Happy Easter Weekend for those who celebrate. Hope everyone’s Spring season is off to a great start. This week’s wine-newsy round-up has a plethora of interesting topics. I particularly loved reading about how French wineries are employing refugees to help out during the current labor shortage; the optimism woven through the South African wine industry despite trying times; of course there’s the reality check of the latest news surrounding drought and wildfires in both Australia and California; and for all my WSET study buddies out there, check out this profile piece on Syrah.
Don’t forget to scroll down to read independent insight from the Blogs. I’ll toot my own horn for a second: This week I made my debut on Tim Atkin‘s site speaking about California vintners struggle with and perseverance through climate change. (See Survivor Vines.)
And if you missed my blog post for the week, be sure to find out more about California’s newest AVA.
Thanks as always for hanging out with me.
The Drinks Business: Refugees are Helping French Wineries Fill Labour Shortages
Grand Cru Bordeaux estate Château Pédesclaux in Pauillac has enlisted the help of refugees in order to fill labour shortages brought about by the pandemic.
As reported by the UN Refugee Agency, Pédesclaux has joined forces with an association of former rugby professionals to offer seasonal jobs and training to refugees.
Ovale Citoyen uses rugby as a way of promoting team-building and inclusion. Its winery work project, which launched last year, is called ‘Drop in the Fields’.
“The employment potential in the vineyards is huge. Viticulture has a shortage of labour and this lack has been exponential since the Covid crisis began,” the association’s founder, Jean François Puech, told the UN Refugee Agency.
The château hired 90 refugees to pick grapes during the 2020 harvest, which was a particularly hard time to recruit temporary staff due to the pandemic. READ MORE…
BBC: ‘I have put everything into my winery’
South Africa’s wineries have had a very difficult past 12 months, with bans on both domestic alcohol sales and exports. Yet the industry is now hopeful of a brighter future.
Winemaker Kiara Scott says she often couldn’t bear to watch President Cyril Ramaphosa’s regular coronavirus response updates.
“You know, the government can’t switch us [wineries] on and off like a light switch,” says the 28-year-old.
With the most Covid-19 deaths of any African country, South Africa has introduced draconian measures over the past year to try to get on top of the pandemic.
This included it being one of just a handful of countries to introduce a total ban on alcohol sales in response to coronavirus. READ MORE…
Bay Nature: Now, California Waits for the Fires
The 2020-2021 winter ends as one of the driest on record, with a long summer and fall ahead
t is green in the Mayacamas Mountains this spring, says Lisa Micheli, the president and CEO of the 3,200-acre nonprofit research reserve Pepperwood, but it is not the kind of lush green she would like to see in March. The North Bay landscape reflects an exceptionally dry winter. It remembers the wildfires that have burned through Pepperwood twice in the last four years.
Like people living and working everywhere in California’s fire zones, Micheli looks out the window at the beginning of a subdued spring bloom and wonders: in another six months or so, when the Bay Area reaches the dry peak of its long, rainless summer and fall, what is that landscape going to remember of water? To answer that question, she says, is to begin to understand fire and water together as a year-long relationship. “What’s the landscape’s memory of rainfall,” Micheli says. “How long does the rainfall reside and where does the rain go over time?” READ MORE…
ABC News Australia: Wine producers warn future crops are at risk of smoke taint from hazard reduction burns
A year after many New South Wales winegrowers lost their crops to smoke taint, they are now warning hazard reduction burns, which should protect them, could pose a new threat.
The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) called the just-ended bushfire danger period the “quietest fire season in a decade”. La Niña conditions provided ideal conditions for prescribed burns. Tom Ward, the president of the Orange Vigneron’s Association, was one of hundreds to lose his vintage to smoke taint after the devastating fires of last summer.
