Michael Wangbickler

Furmint: The Grape with Momentum

Furmint: The Grape with Momentum

FurmintUSA Continues to Attain Recognition for Dry Furmint Wines in the U.S. Market

(Budapest, Hungary)  – Tokaji wine has long enjoyed a high-class reputation (King Louis XIV called it “the wine of kings and the king of wines”). Now dry versions, moderately priced, aromatic, and complex, have positively captured the imagination and palates of American wine drinkers.

Two years ago, FurmintUSA began captivating the U.S. market with a campaign to promote Hungarian wines made from the indigenous dry Furmint grape. FurmintUSA’s success draws well-deserved attention both nationally and internationally to this important Tokaj grape variety. Upholding their momentum, the Hungarian government fortuitously declared 2017 the Year of Furmint.

“Our goal is to constantly spellbind U.S. wine consumers with specialties from Hungary, the home of the world’s first closed wine appellation on record: Tokaj, 1737. We strongly believe that Hungarian wine – and Furmint in particular – is on track to becoming a key participant in the U.S. wine market,” says László Bálint dip. WSET, director of operations at FurmintUSA.

Over the past two years Hungarian winemakers, under the FurmintUSA marketing initiative, have hosted more than 70 tastings in over nine states. FurmintUSA wines have also consistently achieved high recognition in wine competitions and scoring publications. Earlier this year, winemakers completed their latest round of bi-coastal promotional roadshows on the East Coast (New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia), and on the West Coast (California). A new shipment arrived on the West Coast in July 2017, and dry Furmint wines are now widely available in nine U.S. states.

Excitement for dry Furmint wines escalated throughout 2016. FurmintUSA held tastings in March and August at the Hungarian consulates in San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles. Wine presentations were held in April at Cal Poly Pomona, Napa Valley Wine Academy, and San Francisco Wine School, introducing dry Furmint wines to VIPs, sommeliers and wine students. This success followed awards FurmintUSA garnered in 2016 at the Sunset International Wine Competition in May, with Best of Class and Gold medal for Barta 2013 Furmint Szamorodni Oreg Kiraly Dulo, and a Gold medal for Béres 2011 Dry Furmint, Lőcse. Wines from seven other wineries in the portfolio won eight Bronze medals.

In July 2016, attendees at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic, and the TEXSOM conference in August, had the opportunity to taste the wines for the first time. In October, FurmintUSA hosted a trade visit to the Tokaji region of Hungary. Then at the San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival in November, festival-goers experienced the different styles and varied flavors of the dry Furmint wines. In November, at the 2016 SommCon San Diego, Master Sommelier Tim Gaiser introduced dry Furmint during a master class on “Hungarian Furmint: Ancient Grape, Modern Wines.”

This year FurmintUSA continued its successful momentum by winning numerous awards at the TEXSOM International Wine Awards. Holdvölgy 2013 Vision won the “Judges’ Selection Hungarian Wine” and a Gold medal. Silver medals were awarded to Barta 2013 Öreg Király Furmint and Kvaszinger 2013 Estate Furmint. Additionally, five Bronze medals were awarded to Gróf Degenfeld 2015 Dry Furmint, Gróf Degenfeld 2015 Zomborka Furmint, Erzsébet Pince 2012 Estate Furmint, Majoros Deák 2013 Furmint, and St. Donat 2015 Márga Furmint.

In April 2017, winemakers Dávid Regéczy-Béres (Béres Winery), Sándor Zsurki (Gróf Degenfeld Winery) joined Balazs Humayer at the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) 74th Annual Convention & Exposition in Orlando, Florida. Together the group had an opportunity to meet with potential distributors and key accounts, and to showcase a selection of wines from the FurmintUSA portfolio.

Wine Enthusiast’s May 2017 issue gave FurmintUSA’s wines significant recognition with scores up to 93 points. Béres 2007 Aszú Puttonyos garnered 93 points, Barta 2013 Öreg Király Dulo Mád Furmint scored 91 points, and three other wineries scored 90 points (Béres 2015 Lőcse Vineyard Estate Bottled Dry Selection Furmint; Gróf Degenfeld 2015 Zomborka Furmint; and Kvaszinger 2015 Hatalos Furmint).

