Enough said…enjoy your weekend reads! Cheers!

Eater: Beer Is So Gay

A new group of brands is attempting to carve out space in the beer world for queerness

Get to know the businesses rethinking queer hospitality and community for a new generation.
Get to know the businesses rethinking queer hospitality and community for a new generation.

Ask what makes a gay bar gay and the answers will vary. For some, it’s the people who make up the customers and staff, for others the history. Some might say it’s the atmosphere, prevalence of rainbow flags or queer performances. What you’ll rarely hear, though, is that a gay bar is a gay bar because of the drinks. Yes, there may be cocktails with euphemistic names, but a shot is a shot and a vodka soda is a vodka soda. There’s nothing inherently queer about buying a drink. Only now, some brewers are trying to change that. READ MORE…

CNN Business: The tech startup that taught a computer to taste wine

Tastry founder Katerina Axelsson with wine samples in a laboratory.
Tastry founder Katerina Axelsson with wine samples in a laboratory.

A California startup that taught a computer to “taste” wine is using the technology to help winemakers improve their products and attract new customers.

Founder Katerina Axelsson says Tastry uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze “tens of thousands of wines a year,” generating vast reams of data to help winemakers and retailers target their products more effectively.
Axelsson formed her idea as a chemistry student working at a winery, where she noticed “idiosyncrasies” in how wine was evaluated. A 100,000-gallon tank of wine would be divided in two and sold to two different brands, where it would end up in different bottles, sold at different prices and receive different scores from critics, she says.
She began analyzing wine samples, identifying thousands of compounds. Using AI, she could see how these compounds interacted with each other, creating the wine’s flavor profile. She then took that profile and used machine learning to compare its flavor, aroma, texture and color with other wines in the database. READ MORE…

VinePair: Meet Canada’s First Carbon Negative Brewery

 illustration: DANIELLE GRINBERG


“Create better beer for a better world.” That’s the philosophy that Karbon Brewing Co. CEO Stephen Tyson and COO Yves St. Amand subscribe to. With an overarching goal of initiating impactful change and helping the planet, they’re successfully doing this with beer. In the thick of a devastating global pandemic, the duo were guided by their passion for hospitality, beer, and sustainability and founded Karbon Brewing Co. with sustainability at the heart of every initiative. These passionate principles are also emphasized in every facet of the business, including championing diversity, ensuring equal pay, vetting for an ethical supply chain, and supporting LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities.

While Karbon is aware of launching in a fiercely competitive market, the company’s fresh approach is fueling noticeable change. Within a short time frame, it’s become a force to be reckoned with: Karbon is now Canada’s first carbon negative brewery. READ MORE…

Wine Industry Advisor: Wineries Ponder Staff Vaccinations and Reopening

Essential worker vaccinations were critical to operations during the pandemic
Essential worker vaccinations were critical to operations during the pandemic

Vineyard and winery production workers across the country labored through the pandemic, pruning and harvesting grapes, crushing and bottling wine. The workers’ dedication while COVID-19 raged elevated winery concerns about unvaccinated worker safety.

With states like California focusing initially on the heavily impacted 65+ population, many wine-producing communities moved ahead with independent plans to deliver vaccines to their teams as early as possible. One example is the cooperative effort by wineries, grape growers and health care providers in Sonoma County to conduct hundreds of COVID-19 vaccinations beginning in January. Within four months, 100% of essential ag and production workers were successfully vaccinated.

“To encourage the community to get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” says Sonoma County Vintners Executive Director Michael Haney, “we increased educational resources and messaging, and produced a series of local radio ads and educational flyers. We also drafted mitigation protocols, developed COVID-19 signage templates and hosted a community food distribution.” READ MORE…

Wine Enthusiast: The Ancient Origins of Beer Geeks and Wine Snobs

Roman Amphora | Getty Images
Roman Amphora | Getty Images

If you’re into wine or beer, you’ve likely come across a few “wine snobs” or “beer geeks.” While they might seem like a modern phenomenon, millennia of evidence proves otherwise. But like everything in history, it depends on where you look.

Take Pliny the Elder, a 1st-century general and author during the Roman Empire. During his military campaigns, he recorded what soldiers from different regions drank the night before battle. It was often beer, according to Travis Rupp, a beer archaeologist who teaches courses on Greek and Roman history at the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus.

“Pliny the Elder writes about beer more than really any other Roman did,” he says. “Though he doesn’t seem to necessarily care for the beverage.” READ MORE…

The Hill: Uncorking Canada’s import measures on wine

As it turns out, Canada-Wine has some neat moving parts.
As it turns out, Canada-Wine has some neat moving parts.

It’s been a busy week in U.S.-Canada trade.

Softwood lumber is back yet again. Dairy is going forward as the first case under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). These disputes are getting media attention. But there’s a third case that isn’t grabbing headlines, even though the World Trade Organization (WTO) says it ended amicably this week.

