Odonnell-Lane | Letter
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July 15, 2015

Dear Vintner:

We are pleased to invite you to participate in the first-ever California Wine Symposium in Havana, Cuba, January 31st – February 3rd. Coordinating this event will be Sonoma-based US Cava Exports, founded by Darius Anderson in 2014 with the sole purpose of assisting US-based companies to negotiate contracts to sell agricultural and food products to Cuba. Over the last 10 months, they have been working with local Cuban distributors, wine experts, and restaurant and resort managers assessing the market potential for California wines.

In response to the President’s recently announced modifications to the travel and trade embargo on December 17th 2014, Americans, Canadians and Europeans are descending up on the island of Cuba in rapid numbers. These tourists are flooding the hotels and restaurants throughout the island and demanding greater quality and varieties of wine. US Cava Exports has recently gained approval from the Department of Commerce to begin negotiating direct sales and shipping of wines from California to Cuba, in an effort to meet this new and exciting demand!

Last July, Anderson’s sister non-profit Californians Building Bridges (CBB), in partnership with Wine Institute, Napa Valley Vintners and Sonoma County Vintners, co-hosted the first delegation of 18 sommeliers from the country of Cuba, to participate in a professional research and cultural exchange. This week-long tour exposed them to leading vintners and wine trade associations and the vast array of appellations and export-ready wine California has to offer from Napa and Sonoma Counties. This partnership is once again excited work together to bring vintners and wine from throughout the State of California, to expand their exposure to the majority of sommeliers, restauranteurs, chefs and hotel managers throughout the island of Cuba. US Cava Exports is working exclusively with the distributor, Joan Sarda, to assist in their effort to purchase mixed containers of wines from California to the major hotels and government-run and private restaurants in Cuba.

Participants will depart on the morning of January 31st from Miami International Airport and fly directly into Havana. The all-inclusive 4-day program costs are $3500/vintner (double-occupancy) and non-vintner $2750 (double-occupancy). Space is extremely limited and priority will be given to the vintners who traveled to Cuba in January 2009 with the Wine Institute and those who participated in the Cuban Sommelier Summit in California in 2014. Hotel rooms are blocked at the 4-star Melia Habana and the symposium will take place at the Hotel Palco’s conference facility on February 2nd. Please review itinerary for details of the program. There is a three-day extension available to those vintners who wish to stay and explore Havana and engage in additional cultural activities. Please complete the attached “interest form” and return the paperwork with a $1,000 deposit by August 7th, to US Cava Exports, 1215 K Street, #1150, Sacramento, CA 95814. For additional information and details please contact Steve Burns at steve@odonnell-lane.com or by phone at 707.938.9703.

This symposium comes at a historic time in our nation’s history. A time where our President has announced that the road to change is through engagement with Cuba, both socially and economically. Please join us in celebrating this new era in relations between our two countries and embracing this new opportunity to engage Cuba and its people through travel and direct sales of California’s most distinguished wines to the island.


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Darius Anderson