WINE BUSINESS MONTHLY August 2016 • $5.95
The Industry’s Leading Publication for Wineries and Growers
Yeast Cultivated Versus Wild Yeast Wine Trials: New Yeast Strain
Improves Color, Mouthfeel
Plus: New Developments in Vineyard Automation Reduce Use of Labor and Water Industry Roundtable: Expert Insight on Marketing Wines from Lesser-known Regions The Pros and Cons of Making Tasting Room-only Wines
month in review
WINE BUSINESS MONTHLY August 2016 • Volume XXIII No. 8 EDITOR Cyril Penn SENIOR TECHNICAL EDITOR Curtis Phillips
On Labor and Vineyard Automation AUGUST 2016
WINE BUSINESS MONTHLY August 2016 • $5.95
The Industry’s Leading Publication for Wineries and Growers
ASSISTANT EDITOR Erin Kirschenmann STAFF WRITER Bill Pregler COPY EDITOR Paula Whiteside
WINE BUSINESS MONTHLY
Yeast Cultivated Versus Wild Yeast
Wine Trials: New Yeast Strain
Improves Color, Mouthfeel
Yeast ~ Vineyard Automation
WBM heads to subscribers and the 2016 harvest approaches, the Supreme Court just deadlocked on President Barack Obama’s immigration plan, which aimed to shield millions living in the U.S. illegally from deportation while making many eligible for work permits. That plan is on hold now, though immigration will be a huge issue during the upcoming presidential campaign. For now, the court has maintained the status quo. Labor availability has been a concern to winegrowers for years but seems to be really catching up with people lately. It continues to become more expensive and scarce. The labor shortage is an earthquake for the industry. It’s not just that farmers are losing labor to other industries or that fewer young people are eager to work in farming. Department of labor raids have been forcing many employers, who previously accepted employee documentation at face value, to use the federal government’s e-verify system, which in turn has disqualified a considerable number of workers. To fill the gap, agricultural employers are increasingly turning to the government’s H2A program to bring non-immigrant foreign workers to the U.S. on a temporary or seasonal basis. Mechanization is the key to dealing with the labor shortage, yet there are still wineries who say they want their grapes picked by hand, no matter how good the machines are. The reality is that these wineries will either lose access to fruit or will pay a lot more. Ultimately, even paying top dollar may not work because at some point the labor is just not going to be available. As one grower who farms thousands of vineyard acres, selling grapes to dozens of wineries put it, “The winemakers have to get their heads out of the sand.”
AS THIS ISSUE OF
MANAGING EDITOR Rachel Nichols
Plus: New Developments in Vineyard Automation Reduce Use of Labor and Water Industry Roundtable: Expert Insight on Marketing Wines from Lesser-known Regions The Pros and Cons of Making Tasting Room-only Wines
EDITOR AT LARGE Lisa Shara Hall CONTRIBUTORS Dan Berger K. Bjerre Elaine Chukan Brown Lance Cutler N. Edwards Paul Franson David Furer Alan Goldfarb Mark Greenspan Michael S. Lasky Ted Rieger S.G. Saerens Dr. Hentie Swieger Liza B. Zimmerman DESIGN & PRODUCTION Scott Summers
That said, many wineries and growers are mechanizing operations whenever and wherever possible, not just because of the labor shortage, but to reduce costs. Winemakers are buying into mechanical harvesting more than ever, particularly with the advent of technology that destems grapes in the field, delivering highly desirable, tank-ready fruit. Vineyard mechanization is a topic we cover often in Wine Business Monthly, one we’ll return to again. This month’s issue includes a report about some of the latest technologies for mechanizing field operations. Vineyard operations which can be automated include: dormant pruning, suckering, shoot thinning, leaf removal, berry and cluster thinning and harvesting. Much of the recent focus has been on improving mechanized canopy management, from dormant season pruning to shoot thinning and leaf removal. Technology is changing quickly. Cyril Penn - Editor
PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER Eric Jorgensen ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Tamara Leon ADVERTISING Business Development Manager Bob Iannetta Classifieds Jacki Kardum ADMINISTRATION Vice President – Data Management Lynne Skinner Circulation Liesl Stevenson Operations Analyst/Customer Support Katie Miller Office Manager/Customer Support Jacki Kardum CHAIRMAN Hugh Tietjen PUBLISHING CONSULTANT Ken Koppel For editorial or advertising inquiries, call 707-940-3920 or email email@example.com For subscriptions, call 800-895-9463. Copyright 2016 Wine Communications Group, Inc. Short passages can be quoted without permission but only if the information is attributed to Wine Business Monthly. Wine Business Monthly is distributed through an audited circulation. Those interested in subscribing for $39/year, or $58 for 2 years, call 800-895-9463 or subscribe online at www.winebusiness.com. You may also fill out the card in this magazine and send it in.
4 August 2016 WBM
August 2016 • Volume XXIII No. 8 • The Industry’s Leading Publication for Wineries and Growers • www.winebusiness.com
sales & marketing
Yeast of a Different Breed . . . . . . . 18 Improving wine quality through the application of non-Saccharomyces yeast Curtis Phillips
Improving Wine Quality Through the Application of Non-Saccharomyces Yeast . . . 20
Industry Roundtable: Getting the Message Out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 How do you effectively market wines from a great, but lesser-known, wine region?
Novel applications of lactic acid production by Lachancea thermotolerans (Kluyveromyces thermotolerans)
Dr. Hentie Swieger, N Edwards, SG Saerens and K Bjerre Chr. Hansen, Cultures & Enzymes Division
The ROI on Wine Distribution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 The new scoreboard on the three-tier system
Can Vineyard or Inoculated Yeasts Overcome Those in a Winery? . . . 26 Contrary to widespread belief, the answer is probably not. Paul Franson
Winemaker Trials: Daou Vineyards Develops a Custom Yeast to Allow for Better Aging and Drinking . . . . . . . . 30
Liza B. Zimmerman
Insight & Opinion Diversity: A Blessing or a Curse? . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Do tasting room-only wines in the Napa Valley help or hurt your winemaking teams and brand image? Dan Berger
Retail Sales Analysis: New Imports Look for Growth in Booming U.S. Rosé Category . . . . . . . 64
A winemaker’s proprietary yeast, D20, binds anthocyanin better than other yeasts for better acidity, color and mouthfeel. Michael S. Lasky
Understanding California Nebbiolo . . . . . . . . . . 32 California winemakers try to make sense of the grape in differing conditions Elaine Chukan Brown
technology & business
Vine Diseases: A Never-ending Story . . . . . . . . . . 36 Without diseases, what else would we growers talk about? Mark Greenspan
New Developments in Vineyard Mechanization and Precision Management . . . . . . . 42
Affordable Care Act: New Requirements Stymie Small Wineries . . . . 68 Wineries turn to third-party vendors for compliance assistance Alan Goldfarb
Winemaker Business Decisions: Becoming a Part of the Oregon Wine Business . 72 Six Willamette Valley winemakers reveal what their best and worst decisions were. David Furer
UC Davis seminar informs growers about equipment and research to mechanize operations as labor costs increase and labor supply dwindles. Ted Rieger
departments month in review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 news . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 what’s cool: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Installing Lifts for ADA Access Compliance
people. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . advertiser index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . jake lorenzo Portugal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . winemaker of the month. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Avoid building ramps with an easy retro-fit Bill Pregler
Mick McDowell, co-owner/winemaker, Miletta Vista Winery, St. Paul, Nebraska
Cover Photograph: Jesse Gaddy, Barbareño Restaurant Location: Kimsey Vineyard, Santa Barbara County Cover Design: Scott Summers
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Wine Business Monthly (ISSN 1075-7058) is published monthly by Wine Communications Group, Inc., 35 Maple St., Sonoma, CA 95476. Subscription rates are $39 for domestic; US$49 for Canadian and US$89 for foreign subscribers. Periodicals Postage Paid at Sonoma, CA, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Wine Business Monthly, PO Box 1649, Boulder, CO 80306-1649.
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who’s talking in this issue
Steve Clifton, owner-winemaker, Palmina Estate, Understanding California Nebbiolo, page 32
“I knew if anything I made even skirted with being modern the wine would be panned as Californian….I needed an ultra-disciplined, traditional style to prove these wines could stand up.”
Jim Clendenen, owner/winemaker, Clendenen Family Vineyards, Understanding California Nebbiolo, page 32 “The goal with Nebbiolo is to have length, complexity and concentration throughout the palate without excessive tannin.”
Kaan Kurtual, viticulture extension specialist, UC Davis, Vineyard Mechanization and Precision Management, page 42 “We can achieve economies of scale with mechanical practices, the equipment is available to do most vineyard cultural practices and precision and accuracy continues to improve.”
Christopher Parry, post-doctoral researcher, UC Davis, Vineyard Mechanization and Precision Management, page 42 “We’re hoping surface renewal and IRT technology will complement each other, so we have a better system to know how much to water, as well as, when to water.”
Stacie Jacob, chief strategist, Solterra Strategies, Industry Roundtable: Getting the Message Out, page 48 “You have to just keep pumping the pipeline with stories and information about the region. Then all of a sudden it will start to turn, where the media is starting to call, starting to ask questions, starting to come to the area.”
Steve Burns, owner, O’Donnell Lane, Industry Roundtable: Getting the Message Out, page 48 “The core to successful regional promotion is leadership, whether that is choosing which wines to put in front of which writer or just making the tough calls regarding who that buyer from Safeway sees.”
Moya Dolsby, executive director, Idaho Grape Growers and Wine Producers Commission, Industry Roundtable: Getting the Message Out, page 48
“In Idaho we had a hard time just getting people to try the wine. It’s getting better, but they used to say, ‘People make wine in Idaho?’”
8 August 2016 WBM
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For daily news you can search or browse by region, visit winebusiness.com/news
Pennsylvania Governor Signs Law Allowing DTC Wine Shipping
TTB Looks to Change Labeling Requirements
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed H 1690 (Turzai) on June 8, making the state the 44th to allow direct-to-consumer (DTC) wine shipping and opening up the 12th largest U.S. wine market—and last remaining large state—to DTC shipments. It had been a long, hard road for supporters of the DTC shipping movement, with numerous bills held up in the larger discussion of privatization and modernization of the state’s liquor control board monopoly. The bill also brings other laws surrounding Sunday sales, casino and hotel wine sales up-to-date and legalizes the sale of wine in grocery stores. Despite broad bipartisan support in the state’s House, there are some groups that fear this new system will force a major loss of revenue for Pennsylvania, and spirits producers are unhappy that sales of their wares will continue to remain in the “sole purview” of Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) stores. Wineries that obtain a DTC shipping permit will be allowed to ship up to 36 cases annually per consumer at a tax rate of $2.50 per gallon plus applicable local sales taxes. Previous versions of the bill had included higher taxes and restrictive provisions such as a prohibition on shipping wine already in distribution. The law becomes effective in 60 days (August 8) although it will likely take time to create licensing and implement other bill requirements. H 1690 contains additional provisions permitting hotels and restaurants (including grocery stores with in-store restaurants) to obtain a license to sell up to 4 bottles of wine per consumer per day for off-premise consumption and allowing Sunday sales at all PLCB stores. Currently, Sunday sales are limited to 25 percent of stores. The bill also allows PLCB to offer flexible pricing on top wine and spirits brands within parameters to be defined and creates a “Commission” that will be responsible for preparing a report for the legislature in six months on potential privatization of the wholesale and retail functions of the PLCB.
Lawmakers and federal regulators at the Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) are requesting comment on changes to labeling requirements following the complaints of several California winemakers upset with wineries in other states labeling their wines with Napa Valley or Sonoma for the regions the fruit was sourced from. Two wines were cited in the complaint: A winery which had sourced grapes from Napa Valley but finished the wine in Georgia used “Napa Valley” on the label and a winery in New York state which labeled its wine after the region the fruit was sourced (Sonoma) though the wine was processed and bottled in The Empire State. In response, the TTB has issued Notice 160 - Proposed Revisions to Wine Labeling and Record Keeping Requirements. According to Michael Kaiser of Wine America:
news Top Story • PAGE 10 Pennsylvania Governor Signs Law Allowing DTC Wine Shipping
National • PAGE 10 TTB Looks to Change Labeling Requirements
California • PAGE 12 E&J Gallo Winery Acquires Orin Swift • PAGE 12 Jean Arnold Sessions Named Executive Director of Sonoma County Vintners
Texas • PAGE 12 The Texas Association of Business Files Suit in Federal Court Against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
10 August 2016 WBM
The notice proposes to amend the labeling regulations to provide that any standard grape wine containing 7 percent or more alcohol by volume that is covered by a certificate of exemption from label approval may not be labeled with: • A varietal designation • A type designation of varietal significance • A vintage date • An appellation of origin, unless the wine is labeled is in compliance with the standards set forth in the regulations. If a winery is choosing to file for an exemption from label approval, under this proposal they will only be allowed to use the descriptors on their labels if the wine in question meets the current labeling requirements. For American viticultural areas (AVA) the requirements are: • The AVA must be approved for use by the TTB • 85 percent of the wine must be made from grapes grown in the AVA • The wine must be fully finished in the state where the AVA is located That is, a winery may use the AVA with a label filed as an exemption if they have purchased bulk wine that has been finished in the state where the AVA is located and bottled it elsewhere. The TTB is taking this action in response to concerns raised by wine industry members and members of Congress regarding the accuracy of label information on certain wines covered by certificates of exemption from label approval. The are requesting public comments until August 22, 2016.
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For daily news you can search or browse by region, visit winebusiness.com/news
California E&J Gallo Winery Acquires Orin Swift E&J Gallo Winery announced its purchase of Orin Swift Cellars in early
June. The acquisition includes the Orin Swift Cellars brand, related inventory and control of the tasting room located in St. Helena. The Napa Valley tasting room, which opened in 2013, will remain open to the public. Terms of the sale were not disclosed. Founded in 1998 by innovator and winemaker Dave Phinney, Orin Swift’s creative and exciting approach to brand innovation has led it to become a multinational luxury wine brand with a large consumer following. In addition to creating strong consumer loyalty, Phinney’s winemaking style is continuously recognized by wine critics was named to Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list several times. According to Roger Nabedian, senior vice president and general manager of Gallo’s Premium Wine Division, “We are excited to work with Dave Phinney who has a long history of creating memorable and bold brands. His winemaking expertise yields consistent high scores by top publications and we are thrilled that he will continue to provide creative and winemaking direction for these brands in the future. He added, “This purchase supports the company’s strategy for continued growth in the luxury wine segment.” “I’ve known and done business with the Gallo family for over a decade and it makes me very proud that a company that I have such a deep respect for will become the steward of the brand that bears my family’s name,” said Orin Swift founder Dave Phinney. He added, “I’m looking forward to a long and productive relationship where together we can propel Orin Swift Cellars to even greater heights.”
Jean Arnold Sessions Named Executive Director of SCV Sonoma County Vintners (SCV) announced that Jean Arnold Sessions
has been officially appointed the organization’s executive director. She has been serving as interim executive director since February 2016. “The past few months Jean has truly proven her dedication and commitment to Sonoma County and the Sonoma County Vintner’s Association. Her passion, commitment and energy for Sonoma County brings tremendous value to our membership providing leadership for the many initiatives we are driving for our members and the broader AVA community,” said Caroline Shaw, president of the Sonoma County Vintner’s board of directors. “It is her extraordinary industry expertise, deep regional roots and the respect and admiration of her peers across the county that makes her a terrific choice to lead our expanding mission, receiving a unanimous approval of her nomination to be the next executive director of Sonoma County Vintners. She will definitely take the organization to the next level.” Previous to her interim role with SCV, Sessions was president of Hanzell Vineyards from 2002 through 2013. She is founder of the Jean Arnold Group, a strategic consulting firm, and creator of Women in the Business of Wine, a platform for mentoring women in wine, food, and hospitality. Sessions also serves on the board of directors of the Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation and has been named a woman of the year in wine by North Bay Business Journal. She also served on the board of directors for SCV from 2003 to 2009.
12 August 2016 WBM
Texas The Texas Association of Business Files Suit in Federal Court Against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission The Texas Association of Business filed a lawsuit against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) in federal court to force the TABC to apply the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code in a fair, consistent and legal manner. Citing recent examples of the TABC withholding permits from a convenience store located in South Texas and a Texas-based food and beverage distribution company, the Texas Association of Business was compelled to file the lawsuit based on the TABC’s arbitrary licensing practices. Texas’ Alcoholic Beverage Code regulates the alcoholic beverage industry by establishing a three-tier system where participants in each tier—manufacturers, distributors and retailers—must operate independently. These laws are commonly called “tied house laws,” and prohibit control or influence among the tiers. The TABC has taken this common prohibition to an absurd extreme by asserting that even one overlapping share of stock ownership across tiers, whether direct or indirect, violates its interpretation of the law, the so-called One Share Rule. Yet, the TABC is applying this rule arbitrarily and only in limited instances. In fact, in the last year, over 40 manufacturers, distributors and retailers with overlapping ownership had over 2,500 permits approved or renewed by the TABC. “The TABC’s application of Texas alcohol law defies common sense as the majority of alcohol manufacturers, retailers and distributors have some overlapping ownership with businesses in other tiers,” said Bill Hammond, CEO of the Texas Association of Business. “The TABC is arbitrarily picking winners and losers, and that is simply not how we operate in Texas.” The TABC is out-of-step with other states that operate under a three-tier system. For example, in New York, Maryland, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan, companies are prohibited from having interests across more than one tier only if they control or influence the activities of businesses in more than one tier. “The Texas Association of Business opposes regulatory actions—like the TABC’s so-called One Share Rule—that harm the Texas economy and job creation, for no good reason. We’re taking this action to demand that our government create a level playing field for all business in the State of Texas— anything less goes against the very fabric of our state,” said Hammond. “Texas has succeeded principally because we make it easier, not harder, to do business here. Regrettably, the TABC’s policies do not reflect the vision and philosophy of the state, and through its absurd interpretation of the Alcoholic Beverage Code, it is discouraging business expansion.” The Texas Association of Business believes that the TABC’s erroneous interpretation of the law and inconsistent licensing practices clearly violate the protections afforded to all businesses by the U.S. Constitution. Through the filing of this lawsuit, the Texas Association of Business wants the TABC to abandon the so-called One Share Rule, and begin enforcing the three-tier system in a fair, consistent and legal manner, similar to other state alcohol agencies. WBM
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whatâ€™s cool Products that are smart, make your tasks easier and provide cost or labor savings Bill Pregler
Bill Pregler has worked in the winery equipment industry for many years and is a staff writer for Wine Business Monthly.
Installing Lifts for ADA Access Compliance Avoid building ramps with an easy retro-fit February Whatâ€™s Cool columns I visited some key ADA compliance issues and highly recommended every winery do the same. The problem is these regulations are constantly changing and laced with periodic updates and revisions. I suggested then that everyone get periodic risk management audits from a Certified Access Specialist. One of the best in Northern California is Craig Williams, CASp. Hands down, his number one compliance issue for wineries was access to the tasting room and elevation rises from the parking lot to the front door. If you are lucky and can build on flat, level ground, there is no need to design for elevation rises. If not, you have two options: build a ramp from the parking lot or install an elevator, otherwise known as a lift. Providing access to the tasting room avoids blatantly obvious litigation. Unfortunately, there are oftentimes monetary and physical limitations in creating easier access. I was looking for another option that satisfied all of the ADA requirements but would be a retro-fit solution, and I found it at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium when I visited Neil Hankin, owner of Hankin Specialty Elevators, Inc. of Rancho Cordova, California. IN MY JANUARY AND
14 August 2016 WBM
PHOTOS: NEIL HANKEN SPECIALITY ELEVATORS
Garaventa lifts come in 160 powder-coated colors to blend with existing structures.
NEIL HANKEN SPECIALITY ELEVATORS
This is the backside of the lift shown on the previous page, and demonstrates the “up” and “down” positions.
How Do We Get From Here To There? First, let’s create a hypothetical example of an elevation problem. Ramps are obvious cures, but installing a lift might be the best, cost-effective alternative for many pre- and post-construction projects, especially when space is a concern. Let’s say that your problem is that you have a 28-inch elevation rise and need steps from a parking lot up to flat ground that leads to the tasting room. According to the International Building Code, each step cannot exceed a 7-inch rise. My theoretical design suggests four steps, or 28 inches total, so I rounded up to 30 inches. Now, a ramp cannot exceed a 1-inch in 12 (1:12) pitch or horizontal slope. With a 30-inch rise this translates into a minimum 30-foot ramp. Automatically one thinks of the visual ramifications of this ramp in your overall landscape design. But beyond the 30 feet of ramp, you would need two 6-foot landings, one at the beginning and end, plus one in the middle for anything more than 30 feet. If your rise increases to, say, five steps (5 x 7 inches = 35 inches), you will need another 6-foot landing in the middle. If the ramp turns on itself (U-turn), add another 6 feet of landing. Then we need guard rails, but anything beyond a 30-inch rise requires rails with pickets. This is still a basic “broomed” concrete surface with galvanized rails, which may require retaining walls and will most definitely incur engineering costs and permitting fees. This also assumes you have physical space at your location and the ramp can be designed to fit between existing barriers (trees, boulders, etc.). By now you might also have decorative concerns, but that is between you, your landscaper and your check book. Working beyond my hypothetical five-step rise, and adding a “design cushion,” let’s say you decided to add three more steps (totaling eight), for a
total rise of 60 inches. At this point, instead of excavating a 60-foot ramp, it might make more sense to simply install a lift. Let’s take a look at the Genesis Opal lift from Garaventa Lift.
A Practical Alternative: Attributes to Consider As an affordable, easy-to-install solution, this lift meets or exceeds all ADA concerns and saves tremendous room. The entry level lift I researched has a 50” x 51” footprint, but larger units (platform sizes) are available. What is cool is the Genesis Opal model is designed for indoor or outdoor use and rises 60 inches. It is a totally self-contained unit that requires little or no site modification. It fastens directly to an existing floor with lag bolts for indoor applications or mounts on a concrete slab for outdoor applications. My choice has a platform with 43” side walls, a lower landing gate, an upper gate and an electric drive system with easy-to-use operator controls available with Braille. The closed lower gate and surrounding 16-gauge steel panels create a complete barrier around the passenger as it travels up and down the supporting “mast.” The entire assembly is a simple plug-and-place installation. The Opal comes in three platform sizes, and each has a 750-pound lifting capacity. What is cool is that the lift can be configured for either straightthrough entry-exit or a 90-degree turn entry-exit. The unit I saw in Sacramento was the standard size with the factory powdercoated satin gray, but you have 160 other RAL color options to choose from. The panels, gates and mast are all framed with champagne-colored, anodized aluminum extrusions, and the grab rails and handles are a clear brushed silver. All in all it was a sweet looking unit.
