It’s been another week already. Hope yours went well. And I hope you enjoy this weeks booze-news round up. I’ll start with my oh-so-famous shameless self-promotion and point you this profile piece I wrote for Wine Enthusiast on Randall Grahm. Personal anecdote: way back when, Randall was the first winemaker I ever interviewed. I was such a newbie, asking basic winemaking questions as we tasted through 20+ of his wines. He’s a teacher at heart, and though my questions may be more complicated than they were back then, he’s still the kind, patient, and excited winemaker I know and love. He continues to be one of my favorite people in the industry to interview. So cheers to that.
Speaking of leadership in the industry, Kathleen Willcox has a great piece about wineries not just hiring more females for vineyard work, but creating a nurturing environment where these women can thrive and advance in their viticultural careers. Cheers to that. Oh and no big deal, but there may just be a cure to Pierce’s Disease…
When it comes to the next new thing in wine you may want to take a look at Kansas. (I guess there’s no place like home…). But, it looks like canned wine is a brushed up old has-been. Or is it?
What else? So much more. Take some time, scroll, read, learn, enjoy, leave a comment if you so desire. Have a great weekend.
Wine Enthusiast: Randall Grahm’s Quest for ‘Wines of Place’ Creates a New Frontier for California
Create wines of place. That’s the goal Randall Grahm set for himself in 2011, when he purchased his 280-acre Popelouchum estate in San Juan Bautista, California. He says he wanted to make wines that express true distinction and originality, that act as “terroir amplifiers.”
The 80 planted acres are home to “conventional varieties”—Pinot Noir, Grenache Blanc and Gris.
“But we’re trying to grow them in an old fashion, simpler way,” says Grahm. “The use of dry farming, biochar, limited yields, no till. We’re really trying to pay attention to the microbiology of the soil—all those things create an emphasis on the sense of place, the distinctiveness of the site.”
Further to this effort of site distinction, Grahm is dabbling with what he calls “varietal auto-tuning.” READ MORE…
Wine Industry Advisor: Females in the Field—How Women in the Vineyard Make for Better Wine Business
A lot of ink has been spilled—with good reason—on the dearth of women in positions of power at wineries.
Despite numerous studies asserting that women are better tasters of wine than men, they have a long way to go before they’ll be able to make, distribute, or sell wine at the same rate men do.
According to a study conducted by Wonder Women of Wine and the Wine Nerd, it may take more than a decade; according to Women Winemakers, of the 4,200 bonded wineries in California, just 14 percent reported having a woman as their lead winemaker in 2020.
It’s a real problem, and one that is getting more and more attention. What is still flying under the radar, however, is the lack of females in the field; or if they do make it onto a picking crew, it’s typically a one-and-done situation with no room for growth on the other side of harvest. READ MORE…
Wine Industry Advisor: Scientists Develop Organic Cure for Pierce’s Disease
Currently, treatment is limited to traditional pesticides, which need to be sprayed but are only effective after the virus infects the plant. There is a preventive treatment that stops sharpshooters from eating the plant, but needs to be applied via irrigation. The third option is planting vines far enough away from sharpshooter habitats so the insect can’t fly to it.
Now, though, Texas A&M researchers, working alongside a Japanese pharmaceutical company, may have found a way to not only prevent PD, but to cure it in vines that haven’t been infected for too long. READ MORE…
Wine Industry Advisor: Is It Time to Kick the (Wine) Can?
“The thing that always propelled the idea of canned wine was its huge growth,” says Lulie Halstead, the CEO of the Wine Intelligence consultancy. “But it was growing from such a small, small base, and that obscured what was going on.”
By one Market Watch estimate, canned wine sales were about $200 million in the U.S. in 2020, up 68 percent from the previous year. That’s impressive, until one puts it in perspective: the overall U.S. market was worth $70 billion in 2020.
In fact, says Halstead, her company’s 2020 study found that although canned wine awareness levels grew dramatically in the past three years in the U.S., that awareness still remains relatively low: “Fewer than 4 in 10 wine consumers are even aware that wine can come in a can, and only 8 percent say they have bought canned wine in the past six months,” states the study. And that latter number isn’t especially high for younger consumers—just 14 percent of Gen Z and 11 percent of Millennial participants claimed past canned-wine purchases. READ MORE…
The Drinks Business: Port 2021 vintage ‘looking promising’
The 2021 Port vintage in the Douro Valley is looking promising, with a return to more normal weather patterns this year punctuated by sporadic hail and thunderstorms, reports Richard Woodard.
At this early stage – grapes are still being picked at the time of writing – the wines show good natural acidity, and are very different to those produced in last year’s extreme heat, according to David Guimaraens (pictured below), technical director and head winemaker at The Fladgate Partnership.
