SSU WineSense Club Announces Fall 2016 Schedule


Vineyards on Foothills of Sonoma Mountain

(August 2016) It was a sunny evening in August when the newly elected SSU Winesense Board of Directors met for the annual planning meeting at BBQ dinner to brainstorm about possible wineries to invite to campus for educational tastings. Living in the heart of California Wine Country with over 900 wineries to choose from between Napa and Sonoma valleys, we are truly blessed.

After some appetizers and a glass of wine, the team developed their tentative meeting schedule, listed below. Then it was time for tri-tip and sausages, just before the fog wafted in over the Petaluma Gap to blanket Sonoma Mountain in its cooling breeze. Great for the grapes, but requiring coats and sweaters for everyone gathered around the table.

Tentative Fall 2016 Schedule

All meetings are reserved for SSU students aged 21 and over. Sessions are designed to provide basic wine education for club members, featuring the wine brands of invited wineries. Meetings start at 7pm and are held in the Bennett Valley Room in the Student Union Building. Dues can be paid in full or in installments.  For additional information, please contact SSU Winesense Club President.

September 8th – Kenwood Winery

September 22nd – Benziger  Winery

October 7th – TBA (1st field trip)

October 20th – Larsen Winery, Halloween Theme

November 3rd – Languedoc Roussillon Regional Wine Tasting

November 17th – Kivelstadt Winery

December 2nd – Korbel (2nd field trip)

New SSU Winesense Board of Directors for Fall 2016/Spring 2017

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A Visit to Three Outstanding Santa Cruz Wineries: Pelican Ranch, Armida and Loma Prieta

(Contributed by Itze Monserrat Peña-Andrade) This past weekend a few members from the SSU Winesense Club took a field trip to visit the Santa Cruz wine region. This is a beautiful wine region near the ocean with over 120 wineries in the nearby hills. For more information about the Santa Cruz Winergrowers Association and wine maps, click here. We arrived Friday in Capitola, and set out to visit two small tasting rooms.


SSU WineSense Members in Santa Cruz

Pelican Ranch

pelican winery

Pelican Ranch Tasting Room

The first tasting room we went to was a small winery that produces only 1000 cases a year named Pelican Ranch. We stumbled upon this small winery and were fortunate to get an unexpected tour of the place. They specialize in Rhone and Burgundy style wines that result in rich, complex wines. It’s a quaint little winery that has only been in operation since 1997 and the generosity of the employees made this a great experience that we all really enjoyed.


Armida Winery

The second winery that we went to was Armida Winery and just like the first winery, we happened to drive by and decided to stop.  Located in Capitola, the Armida tasting room is one that shouldn’t be missed.  It is located near the ocean and the view is beautiful, it’s a great place to stop by for it’s nestled amongst a variety of fun shops in the center of Capitola. Armida also has a location in Sonoma County, so some of us were familiar with the brand. We tried their famous Poizon zinfandel wine that comes in a coffin shaped box, and it was a huge hit.


Armida Tasting Room in Capitola


The Famous Poizin Wine in Box Coffins

Loma Prieta Winery

The following day, we drove 2600 feet above Highway 17 to our next destination, and – unanimously – our favorite tasting of the trip: Loma Prieta Winery. The winery is actually known for being the largest producer of Pinotage in North America, and the view from the tasting room is absolutely breathtaking. The employees went above and beyond to make our experience enjoyable and it showed for we spent several hours there tasting and eating the day away.  Aside from tasting, we played some games outside, including a giant chess game, and the time just flew by. It is a winery we all really enjoyed and would definitely recommend.


View From Loma Prieta Winery

The quick weekend trip was a great success. All the members and board members that were able to go had a great time and we were introduced to some new wineries that we all hope to revisit again. It is a trip that we won’t soon forget and recommend future members to attend.


Giant Chess Game at Loma Prieta Winery



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Swimming Pools and a Wine Wonderland – A Delightful Tasting with Francis Ford Coppola Winery

(Contributed by Itze Monserrat Peña-Andrade) This week’s SSU WineSense Club meeting was quite thrilling in that we welcomed Francis Ford Coppola Winery for the very first time. The meeting and educational tasting was led by Kevin Patterson and Kaila Medina, both Hospitality Professionals working in tasting room operations. They provided information about the history, products, and special amenities at the winery.

