Category: Inside Wine

Inside Wine: How Winemakers Set Their Brands Apart

Winemakers have many tools for differentiating their brands, and it’s fun to see the creativity used to set one wine brand apart from another. Alex Krause and John Locke of Birichino Winery in Santa Cruz, Calif., draw inspiration for their labels from Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus (History of the Nordic People), a 16th century manuscript chronicling life in the land of Vikings, which contains close to 500 woodcuts. “WQe’ve found that, with so many choices, we can find an image which elegantly portrays the narrative of the vineyard or variety we use,” says Locke. A Pinot Noir from George...

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Inside Wine: 10 Notable Developments in the World of Wine (2017 in Review)

The year 2017 saw new wine apps, new gadgets, and lots of consolidation. One of the most far-reaching trends is that baby boomers are finally being surpassed by millennials in terms of annual wine consumption. In fact, older boomers are starting to sell off their cellars, creating opportunity for those who want to go back in time and relive the ’60s in a whole new way. But 2017 held many other stories, too. Here are 10 deserving of mention. Milla Handley retires. When I read the press release announcing the official baton-passing of Handley Cellars to Milla’s daughter, Lulu, and to winemaker...

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Rise of the Machines: Mechanization Comes to the Vineyards

For those squeamish about the idea of machine-picked winegrapes, I have one question: How do you think a bottle of wine can cost less than $20? The truth is, most of the wine in stores is already made from mechanically harvested grapes. The good news is, today’s harvesters beat the pants off older models that damaged vines and delivered bins full of mush and MOG (material other than grapes). Popular harvesters hail from Braud (New Holland, USA), Gregoire (Australia), Oxbo (USA), and Pellenc (France); they work by shaking vines, as gently as possible, to release fruit. The newest versions...

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Inside Wine: Putting the Machines to Work

Absent a significant change in the agricultural labor supply, which isn’t likely by any stretch of the imagination, mechanization is the future of grape farming. Hand-in-hand with the growing adoption of mechanical harvesting for winegrapes (see “Rise of the Machines”) is the increasing popularity of using machines for many other rote things humans used to do in the vineyards, such as pruning, de-leafing, hedging, weeding, and suckering. A godsend to larger vineyard owners has been the advent of multifunction machines that can spray for mildew and other pests, cultivate, pre-prune, hedge, weed, and de-leaf—activities that usually need to be...

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Inside Wine: The Labor Squeeze

Border wall aside, the U.S. farm labor crisis worsens by the crop, thanks in large part to tightening immigration policy driven by the misplaced fear that foreign workers are taking American jobs, rising minimum wages along with new farmworker overtime laws, a vibrant Mexican economy with plentiful factory jobs, and the burgeoning marijuana industry. These days, fewer and fewer skilled farmworkers choose to work in vineyards—especially if easier, higher paying work is available. “Working in the vineyards is hot, exhausting, difficult work,” says Rolando Herrera, founder/winemaker at Mi Sueño Winery in Napa, Calif. “Laborers will seek out higher paying...

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January/February 2018

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