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December 2016
by Kate Lavin


Silver Oak buys vineyard
in Alexander Valley

Silver Oak Cellars of Napa Valley purchased 30 acres in the Alexander Valley appellation of Sonoma County, where it has long owned a vineyard. Silver Oak’s CEO David Duncan said the property, dubbedCrazy Creek, will be replanted to the winery’s signature varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon, which will be crushed at a new winery the company is constructing, also in the Alexander Valley. The new production facility is expected to open in time for the 2017 harvest. Silver Oak is the parent company of Pinot Noir specialist Twomey Cellars.


Private equity group buys Merriman Vineyard
Ackley Beverage Group, a private equity investment firm based in Seattle, Wash., purchased Merriman Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA of Oregon. The 44-acre vineyard was planted in 1999 mostly to Pinot Noir with a few acres of Chardonnay. Merriman Vineyard will now supply more grapes for Montinore Estate, which Ackley Beverage Group partnered with in February. The vineyard is one of the largest Demeter-certified Biodynamic vineyards in Oregon.

California groups win Specialty Crop Grants
The California Department of Food and Agriculture announced the 2016 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program award recipients, which included Zinfandel Advocates and Producers, the Wine Institute, Livermore Valley Winegrowers and Monterey Winegrowers. In addition to these winners, which were granted funding for wine marketing and promotional programs, industry researchers received funding to study ice nucleating bacteria to prevent frost in vineyards, develop tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon in vineyards, and to investigate parasitoids to combat the brown marmorated stink bug.

Vandals destroy 66,000 gallons of Ontario wine
Police are searching for the person responsible for tampering with large holding tanks of wine at Pelee Island Winery in Kingsville, Ontario, on the night of Oct. 30. About 250,000 liters (66,000 gallons) of wine worth $3.3 million (Canadian) had to be destroyed, according to local reports. According to Wines Vines Analytics, the winery was founded in 1980 and produces 350,000 cases of wine per year.

Winemaker indicted
in fraud case

A grand jury indicted 38-year-old Jeff Hill on Nov. 2 for falsely claiming that grapes, juice and wine grown in Lake, Sonoma and Solano counties were from Napa Valley and charging clients accordingly. Hill was charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office with mail and wire fraud and arrested in Clovis, Calif., more than a year after pleading no contest to grand theft for ordering grapes purchased by Del Dotto Vineyards to be transferred to his own Hill Wine Co.

Stink bugs in Washington
Washington State University extension agents have reported an increased population of brown marmorated stink bugs in eastern Washington state, with the Walla Walla grapegrowing area under particular threat. The pest has been known to feed on wine grapes, which can lead to bunch rots, according to farm advisors, and the odor excreted as a defense mechanism has been proven to affect sensory characteristics in juice and finished wines.

Cuomo says DtC bill would ‘break other states’ laws’

For the second time, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill seeking to amend the New York State Liquor Authority’s ability to revoke, suspend or cancel permits to sell alcoholic beverages. Assembly Bill 10248 and the one before it likely were responses to the liquor authority’s attempt to penalize Empire Wine, which is believed to have shipped wine to states that do not permit direct-to-consumer wine shipments. Cuomo released a statement underlining his reasoning for rejecting the legislation: “This bill would allow state licensees to break other states’ laws with no fear of reprisal.”

Forklift driver killed
at winery

An employee of Coastal Viticultural Consultants was killed Oct. 3, when he was crushed by a forklift he’d been driving. The worker, identified as Arnulfo Pozos, 27, was driving the forklift down a steep road on a client’s property in the Napa Valley, where co-workers said he was loading grapes. No one witnessed the accident, and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health opened an investigation.

Estimated 2016 global wine production down 5%
The International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) reported that estimated wine production fell 5% to 259 million hectoliters (6.86 billion gallons) in 2016, and the decline was “a consequence of climatic events.” The total was the lowest in 20 years, according to OIV. Italy was the leading wine producer with 1.29 billion gallons (although its volume was down 1.2% from the previous year), followed by France at 1.11 billion gallons (down 5.7%) followed by Spain with 1 billion gallons. The United States had the fourth-highest 2016 wine production with 594 million gallons.

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