Most recently, FurmintUSA’s Barta Winery won the Best Furmint Award, Double Gold medal with 95 points for their 2015 Furmint, Király, Oreg, Dulo Mad at the 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition. Somlói Vándor 2015 Furmint, Grófi dűlő Nagy-Somló also won a Double Gold medal, with 94 points. Six other wineries in the FurmintUSA portfolio won three Gold medals [Erzsébet 2015 Furmint Estate, Pince Zafír (92 points); Kvaszinger 2015 Furmint, Hatalos (91 points); Béres 2015 Furmint, Lőcse (90 points)], and six Silver medals (St. Donát 2015 Furmint, Márga, Balatonfüred-Csopak; Béres 2016 Furmint Estate; Gróf Degenfeld 2015 Furmint, Zomborka; Gróf Degenfeld 2015 Furmint; Slopes Winery 2015 Dry Furmint; and Serpens 2016 White Blend Dry).

In recognition of the growing popularity of Furmint, four FurmintUSA wines have been selected for presentation at the prestigious TEXSOM Conference on August 12 -14. Somlói Vándor 2015 Furmint, Erzsébet Cellar 2015 Estate Furmint, Kvaszinger 2015 Hatalos Furmint 2015, and Holdvölgy 2013 Vision will be poured at seminars led by distinguished Master Sommeliers and Masters of Wine from around the country.

FurmintUSA’s portfolio of wines is available through MHW Ltd., in New York they are distributed through Palinkerie Fine Hungarian Imports , in D.C., Maryland and Virginia are distributed through Georgian Wine House .

California distribution for five wineries in the FurmintUSA portfolio, Béres, Grof Degenfeld, Erzsébet, Majoros and Szent Donát, is through San Francisco-based Swirl Wine Brokers . FurmintUSA wines are now available through distribution in Oklahoma from Thirst Wine Merchants.

About FurmintUSA

Founded in 2014, FurmintUSA is an educational campaign to promote dry Furmint wines from the Tokaj region. FurmintUSA strongly believes that dry Furmints are Hungary’s flagship dry white wines. More information about FurmintUSA is available on their website, on YouTube  and Facebook . 



Balzac Communications

Oakland Wine Festival July 15, 2017


Melody Fuller
Oakland Wine Festival
(510) 893-1929

Oakland Wine Festival July 15, 2017



(Oakland, California) – The Third Annual Oakland Wine Festival tickets are on sale. NEW: Full and half day packages are available as well as à la carte tickets. Featuring premium, reserve, library, high-end, hard-to-get and newly released wines, the Oakland Wine Festival presents a rare experience where our guests meet winemakers, enjoy their wines and learn about wine and food. The intimate, and primarily seated, event will take place on July 15, 2017 at The Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel in Oakland.

“A key part of our mission is to build new relationships and deepen old relationships between winemakers, wineries, restaurants, wine aficionados, and food lovers. We’re bringing together seasoned and curious wine and food enthusiasts in Oakland and the Greater Bay Area,” states festival founder, Melody Fuller.

About the Oakland Wine Festival:

The Oakland Wine Festival is a high profile, educational wine and food event featuring celebrated winemakers from Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and around the world. The festival is collaboration between Melody Fuller and some of her close friends in the Napa Valley and beyond.

More than 100 wineries have accepted the invitation by an impressive Honorary Steering Committee, composed of wine industry luminaries, to return to this annual event. Those leaders come from Chappellet Vineyards, Rombauer Vineyards, Silverado Vineyards, Sonoma-Loeb and Peju Winery.

Schedule of Events:

Another Oakland Wine Festival First! 2017 JUDGEMENT OF OAKLANDᵀᴹ
California’s Original Double Blind Wine Tasting and Voting Including Consumers
10:00 am -12:00 pm
The Double Blind Wine Tasting is an innovative way to educate and surprise the expert or novice with over 100 elegantly bagged wines. This premier event opens the Third Annual Oakland Wine Festival. Taste side by side with winemakers, restaurateurs, sommeliers, media, and other novices and experts! Your opinion counts in the 2017 JUDGEMENT OF OAKLANDᵀᴹ.

Intimate Winemaker Luncheon
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
You and five other food and wine enthusiasts will be seated at an intimate table, in a historic environment, within a beautiful oasis. The seventh person seated at your table is a well-known winemaker or sommelier and your new best friend. The winemaker will select four spectacular wines to pair with your four-course summer-themed menu of delightful courses. You will have ample time to savor every bite and take in every sip in a relaxed and luxurious setting.

