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Monday, July 27, 2015
July 27, 2015 | 12:16 PM

The first-ever California Wine Symposium in Havana, Cuba, taking place January 31 - February 3, 2016, is being organized in partnership with California Wine Institute, The Napa Valley Vintners, and Sonoma Valley Vintners.

Vintners will learn about doing business in Cuba while sharing their wines with sommeliers, restaurateurs, chefs and hotel managers throughout the island.

The event is being coordinated by Sonoma-based US Cava Exports, founded by Darius Anderson in 2014 to assist U.S. companies in negotiating contracts to sell agricultural and food products to Cuba. Over the last ten months, they've been working with local Cuban distributors, wine experts, and restaurant and resort managers assessing the market potential for California wines.

Relations with Cuba are warming. Amid the President’s recent modifications to the travel and trade embargo, Americans, Canadians and Europeans are visiting in record numbers. Some three million visited Cuba last year and tourism was up 20 percent during the first quarter of 2015.

Although wine is part of the hospitality culture of Cuba, access to wine there has been limited - though that is changing. Demand is increasing along with increased private sector investment and international tourism. California sent its first agricultural trade mission to Cuba in 2008 while the California Wine Institute sent a delegation to Cuba in 2009.

Last July, Anderson’s non-profit Californians Building Bridges, in partnership with Wine Institute, Napa Valley Vintners and Sonoma County Vintners, co-hosted the first delegation of 18 sommeliers from Cuba, who received travel visas to participate in a professional research, cultural exchange, and wine-buying trip. The week-long tour exposed them to wineries and associations throughout Napa and Sonoma.

U.S. food sales to Cuba have been allowed since 2000 under an exception to a trade embargo Washington has maintained since 1962. As an agricultural product, wine qualifies for this exemption.

US Cava Exports recently gained approval from the Department of Commerce to begin negotiating direct sales and shipping of wines from California to Cuba, in an effort to meet growing demand.

Space for the 2016 trip is limited with priority going to vintners who traveled to Cuba in January 2009 with the Wine Institute and those who participated in the Cuban Sommelier Summit in 2014.

Click here for more information on the symposium and costs and here for the schedule.

Steve Burns of O'Donnell Lane LLC, a strategic planning, marketing and communications firm assisting U.S. Cava in organizing the trip, said he expects at least fifty wineries to be represented, if not more.

Burns said there’s been a lot of interest with early sign-ups from such names as Schrader Cellars, Silver Oak, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Schramsberg Vineyards, Silver Oak, and Francis Ford Coppola.

“Everybody else has already been doing business there, you see French wine and Spanish wine,” Burns said. “Everything is changing by the day, but the U.S. embassy is open. Two years ago there was nothing. In the last six months it’s evolved and there are about ten wine importers.”

Thursday, July 23, 2015
by Curtis Phillips | July 23, 2015 | 2:09 PM

Depending on how you define them, screw pumps are everywhere in the US wine industry, but they are seldom recognized as such. This is simply because most pumps used to move must are fed by helical-screw “augers” (AKA Archimedes screw) which could be considered a type of screw pump. However, the term “screw” pump is usually reserved for pumps where the helical impeller is fully enclosed inside of a pump cavity. The resulting pump looks rather like a progressing cavity pump on the outside and the term "screw pump" is often used interchangibly for the two different designs.

The impeller of a screw pump is different form that of a progressing cavity pump, however. I’ve seen a lot of screw pumps in use in European wineries, but see them only rarely in US wineries despite their wide availability and generally gentle handling of the wine.

Netzsch Screw Pump video

Contrast the screw pump’s operation with our more familiar progressing cavity pump. Not the two universal joints connecting the helical rotor with the pump motor.

Netzsch Progressive cavity pump animation


For those interested, here's a slightly more detailed explaination of the Archimedes screw.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
by Curtis Phillips | July 22, 2015 | 2:45 AM

Centrifugal pumps are very common in larger wineries, but they are really only useful for tank-to-tank wine transfers. They move wine by using a rotating disc-impeller. This design does not rely on the displacement of the fluid within the pump cavity. Instead, the angular momentum of the impeller is imparted to the wine as it moves across the disc from inlet to outlet port. These pumps need a continuous liquid column within inlet the hose in order to work. This means that, for the most part, they are not self-priming. It is generally best if the pump itself can be placed below the level of the tank outlet.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
July 21, 2015 | 8:06 AM

The Missouri Wine and Grape Board commissioned an economic impact study and found that the local wine industry has grown just over 150% in the last decade. See more results from the study in the infographic below.

Click here to read the full report.

Monday, July 20, 2015
July 20, 2015 | 2:29 AM

Rotary lobe pumps are a type of positive displacement pump. The internal structure of the pump generally consists of two intermeshed, counter-rotating, gear-like rotors in an ovoid chamber. Typically the lobes are equilateral trefoils, but bi-lobed, winged bi-lobe and helical lobe designs are available. The tolerances between the two rotors and the chamber are tight, but usually not airtight. This means that, unlike flexible impeller pumps, most rotary lobe pumps are not self-priming.

