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June 15, 2016 - Lancaster Estate Winery

lancasterOn Wednesday, June 15th, the Winemaker Roundtable will meet at Lancaster Estate Winery in Chalk Hill where Estate Enologist Alicia Sylvester will host guest speaking Maggie Zehman, founder and Managing Director of The Barn Group, an integrated Healdsburg-based public relations and digital marketing agency with a hands-on, results oriented approach targeted to wineries, distilleries and hospitality businesses, and Senior Vice President and Managing Director at Double Forte, San Francisco.  Together Double Forte and The Barn Group bring expertise in large-scale national food and beverage companies as well as in artisan wine and food companies to provide specialized communications, PR and digital marketing services to clients.


Ms. Zehman's expertise in the wine & beverage industry spans over twenty years, following a successful PR career in the high tech sector.  Her creative insight and strategic planning have been successfully implemented at many well known brands in the wine industry at both artisan and large-scale wineries as well as national food and beverage companies.  Ms. Zehman's unique insight across multiple communications and PR platforms combined with years of conducting media training for owners, winemakers and other winery principals will bring relevant, actionable perspective to her presentation and lively Roundtable discussion.


The Roundtable will open at 3:00 p.m. with wines and networking followed by a 3:30 p.m. behind-the-scenes winemaker tour with Alicia Sylvester.   At 4:00 p.m., the group will gather in the cave for announcements then enjoy the presentation, followed by a question and answer session.  Attendees are encouraged to bring a bottle or two of wine for the host and speaker panel.  


Roundtable chair Julie Hagler Lumgair noted, "Winemakers, growers and owners are some of the most powerful spokespeople for wine-loving audiences, media and trade.  Each target audience and vehicle is important, but quite different in their needs. 'One size media training' doesn't fit all occasions.  Maggie Zehman has helped many of our region's noted wineries prepare, then ace interviews and complex media interactions.  She's an expert who understands our industry, our unique career tracks and the challenges of being a highly effective brand ambassador.   It will be a great opportunity to hone our skills in a friendly, relaxed environment."


Please, all attendees must be pre-approved; no walk-ins.  To RSVP, or for any questions on this event or future WWS Winemaking Roundtable events, please contact Ms. Lumgair at, 415-786-3415.



April 20, 2016 - Chimney Rock Winery

Winemaker Roundtable Roundup

A crowd of 36 met at Chimney Rock Winery in Napa, where Planet Grape's Catherine Fallis shared her insights into selling wine, connecting with buyers, and making friends with sommeliers.
Master Sommelier Fallis, (pronounced “fall  is”) is Master Sommelier and Proprietor at Planet Grape® LLC, a wine consulting firm providing content, reviews, corporate & private tastings, restaurant wine program development, and speaking services. She created her alter-ego, grape goddess®, to help bring wine down to earth for consumers as well as those entering the wine industry. She is one of a handful of female professional sabreurs in the world, opening a bottle of Champagne with a sword in a dazzling theatrical performance. Catherine was recently inducted into Les Dames d’Escoffier and is a Board Member of The American Institute of Wine & Food.

Her diverse wine background as a salesperson, sommelier, distributor, and supplier helped Catherine become the well-rounded and thorough expert she is today. She understands all facets of the wine business, and is a frequent speaker, event host, educator, and consultant for corporations, consumers and the wine trade.  She is a highly sought after wine expert and spokesperson for the wine industry. Planet Grape Wine Review Panel Lead/Editor-in-Chief.

Fallis encouraged us to build strong relationships with sommeliers who are just building their careers, in an effort to offer mentorship and support to those that are new to the industry, as well as to keep us fresh and current in what is going onwith the next generation.  While everyone wants their wine at the French Laundry, building inroads with up and coming somms, will take you with them as they move up in their careers.  Another important issue is to do your research.  Find out the somm’s social media outlets and engage with them.  Talk about their wine list, pricing and pairings. Find an opening to talk about your own wine as it relates to the menu.  Another key point is to encourage interaction outside of a restaurant sit down.  Somm's are people too, and love to get out of their office and learn about your wine in a unique environment!  A great story is more likely to see them on your wine than a good wine alone.
For the retail sector, Fallis also encourages us to do our research. It's critical that we find the right target, and the right retail store.  Not everyone fits in Safeway, or a small local wineshop in a market that doesn't appreciate your wine.  Find a way to stand out, and have an intriguing story!  A critical factor in any retail sales pitch, is to be persistent.  Don't give up; if at first you don't succeed, change your tactic, change your story, and don't give up.  Timing is everything, and don't expect to be seen or heard in November and December.  Approach a retail outlet in March or April, when competition is less.  
Catherine also introduced her Planet Grape Wine Review, the only female-led wine review. Online reviews are consumer friendly 220 character lines (a tweet and a half!). There isn’t any technical jargon, just an easy to follow description of the wine. The Wine Review also uses a value algorithm, which awards extra points to affordably priced wines that over-deliver. Samples are happily accepted!
Thank you Catherine for sharing your knowledge and your support!


March 30, 2016 - Rutherford Hill Winery

Winemaker Roundtable Roundup

Our first mix & mingle event was a sold out affair, hosted by Silverado Cellars.  Members enjoyed the wines of the Winemakers Roundtable producers, and got to know the 2016 Napa/Sonoma Board in an intimate setting.
Immediately following the Meet and Greet event, James Beard winner Janet Fletcher led an educational Wine & Cheese Pairing Seminar, featuring 6 cheeses, paired with 5 wines.  Guests were encouraged to experiment and find their own favorite pairing, while Janet explained why each wine might work or might not. The first Roundtable of 2016 was a great success!  The Winemaker RT, which foucsed on Buliding Your Personal Brand, kicked off at Domaine Carneros in grand style with a full chateau!  Napa and Sonoma's finest women winemakers and winegrowers were in attendance as America's longest-practicing sparkling winemaker, Eileen Crane, poured 3 Estate wines, shared toasts, wisdom, tales and led a behind-the-scenes tour.   Dr. Liz Thach, MW, led our group through a thought-provoking conversation and helpful exercises about Personal Brand Development.  Candid Q&A and warm fellowship wrapped up the day.