WBM August 2016 15
Installing Lifts for ADA Access Compliance
An outdoor installation of a Genesis-Opal entry-exit lift circumventing eight steps (56”) of rise
Installation Garaventa Lift is one of the largest manufacturers of lifts in the world, so I was not surprised to hear they are rather strict with the installation, training and maintenance of their products. Installation is only completed by licensed companies authorized to work on lifts and further trained by Garaventa for proper installation of their systems. The company has distribution throughout the United States and Canada. Neil Hankin is one such installer, and he briefly outlined the process. “Everything is totally in-house, with my company providing engineering, permitting and drawings. Once the site is improved (base and electrical), the lift is generally installed in one day. A final inspection is performed and certified by the local jurisdiction inspectors.” The last step is to train the winery, particularly what to do in an emergency, such as a power failure. A manual lowering hand wheel is in place should that occur. The simple power requirements are 120 V (208-240 available), single phase on nothing more than a 15-amp circuit. The platform’s controls consist of a constant-pressure directional control switch, an audible illuminated emergency stop/alarm switch and can also be equipped with an optional on/ off key. Finally Hankin will coordinate the factory maintenance program.
Maintenance There is a two year parts and material warranty and the standard one year on labor. A maintenance program, however, will be required for all installations. On-going maintenance will most likely be required by the local county elevator inspector. Periodic, scheduled visits by licensed technicians will perform all necessary cleaning, adjustments, lubrication and repairs as needed. All visits and service are then logged into Garaventa’s automated system. Maintenance records are available upon request. For a quick, turn-key, ADA-compliant solution for wineries with space issues at the entry, I cannot think of a better solution than a lift. My theoretical comparison to a ramp is naturally subject to your local building costs and permitting/inspection fees, but a quick phone call and visit by a factory lift installer will certainly allow you to make the comparison. WBM
W H AT ’S COOL:
For additional information, contact: Hankin Speciality Elevator, Inc., 800-831-8395 or firstname.lastname@example.org Garaventa Lift, 800-633-6556 or www.garaventalift.com
16 August 2016 WBM
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Yeast of a Different Breed Improving wine quality through the application of non-Saccharomyces yeast Curtis Phillips
Curtis Phillips, an editor for Wine Business Monthly since 2000, is a graduate of UC Davis, and has been a winemaker since 1984 and an agricultural consultant since 1979.
Wine Yeast at the Limits of Possible Diversity A couple months ago, I discussed some Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) research that appears to indicate that we may be approaching the limit of possible diversity in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae wine yeast strains. One of the questions raised in my mind by this research is, “Well, what else can we do?” If winemakers want wine yeast strains that have characteristics that are not currently found among the commercial wine yeast strains of S. cerevisiae, it seems to me that if we’re dead-set on eking out more diversity from S. cerevisiae wine yeast strains, there are only a couple of options: We can see how much further we can force new traits out of the existing commercial wine yeast strains of S. cerevisiae. Linda Bisson’s recent work that has led to low H2S-producing commercial yeast strains would be an example. We can selectively breed wine yeast strains of S. cerevisiae with strains from the same species (S. cerevisiae) in hopes of (re)injecting traits that are native to S. cerevisiae but not found in those strains that have been isolated as commercial wine yeast strains. We can hybridize commercial wine yeast strains of S. cerevisiae with closely-related yeast species in the Saccharomyces genera like S. uvarum, S. paradoxis or S. pastorianus. It isn’t terribly likely, but might even be possible to hybridize S. cerevisiae with yeast genera in the same family (Saccharomycetaceae) like Pichia, Kluyveromyces or Zygosaccharomyces. We could selectively introduce a gene, or genes, from outside the S. cerevisiae genome for new characteristics without limiting ourselves to conventional breeding and crossbreeding.
One of the Options Isn’t an Option None of the first four options are likely to provide quick results. If one hits the market in the next few years, it will only be because work on it started years, maybe decades, ago. The last option is likely to remain completely off the table for the foreseeable future simply because few wine companies would be willing to risk any “anti-GMO” reaction from consumers. As winemakers, it doesn’t matter if we’re making a hundred cases or several million, consumers think we’re all Yves Montand-esque idealized Frenchmen that lovingly crush each and every grape with our picturesque purple-stained feet while crooning old lounge tunes. Woe to the winery that tries to disabuse consumers of this image.
18 August 2016 WBM
What Else Can We Do? One reason we stick with commercial yeast strains of S. cerevisiae, S. uvarum and S. bayanus is that they can do the job of fermenting 23º Brix-worth, or more, of sugar at pH 3. That is a very specialized nutritional and environmental niche and one in which wild yeast, even “wild” strains of Sacchomyces cerevisiae can’t really compete with the commercial yeast strains that have been isolated from wineries over the years. Thus, there is one more approach winemakers can use to introduce ‘new’ fermentation characteristics into his or her winemaking; one that is immediately available: • We can bring in desired traits from non-Saccharomyces yeast strains by using non-Saccharomyces yeast in tandem with a conventional commercial wine yeast strain. As I see it, this is most of the reason so many winemakers pursue so-called wild fermentations. A more straightforward and immediately useful approach would be to use non-Saccharomyces yeast strains in combination with commercial wine yeast strains. The idea is that the non-Saccharomyces yeast will ferment while the ethanol concentration in the must is still low, generally dying out somewhere between 3 and 8 percent ethanol. At this point, the commercial strain takes over and finishes the fermentation. Currently, there are several products on the market that enable the winemaker to use non-Saccharomyces yeast. Some are straight-up isolates of a particular non-Saccharomyces yeast, like Torulaspora delbrueckii, Metschnikowia pulcherrima, or Pichia kluyveri, that enable the winemaker to determine which Saccharomyces strain to add to finish the fermentation or a pre-made combination of a non-Saccharomyces yeast and a compatible S. cerevisiae strain.
Interpreting Industry Research An offhand remark that Doug Adams made to me while I was working in his lab at UC Davis has stayed with me all these decades since. As I recall it, he said, “It’s better to ask ‘What happens if…?’ than it is to ask ‘Does X do Y?’” In the second case, you get either a yes or no answer and that’s about it. If the researcher has a vested interest in the “yes” or the “no,” the data may be nudged to support the desired answer even if the researcher isn’t consciously massaging the data. That is to say that in research it is more useful to frame a hypothesis where any answer is interesting rather
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Yeast of a Different Breed than setting out to prove or disprove something. To quote Frank Herbert, “Highly organized research is guaranteed to produce nothing new.” This is precisely why we need independent research, access to published research, why it is so important that research is more useful when it is open, and why we have to maintain at least a moderate degree of skepticism about any research that seems to be designed to sell something. One can never be sure that the results are not influenced by the researcher’s own cognitive biases, even when there is no intent to deceive. As a result, I tend to be hesitant to accord too much weight to industry research if it directly relates to a product produced or sold by the company conducting the research. This is also why, as a general rule, I am reluctant publish articles or research that originates in the industry in the pages of Wine Business Monthly. I will break this rule on occasion if I feel the content merits it. Despite the obvious goal of pushing a particular product, the following article from Chr. Hansen provides a useful introduction to using non-Saccharomyces yeast strains in conjunction with Saccharomyces cerevisiae and is worthy of discussion. This is not because I’m a booster of the particular product (Chr. Hansen Concerto). Several of Chr. Hansen’s competitors offer non-Saccharomyces yeast. The article does note why Chr. Hansen thinks their use of Lachancea thermotolerans (AKA Kluyveromyces thermotolerans) is the better option than either Torulaspora delbrueckii or Pichia kluyveri. In particular, L. thermotolerans has potential to produce lower alcohol wines which by itself is a compelling reason to consider its use, but readers should be aware that Concerto and L. thermotolerans is not the only option out there. I am including the article below in WBM because the research presented provides a useful framework for considering winery trials with any of the commercially available non-Saccharomyces yeast strains.
Improving Wine Quality Through the Application of Non-Saccharomyces Yeast Novel applications of lactic acid production by Lachancea thermotolerans (Kluyveromyces thermotolerans) Dr. Hentie Swieger, N Edwards, SG Saerens and K Bjerre Chr. Hansen, Cultures & Enzymes Division, Bøge Allé 10-12, DK-2970 Hørsholm, Denmark
Non-Saccharomyces yeast have been part of winemaking for more than 7,000 years. A large number of genera can be found such as Torulaspora, Kloeckera, Lachancea, Pichia, Candida, Metchnikowia, Schizosaccharomyces, Debaryomyces, Brettanomyces, to list only a few (Jolly et al. 2013). During a spontaneous/natural wine fermentation, the non-Saccharomyces yeast proliferates in the first few days followed by the proliferation of Saccharomyces yeast, the latter finally dominating the fermentation. Therefore, in a natural fermentation, non-Saccharomyces yeast have a significant metabolic influence on the fermentation and subsequent final quality of the wine. However, since the advent of pure inoculums of active dried Saccharomyces cerevisiae wine yeast in the late 1950s, the influence of non-Saccharomyces yeast on modern winemaking has diminished significantly. This is due to the fact that S. cerevisiae wine yeast are inoculated in a high concentration, usually 1 x 106 cfu/ ml in the juice/grapes, thereby dominating the wine fermentation from the 20 August 2016 WBM
start and diminishing the impact that any non-Saccharomyces yeast around might have. However, since the introduction of active dried and frozen non-Saccharomyces starter cultures to the industry from 2006 through to 2013, predominantly led by the Danish biotech company Chr. Hansen, the positive influences of these yeast can today be harnessed through inoculating in a high concentration at the start of fermentation, prior to inoculating a Saccharomyces yeast, if at all.
What Kind of Positive Impacts Does Non-Saccharomyces Yeast Have on Wine Fermentation? Not all non-Saccharomyces yeast have a positive influence on wine quality. Brettanomyces bruxellensis is a good example of a non-Saccharomyces yeast that produces off flavors i.e., ethyl and vinylphenols, resulting in barnyard/ medicinal odours and a subsequent degradation of wine quality (Oelofse et al. 2008). Another example is Hanseniaspora uvarum, which produces an excess amount of ethyl acetate that contributes to volatile acidity, giving the wine a ‘nail polish’ and vinegar odor (Du Toit & Pretorius 2000). However, through careful selection and many years of research, some non-Saccharomyces strains that contribute positively to wine quality have been brought to the market and these include 1) Torulaspora delbrueckii, which produces more mannoproteins than S. cerevisieae yeast, resulting in an improved mouthfeel/palate weight in addition to producing a more complex ester profile (Comitini et al. 2011); 2) Pichia kluyveri, specifically selected by Auckland University to enhance the volatile thiol concentrations in Sauvignon Blanc, which has a specific metabolism to increase the release for
4-mercapto-4-methyl-pentan-2-one (4MMP), 3-mercaptohexanol (3MH) from cysteine bound precursors and then through esterification convert 3MH to the more potent 3-mercaptohexylacetate (3MHA), with these compounds boosting tropical flavors like passion fruit in very low concentrations (ng/l) (Anfang et al. 2009); 3) Lachancea thermotolerans (previously Kluyveromyces thermotolerans) that has the unique ability to produce lactic acid and it will be discussed in the next section (Ribereau-Gayon et al. 1975; Comitini et al. 2011; Gobbi et al. 2013).
Lachancea Thermotolerans: Tool to Reduce Alcohol? In the late ’40s Brice Rankine, founding member of the Australian Wine Research Institute, was distributing slants of Saccharomyces veronae (AWRI 173) to Australian winemakers in order to propagate and conduct wine fermentations (personal communication, Dr. Paul Henschke). The reason for this was that Australian wines were generally low in acid and high in pH, due to the hot climate, and this particular yeast could produce lactic acid from sugars, thereby bringing acidity and a lowering the pH (these were the days before tartaric acid was widely available for acid adjustments). This yeast was later re-classified as Kluyveromyces thermotolerans and then recently as Lachancea thermotolerans. Furthermore, Ribereau-Gayon already showed in 1975 that L. thermotolerans produced high amounts of L-lactic acid in wine combined with the low production of volatile acidity and the absence of off-flavor production. In addition, it was noted these yeast have moderate ethanol productivity, already then indicating the potential for lowering alcohol in wine (Ribereau-Gayon et al. 1975).
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Yeast of a Different Breed
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The ability to moderately lower alcohol by the application of L. thermotolerans was later confirmed by Gobbi et al. in 2013 using L. thermotolerans strain 101 from the Yeast Culture Collection of the Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell’Ambiente (DiSVA) of the Polytechnic University of Marche (Ancona, Italy), thereby indicating up to 1 percent reduction in alcohol when this strain was co-fermented with S. cerevisiae (EC1118). Conversion rates (gram sugar/percent alcohol) varied from 17,38 to 18,15 depending on the timing of inoculation compared to S. cerevisiae alone that converted 16,7 gram of sugar into 1 percent alcohol. Benito et al. showed in 2015 a reduction in alcohol of up to 1 perecnt using the commercial strain of L. thermotolerans from Chr. Hansen (Viniflora® Concerto™). L. thermotolerans is a common yeast found in spontaneous wine fermentations and it has been isolated in wine-growing regions of Australia, South Africa, Italy and France and a number of other wine-producing countries. In a recent study, we investigated the population of yeast in Portuguese Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc fermentations of vintage 2014 and though the use of metagenomics (high throughput sequencing and analysis of isolated DNA) L. thermotolerans represented 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively, of the genomic material in the final wines. This is a significant amount and shows that the yeast is well suited for the wine fermentation environment. Inoculation of the active dried L. thermotolerans resulted in 45 percent and 40 percent representation of the genomic material in the final wine (F I G U R E 1 ).
Relative abundance of DNA from Lachancea and Saccharomyces in Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc wines inoculated with Saccharomyces wine yeast and with or without L. thermotolerans (Viniflora® Concerto™). F I G U R E 1 .
The metabolic pathway of converting sugars to lactic acid by L. thermotolerans is not fully known but levels of between 1-9 g/L have been reported in wine fermented with this yeast (Ribereau-Gayon et al. 1975; Comitini et al. 2011; Gobbi et al. 2013). The divergence of sugars to lactic acid is a logical way to reduce alcohol in wine and as described above literature reports reducing alcohol by 0.5 to 1 percent. However, this does not fully explain the reduction in alcohol and metabolites other than lactic acid could also contribute. In our own studies we show 0.3 to 0.5 percent alcohol reduction in trials conducted in Valpollicella, Italy in 2015 (T A B L E 1 ). These trials were done using a relatively high dose/inoculation level (75 g/ hL) of an active
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TA B L E 1
Lactic acid g/L
Viniflora® Concerto™ + Jazz™
High Dose (HD) Concerto™
Alcohol and lactic acid concentrations of Valpolicella wines fermented with Saccharomyces cerevisiae wine yeast (Viniflora® Jazz™) and L. thermotolerans (Viniflora® Concerto™). Active dried Saccharomyces yeast was inoculated at 20 g/hl and active dried Lachancea thermotolerans at 25 g/hl in the sequential fermentation and 75 g/hl in the Lachancea thermotolerans high dose (HD) ferment.
T A B L E 1 .
dried L. thermotolerans (Viniflora® Concerto™) without inoculation with S. cerevisiae after, which gave the best results on lowering alcohol concentration (F I G U R E 2 ). Fermentation rates were slightly slower in ferments with L. thermotolerans (F I G U R E 2 ). This particular strain of L. thermotolerans is in fact a relatively strong fermenter and can produce up to 12 percent alcohol without the help of S. cerevisiae in sterile conditions (data not shown). In
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Alcohol and lactic acid formation rates of S. cerevisiae (Jazz), L. thermotolerans (Concerto) + S. cerevisiae and high dose (HD) L. thermotolerans F I G U R E 2 .
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Yeast of a Different Breed
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general, non-Saccharomyces yeast are weak fermenters but some do perform well, as in the case of this particular strain of L. thermotolerans. The reduction in alcohol by L. thermotolerans is significant but the question is how do we stimulate/modify it to reduce alcohol in real wine conditions even further i.e. reducing levels by 2 to 3 percent? The improved results when inoculating a high concentration is a clear indication that by increasing the presence of L. thermotolerans in the wine ferment, it leads to a larger reduction in alcohol percent. In addition, reducing the presence of S. cerevisiae by not inoculating also allows L. thermotolerans to have more “time on its own” to shift grape sugars away from alcohol and thereby delay the influence of the strong fermenting S. cerevisiae, which is very productive at producing alcohol. Another approach would be to alter the conditions of fermentation so that the metabolism of L. thermotolerans shifts more to respiration than to fermentation. In fact, this approach has been documented, albeit with a Kluyveromyces lactis strain (Quirós et.al.2014). The approach behind this work was to use Crabtree negative yeast (many non-Saccharomyces yeast are Crabtree negative) in a must, which includes relatively high aeration—e.g., regular pump-overs—in order to shift the metabolism of the yeast from fermentation to respiration, the latter not producing alcohol. S. cerevisiae is Crabtree positive, meaning that when in contact with moderate amounts of sugars, it prefers fermenting, even in the presence of high concentration of oxygen. Respiration is energetically more efficient so this does not make a lot of sense but the hypothesis is that S. cerevisiae chooses to produce alcohol to toxify the environment and thereby outcompete less alcohol-tolerant yeast, such as non-Saccharomyces yeast. We have not investigated the potential of aeration on alcohol yields with L. thermotolerans but this is certainly a topic for the future. Another approach would be to screen a large number of L. thermotolerans strains and select strains with the lowest ethanol yield and or the highest lactic acid production capacity. Even with S. cerevisiae there is large differences in ethanol yield between strains and it is also the case for non-Saccharomyces yeast. Large scale screening tools for yeast have been available for many years and in Chr. Hansen we are equipped with two advanced robotic screening robots that can conduct large scale screenings in relatively short time frames and this technology can be used for identifying low alcohol producing non-Saccharomyces yeasts.
Lachancea Thermotolerans: Unique Yeast to Combat the Effects Global Warming? Climate change has resulted in increased temperatures in many wine growing regions in the world. Furthermore, in a worldwide stylistic drive to produce more full flavored, fruity wines, sugar concentrations of grapes at time of harvest has steadily increased to a level where 15 to 16 percent alcohol wines are not uncommon these days. This creates an interesting dilemma for consumers, who on the one hand are asking for more fruity wines and on the other hand are demanding lower alcohol levels due to stricter drinking and driving laws and health concerns. L. thermotolerans offers a unique potential to counter the effect of global warming on winegrapes by producing acid during fermentation, moderately reducing alcohol levels and on top of this, producing high concentrations of the fruity/strawberry-like flavor compound ethyl lactate (using lactate as a precursor). Another consequence of high temperatures and long hanging times for grapes are very low acid levels, resulting in wines with pH above 4.0. These wines taste flat and “soapy” and completely undesirable for most consumers. Therefore, today it is common in warm wine-growing regions
to add tartaric acid and in some cases even malic acid to increase acidity and lower pH. As mentioned above, in the late 1940s, Brice Rankine had the right idea in finding a biological solution to increase acidity in the high pH Australian wines. The approach did not develop in the Australian wine industry in the long term and with the advent of active dried S. cerevisiae yeast winemakers became less competent at growing yeast from slants. This is one of the main reasons that the use of non-Saccharomyces yeast are not more widespread today as S. cerevisiae, mainly due to the fact that there were no commercial products available. Non-Saccharomyces yeast are notoriously difficult to produce, partially explaining the lack of presence on the market up until recently.
Conclusions The application of non-Saccharomyces yeast is a relatively new tool in the global wine industry. Some of these yeast have unique metabolisms and capabilities that S. cerevisiae does not have. Therefore, they show great potential in increasing the quality of wine and providing natural, biological solutions to technical challenges we have in the winery. L. thermotolerans is a yeast that we identified to be one of the clear leaders in providing solutions to the growing global problem of high levels of alcohol in wine. We are proud to be the first company in the world to market non-Saccharomces yeast, the first to produce and market L. thermotolerans and the first to propose this yeast as a practical way to reduce alcohol. WBM
References Anfang N, Brajkovich M, Goddard MR. 2009 Co-fermentation with Pichia kluyveri increases varietal thiol concentrations in Sauvignon Blanc. Aust J Grape Wine Res 15:1-8 Benito A, Calderón F, Palomero F, Benito S. 2015. Combine Use of Selected Schizosaccharomyces pombe and Lachancea thermotolerans Yeast Strains as an Alternative to the Traditional Malolactic Fermentation in Red Wine Production. Molecules 20:9510-9523 Comitini F, Gobbi M, Domizio P, Romani C, Lencioni L, Mannazzu I, Ciani M. 2011. Selected non-Saccharomyces wine yeasts in controlled multistarter fermentations with Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Food Microbiology 28:873-882 du Toit M, Pretorius IS. 2000. Microbial Spoilage and Preservation of Wine: Using Weapons from Nature’s Own Arsenal- A Review. S. Afr. J. Enol. Vitic. 21:74-96 Gobbi M, Comitini F, Domizio P, Romani C, Lencioni L, Mannazzu I, Ciani M. 2013. Lachancea thermotolerans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae in simultaneous and sequential co fermentation: A strategy to enhance acidity and improve the overall quality of wine. Food Microbiology 33:271-281 Jolly NP, Varela C, Pretorius IS. 2014. Not your ordinary yeast: non-Saccharomyces yeasts in wine production uncovered. FEMS Yeast Res 14:215–237 Oelofse A, Pretorius IS, du Toit M. 2008. Significance of Brettanomyces and Dekkera during Winemaking: A Synoptic Review. S. Afr. J. Enol. Vitic., 29(2):128-144 Quirós M, Rojas V, Gonzalez R, Morales P. 2014. Selection of non-Saccharomyces yeast strains for reducing alcohol levels in wine by sugar respiration. International Journal of Food Microbiology 181: 85–91 Ribereau-Gayon J, Peynaud E, Ribereau-Gayon P, Subraud P. 1975. Levures du vin du genre Kluyveromyces Van Der Valt. In Traite´ d’Oenologie, Sciences et Techniques du Vin, Paris: Dunod 2:243–245.