The rotary lobe pump design is considered to be one of the most versatile pumps in the winery. The rotary lobe design moves wine (or must) at high flow rates while subjecting it to a low amount of shear and cavitation. They can also be used to lift wine for pump-overs or for filtration. In addition, they can be combined with a decent control system and variable frequency drive, both standard features that can be used for filling barrels. Rotary lobe pumps can even be used to pump destemmed must, provided that the pump is sufficiently large. The rule of thumb is that only three-inch pumps or larger (meaning that the inlet and outlet ports are at least three inches in diameter) should be used to pump must.

Sunday, July 19, 2015
by Curtis Phillips | July 19, 2015 | 2:26 PM

Thanks to ColloPack Solutions, the Francesca rotary piston pump has been available in the US since 2006. The Francesca Pompe Enologiche company was formed when Roberto and Oscar Manzini left the Manzini company.

The Francesca rotary piston pump is an attempt at combining the best features of traditional piston pumps with those of rotary-lobe, positive-displacement pumps. Like rotary vane and flexible impeller pumps, the liquid path through the Francesca pump is fairly straight due to its rotary design. Rotary pistons are so-called because the piston heads revolve around a central shaft rather than plunging up and down in a cylinder.

Although the Francesca pump has been compared to a Wankel rotary engine, the internal design is completely different. Instead of the Wankel's single offset rotor, the Francesca employs two quarter-circle pistons. The rotary motion is not constant, but rather, the pistons rotate more quickly through the bottom two-thirds than through the top third of a given rotation. When the two pistons are together, the remaining half of the pump forms the cavity for moving the wine. As the lead piston sweeps through the bottom of its cycle, it pushes the wine ahead of it out through the outlet port of the pump. Since the lead piston travels through the bottom of the cycle more quickly than the following piston, the cavity compresses, thus pushing the wine through the pump. At the same time, a new cavity is formed for the next half rotation. The motion of the rotary pistons is very gentle with whole berries passing intact through the pump cavity.

The Francesca product line has expanded considerably since 2006 with pumps ranging up to 15,000 gallons per hour in capacity being available.

Friday, July 17, 2015
by Curtis Phillips | July 17, 2015 | 1:40 AM

Although progressive cavity pumps (AKA progressing cavity pump) are frequently fed by an Archimedes screw, the actual pump in not an Archimedes screw per se. Instead, the pump design has a helical rotor inside of a helical cavity. As the rotor turns a void, specifically in the shape of a helical annulus, moves along the cavity thus displacing the wine forward. These pumps are becoming very common as portable must pumps. These pumps are fairly gentle and minimize further maceration of the must during transfer.

Thursday, July 16, 2015
by UC Davis | July 16, 2015 | 2:44 PM

Venue change for UCD 2015 Crush Strategies to Maximize Quality:

Save the Date: Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Time: 9:00am – 4:00pm
Where: UC Davis, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, Sensory Theater in the West Building
Registration: Details are below

 There are still spaces available for the annual Crush Strategies to Maximize Wine Quality seminar at UC Davis.

This year, the focus will be on two areas of critical importance:

1) Techniques shown to improve the extraction of phenolics and flavors, with the simultaneous removal of negative compounds.

2) The choice of yeast to match intended style.

The I've put a copy of the updated seminar announcement flier here, but those wishing to sign-up immedately may do so here.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015
July 15, 2015 | 10:32 AM

Cameron Hughes comments on "Rumors of a Prosecco Shortage Have Been Greatly Exaggerated"

This is a totally manufactured crisis. Each year Prosecco DOC controls the amount of wine producers can "classify" as Prosecco and forces them to "declassify" a certain amount as White Table wine. The "holdback" amount is revisited certain times throughout the year (my understanding is usually just twice, once in the winter after harvest and then again in May/June after fruitset) depending on projected tonnage. Why? Simply to provide pricing stability for growers and, more recently, to stop the downward pricing trend in the UK and US as Prosecco has gotten more popular.

Monday, July 13, 2015
by Curtis Phillips | July 13, 2015 | 1:24 PM

I usually refrain from commenting on consumer wine tchotchkes. Most won’t deliver what they promise, but confirmation bias means most “believers” genuinely think the latest gizmo is doing something. It’s really hard to demonstrate an negative result, particularly when you lack the resources to conduct any sort of experimentation. No one seems to like it when you point out that the whatchamacallit can possibly function as advertised without violating at least two Laws of Thermodynamics.

More specifically, we’ve seen a modest uptick in the number of “sulfite-removing” gadgets hit the market in the past few months. I think the Wineoscope offers a pretty good thumbnail analysis of the Ullo. I would have been more long-winded but would have covered the same ground.

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