Hello, happy weekend, hope everyone is staying safe and healthy out there. Lots of good newsy stuff happening in the world of wine: From health and wellness to (of course) climate change and the latest development in smoke taint research. In shameless self-promotion, I’d like to highlight my first article for the new media outlet The Drop—Meet the California Winemakers Turned Firefighters.
I’ve been keeping busy continuing to freelance with all my regular outlets as well and am enjoying my new post as Wine Industry Network’s new Managing Editor. AND (because that’s not enough) I’m moving forward with my WSET Diploma and beginning my studies for the next section: D4 Sparkling Wines of the World. Have a shipment of bubbles coming my way today, actually. Hoping I’ll find the time to post what I learn from my tasting experience—I know many of you are fans of the WSET-related content on this site. (PS If there’s something specific you’d like me to write about, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line—always like hearing from you all.)
That’s all from me. Have a fab weekend.
The Drop: Meet the California Winemakers Turned Firefighters
As wildfires become more frequent and intense, producers are signing up to fight them
“It looked like we’re in a hurricane, but instead of water, it was fire and embers. At one point, the fire was all around us.”
High-pitched whistles sounded in the ears of Alan Viader, as propane tanks exploded. There was a burning house to the right, but he had to go left — because there was only one way in and one way out. And at any time, the fire could jump the road and block his exit.
“We stayed out all night, literally around-the-clock. What’s even crazier — I still had fruit waiting at the winery,” he recalls. READ MORE…
New York Times: A Tale of Two Vineyards
Two sites near Paso Robles farm conscientiously, and both make excellent wines. But in the climate change era, one gets enough rain, the other doesn’t.
This is a story of two wine producers in the Paso Robles region. They are different in size, background and intent, yet they have important elements in common, starting with a commitment to the land and to creating diverse, sustainable ecosystems. One is thriving, the other struggling to survive. READ MORE…
North Bay Business Journal: Testing for wine smoke ‘taint’ drives California lab expansion, new entrants into market
ETS Laboratories, a go-to tester for the wine business in the region, has made significant upgrades to its main St. Helena laboratory since the testing crunch of the 2020 season, according to Gordon Burns, president and technical director.
Additions of equipment, personnel and lab space allows the lab to analyze more than double the grape and wine samples daily.
“It’s a pretty massive undertaking,” he said. The investment amounts to millions of dollars in equipment alone.
In an area hit by more frequent, intense wildfires, testing for chemical compounds that suggest there may be an issue with unwanted smoky character in wine increasingly has become part of vintner-grower contracts.
Yet last year brought the convergence of a number of large blazes burning between the Canadian and Mexican borders right around harvest time.
“But that doesn’t mean that all the grapes are smoke impacted,” Burns said. “That there is a wildfire does not mean that it affects every block of a vineyard or every varietal equally.” READ MORE…
Wine Enthusiast: Taxes, Tiers and Other Ways Prohibition Still Restricts U.S. Wine
Throughout its 8,000-year history, wine created and sustained global trade routes and economies. As sociocultural frameworks evolved, so did the laws that governed wine production and distribution.
In the Ottoman Empire, which spanned six centuries and, at times, three continents, there were strict regulations around alcohol production and consumption. The empire fell in its entirety nearly 100 years ago, but some of its former territories, like Lebanon, Turkey, Syria and parts of Greece, still fight to reclaim their indigenous grapes and ancient winemaking traditions.
Eastern Europe, notably the Balkans, is also playing catch up after state-run cooperatives disrupted traditional farming and discouraged small-scale winemaking for decades following World War II.
The United States has its own restrictive alcohol laws. In 1920, Prohibition was introduced with the 18th Amendment. It was repealed with the 21st Amendment in 1933. Yet, Prohibition-era laws that govern alcohol sales, production and distribution continue to shape wine culture and commerce. READ MORE…
Wine Spectator: Vincent Morrow—A Napa Wine Director with a Diversity Mission
When he’s not busy running the all-local wine program at Press in St. Helena, the 33-year-old is working to usher the Court of Master Sommeliers into an inclusive next chapter
When the Court of Master Sommeliers confronted waves of public backlash last year over complaints about insufficient diversity and sexual-harassment allegations against numerous members, some wine professionals stepped away from the organization in response. For 33-year-old Master Sommelier Vincent Morrow, it was a tough call.
With an African American father and an Italian American mother, Morrow is no stranger to feeling personally conflicted. “I’ve kind of felt this way in a lot of my life,” he says. “It’s like, well I’m half this and I’m half that, so I don’t really know where I fall. Am I supposed to help, and if I don’t, then what does that make me?” But of all the questions on his mind, one reigned: “If we don’t, who will?” READ MORE…
North Bay Business Journal: How Napa’s Court of Master Sommeliers is trying to rebuild trust after allegations
Shaken by allegations of sexual impropriety last fall, a Napa-based certification organization for wine experts has taken steps since then to reassure the professional women in its ranks that it’s fixing the problems that have come to the surface.
The Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, announced last month it had appointed an executive director, Julie Cohen Theobald, set to start in the role next month. At the end of last year and one month after a bombshell New York Times story with the accusations, court membership elected new board members for one-year terms, including three women, two of whom were appointed to chair and vice chair. READ MORE…
Wine-Searcher: Fires Threaten Greek Wine Revival
As wildfires devastate its vineyards, Greece’s wine renaissance can point the way for others to deal with climate change.
The Greeks introduced wine culture to the world, but now the world is watching the vineyards of Greece go up in flames, as southern Europe struggles with unprecedented wildfires.
The fatal fires have wreaked havoc across Greece, Turkey and Italy as temperatures have soared to as high as 48C (118F), nudging the highest recorded temperatures in European history. And the fires couldn’t have come at a worse time for a wine industry finally making inroads into the wider world after centuries of slumber.
Most people accept that the fires are as a result of climate change, but could Greece – despite its current, ironic position as the focal point for the Mediterranean wildfires – actually point the way to saving the rest of the wine world from the effects of climate change and extreme heat? READ MORE…
Decanter: French wine harvest to be smallest for decades, says forecast
Devastating frosts and problems with mildew fungus mean France is facing a ‘historic’ low in terms of 2021 harvest size, according to a preliminary forecast.
A French government forecast shows the 2021 wine harvest could be the smallest vintage for at least 50 years.
Production will vary between grape varieties and regions but is likely to fall by between 24% and 30% overall versus last year, said Agreste, the statistics arm of France’s agriculture ministry.
That would mean a total of between 32.6m and 35.6m hectolitres, making 2021 the smallest French wine harvest since at least 1970, Agreste figures show.
There is still some way to go before grapes are picked in several regions, and the preliminary forecast focuses primarily on quantity rather than quality.
Yet it highlights the damage caused by severe spring frosts in many French wine regions earlier this year. READ MORE…
New York Times: Restaurants Will Never Be the Same. They Shouldn’t Be.
Few business sectors have experienced such violent swings between feast and famine in the last year as restaurants. Early in the pandemic, there was a demand problem: Few to no customers were willing to take the risk of eating in a dining room. Today, people are going out to eat again, and amid overwhelming demand, there’s a supply issue: A serious labor shortage confronts restaurants across the country.
As a chef and former restaurant owner, I know that the root causes of this predicament date to well before the pandemic. To address it, restaurants must fundamentally change. Diners must, too. 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.
Vinography: Wineries Should Require Proof of Vaccination to Taste Indoors
If New York City restaurants can require their indoor dining guests to provide proof of vaccination, why can’t wineries? Mask mandates are already back in place for Napa and Sonoma counties here in California, but they should be accompanied by requirements to show proof of vaccination status if visitors want to come inside tasting rooms, where they will need to remove their masks in order to sip and spit.
One winery has already taken this step, as I learned from a friend who is working at Inglenook as we exchanged text messages this past weekend. Of course, their website is making it hard to miss that fact, as this is the first thing you see when you visit. READ MORE…
SOVOS/ShipCompliant: DtC Shipping Essentials: Brand Label Registration
Brand label registration is an essential part of the process of selling alcohol. And while many suppliers are aware of these requirements for three-tier distribution, they can often overlook them when it comes to direct-to-consumer (DtC) shipping.
Alcohol labels, whether on a bottle, can or keg, have lots of information that is highly regulated, both at the federal level and within the individual states. There are rules about what information is required both on a label, such as the brand name and identification of the supplier, and information that is prohibited, such as specific health claims. In order to monitor whether an alcoholic beverage’s label is proper, state and federal regulations require each label to be approved and registered with the relevant regulatory agency for it to be sold.
Remember that DtC shipments are still a sale of alcohol, meaning that it is a type of sale that falls under the brand label registration requirements. Whether you are entering into DtC shipping for the first time or are expanding into new states, ensure that you abide by all applicable brand label registration requirements.
We’ve compiled the basics of brand label registration to help you understand how to best maintain compliance as you work in the DtC shipping world. READ MORE…
These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!
Portuguese Cork Association: The Portuguese cork industry urges the public to choose cork to combat climate change
The Portuguese Cork Harvest is taking place right now in Coruche, in the Ribatejo region where more than half of the world’s cork wine stoppers are made with over 40 million being created per day in the peak. Cork is 100% natural, recyclable and reusable – it is one of the most eco-friendly resources on the planet. The cork oak forests are crucial in the fight against climate change and fostering biodiversity. The forests prevent soil degradation, regulate the hydrological cycle and are responsible for storing over 14 million tons of CO2. One cork stopper alone stores 113g of CO2. READ MORE…
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