From the Oregon Wine Center:
Oregon’s Wine Country license plate turned a year old, and it’s turning into a big hit with Oregonians who have placed more than 6,000 sets of the specialty plates on their vehicles in the first year. Oregon’s Wine Country plates officially went on sale in May 2012. The plates were authorized by the Oregon Legislature in 2011 and are the first specialty license plates to recognize wine production by any state in the U.S.
Leigh Bartholomew, chairwoman of the Oregon Wine Board, said:
“The popularity of the Wine Country license plates is another indicator of the support that the Oregon wine industry enjoys with the citizens of the state. We are flattered and grateful for such a strong showing of support during the first year of sales.”
Through the end of April, 6,022 sets of Oregon Wine Country plates have been sold, according to the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division (DMV). This ranks second to only the Crater Lake specialty plates’ annual sales. Net proceeds from this program are earmarked to directly support tourism and culinary efforts throughout the state. Oregon’s tourism agency, Travel Oregon, administers the grant program which will open in the Spring of 2014. Details of the grant opportunities will be posted on Industry.TravelOregon.com later this year.
From Wente Vineyards in Livermore, California:
In honor of the best selling varietal in the United States, the Wente Family, creators of the Wente Clone of Chardonnay—the most widely planted Chardonnay clone in California—will host a virtual toast on Thursday, May 23, 2013 to celebrate the varietal with excited fans from around the country. Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the Wente family bringing Chardonnay cuttings from France and planting them in the Livermore Valley.
To build upon this milestone, celebrations from Wente Vineyards Event Center in Livermore, California, kick off at 4 p.m. PST on May 23, when the Wente family will appear on a special Tout Suite Social Club live-stream video event, to offer up a special virtual toast to Chardonnay for wine enthusiasts around the country. Admirers of America’s favorite varietal can join in the celebration from their laptops to hear brief remarks from Fourth Generation Winegrowers Carolyn and Philip Wente, before raising a glass together in the first annual Wente Vineyards National Chardonnay Day toast.
Wente Vineyards was the first winery in California to varietally label Chardonnay in 1936, and since then, the family has been producing benchmark Estate grown Chardonnays.
The Wente family’s connection with Chardonnay began with second generation winegrower Ernest Wente, while he was a student at the University of California at Davis. In 1912, with the help of University of California Davis’ academic staff Leon Bonnet, Ernest persuaded his father and winery founder Carl Wente, to import cuttings from the vine nursery at the University of Montpellier in France.
Around the same time, Ernest Wente also sourced budwood from the Gier Vineyard in Pleasanton which had cuttings from Meursault in France. He planted the two sources in his family’s Livermore Valley vineyard and, over the next 30 to 40 years, selected vines that showed favorable traits, and re-planted them to establish the Wente Clone of Chardonnay.
In 1976, the Judgment of Paris featured a 1973 Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena that was comprised largely of the Wente Clone of Chardonnay. When that wine bested some of France’s most prestigious whites in a blind tasting, California Chardonnay plantings grew exponentially from 2700 acres in 1970 to 11,000 acres in 1980 to 45,000 acres in 19882.
Currently, there are almost 100,000 acres of Chardonnay planted in California and it has become the number one selling wine varietal in the U.S. For more information on the Wente family’s Chardonnay history or to host your own National Chardonnay Day celebration by downloading the Chardonnay Party Kit, please visit www.wentevineyards.com/chardonnay. Join the conversation on Wente Vineyards' Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages as well.
Reporter Cathy Bussewitz reports today in the Press Democrat that "companies that advertise beverages on social networking sites, blogs, mobile applications and video sharing sites like YouTube will have to include mandatory statements on their profile or brand pages and refrain from making prohibited statements, such as false health claims."
Social media consultant Andrew Healy said it may be difficult for the TTB to keep tabs on this, adding:
“But you don't want to be the winery that they happen upon and want to make an example of."
Read the story.
Kendall-Jackson Winery reports:
CBS announced Rick Tigner, president of Kendall-Jackson Winery — one of America’s favorite family-owned wineries — will revisit his “Undercover Boss” experience on a special segment showcasing the most intriguing bosses from all four seasons of the Emmy Award-winning CBS reality series. The episode, “Undercover Boss: Epic Bosses,” looks at where Tigner is now and how the show changed his life. “Undercover Boss:Epic Bosses” will air Friday, May 17 on CBS (8/7c, check local listings).
