When Gay Callan left her Bay Area sales job to grow grapes in the Sierra foothills in the early 1980s, people told her that she — a city slicker and a woman to boot — was crazy.
Michael Frenn was a committed Coors Light drinker. For him, it was as American as baseball and apple pie.
Just as winemakers won’t put just any old juice in a barrel, they won’t use any old barrel either. For one wine, it’s French oak. For another, American. For yet another, Hungarian. In some cases the wine goes into a steel tank and never touches oak of any kind.
It was the end of 2008 when the economic dominoes began to fall: Lehman Brothers was upside-down, housing crashed, the stock market swooned, banks faltered and the domestic car industry all but went belly up. It wasn’t the best of times to be a high-end American steakhouse.
Bold wines are big sellers these days, and to meet consumer demand, winemakers across California are pushing their wines to the max by replacing white varietal vineyards with reds and allowing fruit to stay on the vine a little longer.
Mikuni Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar felt the recession in April 2008 when catering sales began to slide. When the financial pinch hit the chain’s eight restaurants in the second and third quarters of 2009, its management team refocused marketing efforts.
Northern California manufacturers and distributors of everything from barrels to bottles to pesticides for the region’s wine industry are using the same juxtaposition to sum up the wine market: “up and down.”