15 Year Retrospective Tasting, Featuring Silverado Vineyards’ Legendary SOLO!
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Join Founding Sponsor Silverado Vineyards for a 15 Year Anniversary retrospective tasting of SOLO. This do-not-miss seated experience is led by Russ Weis. Elegant Grand Tasting: Seated or Poolside

Meet our Honorary Steering Committee Members:
4:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Join Russ Weis, Silverado Vineyards; KR Rombauer, III; Kelsey Baldwin, Sonoma-Loeb; Cyril Chappellet, Chappellet Vineyards; Herta Peju, Peju Winery; and a host of other winemakers and wineries for seated or poolside wine tastings and conversation!

Winemakers Supper Club and Tasting
7:30 pm
Winemakers, food and music! Enjoy this casual event and strike up a conversation about the day and night with amazing winemakers.

Dinner with the Winemaker
7:30 pm
Enjoy a nice and relaxed 5-course dinner with the winemaker.
These dinners will be held in beautiful rooms at the Claremont Club and Spa, A Fairmont Hotel.

Wine Society’s Benefactors Dinner with Silverado Vineyards
7:30 pm
Join Russ Weis for a very special 5-course Dinner. This dinner is for the founding benefactors. SOLD OUT!

Wine Society’s Patrons Dinner with KR Rombauer, III
7:30 pm
Join KR Rombauer for a lovely sunset Dinner. This dinner is for our loyal patrons. SOLD OUT!

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: The Wines of South Africa!
The Wines of South Africa is the international wine region highlighted for the 3rd Annual Oakland Wine Festival. We will present a full day of blind tastings, special presentations, Winemaker Luncheons, Seated Tastings, Standing/Poolside Tastings, a Private Reception and glorious Winemaker Dinner featuring wines from South Africa.

Returning Sponsors and Partners:
Sonoma Country Tourism and the Napa Valley Vintners Association will have special presentations as well!

About the founder, Melody Fuller: 
Melody was named Best Westerner by Sunset magazine for the innovative and creative work that she does in the wine world. Melody is also a prolific Bay Area food and wine writer, educator and proud Oakland native. The Oakland Wine Festival is the result of the desire to further acknowledge an overlooked – yet key – community of wine lovers who appreciate having world-class vintners and chefs within arm’s reach.


Mark Feinberg

Dave Phinney’s Locations Wine Releases Inaugural New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc


Dave Phinney’s Locations Wine Releases Inaugural New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Complements Portfolio of Iconic Wines From Around The World


(Napa, CA)Locations Wine, the first true ‘maverick’ wine concept, created by winemaker Dave Phinney, has released its inaugural New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The island nation of New Zealand joins a proud family of wines representing some of the best countries, regions and states from all over the world.

“I created Locations Wine based on a simple concept – to make the best possible wine from each given country or location. That simple concept was pretty challenging! To put it in action I travelled the world, explaining my concept to owners of some of the world’s finest vineyards, eventually turning skeptics into believers, and securing some of the best fruit to make the Locations wines. In the process of creating Locations, I also had a lot of fun visiting incredible vineyard sites and meeting amazing people, while challenging each to make the best wine possible,” states Dave Phinney.

“I might be biased, but after spending most of my first three decades in New Zealand, I can see why it was recently voted as the number one best place to live in the world – from the golden beaches in the north, to the sub-tropical forests which span the valleys, to the snowcapped mountains in the south, it’s simply an amazing country, where Sauvignon Blanc has found a home. Dave has been able to craft an exceptional Sauvignon Blanc that is representative of what my beautiful country has to offer,” quips Caine Thompson, General Manager of Locations Wine.

The Locations New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, retailing at $19.99, was sourced from old vines from vineyards in the Wairu Valley, known for traditional passion fruit and crisp grassy flavors; the Awatere Valley, known for minerality and elegance due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean; and the southern valley of Waihopai, known for its gravel soils and later, cooler ripening climate, which contributes additional structure and complexity to the final blend.

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has been well received by U.S. consumers, with the 2016 value of all New Zealand wines imported into the U.S jumping 11% to $400 million – the biggest gain among the top eight importers – while volume rose 14%, to 7.3 million cases (Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates). New Zealand is now the third largest importer by value into the U.S., after Italy and France, while it is the seventh largest in volume, with just 5.5 percent of the 132 million cases imported into the U.S. in 2016.

Locations portfolio of wines consists of a selection of old world and new world red blends, white blends, a rosé, pinot noir and sauvignon blanc representing the best vineyards and winemaking of France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Argentina, Corsica, California, Oregon, Washington, Texas and now New Zealand. The wines are available both domestically and internationally, and range in price from $17 to $30.

