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Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

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, Tonelería 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.

Former Cubs Manager, now Wine Maker

March 14th, 2017 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Most people know Dusty Baker as the baseball legend who managed the San Francisco Giants from 1993 to 2002 and the Chicago Cubs from 2003 to 2006. He is currently managing the Washington Nationals. Dusty was the first National League manager to earn “Manager of the Year” honors three times. What people might not know, however, is Dusty’s deep love for growing things. His father, Johnnie B. Baker, Sr., introduced Dusty to gardening. “My dad always had a garden,” Baker says. “He had a green thumb, and I got a green thumb from him. I like working in the dirt.” During his days managing the San Francisco Giants from 1993 to 2002, he joined the advisory board of the Robert Mondavi Winery. That gave him access to rootstock, and he paired up with Chik Brenneman, then a winemaker at Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi and now manager of the teaching winery at the University of California at Davis. Brenneman planted the vineyard in 2007 and became Baker’s winemaker and business partner. At first growing grapes and making wine was a hobby, and Dusty gave his premium wines away to friends and family. When people started asking where they could purchase his wine, Dusty decided to sell it. He enlisted his daughter, Natosha Baker Smith, a graphic designer, to develop his label, which evokes a close-up rendition of baseball stitching. Because lot sizes are small, Baker Family Wines are sold online, at the Treasure Island Wines tasting room in San Francisco, and a few select restaurants. When Dusty is in town, he enjoys walking through his vineyard and helping with pruning and harvesting. Dusty and Chik also enjoy hosting winemaker dinners at select restaurants. Before starting a vineyard, Dusty had a backyard garden, which included assorted fruit trees and a plot of summer vegetables. In between seasons, he was often found tending his plants. “I was doing a lot of physical work — I found it interesting and rewarding,“ says Dusty. In 2015, Baker released his first commercial wines under his Baker Family Wines label. A week earlier, he had been named manager of the Washington Nationals, with a two-vintage contract. At age 66, he found his transition from major league manager to country vintner interrupted by his desire to manage a team to a World Series championship. Baker talks about his experience tending his two acres of syrah vines with the same sense of humor that charmed the nation’s capital during his introductory news conference at Nationals Park. When I spoke with him by phone, I was laughing so hard I could hardly take notes. “My dad was a landscaper — though we called them gardeners back then — so I figured I could grow anything,” Baker said. The initial releases of Baker Family Wines, all 2013, include a lush, fruity and deep syrah called Legacy, from Baker’s own vineyard; a second syrah from the Shenandoah Valley of California in Amador County, from a vineyard Brenneman helped plant in 2001; and a pinot noir made with purchased grapes from Sonoma County’s Bennett Valley. They are available direct from the winery at $150 for a three-pack, with one bottle of each wine. Future vintages will include wines from the Chalk Hill area of Sonoma County and some old-vine zinfandel, Brenneman says. They are also developing a second label called B and B Wines.

Wine & Weed Symposium Announced

February 14th, 2017 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

The Wine Industry Network (WIN) today announced the launch of the Wine & Weed Symposium, a one-day intensive educational conference that will focus on the legalization of cannabis in California and the expected impact and opportunities that this presents to the wine industry. The symposium will be held on August 3rd from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in Santa Rosa, CA. The conference will feature Executive Director of the Sonoma County Growers Alliance, Tawnie Logan, who will discuss and clarify the newly implemented law, along with experts from both the wine and cannabis industries on regulations, licensing requirements, hospitality, tourism, farming, and other topics of interest. Speakers will also present on the commonalities that the cannabis and wine Industry share such as agricultural focus, emphasis on quality, place of origin and to a degree, a common consumer. Like the wine industry, cannabis will be heavily regulated and will experience overlap with wine in regards to legal, financial, compliance and distribution regulations. “We touched the surface of this subject at the WIN Expo last December and were overwhelmed with the outpouring of interest that the session received,” said George Christie, President of Wine Industry Network. “The take-aways were that people want and need more information about how things are changing and one hour just wasn’t enough time. We’re hoping to address those concerns with this day-long conference.” The Wine & Weed Symposium will provide information that is relevant to everyone in the wine industry, whether an owner, winemaker, salesperson, hospitality manager, or grower, regardless of whether there are specific plans to work in or with the cannabis industry. “People have been questioning the impact that this is going to have on the wine industry for a long time,” Christie stated. “This is an opportunity to learn from the experts, the cost of entry and what is and is not allowed. We plan to provide a better understanding of the inevitable competition for consumer attention and how best to prepare for what’s coming and what new opportunities might exist.” The symposium will also feature space for a small, select number of exhibitors showcasing products and services specifically relevant to wineries and grape growers who are interested in expanding into this explosive market. For more information about attending, speaking or exhibiting, please visit wine-weed.com or email info@wine-weed.com.

Wine Symposium 2017 Panel Discussion: FSMA

January 17th, 2017 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

After months of campaign speeches, debates and rallies, many Americans are ready to stop thinking about any and all news coming out of Washington, D.C. But for Lise Asimont, director of grower relations for Francis Ford Coppola Presents, a panel discussion about the Food Safety Modernization Act signed into law by U.S. president Barack Obama in 2011 is going to be a highlight of the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium taking place Jan. 24-26 in Sacramento. As program chair for the Unified Development Committee, Asimont will moderate the hour-long panel discussion Jan. 26. “We have very few mid-size wineries and smaller wineries that are going to be prepared” when the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is implemented for the wine industry, Asimont said. “FSMA is going to rock the world of compliance. We have seen food companies already changing their protocols, but we have not seen a lot of wineries do it.” Asimont told Wines & Vines that coming up with educational sessions that industry members can learn from and immediately apply to their vineyard and winery jobs is a key factor when choosing topics for the annual Unified Symposium, and FSMA is just one of the topics to fit that criterion. Clean plant strategies Another topic Asimont believes will be readily applicable for Unified attendees is the Jan. 25 session titled, “Looking Forward: How Grapevine Clean Plant Strategies Can Be Improved.” Asimont is moderating this session as well, and speakers include a who’s who of academics, viticulturists and vineyard owners. Deborah Golino, director of Foundation Plant Services at the University of California, Davis, is among the panelists, along with Marc Fuchs of Cornell University and Mike Means of Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, among others. “This is basically where the rubber meets the road on being pertinent with regard to needing clean plants,” said Asimont, adding that the discovery of red blotch-associated virus has triggered a huge replanting in California. “We want to give attendees the tools they need to confidently go into a nursery and say, ‘I want to test your stock.’” Asimont says there is a lot of coffee shop talk among viticulturists about who has clean materials and who doesn’t. The speakers booked for the Unified panel will discuss viruses they are concerned about and what testing is available. Golino will offer a preview of what FPS is working on, and the wine grape growing panelists will offer real-life examples of how they have successfully (or unsuccessfully) acquired clean vines. With the cost of replanting a vineyard starting around $35,000 per acre, not using clean materials is a huge threat to any investor. Skolnik Industries will be exhibiting at the show displaying our complete line of stainless steel wine barrels. You can find us at booth number 1205. For complimentary passes to the symposium contact Jason Snow at jason@skolnik.com.