Venge joins Summers Estate Winery

Kirk Venge has joined Summers Estate Winery as a consulting winemaker at the Calistoga winery.

Venge will join Summers’ veteran winemaker, Ignacio Blancas, to work on the Bordeaux varietals for the winery.

Venge is the owner and winemaker of Venge Estate Vineyards in Calistoga and has consulted for other wineries such as B Cellars, Bacio Divino Cellars and the Janzen label.

Summers had its first bottling in 1992 with a Knights Valley merlot.

Notably, it is one of the few California producers of Charbono, an Italian grape varietal, and produces 1,300 cases of it annually.

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Australian wine exports to United States up 3 percent

Australian wine exports to the United States increased 3 percent in 2016 to an overall total of $346 million, according to the Wine Australia Export Report released last week.

The country has been helped by a weak Australian dollar, which is about 40 percent lower to the U.S. dollar than in 2012.

Exports above $7.50 per liter were up 23 percent, to $31 million, and the number of individual wines retailing at $13 per bottle and above increased by 59 percent, according to the group, which is under the auspices of the Australian government.

The average value of bottled wine exports to the United States was up 9 percent for the year, reflecting a trend of consumers moving to higher-priced wines.

“Throughout 2016 there were significant signs of improvement for the Australian category. To end the year up in value and with more options for U.S. consumers to enjoy our premium wines puts our winemaking community on the front foot,” said Aaron Ridgway, head of marketing for Wine Australia Americas, in a statement.

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Premiere Napa Valley to feature online auction

Forty-five lots featured at this year’s Premiere Napa Valley barrel tasting and futures auction will be offered online to pre-registered licensees.

Bidding for the Premiere Napa Valley online auction opens Feb. 24 at 9 a.m. This year’s auction will be held at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena on Feb. 25. It is sponsored by the Napa Valley Vintners trade group.

The auction is only for licensed members of the wine trade, who buy these wines for their top customers and collectors, which include retailers, restaurateurs and hotel operators.

Last year’s event raised $5 million.

For more information, visit the trade group at www.premierenapavalley.com or call 707-963-3388.

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Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com.