Category Archives: PR

What we learned: The Digital Divide

We had intended to give frequent updates on what we learned at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference this year, but that proved nearly impossible, so copious the information and quick the format. Here, we’ll present our take-aways by category. Today, it’s about the so-called “digital divide” between wine producers and their patrons in the digital age.

A breakout session entitled “The Business of Wine” led by  Tim Hanni, MW, and Paul Mabray of Vintank reminded us how critical it is to provide digital media to our winery clients with ambitious, personal, and creative connections to their customers.  Some notes:

Tim Hanni, MW

Tim Hanni, MW

Notes from Tim Hanni, MW

  • “Sixty to eighty percent of consumers are mystified by wine. We have to ask ourselves: are we going out of our way to mystify consumers about wine?”
  • “Anybody can make very expensive, highly-extracted, new-French-oak wine. It’s never been easier for people to make good wine. But nobody’s putting any thought into the market itself. We’re devoting too much thought to the product, not enough to the consumer.”

Tim Hanni, MW is an internationally-recognized wine expert and professionally-trained chef. He is one of two Americans to first earn the title Master of Wine and is recognized around the globe for his groundbreaking “Vinotyping” – making wine drinkers more confident about their personal wine preferences. 

Paul Mabray

Paul Mabray

Notes from Paul Mabray, Vintank

  • “[The modern wine market] is the most competitive market in human history. [In 2013] there were 200,000 wine products in the U.S. But it’s also hard because everybody makes great wine.”
  • “Everyone is telling the same story: Family-owned. Artisan. Terroir. Service is the only differentiator.”
  • The wine industry’s biggest challenge right now is the internet. “Digital Darwinism” means if you’re not designing your website/blog mobile-friendly, you’re already getting left behind.
  • “The old critic everyone listened to was Robert Parker, Jr. The new critic everyone listens to is the stupid ‘like’ button.”
  • “It’s like Hollywood: everyone wants to work in wine. And it sounds so sexy until you have to put it in your gas tank. The wine industry pays [poorly], and we’re losing our best people because of it.”

Paul Mabray is Chief Strategy Officer at Vintank, the world’s largest software solution for social media management for the wine and restaurant industry. A more in-depth exploration of Paul’s ideas can be found in a transcribed lecture he recently presented here.

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Wine Bloggers’ Conference kicks off!

imageOnly for the love of wine would we ever get up this early on a Saturday morning. No, not to drink wine – to blog about it!

Paul Mabray of Vintank discussing the intersection of wine and tech.

Paul Mabray of Vintank discussing the intersection of wine and tech.

We are privileged to participate in this year’s Wine Bloggers’ Conference in the Santa Ynez Valley. We’ve already shaken Paul Mabray’s hand and talked about the digital divide in the wine industry. Heaven! Stay tuned here for more updates on the conference and what we’ve learned.

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Patting ourselves on the back.

It’s not often that we at Parker Sanpei pat ourselves on the back, but recently, the love for what we’re doing in the lifestyle public relations industry is worth sharing.

Barbara Keck,

Barbara Keck

Longtime journalist and wine writer, Barbara Keck, put some wind in our sails discussing work we’ve done for Arroyo Grande AVA producer, Laetitia Vineyard & Winery. On her blog, she published a post entitled, “Laetitia Wines are Not Only Good, but Well-Promoted.”

Laetitia Vineyard and Winery shares their love for their Santa Barbara terroir and provides some excellent pairing notes and recipes. I am aware of this because every once in a while, I receive a press release that is so good that it’s worthwhile passing on in toto to my blog readers. This is the case with the information provided by Parker Sanpei and Associates about their client Laetitia wines.”

Xochitl Maiman

Xochitl Maiman

Another blogger, Xochitl Maiman of the blog I’ll Drink to That!, attended the CABs of Distinction event we put on for our friends at the Paso Robles CAB Collective, and had this to say:

“In such a short time, the PRCC (Paso Robles CAB Collective) and Parker Sanpei have created an influential and well-run series of events that will undoubtedly provide the PRCC with their optimal goal of effectively spreading the word about Paso Robles Cabs and Bordeaux varietals.”