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Can Vineyard or Inoculated Yeasts Overcome Those in a Winery? Contrary to widespread belief, the answer is probably not. Paul Franson academics have sparred on which yeast strains dominate fermentation when no cultured yeast is added. A new trial suggests that “feral” strains of cultivated yeasts in your winery likely complete fermentation even if “wild” yeasts from a vineyard are present at the beginning of fermentation. More surprisingly, the “feral” yeasts usually win out even if you inoculate with cultured yeast. That suggests that winemakers should choose the first yeast they use carefully, for it may dominate the fermentation in all future wines. The trials, which were disclosed at Wine Business Monthly’s Innovation + Quality (IQ) conference in March at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, came out of the curiosity of Oregon’s Cellar Crawlers group of winemakers, who share information about their efforts and what they learn. “Intellectual camaraderie is one of the best things in our industry,” noted Dan Goldfield of Dutton-Goldfield Winery, one of the members of Cellar Crawl. Three winemakers who participated in these trials were on the panel at IQ with Goldfield: Ken Wright of Ken Wright Cellars, Grant Coulter of Beaux Frères and Ben Casteel of Bethel Heights Vineyard. Cristom Vineyards, Penner Ash Wine Cellars and NW Wine Co. also participated in the trials, FOR YEARS, WINEMAKERS AND
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Paul Franson of Napa, California writes on wine and business as well as publishes the weekly NapaLife guide to wine, food, entertainment and lodging in Napa Valley. He has published the NapaLife Insider’s Guide to Napa Valley and Spinning the Bottle Again.
and Jeff Maccario of ETS Laboratories, who conducted the DNA tests on the yeasts, was also on the panel. The participants hoped to learn whether it is possible to have a fermentation driven by indigenous Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast and whether indigenous Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains from the vineyard persist through the fermentation. They also wondered whether vineyard yeast strains are the same vintage to vintage and what happens with non-inoculated fermentations in wineries that have used commercial Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast in the past or currently. It would have been very time-consuming for all six wineries to perform trials from all six vineyards and have them tested, so grapes from three vineyards went to three wineries, and grapes from the other three vineyards went to the other three wineries. The vineyards were Savoya, Bethel Heights, Gran Moraine, Eileen, Lillies and Hyland.
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Each winemaker made the trial wines in open-top bins without inoculation and the yeast strains present in the must were sent directly to ETS Laboratories for testing before (i.e., from the vineyard), in the middle (at 10 percent Brix) and at the end of fermentation. No sulfur was added initially. The first question was whether indigenous Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains from a vineyard persist through fermentation. Results differed at different sites. For example, 10 strains of indigenous Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast were found at mid-fermentation in the Eileen Vineyard grapes at Cristom and seven at the end. But only three were the same. In general, no vineyard strains were found in most of the completed fermentations from grapes at four vineyards, though two strains from Eileen Vineyard at NW Winery represented 25 percent of the yeast at the end, and one strain from Savoya Vineyard fermented at Bethel Heights was present at the end of the fermentation. Yeast strains from Lillies and Hyland vineyards were found at the end of their fermentations, however. Another concern was whether vineyard strains persist from vintage to vintage. In 2014, 29 Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains were identified in three of the five vineyard cluster micro-fermentations. In 2015, 32 Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains were identified in six of the six vineyard cluster micro-fermentations. One strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae was observed in the Hyland cluster micro-fermentation in both vintages, but differences were observed in non-Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast populations between the vintages. So some persisted but not others. What happens with non-inoculated fermentations in wineries that have used commercial Saccharomyces cerevisiae active dry yeast? In three wineries, Lalvin Endoferm Syrah (presumably used previously or simultaneously on other batches) accounted for all the yeast at the end of fermentation. And finally, can inoculation with chosen yeast overcome feral yeasts in a winery? Apparently not always. In general, the majority of fermentation is driven by the winery strain, not that from the vineyard. Greg Casteel also noted that there was a big difference among the wines initially; but after 15 months in barrel, they tasted much the same, no matter what yeast. Ken Wright mentioned that they have put their lees in their vineyards to try to encourage desirable yeasts, but none show up in testing. The trials gave no insight into what yeasts would dominate in a new winery away from other wineries if no yeast were ever added. ETS’s Maccario said that he knows of one new winery in Napa Valley that tried to keep all yeasts out to let vineyard strains develop. “They did take off, but it was slow at first,” he said. Wright commented, “If you have a new winery, wash down the walls with the yeast you love. What gets established has so much impact!” He added that it could be a yeast from your vineyard. Casteel concluded, “For me, any good experiment raises more questions than answers.” The winemakers would like to have the trials repeated elsewhere, however. WBM
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Daou Vineyards Develops a Custom Yeast to Allow for Better Aging and Drinking A winemaker’s proprietary yeast, D20, binds anthocyanin better than other yeasts for better acidity, color and mouthfeel. Michael S. Lasky
W I N E B U S I N E S S M O N T H L Y ’ S E D I T O R S believe that trials are the embodiment of a winemaker’s pursuit of quality and have featured more than 40 trials at the last two Innovation + Quality conferences. IQ, a forum for ultra-premium wineries focused on cutting-edge innovations that advance wine quality, launched in 2015 and is held each year in March. At the conference, the winemakers who conducted these trials poured
Yeast Selection’s Influence on Color Stability and Acidity
WINERY NAME: WINEMAKER:
W I N E M A K E R S U M M A R Y : The purpose of this experiment was to compare the newly made DAOU yeast (D20) to another common commercial yeast: WS. This experiment tracked the daily phenolics, Brix, pH and temperature of both lots. The aim was to see if the different yeast strains had a significant effect on the phenolics, alcohol content and acidity of the wine.
A homogeneous lot of Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon was divided equally into two separate lots. Lot 1 was harvested on Oct. 26, 2015 at 24.1° Brix and 3.9 pH. Lot 1 was 12.52 tons fermented in a 4,000-gallon fermenter with Enartis WS yeast. Lot 2 was harvested on Oct. 27, 2015 at 24.1° Brix and 3.9 pH. Lot 2 was 14.43 tons fermented in a 4,000-gallon fermenter with DAOU D20 yeast. Daily pump-over regimens were identical for both lots and included twice-daily, 60-minute, closed-circuit pump-overs. The same temperature (75° F to 78° F) was maintained in both tanks. Samples were taken every day of each lot. Brix, temperature, pH and phenolic development were tracked and recorded for comparison. At the completion of fermentation, Lot 1, with WS yeast, had 140 ppm bound anthocyanins, 1,603 ppm tannins, 3,104 ppm IRPs and a tannins-to-IRP ratio of 51.64 percent. Lot 2 with D20 yeast had 147 ppm bound anthocyanins, 1,523 ppm tannins, 3,072 ppm IRPs and a tanninto-IRP ratio of 49.58 percent. Lot 2 with D20 was inoculated one day after Lot 1 with WS, but finished fermentation earlier with more stable color and better mouthfeel than the WS yeast.
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Michael S. Lasky is the former editor of AppellationAmerica.com and is the author of hundreds of articles for national magazines and newspapers.
their wines so attendees/fellow winemakers could taste the wines and compare the resulting wines from each trial. Each month, WBM features a more in-depth examination of a selected winemaker’s trial, examining what led to the creation of the experiment and the knowledge the winemaker took away from the end results. For more information on IQ and the trials poured at the event, visit www.winebusinessiq.com.
D20 is more effective in binding anthocyanins that result in stable color. D20 also results in a more optimal ratio of tannins-to-IRPs and therefore a better mouthfeel. Lastly, D20 maintains acidity better than WS throughout fermentation. D20 is a stronger, faster fermenter while still contributing to important quality aspects of the wine that will allow the wine to age and drink better. CONCLUSION:
Winemaker’s Postmortem: Why this trial? Daou: Basically, a lot of winemakers—especially in California, and even in
Bordeaux for that matter—have decided to go the route of using a yeast like Uvaferm 43 because at higher alcohols, they are too afraid of getting stuck fermentations. It has a high alcohol tolerance, short lag time and ability to ferment over a broad temperature range. The problem that I was having is that I like to push the temperature on the fermentations; and when you start getting a little bit higher heat, say around 90 degrees or so, you damage the fatty acid membranes of the yeast, and you end up with a stuck fermentation. So my first desire was to create a yeast that could actually tolerate higher temperatures in excess of 100 degrees and not have a stuck fermentation. My second desire was to have something that goes beyond just having a bionastrain—bionastrains really don’t impart great aromas and mouthfeel in my opinion. During harvest time, we collected a bunch of grapes, sent them over to a lab in Italy, and they found 100 different yeast isolates on those grapes. So
then we took all 100 isolates and ran tests in the lab to not only measure heat tolerance, but also measure glycerol levels, pH, TA, VA, etc. After doing trials for about two years in the lab and then one year at the winery, we found a yeast called a D20 (the number 20 yeast) that had an extremely high level of glycerol and could tolerate up to 104 degrees in temperature. It had very good levels of acidity and a little bit lower alcohol, which I was looking for. It also possessed great levels of RS. So we thought, let’s do a real test this year , and ferment about 100 tons of this yeast and do a lot of different trials with other yeasts just to see what we get in a real-life scenario. I’ve created a whole new technique where I use phenolics very aggressively. So I actually measure phenolics twice a day to really allow me to hit the bull’s eye in terms of mouthfeel, in terms of stabilizing color and in terms of hitting the tannin structure that I’m looking for.
What were the results of the trial? Daou : When we started using this yeast, we had something very interesting
happen. We did some trials with other yeast, and we were blown away with one thing. Not only did the D20 have a higher glycerol level, not only did it have a lower alcohol level, not only did it dry up better, not only did it have lower VA numbers and higher TA, but the biggest thing that we saw is that it was binding color quite a bit higher than all the other yeasts. As a matter of fact, the worst performer was Uvaferm 43. But D20 was a yeast that allowed us to dry up our fermentations better, and it also allowed us to increase our bound anthocyanin and have a better mouthfeel scenario to the phenolics we were looking for. What I learned from the trial is that this yeast allows you to really push the temperature higher and, therefore, allows you to extract more phenolics,
which is something that we always look to get. By the same token, it allows you to have more stable color. So not only do you get to extract more phenolics overall, but it allows you to increase the number of bound anthocyanins. I also learned from all the trials that the aromas, mouthfeel and glycerol level were quite a bit more pronounced in the D20 yeast.
Based on the results of this trial, how will they affect your future winemaking? Daou : Starting next year, we will pretty much be using it for the majority of
our grapes. We only tested on Cabernet, but I would think it would be the same for most other varietals. I did use it on a Sauvignon Blanc last year and loved the results. Currently, we haven’t made a decision if we’re going to release D20 to the public yet; this is a yeast we’re using exclusively for the winery. However, after we do more trials and spend another year or two using it, we may decide to make it available to the public.
What further questions do the results of this trial beg for answers? Daou : This year I’m planning on doing several different trials against
other yeasts and more real life situations whereby I’m going to apply them to higher-end wines. Last year most of the products were on more of our commercial grapes that we get; this year we’re going to be doing this trial with other yeasts on our estate—wines which are super high in phenolics— to see how they react and to see if the trend we saw last year continues. If the trend continues, it’s very exciting because this is a yeast that would be very rare. WBM
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WBM August 2016 31
Understanding California Nebbiolo California winemakers try to make sense of the grape in differing conditions Elaine Chukan Brown cadre of producers have been striving to understand the particular needs of Nebbiolo in their home state. Among them are Jim Clendenen of Clendenen Family Vineyards and Palmina owner/ winemaker Steve Clifton, who have worked with the variety the longest. Nebbiolo’s potential quality is celebrated in the great wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. Along with aging requirements in cellar, the cultivar’s response to very particular soil types and climate conditions legally define quality designations for Nebbiolo in Italy, differentiating from the highest designations like Barolo or Barbaresco, to the broader regional designation of Langhe. Vine age also proves relevant. The variety’s combination of high tannin and elevated acidity tends to be unruly in young vines, showing finer balance as the vineyard ages. “The most important thing I ever did was learn from the guys in Piedmont,” Jim Clendenen said. He’s referring to his time spent in Piedmont to hone his Clendenen Family Vineyards Nebbiolo, which is based in Santa Barbara County. “You don’t have to copy them when you learn from them,” he said. Copying Italian techniques to Nebbiolo has its natural limits with the differing conditions found in California. While Clendenen made his first Nebbiolo in 1986, planting his own site in 1994 to better control the farming, Clifton began making Nebbiolo in 1997, farming multiple sites in Santa Barbara County for the cultivar. Palmina focuses entirely on Italian varieties, and, like Clendenen, Clifton has spent time learning techniques directly from producers in Piedmont. He also emphasizes that the techniques he relies upon for Nebbiolo differ from those suited to any other variety with which he’s worked, including other Italian cultivars. IN CALIFORNIA, A SMALL
California Nebbiolo in the Vineyard Though the variety arrived in California in the late 1800s, today 162 acres of Nebbiolo are established, according to the latest Grape Acreage Report compiled by the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service. Vineyards growing the grape are dotted throughout California but few existing today were planted before the 1990s. An exception, Louis Lucas of Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards farms 30-yearold vines planted by a previous owner, considered among the oldest Nebbiolo in the state, in Santa Barbara County for use in his Toccatta label. Lucas’s site, as well as others in Santa Barbara County, including those for Palmina and Clendenen Family Vineyards and several in Paso Robles and the Santa Cruz Mountains, combine to make the Central Coast home to the highest acreage concentration for the variety. Small plantings also appear elsewhere through the state, including Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties and the Sierra Foothills.
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Based in Sonoma, California, Elaine Chukan Brown serves as the American Specialist for JancisRobinson.com, and is a contributing writer to Wine & Spirits. Her work has also been featured in The World of Fine Wine, San Francisco Magazine, and Men’sHealth.com, among others, and appears on her own website, WakawakaWineReviews.com. Elaine is known for her wine illustration work, which has been described by @KermitLynchWine as “a new standard in wine reviews.”
Clonal Variation: Michet and Lampia The earliest plantings of California Nebbiolo were based on the Fino clone, a selection almost entirely overlooked today in Italy, and also less regarded now in California for its comparatively lower quality. The Lampia and Michet selections arrived in California in the 1970s but were in few vineyards until the 1990s, when their quality became better appreciated. While many clones of Nebbiolo exist, Michet and Lampia are among the most prized in Italy. Of the two, Lampia is the easier to grow, and thus also the more popular, producing both larger clusters and larger berries. Michet, however, is prized for its greater color and flavor concentration, though its more pronounced tannin also demands greater care in the cellar. Producers use the difference in the two clones to their advantage in the cellar. As Clifton explained, “Michet tends to fix color much better. Lampia has larger berries and a greater juice-to-skin ratio.” The difference gives wines of Lampia comparatively more approachability with less assertive tannin than Michet. Clendenen agreed. “Michet has the sex appeal. It’s what’s used in Barolo and Barbaresco. Lampia has the fruit.” For Clendenen, the clonal differences have been helpful for making stylistic choices in the resulting wine. While the Michet from Clendenen’s site is consistently used for his Reserve-level Nebbiolo, Punta Exclamitiva, he uses the Lampia for his normale-level Bricco Buon Natale, a more floral and fruit-focused expression of the grape. The most approachable barrels of the Lampia are bottled early for a friendlier, mouthwatering wine, The Pip. Lampia has proven the more approachable clone for Clifton as well, offering easier tannin generally than the Michet. Even so, Clifton has found more variation from site conditions than clone. While Clendenen currently sources his Nebbiolo entirely from his 1,000-foot elevation site in the Santa Maria Valley, Clifton works with three different vineyards in varied locations around Santa Barbara County. He bottles each as a vineyard designate, then also blends them for an appellation wine. He has seen that Nebbiolo grown in sand or limestone tends to have a comparatively softer overall structure and prettier presentation, while the vines planted in clay are consistently more muscular and tannin driven.
Oxygen in the Cellar Regardless of clone, both Clifton and Clendenen have found the key to Nebbiolo in the cellar is incorporating oxygen at every step. Clifton explained, “An Italian winemaker told me Nebbiolo is like the blood in your veins. It’s not red until it gets oxygen.” The variety is known for offering very little color when first brought into the winery. Oxygen has a positive effect for exposing overall complexity from the grape as well. “For Nebbiolo, the more oxygen the better.” Clendenen said. “The tannins are resolved, and the color gets darker. No other grape that I’ve worked with gets darker as it ages [in barrel]. Others get more orange. With Nebbiolo, five years later it’s dark, heady, complex stuff.” Both winemakers integrate oxygen into their work with Nebbiolo at every stage from fermentation to extended aging in cellar. As Clifton explains, extended aging for Nebbiolo from California is so important for its effect on tannin resolution. Clifton and Clendenen have both found that with Nebbiolo, unlike other varieties they work with, tannin less readily evolves in bottle. Instead, they agree, it is as if bottling the wine locks the tannin in place, leaving it in the same state it was in at bottling years later even as the flavors or color of the wine revolve around it. To address this, both winemakers rely on extended cellar aging for their Nebbiolo. In California they are currently the only two winemakers working with the variety to do so. With this in mind, they agreed to share insights into their stylistic goals and process for extended aging of Nebbiolo.
Stylistic Goals and Winemaking
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“My Nebbiolo production is super different from everything else I make, but at the same time it’s pretty simple,” Clifton said. Prior to launching Palmina wines, Clifton was a wine buyer focused on Piedmontese wines. The experience with Italian wine and culture affected his stylistic goals for Palmina Nebbiolo. “I knew if anything I made even skirted with being modern the wine would be panned as Californian, if they were at all ripe, extracted or oaky,” Clifton said. “So I purposefully tried to make a classic, traditional wine. I needed an ultra-disciplined, traditional style to prove these wines could stand up.” The philosophy has guided his approach to Nebbiolo since. In making picking decisions, Clifton generally brings fruit in between 22.5° and 23.5° Brix. The focus is primarily on ensuring that the pH is more than 3.1 to finish malolactic conversion. He does not want to filter Nebbiolo. No SO2 is used when the fruit comes in, and both primary and secondary fermentations are allowed to happen naturally. Clifton clarified that he has never had any trouble with an unhealthy fermentation in the Nebbiolo. “The fruit all needs to just be really clean and healthy.” Once the fruit enters the winery it is destemmed and left to start fermentation without any form of inoculation. Fermentation takes between seven to 10 days. He then leaves it for 36 to 40 days extended maceration, stirring the wine once per day then blanketing it with a daily layer of CO2. Nebbiolo is a slip-skin grape. As a result, in wetter years the skin will tend to separate from the pulp. In such vintages, Clifton does delestage rather than punch-downs in order to treat the skins more gently. As Clifton explains, during extended maceration he wants to allow warmth to encourage ML and oxygen exposure to help soften the tannin profile before pressing. In his early work with Nebbiolo, Clifton experimented with both an initial cold soak, as well as whole-cluster fermentation. In both cases he found that “sites in Santa Barbara County were giving more elevated tannin
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WBM August 2016 33
Understanding California Nebbiolo
than in Piedmont. It was extracting too much tannin to cold soak or use stem inclusion.” The decision to press is made entirely in relation to tannin management based on tasting the wine. Clifton said Lampia tends to not have as much aggressive tannin as Michet and so is generally pressed sooner. Initially, Clifton presses the Nebbiolo directly to a 60-gallon barrel for six months to allow the wine in barrel to get bottled. Once bottling of an older vintage is complete, the wine is moved into a combination of large barrel and some puncheons. No SO2 is used on the wine for the first three years.
