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Friday, June 20, 2014
June 20, 2014 | 8:11 AM

Madrigal Family Winery in Napa celebrated summer at an open house on their new deck on June 17. Chris Madrigal, third-generation winery president, welcomed other local winery owners and hospitality managers, while pouring his acclaimed Petite Sirah, Sonnet 63 and other favorite selections, all paired with his own lamb tacos.

Photos courtesy of Madrigal Family Winery

(L-R) Ryan Graham, key account specialist, American Wines; Chris Madrigal, president Madrigal
Family Winery; and Ed Maass, California regional sales manager, BCM Wineworks.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
June 18, 2014 | 4:14 PM

Across the newsdesk this week from the Napa Valley Grapegrowers:

As Napa Valley’s grape growing season is well underway, Napa Valley Grapegrowers are busting the top nine myths about the farmworkers who are vital to the grapes’ high quality in this world famous wine region. The mission of the NVG Farmworker Foundation is to support and enrich the lives of Napa County vineyard workers and their families by providing educational opportunities, advanced training programs, and promoting a safe and healthy work environment.

Myth: Napa Valley farmworkers are not paid well.

Truth: Entry level Napa Valley farmworkers are regularly hired for a minimum wage of $12/hour, substantially more than the national average – not just for agriculture, but the entire private sector. Experienced Napa Valley farmworkers and those with certificates and additional training can be paid as much as $40/hour. At all levels of employment, Napa vineyard owners offer uniquely progressive benefits packages (see below).

Myth: Most Napa Valley farmworkers are illegal immigrants.

Truth: Napa’s vineyard workforce is well-established and over the past 30 years has become increasingly integrated into the overall community. Many people who started as migrant workers are now in positions of leadership in their companies and several have successfully started their own companies.

Myth: Napa Valley farmworkers are ‘seasonal;’ there is little full-time employment.

Truth: The level of quality and attention that Napa vineyards require in order to exceed consumer expectations has transformed the growing season into one that requires a highly skilled, year-round workforce. While there are points of high demand for workers during the year (May and June and then harvest), most vineyards require labor throughout the year. Long-term employment is common and there are many vineyard employees who have worked 30-35 years for the same grower.

Myth: Napa Valley farmworkers have no access to educational opportunities or career advancement.

Truth: NVG has raised over $760,000 for its Farmworker Foundation – the only one of its kind in the nation – which produces high quality programs that focus on: professional development; quality in the vineyard; health and safety; and personal success tools such as gaining management and leadership skills, financial advice, English language opportunities, and information on community services. In 2014, NVG will provide over 215 hours of education to more than 2,800 farmworkers. The Farmworker Foundation also awards scholarships to vineyard workers and their children to increase their skill set through certification courses and higher education.

Myth: Napa Valley farmworkers have no access to medical insurance or benefits packages.

Truth: The 2011 Napa Valley Wages & Benefits Survey shows that 91% of supervisors and 69% of vineyard workers are offered medical insurance plans (compared to 52% nationwide in the private sector) and 55% are offered 401k plans in Napa. NVG, in conjunction with the University of California, Davis, will conduct the next Wages & Benefits Survey after the 2014 harvest.

Myth: Napa Valley farmworkers have difficulties securing housing.

Truth: Napa is the only county in the United States where growers assess themselves in order to fund farmworker housing centers, where individuals benefit from lodging, meals, laundry, and recreational amenities. In 2014 alone to date, the centers have provided over 51,493 bed stays for Napa vineyard workers.

Myth: Farmworkers are low-skilled workers.

Truth: Napa Valley’s farmworkers are at the frontline of protecting the quality and sustainability of Napa’s vineyards. To do this well, they must be highly trained and perceptive. They are the first to spot pest or disease pressure, recognize key stages of the growing season, identify nutrient or water deficiencies that need to be corrected, and in general they are stewards of the land on a day-to-day basis. Vineyard owners value highly skilled farmworkers and much respect exists in the relationship.

