Wacky Words of WineSense

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Learn more about Ms. WackSense (Christina Julian) at christinajulian.com

The business of art

Excerpt from NorthBay biz magazine
By: Christina Julian

Business sensibilities and the artistic mind don’t always mix. But for artist Gordon Huether, of Gordon Huether Gallery in downtown Napa, it’s the most likely pairing in the world. As I sit down with Huether at his expansive studio in Napa, he shares his take on the mix, “A lot of people would consider art and business diametrically opposed. But there are artists out there who [have an entrepreneurial spirit, and] see entrepreneurialism as an extension of creativity,” says Huether.

As he rattles off his involvements, which include business, political and community-related endeavors, it’s clear that his interests go well beyond the art world. click to continue reading

St. Helena's Goose & Gander - something to honk about

Excerpt from California Home + Design magazine 
By: Christina Julian 

Napa and nightlife, an oft lauded oxymoron, is about to get a boot in the butt with the much anticipated opening of St. Helena’s Goose & Gander, shacked up in the former space of one of Napa’s favorite haunts, Martini House. For months locals have been mourning the loss. Luckily restaurant mogul Andy Florsheim swooped in to refashion this iconic 1920s craftsman bungalow while heeding the locals’ mandate of not “messing with the bar.” Click here to read more

Wine Country's Swankiest Spots

Excerpt from 7x7 magazine
By: Christina Julian

While the yo-yo weather of spring threatens to rain on your parade these swanky spots give you reason to rally. Whether you crave sleek designs and striking spaces or smooth wines and succulent bites, get ready to be enthralled by it all.

Casual comfort meets industrial-chic interior in this Erin Martin-designed space (she's the same designer behind one of our all-time favorite Wine Country homes). This wood-fire, pie-tossing joint is everything its sister haunt Redd is not. Click here to read more

Passion, uncorked

Excerpt from NorthBay biz magazine
By: Christina Julian

Three women, three friends, three diverse approaches to business, yet one driving force unites them: passion. Barbara R. Banke, chairwoman and proprietor of Jackson Family Wines, partners with Peggy Furth, former co-proprietor of Chalk Hill Estates, to form SonomaCeuticals, while Sandra Jordan, formerly of Jordan Winery, sits at the helm of her own Sandra Jordan Prima Alpaca Collection. Each woman is unique in her own right, and each has a legendary career in the wine industry. Today, instead of running from a faltering economy, these women are charging forward with entrepreneurial ventures that are taking them beyond the traditional business of wine to include eradicating poverty and building a sustainable future. Click to continue reading

AVAs—Creating Confusion or Selling More Wine?

Excerpt from NorthBay biz magazine
By: Christina Julian

One could argue that Napa Valley became known as a world-renowned wine and grape growing region when it “got on the map” as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1981. But many battle lines have been drawn since then over the official delineation of subappellations, as growers, vintners and wineries duke it out for their slice of the Napa Valley pie. Memories of Calistoga’s six-year battle still linger, a fight that necessitated multiple trips to the nation’s capital to lobby the cause. While few could dispute the uniqueness of the region’s terroir, it was the “if it isn’t our grapes in the bottle, it shouldn’t be our name on the label” controversy that caused this particular battle to rage on so long.

As a Calistoga resident, I supported the cause, but have to wonder: At what point does the continued separation of the Napa Valley AVA threaten to dilute the brand we fought so hard to win? Perhaps more important, when do we risk outsmarting the very consumers we rely on to sustain us? Sure, many locals are familiar with the levels of distinction across our small stretch of the wine world, but does anybody outside Napa Valley know or care that Coombsville landed its gold star AVA status while Pine Mountain-Mayacmas (status pending at press time; purposely spelled with the U.S. Geological Survey name as opposed to the more common Mayacamas) still fights for its? When is enough enough?
Click here to continue reading

Retail Tactics Go Beyond the Bottle

Excerpt from Napa Insider column, NorthBay biz magazine
By: Christina Julian

With the preponderance of wineries in Napa County, it’s a wonder any wine-based retail stores survive—yet they do. Bold contenders open up shop in the midst of a faltering economy, while old standbys do anything but stand still.

In much the same way that wine tasting is a personal affair, so too is today’s retail wine business. It’s a matter of mood, price and preference. Who has the juice and service that speaks most adeptly to the “eager to spend” consumer pool? Downtown Napa’s Bounty Hunter (also a restaurant and wine bar) has been at it for more than 17 years. In that time, circulation for the store catalog has grown from 40,000 to nearly 2.5 million recipients worldwide. Its scouts (also dubbed personal sommeliers, Wine Country advisers and, my favorite, wine gurus) taste between 5,000 and 6,000 wines per year. The shop’s mantra: “If it’s not great, we don’t sell it.” Makes sense, given that price-to-value ratio has never mattered more. While Bounty Hunter paved the road, many others have entered the market since, each forming a niche of its own, and all leaving the highfalutin’ wine attitude of yesteryear in the past—where it belongs. Click here for full article

Napa Insider - Year in Review

Excerpt from: NorthBay Biz magazine
By: Christina Julian

As one year ends and another begins, I can’t shake the urge to reflect. So, instead of bucking it, I’ll embrace it. Here’s the Napa Insider: Year in Review. As with any roundup, there’s lots of ground to cover, and only so many words, so this isn’t meant to be all-inclusive, just some notable mentions.

The year 2011 brought many firsts. One of the most celebrated would have to be the Napa Valley Film Festival, which hosted its inaugural five-day event in November. I’m still recovering from the bevy of events that spanned from Napa to Calistoga, with wine pavilions, cooking demonstrations, countless VIP parties, more than 100 film screenings and celebrities galore. The festival reported total attendance of approximately 25,000 people (5,000 unique visitors), with 50 percent concentrated in Napa, 25 in Yountville, and 12.5 in St. Helena and Calistoga. More than 600 cases of wine were poured. Click here for full article.