California Wineries That Produce Nebbiolo CENTRAL COAST Arthur Earl
Au Bon Climat
August Ridge Vineyards
San Marcos Creek Vineyard
Due Vigne Di Famiglia
James Blake Wines
Buona Vita Cellars
Round Pond Estate
Karmère Vineyards & Winery
Matthew Gibson Winery
Montoliva Vineyard & Winery
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA Belle Marie Winery
Pizzulli Family Winery
Topa Mountain Winery
Vineyard Grant James
Witch Creek Winery
OTHER CALIFORNIA Almendra Winery & Distillery
Lost Coast Vineyards
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After three years, the Nebbiolo is generally racked pretty clean, leaving a small amount of sediment. He then adds 40 ppm SO2 and puts the wine back to barrel. Once the wine has come off its gross lees “then I am more fanatic about topping.” Prior to this point, when the wine is still on its gross lees, he tops infrequently as he wants to allow some oxygen exchange. SO2 levels are not adjusted again until bottling. The Nebbiolo completes two more years in barrel before then being racked to tank carefully so as to not take any sediment. SO2 is adjusted with 30 ppm and then bottled. “Nebbiolo is a game of patience. It’s nerve wracking,” Clifton said. At the same time he acknowledges that his approach likely sounds crazy for winemakers working with other grape types but his approach as described here is particular to the variety. This approach “is completely opposite of how I would treat any other grape, and if I did try this with other varieties, the wines would be awful.” Clifton has found that after five years in barrel the wine is incredibly stable and has developed a much darker color and greater complexity than was apparent in the first year after harvest. Palmina bottles three single-vineyard designated Nebbioli—Honea, Sisquoc, Rocca—as well as one Santa Barbara County appellation blend. The Sisquoc sits in the warmest site for the Palmina Nebbioli, offering the richest expression of the variety. The site has Michet planted in clay which creates a more muscular and powerful expression balanced by a wash of acidity. Honea places Michet in limestone mixed with sandy loam, offering persistent while dusty tannin and a more nuanced and complex palate. It is taut in comparison as well as more cerebral compared to the rich pleasure of the Sisquoc. The Rocca relies on interplanted rows of Michet and Lampia in rocky well-drained soils. It consistently offers finessed structure, subtlety of flavor and mouthwatering length. The Santa Barbara County Nebbiolo blends these three sites for a balance of rich flavor, persistence and approachability. For Palmina, Nebbiolo serves as the flagship wine. To balance the high cost of such extended aging the brand includes other wines, such as Pinot Grigio, that can be made in higher production and sold within one year of harvest. His Nebbioli are released every November and sold within one year of release. CLENDENEN FAMILY VINEYARDS
Clendenen said that Nebbiolo is something that requires patience. “If you over-extract it, it will never be drinkable. If you think maybe you under-extracted it and leave it for five years in barrel, you end up with something wonderful. In Nebbiolo, you are looking at something you can actually learn from.” To deepen his learning about the variety, Clendenen traveled to Italy repeatedly over the course of a decade to investigate not only cellar techniques but also what to plant. He then established his Nebbiolo site in 1994 and became one of the first grower-winemakers of the variety in California that focused entirely on Michet and Lampia. Prior to that he had sourced Nebbiolo from multiple vineyards in California but was always dissatisfied with the farming, finding frustration with most farmers’ views on yield, location and clone. Most sites were also established to Fino clone, which he found less interesting. Clendenen Family Vineyards Nebbiolo made prior to the mid-1990s (when his own vineyard became available) act as illustration of his point. He left wines in barrel for a minimum of four years to help them resolve. Tasting the wines today shows noticeable style variation from today’s Clendenen Family wines but the tannins are supple and the flavors nuanced. “The goal with Nebbiolo is to have length, complexity and concentration throughout the palate without excessive tannin,” he said. Toward these ends,
Clendenen picks modestly for a balance of flavor and acidity, and eschews new oak, but relies on extended barrel aging. In picking, Clendenen brings fruit in between 22° and 24° Brix. Picking times vary slightly by vintage. Jim Adelman, the general manager and assistant winemaker at Au Bon Climat and Clendenen Family Vineyards, said that with such a late ripening variety the vine and fruit condition are just as important in the picking decision as sugars and acidity. Fruit is destemmed and put in an open-top fermenter. Fermentation usually lasts 14 to 20 days. During fermentation, pump-overs are done for two days and then the wine is manually punched down until dryness. Clendenen chooses not to use any extended maceration as through previous experience with it he felt it was fixing too much tannin in the wine. He also did experiments with stem inclusion early in his winemaking but chooses not to use the technique now. “I got to the point where I no longer believed it polymerized tannin,” he said. After pressing directly to barrel, 20ppm SO2 are added. It takes several months to finish malolactic conversion due to the acidity levels in the wine. He allows it to finish naturally, and then adds another 20ppm SO2. The need for SO2 adjustments are then checked and made twice a year. Clendenen chooses not to use any new oak, as he wants wood for the oxygen effect on the wine but not its flavor. With this in mind, he uses larger sized, three-year, air-dried Hungarian oak barrels, which offer both tighter grain and greater affordability than French oak. The larger barrels allow slow oxygenation. Wine is kept in barrel for a minimum of four years, though the Reserve wine may be kept in barrel up to seven years depending on vintage. “The longer we’ve kept the Nebbiolo [in barrel], the more we’ve liked it,” Clendenen said. The decision is made by taste and tannin resolution. Clendenen’s vineyard includes approximately equal portions of Michet and Lampia grown at a 1,000-foot elevation in high-draining soils in the rather cool Santa Maria Valley. He differentiates his styles of Nebbiolo partially by clone. The Reserve wine, the Punta Exclamitiva, is made entirely from Michet, which the Clendenen Family Vineyards team has found is consistently more nuanced with higher quality than the Lampia. The Lampia is made into the Bricco Buon Natale, which offers more apparent fruit and a slightly richer presentation compared to the Reserve. Portions of the Lampia are also declassified and bottled sooner as a friendlier, food-focused and more affordable Nebbiolo named The Pip. Clendenen Family Vineyards operates as a smaller production label alongside Clendenen’s more widely known and distributed Au Bon Climat. The recent surge of interest in oddball varieties has brought more attention to cultivars outside the typical top planted varieties in the United States. In many cases though such grapes need vastly different treatments in the vineyard or cellar to produce top quality wines. Here Nebbiolo offers one such example. Vintners in California striving to understand the variety have done well sharing insights and techniques to improve their efforts with the grape. Towards such ends, Clifton and Clendenen offer insight too on how to translate techniques common to the grape’s home region to the peculiar needs of its new environment. WBM
WBM August 2016 35
Vine Diseases: A Never-ending Story Without diseases, what else would we growers talk about? Mark Greenspan the “good old days,” when growers met at the local coffee shop for breakfast and coffee and talked shop for a while before heading to their work day (or in some cases, after already having been at it for a few hours). Growers love to talk about their situations and see if anyone else is having the same issues. Nowadays, we have Starbucks, Twitter and Facebook, so it’s not really the same, but we all go to grower meetings, no matter where we are, to discuss the latest challenges we all face. It hasn’t really changed that much; we just do it a little differently now. It seems like the majority of the conversations are about vine diseases and what to do about them. I mean really, aside from crop load, labor availability and complaints about their wineries wanting them to drop their fruit on the ground, what else is there to talk about? I have a few random diseases to discuss. Nothing new, but I’m pretty sure you have them all. LET’S PRETEND IT IS
Dr. Mark Greenspan has more than a quarter century of scientific viticulture research and viticultural field experience. He specializes in irrigation and nutrition management, yield and canopy management, vineyard climate and microclimate, vineyard design and vineyard technology. He is the founder of Advanced Viticulture, Inc. based in Windsor, California (www.advancedvit. com), providing consulting, technology, vineyard management and vineyard development for wineries, winemakers and wine growers devoted to producing premium wines. Please direct queries to email@example.com or 707-838-3805.
Pierce’s Disease: Making a Curtain Call
ALL PHOTOS BY MARK GREENSPAN
An example of a Pierce’s Disease-infected vine.
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Sometimes out of sight and out of mind, at least on the North Coast, Pierce’s Disease (PD) is making a comeback now and has been for the last couple of years. Growers in Temecula and the southern San Joaquin Valley are scoffing because it never left there. To be sure, the disease, caused by the xylemdwelling bacteria Xylella fastidiosa (Xf) has been a problem for most of the history of California viticulture, first discovered in vineyards in Anaheim, where they grew grapes before they planted asphalt, concrete and those Mickey balloons. It was, and sometimes still is, called Anaheim Disease. The disease is vectored by sharpshooters, and unless you are just arriving to our industry, you know very well that the glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS) has caused widespread devastation in Temecula and Central Valley vineyards. Before GWSS moved into California, the disease was mainly vectored by sharpshooters that predominated in riparian corridors: bluegreen and red-headed sharpshooters. The funny thing is that, until a couple of years ago, hardly anyone talked about PD, which had been a topic of concern five to six years ago. PD outbreaks were rare during that period, so out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Why that was the case, I’m not sure, but presumably there was little sharpshooter activity during that time. It seemed like in 2014 we started seeing PD symptoms again, and they’ve been coming on strong ever since. Maybe it is the mild winters we’ve experienced, but something is causing them to be active again. Most likely, the activity will cycle again, and we’ll see a down
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Vine Diseases: A Never-ending Story
Pierce’s Disease symptoms include mid-season scorching patterns, leaf blades that drop to reveal naked stem petioles and irregular wood manipulation.
cycle in the disease, but PD is a serious disease that is difficult to control. And to make things more “interesting,” some additional insect vectors, including spittlebug, are being investigated as potential vectors. PD symptoms are easy to identify (see photos), with a characteristic mid-season scorching pattern on the leaves, leaf blades that drop to reveal naked petioles on the stem and islands of green or brown caused by irregular wood maturation. Springtime symptoms are more difficult to identify, but they appear as very stunted growth. Vines with PD will exhibit greatly stunted growth and will usually abort clusters. Once a vine has been inoculated by a sharpshooter and if the bacteria are successful in producing disease, they quickly move throughout the plant, occupying its xylem vessels, and the vine eventually dies. Unlike fungal trunk diseases, efforts to surgically remove affected tissues have been unsuccessful at eliminating the vine disease. So, once a vine has disease, it needs to be rogued, as it cannot be saved and is then a source of inoculum for other vines. So, the only control method for PD is prevention. Unfortunately, there is no easy or fool-proof method to prevent PD. There are numerous native and non-native, mostly ornamental species that are alternate hosts for the Xf bacteria as well as the insect vectors. I found a nice list on the internet that you can check out1. The most common hosts I see in the North Coast are “wild” blackberry, California bay, willow and periwinkle. Of those,
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blackberry seems to be more closely associated with PD outbreaks. That is purely anecdotal on my part. Removal of alternate-host vegetation is very effective in that it reduces or eliminates the plants where sharpshooters overwinter. That is all well and good, but in many communities, it is difficult or nearly impossible to clear vegetation in riparian areas in a legal manner. There has been big trouble wrought on growers who have removed such vegetation even though much of those plants are invasive, non-native species. Still, where possible, vegetation removal is the best form of control. Replant those areas with non-host species please, and preferably native species as well. There are insecticides that can be used to control the sharpshooter, including imidacloprid. It is not legal to spray insecticides into riparian areas, but I have “heard of ” that occurring at times. The insecticides are not registered for this purpose. But, they are registered for grapes, so… The idea is to plant a trap crop along the perimeter of a vineyard that borders sharpshooter habitats, and then we can treat the trap crop with insecticide to prevent their movement into the vineyard. But what to plant? A rootstock, such as St. George, was thought of as a good trap crop and could be planted on a fence line. But it leafs out too late to capture the first flight of sharpshooters in the spring, so it is not effective. I was thinking of perhaps Riparia Gloire, as it is earlier, but I’m afraid it will succumb to PD eventually.
A vine with stunted growth in the spring due to PD Andy Walker of UC Davis has developed, through conventional breeding
techniques, hybrid varieties that are strongly PD-resistant. The varieties are 93 to 97 percent vinifera, and recent wine tastings have shown them to produce good wines, albeit not our traditional varietal wines. But those varieties will perform well in blends for many wine programs, but at the very least they could be used as a potential trap crop, as they will not succumb to the disease despite repeated inoculations by the sharpshooters. This could be a reasonable approach to PD control in the North Coast. There is work being done at various universities regarding bacteriophages for the Xf bacteria. A bacteriophage is a type of virus that infects specific bacteria, eventually destroying them. This is exciting work because it could eventually lead to a control for PD that could be as simple as a foliar spray. Many of us in the grower/viticulturist community are anxiously awaiting what this work will produce. Other research is ongoing in regard to developing PD-resistant grapevines that we are more familiar with. Several different strategies have been explored that have been shown to be effective at preventing disease when inoculated by the Xf bacteria. These strategies, found in other plants, have been introduced into rootstocks and scions of traditional grapevines by genetic transformation. Yes, this does mean genetically-modified grapevines, and the work is under careful control. Knowing that the public will not take kindly to genetically-modified grapevines, current efforts are geared towards inserting these traits, as well as combinations of the traits, into rootstocks. If the gene products transfer across the graft union, the plant may be PD-resistant. Of course, the genes themselves do not transfer across the graft union, so the scion would remain un-transformed. Will this be a palatable solution to the problem? Right now, probably not, but eventually biotechnology may be more acceptable to the public than it is now, so it’s valuable to have these possible solutions available if so.
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WBM August 2016 39
Vine Diseases: A Never-ending Story Visit our website for updates on the 2015 program. www.asev.org 530-753-3142
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Wood Canker Diseases: They Never Went Away American Society for enology and viticulture iticulture
Cultivating Future Leaders: Vision from ASEV President Nichola Hall It’s the emerging shoots in early spring that demand the most attention, but the payoff is a rich crop of quality winegrapes in the fall. That’s pretty much how ASEV views our student and early career members who will shape the future of our industry. These are the men and women the American Society of Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) is working to support to ensure a future generation of brilliant researchers, viticulturists and enologists. As the ASEV’s new president, I continue a proud legacy of cultivating future industry leaders. I inherited a solid foundation from my predecessor, Mark Greenspan, who worked with the board to launch and bolster programs aimed at inviting greater involvement by early professionals. My goal is to aggressively build on that work since nothing is more important to our industry and young professionals alike than to cultivate the talent, skills and success of the next generation of winegrape growers and vintners. One of the most exciting changes has been working on an entirely new journal that will take much of the esteemed academic research presented in the American Journal for Enology and Viticulture and translate it into practical, user-friendly and solution-based science. Due out shortly, the first issue of the Catalyst – Discovery into Practice should be an ideal way for early career professionals to play a more active and direct role in improving operations at the wineries and vineyards where they work. Scholarships have always been a fundamental means of recognizing and supporting outstanding student efforts. ASEV has a rich history of offering scholarships, which have grown dramatically in reach, scope, number and value over the last few years. This year, ASEV awarded scholarships to 28 students from 10 schools, with a total value of $100,000. We’ll continue and hopefully bolster those efforts. Exposure is often the elusive key to launching careers. For that reason, we’ve always encouraged students to submit posters and abstracts to our National Conference. A few years ago, we added the Student Flash Talks to our National Conference as an ideal way to give students a chance to present their research before their peers in a fun and exciting venue. For professionals early in their career, breaking into the industry and making themselves known is an enormous challenge. By setting up a mentor program for our Early Career Members, we’re working to make that transition more comfortable, rapid and enjoyable. We hosted a special breakfast session at our National Conference specifically to offer tips on how to break into the industry and maximize the power of networking and relationships. All of these are important steps to maximizing the impact of the incredible resource of new industry talent. If you share the ASEV’s passion for this, please reach out. We’d love your input, your involvement and your support to help bridge the gap from university graduates to future industry champions. – Nichola Hall, ASEV President 2016-2017
40 August 2016 WBM
I recently heard about a meeting held to discuss fungal wood canker diseases. Those include Eutypa Dieback disease and Botryosphaeria Dieback disease. Odd that we’re having these meetings, as I would imagine that every grower should know about these diseases and how devastating they are. While this affliction is most commonly referred to as “Eutypa,” the Botryosphaeria group is possibly more commonly the culprit, and it spreads more rapidly than its counterpart. But it’s easier to say and spell E-u-t-y-p-a, so even I call it Eutypa collectively. Despite the brouhaha about viral diseases (especially Red Blotch and Leafroll) the trunk canker diseases are and have been the reason why vineyards do not last very long. Funny thing, but Zinfandel seems to be relatively resistant to trunk canker diseases. You don’t see too many 100+ year-old Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards, do you? But you see plenty of ancient Zinfandel vineyards.
An example of the fungal wood canker disease, Eutypa
The thing about the trunk diseases is you will get them if you don’t practice prevention, but nevertheless, I see numerous growers not practicing any preventative measures. They usually start when they see symptoms, but by that time, it’s too late. Prevention measures are well-known, so I’m not going to go into a lengthy diatribe about it. If you need some quick information, go to the UC IPM website2. It’s crucial to protect pruning wounds, where inoculation occurs. Yet, who does this? Plenty of growers do, but so many do not, or they do it incorrectly. First, do not use tar-based tree sealants. They have been known to be ineffective and may actually make things worse. There are latex paints that have boric acid in them (e.g., B-lock), as well as other sealant products that do not (e.g., Vitiseal). Adding Topsin-M to these, under a special local needs registration, will improve their efficacy, especially against the Botryosphaeria organisms. If you use a boric acid product, leave an extra-long piece of internode because the boron can be phytotoxic and kill the most apical bud on the spur. Rally fungicide is also registered for control of these canker
diseases, but it is applied as a spray, which is great, but a spray does not have the sealant properties of a paint. Once symptoms appear, realize that the infection has spread well beyond the symptomatic spurs, in both directions. So, if one attempts to eliminate the infection surgically, they must remove a much larger chunk of the vine. In many cases, removal of one cordon arm is insufficient, and cutting the trunk is necessary, using a sucker to retrain to a new trunk. This method can be quite effective but does result in some down-time for the vine with regard to productivity.
Powdery Mildew: Kill it with Microbes? Powdery mildew is our ubiquitous enemy. A vine untreated will most certainly get infected with the fungal organism Erysiphe necator. I don’t have much to add to this discussion at the moment, but I was thinking recently about the practice of using compost teas for control of mildew. First, you should know that I am a HUGE proponent of compost tea, which is produced by extracting beneficial microbes from compost in water and multiplying their populations many orders of magnitude by feeding them and aerating the brew for 24 hours. It provides great benefits to soils, by boosting the beneficial microbes and increasing their diversity. Microbes are responsible for nutrient cycling and breakdown of organic matter into plant-available nutrients. There are many other functions as well, and we’re using the compost extracts now in all of our vineyards and are producing them ourselves.
But, some growers have tried using compost teas as a foliar spray, in part to control powdery mildew. I have seen this practice turn into a disaster before. In fact, there are some commercial biofungicides that contain specially cultured bacteria and fungi that help to control powdery mildew, and they are quite effective in an organic or a conventional vineyard. But, the compost teas are not likely to be those same biofungicidal organisms, as they are by nature a complex and diverse array of bacteria and fungi. Cultured organisms are less effective as soil inoculants than the diverse set of microbes in compost extracts, but they are likely better for mildew control. Perhaps when combined with other biofungicides, compost teas may add additional efficacy to the spray, but I caution anyone against using them alone as a mildew control agent. I’ve seen too many disasters. This is not to take anything away from compost extracts for soil-building. They are the bee’s knees for both soil and plant. I’ll see you around in the coffee shop later. Maybe next time we can talk about the great vintage we just completed, rather than about destructive diseases. WBM References 1
connecting vineyard practices to wine quality
11|8| 2016 - NAPA napagrowers.org
WBM August 2016 41
New Developments in Vineyard Mechanization and Precision Management UC Davis seminar informs growers about equipment and research to mechanize operations as labor costs increase and labor supply dwindles.
Ted Rieger, CSW, is a wine journalist based in Sacramento, CA and a writer for wine industry media since 1988
Ted Rieger shortage of farm workers and advances in equipment and data collection technology are among the main factors driving vineyard mechanization and precision viticulture management. As a result, vineyard managers and wine producers are more receptive to employing technologies to mechanize more field operations, as indicated by interest and attendance at a seminar and field day held April 22 at the University of California, Davis on “Current Developments in Vineyard Mechanization and Precision Management.” UC Davis viticulture extension specialist Dr. Kaan Kurtural, who moderated the meeting, has conducted vineyard mechanization research trials for several years to evaluate cost-effective mechanization practices for managing grape quality and yields. Referring to California legislation signed in early April that will raise California’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022, Kurtural said, “Our program today is more timely than ever. We didn’t know the minimum wage would be going up to $15 when we first put this program together.” Kurtural is part of a research team funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) and supported by the National Grape & Wine Initiative to develop precision vineyard management tools and methods for collecting and evaluating data to manage spatial variability in vineyards. The project has been in progress for five years and received funding in late 2015 to continue for four years. RISING LABOR COSTS, A
Field trials with equipment available today show that several mechanized operations can be performed in a timely manner at lower costs per acre than manual labor, with similar or better results. Mechanization and precision management technologies continue to improve and will offer more opportunities to better manage variability in vineyards.
ALL PHOTOS BY TED RIEGER
V-MECH attachment tool for box pruning sprawl canopies.
42 August 2016 WBM
Kurtural said vineyard operations that can be done mechanically include: dormant pruning, suckering, shoot thinning, leaf removal, berry and cluster thinning and harvesting. A focus in recent years has been to improve technology for mechanized canopy management, such as dormant season pruning, shoot thinning and leaf removal during the growing season. Discussing canopy management, Kurtural explained that vine microclimate is affected by the amount of leaf area, the distribution of leaf area and their interaction with the aboveground climate. This is important in relation to grape berry composition and overall vine health. The canopy should be managed during the growing season to provide an optimum light environment in the fruit zone during fruit set and ripening. The goal is to optimize diffuse or indirect light within the canopy and minimize exposure of clusters to direct sunlight, especially in warm climates. When properly managed, this provides uniformly ripe fruit, sound fruit and fruit with
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New Developments in Vineyard Mechanization and Precision Management
desired flavor and composition that reaches peak maturity at the optimum time for harvest. Kurtural also emphasized, “But good yield is still a paramount goal [particularly in San Joaquin Valley vineyards where he has performed several trials] because growers have to turn a profit to stay in business.” New and replanted vineyards are more commonly designed now with trellises for high-cordon, machinepruned vine systems managed by mechanical box-hedging, or box-pruning, on each side of the vine to maintain about an 8-inch hedge before the start of the growing season. Kurtural is overseeing the design and replanting of a new vineyard block at the UC Oakville Experimental Station in Napa Valley that is being set up for high-cordon, machine-pruned box hedging and mechanization as a demonstration site for the wine industry. Kurtural cited the following economic comparisons for manual versus mechanized dormant pruning methods based on costs in a comparison trial in the San Joaquin Valley in 2011: • Hand spur pruning: $0.29 per vine
V-MECH tool carrier trailer with shoot thinner and cordon brush
• Hand cane pruning with vine tying: $0.48 per vine • Mechanical pre-pruning with hand follow-up: $0.36 per vine • Mechanical box pruning on single high-wire cordon: $0.07 per vine He summarized, “We can achieve economies of scale with mechanical practices, the equipment is available to do most vineyard cultural practices, and precision and accuracy continue to improve.”
Precision Viticulture Kurtural said precision viticulture is a site-specific management tool that combines new information technologies and production experience to map variability of production and quality in order to optimize yield efficiency, improve berry composition and minimize environmental impacts. With a look toward the future, Kurtural discussed sensor and data collection technologies for soils, canopies, berries and crop loads being tested and developed for vineyard applications under the SCRI research project. Data collected and integrated at test vineyard sites will be used to map vineyard zones for variable rate management. Berry and wine composition will be analyzed at UCD lab facilities for chemical and quality parameters. One member of the research team, Dr. Stephen Nuske with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, is leading a project to develop and test sensors and an imaging system for detection, data collection and analysis of vineyard berry counts, berry diameters and berry color, with data incorporated into an automated mapping system. The imaging technology uses two high-resolution cameras with flash units mounted on an ATV driven through the vineyard (either day or night) to collect up to 10,000 images per minute. The system can detect green berries early in the season and is designed for use during the growing season as a tool for crop estimation. The technology would also be used later in the season to measure berry color closer to harvest as a quality measure for mapping quality variability in the 44 August 2016 WBM
vineyard for potential differential harvesting with a mechanical harvester. The berry size data during the season is also being layered in a mapping system for correlation with canopy size data collected by Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) imagery. Kurtural noted that yield monitors are already available—developed in Australia by Advanced Technology Viticulture—and are typically placed on mechanical harvesters to record grape harvest weights in relation to location using GPS and to map actual vineyard harvest yields. The SCRI study is collecting data on actual yields with yield monitors to compare with the in-season crop estimates to validate the accuracy of the crop estimation technology under development. Kurtural advised growers to use yield monitors available now to provide another data point for their vineyard management decisions. The SCRI researchers have started a website at www.efficientvineyard.com. It will be updated with information on projects and technologies during the multi-year research project.
