Commentary from Wines & Vines Editorial Staff
 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.

 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.

 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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).
 
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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.
 
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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.

 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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Viewpoint

by Pietro Buttitta
 

Sans Soufre  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 
Sans soufre. Without sulfur. Everything sounds more profound in French.
 
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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.
 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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