Eve Bushman

Eve Bushman

And yet another blogger, Eve Bushman, who has served as judge at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition and writes the popular blog Eve’s Wine 101, had this to say about CABs of Distinction:

“[CABs of Distinction] was by far the best press event I’ve attended. Thank you for all of your care, Parker Sanpei.”


With kudos like this, we can’t complain. Thanks to all of our friends and fans for making our work and the wine/food/travel PR industry such a pleasure.

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A Great Weekend for Paso Robles CAB

PRCC_logo_FINAL-02We at Parker Sanpei are scurrying to help put the finishing touches on the Paso Robles CAB Collective‘s CABs of Distinction event. (Actually, the CAB Camp portion for sommeliers is already well underway…) Suffice it to say, we’re a bit busy this week promoting some of the world’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varietal wines.

So let’s cut to the chase: You need to come to the CABs of Distinction Gala Tasting on Saturday. There will be 32 wineries pouring ace wines, and each (each!) will be paired with an international cheese or charcuterie selected by a local fromagier. That’s on top of the gourmet lunch included in each admission.

Get your tickets here. And be sure to say hello between sips!

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A Few of Our Favorite Things

We at Parker Sanpei consider ourselves fortunate to work with some of the most thoughtful innovators in the  food, beverage, hospitality and lifestyle industries.  Here, we profile a few of our favorite things from several clients.

Cocktails at La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant

la-cosecha-menu-21La Cosecha, in downtown Paso Robles, was launched by respected Chef Santos MacDonal of Il Cortile Ristorante.  The style? Laid-back Latin cuisine and progressive mixology.  We are totally smitten with the Peruvian Fizzare cocktail and Manchego cheese fondue with plantain chips.

Laetitia Vineyard & Winery Les Galets Pinot Noir

les galets

Laetitia’s Les Galets Pinot Noir is consistently incredible, and we don’t use that word lightly.  Lately we’ve been enjoying the 2010 vintage with pork roasts and braised lamb.

The stones indigenous to the Galets Vineyard perfectly describe the wine produced, rich in mineral driven notes of chalk and wet limestone, with prevalent dark berry aromas and dried black cherry. The palate shows flavors of tobacco and root beer spice, with structure of lingering velvet and finishing with a gorgeous floral flavor.


Julie 1

Thomas Hill Organics Chef Julie Simon

If you’ve never dined at Thomas Hill Organics in downtown Paso Robles, we think it’s safe to say you haven’t lived.  Chef Julie Simon is an ace with fresh ingredients, and what she lacks in years (she’s only in her 20s) she makes up for in verve.  Born and raised in France, she comes by her kitchen mastery honestly, with inventive dishes like her Pan Roasted Alaskan Halibut, Arugula and Carrots Salad, Cara Cara Oranges, Roasted Kumquats, Kumquat Olive Oil, Spicy Harissa, Coriander-Crème Fraiche, and Cumin Almonds.

Villa San-Juliette Sunday music series

villa-san-juliette-patio-sf13So often, we find ourselves at home on a Sunday afternoon wondering what to do, where to go.  Enter Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery in San Miguel, where their outdoor Sunday music series includes easygoing tunes from top-rate musicians, beautiful views in all directions, $1 off wine by the glass and 10% off bottle purchases off VSJ’s featured wine along with a complimentary bread and olive oil appetizer plate with the purchase.

Sanpei Optics Eyewear

glassesEver wanted to design and live out your own personal soundtrack?  Enter Sanpei Optics, sunglasses with a patented ear bud docking station so you can look suave (we like the wayfarer style) and enjoy audio like music and podcasts or talk to a friend via BlueTooth.

