Hello my friends and happy weekend. I can’t believe it’s already the end of April. Time is flying by. Perhaps because I’ve been having so much fun. (Read: wine.) Newsy roundup this week, no surprise, includes a lot about sustainability in the wine industry, what with Friday having been Earth Day. Cool cool. Also got some interesting wine news coming out of Norway, Switzerland, Greece and South Africa—expand that global perspective. I also want to call out a blog post from earlier this week by yours truly:RAM Cellars—A Taste of Trans-Pride Winemaking.

I think that’s all I got for now. You may not hear from me next week, as I’m embarking on some work-related travel and have a few projects that need to get up and running. But never hesitate to reach out at any time. Always love hearing from ya’ll.



VinePair: Does Anyone Still Care About Wine Certifications?

“No one is going through the Court anymore,” says Stevie Stacionis, sommelier and owner of Oakland, Calif.’s Bay Grape wine shop. The Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS for short), once regarded as the most prestigious American organization offering wine certifications, fell from grace following a 2020 story released by The New York Times that revealed its unsavory power dynamics in addition to sexual harassment claims made by many of its female members. “So much of so many people’s work is getting cast aside because of the misdoings of a pretty rotten bunch of individuals,” Stacionis says. READ MORE

BBC News: Climate change—’We’re making wine in Norway’

“You have to have a connection with them. When I woke up this morning, there was 3cm of snow. I was saying to them: ‘Don’t be afraid – it will be nice in the afternoon.'”

Perhaps Bjørn’s plants do need a little extra encouragement; they’re growing at 61 degrees north of the equator – far outside the 30-50 degrees latitude traditionally considered optimum for wine production.

But climate change is pushing vineyards further north and south towards the poles.

The trends are absolutely clear, according to Dr Greg Jones, a climatologist who specialises in grape production and wines and is himself the owner of a winery, Abacela, in Oregon in the US.

“A lot of our cool climate limits have changed. They’ve gone further north in the northern hemisphere, and further south in the southern hemisphere. READ MORE

EuroNews: Why doesn’t Swiss wine make it out of Switzerland?

The phrase heard the most from visitors to the Swiss canton of Valais is “I had no idea there were so many vineyards.”

Swiss wine is something of an enigma. Not many Europeans are aware of the sheer magnitude of winemaking in the alpine nation’s most important wine-growing area, and why would they be? After all, tracking down a bottle in any other country is nigh on impossible.

The Swiss like their own wine so much that they don’t let anyone else get a look in. Less than 3% of the wines produced in the Valais are exported, which is highly unusual for an area so dedicated to viticulture. READ MORE

Greek Reporter: The Oldest Wine in Europe Has Been Discovered in Greece

The oldest wine in Europe was discovered recently in ancient Philippi of northern Greece, the Department of History and Archaeology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki announced.

The University presented research that indicates that the production and drinking of wine in Europe originates from prehistoric Greece.

Thousands of ancient grape seeds and pomace were found in ancient Philippi house whose contents were preserved in a fire that occurred in 4300 B.C. READ MORE

The Drinks Business: US overtakes UK as most valuable Chablis export market

Recovering from the pandemic-induced slump and spurred on by the suspension of the wine import surtax in 2021, Chablis exports to the US in 2021 were valued at €29.6 million, a 47% rise from 2020.

This puts the American market as the most valuable export market for Chablis, ahead of the UK. The US is second in terms of volume, with the 3.1 million bottles exported there marking a 41.2% increase from 2020. The UK remains number one in this regard, importing 3.4 million bottles. However, the UK figure has actually declined by a third since 2020, so it might be anticipated that the US will soon come first with regard to volume.

