Hello my friends. Another busy week. But since my friend (and fellow blogger) Rick actually took the time to send me a thank you note for these weekly round-ups, I figure they are, indeed worth the time and effort.

A few article call outs: Check out these two Black female powerhouses making waves in the Mid-Atlantic wine scene. Closer to home, in case you missed it, Napa and Sonoma experienced thunder and lightening and thankfully some rain, which means we’re not having an epic fire situation per 2020. However, there have been some suspicious spot fires around Healdsburg. Meanwhile, though the Caldor Fire continues to burn, containment continues to increase and vintners start the long recovery process. And now for something completely different: It seems expert analysts not convinced by recent poll concluding a massive wine consumer gender gap—interesting data there.

Over in the blogs, Tablas Creek has some interesting, and concerning, harvest updates regarding a significant drop in yields. A must read: Jancis Robinson’s article on females in the Slovenian wine industry. And, since I’m studying for my WSET Diploma D4 exam at the moment (Sparkling Wines of the World), I thought this post on Champagne from Jamie Goode was quite interesting.

Oh! And I’m not one to push press releases but check this out: Wine Company Pairs with Comic Book Producer. Need more of this in my life.

And, yes, registration is open for WINExpo where I’ll be moderating the viticultural session on regenerative organics.

There’s plenty (plenty) more. So take a scroll, read, enjoy, drink good wine. Cheers.

Wine Industry Advisor: Philosophy—Maryland’s First Black-owned Winery

Kimberly Johnson (front, right) and Denise Matthews (back, left), owners of Philosophy Winery / Courtesy Philosophy Winery
Kimberly Johnson (front, right) and Denise Matthews (back, left), owners of Philosophy Winery / Courtesy Philosophy Winery

For Kimberly T. Johnson, winery ownership began with a much less complicated mission— free admission into some of Maryland’s biggest wine festivals by working as a volunteer.

At the time, her career was rooted in finance and accounting, but it took one “horrible day” at her full-time job to prompt a call to her best friend, Denise Matthews. “I said, ‘Hey, I’m so tired of this mess. Do you want to start a winery with me?’ And she said, ‘Yes, sure.’”

That conversation triggered the beginning of Philosophy Winery, what the founders call a ‘mobile boutique’ wine business: Johnson and Matthews sell their wines at farmers markets, festivals, and online, as well as make home deliveries.

Philosophy is the first Black-owned winery in the Maryland, and one of just two in the whole mid-Atlantic.

And when the director of the Maryland Wineries Association told Johnson that Philosophy is also the first fully female-owned winery in the state—she was “floored.” READ MORE…

Press Democrat: At least 2 dozen lightning strikes confirmed in North Bay, fire officials boost staffing

Lightning strikes in the area of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. Santa Rosa's Fountaingrove is in the foreground. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2021
Lightning strikes in the area of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. Santa Rosa’s Fountaingrove is in the foreground. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2021

Sonoma County public safety officials called in extra personnel and readied emergency alert systems late Thursday into Friday morning as thunderstorms arrived in the North Bay and a broader swath of Northern California, posing an extreme wildfire risk at the height of a historic, drought-fueled fire season.

“This is an ‘all hands on deck’ event for us,” Sonoma County Fire District Chief Mark Heine said Thursday. “It’s a very high-impact event for us.”

As of 12:45 a.m. Friday, the National Weather Service reported that at least two dozen lightning strikes had been confirmed in parts of Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties.

“In our reality, the forecast is playing out as anticipated pretty nicely,” Roger Gass, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said. “Historically, late August into September are typically times we would have this setup develop. But it was obviously something we were mindful of and concerned about, given our dry conditions across the region.” READ MORE…

Wine Industry Advisor: Fire Watch—CalFire Continues Caldor Containment, Sierra Wine Country Begins Recovery

Kara Sather, executive director of the El Dorado Wine Association, says the local wine community is grateful for the so-called “ant hill crew,” a group of neighbors in the Somerset area who banded together to protect the area.