Smoke lingered in the air of the high-altitude wine region for almost 60 days. “We are once bitten, twice shy,” Mr Ward said. READ MORE…
Wine Spectator: Red Wine Compound Offers Potential Treatment for Endometriosis
A new study finds resveratrol could effectively help women suffering from the painful gynecological condition
Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that normally lines a woman’s uterus also grows on areas such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes or intestines. It’s a progressive disease that can cause chronic pain, irregular bleeding and infertility. It’s also one of the most common gynecological disorders, believed to affect more than 10 percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44.
While there is no known cure for endometriosis, doctors believe one of the best options for treatment is anti-inflammatory medication. And it so happens that one of the most intriguing anti-inflammatory compounds is a well-known ingredient in red wine: resveratrol.
Past research has considered resveratrol as a potential treatment for endometriosis, but now a new study has gone farther, testing the antioxidant found in grape skins and red wine in the lab on endometrial cells. READ MORE…
Metropolis: A Striking Winery Takes Shape in the Russian Countryside
Designed by Moscow firm Severin Proekt for new brand Cote Rocheuse, the winery highlights the complex process of winemaking.
Tasked with creating an eye-catching design landmark for a new winery in the Russian city of Krasnodar, architect Alexander Balabin and his studio Severin Proekt — which has designed residential complexes, hotels and infrastructure facilities across the country — sought inspiration from the nature of winemaking itself.
“In my imagination, wine has a very passionate, emotional, authentic essence,” Balabin tells Metropolis. “However, the creation process of making wine is a rational, considered, almost mathematical craft. Hard, intensive labor and sweat result in the end product: delightful, inspirational, beautiful liquid in the glass.” READ MORE…
WineTitles Media: Grape and wine businesses getting on with the job of developing new markets
Australian Grape & Wine is now focusing its attention on driving growth in developing markets following the announcement that China will be applying duties of up to 218.4 percent on most Australian wine exporters.
China’s Ministry of Commerce of Commerce (MOFCOM) released its final determinations on its investigations into allegations of the dumping of Australian wines in China and trade distorting subsidies (countervailing duties), applying duties on imports of all bottled, still wines from Australia.
“While it’s disappointing, the industry is not surprised by the decision,” said Tony Battaglene, chief executive of Australian Grape & Wine (AGW).
“We continue to reject the allegations levelled against AGW members and have approached both investigations as collaboratively and transparently as possible.”
Mr Battaglene said the industry had been preparing for this outcome. READ MORE…
VinEx: Argentina sees exports and domestic consumption surge during pandemic, though many wineries struggling to survive
“Living in an economy like Argentina’s is living under macroeconomic variables that disperse in every direction,” Herve Birnie-Scott, director of wineries, vineyards and oenology at Chandon Argentina told France 24. “We’re living with a currency, the peso, that is devaluing… when we import goods from abroad (in dollars) it costs us a lot of pesos. It means that almost all wineries in Argentina have financial problems.” With inflation running at 36% during 2020, second in Latin American only to Venezuela, this is hardly surprising,
While premium wines costing in the region of $30-$40 can be attractive in the European or US markets, they are simply too expensive for many Argentines suffering the impact of of three years of recession, with 40% of people living in poverty. READ MORE…
Oregon Wine Press: Grassroots of Ribbon Ridge
Oregon’s smallest AVA big on growing green
Resting on the western edge of the Willamette Valley’s Chehalem Mountains, the Ribbon Ridge AVA measures merely 3.5 miles long by 1.75 miles wide. Not only is it the smallest appellation in the state, Ribbon Ridge is, perhaps, the greenest, as well.
When Harry Peterson-Nedry started his quest for vineyard land in 1979, he was directed to a parcel on Ribbon Ridge Road outside Newberg. A year later, he and his family began Ridgecrest Vineyards, the first of its kind on Ribbon Ridge.
