Theory and tasting—with Merit. Just saying. So that’s my news for the week. You can scroll through to see what else is happening in the rest of the world. Cheers!
Press Democrat: Sonoma County, six other Bay Area counties reinstate indoor mask mandate
Amid a persistent surge of coronavirus cases, public health officials in Sonoma County and six other Bay Area counties, plus the city of Berkeley, Monday ordered all residents in the region to again wear face coverings indoors in public settings, regardless of vaccination status.
The mask mandate takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday.
“We hope that people are going to take this order seriously and protect themselves and their community,” Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County’s health officer, said during a joint press conference of Bay Area public health officials.
Mase and her peers said it will be up to employers and businesses to enforce the mandate to help the region get a grip on the high infectious pandemic disease that once again is widely circulating in communities.
“We’ll work closely with our employers and our businesses to ensure that this occurs in our public spaces,” she said of mask wearing.
On the day the mask mandate was ordered, Sonoma County reported another coronavirus death of an unvaccinated person. A man between 50 and 64 with underlying health problems died at a local hospital July 26. His death is the 12th local fatality in July and the 331st in the county since the pandemic began in March 2020. READ MORE…
Eater: Just Mandate the Vaccine for Indoor Dining Nationwide
New York City is the first to require proof of vaccination for indoor dining. It’s time for other cities to do the same.
On August 3, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced the U.S.’s first citywide mandate requiring proof of vaccination for indoor dining. If we ever want to move beyond the pandemic, this should become a mandate in every city.
Just three months ago, when the CDC announced that vaccinated people no longer had to wear masks in most indoor settings, it felt like a corner had been turned after a brutal year. But in recent weeks, the extremely contagious delta variant, paired with low vaccination rates in parts of the country, has shifted that trajectory in the U.S., and daily cases continue to rise on a trend that triggers memories of the spikes of this past winter when cases reached a fever pitch across the country — earlier this week, Florida broke its all-time record for COVID-19 hospitalizations, with more than 10,000 people hospitalized.
What sets the current spike in national cases apart from those of late 2020 is that it is — or at least, could have been — largely preventable. The rate of daily vaccination has been trending upward in parallel with growing fears of the delta variant, but nationwide only 50 percent of people eligible to get the jab have been fully vaccinated. Most of the new cases being recorded each day are in unvaccinated individuals — who, in July, also made up some 97 percent of COVID-related hospitalizations.
With delta on the rise, mask mandates, social distancing, and occupancy limits aren’t enough to make restaurants entirely safe gathering spaces — nor is it fair to require restaurateurs to indefinitely face the time-intensive and costly challenges of reimagining their spaces, their menus, and everything else about their restaurants. At this point in the pandemic, anyone who wants to eat indoors at a restaurant, and is eligible, should be required to show proof that they are vaccinated. READ MORE…
VinePair: Why You Need to Know About English Still Wine
English still wine is not a new category. Sure, its more bubbly sister may be increasingly popular here in the States, but the still counterpart is beginning to gain momentum among consumers in the U.K. — and it may soon just be riding on the coattails of its seemingly sexier sibling across the pond.
In June 2021, Majestic Wines — one of the U.K.’s largest wine retailers — noted a 99 percent rise in English still wines sales over the course of the last year, with a whopping 200 percent growth in rosés alone. It’s been a long time coming. Successful viticulture in the U.K. started around the mid-11th century, but it hasn’t been until the last couple of years that English consumers, critics, and journalists have started to pay attention. READ MORE…
Napa Valley Register: California’s 2020 fire siege: wildfires by the numbers
The most telltale number is 4.2 million.
That’s the stop-in-your-tracks figure — the total acreage burned — from last year’s fire siege, the worst year in California’s long history of wildfires.
2020 was a fire year of unforgettable and awful superlatives. In the new world of mega-fires, a series of wildfires exploded late in August with a barrage of lightning and fires that blazed for four months.
The 4.2 million acres burned last year is equivalent to the entire area of Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties combined.