Crucial in the defensive battle was Randy Rossi, co-proprietor of Saluti Cellars. A former law enforcement officer with a firefighting son and son-in-law. Over the past 10 years, Rossi strategically prepared his 250 acres for the possibility of fire, “masticating” trees and preventing re-growth by implementing cow-grazing. The popular winery is now protected by a 500-foot, park-like firebreak around the winery and played a crucial role as a staging area for fire trucks and firefighters, as they did not lose power due to their back-up generator and solar energy systems.

“On the left side of the Caldor fire map, you can see an area that looks like a crab claw. Our property is in the middle of the unburnt area; fire officials stated that our pond, our efforts, and our ability to stage task forces contributed to that unburnt area,” Rossi comments to Wine Industry Advisor from the hospital where he recovers from knee surgery—an injury sustained fighting the Caldor flames. READ MORE…

Napa Valley Register: The (not so) future of Big Data and mechanization in winemaking

Kaan Kurtural from UC Davis takes visitors throughout the vineyard to show them the center's technology at work / Sam Jones, Register
Kaan Kurtural from UC Davis takes visitors throughout the vineyard to show them the center’s technology at work / Sam Jones, Register

In Kaan Kurtural’s academic career, he has fielded a lot of questions about growing grapes. But with decades of experience behind him, there is one in particular that always left him shocked.

“People used to ask me, ‘Well, can grapes even be picked by a machine?’” he said. “I was taken aback … A lot of people are having a tough time comprehending that the grape vines are looking quite different than what they have been used to in the last 30 years.”

Kurtural is an Associate Cooperative Extension Specialist with UC-Davis’s Viticulture department, and helps manage the 40-acre Oakville Station research center and experimental vineyard. On this specific plot, Kurtural says he and his students have about 14 projects being conducted at any given time, all focused on accumulating data sets which will be used to introduce mechanization into the vineyard. READ MORE…

Press Democrat: Investigators probing series of ‘suspicious’ Labor Day brush fires near Healdsburg

Healdsburg Fire Protection District volunteer Alan Loyola prepares to sprint up a hillside on Healdsburg Avenue, Monday, Sept. 6, 2021, to help douse flames during one of a series of brush fires around the Healdsburg region. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)
Healdsburg Fire Protection District volunteer Alan Loyola prepares to sprint up a hillside on Healdsburg Avenue, Monday, Sept. 6, 2021, to help douse flames during one of a series of brush fires around the Healdsburg region. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)

Cal Fire is investigating a series of at least 14 roadside fires in and around the city of Healdsburg within a few hours’ time Monday night, inciting suspicion and alarm amid exceptionally dry conditions that have bred massive wildfires across California.

The largest of Monday’s fires was just under 2 acres in size, and many were much smaller, officials said. No injuries or structural damage was reported, and no evacuations were necessary, they said.

But for a community traumatized by recent, catastrophic wildfires, the threat remains distressing. Many residents speculated the fires could have been set intentionally.

Cal Fire personnel cautioned that no conclusions had been drawn about the cause of the fires or whether they were set by an arsonist. They said roadside fires have sometimes been caused by passing vehicles with failing brakes or dragging chains that created sparks that went on to start wildfires.

Seven of the fires were along a stretch of Mill Creek Road just past the edge of last year’s 55,209-acre Walbridge fire, which charred the coastal hills west of Healdsburg. READ MORE…

Wine Industry Advisor: Wine’s ‘Gender-Split’

Expert analysts not convinced by recent poll concluding a massive wine consumer gender gap

There has always been a sense that women buy more wine than men in the United States. But according to wine marketers, wine’s gender split isn’t necessarily one-sided and it’s quite complicated, once pricing and styles are taken into consideration. Yes, women buy much more Prosecco and Pinot Grigo. But does that mean men don’t like wine at all?