The upwards trajectory of Chablis sales in the US has been a trend for the past decade, disrupted only by the dip in 2020. Because of this anomaly, export volume has declined by -2% relative to the five year average. READ MORE

Wine Spectator: Pinot Noir in Washington State? Vintner Charles Smith Sees Potential

The rebellious vintner, known for Syrah and Riesling, has been quietly cultivating a 373-acre Pinot Noir vineyard in northern Columbia Valley

Leave it to vintner Charles Smith to do something out of left field. Who else but an iconoclast like Smith would plant 373 acres of Pinot Noir in Washington, a state known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah? Smith believes the vineyard, named Golden West, is the largest planting of Pinot in the history of Washington. That’s easy to say—according to the USDA, in 2017, when Smith had just started planting, there were only 600 acres of Pinot Noir in the entire state.

Smith rarely does anything on a small scale. When the vineyard reaches full production, it could produce 120,000 cases a year. Smith, whose brands include K Vintners, Sixto and Substance, built his winemaking reputation with cutting-edge marketing and winemaking ideas. One goal was to produce serious value wine, which he did with Kung Fu Girl Riesling, harvested from the cool Ancient Lakes region, as well as Velvet Devil Merlot, before selling those and other brands to Constellation for $120 million in 2016READ MORE

VinePair: 8 of the Best Wine and Spirits Brands With African Roots

From RTD cocktails and non-alcoholic mixers to complex wines, flavorful craft beers, and decadent spirits, the presence of Black-owned beverage brands on the shelves of grocery stores, wine shops, and other establishments is becoming commonplace. With a buying power of over $1.6 trillion, Black consumers are incredibly influential and yet woefully unconsidered when it comes to marketing within the alcohol industry. And while the industry still has a diversity problem, supporting Black business is vital to ensure that there is proper representation across all sectors of the business.

Being Black spans beyond living in America, and Black culture is not a monolith — our lived experiences are widely diverse and span across multiple continents. The impact of people across the diaspora in the wine and spirits world also includes Africa and the Caribbean. As the beverage industry strives to become more inclusive, here are some brands with African roots that deserve to be celebrated. READ MORE

Wine Enthusiast: Whose Wine Is It Anyway? The Origin Stories of Three Global Grape Varieties

Wine is not exempt from conversations about colonization and colonialism. Even the terms “Old World and New World” are rooted in colonialist thought.

In some instances, transplanted grapes had even been marginalized and forgotten in their homelands and were dying to belong.

As people migrated with culinary and agricultural traditions in tow, certain grape varieties came to be associated or even synonymous with regions far beyond their countries of origin. These grapes traveled through untrodden lands, where growers and settlers experimented with them, and where they subsequently thrived in their new, foreign home and became a national symbol of pride. These are their stories. READ MORE

Sonoma Index Tribune: Inside Sonoma’s first cannabis dispensary, SPARC


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.

BriscoeBites: RAM Cellars—A Taste of Trans-Pride Winemaking

Last week, my team at Wine Enthusiast published my article about Vivianne Kennedy (she/they), owner and winemaker of RAM Cellars and the only openly Transgender winemaker in the US. Every once in awhile I conduct an interview and I find a real connection. Not just a topic or source—I mean a real person-to-person connection. Viv is one of those people for me. We immediately hit it off. Not only is their personal journey amazing and inspirational but her professional journey is as well. I always appreciate it when folks get down in the nitty-gritty details of the viticulture and winemaking process—and Viv is a true wine-nerd at heart.

Following both of our conversations in preparation for this article, I found myself thirsty—thirsty to experience all the hard work and sacrifices she made; thirsty to taste the amazing, innovative wines they were describing to me. I do not join wine clubs easily. I am (now) a member of exactly three and I choose them very carefully: small, boutique businesses with a real story and a winemaker with whom I have a connection. I joined RAM Cellars Cellar Club and today I want to share with you my tasting notes and some of the story behind each of the wines. READ MORE

Dame Wine: Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Made From A Multi-Vintage Blend

As the glow from the sun lit up the vine leaves with a heavenly golden color, a constant soft sound of grape bunches hitting the soil could be heard. It was a few weeks before harvest time in Napa Valley, and the all-important process of “green harvesting” was taking place at the beginning of the grape ripening process – known as veraison to grape growers. It is a common practice among many top vineyards around the world that helps to concentrate the remaining grapes as it tricks the vines into thinking that they have a lot more grapes to ripen, hence, giving a big push of energy to significantly fewer grapes.

