Commentary from Wines & Vines Editorial Staff
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
 
 

Growing & Winemaking

by Richard Carey
 

Cold Stabilization and Malolactic Fermentation  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Two products that could help winemakers produce significantly better wines should prompt wineries to seek approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which has not fast-tracked these items.

The first is Zenith, a colloidal material that will cold-stabilize both white and red wines permanently.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Jim Boyce
 

Is China a Long-Term Play for U.S. Wine?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

It sounds crazy but the United States sent less wine to China in 2017 than 2011 despite the imported wine market more than doubling there from 26.8 million to 61.5 million 9-liter cases. The Wine Institute listed 1.58 million cases of exports to China last year, down from 1.79 million cases seven years earlier, a performance as flat as week-old Schramsberg.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Growing & Winemaking

by Andy Starr
 

How Wineries Take Advantage of Big Data (or Any Data)  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Are the winemaking and sales decisions in your winery data-driven? Are all of your data sources well integrated into one system? Ask the question of some winery owners, and you may get these responses:

• "I will use data to run my winery once a really well-known Napa Valley winemaker does it and gets a98-point score.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Growing & Winemaking

by Andy Starr
 

How to Prepare  for the Next Disaster  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

There is little to add to the reporting about the firestorm that struck Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma wine country Oct. 8, 2017. It was unlike any other disaster to hit California.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Mary Loftness and Paul Wagner
 

What DtC Wine Sales Can Learn From Cruise Lines and Casinos  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Given the importance of direct-to-consumer (DtC) sales in the wine industry, one might assume we have found the holy grail of customer relationship management. But compared to other hospitality industries such as cruise lines and casino gaming, we fall far short of best practices.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Growing & Winemaking

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Self-Assessment Workbooks: Where Are They Now?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

It has been 20 years since the first self-assessment workbook about the sustainable production of wine grapes was published in the United States.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Business & Management

by Ann Reynolds
 

What Coming Excise Tax Changes Mean  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Big changes to TTB regulations are continuing to gain congressional support, which is good news for U.S. wineries. These changes would mean substantial savings on TTB excise taxes.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Preparing the Vineyard and Crush Pad for Harvest 2017  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

JUNE IS THREE MONTHS BEFORE HARVEST, and the vines in most of North America are like college students at a freshman kegger. Their work is just beginning, yet senior exams (or 25° Brix) will come more quickly than they realize. That’s why this is the Pre-Harvest Issue of Wines & Vines.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Packaging

by Andy Starr
 

Niche Packaging Services Let You Test the Market  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

An article titled “Wine Packaging for Leaner Times,” printed in the November 2009 issue of Wines & Vines, stated, “Alternative packaging lies at the confluence of two major trends in the wine industry. The first is economical,” and “environmental awareness has been on the rise.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

An Issue and a Conference Focused on Oak  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Oak is our main theme this month, both in the magazine and at the upcoming Wines & Vines Oak Conference on April 26. It will be our third annual conference and trade show focusing tightly on barrels and oak adjuncts.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Grounded Grapegrowing

by Glenn McGourty
 

Production Costs for Alternative Winegrowing Farming Systems  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Certified organic and Biodynamic winegrowing are separate systems that use independent third-party organizations to verify members are following prescribed farming practices. Winegrowers have their vineyards certified for a variety of reasons, including pursuing market niches, addressing environmental stewardship and also wine quality.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Jim Law
 

One Place, One Life  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Starting from scratch: Life's circumstances led me to Virginia in 1981. I was hired to expand an existing vineyard and start up a winery in the Shenandoah Valley. It didn't take long for me to realize that I wanted to set my own roots here.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Growing & Winemaking

by Andy Starr
 

How Wineries Use Vineyard Technology  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

A Google search for the exact phrase “wines are made in the vineyard” produced 40,600 results, making it one of the industry’s mantras, along with “our Chardonnay is buttery” and “I thought we’d be cash-flow positive by now.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Wine Industry Finance

by Gabriel Froymovich
 

Should Growers Make Bulk Wine?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Much attention has been paid recently to wine producers acquiring vineyards to secure affordable, quality supply as grape prices rise. Less discussion has focused on growers who see this rise in profits as a way to invest in themselves by diversifying into wine production.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Vineyard Technology Sets Stage for 2017  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

DRENCHING FLOODS IN CALIFORNIA, bitter cold and snow in the Northwest and absurdly seesawing freezes and thaws in the eastern United States remind us once again how little control grapegrowers have over their crops.

The best way to bring a little more order to this natural chaos is to make yourself as smart as you can.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Lodi Growers Reduce Pesticide Risk  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

The Lodi wine community has devoted significant attention and energy to implementing sustainable winegrowing practices since the early 1990s. The focus has been on all aspects of vineyard management, from soil quality, nutrient and irrigation management to canopy management, energy efficiency, social equity and pesticide risk.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

How to Protect Your Barrel Investment  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

 AT $900 PER BARREL for French oak and $450 per barrel for American oak, barrels are a major, major expense for many wineries. Used carefully they will, of course, be worth the money. Barrels can help immensely in elevating your wine to the highest quality that your grapes can deliver.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Kristy Charles
 

Top 10 Things I've Learned as a Winery Owner  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

As we at Foursight Wines wrap up our first decade as wine business owners, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about the lessons I’ve learned over the years. What would I distill and pass along from our first 10? In that spirit, here is a (slightly salty) list of the top 10 things I’ve learned from a decade of running our own wine business.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Growing & Winemaking

by Andy Starr
 

Start Planning Equipment Purchases Now  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

January in the winery. Harvest is in the rearview mirror, and wines are aging or getting ready for bottling. You had some time over the holidays to get reacquainted with your family and resume a normal sleep schedule.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard

by Robert Smiley, Ph.D., and Nicholas Simmons
 

Industry Leaders Optimistic About Premium Wines  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Millennials, whose baby boomer parents were the first generation of premium wine drinkers in the United States, are consuming more and higher value wines, driven by a thirst for quality, new experiences and information-sharing, according to wine industry leaders surveyed by the University of California, Davis.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Pam Strayer
 

The Organic Opportunity: Will the U.S. Wine Industry Miss Out?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Every day, it seems the world is trending more and more toward organics. Sales of organic food are skyrocketing. England’s Prince Charles announced that’s he’s joining a new initiative to keep more of the world’s carbon in soils through organic farming techniques.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Clark Smith
 

Selecting a Machine for Reverse Osmosis  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Reverse osmosis machine sales are suddenly going crazy—up an order of magnitude from past years. Three decades after the introduction of reverse osmosis (RO), wineries are now prosperous enough to afford their own machines, and they are at last getting hip to the technology’s many quality-enhancing powers.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Tips to Help You Prepare for Crush 2016  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

It is only June, but don’t fool yourself. You can wait no longer if you are not already “Well Equipped for Crush,” as the main cover headline says. Three articles in this issue are specifically intended to help you get the winery ready in time for the 2016 harvest.

The first is a column by Andy Starr, who trained and worked as a winemaker in California for several years before moving on to other executive positions in the wine industry, including a closures company and a yeast company. Starr has become a regular columnist, writing five pieces in the past year.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Revisiting the Future of Cooperative Extension  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

In the August 2013 issue of Wines & Vines I penned the column “The Future of Farm Extension” and reported that the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) had lost 22% of its farm advisors and specialists (86 people) between 2009 and 2012.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Lake County Is Rising From the Ashes  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

After two giant, devastating wildfires last year, Lake County, Calif., was due for some good news. Now the good news is coming, and from multiple directions.

First off, the initial cleanup of 1,300 homes destroyed by the Valley Fire and the Rocky Fire in this mountainous, landlocked Northern California county appears to be well along. It will take many years to rebuild, but during my visit to Lake County in early April, a large percentage of the hundreds of burnt buildings already had been demolished. A procession of log trucks lugged massive, charred tree trunks from the 115 square miles of burnt terrain out of the county as I drove in toward Clear Lake.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Wendy Van Diver
 

A Wallflower's Perspective  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

We’ve all heard this over and over again: Great wine is born in the vineyard. Now, after attending the 2016 Vintage Perspective Tasting hosted by the Napa Valley Vintners, I believe that it’s also coming from the corners of the room.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Oak Alternatives, Yeast and a Great Book Excerpt  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

April is officially the oak alternatives issue, but this one could have also been titled the Grapegrowing Issue or the Yeast Issue. So if you’re not into oak chips like those on the cover—although we know many of you are—read on anyway.

We have four really authoritative viticulture articles in this issue. The first, by Dr. Mark A. Matthews of the University of California, Davis, is the most thought-provoking takedown of conventional wisdom that we have published for many years. Matthews has just published a fascinating book that enthusiastically and carefully takes apart several commonly held misperceptions about grapegrowing and winemaking. It’s called Terroir and Other Myths of Wine Growing (University of California Press).

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Grounded Grapegrowing

by Glenn McGourty
 

Where There's Fire, There's Smoke  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

California’s climate has certainly changed perceptibly in the past decade, as drought and increased temperatures year-round have affected winegrowing in the state. Besides potential stress to grapevines, another serious consequence is the increased risk of forest and brush fires. Climate change is predicted to increase the frequency and intensity of forest and brush fires for the West Coast. This may eventually cause massive changes to our landscape in terms of types of trees and shrubs that grow. The potential for devastating fires is a grave concern to all living things in or near wilderness areas.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

How Investors View the Wine Economy  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

BETWEEN PRODUCTION OF THE FEBRUARY ISSUE and this one for March, our entire staff spent three days at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento, Calif. It is quite possible we saw you there, too, among the 13,800 attendees.

Unified is always the best and biggest wine industry function of the year, as much for catching up with old friends as for seeing new products and equipment in the trade show. When you add in the conference sessions, there is no better place to get a sense of how our industry is doing.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Seeing Terroir Through the Lens of Science  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Terroir and Other Myths of Winegrowing, the new book by Dr. Mark A. Matthews, is a must-read for any wine grape grower or winemaker who has ever wrestled with the most important myths of winegrowing or debated them with colleagues—and that would be all of us! It is also a great read for any wine consumer interested in looking at “the man behind the curtain,” so to speak: the myths promoted by wine writers, tasting room staff, sommeliers and other wine gatekeepers.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Business Model for Inputs Impedes Sustainable Growing  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

If the goals of sustainable winegrowing are to reduce farming’s environmental footprint and produce more with less, then the input supply chain business model is an impediment to realizing those goals. Success is measured by selling more rather than less, since most input salespeople make commissions on the amounts they sell. Furthermore, many salespeople not only promote inputs to growers (primarily fertilizers and pesticides), they also provide recommendations on how to use them.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Mario Zepponi
 

Predicting Mergers and Acquisitions in 2016; By Mario Zepponi, George Coope and David Von Stroh  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

The stage for 2016 is set: The U.S. economy continues to expand; capital markets are relatively strong; U.S. wine consumption continues to rise, and consumers’ purchase patterns increasingly favor more expensive wines. Wine sales have increased during the past 16 years at an average of 3.4% per year, reaching 375 million cases (or approximately 2.8 gallons per capita) in 2014. As of 2013, the U.S. became the largest wine market in the world, with plenty of room for continued growth in per-capita consumption.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Growing & Winemaking

by Andrew Starr
 

Warming to New Tartrate Stabilization Methods  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Tartrate stabilization, often called cold stabilization, is a wine treatment for the cosmetic benefit of avoiding tartrate crystal formation. Intellectually you know you don’t really need to do it, but you do it anyway. So the priority is to get it done while minimizing both the risk of degrading wine quality and cost.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Growing & Winemaking

by Fritz Westover
 

Top Seven Mistakes New Grapegrowers Make  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

I have worked with many vineyard startups during the past decade and evaluated prospective vineyard sites for countless soon-to-be grapegrowers east of the Rocky Mountains. New growers often start growing grapes while working other jobs or after a previous career—frequently one not related to agriculture.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

The Winemaking Process From Planting to Packaging  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

THE MAIN HEADLINE ON THE COVER of this issue is “Work Smarter in 2016.” We don’t mean to imply that you weren’t working smart in 2015, but with all the substantive new research and newly applied practices out there, you’re not yet done with your education.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Don't Miss the Chance to Vote for Sensible Research  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

AS YOU OPEN THIS ISSUE,

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Is Enough Money Available for Viticulture Research?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Are there enough viticulture and enology research dollars available for the U.S. wine industry to remain competitive in the world market? Most viticulture researchers I speak to say “no.” Having been a researcher myself many years ago, it seems part of human nature to feel there is never enough research money available.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Tim Martinson
 

It's Time to Replace Woody Indexing with DNA Testing  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Grapevine certification programs are based on the premise that the foundation planting stocks propagated by nursery growers have been tested and shown to be free of pathogens of concern to the industry.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

How Important Is Packaging to a Brand's Success?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

WHAT BETTER PLACE than the annual Packaging Issue to announce that the Wines & Vines Packaging Conference is coming back for a second year? Please mark your calendars now for Aug. 19 in Napa, Calif., where the second annual one-day conference and trade show focusing exclusively on wine packaging will convene.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Gabriel Froymovich
 

How to Get the Most From an AVA Appraisal  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Winegrowers in well-regarded appellations have been neglecting to make the best investment they can: the amortization of their vineyard’s appellation value. When a grower purchases a vineyard, he purchases not only the land and the vineyard planted on it, but also an intangible asset—the right for his grapes to be bottled and labeled with the name of the American Viticutural Area (AVA).

