Vineyards,Viticulture,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Business Innovation,Wine Ed


Today, adaptability has never been more important. Because we all have no idea when the pandemic will just be a memory, we must all think about how our events are going to happen in the future. As I was listening to a story about how third world countries are struggling with this pandemic, I realized this is going to take a lot longer than anyone really wants to know. We may eradicate from first and second world countries, but until third world counties are without SARS Covid, it’s still with us. So, this is our new normal, and aren’t we fortunate to have adaptable companies stepping up to the plate.

I just heard a story on National Public Radio. It was about The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, an international financial institution, established in 1944 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. It’s the lending arm of World Bank Group. The IBRD offers loans to middle-income developing countries. At this time, though, they’re giving billions of dollars to third world countries for this virus. Some of it’s going to the people directly. The other half of it will go toward construction of facilities to take care of sick people. Thankfully…

So, that’s really good news for all of us.

Adaptability is now, not our immediate future, with many more virtual platforms emerging during social distancing. The forward looking team at Wine Business Monthly looks forward to bringing you a more comprehensive program, than ever before. It’s still going to feature vineyard and agriculture experts, as well as influencers who are active in the wine business: locally, regionally, and nationally.


This is a new look for the premier conference covering economic and financial issues for growers and vineyard owners. You now get the high-quality advice and expertise from an incredible line-up of speakers, delivered in a 2-day virtual format.

Who should attend

Wine producers with vineyards, grape growers, and representatives from financial institutions.


Two online sessions:
o Wednesday, May 6, 2020, 9:30am-12:30pm Pacific
o Thursday, May 7, 2020, 9:30am-12:30pm Pacific

How to register

Tickets will go on sale Thursday, April 2.
o Early Bird Single-Day: $99
o Early Bird Two-Day: $149

A list of their featured expert speakers are found below. The full agenda of sessions is coming soon.

For questions and additional information, please contact info@winebusiness.com or visit vineyardeconomics.com.

Thank you to our sponsors:
Aspect Consumer Partners
Comerica Bank
Duarte Nursery
Farm Credit
Garton Tractor
Moss Adams
Orchard & Vineyard Supply
Pellenc America
PGIM Real Estate and Agriculture Finance
Piña Vineyard Management
Rabo AgriFinance
Wines Vines Analytics

For sponsorship opportunities, contact Tamara Leon at tleon@winebusiness.com, 707.940.3937; or, Amy Olmsted at amy@winebusiness.com, 707.940.4742



Kerry Damskey Talks About Making Wine in India ~ Episode 2

From a time of great success, in his 40’s, Kerry Damskey hit his own personal ceiling goals, as a winemaker and then as a consultant. For some, it’s called a mid-life crisis. For others, it’s a time to further bloom, and that what happens next. (Consider, Robert Mondavi started Robert Mondavi in his 50s, for instance. For Kerry… he’ll tell you all about it.

Imagine being innovative, having that daring joie de vivre, plus the feeling that a radical change could be successful, just not knowing why or how. Kerry’s instinct had him reach outside of his comfort zone, to a country that was only growing table grapes at the time, and yet he wanted to grow wine grapes there. This would fundamentally change an entire country and its culture, if he was successful. At the time, India had no wine culture and he was ready to travel somewhere exotic… Were they ready for him? Kerry tells of faxes going back and forth… remember those days of faxes?

Kerry Damskey Was on the Move

In 1995, he did his first project in India. He’ll tell you about it.

He then got connected to a Stanford grad who wanted to make wine with him. His name is Rajeev Samant, and he became Kerry’s intern. Today’s Rajeev is CEO, of Sula Vineyards, which is producing 1,000,000 cases today. Right, but… Kerry’s only just begun.

In this video, Kerry Damskey explains about the Indian notch on his winemaking belt.


