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Friday, March 7, 2014
March 7, 2014 | 2:28 PM

Across the newsdesk this week from the Wines of British Columbia in Canada:

The BC Wine Institute is encouraged by BC Government's recent announcement of plans to allow the sale of BC VQA Wine from designated BC grocery store shelves by Christmas 2014.

The BC Government has outlined a unique, two-part model for liquor sales in grocery stores that will ensure convenience and choice for consumers, promote BC products and create jobs. One model will accommodate existing BC VQA Wine Store licences, as well as a limited number of new licences, to allow BC VQA Wine to be sold off designated shelves within the stores, and purchased at designated check-out tills.

"The success to date of the BCWI's BC VQA Wine Store licences, representing 2% of liquor retail outlets in the Province, but selling over 8% of all BC VQA Wine in the Province, clearly demonstrates strong consumer support for the BC Wine Industry. Expanding the model to aisles in grocery stores will help drive forward a $2 billion per year industry, create jobs and stimulate the economy" said Miles Prodan, President & CEO, BC Wine Institute.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
March 4, 2014 | 3:13 PM

From the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance:

In celebration of Vintage Paso: Zinfandel and Other Wild Wines, March 14 - 16, enjoy a throwback to 2011 with the Paso Wine Man video, "Zinfandel: Paso's Wine" as part of the 2014 Paso Uncorked series.

Monday, March 3, 2014
by Cyril Penn | March 3, 2014 | 12:19 PM

A long-planned project to help mitigate negative effects of land development around Sacramento-San Joaquin by converting 1,200 acres of farmland into tidal wetlands is a very good thing but would have an unforeseen consequence: eliminating a 14-acre Carignane vineyard that was planted in the 1880’s.

The historic 14-acre vineyard and the wetlands created by the project could co-exist relatively easily, however, if an entrenched bureaucracy is convinced that they should. The project is being implemented collaboratively by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), the CALFED Bay-Delta Program (CALFED), the California State Coastal Conservancy (Conservancy) and the City of Oakley.

A Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Project in Oakley is available online for public comment and the 45-day comment period ends Friday – it offers an opportunity to comment on the Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Project as well as the Historical Vineyard Preservation efforts. All responses will go directly to the state.

A website with information about the vineyard, an electronic letter, and pictures of the vineyard can be found at www.historicalvineyardpreservation.org.

When winemaker Matt Cline realized the wetlands restoration project in Oakley was threatening the Emerson Carignane vineyard he’d worked with for more than 25 years, he started writing letters. After meeting with various officials, Cline was able to get the Supplemental EIR instated for the project.

Cline notes that the 14-acre vineyard on the Emerson Parcel consists of ancient 100-year-old vines that produce unique and valuable Carignane grapes, and that plantings of Carignane are diminishing, in part because it grows and best flourishes in Contra Costa County where vineyards have given way to housing. Carignane once represented 30 percent of all red winegrapes in California.

Cline believes the vineyard would be easy to save given its location within the project. It sits on high ground and could be a focal point, as a Marsh Creek Regional Trail will run right along it. Saving it will require the project to obtain additional cubic yards of dirt. “I’m sure it’s a money issue,” Cline said, “But what’s an historic 14-acre vineyard worth?”

Here is the link to the Supplemental EIR for the Dutch Slough Salt Marsh Restoration Project:

And this is a link to a recent article that touches on one of the many issues that the loss of this vineyard represents:

Here's a link to a form for sending comments via historicalvineyardpreservation.org.

“I’m hopeful,” Cline told winebusiness.com. ”This vineyard is totally sustainable. It’s something we need to study instead of destroy.”
 

