Following the pattern made famous by Tupperware and Mary Kay cosmetics, Boisset Wine Estates is using home parties to sell wine.

The parent for Jean-Charles Boisset’s California wine companies has already grown from eight to a few hundred “Ambassadors” arranging parties and telling attendees about Boisset wines since May 2012.

Boisset owns Raymond Vineyards here.

The Boisset Wine Living at Home ( program is run by Melissa Lynch, who with her husband previously started Wine Shop at Home, and before that (in 1998) created

At present, most the Boisset Ambassadors are in California, but others are found in 28 other states where it can ship wine.

The program includes domestic Boisset brands because of shipping issues, and includes eight Boisset brands including Raymond Vineyards, Buena Vista, DeLoach, Lockwood, Lyeth and JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset.

To avoid conflict with other channels, the wines are smaller-production and higher-end wines that aren’t sold through distributors. Some are special selections made specifically for direct sales to consumers.

Boisset Ambassadors act as independent marketing agents. Boisset sets up websites for them, and they ask friends to host parties, conduct the parties and receive a commission on wine sales. It costs $199 to enroll as an Ambassador and receive a starter kit.

Ambassadors can recruit other Ambassadors in the manner made familiar by other home sales efforts and make commissions off their sales.

The hosts buy wine at discounted prices to hold the parties for their friends.

Neither hosts nor Ambassadors take orders, which are made on a Boisset web site.

Foreign buyers snap up Napa Valley land

It was big news when luxury winemaker Araujo Vineyards was bought by Bordeaux’ Chaleau LaTour, one of the most renowned wines in the world, but other international buyers are active here, too.

In other acquisitions, a Chinese business executive bought Napa Valley’s Bialla Vineyards for $3.2 million in June 2012.

A Chinese business group bought recently closed 16,000-gallon-a-year (permitted) Cleavage Creek winery, vineyard and label in Pope Valley with 19 acres of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon vines and permits to plant 16 more on the 95-acre ranch.

They paid $4.95 million for the property in the Napa Valley American Viticultural Area, though it’s far from the center of tourist activity.

Preisers enter the wine business

Monty and Sara Preiser, who publish the popular Preiser Key to Napa Valley directories, have slipped into the wine business with small lots of Shadowbox wines.

They include chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon from Napa and Sonoma at $40 to $78.

The wines are sold at 1313 Main, Carpe Diem and La Toque in Napa, Brix in Yountville and Press in St. Helena or

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Hospitality development program

CANVAS (Concierge Alliance of Napa Valley and Sonoma) is sponsoring another development program for hospitality professionals with Holly Stiel on Sept. 16.

The first three classes sold out. Holly Stiel is a customer service philosopher and trainer who has written six books for hospitality and customer service professionals.

The full-day class costs $120. Lunch is included. Register at

Wine Industry Financial Symposium

The Wine Industry Symposium Group presents its 22nd annual Wine Industry Financial Symposium on Sept. 23-24, at the Napa Valley Marriott & Spa.

This year’s theme is “The Global Environment for Wine.”

Robert Smile professor emeritus and director of wine at UC Davis will once again present the results of his telephone and written surveys.

The 2013 industry keynote speaker is David Dearie, chief executive officer at Treasury Wine Estates.

Other speakers include Vivien Azer, vice president of Citi Research and Dale Stratton, director of Strategic Insights, who will lead a panel discussion on expanding channels and methods of distribution featuring Linsly Donnelly, CMO, and Rowan Gormley, founder of Naked Wines.

For details, go to or contact Waunice Orchid at or 255-9222.

Email Paul Franson at