“In 2021 we have good Ports which stand out for their freshness and elegance,” he said during a virtual harvest update direct from the Douro. “They’ve got volume of fruit. These Ports are extremely welcome following 2020 and a very good contrast.” READ MORE…
The New Yorker: An Ex-Drinker’s Search for a Sober Buzz
Can the booming market for non-alcoholic drinks offer a safe way to return to the bar?
Just inside the Athletic Brewing Company’s headquarters, in Stratford, Connecticut, there is a long wooden bar with a selection of non-alcoholic craft beers on tap. When I visited the brewery and public taproom on a sunny afternoon in June, during our fleeting summer of freedom before the emergence of the Delta variant, I could smell the hops—the flowers that give beer its sour-sweet fruit flavor—while I was still outside.
Behind the bar, Bill Shufelt, a thirty-eight-year-old former hedge-fund trader, who co-founded Athletic in 2017, drew me a pint of Two Trellises, one of the company’s seasonal N.A. brews—a hazy I.P.A. that he and the other co-founder, John Walker, Athletic’s forty-one-year-old head brewer, were test-batching. I had not raised a pint drawn from a keg since I quit drinking alcohol, exactly one thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight days earlier. The glass seemed to fit my palm like a key. READ MORE…
Wine Spectator: Haut-Brion Owners Expand Plans on Bordeaux’s Right Bank, Buy Château Grand-Pontet
Prince Robert de Luxembourg says they will combine the St.-Emilion winery with Château Quintus
Domaine Clarence Dillon (DCD), the family firm that owns Château Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion, has acquired St.-Emilion Grand Cru Classé Château Grand-Pontet from the Pourquet-Bécot family for an undisclosed sum. Prince Robert de Luxembourg, DCD chairman, tells Wine Spectator that the property will be combined with Château Quintus, giving DCD one of St.-Emilion’s largest estates on prime terroir.
“We have long been looking for opportunities to add good vineyards to Quintus, de Luxembourg said. “We’ve been close on a few other properties and lost out at the last minute.” Adding the nearly 37 acres of Grand-Pontet to Quintus “would produce one of the largest of the great growths of St.-Emilion.” READ MORE…
Wine Enthusiast: A Growing Movement to Revive Kansas Wine
The Midwest may be known as the breadbasket of America, but cash crops like corn and soybeans are far from the only things grown on the plains of Kansas.
Prior to Prohibition, the Sunflower State was one of the top grape-growing areas of the country. But the devastation caused by the temperance movement and subsequent decades of strict restrictions on alcohol have hampered the Kansas wine industry’s rebound.
Recently, however, a spate of new wineries in Eastern Kansas, particularly along the I-70 corridor, are focusing on wine education and attracting drinkers from across the region. READ MORE…
The Drinks Business: Bordeaux winemakers stand trial for ‘rigging’ Grand Cru rankings
Two wine barons are facing up to five years in prison for manipulating the rankings of their wines within the Saint Emilion classification system in order to push prices up.
Hubert de Boüard, owner of Château Angélus, and Philippe Castéja, owner of Château Trotte Vieille, stand accused of allegedly rigging entry to the St Emilion classification system, and their rankings within it, in order to unfairly inflate the price of their wines, which are classed as Grand Cru Classé A and B status respectively.
The case was brought by the owners of three separate Chateaus, who are said to have been outraged that their vintages had failed to make the cut, or to acquire the system’s coveted Grand Cru Classé status. Entry into the classification comes with global prestige and is also said to boost wine prices by around 30%.
The legal battle has been ongoing since INAO published its new classification for St Emilion in 2012, a list which is reassessed every 10 years. However, the defendants appeared in court this week to answer the charges. 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.
Jancis Robinson: A light shone on wine intolerance
Have you ever wondered about the message ‘contains sulphites’ on almost every bottle of wine? And have you ever wondered why some people find even a moderate amount of wine disagrees with them? Contrary to popular belief, the two may not be related according to new research by Master of Wine Sophie Parker-Thomson, who was once a lawyer but is now a wine producer and consultant in Marlborough, New Zealand.
After passing gruelling written exams and three sessions involving blind tasting, each prospective MW has to submit a research paper in order to be awarded the hard-won letters after their name. Many of the topics chosen are, frankly, of distinctly limited interest. Recent topics have included ‘Online wine tasting courses in Norway. Examining the quality of corrective feedback through an online platform and the opportunities for development’ and ‘A scientific study comparing the influence of three different strains of Oenococcus oeni on malolactic fermentation kinetics and chemical properties relating to the colour and flavour of Pinot Noir wine from Burgundy’.
But Parker-Thomson’s research, described here by Julia and defended here by its author, into ‘the relationship between the use of sulphur dioxide and biogenic amine levels in wine’ may have seriously wide-ranging effects on how wine is made and provide useful guidance for winemakers and clues for people who feel terrible after drinking wine. READ MORE…
Science & Wine: Do yeast lees always stimulate wine malolactic fermentation?
