Wine Business Blog Wine Business Follow us on Twitter Wine Business Blog RSS Subscribe to Wine Business Blog by Email Wine Industry Blogs Wine Industry Classifieds Wine Industry Events Wine News Archives Wine People News Vineyard Weather Wine Jobs
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
October 28, 2014 | 7:42 AM

“There will always be a demand for top winemakers and consultants, but there’s still more talent than opportunity in general on the production side, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.”
-Tom Hill, Hill & Associate

From the article “2014 Salary Survey Report,” page 58 in the October 2014 issue of WBM. Click here to subscribe to WBM.

Monday, October 27, 2014
October 27, 2014 | 11:44 AM released a report detailing wine job posting trends as of September 2014. As the wine industry’s leading online job site, has a unique vantage point over industry trends. The index indicates that job postings increased 15 percent from September 2013. The index is up 16 percent so far this year.

The September increase in job postings was driven by hospitality and winemaking jobs. The hospitality index increased 73 percent from its level in September 2013, and is up 24 percent for the year.

The winemaking job index rose 30 percent from its level in September 2013, and is up 25 percent year-to-date.

The sales and marketing index decreased 31 percent from its level in September 2013, and is down 9 percent year-to-date.


October 27, 2014 | 8:38 AM

“We’re thinking 100 years out, not just the next 10 or 20 years, and when you do that it makes it a lot easier to invest in new equipment and vineyards, because we’re doing it for the future.”
-Randy Lange

From the article “LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards, New Bottling Line Installation at LangeTwins Winery,” page 20 in the October 2014 issue of WBM. Click here to subscribe to WBM.

Friday, October 24, 2014
October 24, 2014 | 7:05 AM

Have you checked out the October 2014 issue of Wine Business Monthly?

Inside October 2014 you will find:

  • 2014 Salary Survey
  • Managing Large Fermentations
  • Checklist: Is Your Winery Properly Insured?
  • Vineyard Management Tips from ASEV 2014

Check out the Month in Reivew from the October issue below by editor Cyril Penn:

Stirred, Not Shaken

Many of us who live in or near Napa Valley felt a strong jolt in the middle of the night a couple weeks ago (at press time). It was frightening at my house. As our place in Carneros rocked back and forth, flashes of green lightning were visible from the upstairs bedroom. Half asleep, I assumed the lighting was from electrical transformers exploding or was even the result of some sort of terrorist attack. It turns out others saw the “earthquake lights,” too. They weren’t from transformers. Earthquake lights are a little-understood phenomena that researchers now attribute to disruptions of the Earth’s magnetic field due to tectonic stress.

We soon learned there’d been a 6.0 magnitude quake, the most severe in California for 25 years. There had been dozens of injuries, a couple of them critical, but thankfully no fatalities, though many structures in downtown Napa would soon be declared uninhabitable.

Most of us experienced little damage beyond objects falling from shelves. Wine Business Monthly’s office was a bit shaken up, but no significant damage occurred. Others weren’t as lucky, including many winemakers. Barrels of wine toppled from racks, huge storage tanks sprung unstoppable leaks and priceless library wines shattered, among other things. In a couple of instances, groundwater even shifted.

People are resilient and stepped up to help. Growers and their crews continued transporting grapes that had been scheduled for delivery before the quake. Neighbors lent one another equipment and support. Winemakers came together to recover wine from toppled barrels, bringing anything that could be used to hold wine, using forklifts, and even cranes, to lift the displaced barrels. The Napa Valley Vintners Association established a $10 million disaster relief fund to support local families and businesses while others made additional contributions.

It’s a moving target, but as this issue of the WBM goes off to print, the current estimate is that more than 120 wineries were affected with damage—ranging from loss of inventory to damage to equipment—reaching more than $52 million. For some, particularly smaller wineries, this has big financial ramifications. Wine isn’t just bottled poetry. Barrels of wine are inventory used for paying bills and earthquake insurance is prohibitively costly.

Clearly, things could have been way worse. It is unimaginable what could have happened if the earthquake had occurred during business hours. Coming as it did in the middle of the night, winemakers were at home when the barrels went flying. Most had just started harvesting grapes. Barrels and tanks in many instances had been emptied for bottling and to clear the way for harvest. Case goods, shrink wrapped and attached to palates, for the most part were unscathed.

“Shaken, not stirred” is a catchphrase from Ian Fleming’s fictional British Secret Service agent James Bond, a reference to how he wanted his martini prepared. It’s a phrase writers have been using in describing the Napa wine industry following the quake. That’s fine, though I’d say most wineries in Napa were stirred, not shaken.
– Cyril Penn, Editor

NOTE: Speaking of the Napa earthquake, look out for an article in the December issue of WBM on how wineries can prepare for earthquakes.

