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Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

The Three R’s in Wine

February 11th, 2020 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

The three R’s in wine are not “Rose, Riesling, and Rioja”. Rather, I have been interested in how the traditional three “R’s” of the environmental movement: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, are being addressed by the wine industry. For years, winemakers have been touting sustainability initiatives in their vineyards and fields, and through energy-saving efforts in their facilities. But now consumers want more, especially as they begin to understand how much of wine’s carbon footprint stems from packaging and shipping. When it comes to wine’s impact on the environment, glass bottles contribute 29 percent to its total impact, according to a 2011 carbon footprint assessment of the California wine industry commissioned by the Wine Institute and conducted by sustainability consultant PE International.

        <p> A similar assessment in Oregon, conducted by the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, found packaging contributes 23 percent to a wine’s carbon footprint. In comparison, planting and growing grapes contributes 24 percent, and transporting the bottled wine to retailers accounts for 13 percent.</p>
        <p> Many winemakers have switched to at least partially organic and sustainable growing practices in recent decades; some have also moved to reign in wasteful packaging practices. In California, Paso Robles’ Tablas Creek Vineyard grows its grapes biodynamically and organically, so it’s no surprise that sustainable packaging is a priority. The winery has always used soy-based inks, eliminated Styrofoam in direct shipments in favor of recycled (and recyclable) pulp inserts, and in 2012, switched away from bottling some wines in 6-bottle cases in favor of 12-bottle cases (because the 12-bottle case uses significantly less than twice the packaging material of the 6-bottle case). In addition to the immediate environmental benefit of producing a lighter bottle, the winery also sends out fewer trucks for delivery (22 pallets can fit in one, versus 19 pallets previously). “We send about 10,000 cases of wine per year to wine club members and for DTC orders that we receive,” says Jason Haas. “Those are all sent via UPS, FedEx, or GSO. Each case weighs between two and 11 pounds less than it would have with the old bottles. That’s a big footprint—and cost—savings.” So are the days finally gone, when heavy bottles are equated with wealth and luxury? “I would say there’s more room in the marketplace for quality wines in lighter-weight bottles, as well as a backlash against some of the heavy ones,” says Tablas Creek’s Haas.</p>
           <p> He continues: “We thought the heavy bottles we were using were the equivalent of a luxury SUV, signifying solid respectability. But we came to believe they were more like a Hummer—with that same overlay of environmental tone-deafness. Particularly for a winery like us, which works so hard to farm the right way, it felt like the wrong choice.”</p>
        <p>Here at Skolnik Industries, we know that people like the reusability of our stainless steel wine barrels. Note that our stainless steel wine barrels are easy to clean, and recyclable at the end of their service life. Check out <a href="http://skolnikwine.com/stainless-steel-wine-barrels/">the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here</a>. </p>

Making Premium Wine That Just Happens To Be Kosher!

January 14th, 2020 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Technically, all wine is made with kosher grapes. But that doesn’t mean wine itself is necessarily kosher. That, in part, caught the attention of Hagafen Cellars founder and winemaker Ernie Weir. And he decided to do something about it. Weir returned to UC, Davis, for his degree in viticulture and enology; he began work at Domaine Chandon in 1973. In 1979, Weir and his wife founded Hagafen Cellars.

Hagafen means ‘the grape vine’ in Hebrew. It’s the last of a nine-word prayer, called Kiddush, traditionally recited over wine. Hagafen makes premium wine – “wine that just also happens to be kosher”, Weir likes to say. Kosher wine made its modern appearance in the United States in the early- and mid-20th century, following successive waves of Jewish immigrants. The East Coast saw the growth of vibrant Jewish communities, for which wine is an integral part of almost every major holiday and life event. They turned to the only varietal readily available: Concord grapes. As a result of (Concord’s) low sugar maturity, it makes very bad wine,” Weir relates. “So they added sugar to the wine to make it palatable.” That American-born “sugary, syrupy” wine became the face of kosher labels. It birthed brands like Manischewitz, one of the most famous kosher wines, which Weir jokingly calls “the M-word”.

There are about 20 kosher wineries in California today, according to Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz. As a rabbinic coordinator, Rabinowitz oversees the wine portfolio of the Orthodox Union, the supervisorial body that certifies Hagafen wines as kosher. Certified kosher wineries must adhere to kashrut, the guidelines defining what is and isn’t kosher. Wine, for example, must be handled through the winemaking process only by Sabbath observant Jews. Sabbath observant individuals must not perform any kind of work during Shabbat, which falls from sundown Friday until sundown on Saturday.