Oenococcus oeni is the main agent of wine malolactic fermentation (MLF) . This fermentation is desirable in red wines and high acidity wines and usually takes place after the alcoholic fermentation (AF) that produces wine from grape must. During this process, oenological yeasts transform the sugars from the must into ethanol and CO2, while other nutrients are also exhausted. Traditionally to better control the AF, Saccharomyces cerevisiae is inoculated in the initial must. Nevertheless, during the last few decades, the increasing interest about the positive influence of non-Saccharomyces in wine opened a new scenario of metabolic activities and wine modulation in the final product . This vast group of yeasts named non-Saccharomyces include other genera as Torulaspora, Metschnikowia, Lachancea, Hanseniaspora, Candida, etc.
Wine is a complex matrix with low nutrient content and high concentration of inhibitor compounds, which will be very dependent on the fermenting yeast metabolic activities during AF . Besides, it is the preferent ecological niche of O. oeni where it has to grow and develop. In this sense, MLF is a stress metabolism that enables the bacterium to survive with a not very efficient energy source: L-malic acid .
Under these harsh conditions, the failure of MLF can occur due to the low nutrient content and high inhibitory compounds present in wine. READ MORE…
Trink Magazine: A Letter to My Younger Somm Self
Don’t let anyone tell you those rocks are a waste of time.
Twenty-five years from now, sitting in a Koblenz classroom on your first day of wine school, you will be grateful for each and every one of them. Because there in the heart of German wine country, those stones and their secrets — though you don’t know it yet — will be the foundation keeping you steady among your more experienced classmates, those vintners’ sons and daughters who boast seven, ten, 15 generations in the business, and counting. All while you are still trying to locate the Mosel on a map, and looking up “prädikat” under the table in your pocket dictionary.
And because the only word you’ll catch is “petrol”and not Riesling, you’re going to walk out of that room thinking: “Germans are really obsessed with their cars!”
On the long road ahead, you will eventually train your ears, both to this strange language and the people who speak it. But on that day, with the call of the vine-studded Loreley just beyond the classroom window, you will be grateful for the long road behind. The one that started in “the Granite State,” with the summer of rocks. The one where you learned that hard stones when struck together don’t break, they spark. And the spark of that summer will fuel a lifetime of curiosity, even when life, love, or German tries to get in the way. READ MORE…
Tim Atkin: The Human Factor
Do you have any bottles of South African wine in your cellar? Go and have a look at the certification seal (usually attached to the neck of the bottle). It’s more than likely that at least one of those bottles will bear the slogan “Sustainability and Integrity”. This phrase appears on every wine that has passed the requirements of the IPW certification (Integrated Production of Wine). The IPW seal is a certification that only deals with environmental concerns, and issues like water usage; there are no requirements related to human working conditions, or worker compensation. But in a country with the worst wealth inequality in the world*, the idea of a wine that embodies both sustainability and integrity surely loses all meaning if it doesn’t protect the humans that made it.
South Africa’s wealth inequality has been widely publicised in various forms over the last 20 years, but the unfortunate truth is that the wine industry forms an even more concentrated microcosm of this inequality. After all, many of Stellenbosch’s most lauded estates are owned by some of the richest people in the country, while the vineyards on these estates are harvested by some of the poorest. READ MORE…
Wine Industry Analyst Weigh-in: JUSTIN’s Acquisition of Lewis Cellars
Rob McMillan, EVP of Silicon Valley Bank, speaks about The Wonderful Company’s newest Napa label.
The Wonderful Company is involved with almost every kind of agriculture and beverage business in California.The $5 billion privately held, Los Angeles-based firm is the brainchild of husband and wife Stewart and Lynda Resnick. Wonderful includes brands like Fiji Water, Pom Wonderful juice and a dozen other companies in the pistachio, almond, citrus and—wine businesses.
Under their Fiji brand, Wonderful acquired JUSTIN Cellars in 2010, Landmark Vineyards in 2011 and launched JNSQ in 2019. Just this past August, 2021 Wonderful also acquired Lewis Cellars, a boutique, Napa-based wine estate founded by former race car driver Randy Lewis and his wife, Debbie. The winery, which produces just 10,000 cases annually, has consistently ranked high in industry wine scores and prides itself in sourcing fruit from lauded Napa vineyards.
Lewis Cellars will fall under the JUSTIN operating organization of Wonderful. READ MORE…
These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!
Wine Industry Network opened registration for the 9th annual North Coast Wine Industry Trade Show & Conference (WIN Expo), scheduled for Thursday, December 2nd, 2021, at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and Event Center in Santa Rosa, CA. WIN Expo is both a buying show and educational conference. READ MORE…
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