Hammersky Vineyards & Inn

hammersky-vineyards-farm-house-sf12When we really start to fantasize about the perfect staycation, Hammersky Vineyard & Inn is the place to be.  As a member of the Paso Robles CAB Collective, Hammersky produces estate Bordeaux varietal wines and boasts a restored 107-year-old farmhouse that welcomes guests to enjoy a gourmet kitchen, large dining room, Wi-Fi, satellite, barbeque and phenomenal outdoor living space.

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Get your CA Wine Month on.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: California Wine Month!

In September, ripe grapes hanging heavy on the vine, golden fall sunshine and air filled with fruity aromas can mean only one thing: it’s time for harvest! To launch the harvest season, wine regions and wineries across the Golden State will celebrate the 9th annual September California Wine Month—organized by California’s Wine Institute.

From innovative wine immersion experiences to cool wine events, September is an ideal time to visit wine country, when the creative energy of California’s artisan winegrowers and winemakers meet the grapes and the process of producing the next great vintage begins. From Sept. 1-30, 2013, dozens of wineries in wine regions across California will host special consumer events and experiences celebrating the contributions of the state’s growers and vintners who are committed to earth- and people-friendly sustainable practices in vineyards and wineries.

CalWineMonth2013_PosterCan’t make it to wine country this fall? A great way to experience many of California’s wine regions in one stop is Wine Institute’s “California Wines Road Trip” multi-region tasting events in New York City and San Francisco. In New York City, Friday the 13th will be a lucky day for wine lovers who can sample wines at California Wine Merchants from 5–7:30 p.m. Later in the month, they can attend a ticketed New York City tasting event with more than 70 wines from 10 California regions at the Astor Center on Monday, Sept. 16 from 6–8 p.m. (click here for information and tickets); and enjoy in-store tastings that will take place throughout September across Manhattan and Brooklyn. In San Francisco, wine lovers can taste their way across the state’s regions on Saturday Sept. 21 from 2–5 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Ferry Building, following its popular farmer’s market (click here for information and tickets).

Press release from May 13, 2013 by the Wine Institute

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La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant Opens in Paso Robles Wine Country

Fresh Latin flavors, signature cocktails, inviting ambiance


At Parker Sanpei, we have the great good fortune of being involved in projects from their inception, including the new restaurant from acclaimed chef, Santos MacDonal, La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant.  This new hot spot just off Paso Robles’ charming City Park will open July 5, and we are tickled rosa to help spread the news!

Chef Santos MacDonal

Chef Santos MacDonal

You may know Chef Santos’ first “baby,” the incredible Italian Il Cortile Ristorante. La Cosecha, whose name means “the harvest,” is a celebration of Latin cuisine, boasting flavors from Spain, Central and South America.

“By trade, I’m an Italian chef,” said Chef Santos, “but I’m Honduran by birth.  Developing La Cosecha has immersed me back into the tastes, textures and aromas I know best.”

Along these lines, Chef Santos has crafted a rotating menu inspired by seasonal local produce, proteins and grains; and accented by imported fruits, roots, herbs and spices from Latin America and Spain.  From small plates, entrees to desserts, guests can expect the quality of ingredients and creative cuisine for which Chef Santos is recognized, and many will be treated to their first experience with authentic flavors and recipes, including:

  • Peruvian assorted fresh ceviches and Bistecca a la Pobre, a hangar steak over rice with fresh sautéed plantains in Peruvian spices and topped with poached egg and lime
  • Rare imported hams, sausages and chorizo prepared in a variety of ways from Spain
  • Honduran pollo asado, pasture-raised chicken marinated in regional Honduran spices, roasted and served with plantains
  • Monfongo, a traditional Puerto Rican dish of mashed sweet plantains and Caribbean spices, crispy pork and fresh local fish

In the kitchen, the culinary team consists of Chef Santos, his brother and longtime collaborator, Jorge MacDonal, and Chef de Cuisine, Fernando Bedolla, Jr., who arrives fresh from Santa Monica where he was Executive Chef at farm-to-table restaurant West 4th & Jane.

