Hello my people and happy weekend. I’ve been a bit silent on the posts lately, studying feverishly for those WSET exams. Not to worry, I’ll have some fresh (educational content) lined up for you this next week.
Good news from the Sonoma home front is that fire containment continues to improve, with the larger Wallbridge Fire currently at 88% containment as of 7 a.m. this morning (Friday), according to SoCo Emergency. For those in the Ag sector, please take a look at CAWG’s list of resources detailing safety and training measures during fire season.
There’s a lot going on locally, nationally, and abroad. So, scroll through, catch up on some news, get some independent insight from the Blogs. And of course, as always, I’ve hidden one or two fun and/or amusing tidbits amongst it all.
CAWG: CA Wildfire Resources
California has become all too familiar with wildfires and the immediate and lasting impacts they have on vineyards, winery operations, and communities around the state. CAWG has compiled a list of resources detailing safety and training measures, risks to winegrapes, and assistance options. READ MORE…
Sonoma Index Tribune: Corner 103, Mission Inn top ‘USA Today’ rankings
Corner 103 was just named USA Today’s “Best Tasting Room in the USA.” Indeed, Davis has one of the loveliest storefronts, wines and personal manner. And he has been able to add a few tables in front of the tasting room at the corner of First Street West and West Napa Street for outdoor tasting during the pandemic.
A former owner of Viansa, Davis thanks his Corner 103 team of “Brent, Melissa, Sarah and Cat – who help ensure my vision of breaking down the walls of intimidation about wine and celebrating the finer things in life is exceeded the moment our guests walk through the door.” READ MORE…
Wine Spectator: Tom Seaver, Hall of Fame Pitcher and Napa Vintner, Dies at 75
The strikeout king known as Tom Terrific spent his retirement years farming Cabernet Sauvignon on Diamond Mountain
Baseball Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, who found a second career growing highly coveted Napa Cabernet, has died at 75. Seaver passed away in his sleep Monday night, from complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He had suffered from both dementia and Lyme disease for several years. READ MORE…
ALSO IN THE U.S.
Eater: What Is an Anti-Gentrification Restaurant?
Restaurants have been a driving force in gentrification for decades. Here’s how not to be.
Gentrification is the process by which more affluent people and businesses move into a neighborhood, effectively changing the character of that neighborhood by creating a rent gap between existing land values and potential ones. (A 1976 study by the Urban Land Institute described gentrifiers as those “establishing a new investment climate” in an area.) The change can take place over decades, and while the technical definition of gentrification doesn’t include race, gentrification in the United States by and large impacts Black and Latinx communities who are displaced by wealthier white people. The pattern repeats itself in neighborhoods in nearly every city: Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights in New York, Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, the Old Fourth Ward in Atlanta, West Philadelphia, and so on. READ MORE…
Star Tribune: Judge rules Minnesota winemakers can use more out-of-state grapes
The court’s ruling means more out-of-state grapes can be used in producing Minnesota wines.
A federal judge struck down a Minnesota law that prohibits wineries from making wine unless a majority of the grapes it uses are grown in Minnesota, a ruling that will divide grape growers and vineyards across the state.
Supporters of the state’s “51% rule” said it undergirds an authentic local craft winemaking community. Critics, such as Nan Bailly, owner of Alexis Bailly Vineyard in Hastings and a plaintiff in the federal case, said it is “protectionism” and stifles the creativity of winemakers in the state. READ MORE…
Wines of Washington: Royal Slope is Washington’s newest American Viticultural Area (Press Release)
Royal Slope is state’s 15th AVA, defined by variation in elevation, slopes and aspect
Royal Slope is the newest American Viticultural Area (AVA) in Washington. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) published the final rule for Royal Slope today, September 2, 2020, to officially define it as a designated wine grape-growing region.
“Many of our wineries and grape growers have been championing the terroir of Royal Slope for a long time, so it’s thrilling for them to be able to put an official AVA name on the bottle,” said Steve Warner, president of the Washington State Wine Commission. READ MORE…
Meininger’s Wine Business International: US wineries cannot sue for bad reviews
A landmark US judgement has agreed that, yes, US customers can leave bad reviews.
A recent court case may have extended the country’s robust free speech protections to the Internet. If so, it will become more difficult for wine companies anywhere in the world to sue for what they consider an unfair review or comment on a blog or in a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram post, or on other social media.
There were few, if any, court decisions supporting that view until August’s Penrose Hill v. Mabray decision in California. The case concerned wine producer Penrose Hill and its CEO, Philip James, who accused wine e-commerce expert Paul Mabray of writing a blog post and making Twitter comments defaming the quality of its products, and that Mabray had implied Penrose Hill was more concerned with marketing wine than making a quality product. READ MORE…
Wine Spectator: Discovery Channel’s New ‘I Quit’ Show Stars Trio of Winemaker Entrepreneurs
Ashanti Middleton, Tyshemia Ladson and Jasmine Dunn take us behind the scenes of the new series; their Esrever wine project is among the start-ups dreaming big on the show
Quitting your day job is easier said than done, but for Ashanti Middleton, Tyshemia Ladson and Jasmine Dunn, it was the key to taking their Black-owned wine label to the next level. On the Discovery Channel’s new reality series I Quit, the three entrepreneurs are part of a group of like-minded self-starters who ditch their 9-to-5s to pursue their dreams of launching a business. The entrepreneurs, who range from dessert chefs to barbecue sauce makers to clothing designers, are mentored throughout the season, over the course of a year, by once-small business owners who made it big. One group’s concept will be rewarded with $100,000, and the winemakers have already made a splash in the first three episodes.
