[Pictured at the 10th Annual Petite Sirah Symposium, left to right: Evan Goldstein (keynote speaker), John Concannon, and Jim Concannon.]
I’ve long marveled at what Concannon has done to guarantee that this variety continues to grow in popularity. It takes one of the “Big Four” in the wine business to take this kind of an interest, to balance out the other 90 percent membership of less than 500 cases a year, to keep a group this small afloat in the black.
Does a major corporation worry about helping small brands build their businesses? Generally speaking, I really think not. There’s no comparison, really. It’s apples to oranges.
Concannon, however, is not your average company. It was the first winery to produce Petite Sirah in 1964 with a 1961 vintage. It has an important interest as the “first,” with people at the helm who truly care about their unique distinction.
And… They also don’t mind that people come to California and taste Petite at some artisan winery; in fact, it’s a plus. Why? Simply… when these consumers return to parts unknown and want to buy a Petite Sirah at their local grocery store, it’s going to be a Concannon, Bogle, Langtry/Guenoc, or a Parducci Petite; those with major, national distribution and recognition that they’ll find and buy the other 11 months of the year.
It’s good marketing on Concannon’s part, but it’s also a passion; and that’s what separates the men from the boys, period…
- Without some major, public exposure as a single variety, like we did with Concannon’s generous and focused underwriting of the Blue Tooth Tour, there wouldn’t be the stream of great memories we left along the way, still being talked about…
- “Hey, I’ll never forget when we did that tasting Petite Sirah tasting on a train?”
- Or, Jody Bogle telling me that her mother Patty Bogle told her, “It was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken.”
- Imagine a grape variety association that has a 10 year history, with a Symposium… every year of the group’s existence… to study, learn, and implement the best methods possible for viticulture, enology, and marketing.
- There’s no other variety with its own educational Symposium, coupled with this much marketing focus now behind it… the symposium making this one truly unique point of differentiation.
- Now imaging Foppiano starting it, letting it go, then giving Concannon their blessing to continue it.
- Once it was released (after six years) Concannon easily saw the light, and then took up the project, becoming the next producer… for the last four years.
PS I Love You doesn’t produce the Symposium. We simply sponsor it, contributing paper, printing, mailings, etc. The major time consumed with setting it all up is paid to Diaz Communications to put on this event.
Past Phenomenal Service Awards:
- 2006 ~ Bogle Vineyards
- 2007 ~ Foppiano Vineyards
- 2008 ~ Robert Biale Vineyards
Then, the “Phenomenal Service Awards” languished as other projects took precedence. It never left the back of my mind, life in the fast lane just took over. It wasn’t until a recent trip to Robert Biale Vineyards, when I spotted the trophy and realized… for the last four years, I’ve been planning the Petite Sirah Symposium with Concannon. Each year, spending about 200 hours to pull it all off, with Concannon committed to paying for the event to happen at their winery as one of their own projects, the cost of it is one and half times all membership dues for a year…
I’m not sure what that tells others; but as the executive director, it tells me is that without the efforts of Concannon Vineyard, leveraging their leadership role and being committed to Petite Sirah education, we’d be doing a lot of crawling, instead of walking our way up the mountain.
So, I presented this concept to the board of directors, and we all agreed that not only should Concannon be the 2012 Phenomenal Service Award recipient, but we also needed to past date it. This way the trophy, which has all members’ names on it, would have four years for Concannon Vineyard holding that title. Since Jim Concannon was a key player with the first two symposium, his name went onto the trophy for 2009 and 2010. Jim’s son John is now the fourth generation vintner representing the winery, and so with great pleasure, we had John’s name represent the winery for 2011 and 2012.
Phenomenal Service Awards:
- 2006 ~ Bogle Vineyards ~ Patty Bogle
- 2007 ~ Foppiano Vineyards ~ Louis Foppiano
- 2008 ~ Robert Biale Vineyards ~ Dave Pramuk
- 2009 ~ Concannon Vineyard ~ Jim Concannon
- 2010 ~ Concannon Vineyard ~ Jim Concannon
- 2011 ~ Concannon Vineyard ~ John Concannon
- 2012 ~ Concannon Vineyard ~~ John Concannon