All in all, says John Gillespie, the founder and CEO of the Wine Opinions research firm and a former president of the Wine Market Council, it’s not an easy subject to untangle.

Nevertheless, Gallup’s 2021 alcohol beverage study, released in August, came up with a massive gender split. It found that only 15 percent of U.S. men who drink alcohol said they preferred wine over beer and spirits, and that the typical U.S. wine drinker was a college educated woman 55 or older. On the other hand, men preferred beer by a more than 3 to 1 margin.

Even more stunning? This was the second survey in a row, from Gallup, that reported the 15 percent number.

What exactly is going on here? READ MORE…

Wine Enthusiast: In the Midwest, Sweet Wines are Big Business and Majorly Misunderstood


Jeremy Campbell, a wine manager at Binny’s Beverage Depot in Lake Zurich, Illinois, says that customers who take pride in their wine knowledge often treat the purchase of a Moscato with embarrassment.

“They feel obligated to say, ‘I drink dry. This isn’t for me,’ ” says Campbell.

Gracie Peters, a sommelier and general manager for LouVino, a wine-inspired restaurant chain with locations in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, has had similar experiences with people buying Moscato.

“I feel like it’s always been looked down upon as a cheaper wine, or maybe not as good,” says Peters. READ MORE…

The Drinks Business: Is Yorkshire the future of English wine?

Yorkshire is increasing its English wine clout thanks partly to rising temperatures in the North, which are helping the region’s winemakers to thrive. 

Yorkshire, England
Yorkshire, England

Amidst the well-documented challenges presented by climate change, there are also opportunities. The resulting warmer weather has opened up a window for English wine producing to move further north, transcending the hub of wineries centred around the Kent and Sussex pockets.

“Generally speaking it has always been much cooler in the North of England, compared with Southern regions like Sussex, which is statistically the sunniest county in the UK,” Sam Linter, chair of WineGB told db this week. “What we’re seeing now is warmer springs starting earlier, and the end of the season stretching right through to the end of October in some cases.”

It’s a change that is undoubtedly benefiting producers looking to make wine in the northern counties, with 16 commercial vineyards now operating in Yorkshire alone. READ MORE…

VinePair: Small Town, High Tech—How West Virginia Great Barrel Company Is Turning Heads in the Bourbon Industry

illustration: MIA CARNEVALE
illustration: MIA CARNEVALE

On June 23, 2016, a foot of rain fell on the mountains surrounding White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., in just 12 hours. The water funneled through the long narrow valley in which the hamlet sits, transforming tiny Howard Creek into a wide, roiling torrent, toppling houses. One went up in flames — a floating bonfire careening through town. By the time the water receded, the flood had killed 13 people in Greenbrier County. Hundreds of residents had to relocate. The local economy, already depressed, was at risk of collapse. Tom Crabtree, an architect with a vacation home in town, surveyed the wreckage the next day. “I saw houses completely swept away — even the foundations were gone. One neighborhood had five fatalities. It was awful,” he says.

Six months later, Crabtree sat down for a Christmas dinner at the nearby Greenbrier Resort with fellow volunteers from Hope Village, a program to build new housing for flood victims. They happened to be seated next to a couple celebrating the fact that their company, the award-winning Smooth Ambler Spirits, had just been purchased by Pernod Ricard. Everything was great, Smooth Ambler co-owner Greg Parseghian told the table, but it was the height of the bourbon barrel shortage, and he was worried about finding enough barrels to keep up with production. Parseghian explained to Crabtree that he was frustrated watching local loggers cut perfect barrel wood — slow-growth American white oak — and ship it out of state to be made into barrels before he could buy them. “That clicked in our minds,” says Crabtree. “We all looked at each other because we had been looking for an economic development project.” READ MORE…

Kveller: This Jewish Family Has Been Making Honey Wine for 150 Years

Lipman learning to prune vines from her grandfather. Courtesy of Loew Vineyards
Lipman learning to prune vines from her grandfather. Courtesy of Loew Vineyards

Twenty-eight-year old Rachel Lipman cares deeply about preserving her Jewish family’s fifth-generation wine-making business, Loew Vineyards, but she’s also keeping an eye on the future. As one of the youngest winemakers in Maryland — if not the youngest — she’s pushing through boundaries in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

But that’s not all. Lipman is also educating customers about her family’s extraordinary legacy of producing unique wines — a 150-year-old family tradition that was nearly eradicated by the Holocaust.

