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Sunday, June 8, 2014
June 8, 2014 | 11:00 AM

We received this update from Greg Jones of Southern Oregon University


Weather/Climate Update and Forecast


Temperatures during May across the western US continued where April left off with generally warmer than normal conditions (2 to 6 degrees or more), especially within the wine regions in the western and central valleys of California, western valleys of Oregon and across into eastern Washington (see figure below or attached). The upper midwest and parts of Texas and the Gulf Coast were cooler than normal during May (mostly due to wetter than normal conditions), while the eastern US finally warmed up from one of their coldest winters in many years. Precipitation over the western US in May was generally drier than normal, with some areas of northern Oregon and western Washington seeing slightly greater than normal precipitation and some isolated southern California into Nevada zones that were much wetter than normal (see figure below or attached). Areas of very wet conditions along the Gulf Coast states and up into New England were seen in May.

The March through May period continued the general late winter and spring pattern, with a warmer than normal region from Washington south and southeast across the western Rockies and down into the panhandle of Texas (see figure below or attached). California saw the greatest departures from average with the entire state nearly 3.5 degrees warmer than during March through May. Overall spring precipitation was greater than normal across northern California into Oregon, Washington, and across portions of the northern Rockies, while remaining dry in southern California across the southwest to Texas and much of the southern half of the Great Plains.

For those in Oregon, growing degree-day numbers for May 2014 were below those seen in May 2013, but when added with April this year the cumulative numbers continued near record values. Western Oregon locations experienced 5-15% more GDD than the same period in 2013, while eastern Washington was down slightly (see attached). Compared to the 2004-2013 period, all four locations have above normal GDD, ranging from 21 to 44%. Compared to the 1981-2010 climate normal GDD numbers all four locations are above normal (26-68%), with Medford seeing the greatest at 68% above normal. Station precipitation in Oregon showed that year to date values (January through May) were 5% up in McMinnville and 10-20% down in the other three locations. April and May precipitation was near normal in McMinnville and 20-25% down in Roseburg, Milton-Freewater, and Medford.

The short term to long term forecasts are pointing to the conditions of the last two weeks continuing with only a minor cool down and slight chance of rain in northern Oregon and western Washington during the 6-10 forecast period. The 8-14 day outlooks tilt the odds to being near normal to slightly cooler than normal and likely dry in northern Oregon and western Washington, while California continues to be drier and warmer than normal. Extended out to the rest of June and to the 90 day forecast window (Jun-Jul-Aug), the Climate Prediction Center forecast is showing strong odds of warmer than normal conditions over the western US. Continued seasonally dry conditions over the western US are forecasted for this period, with the only question being the pattern of summer monsoon rains, which could impact parts of southern California (see the El Niño discussion below).

As mentioned here in previous months, the longer term forecasts continued to be bolstered by the fact that North Pacific sea surface temperatures (from the coast to the central North Pacific) remain warmer than they have been for few years now. The tropical Pacific continues its transition from La Nada toward El Niño, with the Climate Prediction Center increasing the likelihood of El Niño developing into the late summer or fall. However, there remains uncertainty as to exactly when El Niño will develop and an even greater uncertainty as to how strong it may become. If the El Niño conditions do materialize later this year the western US would typically see a transition to a wetter and warmer California and a drier/warmer PNW. The timing of the onset is important for the western US, with any impact likely being pushed into the post harvest period. However, the monsoon rain predictions mentioned in the previous paragraph are an indication of warming tropical waters off Central and South America, and potential increases in available moisture. While not common, monsoon rains can come to parts of southern and central California during the late summer.

In summary, all evidence continues to point to a warmer and drier than average growing season across the west.

Saturday, June 7, 2014
June 7, 2014 | 10:00 AM

"This is a demo of narrow track crawler for use on steep high density plantings. Ken Lippman Equipment Consulting brought this equipment into the United States for a client.

Friday, June 6, 2014
June 6, 2014 | 2:24 PM

Shannon Ridge Family of Wines announces the release of Playtime Wines Red Blend, from Lake County, California, which retails at $12.99.

The bottle label art is a throwback to the era when posters of pin-up stars adorned various World War II aircraft. Playtime’s Red Blend, adorned with a label depicting a redheaded pin-up, is a combination of Zinfandel with small amounts of Grenache, Petit Verdot and Barbera. The wine is ripe and juicy, with soft tannins and a smooth finish.

In addition to the Zinfandel-based Red Blend, two other Playtime wines will be released soon: Playtime “Blonde” Chardonnay, and Playtime “Strawberry Blonde” – a slightly dry rosé.

by Mary Jorgensen | June 6, 2014 | 9:01 AM

There is quality, there is value, there is variety, or QVV, in the foothills of El Dorado County.

The El Dorado Winery Association held a special media and trade tasting event in Sacramento yesterday, showcasing the region’s wine and moderated by wine writer Christopher Sawyer. The distinguished panel of seven winemakers included Greg Boeger, who opened Boeger Winery with his wife Susan in 1973, also pioneer John MacCready, of Sierra Vista Vineyards and Winery, and relative newcomer Helen Keplinger, Keplinger Wines, who was recently featured on the cover of Wine Spectator Magazine.

“We are very fortunate in El Dorado that we have a variety of rich soils that allows us to produce any type of wine we want," said Ms. Keplinger. "As a region, we should embrace this amazing ability.”

(L-R) Paul Bush, Madrona Vineyards; Grayson Hartley, David Girard Vineyards; John MacCready,
Sierra Vista Vineyards & Winery; Chris Sawyer, moderator; Greg Boeger, Boeger Winery; Jonathan Lachs,
Cedarville Vineyard; Chris Pittenger, Skinner Vineyard and Winery; Helen Keplinger, Keplinger Wines


The Wines

The panel brought some of the region’s finest to share, beginning with a citrusy 2010 Blanc de Blancs, Extra Brut ($35) by winemaker Paul Bush of Madrona Vineyards. Own-rooted and organic, the vineyards were established by his parents, Richard and Leslie Bush in 1973.