Swimming Pool at Francis Ford Coppola Winery

The Unique Attributes of Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Sonoma County

Nestled on what was formerly Chateau Souverain Winery in Geyserville, California, Francis Ford Coppola Winery is a winery that is not to be missed.  When the winery was being renovated, Francis had a vision that it:

“Should be like a resort, basically a wine wonderland, a park of pleasure where people of all ages can enjoy the best things in life – food, wine, music, dancing, games, swimming and performances of all types. A place to celebrate the love of life!”

Today his vision is a reality, and the Coppola Winery is truly a Wine Wonderland!  Influenced by Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, the winery offers many delights for the visitors of all ages. With swimming pools, bocce courts, restaurants, event rooms, multiple tasting bars, and a Hollywood movie museum, the winery over delivers with fun activities to while away an afternoon and evening.

Some of the unique features include several of Coppola’s Oscar statues, along with memorabilia from his movies, such as Vito Corleone’s desk from The Godfather and a restored 1948 Tucker Sedan as was used in Tucker: The Man and His Dream. 

Restaurant at Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Kevin Leads Wine Tasting at SSU

Kevin and Kaila led the members of WineSense club through a tasting that featured a diverse selection of five Coppola wines:

  • 2014 Directors Cut Russian River Valley Chardonnay
  • 2014 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
  • 2013 Directors Cut Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
  • 2014 Directors Cut Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2012 Directors Cut Cinema Blend

They explained the special characteristics of each wine we tasted, and provided background information on the labels and unique packaging. These five delicious wines were but a glimpse of the many wines that Francis Ford Coppola Winery offers, and we were invited to visit the tasting room in the future.

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Favorites Wines of the Evening

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Millennial participants were asked to vote for their two favorite wines of the evening. The winners were:

2012 Directors Cut Cinema ($39) – A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, this wine exudes blackberries, violets, spice and vanilla.

2013 Directors Cut Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($27).  Red zinfandel with notes of mixed berries, cherries and licorice, plus a hint of nutmeg.

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SSU WineSense Executive Board at Francis Ford Coppola Eduational Tasting


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Duckhorn Winery Explains Waterfowl Theme to SSU Millennials

(Contributed by Itze Monserrat Peña-Andrade) The story of Duckhorn Winery and how it has expanded on its waterfowl theme over the years was the topic of our most recent SSU WineSense Club meeting. Led by winemaker, Michael Accurso, he captivated the audience with both words and a tasting of four delectable wines.


Michael Accurso with SSU Winesense Board Members 

A Little Bit of Duckhorn History

Duckhorn Vineyards was founded by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn in 1976. Throughout the forty years it has been in operation, Duckhorn Vineyards has established itself as one of North America’s premier producers of Napa Valley wines. From its modest inaugural vintage of 800 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and 800 cases of Merlot in 1978, to its addition of Sauvignon Blanc in 1982, Duckhorn Vineyards has crafted a tradition of quality and excellence that continues to this day.

Duckhorn Winery in Napa Valley

As time passed on, Duckhorn added more brands to its winery, making sure to keep to the waterfowl theme. This was not only because Dan and Margaret had a last name of “Duckhorn,” but because they have always enjoyed birds, especially waterfowl. Therefore, the first brand they added was Paradox in 1994, followed by Golden Eye, Migration, and Decoy and Canvas Back in the ensuring years. Today several of these brands have their own winery with tasting rooms open to the public.

Michael Leads Wine Tasting at SSU

Michael led the members of WineSense club through a tasting that featured four of the brands offered by Duckhorn.  These included:

  • 2013 Migration Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley
  • 2012 Goldeneye Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley
  • 2012 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot from the Napa Valley
  • 2012 Paradoxx Red Blend from the Napa Valley


The Favorite Wine of the Evening

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Millennial students in attendance were asked to vote for their favorite wine of the evening. Each participant could vote once and the favorite of the evening was the 2012 Goldeneye Pinot Noir.

