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Wednesday, May 13, 2015
May 13, 2015 | 11:25 AM

Silicon Valley Bank's Rob McMillan leads an interactive discussion and review of The 2015 SVB/Wine Business Monthly Tasting Room Survey. For a full report, see the July 2015 Wine Business Monthly. Click here to subscribe.

Topics covered include:

* Conversion rates of visitors to buyers
* Impact of venue choice on tasting room success
* Regional tasting room comparisons
* Club metrics
* Expert panel analysis

During the broadcast, Rob McMillan is joined by Sonyia Grabski, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Sullivan Vineyards; Cyril Penn, Editor in Chief of Wine Business Monthly; and Craig Root, Founder of Craig Root and Associates

Monday, May 4, 2015
May 4, 2015 | 6:30 AM

“This is overdue. It should have happened before,” BevMo!’s SVP of Wine Bob Paulinski MW said.

It was a sentiment echoed again and again throughout Friday’s inaugural Sonoma Barrel Auction.

Paulinski along with Evan Goldstein and a team of master sommeliers evaluated the wines weeks prior to the auction to weed things out and provide clarity about what they had.

It was a wide selection of collectible wines, cult Sonoma wines: A range of styles of Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Bordeaux blends, and Zinfandel, in addition to a handful of whites that showed exceptionally well, 71 lots ranging between 5 and 20 cases - unique wines the likes of which hadn’t been created before: blends from multiple vineyards and multiple blocks, and unique collaborations. Ginny Lamrix of VML wines, for instance, created a Pinot noir from her favorite 30 vineyard blocks; Joseph Swan Vineyards, Kosta Brown and Williams Seylum collaborated on a never-before, never-again blend of Pinot Noir; Winemakers John Raytec, Ehren Jordan, Akkiko Freman, Damain Parker, Ted Lemon, Vanessa Wong, and Carroll Kemp worked together to create a unique blend representing West County; Joel Peterson blended the mother of all field blends from four different field blends. On it went.

The event - which kicked off Thursday April 30th with a VIP trade and media preview event at Williams Selyem Winery celebrating Sonoma County wine industry icons - raised $460,000.

“Our relevancy in the marketplace is growing,” Sonoma County Vintners executive director Carolyn Stark said as the inagural auction began. “The time is right to kick off the Sonoma Barrel Auction.”

(pictured, Carolyn Stark, photo by George Rose)

A reader comments:

I guess they don't recall the "Hospice of Sonoma" barrel auction that went on for years, in Santa Rosa....

Friday, May 1, 2015
May 1, 2015 | 7:00 AM

In the May issue of Wine Business Monthly, we published a winemaker roundtable on making wine with cool-climate grapes. In the roundtable, three winemakers working on the Sonoma Coast discuss the unique challenges associated with cool-climate fruit and why making wine with it is worthwhile.

Writer Lance Cutler asked these winemakers what attracted winemakers to cool-climate zones. We wanted to know if there were unique problems associated with cool-climate vineyards. We wanted to understand how winemakers handled chilling fog, soaring winds and major rain events during harvest season. Finally, we wanted to know what it was about cool-climate fruit that made the added strain worthwhile.

Click here to read the May digital edition of Wine Business Monthly.

Click here to subscribe to the print edition.

photo credit: Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
by Curtis Phillips | April 21, 2015 | 2:07 AM

PLOS One has recently published an interesting paper titled "Comparative Transcriptomic Analysis Reveals Similarities and Dissimilarities in Saccharomyces cerevisiae Wine Strains Response to Nitrogen Availability" by Catarina Barbosa, José García-Martínez, José E. Pérez-Ortín, and Ana Mendes-Ferreira.

Here's the Abstract:

Nitrogen levels in grape-juices are of major importance in winemaking ensuring adequate yeast growth and fermentation performance. Here we used a comparative transcriptome analysis to uncover wine yeasts responses to nitrogen availability during fermentation. Gene expression was assessed in three genetically and phenotypically divergent commercial wine strains (CEG, VL1 and QA23), under low (67 mg/L) and high nitrogen (670 mg/L) regimes, at three time points during fermentation (12h, 24h and 96h). Two-way ANOVA analysis of each fermentation condition led to the identification of genes whose expression was dependent on strain, fermentation stage and on the interaction of both factors. The high fermenter yeast strain QA23 was more clearly distinct from the other two strains, by differential expression of genes involved in flocculation, mitochondrial functions, energy generation and protein folding and stabilization. For all strains, higher transcriptional variability due to fermentation stage was seen in the high nitrogen fermentations. A positive correlation between maximum fermentation rate and the expression of genes involved in stress response was observed. The finding of common genes correlated with both fermentation activity and nitrogen up-take underlies the role of nitrogen on yeast fermentative fitness. The comparative analysis of genes differentially expressed between both fermentation conditions at 12h, where the main difference was the level of nitrogen available, showed the highest variability amongst strains revealing strain-specific responses. Nevertheless, we were able to identify a small set of genes whose expression profiles can quantitatively assess the common response of the yeast strains to varying nitrogen conditions. The use of three contrasting yeast strains in gene expression analysis prompts the identification of more reliable, accurate and reproducible biomarkers that will facilitate the diagnosis of deficiency of this nutrient in the grape-musts and the development of strategies to optimize yeast performance in industrial fermentations.

