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Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

The New Dynamic is “Bio”

March 12th, 2019 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

In an article published in “Seven Fifty Daily”, Hannah Wallace writes that “Biodynamic wines are gaining visibility—and popularity—in the wine world. Though they still make up only a small part of global wine production, there are more than 80 Demeter-certified biodynamic winegrowers in the United States, according to Demeter USA, the country’s first certifying body for chemical-free agriculture. There are nearly 500 such winegrowers in Europe.”

Rudy Marchesi, Demeter USA Board chair, states: “More than ever, people are becoming aware that conventional agriculture is using things they don’t want in their beverages or on their table—like glyphosate. So we’re seeing a real uptick in interest in biodynamic wines and we’re also seeing a greater awareness of how biodynamics impact the quality and expressiveness of wines.”

Most wine industry professionals are familiar with the basic tenets of biodynamics, including precepts like the prohibition against the use of pesticides and artificial herbicides in the vineyard. Growers must also generate as much fertility as possible on site (therefore, the presence of animals and the use of composting are crucial), and they must make use of nine biodynamic “preparations” to help promote soil and plant health. These preparations are made of such ingredients as cow manure, herbs, and chopped-up oak bark and are sprayed onto the vines and the compost pile.

Demeter-certified wine cannot contain any additives, either, except for minuscule amounts of sulfur; bentonite clay and organic or biodynamic egg whites or milk are also permitted during processing. “The biodynamic wine certification is the closest thing to a natural-wine certification,” says Dan Rinke, winemaker at Johan Vineyards in Rickreall, Oregon.

This first wave of biodynamic winemakers put Alsace, France, on the map as a hotbed of the movement—which it remains today.

In the 1960s and ’70s, two biodynamic consultants spread the philosophy to winemakers in the United States: Alan Chadwick and his student Alan York. Chadwick was from the U.K. His travels led him to San Francisco in early 1967. York worked and studied biodynamics under Chadwick at Round Valley, as did Jonathan and Katrina Frey. The Freys met in Covelo in 1976 and founded Frey Vineyards four years later—all 350 acres of which are biodynamic.

York went on to become one of the world’s leading biodynamic wine consultants, helping to convert to biodynamic practices wineries such as Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen, California; Bonterra in Ukiah, California; Cowhorn in Jacksonville, Oregon; and Cooper Mountain in Beaverton, Oregon. and Il Palagio, the Tuscan winery owned by Sting and Trudie Styler.

“You could taste the difference right away,” says Benziger. “Our first biodynamic wine, Tribute, was a beautiful, terroir-driven wine.”

Utilizing biodynamics or another method? Here at Skolnik Industries, our stainless steel wine barrels are reusable, easy to clean, and recyclable at the end of their service life. Check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.

It’s time to ditch your corkscrew!

January 16th, 2019 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Writing for CNBC, Sarah Whitten writes that “Canned wine isn’t just a passing summer fad, it’s a $45 million business”. Wine in cans with pull-tops instead of corks isn’t new, but it has become a staple for young drinkers over the last few years and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. Sales of canned wine grew 43 percent in the U.S. from June 2017 to June 2018, according to BW 166, a beverage alcohol market research firm.

While canned wine is still a tiny portion of the wider industry, with about 0.2 percent of total wine sales, it’s growing rapidly thanks to millennial drinkers, according to Nielsen data. By comparison, bottled wines grab nearly 90 percent of the industry’s sales, but are growing much more slowly. (Boxed and bagged wines take the remaining market share.) In her article Whitten explains that “Compared with previous generations, today’s young adults are more likely to drink wine than beer”. Ray Isle, executive wine editor at Food & Wine, also told CNBC that “Millennials don’t have as much disposable income, making more affordable wines in cans more appealing”. On average, a 750-milliliter bottle of wine will cost between $11 and $25. Whereas, canned wine drinkers pay about $4 to $7 for a 375-ml can. These cans are the equivalent of a half of a bottle or, about 2.5 glasses of wine. Some wineries are packaging their wine into even smaller cans of 250 ml (about two glasses of wine) and 187 ml (about one glass of wine).

These cans can be brought to places that glasses cannot, like the beach, the park and campsites. Wine cans are also easier to recycle than glass bottles and are seen as less pretentious to casual drinkers.

Devon Broglie, master sommelier and chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas division, said canned wines are “very drinkable” and a “solid value for the money.” While he predicts the incredible growth of the canned wine industry will start to stabilize over the next few years, he expects the market will continue to expand in selection and quality.

Another major benefit of aluminum cans is environmental. According to the Container Recycling Institute, aluminum cans are recycled 45.2 percent of the time in the U.S., glass bottles 27.8 percent. Many localities don’t accept glass for recycling. Even the carbon footprint of shipping the wine is reduced: The same amount of wine weighs less in aluminum than in glass.

Here at Skolnik Industries, our stainless steel wine barrels are reusable, easy to clean, and recyclable at the end of their service life. check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.

Avoiding another Monte Testaccio — The beginning of wine transport.

December 11th, 2018 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Stainless Steel, Wine

Humans have been imbibing wine for thousands of years. But, the question of how wine got from one place to another, is fascinating to explore. While it’s relatively easy to carry vine cuttings on long journeys, bringing finished wine with you is a much more difficult task. If there’s truth to the old cliché that necessity is the mother of invention, then as a species, we’ve shown a serious need to drink wine. Transporting wine is a tricky task, as your storage vessel needs to accomplish four different goals:

  • Air must be kept out of the vessel to prevent oxidation.
  • The vessel must be strong enough not to easily break, without being so heavy that it cannot be easily moved (especially when hand labor was the rule).
  • In many cases, the vessel needs to be opened and then resealed.
  • The vessel itself shouldn’t interact with the wine (though we’ll see that a very large asterisk follows this rule).