The case, known by its WTO short title Canada-Wine, went for arbitration. This means there is no verdict to read and thus no account of what happened. Luckily, the European Union (EU) wrote a lengthy third-party submission, giving us a peek behind the curtain. As it turns out, Canada-Wine was far more interesting than anyone could have predicted. READ MORE…

Wine Spectator: Catastrophic Tank Collapse Destroys 250,000 Liters of South African Wine

Darling Cellars winery was flooded with red wine after a 50,000-liter tank fell, setting off a domino effect

Steel wine tanks collapsed at Darling Cellars winery in South Africa, destroying 250,000 liters of wine. (Darling Cellars)

Darling Cellars is less than 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean on South Africa’s Western Cape. But it was wine, not water, that flooded the winery last month when a 50,000-liter wine tank collapsed, unleashing a frothing stream of red wine and initiating a calamitous domino effect that ended in the loss of 250,000 liters of wine and substantial structural damage.

The chain reaction likely started when the stand supporting one of the 50,000-liter steel tanks collapsed, causing the first tank to knock over an adjacent tank, which knocked over another adjacent tank, which … well, you get the picture. Some of the tanks also smashed through the winery’s concrete walls and damaged pipes. READ MORE…

The Drinks Business: Celebrity wine boom in Provence leads to fears over future of family-owned vineyards

Though the surge in interest in Provence vineyards has undoubtedly driven up the value of Provençal vines, celebrity buyers and billionaire investors in the wine region are leading to fears for the future of family-owned vineyards.

George Clooney credit Nicolas Genin
George Clooney credit Nicolas Genin

Despite traditionally not enjoying the prestige and cache associated with regions such as Bordeaux and Burgundy, a celebrity-driven boom in vineyard purchasing in Provence has lead to hitherto unseen demand for Provençal wines, in particular rosé.

However, this notoriety does not come without its pitfalls for local winemakers. A report in The Times notes that the price of land in the region has surged so much that locals can ill afford to buy new vines or even pass on their own land to their children, due to skyrocketing inheritance tax tariffs.

“It’s becoming very complicated for young winemakers,” Sylvain Audemard, of the Chamber of Agriculture in the Var, told The Times. READ MORE…

Wine Enthusiast: Amid Climate Change, Napa Goes Beyond Cabernet

Larkmead Vineyard / Photo by Bob McClenahan
Larkmead Vineyard / Photo by Bob McClenahan

Once upon a time, Americans struggled to pronounce words like “Cabernet Sauvignon” and “Petit Verdot.” Might we struggle soon with “Manseng Noir” or “Arinarnoa”?

For now, in Napa Valley, there’s no doubt that Cab remains king. In 2019, 64.6% of all red grapes harvested were Cabernet Sauvignon, with an average price of $7,941 per ton, the highest in history, per the 2019 Napa County Agricultural Crop Report.

In that same report, no other grape even comes close to its 22,504 producing acres. Not Chardonnay (5,950 acres), not Merlot (4,072), and certainly not Pinot Noir (2,680).

But Cab hasn’t always reigned supreme here. READ MORE…

Blogs Worth a Read

Taken from the list of Blogs 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 blogs to follow or want your blog included on that list.

SpitBucket: Please Do Not Let “Wine Racism” (over a grape!) Become a Thing

Poor Pinotage. Photo by Doris Schneider, Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Wikimedia Commons
Poor Pinotage.
Photo by Doris Schneider, Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Wikimedia Commons

Let’s nip something in the bud right now. Whether you want to call it varietism or whatever, do not be the jerk who wants to equate people disliking a grape with being “…the enological equivalent of a wine racist.”

Seriously! No! Just…wow.

I really can’t fathom what was going through the mind of Californian & South African wine producer Dave Jefferson when he decided to blow that dog whistle in his spat with Wall Street Journal wine writer Lettie Teague.

Why, might you ask, is a privileged white man “hypothesizing” over whether an almost equally privileged white woman is possibly a “wine racist?”

Is it because of how Ms. Teague treats people of color? Is it because of her reviews of minority-owned wineries? Oh no. No, no, no.

It’s because she doesn’t like Pinotage. READ MORE…

Jancis Robinson: A Mexican update

Back from a trip to Chihuahua for the 2020 edition of the México Selection competition held earlier this year, Louise Hurren looks at how the Mexican wine scene is changing in the face of current challenges.
Back from a trip to Chihuahua for the 2020 edition of the México Selection competition held earlier this year, Louise Hurren looks at how the Mexican wine scene is changing in the face of current challenges. / ABOVE: Pickers at Casa Establo Carlos Montes

As a first-time visitor to Mexico, I was taken aback by the vast distances. Chihuahua (nickname El Estado Grande, or the big state) is Mexico’s largest state. With a surface area of 95,543 square miles (247,455 km2), it is slightly larger than the UK and shares borders with New Mexico and Texas.

