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Cultivating business W Striving for funding, Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association looks to partner in new wine region marketing campaign get people talking about the local wine country, Triska said. “We already have funding for our radio and print campaign, and that will start at the end of this year and run through 2009,” Ryan added. Part of the reason that visitors aren’t spending much money is because there aren’t many overnight visitors to begin with. “They don’t stay at Motel 6,” Ryan said of the typical wine country tourist. “They’re looking for a little more value, like a bed and breakfast. We had our (Concannon) partners in from Spain last month and we housed them at the Rose Hotel. They look for these types of communities with the nice restaurants, Main Street, where they can walk from their hotel out the door and visit a nice restaurant.” Livermore has one bed and breakfast, the Purple Orchid Inn. There have been plans for a boutique-style hotel across from Livermore’s Blacksmith Square, a consortium of wineries, but no businesses have come forward with proposals. Pleasanton had a bed and breakfast in a restored Victorian on West Angela Street downtown. The Plum Tree Inn was owned by Joan and Bob Cordtz, but they closed it in 2003 when business declined after 9/11. Another popular bed and breakfast was Evergreen Bed and Breakfast, located on Longview Drive near the foot of Augustin-Bernal Park. Owners Jane and Clay Cameron put the home up for sale in 2004 so they could spend more time with their family. One challenge has been pos- sible locations for boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts because the South Livermore Valley Plan limits where development is allowed. Triska, who owns Triska Crane Ridge Vineyards in Livermore and is a commercial real estate broker for Colliers, said the winegrowers association’s objective is to get all the cities in the Tri-Valley on board with the winegrowers association’s campaign as an opportunity to drum up more tourism. Chris Chandler, executive direc- tor of the association, said the aim is to reach consumers within a two- hour radius of the wine country region, which includes Livermore, Pleasanton, Sunol, Dublin, Castro Valley, San Ramon and Danville. “On KKIQ and KKDV, we started in September with “What are you doing Labor Day weekend?” which was a soft launch for us,” Chandler said. “The campaign is not meant to start until 2009. We’re doing all the preparation and figuring it all out right now.” Chandler said the association will in the next 30 days prepare proposals to bring to the wine region cities, requesting some form of funding, but how much has yet to be determined. The winegrowers association is a nonprofit and receives its funding from membership dues, the Labor Day weekend Harvest Wine Celebration and from a few other fundraisers held throughout the year. But the money is just not enough to cover marketing costs, Chandler said. So, instead of going it alone, the asso- ciation believes that partnerships—between cities, the Tri-Valley Janet Pelletier inery workers in Ruby Hill are wrap- ping up a succession of 17-hour work days as the grape harvest is almost complete for the 2008 season. At Mitchell Katz Winery, bunches of grapes are taken through an assembly line supervised by workers where machines separate the fruit from the vine and send it to plastic bins. They will later be moved inside for the fermentation process. It will be at least another year’s time before the 2008 grapes are made into wine and bottled for sale. Mitchell Katz in Pleasanton is the third largest producer of wine next to Wente and Concannon in the Livermore Valley, which includes 4,500 acres of vineyards and features 30 differ- ent varietals from petite sirah to sauvignon blanc. It’s no accident that this year the No. 1 and 2 vineyards here are celebrating their 125th consecu- tive harvests. A 600-foot rock base promotes high drainage, helping the grapes to maintain their flavor. A cool breeze at nighttime adds to the perfect climate. This Valley was made for vint- ners. And the fruits of their labor are being recognized in the number of visitors. An estimated half a mil- lion people come to the Tri-Valley area every year, drawn in by the wine country, and they spend about $17 million annually. But, either surprisingly or not so surprisingly, as Concannon estate manager Jim Ryan tells it, the aver- age overnight visitor spends about $268 per visit, much lower than those who flock to Napa. When he gave a recent talk to Charles Schwab executives at Stoneridge Shopping Center, he asked all 77 how many of them had been to Napa versus Livermore. The answer? Sixty-six had been to Napa, but only 11 had been to Livermore. Don’t get him wrong, the Livermore Valley is not trying to be Napa 2.0, but it wouldn’t hurt local vineyards to get a somewhat proportionate piece of the pie. Bunches of petite sirah grapes are processed through an assembly line at Mitchell Katz Winery, which is the third largest producer of wine in the Livermore Valley. “(Concannon is) one of the busiest tasting rooms is the Livermore Valley and we’ll see about 40,000-45,000 visitors per year,” Ryan said. “The Mondavi visitor’s center in Napa sees 1.2 million, just to put things into perspective.” “You can’t compare us to them,” he continued. “We don’t want to be Napa. We want to be attractive to people who don’t like Napa anymore because it’s too expensive.” Ryan, along with Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association treasurer Mark Triska, recently gave a presentation to the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce detailing how the association plans to attract more visitors and more tourism dollars. The LVWA will roll out a new marketing plan next year across the Bay Area, with the catchphrase “What are you doing this weekend?” It’s a common question that co-workers, spouses and friends ask each other towards the end of the week and the best way to

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