Recorded weekly at The Panel Wine Lounge in Sonoma, California, WINE WOMEN Radio features members of the nonprofit, professional organization that’s focused on providing the tools, guidance and creativity for its members to attain wine industry prominence.
Wine Women – Rachel LeRoy, HipMaps
“Your wines are grown where?” may be a question frequently heard by winery tasting room staff from their visitors. This is where our guest comes into the picture: Rachel LeRoy, founder and chief map designer at HipMapsTM, helps winery customers understand what makes each ones’ wine unique by providing visual maps of where the grapes are grown.
Guests may not understand weather patterns that are unique to a winery’s Pinot Noir vineyard near the Sonoma Coast. Other wineries may wish to highlight the age of their vines or elevation on a mountain top as an important characteristic of their wine. All of the details may become vastly simpler for winery guests to understand with the visual aid of a map depicting these features.
These visual tools may be one of several aides sales staff employ to help close the sale or persuade guests to join their wine club. Beautiful, custom maps can be yet one more tool in the marketing toolbox to reinforce a brand’s identity. They help customers better understand a winery’s offering and price points, as well as conveying key details, such as a winery’s sense of history and tradition versus streamlined, modernistic design notes.
How did Rachel end up in wine country, having grown up on a Vermont dairy farm? As she told the hosts, she’s always been intrigued by maps and globes from early childhood. Her Bachelor of Arts’ Environmental Science degree studies offered her course work in geography and (of course) mapmaking, using some early GPS-based software.
Upon graduating from the University of Virginia with her degree, Rachel eventually found herself designing and mapping vineyards in Napa Valley. Creating these technical maps showed how growers would mitigate erosion control, demonstrate sustainability measures, and simply accompany permit applications for new development with her maps.
After creating these maps for local wineries for a couple of decades, Rachel saw how valuable they could be to sales staff, providing orientation for non-local visitors to understand where vineyards were located in proximity to the tasting room. Wineries began asking her to highlight unique features on maps they felt conveyed their best qualities to customers.
Now Rachel customizes each map for clients with their logos, font, color and styling guides, and of course, the unique features of their wines, making them very HipMapsTM! (Just had to go there, sorry!) Some of her clients have even made her maps into puzzles as gifts for club members.
With the leaps in sophistication that digital maps have made in the past decade, and their simplicity of use, her maps could not be more apropos to today’s wineries and their customers. Not relegated to old-fashioned printed paper maps, Rachel’s offering now includes the HipMapsTM app, which overlays her custom maps on GPS-generated online maps, allowing the user to orient his/her position (with a pinpoint) with correlating points on the custom map. They can connect directly to map software on smartphones to provide navigation instructions.
To learn more, listen in and visit: HipMapsTM
Wine Women – Kari Auringer, Silver Trident Winery
Kari Auringer, winemaker at Silver Trident Winery, reminded us why we loooooooove recording our shows in-person. It was just so much fun to visit with Kari at the Silver Trident Tasting Home in Yountville, California. It would not have been the same recorded long-distance. Getting to see reactions to the wine, share ideas, and kibbitz in the same room made all the difference!
Not only is the home decorated beautifully by Trevor R. Howells, exclusively in Ralph Lauren Home décor, but you can buy all the goods in the home as well, from the drapes on the windows to the plush, leather seats you sink into while enjoying the wine.
The atmosphere made it so enjoyable to relax and talk with Kari about her journey into a career in wine. A Madison, Wisconsin, native, Kari never anticipated a career in wine. She was going to be an artist! (And she did follow that career path for a while.) But then came wine…
The wine bug bit during one very memorable wine and food pairing experience and Kari was hooked. (And we are the luckier for it, as her wines at Silver Trident are special.) We began by tasting her 2018 Silver Trident Apollo’s Folly, Rosé of Pinot Noir, Petaluma Gap, Sonoma Coast. Fruit-forward but light as can be, the rosé reflected a beautiful pink salmon color and floral aromas on the nose. Refreshing and crisp, the hosts were immediately enamored as Kari walked us through the accompanying Perfect Pairing and (wait for it…) Potato Chip Extravaganza!
That’s right: This was our first ever wine and potato chip pairing experience. In fact, we don’t know of another winery offering this type of pairing (although many are familiar with pairing potato chips with all manner of sparkling wines). And these aren’t just any grocery store chips! These are curated, artisanal potato chips. Try it!