Among the 14 wines currently available on the Loew Vineyards website, four of them are not wines in a traditional sense. Rather, they are meads, or honey wine. Meads are made with fermented honey  — and therefore well-suited for the upcoming High Holidays. Among the available varieties include cyser (mead with apple juice) and pyment (mead with grape juice). READ MORE…

Wine Spectator: Sommelier Roundtable—Advice for Wine Newbies

Here’s what eight experts from Restaurant Award winners suggest for a strong start to any wine journey

To jumpstart a wine education, several sommeliers from Restaurant Award winners recommend creating a tasting group with friends or family. (Getty Images/Arno Images)
To jumpstart a wine education, several sommeliers from Restaurant Award winners recommend creating a tasting group with friends or family. (Getty Images/Arno Images)

There’s so much to learn about wine that, for those who are just beginning, it’s often difficult to know where to start. The countless books, tastings, classes and other resources available these days can be straight-up overwhelming. But with a little guidance, newbies can take advantage of the vast range of educational tools and find the ones that work best for them.

To help, we asked eight sommeliers from Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners to share their wine-study advice. Though it’s meant for novices, even experienced wine drinkers can benefit from these expert tips. READ MORE…

Eater: Everything You Need to Know About ‘Great British Bake Off’ 2021

GBBO’s new series is again filmed in a COVID-19 bubble, and Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith aren’t going anywhere

Clockwise from top left, Matt Lucas; Noel Fielding; Prue Leith; and Paul Hollywood of Great British Bake Off. Great British Bake Off
Clockwise from top left, Matt Lucas; Noel Fielding; Prue Leith; and Paul Hollywood of Great British Bake Off. Great British Bake Off

It’s coming up to Great British Bake Off season, motherf******. Now in its new series on Channel 4, GBBO’s impeccable mixture of ‘British’ cakes, bakes, and puddings; risible puns; Paul Hollywood’s blue steel eyes; and a massive tent is likely never going to collapse. Here’s everything you need to know about Great British Bake Off 2021, which starts on Channel 4 in September. Expect a weekly round-up of all the best bits as the series progresses — just come back to this Great British Bake Off hub to see them all. 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: Wine, women and Slovenia

At Frelih, it was the younger son who was the heir but when he died, his widow Veronika Frelih Senior took over.
At Frelih, it was the younger son who was the heir but when he died, his widow Veronika Frelih Senior took over.

I have never been one for singling out women for being women doing any particular job, and in an ideal world of equality, there would be no need. But in much of the wine world, including Slovenia, true equality remains a distant dream. As an outsider, I typically see Slovenia as quite forward-thinking – notably so in terms of environmental awareness, organic and local food and so on. Yet in wine, the playing field is very far from level, indeed shockingly so. After asking around, I’ve identified around two dozen women who are winemakers and/or owners from around 2,000 wine producers in the country. Mateja Škrl Kocijančič of Family Estates Slovenia confirms that just five of her association’s 87 members are women, though she adds that 90% of the male members have a strong woman at their backs.

