This Issue of Grapevine Magazine

Winery Architecture

When it comes to building a winery, there are many factors that need to be considered when choosing the building design. Selecting an architect you trust to bring your vision to life is key to the project’s success. Incorporating a method to store the product within the building plans, choosing the type of material used, and selecting elements that increase overall efficiency of the facilities are all crucial details that need to assessed and implemented throughout the design process. When tourists visit wineries, one of the first things they take in upon driving up to the property is the winery building. The design of this building plays an important role in not only greeting visitors, but also by providing them […]

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What is Your Brand? The Importance of Branding & Messaging for Small Wine Producers

Branding exercises are not fun. There… I said it. Not doing them can be fatal, particularly in today’s competitive environment. Not having a clear sense of your winery’s identity, position and target customer is equivalent to starting a meeting or conversation without making introductions. Without doing the difficult brand identity work (essence, philosophy, position, point of difference, brand promise and proof, and the stories to support these), you are communicating without point of reference and your messaging may not resonate; in fact, may not connect with anyone at all. Ninety percent of small producers haven’t completed a branding or re-branding exercise. And, almost all of you are marketing the same way — logos, websites, photos of vineyards and bottles, email […]

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Volatile Acidity

Run a blank on some boiled distilled water and subtract that reading from your sample. Or run a blank on a 12.5 percent alcohol / boiled distilled water mix. Usually this blank will take 0.2 mils of 0.1 normal NaOH and this number can be subtracted from all future burette readings. Calibrate the strength of your sodium hydroxide. This is the most important chemical known in this equation. For further accuracy use a 10 milliliter burette in place of the 25 milliliter burette recommended above. This test is not correcting for sulfur dioxide in the wine. In most cases, with today’s lower sulfur dioxide winemaking, this is not necessary to correct. To make the operation of the unit easier – […]

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Recognize & Protect Your Valuable Trade Secrets

Theft (misappropriation) of trade secrets can occur even at the highest levels of employees or officers of the company. That is usually where theft of trade secrets is the most damaging. For example, in Morton v. Rank America, Inc., 812 F.Supp. 1062, 1073 (C.D. Cal. 1993), Defendant Robert Earl was alleged to have misappropriated trade secrets while still a director of Hard Rock Licensing Corporation. Hard Rock asserted that Mr. Earl took those secrets and used them to start and run a competing business, Planet Hollywood. Examples of the secrets he was said to have taken included: actual and projected income, expenses and capital needs of Hard Rock Cafes and other financial information; successful and unsuccessful business strategies and methods; […]

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Traditional Cooperage vs. Oak Alternatives in Modern Wine Making

The use of wine barrels originated as a means to store and transport wine. Local woods were initially utilized for convenience to the wine makers. When selecting wood, wine makers were more likely to select woods that were least likely to impact the final product. In the 1700 hundreds wine makers began to notice the benefits of casking wine in selected oak specifically the Baltic oak fount in North Eastern Poland. This process utilized the craftsmanship of a cooper, or a tradesman who created casks consisting of thin slats of wood, which were arranged vertically to create a container. A round “head piece” on both ends of the cask usually accompanied these casks. The cask also utilized metal hoops created […]

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Come Quickly, I’m Tasting the Stars

If Champagne is the wine of kings, then I felt like royalty during a recent visit to that iconic appellation in northeast France. The occasion was the 50th anniversary of the International Federation of Wine Brotherhoods (F.I.C.B), a four-day celebration held in Reims, the heart of Champagne country. Attending this event were 180 wine aficionados from 10 countries, including France, Switzerland, Slovenia, Macedonia, Hungary, Serbia, the Netherlands, the United States and Japan. Our host was the French Chapter, and they treated us to a “full immersion” weekend of activities, ranging from academic sessions to special Champagne dinners and, ultimately, a farewell gala dinner in the famed cellars of G.H. Mumm. Let’s start with some of the facts, which we learned […]

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Planting a New Vineyard? Guidelines to Avoid Common Mistakes

In the last issue of The Grapevine Magazine I reviewed California 2010 Certification and Registration (R&C) program and presented information on testing guidelines to avoid planting diseased vines. In this issue I will concentrate on strategies for testing the vineyard and surrounding blocks to assure that the “disease free” planted vines remain healthy. I assume that the grower will plan with ample time to test for disease causing agents and will follow the guidelines from my previous article. However, pathogens (i.e., disease causing agents) can spread in the vineyard (from neighboring blocks) and/or be present in soil (e.g., Agrobacterium vitis and soil borne fungi). I will review information that was presented in a recent webinar that covered the topic with […]

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Financing From the Ground Up

explain your targeted price points by varietals and how you derived them. Additionally, it’s important to list key contacts you’ve made within the wine industry, such as experts you’ve consulted about grape varieties or winemaking. Most industry experts are willing to share their knowledge to help startups take a “best practices” approach to avoid some common mistakes. • Include a financial forecast of year-by-year sales and capital/operating expenses by category for the first three to five years of the startup, financing needs and expectations, sourcing of the grapes, and the sources’ reliability and ability to meet future growth needs. • When considering organizational structure, understand who will be responsible for day-to-day operations, winemaking and financial management. Listing these decision-makers will […]

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Dormant Pruning in Established Vineyards

In between harvesting vineyards and the growing season comes a step that can and will affect the outcome of the crop almost more than anything else – dormant pruning. To ensure an excellent crop, early spring pruning, or dormant pruning, is essential. When done correctly and with care, pruning increases fruit size, quantity and nitrogen per growing point, stimulates growth, increases sugar content in the grapes, decreases disease and pest problems, and increases light distribution to the wood. In established vineyards, pruning will help renew fruiting wood, maintain the current training system, and keep vines from affecting the growth of their neighbors. Because fruit is only produced on shoots growing from one-year-old canes, it is absolutely essential to prune back […]

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Taking in the Crispness of Okanagan Valley

We go on a hike for a better vantage point. The vineyard is small venture Mike started with his wife and young son. In B.C, starting a wine business is easier than one might think since very precise and helpful government guidelines exist that nurture small wineries. Mike gives me a tour around his estate. He shows me where the grapes are pressed, and the barn where he keeps the two horses he owns with his wife. The cellar that holds his small collection of imported wines is his most prized possession. Mike has produced wine here for about eight years as a venture funded through savings and a lot of family encouragement. He used to work a 9-5 job […]

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Wines of the New World – Costa Rica

According to new information published in June 2014 (by Euro Monitor International), perspective research points towards new and emerging wine markets that are beginning to take greater effect due to free trade agreements. With the diversity of wine available in C.R. having significantly increased since 2011, there are a great many different kinds of wine occupying considerable shelf space in local supermarkets and in emerging convenience stores. This includes wines from countries as diverse as South Africa, Australia, Peru and Israel. Throughout most of last year South Africa (S.A.) was ahead of the game in Costa Rica, leading the way on imports of wine moving into the area. S.A. became the leading distributor of wine in Costa Rica in 2013 […]

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