Completes Second-Generation Transition, Sets Stage for Growth in 2015
Sokol Blosser Winery, one of Oregon’s oldest yet most innovative wineries, is building a new foundation in 2015, led by second-generation co-presidents Alex Sokol Blosser and Alison Sokol Blosser. Their efforts are anchored by five momentum-driven and strategic changes:
- Completing the transition to Sokol Blosser’s second generation.
- Building the pinot noir program with renewed focus and more to market, while continuing to deliver on quality and sense of place.
- Achieving full production for the estate vineyard.
- Revitalizing and expanding the Evolution brand.
- Launching a dedicated in-house sales and marketing organization.
Pinot Noir: The Heart and Soul
“Sokol Blosser began with an eye toward producing world-class pinot noir, and this remains our quest,” says co-president and winemaker Alex Sokol Blosser. “Our pinot noirs are earthy and elegant with a true expression of our terroir. We’re excited to elevate our pinot noir program and further highlight our estate vineyards and their legacy.”
Sokol Blosser wines express quality, craft and appreciation for the land, and the passion is pinot noir, which gains renewed focus. Replanting efforts instituted in 1997 were completed in 2009 with the organically certified estate vineyard, which achieved full production with the 2013 vintage. To show the estate vineyard’s brilliance, the flagship Dundee Hills Pinot Noir will feature 100 percent estate fruit beginning with the 2013 vintage.
Saluting the winery’s beginnings, a Legacy Cuvée will be released in late 2015. The blend from legacy blocks — Old Vineyard and 12-Row — hearkens from sites originally planted with pinot noir in the 1970s (since replanted). Select markets will carry sought-after single-block wines — Big Tree Block Pinot Noir and Orchard Block Pinot Noir — starting today with the 2012 vintage.
Changes are underway for Sokol Blosser’s accessible Evolution brand, which helped revolutionize the alternative white category with its 1998 debut. This summer, Evolution will receive a refreshed label design and new names. Evolution White becomes Evolution Lucky No. 9, and a bigger flavor profile takes Evolution Red to Evolution Big Time Red Blend. The winery is introducing its first nationally distributed single-varietal bottling: 2014 Evolution Pinot Noir, available this July. The updated look of the line, including Evolution Sparkling, and product expansion strategically aligns all the products under the Evolution brand.
In 2014, the winery introduced Evolution in Progress. Through this program, the winemaking team is exploring more varietals, in small batches, to incorporate into the brand; the 2013 Evolution Sangiovese was the first released last year.
Growth in production for Sokol Blosser and Evolution wines has increased responsibilities across the winemaking team. Recent promotions include Doug Vuylsteke to senior assistant winemaker, Robin Hawley to assistant winemaker and Mario Carbajal to cellar master.
Sales and Marketing Organization Supports Growth
A strong team and expanded production point to anticipated growth in 2015, and a new sales and marketing organization now manages domestic initiatives independently, consistent with Sokol Blosser’s hands-on approach to export markets and direct sales. Mariano Oliver, named director of sales, manages U.S. distribution, aided by a national sales team focused on distributor and buyer relationships. Sara Manucy is Eastern division manager and Lee Medina is key account manager; searches are underway for Western and Central division managers.
The direct-to-consumer sales team’s success with the new Tasting Room resulted in promotions of Michael Brown as vice president of consumer sales and Jeff Knapp as director of consumer relations. Eileen Wong has become director of marketing, and Rod Wyatt was promoted to chief financial officer as Jennifer Clark assumed the controller role.
“We are a small family winery in Oregon. One of the best ways for people to know who we are and our wines is by having direct relationships with all of our customers. The changes in our organization’s structure, growth of our team and quality of our wines give us that opportunity,” said co-president and CEO Alison Sokol Blosser. “There’s a little magic that happens every time we tell our story. We’re excited to lay the foundation for a great future for the next generation of Sokol Blossers.”
Story Told through People, Wine, Hospitality
In 2014, several initiatives integral to the winery’s continued success reached fruition. Alex Sokol Blosser, son of co-founders Bill Blosser and Susan Sokol Blosser, was named winemaker and took his first turn with the 2012 harvest. Alison Sokol Blosser, daughter of the co-founders, embraced the CEO role and continues, with Alex, as co-president.
July 2014 marked the one-year anniversary of Sokol Blosser’s Tasting Room. The structure is a manifestation of the winery’s philosophies on winemaking, hospitality and sustainability, which continues to be a critical measure of success as noted in the recently released 2014 Sustainability Report. In addition, the building features unique spaces and a new culinary program with pairing menus for various dining occasions and seasonal flavors. A line of gourmet products further infuses Sokol Blosser wines into culinary experiences. Plus, the winery developed a private events program and reopened the John Storrs Tasting Room from 1978, Oregon’s first purpose-built tasting room.