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Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

The Great Supply Chain Kerfuffle of 2021

November 9th, 2021 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Jeff Siegel, writing in an Editorial for “Wine Industry Advisor” reports that: “Delays in deliveries are affecting viticulture and winemaking procedures, product launches, and limiting consumers’ options during the peak of holiday wine-buying. Brian Talley ordered a new grape elevator in January, figuring that would allow plenty of time for him to use it this harvest. He figured wrong. The elevator not only didn’t arrive on time—it showed up three weeks after harvest started. And it came disassembled and broken.”

“That was pretty much a fiasco,” says Talley, whose 20,000-case Talley Vineyards in Arroyo Grande, Calif., specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. “The freight forwarder had all kinds of problems.” Siegel goes on to elaborate: “Welcome to the Great Supply Chain Kerfuffle of 2021, which has made itself felt up and down and throughout the wine business. In Texas, some wineries aren’t sure they’ll have enough bottles for the 2021 vintage. A California broker got one shipment of Australian wine in the spring but has no idea when the next will arrive. Wholesalers in a variety of states are scrambling to get product from producer to retailer—and sometimes coming up short. Some state ABCs are weeks behind in label approval. Even wine writers have been affected: One Texas reviewer was expecting a Chilean sample in July. It showed up at the end of October. Perhaps the most telling? In Napa, a French barrel manufacturer expected a shipment in June. Now it’s supposed to arrive in November—maybe.”

“When I kept telling them their barrels were going to be late, they were all angry and wanted to know if I actually knew what was going on and if the barrels were actually going to arrive,” says Françoise Gouges, who represents Burgundian barrel manufacturer in the U.S. “Now they’re sending me newspaper articles, saying, ‘We understand and we’re with you. We’re not mad at you anymore.’”

Siegel concludes: “All of this supply chain havoc has its roots in the pandemic, say a variety of people in the wine and shipping businesses, who cite ships backed up in ports around the world and a shortage of the containers used to ship goods internationally. And the supply chain problems are certainly not just about wine. One estimate by the Marine Traffic consultancy found 10 times as many ships waiting to unload in and around Los Angeles in October 2021 compared to October 2020. Depending on who is doing the estimating, the delays and shortages could last into next spring or into the beginning of 2023. At the end of the day, the wine industry and wine consumers need to understand the supply chain woes are bigger than any one person or company.”

Here at Skolnik Industries, we stock an inventory of our stainless-steel wine barrels. Note that our stainless-steel wine barrels are durable, 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.

Opening a 40 Year Old Bottle of Wine

October 12th, 2021 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Writing on her website, James Beard Award-winning author Madeline Puckette writes:

“For most of us, opening old vintage wine is a once in a lifetime experience. Here are some things we learned while opening 40-year-old wine. The wine of the night was a 1979 Diamond Creek Cabernet, but can we open it? It’s not as easy as you think. Here are some things we learned about old vintage wine.

  1. The cork is super fragile. Opening an old bottle of wine is difficult with a standard wine opener. Why? Well, the cork becomes very fragile (and soaked with wine!) as it ages. You’re going to need something far more specialized because the cork is fragile (and usually soaked with wine!). Some wine professionals recommend an opener called an “Ah-So”.
  2. Old wine is rated by its “shoulder level.” Over time, wine evaporates through the cork of the bottle. This is especially true in dry climates. Some older bottle of wine will have a reduced amount of wine inside the bottle. The best condition is if the wine goes up to the neck of the bottle. Then, “high shoulder” is when the bottle is filled to just below the neck as the bottle expands outward. And finally, the worst condition is anything at “low shoulder” and below.

Acidity: The wine had higher acidity. It’s possible that this wine when it came out tasted pretty tart!

Tannin: Those astringent, mouth-drying tannins soften and become more leathery with age.

Fruit: Originally, this wine must have had loads of tart red and black fruit flavors because it still had them at 42 years old!

Balanced Alcohol: Today, most Napa Valley wines range between 14%–15% alcohol by volume. What was so surprising about the 1979 was that the label listed that it only had 12.4% ABV! That is pretty light-bodied by today’s standards.