Silver Trident’s name is a tribute to the owners’ long-standing affiliation with cruise ships. Bob Binder is the founder of Silver Trident Winery and the co-founder of Oceania Cruises, a luxury cruise line which has partnered on projects with the Wine Spectator, Lalique and Bon Appetit Magazine. The winery’s co-founder is Swiss-born Walter Jost, an accomplished advertising and media executive.
The afternoon wore on with much laughter, story telling, and (of course) several more Silver Trident wines tasted. The 2018 Symphony No. 9, Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, was lovely with aromas of pineapple and tropical fruit. It had an interesting, lovely mix of crisp acidity integrated with a certain creamy roundness. This paired beautifully with the Labneh Goat Cheese with Preserved Lemon and Herbnc canape.
Then we moved into the reds: All were delicious, well-balanced, and had finishes that drifted on and on. These included the Benevolent Dictator Pinot Noir from the Russian River appellation (one of Kari’s favorite projects to work on); Playing with Fire, Napa Valley Red Blend (which appeared destined to go with a huge variety of foods), a refreshing blend of Malbec and Cabs (Sauvignon and Franc); and the Twenty-Seven Fathoms, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. You’ll have to tune in to hear the story behind the “Twenty-Seven Fathoms” naming of this rich Cabernet…
When asked about what she sees as the biggest challenges going forward, Kari’s immediate response was “climate.” She isn’t the first winemaker to identify the quickly evolving climate patterns as a significant factor in the inevitable changes coming to Napa Valley and beyond. We touched on this point more than once as Kari emphasized her careful review of source vineyards throughout the state before choosing specific ones for the fruit profiles she was seeking out for different wines in the Silver Trident portfolio.
Wine Women – Alexi Cashen, Elenteny Imports
Alexi Cashen has had her work cut out for her these past couple of years. Between the stuck container ship in the Suez Canal, the pandemic, and the effects of the tariffs on European luxury goods (including wine), it’s all wreaked havoc on the freight forwarding and global shipping industries.
As co-founder of Elenteny Imports, launched in 2010 and headquartered out of New York, Alexi hasn’t backed away from a wide array of business challenges. In fact, she greets them with gusto! We were delighted to speak with Alexi to learn about her essential role in moving wine and spirits from one side of the planet to another in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.
Alexi received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Education (Magna Cum Laude) from the University of Colorado at Boulder. And with her strong entrepreneurial drive and business development interests, she landed in wine sales in New York, eventually serving in several positions as sales manager. But it was logistics that drew her to the lesser-known back end of the alcoholic beverages industry.
She thrived on helping clients navigate the complex world of importing, freight forwarding, compliance and managing the logistics of getting wine from here to there. Thus, Elenteny Imports was born, with her co-founder, freeing up her clients to do what they do best: source, introduce and sell those wines to new markets across the globe.
Tune in to the show to learn about this complex side of the wine business along with hosts what makes Elenteny different from most freight consolidators and other distribution service providers. We talked at length about what skills are needed to be successful in freight forwarding and logistics.
She also told us about what types of alcohol businesses can benefit from their services at Elenteny. Alexi had success stories about clients who have grown their business while working with Elenteny. But as a highly driven entrepreneur, it was no surprise to learn Alexi has a new business nearing launch, St. Hilde’s Botonica, featuring Spiked Tincture Tonics. (Watch for its launch this summer!) And she has her own podcast, filled with fascinating guests in and out of the wine business.
Learn more on this episode of the Wine Women Radio Hour!
Alexi Cashen Podcast: https://alexicashen.com/podcast-list
Wine Women – Lisa Strid, Aridus Winery
Lisa Strid is nearing her 5th year anniversary as the winemaker at Aridus Winery in Willcox, Arizona. Although she is a Wyoming native (with no vineyards anywhere near her home), she fell in love with wine while working alongside her uncle on his small vineyard and winery in western Washington. Play the show to learn about Aridus’ estate wines, grown above 5,000 feet in elevation in southeast Arizona.
We were fascinated to learn about the similarities and differences in growing conditions, harvesting and wine making in Arizona. (They get monsoon rains during harvest season!) To plant their vineyard, they had to use a jackhammer and auger, not exactly standard vineyard planting equipment here in Northern California!
Lisa Strid previously worked on the Specialty Winemaking team at E&J Gallo. After nearly two years she transitioned to the role of Research Winemaker, where she focused on innovative equipment use, new technology validation trials and the exploration of process-driven changes to target different wine styles.