It was an enriching night, the educational tasting that Michael provided kept everyone entertained and laughing. We can’t thank him enough for joining us in leading us all through this fantastic experience!


Favorite Wine of the Evening — Golden Eye 2012 Pinot Noir


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What Are Wine Preferences of Different American Generations?

(Based on excerpt from Vineyard & Winery Management article entitled Wine Generations.)


American Generations from WMC Study

There is an old adage that as people age, they drink more wine. In many cases, research has validated this concept. Yet in the early 2000’s, members of the Millennial generation turned 21 and began adopting wine in large percentages. This has continued over the past 15 year, until in 2016, the Wine Market Council reported that US Millennials consume more wine (36%) than Baby Boomers (34%). At the same time, Gen Xers, now in their 40’s, have still not adopted wine to the extent that Millennials have.

So why are there these generational fluctuations when it comes to wine, and what differences are apparent in the various American generations? The fact that the newest Generation Z (also called the iGeneration) just turned 21 in 2016, makes this a more compelling issue for the wine industry.

Vineyard & Winery Management magazine published one of my articles, written with Dr. Chang, describing our recent study on this topic. This posting is an excerpt of some of the highlights in the study. Millennials were divided into Older (30 – 38) and Younger (21 – 29), due to previous research showing that as Millennials age and obtain jobs with higher income, they drink more wine.

Overview of the US Generations

Though there are different definitions regarding the names and dates of American generations, we will use those provided by the Wine Marketing Council; illustrating age ranges in 2015. We have also included characteristics of each generation:

  • Swing Generation – aged 70 – 82. Currently around 30 million Americans. Grew up during several wars and part of the Great Depression. Considered to be cautious, disciplined and self-sacrificing. They are drinking less wine due to health reasons.
  • Boomer Generation – aged 51 – 69. Currently around 77 million Americans. The largest generation in history. The first TV generation. Started the “free love movement. Considered to be optimistic and driven. Currently buying and drinking a lot of  wine in America.
  • Gen Xers – aged 39 to 50. Currently around 44 million Americans. Called the “latch key” kids because they were often the children of divorce. Skeptical, individualistic, but also community minded. Primarily a cocktail generation, but now drinking more wine.
  • Millennials – aged 21 – 38. Currently around 70 million Americans. Also called Gen Y and Echo Boomers. Grew up with the Internet, and parents who told them how special they were. Optimistic, team-oriented, assertive, and believe in work/life balance.  Buying and drinking a lot of wine.
  • iGeneration – aged 6 – 20. Currently 61 million Americans. Also called Gen Z. Born into a period of terrorism. Grew up with cell phones. Very technology savvy. Entrepreneurial, seek face to face interaction and honesty. Unclear of their wine interests at this early stage, but very interested in healthy food. 

Consumption Frequency:  Boomers and Older Millennials Drinking the Most Wine

The results showed that Boomers (41%) and Older Millennials (43%) drink wine more often, but Older Millennials actually scored significantly higher than the other generations in terms of drinking wine on a daily basis. This suggests that Older Millennials are an important segment for wineries to focus on, especially as Boomers continue to age and may not be able to drink as much wine in the future due to health reasons.

Table 1: Frequency of Wine Consumption by Generation

Generation Daily Several Time Per Week Occasional

(Once a week or less often)

Younger Millennial 12% 39% 49%
Older Millennial 22% 43% 35%
Gen Xer 16% 39% 45%
Boomer 13% 41% 46%

 Major Findings:

  • Preferred Wine Types – All Generations Love Red Wine, but Disagree on Other Types
  • Involvement: Millennials Much More Involved With Wine than Other Generations
  • Risk Taking: Millennials and Gen Xers Much More Willing to Try New Wines
  • Price: Millennials Willing to Pay More for Wine
  • Purchase Locations: Wine Shops and Grocery Stores Preferred by All, but Older Millennials Most Likely to Purchase Online

Social Media & Ecommerce Findings

  • Social Media: Agreement on Facebook, but Younger Millennials Prefer YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest
  • Social Media to Discuss Wine: Older Millennials Talk About Wine the Most, and Boomers the Least
  • Wine Apps: Used Most by Millennials, but Boomers Like Wine Searcher