Here's an example of a letter, this one written by recently retired UC Davis Department of Viticuture and Enology professor Jim Wolpert

Dear Ms Finfrock,

I write on behalf of the effort to save the Lucchesi (Emerson) Vineyard. I was a faculty member and viticulture specialist at the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis for almost 30 years. I appreciate the value of old vineyards, as I was one of the originators of the Zinfandel Heritage Vineyard Project, a joint collaboration between UC and the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP). We became involved in that project due to the risk of losing the old vine Zinfandel vineyards throughout California. Identification and increased awareness of these old vineyards was ZAP's main goal, while ours was the effort to understand whether they represented unique genetic material, that is, in terms of their wine quality. Our research showed that there were, in fact, unique characteristics that were worth saving.

Unfortunately, not all vineyards could be saved and some cases we arrived just days before the bulldozer. In fact, two of the three vineyards in our research from Southern California (Cucumonga area) were subsequently lost to development. As Don Galleano, owner of Galleano Vineyards, said well, "If these vineyards were buildings the state would slap a National Historical Landmark plaque on it and you wouldn't be able to touch it, but a vineyard of the same age has no value in their eyes."

I would argue that these old vineyards DO have value, as a link to our past as few other rural features do, with the possible exception of covered bridges. Would CalTrans remove a covered bridge like the one at the link below? I don't think they would.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Knight%27s_Ferry_covered_bridge,_Stanislaus_River,_California.jpg

I urge you to carve out a 1% exception to your Delta restoration plan and retain the Lucchesi Vineyard for as long as it can live. It is as vital to the history of California as the missions and with just as fascinating a story to tell.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Best regards,
Jim

Jim Wolpert
Viticulture Extension Specialist Emeritus
University of California

 

Friday, February 28, 2014
by Curtis Phillips | February 28, 2014 | 2:16 PM

Recently there has been a bit of excitement about a lower-alcohol producing yeast strain. Rather than comment on the article that was published online by the Wine Spectator, which can be found here if you want to read it anyway, I dug up the PDF of the approved for, but as yet unpublished, Applied and Environmental Microbiology article.

The American Society for Microbiology produced a decent summary of the research (found here). Note that ASM is the publisher of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

While I understand the excitement this research has engendered, this is still pretty early research. I would like to see a lot more sensory work on Metschnikowia pulcherrima AWRI1149 before I let it anywhere near my wines.

A reduction of a wine's final alcohol 1.5% might not justify the inherent risks that sequential inoculation carry with it. Even if the yeasts are otherwise compatible, trying to inoculate with Saccharomyces cerevisae after half the initial sugar has been consumed and a significant amount of ethanol has been produced, could greatly increase the risk of a stuck fermentation, if only from nutrient depletion and ethanol toxicity. Additionally, reducing the final alcohol this way does nothing to increase wine acidity, decrease wine pH, which I would argue is an even more pernicious problem than too much ethanol.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
by Curtis Phillips | February 26, 2014 | 11:20 AM

Compared to other lactic acid bacteria, Oenococcus oeni has a fairly stripped-down genome. This makes it an interesting research subject in it's own right, but the fact that this particular species is the one that conducts malolactic fermentation (MLF) for almost all red wines, in addition to some white and sparkling wines, makes O. oeni crucial to the wine industry. However in the US, the wine industry is much smaller than the dairy-product, cured-meat, and pickle industries. This means that O. oeni research generally has to be slipstreamed into research on other lactic acid bacteria. Since the conditions in wine are harsh from a bacteria's point of view, and tend to be different than in the production of cheese or salami, simple genomic sequencing doesn't do that great a job of predicting which proteins the bateria will make during MLF in wine.

Fortunately a team of Italian and Spanish researchers have been working on mapping proteins produced (the proteome) of O. oeni. The research was published in Open Biology as "A partial proteome reference map of the wine lactic acid bacterium Oenococcus oeni ATCC BAA-1163."

This research seems like a good beginning, but fairly preliminary. I would remind non-microbiologists that a lot of work that remains to be done before we can really say that, "Scientists Figure Out How Microbes Make Wine Good."