This distinction is important, as land cannot be depreciated as an expense against income. The intangible asset’s value, however, can be amortized over the course of 15 years. This rule applies to any vineyards purchased after 1993. It only applies to vineyards whose appellation actually creates value beyond what the land itself creates. For instance, vineyard land does not sell for a premium because it is in the Madera AVA, but it does sell at a premium because it is in the Oakville AVA. The former has no AVA value to appraise and amortize; the latter most certainly does.

The benefits of AVA amortization
AVA appraisals cost several thousand dollars, but I have yet to perform one that had a cash flow break even of more than one year for new purchases. For properties that did not have value allocated to the AVA upon purchase, 100% of the accumulated amortization can be deducted the first year after filing for it, depending on the date of purchase. The financial result varies depending on location, vineyard value and tax bracket. The table “Hypothetical Cash Flow Enhancement from AVA Amoratization” shows a few scenarios, roughly based off real cases, all at a marginal tax rate of 40.7%, for simplicity’s sake.

    KEY POINTS
     

     
  • Grapegrowers in prestigious AVAs should take advantage of a potentially big tax savings.
     
  • The additional value that being in an AVA adds to a vineyard can be amortized.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Renew the Pierce's Disease Assessment  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

THE ASSESSMENT ON WINE GRAPES that was initially approved by California growers in 2001 to fight Pierce’s disease is up for renewal this month. By the time you read this, vineyard owners should have received their ballots in the mail, and now they have until April 28 to return them.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

A Clean Slate in the Vineyard  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

IN THE GRAPEGROWING YEAR, March is the month with a clean slate. At least on the West Coast the vines have been pruned, and bud break is about to begin. Growers have counted up the successes and mistakes of the 2014 vintage, made notes about how to improve in 2015, and now it’s time to proceed.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Grounded Grapegrowing

by Glenn McGourty
 

Creating Effective Weed Control  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Vineyard row middles are often covered with living vegetation at least part of the year, usually during the winter. Growers may plant row middles with cover crops or allow weeds and other self-seeding plants to grow, generating living material (biomass). In the past I have written about cover crops and the numerous benefits this plant material brings for vineyard soil health, chemical and physical properties. Growing live vegetation in row middles can make huge differences for soil water storage, soil fertility and vine performance. In this part of the vineyard floor, it is fairly easy to control unwanted vegetation (weeds) by mowing, tilling and occasionally spraying herbicides (not needed in most cases.)

    KEY POINTS
     

     
  • While cover crops give numerous benefits to vineyards, weed control is still vital, especially in the under-vine row.
     
  • Young vines in particular can suffer from competing vegetation, and weeds can also harbor damaging rodents and insects.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Why Barrels Are Irreplaceable  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

IN ANY CRAFT, there are certain indispensable, even timeless, tools. Some things work so well for so many fundamental reasons that they become integral and permanent.

I was thinking about this because in our house not long ago we bought a serious new frying pan.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Lodi Rules Program Turns 10  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

One of the most common questions I am asked by growers trying to decide whether to participate in a sustainable farming program is, “What’s in it for me?” How does a 1,000% return on investment sound? That was the 2013 ROI for participants in the Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing Certification program, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

After working together for two years, Protected Harvest (a national nonprofit organization for sustainable farming certification) and the Lodi Winegrape Commission launched the Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing certification program in 2005. To qualify for certification, a vineyard needs to meet two requirements: Score 70% or more of the total number of farming practice points available in the program’s farming practice standards, and not exceed 50 environmental impact units for all pesticides used in the vineyard during the year, as calculated by the Pesticide Environmental Assessment System model developed for Protected Harvest’s certification programs. Each vineyard is certified individually on an annual basis. For the Lodi Rules program logo to be used on a wine label, the wine must be made from 85% or more certified wine grapes.

Mohr Fry Ranch Ancient Vine Zinfandel.
 
Mohr Fry Ranch certified its Ancient Vine Zinfandel through Lodi Rules.

There are several significant attributes of the Lodi Rules program that deserve recognition as it celebrates its 10th anniversary.

I already mentioned the financial impact the program has had for the region and participating growers.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

A New Look for the New Year  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

THIS ISSUE CELEBRATES A NEW YEAR of winemaking and the 96th birthday of Wines & Vines with an updated graphic design. So in addition to filling 164 pages with great articles about everything from rainstorms to drought to the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, the issue introduces a new logo, type fonts and other improvements to keep our pages up to date.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Dennis Cakebread
 

Vintners Declare DtC Victory  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Editor’s Note: The Coalition for Free Trade (CFT), established by vintners in 1995 as a nonprofit organization seeking judicial relief from laws prohibiting direct-to-consumer (DtC) shipments, announced Nov. 24 that it had ended all activities after achieving significant victories for wineries and wine lovers alike.

Think back to the 1980s and 1990s.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Growers Evaluate Each Other's Labors  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

A certain amount of tension is built into the relationship between grapegrowers and the winemakers who buy their grapes. They both want to maximize the money to be made from their collaboration. Most of the time they both want to maximize the quality of the wine they are making together, too.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

A Book Worth Waiting For  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Many members of the California wine grape community have been waiting several years for the third edition of Grape Pest Management to be published by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Division. The wait is over, and it was worth it. Once again UC’s Communication Services has produced an outstanding pest-management manual, this time to replace the second edition published in 1992. Larry Bettiga, the technical editor, deserves to be congratulated for working with 76 editors and authors to produce the excellent 609-page book.

    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Grape Pest Management is an excellent reference for anyone growing grapes in California.
     
  • All of the relevant information, photos and illustrations from the ?1992 edition are included.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

When Will Washington Go National?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

A stampede of vineyard deals confirms that Washington state has arrived as a wine region. Northwest correspondent Peter Mitham pulls together the recent mergers and acquisitions in Washington and Oregon in the Top Stories section on page 14. But anyone who has visited Woodinville, Wash.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

In Search of Grapevines and Terroir  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

WARNING: This column, normally about winemaking topics, is entirely devoted to grapegrowing. Worse, it makes fun of several long-cherished beliefs about grapes and their contribution to wine. But at least I do quote Glenn McGourty, another writer for this magazine and someone who actually does know a lot about grapes, to help with the demolition.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

West Coast Drought Watch, Episode 3  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

When the week I am writing this began, rain had been in the forecast for five days, due to arrive where I live in Napa, Calif., on Monday morning, March 10.

This would have been great: another nice boost for irrigation ponds and watersheds.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Will Barrels Go the Way of Floppy Disks?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Comparisons, sometimes heated, between making wine with oak barrels and making wine with various barrel alternatives—oak staves, micro-ox, etc.—have been thrown around for a couple of decades now. While much disagreement is still abroad in the land, a number of things have been definitively established, and it’s useful to draw up the balance sheets for both sides.

permeable plastic
 
The permeable plastic that Flextanks are made of allows oxygen to enter at predictable rates.
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Are barrel alternatives on the verge of making traditional oak barrels obsolete?
     
  • Oak products, micro-ox and various tank alternatives do a better and better job of reproducing barrel flavor profiles.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Grounded Grapegrowing

by Glenn McGourty
 

Vineyard Irrigation With a Limited Supply of Water  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

California and the other Pacific Coast states are facing an unprecedented drought. In California, calendar year 2013 was the driest year on record. Many large reservoirs and ponds are very low, and numerous water providers are curtailing water deliveries to their customers. The period from Nov. 13, 2013, to Jan. 31, 2014, were the driest winter months on record since weather records have been kept in California. Even though some storms have occurred since then, continued dryness and limited frost protection and irrigation water are likely to be issues for the 2014 growing season.

defoliating fruit
 
Although rain has brought the cover crop back to life, these vines are defoliating and fruit will only ripen by dehydration. Irrigating later into the growing season would have ripened the fruit sooner.
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Limited frost protection and irrigation water are likely to be issues for the 2014 growing season in California.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

What the Farm Bill Means for Wine  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Two events showered long-delayed and much-needed benefits on the wine industry as our staff prepared this issue of Wines & Vines. First, a drenching five-day rainstorm seemed to answer the prayers of thousands of California grapegrowers facing a critical shortage of water for the 2014 growing season.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Do You Know What's Inside Your Barrel?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Split up the harvest of a small vineyard among five boutique wineries, do the winemaking in all cases along similar lines, and no one will be surprised when the results in the bottle all taste and smell noticeably different. But open up five barrels from the same cooperage, with the same toast level, and your jaw may drop at the variation on display.

    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Research has shown a high degree of variability in the toast levels and aromatic compound content of oak barrels.
     
  • Because barrels are hand-made products, some degree of variation—even along a single stave—is inevitable.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Evaluating Sustainable Certification Programs  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

More regional sustainable farming certification programs exist for winegrapes than for any other crop in the United States. By my count, there are six (see table at right). With so many options, it is worth discussing why there are so many programs and how to evaluate them.

After six years of hype, the Leonardo Academy (a nonprofit group dedicated to advancing sustainable agriculture, LEED building and fire suppression) has finally made available for public comment what they are calling the National Sustainable Ag Standards. This is their attempt to establish a single set of sustainable farming practice standards for all crops throughout the United States.

Sustainable Certification Programs
 

There are several reasons why the U.S. wine industry has been an incubator for so many sustainable wine-growing certification programs. First, wine grape growers are progressive and proactive, and they have formed trade associations in many regions to meet local wine grape-growing challenges, with several focusing on the sustainable growing of wine grapes.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Where Has All the Mustard Gone?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
This is the 10th annual Barrel Issue of Wines & Vines, but the first thing on my mind as I write this column Jan. 20 is California’s drought. Officials declared the past year the driest in the state’s recorded history, and here we sit with virtually no rain in months, during the winter season when we normally see about two-thirds of our annual rainfall.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

The Downside of a Cleaner, Gentler Crush Pad  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
In winemaking, as in so much of life, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. A bumper crop in the vineyard is great, but over-cropped vines make lousy wine. Warmth is a fine thing for fermenting and extracting red grapes, but crank that must up to 110º F and your Petit Verdot will get deep-fried. Integrated oak is a good thing; egregious oak is a bad thing.

In that spirit, it’s time to ask whether fruit can be too clean and crushing too gentle. Crush pads across the land are sporting more and more sophisticated equipment designed to deliver perfect berries to the ferment: shaking sorting tables that eliminate every leaf, fruit fly and stray jack, optical scanner-sorters that expel any berry deemed unfit, destemmers that don’t actually knock berries loose with paddles but rather calmly persuade them to self-deport from their pedicles. The War Against MOG has gone high-tech: Robots and drones may be on the way.

