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Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

Good News for Lodi Vitners and Growers

July 11th, 2017 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

In the most recent issue of Wines and Vines, we learned that vintners and growers heard a lot of good news during an industry symposium in Lodi, where speakers said the region’s wines are enjoying a better reputation for quality and are selling well at national grocery chains. Growers in the Lodi AVA and northern San Joaquin Valley, however, are still being paid less than what one might expect given how Lodi appellation wines are doing in the market. Those wines are commanding around $10 per bottle on average, and using the simple “times 100” rule of thumb for grape prices, one would assume the price wineries pay per ton for Lodi grapes is close to $1,000. But averages for state grape District 11 came in at $516 for Chardonnay, $683 for Cabernet Sauvignon and $735 per ton for Zinfandel in 2016, according to the California Grape Crush Report. Jeff Bittner, vice president of operations for Allied Grape Growers, said grape prices have stayed flat because of “anemic” sales growth of wines priced between $7 and $10 per bottle. And while wineries selling wines priced more than $10 have enjoyed robust growth (48.6 million cases in 2013 to an estimated 62 million in 2016) they also enjoyed a string of exceptionally large harvests. Bittner said that excess inventory now has flowed through the market, and there isn’t much opportunity for significant new plantings in the coastal regions. ‘Trickle down’ effect on grape sourcing Three or four years ago, large wineries could count on the southern San Joaquin Valley as a reliable source of cheap grapes on the spot market to fill any gaps for Chardonnay and red blend programs as well as other varietals. Today, many of those vineyards have been ripped out in favor of almonds, which show no sign of becoming less lucrative any time soon. “That’s going to open up more demand in the coast for Lodi,” Bittner said. “It’s kind of a trickle-down effect.” These changing conditions may mean that wineries will turn to Lodi to fill out their premium-priced wine programs or switch some brands to California-appellation wines, and growers could see their grapes fetching prices closer to what Lodi AVA wine prices suggest they should be. “Lodi is in a unique position to provide a reliable supply of grapes, including those for above $10-per-bottle wines,” he said. “We see buyers coming in to Lodi…looking to supplement programs. That’s starting to happen and I think it’s going to be a trend we see more and more of in the coming years.” Bittner offered his analysis of the market during the second annual Lodi Vineyard & Wine Economics Symposium, which is organized by the Wine Industry Symposium group. Wine Business Monthly, which is part of the Wine Communications Group along with Wines & Vines, is the owner of the symposium group.
As you prepare for harvest, make sure to check out the extensive options for Stainless Steel Wine Barrels at Skolnik!

Rising Napa Grape Prices are a Concern

June 13th, 2017 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

In the latest issue of Wines and Vines we learn that prices for Napa County Cabernet Sauvignon have always been exceptional when compared to prices paid for wine grapes from other regions of California and for other varieties, but they are getting so high it’s of some concern to industry experts. “Any land that’s in Napa Valley, in the watershed of the Napa River, that can be planted to Cabernet and produce a good crop of Cabernet is being planted today, and they can make a call and sell the fruit for $5,000, $6,000 $7,000,” said Tony Correia, president of the real estate appraisal and consultancy firm The Correia Co. Correia was speaking at the 22nd annual Vineyard Economics Seminar held May 24 in Napa. During his presentation, Correia showed a photo of a sign posted in a Rutherford, Calif., vineyard touting 20 tons of Cabernet grapes for sale. Such a scene would be unimaginable in today’s tight market for Napa Cabernet, but Correia was pointing out that it wasn’t that long ago when the market for high-end wine had shrunk due to the 2008 recession. Since 2010, however, the price graph for Napa Cabernet has been almost straight up, as consumer demand for premium wines has rebounded in a major way. The average price per ton for Napa Cabernet was $2,000 in 1995, and it was nearly $7,000 by 2016. The average dropped from $5,000 to $4,000 between 2009 and 2010 but bounced back by 2011. Nat DiBuduo, president of the Allied Grape Growers (AGG) also said the market for luxury grapes is particularly strong and even rhetorically asked about a bubble, pondering, “How high is too high?” before quickly adding, “I shouldn’t be saying that.” DiBuduo’s interest is in seeing AGG’s members receive good prices, but he admitted to some concern about sustaining such a market at the highest price points. He also mentioned there has been “great” Sauvignon Blanc in Napa County ripped out for Cabernet Sauvignon and expressed a concern that some appellations might be in jeopardy of becoming mono-varietal. “I haven’t seen prices like this in my 17 years,” he said. “There’s got to be a point here where we have to have balance for both the winery and the grower.” DiBuduo said AGG is projecting California’s 2017 harvest to come in around 4.2 million tons, and the group believes the state’s wine grape yields will stay around that level into 2019. He said the overall market is balanced, but in the long term wine consumption is poised to outpace vineyard development. California added about 15,000 acres of vines in 2017, and the development is almost exclusively in coastal regions, Lodi or the Delta. “I don’t know of any grapes being planted in the San Joaquin Valley anymore,” DiBuduo said. “In fact, you’re seeing the complete opposite in that grapes are being pulled out of the San Joaquin Valley.” Based on burn permit data, growers have removed nearly 25,000 acres of wine grape vineyards since 2015 and will pull another 10,000 acres by the 2017 harvest. Most of the vineyards in California support the production of wines priced at more than $10 per bottle, and that number is growing, while the acreage supporting wines priced less than $7 is shrinking. Allied projects that by 2019, acres supporting higher priced wines will increase by 10% to 262,933, while vineyards for lower priced wines will decline by 7% to 182,212 acres.