As I pointed out in reference to Bulgaria, I wouldnt recommend communism or socialism as the best route to achieving gender parity, but because Slovenia has always struck me as progressive, the current inequality is quite a surprise. READ MORE…

Dame Wine: French Wine Producer Using Electric Wires To Combat Frost In Chablis, Burgundy

Domaine William Fèvre Grand Cru Les Clos 2009 and 2018 Photo Credit: Cathrine Todd
Domaine William Fèvre Grand Cru Les Clos 2009 and 2018
Photo Credit: Cathrine Todd

Very little sleep was had by Domaine William Fèvre’s cellar master Didier Séguier while he fought 20 nights of frost over a span of only 29 days in the Chablis wine region in northern France in April earlier this year. “And the temperatures were very, very low this year, around -8 Celsius [18 Fahrenheit],” Didier explained. In some vineyards they lost 50% of their potential grapes in vineyards where they were able to employ protection against the frost while other vineyards lost all of the potential for any grape bunches hence there was zero production. Even though Didier is very well-acquainted with frost, as it has become one of the most concerning issues for Chablis over the past six years, 2021 was still a shock in its relentless onslaught of severe freezing temperatures. READ MORE…

James Suckling: Poised and Elegant Chinese Wines? Huailai Could Hold Key to Unlocking Greatness

A sign reading "Creating China’s Bordeaux" is prominently displayed in a Huailai village, reflecting the region's lofty ambitions. (Photo by Zekun Shuai)
A sign reading “Creating China’s Bordeaux” is prominently displayed in a Huailai village, reflecting the region’s lofty ambitions. (Photo by Zekun Shuai)

Ningxia epitomizes China’s resolve to establish a modern wine epicenter in the East, and with recent guidelines issued by the government to lift the region’s wine trade, there will be a lot more happening on the plains of the Gobi Desert. But even though the north-central part of the country is churning out rich, generous and excellent wines, we couldn’t stop asking ourselves: Is it the wonderland for great wines from China?

Although some see parallels between Ningxia and the well-established Bordeaux, the one place in China that might bear a better resemblance to the classic French wine-growing region is Huailai, which lies just to the west of China’s teeming capital, Beijing. Forty wineries are scattered throughout the region, which is set amid gently rolling hills and the gigantic Guanting Reservoir.

Although producers have been making wine here since the 1970s, it has only been over the past few years that local, mostly independent makers have started pulling off staggering, world-class wines. For a long time, producers in Huailai, such as Martin Vineyard, bought grapes from local farmers and sold bulk wine to a few wine conglomerates, including the state-owned GreatWall, Dynasty and Changyu. READ MORE…

Tablas Creek Blog: Harvest 2021 at the Quarter Pole: Seriously High Quality but Major Alarm Bells on Yields

Our harvest chalkboard so far
Our harvest chalkboard so far

We expected that crop levels would be light this year given that it was a dry, chilly winter, with most of our rain coming in one storm (which means that as absorbent as our soils are, we lose more to runoff than we would if the rain were distributed more widely) and some cold temperatures coming late (which tends to reduce berry size). But we were all taken by surprise by just how light some of these first picks turned out to be. We’ve finished picking three grapes so far, and all three look like they’re down significantly. Viognier is down least, off by about 32% compared to last year. The Pinot Noir from my mom’s that we use for our Full Circle Pinot was off by 33%. And Vermentino, which usually hangs a big crop, was off 46%. What’s more, the berries are smaller, so the yield of juice per ton of grapes is likely to be lower. Yikes. READ MORE…

The Wine Gourd: The (saddest) effect of Covid-19 on the wine industry

Phillip's Funeral
Phillip’s Funeral

This is an unusual “data” post, for this blog, because the only real data is the number 4.

We all have Covid-19 stories. Mine is probably better than many peoples’, but it still hurts. A few years ago, I managed to get back to Australia in time to see both my father and my sister one last time before they died (which they did in the same week). Well, last year I planned to do the same thing for my brother. The Australian government had other plans, however, isolating themselves fairly effectively from the pandemic-ridden world.

