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March 25, 2014 | 1:02 PM

Editor Cyril Penn previews the April 2014 issue in his Month in Review. The April issue is on its way to mailboxes now, and will also be available online April 1.

Staying Afloat Amid Changing Technology

When 37-year-old Rudy Kurniawan became the first person ever tried and convicted for selling fake wines in the U.S. a few months ago, the story made headlines around the world. Kurniawan could spend decades in prison for defrauding wine buyers. He’ll be sentenced later this month. It’s a notorious case—a movie about Kurniawan’s life is already in the works—but he wasn’t the first and won’t be the last wine counterfeiter. The problem with wine counterfeiting is actually more widespread than some might think. Expensive and rare bottles are targets, of course, but higher volume wines are vulnerable too. Counterfeiting doesn’t only happen in China either. Several companies have now emerged with technology aimed at authenticating bottles to assure they’re not counterfeit. These companies come at the problem from a variety of angles. We provide a look at these technologies in this issue.

Technology has changed so rapidly, in fact, that there are many inexpensive tools that can help any small businesses—wineries included—to be more productive. To that end, this issue includes an overview of some of the most powerful free office productivity tools. The list changes and evolves continually.

We all know “technology” has been changing the way we live. It’s certainly changed the way we read and interact with each other. It has also changed the way wineries approach public relations. Once upon a time there were newspaper writers with “wine columns” but a scant few are left. Now we have social media, bloggers, and anyone can be a publisher. Have these new tools made things easier? How have such changes affected the art of public relations? The April issue includes a look at how public relations has changed—though the more things change the more some things stay the same. In this fast-paced world, the fundamentals still apply.

Another story constantly making headlines in the wine industry these days is the drought in California. It’s no joke. A severe lack of rainfall is a threat to agriculture, winegrape growing included. Winemakers and growers, already stewards of the land and mindful of the environment, are more concerned about water use than ever. Two articles in this month’s issue are notable here. Bill Pregler looks at rainwater harvesting for wineries. On this front there’s good news: new regulations mean wineries can use rain collection for potable applications throughout the entire winemaking process. Meanwhile, Mark Greenspan discusses efficient vineyard irrigation during a drought. As with so many things, it’s difficult to manage a problem if you can’t measure it.

Already the drought appears to have changed the way people in the wine industry are farming. Results of our soon-to-be published Winery Facilities Survey indicate that the number of wineries that are measuring how much water they use is greatly increasing.

Cyril Penn, Editor

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