Tuesday, August 31, 2004

And you thought wine judging would be easy!

As many have learned, wine judging is not the easiest job. For the uninitiated it may seem like fun, but once you have sampled past a certain point, your taste buds do not really care how good the wine is.

The column from LATimes (may need a one time registration) titled, "To Sip and Spit With the Experts" does a nice job of describing one novice's experience in a wine judging contest.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Links on my desktop today

Through a Glass Darkly (The New Yorker)

Somewhere in the middle pages of “1984,” Winston Smith is being inducted into the shadowy and, as it turns out, nonexistent “Brotherhood” of resistance to Big Brother, and, to celebrate, the Inner Party member O’Brien pours him a glass of wine. Winston has never had wine before, but he has read about it, and he is desperately excited to try it, since he expects it to taste like blackberry jam and to be instantly intoxicating.

California Adds the San Bernabe Appelation (Business Wire)

NAPA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 30, 2004--America's newest American Viticulture Area (AVA) became official today. "San Bernabe," as the AVA is officially named, was approved by The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The appellation is located in Southern Monterey County, framed by the Salinas River on its eastern border, the Santa Lucia Range on its western border, Pine Canyon to the north and San Lucas to the south. Delicato Family Vineyards applied for the 24,796-acre area that includes its San Bernabe Vineyard property which is home to the Delicato-Monterey Winery and several Delicato wine brands.

Grapes of Math (San Luis Obispo Tribune)

For San Luis Obispo County growers, the wine-grape glut appears to be coming to an end.

Tonnage is lighter than in past years, and quality is good, following a statewide trend. The result could be more grapes being sold and at higher prices, said Dallas Holt, founder of the Independent Grape Growers of the Paso Robles Area.

U.S. Finances Vineyard on National Parkland (WashingtonPost.com)
Northeast Ohio is not famous for its viticulture, but now a public watchdog group has turned its spotlight on a winery on the grounds of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

That's because the National Park Service has, since 1999, spent more than $475,000 to fund the winery, along with two organic vegetable and free-range chicken farms and other activities on park grounds, according to documents released Wednesday by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Friday, August 27, 2004

A short course in trellising

Trellising the grape: an unsung aspect of wine quality explains major wine trellising systems. Also has some nice pictures to go with the article.

Conditions for growing syrah

Two articles about syrah today:

One about growing syrah under different conditions


one about the results of drought conditions in the syrah grown in the San Luis Obispo region of California.

More the merrier!

Menage a TroisAn article in the New York Daily News today about blended wines reminded me of the bottle of wine, '02 Folie a Deux Menage a Trois Rouge, I recently shared with two friends in San Francisco. I was asked to make the selection as a person who knows about wines!! and, I must say the selection did not disappoint.

You may want to check out the Folie a Deux site for their history and wine selection.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Wine Institute would like to lower the standards

Interesting developments may follow the news that Wine Institute is looking into lowering the percentage of grapes required to come from the vintage year shown on a bottle of wine from 95 percent to 85 percent.

Speculating about the driving force behind the Wine Institute's push for a reduced percentage, Beckstoffer said, "I think (large wineries) have a lot of old inventories they can't sell. They made more wine they can sell and now they want to blend it into the new vintages. It's a short term solution that has long term major impacts on the growers."

Read the article in NapaNews.com

School year has started. Let's crush!

Wine selectionStudents returning to school at California StateUniversity, Fresno find that they need to roll their sleeves and get right into crush. It is part of the hands on experience that viticulture and enology students have in their studies. Read all about it in the FresnoBee.com

And the results can be really awarding! Like a Double Gold for the 2001 Muscat Canelli.

Come for the awards ceremony that is going to take place today if you are in the area.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Getting to know your wines

Tasting Party materials
What a great idea! Party, party, party!

If you decide to have Every WineLovers’ Challenge™, invite me over. I would love to play the wine game!

Don't know what it is? Here's the link.

Grisco or gris; it is all Italian to me

"Is pinot grigio the same grape as pinot gris?

Yes, they are the same wine made from the same grape. Much high-quality pinot gris is made in Oregon, which early on decided to distinguish its wine from the imported Italian variety by calling it pinot gris, the French name, instead of pinot grigio, the Italian."

Read the article in ContraCosta Times to learn more about the "gray" wine.

DNA help for Pierce's disease

Glassy-winged sharpshooter has been travelling north in California, spreading fear into vineyard owners. Now there seems to be help on the way to prevent Pierce's Disease that is caused by this critter.

Follow the link to the article from Yahoo!News to read about the discussion for using gene modification in the battle against the sharpshooter.

Drink, be happy, and forget?

