"This [tour] is a real opportunity to create interest in the California wine industry in Austria," Hall explained. Austrians have already taken a liking to California wines. Hall said that sales of California wine in Austria increased from $713,000 in 1997 to $1.8 million in 1998.
In addition to her political duties, Hall owns a 35-acre Napa Valley vineyard planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Most of her grapes are sold to such wineries as Cakebread, Merryvale, Silver Oak and Duckhorn. She also makes 1,200 cases per year of Kathryn Hall Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon for sale exclusively in Texas, where she and her husband, Craig, own a home.
Though Hall purchased her Rutherford vineyard in 1997, her connection to wine dates back to her childhood in the San Francisco Bay area. At the time, her father owned a vineyard in Mendocino County; it's still owned by family members.
Among the wineries the Austrians visited were Mondavi and Beringer, whose full-bodied Napa Valley red wines provide a dramatic contrast to the crisp white wines for which Austria is best known. However, Hall noted that the visiting wine professionals, who included importers, sommeliers and hoteliers, were interested in both reds and whites.
Did Hall's guests enjoy drinking Kathryn Hall Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon? "I think they liked it," the ambassador said modestly.
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