We continue our series of profiles of key New York State wine producers with a behind the scenes tour of Dr Konstantin Frank Winery by Meaghan Frank, the fourth generation of the Frank family that first came to the United States from Ukraine in 1951. Over the years the family has been at the centre of the ‘Vinifera Revolution’ that has taken place in the state as producers trialled and tested which grape varieties were best suited to the harsh growing conditions of the Finger Lakes.
There are a fair few wine producers around the world who can lay claim to be the oldest in their respective country. In the United States, the Brotherhood Winery in New York State, can make that claim as it dates back to 1839. So it has had a fair bit of time to work out what sort of wines it should make, and the grape varieties to make them with. Here we look at how the winery works and why the UK is still a key target market for the business
At one end of the retail spectrum we’re told the major supermarkets are not interested in any new product development as they are too busy making sure they get the day job right. Fair enough. Then at the other end of the drinks spectrum you have David Rowledge and Alchemy Wines who won’t take no for any sort of answer. He has not stopped thinking, innovating and creating in the lockdown to such an extent he has created a new charity drinks brand – Community.co – to stretch from waters, beers, wines and spirits. He’s also only managed to sign up cricket legend, Phil Tufnell, to be the brand ambassador.
Every sector of the drinks industry has had to face up to unique challenges during the Covid-19 lockdown around the world. The worlds of PR, tastings, conferences and live events were also all thrown up in the air when we could no longer meet up face to face. Here Katie Canfield of US PR and events business, O’Donnell Lane, explains how it has quickly adapted to such an extent that is now running a wide range of conferences, webinars, tastings via Zoom, not just to its usual audience in the US, but is able to connect the industry all over the world.
The UK regained some of its independence on Saturday, July 4, as bars and restaurants re-opened but how is it going in Italy? Italy eased out of Lockdown seven weeks ago and is now slowly counting the cost of the pandemic. The drop in restaurant turnover this year is €34 billion, and Italy’s wine tourism business worth €2.4 billion has been severely hit. Just as tourists start returning and many businesses put a brave face on proceedings, Italian food and wine expert Michèle Shah talks to producers in Lombardy, Tuscany, Sardinia, Veneto and Sicily to find out what the ‘new normal’ means to them.
The 4th July has taken on a new meaning in 2020. The on-trade and the vast supply chain that supports it have spent the past few weeks all gearing up for how they can re-open their doors to a new ‘normal’ of eating and drinking out. The hit during Covid-19 has been sudden and upsetting. Sadly, for some, it has been devastating and they won’t be able to join the rest of the trade in even trying to re-open. But for those who are bouncing back, what measures and protocols are being put in place to ensure they are on the right side of the ever changing government guidelines. Here Harry Crowther talks to Martin Williams, chief executive of Rare Restaurants (Gaucho and M Restaurants) to find out what he and his team have been up to behind the scenes during lockdown, and Andrew Maidment, the man who is heading up the exciting changes that have taken place to Gaucho’s new-look wine list, which were very much at the heart of its pre-lockdown re-launch and will be key to how it returns from July 4.
Ben Riccardi was born and raised in the Finger Lakes, the heartland of winemaking in New York State. Whilst he is quickly making his own name for himself in the state as a cutting edge winemaker, producing low intervention, terroir-driven wines, it’s his experiences travelling the world in working with prestigious winemakers in France (Domaine Blancardy), New Zealand (Craggy Range and Muddy Water) and Sonoma County (Williams-Selyem) that has helped shape the winemaker he has now become.
Running a business through Lockdown is hard enough in the UK but how does it work if you are an Englishman running a large wine business in France? Tim Ford, managing director of Languedoc estate Domaine Gayda explains how he has handled télétravail (working from home) and Chômage Partiel (furlough), keeping his export markets open and working on the new harvest. And also how impressive and fast the help has been from the French government.
The news today that Sogevinus has acquired historic estate Quinta da Boavista from Lima Smith further strengthens its position on still Duoro wines and exports. The wine group has long had a strategic focus on still wines – arguing for Portuguese wine producers to market with an united front and around a single grape – and the Boavista deal follows a long line of interesting acquisitions and product launches. Justin Keay spoke to Sogevinus CEO Sergio Marly Cominal and the rest of the team about what the plans are post-Covid.
It’s been fascinating to see how over the last couple of months how different business leaders across the drinks and hospitality sectors have responded to the Covid-19 crisis that has hit them all both as individuals and heads of the companies they manage. Troy Christensen, chief executive of Enotria&Coe, brought a fresh perspective to the situation when The Buyer interviewed him earlier this month. On the one hand he faced up to the nightmare scenario that has meant 90% of its usual revenues have been put in the deep freeze, due to the on-trade being closed, in typically bullish manner. But he also demonstrated how, as a company and as a sector, the drinks distribution network can recover, by how quickly it has turned its focus to growing the digital side of its business, through its own retail arm, Great Western Wines, and by linking up with the vast number of B2B turned B2C platforms that have emerged over the last three months.