Mechanized Canopy Management Tools Several equipment manufacturers offer tools for pre-pruning and mechanical box pruning operations. Tools from two manufacturers were shown at the April 22 seminar in the UC Davis teaching and research vineyard. V-MECH vineyard mechanization equipment is manufactured by Midwest Grower Supply Mfg., based in Stanberry, MO, which acquired the V-MECH vineyard product portfolio from Oxbo International Corporation in 2014. The V-MECH 2200 tool carrier is a prototype platform used by UC Davis this year for mechanized research trials in Lodi and Sonoma County. The two-row tool carrier on a tow-behind trailer is attached to and powered by a vineyard tractor. The trailer can be customized for different row widths and conditions. The tool carrier has two separate booms to attach tools for
over-the-row operation on two vine rows at one time. The trailer has two seats for two operators, and each operator has a separate joystick control and touchscreen display terminal to operate a tool head for one vine row. Chris Peterson, Midwest Grower Supply V-MECH product manager, demonstrated a shoot thinner for vertical shoot position (VSP) trellises that is commonly used when shoots are 6 to 12 inches long. The shoot thinner uses rotating plastic blades in front that remove longer lateral shoots on each side of the vine row. This device can be followed by a rotary cordon brush (with multiple, curved flexible plastic rods as bristles) to remove shoots and leaves closer to the vine cordon. It can operate at speeds of 2 to 3 mph. The unit can also be adjusted and used for trunk sucker removal. The operator can adjust the speeds of the shoot thinner and cordon brush separately, and the height and angle of the heads are adjustable. Using onboard controls, the operator can adjust for variable vine growth and conditions while moving down the vine row. As part of the SCRI project, researchers are working to further automate the V-MECH equipment to incorporate vision sensors and enable programming of the control system for variable rate shoot thinning based on vineyard location. The goal is to eventually automate the two tool heads to allow operation of the entire unit with just the tractor driver. Also displayed was a sprawl pruner with flexible configurations and adjustment based on trellis height. It can be used under a T-top trellis with up to 24-inch cross arms, or on a two-wire sprawl or a high-wire cordon system for box pruning. Midwest Grower Supply also carries rotary pruners for VSP trellises with rotary precision spur cutters and mulcher discs. These are available with optional vertical sickle bars to cut longer spurs ahead of the rotary cutters and automatic opening kits to move around trellis posts. V-MECH sales manager Joanne Reynolds said V-MECH equipment is currently used by several commercial winegrape growers. In California, Mesa Vineyard Management is using four V-MECH trailer units in the Central Coast on more than 600 acres. The equipment is generally more practical for growers with more than 100 acres, but Reynolds said groups of smaller growers in the Midwest have pooled funds to buy a unit and share it among multiple vineyards. Clemens Vineyard Equipment Inc., founded in Germany in 1952, supplies equipment and tractor attached tools for vineyards worldwide. U.S. manager Thomas Clemens, based at the U.S. office in Woodland, CA, showed a pre-pruner for box pruning. “More people are using these units with high-wire trellises for box-pruning in California, and many acres are being planted and designed to use this type of pruning system,” Clemens said. These tools were used for high-cordon box pruning in Lodi vineyards in 2014 and 2015, and the company is developing newer versions specifically for high-wire systems in U.S. vineyards. Several manufacturers offer leaf removal equipment to open the fruiting zone in the vine canopy for better air and light exposure and to reduce fungal and mildew pressure. Available technologies include suck-and-cut type implements and air-blast fan implements, both used mostly for VSP trellis systems. A roll-over type implement that uses suction and cutting can be adapted for VSP and sprawl trellis systems. A Clemens leaf remover was displayed at UC Davis that uses a roller and a perforated drum with a suction fan behind them to draw leaves into the drum and eject them through the other side and onto the vineyard floor. When used at the end of the grape bloom season, dried flower parts are also blown from the grape berries to help prevent fungal growth in the grape clusters. The leafer has a sickle bar in front of the drum/fan unit to pre-cut lateral shoots to enable the leafer to do a better job.
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New Developments in Vineyard Mechanization and Precision Management
Clemens leaf remover
Measuring Vine Stress with IRTs for Irrigation Management Andrew McElrone of the USDA Agricultural Research Service and the UC Davis Department of Viticulture & Enology discussed current research on
the use of infrared radiometers (IRTs) to measure vine water stress for use in conjunction with surface renewal stations in the vineyard for irrigation management. McElrone led the research team that studied and developed surface renewal technology for vineyard irrigation, now commercially available from Tule Technologies and used by a number of vineyards to monitor and evaluate evapotranspiration (ET) for making irrigation decisions. (For more information, see Wine Business Monthly, July 2015, p. 42, “Tule Technologies Adds Field Installations, Expands Irrigation Management Services.”) IRT technology has been available since the 1980s. The IRT sensor devices being tested are manufactured by Apogee Instruments, based in Logan, UT, and cost about $600 per sensor with a data logger. IRTs can be used to measure plant leaf and canopy temperatures. Plant temperature is an indicator of stress because leaf temperature rises as leaf stomata close. The Apogee IRT can be placed above the vine canopy, attached to a pole or to the Tule Technologies surface renewal station, and aimed down upon a leaf or a larger leaf canopy area. The Apogee sensor allows flexibility in placement because it can sense leaf surface temperature without being in contact with the leaf. Surface renewal measurement has demonstrated to be a good indicator of water use and the amount of water needed in a vineyard block, but more information is needed about plant water stress to better determine the timing of irrigation. Christopher Parry, a UC Davis post-doctoral researcher, is conducting field research with IRTs and provided information during the field demonstration at the UC Davis vineyard. In addition to stationary sensors in the vineyard, he is testing a mobile, hand-held IRT sensor to take readings from multiple locations. IRTs can provide real-time measurements continuously during the growing season, and the data loggers can track and record temperature data at optional interval periods, ranging from 30 seconds to 10 hours.
46 August 2016 WBM
When used above vine foliage, the Apogee IRT sensor can monitor leaf temperature and vine water stress.
Parry is experimenting with IRT sensors mounted at different heights above the canopy to determine if a single sensor can be placed at a given height to enable readings across multiple vine rows. Presently, he recommends having at least two sensors for each vineyard station to collect temperatures on both sides of the vine row canopy to account for sun and shade exposure differences on each side of the row. Parry is monitoring IRT field sensors placed in commercial vineyards in California and collecting and analyzing data for determining IRT calibration and data correlation for winegrapes. IRT technology is promising because of its potential to automate daily field data collection as an easier and less expensive alternative to the time and labor required for data collection for leaf water potential with pressure chambers. Parry summarized, “We’re hoping surface renewal and IRT technology will complement each other so we have a better system to know how much to water, as well as when to water.” WBM
WINE INDUSTRY NEEDS THROUGH THE
A M ER ICA N V IN EYAR D FOUND ATI ON
Finding Solutions Through Research MEASURING TANNIN ACTIVITY Dr. James Kennedy has developed an analytical method that predicts tannin interaction with salivary protein.
research gives winemakers the ability to measure tannin interaction and how tannin modification through winemaking practices could affect the perceived “softness” in red wines. For additional information visit AVF.org or contact Dr. Kennedy at email@example.com.
For a wealth of useful viticulture and enology research and information, visit AVF.org, ngr.ucdavis.edu, asev.org, iv.ucdavis.edu or ngwi.org
A M ER ICA N VIN EYA R D FOUND ATI ON P.O. Box 5779, Napa, CA, 94581 • T: (707) 252-6911 • Visit our web site at www.avf.org for information on funding and current research projects
sales & marketing
Getting the Message Out How do you effectively market wines from a great, but lesser-known, wine region? Lance Cutler
United States is booming. Virtually every state in the union produces some amount of wine; and as of 2015, more than 8,700 wineries were out-selling their wares. Making and selling wine is not easy. There is a lot of competition. It is one thing if you are a winery in Napa or Sonoma, regions and names that are well-known and have a long history. States like Washington and Oregon have done a great job of getting their wines talked about and in front of consumers. Regions like New York’s Finger Lakes and Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula have obtained hard-won recognition for some of their wines. Still, competition from thousands of wineries and literally tens of thousands of different wines can make for some daunting sales dilemmas. We were interested in how lesser-known regions went about building recognition for their wineries, their vineyards and their wines. We wanted to know how they involved media, consumers and professionals in getting their message out. We wanted to find out how this work was financed and what the secrets were to success. We found three very skilled specialists willing to attend the roundtable. They have a wide range of experience, even if they all incestuously worked together at one time in Washington state.
Lance Cutler has been a working winemaker in Sonoma County for 35 years. He has been a contributing editor for Wine Business Monthly for more than 10 years. His unique perspective on winemaking has led to our Industry Roundtable series and our Varietal Focus series. Lance is also the author of four books, including The Tequila Lover’s Guide to Mexico.
WINE PRODUCTION IN THE
How does an unknown or under-known wine area make its presence felt? Dolsby : When I first got to Idaho, they didn’t even have a map. You need a
map to get people to come to you. It was a lot of banging on doors just to get people to try the wine. It isn’t like that now. Two or three years ago we hit that threshold where people are now asking for it. So in Idaho the first thing was just getting people to try it.
Steve Burns is co-owner of O’Donnell Lane, a small marketing and public relations agency based in Sonoma with clients up and down the west coast and around the world. For eight years before that, he was executive director of the Washington Wine Commission. Stacie Jacob is chief strategist for Solterra Strategies, a boutique agency focusing on marketing, public relations and strategic planning based in Paso Robles. Prior to that she served in two executive director roles: one in the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance for seven years and most recently with Visit San Luis Obispo County on the tourism side for four years. Prior to that, she worked as public relations director for the Washington Wine Commission. Moya Dolsby is executive director of the Idaho Grape Growers and Wine Producers Commission. She has been there going on eight years. They are a self-governed state agency, which means they are tasked with marketing all Idaho wineries and growers. Before that, she was event manager for the Washington Wine Commission.
start to turn, where the media is starting to call, starting to ask questions, starting to come to the area. Once you can get those writers coming to the region on a fairly regular basis, that’s when you start to create that earned credibility and that third-party notoriety for an area. Often the board wants the New York Times to come, which is fabulous. We all want the New York Times to come or the Wine Spectator cover. But to get those “A” players, you need to get those bloggers and “B” and “C” players starting to talk about you because that creates chatter, which is what the “A” players are looking at.
Jacob : For me, one of the fundamental tools is public relations. How do you
get the basic message to the media to learn about the area as a whole? I call it the “drip on the rock” theory. You have to just keep pumping the pipeline with stories and information about the region. Then all of a sudden it will
48 August 2016 WBM
Dolsby : I remember Stacie teaching me this. The first year I got to Idaho I
did a media boot camp of local media, because I knew I needed to get them on my side.
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Industry Roundtable: Getting the Message Out
Burns: What they have said about third-party endorsements
is so true. There is no association that has enough money; so if you don’t have enough money, you need other people to tell your story. We’re not Coca Cola. We can’t do huge ad campaigns. It’s important and valuable to conduct an internal study of your brand, your vineyards and your region. What really makes you special and what do you have to sell? In Moya’s case, Idaho is the unique selling feature of that, and there are all kinds of things that have to do with Idaho, some wine-related and some not, but they all paint a picture of Idaho. Doing some homework about what makes you special is important and so is your “elevator speech.” What can you communicate in just 30 seconds? What is your talking point? Even with brands, that is helpful internally. With clients it’s hard because they want that cover story, but doing some internal homework is really valuable.
“The first year I got to Idaho I did a media boot camp of local media, because I knew I needed to get them on my side.” Moya Dolsby
How important is it to build locally in your region? Jacob : At one point all three of us were working for the Washington Wine
Commission. We were focused on building outside markets and awareness for Taste Washington, which was the campaign header at that particular time, but we didn’t even own our own home market. All of a sudden everything shifted to the Seattle/Tacoma area. The staff recognized the need, and the board adopted it.
IDAHO WINE COMMISSION
Burns : Local wine list competitions and all of those kinds of things because,
when we had influential people visiting and they went out to restaurants, they’d see an all-California list in Seattle. It was a disconnect—that wouldn’t happen in Napa or Bordeaux or Sydney. So for us it was really important to shift and focus on local business. It is also the cheapest and most efficient market to conquer. Jacob : It is interesting how that has evolved. We did a wine tour with seven Seattle sommeliers. We took them on a trip to Eastern Washington for three days. On the way back they talked about how they had bonded behind this great immersion of Washington wineries. Burns : That is true for lots of somms in cities. They are often taken to other
places but not in their own backyard. In Washington, somms were taken to places like California or Burgundy, but they weren’t taken to Eastern Washington. I am sure that is true for the Ohio wine business and Michigan as well. They don’t pay attention to the locals because they kind of take that for granted.
50 August 2016 WBM
What’s in the Package?
Dolsby : We still face that in Idaho. Now, we have consumers asking for
Idaho wine, which is driving the restaurants to carry local wines. You have to own your backyard before you can go elsewhere. In Idaho we only make 220,000 cases. I think you start by going after the influencers in the local community because you have no money, so you have to win over the locals first. The local business people, as well, because they buy a lot of wine. They bring in people from all over the country.
Jacob : A lot of these smaller regions are big into direct-to-consumer sales.
The local influencers help create local buzz, which drives people to the local wine trails and brings the whole thing full circle because now there is more money going into the coffers for the association. When I went to Paso Robles, it was different. Paso Robles was known locally, but other people would ask, “Where in Napa are you located?” The need was very much to build the brand nationally. They didn’t even know what public relations was. They didn’t realize that these writers would come and visit us and talk to us. We had to teach people how to receive writers, how to talk to them, how to prepare for a writer to come to your market. Dolsby : To make that happen with media I will say, “Yes.” Yes. Whatever
you want, we can make it happen. I had one person that really wanted to go white water rafting. Okay, we will go. After all, that is part of the Idaho brand story. Burns : What we all do is try to put together the media visit that works for
the individual. If they have 12 hours or 12 days, or they just want to taste Riesling or just focus on volcanic soils, we’ll figure it out and make it work for them. You can’t do anything to the exclusion of anything else. You need to have some kind of plan with the board or members behind you. To start, it has to be a modest plan. That is really important. You don’t have the luxury of just focusing locally, regionally or nationally. You have to do a little bit of everything. Moya may talk to local retailers in Idaho, but she needs to speak with Sara Schneider at Sunset Magazine at the exact same time. You have to multiply your impact. Dolsby : It’s a perfect example. When you are in Sunset Magazine about Boise,
Idaho, that is the qualifier. I can use those quotes from Sara to validate us locally. Jacob : Also, most of these memberships are very diverse. What is important
to one member is not necessarily important to another. One member wants you courting Safeway and Albertsons while another wants you focusing on Sara Schneider at Sunset Magazine.
How do you work with members given they all have different agendas? Dolsby : Well, you try to figure out what they want. Some days they just want
someone to talk to about what is going on at their kid’s school. Nothing to do with work. Other times they want to get in front of the New York Times. You dance around, trying to be respectful and help them with their goals. Each company is so different. What Stacie is trying to do is completely different from what Steve is trying to do. How can you marry that with what you are trying to do with the group?
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Industry Roundtable: Getting the Message Out
Burns : As an executive director of a trade association, you
Burns : You serve at the pleasure of the board, and the board is part-time
should not promote one winery brand over another. Your job is to create a platform where your members’ brands can be successful across the board. You need to create platforms for lots of success among your membership spectrum. Some people will care about a tasting, some will care about a local promotion, and others just want to be in a magazine. As an executive director, you have to build up your relationships with members; so when they come to ask why they weren’t included on a media tour, you have to be able to say, “You were on the last two. We have to spread it around, and they weren’t looking for Riesling, and you are a Riesling producer.” You have to say those things, and you are only able to say that if you have a relationship with them. It’s politics. The whole job is politics.
volunteers. Sometimes the director is the only full-time paid person doing the appellation work.
Jacob : Associations are always looking for that politically savvy person, who will also drive a vision forward by taking the collective parts of what everyone wants to do. I find that often the boards have an idea of what they want, but they have no idea of how to move from step A to step B to step C. They need a project manager plus marketer who can push them through to their own vision. Boards know where they want to go, but you have to pull it out of them. They are not going to come to you with “the plan.” You have to corral all the diverse points, boil it down to the top three things we can achieve and figure out how to move that initiative forward.
Dolsby : You are often cleaning the glasses after the tasting, and you are
setting up the tasting.
How do the associations deal with the quality dynamic? Jacob : Quality is the underlying challenge of the community in every asso-
ciation and region I’ve worked in or consulted with. Every area has really great wine and other wine not as appealing. When a writer or trade person comes to visit it is impossible for them to visit all of the wineries in that particular region. You have to put your best foot forward. Sometimes that does become political, and I think a strong association director has to take those hits and deal with that because the world is not fair and equal in those scenarios. If your region is talked about and it is led by your star players, everyone wins as a result of that. You are raising the profile.
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Burns : That is true in every region and every story. Every region faces those
Dolsby : In Idaho we had a hard time just getting people to try the wine. It’s
kinds of issues. The core to successful regional promotion is leadership, whether that is choosing which wines to put in front of which writer or just making the tough calls regarding who that buyer from Safeway sees. You get a lot of unsolicited input from members. What do you take and what do you leave? The leadership is what separates really successfully promoted appellations from those that are lacking. That doesn’t mean benevolence. It means leadership.
getting better, but they used to say, “People make wine in Idaho?” Jacob : It sounds like Washington. It rains all the time there. “What do you mean you can make wine there?” Burns : Getting people to try the wines in lesser-known regions is imperative.
Not just influential people or key opinion leaders, but regular consumers in your own backyard.
Dolsby : We are getting a lot of press these days, so I reach out to the members
to see who wants to participate. Typically, the wineries who make good wine are the ones who respond. In Idaho we had a wine quality initiative. We brought in an outsider to critique the wines. It was voluntary among our members. The first year we had 20 wineries participate. The next time we had close to 30 wineries. They saw the value of it. I mean, I’m not a winemaker so what do I know? But if I bring in a great outside winemaker, like Bob Betz, then that is really helpful. Constructive criticism can be a good thing.
Jacob : Which is why I think events are so important. I never thought I would
be an events planner, but at the end of the day we are all event planners in the wine business because that is a key marketing tactic about how you get the product into people’s hands. Burns : And maybe as you promote a region you evolve away from the things
you did in the early days. In the Washington case, getting winemakers out of Washington was really valuable. To have them taste other wines, have to market and have to talk. That was a huge exercise.
Jacob : I also think that with time, the lesser wineries weed themselves out
of the marketplace. I think that buyers help weed them out. When we first started our buyers’ tour in Paso Robles, there was a lot of discussion about starting a quality control board. Instead we offered the opportunity to all of the members, and we let the trade decide. We felt there was enough quality to show where the region was at.
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WBM August 2016 53
Industry Roundtable: Getting the Message Out
How important are events? Dolsby : It is very important in Idaho. We
bring the winemakers to Boise, and people come to the tasting and try the wines. They find out the wineries are just a half hour away from where they live, so we are educating them that these wineries are at their backdoor and they can go visit. We are now doing our eighth year, and the event is sold out a month in advance with over 900 people. Burns : I think it is good for the winemakers to get out as
well. Every few years you should have an event out-of-state. It sharpens your game a little bit as an owner or winemaker. You’d choose the city based on board recommendations. Jacob : Events are certainly one of the most important
marketing tools out there for the wine business. Events can have so many different goals and objectives, and understanding those goals is critical when assessing success. Some people only look at events if they make money. Maybe that is not the goal. Maybe the goal was to bring in top buyers or to get the trade and media there. There are lots of ways to do events, from lean to grandiose. It’s figuring out what the dollars are and how you position that event to fulfill your needs. Sometimes events are as much about educating the members and bringing everyone together under one umbrella as they are about bringing consumers to the area.
How are the associations funded?
Dolsby : Events have to evolve and change; otherwise, they become boring. I
Dolsby : The Idaho Wine Commission is a state agency. We are funded by
would never put on an event I didn’t want to go to.
the wine excise tax and voluntary industry assessments. Voluntary is a key word there. Then we do events and write grants to bring in more income.
Burns : I also think that events, whether in or out of region, are good unifiers.
It’s really nice to get everyone together.
Jacob : There are lots of different models out there. Paso Robles is all volun-
How does social media enter into all of this?
tary membership dues-based. It’s on a sliding scale of how large you are based on acreage, if you are a grower and case production on the winery side. Rhône Rangers has a flat fee no matter how big you are.
Burns : It is paramount, especially when you don’t have any money. Jacob : I’m a big believer that your digital platform focuses around your website and that social media is an ongoing chatterbox that is talking about it. If you can direct everything back to that website where you have a common platform to measure those metrics, then social media is something you can control: you control the voice, you identify the voice, and you can push out content to help generate a following. Burns : As long as your website is mobile-ready and current. I think the big
challenge today is making sure that the social media of your members is building on what you are doing. Are your posts being reposted, your tweets being re-tweeted by members and are you supporting your members that way as well? Dolsby : We spend a lot of time actually teaching our members how to do
social media. We have one full-time person, and half of her job is social media and helping the members with that.
54 August 2016 WBM
Burns : There are versions of Moya’s commission in Washington, Oregon and California. In Sonoma County, the Sonoma Wine Grape Commission
is a mandatory grape assessment, but the vintner organization is voluntary membership-driven. There is no set formula, but I do think there is a clear advantage to a mandatory commission assessment, which means you can spend your time on promotion rather than membership renewal and building, but with that comes the open meeting act and all kinds of things that sometimes slow you down. People will choose a mandatory commission or a voluntary thing based on what the board wants to do.
How does the director interact with the board to determine how to spend the money? Burns : A plan should be developed in a private meeting between the board
and the executive director. They should meet at least once a year, but the plan should have a long-term vision that everyone gets behind and that
dictates the macro-buckets. It is up to the executive director to execute to the best of their ability within that plan. In a good association that executive director makes sure everyone does what they said they would do. Was this in the plan? But oftentimes they will just start doing stuff, and one strong board member will say, “Let’s do this.” Another strong board member will say, “Let’s do this.” Then it becomes the shotgun approach.
Dolsby : And if you can do that, everything works. People will come to you
if people are talking about you. The money, the people and the sales will all follow. Jacob : The challenge of what we do as regional organizations is that it is
strongly public relations-based, positioning and long-term brand building. Sometimes there is frustration because there is no way to measure success. You can tell if events are successful because they sell out or you make money, but the long-term aspects take a lot of time. Producers looking to see an immediate uptick in tasting room sales may not get it right away because it takes time to build a regional brand. Burns : There are always turning points. In Washington we were building
sounding board. If it doesn’t fit into areas we’ve identified, we shouldn’t be doing it. The executive director can give them some protection by keeping to the projects that have been identified.
pride among our producers. Often, lesser-known regions don’t think their wines are as good as wines from established regions. We looked at bond numbers and realized they were bonding three wineries each month in Washington. The soundbite became, “We are adding a new winery every 14 days.” That made our producers realize that they were already something. Then they got wine region of the year in Wine Enthusiast, followed by exponential growth. There are always great turning points. You get lucky sometimes, but having messages and the team going forward together is important. Unity is paramount.
Burns : And in the plan, you identify
Dolsby : I always say that in Idaho it is all about your parents, your family
audiences; so when somebody comes in with an idea about sponsoring ESPN ski jumping, we can point out that according to IDAHO WINE COMMISSION the plan, our audiences were wine media then local trade, and ESPN was not on that list. So you can say this doesn’t fit into the plan because there will be a million ideas coming at you constantly. This way everybody knows what you should be doing. Money is short, and time is really short, and there is no staff, so you have to make choices, and having a plan gives you a strategic way to do that. It doesn’t mean you can’t change it.
and your dog. We talk about our food being local, but there is a place for your wine to be local as well. We had the governor sign a proclamation for Idaho Wine Month. We did a Savor Idaho wine event. It’s funny how well that works, and it doesn’t require a lot of money.