Table 2: Percentage of Generations Using Wine Apps

Use Wine Apps Vivino Hello Vino Delectable Wine Searcher
Young Millennials 32% 18% 14% 10% 14%
Older Millennials 44% 29% 25% 18% 19%
Gen Xers 30% 13% 15% 10% 15%
Boomers 13% 3% 3% 2% 9%

 Key Take-Aways

Though it is not possible to list all implications of this research here, there are a few key take-aways that may be helpful to wine marketers and strategists who are trying to sell wine to the different generations:

  1. Respect the Boomers: This generation is still drinking  a lot of wine in America today, so though they may spend less than Millennials, they are still an important segment to target. However wine strategists need to develop contingency plans to prepare for the aging of Boomers and the probable likelihood that they will drink less in the future due to health reasons. Traditional marketing channels will still work with this generation, but Facebook and WineSearcher seem to be good ways to connect with them online.
  2. Don’t Ignore Gen Xers: Though this is a smaller generation, and seemed to prefer cocktails over wine when they were younger, their wine consumption behavior has increased as they’ve aged. They also appear to enjoy trying new wines, and do go online to get information about wine. They have almost as high a usage of Twitter and Youtube as the Millennials, and are willing to pay more for wine than Boomers.
  3. Target Older Millennials: This generation appears to be highly engaged in wine and is willing to pay more for it. What may be challenging is that fact that they know so much and are very technology savvy. Wine marketers need to learn how to connect with this cohort across promotion channels, but especially online. Both innovative and intellectual methods are necessary to keep this group engaged with a brand.
  4. Innovate for Younger Millennials: This younger cohort has lower income, but are willing to spend more on wine than Boomers. However, they enjoy trying new wines, and varietal is not as important to them. This points to a need for new innovation wine styles and options for this group, as well as online advertising that is more focused on Youtube, Instagram and Pinterest.
  5. Study Needs of iGeneration: It’s difficult to believe that the iGeneration turned 21 in January of 2016, but very little is known about their wine drinking perceptions. The fact that they are very interested in healthy food and nutrition suggests that focusing on the natural way in which wine is made, especially sustainable, organic, and biodynamics wines, could be useful.


FOR A COMPLETE COPY OF THE STUDY, CONTACT VINEYARD & WINERY MANAGEMENT magazine: Thach, L. & Chang, K. (2016). Wine Generations: A new survey looks at consumer wine preferences. Vineyard & Winery Management, Vol. 42, No. 1, pgs. 124-128.

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SSU Millennials Wowed by the Flash and Fun of Buena Vista Wines

FullSizeRender (2)Contributed by Itze Monserrat Peña-Andrade) A huge crowded gathered at the recent SSU WineSense tasting, lured by the “flash” of the flamboyant Buena Vista Winery, and the “fun” of tasting its newly released wines. The meeting was led by Hospitality and Tasting Room Associate, Amber Lesniewski, who wowed the audience with stories about the winery’s amazing history, as well as the products they offer.

Buena Vista Winery – The Oldest Premium Winery in California

The history of Buena Vista Winery is quite interesting to say the least. Self-proclaimed “Count of Buena Vista,” Agoston Haraszthy, a vivacious immigrant from Hungary and lover of grapes, founded Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma County in 1857. This makes Buena Vista the oldest premium commercial winery in California.


Renovated Wine Caves at Buena Vista

The Count first settled in Wisconsin, where he planted both hops for beer-making. This made him one of the founding fathers of the American beer industry, as well as wine. But the harsh winters in Wisconsin weren’t ideal for planting grapes, so he decided to move to San Diego, California. Here he became the first sheriff, and then marshal, of San Diego. Eventually he made his way north to San Francisco in 1852, and then to Sonoma in 1856, where he acquired 800 acres and set the foundation for the successful Buena Vista Winery.