There are other kosher labels in Napa, though they’re produced by non-kosher wineries. St. Helena’s Marciano Estate makes a kosher Red Blend, called Terra Gratia; then there’s Covenant Wines, a kosher winery that relocated from Napa to Berkeley in 2014.

Napa is one of the hot spots for premium wine production, according to Gary Freeman, owner and wine buyer for Oakland Kosher Foods. Weir also goes on to say: “Talking about kosher wine – we can talk Cabernet Sauvignon, organic grape growing, that we’re fish-friendly and bee-friendly farmers.” In a sentence: “kosher” is not a flavor profile. “Some know, but some don’t even know when they leave that there’s anything here having to do with kosher,” Weir said, of the winery’s guests. “They just like the wine.” Here at Skolnik Industries, we know that people like our stainless steel wine barrel for the food industrys. 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.

Why a Name Matters?

December 10th, 2019 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

In a recent Wine Business Editorial in the Wine Business Advisor, Elizabeth Slater wrote about the importance of names in the selling of wine. To be clear, we’re not talking about the name of the wine, which we all recognize as important, but Elizabeth makes an excellent point about the use of your employee’s names.

Elizabeth writes that: “If you want to sell something, the first step is to introduce yourself, and not just by saying: “Do you need help?” but by giving them your name, “Hello, I’m Susan, may I help you?”

She goes on to explain that: “The second step is discovering the name of the person to whom you are speaking to and using it occasionally during the discussion.”

I am sure that you have heard this before. It is one of those things we learn when we first start selling. Unfortunately, it is not something that many salespeople remember. It was recently Black Friday, so in a large amount of my emails that day, and the day before, was information on the Black Friday offers from wineries. Out of the ten emails I received offering me great deals on wine, only one of them included the names of any of their employees in the email. Some of the emails I received included a phone number with an option to call in for personal service. The idea that the customer could interact one on one with a real person would be much stronger if customers were encouraged to “Call our concierge line to speak to Anne, Michael or Catherine.”

Elizabeth suggests that one can: “Increase connections with customers by adding a small card in each customer shipment, thanking them for their purchase and signed by the owner(s), winemaker or both. The more we can personalize the service we offer; the more likely consumers are to return to our winery and/or purchase over the phone or online.”

Research has confirmed that more than 70% of customers expect a personalized service from the company they are interacting with. For younger generations, a personalized service is expected. According to a recent article in Forbes “…poor customer service is costing businesses more than $75 billion a year.”

Elizabeth concludes that: “Showing your customers that they are important to you is the best way to keep them engaged and encouraging them to continue to do business with you. While we would sometimes like to believe that it is all about the wine, there are too many other wineries out there not to make sure your customer service is as good as your wine.”

Here at Skolnik Industries, Veronica, Jason, Josip, Cathy, Bill, and Dennis are all ready to assist you in selecting your ideal stainless wine barrel. Note that 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.

Is Falconer the Coolest Wine Industry Profession Out There?

November 12th, 2019 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

I’ll come right out and say it: Of the many wine industry professions one could pursue, falconer is arguably the coolest. The name alone seems reserved for some fantastic all-knowing superhero. It’s not a character type you’re likely to run into very often, but they play an important role, especially in vineyards come late summer and early fall. In a recent Wine Industry Advisor article, Mark Stock writes: “Harvest time is a glorious stretch of fresh and vibrant wines, and agricultural camaraderie. It’s also a pensive, tension-filled time involving serious decisions about when to pick fruit and how best to ferment it. And as the grapes ripen and sugar levels rise, flying pests begin scheming up ways of feasting on your favorite vineyard block. Enter the falconer. The hero arrives in style, sporting a beautiful bird of prey on their shoulder or thickly gloved hand. The bird, often a kestrel, peregrine falcon, or some species of hawk, is highly trained. It’s released in the vineyard and it begins patrolling as it spirals above the ripening fruit, scaring away hungry birds like finches and starlings. It’s mostly a scare tactic, but the predatory birds will pick off a smaller flying snack now and again.” But with harvest on the line, some estates simply need a little extra protection from grape thieves. There are other means, such as propane cannons, reflective tape, netting, recorded bird sounds, or parading through the vineyard with a shotgun — but none is more romantic than falconry. “It’s so effective and silent,” says Nadine Lew of Soter Vineyards. “And there are no demands on my team to mess with nets or deterrents when I need everyone focused on harvest.” She adds that it’s fun for guests to witness and doesn’t come with the issues that other methods bring.

