Archive for the ‘Wine Production’ Category

Spontaneous fermentation

Monday, July 26th, 2010


Wild yeast. From:

Wild yeast. From:

Questions regarding the role and reliability of fermentation without inoculation are going to be with us for quite some time.

Today, on, Erika Szymanski provides a well done layperson’s overview of the issue. I had the pleasure of editing this piece.

I had written about these questions in a three-part series about two years ago. (more…)

Young and old

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010


Young and old. Form:

Young and old

I recently wrote about a wine brand out of the Central Coast which is designed to be a line of non-vintage wines. In the conversation I had with winemaker Austin Hope, Austin was very enthusiastic about the idea of making all of his company’s wines as non-vintage wines.

This is not a novel idea. Not all that long ago, almost all California wines were made in this manner. It was a way to make good wines, optimally consistent with the house style. Historically (and probably all over the world), it seems, vintage designation was used to mark exceptional wines from a single year in which the wine needed no help or tweaking. Other years, wine was blended from various lots. (more…)

Made in forests, spoiled in processing?

Friday, October 23rd, 2009


Docking. From:


A press release commenting on this year’s cork harvest caught my eye today. It reads very much like a grape harvest or vintage report. Yet, I could not help but think that, just like with wine grapes, while the harvest may be exceptional, individual corks can still be spoiled.

I have nothing against cork. Yes, it is a let down when I open a highly-anticipated wine only to find TCA gushing out of the bottle. That happens only in a small portion of cases. (more…)

Does latitude matter?

Monday, September 21st, 2009


Does latitude matter? Annotated from Google Maps. (latitudes given are rough approximations)

Does latitude matter?

As wine growing culture in a particular region evolves, it sometimes becomes apparent that what has been grown for a long time is just not going to cut it anymore. The interplay between climate (rainfall and temperatures), soil, a variety’s productivity, the character of its fruit does not always yield a desired quality level in the finished wine.

So, through the initiative of individual growers, as part of an organized effort or by official mandate, different cultivars are brought in to a particular region with the hopes of elevating the quality of a regions wines. This is the essence of Cépage améliorateur. (more…)

Serious about pink.

Monday, June 8th, 2009


Pink Hummer.

Pink Hummer.

Ask wine consumers how pink wine is made and you’ll get anything from a vacant stare or a disinterested shoulder shrug to some good hypotheses. The most prominent (and, honestly, most logical) is that pink wine is made by blending varying proportions of white and red wines.

Whether they are the product of bleeding, limited skin contact or blending, these pink wines seem to be perceived as marginal, throw-away products. The red-headed (…) step children of the wine world.


GM down spiral: lessons for the wine industry?

Monday, June 1st, 2009


Pontiac Aztek.

Pontiac Aztek.

It appears that GM has filed for bankruptcy and will be undergoing reorganization in the very near future. While every industry is different, each is subject to the same rules of economics and the marketplace. Additionally, applying too universal of a business template to a particular product or industry results in very common problems. Those problems tend not to be restricted to any particular industry or product.

In CNN’s coverage of the impending GM bankruptcy, a summary called “GM’s junk heap” was published last week. Reading it, I could not help but see parallels between GM’s flops and a considerable number of wines in the shelves today.


“Closure” afterthoughts

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009


Wine Closures. From

Wine Closures

Last Friday, I posted about an informal tasting of wines finished with alternative closures at a MW seminar in Yountville. Given how many people seem to be interested in this topic, I’m seizing the spotlight opportunity to expand on the original post.

The tasting and the original article seemed innocuous to me because it didn’t seem to cover any new ground. I thought that, given the widespread use of synthetic closures in wine production, most people in the business would know a lot about synthetic corks, screw caps and glass stoppers, and that my 263-word blurb with very little commentary would not garner any interest. (more…)