The SOMM Journal

April / May 2018

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{ } 55 Peay Vineyards' Andy Peay pours a Pinot Noir sampling for Jonathan Pullis, MS. –––– –––– SONOMA RISING Mark Malpiede, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Williams Selyem, also serves as the Vice President of Sonoma County Vintners. The SOMM Journal asked Malpiede to share a brief description of each of the incredible Sonoma Rising lots making an appearance at the Sonoma County Barrel Auction. "Fortitude" Cabernet Sauvignon Lot (20 cases): "Sonoma Rising 'Fortitude' is a once- in-a- lifetime alliance of four of Sonoma County's most distinguished Cabernet Sauvignon producers: Aperture, Lambert Bridge Winery, Laurel Glen Vineyard, and Mauritson Wines. These wineries share an affinity for hillside- grown Cabernet and the belief that these wines are unique expressions of Sonoma County." The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is comprised of grapes from Rockpile Ridge Vineyard (30%), Peaceland Vineyard (30%), Gilfillan Vineyard (30%), and Laurel Glen Estate Vineyard (10%). "Resilience" Pinot Noir Lot (20 cases): Appropriately titled "Resilience," "this wine is a blend from four amazing Pinot Noir producers: AldenAlli, Arista Winery, Benovia Winery, and Williams Selyem, all of which are from the Russian River Valley or Sonoma Coast regions," Malpiede says. "While none of the wineries or the related vineyards were impacted by the fires, all of us have friends and families who were directly impacted. Dan Kosta of AldenAlli and Mike Sullivan of Benovia both lost homes in the fires. Like Sonoma County in general, the Pinot Noir community is a small and very tight-knit community, and we all wanted to pitch in and help in any way we could." MacMurray Estate Vineyards will host the trade-only auction in the Russian River Valley, but location aside, this year's event will usher in another significant change in the wake of the wildfires. The proceeds from two special "Sonoma Rising" barrel lots will go toward the Sonoma County Vintners Foundation Emergency Relief Fund, established to address the immediate, mid- and long-term needs of the local community impacted by natural disasters or other emergencies. The auction will also take time to thank the heroes serving this community. "At our past auctions we've honored wine 'Icons', individuals who have truly helped shape the heritage and history of Sonoma County winemaking," says Sonoma County Vintners Interim Executive Director Michael Haney. "This year is different. There were so many in the community who stepped up in October—first responders, police, firefighters, chefs, communicators—we would have been remiss if we didn't use this opportunity to say thank you." Honore Comfor t, Executive in Residence at Sonoma State University's Wine Business Institute, served as the Executive Director of Sonoma County Vintners for ten years and has been able to expand her experience in Sonoma County to the broader Nor th Coast wine industry (the Nor th Coast is defined by the Wine Business Institute as Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties). She says that "sadly, the fires were damaging to many in our residential communities, but for the Nor th Coast wine industry, it was really very localized and limited. In fact, we've found that the biggest effect of the fires on the Nor th Coast wine industry was the slowing of visitor traffic and tasting room sales, which came from the mistaken perception that the fires were more impactful throughout the entire Nor th Coast region," she adds. According to an assessment study of the North Coast wine industry, 99.8 percent of vineyard acres in the North Coast region are reported as unaffected by recent fires, while 93 percent of wineries were also unaffected in terms of structural damage or long-term impact. Ninety percent of affected wineries and grape growers, meanwhile, reported their vineyards would not need to be replanted or replaced, and of the 10 percent that do, most would be less than ten acres. For those unable to attend the auction who are still seeking ways to help, Comfort says the most impactful way they can contribute is "to buy our wine and to come visit us in the future." { } 55

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