Viticulture Briefs: Couple takes control of Napa’s Blackbird Vineyards

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Couple take control of Napa’s Blackbird Vineyards

John and Julia Hinshaw have bought a controlling stake in Blackbird Vineyards in Napa Valley, an artisanal producer of Bordeaux influenced wines.

The couple had been investors in Blackbird for several years. They also have their own vineyard in St. Helena and have been making wine for seven years.

The Blackbird winery, founded in 2003, has Aaron Pott as its winemaker and sources fruit throughout Napa County.

“Our team is pleased to have their leadership as we continue to elevate our portfolio of bottlings in the minds of (winery club) members, clients and trade partners around the world,” said winery founder Michael Polenske in a statement.

The couple want to expand production at their new winery, which opened last year in the city of Napa. It also serves custom crush clients.


Balletto Vineyards promotes winemaker

Ian Bearup has been promoted to associate winemaker at Balletto Vineyards, located in the Russian River Valley.

He has worked at Balletto Vineyards for almost a decade, starting as a lab intern and most recently was assistant winemaker.

A New York native, Bearup served his first local harvest at St. Francis Winery in 2007 and continued working harvests in New Zealand, Oregon and elsewhere in California before coming to Balletto.

“The very first day I worked with Ian I knew I wanted him to be a mainstay on my winemaking team,” said Balletto winemaker Anthony Beckman in a statement. “He is such a rare breed of pure talent, intelligence and work ethic that it was impossible to let him go to any other winery. Ian is capable of making wine anywhere and we’re proud to have him on the Balletto Vineyards team.”


Report: Wine volume declines worldwide

Worldwide wine volume produced last year declined by 1.6%, according to IWSR, a London-based market intelligence firm.

The firm attributed the decline in consumption to a drop in certain markets such as China, Italy, France, Germany and Spain. The United States market was relatively flat.

Consumers are spending more on wine. They spent $216 billion in 2018 and are projected to increase spending to $225 billion by 2023, the firm said.

The sparkling wine category remains a bright spot. IWSR projects it will grow 1.17% annually over the next five years, driven by the popularity of prosecco.


Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to

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