Middleton, Ladson and Dunn launched their wine label, called Esrever (“reverse” spelled backward) in Queens, N.Y., in 2018, as a way to introduce new wines to the Black community and join the growing movement of Black wine-biz ownership in the U.S. READ MORE…
AROUND THE WORLD
wine-searcher: Chablis’ Tale of Tariffs and Climate Change
With the famous region facing multiple challenges, our US editor gets to the point with Chablis’ Louis Moreau.
How have the tariffs in the US affected Chablis wineries?
We are currently losing about one-third of the sales in the US, which is our second-largest market. Number one is still the UK; Japan is number three. The first two are in a difficult position, with Brexit coming up and a recession coming soon. By January of 2021, it’s going to be more difficult. We wish we could have the rules by which to apply for customs [in the UK], but we don’t. It’s going to be difficult if we lose that market also. Difficult times. But Chablis is flexible. We’ve been fortunate with good-quality wines, and the past vintages have not been large in terms of volumes. 2015, 2016 and 2017 are all short vintages. We’re a little short of stock and everything was sold. Nobody is really suffering in Chablis – yet. Nobody is looking to sell. But people are a little bit more cautious now. If 2020 is generous is terms of stock, it could be a little bit more tricky.
How has global warming affected Chablis?
I’m not going to lie to you, I think it’s helping us. The problem we had 15 years ago was maturity level. It was much cooler in September 15 years ago. We had a hard time pushing into maturity levels. Now it’s the opposite. We need to know our vineyards really well. Now we need to go a little bit earlier to harvest in order to keep the acidity levels, in order to keep freshness in wines. We’re a little bit afraid of losing the Chablis personality. But global warming is helping us, and the work in the vineyards has made a difference. READ MORE…
Wine Spectator: A Great White Barolo-Land?
Once-forgotten Nascetta reemerges in Italy’s Piedmont
In recent years, Novello has reawakened, thanks to two main factors, steered by Elvio Cogno—both the winery and the man who founded it, Fissore’s father-in-law, who died in 2016. First, there’s a newfound appreciation of the fresh, elegant Barolos from its loamy, high-in-limestone soils. Second is the rebirth of Novello’s long-lost white wine, Nascetta (or Nas-cëtta). From nothing 27 years ago, 12 Novello wineries now make Nascetta. … “Nascetta has a lot of structure and not a lot of acidity, but it does age very, very well,” said Fissore, a barrel-chested and bearded, affable 55-year-old. “It’s a wine that has a reason for being.” READ MORE…
Beverage Daily: Sparkling surprise: Brazil’s wine industry builds its brand on the global stage
Brazil may not be inherently associated with wine: but the country’s wine industry believes it can become a major player on the world stage thanks to its sparkling wine, the quality of its products, and a carefully planned export strategy. READ MORE…
Drinks Business: Navarrete—Chile’s Future Lies in the South
With the threat of global warming and the issue of water availability, Viviana Navarrete of Viña Leyda believes Chile’s winemaking future lies in the south.
“Down south is a new world, and I think winemakers will move even further south to make fresher wines, which is what everyone is trying to do.
“The south of Chile gets 1,200mm of rain each year, so it is not suffering the drought conditions of the central areas, and we have to remember that cool is not as cool as it used to be,” Navarrete told db.
“We’re moving into a more erratic reality and it is going to become more challenging to show the terroir and respect the flavour profile in wines from the north and centre of the country.
“You have to be closer and more connected to the vineyards every year. Last year was one of the driest in Chile, and a lot of vineyards are being grubbed due to the drought.
“I’d love to experiment more with Riesling down south. Chile has great conditions for it. At the moment we sell 70% red and 30% white wine in Chile, but we have an amazing coast with a maritime influence that can produce beautiful whites,” she added.
Navarrete said the 2020 harvest was one of the hardest she’s experienced in her 19 years as a winemaker. READ MORE…
news.com.au: Wine Society collapse: Australian company goes bust
The Wine Society, Australia’s oldest wine club, owes almost $2 million to some of the country’s best-known names in the wine industry after slumping into administration – but payments to creditors are expected to fall short.
The co-op, which has 20,000 members and has been around since 1946, is in debt to 125 creditors including popular winemakers Tyrrell, Casella and Oatleys. READ MORE…
Decanter: Violent hailstorms hit Valpolicella vineyards
Recent hailstorms have decimated some vineyards near to Verona, particularly those in the lower-lying, non-Classico area of Valpolicella, while others survived unscathed.
As Verona was hit by a massive hailstorm on 23 August, wine lovers immediately thought of the surrounding hills of Valpolicella.
