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Workshop #3 – The Pursuit of Alcohol Balance in Californian Wines

14th September 2018 @ 2:30 pm - 4:30 pm

14 September 2018 (Friday)

2:30-4:30pm (2:15pm registration)


Africa Coffee & Tea Cafe
(opposite to MWM Wine School on same floor)

Unit 1504, 15/F
41 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong
MTR Exit B, 5-min Walk
(See Google Map here)


Jim Clendenen
Winemaker and Owner
Au Bon Climat

30 Pax *Limited seats.
Registration on first-come, first-served basis

Recommended for

Sales representatives, brand managers, buyers, and media with advanced technical knowledge.

email to spit@mwminternational.com / or fill in the form here
WineSPIT member Complimentary  | Non member HK$400
(Contact us if you are interested to join/renew WineSPIT membership)

Tasting List 

● Qupe Marsanne 2013, Santa Barbara County, California

● Au Bon Climat Chardonnay 2016, Santa Barbara County, California

● Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Isabelle 2014, California

● Au Bon Climat Chardonnay Nuit-Blanches au Bouge “Peerless” 2014, Santa Maria Valley, California

● Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir La Bauge Au-Dessus 2014, Santa Maria Valley, California

● Maxville Petite Sirah 2014, Napa Valley

● Rombauer Vineayrds Zinfandel 2016, California

● Ramey Claret 2014, Napa Valley, California 

● Qupe Syrah 2014, Central Coast, California


About Jim

Jim Clendenen is a winemaker and the owner of Au Bon Climat, a winery based in Santa Maria, California.

He was born in Akron, Ohio to gastronomically impoverished parents during the culinary Dark Ages of the American 1950s. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with High Honors in Pre-Law in 1976. After graduation, a one month stay in both Burgundy and Champagne convinced him to attempt a career in wine rather than continue on to law school.

Jim began his winemaking career working at Zaca Mesa Winery for three vintages. After traveling around the world in order to work three harvests in one year (California, Australia and France), Jim founded Au Bon Climat in 1982 with former partner Adam Tolmach, dedicated to Burgundian varietals.

Adam left in 1990 to pursue his own efforts leaving Jim solo at the helm. Through careful re-investment from its own production, Au Bon Climat (which means “a well exposed vineyard”) has grown to over 50,000 cases annually. Au Bon Climat sources fruit from several of the most highly regarded vineyards in the Central Coast. These include Clendenen’s own Le Bon Climat Vineyard and estate plantings in Santa Maria Valley.

Jim has won a number of awards for his winemaking and has mentored several up-and-coming winemakers. In 1989 and 1990 Au Bon Climat was on Robert Parker’s short list of Best Wineries in the World, and in 1991 was selected by Oz Clark as one of fifty world-wide creators of Modern Classic Wines. Jim received the name of “Los Angeles Time Winemaker of the Year” in 1992 from Dan Berger of the Los Angeles Times; Food & Wine magazine has awarded him with “Winemaker of the Year” in 2001. He is “Winemaker of the World” in 2004 by Germany’s leading wine magazine, Wein Gourmet. In 2007, Jim was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.”

Workshop Content Preview

What is the trend of Alcohol level in the international market and when producing Californian wines? 

A 2016’s study from the University of California found that the alcohol content in the majority of wines, both white and red, sold in the world over the last decade is, on average, 0.42% higher than claimed on the label.”

Why is there more alcohol in the wine – improved viticulture?

Seattle-based certified sommelier Yashar Shayan believed that, in the United States at least, viticulturists are choosing to plant in hotter regions because vineyards in dry places are easier to manage than those in cool, rainy places.

Why is there more alcohol in the wine – Price?

James T. Lapsley, Ph.D, a Professor of Viticulture at the University of California, Davis—claims that the grape sugar levels in wine have increased between 7-10% over the past few decades. “A 10% increase in sugar concentration would result in 10 percent more alcohol,” says Lapsley.

“Most Americans spend less than $10 a bottle”, says Keith Wallace, president and founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia and author of Corked & Forked: Four Seasons of Eats and Drinks.

Why is there more alcohol in the wine – KOL’s influence?

Mark Aselstine—the founder of Berkeley-based Uncorked Ventures, a wine of the month club—points to the dominance of wine reviews published by The Wine Advocateand its founder, lauded critic Robert Parker, for pushing the trend of higher-alcohol wines by often rewarding them with high scores. “Parker, generally speaking, enjoys higher-alcohol content in his wines than the higher acidity and more austere versions of generations past,” says Aselstine. “As his reviews became more and more popular, and as retailers increasingly used scores to do their jobs for them, vintners started trying to hit that style with at least some of their offerings.”

Do consumers like high-alcohol wines?

The rise of alcohol can at least in part be attributed to the consumer. “People like it,” Seattle-based certified sommelier Yashar Shayan said. “They may claim they don’t, but they do.”

Is it bad or good?

Is it a wine myth that high alcohol always equals a “hot” and unbalanced wine?

Workshop supported by


14th September 2018
2:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Event Category:


Africa Coffee & Tea Cafe
Unit 1504, 15/F 41 Heung Yip Road
Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong


WineSPIT Association
+852 25150178
View Organiser Website


MWM ensures all events being conducted in the highest standards of professionalism, quality and punctuality. However, due to unforeseeable circumstances, we might adjust our events to ensure they are delivered safely without severe interruption to participants’ plan. During lockdown, such measures may include changing a face to face session to online session, or rescheduling the session to after lockdown. You may refer to here about our working procedures. We look forward to your kind understanding. Thank you!

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