Research finding, not really related to wine but I found it interesting.

It seems like being cranky is not too bad if you are trying to remember.

People in a negative mood provide more accurate eyewitness accounts than people in a positive mood state, according to new research.

Link from EurAlert.com

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Maybe it is not more the merrier

Alternate point of view to this year's early crush news.

Gabe Friedman's article in napanews.com, "Looks like a buyers' market for grapes", discusses why the early abundance of grapes have some grape growers concerned.

Wineries in 50 states

Neat flash presentation, from USA Today, showing the wine production and main wineries in US.

Click on the U.S. Production Figures.

Here's the link, if you need to install ShockwaveFlash on your computer.

Not that Nevada!

This has been a good year for the grapes in Nevada County.

The article in The Union talks about the grape expectations this year as well as the misconception about the county:

"The marketing challenge is being Nevada County," said Heather Nenow, a winemaker and current president of the Nevada County Winery Association. "Most of California thinks Nevada County is in Nevada. When they see (Nevada) on a wine label, a lot of times they don't read further."

Read all about it!

Monday, August 23, 2004

And they are good in lowering cholestrol too?

Grapes in a tub
One more reason to eat grapes!

Article titled, "Grape Compound Scores High for Lower Lipids" talks about the results that was just announced today in the American Chemisty Society meeting in Philadelphia.

Importance of choosing the right grape for winemaking

Wine Grape Varieties in CaliforniaThere are different varieties of grapes for different purposes. That's why we differentiate table grapes, raisin grapes and wine grapes.

An article by Kenneth Kim in OhmyNews International is a reminder of the importance of educating yourself about grape varieties if you want to make good wine.

A very good book, titled Wine Grape Varieties in California, has recently been published if you would like to learn more.

Get on that bike!

Here comes the American aid for the French wines.

Red Bicyclette wines are the new label for Gallo. They are made and bottled by the French and sold under the Gallo label. See the details in the Modesto Bee article, Gallo wheels out French wine with bit of whimsy.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

"When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading" ~Rob Hutchison

Thank you, Bob Teeter of Oklahoma, for the above quotation.

Of course, it is just just tongue in cheek. We already are aware of the health benefits of grapes in their different formats including wine. Besides, who would want to give up reading, especially when you can find so many books with subjects wine and winemaking:

A Good Year by Peter Mayle
The Winemaker's Daughter by Timothy Egan
No Murder Before Its Time by Russ Hall
Death By The Glass by Nadia Gordon
Vineyard by Barbara Delinsky
The Villa by Nora Roberts
Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris
Grand Cru by Barney Leason
Jacaranda Vines by Tamara McKinley

These are just some of the titles I found when I did an online search in our local library's catalog. Bet you could find many more in your library.

If you have any recommendations of good books, let me know. I would like to highlight them.

Happy reading and healthy drinking!

Artwork by Picasso

Friday, August 20, 2004

Does early crush mean better wines?

Winemakers are surprised at how early the grapes were ready this year. The crush is already here!

An article about Chateau Ste. Michelle mentions

"This is the earliest harvest we've ever experienced caused by an early bud break, warmer-than-average temperatures and low crop levels. It's similar to the 1994 vintage, with its early start, warm season and ripe sugar levels. This vintage should produce some excellent concentrated, fruit-forward wines that are accessible early."

Looks like we should get very good wines at great prices once the 2004 vintage wines get on the shelves.

French wines losing in the marketplace

An interesting article discussing the possible reasons why the French wine industry is suffering.
Like some fable of the French Revolution, it's a tale of the rich getting richer while the commoners struggle. Prices for recent vintages from the grand chateaux have risen dramatically. Meanwhile, lesser wines from Bordeaux barely sell at all.
In the light of recent happenings in California, it is interesting that the article is making the point that strict labeling may not be in the best interests of the winemakers. Or, the consumers for that matter.

Turks find a new use for the grape pomace extract

Reason to have more grapes in your diet:

"The Turkish study – published in the August issue of the Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture - set out to determine the total phenolic contents and antibacterial effects of grape pomace extracts (cultivars Emir and Kalecik karasi) against 14 bacteria, and the effects of the extracts on the growth and survival of two of the bacteria during storage."

(From an article in FoodNavigator.com)

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Deal with it! (Corked wine that is)

This is a follow up article in Washington Post, with readers joining in the discussion of how restaurants should handle corked/spoiled wine they serve.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Alright! A new gadget!

I am not informed enough to know all the gadgets in the wine industry but I am excited about a new one being introduced.

Let me know what you think.

Who needs Pepsi when you've got Sofia!