Click here to read the digital edition of October. Click here to subscribe.


Thursday, October 23, 2014
October 23, 2014 | 4:40 PM

The fourth annual Garagiste Festival is taking place in Paso Robles from November 6 to the 9. The event will gather 75 of these wineries and feature more than 200 wines, over 20 varietals, Seminars and Parties. Wine Business Monthly published an article on the Garagistes movement back in July, detailing the movement and the annual event:

Though the term is French—like so many used in winemaking—the "garagiste" movement has found a ready home in California. Many wineries truly start in garages, but wherever their home, the term has been adopted by many small, innovative winemakers who don’t follow convention.

The term "garagiste" actually originated in Bordeaux and was first derisively applied to winemakers who weren’t making wine the traditional way in chateaux.

Reportedly, “legitimate” vintners highlighted the movement when they warned wine critic Robert Parker not to taste garagiste wines, a sure way to interest a curious reporter. Needless to say, he loved some, which were made in more of a California style with riper fruit and greater extraction than traditional Bordeaux wines.

Of course, many small wineries here in America have always made wine their own way, some ironically in a more “European” style, but the movement started receiving greater attention with the founding of the Garagiste Wine Festival in 2011 by Stewart McLennan and Douglas Minnick, who both made wine in their garages themselves—but not commercially.

Since then, their festivals—first Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County, then Solvang in Santa Barbara County—have drawn hordes of wine lovers looking for an alternative to predictable, mass-produced wines. 

Read the full article in the July 2014 issue of WBM here.
To learn more about the annual event,
click here.

Thursday, October 9, 2014
October 9, 2014 | 3:28 PM

It's that time of year. Harvest is nearly a wrap and the fermentations are bubbling along (hopefully). We received the following about yeast nutrients and stuck fermentations this afternoon from James Osborne, Enology Extension Specialist with the Oregon Wine Research Institute. Good basic information, and timely too ... links to info from Enartus, Lallemand, and Scott Laboratories, etc.

ps: There's good info on this topic in our online archives. Go to the Wine Business Monthly page, and search Stuck Fermentations for results, articles like this one by Curtis Phillips. ...

Yeast nutrients and stuck Fermentations

 James Osborne - Enology Extension Specialist

Because of the warm and dry growing season we have experienced this year fruit may contain high °Brix and lower than optimal nutrients. This fruit chemistry can cause problem alcoholic fermentations as yeast need to metabolize a greater amount of sugar with a lower amount of nutrients in a high alcohol environment. The end result is often a very slow/sluggish fermentation or fermentations that do not complete fermentation but rather stall out with a few Brix still remaining. While the causes of stuck and sluggish fermentations can be many (including improper yeast hydration, temperature management, microbial competition, residual pesticides as outlined here:, low nutrients and high alcohol content are two common causes.

The major yeast nutrient we are concerned with in the grape is yeast assimilable nitrogen (YAN). YAN is composed of inorganic nitrogen (ammonia) and organic nitrogen (primary amino acids). It is important to know what the YAN level in your fruit is prior to fermentation so that you can make appropriate additions. Often by the time you notice a problem fermentation it is already too late to make any nutrient additions. This is because yeast are unable to uptake amino acids late in fermentation due to membrane disruption from increasing ethanol concentrations. You also do not want to add excessive nutrients as this can also cause problems. Large additions of nutrients early in the ferment may lead to over vigorous fermentations and alter the aroma compounds produced by the yeast. In addition, residual nutrients in the wine may contribute to microbial spoilage during aging. So how much YAN do you need? Well, it depends. The general recommendation is between 120-220 mg/L for a 21°Brix must. If you have higher °Brix must or are using a high nutrient demand yeast strain then you may want to consider higher YAN levels. These are not hard and fast rules as many people may have no problems fermenting juice with much lower YAN levels then these. But these YAN levels have been found by researchers to result in fermentations with good kinetics. Aside from nitrogen, the other nutrients that are essential factors for yeast growth are the micronutrients such as the vitamins biotin, pantothenic acid, and thiamin. A simple method for analyzing these compounds does not exist so the general rule is that if your grapes are low in nitrogen they are probably also low in micronutrients. If you just want to increase YAN then Diammonium phosphate (DAP) is an efficient way to do this. However, DAP does not contain any micronutrients so in addition to DAP you also should use a complex yeast nutrient that contains a blend of organic nitrogen (amino acids, peptides) and micronutrients. A balanced approach of both DAP and complex nutrients works best if you need to significantly increase your YAN levels. If only a small adjustment is needed then an addition of a complex yeast nutrient will usually suffice. Nutrient additions should be carefully monitored and recorded as there are legal limits to the concentrations that can be added. For example there are limits to the amount of DAP (0.96 g/L), thiamin (0.60 mg/L), and pantothenic acid (0.048 mg/L) that can be added. For complex yeast nutrients carefully read the manufacturer's instructions carefully to determine the max concentration of the product that can be added.

