“The wine world is a place where we learn through mentorships. I think that is a rare thing in this day and age. We all had mentors and learned from them. Mentors have been important to me, and that is one thing that a consulting winemaker relationship offers to a winemaker, that mentorship.”
-Aaron Pott, winemaking consultant
From the article "Industry Roundtable: Consulting Winemakers," page 18 in the November issue of WBM. The November issue can now be viewed online here.
Winejobs.com released a report detailing wine job posting trends as of October 2013. 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 by wineries in October 2013 increased 8 percent from October 2012. The index is up 24 percent so far this year.
The October 2013 increase in job postings was driven by a big increase in hospitality jobs. The hospitality index increased 37 percent from its level in October 2012 and is up 44 percent for the year.
The sales and marketing index increased 5 percent from its level in October 2012. The index is up 10 percent year-to-date.
The winemaking job index decreased 20 percent from its level in October 2012, but is up 20 percent year-to-date.
Over on his blog at WineSpectator.com, James Laube was singing the praises of the 100 point scale today (no password is required this week). This wasn't a shocker. I wasn’t surprised to read that the 100 point scale has been “embraced” by vintners. Wine companies brag about the number of 90-plus scores they receive, ad nauseum, while winemakers often complain about scores. I was a bit surprised to read that many vintners James Laube tastes with use the 100-point scale themselves for in-house tastings, though. At any rate, we know the debate about scores is as old as the scores themselves. Here’s a link to a Wine Business Monthly article from nearly a decade ago where W. R. Tish lists ten ways scores are hurting wine. In the same issue, another writer, Scott Clemens, argues that the industry needs scores. Though those articles were published years ago, they just as easily could have been published today.
At Asia's only urban winery, The 8th Estate Winery, things are done a little differently. To start, most of the grapes aren't grown in Asia—they're flash-frozen and shipped across the seas to the Harbour Industrial Centre in Ap Lei Chau in Hong Kong. From France, Italy, Australia and even Washington state, Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, Shiraz, Merlot and many others make their way to a nondescript warehouse sitting on the edge of Hong Kong Island.
But in perhaps the most interesting divergence from traditional winemaking, the winemaker for the winery isn't a full-time position. In fact, the winemaker may not even return for the next vintage. Winemakers from across the globe, quite often familiar with the actual vineyard the grapes are purchased from, find making wine in this way in Hong Kong is a welcome challenge. It can even allow the winemaker to improve on a particular vintage, as by the time the grapes arrive at the production facility in Hong Kong, the winemaker may have already finished processing the grapes in their home country.
Lysanne Tusar, the director and chief marketing officer, says that there usually aren't any problems in finding willing winemakers.
"A month later they fly out here and have a second chance to do the same fruit. If there was anything they didn’t like or want to adjust along the way they can do that immediately. Winemakers adore it because that never happens. Winemakers get one crack at it per year, right, so here they’re getting a big advantage and doing it twice," she said.
The most difficult part of running The 8th Estate is simply in being the first.
"Someone mentioned this to me once: The first one through the wall is always the bloodiest. Because it’s an unknown quantity and it’s an unknown process to anyone here, that breeds a lot of hesitation and skepticism about how to go about these things, so there’s been a lot of education on our behalf to sort of get the governing bodies and everyone involved with the manufacturing to understand our processing and that it’s unique and that it’s very different to anything else. So it's always a bit of a challenge in trying to educate, not just our clients, but anybody that we work with on the processing," she said. "It’s always a constant. After six years I thought it would have been better by now but it’s a very consistent thing. The more and more people do this, the easier it would be for everybody."
Many are hesitant about this style of winemaking, even within Hong Kong itself. The people are more familiar with the traditional, Old-World style of winemaking, and educating others is a constant process, says Tusar.
"I didn’t really think that wine could be decent if it came from frozen grapes. I was a little skeptical and I think a lot of people are, and that’s fair. But it turns out, and a lot of independent studies have been done on this, as long as it is frozen properly at the beginning—so flash freezing or snap freezing—as long as it’s done very, very quickly, there’s no decomposition to the structure of the fruit, there’s no chemicals or condensation. It’s really quite a great way to preserve," she said. "The only thing that I sort of added to it was transporting the grapes while frozen, the theory being that as long as they stay frozen there’s not a whole lot that can happen to them. They’re in pretty good suspension and then they can travel 10,000 miles to meet their production facility."
Another added benefit, she says, lies in the small amount of maceration occuring while the grapes are frozen. This allows richer, deeper color in some cases. They noticed that a 2008 Nebbiolo, which is typically a very light color, came out with a rich, dark and beautiful ruby wine.
"When you take a step back and look at it, it’s a bit of a reflection on the Hong Kong people itself. You can go up to anyone and whether they be Asian or Western or whatever, they all have, for the most part, such an interesting international background, whether they be from mainland China or the UK or from the U.S. or Australia or Thailand or the Philippines or wherever, everyone seems to be from somewhere else when they’re in Hong Kong. And yet we all define ourselves as Hong Kongers. We’re very proud to be from Hong Kong and represent the city. So there’s a strong degree of patriotism even though a lot of our heritages don’t go back too far. So it’s kind of a reflection of that. Everything is made here and it (the wine) is a product of Hong Kong, but on the flip side there’s the heritage to it, that it comes from all these great regions around the world to be made here and be the best of both worlds."