Sofia can Now you know what to have with your lunch of leftovers.

I wonder if I can deduct it as my business expense at work in VERC (Viticulture and Enology Research Center) ...

Our local Beverages & More does not seem to have it yet but they had a review online by Wilfred Wong. Seems like they think it is not too bad. "(Best Served: As soon as one can pop the top)"

Latest: I just learned that Bailey Cannon wine store in Fresno carries Sofia Blanc de Blancs.

Educating the French about the dangers of alcohol

I am sure there is a need for informing the people about the facts of substance abuse, but come on!! Any one heard of common sense these days?


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

French discuss possibility of using genetically modified grapevines

The vines to be tested were genetically engineered in a laboratory to be resistant to fanleaf disease virus, which is a significant problem in France's cooler wine regions and throughout the world. The virus is transmitted by the tiny nematode xiphinema index when it feeds on the roots of infected plants and then on healthy ones. Scientists inserted a gene fragment from the virus into the genome of a healthy grapevine rootstock.

Wine Spectator article, "French Plans to Test Genetically Modified Vines Prompt Outcry From Many European Winemakers" talks about the concern in using GM (genetically modified) grapes in winemaking in Europe.

Pick the right glass to enjoy wine

Do you know what glass to use for what kind of wine? Maybe the "glassware snob" can be of help.

Desperate for some wine

Goes on to show you some people will do anything to get their hands on enough wine.

News item from Scotsman.com....

Gene control needed in the fight against the California pests

Democracy at work..

Dr.Henry Miller of Stanford voices his opinion about the failure of pest control in California, not being helped by Measure H that was recently passed in Mendocino County.

These ballot measures, which are introduced and promoted by misinformed, misguided activists, are logically inconsistent, in that their strictures are inversely related to risk: They permit the use of microorganisms and plants that are crafted with less precise, less predictable techniques, but ban those made with highly precise and predictable ones. Most important of all, they block sophisticated genetic approaches to the eradication of blights such as sudden oak death, phyloxera and powdery mildew, as well as Pierce's Disease.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Say it ain't so!

I hope this is just a warning and not really a messenger of doom.

From Reuters News: Global Warming Menaces California Wine Industry

If you want a health(ier) drink...

In a recent study comparing red wine and gin, red wine seems to be the winner in better health benefits. A recent study cites,
Both wine and gin showed anti-inflammatory effects. Both groups had reduced levels of fibrinogen which clots blood but is not an inflammatory marker, and IL-1, which is. Raised levels of fibrinogen are a risk factor for heart attack.

But red wine also dramatically lowered the levels of inflammatory molecules such as adhesion molecules, and proteins in monocytes and lymphocytes.

I am sure more to come..

A new wine magazine

Gourmet Traveller Wine is being launched as New Zealand's "New Zealand’s first dedicated trans-Tasman wine magazine." Worth a look for wine lovers.

When you just have to have your wine at the right temperature

If you are one of those people who has a strong opinion about the right temperature for each wine, here's a product to make sure you do. And the link to tell you more about it.

What are the grapes good for?

Nice article in DailyPress.com to remind us how important grapes are in our lives.

Some history notes, "Wild grapes were abundant in North America when the Vikings came calling in the 10th century. They didn't call their discovery "Vinland" for its mushrooms...." as well as information, "Beware insect attacks, particularly from leaf chewing Japanese beetles, aphids and mites. Rake up grape leaves in the fall to discourage over-wintering plant pests. When harvesting table grapes, trust your taste buds rather than your eyes. Grapes don't ripen after they're picked, so sample a few before cutting off any bunches. "

Saturday, August 14, 2004

History and culture of wine

If you are in the neighborhood, a new museum seems to be the place to drop in to increase your knowledge of wine. Museum of Wine Culture in La Rioja, Spain has a multi-dimensional collection of wine information and wine-related art, housed in a five-story building.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Do-it-yourself wine, with a little help from the experts

You don't have the vineyard or the experience to make your own wine? No problem. A California enterpreneur is ready to help you either to make your own wine from scratch (crush your own grapes) or make the wine for you with your choice of grapes. See the related article in San Francisco Examiner: Crushing fun

What will they think of next...

Could you be the Pygmalion of wine tasting?

I admit; I am also a movie fan. And here is an article that mentions My Fair Lady (Pygmalion) in relation to teaching someone to understand wines. Someone who finds the idea of a spit cup disgusting!!

It is entertaining and educational. I was amused by Peter's descriptions:

The 2001 CE2V Napa Cabernet from Cosentino, however, fulfilled his worst expectations. "It was attacking me before I could figure out its attack," he complained. "It reminded me of a Vin Diesel movie." Then he added that its aroma was "like someone put out a cigar in the bottle."

