2011-12 Busy Year for Commission

By Susan Stout
Contributing writer

Patty Brunetti answers questions at trade show.

Patty Brunetti answers questions at trade show.

KELSEYVILLE – Consumers, winegrape buyers and media representatives in and out of California learned about Lake County winegrapes and wines during the past fiscal year as the Lake County Winegrape Commission hosted events, attended industry trade shows, poured wine at special activities and made dozens of presentations.

In a report outlining the highlights of the 2011-12 fiscal year, Winegrape Commission President Shannon Gunier recently shared with the Commission’s board of directors a lengthy list of marketing, industry affairs, special projects and meetings accomplished over the past year.

“We made some important contacts with our marketing and outreach in the last 12 months,” said Gunier. “Because of events such as our ‘virtual tasting’ with members of the American Wine Society who were located in Long Island, New York, and our participation in trade shows in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Richmond, Virginia, Lake County wines are getting national attention.

“Working in conjunction with the Lake County Board of Supervisors, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local organizations such as the Lake County Winery Association, the Commission is able to ‘tell our story,’ as Commission Chair Peter Molnar likes to say.”

Recipient of a U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Grant, which the Commission board dubbed the “Lake County Rising” grant, the Commission participated in well-known industry trade shows in California and outside the state.

In addition, the Commission made several presentations. Among those entertained by the Lake County Winegrape Commission during the last year were winegrape buyers from Chicago, Rhodes scholar consumers, winemakers from Maine, Rotarians from France, and top industry representatives.

“One of the highlights,” said Gunier, “was serving dinner and Lake County wines to winegrape buyers, media, winegrape growers, VIPs and community stakeholders at a special affair on Mount Konocti. It gave us a chance to showcase our wines along with delicious foods and incredible views of our county.”

Introducing a new approach to wine tours in April, the Commission began hosting wine writers and guests via seaplane rides to Lake County. A second seaplane ride/wine tour took place in June with five guests commuting from the Bay Area for the two-day experience that included an overnight stay at the Tallman Hotel, Upper Lake.

Besides receiving and administering the Specialty Crop Grant, the Commission embarked on several projects during the fiscal year. The Commission developed, promoted and implemented the Master Vigneron Program, providing a series of classes to a select group of vineyard supervisors and foremen. Also, a new Commission website with an improved vineyard map was launched.

“We have stayed busy with a number of events and activities that have been aimed at promoting Lake County winegrapes on behalf of our 158 member growers,” said Gunier.

“Much of the credit goes to our hardworking board of directors, committee chairs and office manager. The many functions this past year – from pouring wine to the 12,000 consumers attending the largest trade show in the nation, the Unified Symposium in Sacramento, to hosting lunch for Assemblyman Wes Chesbro and his staff, and working with other local groups to sponsor special events such as the California Women for Agriculture’s AgVenture Grape Day – were important pieces in the Commission’s work to assist Lake County’s growers in their efforts to sell their grapes and spread the word about Lake County’s fine wines.”

The Lake County Winegrape Commission is a marketing order that growers voted into place in 1992. Since then, the Commission has marketed the premium Lake County  winegrape-growing region to new and existing grape buyers and wineries all over California. The Commission also assists growers in a variety of activities including educational and research programs that benefit growers’ vineyard development.

For additional information about the Lake County Winegrape Commission, visit the Commission’s website, www.lakecountywinegrape.org, or call the Commission office, 707-995-3421.



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