“The aspect, soils and open south-facing hillside ticked off boxes on my checklist,” Peterson-Nedry, also founder of RR Wines, recalled. “The fact that they overlooked Dick Erath’s original Chehalem Mountain Vineyard a half-mile away sealed the deal.” He laughed, “Aww, the innocence of not knowing what I was doing.” READ MORE…
Wine-Searcher: Fifty Shades of Syrah
Syrah’s ability to shapeshift can make it difficult to understand.
If there were air miles for grape varieties, Syrah would be up there second only to Chardonnay. A variety that was only really valued in the northern Rhône is now everywhere. From being regarded as a weed in Australia, it’s now ubiquitous and prestigious. Peter Vinding-Diers makes it in Sicily. Quinta do Crasto makes it in the Douro; Quinta do Monte d’Oiro makes it in Lisboa. It’s all over the USA. It’s in Argentina and Chile; Chateau Mercian grows it in Japan. In Brazil it can be interesting at 1000m up. It’s even being tested in Germany.
In New Zealand, some of the most respected and expensive reds are Syrah. Yet Steve Smith of Craggy Range remembers that after he’d first planted it, in 1999, he walked away from the vineyard saying to himself, ‘you stupid bastard, why did you plant Syrah in that place?’ READ MORE…
Eater Travel: One-Horse Town
What’s a year of social distancing when you’re Elsie Eiler, the longtime sole resident (and best burger chef) in America’s smallest small town?
Monowi, in Boyd County, Nebraska, is a somewhere far from anywhere. The town — if you can call it that; according to the US Census it’s a “village” — sits smack-dab in the flat center of the continental United States, four miles from the South Dakota border and 60 miles from the nearest Walmart, surrounded by dirt roads that wind through rolling farmland. The 535-square-mile county has a population of just 2,000; three of its towns have fewer than 10 people. Only Monowi, though, has a claim to fame, one conveniently suggested by its pronunciation: MONO-eye.
That is to say: Just one person lives in Monowi, the only incorporated, government-run town in the U.S. to have such a population. That person — that single, solitary soul — is 87-year-old Elsie Eiler. 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.
Tim Atkin: Survivor Vines
Since 2017, wildfires have become an annual crisis for Napa and Sonoma’s wine industry. In 2020, the one-two punch of the LNU and Glass Fires cost Napa County alone $3.7 billion in losses. Indeed, Napa’s Spring Mountain AVA saw the most extensive damages, with many losing grapes to smoke taint, some losing complete vineyards to heat damage, and others losing production and hospitality structures to full-on flames.
(We’ll stick a pin in the pandemic and lockdown for just a moment…)
There’s no denying that climate change is real. The word “wildfire” now modifies the word “season,” a stretch of time that can last anywhere from July through October. This is unprecedented territory for California vintners, who are figuring out how to deal with this added stage to the growing cycle. READ MORE…
Jamie Goode: Ageing wines in space? Sending dormant vines into space? Is this at all scientifically interesting?
This isn’t good science, as I’ll explain. It looks more like a publicity stunt than a well designed study. It’s not even that interesting (why would you expect micro gravity or cosmic radiation to affect wine ageing?), but it is headline grabbing, because of (1) Petrus, one of the world’s most famous wines; and (2) space!
From a scientific point of view, it’s a little embarrassing in my opinion. The Petrus in question is 2000, and it’s a wine that is almost 21 years old, and it will have been under cork for around 19 years. Corks are a natural product, and vary. There’s an immediate confounder here: if there is a difference between the two wines tasted, how do we know it isn’t because of the cork? We don’t. If you opened a case of 2000 Petrus and did proper sensory analysis of the bottles, you might expect them to taste a little different for precisely this reason. READ MORE…
Vino Joy News: China slams Australian wine with 218% tariffs for 5 years
China has announced its decision to impose up to 218.4% tariffs on Australian wines for a period of five years.
China has announced its decision to impose up to 218.4% tariffs on Australian wines for a period of five years, as it officially wraps up its eight-month anti-dumping investigation into Australian wine.