About Locations Wine:

Founded in 2011 by Dave Phinney, Locations Wine focuses on crafting the best possible wines from a given country or region, from grape to glass. A small and entrepreneurial company, Locations’ portfolio encompasses red, white and rosé wines from Spain, France, Italy, Argentina, Portugal, Corsica, New Zealand, California, Oregon, Washington and Texas.




Balzac Communications

Jeffrey Stambor Offers Winemaking Services

Jeffrey Stambor


Jeffrey Stambor Offers Winemaking Services

Napa, CA – After nearly three decades of making iconic wines at Beaulieu Vineyard, Jeffrey Stambor announces the formation of Jeffrey Stambor Wine Consulting. Services include full spectrum winemaking, ongoing consulting support, and one-off projects.

“At Beaulieu I had the unique opportunity to work closely with two of the most influential winemakers of the past fifty years:  Andre Tchelistcheff and Michel Rolland. Their insights, combined with my education at UC Davis, experience at Beaulieu Vineyard, and additional roles in both France and Argentina, gives me a unique perspective on winemaking.” Stambor has been exposed to a wide range of grape growing and winemaking conditions and it is that variety of experiences and longstanding relationships that prepares him for this new chapter. “I’ve seen, and in many cases instituted a variety of the technological advances of the past 10 years. I want to build and expand on that by providing my expertise to a wider range of projects. ”

“I’m relentless in my attention to detail. From the varied vineyard operations to the multitude of winemaking decisions I’m looking for the seemingly inconsequential improvements that will cumulatively provide the ultimate expression of the vineyard into wine.” At Beaulieu, Stambor helped create the winery-within-the-winery that has played a key role in producing the new wines from that storied producer.  “I helped build an innovative new project within the existing structure of one of Napa’s legendary wineries,” says Stambor, “and I am really proud of the results. The new wines are getting rave reviews.”

Under his leadership BV wines have achieved exceptional ratings, including a 99 point review from Robert Parker for the 2013 Rarity and, as well as top scores from leading publications for Georges de Latour Private Reserve, Tapestry, Clone 4, Clone 6, and others. “My vision has always been to produce wines that compete with the very best in the world,” he says, “and I believe that the recent wines from Beaulieu do just that.”

In addition to making the legendary Bordeaux style wines for BV, Stambor also has extensive experience with other varietals. “Pinot Noir has been made at Beaulieu since the 1940s and I love the challenges it brings. Name the variety and we probably have experimented with it over the past 28 years.”

“I bring passion, dedication and a relentless commitment to quality to every wine I make.  That’s the only way I know how to do it. I love making wine, and I am excited about where it will take me next.”


Michael Wangbickler





World’s Largest Wine Trade Fair Named Platinum Sponsor and Host of Grand Tasting and Awards Reception


Irving, Texas – TEXSOM co-founders and Master Sommeliers James Tidwell and Drew Hendricks today announced that ProWein, the world’s leading trade fair for wines and spirits, has been named as the title sponsor of the Grand Tasting and Awards Reception at the 2017 TEXSOM Conference taking place August 14 at the Four Seasons Resort & Club in Las Colinas, Texas.

“Earlier this year, we had the honor and privilege to meet the organizers of ProWein while we were at the trade fair,” said Tidwell. “Our two organizations have similar roots and philosophies. Both TEXSOM and ProWein had humble beginnings and have grown organically to become the leading beverage trade events in their respective areas. Both the ProWein team and TEXSOM team are excited by this opportunity. It further demonstrates the international appeal and influence that continues to build around the TEXSOM Conference. We look forward to many more years of collaboration.”

“TEXSOM is an ideal platform for us to directly reach the U.S. wine industry with all its top wine buyers and decision makers. North America is one of the most important international visitor markets for ProWein. Together with our partners we have developed suitable tools to access the U.S. key market since several years. One example is “Route USA” which specifically connects our exhibitors with U.S. importers and distribution partners. Our cooperation with TEXSOM is a further important measure to attract additional U.S. visitors to ProWein in Düsseldorf,” stated Marius Berlemann, Global Head Wine & Spirits at Messe Düsseldorf.

ProWein replaces the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas as the title sponsor of the Grand Tasting. “The Foundation has been a supporter of the TEXSOM Conference for more than a decade,” said Tidwell. “They have been a great charity sponsor, and we appreciate their years of dedication and their contributions. We wish them well as an organization and thank them again for their participation.” As in the past, a portion of the proceeds from the sponsorship goes toward funding education for those pursuing careers as beverage professionals.