According to the regional wine council, or Consorzio, only 5% of vineyards were damaged by the hail; approximately 400 out of over 8,300 hectares.
Some producers in the commune of San Pietro in Cariano were believed to be among the those worst-hit in terms of lost yields.
The majority of producers said that the hail was as much precise as disruptive; where it hit, there were few possibilities to harvest, yet others were more fortunate. 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.
Jamie Goode: Introducing TDN, a compound responsible for petrol aromas in Riesling and other white wines
If you are a Riesling fan, then there’s one wine flavour compound you’ll be well acquainted with, even if you don’t know its chemical name. It is TDN, and for some reason, Riesling has more of it than other grape varieties, although it is also found in other white wines. TDN stands for 1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalene, and if it’s present above a certain level, it causes petrol/kerosene aromas.
Some people really dislike it and consider it to be a fault. At low levels it can be quite pleasant – again, depending on your preference – but most people find it overpowering at higher levels. Personally, I don’t like it. READ MORE…
Wine School (NY Times) Finding the Heart of Zinfandel
If you are producing cabernet sauvignon in California or pinot noir in Oregon, you can at least consult historic references, like Bordeaux and Burgundy.
If you are making zinfandel, however, you are for the most part on your own. Although zinfandel has been shown to be genetically identical to tribidrag, a Croatian grape, and to primitivo, from the Puglia region of Italy, no definitive Old World blueprint existed for early zinfandel producers. Free from the dictates of well-known styles, they were able to follow their own muses. READ MORE…
The Wine Gourd: Australia’s exciting new national wine climate atlas
there is a government authority called Wine Australia (originally founded in 1981, under another name), which regulates and promotes the national wine industry. In March this year it released the results of a 3-year project called Australia’s Wine Future: a Climate Atlas. This is a free online resource of climate information nationally, for all designated wine areas (which are formally called Geographic Indications). It provides detailed climate information since 1960 for each of Australia’s GIs, along with projections indicating how the climate is likely to change in the near, mid and long terms (as far as the year 2100). READ MORE…
Jancis Robinson: After the Apocolypse
How smoke taint and a pandemic have forced Australia’s winemakers to adapt and innovate
‘How are you going?’ asks Clonakilla winemaker Tim Kirk. ‘How’s your mental health?’ Hold on a minute. Shouldn’t I be asking the questions? After all, I’d phoned kirk to see how he’s going since he announced in February that Clonakilla wouldn’t be harvesting any of their vineyards due to smoke taint from the awful summer bushfires…READ MORE…
Grape Collective: Bruliam’s Dr. Overstreet on Harvest in a Pandemic and a Way Forward for Small Wineries
Kerith Overstreet was ready for her sales trip – almost a dozen cities in five states, where she would discuss the new releases of her wines with distributors, consumers, retail stores and restaurants. It was mid-March. “I had a complex spider web of airline flights that I’d booked out for that entire Spring for sales,” she said. For many small wineries, like her Bruliam Wines of Sonoma, these intense trips are lifeblood.
Just as the trip was supposed to start, California shut down winery tasting rooms and then issued a shelter-in-place order because of COVID. The trip was off. Then restaurants, where most Bruliam wines are sold, began to shutter. One early casualty was New York’s Gotham Bar and Grill, which had offered Bruliam on its prestigious list for years.
“It was awfully scary and shocking,” Overstreet, 47, told us.
Over the past several months, one question we’re often asked is: How will small wineries, all over the world, survive the pandemic? Overstreet’s story might offer some clues. READ MORE…
The Gray Report: National Black Farmers Association asks for a court injunction ending Roundup sales
I’m a little surprised the NBFA’s lawsuit, filed last week in Missouri federal district court against Bayer subsidiary Monsanto, hasn’t attracted more attention. If successful, it could have an enormous impact on farming nationwide, with worldwide repercussions. And given the successes that lawsuits alleging that Roundup causes cancer have had in court, it would be short-sighted to say the NBFA doesn’t have a chance of winning.
From the lawsuit:
“The harms caused by Roundup® are felt acutely by NBFA’s members: largely rural Black farmers who frequently have limited internet connectivity and/or literacy, and are dependent on their local seed stores for product and information. Utterly unaware of the danger, these farmers have been all-but forced into purchasing Monsanto’s Roundup Ready® seeds and thus Roundup® products containing glyphosate by Monsanto’s aggressive business practices. Over the course of the last several decades, Monsanto has purchased local, conventional seed sellers and then removed their products from the market, making its own “Roundup Ready®” seeds the only option available to rural Black farmers. And to justify the huge, annual financial investment required to buy Roundup Ready® seeds, these farmers were forced in turn into purchasing and using Roundup® herbicides containing glyphosate.”
Science & Wine: 3D reconstruction of grape bunches
Have you ever wondered just what causes the structure of grape bunches to vary? The Smart Robotic Viticulture group at UNSW Australia has been developing methods for measuring and modelling 3D grape bunches based on image analysis. This enables large scale phenotyping which in turn lays the foundation for studies into the relationships between bunch architecture and wine quality or disease potential. READ MORE…