Friday, June 29, 2012

6/29-Michael Jordan talks with John Gorman and Matthew Nugan

John Gorman - VP Sales & Marketing Southern Starz Inc.
As a wholesaler, you need not look any further than the Southern Starz portfolio when entering or expanding your Southern Hemisphere selections. The Southern Hemisphere wine market grew as much as 50% in the United States last year. There has never been a better time as a distributor to build upon this exciting category. 

Consistent amongst each of our wine regions, the Southern Starz portfolio offers some of these advantages over our competitors.

PREMIUM, MID-PRICE and VALUE ITEMS- A Complete RangeWhether it’s a premium restaurant needing unique quality wines by the bottle or by the glass, or a large retailer needing consistent volume items, or a boutique retailer wanting something different to set them apart, our portfolio offers complete varietal representation and at all necessary price points. From highly-rated case stack offerings to small production rarities, our portfolio offers something for every market. In addition, the wineries represent the same good price-to-value relationship they enjoy back in their local markets, ensuring brands of quality and international reputation. 

GLASS POURS- Top Drops By the Glass Translate to Brand SuccessOpportunities abound with the value for money Southern Hemisphere wines offer in the $80-$120/case category. Many opportunities for glass pours exist in premium restaurants, providing you with numerous offerings to build the portfolio’s image in the mind of consumers. A category requires on-premise success in order to boost customer awareness and help drive retail sales. With a myriad of offerings- complementing every cuisine, the Southern Starz portfolio has something to add to even the most comprehensive wine list, and can also provide assistance in building and expanding newer restaurant programs. With the excellent value the Southern Hemisphere offers, a distributor representing the Southern Starz Portfolio will develop this important portion of the business.

THE APPELLATION ADVANTAGE- All the Major RegionsWhen building the Starz portfolio of wines, we looked for the best wineries in each area that showcases each varietal that the region is best known for. In Australia we looked for Coonawarra Cabernet, Barossa and McLaren Vale Shiraz, Hunter Valley Semillon, Margaret River Chardonnay, and Rutherglen Fortified Wines. In New Zealand it was the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Canterbury and Waipara Pinot Noir. South Africa offers the unique Pinotage grape, of which the best is produced in the Devon Valley region of Stellenbosch We also recognized that South Africa boasts wide recognition for top tier Cabernet and Shiraz, such as the extracted from the Franschhoek Valley, in addition to internationally-acclaimed dessert wines from Calitzdorp. By focusing on the quality and diversity of wines by their native regions, the Southern Starz portfolio offers all you need to become a star in this category. 

SUPPORT- Behind You Every Step of the WayIt takes a team to bring a vintage to completion, and the same can be said for our business. Southern Starz carefully chooses its suppliers based on quality, potential for the brands, and our personal seal of approval. We visit the wine regions and wineries at least twice a year to keep current with our wineries’ offerings and new projects. The same can be said for our distributors. As a distributor, you can count on us to provide the personal, hands-on relationship that Southern Starz in known for. From assisting with promotional events, competitive pricing, downloadable shelf-talkers and POS materials, we look to form lasting and successful partnerships with you.

Most family success stories are built on hard work and determination. Nugan Group is no different. 
Matthew Nugan, a third generation family member, began working in the family’s business as a child in the fruit and vegetable packing shed – today he’s the General Manager of Nugan Estate, overseeing the family’s premium wine business. 
Matthew first joined the business at the age of 19. Over the last 20+ years he has worked in most divisions of the family empire starting as an Assistant Accountant, moving on to be trained at the family’s wholesale market stands in Brisbane, before returning to the headquarters in Griffith to manage the family’s fruit and vegetable packing operation where he developed export markets for premium quality citrus. However, since 2001 Matthew’s focus has been launching Nugan Estate in the export wine market. 
In 2001 when the family established Nugan Estate, its new wine company, Matthew took on responsibility for launching the company’s brands in the export market while his sister, Tiffany, took on the Australian market. This duo has been extremely successful in building a global success story.
Matthew’s achievements in the export market have been immense. He was responsible for successfully building Nugan Estate into one Australia’s Top 20 Wine Exporters with strong distribution in Denmark, Ireland, Canada, USA, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Sweden, Belgium, Finland and Asia with other countries to come on line. No mean feat given the industry’s current over supply.
Anyone who meets Matthew would agree Nugan Estate’s success is a direct result of his persistence and determination. He works hard but always enjoys a drink and a laugh. Those around him - be they staff, agents or customers - cannot help but admire and respect his honest, unpretentious determination to make his family’s brand succeed.
When Matthew is not abroad promoting Nugan Estate, he lives in Griffith with his wife and two children. His passions are cars, fishing, red wine and food. Matthew is also a brilliant cook specialising in his grandfather’s paella. 
Matthew’s goal is, together with his sister, to pioneer the Nugan family winery leaving for their children the same legacy and passion to work that they inherited from their parents.