I then tried to make it back for my brother’s funeral later in the year, but was prevented again. The quarantine hotels in South Australia were closed just before I was due to travel, due to a lying pizza worker (Pizza worker at centre of South Australia lockdown ‘unaware’ of public attention). I made an online appearance at the funeral, but you can imagine that this was a very poor substitute.

Obviously, I was not the only one affected by the Australian government’s quarantine restrictions. For example, in early 2020 it was noted that One-third of Australia’s wineries could go under because of coronavirus pandemic, which is of more relevance to the blog.

This brings us to the topic of this post…READ MORE…

Jancis Robinson: From whey to wine?

A Singaporean start-up is upcycling soy whey into 'wine'.
A Singaporean start-up is upcycling soy whey into ‘wine’.

Soy is one of my favourite wine descriptors. It’s the yummy umami flavour that I have sniffed out in everything from exalted red burgundy to strapping young port to distinguished champagne. But wine made from soy? That’s an entirely new mouthful, and one that has been invented here in Singapore.

Sachi Soy Wine is its name, and it has oodles of umami flavour, giving an uncanny resemblance to a particular style of wine – but we’ll get to that. First, the equally uncanny story of its creation. READ MORE…

Jamie Goode: Peter Liem on Champagne: dosage, growers versus houses, and viticulture

Peter Liem / Photo: Jamie Goode
Peter Liem / Photo: Jamie Goode

At the BeWine festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Peter Liem was one of the headline speakers. He gave a thoughtful presentation on the state of play in Champagne, a region he is one of the top specialists on – and where he has lived over the last several years.

He began by discussing the diversity of soils in Champagne, and the subregional differences.

Everyone thinks of chalk when they think of Champagne’s soils, and it’s a region that is famous for its Cretaceous chalk bedrock, which is 65 million years old. But while this sits at the base of soil profiles here, predominantly chalky soils aren’t as common as people assume. In many vineyards, the chalk is often found quite deep below other soils that take prominence: the likes of marls, clays and sands.

Normally when we talk about champagne we talk about three major sub regions, but in his excellent book, Peter has devised a scheme of seven subregions that make sense. If you want to go even further, the CIVC has a scheme with 20 subregions. This is not a simple story, but it’s an interesting one, particularly if you want to parse out the influence of subregion on wine flavour.

When it comes to discussions of Champagne, it’s easy to jump onto bandwagons. ‘Some people say they only drink only non-dosé wines or organic wines or wines from small growers,’ he says. ‘But this is too simplistic. It takes away from the real message of Champagne’s diversity.’ There are three key areas of of misconception. READ MORE…

Science & Wine: Increasing the use of mechanized grape harvesting

Increasing the use of mechanized grape harvesting
Increasing the use of mechanized grape harvesting

The vineyard is grown on an area of ​​approx. 8 mil. ha, while in the conditions of the Slovak Republic (Slovak Republic) it is currently grown on an area of ​​18,000 ha. The need for manual work is still high due to the selected cultivation technology, representing 400 to 600 h.ha-1 of fertile vineyard. One of the most demanding work operations in terms of labour is the collection of grapes, which accounts for up to 30% of the total need for working time (in practice approx. 120-160 h.ha-1). Harvesting is influenced by the input conditions, which may include meteorological factors, the health of the grapes, varieties, yield, type of line and planting clips and, finally, the total area of ​​the harvested area. A phenomenon in recent years that has plagued many growers, not only in the wine sector, is the factor in the availability of labour and the associated cost of human labour. Gradual development and deployment of an increasingly modern application of technology negates this phenomenon. Not only according to us (the situation in our country over the last 10 years), but also according to other authors (Costa et al., 2019). Fully mechanized grape harvesting with the use of tractor-mounted or self-propelled harvesters is increasingly being used. The performance of the machine set is also in our case limited by the capacity of other equipment related to other work operations of further processing of grapes (reception of grapes, pressing plant, etc.). Therefore, even in the given company it is a gradual harvesting of individual varieties in connection with further processing. READ MORE…