La Cosecha's mixologist, Eric Carfagnini, puts the finishing touches on a signature cocktail.

La Cosecha’s mixologist, Eric Carfagnini, puts the finishing touches on a signature cocktail.

Chef Santos has also partnered with mixologist Eric Carfagnini, to develop a cocktail menu that includes specialty drinks made from garden-fresh ingredients, imported herbs and spices and artisanal spirits. A sampling of La Cosecha’s signature cocktails includes:

  • Botanicos Espumosos made from fresh thyme, lemon, rhubarb and gin, topped with cava
  • Seasonal Caipirinha with fresh berries, lime, simple syrup, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and cachaça. 

With its ideal location, La Cosecha’s ambiance is casual, sophisticated and engaging.  Per MacDonal’s commitment to sustainably-sourced décor, the wood used to shape the beautiful bar was reclaimed from Paso Robles’ Windfall Farms and built by carpenter Peter Smith. “I love taking classic architectural elements and applying them to reclaimed, rustic materials,” said Smith. “In this case, we took 30-year-old pasture fencing from Windfall Farms and combined it with good solid design and traditional craftsmanship, making for a beautiful, inviting finished product.”

The rest of the design elements followed suit, with hand-crafted light fixtures by Jon Wommack of Wommack Electric and PB&J Custom Lighting in Paso Robles, using reclaimed and leftover materials, including slate floor tiles, copper conduit from discarded refrigerators, among others. The glass used in the scones was hand-blown by Eric Dandurand of Harmony Glassworks. “The overall effect is very rustic-meets-modern,” says Wommack. “I’ve gotten much more into the artistic side of things in the past few years with a concentration on going green, using solar and LED whenever possible. I was allowed to have artistic freedom, collaborating with Eric, and the result is fantastic.”

In designing the restaurant’s interior, Chef Santos’ wife and partner, Carole MacDonal, said, “Our goal was to honor tradition while mixing it up with a fun and inviting ambiance. The reclaimed wood reflects our belief in sustainable and reusable goods, while the hand-blown glass sconces provide a modern, clean edge and demonstrate our commitment to local artisans.”

La Cosecha Restaurant is located at 835 12th Street, Suite A, in Paso Robles. Business hours are lunch Monday through Friday, 11:00-2:30pm, brunch Saturday and Sunday, 10-2:30pm, dinner Sunday through Thursday, 5-10pm, and dinner Friday and Saturday, 5-11pm with a late night menu 11pm-12am.  Please visit or call 805.237.0019 for more information.

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A New Winemaker for Niner Wine Estates

Central Coast Native Patrick Muran Named Winemaker

Patrick Muran

Patrick Muran

We at Parker Sanpei were delighted to hear news that longtime champion of Niner Wine Estates, Patrick Muran, was recently named the brand’s Head Winemaker.

“Patrick has been a team member with Niner Wine Estates since its inception,” said owner, Richard Niner.  “His influence in winemaking style and technique has been instrumental in developing the brand from the early years at our previous custom crush facility, Orcutt Road Cellars.  With Patrick at the helm, the future for Niner Wine Estates looks brighter than ever. We couldn’t be more delighted to see him at the helm.”

Muran was raised in San Luis Obispo County and graduated with a degree in Microbiology at UC Santa Barbara before landing his first cellar job at Orcutt Road Cellars in California’s Edna Valley. There, Muran developed a deep appreciation for the art of winemaking, studying the craft under venerated French Winemaker, Christian Roguenant, among others.  Learning his way through an array of styles and grape varieties, Muran climbed the Orcutt Road Cellars hierarchy ultimately to oversee the winemaking process of nearly 20 brands including Niner Wine Estates, Baileyana, Tangent, Sanford, Carpe Diem, Rosenthal, Cinnabar, and David Bruce, among others.  Side-by-side with the winemakers for these brands, Muran absorbed their diverse methodologies and techniques to produce a wide spectrum of wines.

