Happy Saturday all. Hope you don’t mind, I took a few days off following my birthday/WSET Diploma Level 1 exam…extravaganza weekend. But I have, of course, been keeping up with the latest wine (and food) news. So let’s take a look at what’s going on lately.
Locally, Sonoma (finally) has implemented fines for breaching (what I call) COVID-courtesies. So mask up if you’re coming up to Wine Country or pay the price—literally. In spite of that, a common phrase around here is, “The grapes don’t know there’s a pandemic.” True enough, and harvest has officially kicked off. If you’re in the industry getting ready for harvest, be sure to check out the Wine Institute’s harvest protocols webinar materials. Also of interest my industry readers may be Nielsen’s latest data on COVID impacts on on-premise sales and UC Davis’s white paper on developments in remedying smoke-tainted grapes.
Looking around the world, Japan has a fun new canopy management situation; Portugal is making waves as a leader in the fight against climate change; and the quality of the Chinese wine-scene may be on the rise.
And don’t forget to scroll down to the Blogs for some independent insight and fun, including a top 16 list of the best wine-related documentaries to watch.
Lastly, on a personal note, if you haven’t seen the latest in my video series with Wine Industry Network, check out my interviews with Dry Creek Vineyard President, Kim Stare Wallace, and Tablas Creek General Manager/Proprietor, Jason Haas. More to come, so keep your stations tuned to WIN.
And I have received a few inquiries about my posts chronicling my WSET journey. I’ve pulled them down for now—the goal is to edit and consolidate for clarity and organization. So if you are/were looking for those or wondering what the story is, that’s it. I’ll try to get them back up if/when I can. Thank you for your patience with that.
That’s all for now. Hope everyone’s doing well. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment, write me a note, connect with me on social. Would be nice to hear from you.
Press Democrat: Sonoma County adopts fines for health order violations, conceding education hasn’t limited virus spread
The intent, Supervisor James Gore said, “is not to penalize” but to educate the public about keeping each other safe, and then “cite people who are jerks, who are looking back at our compassionate enforcement and saying, ‘I’m not going to put my mask on. I’m not going to shut my business.’”
The new ordinance provides the tool to do that, allowing for individuals to be cited and fined $100 for non-commercial violations.
Commercial violations may be subject to civil penalties of $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000, depending if it’s the first, second or third violation by the same party. READ MORE…
Napa Valley Register: Grape harvest kicks off in Napa Valley with muted celebrations
Grapes for sparkling wine are typically the first to be harvested to maintain higher acidity levels in fruit. In years past, the first day of the season has been a decidedly celebratory one for wineries like Mumm and Schramsberg – though this year, for obvious reasons, the large crowds and boisterous gatherings had been boiled down. At Schramsberg, vintner Hugh Davies spoke to a crowd no larger than 20 people, mostly winery and vineyard workers.
Wine Institute: Harvest Protocols Webinar Materials
UC Davis: Successful management and mitigation of smoke exposed grapes—A needs assessment of the Pacific Coast grape and wine industry
In recent years, the grape and wine industry in the western United States has experienced repeated smoke exposures from wildfires. These have resulted in wines with characteristic off aromas and flavors that have come to be known as smoke taint. There are examples of smoke tainted wines from at least five of the past ten vintages from California, Oregon or Washington State; all three states produced affected wines in 2017 and 2018. Generally, the impact of smoke exposure is regional, affecting vineyards near the fires, but atmospheric conditions can result in smoke impacting distant grape production areas. Both types of smoke exposure have resulted in smoke impacted wines. READ MORE…
Nielsen: COVID-19 Impact Report
Nielsen CGA has strived to gather the latest statistics and consumer insights to provide you with the data to support your sales and business approaches during these ever changing conditions. We know there are other key considerations as the market reopens, with focus expanding from COVID-19 to wider consumer behavior. We are continually listening to your feedback and want to support you with the information you need to make key decisions surrounding COVID-19 and the On Premise ‘next normal’. Please reach out to speak with us for support on these broader topics. We are thankful for your engagement and hope to continue bringing you studies which can help you to focus your efforts. READ MORE…
Eater: Essential Food Workers Are at Unique Risk for COVID-19. Some Are Fighting Back.
That’s how a decade-long employee for Tyson Foods, Inc. in northwest Arkansas describes working for the meat processor during the COVID-19 pandemic. The machine operator didn’t want to be publicly identified for fear of reprisal, but he told Civil Eats that he’s worried about his safety since the coronavirus began to spread at meatpacking plants in March.
“Everything is really dirty, and they don’t deep clean areas when people have tested positive for COVID-19,” he said. “Whenever workers start having symptoms, we are not told who is sick or who is not.” READ MORE…
Eater: Multiple Bon Appétit Stars Resign From Appearing in Test Kitchen Videos [Updated]
Nearly two months after the beginning of Bon Appétit’s public reckoning with allegations of racism and inequity, three members of the food publication’s hugely popular Test Kitchen have announced they will no longer make content for Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel.