Word on the Grapevine: Fletcher Wines—serendipity and sleepless nights, from Adelaide to Langhe

Aussie emigrant, Dave Fletcher, was born in Adelaide, the gateway to all 18 of South Australia’s wine regions, including McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, and Coonawarra. Though not hands-on, Dave’s father had been silently invested in vineyards, and so through the summer holidays, his son earned pocket money pruning. Following a gap year in 1999, Dave left university where he had studied engineering, and before leaving for the UK secured a place at Adelaide University to study winemaking. After a year in England, with little to show but parties and headaches, he returned to complete a four-year degree, later securing a role at O’Leary Walker Wines as a travelling winemaker, tasting and grading fruit. A brief harvest in Burgundy piqued his interest in ‘European winemaking culture’. Following a short European road trip with his now-wife, he returned to Australia, later relocating to the Yarra Valley. Six years later, during which he’d worked at Kazakhstan’s oldest winery, Daves’s wife, Eleanor, booked him onto a Barolo masterclass, a revelatory experience. By 2007 he’d worked a harvest at Ceretto and by 2009 returned for another. In 2012, he and Eleanor moved to Langhe permanently, and before long, he had begun producing wines under his own label, Fletcher Wines. Today, Dave is the principal head of red wine production at Ceretto as well as making seven wines of his own, produced from 12 vineyard sites and made in a renovated local train station, where he and his family live. This article tells Fletcher’s story. READ MORE…

Australian Wine Review: Is $500/Bottle Too Much for a Brand-New Rutherglen Red?

Mount Ophir Estate itself dates back to 1891, with this grand Rutherglen estate rising to be one of Victoria’s most prominent wine producers
Mount Ophir Estate itself dates back to 1891, with this grand Rutherglen estate rising to be one of Victoria’s most prominent wine producers

I’ve just discovered a fascinating press release that I missed a few weeks back.

It’s trumpeting the release of the brand-new Mount Ophir Shiraz 2019 that will be released next week for an astonishing $500/bottle.


There is a great story here though…


SOVOS/ShipCompliant: Economic Nexus and the DtC Alcohol Shipper

Economic Nexus and the DtC Alcohol Shipper
Economic Nexus and the DtC Alcohol Shipper

As states have adopted new economic nexus laws over the last several years, vastly expanding whom states can make responsible for sales taxes obligations, direct-to-consumer (DtC) shippers of alcohol have had to adjust, though not as much as most remote sellers. Generally, DtC alcohol shippers are required to collect and remit sales taxes in the states they ship to as a condition of getting their DtC shipping licenses. However, in about a dozen states, economic nexus laws have established new or additional tax sales tax burdens on DtC shippers of alcohol.

When the Supreme Court ruled in the 2018 South Dakota v. Wayfair case that states could impose sales tax burdens on remote sellers that made a certain threshold of annual revenue in their states (i.e., economic nexus), DtC shippers were largely already managing interstate sales tax filings in most states. As such, most economic nexus rules did not present major changes for DtC alcohol shippers. They have continued to collect and remit sales tax in those states as business as usual.

But it is important for DtC shippers to be aware of those dozen states where economic nexus rules have created new tax burdens, or altered how DtC shippers should manage their existing ones. What follows is an overview of the key changes that economic nexus has had on DtC alcohol shippers. If a state is not mentioned below, that does not mean DtC alcohol shippers have no sales tax burden there, just that economic nexus rules have not affected that burden. READ MORE…

W. Blake Gray: Haiku tasting notes for autumn 2021

W. Blake Gray
W. Blake Gray

Shorter than twitter
haiku tasting notes capture
the feeling of wine


I have been keeping haiku tasting notes for a few months since claiming I could do it. In most cases I took traditional tasting notes and then wrote the haiku. Some of these wines and sakes I have written about elsewhere; for others this will be my only memory, save the ephemeral grace of drinking and enjoying them.