Buena Vista Today – Renovated by Jean-Charles Boisset

Fast forward to the present, where the winery sits on its original property and is currently owned by Boisset Family Estates, led by Jean-Charles Boisset, who purchased the winery and the historic property in May 2011. Since that time, Jean-Charles had made many improvements, including renovating the old caves, adding a museum, updating the tasting room, and creating the famous “White Room,” filled with priceless antiques and chandeliers.

The original hand-dug caves are still on site and after reconstruction; they have been re-opened to visitors for tours. The visitor center, located inside the old wine press house, provides access to the original champagne cellar as well as many other amenities. Boisset continues to make the winery the best it can be, and the efforts he has brought forth have surely been noticed.

A Tasting of Three Famous Buena Vista Wines

FullSizeRenderrAmber led the members of WineSense club through a tasting that featured three Buena Vista wines. The included a 2014 Buena Vista Chardonnay, a 2012 Buena Vista Pinot Noir, both from Carneros, and a 2013 Sheriff. The latter was a powerful wine brimming with personality and a bold combination of Cabernet, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Grenache. Amber walked the students through the characteristics of each wine tasted, and then encouraged them to visit the winery to taste many of their other special varietals.

Favorite Wine of the Evening – A Bow to the 2013 Sheriff

At the conclusion of the meeting, club members were asked to vote for their favorite wine of the evening. Each participant could vote once and with a unanimous vote, the 2013 Buena Vista Sheriff was clearly not only the favorite, but the winner of the evening. It was an enriching night and a wondeful educational tasting that students will not forget any time soon.


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SSU Wine Sense Club Welcomes Korbel – The Oldest California Champagne Cellar Dating from 1882

IMG_5379(Contributed by Itze Monserrat Pena) The SSU WineSense Club kicked off the Spring 2016 semester with a delicious tasting of sparkling wine and port to celebrate the romantic month of February. Obviously Korbel Champagne Cellars was a “natural” choice to invite to campus for an educational and fun tasting.

A Little Bit of Korbel History

Korbel & Bros. Inc. has an interesting tale that dates back to 1862 where believe it or not, the three Korbel brothers: Francis, Anton and Joseph founded Korbel to make cigar boxes in San Francisco, California. It was an immediate success, which led them to become involved in the export of hardwood and timber. That attracted the brothers to the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Over time, they began to plant vineyards on the Russian River property.

By 1882, the brothers were producing up to 30,000 gallons of wine. Due to their success, they decided to devote all their attention to their vineyards. In 1884, they invited Frank Hasek, a champagne master, to assist with production. Hasek brought forth the Methode Champenoise approach to make sparkling wine, and spent the next decade blending the results of different grape harvests to produce the distinctive Korbel style.

Why California Champagne on Label?

Today Korbel is the fourth largest Champagne producer in the United States, and reserves the right to use the term “California Champagne” on its labels. This is because in 2005, the EU and US agreed that the US would no longer use European wine region names, such as Champagne, Sherry, Chablis, etc. on its labels, unless it was a producer that had been doing it for a long time. Korbel fell under these grandfathered rules.  For more info, read.


A Tasting of Four Korbel Wines

Justin Shushek, a part-time hospitality rep at Korbel and full-time SSU Wine Biz major, led the tasting. The more than 40 people who showed up for SSU’s Wine Sense Club meeting enjoyed a selection of 4 delicious Korbel wines:

  1. 2012 Korbel Natural from the Russian River Valley,
  2. Korbel Brut Rose Romance, a limited edition
  3. Korbel Sec
  4. Korbel Port

Justin walked the students through the characteristics of each wine we tasted and explained that the level of sweetness in a sparkling wine is determined by the dosage, which is added after the wine finishes second fermentation in the bottle.

Favorites Wines of the Evening

FullSizeRenderAt the conclusion of our first meeting, the club members were asked to vote for their favorite wines of the evening.  Each participant could vote once with many going back and forth over their two favorites but in the end, the winner of the evening with not too many votes behind was:

  • SelectorBottles_Natural2012 Korbel Natural from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma

It was a wonderful night and a great way to kick of the start of our Spring 2016 WineSense club with old members and new. The educational tasting is one that students will not forget any time soon and we can’t thank Justin enough for leading us all through the first meeting!


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