“We do love having the falconer and his falcons here,” she continues. “He knows where the birds like to hang out, knows where there might be some damage, and is really effective at flushing them off of the property.” In addition to vineyard and agricultural work, falconers also find gigs in sprawling metropolitan areas. They’re called in to scare off everything from pigeons in town squares, to gulls in dumps and recycling centers. Airports are also known to dial up their local falconer, looking to clear the runways of unwanted and potentially disastrous bird encounters. But it’s before a backdrop of vines where the birds seem most at home, chasing away harvest headaches for grateful winemakers. Here at Skolnik Industries, winemakers are grateful for our selection of stainless steel wine barrels. Note that 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.

“Hey Alexa, will you pour me a glass of Riesling?”

October 15th, 2019 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

In a recent Wine Advisor report, details emerged about Travel Oregon launching an innovative voice search game using Amazon’s Alexa device. Why Oregon? Because Oregon is home to more than 760 wineries and 19 distinct growing areas, making it one of the largest wine-grape-producing states in the nation. It’s tough for even the biggest Oregon wine aficionados to know everything about Oregon wine. That’s why Travel Oregon created the new “Oregon Wine Quiz” for Alexa users to test their wine knowledge. Whether you’re a novice or a connoisseur, the quiz highlights some of the undiscovered facts about the Oregon wine landscape and tells the deeper story of Oregon wine. It’s estimated that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches. Currently 17% of American households have a smart speaker installed. By 2022, this number is anticipated to increase to 66%. The shift to voice search has already begun. The “Oregon Wine Quiz” is a way for Travel Oregon to integrate tourism marketing and voice search and stay ahead in the ever-changing media landscape.

“We need to keep evolving and expanding our content platforms if we‘re going to remain relevant to our target audience,” said Mo Sherifdeen, Global Integrated Marketing Director at Travel Oregon. “We’re thrilled to be the first tourism agency in the country to experiment with distributing content through voice search. But more importantly, we’re excited to give wine enthusiasts another way to learn about Oregon wines before they head out to wine country this fall.”

To activate the quiz, simply ask Alexa to “play the Oregon wine quiz.” Users will then be asked a series of questions about Oregon wine. Depending on the answers, users will unlock one of four podcasts, featuring interviews and storytelling from some of Oregon’s most prominent wine industry professionals, including: Travel Southern Oregon, Abacela, Brooks Winery Troon Vineyards, Tuality Healthcare and Willamette Valley Vineyards.

The topics covered include: community winemaking, The Applegate Valley Wine Trail, and sustainable winemaking. This Alexa application was built by Portland-based agency, Sparkloft Media with content support from the Oregon Wine Board. Are you ready to take your Oregon wine knowledge to the next level? Take the quiz today. And, no, Alexa can’t pour you a glass of Oregon Riesling yet, but here at Skolnik Industries, you can ask us about our stainless steel wine barrels. They 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.

“Terroir…Is that a dog?”

September 11th, 2019 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Writing for Wine News in “The Decanter” Chris Mercer reports that: “From planet ‘Sauternes’ to those cute ‘terroir’ dogs, a new survey in the UK suggests Britons have room for improvement in their wine knowledge – but many say they are keen to learn. Wine experts have grappled with a definition of ‘terroir’ for decades, but more than one in four Britons surveyed thought that it referred to a small breed of dog, according to results published this week.”

The correct definition of terroir is, the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as soil, topography, and climate. Chris Mercer further reports that; “While 34% did correctly connect ‘terroir’ to wine, another 30% of respondents believed it was a type of French horror film.” Their answers were part of a survey of 2,000 people commissioned by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) ahead of its upcoming Wine Education Week, which runs globally from September 9th to the 15th.

Perhaps my favorite detail of the survey was that there was also confusion about Bordeaux’s premier sweet wines. Mercer writes that: “Seven percent of people said that Sauternes was a planet, while one in five thought it was a beach resort and 29% argued that it was a type of orange.” And he goes on to observe that: “When it comes to spotting a corked wine, 37% of people thought it meant broken pieces of cork in the bottle and 7% thought it was a term for being drunk.” However, 51% of people said they wanted to learn more about wine, reflecting a separate survey recently that saw wine beat beer, cider and spirits as the UK’s favorite drink. When it comes to food, 28% of those surveyed said they had successfully paired specific wines with certain dishes. However, 55% said that they wouldn’t know where to start with wine and food pairing. And 17% of respondents said that they had been ‘traumatized by snooty wine waiters’, said WSET. The top reason for choosing a wine was “I had drunk it before and loved it,” with 34% choosing this description — closely followed by 33% admitting they choose a wine based on an “attractive label.”

Speaking of attractive, here at Skolnik Industries, you can’t miss noticing our stainless steel wine barrels. They 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.