Diaz Communications,International Winemaker,Sonoma County,Viticulture,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Business Innovation,Wine Country,Wine Culture,Wine Magazine,Wine tasting,Wine Travel,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery,Wines

Who is that Global Winemaker Kerry Damskey? ~ Episode 1

Meeting Kerry Damskey, in this quick video series, begins the process of peeling away successful layers of what it takes to become an international, winemaking star, who’s successfully accomplished this particular pursuit. It is a calling, and it’s quite unique, with the people involved being very much adaptable. While using both sides of their brains (scientific and artistic/humanities), they accomplish what some will find utterly fascinating. (Kerry tells a good story, too.)

He’s diverse, complicated, and a jovial man. Kerry’s a classic example of what it takes, and what it’s like, to be making wine in places you and I haven’t even thought there might possibly be grape vines.

Sitting with Kerry, my partner Jose Diaz and I captured the heart and soul of an amazing, global winemaker. And so it begins… A great sense of humor, a statesman, and one heck of a winemaker… Kerry Damskey of Terroirs Artisan Wines. (Contact: Terroirs INC: Damskey and Associates. 707-857-1890/ 707-972-8364)



Years ago, I was Charles Creek Winery’s publicist. It now no longer exists, yet memories still do. A great memory of that time was working with their winemaker Kerry Damskey. Kerry was still working pretty much exclusively in California. That was from 2002 to maybe 2010-12?  The first vintage that went to the Sonoma County Fair for Charles Creek’s  Sonoma Chardonnay in the wine competition, took a gold medal; and, so did just about everything else following Kerry’s and my foray into helping Charles Creek market their wines. They won everything, including Best of Class, Double Golds, blah-blah-blah, you get it, right? Mentions in Parker’s newsletter, Spectator, Enthusiast, and Wine & Spirits.  It was an instant winner from our guy Kerry, with the Midas Touch.

Kerry was on a roll with great balance and outstanding flavors. He made me look good, quite honestly. I knew where wine should go and William (Bill) and Jerry Brinton trusted me. And my connections were equally generous in their evaluations. Those times were great, as was the wine. The Brintons sold their winery, as many do, and we’ve all just continued on. This kind of diverse growth does put one into international experiences, and Kerry’s evolutionary opportunities are the ones that fills his cornucopia’s depth and width.

Winemaker Kerry Damskey has had one opportunity after another come him, and the proclivity of his growth has been of that international calling. He still, of course, has US connections; still, word has definitely spread about Kerry’s international talents, in the most wonderful of ways.

I’m not going to timeline it for you, except to tell you these are quick episodes, about his place in the world where its terroir and what wines work best; along with new, incredible people along the way. At least six episodes, possibly more. Perhaps when it’s completed it can also be joined, by our Diaz Communications engineer Jose Diaz, for a perfect tour of Kerry’s 2020 projects. For now, they’re quick fireside chats that we produced. Each segment takes you somewhere in Kerry’s world. In my humble opinion, this is one great, funny, inventive, talented, and personable guy, you’d enjoy knowing.

Kerry Damskey the Star ~ Sit Back & Enjoy

Thank you Wine Industry Insight for sharing this story.


COVID-19,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Business Innovation,Wine Health,Wine Innovation,Wine Legislation

Contactless Curbside Pickup Now Available ~ Covid-19 Adaptation

Making lemonade from lemons, during Covin-19…

This may be a state by state legalization issue. In North Carolina, Raffaldini Vineyards & Winery is now offering this way of purchasing wine. It does put cars on the road, so there may even be road blocks along the way to consider, as you try to argue “necessity.” You could have it shipped, right?


This is an example of “how-the-heck are we going to stay in business?”

I’m neither advocating for nor disparaging this practice: Personally, I’m only out the door for grocery shopping. Professionally, I make trips to the Post Office. These two activities are combined in one trip.

I also have all of the wine I need for a good amount of time. Since some people have their glass of wine a day for good health benefits, I can understand running out makes for a sad time. It’s like when you forget to take your vitamins, right?

How It Works for Raggadlini

“While our Villa tasting room remains closed to the public for the safety of our employees, customers, and community, we are proud to offer contactless curbside pickup daily from 12pm-4pm. Our staff is ready to help you pick out the perfect wines and pack up your orders for you or as a gift for friends and loved ones.”