Friday, June 22, 2012

6/22-Michael Jordan visits with Blair Fox & Bryan Babcock

Blair Fox – Winemaker, Owner - Blair Fox Cellars
Blair Fox Cellars is a small, ultra-boutique, 500 case winery which specializes in handcrafted bottlings of Rhone varietal wines. It is also the eponymous label of the 2008 Andre Tchelistcheff Winemaker of the Year, Blair Fox.

Since 1984 Bryan Babcock has been producing wines of exceptional quality from his family owned winery located on the far western edge of the Santa Ynez Valley in northern Santa Barbara County. The quality of Bryan's wines speak for themselves, yet it is his personal commitment to excellence that stands out so much.
His relentless experimentation, his willingness to explore the possibilities with so many grape varieties, and his aesthetic, are a world apart from the usual American approach to winemaking

Friday, June 15, 2012

6/15-Michael Jordan visits with Todd Wallin & John Skupny

Nearly 30 local restaurants and beverage companies will be on hand with samples of their best, and live music will play throughout. Visitors use tickets to purchase food and drink; some entrance packages include food tickets—click here for info. For free entrance (food tickets are additional) use this link, and code TOOC-FOOD.

On Saturday, from noon to 10 p.m., the festival is a 21-and-over trip. On Sunday, families are welcome—everywhere but the designated alcohol-consumption zones—from noon to 8 p.m. On both days, a wine-and-tequila Ultra Lounge (at additional cost) features seminars with O.C. wine superstar and The Ranch food and beverage director Michael Jordan. Look for local chefs demoing, too.

Saturday evening, the “Great OC Farm-to-Table Dinner” ($149 per person) benefits the Culinary Liberation Front, a group of Orange County chefs organized around the lofty goals of minimizing environmental impact from their restaurants, and promoting nutritional awareness among O.C.’s less fortunate.

Starting with a 6 p.m. appetizer reception, the seven-course meal will be prepared by nine O.C. chefs using ingredients from no further than 200 miles away—enough land and sea to provide seared yellowtail, braised leeks, shellfish butter, and crispy shallots from Three Seventy Common’s Ryan Adams, and glazed Santa Barbara County Berkshire pork shoulder with creamed sweet corn and baked beans from chef Greg Daniels of Haven Gastropub and Taco Asylum.

John and the boys

In 1996, John and Tracey Skupny launched Lang & Reed Wine Company combining their more than thirty years of wine industry experience. Having worked in marketing for twenty-five of California’s finest wine producers, John began his direct work in the Napa Valley as the Marketing and Sales Director of Caymus Vineyards, 1984-1989. He later became Vice President of Clos Du Val Wine Company, 1989-1992, and then General Manager of the Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery, 1992-1996. Since 1988, John has also been partner and consultant to Boulevard Brewing Company, a regional craft brewery located in Kansas City, Missouri.

Along with Lang & Reed Wine Company, he also operates a wine marketing consulting practice, Vineyard Avenue Marketing. In this capacity, John has worked with such clients as Pahlmeyer Winery and Cain Vineyards, as well as newer estate properties such as the Ristow Estate and Emilio’s Terrace Vineyards, all located in the Napa Valley.

Skupny is a past President of the Napa Valley Vintners and Auction Napa Valley [1996], the Napa Valley Wine Library Association [2001/2002] and the Stags Leap District Winegrowers [1990/1991]. He is also past-founding Vice President of the Rutherford Dust Society [1993/1994]. He regularly lectures at the University of California Davis for both marketing and winemaking classes, and on occasion for the “Leadership Napa Valley” program. He has contributed a chapter in the book, “Successful Wine Marketing”, by Kirby Moulton and Jim Lapsley, published by Aspen Publishers, 2001, and recently was well covered in “The Far Side of Eden”, the infamous second installment of James Conaway’s history of the Napa Valley.