The aim of all this kinder, gentler, cleaner processing is maximizing the fruit character of the eventual wine and minimizing what seem like extraneous influences, and it’s hard to argue against that. Make wine from the fruits of the vineyard, not the detritus. It’s a perfectly plausible goal; nobody wants to make wine from grape leaves and gum wrappers and earwigs, and many winemakers are further determined to banish anything that might smack of those dreaded “green” flavors and to quarantine the allegedly nasty influences of grape seeds. Sure enough, squeaky-clean fruit makes super-fruity wine.

    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Recent advances in crush pad technology--destemming, sorting, crushing--have made the process much cleaner and gentler.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Economic Picture Bright for Wineries  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

This issue begins Wines & Vines’ 95th year of publishing. It also marks the 15th year that we’ve produced a special edition for the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, which takes place Jan. 28-30 in Sacramento, Calif.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Winemakers Rely on Living Equipment  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
What’s the most important piece of equipment in any winery?

Most of the gear buzz in the past few years has been about the nexus of sorting, destemming and (barely if at all) crushing: The quest for perfect, squeaky clean, absolutely intact berries at the start of fermentation. The choice of cooperages and toast levels in a barrel program can make or break a wine. Membranes do magical things. Flash Détente may save the world.

Of course, none of these gizmos come close to the most critical machinery in the cellar: the winemaker’s taste buds and his or her olfactory bulb. The reason wine is made by people and not computers or 3D printers is that some human has to taste and sniff the stuff all the way along the line and make dozens of decisions based on the mental readouts from these tiny little organs. It’s the place where art meets science in winemaking.

 

 

    Feedback in the tasting room
     

     
    Small wineries that sell nearly all of their wine through the tasting room also learn from consumer opinion—but through direct interaction, not surveys or focus groups. The flow of folks through tasting rooms gives constant feedback about what works and what doesn’t.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Grounded Grapegrowing

by Glenn McGourty
 

A Tale of Two Watersheds  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Farming in California is becoming increasingly complicated as growers in our populous state are held responsible for the wellbeing of public trust resources that are on their property: air, water, fish and wildlife. Agriculture is estimated to use 80%-85% of the available water in our state to irrigate about 10 million acres of farmland.

The most common conveyances of water in our state are naturally flowing rivers. Rivers serve many purposes including water for towns and cities, farms and wildlife. Managing to satisfy all of these needs is a challenge. There are few rivers left that flow naturally unimpeded, the result of many dams that have been constructed during the past 100-plus years. Since much of California exists under drought conditions for many months of the year, storing water when it rains makes great sense. Problems arise when these impoundments impact the natural hydrology of a region (movement of water and sediment through the rivers) and prevent fish or other wildlife from their former habitat. How water is apportioned for different uses creates much controversy, and balancing the needs of natural systems, agriculture and urban use is a never-ending task.

What is a watershed?

 

    Growers and support services address problem of low flow
     

     
    When frost protection pumps all turn on at the same time, instantaneous flows can drop the river’s water level, stranding fish.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Academia and Industry Must Meet  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The American Society for Enology and Viticulture has been promoting the wine industry’s health by supporting research and education for 64 years. That’s why this is our 64th annual Enology and Viticulture Issue, which coincides with the annual conference of the ASEV (see page 46 for more details about this month’s conference in Monterey, Calif.).
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Steve Pessagno
 

Lessons Learned the Hard Way  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
If you exclude my one-year internship stint, 2012 marked my 30th harvest as a winemaker. I don’t have to tell my winemaking colleagues that this is the one profession that makes your non-winemaking friends envious.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

The Leading Edge of Packaging  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
You know the challenge: How do you get your wine brand noticed when 10s of thousands of other brands compete against yours? One way is to create a bold brand or line that combines an attention-getting taste profile with fresh packaging.

Plenty of wineries have faced the challenge successfully in recent years. Just consider the Top 20 New Wine Brands of 2012.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Grounded Grapegrowing

by Glenn McGourty
 

State of Viticulture in the Central Coast  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Stretching from Monterey Bay to Santa Barbara County, the Central Coast of California is an agricultural cornucopia of produce ranging from artichokes to zucchini in the vegetable business. Wine grapes are also extremely important, with more than 95,000 acres producing 517,547 tons in 2012, according to the CDFA California Grape Crush Final Report.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Charles G. Edwards
 

Can Brettanomyces Be Managed?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Editor’s note: Tim Patterson is on temporary leave from writing the Inquiring Winemaker column while he works on his next book. Winemaking researchers, teachers and professional winemakers will be contributing to this page during his absence.

Many people in the wine industry consider Brettanomyces to be a significant threat to red wine quality. During red wine aging (maturation), infected wines develop a number of off-odors and flavors, which range from clove, spicy, smoky, leather and cedar to more intense (and negative) descriptors as medicinal, Band–Aid, mousy, wet wool, barnyard or—in extreme situations—sewage. Although actual economic losses are not known, it is clear that the yeast remains a major headache for winemakers.

    References
     

     
    1. C.G. Edwards.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

How is Biodiversity Measured?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Increasing biodiversity in and around vineyards is often touted as one of the goals of sustainable winegrowing, and it is frequently mentioned as an important component of other sustainable cropping systems.

The term biodiversity is simple, but it describes an extremely important and complex property of a biological community.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Chris Appleby
 

Is There a Market for Sulfite-Free Wine?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Consumers are increasingly seeking out natural food products, a trend that stems from a growing suspicion of additives and chemical preservatives. Because natural foods are commonly linked to good health and being better for the environment, products marketed in this way are often priced at a premium.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Bigger, Better and More Practical  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The merger of Practical Winery & Vineyard into the organization and pages of Wines & Vines, announced in January, is big news for our company and big news for you as a reader. Here is the story behind the announcement.

This merger has been in the works for some time.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Bruce Zoecklein
 

Finding Balance in Viognier  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Today’s consumers expect Viognier to be well balanced with a symphony of integrated aromas and flavors. Balance and harmony are two descriptors often used to denote quality, while unpleasant coarseness, aftertaste involving bitterness and/or excessive astringency or hotness can negatively impact this important varietal wine.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Jeremy Benson
 

Massachusetts Laws Not Improving With Age  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Today, 39 states representing 89.5% of the wine market allow for legal, regulated direct shipping of wine from wineries to consumers—but not Massachusetts. In fact, the Bay State holds a special place in our rankings of states on this issue.

By the numbers, Massachusetts is the seventh largest state for wine consumption and the largest without provisions allowing winery shipment.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

The Race Is On for Vintage 2012  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
And they’re off! Is it just me, or are the vines growing faster than normal this year? Where I live in the southern Napa Valley, the vines bolted from the starting gate in mid-March, stumbled briefly during cold and damp weather in early April, then regained their footing and sprinted to the first wire.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Make Way for Vin Doux Nouveau  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
In March 2011, I devoted this column to the improving prospects for sweet table wines, under the cheeky title, “Big, Dry Reds: Just a Fad?” I’m beginning to think that headline was more prophetic than comic.

Virtually every category of wine—every style/grape/price point—is booming right now.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Grounded Grapegrowing

by Glenn McGourty
 

Crop Estimation Revisited  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
 
Predicting grapevine yield is something everyone would like to understand better. Vineyards average between 15% and 30% difference in yields from year to year. With such variability and uncertainty, it is difficult some years to forecast wine inventories and cash flow for the entire supply chain from grower to retailer.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Partisan Packaging and Variation  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The world of politics makes room for both conservatives and liberals, and so does the world of wine. Since this is the 13th annual Packaging Issue of Wines & Vines, I am talking about conservative and liberal approaches to packaging, of course, not gun rights or gay rights.

In wine packaging terms, conservatives favor glass bottles and natural corks.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

The End of an Era for Lodi  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
On Dec. 31, 2011, Mark Chandler resigned as executive director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, capping 20 years of exceptional leadership for the growers in California Crush District No. 11.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Marisa d'Vari
 

Old World Lessons for Winemakers  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
At age 10, Aaron Pott made the decision to become a winemaker. It was on the heels of a trip to Europe with his parents, when a French waiter told him, “Milk is for babies” and offered him a watered down red wine instead. His curiosity piqued, Pott says he began conducting fermentation experiments in the garage, making use of yeast and grape juice concentrate.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Winemaking Comes In From the Cold  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Oh, those irritating, crunchy little crystals. They’re called “wine diamonds,” but they’re about as welcome as bird droppings. They’re the potassium bitartrates that fall out of solution in wine at the least opportune moments—in the consumer’s refrigerator, just before the gala dinner party.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Grounded Grapegrowing

by Glenn McGourty
 

The Top Five Threats to Vineyard Health  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    Rootstocks resist root knot nematodes
     

     
    Root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne sp.) are a major pest for grapevines in sandy soils, especially in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The female nematodes penetrate the roots and cause characteristic swellings on the feeder roots.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Roger C. Bohmrich
 

Deconstructing Wine Myths  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Wine is a subject obscured by myths, and in “Myths Challenge Industry Growth” (Wines & Vines February 2012 issue), Paul Franson provides a very useful service by highlighting several egregious examples.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Technology

by Andrew Adams
 

Product News  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Thermometer uses infrared technology
The DeltaTrak TCT thermometer is a dual-function thermometer that combines safe, non-contact surface temperature readings using infrared technology. Details: deltatrak.com.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Who Gets Credit for Riper Wines?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Something is missing from the still-simmering debate about how high-alcohol table wines came to be today’s standard bearers.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Quality Measures Inch Forward  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
I’ve written a couple columns recently about winemaking additives, boosters and enhancements of various sorts—one about how winemakers pick and choose among the bewildering range of products out there, one about “natural” winemakers who do their best to use none of them and still make great wine.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

PD Cure Not Near; Prevention Effective  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
 
CLICK PHOTO TO PLAY VIDEO: Dr. Andy Walker, at UC Davis, talks about traditional plant breeding of Pierce’s disease resistant winegrape vines. Click here to see several researchers discuss their work to combat Pierce's Disease and the glassy-winged sharpshooter.
It has been 12 years since glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS) infected 300 acres of grapevines in Temecula with Pierce’s disease, killing the vines and inciting panic in the California wine industry. That mini-disaster set in motion actions that led to the formation of the Pierce’s Disease Control Program (PDCP), which continues its work today.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by W. Blake Gray
 

Imagining No TTB  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

In many industries, the term “government regulation” is almost a swear word. But the wine industry got a chance recently to imagine life without the TTB, and many found it dark and uncomfortable.

Last year, the White House Office of Management and Budget proposed eliminating the TTB in a memo to the Treasury Department.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

DtC Shipments Grow 13% in 2011  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Now that the data are in for direct-to-consumer sales in 2011, and we can compare them to 2010, it’s time to share the good news coming from Wines & Vines' partnership with ShipCompliant, which makes valuable market research available to our readers.

The year that ended Dec. 31, 2011, was a very good one for wine clubs and other direct-shipping efforts.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

European Oak Aims For Recognition  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
More often than not, options that look like either/or choices turn out to be not so binary after all. Paper or plastic? No thanks, I’ll just carry my reusable organically grown cotton tote bag. Coke or Pepsi? No way, Bubba, gimme an RC and a Moon Pie.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Grounded Grapegrowing

by Glenn McGourty
 

How Organic Growers Changed Viticulture  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The recent publication of the “Organic Winegrowing Manual” (see story here) reminds me how the path unfolded to develop this different farming system used by growers who have now certified more than 11,000 organic acres under the USDA’s National Organic Program.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Paul Franson
 

Myths Challenge Industry Growth  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Many years ago, California winemakers convinced wine lovers that fine wines come in bottles and use corks. That campaign has come to hamper efforts to reduce costs, widen the market and even arguably improve some wines as increasing evidence demonstrates that inexpensive screwcaps are at least the equal of expensive corks for sealing wines.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

The To-Do List for 2012  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
With the new year comes a chance to improve yourself, your winery and your vineyard. Let’s leave the “yourself” part to other magazines like Oprah and Men’s Health, and focus on the other two. I think the wine industry now lives in a world quite different from that of 2007, when the wine business was firing on all eight cylinders.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Costs and Benefits of Additives  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Since good wine can be made without the array of additives on the market, why is that market so big?
     
