June 30, 2011

Stu’s view: 2008 Continuum

Filed under: News — burke @ 9:30 am

We’ve been in a very interesting place this past couple of years with our fledgling Continuum project. It’s clear now that launching a new and expensive wine in these times has been like launching an untested (albeit sea worthy) sailboat in a hurricane! Timing, they say, is everything.

Even so, the reception to Continuum has been exceptional, unparalleled in my 35 years in the wine business. The primary reason, I believe, is the real substance behind the project. The story of the Mondavi family returning to the fine wine business in Napa Valley (a business they were instrumental in creating!) is compelling. When you combine that with the quality of the wine itself (and the response to that wine by the critics) we’ve gotten off to a great start.

Our momentum began to build in earnest with the 2007 Vintage. That exceptional vintage for Napa Valley allowed a nice showcase for all Napa Valley wines, Continuum in particular. It took us only 3 months to sell out in our major markets, and through our on-line channel. We were delighted, given our relatively unknown status and price category, to have this kind of acceptance.

That being said, we approached the 2008 vintage with some trepidation. The reputation of the 2007 vintage was clearly a factor in our success last year. We were not sure how the market would react to our 2008, clearly in the shadow of its highly touted predecessor. The answer to that question came quickly. We were sold-out in less than 45 days of our March 1st release on our website. We had a similar reaction in the marketplace. And this is before the critics chimed in on the wine itself!

I suppose if I had to give credit to any one factor in the success of the 2008 Continuum, it would be just that… the quality of the wine.  It is by some accounts (Tim’s for one!) the best of our first four vintages. In fact, Tim has been quoted as saying the 08 Continuum could well be one of the best red wines he’s ever made. And that’s saying something, when you consider his role in making Opus One, Mondavi Reserves, in Tuscany Ornellaia and Luce, Sena in Chile, etc. It’s an impressive list.

We’re fairly certain that our momentum will continue. We’re delighted that the 2008, for the first time, was made predominantly from grapes from our Pritchard Hill Estate. Vintages that follow will lead to a 100% estate grown wine by 2013. I think this increasing reliance on Pritchard Hill will further enhance the quality, and further underscore our very serious approach to our category.

Thank you for all your continued support of our Continuum.

We could not do it without you!


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