The decision completely dimmed Australian wine’s market prospect in its soon-to-be once biggest export market.
Announced on March 26 by Ministry of Commerce, the investigation concluded that there was a “causal relationship” between subsidized Australian wine and material damages to domestic wine industry.
Starting from March 28, any Australian wines in containers of 2 liters and below entering mainland China will be subject to duties from 116.2% to 218.4%, according to the ministry.
The punitive tariffs will be in place for at least five years until 2025, the same time frame China imposed on Australian barley. READ MORE…
Science & Wine: Photosynthetic acclimation to high temperature in Syrah and Grenache
Climate change is challenging many cultivated regions and natural ecosystems, as well as viticulture production worldwide (Flexas et al. 2010). Many viticultural areas are facing water scarcity, warming and heat waves, including the main grape-growing regions in Argentina (Cabré et al. 2016). One of the most sensitive physiological processes to temperature is photosynthesis. Understanding the mechanisms explaining photosynthetic response and acclimation to higher temperatures is crucial for agriculture (Yamori et al. 2014). The photosynthesis acclimation to temperature was defined as the environmentally induced changes in photosynthetic characteristics that result in improved performance under a warmer regime (Berry and Björkman 1980). As growth temperature (Tgrowth) increases, the most common reported response is a shift in the thermal optimum for photosynthesis (Topt), which leads to an increase in the photosynthetic efficiency at the new growth temperature (Yamori et al. 2014). Alternatively, some plants exhibit a homeostatic maximum net assimilation (An) when growth temperature increases that do not increase C assimilation at the new growth temperature (Way and Yamori 2014), indicating a wide thermal optimum range for photosynthesis. However, there is a discrepancy between studies about the extent of photosynthetic acclimation which appears to be species and even cultivar dependent (Yamori et al. 2014). READ MORE…
Vinography: Wine Aerators: $336.9 Million Worth of Bullsh*t
There is no single product … that is more useless, overpriced, and just plain irrelevant in the wine industry than any one of the hundreds of different wine aeration devices that have been “invented” to help wine lovers enjoy their wines more.
Despite this, according to a recent report, Americans spent $336.9 million dollars on wine aerators last year. And if the folks who put that report together are correct, by 2030 we’ll be spending $592,000,000 on these little plastic and metal pieces of junk yearly. That, my wine-loving friends, is a half-billion-dollar tragedy. READ MORE…
Young Gun of Wine: Australia’s 50 Best Young Wine Labels & Winemakers in 2021
This year marks the 15th annual edition of the Young Gun of Wine Awards – created for young wine labels and winemakers on the rise. Since 2007, we’ve scoured the country for the best emerging talent, always looking for new ideas, for creative mavericks, and for those unwilling to compromise. That’s what sets these winemakers apart – they’re changemakers. The annual list has become the go-to guide for drinkers looking for cutting-edge wines. And now, the time has come to reveal our Top 50 winemakers for 2021. READ MORE…
Dallas Wine Chick: Storica — Igniting America’s Awakening about Armenian Wines
Grapes grow in four main regions in the country — Ararat, Armavir, Aragatsotn, and Vayots Dzor, which account to the majority of production. According to the Vine & Wine Foundation of Armenia—the country has more than 400 indigenous grape varieties. In context, this equals half of Italy, which is known as being one of the toughest regions to learn. And Italy is 10 times larger. For whites, common grapes include Voskehat and Kangun. For reds, it’s mostly about Areni.
Storica is a collection of wine brands that reflect the terroir, ancient viticultural history, and high winemaking standards made from indigenous grapes of Armenia. It serves as a partner to Armenian brands, vineyards, wine makers, and producers by providing operational functions (marketing, sales and operations services) and getting the wines on the map in the US market. READ MORE…
WSET Global: Easter around the world—top tips on wine pairing
Easter is celebrated by friends and families all over the world. But from country to country, there are many different traditions and dishes. This year we explore how a few cultures celebrate, what food they serve, and offer some top tips on a good wine pairing.