  • Motivations for using processing aids vary by market sector.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Does Big Mean Unsustainable?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • According to the Wines & Vines grower database, 88% of winegrape growers farm less than 100 acres of vineyards.
     
  • Small winegrape growers can implement some sustainable practices better than large growers and vice versa.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Technology

by Wines & Vines
 

Winery & Grower Product News  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Amcor helps airline industry lighten up
Societé de Vin Internationale LTEE debuted the first 1-liter PET wine bottle for the North American airline industry. Supplied by Amcor Rigid Plastics, Manchester, Mich., the lightweight container is one-eighth the weight of the previously used 430g glass container.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Speak Out Against the CARE Act  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The CARE Act is back in Congress this year, and Wines & Vines still doesn’t care for it. Wineries, brewers, distillers, retailers—even beverage importers—are speaking out against the cynically misnamed legislation that would give wholesalers much more influence over alcohol sales in individual states.

We think the bill now named House Resolution 1161 (known as HR 5034 in the last session of Congress) is bad for consumers, is inherently anti-free market and most of all is bad for our many, many readers that sell wine direct to consumers.

We encourage everyone involved in wine production to get informed about this bill, if they are not already, and to let their elected officials know that wineries and grapegrowers are against it. The bill failed to get past committee in the last Congressional session. Let’s make sure it fizzles again this time. Here is why it’s important that HR 1161 does not become law.

What the legislation intends

 
VIDEO: Jim Gordon discusses the CARE Act

The CARE Act supposedly stands for Community Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness. The beer and wine wholesalers who back it are using their old tactic of posing as the protectors of underage youths and proponents of states’ rights. What the wholesalers are really doing is protecting their virtual monopoly as the distribution chain for beer and wine.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Ongoing Search for Low-Yielding Yeast  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Three or four years ago, the high-octane section of the wine world buzzed with speculation that newer commercial yeast strains somehow yielded more alcohol than old standbys. By extension, some theorized, the yeast was responsible for rampaging alcohol levels in wines from California and elsewhere.

The short scientific response to this line of argument was no, the yeasts aren’t raising your alcohol levels, it’s all that sugar in the grapes you insist on hyper-ripening.

That debate has mostly disappeared from the public stage, replaced with a concern that’s almost a mirror image. If the yeasts aren’t making more alcohol, are there some strains that can yield less? Might a bit of inefficiency be a virtue?

And indeed the quest for low-yielding yeasts has been a major research preoccupation in both academic enology departments and commercial yeast research labs. The results so far: a lot of fascinating science, but no silver bullets.

Yeast 101
In fermentation mode, yeast converts one sugar molecule to two molecules of ethanol and two molecules of carbon dioxide. This activity is wired pretty deep into the genome; it’s what yeasts do. And herein is the problem with the theories about super-yeast that could procure more ethanol: They would somehow have to create 2.5 molecules of ethanol (or some such number) from the same sugar molecule, thus violating the laws of chemistry and of second-grade math.

Modern commercial yeast strains do have the ability to ferment high-Brix juices dry. Most have been selected for their ability to reliably complete a fermentation, on riper and riper grapes, but that increased ethanol tolerance does not change the conversion ratio: The molecule math stays the same.

In 2007, wine yeast producer Lallemand  conducted a study in which the ethanol yields of a total of 113 commercial yeast strains were measured. And among those who finished the job to dryness, the widest difference in final alcohol was 0.51%.

Additional studies, by the Australian Wine Research Institute and others, also have found the widest gap in commercial yeast strains to be in the 0.3-0.5% range.

Linda Bisson and her lab crew at UC Davis have taken the comparison contest a bit further. By including non-commercial Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains—vineyard isolates, strains that failed to succeed commercially, etc.—they have seen a range as wide as 1.5% among strains able to complete a fermentation. Since that disparity could mean the difference between an old-fashioned 13.5% Cabernet and a newfangled 15 percenter, it suggests that figuring out the metabolic differences could pay off.

Updating the 0.55 rule of thumb
 

 
All this focus on ethanol yields has led to a re-calibration of the rule of thumb on sugar-to-ethanol math.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Grounded Grapegrowing

by Glenn McGourty
 

Vineyard Irrigation Strategies  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Nature has blessed California with abundant rain this year, and this will be very helpful for most vineyards. After several years of very dry weather in some areas, the rain is providing plenty of water in the root zone. (In my own vineyard planted along the Russian River, the water table was one foot below the surface at bud break!) In areas dependent on irrigation for most of the vines’ water needs, the rain will provide much-needed leaching of salts that may have accumulated from less-than-ideal water quality (the Central Coast comes to mind, as many irrigation wells have high amounts of dissolved minerals). The rains also will recharge depleted aquifers, fill irrigation ponds and provide our fields, forests and chapparal with a blush of healthy growth across the state. Snow packs in the Sierra are at near-record levels (more than 50 feet of snow has fallen in many areas), a delight to skiers and a promise of almost-normal water delivery to many irrigation projects serving growers in the interior valleys.

Irrigation is a normal practice in most California vineyards, since we live in a Mediterranean climate where it doesn’t rain for nearly half the year. Most Washington state vineyards are planted in the interior Columbia River Basin, which has a desert climate. Even Oregon, famous for its wet winters, has many new Pinot Noir vineyards planted to low-vigor rootstocks that may require a sip of water at the end of the growing season to finish ripening fruit.

Water sources
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • This overview of irrigation helps growers reassess how and when they irrigate grapevines.
     
  • The author explains evapotranspiration and how it relates to irrigation in gallons per vine.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Kent Benson
 

What Visitors Want From Winery Websites  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
As a wine educator, I spend a lot of time on winery websites researching wines for classes and private tastings. Some websites are quite good; too many are almost worthless.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Doing Something About Balance  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
I can’t remember the last time I saw so many journalists show up for a wine event. The wine media practically drowns in invitations to press conferences and tastings. They have to turn down the majority.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Carbon Dioxide in Wine: It's a Gas!  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Carbon dioxide is no stranger to winemakers: It floods the cellar during fermentation, serves as a blanketing layer in tanks to keep oxygen at bay and makes sparkling wines sparkle. But in still wines, at the sub-bubble level, it doesn’t get much respect.

That is a shame, since the level of dissolved carbon dioxide in the bottle can have a major impact on how a wine hits the palate. Too little can render white wines flat from day one; too much can make reds harsh and tannic. And since the level of dissolved CO2 is significantly affected by numerous environmental variables—temperature, frequency of racking, sparging with other gases—it can easily go too far up or too far down without the winemaker doing anything directly about it.

The basics of carbon dioxide’s sensory role have been well established for some time, and methods for measuring and managing it are easily available. But except for the mega-scale industrial wineries that monitor and tweak nearly every molecule in their vats, CO2 isn’t high on most small North American producers’ checklists, if it’s on there at all.

 

    REFERENCES
     

     
  • The level of dissolved carbon dioxide in wine can have a significant sensory impact, but it gets relatively little attention from most small producers.
     
  • Different varietals and wine styles work best with different levels of CO2.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Sustainable Growing's Third 'E'  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
While many definitions of sustainable farming have been proposed, one point of agreement for most is the three “E”s of sustainability: farming that is economically viable, environmentally sound and socially equitable.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Wayne Chan
 

China Waits for the Sleeping Tiger  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Today’s U.S. wineries face constant challenges to compete in a mature market against an onslaught of domestic and foreign competition.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

What Do Wine Writers Want?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
When I returned to my routine in late February after the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley, I found myself thinking about what wine writers want.  As a former full-time consumer wine writer and editor, I have a certain understanding of the craft that may help Wines & Vines readers see wine writers in a more accurate light.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Rethinking Barrel Materials  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Elsewhere in this issue, Kerry Kirkham surveys the ins and outs of using the growing array of oak powders, chips, cubes and staves that can provide some of the flavors and tannins of oak barrels to tank-based wines. But there’s another, more radical alternative: Make the barrels themselves not from oak, but from stainless steel or plastic.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Grounded Grapegrowing

by Glenn McGourty
 

Tuning Your Vineyard For the Next Vintage  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
I am constantly amazed by the wonderful transition winegrowers experience between November and April. This rings especially true in the months since November 2010, when the harvest dragged on and on. Rain, late picking and numerous minor disasters ranging from mold to stuck tractors resulted in frayed nerves and tempers. As the cold, wet weather of late 2010 gave way to some lovely sunshine during January and February, everyone seemed to regain energy and optimism. Now they’re ready to take on a new grapegrowing year.

My friend Dave Koball, the chief viticulturist at Fetzer Vineyards, has a saying that I like: “My vineyards are like an orchestra, and my job is being the conductor. I need to get everything in tune and following the same beat.”

Good winegrowing is as much about timing as knowing precisely what to do. Most years the vines go from dormancy to bloom and full canopy expansion in a relatively short period of time—usually about 80 to 90 days. Weather can get in the way of many critical operations including spraying if it is windy or raining, waiting for shoots to grow if it is cool and then feeling hopelessly behind when winter suddenly disappears and summer seems to arrive overnight. Cool followed by hot makes shoots expand extra rapidly, and staying ahead of canopy management operations turns into a real challenge.

    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Good winegrowing is as much about timing as knowing precisely what to do.
     
  • The author lists priorities for spring vineyard tasks to set vines up for a healthy year.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Patricia Howe
 

Why Reporting Units Should Be Standardized  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The subject of standardized units must be one of the driest and most tiresome topics in the wine industry. Or so it would seem, until a winery experiences a dramatic and expensive unit-related misunderstanding such as a massive over addition of SO2, refermentation in bottles of “dry” wine or unanticipated spoilage in the barrel room.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

It's All About the Vines  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Wine is made in the vineyard, right? Rarely do the fermentation tanks sit between the rows, but the essence of this overused aphorism is true. Even with all their skills and technology, winemakers can’t make great wine from average grapes.

Most winegrape growers have taken this concept to heart.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Big, Dry Reds: Just a Fad?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The big, extracted, tannic, alcoholic, dry reds that rule the wine world have been called many things by their detractors: awkward, clumsy, overblown, freakish, flammable, undrinkable. But the cruelest cut of all may be simply to note that in the grand historical sweep of things, they’re just a passing fancy.

That’s only one of the implications of the latest salvo from Tim Hanni, a master of wine and longtime nemesis of conventional wine wisdom. Hanni has been known to get up before an audience of wine educators and open with, “The biggest threat to the wine industry today is—wine education!” This time he’s brandishing a fistful of consumer research studies that suggest there’s a huge potential market of folks out there who would love to drink sweet wines—if only the industry had enough sense to offer them.

While Hanni is perfectly happy to climb out on a limb by himself, this time he’s hardly alone, as a recent one-day symposium about sweet wines at the University of California, Davis, indicated. (See “The Case for More Sweet Wine” at winesandvines.com.) The tenor of the day was captured with the title of the opening talk by Darrell Corti, one of the country’s leading authorities on fine wine traditions, “Sweet Wines: The Finest Wines in the World?”

Consumer phenotypes and industry prejudices
For years, Hanni’s mantra has been that the wine industry should put consumers and their preferences at the center of their outlook, rather than adopting arbitrary definitions of good and bad wines and figuring out how to convince consumers to get with the program. For the past two years, Hanni has been working with Dr. Virginia Utermohlen, a researcher at the Cornell University Taste Science Laboratory, on a long-term study of wine consumer attitudes, behavior and physiology. Their preliminary findings were issued in a report in December, both a $500 version with lots of juicy details and a free summary available at timhanni.com.