I'm not a yeast geneticist, and therefore certainly not an expert, but to my knowledge this paper is the first time that anyone has looked at the entire Saccharomyces cerevisae genome in an effort to look at the strain-to-strain genetic variation of yeast metabolic rates in response to available nitrogen.

Monday, April 20, 2015
by Curtis Phillips | April 20, 2015 | 12:50 PM

A lot of winemakers, including myself, are graduates of UC Davis. One of the UCD campus institutions which I remember fondly is KDVS. Like any non-comercial radio station, and although the KDVS needs to go to the public for the funds it needs to keep operating. Of course, I was an on-air personality and DJ at KDVS for several years so I am completely biased, but I would hope that my fellow Davis alumni would consider chipping in to the KDVS fundraiser.

Saturday, April 18, 2015
by Cyril Penn | April 18, 2015 | 9:00 AM

When the “Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015” was introduced in the Senate last Thursday, the Distilled Spirits Council released a statement of support, calling it “key to opening foreign markets to American spirits products.”

“This bill sends a signal to the rest of the world that the United States is serious about concluding important trade negotiations,” Distilled Spirits Council President and CEO Peter H. Cressy said. Cressy emphasized that expanding exports has become increasingly important to the U.S. distilled spirits industry. “The ability of the U.S. to conclude high standard, comprehensive and trade liberalizing agreements will help to ensure the long term success for the industry. It is crucial that Congress pass TPA legislation without delay.”

Discus members, large and small, export their products to more than 130 countries.

Wine Institute supports the legislation too.

U.S. free trade agreements have helped California wine exports grow from $98 million in 1989 to nearly $1.5 billion in 2014.

“Congress and the President now need to quickly enact the bill in order to conclude Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiations between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations, including Japan,” Wine Institute Vice President and International Trade Counsel Tom LaFaille said via email.

Most ag groups support the new TPA legislation

The average person has probably never even heard of TPP. In a nutshell, the Obama administration has been negotiating a major deal with Japan and other Pacific countries, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, expected to remove tariffs on U.S.-made goods exported to several Asian countries and the EU. Negotiations have been going on behind the scenes for six years. The legislation introduced this week is potentially big news because if enacted, it would make it easier for U.S. trade negotiators to finalize the agreement.

Congress would abandon its constitutional trade authority, giving it to the president.

(Legislation to “fast track” trade agreements failed last year).

It makes sense that associations representing wine and spirits producers support free trade in general and it stands to reason that they’d back the fast track legislation in particular. It would be odd if they didn’t. I get it.

But Oh Boy, … this trade deal is sounding like something else. …

Personally, I think TPP sounds super scary.

Special privileges and protections making it easier for corporations to offshore jobs are bad for Americans, who will make less. That’s an obvious downside.

But it gets worse.

TPP has been negotiated secretly - it's classified - though lobbyists get to see it - and we’ve learned some details about what’s in it only because draft chapters were posted to Wikileaks.

TTP would give corporations the right to drag the US. Government into investor-state corporate tribunals – extrajudicial tribunes where panels of corporate attorneys would be empowered to rule on a claims against the U.S. government by foreign corporations wanting compensation for any domestic laws deemed a violation of the agreement. Corporations would be compensated for any lost future profits resulting from having to meet U.S. laws. TPP would undermine Internet freedom (part of SOPA is in it); give pharmaceutical companies extended monopolies that would increase medicine prices; undermine banking regulations; and could undo energy policies needed to combat the climate crisis, (the administration says TTP is good for the enviornment).

Some say these concerns are overblown. Others are calling TPP a corporate Trojan horse and threat to democracy itself.

Friday, April 17, 2015
by Curtis Phillips | April 17, 2015 | 3:48 AM

Although I'm a Davis grad myself, I've always been fond of Fresno State's TailGate Red. Fresno State Department of Viticulture and Enology is looking for a new winemaker for the 10,000 case Fresno State Winery. Fresno State was the first University to have a commercial bonded winery on their campus. More information about the position may be found here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015
April 15, 2015 | 4:12 PM

Wine Business Monthly's April 2015 digital edition is now available. You can view it within your web browser or download it as a PDF.

Inside April 2015 you will find:

-Coolest Products at Unified

-Winemakers Discuss How to Define Wine Quality

-The Importance of Cover Crops for Vineyard Health

-Bottled Up: Demand and Price Up But Ports Slowing Delivery

Click here to subscribe to the print edition

Monday, April 13, 2015
April 13, 2015 | 6:47 AM

In this video Dr. Andy Walker talks about a recent planting of PD-resistant vines along the Napa River, how they might be used and when they may be available to growers.

PD/GWSS Referendum Ballots went out the week of April 6.

More info at

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
April 8, 2015 | 2:29 PM

An IWSR study commissioned by Vinexpo 2015 found that the United States was the only market among the top 10 wine-drinking countries to show growth over the previous year. However, projections for the future paint a brighter picture: wine consumption is expected to reach epic heights by 2018, with about 32.78 billion bottles consumed across the globe each year. So how much wine is that? 

For more information on the study, click here.


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