Myth: Only men are farmworkers.

Truth: Women make up as much as 20% of Napa Valley’s vineyard workforce and many have been in the industry for decades. In 2014, women competed for the first time in the NVG’s annual Napa County Pruning Contest and swept the competition – beating the men in overall scores.

Myth: Napa Valley’s harvest takes place in the area’s hottest months, August – September, and farmworkers are expected to work in the heat.

Truth: In Napa Valley, there has been a shift to night harvesting over the past 10 years. These cool night harvests are not only better for the workers, but also for the quality of the grapes, which get delivered to the winery in the early morning, before high temperatures can affect the fruit’s weight and quality. An eight hour work shift can take place from 2 – 10 a.m. On the occasions when workers are out in the vineyard during the day, Napa vineyard owners are committed to compliance with all current OSHA rules and regulations governing the prevention of heat illness and heat stress. NVG sends out daily heat alerts during the summer months, and provides education and awareness about best practices to ensure a healthy workforce.

Bottom line: Farmworkers form the foundation of the Napa Valley’s grape growing industry and are critical to the quality and environmental best practices of these world-class vineyards.

Thursday, June 12, 2014
June 12, 2014 | 3:30 PM

Early bird pricing for the 10th Annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS) ends tomorrow. WITS is taking place Monday, June 30 & Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at the Napa Valley Marriott.

New This Year:
We have introduced several innovations to the program that will give attendees more networking time, new vendors and exposure to strategic thinkers that can impact your business. To wit, “Speed Dating” between vendors and wineries and breweries; high-impact general session of keynotes and keynote panels drawing the full group; and the launch of BITS, the Beer Industry Technology Symposium which is expected to bring new innovative thinking from the world of craft beer.

Workshop Tracks include:
Technology Leadership
Small Business & Emerging Brands
Beer & Hospitality
Consumer & Brand
Marketing & Trade Sales

Register here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
June 11, 2014 | 10:06 AM

Winejobs.com released a report detailing wine job posting trends as of May 2014. As the wine industry’s leading online job site, Winejobs.com has a unique vantage point over industry trends. The Winejobs.com index indicates that job postings increased 6 percent from May 2013. The index is up 14 percent so far this year.

The May increase in job postings was driven by an increase in winemaking jobs. The winemaking job index rose 19 percent from its level in May 2013, and is up 24 percent year-to-date.

The hospitality index increased 7 percent from its level in May 2013, and is up 15 percent for the year.

The sales and marketing index decreased 20 percent from its level in May 2013, but is up 4 percent year-to-date.
 

by Curtis Phillips | June 11, 2014 | 5:07 AM

One of the larger French wine exporters, JP Chenet, has launched a sparkling wine with more fizz. The idea is that the extra effervescence helps to make the wine suitable for serving over ice in non-traditional glasses.

I admit that part of me is horrified at the prospect of serving a wine, any wine, on-the-rocks, but my own snobbery aside, this could prove to be just the beverage for a long hot summer. I admire JP Chenet’s iconoclasm and marketing savvy.

The original press release can be found here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
by Curtis Phillips | June 10, 2014 | 12:35 PM

There is still time to register for summer winemaking courses at UC Davis.

The featured courses this summer are:

Advanced Wine Tasting
This rigorous day of tasting duplicates many of the consistency and identification tests required for qualification as a wine competition judge. It challenges experienced tasters and, following each flight that is blind tasted, provides immediate feedback on their sensitivity to a range of odors and flavors in wine, whether attributes or defects.

Introduction to Wine and Winemaking
Whether you're interested in a career in the wine industry or are just a devoted oenophile, you can take this unique course from anywhere in the world. Access top-quality, college-level course material in an interactive, web-based environment and gain exposure to an internationally recognized program and instructors, including industry experts and UC Davis faculty.