The study made use of online survey data from 1,200 wine drinkers responding not only to questions about wine preferences but about how people take their coffee, if they drink it at all, how much salt they like on their food, and so on. Previous work by numerous researchers has shown a strong correlation between these simple food and beverage preferences and human taste bud physiology: The black coffee crowd, for example, with its tolerance for bitterness, tends to have fewer, smaller and less sensitive taste buds than the cohort that dumps sugar and cream into its java. By combining the behavioral data from the survey—what kinds of wine people declared they did and didn’t like to drink—with the physiological profiles inferred from responses about coffee, salt and the like, they were able to construct four wine drinker “phenotypes.”

At opposite ends are Sweets—highly taste sensitive, preferring sweeter wines—and Tolerants—much less sensitive, able to tolerate harsh flavors and fond of big, red wines. In between are Hyper-Sensitives and Sensitives. How these categories are distributed in the real population—as opposed to the online survey population—is guesswork, but Hanni’s hunch is that Tolerants are a small minority, maybe 15%, almost all male, and that all the other phenotypes, including the Sweets, are larger.

Even though the Tolerants are often short on taste buds, their taste in wine dominates ratings, wine lists, wine education and wine pricing. For Hanni, this peculiar hierarchy not only flies in the face of physiological facts, it ignores a huge potential market for lighter, sweeter wines. And the reign of
the Tolerants is anything but tolerant: “Try going into an upscale, white tablecloth restaurant,” Hanni challenged the symposium attendees, “ask for a White Zinfandel, and see how you’re treated.”

wine sensitive sweet tolerant
 
Source: Tim Hanni
 
Sugar and history
So if any of this is remotely true, how the heck did the Tolerants—the fans of killer Cabernet—become the masters of the wine universe?

Big, powerful, dry reds—from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany, Piedmont and Napa—have been the benchmark wines for “serious” wine drinkers for so long that it seems to be forever.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

The 'Three Es' of Successful Spraying  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Almost every grapegrower will spray his vineyard multiple times during the year, no matter whether he farms organically, Biodynamically or “conventionally.” That is due in large part to most grape varieties being very susceptible to one or more diseases. Most regions also have their share of insect, mite and weed pests that must be managed, often involving pesticide sprays.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Jeff Carroll
 

Last Straw for Direct Shipping Holdouts?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Direct shipping will almost certainly come to Maryland consumers in 2011. However, the bigger story out of the Old Line State is the Direct Wine Shipment Report released by the comptroller Dec. 31, 2010.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Do We Still Need Winemakers?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
For a glimpse of the future of wine, look no further than YouTube, where a short video reveals the automated operation of Siam Winery. You know it's the future because it's on YouTube, not in some wine magazine, and because it's from Thailand, yet another country getting into the wine business. We don't meet "the winemaker" in the video, but the clip does feature the Thai production engineer who speaks fluent German (a useful skill since the winery was designed by Siemens, not exactly a household name in German winemaking).

If you're not sold, think about this: They knock out 20 million bottles per month.

Play Movie


Closer to home, winemaker Sam Kaplan uses a considerable degree of high-tech automation at Arkenstone Vineyards in the Napa Valley. "I can do pump overs from my couch at home, watching TV with a nice cold beer in my hand," Kaplan says. "Wait," he added, "don't print that."

And here's the scoop on the ultra-modern Yalumba winery, courtesy of the Australian division of another venerable non-winemaking titan, Rockwell International:

"The primary user interface for the system is a fully redundant supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) server supported by five on-site clients, each running RSView Supervisory Edition from Rockwell Software. Winemakers and operators use the SCADA to specify process streams, crushing speeds and fermentation schedules--plus monitor the operational status of the entire plant. RSView Supervisory Edition provides unified site-wide monitoring and control via the RSView SCADA terminals and numerous plant-floor PanelView Plus human-machine interfaces (HMIs)."

Is a "human-machine interface" anything like a "great wine made in the vineyard?" Is this what all of us in the wine industry signed up for?

 

    WHAT DOES IT COST?
     

     
    From my short survey, costs per tank for automation might be anywhere from $300 to $1,500, depending on the choice of bells and whistles. Jim Conant of Logix estimates that a total winery automation system starts at $30,000 and up, though he's done half-million-dollar installations.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Grounded Grapegrowing

by Glenn McGourty
 

Modern Wines From Ancient Greek Grapes  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Greece inspires me on many levels. For my first visit there I arrived by boat, departing from Bari in Italy at night. We drifted in and out of the mist of an awesome dawn, as large puffy clouds reflected pink and golden light from the rising sun over the deep blue Adriatic Sea. I expected Triton to rise at any moment out of the water—or at least to hear some beautiful sirens singing from the rocky coast.

Once on land, I quickly realized that Greece is a bit of a fixer-upper. In its defense, the nation has been called the “crossroads of civilization,” and many of its visitors decided to stomp their feet as they passed through. Regardless, there is considerable charm in the overall landscape as well as the small towns and cities. You see rolling hills planted to olive trees and vines, and numerous antiquities from past civilizations dot the landscape. White plastered houses with bright blue trim and tiled roofs fill the villages. Tavernas with outdoor seating offer local delicacies and fun dining experiences.

The Greek people are courteous, warm and innately streetwise. If you have a differing opinion they smile politely, but you know that they really don’t give a darn what you think—they know what is right! Finally, there is a deep individualistic streak that makes it difficult for many Greek people to work together. Their two relatively successful wine promotional organizations, All About Greek Wine and Wine Roads of Northern Greece, continue to surprise and inspire good collaboration between their members.

    AUTHOR'S NOTE
     

     
  • This concludes our series about Mediterranean varieties that have great potential in the sunny, warm winegrowing regions of California. I encourage all winegrowers to try something different than the varieties commonly grown around the world, even if it is only on a small scale (enough to make a barrel or two).
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Cary M. Greene
 

Decision Threatens Winery Privileges  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia recently issued a decision, Freeman v. Corzine, which represents a substantial threat to the status quo for state winery tasting room, self-distribution, event, festival, restaurant, farmers market and other local winery privileges.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

DtC Sales Up, Teen Drinking Down  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

The news in December leading up to press time for this issue carried very positive stories for wineries: An important segment of wine sales is up while teen drinking is down. Is there a connection?

Direct-to-consumer (DtC) shipments from U.S.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Is Barrel TCA the New Cork Taint?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Is contamination of French oak barrels by TCA the new cork taint? Or is this just old news wrapped in fresh press releases? That question may be the biggest 2010 year-end controversy in the wine trade, overshadowing old reliables like whether screwcaps make for clean wines or reduced wines, or whether genetically modified yeast is a swell idea or a non-starter.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Is IPM Dead?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The inspiration for this column came from a discussion that played out on the Association of Applied IPM Ecologists listserv (AAIE). AAIE’s mission is to provide “quality information about ecology-based pest management (IPM is short for integrated pest management), while encouraging environmentally compatible approaches and an awareness of IPM.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Thomas Pellechia
 

Labels That Exploit Grandpa's Traditions  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Osgood is my alter ego. He comes with me wherever I go just in case one of us has a bright idea that needs debating.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

What Winery Buyers Are Thinking  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Hope isn’t much of a strategy,” said Randy Luginbill, vice president of winery relations for Silverado Premium Properties as he introduced four speakers during May’s Vineyard Economics Seminar. His point was that the recession has hit many winegrape growers hard.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Mixing It Up With Yeast Strains  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Standardized commercial Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast strains first appeared on the market in the late 1960s. Less than 50 years later, new strains, crosses, hybrids and cocktail mixes are proliferating almost as quickly as the little fungi themselves. Yeast strain development is way beyond the lag phase.

New strains found in nature still are being isolated, propagated and offered to winemakers. But the real action seems to be in developing—one way or another—new strains or combinations of strains that do more than any single natural isolate can do on its own. Much of this work is pretty high tech; at the same time, this burst of yeast development steers clear of GMOs.

    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Hybrid yeast strains and blended combinations of strains are proliferating in the market, particularly for small-batch, high-end wines.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Grounded Grapegrowing

by Glenn McGourty
 

Aromatic White Grapevine Varieties  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Certain winegrape varieties are by nature very aromatic and fruity in their flavor composition. Riesling, Gewürztraminer, various Muscats, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier come immediately to mind. Others are not so well known in North America, but they certainly are interesting to the open-minded wine drinker with adventurous tastes.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Jeff Carroll
 

Back to the Future With HR 5034  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
On May 16, 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion in the case of Granholm vs. Heald that significantly altered the way state laws are created and challenged.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

What's Behind Our Numbers?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Grapes and wine are your products. Information is our product. At Wines & Vines, we labor every day to bring you the most accurate and up-to-date information in our daily web Headlines and the print magazine’s monthly feature stories, columns and other departments.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

How Good Is That Wine Bag, Really?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

I’m not claiming an exact count here, but I swear that for every article or technical study published about wine flavors, two get printed about bottle closures. Natural corks, new and improved natural corks, agglomerates, DIAMs, synthetics in a rainbow of colors, screwcaps with a multitude of liners, glass caps—they all have legions of fans and detractors, most of them quite vocal, and more research money flowing their way than you can shake a pH meter at.

But when’s the last time you read something about the performance of bag-in-box (BiB) packaging? In an e-mail exchange, Sakkie Pretorius, director of the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI), home to path-breaking research on standard wine bottle closures, acknowledges, “BiB packaging is an orphan when it comes to peer-reviewed research publications.” Reminiscent, perhaps, of the days when screwcaps were considered too low-life for serious investigation.

    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Independent technical assessments of bag-in-box packaging are rare.
     
  • The author explains the bag types and explores technical information from a manufacturer.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Recordkeeping and Sustainable Growing  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Every so often I have a true epiphany. At least twice it was the sudden confluence of what had been, until that moment, seemingly unrelated things. One of these came when I was a junior in forestry school, listening to a lecture.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Bill Nelson
 

Wine Wholesalers Get Congressional Hearing  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
In response to lobbying by the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), a Congressional subcommittee held a hearing March 18 to receive testimony about “Legal Issues Concerning State Alcohol Regulation.” The purpose was ostensibly to decide whether federal courts should have the power to prevent states from enforcing protectionist and discriminatory state alcohol laws.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Time to Renew PD Funding  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
It is time for California grapegrowers to renew their self-assessment to fund the ongoing fight against Pierce’s disease. At the current assessment rate of $1 per $1,000 of crop value, it has to be the world’s best bargain in disease prevention.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Yeast Terminology, Science and Marketing  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Yeast is the undeniable heart of winemaking, the true winemaker that works the magic of fermentation while the rest of us watch and tinker around the edges. So it’s not surprising that a huge descriptive vocabulary has grown up around yeast, much like the proliferation of descriptors for wine itself. And like winespeak, some yeast talk is quite precise, and some fairly fuzzy.

    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Two commonly used descriptions for yeast strains--"neutral" or "enhances varietal character"--seem pretty fuzzy.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Grounded Grapegrowing

by Glenn McGourty
 

Getting Sangiovese Right in California  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The Sangiovese winegrape is a variety much admired and revered in Italy, where today it covers more than 11% of all vineyard area. Sangiovese represents 12% of Italian DOC and DOCG wines (the two highest categories of the Italian appellation system) and is included in the blend of 388 appellation-based wines. Although it’s planted in many parts of Italy, Tuscany remains the epicenter for high-quality Sangiovese, which is the main ingredient of all Chianti wines.

    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • California winegrowers in the 1990s enthusiastically planted Sangiovese without realizing the extent of its challenges in the vineyard and winery.
     
  • Sangiovese wines didn't measure up. California plantings peaked in 2000, and since then prices and acreage have declined statewide.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Steve Dryden
 

Making Premium Wine In Baja California  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
In the northwest corner of Mexico, Baja California is home to nearly 40 wineries, but even international enophiles seem largely unaware of the region’s rapidly emerging wine industry. In 1521, Mexico became the first country in the New World to be planted to grapes.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Wine Review Weekly

by Wine Opinions
 

March 22, 2010  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Wine blogger Fredric Koeppel reports from Italy on a vertical tasting of Quorum Barbera d'Asti wines. In the San Jose Mercury News, columnist Laurie Daniel offers tasting notes on many Pinot Noir wines.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Wine Review Weekly

by Wine Opinions
 

March 8, 2010  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Eric Asimov, writing in the New York Times, offers an excellent profile of winemaker Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards, whose 'minimalist' style has long set a standard of excellence for California wines.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Benefits of Science and Technology  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Everybody loves the image of the little old vigneron trudging through his vineyard in the spring, beret on his head and hoe in his hand, sniffing the air for rain, making mental notes on the health of his vines, one by one, as he envisions the rich harvest to come in September.