New Wine Barrels: 33.5 and 60 Gallon

May 16th, 2017 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Skolnik Industries is pleased to announce the addition of two new stainless steel wine barrels, 33.5 gallon and 60 gallon. These new designs come with new and unique features that compliment our existing line of stainless steel wine drums. The new 33.5 gallon barrel features seamless, crevice free construction using heavy duty 16 gauge 304 stainless steel material. Top and bottom stainless steel foot rings allow for easy handling and added protection from dents and dings. A 2” Tri-Clover comes standard in the center of the barrel body. What makes this barrel extra special is its straight sides allowing for easy filling, maintenance and cleaning. This barrel is designed to fit on standard barrel racks and is ideal for small batch production or for topping off purposes. Our new 60 gallon stainless steel wine barrel also features straight sides for ease of use and cleaning. The 60 gallon drum is made of heavy duty 16 gauge 304 stainless steel with seamless crevice free construction and 2” Tri-Clover in the center of the barrel body. A unique feature of the 60 gallon drum are two stainless steel reinforcing rings on either end of the barrel that allow these barrels to fit perfectly in standard barrel racks. The 60 gallon design was designed for the higher volume usage, yet because of its unique shape and size it can easily be moved around any winery. Custom fitting placement and logo engraving in any of our stainless steel wine barrels is available upon request. For more information please contact Jason Snow at 773-884-1513 or by e-mail at jason@skolnik.com.

New Oak Alternatives

April 11th, 2017 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

As the range in sizes and shapes of barrel alternatives has expanded in recent years, the oak products also have improved in general quality. Skolnik offers a full line of stainless steel wine barrels. Suppliers have invested in better toasting techniques as well as research to understand how the extraction process with alternatives differs from that with barrels. This also has led to the creation of certain products with specific applications to help winemakers add a more precise amount of oak at just the right time. Wines & Vines contacted suppliers of oak barrel alternatives to learn about the latest products that give wine the aromas and structure of oak without having to spend time in barrel. In developing new additions for its tru/tan line of tannin products, Oak Solutions Group created a new, proprietary process to take its oak chips and turn them into a liquid extract that provides the same sensory and tannin impact as chips. The two new products, Aquadolce and Aquatexture, are based on a blend of ellagitannin and gallotannin compounds that the supplier says retain the “aromatic freshness and potency” of wood. Technical sales engineer Glenn Jeffries said the company’s new extraction process preserves the all-important wood aromas. “We wanted to provide a product that primarily preserved those aromatic components—the sensory profiles of chips,” he said. “These are completely, 100% oak-derived products.” The new extracts also are produced in a manner that doesn’t compromise the oak tannin compounds, he said, making them integrate quickly and seamlessly into wine. The liquid formulation also enables winemakers to make oak additions that provide a near-instant oak impact. “The idea is to give winemakers decision-making tools as close to bottling as possible,” he said. Aquatexture is designed to help balance fruit and structure in wines, while Aquadolce “immediately lifts the aromatic character of wine.” The products comply with the International Oenological Codex and are water soluble. Oak Solutions Group can provide test kits, and product volumes range from small doses for perking up neutral barrels to treating large-capacity storage tanks. Earlier this year, TonelerĂ­a Nacional added PureOak to its line of barrel-alternative products. The powder is derived from convection-toasted staves that are subjected to a water extraction process that the supplier claims retains all the major aromatics. PureOak is available in 500-gram bags and is intended as a finishing product. Pickering Winery Supply offers finishing powders and small chips produced with French oak by the Australian supplier SuberOak. The company also produces liquid oak tannins from French and American oak.