It doesn’t seem possible that a dry red wine can age more than 20 years, let alone 40! I think the entire group including the winemaker, sommelier, collector, and author were all surprised and delighted at how good the old wine tasted.

Here at Skolnik Industries, using our stainless steel wine barrels will provide a long life. Note that our stainless steel wine barrels are durable, 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.

In Defense of Terroir

September 4th, 2021 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

In an editorial featured in the Wine Industry Advisor, Randy Caparoso poses an interesting question: “Does wine-related terroir exist anymore?” He explains that: “This is a valid question, even if a silly one. Of course, terroir exists. If it doesn’t, entire belief systems built upon the premise that terroir accounts for not just sensory differences but also quality distinctions—such as in Bordeaux’s Grand Crus classification, or Germany’s hierarchy of Qualitätswein—would come crashing down upon us. How embarrassing, at least for us wine traditionalists.”

Randy continues: “That is to say, our senses have become deadened, that soil can indeed exert both quality and taste differentials—despite the related argument recently aired in certain circles that soil cannot impact “flavor” in wine, at least in terms of direct uptake via vine roots. It’s pretty much established, for instance, that high pH calcareous soils, like what you find in Burgundy or Paso Robles, have an inverse impact on pH in grapes—hence, on resulting wines. Calcareous soils, in other words, tend to produce wines with higher acidity than non-calcareous soils. This is science, not fiction. These observations are borne from observations that are, literally, as old as the hills of France’s Chablis, with its highly calcareous, fossilized oyster shell soils. Yes, climate has a lot to do with the differentiations, but soil is also a big part of terroir in terms of the sensory profiles of resulting wines. The proof is in the Burgundy.”

The editorial concludes that: “The way we market and sell New World wines, particularly through numerical ratings, has further skewed the way we look at all wines, even those grown in the Old World with their quaint, arguably antiquated, notions of terroir. Unquestionably, having a high “score” has become as good an attribute for a wine as anything on a sensory level. Sensory manifestations of terroir, by the same token, will probably always be there—at least in our best and most interesting wines. Whether or not we are able, to perceive them.”

Here at Skolnik Industries, using our stainless steel wine barrels helps you get a top “score”. 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.


August 17th, 2021 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Writing in the Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray reports: “Expect to pay higher prices for wine this fall — and prepare for the possibility that your favorite wines may not make it to your local store. The reasons have nothing to do with wine itself, and everything to do with logistics. Your favorite Burgundy could be stuck anywhere along the route to your door, says wine logistics expert MaryAnn Pisani.”

Pisani is the chief revenue officer for MHW, a Long Island-based company that does basically everything in the wine industry except make and sell wine. MHW is a licensed importer and distributor, it handles regulatory paperwork, and it arranges warehouse space, trucks, and everything else in the wine logistical chain. Pisani says that right now every link in that chain is more stressed than she has ever seen.

“These are things I’ve never seen in 25 years,” Pisani said. “I’ve never seen product that’s not moving out of the warehouse. That holdup has never occurred before.”

Pisani says the crisis started before the pandemic because of the tariffs on European wine. She said a lot of big importers, surprised by the first round of tariffs, decided to bring in containers of wine before more tariffs could be imposed.

“It created a backlog in the warehouse system in the US,” Pisani told Wine-Searcher. “The warehouses were already pretty full.”

The first link to fail was shipping. Americans have been shopping online since the pandemic started, so much so that most container ships just want to work the lucrative China-US route. Wine is not the only product that suddenly found it difficult to get a ride from Europe or South America to the US.

“You have a massive backup of containers,” Pisani said. “The steamship lines are actually charging extra just to secure a booking. We’ve had boxes that have sat for months in warehouses in France and not moved. They’ve been picked up at the winery, brought to the port and never moved from there.”

Then there are dockworker shortages: “The port of Oakland’s been running 20-25 days behind,” Pisani said. “We have a box that’s been sitting in the port of Oakland since April 27.” Then, let’s say you get your container of wine to the port. You need a drayman, a specialized trucker who delivers containers to and from the port. Except, of course, there’s a drayman shortage. And when you do find a drayman, “the warehouse doesn’t have room for it”, Pisani said. “You have people storing product in a yard somewhere. People have product stored in multiple warehouses, which is terrible for logistics.”