Priya Krishna, Rick Martinez, and Sohla El-Waylly announced their departures this morning on their individual Instagram accounts. The Test Kitchen stars — three of a handful of non-white talent to regularly appear on camera — have spoken candidly about being paid less to host videos than their white colleagues, feeling pigeonholed within their respective cultural cuisines, and being tokenized to increase the publication’s appearance of diversity, as detailed in a Business Insider report. READ MORE…
Wine Spectator: One-of-a-Kind Vineyard in Japan Offers Alternative Interpretation of Vine-Training
“Why are there grape trees at the station?” is the main question enotourists and commuters alike have at the world’s first and only railway-platform vineyard
Vineyards are the very picture of the rural, pastoral getaway: in romantic capers, in scenes of tranquil meditation, in reality. So you might be startled to find, in a city in central Japan, one growing right there amid the hustle and bustle of your morning commute. At the train station in Shiojiri, as passengers rush to catch their connections, the Shiojiri Station Platform Vineyard hangs serenely overhead, its vines doing the slower work of budding, ripening and awaiting harvest.
You won’t find a sight quite like this anywhere else—it’s the only train station vineyard of its kind in the world. Shiojiri isn’t quite a Tokyo- or Osaka-style mega-metropolis, though: Its local claim to fame is being the hub of the Kikyogahara Wine Valley, one of the country’s oldest and most bountiful wine regions, where grapevine cultivation dates to the mid-19th century. The area is home to 10 wineries, with a reputation made on Merlot and Chardonnay. READ MORE…
SevenFifty Daily: Portugal’s Vintners on the Forefront of Climate Change
Hit harder than most wine regions by rising temperatures and drought, the small country emerges as a global leader in responding to the climate threat
In 2017, several vineyards in Portugal fell victim to a series of wildfires. In May 2018, areas in the Douro DOC received their entire anticipated rainfall for the month in one hour. Later that year, the Alentejo region had five consecutive days with temperatures above 104 degrees F, which caused heat burn and led to grape losses of up to 50 percent in some places. READ MORE…
Harpers: China’s economic crisis to benefit wine longer-term
The double whammy of an already slowing economy compounded by coronavirus could accelerate consumer demand for reliable and legitimate wine brands in China.
“China’s wine consumers have become more thoughtful, educated and less likely to buy product that is overpriced and poor quality”.
The report reasons that after years of having modest quality wines cleverly packaged and promoted as luxury products at exorbitant prices, alongside the widespread incidence of outright fakes, the economic slowdown will feed into a demand for true quality and worth with an increasingly cautious but more wine-savvy consumer.
While feedback gathered from China-based suppliers suggests that volumes will continue to dip and for some time, the combined effect of more in-home consumption and ongoing growth in ecommerce will benefit mainstream-priced brands. 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.
Jancis Robinson: Carmen Stevens challenges the status quo
Carmen Stevens, winemaker and owner of the first 100% Black-owned winery, answers questions of her life in South African wine.
What is your role in the South African wine industry?
My aim is to make sure that the wine I produce is of premium quality to ensure that Carmen Stevens Wines will still exist in years to come. We need to rid Black-owned wine brands of the stigma of being seen as of inferior quality to wines from a white-owned cellar. READ MORE…
Fermentation: Imagine if Selling Shoes Was as Absurd as Selling Wine
I recently had the opportunity to provide one half of dueling opinion pieces in the Columbus Dispatch. The issue was, “Should Ohio Restrict Online Sales of Spirits and Wine”. The reason for the dueling op-eds was as a response to the Ohio Attorney General’s claim that out-of-state wine retailers illegally shipped into the state and his filing for an injunction against those retailers in Federal Court. READ MORE…
Young Gun of Wine: The World’s Best Wine Documentaries
These 16 films are the crème de la crème of wine documentaries. Highlights include a gripping story about the biggest wine counterfeiter in history, a glossy film charting China’s growing obsession with Bordeaux, and a look at the controversial Barolo Wars of the 80s. READ MORE…
Save the Family Farms: The Major Issues Small Family Farms Face in Napa County
In the simplest terms, small family-owned grower-producers do not have reasonable access to Direct-to-Consumer (“DTC”) sales under current local regulations.
The DTC channel undeniably represents the only viable sales channel for small grower- producers. This reality has grown more acute during the COVID Pandemic, as all other sales channels accessible to small producers have disappeared: restaurants have shuttered, foreclosing on-premise sales, consumer events are canceled, and distributors outside of California have consolidated and/or gone out of business, leaving extremely limited wholesale opportunities for mom-and-pop brands. READ MORE…
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**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.**