Photo courtesy of Kiki Powers
It wasn’t long ago that the roots of California’s flourishing wine industry were planted exclusively in the lush, fertile soils of Napa County – and more recently in the nearby Livermore Valley.
But as more and more enthusiasts have continued to promote the growing availability of wine and culinary experiences throughout East County, the area has quietly begun to emerge as one of the state’s premiere regions. And now, thanks to the California Wine & Food Alliance, more people will know about it.
“There is a lot going on here regionally, and unless you’re involved, you might not be aware of what’s available,” said Kiki Powers, co-founder and president of the California Wine & Food Alliance. “Our goal is to have our members – through a variety of promotional means – effectively achieve their business goals while creating a community of encouragement and prosperity.”
The California Wine & Food Alliance, founded by Powers and Clifton Mbanugo, is a membership-based organization designed to promote the best of California wine and cuisine. Understanding that the global perception of the state’s wine and culinary expertise is centered in certain regions, Powers and Mbanugo are striving to expand that vision – and they’re beginning right here at home.
“Contra Costa County is an area with many gems on the wine and culinary fronts,” said Powers. “The Contra Costa Winegrowers Association is a great example of many high-quality wineries such as Hannah Nicole, Bloomfield, Tamayo, J Doran, Viano, Cline and more. In fact, there are some who believe that this region is currently producing wines that might rival some of Napa’s best.”
And they’ve got the medals to prove it. The Brentwood-based Lehrer Family Vineyards recently won the Double Gold award in the San Francisco International Wine Competition with their 2007 Syrah.
According to Powers, one of the primary keys to success for many wine- and food-related businesses is a following – an accomplishment that can be challenging during the current economic recession. Budgetary austerity makes it hard to build a Web site, create leading-edge marketing and advertising campaigns and build a productive public-relations base.
“That’s where we come in,” said Powers. “Clifton (Mbanugo) and I bring diverse, complementary backgrounds to the table, sharing the goal of learning as much as possible about the many great wineries of California and helping them gain greater recognition for their fine wines through a variety of innovative and effective promotional means.
“There is a global market for great California wine from each and every region in the state, and we want to help our members find it and succeed.”
A scenic Wine & Wellness Delta Cruise, featuring hors d’oeuvres and wine from Viano Family Vineyards, takes place Sunday, July 25 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The event also includes a panel presentation on the relationship between wine and health. Tickets for the event are $25. The cruise sets sail from the Pittsburg Marina, 51-E Marina Blvd. For reservations, call 925-252-9300.
For more information on the California Wine & Food Alliance, including membership costs, visit