The state’s first giga-fire — the August Complex — alone consumed one million acres in the northern Coast Range.
Before the season was over, 31 people, including 3 firefighters, lost their lives.
The 4.2 million acres burned last year is equivalent to the entire area of Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties combined.
George Morris III, an assistant regional chief for Cal Fire, dwells on all these numbers. In the middle of last year’s desperate firefight, he was assigned to compile an historical account in part so the agency could learn lessons from the record-breaking season. READ MORE…
Grapes are a hardy, resilient fruit. Among the first lessons one learns when studying wine is that grapes should even undergo stress during their time on the vine when grown for high-quality winemaking. And so we can describe the wine industry as characteristically resilient by nature: resistant to freak annual weather occurrences; resistant in the long run to the fickle tides of drinking trends; and resistant, largely, to technological advancements.
The basic winemaking formula has remained more or less unaltered in its 8,000-odd-year history: Humans pick grapes from the vine, then crush them to release a saccharine juice, or “must.” In the vital act of transubstantiation for those who worship at the altar of inebriation, yeast then converts the sugars present in this solution to alcohol. Then, after an optional period of aging, the maker transfers the finished wine to a watertight and ideally inert vessel where it waits to render its drinker sensorially stimulated and reaching for a second sip. 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: Vineyard management companies – Napa beginnings
If you haven’t lived in the US, you may not be familiar with vineyard management companies. It’s not that they don’t exist in some iteration in the rest of the world, but nowhere is adoption as widespread as it is in the US. This is particularly true of California’s Napa Valley, where trucks emblazoned Piña, Wicker, Atlas, Renteria, Walsh, Nissen, Heritage, Silverado, Enterprise, Neal and Son and a dozen others can be seen parked next to vineyards along Silverado Trail and Highway 29.
These companies contract with vineyard landowners to provide expertise, equipment, infrastructure, products and labour for all viticulture-related tasks. They are well versed in labour laws, compliance and zoning (all extremely important factors, especially in California).
They handle everything from land and water development (clearing trees, drilling wells) to planting to picking to foliar nutrient sprays. They own tractors, mowers, sulphur sprayers and seed drills. They install posts, wires and irrigation. They specialise in a range of farming approaches from the low-budget and conventional to more innovative biodynamic and organic with every approach in between. If you don’t have a winery, or do but have more fruit than you can make into wine, many of these companies will set up contracts for you to sell fruit. These companies make it feasible to own a vineyard, be wholly uninvolved, and reliably have fruit delivered to your winery or a cheque delivered to your mailbox. READ MORE…
Wine Australia: Cypriot varieties an emerging favourite for drought tolerance – and taste
Australian consumers have given several drought-resistant grape varieties native to Cyprus the thumbs up on taste, a new study has found.
The study found that the concentration of flavour compounds in the white Cypriot wines trialled was comparable to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Associated consumer trials identified two clusters of consumers who liked Xynisteri ‘equally or more’ than Pinot Gris and Chardonnay; while another cluster rated wine made from the red Cypriot grape variety Maratheftiko on par, or more than Shiraz.
Lead author Alexander Copper, a PhD candidate from the University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, said the research adds further support for considering Cypriot varieties for use in Australia.
Earlier research with Cypriot grape varieties Maratheftiko and Xynisteri concluded the varieties adapted well to a hot climate. READ MORE…
The Wine Economist: Bicycles, Locomotives, and Wine Market Growth
Growth is the big question mark for the global economy and for the US wine market. The International Monetary Fund released their report on global growth last week, for example, and it was one of those situations where you wonder if your glass is half empty or half full.
The forecast for global growth was in the range of earlier estimates — about 6% economic growth for 2021 — but this solid expected performance was a combination of higher growth for the U.S. (7% growth) and some other developed countries with downgraded growth forecasts for less developed countries (LDCs), many of which continue to struggle with the covid pandemic.
The Global South is experiencing unexpected headwinds. Although many LDCs are projected to grow faster than the richer countries, as the table at the bottom of this column shows, the LDC growth rates shown here are lower than previous projections.