Having an eye on desert wine growing while working at Gallo, she visited the area to find out how the quality of wines were developing in Arizona. When she saw the listing for the winemaking position at Aridus, she leaped at the opportunity.
At Aridus, Lisa directs not only the production of their wines but also is responsible for the winery’s custom crush operation, where growers bring their grapes from throughout Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and California.
The renovated former apple warehouse, just outside the town of Willcox, is where she diversifies her winemaking expertise according to the variables of the desert terroir of the Southwest and beyond. Aridus produces more than a dozen wines, both white and reds.
While many of their wines’ grapes have been sourced from vineyards in the area and via relationships Lisa has personally established, she is also closely involved with the winery’s 40-acre estate vineyard in Pearce, Arizona. It lies along Turkey Creek, perched at 5,200 foot elevation, which is currently planted both to white and red wine varietals.
Aridus, which derives its name from the Latin word meaning dry or arid, pronounced air-i-dus, was founded by Scott and Joan Dahmer in 2012 and today the winery has two tasting rooms, one near the winery in Willcox, Arizona, and the other in old town Scottsdale, Arizona.
During the show we sampled Aridus’ inaugural vintage of their white blend: 2017 Aridus Field Blend, made from Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia Bianca and Viognier, clocking in at an astonishingly low 11% ABV (very impressive). This refreshing white blend makes an easy quaffer. It’s elegant, with crisp acidity that will maintain the wine’s structure for some time. Lots of citrus notes but also tropical aromas.
Each of the hosts also received various Aridus red wines to sample, including the 2018 Graciano, which had lots of dark fruit flavors, from dark cherry, to blackberry, plum and more. Its strong acidity will ensure lengthy aging. This is a BIG wine. Misty was enjoying the Aridus 2018 Syrah, and Lisa tasted the Aridus 2018 Mourvedre. Both loved their richness and unique characteristics. These are well-structured wines, with loads of flavor to pair with a wide variety of food dishes.
Listen to the show to learn about this up and coming wine region, Aridus’ elegant desert wines and Lisa Strid’s journey to leading the winemaking efforts in this newer U.S. wine region.
Scottsdale Tasting Room | 7173 E. Main Street | Scottsdale, AZ 85251 | 520 954-2676
Willcox Tasting Room | 145 N.
Wine Women – Tawnya Falkner, Le Grand Courtage
Tawnya Falkner’s wine career went from zero to 200 m.p.h. in relative short order. Educated at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) and previously having co-founded two, still successfully operating firms, Strategic Development Solutions and Domus Development, Tawnya found initial success in real estate development and architecture. But her passion for food, wine and travel sent her on a journey to France after seeing a gap in the sparkling wine category related to price, palate and packaging. There she launched her dream in the wine business, Le Grand Courtâge.
In just a few short years, it’s now distributed in 44 states. Le Grand Courtâge’s portfolio consists of a French Blanc de Blanc and a Brut Rosé, which have been poured on Virgin America Airlines. The wines are currently featured by Holland America Cruise Lines, MGM Resorts and T-Mobile Stadium in Las Vegas, and California Pizza Kitchen, World Market and Kimpton Hotels nationally. (Not a bad start in the wine business!)
Le Grand Courtâge wines have appeared on The Today Show, Access Hollywood, Check Please! Bay Area and Fox News, as well as in Martha Stewart, People, Vogue, The Knot, Domino, Architectural Digest, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post and AOL.com.
During our show while tasting these wines, we asked Tawnya about her keys to success in the wine industry. Her take? It requires a combination of art, science, strategy and relationships. Tawnya saw clear parallels between her previous career as a real estate developer with becoming a vintner: Find a niche that no one else has filled. Have a clear and decisive vision. Know your numbers! Secure key accounts before going after smaller accounts. The impressive list went on and on…
Tawnya unflinchingly divulged some of her essential strategies: She learned she couldn’t get her foot in the door in some markets without a still wine in her portfolio. Hence, her Très Chic Rosé was born of necessity (and it’s delicious)! Other strategies she learned by understanding supply and demand. The world of sparkling wine can hinge upon a balance of inventory between Splits and 750ml bottles that the still wine industry doesn’t face as a demand issue. And from an audience-appeal point of view, Splits are terrific for picnics and other solo drinking events for success.
