Jon Bonné sliding from Chronicle

Jon Bonné sliding from Chronicle

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Wine writer Jon Bonné is ending his full-time employment at the San Francisco Chronicle, and will be writing only a monthly column. He’s joined the online website Punch as wine columnist.

The Chronicle once had a weekly wine section. That was combined with the food section, which has since been demoted to part of the home and food section.

The Napa Valley Register remains the only daily newspaper in the United States with a weekly wine section, as is befitting the voice of the spiritual heart of the wine business.

Materra opening tasting room in Napa

Materra has closed its tasting room in St. Helena and moved into its new winery at 4326 Big Ranch Road, north of Napa and just south of Oak Knoll.

Its tasting room should open in April. Call 244-4600.

South Dakota OKs direct-to-consumer shipping

Closely following Massachusetts, South Dakota has approved shipping wine directly to consumers from wineries. It’s the 43rd state to allow direct-to-consumer shipping, and while not a big market, it’s nice to know that fans can get wines to keep them warm.

CANVAS Excellence Awards at Lincoln Theater

CANVAS (The Concierge Alliance of Napa Valley and Sonoma) will celebrate outstanding customer service at the gala dinner on Tuesday, March 10, at Lincoln Theater in Yountville.

There are nine nomination categories — concierges, tour guides, outdoor activities, beauty and health, culinary/restaurant, art and retail and winery educators plus a grand prize winner who will receive the Robert Mondavi Hospitality Excellence award.

All winners will receive a special trophy sculpture designed by Napa artist Gordon Huether.

White Zinfandel turns 40

This year, Sutter Home Family Vineyards is celebrating the 40th anniversary of White Zinfandel.

The creation of White Zinfandel dates to 1972, when Bob Trinchero was experimenting with ways to make his acclaimed Amador County Zinfandel even better.

He drew off part of the clear juice before it turned red, then fermented that juice to dryness and barrel-aged it before bottling it as a curiosity item for his tasting room clientele. He called this wine “White Zinfandel” after the Feds wouldn’t let him call it Oeil de Perdrix, the name for a light Swiss rosé.

In 1975, the White Zinfandel fermentation stuck before all the grape sugar could be converted into alcohol, so he bottled it with about 2 percent residual sugar and a tinge of pink color.

The result was a new category of wine, the first wine “varietal” created in the U.S.

The accessible, sweet-tasting profile and approachable style helped White Zinfandel instantly become a crowd-pleaser. It gave people an option beyond the traditional varieties, particularly for the large number of people who don’t like dry wines.

During the 1980s, Sutter Home White Zinfandel became the single most popular premium wine in the United States, with sales growing from 25,000 cases in 1981 to more than 4.5 million by 1987. This unprecedented sales success spawned numerous emulative “blush” wines. White Zin has slipped a little in popularity, but remains among the top wine varieties sold in the U.S.

The innovative Trinchero family has taken up the slake with their pioneering Moscatos and red blend Ménage à Trois, which also virtually spawned thriving new categories.

They’re also a most generous family, and have contributed mightily — and quietly — to our valley.

Millennials and luxury consumers

The San Francisco Luxury Marketing Council of San Francisco presents the 2015 Winery Boot Camp Series seminar “Niches We Must Embrace: Millennials and Luxury Consumers,” on Thursday, March 19, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena.

This event for wine marketers will focus on two key wine consumers: luxury buyers and millennials.

For information, visit The cost is $50.

UC Davis Wine Executive Program

A few seats are available the for 15th annual UC Davis Wine Executive Program on March 22-27.

The partnership between the UC Davis Graduate School of Management and Department of Viticulture and Enology teaches the fundamentals of winemaking and wine industry management skills, from grape to bottle.

World-renowned university faculty join with industry experts to deliver a comprehensive program tailored for middle and senior managers from wineries and vineyards of all sizes, industry suppliers, distributors, financial institutions, service providers and those considering a career in the wine industry.

Cost for the full, 4½-half-day program, including the Boot Camp, is $4,800. The fee without the Boot Camp is $4,300.

I have attended, and it was a great program.

For information, see

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