Northern California Fires

As we near the end of this tragic week, we wanted to give you an update on our devastating fires.

Firefighters and first responders are here from all over California. The effort is remarkable, and great strides are being made. But the level of destruction is beyond belief.

Michael, Kirsten and Ellen have all been evacuated, but our houses are still standing. Of course we all know people who have lost everything. Nan has been out of town. Michael and Ellen are back in our homes, but Kirsten is still on mandatory evacuation. She and her husband, dog and cat slept in the office for a few days, but have found a more hospitable place with friends south of San Francisco. We were without cell reception and wifi the first few days. It was awful not being able to tell loved ones we were OK or to hear from them.

We are able to work, so are happy to hear from you. One thing we are not in a position to do is contact wineries whose status we are unsure of.  It will not be "business as usual" until the evacuation orders are lifte
d and even then it will take time to assess the full extend of damages and return to something resembling normalcy. We trust you understand and appreciate your patience. And we thank you for keeping us and our wineries in your thoughts.

Upturns and Twists


As we see harvest approaching again and update our listings to your importers, it’s a good time to reflect on the last 6 months. Our shipments (all of you fine wineries taken as a group) are up slightly year-on-year, which is most encouraging. One big factor keeping our exports competitive is the weakening U.S. dollar. Since the beginning of the year, the Euro has gained roughly 12% against our currency. The Japanese Yen has gained back roughly 6% since then, halting the steep decline it saw at the end of 2016, a change reflected in other Asian currencies like those of Taiwan and Singapore. This really helps when importers are deciding what to focus on.

And so far the protectionist trade measures threatened by the current administration have not been realized—a good thing for those of us who want to sell our products abroad.

We also know that the generous crops of 2014 have been on offer from you, and that 2015s or even 2016s are coming around and are in many cases much smaller. I know each of you has your own contingencies of supply, and that you will consider what you can do to protect the export markets you’ve opened. I also realize that we are all facing increasing production costs and scarce labor supplies, facts which I regularly try to explain in the most diplomatic terms to your importers. I relate the distinctions each of you offers in your wines, so any materials you can send our way help enormously in that endeavor.

Kind regards from all of us:  Michael, Ellen, Nan, and Kirsten

A String of Successes

Hello from Northern California. Although we’ve had some rain from the much-anticipated El Niño, it has once again been warm through most of February here. Our vines still need some more rain, and it looks like it’s coming in the next two weeks.

The 2012 and 2013 wines available now are from two very strong vintages, and while the critics are currently raving about 2013, there are many 2014s that are as good or better. The recent 2015 was a much smaller harvest in almost all of the West Coast, though quality again appears to be very good. Unfortunately the smaller crop is putting more upward pressure on grape and wine prices.

While the strong US dollar has leveled out and even declined a bit recently, we know that it is a challenging factor for you who import our wines. Again, most producers have either not taken price increases or have withheld them for export as a concession to the exchange factor. I have some new value wines available, so be sure to inquire if interested.

I will once again be at Prowein in Dusseldorf this year, sharing a stand with Marc Buelinckx: Hall 13, stand C50. We will be there Sunday and Monday, March 13 and 14. Please stop by and taste if you’re at the show.

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