Tigner appeared on the show’s third season, during an eye-opening and emotional episode in which he explored all aspects of handcrafted winemaking, from the vineyard to the bottle and everything in between. Along the way, he also uncovered issues with internal communication and employee appreciation.
“It was an incredible opportunity that gave me great insight into our employees,” said Tigner, a 20-year veteran of Kendall-Jackson who stepped into his role as president after winery founder and industry visionary Jess Stonestreet Jackson passed away in 2011.
“Our employees are our biggest strength,” Tigner added. “These are talented individuals who are passionate about their work. The input they shared with me during the ‘Undercover Boss’ experience helped shape the programs and initiatives we have in place today.”
KJ is having a Happy Hour Twitter Party before the show on Friday at 5 p.m. Follow them on Twitter @KJWines and use the party hashtag #KJHappyHour to join in. Learn more online at www.kj.com, and follow KJ on Facebook (kjwines).
Read WBM's previous "Undercover Boss" post for an after-the-show interview with Tigner.
This just in from the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association:
HB 2537 passed out of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee on Tuesday, May 14, as substituted by Senator John Carona. As suspected, the substitute included language requiring wineries to produce or bottle 51% of the wine they ship. It also requires wineries to maintain complete records of each sale and delivery of wine shipped for at least five years from the date of the sale.
As previously reported, the TWGGA Board of Directors has visited and revisited the language requiring a winery to produce or bottle 51% of the wine they ship. In keeping with the Board consensus, President Ron Yates testified against the committee substitute at the hearing on Tuesday on behalf of TWGGA. The reasons for the Board's opposition to the committee substitute are:
• It protects the distribution tier rather than solving a public health safety and welfare issue for the citizens of Texas.
• It harms existing businesses that are operating within the law.
• It takes away winery operating rights when no public health, safety or welfare issue exists. This is a bad precedent.
• It hinders revenue growth for Texas wineries.
• It places undue reporting burdens on Texas wineries.
Click here to download the bill as it was substituted and passed out of committee.
Please contact your state senator's capitol office immediately, express your concern over this bill and ask them to vote not to suspend the three day constitutional rule for HB 2537. To find out who your state senator is please click the following link: www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx. Please also contact the Lieutenant Governor's office at 512/463-0001 about your concern for this bill.
Please e-mail Dacota Haselwood, TWGGA Chief Governmental Affairs Officer, at email@example.com with comments about your conversation with your senator's or the Lieutenant Governor's office or call 210-867-2576 with comments and questions.
Vancouver lawyer and wine law blogger Mark Hicken said:
“Under the new government, I’m hoping that—regardless of who wins—there will be some sort of commitment on the political level to have a thorough look at the system and bring it up to more of an international standard. Because right now we’re in the Dark Ages.”
Read the full story.
The Napa/Sonoma Women for WineSense (WWS) chapter kicks off its 2013 Professional Member career development program with a daytime leadership seminar on June 6 at Chimney Rock Winery in Napa. The event will be headed by Geni Whitehouse, named one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting” by Accounting Today from 2010-2012, and one of the “Top 25 Thought Leaders in Public Accounting Technology in 2013” by CPA Practice Advisor.
Whitehouse, of Brotemarkle, Davis & Co. LLP in St. Helena, Calif., will steer the event, subtitled, “Discover Your Own Brand,” through a number of seminar presentations and exercises designed to help attendees build their own brands.
Showcasing the organization’s wine industry membership expertise will be presenting professional members:
• Margaret Martin, former Director of Leadership Development for Mezzetta and WWS’s Development Director;
• Susan DeMatei, owner of Wine Glass Marketing in Napa;
• Cindy Deutsch, National Retail Chain Manager, TGIC Importers, Inc.;
• Karen Jess-Lindsley, CEO of Lindsley Lighting and a former WWS National President; and
• Julie Johnson, winemaker/vintner of Tres Sabores Winery and co-founder of WWS.
In addition to leading attendees through seminar modules on branding and leadership skills, members will be donating their personal time to the event’s silent auction for “Expert Sessions,” WWS’ 90-minute private meetings or coaching sessions. Winning bidders will pay $75 per session with the “expert” of choice. One hundred percent of the auction’s proceeds go to the chapter’s scholarship fund.