Ready for Pickup

“Log on to Raffaldini.com or give us a call at 336.835.9463 to place your order. Drive up and park in the loading zone by the Villa and let us know you have arrived. An associate will bring your order outside and leave it for you on the designated pick up table.

“Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are here to answer any questions about our products and take and package your order for contactless pickup or shipping. You can choose to pickup any purchased items curbside at the vineyard, or any order of 6 bottles, or more ships free, with the code ‘MARCHFREE.'”


Chile,PR 101,PR Advice,Public Relations,Public Service Announcement,Sample,Wine

How to Craft Your Wine Sales Message to Your Customers by Sharpening Your Empathy Skills

The images in this blog post are from yesterday’s walk in my yard, as I took a few moments to realign our current reality. They’ll ultimately make sense, once you’ve read through this public service message.

These times aren’t just trying, they’re perilous. For the last three years, I’ve been counting the experiences of crisis going on just in my neighborhood. You know the saying “everything happens in threes?”

In the past three years, I’ve been through Sonoma County Fires within a few miles of home. And, through the Russian River eating way at our one-way-in/one-way-out road, to our home within just a few feet of the river bank. Dry grass brings angst (fires), the Russian River brings angst (flooding). And the third thing has been eluding me… until now; add a pandemic to it. My life – like yours – has been more-than-a-bit upended.

So, when I get this message, as a consumer, I’m immediately turned off.

As a PR pro, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Right now, if you’re selling anything, you’ll win if you use empathy.  This was today’s email to me… the consumer: The Road to A Successful Staycation Is Paved with Great Wine.

What’s right with it: this winery is attempting to the adjustment of conversion for wine sales to staying alive. What rubbed me the wrong way is the use of the word “staycation.” While having a “staycation” assumes you can get a room at the Ritz. Most of us can’t.

Do you know anyone who’s reveling in this down time? The out-of-control kids in Florida just got their reality check. We’re seriously all on lock down. I had to get something into the mail yesterday; if my postal worker had had permission to kill me on the spot, she would have.

Here’s what I wanted to send to this winery, but decided to use it as a teachable moment here, instead, for all of us to consider.

Sharpening Our Empathy Skills

Dear (Winery Owner),

This isn’t easy to tell you folks, but I feel the need, because I like you guys and am willing to help you put your best foot forward, during these extremely treacherous times. (We’re all a bit oversensitive, given the pandemic.)

Advertising is a necessity, I know. We help our clients who are also trying so hard to figure out “what needs to appear normal,” in anything-but-normal times. We have to strike that balance.

Also, trying to have a positive message is difficult to craft, I understand. It’s not easy.

As a consumer, not a PR pro, the word “staycation” – Trying to be delicate, but I don’t know how. Let’s see… Right now for many of us it’s anything but. Imagine if you have customers with cancer, pneumonia, etc., and they get your message. That’s what you have to think about, before it even leaves your winery.

What if you’d use the word “uncertain times?” Because they really are. Use a word with empathy and understanding. Ask yourself, “what are our customers feeling today?” It’s really hard to loaf around, when a plague is at your door step. We’re all really troubled; and, sometimes levity can be added, but it has to be the absolute best and most delicate.”

What’s easy and non-offensive is to offer hope. Had I received the following, I would have been pretty appreciative, and considered the offer. Here’s how I would have crafted this message for a client:

As you meander through your yard, while engaged in distancing, imagine listening to the birds and watching the bees, with a glass of our (name the wine and one of your varieties), in your hand. We’re here to help make that special moment a reality. We’re at your service to ship and help lighten your day.”

Corny? Maybe. Offensive? To whom? I just spent yesterday with a sample of wine in my hand, walking in my garden, doing just this. I came in so refreshed, and now I’ll never forget the walk, nor the Chilean La Pincoya Red Blend, quite honestly. This is how memories are made and healing takes shape. It wasn’t a joyous staycation; it was a real life stress release. Something we all need right now, and that can ALSO be delivered with your case of wine.