In 2007, Muran took the position of Head Winemaker for Santa Ynez producer Blackjack Winery, where his efforts centered on small-production Bordeaux, Syrah and Chardonnay, with opportunities to work in both vineyard and winemaking roles.

Muran joined Niner Wine Estates in 2009 as Assistant Winemaker, where he spearheaded the effort to equip the newly-constructed LEED-Certified facility and oversaw daily operations.  Over the course of four years, Muran contributed new winemaking strategies to further enhance the quality of wines produced by the estate.

Muran’s vision for the future of Niner Wine Estates is to create the highest quality estate wines in the most creative manner.  “We are uniquely positioned as a vertically integrated company to control every aspect of winemaking,” said Muran.

Niner Wine Estates owns and operates three estate vineyards: Bootjack Ranch, located on the east side of Paso Robles; Heart Hill Vineyard, located on the west; and Jespersen Vineyard located in the Edna Valley wine-growing region, just minutes southeast of San Luis Obispo. Both Bootjack Ranch and Heart Hill Vineyard are SIP Certified and the winery is working to gain accreditation for Jespersen Vineyard.

“By leveraging our unique and diverse vineyard holdings, we have the ability to produce some of the world’s most sought-after wines, all handcrafted with thought, intuition, and vision,” said Muran.

Bootjack Ranch is comprised of 148 vineyard acres, totaling ten different varieties of wine grapes, including Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Sangiovese. Heart Hill Vineyard spans 46 vineyard acres and is named for a large grove of oak trees that grow in the shape of a heart on one of its hillsides. With blocks planted in 2007 and 2010, a total of twelve Bordeaux and Rhône varieties are grown including Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Roussane, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Jespersen Vineyard encompasses 42 vineyard acres, planted primarily to Pinot Noir, but also produces other varieties that flourish in the cool climate of Edna Valley, such as Chardonnay, Albariño, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache and Syrah.

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Announcing our newest client: VILLA SAN-JULIETTE

We at Parker Sanpei & Associates couldn’t be more delighted to announce that the latest client to join our stables is Villa San-Juliette Winery from the Paso Robles AVA.

Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe of Villa San-Juliette Winery

Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe of Villa San-Juliette Winery

Villa San-Juliette Winery is the creation of Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, television icons (American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance?) who are  committed to sharing the good life and their delicious wines.   The star of the show is their beautiful 168-acre country vineyard in Paso Robles, California, where Ken and Nigel are excited to indulge in the winery experience with new friends from near and far.

Villa San-Juliette Winery

Villa San-Juliette Winery

We have followed the story of Ken and Nigel through the years – their meteoric rise to success on television, their work ethic, their dream of owning a winery – but never dared to imagine that we’d be the agency lucky enough to represent their labor of love, Villa San-Juliette.  Needless to say, we are ecstatic!

Exciting events will take place at VSJ in the near future, and we’ll be sure to keep readers of The Dish by PSPR well-informed.  The first such happenings are:

Proprietors Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe will be hosting a gourmet dinner with food stations by Maegan Loring (The Lido Restaurant) and surprise live musical entertainment. This is an evening you don’t want to miss.

Come picnic on the lawns to enjoy the live music by Headshine. Skewers and dancing until sunset, with wines available for purchase.

For more info or tickets to these events, please visit

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California’s new best wine destination among top ten in the world!


It’s official: Monterey is the hippest California destination for all things wine. So says Wine Enthusiast Magazine in the January 2013 issue.  You can read the verdict here, on their website.

“Monterey County is one of California’s premier wine-producing regions, but it also has long been a destination for travelers,” says Steve Heimoff of Wine Enthusiast. “It has beautiful scenery, including Big Sur, the 17-Mile Drive and the Pebble Beach golf courses. It has the tourist venues of Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf. It has the upscale galleries and bistros of Carmel-by-the-Sea. In short, Monterey has diverse draws for wine-oriented visitors.”

We are tickled pink (and white and red) to see our good friends in Monterey Wine Country get the accolades they deserve.  Mazel tov!

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January 10, 2013 · 10:12 am