This Issue of The Grapevine Magazine

Are You Happy with Your Vineyard Training System?

When I mention canopy management in public, people often ask me when I will update my book “Sunlight into Wine”. Recently I have given this idea some more thought. Maybe the presentation could be improved, and some contributors’ comments updated, but the basic principles are unaltered and are still valid. There is not much new in the design nor management of the trellis systems. So, to date, I have not bothered. In this column, I would like to offer some thought about the application of grapevine training system to Midwest viticulture. Much of what I say here will be a direct follow on from my first three columns in this magazine, which dealt with vine balance and trunk diseases. I […]

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Special Events: Identifying Legal Issues – Part 2

Special events are a valuable source of supplemental income for wineries, but they also present a variety of legal concerns, which if not properly addressed may have significant consequences. In the first part of this article, we discussed limitations on holding special events as well as the winery’s responsibilities at such events. In this second part, we will discuss various types of events and the specific issues they raise. Weddings and Family Gatherings Vineyards provide an attractive backdrop for weddings, family reunions, and company retreats. Many wineries also have indoor event space perfect for receptions and other gatherings. While visiting a winery recently, I spoke with the owner who told me the following story. One Saturday afternoon, she was in […]

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Line ‘em up! Selecting the Right Bottling Line for Your Winery

As you’re considering a multi-thousand dollar expenditure for bottle filler equipment, the last thing you want is a disposable flashlight. “Look at it as a long-term investment. There’s filling equipment on the market that reminds me a lot of an old disposable flashlight,” said Jay Langejans, North America Midwest and Canada sales representative for Fogg Filler. “Once the batteries were dead, you couldn’t put new batteries in it—you just threw away the flashlight and got another one. Our equipment is repairable, replaceable: the proverbial batteries are available for it, the light bulb is available for it. You can use that same flashlight for 50 or 60 years.” This analogy proves a point: running a successful wine business doesn’t give you […]

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Tipple Hill Winery: Rural Missouri Farmers Find Success With Wine

For more than a century in Easton, Missouri, generations of Schreibers have been known for raising corn, soybeans and cattle. Now, they’re in the wine business. Roxyann and Bill Schreiber planted their first vineyard in 2010 with Chambourcin, Vignoles, and Concord grapes. “Thus began the challenge of growing and making wine with Missouri grapes,” the couple said. The Schreibers took in their first harvest in 2014, and they produced a dry Chambourcin wine and an Antique Harvesters wine – a Chambourcin Concord blend – that has proven popular. For the first couple of years, they primarily sold their wines at local wine events, festivals and grocery stores. In 2015, they opened Tipple Hill Winery & Vineyard along a rural stretch […]

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Icewine in America and Eastern Canada

The world of Icewine has experienced a changing of the guard over the past decade. Germany and Austria used to be the largest producers of “Eiswein.” However, according to W. Denman Zirkle, winemaker for Richard Böcking Winery in the heart of Mosel River Valley in Germany, “with global warming we haven’t had the cold winters we used to have in Germany and haven’t made an Icewine for about 10 years.” Today Canada and the United States dominate the icewine industry, with Canada currently recognized as the world’s largest producer. What is Icewine? Icewine is a sweet wine produced from frozen grapes. Icewine grapes not only have to be harvested frozen but must be pressed before they thaw out. The goal […]

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Adding a Financing Arm to Your B2B Business “aka” In-House Customer Payment Plans

With majority of business processes automated – payment plans are more readily available than ever before. This includes business goods, services, and consumer goods – almost everything under the sun can be financed.  With that being said it is crucial for a business to offer payment plans for products and services to keep up with competition and most importantly grow sales and increase revenue.  Commonly, a customer that wants or requires a finance option is often not going to share that with whom they are purchasing from. Keep in mind, 100% of your customers that pay cash are already doing so. So suppliers offering a financing option have the chance to convert more existing prospects into buyers.  As a private lender in […]

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Vineyard Tools and Equipment for a Successful Harvest

It’s that time of year again – the time to seriously start preparing for the upcoming harvest. Harvest is the busiest time of the year for vineyards of all shapes and sizes, which is why it’s so important to start planning early to get the right tools and equipment in place. Vineyard Harvest 101 Most North American wineries are fully engaged in their annual grape harvest in the months of August, September, and October, but the prep work to get to this critical stage starts well before then. There are a few different ways to set the grape harvest up for success. Some vineyards swear by traditional hand harvesting, while others have found that mechanical harvesting suits their needs better. […]

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Forklift Purchasing for the Winemaker

Deep down most hands on winemakers praise, cherish and respect their forklift. Perhaps that comes from the days of remembrance when few forklifts existed in the industry. Maximizing the use of the winery forklift is crucial to saving labor, our precious backs and dollars. Try to take the labor savings and re-invest it into focusing on the winemaking. Many thanks are in order to the forklift industry for saving our aching backs with these hugely useful tools. When searching to acquire a forklift, one must look at many factors before engaging the purchase, such as: Fuel choice, size, number of wheels, tire size and material, load capacity/size, lift height needed, fork length, options (tilt, side shift, rotating head) and floor […]

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H2-A Visa Program Offers Vintners Legal Options (Update)

The July-August 2017 issue of Grapevine included an article by me about the H-2A Guestworker Visa program and how it might be used as a source of labor for vintners. In this update I’m going to talk about a couple of specific additional ways H-2A can help vintners, especially vintners who feel they are too small to support an H-2A workforce of their own. The first concept I want to talk about is H-2A Joint Employer Contracts. In this model, two or more employers can file jointly on a single H-2A contract. This allows them to share the up-front costs, share housing AND share workers. The single most important caveat is that you need to know that any other vintner […]

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Wine Labels 101: Navigating TTB’s COLA Process

The label approval process is unique to the alcohol beverage industry; most traditional foods (such as cookies, pasta, and sugar) are not subject to government pre-approval before being sold at market. Indeed, well before a wine reaches a store’s shelves or the hands of a consumer, the federal—and possibly even the state—government played a significant role in what must, what can, and what cannot appear on a wine label. The other unique aspect about wine labels—in comparison to distilled spirit or malt beverage labels—is that while most wine labels are subject to the labeling jurisdiction of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), wines under 7% alcohol by volume fall in the labeling jurisdiction of the Food and […]

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Viticulture & Enology Education? Consider Looking Northward

Viticulture is dynamic, scientific and, with innovation advancing and our environment continually evolving, it can be a challenge to keep on top of it all. Even the most seasoned winemakers and grape growers could benefit from updating or fine-tuning their knowledge. Ensuring the entire vineyard team possesses the most up-to-date skills and education to grow the finest grapes and produce premium wine is never a bad idea. People may seek out viticulture or enology education programs to optimize their knowledge and skills, improve those of their employees, or perhaps even satisfy a career shift into the wine industry. Many programs exist, varying in depth, length and content, and provide education on specific aspects of viticulture, including combining viticulture with business […]

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A Winery Roadmap for Data Capture

If you’re trying to sell your wines through direct channels, your customer database is the most valuable tool in your marketing arsenal. Most wineries understand the importance of a database, but few have a documented list for which consumer data points should be collected, and why. In any given business, different departments have different needs and will require certain customer data points. These needs can often be in conflict. It is common, for example, for senior management, marketing, accounting, and tasting room staffs to all prioritize different aspects of data collection. Without a list that is agreed upon by all departments of what customer data should be captured by whom and in what manner, consistent data capture simply won’t take […]

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