The 6th edition of the EWBC: Digital Wine Communications Conference took place in October in Logroño, Spain—in the Rioja region. 300 wine bloggers, communicators and digital experts—the largest group in conference history— from around the world gathered to discuss the ever-changing landscape of wine and media online.
Here are some stats from the conference:
Number of Participants: 300
· Countries represented: 40
· Top countries represented: Spain, France, USA and UK
· Countries beyond Europe: Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Chile, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Switzerland
· Oldest wine tasted: Carlos Serres Gran Reserva 1970, Castillo de Ygay 1970
· Average wine age tasted: 28 years old
· Key Speakers:
o Tyler Colman (Dr. Vino)
o David White (Terroirist)
o Paul Mabray (VinTank)
o Doug Frost, MW and MS
o Julia Harding, MW
o Tim Hanni, MW
o Dr. José Vouillamoz (Swiss grape geneticist)
More news on new releases! This time from British Columbia's Okanagan Crush Pad. The producer of Haywire and Bartier Scholefield wines just announced the release of 150 cases of BC TNT Chardonnay ($22.90) made by Vancouver's 2012 Sommelier of the Year, Terry Threlfall. The wine, TNT, is named after Terry Nicholas Threlfall.
"Yeah, that's a little cheeky, hey?" Terry said. "First of all, my initials are TNT and a favourite reference for me from those that know me well. Secondly, do not expect an oak-bomb here - this wine is aged in steel and concrete. Where it does detonate is with its exuberant pure fruit, minerality, and vibrant natural acidity."
Okanagan Wine Campus, created in 2011 by Okanagan Crush Pad, is a mentorship program that provides the person named Vancouver's Sommelier of the Year a chance to make a small lot wine using the grape variety and style of wine they wish. In 2012 Vancouver Magazine, Vancouver International Wine Festival, and California's Sunset Magazine each named Terry Sommelier of the Year. So when harvest 2012 occurred, Threlfall visited Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland and worked alongside chief winemaker Michael Bartier to create the wine.
The proceeds from the sale of TNT Chardonnay will be given to the BC Hospitality Foundation wine scholarship fund to support students who are pursuing their higher level wine education certification. To date, $10,000 has been awarded to 11 individuals with further scholarships. Okanagan Wine Campus projects to date include Kurtis Kolt (2010), Owen Knowlton (2011), Terry Threlfall (2012), and Samantha Rahn (2013).
We are now working on the January issue of Wine Business Monthly, which includes our Varietal Focus series. Here is one of the tasting notes from the article. Can you guess what varietal we are featuring next?
I get honey. It was a riper vintage and you can almost taste the sun in the wine.
In an annual holiday tradition, philanthropist, vintner and concert promoter Bruce Cohn distributed a portion of the proceeds from his 27th Annual B.R Cohn Charity Events Fall Music Festival held in September at the B.R Cohn Winery Amphitheatre in Glen Ellen. The event is donating $35,000 to the Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB), one of the many charities the event supports.
Each month, the Redwood Empire Food Bank provides food assistance to 78,000 children, adults and seniors in Sonoma County.
This year’s festival was held in the memory of Bea Oliver, a long time stage manager of the Fall Music Festival. The festival’s olive grove stage was renamed the Bea Stage. Performers this year were The Curly Wolf, Neverland Express, Paulie Hips and the Childbearers, Jaime Kyle and the Rowan Brothers.
Other proceeds from the event will go to Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, The Field of Dreams, The Guardsmen, The Station Foundation and American Legion Post 489.
The Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair, put on by the Hong Kong Trade Develpment Council, kicked off on Nov. 7 with two floors of exhibitors. There are 1,005 exhibitors (a new record) from 40 countries and regions, including a number of new participants from Jordan, Lithuania, Montenegro and Morocco. French and Italian wines represent the largest number of exhibitors, with more than 300. New pavilions for wines from the Chinese mainland, Japan, Turkey and the United States are shown. Spain is the year's partner country, with more than 90 exhibitors from the country showing.
More than 70 events will take place between Nov. 7 and Nov. 9—including 40+ wine tasting sessions, six master wine classes and guided tours, 15 cocktail demonstration sessions, numerous seminars and the Asia Top Sommelier Summit.
Last year, the fair attracted more than 20,000 buyers from 80 countries and regions.
The 2013 Varietal of the Month Series from the Paso Robles Wine Country continues with the November Paso Wine Man Video showcasing Roussanne.
Monthly varietals will be explored each week through Paso Wine Man Videos, Grower Blogs, Winemaker Interviews, and Recipes from local restaurants. Learn about the unique characteristics that go into making your favorite bottle of Paso Robles wine, and explore wines that may be a bit unfamiliar through the 2013 Varietal of the Month series!