The second panelist, Grayson Hartley, of David Girard Vineyards offered a crisp, dry 2013 Rose ($22) and discussed the resurgence of interest in this varietal.

Also a pioneer in the region, John MacCready presented a GSMC blend, 2013 Lynelle ($29), named after his two daughters.

Greg Boeger presented a 2011 Barbera ($18), which he said accounts for 30 percent of his wine sales. “It’s the wine I bring to dinner when I don’t know what is being served.”

Cedarville Vineyard's Jonathan Lachs and his wife Susan Marks presented a representative organic 2012 Zinfandel ($25), a varietal that helped make El Dorado one of the top wine-growing regions in California.

Chris Pittenger of Skinner Vineyard and Winery offered a delightful 2012 Mourvedre ($25). Ms. Keplinger presented her 2013 Caldera ($60), made up of 58% Mourvedre, 38% Grenache and 4% Conois.

Following the panel discussion, the tasting opened up to include other wines of the region. Auriga Wine Cellars, Bumgarner Winery, Cantiga Wineworks, C.G. DiArie Vineyard and Winery, Charles B. Mitchell Vineyards, Chateau Davell Winery, Crystal Basin Cellars, DK Cellars, Findleton Estate Winery, Fitzpatrick Lodge/Gold Mountain Winery, Gwinllan Estate, Holly’s Hill Vineyards, Illuminare, Lava Cap Winery, Mastroserio Winery, Miraflores Winery, Mount Aukum Winery, Narrow Gate Vineyards, and Nello Olivo Wines were all represented.

Most of the wines are made with estate-grown grapes and vineyard designates. An astonishing statistic brought up by the panelists is that the grape tonnage sold outside of El Dorado County increased 67% from 1,646 in 2011 to 2,741 in 2012. “We are experiencing phenomenal growth, said Boeger. “We hope it continues.”

El Dorado, designated an American Viticulture Area (AVA) in 1983, is home to approximately 50 wineries over 2000 acres. For more information contact The El Dorado Winery Association at, or visit their website at

June 6, 2014 | 6:16 AM

Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area and Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards have long teamed up on the Wishes in Wine Country event, which helps children suffering from life-threatening illnesses, while showcasing some of the best wine and food being produced in Sonoma County. This year the event set a new fundraising record—more than $773,000 (including cash and in-kind contributions)—and attracted close to 700 guests.

Highlights include a private dinner at Kosta Browne winery, which sold for $18,000 and Sonoma-Cutrer’s Legacy wine, which was offered for the first time at this event. Legacy is the creation of three of the winery’s past and present winemakers, and is a cuveé Chardonnay made from 2012’s best barrels. The biggest lot, and always the most meaningful, is the Adopt-A-Wish® lot, during which guests can make a donation to help make a child’s wish come true. This inspired $165,000 in contributions for this lot – an event record and enough to grant 22 wishes.

Photo credit: Tory Putnam

by Curtis Phillips | June 6, 2014 | 5:28 AM

In their Spring 2014 newsletter, Allied Grape Growers (AGG) announced that the San Joaquin Valley bunch count indicates that the 2014 harvest will be smaller than last year. I think this was expected to be the case by most of the industry, but AGG’s analysis and commentary is worth the read (PDF).

Thursday, June 5, 2014
by Curtis Phillips | June 5, 2014 | 3:00 PM

I think Coro Mendocino is one of the best things any part of the US wine industry has attempted. Of course, as a winemaker I’ve long been a proponent of proprietary blends and Mendocino as a winemaking region so I’m hardly an unbiased source. Has it been 14 years already? I have the deepest respect for the winemakers at Barra of Mendocino, Brutocao Cellars, Clos du Bois, Fetzer Vineyards, Golden Vineyards, McFadden, Parducci Wine Cellars, and Testa for their continued participation in this endeavor. 

The official Coro Mendocino 11th vintage press release is here.

June 5, 2014 | 10:59 AM

The June 2014 issue of Wine Business Monthly—now hitting mailboxes and also available online— features a "Checklist: Getting the Winery Ready to Receive Grapes" written by Curtis Phillips. This article is intended to help you prepare for harvest. From his article:

The time to start preparing for harvest is immediately after the previous one. I like to conduct a "post mortem" as soon after harvest as possible. Part of my usual routine is to go through the winery’s crush equipment and note anything that is broken or otherwise in need of replacement. This gives the winemaker as much time as possible to budget, and shop, for any new or replacement crush equipment. One doesn’t want to be panicking about the broken must pump and the torn press bladder discovered while cleaning the winery the day before receiving grapes.

I’ve put together a short checklist for getting a winery ready for harvest. I’ve found in my consulting business that I have to note when during the year particular items on the checklist are relevant. If I don’t, I have found that everything gets put off until the week, or in some cases, until the day before grapes are due to arrive at the scales.

To read the full article, click here to access the June issue.

Also to help you prepare for harvest is a Harvest Help section on If you are looking for help, or are looking to work harvest, check it out.


June 5, 2014 | 7:53 AM

F&H Construction is partnering with the LangeTwins Family Winery to build their New Bottling Facility. With the help of BIM technology and other integrations of technology, this project will have a successful and timely completion.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014
June 4, 2014 | 3:15 PM

Wine Business Monthly's June 2014 digital edition is now available.

Inside June 2014 you will find:

Are You Ready for Crush?
2014 Closure Survey Report
Industry Roundtable: How to Succeed in the Wine Industry

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