Historically it has been a major producer of table grapes, brandy and pecans. However, Chihuahua’s size, location, elevation, climate, geology and water resources mean that wine grapes can grow well here, so it has the potential to fulfil the country’s increasing wine consumption (Mexico’s producers currently meet around 30% of domestic demand). Indeed, encouraged by climate change, some pecan growers are even turning to viticulture as a better use of water resources. In a nutshell, pecans’ loss is wine’s gain.

Investors such as Baja-based L A Cetto (by far the largest producer in Mexico, selling 1.3 million cases in 2020) have turned their sights on Chihuahua. Speaking from Baja California, where land is limited and water is running short, CEO Luis Cetto told me about his company’s plans. ‘As an industry, we need at least another 4,000 to 5,000 hectares [9,900 to 12,400 acres] of vines to meet demand over the next 20–25 years, and Baja is not going to do it for us. We’ve got big problems replenishing the wells there. Chihuahua has the capacity to produce all sorts of wine at all price points, so in the long run, it’s going to be the future of Mexico’s wine industry.’ READ MORE…

The Wine Gourd: Australia versus New Zealand wine exports

All of this means, of course, that a comparison of Australian and New Zealand wines is of great importance, particularly with regard to wine exports.
All of this means, of course, that a comparison of Australian and New Zealand wines is of great importance, particularly with regard to wine exports.

There has long been a rivalry between Australia and New Zealand. This dates at least back to when Australia was federated, on 1 January 1901. At that time, the New Zealanders were offered the opportunity to become a state of Australia, but inexplicably declined. Since then, the rivalry has continued in sporting events, economics, and politics.

In the latter case, the New Zealanders were responsible for the demise of the ANZUS treaty, by which the Australians and New Zealanders died in large numbers in Vietnam in the 1960s, alongside an even larger number of Americans. Some time later, the New Zealanders decided on an explicit non-nuclear policy, which meant that the Americans lost interest in them, because they could no longer re-stock their nuclear submarines in the South Pacific. READ MORE…

James Suckling: A Different Chile—Greatness Beckons, but is it a Leap Too Far?

VIGNO, or Vignadores de Carignan, comprises a number of producers who create wines with old Carignan vines from the Maule Secano area.
VIGNO, or Vignadores de Carignan, comprises a number of producers who create wines with old Carignan vines from the Maule Secano area.

After finishing our ratings of 1,065 bottles of Chilean wines in Hong Kong, one thing is clear: the Andean country is churning out bottles of excellent quality and remarkable value, and these characteristics were cemented by fantastic 2018 and 2019 vintages.

Although there was conspicuous improvement in our tastings this year, there is still a good way to go from excellence to greatness. This may be a surprising conclusion given the high expectations for Chilean wines – after all, even mass-production bottles from the country show higher-than-reasonable quality.

But with the growing acclaim for the country’s wines, the pressure is now on the wineries to step up their games. READ MORE…

Vino Joy News: Rhône Valley, the 2nd biggest French AOC, is going green

Rhône Valley is headstrong on tackling climatic and environmental challenges. Read the article on how France’s second largest AOC wine region is transforming its viticulture.

High Environmental Value (HEV) certification (Pic: Business France)
High Environmental Value (HEV) certification (Pic: Business France)

The Rhône Valley is the second AOC wine region in France. It enjoys a moderate continental climate in the northern zone and Mediterranean type in the southern zone, as well as extraordinary soils which allow a large number of grape varieties to be cultivated.

The unique geography of the Rhône Valley vineyards, the typology of its soils as well as unique climatic conditions, make the region a leader towards an ecofriendly culture. READ MORE…

A Balanced Glass: Mindful Drinking: Time For A Mid-Year Tune Up?

Is it me, or are there a plethora of mindful drinking, consumption-reduction, “sober-lit” articles lately?

Three articles this week alone have hit the radar.

One is The Atlantic’s sobering read: America Has a Drinking Problem. Another is Morningstar’s piece on how to drink less through the pandemic. And even the New York Post discussed Why the hot new alcohol trend is cutting back — or even quitting.

So, with all these online stories swirling, I revisited the story I wrote for ABG in January, on How to Put Mindful Drinking on Your 2021 List. I decided to run a scorecard on how I’m doing with my own consumption habits. READ MORE…

Press Releases

These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!

Burgess Cellars: Burgess Cellars Ushers in Exciting Chapter with New Winery Space

Courtesy Burgess Cellars
Courtesy Burgess Cellars

Burgess Cellars announces the acquisition of a new winery  after the original Howell Mountain estate was lost  in the Glass Fires last year. St. Andrews Winery, formerly owned by Clos du Val and rebranded as Luna Vineyards, will be the new winery space for Burgess Cellars. Built in a Provencal farmhouse style, the new winery will be managed by newly appointed Estate Director George Lobjanidze, offering an educational and immersive world class experience around Meghan Zobeck’s promiscuous farming philosophies. After a long-awaited rebuilding and acquisition process, the new space is anticipated to officially open to the public in July. 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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