Jacob : In some ways the plan is the
Jacob : There is always a way to fit somebody’s initiative into some area of
the plan if it is a good idea. You may have to tailor their request to fit into the plan. It’s almost like you are reminding them of their own plan. Dolsby : If they do want to do X, Y and Z, you have to say, “All right, what
should we take out then? We only have so much money and manpower, so what would you like not to do?” It gets them thinking about what they need to get done.
What is the executive director’s main job insofar as representing the members? Jacob : I believe our primary goal is to raise the profile of the region. I
think that what makes wine so interesting is that it is from a place. To raise the awareness of Paso Robles, we need a body which is responsible for that particular initiative. All of the individual wineries are going to have Paso Robles as part of their message, but at the end of the day they will focus on their individual brand initiatives. Our job is to create this aura or “buzzbuilding” of the region itself.
One of the first things winemakers learn is that it is not enough to know how to make good wine. Too many other factors can influence your wine in a bad way. So winemakers have to learn about yeast strains, become experts about different types of pumps and discover how to make fine adjustments on bottling line equipment. They have to become experts on corks, bottles, capsules and filters. Once the winemaker masters all of this information and gets his wine into the bottle safely, then he learns that he has to go out and sell it. Competition to sell wine is fierce. Tens of thousands of wineries are fighting for shelf space, column inches, media attention and looking for some response from their distributors. If your winery is in Texas, Michigan or Idaho, things are that much harder. Just as winemakers learn to seek advice from people expert at corks, glass and filters to make better wine, they need to band together, form associations and promote their area to media and consumers. Getting winemakers to agree about anything is difficult, so running an association is a very political job that requires a delicate touch when it comes to dealing with egos. According to our experts, a strong executive director with experience and a creative bent can certainly help get the message out. But an association has to start with a plan and stick to it. You have to court media, buyers, consumers and sommeliers, both locally and nationally. In short, you have to do the work, and in time, recognition will come. Like every other aspect of winemaking, you need to find the experts, listen to their advice, decide what applies to you and then do what is required. WBM
WBM August 2016 55
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sales & marketing
The ROI on Wine Distribution The new scoreboard on the three-tier system Liza B. Zimmerman Liza Zimmerman has been writing, educating and consulting about wine and food for more than two decades. She is the principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick consulting firm and regularly contributes to publications such as Wine Searcher, DrinkUpNY and Beverage Media. She has also worked almost every angle of the wine and food business: from server and consultant to positions in distribution, education, event planning and sales. She has visited all the world’s major wine-growing regions and holds the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma (D.W.S.), the three-year program that is the precursor to the Master of Wine.
was created in 1933, there has been constant debate among wine industry executives as to its myriad advantages and constraints. Should it ever cease to exist, other potential sales models in such a broad market are few and far between and would most likely be patterned on some type of control or monopoly-type system, such as those found in Canada and the Scandinavian countries. Another market-flow dynamic could be emulating wine sales patterns found in the United Kingdom or Australia, where a handful of major retailers make the bulk of the decisions about what is available on the market. While some smaller wine producers believe they might have greater success on the market without the third tier, there is little data to support that perspective. The big-name, cult producers have few hurdles in selling directly to retail, and some lesser-known ones might find greater market share, but the bulk of winemakers would likely face greater challenges without this other layer of sales infrastructure. “The distribution tier creates a platform for brands to enter the market,” said Stephen Rannekleiv, the executive director of New York’s Rabobank International’s Food and Agribusiness Research and Advisory. “It plays some role in balancing the power of suppliers and retailers. Large retailers have generally used their clout to build large, private-label programs, which limit choice and put a lot of pressure on supplier margins.” “The really good ones are true partners with their wineries. The downside is the government-mandated monopoly side of the business. I always go back to margins. In no free-market situation does the party providing only logistics get paid at the rates that distributors are today. It is a totally anachronistic throwback to Prohibition, which is because it is very profitable to the distributors. Not surprisingly, distributors are generally very big political donors, and changing the three-tier system at the state level is extremely difficult,” said W. Scott Creasman, director of wine and spirits for the Lawyers Club of Atlanta. SINCE THE WHOLESALER TIER
58 August 2016 WBM
Consolidation Continues Wholesalers have been gobbling each other up at a rapid pace over the past few years. These mergers and acquisitions are as likely to increase efficiencies of scale as they will intensify the sales focus on larger, national producers. The big brands, those that stock the shelves at BevMo! and Ruby Tuesdays, are only likely to gain more sales clout. A handful of major distributors—generally two to four per state—continue to run each market. The recent merger of Southern Wine & Spirits with Glazers has created a behemoth with an almost national presence in more than 40 states. The other major players are Republic National Distribution Company and the recent merger of Wirtz Beverage Group and Charmer Sunbelt to form the Breakthru Beverage Group. “There are only 500 significant wholesalers across the U.S., down from 7,000 or more at the turn of the century,” confirmed Barbara Insel, president and CEO of the St. Helena-based Stonebridge Research Group. She added that they represent 75 to 80 percent of brands by volume and 90 percent or more in terms of dollar value. The nation’s top three distributors—according to publisher M. Shanken’s Impact Newsletter—are on track to control 54 percent of the U.S. alcohol beverage market this year. The top five account for 63.3 percent, and the top 10 account for 73.3 percent. Insel added that she expects consolidation to continue to move forward at its currently rapid pace. The scale of services with which wholesalers currently provide producers and accounts is clearly broad. “Though we would love to be there personally when these accounts taste our wine, that simply is not possible,” said Pete Przybylinski, senior vice president of sales and strategy for the Napa-based Duckhorn Wine Company. While the winery also self distributes in California, he added that the wholesale tier’s existence “is absolutely vital for a thriving industry.” The wholesale tier, concurs Skylar Stuck, general manager at the Paso Robles-based Halter Ranch Winery, acts as a “local representative for
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wineries.” He added that, “If you want broad-market, wholesale distribution, you are going to have to use the three-tier system as it would be cost-prohibitive to try and go it alone.” These national players have solid market penetration. According to Mel Dick, the Miami-based senior vice president and president of the wine division at Southern Wine & Spirits, the company’s national accounts penetration is as high as 92 percent with its top customers. Many of the wholesaler’s individual divisions also have fine-wine divisions and provide extensive, in-house wine education programs.
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Other Roads to Market Major retailers—such as California’s K&L Merchants and the ever-expanding, Bethesda-based Total Wine & More —have long had direct import (DI) relationships with foreign wineries and also buy directly from name-brand, domestic producers. Whether more wine brands might benefit from a less powerful or non-existent wholesale tier depends on “whether an effective directto-trade delivery or broker system springs up to take the wholesalers’ place. If it does, then some small wineries that currently have retreated to mainly or all direct-to-consumer might be lured back into the broader distribution,” said Christian Miller, principal of Berkeley-based Full Glass Research, which tracks the wine business. Some executives who directly import their brands see the clear financial benefits of cutting out the middle tier. Matthew Cohen, co-founder of Irvine, California-based importer and retailer Fass Selections, said that the existing system is “very expensive for consumers, with wines costing 2.5 to 3 times the cost in Europe.” He added that the wines his company sells cost 35 percent less than wines purchased through the regular three-tier system. Brian Larky, founder of Napabased Dalla Terra Winery Direct, added that the cost difference between a retailer that buys directly from a European importer or producer versus a retailer who buys from a local distributor could be 25 percent.
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A Boutique Producer’s Perspective While many domestic winemakers have long tried to work the market directly, it can be challenging unless they have solid ratings and close relationships with key retailers. The dynamics of multiple wine delivery and sales calls are labor-intensive for small houses. “Wholesaling is a capital-intensive economy of scale business: it costs as much to deliver a pallet of spirits as a case of wine, and it is far more profitable,” said Insel. Slews of brokers and marketing companies have emerged over the years as a result to try to capitalize on the sales and promotional opportunities that smaller producers need. Many distributors do work with a range of more artisanal, smaller-production, brands, and they often apply higher margins to their services. Insel said that the typical 30 percent winery freight-on-board fees can jump up to as much as 35 to 40 percent for smaller brands. While fewer distributors are left on the market, the number of wineries continues to grow, noted Przybylinski. “This has the unintended effect of restricting access to the market for certain suppliers, especially with the larger wholesalers who find their portfolios too large to be able to market all suppliers equally.” He added that while DTC is growing in importance as a sales vehicle, it is still a small piece of the picture. “It represents less than 5 percent of overall wine sales, $2 billion of a nearly $45 billion annual business.” Should wine wholesalers cease to exist, which is not likely to happen any time soon, “Restaurants and retailers would swap wine out for other alcoholic beverages that are easier to procure,” he said. “There would be a dramatic re-education in choice for consumers as only suppliers with sufficient size and scale to market and distribute their products would enjoy broad distribution.” Duckhorn’s Przybylinski, like many other brand executives I interviewed, said he thought the U.S. market would probably begin to resemble the United Kingdom without this sales vehicle. It is a market that has continued to become ever-more limited in scope and scale in the past decade, as well as extremely price-focused on the lower-end of the wine market. “Consumer choices would be severely limited if retailers were buying from the handful of wineries who could actually make those sales calls,” added Dennis Carroll, owner of Novato-based Wine Hooligans LLC. Carroll was the president of Purple Wine Company for more than a decade and also worked in sales and marketing roles at Mark West and Blackstone. Without the services of the wholesale tier, “Prices would inevitably increase as there would be no efficiency of scale with regards to delivery, billing, tax reporting and merchandising,” added Mark Melia, national sales manager of the Walla Walla-based Pepper Bridge Winery and Amavi Cellars. However, not everyone concurred that the current situation is for the best for both consumers and producers or that it couldn’t change. A market without wine wholesalers could exist, according to Creasman, but “not any time soon. Too much money and politics lead to slow, slow, slow change.” With a more than 80-year history of providing sales and delivery services to the U.S. wine market, the distribution tier is not likely to disappear any time soon. Producers who can find effective—and profitable—ways to sell around it are likely to do so, but the bulk of brands are likely to remain its sales stable. WBM
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sales & marketing
Insight & Opinion
Diversity: A Blessing or a Curse? Do tasting room-only wines in the Napa Valley help or hurt your winemaking teams and brand image? Dan Berger
I was chatting with Napa valley winemakers Doug Fletcher of Chimney Rock Winery, Ted Edwards of Freemark Abbey and Michael Beaulac, then at St. Supery, now at Pine Ridge Vineyards, about A FEW YEARS AGO
their tasting room wines—wines made specifically to be sold only at the tasting room or sometimes direct-to-consumer through the winery website. Wineries often see more profit from these wines because they are not forced through the three-tier, wholesale distribution system, and therefore rarely explored by lifestyle wine magazines, which search for higher-volume, widely distributed wines their readers can buy and enjoy. However, making these tasting room-only wines can be difficult, and doing so often starts with the acquisition of high-quality grapes from relatively high-caliber, but obscure, second-tier grape varieties, such as Grenache Blanc, Lagrein or Pinot Blanc. Many times, winemakers love to experiment and rarely mind making a couple of hundred cases of this or that, so it’s usually not a problem. It’s one reason J makes a small amount of Charbono each year or that Heitz Cellars continues to make Gringolino Rosé annually. “Those kinds of wines make visiting tasting rooms so interesting,” said Glenn McGourty, the University of California farm adviser for Mendocino and Lake counties. The tasting room-only wine has long been an essential aspect of running a successful tasting room, simply because sales of these “full-price” wines generate revenue that need not be shared with a wholesaler. Selling broadmarket wines at full retail prices in a tasting room never generates as much revenue—since savvy tasting room visitors know they can buy such wines at their local discounter or on the internet—and then do not have to worry about hauling the wines home.
Pros and Cons: Tasting Room-Only Wines Part of my discussions with these winemakers entailed a brief discussion about how retailers and wholesalers viewed these additional items. Instead of seeing them as competition, most retailers and wholesalers view them as little more than a nuisance. Wholesalers especially have no interest in such wines. In fact, for decades large wholesalers have been trying to get wineries to reduce the number of items they produce, and most wholesalers are happy to take high-visibility and thus high-margin wines—but are never excited about 200 cases of Chenin Blanc or 350 cases of Grenache.
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What was seemingly so perfect was that the wineries needed a series of tasting room wines for revenue generation, and they were wines that the wholesalers had no interest in. Winemakers enjoyed the challenge of making a little Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Sangiovese Rosé or Verdelho on the side. Such wines posed only minor headaches, which came down to sourcing fruit from unusual grape varieties that otherwise would go begging. In the case of the Chimney Rock Rosé, the winery was already growing Cabernet Franc for its Cabernet Sauvignon program, and a small amount of the lesser-known grape could easily be separated out to make pink wine. The winemakers I spoke with said that tasting room-only wines had to be good enough to be made year after year, and to do that you needed to develop a club program to sell wines to people who never or rarely visited the winery. This called for the winery to develop an infrastructure in which special employees would handle wine shipments, billing and transit problems, among other headaches. It also called for winemakers who would monitor many tiny lots of wine, some of which never turned out to be worth putting into a tasting room, and ended up sold in the bulk market at virtually no profit. So although the tasting room-only wine seemed like a solution to a problem, it also created additional problems that could be costly and end up actually costing money unless the winery had a special way to deal with it. For instance, say a winemaker is offered fruit from 100-year-old vines that make an excellent red wine. How would such a wine sell in the tasting room? Should the winemaker risk buying the fruit, knowing that the wine might end up not selling at all? And how would the fruit be the following year? Would the quality be high enough to make the wine again?
“Fad” Wines as Tasting Room-Only Then of course there are fads that throw winemakers and winery marketers for a loop—take the Moscato craze of a few years ago, for example. Marketing departments all over California moved into high gear trying to obtain high-quality Muscat grapes from 2010 to 2013. Almost every major winery developed some kind of Moscato. That led to chaos just a few years later when the entire Moscato fad simply collapsed. Then there are other fads that seem to have no particular strength. We have seen no-oak Chardonnay become hot and then cool off; we have seen high-alcohol Zinfandels hit a brick wall as consumers sought more balanced wines; we have seen oaky Cabernet Sauvignons become less appealing as the consumer sought better structure and more authenticity.
Selling wine has always been a kind of nightmare in which the crystal ball plays virtually no role. Marketing departments are constantly guessing what fad, trend or style type will grab the attention of newcomers or collectors next. In the last several years many marketing people grew optimistic because they assumed that there was an unending source of curiosity by Millennials, whom they believed would absorb any short-term fad. To a degree, that did occur in the 2010 to 2015 period, but now we are awash in too many varietals, too many different styles and too many different strategies that are not fully explained. We expect the Millennials to solve these problems; but as with most eras through which we have already lived, price dictates a lot and in doing cost analysis, some of the tasting room-only wines were only marginally profitable because in many cases the cost to make them was higher than most wineries had expected.
Cost/Benefit Analysis Clearly the best wines for a tasting room are those that appear to be bargains vis-à-vis the winery’s mainstream wines that cost a lot of money elsewhere. But is the Millennial buyer, even the one prepared to spend $90 on a Cabernet Sauvignon, prepared to spend $80 on a Cabernet Franc? There is a huge risk factor in delving into these unusual grape varietals and making them of extremely high quality when it is clear that the assumption that Millennials will be interested is nothing more than that––an assumption. Most of the risk is on the back of the winemakers, and a bit more of the risk is shared with marketing departments. Part of the solution may well be to engage a well-trained tasting room staff in getting the word out about the reason for these tasting room-only wines to be priced the way they are. Moreover, many wineries are developing second and third labels to deal with excess fruit, and the result is fascinating. I asked McGourty about wineries that approach growers to plant an acre of this or an acre of that. Does that happen? “I live that life,” said McGourty. He and his family own substantial acreage in Mendocino County and in the Paso Robles area, and grow a wide range of grape varieties. He is constantly finding himself talking with winemakers who desire to have some unusual grapes planted for just such a tasting room program. McGourty said a winemaker will occasionally ask for a particular grape that he says he’ll consider despite the fact that the winemaker won’t agree to a multi-year contract for the grapes “even though I know I’ll be selling them on a year-to-year basis on the open market.” McGourty has recently had meetings with some wineries that have requested varieties like Pinot Meunier, the Greek grape Assyrtiko or even Nero d’Avola. In Oregon, interest is growing by at least one winery in the Swiss grape Chasselas. “I’ve talked to a few winemakers who would like to have some Assyrtiko,” he said, “because it is a grape that produces a white wine with high acidity in warm climates.” He said special wines available only in a tasting room are a way for many small wineries to avoid playing a losing game—what he calls “the race to the bottom” to make cheap Cabernet or cheap Chardonnay, or both, as their primary business model. He said the exclusivity of the tasting room-only wine and the ability to charge a little bit less for it can play well in tasting rooms with high visitor counts. Another reason this makes particular sense in 2016 and 2017, and perhaps for a few additional years, is the appearance of the Red Blotch virus, which seems to be widespread and infecting vines throughout the North Coast. It
reduces production of usable fruit because infected vines are extremely slow to ripen and can stop ripening before they attain the proper sugars. In most cases, he said, Red Blotch-infected vines must be removed, which gives growers an opportunity to put in other grape varieties that could be beneficial in tasting rooms and for direct sales. The tasting room-only wine is a refuge for orphan varieties and a joy for adventuresome winemakers. WBM
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WBM August 2016 63
sales & marketing Retail Sales Analysis:
New Imports Look for Growth in Booming U.S. Rosé Category lot of new releases this spring and summer from import companies with the common theme seeming to be wines from South America—Chile and Argentina—and, of course, Rosé. We have new releases of Rosé from South America, Rosé in a can from Provence and two Italian Rosés. In Nielsen scan data, both wines from Chile and Argentina are down in sales and volume. Overall, imported table wine as a category is up 2.4 percent in sales and down just 0.7 percent in volume. Not surprisingly, Rosé continues to grow in both categories. In the four weeks ending May 21, Rosé has increased 42 percent in volume and 43.1 percent in sales. Rosé has exploded in popularity the last few years and seems to only be getting hotter, with plenty of Rosé-related campaigns on social media, such as Rosé All Day, Yes Way Rosé, Brosé and more. T H E R E H AV E BE E N A
Imports from South America New Releases from Guarachi Wine Partners Guarachi Wine Partners introduced Aila, a new wine from Chile’s Leyda Valley, an area close
to the Pacific Ocean that is growing in fame as an excellent cool coastal viticultural region. The brand consists of Pinot Noir ($17) and Sauvignon Blanc ($15), and rolled out in select markets through June 2016. The creation of Aila is a way for winemaker Andres Sanhueza to pay homage to the special heritage and history of Leyda Valley. As the vines were planted, keepsakes from the indigenous Mapuche tribe were discovered on the grounds. The name Aila translates to “nine” in the Mapuche dialect—an important number to the local tribe, who once marked their home with a circle of nine statues to serve as a meeting place to communicate with their gods. Guarachi Wine Partners also announced that Chile’s iconic Montes Winery introduced its new “Spring Trinity” wines. Comprised of Montes Spring Harvest ($15), Montes Cherub ($16) and Montes Twins ($16), these wines reflect the more protective side of Montes angels. Two of the wines, Cherub and Twins, feature distinctive new labels and innovative new blends. Montes Spring Harvest, introduced for the first time in 2015, is a fresh, low-yield Sauvignon Blanc harvested 21 days early from the cool, coastal Leyda Valley, and bottled in April. It is the first Sauvignon Blanc of the vintage to arrive from Chile. Montes Cherub, formerly a robust Rosé of Syrah, is now a brighter, leaner, vibrant blend of Syrah and Grenache, to capture the Provence-style while showcasing the distinctive terroir of the Colchagua Valley. Montes Twins, formerly a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, has been re-worked by father and son team Aurelio Montes Sr. and Aurelio Montes Jr. The resulting wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Carmenere and Tempranillo. King Malbec, a fresh brand of Argentine Malbec, targets Millennials and is inspired by its roots in the heart of Mendoza. King Malbec playfully dubs itself the “almighty sovereign of the vines” through its unique packaging and feel. The new brand rolled out nationwide through May 2016. King Malbec’s packaging features royal caricatures that honor Mendoza, known as the “kingdom” of Malbec. Its message, “The Magnificent One,” encourages one to be a leader and influencer like the King. The wine is 100 percent Malbec and retails for $12. 64 August 2016 WBM
Alcance Launches Variety-focused Chilean Wines for International Distribution
Castillo de Molina Presents New Provence-style Rosé
Alcance Winery announced the 2014 vintage release of their variety-fo-
Castillo de Molina, Viña San Pedro’s first reserva wine, presents its latest innovation: a fresh, delicate Provence-style Rosé. The wine is to be launched with an appealing label showing the majestic harvest-time landscapes of the Rosé’s incredible grapes. The design embodies the elegance of the colored sky, as well as the mountains that surround the distinct Castillo and Viña San Pedro’s vineyards. The variety is crafted with 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 40 percent Syrah grapes from the Rapel Valley, and has a delicate, bright, crisp, pale-pink color.
cused wines worldwide. Although Carmenère is most commonly associated with Chilean wines, Alcance is also showcasing their Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grown from the cooler regions of the Maule Valley. Alcance is built around two estate vineyards planted with dozens of soil types used to extract the most potential from each vine. The El Maitén Estate Vineyards sits on the cool bench of the Licray River in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. As a result, El Maitén’s wines are rich, concentrated, and balanced. The Alcance Spring 2016 Wine Releases include: 2014 Alcance Merlot ($22), 2014 Alcance Cabernet Sauvignon ($24) and a 2014 Alcance Carmenère ($22).
Italian Rosés Super Tuscan Producer Aia Vecchia Introduces First Rosé Wine Elia Pellegrini, owner of Aia Vecchia, a
small family-owned winery located in the Tuscan countryside between Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci, introduced Solidio Rosato IGT Toscana ($14), the first Rosé to be added to the winery’s portfolio. Solidio Rosato is 90 percent Sangiovese and 10 percent Merlot, sourced from vineyards in Magliano in Toscana and Orbetello. “As a fourth-generation, family run winery, we know the importance of maintaining a relevant and fresh face in the market,” said owner Elia Pellegrini. “The popularity of Rosé has increased exponentially and Solidio gives us an opportunity to be a part of this growing wine trend.” The wine is imported exclusively by Dalla Terra Winery Direct.
