Hello and happy weekend my people. Crazy busy week here and just as an FYI there will be no posts next week, as I will be taking my last WSET Diploma exam (fortification), so you can understand where my focus will be, I hope. This week I want to call attention to an article I wrote for Wine Enthusiast, “The Wine Industry Pledged to Improve Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity. Has Anything Changed?” This piece was a labor of love. I spoke to a lot of people in preparation for this article, some of whom aren’t even mentioned but whose insight and advice were much appreciated whilst researching and writing. I have to say one of the reasons that this piece means so much to me is that I, myself, had to confront this issue—believe it or not—while writing this article. I won’t go into detail about the who, what, where, when, why, but I will say that experiencing first-hand the ignorance within our industry, again, while writing an article on equity in the wine industry, was very telling to me just how much more work has to be done.

With that spirit in mind, I want to call out that Julia Coney—writer, educator, speaker and founder of Black Wine Professionals (who also allowed me to speak with her for the above mentioned article)—has been named one of Wine Industry’s Most Inspiring People by Wine Industry Advisor. Well deserved, indeed. She’s not only an excellent business woman, an extremely intelligent wine educator, and just a down-right nice person—she’s also on the frontlines of confronting the industry’s need for more diversity, equity, and inclusivity. But, as Julia says in this article, she cannot do it alone. We cannot rely on certain individuals to make the noise, raise the alarms, call the industry to action. This as to be a group effort.

We cannot be what we want to become by remaining who we are.
We cannot be what we want to become by remaining who we are.


As always, there’s plenty more to read. So I hope you have a good glass of wine on hand as you scroll through. Wishing all the best in the week ahead. ✌️🍷💚

Wine Enthusiast: The Wine Industry Pledged to Improve Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity. Has Anything Changed?

In 2020, several critical events caused the wine industry to reckon with the underrepresentation and mistreatment of marginalized groups in all sectors of the trade. The industry found itself under intense scrutiny from within and without. Pledges were made, black boxes were posted and money was donated. After nearly two years, have “we”—the collective wine industry—made any significant changes?
In 2020, several critical events caused the wine industry to reckon with the underrepresentation and mistreatment of marginalized groups in all sectors of the trade. The industry found itself under intense scrutiny from within and without. Pledges were made, black boxes were posted and money was donated. After nearly two years, have “we”—the collective wine industry—made any significant changes?

“We’re at the very primary version of this change, where doors are being opened and gates are being broken apart,” says Miguel de Leon, wine director of Pinch Chinese, who’s written several influential articles about social justice, equity and systemic inequalities in the wine space. But, he adds, “We run the risk of doing the bare minimum and saying that’s enough.” READ MORE

Wine’s Most Inspiring People: Julia Coney—Writer, Educator, Speaker

Over the last year and a half, Julia Coney’s influence within wine continues to deepen, inspiring wine professionals to become more thoughtful about how their work can make a meaningful impact on the industry. The day after “Blackout Tuesday,” Coney took to her Instagram account to share her experiences of racism within the wine industry, and how simply posting black squares (or continuing to ignore the problem) wasn’t going to incite change. The two-part video (titled “Racism and the Wine Industry: Your Silence is Betrayal”) garnered over 24,000 views, and prompted long-overdue conversations and necessary action around diversity and inclusion in the beverage industry.

But she didn’t stop there. READ MORE

Wine’s Most Inspiring People: Christa-Lee and Darrien McWatters, TIME Family of Wines

Change, for the McWatters, is a healthy and welcome part of life. Darrien’s journey, and her family’s reaction to her personal metamorphosis, is a powerful demonstration of the reach and power of their commitment to carefully considered advancement.

Darrien began publicly identifying as gender fluid about four years ago. But she quickly felt, she says, “the female inside of me emerge.” She then officially began the gender transition process, and completed it in 2018.