Skupny and his wife, Tracey, live in St. Helena, in the heart of the Napa Valley. With the founding of Lang & Reed Wine Company, the Skupnys are dedicated to the continued preservation of the agricultural community and the production of distinctive Napa Valley wines.

Friday, June 8, 2012

6/8-Encore Broadcast Michael Jordan visits with Wes Hagen & Mark McWilliams

Wes Hagen: Vineyard Manager, Winemaker. Wes has run the show here at Clos Pepe since 1998. He manages the vineyard and the crew, communicates with our producers and fine-tunes viticulture to suit the stylistic needs of their winemaking. Involving himself in every aspect of the planting, growing, harvest, crush, fermentation, aging, bottling, shipping and marketing (jncluding the photography and text in the website), Wes is passionate about his life's goal -- producing and celebrating world-class Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. From 1997-98, Wes researched and wrote the petition that established the Santa Rita Hills American Viticultural Area with help from Bryan Babcock, Richard Sanford and other local wine personalities. The 'Santa Rita Hills AVA' was approved in 2001, and the name was changed a few years later to 'Sta Rita Hills AVA'. In his quest to promote the wines of Santa Barbara County, and the Santa Rita Hills in particular, Wes created and served as Director of the Santa Barbara County Fair Wine Competition from 2002 until 2004. As a result of his hard work promoting the region and penning the AVA Petition, Wes was awarded the Central Coast Winegrower's Association 'Grower of the Year Award' for the 2001-2002 growing seasons. Wes writes a bi-monthly column for WineMaker Magazine called 'Backyard Vines', and has written content for the L.A. Times Magazine, guest blogged for the Wine Spectator and, articles for the Sommelier Journal,'Burgundy-Report', WestCoastWine.Net, and other small publications. In his free time Wes consults on establihsing small vineyards (hillside Pinot Noir only), and has judged the L.A County Fair Wine Competition for eleven years, Riverside International for twelve, and the Long Beach Grand Cru for thirteen years. Wes also lectures on subjects such as the history of wine, backyard winegrowing, and general topics of viticulture and wine education.
Chanda Hagen: Assistant Winemaker, Olive Tree Pruner, Animal Trainer, Shepherdess. Chanda and Wes met in April 1999 over a bottle of Beaujolais at a college-style party in Isla Vista (UCSB). Their first date was the Vintner's Festival the next weekend, and they have been inseparable ever since. The marriage proposal was accepted on New Years 1999-2000, and the couple was married at Clos Pepe on September 9th, 2000. Their Honeymoon was spent picking and crushing the grapes from the 2000 Vintage, which resulted in a Pinot Noir that Robert Parker called 'brilliant', 'complex' and 'promising'; just like their marriage! Chanda's influence as assistant winemaker runs deep. She makes sure Wes' energies are tempered by common sense and an obsessive degree of winery sanitation and organization. Besides Pinot Noir, Chanda's passion is horses: Hunter/Jumpers and Dressage. Chanda is training her horse, Charlemagne (Chase for short), for Dressage. Chanda also takes care of our miniature sheep here at the Clos, which have been bred into a flock for eating winter weeds and fertilizing the vineyard organically and sustainably.

Mark McWilliams - Proprietor, Arista Winery

Mark McWilliams, born and raised in Texarkana, Texas, is the son of Al and Janis McWilliams. He has been involved in Arista winery and vineyard operations of Sonoma County for the past 10 years.
After graduating from the University of Texas - Austin with a degree in Corporate Communications, Mark took his first job out of college working for Kendall Jackson Wine Estates. What started as a temporary summer job developed into a passion as Mark enrolled in UC Davis Wine and Viticulture courses, tasting groups, and annoyed his winemaker friends with endless questions. During his time with Kendall Jackson, Mark held various positions encompassing vineyard operations, harvest logistics, and cellar work. Following his time at Kendall-Jackson, Mark continued his passion for wine and pursuit of industry knowledge by working as a wine consultant for a wine and spirits distributor based in Dallas, Texas.
In the fall of 2003 Mark married Jennifer Habecker, a native of Dallas. Shortly thereafter, Mark and Jennifer returned to Healdsburg, California to be fully involved with Arista. Mark manages the day to day operations at the winery as well as assists with winemaking duties. Mark and Jennifer live in Healdsburg, California with their sons Jake and Pierce and their Maltese "Lucy".