Frescobaldi Toscana Launches Tenuta Dell’ Ammiraglia ‘Alie’ Rosé In U.S. Frescobaldi Toscana, one of Italy’s most prestigious wine producers with a 700-year-old history in winemaking, launched their first ever Rosé into the U.S. market: Tenuta dell’ Ammiraglia Alìe Rosé (SRP: $18.00). Alìe is inspired by (H)alìe, a sea nymph who is also a symbol of sensuality and beauty. “At Tenuta Ammiraglia, we seek to produce more modern Tuscan wines that fit the Mediterranean lifestyle,” states Niccolo d’Afflito, head of winemaking at Frescobaldi Toscana, “The Alìe Rosé will help demonstrate the versatility of this coastal property, and also help establish Tuscany as a viable source for quality Rosé.” Alìe Rosé is a blend of Syrah (98 percent) and Vermentino (2 percent), varieties that express their finest qualities when grown by the sea. The wine is immediately pressed off the skins and blended, with no maceration. It sees four months in stainless steel, followed by one month in bottle. Alìe Rosé will be distributed nationally, represented in the U.S. by Folio Fine Wine Partners, based in Napa, CA. Total production will be 1,750 cases and 300 imported.
WBM August 2016 65
Retail Sales Analysis: New Imports Look for Growth in Booming U .S . Rosé Category
Imports in a Can Lila Wines Launches Premium Wine in a Can Wine in cans are hot and another brand just popped up this spring. Lila Wines released canned versions of Provence Rosé, Marlborough, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Italian Pinot Grigio. The brand name is derived from the ancient Sanskrit word for “play like the gods,” and packaged in bright and playful pop art inspired cans. Available in four-packs of 8.4 oz. cans with an MSRP of $12.99, each Lila Wines package contains 33 percent more wine than a standard 750ml bottle and is 12 to 12.5 percent ABV. Each 8.4 oz. aluminum can is coated with a custom lining developed specifically to maintain the quality and unique characteristics of each varietal. Lila Wines were rolled out across the country this summer, first available at retail locations in 35 states and can also be purchased online with direct shipping to 32 states, depending upon varietal. Lila Wines are packaged in 100 percent recyclable materials.
Off-Premise Wine Sales Increase 4 .2 Percent Off-premise total table wine sales increased 4.2 percent from the same period of the previous year in the four weeks ending May 21, 2016, according to Nielsen-tracked data. In the 52 weeks ending May 21, wine sales increased 4.8 percent. Domestic wine sales increased 4.8 percent while imported wine sales increased 2.4 percent in the four weeks ending May 21. In case volume during that same period, domestic case volume grew 1.9 percent while imported case volume decreased 0.7 percent. The New Zealand, Portuguese and French categories lead the growth for imported wines: New Zealand wines are up 11.4 percent in sales and 8.5 percent in volume; Portuguese wines are up 16.2 percent in sales and 14.6 percent in volume; and French wines are up 12.4 percent in sales and 10.6 percent in volume. Sales and case volume for wines from Australia, Argentina, Chile and Germany decreased in the four weeks ending May 21. Sales for wines in the $15 to $19.99 price point segment had the most growth, increasing 13.3 percent in sales and 13.6 percent in volume in the four weeks ending May 21.
The premium price point categories had good growth in the four weeks ending May 21: the $9 to $11.99 segment grew 8 percent in sales and 7.5 percent in volume; the $12 to $14.99 segment increased 9.2 percent in sales and 8.6 percent in volume; and the more than $20 segment grew 10.3 percent in sales and 11.1 percent in volume. Sales and case volume for all wines priced between $6 and $8.99 and below $2.99 dropped.
By Varietal Blended table wine, as a category, is up 12.1 percent in sales and 8 percent in volume in the four weeks ending May 21 and holds a 13.9 percent market share in sales and a 14.2 percent market share in volume. Of all the blended table wine, blush leads the growth. In sales, blush blended table wine sales are up 45.1 percent, and volume is up 36.8 percent. Red blended table wine is up 14.8 percent in sales and 11.6 percent in volume, and white blended table wine, meanwhile, is down 5.1 percent in sales and 4.3 percent in volume. Chardonnay, the top-selling varietal by case value and volume on the market, holds a 19.1 percent market share in sales and a 19.6 percent share in
Total Table Wine (last 13 4-week periods)
Source: Nielsen. 4 Weeks Ending 05/21/16
66 August 2016 WBM
4 W EEK S EN D I N G
volume in the four weeks ending May 21. During that period, Chardonnay sales were up 0.9 percent and decreased 0.5 percent in volume. Cabernet Sauvignon grew 7.9 percent in sales and 5.4 percent in volume. Cabernet Sauvignon was the second largest-selling varietal on the market in the four weeks ending May 21, representing 16.3 percent of all wine sales and 13.7 percent of case volume. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio/Gris also had good growth. Sauvignon Blanc grew 9.1 percent in sales and 6.9 percent in volume; Pinot Noir grew 10.8 percent in sales and 7.8 percent in volume; and Pinot Grigio/ Gris grew 3.1 percent in sales and 2.7 percent in volume. Sales and volume for Merlot, Riesling, Syrah/Shiraz, White Zinfandel and Zinfandel have all decreased in the four weeks ending May 21. WBM
Nielsen Table Wine Category Segments U.S. Expanded All Outlets Combined Plus Liquor/Convenience/AAFES Dollar Volume
weeks ending: May 21, 2016
PERCENT CHANGE vs. YEAR AGO 4 WEEKS ENDING 05/21/16
52 WEEK ENDING 05/21/16
4 WEEKS ENDING 05/21/16
52 WEEK ENDING 05/21/16
TOTAL TABLE WINE
TABLE WINE 187 ML
TABLE WINE 375 ML
TABLE WINE 750 ML
TABLE WINE 4 L
TABLE WINE 5 L
TABLE RED WINE
TABLE WHITE WINE
DM TABLE WINE
IMP TABLE WINE
TABLE WINE 1 L TABLE WINE 1.5 L TABLE WINE 3 L Premium 3 L Box >$10
TABLE WINE REM SZ
NEW ZEALAND TBL
SOUTH AFRICAN TBL
A/O IMP COUNTRY TBL
BLENDED TABLE WINE
BLENDED TABLE WINE RED SWEET RED BLENDS
BLENDED TABLE WINE WHT BLENDED TABLE WINE BLUSH
SYRAH/SHIRAZ ROSÃ‰ TABLE 750ML BE >7.99
GLOBAL TBL BE $0-$2.99
GLOBAL TBL BE $3-$5.99
GLOBAL TBL BE $6-$8.99
GLOBAL TBL BE $9-$11.99
GLOBAL TBL BE $12-$14.99
GLOBAL TBL BE $15-$19.99
GLOBAL TBL BE >$20
WBM August 2016 67
technology & business
Affordable Care Act:
New Requirements Stymie Small Wineries Wineries turn to third-party vendors for compliance assistance
Since starting his winery media relations consultancy four years ago, Alan Goldfarb has worked with the Tudal Wine Group, Mitch cosrntino’s pureCru, and is currently consulting for Spelletich Family Wine Co. in Napa Valley, and Youngberg Hill Vineyards in Willamette Valley. Alan is the wine editor for the St. Helena Star.
A F F O R D A B L E C A R E A C T (ACA or Obamacare) reporting requirements mandate that businesses with 50 or more employees be in compliance with the act’s rules and regulations, and most wineries are dealing with the new reporting task by turning to third-party vendors. Under the new regulations, which went into effect for the first time in 2016, wineries are required to file lengthy 1095-C forms on each employee. Although the federal government has been somewhat lenient in the first year, relaxing deadline dates because of the confusion surrounding the requirements and the inordinate amounts of time wineries and other companies have consumed in order to complete the task, next year, businesses will stringently have to file and follow the same deadlines pertaining to W2 and 1099 forms. All of this has forced many wineries to turn to a benefits administration provider, payroll vendor or HRIS (human resource information system) to assist with the reporting requirements. The problem many employers face is that in most cases, no single vendor or system contains all of the information necessary to complete the reporting to take them through and advise them on what the somewhat arcane rules of the ACA are. Bogle Vineyards’ human resources manager, Dorothy Kime, was at first cavalier about the Clarksburg, California winery company’s staying in-house when filing the new ACA forms for 2015. “2016 was the first year we were required to provide a 1095-C to our employees, detailing their medical enrollments in 2015. We felt the 1095-C wouldn’t take a significant amount of time to prepare, so we were initially considering doing it in-house,” said Kime, whose company produces more than 2 million cases a year and is the 11th largest producer in the country, according to Wine Business Monthly’s annual report. Bogle employs 145 full-time workers. “We opted to partner with our payroll provider, which was the right decision given it was a fairly complex process collecting data and ensuring the correct coding was reflected on the forms,” she said. Chris Howell, general manager of Cain Vineyard & Winery on Spring Mountain in St. Helena, California, also opted to engage a third party to work his way through the ACA requirements, but with a twist. “Not only did we have to work through the maze, but our employees have to,” said Cain. “So we’ve asked our agent to bring Spanish-speaking people in to help some of our workers through this and to help them to understand. We’ve always had our employees and their families covered.” NEW
68 August 2016 WBM
According to the ACA Employer Reporting Guide, wineries (and all businesses) with more than 50 employees also need to comply with “Pay or Play” (Employer Shared Responsibility), which requires “large employers to offer affordable health insurance that provides a minimum level of coverage to full-time employees and their dependents or pay a penalty tax if any full-time employee is certified to receive a premium tax credit for purchasing coverage.” Further, all “applicable large employers” (ALEs) as defined by the ACA [generally those with at least 50 full-time equivalents (FTEs)] will be required to comply with some portion of the reporting requirements. Small employers that do not meet the definition of an ALE (and are not part of an aggregated employer ALE) must report participant coverage information to the IRS if they sponsor a self-funded health plan. However, small employers that offer only fully insured plans or no coverage at all are not subject to the reporting requirements. Additionally, employers must provide a 1095 form to any employee who was employed full-time for any month during the calendar year. For employees who are part-time all year and not covered under a self-funded plan, no reporting is required.
Turning to Third-Party Vendors One third-party vendor that wineries are turning to is Woodruff-Sawyer & Co., a risk management and insurance company based in San Francisco. Senior vice president Chris Reiter claimed that about 80 percent of wineries are now using a company such as his to work through the ACA requirements. W-S is working with 30 California wineries on this issue. “This is the first year 1095-Cs are required, so there’s a lot of implementation and initiation obstacles as many things would have in a new process,” Reiter explained. “The government recognizes that because they relaxed the deadlines [for 2016 only]. For the first year they weren’t going to assess penalties. When they realized how difficult it was to comply, they gave wineries a safe harbor, as long as they’ve attempted to comply. “The ACA came into legislation in early 2010, and it’s been building with different requirements and standards getting to this point,” added Reiter. “The government needs a mechanism in order to understand what the costs are to employers. This new onus is on the employer and for the government to track and assess a business’ coverage and costs.”
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New Requirements Stymie Small Wineries
The major change in 2016 is that wineries must disseminate individual statement information to employees (1095-C), which incurs additional costs to a winery in the form of more administrative work, or paying a vendor to help them comply. According to Reiter, those added costs range from $2 per employee per month up to $7, with a minimum cost generally from $2,000 to tens of thousands of dollars based upon the size of the employer. “It’s an additional legislative requirement that our clients face, and it’s our job to help them manage it,” noted Reiter. “It adds more value to what we do, but it’s just another administrative burden for the client.” So, how will it affect wineries—large or small—as they work through this additional layer of administration? “If you’ve got very good use of technology, it could be just one more government-related filing to be done on an annual basis; if you’re not set up, yes, it can be a burden,” added Reiter. Gardner Cook’s company, Cook & Association of Sonoma, California, is working on the ACA with approximately 40 other wineries. “Many of our winery clients have leaned on our firm to assist them in managing the changes and educating employees of their options,” said Cook. “In order to ease the burden we have introduced a new technology platform that will manage employee benefit changes, and assist employers in tracking and filing the required IRS forms. We also provide our clients with access to an ACA compliance website that assists them with questions pertaining to the law.” Bogle’s Kime is satisfied that her company chose to work with an implementation specialist last year in anticipation of the coming ACA regulations. “We began working [with a third party] in August 2015 and continued to work through corrections/software changes until early 2016 when we finally had accurate forms for our employees,” she wrote in an email. “It was a lengthy process, including auditing the coding on each of the forms, making format changes in our HRIS and working with the specialist on data issues. I’m glad it’s done and because we are able to monitor the data throughout the year, it should be a much quicker and simpler process to issue 1095s next year!” One winery HR head has figured out a way to get her company through the process but not without some skepticism. “Despite being informed of changes, participating in webinars and reading through ‘how-to’ guides, when it came time to do the actual work necessary, we were still scratching our heads,” said Theresa Parra, human resources director of O’Neill Vintners & Distillers. “When trying to figure what you have to do for the first time, it is a daunting task to read through a 34-page ‘Employer Reporting Guide’ and feel comfortable that you are doing everything correctly,” she said. “The terminologies and definitions are not very user-friendly. We spent quite a bit of time deciphering verbiage and determining what data needed to be reported. “At the end of the day we worked with our payroll/HRMS provider to file our forms electronically and prepare our employee forms. We still had to provide the initial data, review it and make sure it was accurate. The small fee associated with using a third-party vendor was worth it. “Hopefully next year will go more smoothly and with fewer headaches. Now we can all look forward to the IRS’ new multi-million dollar audit system implemented to scrutinize employers’ ACA reporting efforts,” Parra said. “It seems to make more sense to me that those funds be used to provide employers with assistance in wading through the reporting requirements and streamlining the process. But what do I know? I am just one of many human resources professionals who have to deal with the intricacies of this and the myriad of other laws and regulations related to labor and employment.” WBM
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WBM August 2016 71
technology & business Winemaker Business Decisions:
Becoming a Part of the Oregon Wine Business Six Willamette Valley winemakers reveal what their best and worst decisions were. David Furer outside California is in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, a region that epitomizes the “smaller is better” adage in more ways than one. Winemaker choices made in variety selection, investment, equipment, technology and branding are mentioned, along with uncontrollable circumstances, such as the late 2000’s economic eddies. Appreciation of the community and support from neighbors are a continuing theme with this series, highlighted as much, if not more, in this installment. T H I S S E R I E S ’ F I R ST F OR AY
David Adelsheim Co-founder and President, Adelsheim Vineyard
Worst Decision: I wish I’d realized
earlier how important it is to the development of Oregon overall to be selling wine outside the United States. Exporting is still a very weak effort made by Oregon wineries, though ours is strong. Much of the Oregon and U.S. wine industries don’t see that as important. Were it otherwise, I think Oregon would be seen as an international participant in the making of great wine. If all we do is sell within the U.S., we’ll be barely known outside our borders. Americans don’t often think of Oregon wines being at the same level as wines from outside the U.S. because Americans take cues from U.S. writers and what they experience when traveling abroad. Oregon wines end up being seen as an interesting local phenomenon but not as real “players” in the greater scheme of how great wines are recognized. I wish I’d focused only on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and not spent so much time on other varieties that we and others have, and continue, to do. As best we can now tell, only with those two varieties can we really make great wine—while also not encountering a “glass ceiling” of price that exists with Pinot Gris. The business of making wine in Oregon demands we make other wines that don’t have a glass ceiling because we’re unable to get yields sufficiently high enough to ensure being competitive with other areas producing white Pinots and many other varieties at competitive prices.
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Californian David Furer has worked in German wineries and managed top U.S. and U.K. restaurants. He currently writes, teaches and consults on wines and spirits from his London base.
Best Decision: The best decision ultimately was to buy a piece of property,
plant grapes and become part of the Oregon wine business. It was the least understood and thought-out U.S. fine wine region at the time. By luck it was the most successful decision of my life, albeit one that was made without any real well thought-out decision. On a smaller scale, the decisions that I made that affected the industry as a whole by bringing in new clones, enacting regulations that spurred quality and putting ourselves into collaboration with wineries in Oregon and beyond helped us become the force we are today in the wine industry.
David Petterson Winemaker and General Manager, Vista Hills Vineyard & Winery
Best Decision: When the owners of Vista Hills, John and Nancy McClintock, bought the property in 1994,
they thought it’d make a good piece of retirement property. Soon after that, Domaine Serene went up, and a few years later in 1997 the McClintocks decided to plant grapes. Within a few years Archery Summit opened, along with other high-profile projects in the southern end of the Dundee Hills. The appellation didn’t have a stand-alone reputation at the time, though now it’s well-known, no less because David Lett’s original Pinot Noir vineyard had been planted only a mile from where Vista Hills rests.
Vista Hills Vineyard & Winery
Harry Peterson-Nedry Founder, Chehalem Wines
Worst Decision: Initially in the grape business only, the owners took the
leap from growers to a winery with a tasting room in 2005, breaking ground the next year and opening in 2007 with a wine label. With the economic travails the U.S. encountered soon after, their timing couldn’t have been worse. No market existed for unestablished brands to sell quality wine like ours for several years to come. There was still tasting room traffic, which was the only way we sold wine in those days. We made it through that, having the good fortune to have had established good contracts with wineries that were established brands, wineries which continued to need us as an annual supplier. There’s something to be said for starting at the bottom—you’ve nowhere to go but up.
Since we last spoke a few years ago, I’ve discovered that what entails “best” and “worst” can shift, though most of these can be attributed to acumen, good luck or lack of abilities, whereas viticultural and vinification concerns are often linked to weather or technical limitations outside human control. I’m a scientist by nature, looking for rationality and structure. It boggles my mind how some people tolerate VA, Brettanomyces and otherwise tainted wine; also how people like the so-called romance of a cork popped at their table with the risk of cork-tainted wine versus other closures. We’ve moved to screw caps to get away from oxidation. It’s beyond me to understand why people would rather have an association with a piece of tree closing their wine rather than a relatively foolproof closure, such as screw cap. Our decision doing this was due
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Becoming a Part of the Oregon Wine Business
to its superior effectiveness. But was it a good decision for the marketplace if a customer is turned off from buying a $70 Pinot Noir without a cork? If the wines don’t sell as quickly as they ought to because of this, it may not have been a fully good decision. Who is the arbiter of what’s best and what’s worse? What metric should we use—is it bottom line profit or lack of variability and age-ability of those wines? If my screw-capped wines live 40 years as opposed to someone using corks in which their bottles are full of Brett after 10 years, was it a worthy decision?
it was on the label. With the release of the 2014 vintage we decided to simplify by removing the name, keeping Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and the vintage on the label. Within one month of the wine’s release the previous vintage, 2013, was written up by the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Wine & Spirits Magazine. People started looking for the wine, but the new 2014 label didn’t say “La Combe Verte,” so no one made the connection that the 2014 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir was the same wine. This was a big mistake, one that is being rectified with the 2015 vintage.
Alex Sokol Blosser
Managing Partner, Walter Scott Wines
Winemaker and Co-president, Sokol Blosser Winery
Best Decision: When my husband Ken and I launched Walter Scott Wines, we did so on a hope, a
dream and two very small retirement funds. We’d grown up in the Oregon wine industry and knew how to sell wine. We knew the vineyards, growers, the producers—we loved this community. We worked our tails off to make the best wine we possibly could, and we sold it quickly to pay for the next vintage, grow the inventory and buy equipment. Cash was tight, but we kept our heads down and believed that we could accomplish anything that we put our minds to. We both worked full-time jobs outside of the winery for the first few years. We were proud of what we had built and the sacrifices we’d made to do it. In spring 2012 we came to a crossroads: we needed our own space to produce wine since we had grown out of corners in the wineries in which we’d been producing our wines. For the second time we jumped off of a cliff without a parachute, so to speak: leasing a building without a plan. As harvest approached, we believed we could sell all of our inventory to buy some used equipment for processing fruit. At the 12th hour we realized this was a stretch, and we needed help. We swallowed our pride and approached some friends about investment, thinking that in some way we had failed ourselves. But they loved our wines, were impressed with what we had built and offered to buy a percentage of the business, allowing us capital to buy the needed equipment. In hindsight, this was the most important choice we’ve made as it allowed the business to grow responsibly. They brought their incredible lawyer and entrepreneurial skills to our team, building a business plan and teaching us about cash flow and providing legal and infrastructural advice.
Best Decision: My sister Allison and I
had the incredible good fortune to be born into a family already in the wine business, having run the business, since 2008, by inheriting it from our mother, and it gave me pride to be part of something bigger than me. It’s the best decision I never made. I’m very grateful for that. For better or worse what’s rolled out of our being a family winery allows us to avoid selling out to another family or to a corporation. Worst Decision: We haven’t made a
bad decision because there’s always a silver lining. We’ve messed up doing trials in the vineyard, but they’ve led to a new discovery, which was very positive. In winemaking you try many things. We messed up recently not getting enough CO2 out of a red wine that had made it potentially spritzy once bottled, which led us to a better understanding of what we were doing, knowing when next we do this how to improve. We’d only done it in the barrel previously, so we never worried about it in the past. Using a consultant’s advice, we used nitrogen to purge it out of the wine while in tank. From that we learned how to make an entry-level style Pinot Noir, and this had been our first effort. A life unexamined isn’t worth living, an adage especially true for the wine business. Maybe in another 18 years I’ll have figured it all out!
Worst Decision: When we launched the winery, we did so with lots of help
from our Willamette Valley community. As we grew, we did small things to say thank you, paying tribute to those that believed in us and helped us realize our dreams. Many of our wines were given proprietary names, including our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir named “La Combe Verte,” which translates to “Green Valley” or “Green Fault” in honor of the Patricia Green Cellars team who allowed us to trade labor for space for our first vintage. As years went by, this wine grew in production and reputation, but we always felt that the name “La Combe Verte” was confusing as no one knew what it meant or why
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Sokol Blosser’s LEED Certified Barrel Cellar
An aerial view of J.K. Carriere Wines
Jim Prosser Owner/Winemaker, J. K. Carriere Wines
Best Decision: The best decision I
made was in not bringing financial partners into this. I bootstrapped this project for $50,000 while working for a few wineries. I faced the thought of having a partner and giving up 49 percent of the equity for maybe $50,000 or $100,000, but I managed to go through without this, and now have a brand, winery and vineyard that are a 17-year-old, viable business. The further I went without having a partner, the more I realized I wouldn’t have someone else holding back my vision for what I wanted to do—something that’s not easy in this business. It spawns creativity, resiliency and more self-reliance in achieving one’s goals. This is anathema for most people as it’s daunting, but it’s worth asking yourself
“What do you want to do in this life?” Everybody pushes you to have “shiny toys,” but it comes down to what you want and need to have. These hard choices push you while making you stronger. Eventually, you may be able to buy those toys—but on your own nickel rather than living like a college student for 20 years. Worst Decision: A series of choices in which I turned toward imitating
someone else embody what could’ve been the worst choices I would have made—if I continued to follow that path. The financial case making all the sense in the world to investment bankers could be made to imitate a proven brand like Meiomi. Similar to a band playing the songs or style of a more famous band, the best you could do in that situation is be derivative and be one step behind. There’s real pressure for wineries and restaurants to be the hottest thing. The problem with that is that it leads to a lot of “cool kid” sameness. At 53 years of age I never did it before so why now sign up for the high school popularity contest? When there’s financial pressure on you, it’s understandable to look at one’s neighbors for inspiration. Had I done that I may not be making as high-acid wines as I do and as I like to drink. The market will find and support you, and it has for me. WBM WBM August 2016 75
For people news you can search or filter visit winebusiness.com/people
Wineries & Winemaking Brassfield Estate Winery hired Matt Hughes as director of winemaking. Hughes will continue Brassfield’s collaboration with consulting winemaker, David Ramey, in producing distinctive, handcrafted, estate-bottled wines at Brassfield Estate Winery’s family-owned vineyard and winery in the High Valley AVA in California’s North Coast region. Hughes began his winemaking journey 16 years ago in Lake County. He brings a wealth of local experience and a diverse background. He has held positions at Wildhurst Vineyards, Kendall-Jackson, Verite Estate and Six Sigma Ranch. Hughes was the founding chair of the Lake County Winery Association and remains an avid promoter of the area, its wines, and the people who produce them.