While preventative strategies such as nutrient additions are often the best way to prevent stuck fermentations what can you do if you have a problematic fermentation that refuse to finish those last few Brix? Just as there are a number of causes for stuck fermentations there are also a few approaches to restart them. In general these strategies entail building up a healthy population of a rescue yeast (typically a vigorous fermenting yeast) and slowly acclimatizing the yeast population to the stuck wine. If the specific cause of the stuck fermentation is known then specific strategies can be taken. For example, if the stuck ferment was caused by a high population of bacteria (Lactobacillus for example) then an addition of lysozyme may be necessary. Often an addition of yeast hulls is also recommended as this may reduce inhibitory substances. Specific procedures for re-starting stuck fermentations can be found at the following

For those of you who are visual learners:

The procedures described follow the same general methods but recommend different commercial products to achieve similar goals. Carefully follow the manufacturers recommended procedures depending on what yeast and nutrient products you use.

* Warmer growing seasons can result in grapes with high °Brix and low YAN that potentially could result in stuck or sluggish fermentations
* Assessment of YAN is crucial to determine appropriate nutrient additions
* Balance of DAP and complex yeast nutrients recommended to provide YAN and micronutrients
* Nutrients added late in fermentation unlikely to be utilized by yeast - perform additions early and at 1/3 fermentation
* Excessive use of nutrients can cause over vigorous fermentations and change aroma profile - legal limits for some nutrient additives
* Re-starting stuck fermentations involves treating wine with SO2/lysozyme/yeast hulls if necessary followed by preparation of a healthy rescue yeast population-
* Slow addition of stuck wine to yeast preparation in step-wise manner

If you have additional questions please contact me at 541-737-6494 or email

by Cyril Penn | October 9, 2014 | 1:30 PM

Spain’s D.O.s of Rueda and Ribera del Duero, known for their white wines, and red wines respectively, just announced they’re launching a strategic co-marketing partnership this fall in the U.S.

"We have to involve all of the players in the 3 tier system.”
- Felipe Gonzalez-Gordon.

The dominant grape in Rueda is Verdejo while most vineyards in Ribera are planted to Tempranillo.

Rueda and Ribera already coordinate sales efforts in Spain, where fifteen companies operate wineries in both regions. The U.S. partnership came together after being proposed by Fernando Vegas of Avelino Vegas, a member of the council of each region. Funding is coming from the two regions  themselves each contributing €750,000 annually, and the EU matching them with €1.5 million, for an annual €3 million total. Given exchange rates, the budget works out to roughly $4 million a year or $20 million through 2019.

Ribera sells roughly 100,000 cases in the U.S. each year, while Rueda also sells roughly 100,000 cases – so the investment is considerable – more than $15 per case currently sold.

Felipe Gonzalez-Gordon (of the Gonzalez Byass family) is serving as the newly appointed U.S. director for the partnership, based in New York.

“The regions have made a huge commitment. We want to jump start the business and help the wineries connect with importers, distributors, generate consumer awareness, and work at all levels,” Gonzalez-Gordon said. “We have to be very smart and careful about how we decide to spend these funds – that’s the process we are going through now.”

Gonzalez-Gordon said the plan is to manage the program so sales are generated and business growth is achieved in a sustainable way, not based on pricing but on raising brand awareness, engaging consumers, partnering with the trade, etc. “Sometimes these programs are image-based,” Gonzalez-Gordon said. “There has to be some of that, but at the same time, we have to involve all of the players in the 3 tier system.”

With Rueda, the focus is on light crisp, white wine, much of it priced at $ 12-$18, some priced higher. It’s the largest white wine appellation in Spain, where the emphasis is on the region, not the type of grape – but Gonzalez-Gordon said there will be an emphasis on the varietal in the U.S. – in this case Verdejo, where it will appeal to Sauvignon Blanc enthusiasts. In the case of Ribera, where Tempranillo dominates, the positioning is a bit different, more serious perhaps, but with an emphasis on the varietal. Most Ribera wines are priced at $15-$20, though some wineries in the region are well recognized internationally and demand higher prices.