“I’ve always been a very open person, so in many ways my family wasn’t entirely shocked,” she says. “But it did take some adjustment. My dad is more old school of course, but eventually everyone realized that I was happier. We had a few great conversations about it before he died, and I’ll always be grateful for that. He never wanted me to not be who I am.” READ MORE

Decanter: WSET appoints Brampton as new CEO

Brampton will join WSET on 1 February as CEO designate and will spend two months working alongside current CEO Ian Harris, who steps down on 15 April.

Bringing with her a wealth of experience, Brampton previously spent 19 years at Treasury Wine Estates (TWE), where she most recently held the role of MD Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) from 2018 to 2021.

Brampton was also on the boards of both The Drinks Trust and the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA). READ MORE

Wine’s Most Inspiring People: Dennis Murphy—Founder & Winemaker, Caprio Cellars

Since its first release in 2010, Caprio Cellars has made a name for itself producing award-winning, 100 percent estate-grown releases. Today, the winery has expanded to three vineyards, with a winemaking style focused on Bordeaux varietal blends.

But it is how Murphy has integrated intentional, focused giving into the business model of Caprio Cellars, supporting his local community and organizations that assist people in need, that has more than earned him a place among Wine Industry Advisor’s Wine’s Most Inspiring People. READ MORE

Wine Enthusiast: Your Guide to Mezcal—And Why Agave Type Matters

Few spirits draw as many parallels with wine as mezcal. Microclimates, varying soil types, plant ripeness, fermentation and distillation techniques, along with the producers’ influence, play immense roles in mezcal production. That’s in addition to the many types of agave used to make mezcal, much like the various grape varieties used in wine.

Imagine a world where all wine was Cabernet Sauvignon. This is the case with tequila, which is but one type of mezcal made exclusively from one variety of Agave tequilana, known as “Weber Azul” or “Blue Agave.” Mezcal, on the other hand, refers to any agave distillate, and can be made anywhere in Mexico, although there are some legal restrictions on which regions can label it as such. More than 20 very different agave varieties are widely used in broader mezcal production. READ MORE

Wine’s Most Inspiring People: Donniella Winchell—Executive Director, Ohio Wine Producers Association

Growing up on a Concord grape farm, Donniella Winchell never had the desire to pursue a career in the grape or wine business. Instead, after college, she took her talents to the classroom and taught history in public schools. With 2000 years of dozens of civilizations and 180 students per semester, there was never a dull moment and always something new to learn. “Eventually, there was some kind of ‘wine gene’ that brought me back to the industry,” Winchell says. “Working in this industry—viticulture, winemaking, research, consumer events or wine education—I’ve embraced that there is always something more to learn, and then to share.” READ MORE

Wine’s Most Inspiring People: Tony Wolf—Viticulturist, Educator

Lucie Morton says she remembers when Tony Wolf first appeared on her radar. He was a recent Cornell graduate, and she was a member of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, looking to add viticultural expertise for what was then a fledging wine industry.

It was, she says, five jobs in one: grape research scientist and extension agent, professor of viticulture, communication hub and administrator. Years later, she would tell an audience at the Eastern Winery Exposition that the man she was introducing was “a kind of Hail Mary hire” who turned out to be a “winning touchdown.”

“Tony has steadfastly maintained the highest standards in each of the roles he was cast into some 30 years ago by an embryonic Virginia winegrowing industry that could not afford to hire five people,” she told the group. READ MORE

Blogs Worth a Read

Taken from the list of Blogs and other media outlets I follow regularly, here are just a few posts from this past week I think are worth a read. Shoot me a note if you have suggestions of independent media to follow or want your outlet included on that list.

The Gray Report: Chronicle Wine Competition continues in apparent defiance of Sonoma County health order

On Monday, Jan. 10, Sonoma County issued a health order prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people indoors, effective Wednesday, Jan. 12 at 12:01 a.m.

The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition began Monday Jan. 10 in Cloverdale in northern Sonoma County, and as of Jan. 12 in the afternoon, it is still going on, despite apparently being in violation of the order.