Such a practice, even for the world’s most iconic wine regions, would be unthinkable just two generations ago but over the past two decades it has become mandatory if one is selling ultra-premium wine as it helps to concentrate the grapes resulting in a wine with incredible aromas, flavors and overall density. But it had always bothered the farmer’s spirit that lives within Tom Gamble, as it looks like an abundance of waste. READ MORE

Corkscrew Concierge: Let’s Toast Sustainability In Wine On Earth Day From Five Great Wine Regions

With Earth Day upon us, I thought it would be fun to take a look at wine regions around the world that are doing their thing when it comes to sustainability. Despite living in Texas AND working for an oil company, I’m a green girl at heart. Seriously. Some of my favorite recent projects at the office have dealt with sustainable aviation fuel and carbon sequestration, amongst other things. But, we can talk about that some other time. Right now, we’re talking sustainability in wine.

So what does it even mean to be “sustainable?” We hear buzz words all the time – sustainable, natural, biodynamic, vegan, organic and on and on. Its rare to pick up a product today that doesn’t claim to be one of these. I took a deep dive a couple of years ago to learn more about these terms [link] and it was indeed eye opening. I won’t go into too much detail (check out the article [link] if you want to know more) but at its heart, sustainability encompasses processes that protect the environment, maintain economic viability, and foster social responsibility. In other words, sustainability goes beyond being organic or biodynamic, which although noble endeavors, generally focus on the environmental prong.  Things like energy and water conservation, worker protection, relationships with local communities, air and water quality, preservation of wildlife and local ecosystems, and more are all involved in sustainable wine practices.

So let’s all raise a glass to Mother Earth and drink some wine from regions that have embraced sustainability in wine. READ MORE…

Jancis Robinson: California gets classified

At a reception at Wild by Tart in London one evening last month I was able to take my pick from 40 different top California wines. They were grouped by style and/or reputation and at one of the six or seven tables was Opus One 2018, Harlan Estate 2016, Bond St Eden 2016, Colgin IX 2016, Eisele Vineyard 2014 and Ridge Monte Bello 2011, for example. The Chardonnay table offered the delights of Kistler, Les Noisetiers 2019, Kongsgaard 2019 and Ramey, Woolsey Road 2018.

I hope that any fellow fan of California wine appreciates just what a great opportunity this was. There were many old friends there in human form but I mainly ignored them, I’m afraid, in favour of the old friends in a bottle. After all, I have ample opportunity to chat to my fellow wine professionals, but in the UK we see top-quality California wine all too rarely. (Although Thorman Hunt regularly offer a handful of the top wines, as reported by Andy Howard MW in yesterday’s collection of California tasting notes.)

The occasion was the launch of Edition 1 of The California List, an idea dreamt up by Damien Jackman and Justine McGovern, who are responsible for the generic promotion of California wine in the UK (and Ireland, UAE and India). Their reasoning was that classifications such as the famous 1855 classification of Bordeaux help to highlight the best producers and can act as an aid for potential purchasers or, in their own words, ‘classifications can help shape how consumers and the wine trade engage with a region’. READ MORE

VinoJoy News: China’s leading low-alcohol wine brand fined for violating advertising law

China’s popular low-alcohol wine brand ‘MissBerry’, backed by beer giant Budweiser has been handed a fine for violating the country’s advertising law, as China intensifies scrutiny on alcoholic drinks advertising.

Ge Ying (Shanghai) Brand Management Company Ltd.” (格英(上海)品牌管理有限公司), the parent company of the popular fruit wine brand MissBerry, was fined RMB 20,000 (US$3,139) for showcasing the act of drinking in its online advertisements,according to Shanghai’s market watchdog.

MisBerry is well known for its sparkling fruit wine products and other creative drinks including chocolate wine and coffee wine. The wine brand reportedly topped the Tmall fruit wine sales category when it first joined the “Double 11”, one of China’s largest online shopping sprees, in 2020.