These are all unedited, which any critic will tell you is rare for tasting notes. But a haiku is supposed to capture a moment in time, so it feels wrong to come in months later and change a word.

I used the classic haiku definition of 5-7-5 syllables. It is with deep regret that I did not always include a seasonal reference as all good haiku should. Please accept my contrition.


The links lead to places you can purchase the wines and sakes.

I also gave scores
But will keep those to myself
Haiku must suffice


Press Releases

These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!

Wine Industry Network: 9th Annual Wine Industry Expo Conference Registration Opens

WIN Expo’s educational conference is designed to address the latest research and innovations available to wine industry professionals.
WIN Expo’s educational conference is designed to address the latest research and innovations available to wine industry professionals.

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…

Syndicate Wine, LLC: Wine Company Pairs with Comic Book Publisher Over New Wines

TidalWave Comics
TidalWave Comics

Beaverton, Oregon – Syndicate Wine, LLC is thrilled to announce five custom Oregon wines, with labels featuring exclusive artwork of Oregon comic book publisher TidalWave Productions. The first four wines will be released for sale to the general public on Thursday, September 9, 2021 at Syndicate Wine Bar in Beaverton, at a special tasting event open to the public.

After the past year (and more) of unprecedented events, we all need superheroes in our lives… and so do the grapes! The wine industry was especially hard hit in 2020, with wildfires impacting an already difficult year.

Recent times have challenged us all, but have also helped us realize unknown strength, endurance, and optimism. In response, we partnered with Tidal Wave Productions to create a series of labels for Syndicate’s 2021 releases, imagining grape varietals as super heroes. READ MORE…

Oregon Wine Board: New Oregon wine industry report exposes effects of COVID and 2020 wildfires

Sweet Cheeks Winery tasting, Eugene
Sweet Cheeks Winery tasting, Eugene

While the majority of Oregon winemakers made wine from grapes from 2020, the year held challenges including a western U.S. weather phenomenon combined with naturally lower yields, wildfires and COVID-19-related labor shortages and restrictions. Today, the Oregon Wine Board released its 2020 Vineyard and Winery Report, reflecting a decline in the state’s grape tonnage and wine production.

The report, compiled by the University of Oregon’s Institute for Policy Research and Engagement (IPRE) and released annually since 1981, shows the estimated farm gate value of wine grape production decreased 34% or by nearly $80 million to about $159 million as well as the following downward movements in 2020 … READ MORE … 

Treasury Wine Estates: TWE switches to sunshine as it announces RE100 membership

Brands such as Penfolds, Beringer, Beaulieu Vineyards and Sterling Vineyards to be made with 100% renewable electricity by 2024

TWE Logo
TWE Logo

Treasury Wine Estates Ltd (TWE) today announced it was joining the RE100 global renewable power initiative as part of the premium wine company’s commitment to switch to 100% renewable electricity by 2024 across its global operations.

This forms part of TWE’s sustainability ambition and goals announcement at their Investor Day in May, which includes a bold target of net zero emissions by 2030.

TWE’s luxury wines including Penfolds in Australia and Beringer, Beaulieu Vineyards and Sterling Vineyards in the United States, will be made with 100% renewable electricity by 2024.

Beringer Vineyards and TWE’s Paso Robles facility have used solar panels for more than a decade. READ MORE

BriscoeBites officially accepts samples as well as conducts on-site and online interviews. Want to have your wine, winery or tasting room featured? Please visit the Sample Policy page where you can contact me directly. Cheers!

Educational posts are in no way intended as official WSET study materials. I am not an official WSET educator nor do I work for a WSET Approved Program Provider. Study at your own risk. Read the full disclaimer.
**Please note: all reviews and opinions are my own and are not associated with any of my places of business. I will always state when a wine has been sent as a sample for review. Sending samples for review on my personal website in no way guarantees coverage in any other media outlet I may be currently associated with.**

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