Rootstock Workshop: Identification and Use
Learn about the history, use and identification of the 20 most important rootstocks in California in this workshop designed for the grape grower, winemaker, viticulturist and nursery employee.

Winegrapes: Identification and Use
Receive an introduction to about 40 white and red winegrape varieties in this workshop designed for the grape grower, winemaker, viticulturist and nursery employee. White wine varieties are discussed on day one, and the reds on day two.

OIV Wine Marketing Program - 2 Week Program
Learn how industry experts successfully create a brand and market wine in the United States. You may take the entire two-week program, or you may attend by the week or by the day.

Of course as an alumnus of UCD , and of all but one of these courses, I'm hardly an unbiased source.
 

June 10, 2014 | 11:22 AM

Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, based on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake in New York, has entered the hard cider market with Hazlitt's Cider Tree—a semi-dry ultra premium sparkling New York state hard cider made from fresh pressed apples. At 6.6% ABV, Cider Tree will be available in four packs of 12oz bottles and single 750 mL bottles at liquor stores, grocery and convenient stores.

According to a recent article by Time, the growth and comeback of cider has been in the works for years, hitting an especially hot streak recently. "Cider’s share of the market is considerably smaller in the U.S.—maybe 1%. But sales have soared of late, up nearly 100% in one recent 52-week period," Time reported.

Other East Coast wineries that are making cider include Elfs Farm Winery & Cider Mill, also in New York, and McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks in North Carolina.

Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards produces wines, including Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc and are most notably known for its flagship wine brand Red Cat, one of the most popular and best-selling New York State wines.

June 10, 2014 | 6:38 AM

Missouri Wine & Grape Board created an infographic to help you decide which white wine from Missouri you should try and what you can pair it with.

Monday, June 9, 2014
by David Furer | June 9, 2014 | 12:40 PM

Rising from the ashes of Hospices du Rhône, which stopped producing its largest event in 2012, was the soft launch of of the first 'A7' meeting. Held June 4-5 at Paso Robles's Law Estate, 60 winemakers and viticulturists from California and France shared ideas about and wines made with Rhone varieties.

Designed to champion and bridge France and California, Jordan Fiorentini of Paso Robles's Epoch Winery welcomed the attendees explaining the intent of developing it for following years with other special guests. Ian Adamo, the sommelier at Paso Robles's Bistro Laurent, kicked things off with a blind exploration of smell and taste of varieties and blends as they appear in France and California utilizing methodology garnered from his studies in both the MS and MW programs. After lunch at the host winery Law, presentations followed including one with Victor Coulon of Beaurenard telling of his Rhone estates.

Guillaume Fabre of Paso Robles's Clos Solene shared that, "it's a good get-together to share ideas on growing and making, why we're different and similar. I think more people should come from both countries; we always learn. I'm sure we'll bring others from Australia next year."

A7, named for France's Lyon Marseille highway, is the brainchild of winemakers Fiorentini and Anthony Yount of Denner and Kinero, with his Eno Wines and Rhone fan Sasha Verhage of Google. Inclusive of meals the cost for the 2-day gathering was $250.
 

June 9, 2014 | 12:08 PM

Chilean winery Castillo de Molina, from Viña San Pedro, has been inviting its customers to enjoy “Here and Now” with their successful "Cell Parking" campaign in Medellín, where customers have widely accepted the practice of keeping cell phones in lockers in restaurants, for an entire evening of total disconnection.



The objective of "Cell Parking" is to make you enjoy, and delight little things in life. We're surrounded by the distraction of cell phones that distance us from important moments we don't realize we're missing. This campaign promoting total cell phone disconnection has become a sensation in the finest Colombian restaurants such as Ferro and Bruno.

Inspired by its great reception in Medellín, this new experience will be replicated in the Colombia's capital Bogotá, where enthusiasm is evident on social networks: The campaign has 6,120 "shares" and 21, 353 "likes."

Is this an idea we should bring into the United States?

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