The regions were represented at Spain’s Great Match tasting in New York City yesterday. Next up is a  Great Match tasting in Los Angeles on November 10. Members of the wine trade and press may register to attend at:


Spain’s Great Match in Los Angeles
The Bazaar® by José Andrés
465 S La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills,
Los Angeles, CA 90048

The walk-around press and trade tasting is from 12-5:00 PM. Wine Educator Steve Olson will lead a trade tasting on the wines from Ribera and Rueda from 12-1:15 PM.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014
October 8, 2014 | 1:44 PM

Today marks the halfway point of the 2014 Harvest season and we celebrated by picking the first of the Riesling! So far we've completed the Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Cayuga White, Seyval and De Chaunac. With just Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Lemberger and Catawba left to pick the end is nearing as we keep this well oiled machine moving! Cheers to all and Happy Harvest!

October 8, 2014 | 10:52 AM

Selected Recent Sales of Grapes & Wines in Bulk for October 7, 2014 courtesy of Turrentine Brokerage:

Bulk Wine

Zinfandel 2013 wine, Lodi, 16,000 gallons at $4.00 per gallon

Merlot 2013 wine, Napa Valley, 6,500 gallons at $14.50 per gallon

Chardonnay 2013 wine, Russian River, 3,200 gallons at $9.50 per gallon


Tuesday, October 7, 2014
by Cyril Penn | October 7, 2014 | 10:30 AM
For Chuck Williams' 99th Birthday: Specially designed bottles of Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs

Coming Home: Chuck Williams pioneered American cooking, bringing tools and techniques from all over the world which most Americans really didn't know anything about at the time. It was the 1950s - the era of the TV dinner. And wine? They knew even less. Long story short: Williams settled in Sonoma in 1947, bought a hardware store, and opened Williams-Sonoma in 1956, selling French kitchenware. Two years later he relocated the store to San Francisco, then a store opened in Beverly Hills, and then there was a catalog. Last year revenues topped $4.3 billion.

It makes sense that the newest Williams-Sonoma store is part store, part museum, and that it's  located in the exact spot that housed the original. The new site opened over the weekend. Chuck Williams lived behind the store with his mother, and the new incarnation includes an upstairs bedroom and backyard modeled on the original footprint.

In fact, Williams, now 99, was on hand last Thursday for the ribbon cutting. That was followed by press  tours Friday, and pancakes on the Sonoma Plaza on Saturday.

I attended one of the press tours, led by Williams-Sonoma brand president Janet Hayes, with Sonoma store GM Emily Kendis, along with head of brand marketing Jean Armstrong, and Monica Bhargava, leader of the design team for Williams Sonoma, Williams-Sonoma Home, and Pottery Barn (which Williams-Sonoma owns).

“I want to tell you that we don’t view this as a big business coming back to Sonoma. We wanted to come back to the community that helped us start, and to really to honor our founder, Chuck Williams," Hayes said. "Chuck Williams had and still has incredible vision, incredible passion, and a commitment to quality and service that we have never waivered away from. We are so proud to be back here." 

Tyler Florence, who is partnering with the company to create new tools for chefs, went off on innovation, describing new approaches for making develled eggs without cooking the eggs in the shells, new ways of making rissotto (faster), and for baking bread (yeast with no CO2). He said the goal for his partnership with Williams-Sonoma is to demystify cooking while making it easier for people.

"We scare people off with our information," Florence said. "We are victims of our own information. Where is the innovation? Technology changes every 18 months. Cooking tools haven’t changed in 500 years. We want to create a blue sky committee inside Williams-Sonoma where we think through what hasn’t been thought through.  We have produced information that is intimidating more than it is inspiring. It’s our job to demystify the whole situation, reapproach it from a different standpoint, and actually get people cooking again based on good technique that’s easy."

And Florence had kind words for the man who started it all ... of course.

"Our mission now is to take Chuck Williams and to turn him into the American icon that he deserves to be," Florence said. 

Chuck Williams' desk calendar from May 1958. The San Francisco store opened Monday the 26th


Got a tip? Tell us
Search WB Blog
Recent Posts
Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog
Consumer Wine Tastings in Jeopardy in California
chris kassel's Intoxicology Report
Repaying The Piper: Napa Vintage, 2011
Liv-ex Fine Wine Market Blog
Talking trade: 12-18th December
A listing of all the blogs monitored by our editors on a daily basis.
Email your comments to