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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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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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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.

 
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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.

 
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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
 

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.

 
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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.
 
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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
 

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.

 
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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.
 
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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.

 
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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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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.

 
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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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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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
 

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.

 
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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.

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

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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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
 

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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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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