Today’s blog is about the group effort (Suisun Valley).

One of the most natural progressions in the wine industry is from the humble farmer, who has been growing grapes for sometimes generations in a family; and then one day, the light bulb goes on, and a producer is born…

“I wonder what these grapes would taste like if I made the wine?” is usually how this goes.

Sometimes it doesn’t even take generations to come to that conclusion; sometimes it’s almost from the start. The bottom line of this story is that unlike any other commodity item I can think of, growing grapes piques a curiosity within farmers to know what they can do with their own grapes.

Some of that also comes from an industry with so many options for buying this commodity that the competition is fierce. Buyers know that there’s almost always an oversupply, so they squeeze the daylights out of growers, knowing that their neighbors have tons of grapes to sell… Supply and demand; it’s that simple.

Suisun Valley

When I first started working in Suisun Valley as their publicist, they were really being taken advantage of. It’s no secret. They allowed me to tell that story from the beginning. My charge was to help them work business-to-business, between wine grape growers and their buyer… To tell the story of their excellent viticultural practices and that being in the Northern California AVA had plenty of merit. And, not only was it the AVA’s location that gave them credibility, but their practices were now modern and deserving. One vineyard owner was getting only $300-a-ton, when we started, while his contiguous vineyard placed just over the county line into Napa was fetching $3,000 a ton… Same grape variety, same vit practices, same land owner. If that doesn’t prove this squeezing practice, I don’t know what it would take to convince any skeptic.

Yes, boys and girls, life’s not fair.

I told them that while they needed their audience to be wine grape buyers, that they also really needed to talk to wine writers about the wines coming out of Suisun Valley. Wine writers endorse wines, and consumers appreciate their recommendations. I know that pull-through is a determining factor, having been in wine sales, too. Get consumer demand going, even though that one would take a lot of work and lots of time, and they’d be well on their way. Within a short amount of time they evolved from two winery tasting rooms in Suisun Valley in 2002, to six wine tasting rooms by 2009, one of which is their Suisun Valley Wine Co-operative. This tasting room houses five different wine companies.

When we began, there were only about four brands with Suisun Valley on their labels. Now, I’ve got 33 wine brands that I know of with Suisun Valley on the label; wineries located both inside and outside of Suisun Valley. From four to 33, in six years; this is a great growth spurt for Suisun Valley… A land that was once nose-to-the-grindstone, frozen in time. It takes time to build an AVA, and they’re well on their way.

What it’s done is many fold:

  • Given them critical acclaim for their wines, which allows for more competitive and better pricing.
  • Raised visibility for who they are and what they’re doing.
  • Increased consumer traffic into their valley.
  • Lets them sell their own wines, giving them more cash flow throughout the year.

Did you know that a grape grower only gets paid once a year, when he or she delivers that year’s crop? (Imagine living on one paycheck a year.)

If you’d like to taste the wines with Suisun Valley on the label, on February 11, 2011, Suisun Valley is having a tasting:

Suisun Valley Wine and Food ~ A Love Story
Friday, February 11, 2011 ~ Doors open at 5:00 p.m.
Tasting from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Fairfield Center for Creative Arts

Guests will be gathering for a night of wine and food, at the Fairfield Center for Creative Arts in Fairfield, California. Fifteen wineries with Suisun Valley appellated wines on their labels will be paired with special gourmet creations from local restaurants; such as Ahi’s Seafood and Chop House, Mary’s Pizza Shack, Vintage Caffé, and a selection of downtown restaurants. The evening’s festivities conclude with the SVVGA annual wine and barrel auction.

Suisun Valley Vintners & Growers have held food and wine events in honor of their AVA celebrations for three consecutive years. This year, rather than holding their event during the holiday week between Christmas and New Year, the growers have decided to focus on an annual event that will be celebrated in conjunction with Valentine’s Day. This coming February 11, 2011, they are launching Suisun Valley Wine and Food ~ A Love Story.

Suisun Valley Wine and Food ~ A Love Story is open to the general public. Guests will be able to enjoy food and wine, while visiting with winemakers to taste their Suisun Valley wines. Tickets will be limited to the first 350 sold to the public, with the cost being $35.00 per ticket. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are on sale now at the following locations:  Wooden Valley Winery, Ledgewood Creek Winery, the Suisun Valley Wine Cooperative, and the Fairfield Main Street Association.

Doors will open at 5:00 p.m., with the food and wine tasting scheduled to begin promptly at 5:30 p.m., continuing to 9:00 p.m. The SVVGA annual wine and barrel auction will conclude the night.

A portion of the proceeds from this event will go toward the Fairfield and Suisun Public Education Foundation, with a grant being established. The event is presented by SVVGA and sponsored by the Fairfield Main Street Association. For more information, visit

All this from a few growers sitting around, forming an association, and deciding that maybe they should put their wine into a bottle, so they’d know how it will do in wine sales. What an amazing evolution to watch and be part of.

Here’s a YouTube video I created from all of their past events:

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