Ge Ying (Shanghai) Brand Management Company established MissBerry in 2019, targeting the emerging group of young female consumers with a growing thirst towards low-alcohol drinks. In December 2021, the low-alcohol wine company received strategic investment from Budweiser China, backed by the world’s biggest brewery AB InBev. READ MORE

The Wine Economist: Here Be Dragons: Wine and the Economy Enter Uncharted Waters

The International Monetary Fund is expected to announce today revised global economic forecasts –– slower growth, higher inflation, and increased uncertainty due to war in Ukraine plus (although I don’t know if it will feature in the IMF report) massive  covid lockdowns in China. Here be Dragons, indeed!

As much as we all would like to think that economic conditions and the global wine market will soon return to what we used to call “normal,” I think it is important to realize that we have actually entered what are in some ways uncharted waters. Old maps and rules of thumb do not necessarily apply and the ability to pivot quickly as conditions change is even more important than in the past. READ MORE

VinoJoy News: Regenerative Viticulture Foundation launches to promote soil health restoration

Witnessing the harm on viticulture from extreme weather and intensive farming, a new non-profit group – Regenerative Viticulture Foundation (RVF) –  has been launched with the aim to restore soil health in global vineyards.

On 30 March, the RVF held its inaugural event with a panel discussion and fundraiser hosted by renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson MW, founder of “Wine anorak” Dr Jamie Goode and the RVF Trustees at 67 Pall Mall, a London-based private wine club founded in 2015.

Founded in 2021, the RVF is the first regenerative viticulture network gathering viticulturists and wine industry players to promote biodiversity in viticulture on a global scale. READ MORE

VinoJoy News: Journey’s End—‘Every company should strive to be as ethical as they can’

From ‘minimal intervention’ to actress Cameron Diaz-powered ‘Clean wine’, wine world is never short of buzz words. And the focus more often than not is on the land and what the wine is done without.

Journey’s End, a South African winery nestled among the Schapenberg hills in Stellenbosch, is expanding the conversations on wine to include producer’s ethical practices. The idea is to look at not just how winery takes care of its vines and land but further on how it treats its people and local communities.

Bought by the Gabb family in 1995, conversations on wine within the family and winery never strayed too far from local community, where in South Africa’s post-apartheid world poverty grips local families more tightly than the roots of the vines.

As Christine Andrews, the winery’s Asia Pacific manager told me over Zoom recently, “so right from day 1, they always wanted to help local community.” READ MORE

Press Releases

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

Green Wine Future 2022 International Conference

To address critical topics of sustainability, climate crisis, biodiversity, wine tourism, regenerative viticulture, carbon amelioration, hydric resources, energy efficiency, and truly green business opportunities Chrand Events has created Green Wine Future as the culmination of its Climate Change & Wine and Wine Future conferences. The most ambitious environmental conference ever organized for the wine community will launch as a fully online gathering May 23-26, 2022. Broadcast in four languages simultaneously (English, Spanish, French, Italian) from 8 different parts of the planet in their respective time zones: USA, Chile, Portugal, Spain, France, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. READ MORE

Robert Parker: Robert Parker Wine Advocate Announces its First Australian Reviewer for Australian Wines

Robert Parker Wine Advocate (RPWA) has reinforced its wine reviewing team and international coverage by adding Erin Larkin to the position of wine reviewer for Australia.
An independent wine writer, judge and presenter based in Perth, Western Australia, Erin’s extensive experience in Australian wines includes tastings for Halliday Wine Companion and magazine, a weekly wine column since 2014 and a frequent judge at wine shows in Australia. She has also recently qualified as a Barossa Wine School Specialist Educator and has been a judge for the Australian Wine List of the Year and the China Wine List of the Year Awards, both for the last eight years. READ MORE

BriscoeBites officially accepts samples as well as conducts on-site and online interviews. Want to have your wine, winery or tasting room featured? Please visit the Sample Policy page where you can contact me directly. Cheers!

Educational posts are in no way intended as official WSET study materials. 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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