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James Hocking sets up new Californian wine agency

Published:  27 February, 2019

James Hocking, previously wine director at The Vineyard Cellars, has set up a new Californian-focused wine agency that will specialise in “boutique, family-owned wineries” and target “high end independent wine merchants, wine-focused restaurants and private clients”.

The James Hocking Wine (JHW) portfolio will include Oak Farm Vineyards which is exporting to the UK for the first time and Larkin Wines, which is returning to the UK after a decade.

“Over the last 18 years, I have seen the UK market’s steady rising demand for premium Californian wine,” said Hocking. “Over the last two years, the growth has been substantial at both the top end, where wines sell for around the £60 plus mark and at the more affordable end where there is a strong market by-the-glass in the on-trade. These are the focus price points for the new company. In terms of sourcing, Napa and Sonoma wineries will dominate, but I am also keen to explore other up and coming exciting regions of California as well as other North American AVAs.”

Damien Jackman, California Wine Institute’s trade director UK & Ireland said: “JHW is a welcome addition to the UK wine trade, particularly for supporters of Californian wine. James’s commitment to, and knowledge of, Californian wine is long established in this market and we have always enjoyed working with him to drive the California category forward, and to learn from his extensive experience.”

To date, the portfolio will include the following estates: Amala Springs; Benovia; Ferrari-Carano; Larkin; Mandolin; Moone-Tsai; Oak Farm Vineyards; Silenus; Talley; Waterstone; and Whitehall Lane. Small parcels of wines from “cult” wineries such as Kistler, Dana Estates, Occidental, Ovid and Scarecrow, will also be available.

JHW will be at Essential California, which takes place on 12 March in London, and is organised by the Californian Wine Institute. The tasting will showcase wines under £50 RRP.