Category: Green/Sustainable

Picking Up the Pieces: Storm-struck Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico assess damage and move forward.

Talk to people in the beer, wine, and spirits business, and the three historically powerful hurricanes that devastated parts of Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico were severe, but they could have been worse. Spirited checked in with a handful of producers across the region to find out how they fared—and what’s being done to help those in need. “We were pretty lucky,” says Ron Yates, whose family owns Spicewood Vineyards in the Texas Hill Country, which got as much as 10 inches of rain in three or four days—about one-third of the area’s average annual total. That’s because Hill...

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Off the Grid: Alternative energy systems give small producers a unique story to tell

Alternative energy isn’t just piece of New York’s Sundog Ciders’ story—it’s more or less the company’s reason for being. In 2004, when Sundog Solar in the Hudson River Valley (127 miles north of New York City) began installing panels for homes and businesses, many of its customers were the family-owned apple orchards that dot the valley. In 2014, Sundog owner Jody Rael decided to pursue his long-time interest by setting up a cidery in the solar company facility. Since the building had been converted from a paper mill and had already updated with solar panels for electricity, solar setups...

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Every Last Drop: Wastewater Treatment that Doesn’t Waste Water

Today’s alcohol producers are using many methods to reduce pollution caused by wastewater, including cleaning wastewater in different ways and reusing cleaned wastewater in nonproduction capacities. Treating water as a limited resource fosters goodwill with customers and local governments. “Water is an entirely local issue,” says Andy Battjes, director of environmental health and safety at Louisville, Ky.-based Brown-Forman (one of America’s largest beverage companies with more than 25 brands in its portfolio, including Jack Daniel’s, Canadian Mist, and Chambord). “We have to have reliable, clean sources of water for our own use and for the communities in which we...

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Popelouchum: Breeding winegrape magic on California’s central coast

For winegrapes, the challenge of climate change lies principally in drought resistance, disease resistance, and flavor. With his Popelouchum Project, Randall Grahm, winemaker and creative force at Bonny Doon Vineyard in Davenport, Calif., is tackling all three. His plan is to start by planting part of his 280-acre property (outside of San Juan Bautista, Calif.) with some 30 French and Italian grape varieties on drought-resistant rootstock. Over the course of several years’ observation, some will be selected as parents in an audacious attempt to breed 10,000 brand new cultivars. Just a few years into this ambitious project, basic infrastructure...

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Apples to Apples: Creating new cider apple cultivars to confront a changing climate

Farmers are, of necessity, pragmatic people. So while politicians and scientists may still be debating whether or not climate change exists, farmers are dealing with the reality in front of them: record-setting droughts, fruit-killing cold fronts, and generally erratic and unpredictable weather patterns. Some annual crops seem to be fairly tolerant of these challenges and, therefore, more amenable to relocation. But the time and expense involved in planting a vineyard or orchard make the whole idea of pulling up roots and moving on problematic. When it comes to growing perennial crops in a time of climate uncertainty, water (or...

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Recent Issue

September/October 2017