Tom Tiburzi, senior winemaker for Chandon has handed his winemaking responsibilities in full to Pauline Lhote. A Champagne native, Lhote has honed her skills working side by side with Tiburzi in the same way he learned his craft by working with Dawnine Dyer, Chandon’s winemaker from 1975 to 1999. Tiburzi joined Chandon as a lab enologist in 1989 and was promoted to winemaker in 2005. During those years he gained experience and skill with the guidance of Dyer as well Edmond Maudiere and Richard Geoffroy of Dom Perignon, preserving the traditional methods and winemaking knowledge handed from winemaker to winemaker for centuries. During his tenure, Tiburzi took part in the growth of Chandon from a three-wine production to a rich portfolio of sparkling and still wines, including the winery’s newest sparkling Pauline Lhote cuvée Sweet Star.
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NakedWines.com, the customer-funded wine business, announced the appointment of Antonio Trevino to U.S. wine and technical director. Formerly the chief production officer and director of winemaking at Purple Wine & Spirits, he managed the U.S. wine portfolio and guided global strategy. He brings more than 20 years of winemaking and production experience in California and abroad. Trevino will report to Matt Parish, chief winemaker and officer for Naked Wines International. In his role, Trevino will manage all winemaking and production in North and South America, further developing the exceptional customer led and winemaker-driven portfolio. He will also be tasked with bringing onboard top winemaking talent to support growth. Previously a key member of the Purple Wine & Spirits leadership team, he oversaw the launch of many successful wines brands in the U.S. over the last 10 years, including Blackstone and Mark West. Napa winemaker Trevor Chlanda has been named head winemaker for Fries Family Wines’ Oregon-based winery, Duck Pond Cellars. A Pinot Noir enthusiast, Chlanda has over a decade of wine industry experience he is bringing to the position. Chlanda most recently worked as assistant director of winemaking at Bin to Bottle, a custom crush facility in Napa. He has also worked in winemaking roles throughout Northern California for JC Cellars Winery, J Stephen Winery and Williams Selyem Winery. He began his winery career as a cellar hand and Pinot production leader at the famed Delegat’s Wine Estate, Oyster Bay in New Zealand.
Guarachi Family Wines hired Julian Gonzalez as their new chief winemaker. Gonzalez comes from Paul Hobbs Consulting, where he served as lead winemaker for all consulting programs since 2007. As the group’s lead winemaker, Gonzalez crafted some of their bestselling wines from wineries such as Guarachi Family Wines, Black Cordon Vineyards, Constant-Diamond Mountain Vineyard and Stewart Cellars. Prior to that, Gonzalez worked under winemaker and mentor Rolando Herrera at Mi Sueño Winery, Argentina’s Viña Cobos, Paul Hobbs Winery, Vine Cliff Winery and Chateau Potelle. Gonzalez also spent time as a cellar worker at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Dominus Estate and Louis M. Martini Winery. In Gonzalez’s new role, he will serve as winemaker and caretaker to Guarachi Family Wines’ winemaking program, along with the Meadowrock estate in the Atlas Peak appellation of Napa Valley and Sun Chase vineyard in the Sonoma Coast’s Petaluma Gap.
people Industry Services & Suppliers Tim Wallace, founder of a business advisory practice, has a focused mission: to serve the needs of small to mid-sized business owners, resulting in his appointment as the general management consultant at The Rubin family of Wines. With more than three decades of highly successful business management experience, Wallace’s strategic and operational leadership acumen provide organizational, fiscal, marketing, sales, and strategic planning for his partners. He is best known as the former president and one of seven family owners at Benziger Family Winery. Wallace’s Bachelor of Arts/English degree was earned at Brown University. Ten years later, Wallace received his master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University. Today, he is the executive-in-residence at Sonoma State University’s School of Business and Economics. Dunham Cellars appointed wine sales veteran Mark Harmann as the winery’s national sales director. He brings 27 years of experience to the position. Harmann joins Dunham Cellars from Precept Wines in Seattle, Washington, where he managed a 27-member sales team as senior vice president, national sales. Prior to joining Precept, Harmann was employed by Jackson Family Wines for 20 years. He held a number of sales positions within the company, including three years as vice president of sales, Northwest division for Jackson Family Wines’ Majestic Fine Wines division. Keith Scott joins A to Z Wineworks in the newly created role of director of marketing, reporting to founder and chief sales and marketing officer Deb Hatcher. In this role, Scott will direct all marketing efforts for Oregon’s bestselling wine brand. Prior to A to Z Wineworks, Scott spent five years at Diageo, leading marketing strategy on brands, including Sterling Vineyards, Chalone Vineyard and Tanqueray Gin. He began his career at Wine Spectator, and has also held marketing roles at Treasury Wine Estates and Frederick. Based in New York, Marna Spiotta joins A to Z Wineworks as the director of trade development, and will be focusing on on-premise sales in the New York metropolitan area. Most recently she spent three years as a wine and spirits sales consultant for Empire Merchants, and began her career at prominent restaurants, including Giorgio’s of Gramercy, Trattoria Dell’ Arte, Redeye Grill, McCormick and Schmick’s. She holds a Level Three Award from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, as well as a BBA from Temple University in marketing and finance.
Legal Counsel to the Beverage Industry • applications for aBc and TTB licenses • Distribution agreements & direct shipping advice for all states • aBc and TTB Business Practice counseling • accusation, Defense and Protest Hearing representation • regulatory clearance of promotions, point-of-sale material, labels and advertising ATTORNEYS: John Hinman Lynne Carmichael Beth Aboulafia Rebecca Stamey-White Suzanne DeGalan Sara Mann Erin Kelleher John W. Edwards II
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260 california Street, Suite 700 San francisco ca 94111 Telephone 415.362.1215 facsimile 415.362.1494
Thomas Bardessono has joined the sales team at Global Package LLC, heading up sales in Northern California, Oregon and Washington. Bardessono comes to Global Package with decades of experience in all facets of wine production, from vineyard management and winemaking to wine and wine barrel sales to business analyst, strategic planning and logistics. Bardessono worked for almost 10 years with Miner Family Winery in Thomas Bardessono Oakville, CA, where he increased new client revenue, from $50,000 to $250,000. He also performed and updated production protocols, quality controls and managed the winery’s safety program from harvest crush to bottling. Prior to Miner, he worked for Bouchard Cooperage, Greenfield Wine Company, Jack Neal Vineyard Management and Kendall-Jackson and Robert Mondavi wineries.
Distributors, Importers & Retailers Biagio Cru & Estate Wines, a family-owned importer of fine wines and spirits from across the globe, announced that Terence Shiple has joined the company as Mid-Atlantic director of sales and marketing, and Barbara Messer has been hired as Southwest director of sales and marketing. With more than 30 years of wine sales experience as well, Messer will play a key role in building Biagio’s presence in the Southwest region. In her position, she will be responsible for managing sales in Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas and New Mexico, while creating new opportunities for Biagio’s portfolio. Prior to Biagio Cru, Messer most recently worked for Merryvale Vineyards, and also served as director of national on-premise accounts from Heck Estates, Sebastiani Vineyards, and Frederick Wildman & Sons. Having worked in the fine wine and hospitality industries for more than 30 years, Shiple’s expertise will help Biagio Cru continue to build its presence in the Mid-Atlantic region. In his new role, he will lead the regional sales responsibilities in Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia and North Carolina. Shiple most recently worked as a consultant at Hop & Wine Beverage in Virginia. Previously, he was vice president of portfolio development and logistics at start-up fine wine distributor, J.W. Sieg Wines. Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits announced the appointment of Angela Slade as vice president, brand strategy and communications for its growing operations. Based in Washington, D.C., Slade will be responsible for leading the portfolio management and all marketing communications for the company, working closely with family wine suppliers from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, California and Oregon. The appointment follows the recent joint-venture ownership agreement by the Oatley family of Australia and the Giesen family of New Zealand, and comes at a time of restructure and growth for the company. Slade has 23 years of experience in the wine industry most recently as North America’s head of market for the Australian government organization, Wine Australia, and previously in marketing communications roles out of Napa Valley, Italy and Australia.
For people news you can search or filter visit winebusiness.com/people
Associations & Education The Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans, an alliance of the appellation’s winegrowers and wineries, announced their annual “Volunteer of the Year” recently at the 2016 SLH Gala celebration. Jason Auxier, marketing coordinator at Morgan Winery, received this year’s “Josh Lee Award.” “He has worked hard to organize and set-up our various SLH events, including our crucial trade and press tastings,” commented Dave Muret. “Jason is an integral part of our SLH creative team and is always looking for ways to further the AVA’s reputation. He promotes the association’s values and the quality of our wines. Jason is one of our group’s most important Jason Auxier ambassadors.” The Josh Lee Volunteerof-the-Year Award was created to honor the memory of Auxier’s positive attitude and hardworking support of SLH Wine Artisans’ events. It is given annually to an individual who gives freely of their own time and expertise to further the goals of the SLH association. Last year’s recipient was Stefani Chaney of Scheid Vineyards.
Long Island Wine Council (LIWC), the industry association of the region’s wine producers, announced that executive director Steve Bate will leave the council on September 1 and that its current marketing director, Ali Tuthill, will be succeeding him in that role. During Bate’s 12-year tenure, LIWC’s membership grew by 40 percent and association revenues by nearly 200 percent, including new grant revenues exceeding $3 million. Ali Tuthill He oversaw various marketing programs, including off-season initiatives that increased wine region tourism from 500,000 in 2004 to more than 1.3 million visitors annually. Tuthill joined LIWC as marketing director in April 2015 and launched the “Created with Character” initiative. It spotlights the region’s wines that are distinct due to their character, which derives from the region’s terroir and maritime climate. Her accomplishments include a redesign of LIWC’s logo, reimagining its website to be consumer-friendly and hosting experiential events for media and industry members that also embrace the region’s food artisans. WBM
Margie Healy, vice president at F. Korbel and Bros. in Guerneville, Sonoma County, has been elected Wine Institute Board Chairman for the 2016-17 fiscal year. Other board officers elected were Steve Lohr of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines in San Jose, first vice chairman; Chris Indelicato of Delicato Family Vineyards in Napa, second vice chairman; Hank Wetzel of Alexander Valley Vineyards in Healdsburg, treasurer; and John Sutton, The Wine Group, secretary. Robert P. (Bobby) Koch is president and CEO of Margie Healy Wine Institute. Healy has more than 40 years of experience in the wine industry. In 1996, she joined Korbel as communications director and worked closely with Korbel partners to establish the brand as the top premium California champagne in the U.S. Previously, she was director of member relations at Wine Institute in San Francisco where her responsibilities included planning and executing industry events such as the first U.S. conference of the Office of International Vine and Wine (OIV). Since moving to Korbel, she remained active in Wine Institute, serving on several committees, including Public Policy.
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advertiser index Thank you to all of our advertisers! Company
Ager Tank & Equipment Co.
All American Containers - Pacific Coast www.aacwine.com
Moss Adams, LLP
American AgCredit, CoBank, Farm Credit West, Northwest Farm Credit Services
Napa Valley Grapegrowers
American Vineyard Foundation (AVF)
Bergin Glass Impressions
Revolution Equipment Sales
Scott Laboratories, Inc.
St. Patrick's of Texas
Tom Beard Co.
VA Filtration USA
VinNOW by Update Software
Waterloo Container Co.
Western Square Industries, Inc.
Wine Industry Financial Symposium
Wines & Vines Packaging Conference
WiVi Central Coast Conference & Tradeshow
Brick Packaging Corp., Inc.
Bucher Vaslin North America
Diablo Valley Packaging
Duarte Nursery, Inc.
Electro-Steam Generator Corp.
Ganau America, Inc.
Global Package, LLC
GW Kent, Inc.
Hinman & Carmichael, LLP
Innovation + Quality
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Portugal lazily hugged the Douro River. Jakelyn’s mother and Chuy gazed at the stunning beauty of the terraced vineyards climbing the hills in broken patterns as we sped from Regua to our digs at Quinta do Tedo. The lovely greens of grapevines just starting to set fruit, contrasted with the dark, rocky soil and the sheer, steep wonder of the vineyards made you think you had gone back in time to an earlier century. Easily imagined were grizzled workers picking grapes into baskets carried on their backs, having wine for lunch and locking arms as they tromped grapes in a stone lagar. It’s an idyllic notion, but nowadays mostly fiction. Jake Lorenzo was not sightseeing. This detective focused on his driving, especially watching the car in my rearview mirror. The black Opel, seemingly in my trunk, couldn’t be any closer. Portuguese drivers think they should tuck in behind vehicles as closely as possible to take advantage of drafting and save fuel. That might work for professional race car drivers at Infinion Raceway in Sonoma, but I have my doubts about the efficiency on the gently winding roads along the Douro River in Portugal. If I could, Jake Lorenzo would pull over, let the Portuguese Mario Andretti pass on by, and then we could continue our journey, but the road is too narrow and turn outs are rare. The roads can only be considered two-lane because European cars are so small. Real excitement in Portugal is driving the idyllic roads in the face of an oncoming tour bus, and there are lots of tour buses crammed full of thirsty tourists from places like England, Denmark and Sweden. That’s the thing about Portugal and especially the Douro. Things have changed. Portugal may be steeped in hundreds of years of tradition. There is a viable Old World charm to the place. Leave the main road along the river and head up the perilous, winding road to Quinta Nova and you pass through tiny villages perched on hills surrounded by vineyards with vistas down the hillside to the river. The road features sharp turns, switchbacks, unpaved sections and sheer vertical cliffs. It is remote. Rarely do you see another vehicle. Just when you decide you must have made a wrong turn and prepare to head back, there is another small sign urging you to keep going. Then suddenly you arrive at the Quinta. Cars parked everywhere along with two or three huge tour buses. Tourists crowd the tasting rooms. They fill the classy upstairs restaurant. They laugh with raucous conversation sipping wine on the patios while they eat platters of charcuterie and cheese. These tourists may share the idyllic fantasy of rustic times, noble workers, experienced winemakers, and even those stiff British accents, but the wine business in Portugal is rocking. Tourists from all over descend on Porto, where for centuries staid English houses have sold their Vintage Ports along with some Tawny or Ruby port. Now, in addition to the classic ports there are Colheitas, Single Quintas, Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) and Rose port. They have white port, both sweet and dry. Dry white port is a mixologist’s dream, allowing for a myriad of port tonics, with everything from lemon and rosemary to cinnamon and juniper berries. Served icy cold, they are incredibly refreshing and the alcohol is so low you can drink them all day long, which we did. You can leave Porto by car, train, boat or even helicopter. The Douro has fleets of boats plying its waters with hordes of tourists. Revelers can have a simple day trip or cruise all the way to Vega Terrón in Spain on the “Port
THE SINGLE LANE ROAD
Wine and Flamenco” cruise. They stop in the tiny town of Pinhão where lines of shining tour buses queue up to haul thirsty tourists to awaiting quintas Speaking of boats, what floated ours was the incredible variety of well-priced dry wines. Delicious fresh vinho verdes (Alvarinho) full of crisp acid and lush fruit flavor matched perfectly with octopus, grilled fish and bacalao. All of the Soalheiro vinho verdes were delicious. The Royal Palmeira was lovely; less fruity and more complex from sitting on lees. When we realized it was already seven years old, we were blown away. Casa Ferreirinha had lovely red wines like the Papa Figos and their Vinho Grande. Even the big Symington Group had a lovely red called Altano. It wasn’t just the Douro that produced great wine. We enjoyed wines from the Dão, Barraida and Alentejo made from grapes like Touriga Nacíonal, Tinta Franca and Tinta Roriz, which is what the Portuguese call Tempranillo. Alcohols were modest, and the wines were not overly extracted. Virtually every wine we tried was well made, went well with food and (even with the exchange rate) sold for under $25 in restaurants and under $12 in wine shops.
Tourists crowd the tasting rooms. They fill the classy upstairs restaurant. They laugh with raucous conversation sipping wine on the patios while they eat platters of charcuterie and cheese. These tourists may share the idyllic fantasy of rustic times, noble workers, experienced winemakers, and even those stiff British accents, but the wine business in Portugal is rocking. Go to a restaurant in Portugal and every table has a bottle of wine on it, because in Portugal wine is as much a part of the meal as bread. Most restaurants have a very serviceable and inexpensive red and white wine that they sell by the carafe. Food is delicious and varied whether prepared in a simple local taberna or a ritzy, high-end place like D.O.C. in Folgosa, where we had one of the best meals of the past year. They served the most tender, perfectly grilled octopus this detective has ever eaten. They also had a fantastic vegetable entrée with more than ten different vegetables that somehow complemented one another and combined to make something truly spectacular. The people are friendly and usually speak some English. Jake Lorenzo thinks they can all speak Spanish, but they hate to do it because of centuries of problems with Spain. If I encountered someone who didn’t speak English I asked, “Fala Español?” When I saw the sour expression spread across their face, I added, “Yo, falo Español, pero de Mexico.” Every time that disdainful look disappeared into a warm smile and good conversation. When we returned to Sonoma, all of our friends asked what we thought of Portugal. Nice people. Delicious food. Great affordable wine and gorgeous scenery. What’s not to like? Not only that, but with a little detective type sleuthing, you can find Portuguese wines here in California at very fair prices. You can also visit La Salette or Tasca Tasca in Sonoma and see what Portuguese food tastes like. Just lay off the blood sausage. That stuff is mine. WBM
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ILLUSTRATION BY BOB JOHNSON
winemaker of the month
Mick McDowell, co-owner/winemaker, Miletta Vista Winery, St. Paul, Nebraska
“ I have all old issues of Wine Business Monthly on my office shelf for referencing .
One of the more useful pieces from WBM for me is the annual Unified Guide . I attended the show in 2010 the experience of this massive wine production show was grand . So seeing what’s new and what’s trending is always a highlight from WBM for me . I also found my favorite stainless steel tank manufacturer, Westec, in WBM . Unfortunately, I had already purchased all my current tanks before finding and visiting Westec’s plant in Healdsburg, California . Someday I’ll convert everything over . WBM’s May 2016 issue had an article of about barrel technology that I enjoyed as we expand our use of barrels at our winery for more complexed red wines .
NAME AND TITLE: Mick
McDowell, co-owner/winemaker, Miletta Vista Winery, St. Paul, Nebraska. Yes, I said Nebraska.
WINERY NAME AND LOCATION: Miletta
Vista Winery is a combination of the owners first names: Mick and Loretta (Miletta) McDowell; and the Vista part of the name is self-explanatory once you visit. Thus, Mick and Loretta’s View is a very appropriate winery name. Located in the center of Nebraska, four miles north of St. Paul, a town of 2,300, Miletta Vista attracts more than 10,000 visitors annually. Our wall maps indicate visitors in the last three years from 49 states (Vermont is the only one missing), 50 countries and over 350 Nebraska communities. Miletta Vista opened in 2007, burned down in 2012 and reopened just 345 days later with double the tasting room size of 4,000 square feet and a winery 35 percent larger than before the fire. The decision to rebuild wasn’t an easy one, but the early successes and our customers’ encouragement fueled the passion to continue to expand and improve our facility. This winter we hired a full-time chef, Larry Cordova, who worked for Compass Group as the head chef at Microsoft. Larry does to food what I do to grapes, and the combination of the two of our products has promise to make this little central Nebraska winery quite the destination.
ANNUAL CASE PRODUCTION: Sales
in 2015 were up 35 percent as the winery reached 3,125 cases in sales. Annual production is about 3,750 cases. We produce 16 labels plus a fortified dessert wine. PLANTED ACRES: Miletta
currently has about 6.5 acres of estate grapes, 30 percent of what is needed to produce their wines. Another 14 Nebraska growers from around the state provide the remaining tonnage needed.
82 August 2016 WBM
CAREER BACKGROUND: I’m
a Nebraska farm boy with degrees from the University of Nebraska. My training in winemaking is minimal, having only taken a couple of three-day seminars in winemaking and having attended multiple workshops across the U.S. Some of the most beneficial assistance has come from other Nebraska winemakers. Ed Swanson at Cuthills Winery in Pierce, NE is a master of the craft, forgetting more than I’ll ever know. Ed has been a great help to me. Also, Seth McFarland, of Mac’s Creek in Lexington, NE helped immensely my first year.
My first vintage was my biggest challenge as I moved from 5-gallon carboys to 800-gallon tanks. Also, understanding the importance of math conversions from standard to metric and back again. That first year I was always triple checking my calculations and checking references to get it right. I guess that triple checking is still important when making adjustments to your wine. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGE?
VARIETALS THAT YOUR WINERY IS KNOWN FOR: Our dry Briana (Solace) is our most awarded wine with a Best of Show at the U.S. National in 2012, Double Gold in Florida and a Jefferson Cup in 2014. Edelweiss is another very popular grape and #2 seller, also winning a Best of Show in Florida in 2012, but our most popular wine since we’ve opened is a Frontenac/ St. Croix blend called “Workhorse.” A slightly sweet red wine with tones of black cherry and berries. Workhorse has been our best seller since opening the winery in 2007.
WE RUN 50,000 QUALITY CHECKS EVERY MONTH, BUT JESSICA IS OUR MOST PERCEPTIVE DEVICE.
We establish rigorous quality control processes, because in an industry this complex, we know equipment alone isnâ€™t enough. Our experts work proactively with our customers to solve complex packaging problems from grapes to glass. As a family owned business, we invest in our people, because we know that quality service is the only way to find innovative solutions that work in real life.
THE PURSUIT OF PERFECTION. EVERY DAY, AN INCH FORWARD. EVERY TEST. EVERY PROCESS.
AND TECHNOLOGY. NATURE AND SCIENCE. EVERYTHING WORKING TOWARD A COMMON GOAL.
NATURAL CORK HAS NEVER BEEN SO RIGHT.
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