When it comes to Easter in the UK or the USA, most are well-versed in cooking traditions, from fish on Good Friday to roasted Lamb on Easter Sunday with an abundance of chocolate in between. But it can be a bit trickier when it comes to finding a suitable wine pairing!
Read our guide to food and wine pairings at Easter here. However, if you’re interested in discovering something a little different this year, read on. We spoke to Lucy Stevenson DipWSET, Regional Marketing Manager EMEA WSET, about her top tips for pairing dishes from around the world. READ MORE…
Please the Palate: Pick of the Week—Castello Di Amorosa Non-Vintage, Non-Alcoholic Grape Juices
Castello di Amorosa is a medieval-style Tuscan castle winery located in Calistoga in Napa Valley. Brooks Painter, Director of Winemaking, and Peter Velleno, Winemaker, were asked by customers to make grape juices as healthy, flavorful and non-alcoholic alternatives to wine. And, using the same grapes that they use for their wines, they began making grape juice.
However, we are not talking about your super sweet juice made from concentrate with acid added for tartness. These are grape juices that are true to the varietal flavors. READ MORE…
These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!
Naidu Wines: First Female Indian Immigrant Owned Wine Brand, Naidu Wines, Successfully Launches Amidst a Pandemic
Naidu Wines launched in 2020 as the first female Indian owned wine brand in the United States, and has seen success despite being in the midst of a pandemic. Based in Sebastopol, Naidu Wines is a boutique wine company that crafts high quality wines, specializing in pinot noir. Her last name, Naidu, bears the label to convey the essence of her family and its belief in the freedom to create one’s own path by following your dreams and passions. READ MORE…
Wine Intelligence: Economic Worries and COVID Tempers Russia’s Wine Renaissance
For the past five years, the story of wine in Russia has been one of growth in wine volumes and spending on wine, led by urban Millennials. The Covid pandemic, plus tax rises and currency decline, appears to have dampened momentum
Russia has suffered both in terms of social restrictions and economic damage, with the fall in the price of oil in 2020 undermining the value of the Ruble and making imported products, such as wine, more expensive. Faced with another steep price increase, uncertainty about the future and fewer opportunities to socialise, Russian consumers have pulled in their horns and reduced drinking volumes across all alcohol categories, including wine. The effect on wine volumes will most likely be felt in the first half of 2021, when the continued restrictions on mobility combined with the typical Russian winter discourage socialising and celebrating. READ MORE…
American Academy of Ophthalmology: Drinking Wine May Help Protect Against Cataracts
People who consume alcohol moderately appear less likely to develop cataracts that require surgery. Wine consumption showed the strongest protective effect, suggesting that antioxidants which are abundant in red wine may play a role in cataract prevention. However, people who drank daily or nearly daily had about a 6 percent higher risk of cataract surgery compared with people who consumed alcohol moderately. The new research was published today as an Article In Press in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
A research team from NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology conducted the study because previous studies on cataracts and alcohol consumption were limited in their design and offered mixed results, ranging from an increased risk from heavy drinking, to reduced risk from low to moderate drinking to no link at all between alcohol and cataracts. READ MORE…
Upgraded Points: Latest Study Ranks the Most Popular Made-at-Home Cocktails in Each State During the Pandemic
According to the data, the most searched-for cocktail recipes nationwide during the spring and summer months were the “Painkiller,” (made with pineapple juice, rum, and orange juice), the classic Margarita (using tequila, triple sec and lime juice, and its variations) and the vodka-based Appletini.
As for national cocktail preferences during the colder, fall and winter months, the Margarita again scored highly, along with the Mimosa (a sparkling wine, often champagne, triple sec and orange juice) and the ever-popular “Moscow Mule,” a drink invented by Smirnoff ™ vodka which uses a combination of lime juice, vodka and ginger beer. READ MORE…
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