line-up of wineries and organizations who will be visiting campus to conduct educational wine tastings throughout the semester.

2015/2016 Executive Board for SSU Wine Sense

  • President: Rachel Minor
  • Vice President: Taylor Hood
  • Treasurer: Justin Stushek
  • VP of Marketing: Jingmei Su
  • VP of Operations & Culinary Experiences: Matt Lopez
  • Director of Membership: Christian Gutierrez
  • Director of Campus Outreach: Sophia Fish
  • Director of Campus Marketing: Jamie Huerta
  • Director of Meetings: Brooke Bartolome
  • Director of Volunteers and Fundraising: Itze Pema-Andrade

SSU Wine Sense Mission

The mission of the SSU Wine Sense Club is to create a responsible, fun and educational environment for all levels of wine enthusiasts to further expand their knowledge and appreciation for the wonderful world of wine. We are dedicated to provide students the opportunity to experience and enjoy events that showcase the wine industry and help students connect with the industry and their leaders.

Fall 2015 Wine Sense Schedule 

Tastings are open to SSU students over the age of 21. Meetings will be held in the Bennett Valley Room of the Student Union beginning at 7pm. Membership fees for the semester are $30, payable at the door. Fees are pro-rated for students who join later in the semester. Each session includes an educational briefing and responsible wine tastings accompanied by appetizers. ID’s are checked at the door for each meeting.

  • Sept 17 – Kenwood Winery
  • Oct. 1 – Somm Select
  • Oct. 15 – Rare Cat Wine
  • Oct. 29 – La Crema & Murphy Goode
  • Nov. 5 – TBD
  • Nov. 19 – Dewey Wines
  • Dec. 3 – TBD

Wineries interested in providing an educational tasting are encouraged to contact SSU Wine Sense Board Members at WinesenseSSU@gmail.com

Dewey Markham Guides SSU Millennials in a Bordeaux Wine Tasting

Dewey Markum with Bordeaux Wines

Dewey Markum with Bordeaux Wines

Contributed by Erica Schreckenghaust – This past Thursday, the Wine Sense club had the honor of being lead through a wine tasting of many famous Bordeaux wines by author and wine scholar, Dewey Markham. Dewey is a man of many passions and exemplifies the idea of chasing your dreams, as his dreams have led him in ventures all over the world.

Dewey Markham’s Wine Journey

Dewey was born and raised in New York, and later attended New York University.  He discovered a love for cooking and enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America. In 1986, Dewey moved to Paris and became director of the cooking school L’Ecole de Cuisine La Carenne, starting a wine studies program.

After realizing he had a great passion for wine he attended the School of Oenology at Bordeaux University earning a degree in wine tasting.  Dewey has also written many popular wine books, such as Wine Basics and 1855: A History of the Bordeaux Classification. Dewey currently lives in Bordeaux where he hosts private wine tours and serves as an ambassador for many of the amazing Bordeaux wines at seminars all over the world.

Tasting of Five Bordeaux Wines

Dewey presented five different red blends for the 37 attendees to taste:

  • 2011 Château Bournac
  • 2009 Château Liversan
  • 2009 Château Mongravey
  • 2008 Château Lagrange
  • 2008 Château Ormes de Pez

Favorite Wines of the Evening

pt7871Interestingly the wines that were most appreciated by the Millennials were the two 2008 vintages — Château Lagrange and Château Ormes de Pez.

The 2008 Château Lagrange is a blend consisting of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 7% Petite Verdot, from the Saint-Julien appellation. The Château Ormes de Pez was a 60 Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc blend from the Saint-Estêphe appellation.

We cannot thank Dewey enough for his excellent presentation, selection of wines and once in a lifetime tasting experience!

 

My Favorite Tasting Room Series: Stephen & Walker’s, Healdsburg, CA

Stephen and Walker Tasting Room

Stephen and Walker Tasting Room

(By Guest Author Emily Mobley) As soon as I walked into Stephen & Walker’s Wine Tasting Room located in Healdsburg, I knew I was going to have a good time. Enticed with excitement and enjoying the atmosphere of summer, I could not wait to have my first sip of “real” wine. I had recently turned 21, and wine was still a mystery to me. What was so special about it? “Real” wine was everything I didn’t know and was looking forward to experiencing.

It was August and my neighbors invited me to go wine tasting with them in Healdsburg. Because I felt awkward and a bit embarrassed, I invited my best friend Scott to come along. While he tried to be enthusiastic about tasting wine, I knew his wine etiquette was nothing compared to his envious beer attitude. However, I felt relieved that he was tagging along, and excited about what I was going to learn.

As we entered Stephen & Walkers (http://www.trustwine.com/), I was delighted with the smell of wine, the sound of laughter, and the sight of long wooden countertops. The lighting in the tasting room was majestic and highlighted the wine glasses hanging above the wine bar.  The windows were filled with beautiful plants, and barrels of wooden tubs overflowed with sample selections of wines to come.

A tall gray-haired man smiled at us as we approached the bar, and asked how we were doing. We said we were here to taste the specialty wines they had to offer. He laughed and then began to describe the background of the winery, giving credit to Nancy Walker, the winemaker. He was charming, sweet, and hilarious with his stories of how the Stephen & Walker business was established, and how hard they worked to put love and passion into their wine.  We then proceeded to taste through several special wines.

Looking back on the visit, I realize what an exceptional moment it was for me, because I witnessed how people who work in wine want to share with others and make them feel special.  Instead of the uptight and pushy wine server I expected, we encountered a sweet and friendly person who changed my world.

It was then that I realized this was a world I wanted to enter, because I knew that I would never get bored with wine because of all the stories, networking, and connections I could make. It was a career that would challenge me and place me on a path of perseverance and wonderful friends to come, all while enjoying wine and the people who are attracted to it.

NOTE:  This post is part of the Favorite Winery Tasting Room Series, in which Millennial wine business students describe one of their favorite tasting room experiences.

My Favorite Tasting Room Series – Testarossa Winery

Testarossa Winery

Testarossa Winery

(By Guest Author Nicholas Giampaoli)  Growing up in the city of San Jose, I was not very familiar with wineries. I always figured that wine came from Sonoma and Napa County. After coming to Sonoma State and becoming more familiar with wine country, when I visited home I wanted to check out some local wineries. I had no idea they even existed in the south bay until I did a web search.

During my web search I came across Testarossa Winery. It turned out that the winery is very historic and is considered the fourth oldest California winery still in operation. Before the winery was called Testarossa, it was Novitate founded in 1888 in Los Gatos. I love anything with historic significance, so I decided to check it out.  It may be a coincidence being my favorite and most memorable tasting room experience but also my very first winery tasting room experience.

Nestled up against the Santa Cruz Mountains, the property was beautiful with California nature surrounding the winery.  Testarossa had somewhat newer buildings in place for the winey, but also left one of the original buildings from when it was first built. They used the building to store the tanks for the fermentation process.

The tasting room was located in a small cave. This was what I found to be awesome. I absolutely love the idea of being inside the mountain with dim lighting. I don’t know why but I think that is really cool. The tasting room representative was really nice and informative. But what I think sold me was the environment of the winery. If I am ever back in the area I would visit Testarossa again.  (http://www.testarossa.com/)

NOTE:  This post is part of the Favorite Winery Tasting Room Series, in which Millennial wine business students describe one of their favorite tasting room experiences.