 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014
February 25, 2014 | 12:59 PM

Just 5 minutes from Sonoma Plaza, nine wineries open their warehouse doors for this special event. Enjoy this unique chance to visit all nine wineries in one stop, park once and spend the afternoon. Stroll through our stretch of warehouses, glass in hand and savor various parings by local chefs. It’s likely you’ll meet the winemakers themselves in this intimate setting, a rare opportunity, as many of these ‘special gem’ wineries are typically closed to the public.

Prema Behan of Three Sticks Wines pouring at Eighth Street Wineries' 2014 Open House Saturday in Sonoma. Attendance was larger than expected.

 

Scott Rich and Marta Rich of Talisman Wines at Eighth Street Open House

February 25, 2014 | 7:25 AM

WiVi now offers you several ways to experience the only comprehensive wine industry tradeshow and symposium on the Central Coast. From a tradeshow pass or individual session passes to our Premium pass which includes admission to everything WiVi has to offer, now there’s a WiVi ticket that’s right for everyone on your wine business team.

Through March 1, passes to WiVi Central Coast's sold-out tradeshow floor are only $20.

Only have time to attend one or two sessions? Single session passes are available for Thursday sessions on enology, viticulture, DTC and salary survey seminars, and are $65 until March 1. If you plan to attend more than one session on Thursday, you should consider purchasing the Thursday Session Pass for $150 at the early registration price. Wednesday session passes are $175 and two-day session passes are $225 until March 1.

Save time and skip the line by pre-registering here.

For more information on sessions, vendors and pricing, visit www.wivicentralcoast.com.

Monday, February 24, 2014
by Curtis Phillips | February 24, 2014 | 4:11 PM

2013-14 Current Issues: Best Practices for Vineyard Water Management Feb 20, 2014

 I admit that as a UC Davis alumnus, I am hardly an unbiased source, but VENSource and The Department of Viticulture & Enology have been putting together some fantastic seminars recently. Last week, I attended the "Current Issues: Best Practices for Vineyard Water Management" Symposium". WBM's very own Mark Greenspan was among the presenters. Other presenters included Larry Williams (UCD), Andrew McElrone (UCD), Lars Pierce (CSU Monterey Bay), Mark Battany (UCCE). In addition, there were two panel discussions; one consisting of winegrowers and one of winemakers to round out the day.

VENSource has put the presentations online here.

Handouts to accompany the presentations are in the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR) document repository.

Michael Silacci

I found Mark Greenspan's presentation very interesting, but as a winemaker, I was naturally drawn to the winemaker panel-discussion moderated by Opus One winemaker Michael Silacci.
 

February 24, 2014 | 10:36 AM

Janice Mondavi and Alycia Mondavi of Aloft Wine:

Cathy Corison pours wine at Premiere Napa Valley:

View of the crowd at Premiere Napa Valley:

 

Friday, February 21, 2014
February 21, 2014 | 2:08 PM

The Napa Valley Grapegrowers' Farmworker Foundation hosted its 13th Annual Napa County Pruning Contest at Beringer's Gamble Ranch on Thursday, February 20th. The industry's best vineyard workers challenged each other's art, skill, and speed at pruning Napa Valley vineyards. More than 13 women competed in the first ever Women's Division, alongside 56 men in the Men's Division. Winners in each division took home more than $2,100 in cash winnings, armfuls of tools, and gift cards.

Here are the winners:

WOMEN'S DIVISION WINNERS

1st Place: Celia Perez, V. Sattui Winery
2nd Place: Maria Romero, Walsh Vineyards Management
3rd Place: Maria Dolores Torres, Promontory
4th Place: Maricruz Gutierrez, The Napa Valley Reserve

 

MEN'S DIVISION WINNERS

1st Place: Omar Perez, Joseph Phelps Vineyards
2nd Place: Victor Silvestre, Renteria
3rd Place: Rolando Esquivel, Beckstoffer Vineyards
4th Place: Jesus Juarez, Moulds Family Vineyard

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