As you know, however, there is a lot more to it than that.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Wine East Opinion

by Hudson Cattell
 

Eastern Fruit Wines are 'Stealth' Wines  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
I’ve seen the term “stealth” applied to wines that get little notice; that is, they “fly under the radar.” Fruit wines could be called stealth wines simply because in comparison with grape wines they get little attention in the wine world, even though increasingly more wineries are making them and many consumers like them.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Wine From Sludge: Lees Filtration  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Recovering good wine from gooey lees seems like such a good idea.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

How Can a Vineyard Be Carbon Neutral?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Unless he’s been in a cave for the past five years without access to any kind of media, it is impossible for a winegrape grower not to have been confronted with the concept of a vineyard’s carbon footprint, or to have come across someone claiming to have a carbon-neutral vineyard.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Cary M. Greene
 

Allow Vintage Dating  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
A winery might have plenty of reasons to use a vintage date on an “American” or other country appellation wine. But under longstanding federal regulations, wineries don’t have the option, since country appellation wines are prohibited from bearing a vintage date.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Jim Gordon
 

You've Gotta Know When to Hold 'Em  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Sacramento, Calif. -- Nat DiBuduo of the Allied Grape Growers spoke at the State of the Industry session at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in late January.

DiBuduo, a grapegrower himself, focused on the current supply of California grapes by variety and gave cautious advice about what varieties might be worth planting more of.

He said Chardonnay was in a mostly balanced situation of supply and demand. Sauvignon Blanc looks weak to stable, and he advised growers not to plant more.

Cabernet Sauvignon did not increase in supply, and demand for the variety is still good, but DiBuduo cautioned not to plant more without a contract.

Grafting-over and pullouts of Merlot vines have been common recently, to match the weaker demand. Now the outlook is stable. Pinot Noir demand is strong, but DiBuduo expects the supply will continue to grow through 2012 based on recent plantings, and he didn’t advise planting even more.

Syrah demand remains weak. Zinfandel acreage is decreasing due to lower demand for white Zinfandel. Don’t plant Zinfandel, he advised, but don’t pull out any old-vine Zinfandel, “because you just can’t plant new old vines.”

Unified 2010
 
Christine and Jim Hart represent Hart Family Winery of California's Temecula Valley.
 
Unified 2010
 
Cynthia Bennett seeks innovations she can put to use at Sogn Valley Vineyard in Kenyon, Minn.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Wine Review Weekly

by Wine Opinions
 

February 22, 2010  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Syrah wines from Sonoma County get the attention of the San Francisco Chronicle tasting panel this week.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Wine Review Weekly

by Wine Opinions
 

February 8, 2010  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Wine columnist Eric Asimov, writing in the New York Times, has mostly faint priase for Pinot Gris wines from Oregon. In the San Jose Mercury News, columnist Laurie Daniel reports glowingly on many wines from the Ribera del Duero.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Tasting Blind Is Not Just for Critics  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Do you as a winemaker hope that wine writers and trade buyers taste your wine blind? Do you want them to base their decisions on what’s in the tasting glass, or do you want them to carry along their prejudices against your AVA, your brand, your price-point or, God forbid, your personality?

I am guessing that most winemakers would say, “Yes: I want my wines to be judged blind.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

With Fermenters, Does Size Matter?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
When it comes to fermenter size, is smaller always more beautiful? Most of us are pretty well hard-wired to think that’s true.

Quick now, summon up an image of a small fermentation vessel; what probably comes to mind is a little old (or earnest young) winemaker, doing a hand punch-down, eagerly trying to tease some terroir out of the fruit.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Grounded Grapegrowing

by Glenn McGourty
 

Back to the Future: Dry Farming  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
California is in some respects reaching the limits of its water resources. The various stakeholders that need water are now starting to actively compete for this important “public trust resource.” Essentially, the state of California owns and controls the use of all surface water -- and, in some instances, groundwater as well.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Pietro Buttitta
 

Sans Soufre  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Sans soufre. Without sulfur. Everything sounds more profound in French.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Kate Lavin
 

Rock Wall Shows Off New Space  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Alameda, Calif. -- Artist Shauna Rosenblum grew up learning about winemaking from her father, Kent Rosenblum, whose home winemaking hobby eventually grew to include world-class Zinfandel created in a cellar on Alameda Island, between San Francisco and Oakland.

During the past year, the father-and-daughter team have grown another dream into reality: the Rock Wall Wine Co., where they can not only produce wine together -- the setup also allows seven other small wineries to produce their wares under one roof, Building 24, a former airplane hangar on a retired naval base.

In December, the Rosenblums showcased their own Rock Wall Wines along with the other wineries at Rock Wall: Blacksmith Cellars, Carica Wines, Ehrenberg Cellars, JRE Wines, R&B Cellars and Virgo Cellars. The event, labeled a holiday bazaar, included the opportunity to take photos with Santa, listen to live music, take winery tours and taste everything from unreleased sparkling Grenache to a Chenin Blanc varietal to late-harvest Zinfandel.

For more information about Rock Wall’s urban winery concept -- or to link to any of its member wineries -- visit rockwallwineco.com.

John Choppy
 
John Choppy pours Rock Wall Wines 2007
Petite Sirah from Mendocino County.
Holiday Bazaar
 
Guests Leanna Bradford and Marilyn Byus
don festive hats for the Holiday Bazaar
Open House.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Wine Review Weekly

by Wine Opinions
 

February 1, 2010  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Wine columnist Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post has lots of nice things to say for Malbec wines from Argentina, while in the Nashville Tennesean wine writer Frank Sutherland offers praise for the Carmenere wines of Chile.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Keep the Green Message Simple  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Could it be that the wine industry’s considerable effort to go green and then to communicate this movement to customers has failed? Even worse than that, could the whole thing be on the verge of backfiring and turning wine drinkers off the whole concept?

I took those questions home from last month’s Green Wine Summit in Santa Rosa, Calif.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Geo-Scientists Dig Into Terroir  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • After decades in which the notion of terroir was mostly embraced by wine writers and others in romantic, personal-experience terms, scientists are now furthering our understanding of it.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Certification 101: What Suits Your Vineyard?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Participating in a sustainable certification program adds credibility to value-add claims about grapes and wine.
     
  • There are three basic types of certification standards, two of which are common for grapegrowing and winery operations.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Jason Haas
 

Does Social Media Sell? No, But Use It Anyway  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

In early November, I sat on an industry panel in Paso Robles, Calif., to share ideas about the possibilities of social networking. The three of us on the panel were chosen because we were early adopters of blogs, Facebook, and/or Twitter.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Kate Lavin
 

Going Green on Their Own Terms  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

San Luis Obispo, Calif. -- Does green farming net greenbacks for farmers? In preparing its annual Sustainable Ag Expo held Nov. 16-17, the Central Coast Vineyard Team saved that key question for the last session, Sustainability Initiatives in the Marketplace.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Enology vs. the Economy  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
What the wine industry needs to remember about the current economic recession is that it won't last forever. It will run its course in due time, with the help of federal stimulus funds and new vintages. Vintners and growers need to be ready when the economic arrows start to point up again.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Cold Soak Purists Reveal Reasoning  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Cold soaks (several days of pre-fermentation maceration of crushed or whole grapes before the onset of yeast and ethanol) have become a popular technique in the industry, starting with Pinot Noir and moving beyond.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Kent Benson
 

Grapes: They Are Varieties, Not Varietals  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Varietal is the spice of life. I know; it should be: Variety is the spice of life. Judging by the way the wine industry uses the term varietal, you would think the term variety has outlived its usefulness.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Kate Lavin
 

Mendocino Hits the Road  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Sixty-five Mendocino vintners came to San Francisco armed with wine and stories to share April 7, when the Mendocino Winegrape & Wine Commission (MWWC) held its first Taste of Mendocino event at the Presidio's Golden Gate Club. According to the MWWC, the afternoon tasting was the largest sampling of Mendocino-grown wines ever held in San Francisco.

Alternative text
 
Ranna Khoury and her father Nadiem Khoury (left) pour at the growers' showcase in Santa Rosa. Karen Dennison (right), grower relations rep with Constellation Wines, meets vineyard owners.
 
The event, open exclusively to trade and media, highlighted the environmentally responsible mind-set of Mendocino winegrowers, many of whom used the opportunity to discuss sustainable, organic and Biodynamic farming practices with attendees.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Who Owns Your Label?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Wines & Vines  reported online in March that dozens if not hundreds of U.S. wineries could lose their ability to market their products in Europe if they continue to use certain common wine terms on their labels. A deadline set by the European Union years ago arrived, and EU officials now consider U.S.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Judges on Trial  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Wine competitions remain a controversial--and still crucial--part of the marketing of wine.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Introducing the Stewardship Index  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Farmers in nontraditional winegrowing regions are showing an interest in sustainable practices and guidelines.
     
  • Outcome-based programs allow growers to see their progress along the sustainable winegrowing continuum.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Tom Wark
 

Updating the Supply Chain  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
If the current economic downturn has demonstrated any one key point, it is that good economic times mask the shackling effect that archaic regulations have on commercial activity.

This point has been driven home in particular for the wineries and specialty wine retailers who have been hurt worst by the current economy.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Kate Lavin
 

Rhone Rangers mix taste, trade  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

San Francisco, Calif. -- More than 125 wineries gathered at Fort Mason's Festival Pavilion to pour Rhône favorites Syrah, Grenache and Viognier, as an eager public also sampled blends and lesser-known varietals such as Mourvèdre, Roussanne and Marsanne.

Faces & Forums
 
Cheryl Quist (left), executive director of Rhone Rangers, surveys the scene at the grand tasting. Larry Schaffer (right), who spoke about Rhône blends on a panel, holds a bottle from Epiphany Cellars.
PHOTO: Bridget Williams
 

But the highlights of the March 21-22 event were the seminars leading up to the grand tasting. San Francisco Chronicle wine editor Jon Bonné moderated a discussion about growing cool-climate Syrah in Pinot country.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

An All-American Appellation  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
This month's column revisits a topic I first addressed here in March 2007. Then just a discussion of truth in labeling, now it has evolved into a concrete proposal that would rectify a very poorly conceived section of the federal rules on wine labeling. An interstate coalition of winegrape grower groups has now petitioned the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB) to revise the rules.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Yeast Genetics Without GMOs  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Two yeast producers, Phyterra and Maurivin, are poised to bring low-H2S-producing yeast strains to market, the result of different research and development methodologies that both make use of modern genetic analysis techniques.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Rob Davis
 

What Chardonnay Taught Me About Site Selection  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

'Great wines are associated with particular vineyards,' Tom Jordan told me in 1976. I agree. When I was a student at the University of California, Davis, my enology professor, Dr.

 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Wines & Vines
 

WAWGG Hosts Bigger Crowd  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Alternative text
 
Walla Walla Community College students Quentin Mylet (left) and Michael Penn received scholarships. Philippe Michel (left) shares a laugh with Allen Shoup during the trade show reception.
PHOTO: Peter Mitham
 
More than 1,300 growers and vintners set an attendance record at the annual meeting of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers during the first week of February in Kennewick, Wash.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Huge Tax Increase Appears Dead  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
California grapegrowers and winemakers in the second week of February exhaled with relief upon hearing that no support materialized in the leadership of the state legislature for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's misnamed "Nickel-a-Drink" tax proposal. The state's budget crisis continued, but it was clear that the proposed tax increase of 640% on wine had no legs to stand on--at least for now.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Weighing the Term 'Balance'  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • "Balance" is one of the most desired qualities in wine, but the term turns out to mean different things to different people, and in different circumstances.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Elicitors Put Vines in Charge  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
In keeping with this issue's theme of vineyard equipment and technology, I will discuss a topic that readers might not think of right away when contemplating technological advances in viticulture. Not only have there been advances in things like vineyard equipment, computer software and new approaches to canopy management, there also have been advances in pesticide chemistry. Much of the change has been driven by the need for pesticides that are effective but have less negative environmental impact than the old pesticide chemistries.