In addition to those goals, the vessel needs to be stored in an environment that has a stable temperature. If wine is exposed to heat for too long it will “cook” and lose its flavor.

Amphorae — Were the ancient world’s standardized way to transport wine, olive oil and other prized liquids. Amphorae came in many sizes, similar to both the bulk transport formats we use today as well as the world’s common wine bottle sizes. These wax-lined (pine and bees wax were common) ceramic containers, invented by the Egyptians, were gradually adopted by nearly all the wine drinking/producing civilizations throughout the Mediterranean and Mesopotamian regions. They reached their peak in usage and standardization in ancient Greece and Rome. They were easy to produce and, importantly, easy to transport. Their shape was round with a tapered bottom, two handles and a long, slim neck. The amphora’s tapered bottom also proved to be useful in keeping its contents from sloshing around during a sea journey. This was accomplished by filling a ship’s hold with sand, and then partially burying each amphora in the sand. Looking at an amphora you can see the similarities to a modern wine bottle, from the long neck, which keeps the wine away from oxygen, to the sediment-collecting concave bottom of most wine bottles, the ‘punt.’ The Romans continuously improved their physical design — the goals being to reduce weight without sacrificing strength and to pack more and more amphorae into the cargo holds of ships. This excerpt from David Stone Potter’s book Life, Death, and Entertainment in the Roman Empire, shows the massive scope of the Roman ‘logistics’ system:

A year’s supply of 20,000,000 liters oil translates into about 285,714 amphorae, and 100,000,000 liters of wine would require 4,000,000 amphorae, and that’s just for the city of Rome. The author is quick to note that these are estimates based upon some consumption and population assumptions. Still, these are not unreasonable assumptions: archeologists have estimated that Monte Testaccio ‘an artificial hill’ in Rome, is composed of 53 million or so broken amphorae, discarded over the course of 150-300 years. Rome’s Monte Testaccio is one of the largest spoil heaps (landfills) found anywhere in the ancient world, covering an area of 20,000 square meters (220,000 sq ft) at its base and with a volume of approximately 580,000 cubic meters (760,000 cu yd).

Stainless Steel — While today we recognize that oak barrel aging is fundamental to the production of many wines (or oak substitutes such as chips in stainless steel barrels), the use of stainless steel has grown, from the large storage tanks to the straight sided and “barrel” shaped drums now being used to store and transport wine. Monte Testaccio? Never again, but here at Skolnik Industries, our stainless steel wine barrels are reusable, easy to clean, and recyclable at the end of their service life. check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.

Green is the new Pink

October 9th, 2018 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Writing for the “Beverage Media Group” in an article in the “Wine Industry Advisor”, Pam Strayer writes: “While the wine industry has been busy riding the pink wine wave, it is becoming clear that the “green wine” wave is worth catching as well. Millennials’ interest in organically grown wines is leading to double-digit growth in sales, say green wine industry experts. Although the sector is tiny—1% by volume and 2% by revenue, according to 2016 Nielsen data—it is one of the fastest-growing in the U.S.”

In her article, Strayer goes on to observe that: “By comparison, Europeans—who typically trend ahead of Americans in food and drink—are already drinking 10% organically grown wine. Moreover, the trend is gaining mainstream credibility every vintage, with established wineries and distributors becoming proactive category leaders.” Analyzing U.S. off-premise sales (for the period from June 2017 to 2018), Debby Wang, Commercial Director of Analytics and Insights at Breakthru Beverage Group, one of the country’s largest distributors, says: “Organically grown wines have 10% volume growth and 5% revenue growth, outpacing total wine growth which is nearly flat.”

“Organic wines have been growing at double digits, and we think this trend will continue, especially with sustainability-minded Millennials,” says Chris Indelicato, CEO and President of Delicato Family Vineyards.

Green Values, Green Lifestyles

What is driving green wine category growth? “Consumers continue to ask for products that align with their values,” says Bonterra Senior Brand Manager Taylor Johnsen. Natura’s Pavon agrees that the market is responding to preferences among younger and lifestyle-driven legal drinking age consumers: “There is more consciousness among consumers about the environment and about organics.”

In a bold experiment, one national supermarket chain, Natural Grocers, is going all-in on organic. The national, family-owned organic supermarket chain, which sells only organic produce in its 150 stores, added its first wine department in Denver last year with 500 different wines from 17 different countries—all from certified organic or biodynamic vines.

“We see organic wine as part of a lifestyle,” explains Jeff Cameron, who heads up wine at Natural Grocers. Store signage indicates different types of green wines, and Cameron trains his staff on the nuances of sulfites, biodynamics and more so they can help consumers understand each wine’s context. “We also like the storytelling aspect of these producers, which we can share with consumers,” he adds. Cameron says the chain plans to implement the program in more of its stores across the country starting with six in Oregon, and that sales in the Denver pilot are going well.

More significantly, awareness is deepening. New research shows that a majority of high frequency wine drinkers (who are responsible for about 80% of wine sales in the U.S.) correctly associate specific practices with different types of green wine certifications, according Wine Market Council survey results released in May. “What surprised me was the fact that consumers could discriminate between organic versus biodynamic,” said Damien Wilson, Associate Professor with the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University, who was a member of the WMC research committee that commissioned the study. More than 86% of 1,100 high-frequency wine drinkers identified organic with pesticide prohibitions; a surprising 51% associated biodynamic with regenerative practices.

Here at Skolnik Industries, we believe that a “green” approach also involves the wine barrels. Our stainless steel wine barrels are reusable, easy to clean, and recyclable at the end of their service life. Check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.