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Farewell to 2009


2009 has indeed been an interesting and uncertain year. For Suisun Valley grape growers and wineries there have been plenty of ups and downs.

Starting a new year in the cusp of, likely, the worst recession most of us have experienced is never a good start, but yet that was how we entered the 09 vintage. It was hard to see the true difficulities during the Unified Symposium in Sacramento in Jan where we sponsored the State of the Industry general session morning coffee. Grape demand was only beginning to sense issues in unsold case goods stacking up in wharehouse throughout the North Coast.

By March, as members of the Association headed to Pennsylvania for Wineries Unlimited, the reaction to accessing Suisun Valley grapes in the previous year was outstanding both in the home catagory and from commercial wineries as well. Yet uncertainty to how orders would ulitmately play out were unknown. It was becoming clear the CA winery market was going to be very tough for spot market activity.

The Vintners committee was formed and the first Passport Weekend demonstrated a strong acceptance of emerging Suisun Valley tasting rooms and the related wine price points we represented. It became clear the Association was heading towards both vintner and grower orientation and the Board of Director formalized that move by changing the name to Suisun Valley Vintners and Growers Association and creating a marketing affilliate membership catagory for other entities in the valley to engage with us. The General membership approved this at the annual meeting in August.

While the Harvest Celebration weekend tasting event again was highly successful, the grape market had turned to total turmoil. Luxury Class wines above $25 became a very tough sell and wineries really cut back on any new fruit aquisition. Producers in the Central Valley were greatly experiencing the benefits of being in the under $10 price range, with solid clean wines.

Harvest time witnessed both good and bad. The crop turned out to be significant and of very good quality, but a little late in maturing. This allowed the Assocation to venture out to Lake Tahoe for the Autumn Food and Wine Festival, where many local Solano and


North Bay residents were found in attendance and learning about what they had in their own back yard.

Northern CA then experienced a rare phenomena – 5.5 inches of rain in second week of October with lots of fruit still on vines. The impacts to those who picked before, or waited to after, will be understood as wines begin to reveal themselves in barrel over the early months of 2010.

While fruit was certainly left on the vine by many Suisun Valley growers, there has been a sense that high quality wines at ‘new sensibility’ price points will emerge from the 09 vintage. Some of the early whites will begin to be bottled in short order and available in tasting rooms by spring.

Olive oil, which seems to have such an affinity to good food, much like wine, took deeper roots with development and opening of the first olive press (mill) by late October, just in time for the annual olive harvest. High quality extra virgin oils are in the making, to join the outstanding wines being made in Suisun Valley

Coming to a close of 2009 the annual Anniversary Wine Maker Dinner was a fine affair indeed. Attendance was slightly up, hopefully signaling a recovery in the making. New consumers have been made aware of the Valley and its offerings, even at this event itself. And certainly our new friends and grape customers on the East Coast have let us know results are looking bright there as well.

2010 brings the promise of expanding new directions and success. We have weathered the storm of 2009 with some hits, but the spring brings renewal just as in the vineyard. Enjoy a glass of Suisun Valley wine tonight as you ring in 2010.

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