Plant host inducers, or "elicitors," belong to one of the most intriguing classes of the new generation of pesticides. These chemicals do just what their name implies: When sprayed on a grapevine, they induce or elicit a chemical response that is intended to control or prevent pest problems--or, in relation to pathogens, prevent them from causing disease.

    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Advances in pesticide chemistry have been driven by the need for pesticides that are effective but more environmentally friendly than the old pesticides.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Hank Salvo
 

Seven Key Actions to Ride Out the Economy  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
All the economic forecasts I read for a global turnaround vary from eight months to 18 months or more. The wine industry is showing that it is not immune to the impacts of this recession. While we all tend to get wrapped up in the operations of our businesses, now more than ever it is important to step back and take key actions to grow cash.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Kate Lavin
 

Unified Boosts Attendance  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Alternative text
 
Jon Fredrikson (left) discusses California's proposed 'nickel-a-drink' tax. (right) Greg Gessner (left) and Chris Phelps chat outside a session at Unified.
LEFT PHOTO: Ken Freeze
 
Sacramento, Calif. -- About 11,900 wine industry professionals attended the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in late January, topping last year's attendance figure by 400.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Jane Firstenfeld
 

Keep the Green Light On  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
What happens when you put five gods of green on one panel to talk about business? At the Green Wine Summit in December, you got a standing-room-only audience, unexpected humor and a reality check about the famous triple bottom line of sustainability. It was inspiring in unanticipated ways.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

DAP: Easy Does It  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • DAP--diammonium phosphate, a source of inorganic nitrogen--is a popular and highly useful additive in the wine industry. There is increasing evidence, however, that DAP should be used carefully to avoid negative consequences of over-dosage.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

The Challenge of Barrel Buying  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
I feel for the unlucky winemakers who have to make barrel-buying decisions now for their 2009 harvests--and that's most of you out there. It's too early in the year to estimate the size of your crop, yet if you wait until late spring or early summer, when the fruit has set and you can make a rough estimate of yields, you may miss getting the barrels you want at reasonable prices.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Kate Lavin
 

Winemakers Unite in San Francisco  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Faces and Forums
 
Joann and Matt Reidy's wine label (left), Connor Brennan Cellars, is named after their sons.John Tarabini (right) is president of the San Francisco Wine Association and Damian Rae Winery.
PHOTO: Bridget Williams
 
San Francisco, Calif. -- Making wine for their Damian Rae label at Crushpad the last four years, John and Sharol Tarabini befriended dozens of fellow boutique winery owners. The family-owned wineries there produced between 50 and 500 cases annually, and the principals possessed a love for sharing the wine they'd made.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

The Outlook for Wine Sales  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
How morbidly appropriate that the wine business was rocked by a sales slump of historic proportions just as our staff prepared this 90th anniversary edition of Wines & Vines. No one in the business that I've spoken to can remember a more depressing period for sales than what happened in the second half of 2008.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Why Does IPM Lag In Europe and the U.S.?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
I recently returned from the ENDURE Conference in La Grande Motte, France. I was invited to give a plenary talk on the topic of impediments California growers face in adopting Integrated Pest Management (IPM), and how to get around them.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Nat DiBuduo
 

Sustainable Growing Starts With Pricing  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The surplus of winegrapes in California appears to be over. Due to drought, frost, spring winds and heat spells, the 2008 winegrape crop is estimated to be smaller than 2007's statewide. I expect the 2008 crop will come in below 3 million tons--significantly lower than the 3.4 million tons estimated by California Agricultural Statistic Service.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Kate Lavin
 

Expo Promotes Green Growth  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Julian Malone
 
Julian Malone of Scheid Vineyards takes an electric ATV from Barefoot Motors, one of dozens of exhibitors, out for a spin around the lawn of the Monterey Fairgrounds.
 
Monterey, Calif. -- About 350 viticulturists and other specialty farmers soaked up information on eco-friendly business practices during the Sustainable Ag Expo held at the Monterey Fairgrounds. The Central Coast Vineyard Team organized the Nov.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Wanted: More Local Growers  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Surplus and shortage cycles in the California wine business are well documented in the news media, because California still makes more than 90% of U.S. wine. An oversupply of California grapes and bulk wine has soaked the market since the freak-of-nature 2005 vintage.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Multiplying Malolactics  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • More malolactic bacteria strains are available, offering a variety of performance and sensory attributes.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Mike Lynch
 

The World's Best Job  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Son, you need to get a job.

I applied at Starbucks. They don't need help right now.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Kate Lavin
 

Wine 2.0 Unites Wine and Tech  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Wine 2.0
 
Vie Winery's Barry Dorf, Rachel Blatt and Todd Seaver, from left, say the winery's name reflects the values of celebration, life and friendship--the winery was founded by a group of friends.
PHOTOS: Kate Lavin
San Francisco, Calif. -- Electronic devices powered up and wine flowed April 24 in San Francisco, where winemaking facility Crushpad hosted Wine 2.0, an event designed to foster partnerships among members of the technology and wine industries.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Taking the Pulse of the Central Region  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
It had been too long since I visited wine country in the central part of the continent, so I welcomed the opportunity to attend the "License to Steal" wine marketing conference on Lake Erie in early April (see Faces & Forums).
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Biodynamics In the Cellar  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Biodynamic winemaking
 
The opinions of early Biodynamics influences--Rudolf Steiner, creator of the movement, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Hippocrates (from left)--were in sharp opposition to those of René Descartes (right), who saw the Earth as being comprised of many systems unrelated to each other.
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Biodynamic growing practices in the vineyard have gotten a good deal of publicity, but what about Biodynamics in the cellar?
     
  • Biodynamic growing practices in the vineyard have gotten a good deal of publicity, but what about Biodynamics in the cellar?
     
  • Winemaking guidelines from the Demeter Biodynamic certification organization primarily focus on things that should not be done to wine.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

NGWI's Progress: Funding, Research and Education  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • The National Grape and Wine Initiative (NGWI), has set out to build support for research, extension and outreach throughout the United States.
     
  • NGWI is focused on improving product quality, consumer education, production efficiency and sustainable practices.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Karen Ross
 

Remember GWSS? You Bet We Do  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
I just finished reading the March 2008 Wines & Vines article, "Anyone Remember GWSS?" While the glassy-winged sharpshooter has dropped from the headlines, few winegrape growers need reminders that GWSS is still a threat to California's grape and wine industry.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Kate Lavin
 

Harvest Season For Education  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Harvest Season For Education
 
From left, Ken Wilson (seated), Dennis Atkinson, Jim Collin, Rodney Schatz, Jeff Frey, Dennis Wittchow and Gordon Lent (seated), discuss the merits of a bottle of port March 4 in Sacramento.
PHOTOS: Ken Freeze
 
Sacramento, Calif. -- California winegrape growers helped raise thousands of dollars to fund scholarships for vineyard employees' children March 4, when a fundraising dinner offered growers the opportunity to mingle with state lawmakers in Sacramento.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Making Money the Hard Way  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The vitality of the Oregon wine industry struck me while spending a few days in Eugene recently. The No. 4 state in wine production has always hoed its own row, and now gets to enjoy the fruits of that hard labor.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Going Wild In the Cellar  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Wild Yeast
What's in it? Where will it go? Fermenting with wild yeast can be risky business, but for many daring winemakers, it's a risk worth taking.
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Wild yeast fermentations have entered the high-end winemaking mainstream.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Bill Nelson
 

'Serving Facts' Serve Whom?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The Tax and Trade Bureau of the Treasury Department (TTB) is currently reviewing comments on a rulemaking proposal to mandate a "serving facts" information panel on all alcohol beverage labels, in type larger than two millimeters, set off in a box, and specifying alcohol content by volume, calorie and nutrient information (carbohydrate, fat and protein).
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Peter Mitham
 

Sustainability In Washington  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Sustainability In Washington
Andrea Anderson, Washington Wine Grape Industry Foundation with WAWGG's Vicky Scharlau.
Sustainability In Washington
Gary Grove, WSU Prosser and Wayne Wilcox, of Cornell's Geneva, N.Y. research station.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

A Closer Look at the Elephant  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
California's Grape Crush Report reminds me of the fable about a village in India inhabited by blind men, that has its first visit from an elephant. They perceive the elephant quite differently. You know, one touches the elephant's leg and says an elephant is like a pillar.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Anyone Remember GWSS?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • The glassy-winged sharpshooter and the threat it poses for spreading Pierce's disease, was headline news 10 years ago; today it gets much less attention, though the problem has by no means gone away.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Brainstorming on Pierce's Disease  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Brainstorming on Pierce's Disease
Many attendees appreciated the introduction of roundtable sessions, where researchers discussed specific topics.
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • At the seventh Pierce's Disease Research Symposium, the wine industry got a progress report, and scientists brainstormed about new research approaches to the problem.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Tyler Thomas
 

Our Skepticism of Science  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
People love the phrase "in vino veritas"--in wine there is truth. But I wonder sometimes whether "in vino scientia" holds as well.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Jim Gordon
 

Unified Symposium Sets New Record  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
2008 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium
John Fredrickson of the Gomberg Fredrickson Report noted that California wine shipments were up by 2% last year, but grew more slowly than imports.
PHOTOS: Ken Freeze/Brown Miller Communications
 
Sacramento, Calif. -- The turnout was so big for the Wednesday morning session of the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium that one speaker suggested that next year's event be moved to a stadium. He was exaggerating, but organizers of the expanded four-day event said this year's attendance was up by 1,100 over last year's, and set a new record of 11,500.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

A Close Look at Barrels  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
If you've been to Europe in the last couple of years you know how little respect the dollar gets there. The traveler's rough math is: one euro equals one and a half dollars. So the 50-euro per day rental car is about $75 to you.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

'Food-Friendly' Winemaking  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Food-Friendly Winemaking
Wine That Loves names its wines for popular American foods to make pairing a no-brainer.
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Food and wine pairing is a major preoccupation of the wine media.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Josh Hermsmeyer
 

Direct Packaging Is Lame  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
I'll get this out of the way right up front: Direct-to-consumer wine packaging is lame. Minimalist. Underwhelming.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Wines & Vines staff
 

Pierce's Disease Symposium  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Pierce's Disease Symposium
Attendees sipped wine and mingled during poster sessions.
 
San Diego, Calif. -- The California Department of Food and Agriculture brought together top researchers, concerned grapegrowers and other industry stakeholders to share insights and progress reports on the continuing battle against Pierce's disease (PD). Held in San Diego on Dec.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Residual Sugar-- 'How Sweet It Is'  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Several decades back, before most of you could drink wine legally, before half of you were born, comedian Jackie Gleason built a career around the catchphrase, "How sweet it is," (revived for the title of his 1966 album, released by Columbia Records, at right) a pithy celebration of someone else's bad fortune.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Do 'AVA Owners' Have Rights?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The TTB took a little pressure off its proposed AVA regulation overhaul in December when it extended the comment period on two controversial notices until March 20, 2008. This was a good move. But it also extends the period of limbo for proposed AVAs seeking approval, which is not good for the growers and wineries involved.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Power of Technology  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • New technologies--particularly large wine information databases and genetic analysis methods--have enormous potential for affecting how both consumers and the industry understand and deal with wine.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Rough Start for National Standards  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • A California company, SCS, has drafted a set of sustainability standards for agriculture, which may be approved within three years.
     