Providing the backdrop to the event for the second year in a row is Chimney Rock Winery in Napa. Earlier this year, Christine Mueller, the chapter president, announced plans to grow the chapter by more than 20 percent in 2013, to 400 Napa/Sonoma members. “We’re offering several incentives for existing members to recruit new ones, such as free membership for a year going to the member who brings in the most new members this year. But our members are already very enthusiastic and bring their friends to the organization simply because they have such fun at our events," she said.
About Women for WineSense’s scholarship fund: The chapter allocated $4,000 (a 25 percent increase over the previous year) in scholarships in 2012 to four students enrolled in wine/viticulture studies at U.C. Davis, Sonoma State University, Napa Valley College and Santa Rosa Junior College.
Tickets for this limited-seating event are $79 and may be purchased at: WWS-Chimney-Rock.Eventbrite.com or call (707) 996-8740.
Oklahoma Gardening host Kim Toscano visits Plymouth Valley Cellars in Fairview, Oklahoma and talks with owner Dennis Flaming about grape growing and winemaking.
Pictured at the Cube Project's wine dinner, held May 1 at Roy's in San Francisco, are (l-r) winemakers Andrew Brooks, Thomas Houseman and Leslie Renaud, who conceived the project in 2010.
Winemaker dinners can be fun, educational, an opportunity to meet other wine lovers and make new friends, and probably a hundred other things depending on one’s mood, expectations and appetite. The Cube Project dinner at Roy’s restaurant in San Francisco on May 1, 2013, was specifically designed to “challenge your assumptions about terroir and technique.” To explore these long-standing hypotheses – that the vineyard makes the wine or that the winemaker’s style overshadows the terroir/vineyard expression – a group of enterprising winemakers designed an experiment to test this.
The Cube Project grew out of these winemakers’ attendance at Steamboat, a Pinot Noir symposium held at a fishing resort on Oregon’s Umpqua River. Steamboat has a long history; it was started in 1980 to “improve the breed.” At Steamboat, winemakers get to take a break from their routine and sit down for three full days of tasting wines, talking about winemaking and grape growing, and simply relaxing with good food and excellent wines in a beautiful rural setting.
Winemakers Behind the Project
The Cube Project was conceived amidst this idyllic setting in 2010 by winemaker Thomas Houseman of Anne Amie Vineyards in Carlton, Oregon, Andrew Brooks of Bouchaine Vineyards in Napa’s Carneros region, and Leslie Mead Renaud from Lincourt Vineyards in Solvang, California.
Each participant chose a single block of Pommard Pinot Noir (Pommard was chosen in order to help control variables between the sites) and sent his two project colleagues the same uniform grapes to turn into wine. The wines were produced and bottled at each winery with the plan to taste them over the years with consumers and industry professionals in an effort to answer the question: Does terroir show through, and to what degree does the winemaking influence the wine? The project has run for three vintages, 2010 through 2012. Hence the name Cube for three to the third power: 3³.
How Choices Influence Outcome
The fact that this project was conceived and carried out by winemakers who specialize in producing Pinot Noir is perhaps no accident. No grape is more susceptible to the influence of terroir, the precise piece of ground where it is grown; the soil, which is a reflection over geologic time of the region’s climate; and the winemaker’s hand. Both elements, terroir and winemaking, influence the final outcome. Separating and measuring these parameters are not a simple task. The Cube Project, after three vintages, is still searching for answers.
Perhaps the most important aspect of a wine’s quality and overall balance can be attributable to the grapes’ ripeness when harvested. Each winemaker in the project had to trust his colleagues’ judgment in assessing this single aspect of the grapes he was to receive. Other factors that winemakers can control in the vineyard, such as cropping levels, canopy management, irrigation and soil amendments, were, for all intents and purposes, as equal as could be, given that six tons of grapes from a given block were to be harvested on a given day and evenly divided among the participants. Thus, as far as was humanly possible, every winemaker in The Cube Project experiment started with the same fruit.
However, given the challenges of shipping grapes hundreds of miles by truck, it could be argued that each participant’s grapes – while the same to start with at the time of harvest – may have changed after a 14-hour ride by refrigerated truck, the time it takes to get from the Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara, California, to Carleton, Oregon.
The techniques or protocols that winemakers follow to craft grapes into wine play a large role in shaping the final wine. All the decisions that are made along the path from grapes to wine have distinctive and often measurable effects on the finished wine. The wine’s quality and flavor is effected by the method of destemming and crushing (or not crushing or destemming), acid or water and nutrient additions, yeast addition, size of fermenter, temperature of fermentation, and maceration time. Length of aging and choice of barrels, fining and/or filtering and even the choice of screw cap or cork closure – these choices and others I haven’t mentioned – will have an effect on the wine and its aging profile.