The combination of strong winds coming in off the ocean, with quality soils helps the Wölffer Estate Vineyard produce its signature, balanced, elegant, and age-worthy wines – with a particular focus on making premium rosés. As we continue our series profiling leading New York State wineries we talk to Roman Roth, winemaker at the estate, about being able to make food-friendly, accessible wines that also have the ability to age and improve with time.
There are not many people in the drinks industry who are at their happiest when they have their head down drilling through the latest Kantar or Nielsen consumer trends research. But Neil Anderson is very much one of them. Yes, he loves his wines, spirits and beers and all the stories behind them, but it’s what makes consumers tick that really gets Anderson excited and passionate about his role as retailer brands marketing director at Quintessential Brands.
Today Pol Roger Ltd celebrates 30 years of trading in the UK as primarily a business to promote, distribute and sell the famous Champagne house, but over the years it has also built itself up to be a highly respected agency representing premium, family, independent producers from across the world. It had hoped to pop some bottles of Pol Roger in much better times, but, as managing director, James Simpson MW, explains, it’s also about raising a glass to all the customers it serves and hopes to be working with for many years to come.
Simon Taylor is now in a position to look back on the last three months of lockdown with a sense of satisfaction that he had a business model in place that allowed Stone Vine & Sun to switch from being an on-trade wholesaler and wine merchants to becoming a 100% e-commerce and delivery company. Its already strong online sales have proved to be its saviour as it has kept its local customers happy, but also gained many more from right around the country.
“There are no right or wrong answers for us when it comes to wine.” That’s the refreshing attitude that Mike Boyne has brought to his BinTwo wine bar and merchants business in Padstow, Cornwall that has made it such a success over a small period of time both with his customers and the suppliers who are happy to travel to meet him and show him ever more adventurous wines. Here he talks about what life has been like in lockdown in one of Cornwall’s most famous tourist towns, but most of all he shares his uplifting views on what wine means to him and the kind of service he wants to give his customers.
Spending any time with Oz Clarke is valuable, but being able to share an hour on Zoom chatting about our respective lives in lockdown before diving into the new book he has written on English wine was particularly special. In this wide ranging conversation we also talk about what motivates him still to discover new wine regions, different producers and their wines, and then have the energy to write about them all. Most of all, though, as we move into English Wine Week, it shows the love and passion he has for English wine and how much he has enjoyed being able to tell the stories about the people as much as the individual wines that are now becoming the envy of so much of the rest of the world.
Pubs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and can cater for all our needs on a night out. From the good ol local that is the hub of the community, to destination gourmet pubs that are more like fine dining restaurants. The Red Lion & Sun in Highgate village, north London, probably sits somewhere in the middle. A pub that has a wine list that would be the envy of any master sommelier, and you’re likely to bump into Liam Gallagher ordering another pint of Guinness. Whilst 1000s of pubs have been shut over the last three moths, the Red Lion & Sun has really come into its own thanks to the drive and imagination of its larger than life owner, Heath Ball, who has made it the go to place for Highgate locals looking for fine food and wine to deliver or collect and enjoy an escape from lockdown.
It was a belief in British still wine and the potential of the variety Bacchus within that which spurred Tom Denning on during his MSc in Viticulture & Oenology at Plumpton College. In order to assist winemakers in really poor years, and also to help winemakers produce wines with a lower ABV, Denning investigated whether the addition of an enzyme to juice pre-inoculation can increase the volatile thiol aromatic profile of early harvested Bacchus.
Australia’s wine-producing regions may be spread across an area larger than Europe, but some common themes still emerged from the winemakers who took part in industry body Wine Australia’s maiden international webinar. Winemakers at Vasse Felix, Yalumba and Yarra Yering explain how lower yields were the story of the day, leading to more gentle winemaking techniques and the use of less new oak, as Peter Ranscombe reports.
Being in charge of a national drinks distributor over the last three months must be like trying to steer a container ship through a combination of out of control storms one minute, and perfect sailing conditions the next. For whilst the on-trade side of your business is causing nothing but stress and sleepless nights, your retail division has never done better. That’s very much the split world that Andrew Bewes has been trying to guide Hallgarten & Novum Wines through over the last few weeks. In The Buyer’s latest video interview with key figures in the drinks and hospitality sectors, Richard Siddle talks to Bewes about how the business has been able to adapt and respond to the Covid-19 lockdown, and what he sees as being the main challenges – and opportunities – in the months ahead.