  • Consumers value claims of sustainability more when they are backed by third-party certification.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by By Fred Koeppel
 

Wine Label Marketing Babble: When will it end?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
If I want to read a book, I don't pick up a bottle of wine, but so many labels nowadays carry elaborate narratives and back-stories that are supposed to make the wine more "interesting" or "enticing" or "hip" (especially hip) that buying wine is like reading the back of the cereal box at breakfast.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Laurie Daniel
 

Marketing Sustainability  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Centaral Coast's Sustainable Ag Expo
Attendees, from left, Fritz Helzer, Mesa Vineyard Management (MVM); Jim Seay; Bryan Wallingford, MVM; Greg Hibbits, MVM; Stasi Seay, Diageo Chateau & Estates; Darryl Salm, Valley Farm Management.
PHOTOS: Dave Coronel
 
Paso Robles, Calif. -- As more growers and wineries adopt sustainable practices, how can they get that message out to consumers? Do consumers even care if a wine is sustainably produced? Sustainability in the marketplace was a key topic at the Central Coast Vineyard Team's third annual Sustainable Ag Expo, held Nov. 1 and 2 at the Paso Robles Event Center.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Sounding the Alarm on Leafroll Disease  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
California's senior viticulture advisor, the man charged with outreach to growers around the state, believes that an infection currently spreading in vineyards is potentially a bigger problem than the phylloxera/rootstock fiasco of the 1990s. The infection is leafroll disease.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Mysteries of Extended Maceration  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Extended maceration--leaving wine on the skins after fermentation is completed--is a well-known but not universally accepted technique in fine red winemaking. Winemakers report very different results.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Jennifer Rosen
 

Sticks & Stones  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Remember Rhine wine, Mountain Chablis and Hearty Burgundy? When all fizz was Champagne, and Sherry and Madeira could be found in the cooking aisle?

That was then. A recent World Trade Organization agreement cracked down on our use of those names, along with Burgundy, Chianti, Claret, Haut-Sauterne, Hock, Marsala, Malaga, Moselle, Port, Retsina, Sauternes and Tokay.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

The Power of the Package  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Among at least a dozen good ideas for articles that I gathered at the UC Davis Wine Executive Program in March, one was particularly relevant to the main theme of this issue, which is packaging. The wine industry so far has been fortunate not to have to fret over packaging to the same extent as many other consumer product industries.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Jumping to Conclusions About Climate Change  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • The physical principles of atmospheric warming as a result of an increase in CO2 are simple and well understood. While many still debate the details and the magnitude of climate change, fewer and fewer people are denying it outright.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Tom Ferrell
 

Points: A Winemaker's Take on Critics  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
His cellar was new. From the vintages, it looked like he had collected wine for about a decade. I spied a couple of my wines on the rack, so I commented facetiously, "It's obvious your wines are well chosen.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Letting Oak Chips Out of the Bag  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
It's time to bring oak alternatives further out in the open. Continuing to hide these very common winemaking tools invites the wine trade and the public to conclude that there is something wrong with barrel staves, oak chips, balls, spirals and sticks. But there is nothing inherently wrong.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

More on Toothsome Tannin Terms  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • As part of the trend toward emphasizing grape maturity and "picking on flavor," the terminology of "green" versus "ripe" tannin has become commonplace.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Mike Lynch
 

Slipping Into Darkness, or: The Gospel Truth of Pinot Noir  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been 40 years since my last confession."

"You're telling me you haven't been to confession since the year 'Mr.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Jim Gordon
 

Faces & Forums  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Alternative text
Keith and Camille Klingele, left, of Snipes Canyon Ranch in the Yakima Valley, greet fellow Yakima grower Dick Boushey.
Photos: Joel Waite
Alternative text
Christina Messer, director of the Washington state field office of the USDA-NASS, toasts winemaker Gordon Hill of Milbrandt Vineyards.
A new attendance record of 1,056 was set at the Washington Association of Winegrape Growers (WAWGG) annual meeting, conference and trade show held in Kennewick, Wash. Growers, suppliers and winemakers gathered Feb.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

The Un-American Appellation  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The issue of whether wines labeled as "American" should be allowed to contain 25% of wine from other countries has been simmering for two years, and now it's starting to boil. Currently, federal regulations include this loophole--which is big enough to sail a tanker full of Australian Shiraz through--and a number of American winegrape growers don't like it.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

The Commodification Of the Winegrape  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Winegrapes may not become a commodity in the true sense of the word, like corn, wheat, soybeans or cotton. However, the wine industry is changing and seems to be heading in that direction.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Dan Berger
 

A Warning Label About Nothing  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
If the U.S. government gets its way, wine bottles could well have four information labels imposed on them--and one of them would be a fraud.

One of the labels being sought is simply a statement of how many "standard drinks" are in a bottle of wine, based entirely on the wine's alcohol content.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Jim Gordon
 

Faces & Forums  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Unified Symposium
Karen Ross (at lectern) of CAWG welcomed the audience before a program on human resources with (from left) Yesenia Plascencia, Ron Barsamian, Donna Bowman, Fred Philpott, and Andrew Waterhouse.
 
Indications of how positive an economic outlook the wine industry currently faces were not hard to find at the annual Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento, Calif., Jan. 23-25.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

Winemaker, Know Thy Barrels  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
I bought my first wine barrel from Mike Grgich 16 years ago. I had interviewed him for a magazine cover story at about that time, and I was impressed with how neat and clean the Grgich Hills cellar looked, and how meticulous the winery's regimen of tasting, racking, topping and sanitation was.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Toothsome Tannin Terms--Part I  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Tannin is the subject of its own vocabulary, a series of word--hard, soft, green, ripe, etc.--which suggest that different sensations in the mouth are produced by different kinds of tannins.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Mike Lynch
 

The Press Release  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
A dialogue between PR pro and prospective client.

"Do you write press releases?"

"I do."

"Good, I need a press release.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

The AVF's Search for Answers  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
"It seems to work for us, but we don't really know why. There's not enough science to base it on."

I lost track of how many times I heard this quote from winemakers and vineyard managers last year.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Getting Ready for the GMO Debate  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • There is surprisingly little dialogue in the U.S. wine community about GMOs, perhaps because no genetically engineered winegrapes are nearing commercial availability.
     
  • Powdery mildew, Pierce's disease and bunch rot organisms are the primary targets of current U.S.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Christopher Sawyer
 

Defending the Sommeliers  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
In the September issue of W&V, I read a thought-provoking editorial by Bryan Garbutt, "Getting Past The Millennial Gatekeepers." In a nutshell, Garbutt argued that many of the young sommeliers and wine buyers, 21-29 years of age, are basically too adventurous in their selections of wines and out of the loop about the concept of brand loyalty.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Faces & Forums

by Jim Gordon
 

Faces & Forums  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Napa Viticultural Fair
Pete Richmond, a director of the NVG, with Jennifer Kopp, the organization's executive director.
Photos: John Putnam & Jim Gordon
Napa Viticultural Fair
Vineyard manager and boutique winery owner Ron Wicker (left) gets a glassful from NVG director Dale Brown during the post-fair wine hour.
Three substantive seminars for grapegrowers and their crews highlighted the Napa Valley Viticultural Fair Nov. 14, providing education on leafroll virus, the cost to growers of extended hang time and, en Español, an overview of grapevine pests and diseases.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Larry Walker
 

Let's Hear It For The ASEV  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) was established at UC Davis in 1950. The goal was to improve the quality of American wines by beginning in the vineyards and working through to the wine in the bottle. No one can doubt that in the 56 years since then, American wines have improved.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Beyond Bulk  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Bulk wine's traditional low-rent image is long out-of-date.
     
  • With the proliferation of custom-crush facilities, pricey vintages are emerging from the secondary market.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Larry Walker
 

Nothing Is Revealed  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The international conference on terroir held earlier this year at UC Davis was a stimulating and, at times, provocative meeting.

There were, in the end, no answers to the puzzle of terroir. Or rather, there were many little answers, but no big answers.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Larry Walker
 

It's A Wrap  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
There is a bar on the Plaza Mayor in Madrid that sells wine out of a traditional goatskin bag. Tourists must have taken a million pictures of the wine-filled goatskins in that bar. "Isn't that quaint? Here it is the 21st century and they are still selling wine out of goatskins, just like a thousand years ago.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Fighting Invasive Species  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
    HIGHLIGHTS
     

     
  • Invasive pests don't bring their natural predators with them.
     
  • Inspection and education are under-funded.
     
  • An innocent "souvenir" can carry unsuspected dangers.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Brian Lamborn
 

Label Talk: Let's Make It Meaningful  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Like so many of the wines being produced today, wine terms themselves are becoming homogenized and, as a result, obsolete. The term "boutique" is a great example.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Larry Walker
 

The Impact Of Vineyard Technology  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The use of new vineyard technology and related technical advances can make a huge difference to the wine in the bottle, that's common knowledge. But the impact may go beyond that. Some industry observers believe that the mind-boggling grape harvest of 2005 may be traced to technical advances in irrigation technology and trellis applications.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

The Tannin Addition Bandwagon  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Judging from the recent rise in popularity of tannin additions in California winemaking, you could be excused for thinking grapes from the Golden State must not contain any tannins of their own. And you might be tempted to feel sorry for the poor souls who made wine for nearly 7,000 years without benefit of these apparently indispensable aids.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Lucian Dressel
 

Have Intrastate Wine Competitions Outlived Their Usefulness?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Many states, such as New York, Missouri and Illinois, still have "closed" yearly wine competitions that out-of-state wineries are barred from entering. This is in sharp contrast to states such as Indiana, where the competition is "open" and entries are encouraged from all 50 states and foreign countries.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Larry Walker
 

Kicking The Dirt  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
It has become a wine public relations cliché that all great wine starts with the grower in the vineyard. But like many other clichés, it is based on solid reality.

This is our grower issue of Wines & Vines.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Environmental Management Systems  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
In my October 2004 column, I proposed three challenges to implementing sustainable viticulture: defining it, measuring it and implementing it. Since then I have become familiar with an approach to sustainable planning and implementation that appears to be a great way to meet these three challenges. It is known as Environmental Management Systems, or simply EMS.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Larry Walker
 

Look for the (Global) Black Cloud  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The optimism was so thick in the aisles of the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento a few weeks ago that you could scoop it onto your apple pie and have Good News du Jour a la Mode.

Everyone I talked to was filled with good cheer. There was talk of the United States being the world's biggest wine market by the end of the decade.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Larry Walker
 

Keep Those Barrels Rolling  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The production of barrels has come a long way since wine was shipped in palmwood casks from Armenia to Babylon thousands of years ago, B.C. In the following centuries, wooden barrels were used to transport wines in most areas of the winemaking world.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

Making Pinot Noir  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Is Pinot Noir really all that hard a wine to make? Or is it just that Pinot producers whine more than other winemakers?

The possibility that Pinot Noir is really an easy wine has been haunting me ever since two commercial winemakers I consulted for another Pinot article--both from wineries featured in the film "Sideways"--volunteered that it is basically a piece of cake.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Mat Garretson
 

Another Hot Topic  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Be it fashion, cars or food, American consumers are seemingly obsessed with fads, and the wine trade is no exception. Each and every year sees the emergence of a darling new buzz word that's bandied about by our nation's retailers, restaurateurs, distributors and wine press. Canopy management, terroir, brettanomyces and TCA have all had their day in the sun.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Editor's Letter

by Larry Walker
 

Getting Started  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Good grief!

It's another new year. And with that new year, new plans, new goals, new dreams.

For those of us in the wine industry, the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, to be held Jan.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

The Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Lodi Rules Certification
The Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission (LWWC) recently launched a third-party certification program for the sustainable production of winegrapes, The Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing. It is California's first regional sustainable winegrowing certification program that has been peer reviewed by scientists, consultants and environmental organizations.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »
 

 
 

Viewpoint

by Jamie Goode
 

GM Vines: Is The Price Worth Paying  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
The possible introduction of genetically modified (GM) grapevines into California vineyards is currently causing heated debate. At one extreme, scientists are so familiar with the use of genetic modification as a research technique, they can't see what all the fuss is about. At the other extreme, tree-hugging environmentalists see GM crops as a threat to be resisted at all costs.
 
READ MORE »
 
SEE EARLIER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN »