Sonoma County Vintners hires a compliance manager

Sonoma County Vintners has hired Ben Neuman as the trade group’s compliance manager.

Neuman will help support the group’s community initiative to increase communication with local residents and to develop solutions over controversies pertaining to winery permit usages. Local activists throughout the county have complained about a prevalence of events, crowds and traffic that have overburdened their communities. The Board of Supervisors has explored taking additional actions against the industry in response.

Neuman previously worked for Sonoma County, retiring in 2015. He had been a code enforcement supervisor and a building and safety division manager. He is a graduate of Santa Rosa Junior College and began his career at Mare Island Naval Shipyard as a technical naval architect, where he assisted with nuclear submarine overhauls.

US wineries total more than 9,000

The total number of wineries was 9,091 in 2016, according to a survey by the trade magazine Wine Business Monthly.

The magazine’s annual total showed that there were 7,367 bonded wineries and 1,724 virtual wineries. The number includes both grape and non-grape wineries (wines made from other fruits). California had the most wineries, followed by Washington and Oregon. Texas saw its number of wineries increase by almost 13 percent — higher than the national increase of 4.3 percent.

The magazine found that E & J Gallo of Modesto was the largest domestic producer, with 75 million cases sold last year. Locally, Trinchero Family Estates of St. Helena was fourth at 19 million and Jackson Family Wines was ninth at 6 million cases.

Direct-to-consumer business continues record growth

The value of direct-to-consumer wine shipments reached a record $2.3 billion in 2016, according to the ShipCompliant and Wines & Vines Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report. The total was an 18.5 percent increase from 2015 as the overall volume of wine shipped was more than 5 million cases, according to the report. The top five shipment destination states were, in order, California (31 percent), Texas (9 percent), New York (6 percent), Florida (5 percent) and Washington (5 percent). Shipments from Sonoma County grew at 29 percent, twice as much as wines from Napa County, the report found.

Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to