How Winemakers & Vineyards Compared
The host winery for this San Francisco tasting was Bouchaine. They worked with the restaurant to coordinate a three-course menu for the nine wines from the 2010 vintage. Chef Nathan Payo served beautifully fresh food and each dish incorporated flavor components that managed to complement the wines. The only limitation in this format was the fact that each three-wine vineyard flight had to be dumped after each course to make way for the next vineyard flight of three and its accompanying course.
It might have been more informative to taste all nine wines together, either randomly or by vineyard or producer, but also more work and less fun. It is also rather impractical for most restaurants to provide over 300 identical glasses in order that each taster have nine glasses at his setting, much less enough room to accommodate this many stems along with plates and utensils and the essential dump buckets. Under these limiting conditions, how did the winemakers and the vineyards compare at the Roy’s tasting on May 1, 2013?
My overall impression was that all the wines were of very high quality. Obviously, these winemakers knew their vineyard sources well and chose a superior block of grapes to conduct this experiment with. And 2010 proved to be an extraordinarily good vintage. But, given that we did not taste blind, it was difficult, if not impossible, to not begin to focus on winemaking influence in the differences between the three wines, rather than vineyard similarity.
I found that Leslie Renaud’s wines possessed the most elegance. They always seemed right, not too much tannin/acid, just enough to broaden the palate and lengthen the finish and make the wine a fine partner with Chef Payo’s food. Thomas Houseman from Anne Amie, accustomed as he is to working with Oregon grapes, which almost always have lower sugar and higher acidity due to the region’s cooler climate, emphasized these aspects in his three wines. Longer cold soak, a full week in every case, and extended post-fermentation maceration gave his wines a decidedly pronounced tannic edge. My dinner companion preferred the Anne Amie Vineyard, accustomed as he is to European continental wines in preference to California wines.
The Bouchaine wines seemed to lead in an opulent fruit-forward direction, with lots of aromatic spice from oak. The Bouchaine vineyard fruit was also perhaps the most voluptuous with soft, black cherry fruit and cola flavors predominant. However, I also felt that each winemaker did his or her best work with his or her own grapes. Could this be just familiarity and experience or simply fresher fruit, with little lag time between harvest and processing?
Winemaker Leslie Renaud expressed a wish that we could have tasted all nine wines together. In this way, the similarities and differences would undoubtedly be more pronounced. It is extremely difficult to compare one wine tasted with a fish dish to a second wine tasted with a plate of duck 30 minutes afterwards. And the wines tasted an hour earlier with different foods and now discarded, cannot be easily recalled either. My tasting notes tended to be rather abbreviated. I looked for aromatics and mouthfeel, as color was difficult to ascertain given the restaurant’s lighting or lack thereof.
With additional bottle age, more of the vineyard characteristic, terroir, would perhaps be asserted, whereas the fresh fruit qualities tended to dominate in these young wines. Perhaps with more time in the bottle, fruit character will diminish and other aspects of terroir will begin to emerge. I think no firm conclusion could be reached from the Roy’s, San Francisco tasting. It would be instructive to try these wines again, all together in a blind tasting, in a single flight of nine wines. Could we then pick out the vineyards from the winemaker’s hands?
Perhaps next year such an opportunity will arise. It would also be interesting to taste the full complement of 27 wines produced over the three vintages. Perhaps, then, styles and vineyards would be more apparent. I applaud the dedication, discipline and effort that these winemakers and their wineries put into the Cube Project.
For anyone interested in tasting these wines and forming their own opinion, or simply enjoying some fine Pinots, I encourage you to visit www.anneamie.com, where “The Complete Cube,” all nine wines from 2010, can be ordered.
Winejobs.com released a report detailing wine job posting trends as of April 2013. As the wine industry’s leading online job site, Winejobs.com has a unique vantage point over industry trends. The index for job postings by wineries in April increased 59 percent from April 2012. The index is up 28 percent so far this year.
The tasting room/hospitality index rose 85 percent from April 2012, and is up 37 percent for the year.
The winemaking index increased 31 percent from April 2012, and is up 27 percent year-to-date.
The sales and marketing job index increased 54 percent from April 2012, and is up 7 percent year-to-date.