Wine is part of it, and I’m hoping it’s your wine, dear winery owner, marketer, sales folks. This 2018 vintage became mine.

And, I should add, I just love the La Pincoya label (Mother earth), it just fits. What could have been better?

Thanks to Wine Industry Insight for publishing this article.

Thanks to Wine Business for publishing this article.


Imports,Italy,Marketing,Red Wine,White Wine,Wholesaler,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Culture,Wine Distribution,Wine Ed,Wine Event,Wine Importer,Wine Marketing,Wine Travel,Winery,WSET

Complicated Situation in the American Wine Market, by Michael Yurch of The Bluest Sky Group

Wine marketer Michael (Mick) Yurch, of The Bluest Sky Group, has shared the following with me, in his circle of friends and colleagues. It’s a fascinating reading, from someone with international relationships in wine. It’s Mick’s job to prepare wine brands for the United States market. He’s been doing this since leaving his career, as one of the popular owners of Sherry-Lehmann, a large retailer in New York City. Being in retail for so many years, he’s got great perspectives and experiences. Spending time with him, in a small wine professional group in Italy, I’ve seen him in action and trust his insights and judgments.

Michael Yurch describes the complicated situation in the American wine market, as of the beginning of VinExpo New York, two weeks ago. He resides on the East Coast and in Italy.

 From Last Week ~ Michael Yurch

The US is not quite as bad as Italy for the virus so far, but people are staying home a lot and not going to restaurants.

I was in New York last week for the Tre Bicchieri event [the world’s premier Italian wine showcase] and VinExpo NY [the most dynamic trade only event in the fastest growing market in the world… Vinexpo New York]. The bigger problem in general (so far) has been the tariffs.

  • No tariffs (yet) on Italy is certainly an advantage there, but the tariffs paid on France, Germany and Spain by most importers have taken a large amount of cash out of the system.
  • Many were caught by surprise with holiday stocks in transit that increased in price by as much as $50,000 per container, payable in advance when the 25 percent Airbus tariff was applied in late October.
  • Some containers were refused and some smaller importers unfortunately went out of business.
  • Many were forced to raise prices immediately, and lost business due to prices higher than agreed upon, with their customers.

Those remaining are slowly recovering.

The larger importers, faced with threats of an increase from 25 percent to 100 percent in the tariff in February, bought large supplies of standard items as a hedge (in many cases a full year’s supply), and are now buying little else with warehouses full.

The threats of a new 100 percent tariff over the Digital Property issue still remain.

Before the virus issue, it seemed that there would be a good period for tariff-free Italian wine coming in the spring, as the smaller importers that remain regained their cash flow, but now with the expected virus-related slowdown in business, that moment will take longer to arrive and could be shorter in duration.

The Commission that enforces the tariffs will meet again in August to decide what it will do for the period of September through February 2021.

  • They can increase, decrease, or leave things as they are.
  • They could also decide to include Italy and Austria, but I myself do not believe that this will happen.

It is also important to note that the Airbus tariffs are NOT directly tied to the current administration in Washington, and will not automatically change with the election in November.  What remains to be seen is the amount of damage to sales that the virus issue will cause.

UPDATE, as of Today

Obviously things have changed since then, but a review of the tariff situation since their imposition last October is still worthy of review.

  • The rapid onset of the COVID-19 virus has and continues to effect all of us in a major way.
  • As far as the US market and the ability to sell wine here, bars and restaurants are being ordered to close in many cities.
  • As sales on premise slow, retailers have experienced sales GAINS as people begin to stock their cellars for an expected drop in supply.

Whether this continues is anyone’s guess.

A larger question is the threat of economic recession.

In the last recession, it’s good to remember that wine continued to sell, but with tremendous pressure against the higher priced wines with retail pricing over $25 (US Dollar rates).

Consumption patterns are also likely to change with the tariff exemption on wines over 14 percent alcohol.

White wine and Rosé depletions are quite likely to suffer.


… to you… As we all wait to see that the future holds for us all…