I have taken part in the Sensory Panel that is still going on in our department and I can tell from experience that it is very challenging to come up with the right words to describe the wines. During a wine tasting trip to Napa, I was told, "We don't call that 'dusty.' We prefer 'earthy.'" Hey, you know what, it is not the same thing to me!

How spicy does your wine need to be to go with Indian food?

Well, according to Bill Dailey of Chicago Times, "Crisp wines are good choices for Indian food." I always had thought you had to have stronger wines to go with the spicy food. Apparently not so! The idea is not to overpower but to complement. Okay, so I am still learning!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Creation of registry for the historic Napa Valley vineyards

This is very good news in creating a basis for an archive for the California wine industry: Napa power brokers make nice in look toward history. Maybe more people will take steps in making sure that the long history of the grape industry in California is preserved for the generations to come.

In our library, we are in the process of digitizing our slide collection (donated by Prof. Vincent E. Petrucci) and would like to be able to expand to include other collections. You can have a look at the work in progress by going to the Links section on the side column.

Industry may have to reconsider the alcohol levels in wine

Jon Bonné of MSNBC discusses how the alcohol levels have been climbing up in "Wine's potent appeal may be at its limit" But is it really a good thing?

Our winery at California State University, Fresno had its own experiment with the alcohol levels a few years ago. It seems like the mid-range is still the preferrred level.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

A useful addition to the library

A new phrase book has appeared on the scene.

According to the article in Barossa & Light Herald, The Winemakers' Essential Phrase-book includes over 2000 terms in German, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.
The result is an ordered, easy to use reference book which follows the general processes of winemaking and viticulture. An invaluable tool for anyone involved in the global wine industry, it has been greeted enthusiastically – particularly by the growing legion of travelling international winemakers.

I checked my favorite book price comparison site addall.com, and found out the price is less than $30.

It may be worth a look to see if it may be a good reference item.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

My kind of exercise!!

From Sandra Shoji / Special to The Daily Yomiuri

During this steamy Olympic season, the only exercise I will be doing is watching tiny, sparkling wine bubbles turn somersaults off the bottom of my wine glass.... (link)

Would you believe: "The John Steinbeck novel "The Grapes of Wrath" published in a Japanese translation bearing the title "The Angry Raisins"?

How can I resist not putting this in the blog when it talks about John Steinbeck, grapes, and raisins? Just what is needed for a blog that is about grapes created by a book person.

I came across this item in the New Urban Legends. The place to check when you get those email messages that try to convince you to forward a message to a hundred people to get the free towel from Bed Bath and Beyond!

Well, find out if it is really possible to read "The Angry Raisins" in Japanese!!!

Getting in the Olympics mood..

A news item today from Detroit Free Press that is talking about the Greek wines. Makes interesting reading if you are interested in the history of wine in Greece.

I have a bottle of Greek wine made in the island of Lesbos, thanks to one of our students, Ionnis, who was kind enough to remember me when he went home this summer. I believe I should savor it while I am watching the Olympics events. Don't you think?

Happy (responsible) drinking!

Friday, August 06, 2004

Grape Day 2004

Once again, Grape Day is going to take place in Fresno, California on August 10th, 2004. Many of the area grape growers will be attending the event to learn the latest in viticulture and try to find answers to their questions. Presenters are the staff and faculty of Viticulture and Enology Research Center (VERC) and people from the industry.

If you have missed the chance to pre-register for the conference, you can still attend. See the form for the fees and the names of people who will be presenters -- yours truly included.

If you are in the area, come on over. You'll also be treated to lunch on the VERC grounds sponsored by the American Vineyard magazine.

Hope to see you then!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Latest Napa news and "How a Winery Operates"

Just read on Napa Valley Vintners site that "California Supreme Court Unanimously Upholds Napa Valley Vintners Truth in Labeling Law ".

Also, you may want to have a look at the Duckhorn site where they have posted an article titled, "How a Winery Operates". Make sure to check out the segments as they are listed on the left side.

Introduction to a new blog

It is August... Grapes are being picked. The wine is getting bottled. In a few weeks the students will be back in classes. This blog is to help anyone interested in grapes and wine to keep up with the news. There also will be related links that may be of interest.

At times, if I get carried away, there might be postings not really about viticulture or enology, but about things that I have found to be amusing/annoying/entertaining. Those side interests will be called "tendrils" or "branches" of the blog.

If you feel strongly enough to comment on anything that is included in this blog, please let me know. I would appreciate your taking the time to write to me to improve what I put in this blog.

Off we go...