Pisani says she believes the situation will ease by spring 2022. But unfortunately, the peak season for selling wine is from late October through early December. Therefore, expect to pay more for wine this fall, and if there are wines that you really have to have, buy them when you see them, because the next vintage might not arrive on time.

Here at Skolnik Industries, using our stainless steel wine barrels is a reliable link in your supply chain. 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.

Your Next Glass of Wine May Be More Expensive

July 13th, 2021 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

In a recent online article for The Wall Street Journal, Alistair MacDonald writes: “Here’s another reason to worry about inflation: It’s getting more expensive to make wine, beer and spirits. Some vineyards, brewers and distillers say they are absorbing those costs for now, and prices for alcoholic beverages are rising more modestly than for other consumer goods, according to government data. That might not last, analysts warn. Costs for cardboard packaging, aluminum for beer cans, labels, transportation, and energy are all going up. That is part of a wider burst of inflation hitting many industries in the US as economies recover from Covid-19 lockdowns.”

MacDonald goes on to report that: “Earlier this year, Chris Steller, at Amador & Dry Diggings Distillery, began receiving emails from suppliers warning his Californian distillery to get ready for price increases. Those costs have arrived, but for now is holding back on raising the prices of its rum, gin and whiskey.”

The article continues: “Many economists say today’s sharp inflation won’t last. The Federal Reserve has said price rises are “largely reflecting transitory factors.” But businesses and consumers are feeling them. Booze makers are facing many of the same cost pressures as most businesses, including higher energy and transport prices. The cost of moving a truckload of beer or its ingredients 600 miles has approximately doubled to about $2,000 for small and midsize breweries because of high demand and a lack of drivers, said Mitch Steele, co-founder of Atlanta-based New Realm Brewing Co. Also affecting beer costs are aluminum prices, which have increased around 70% since May 2020. The price of a can has risen from around 10 to 15 cents, depending on its size, to around 25 to 30 cents, said Mr. Steele, reflecting U.S. industry averages. The cost of labels for wines produced by Nik Weis’s winery in southern Germany, has risen 5% since before the pandemic. The time it takes to get them printed has doubled to eight weeks as printers struggle to keep up with a sudden rush of demand.”

Here at Skolnik Industries, using our stainless steel wine barrels is a great addition to your supply chain. 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.

Getting Wine Workers Vaccinated

June 15th, 2021 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Writing in Wine Industry Advisor, Laurie Wachter writes about how essential worker vaccinations were critical to operations during the pandemic.

Laurie writes that:” Vineyard and winery production workers across the country labored through the pandemic, pruning, and harvesting grapes, crushing and bottling wine. The workers’ dedication while COVID-19 raged elevated winery concerns about unvaccinated worker safety.

With states like California focusing initially on the heavily impacted 65+ population, many wine-producing communities moved ahead with independent plans to deliver vaccines to their teams as early as possible. One example is the cooperative effort by wineries, grape growers, and health care providers in Sonoma County to conduct hundreds of COVID-19 vaccinations beginning in January. Within four months, 100% of essential agricultural and production workers were successfully vaccinated.”

“To encourage the community to get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” says Sonoma County Vintners Executive Director Michael Haney, “we increased educational resources and messaging, and produced a series of local radio ads and educational flyers. We also drafted mitigation protocols, developed COVID-19 signage templates and hosted a community food distribution.”

Foley Family Wines also joined with community partners to effectuate vaccinations. According to second-generation vintner Courtney Foley, “We were able to sign up over 90% of our production and farmworker employees for the vaccine through programs we coordinated with Sonoma County Vintners, Sonoma County Medical Association, and many others statewide.”

“As an employer, you want your place of business to be viewed as a safe place.” That means wineries will need to make decisions about requiring the use of masks or proof of vaccination. Once the logistical details of vaccinations and masks are clarified, staffing issues resolved, and the tourist flow increases, wineries will breathe a sigh of relief and move forward to business as usual.

Here at Skolnik Industries, using our stainless steel wine barrels can be an essential part of your wine business. 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.