A two-speed global economy, where rich regions accelerate and poorer countries slow down, inevitably exposes fault lines that no one wants to see break open. READ MORE…
Dame Wine: One Of The Oldest Wine Producing Countries Growing Grapes In Conflict Zones—The Reemergence Of Armenia
For many wine producers, harvesting the grapes is the most stressful time period as it can make or break the future of potential wines. Some harvests are easier than others with enough time to gather the grapes with the days and nights going exactly as planned and making it a truly wonderful celebation of gathering ideally ripened fruit under easy circumstances. Yet there are other harvests where each step is trying, terrifying and at times exhausting as Mother Nature paints the skies grey with the gloom and doom of either too much rain or devastating hail. Neither an easy nor tough harvest is an absolute guarantee that the wine will be great as sometimes the cruelest vintages, with regards to weather, can produce incredible wines but those same wines will still send a chill up the spine of the winemaker as the memories of relentless stress are conjured by the very smell and taste of it. READ MORE…
Wine Gourd: Males used to drink more alcohol than females, but not any more
Physically, biological organisms are a collection of intricately co-ordinated chemical reactions. These biochemical reactions (as they are called) can only function effectively within certain limits. That is, there is always a situation described as “not enough” and another described as “too much”. For example, too little water means that we die of dehydration, and too much water means that we die by drowning — we need to keep ourselves between the two, if we are to stay alive.
For alcohol, the lower limit is zero (we don’t actually need alcohol in our lives); and approaching the upper limit leads to what is politely referred to as “alcohol use disorder”. The latter, if pursued fervently enough, leads to physical problems (like liver damage), behavioral issues (such as depression), and even an early death. In the wine industry, we should care about these things.* READ MORE…
BK Wine Magazine: Classifications, do they serve any useful purpose?
Saint Emilion is updating its classification. But Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Ausone no longer want to be part of it, which is fine. It is voluntary to take part in the new update (scheduled for 2022). It costs money. Applying to join (or stay) in the premier grand cru classé group costs 21,000 euros. It’s cheaper if you don’t want “premier”. Now, of course, it is not the money that has made the region’s two top chateaux decide not to join.
Is this the end of the Saint Emilion’s classification?
It is brave of Saint Emilion to embark on a new update after all the trouble surrounding the previous one. In 2006, eleven chateaux were demoted (from the grand cru classé group). Some of the chateaux sued the entire classification. When the update was finally approved in 2012, eight of them had regained their grand cru classé status. But three had inexorably fallen out. The lawsuits continued.
Furthermore, two chateaux (Pavie och Angélus) were promoted to the highest group, premier grand cru classé A, a group implicitly dedicated to Cheval Blanc and Ausone by virtue of their reputation.
Without Cheval Blanc and Ausone, some of the glory of being in the “A” group will be gone. READ MORE…
Tim Gaiser, MS: Glassware Revisited
Recently I read an online article about glassware. I learned that during the pandemic last year Americans drank 14% more than the previous year. No surprise given the stress of shelter in place and what with everyone always being home. I also learned that Americans purchased more wine online last year and, not surprisingly, more wine glasses than ever. The article then goes on to quote several industry professionals about their personal glassware choices. One mentioned that they drank wine out of small mason pint jars at home. Another admitted to using old McDonald’s glassware found at a thrift shop when hanging out with friends so as not to be so serious about the whole wine thing. READ MORE…
These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!
Delicato: Delicato Family Wines Completes Acquisition of Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Delicato Family Wines announced today the completion of the acquisition of the Francis Ford Coppola wine portfolio and two facilities anchored in Sonoma County, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery and the Virginia Dare Winery located in Geyserville, including the Archimedes Vineyard. The transaction was approved by the Federal Trade Commission on June 26th, 2021.
Looking back through the history of Delicato, it is marked by strategic moves to take advantage of changing markets, investments ahead of the growth, and continuous improvement. All these actions have delivered over a decade of double-digit growth – building a foundation for today’s milestone. READ MORE…
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