Vinexpo Explorer Heads for Sonoma – a Foretaste

Exclusive Interview – Caroline Shaw – Executive Vice President, Jackson Family Wines & President, Sonoma County Vintners Association

In the United States, Sonoma County continues to be the leader in sustainable wine production – to grow and make high quality grapes and wine. We asked Caroline Shaw – Executive Vice President, Jackson Family Wines & President, Sonoma County Vintners Association to tell us more…

These sustainable vineyard and winery practices conserve water and energy, maintain healthy soil, protect air and water quality, enhance relations with employees and communities, preserve local ecosystems and wildlife habitat, and improve the economic vitality of vineyards and wineries. The end result is the highest quality of wines that are better for our planet. Right now, one of our biggest initiatives is for Sonoma County to be the first 100 percent sustainable wine growing region in the United States by 2019.

What do you feel will be the key results of the Vinexpo Explorer coming to Sonoma?

First and foremost, every participant attending Vinexpo Explorer Sonoma County will leave as a Sonoma County Ambassador. The programme we have planned will leave them wanting to come back. They will also return home and share the stories of this beautiful region and its wines.
Second, business will be conducted and contracts will be signed. The explorer programme will grow Sonoma County’s export market, because wineries of all sizes and varietals will have the opportunity to engage one on one with buyers from key markets around the world.
Lastly, hosting an influential group like Vinexpo and its participants elevates the awareness of “Brand Sonoma County”. I think this is especially important after the wildfires last October where vineyards acted as natural firebreaks. The world will learn we are open for business and ready to showcase to the quality of our wines.

How are export markets evolving for Sonoma wines?

Export markets are becoming more and more important to Sonoma wineries. Global premiumization is on the rise, and Sonoma wines are well positioned to take advantage of this increase in demand because of the quality wines we produce and the numerous varietals in the region. While Sonoma County is mostly known for the high-end production of Chardonnay (29%) and Pinot Noir (18%), we also produce premium Cabernet Sauvignon (22%), Merlot (14%), Zinfandel (9%) and Sauvignon Blanc (4%).
We continue to see strong growth in key regions like Canada, the EU member countries, Hong Kong, Japan, China, South Korea, and Mexico. Vinexpo Explorer will help us increase sales these markets as well as new areas.

Do you feel Sonoma is well known enough on the international wine stage?

We wish more people knew about Sonoma County and its high-quality wines. This is one of the important goals of Vinexpo Explorer. In 2017, 380 million litres of wine were exported from the United States. 97% of that wine was from California, yet many buyers still do not sell California wine or even know where Sonoma County is on a map.

Photo: Caroline Shaw, Executive Vice President, Jackson Family Wines & President, Sonoma County Vintners Association