Held August 12 to 14 at the Four Seasons, the TEXSOM Conference is the only event of its kind in the world.  The speakers and judges constitute a who’s who list of the nation’s top wine professionals. Dozens of Master Sommeliers (MS), Certified Wine Educators (CWE), Masters of Wine (MW) and other respected industry professionals continue to be integral parts of the conference. Key not-for-profit certification and educational organizations GuildSomm, SOMMFoundation, Court of Master Sommeliers – Americas, Wine & Spirit Education Trust, and Society of Wine Educators are presenting sponsors.

ProWein is the world’s leading trade fair for wine and spirits, and is the largest industry platform for professionals from viticulture, production, trade and gastronomy. At the trade only event professionals from around the globe meet to conduct business, discuss industry trends, and recognize excellence in the world of wines and spirits.

Founded in 1994, ProWein began with 321 wine, sparkling wine and spirits suppliers and attracted 1,517 visitors. ProWein 2017 involved 6,600 exhibitors, 85% of which were from 62 countries outside of Germany. The total space rented by exhibitors (without special shows etc.) in 2017 amounted to more than 554,000 square feet – compared to 31,400 square feet in 1994. 58,500 visitors participated in ProWein 2017 – with 51% coming from nations other than Germany. By comparison: at ProWein 2002 this figure was less than 14%.

More information is available here.

Information about the TEXSOM Conference, including a conference schedule, list of speakers, list of sponsors, and certification opportunities are available on the website at texsom.com.


Founded in 2005, the TEXSOM conference was started by Master Sommeliers James Tidwell and Drew Hendricks to help promote professional wine service standards, outline paths for further wine education and certification, and raise public awareness about professional standards and certifications for sommeliers. Today, the conference draws over 1,200 attendees, which include beverage professionals, wine educators and media from over 35 states and 10 countries. In addition to the conference, the group also produces the TEXSOM International Wine Awards, one of the largest, most respected, and longest-running wine competitions in the United States.


Michael Wangbickler

Seventh Annual Barbera Festival Highlights California’s Unsung Varietal Wine

Seventh Annual Barbera Festival Highlights California’s
Unsung Varietal Wine

New this Year — Limited Selection of other Italian Varietals

(Plymouth, California) – More than 70 California wineries will present their wines at the 7th Annual Barbera Festival, taking place on September 16, 2017 at Terra d’Oro Winery in the Amador Foothills. New this year, wineries will not only showcase Barbera varietal wines, but also a limited selection of other Italian varietals, such as Sangiovese, Vermentino, Montepulciano, Fiano, and Nebbiolo.

The Barbera Festival is an outdoor wine and food festival highlighting Barbera varietal wines from more than 70 wineries from throughout California and beyond, including the Sierra Foothills, Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Paso Robles, Livermore, Ventura County, Lodi and the Bay Area. In addition, noted area restaurants and chefs will again offer prepared gourmet food for sale, and over 60 vendors of art and artisan crafts will be showcasing their wares.

“While Barbera becomes more and more popular in California, these wines still remain fairly obscure,” says Brian Miller, founder of the festival. “We started the festival several years ago to draw focus to this delicious varietal wine, and it’s grown into a huge success. Each year is a sell-out and we constantly get feedback from wine enthusiasts how much they love it.”

Barbera originated in the Piemonte region of northern Italy. John Doyle (Cupertino Wine Company, and later Las Palmas Winery) first imported Barbera into California and produced his first Barbera vintage in 1884. Post-prohibition, Louis Martini was the first to produce a varietal Barbera (a wine labeled as Barbera) in 1954. Today, about 7,000 acres are planted in California and nearly 200 California wineries produce Barbera wines. Barbera can also be found from Washington State, Australia, Argentina, and South Africa.

The 2017 Barbera Festival will again be held at Terra d’Oro/Montevina Winery, from 11:00am to 4:00pm on September 16, 2017. Tickets are $50 and must be purchased online in advance at http://barberafestival.com. Tickets include admittance, wine tasting, and commemorative wine glass. Food is sold separately. Free parking is available on-site. Attendees must be 21 or older to taste or purchase wine, and will be required to show photo I.D. as proof of age.

A list of participating wineries, artists, restaurants, and music acts may be found on the website.

All proceeds from the festival benefit the Amador Community Foundation.