In fact, on Wednesday the competition website was updated to announce “Wine Judging is Underway!” Clicking on the link took readers to another page, “Photos of the SFCWC Wine Judging,” that shows judges in white coats sniffing at wine glasses. (I saved a PDF of this in case the competition directors read this post and take the photos down.) READ MORE

Vinography: Stony South—Tasting the 2019 Gimblett Gravels Vintage Selection

In a country filled with utterly spectacular wine regions, the Gimblett Gravels district of Hawke’s Bay can’t compete for the most picturesque. But this little patchwork of vineyards laid over the alluvium of an old stony riverbed has clearly established itself as one of New Zealand’s most distinctive terroirs.

That’s not to say, of course, that the Gimblett Gravels aren’t beautiful. The Heretaunga Plains back up against the foothills of the Kaweka mountains, and the green vineyards spread here and there, interrupted by small streams and hillocks. Like almost everywhere in New Zealand, it’s damn pretty.

But the real magic of the Gravels manifests in the wines: the spectacular Syrahs and other red wines that grow there, with their refined balance of energy, power, and freshness. READ MORE

Vino Joy News: Japan adds three Geographically Indicated wine regions

On June 30, wines of Nagano, Yamagata and Osaka received a GI (Geographical Indication) status. In addition to “Yamanashi” in 2013 and “Hokkaido” in 2018, Japan now has five GIs for wines.

These wines should be made from grapes which are cultivated within the designated area and should be vinified in that area in accordance with the product specification.

This specification is written based on the consensus of all the producers within the area. The product specification stipulates the grape varieties allowed, total alcoholic level,  total sulfurous acid level, volatile acid level, total acid level, the requirements for chaptalisation, the requirements for the addition or removal of the acid, and others. It also clarifies the characteristics of the products, including the natural and human factors which attribute to those characteristics. READ MORE

Jancis Robinson: ‘Don’t drink your own wine’

When I crossed the Rubicon from wine drinker to vigneron in 1999, a wonderful thing happened. I was still living close to London at that time and I found that the cornucopia of wine tastings offered in the capital, maybe the most wide-ranging in the world, were suddenly open to me. I was in the business!

I also felt painfully ignorant. My acquaintance with Burgundy was fairly sound, having lived through the era when it was affordable… sort of. But my knowledge of so much else in the outrageous proliferation that is the wine world was sketchy. So any free day was spent tasting, learning. I found to my delight that many of these events had the producers pouring their offerings, so I could meet and discuss rather than just taste. I became a regular sight at these events and, thanks to the generosity of the merchants, the wine organisations and the producers concerned, my knowledge, and my address book, gradually expanded. READ MORE

Dame Wine: Wine Grape Growers Take Leap To Make Fine Wines In A Spanish Wine Region Dominated By Icons

Crouched down near the ground, a sharp pain went up his knees and lower back as weathered hands reached out to old grape vines, around 50 years old, to harvest the few bunches of concentrated Tempranillo grape bunches that looked like they hung on a skeleton of a bush plant with its thick, gnarly trunk. The sun beating down on top of his head forced his eyes to squint to combat the glare and the dirt on his face and hands lessened the brutal effects of the sun as he picked his precious fruit. His wife and children were there to help; his ten-year-old son already a seasoned harvester with his skill and speed; his parents, who were advanced in age, would still stubbornly insist on helping out even though many times they would only be able to get through a few vines by the end of the day – each vine only producing a relatively small amount of fruit. READ MORE…


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Educational posts are in no way intended as official WSET study materials. I am not an official WSET educator nor do I work for a WSET Approved Program Provider. Study at your own risk. Read the full disclaimer.
**Please note: all reviews and opinions are my own and are not associated with any of my places of business. I will always state when a wine has been sent as a sample for review. Sending samples for review on my personal website in no way guarantees coverage in any other media outlet I may be currently associated with.**

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