Archive for the ‘Wineries’ Category

We can only wish ...

We can only wish …

 

Let me be clear. I don’t make wine. I have never made wine. Everything I may know about making wine comes first from books and secondly from correlating what winemakers say about making wine with how their wines taste.

Over the years, I have accumulated a lot of “learning”, and I can now say with full conviction that there is no one way to make wine.

I have heard all the theories, listened as winemakers proclaimed everything from biodynamics to barrel aging, from high acid to high approachability as the only answers, the “right” answers.

I have had to hold my tongue with some difficulty as winemaker after winemaker disparaged their peers whose wines I have praised in print. “Added a little water”? “Added acid”? “Used more than 25% new oak”? All verboten.
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Winemakers in New Zealand are hailing the 2013 vintage as ‘one of the best in history’, with a record harvest 28% bigger than last year’s crop.

 

New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan described the summer as ‘outstanding’ with ‘near-perfect conditions for growing grapes’.

‘The result is that we expect the 2013 wines to be vibrant, fruit-driven and complex expressions of our diverse grape-growing regions – 2013 looks set to be a vintage to remember.’

Nearly 350,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested in 2013, a record volume up 5% on 2011 and 28% bigger than last year’s small crop, which left New Zealand short of wine to feed its expansion plans.

Key region Marlborough and key grape variety Sauvignon Blanc both had good years, with volumes up 33% and 26% respectively, while the Pinot Noir crop was 36% bigger than in 2012.
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French wine in a can?

French wine in a can?

 

Making its debut at the prestigious Vinexpo beginning Sunday in Bordeaux: French wine in a can!

Will Winestar’s single-serving cans create a riot in the hallowed halls of the international wine and spirits fair?  Maybe not.

The Paris-based company isn’t dealing in the generic swill those adorable single-serving bottles typically hold. Their wines are all A.O.C. (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée). Each 187-milliliter can (one-fourth the size of a typical 750-milliliter bottle) lists the wine estate, the appellation and the grape varietals as well as the vintage. Working with the European office of Ball Packaging, Winestar founder Cédric Segal developed a can with a coating inside “to make total isolation between the wine and the can.”

The first series hails from Château de L’Ille from the Corbières appellation in the Languedoc region of southern France. The white is a blend of the local Rolle (Vermentino) grape, vintage 2011. The rosé is Syrah and Grenache, vintage 2012. And the red is a blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache from the 2011 vintage. The cans sell for about $3.30 to $4.

Segal says he got the idea when he was traveling in Asia and saw that Australia was selling quality wine there in cans. Why couldn’t that work just as well with French wines?

He realizes that the French have a very strong tradition with the bottle and doesn’t expect the can to be adopted immediately in France. “Most export markets, though, have already accepted the screw cap and synthetic cork, so it’s not such a big leap,” Segal said.

 

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Wineries are coming out loud and proud in their support of gay marriage. They’re putting it right on the label.

“Little by little, we’re breaking down the barrier,” says Gary Saperstein of Out in the Vineyard, an events and tour company based in Sonoma wine country that caters to gay travelers.

One of the barrier breakers is Same Sex Meritage, a red blend that sends its message on the bottle and at the cash register: One dollar for every bottle sold is donated to the advocacy group Freedom to Marry.

“It’s the right thing to do,” says Matt Gold, who is based in Chicago and teamed with Josh Stein of Stein Family Wines in California to make the wine, which launched last December. Meritage is a brand name that refers to a Bordeaux-style blend. And, of course, it sounds a lot like marriage.

Gold and Stein see their business partnership as a way to make wine and make a statement. “Everyone should have the right to marry. Everyone should have the same rights as anyone else,” says Gold.

Same Sex Meritage isn’t the only wine reaching out to the LGBT community.

Egalite, a bubbly from the Burgundy region of France, was launched earlier this year with the name French for equality reflecting the wine’s origins as a Burgundy cremant (sparkling wine) and its support for the gay community. Each quarter, a portion of profits is donated to a LGBT nonprofit organization chosen by fans of the wine on Facebook; $15,000 has been donated since the wine’s January launch.

 

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I saw a he-said, he-said argument about sexism in wine media this week and it got me to thinking about the state of sexism in the wine industry.

About 20 years ago, the wine industry was male-dominated at every level. Today, women winemakers are common, and some wineries have advertised specifically looking a woman to take the post. Women general managers are more rare, but they exist.