Tawnya sees food and wine as the common denominator that brings people together for great conversation and laughter, epitomizing the human connection. Her vision was to create an affordable luxury which embodied the French spirit of joie de vivre (joy of life) and elevated life’s everyday moments.
While life as a vintner may seem a far cry from her previous experience as a policy strategist and consultant for government agencies, corporations and nonprofit groups, it was those experiences that made navigating complex regulatory requirements, balancing financial realities, and implementing a vision that addressed market opportunity so successful in a short amount of time.
Tune in to hear all about Tawnya’s Great Big Adventure in Sparkling Wine and to hear the hosts reflections on tasting these wines. We expect to see Tawnya’s wine continue to grow considerably in market share, bringing her dream of LIVE JOYOUSLY to more and more wine drinkers.
Le Grand Courtâge is proudly operated by an all-female team. The brand often partners with women-owned brands and non-profit organizations that benefit women.
Website Le Grand Courtage | Instagram @LeGrandCourtage and @TresChicRose
Wine Women – Jordan Kivelstadt
“New” was the buzz word for our show with Kivelstadt Cellars’ proprietor and “Wayward Son,” Jordan Kivelstadt. Getting back to in-person shows felt new to the hosts (as it had been more than a year since the last in-person show). Getting to enjoy Kivelstadt’s new California wines and first-ever winegarten in Sonoma was a treat. And, of course, Jordan thrives on entrepreneurial innovation of anything new for the wine business and enhancing consumer engagement.
Jordan was trained as an engineer at Tufts University before moving on to management consulting for more than two years. Then, after a stint as production manager for The Donum Estate, he made wine in four countries and eventually founded his own bottle brand, Kivelstadt Cellars. As if the pace wasn’t fast enough, Jordan managed his family’s organic 10-acre Sonoma County, California vineyard; co-founded Free Flow Wines, the pioneer of premium wine on tap; and continued to serve on numerous boards of local government and non-profit organizations. We were sure he never slept!
Back to the beginning: In the last 10+ years, we watched Kivelstadt grow from a mere few hundred cases to around 8,000 today. Wine Women even held an event several years ago in their old tasting room in Glen Ellen. But knowing expansion was a must, Jordan made the leap to a much larger hospitality facility last year…just in time for the pandemic to hit and shut everything down. (Ugh!)
Kivelstadt Cellars, however, has a huge advantage over many, much smaller producers: their enormous garden shaded by ancient trees. It provided the needed COVID-19 social distancing space for guests. With well over a dozen wines to taste and buy, visitors and club members all can try something new with each visit. (In fact, guests can even select some non-Kivelstadt wines during special tasting experiences.) Even guests’ dogs can try something new with a wee dog menu available side-by-side with the human brunch and lunch menus. (Co-host Lisa Adams Walter was admiring the Brulee Grapefruit on the menu!) Oh, and the kids? Steer them to the wee playground in the garden to entertain themselves. There’s something for everyone here, including beer on tap and a few cocktails.
Tune in to hear about the wines tasted during the show. They range from experiments, under his KC Labs label, to more “prime time” endeavors that have proven solid winners in the Kivelstadt lineup for several years. Kivelstadt’s wines are all organic; sustainability is a core tenet for all of Jordan’s endeavors.
When asked what type of consumers would best like Kivelstadt wines, Jordan told a wonderful story to the hosts about a hard-to-please guest that will resonate with many a hospitality professional: It took time and gentle probing to discover the customer’s preferred flavor profile. But he did succeed and impressed him, proving the appeal of the Kivelstadt portfolio to many different wine drinkers.
Ever the innovator, we had to ask the direction of Free Flow Wines, the company he co-founded more than a decade ago to bring wine into kegs. Jordan’s now stepped back to a board role with the firm, but between the rebound beginning as the pandemic recedes and the acceleration by which canned wine consumption are growing, he sees nothing but great growth ahead for this innovative company. After all, if you can dramatically reduce consumption of packaging materials (more than two cases of wine can be stored in a keg, eliminating bottle glass, capsules, labels, and cardboard casing…), and by recycling the original container (as is done with kegs) you’re moving towards net zero waste in a big way. This is a huge win for the wine industry and the planet.
Where is it all headed? You’ll have to listen in to hear this entrepreneur’s predictions for the future of Kivelstadt Cellars,
Love the show!
Great locations for podcasts and very interesting interviews 🍷🍇🍷🍇. Another great Radio Misfits show! Cheers