Women sommeliers were rare as recently as 10 years ago, but don’t seem so anymore. One place I don’t see a lot of women is in wholesaling, which is the most consistently profitable occupation.
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Photo by Anthony Two Moons.

Photo by Anthony Two Moons.

From Santa Barbara to British Columbia, Native American vineyards are a growing business

When the first wine grapes were planted in California by Spanish missionaries in the late 1700s, the Chumash people’s economic empire extended from the Malibu shores through Santa Barbara to the Paso Robles plains. But by the time the modern wine industry emerged on the Central Coast a couple centuries later, the Chumash were struggling, much like many Native American tribes. The few dozen who managed to achieve federal recognition as the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians were left with a little slice of land, where most residents lived below the poverty line.

Fast forward to today, and the Chumash are once again propsering, thanks to a successful casino and resort they built on their Santa Ynez Valley reservation in 2004. Six years later, with hopes of expanding their reservation, the 154-member tribe bought a nearby 1,400-acre property for a reported $40 million from the late actor-turned-vintner Fess Parker. The land came with 256 acres of vines, the Camp Four Vineyard, planted with 19 different grape varieties. While honoring existing contracts for the fruit (one-third of it goes to the Parker family’s brands, while most of the rest is sold to about 70 small producers from all around the state), the Chumash started making their own wine, and released their first vintages of Kitá Wines last month.

While the project is the latest in a small but growing number of Native American tribes entering the wine business—including three in Northern California, one in Arizona, and one in British Columbia—the Chumash are the first to tap one of their own to run the show: Tara Gomez, the 40-year-old daughter of the tribe’s vice chairman, is the first head winemaker of Native American descent on the continent.
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Drinking for pleasure...

Drinking for pleasure…

 
As the Chinese economy slows, new figures confirm that Chinese consumers are seeking out less expensive wine brands.

 
Analysts Wine Intelligence found that in the first quarter of this year, 60% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 50 spent less than CNY200 (€25) on imported wine.

€25 is generally recognised as entry-level wine in China. An earlier survey in January this year had found that fear of buying a fake wine was the biggest barrier to entry for imported wines, with 44% of respondents saying it put them off buying.

‘There is a growing trend for drinking wine for pleasure rather than serving it at banquets or giving it as gifts,’ Maria Troein, China manager for Wine Intelligence told China Daily.
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Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza, Argentina

Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza, Argentina

A first look at vintage quality in South America, with eyewitness reports from growers and winemakers

Ready to taste the first wines of 2013? While vines are just flowering in Europe and North America, the Southern Hemisphere has picked, crushed and fermented this year’s crop. Argentina and Chile experienced a cool growing season, which left vintners waiting for grapes to fully ripen. That wasn’t a problem for big reds like Argentina’s Malbecs and Chile’s Cabernet Sauvignon, but it could be trouble for Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.

Here’s a sneak peek at the upcoming vintage. Check out Wednesday’s report on Australia and New Zealand and come back Friday for details on South Africa.

Argentina
The good news: A long, cool growing season produced what many winemakers are calling fresh wines

The bad news: Up and down temperatures tested winemakers’ patience and required long hang times for grapes to reach full maturation

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Also read:

Harvest at Spier, Stellenbosch.

Harvest at Spier, Stellenbosch.

A first look at vintage quality, with eyewitness reports from growers and winemakers

Ready to taste the first wines of 2013? While vines are just flowering in Europe and North America, the Southern Hemisphere has picked, crushed and fermented this year’s crop. South African grapegrowers enjoyed a wet winter, meaning healthy yields, followed by a dry, warm summer. But rain during harvest made picking anxious at times.

Here’s a sneak peek at the upcoming vintage. Check out Wednesday’s report on Australia and New Zealand and Thursday’s on Argentina and Chile.

South Africa
The good news: South Africa’s 2013 harvest has drawn praise from most producers, with a strong start and finish to the growing season

The bad news: A bit of rain and humidity mid-harvest forced some producers to scramble for proper canopy management and gamble, successfully, on better weather late

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Also read:

 

Swedish company Vernissage has started selling its boxed wines shaped to look like designer handbags in the UK due to unprecedented consumer demand.

Keen to appeal to fashion savvy consumers, last year Vernissage released the chic trio in the US and a number of European countries, overlooking the UK.

But due to repeated requests from British consumers, the wines are now available to buy in the UK through The Exceptional Wine Company.

Created by Stockholm-based graphic designer Sofia Blomberg, the “Bag-in-Bag” wines are made at the Nordic Sea Winery in Sweden run by Takis Soldatos.
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