New Technology Affecting Your Marketing Right Now

By: Susan DeMatei, Founder of WineGlass Marketing

At the DTC Symposium last month, there was a session about new technology trends and their application for wine marketing. We spoke with a panel about big data-driven advertising, NFTs, and their use for marketing and augmented reality. Each speaker had a case study on wine, and the Q&A session explored everything from costs to legal ramifications. These new tools only scratch the service of all the exciting trends in marketing wines. This blog highlights three trends affecting our marketing planning right now and in the near future.

AI:  Artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming increasingly important in the online marketing arena. These technologies allow marketers to analyze data and take that analysis to automate routine processes, make decisions based on behaviors, anticipate responses and improve customer experiences. It can have applications in websites, emails, online ads, and offline content development.

  In design, AI tells us which content will most likely engage a specific tagged customer. This capability allows us to create dynamic (changing) websites and emails personalized to individual customer preferences. We are not quite to the level in the movie Minority Report, where biometric-tailored ads talk to us wherever we go, but websites that offer personalized experiences, such as customized content and recommendations, are already in high demand. With AI constantly learning, this trend will only get more precise.

  One of the fastest-growing uses of AI is long and short-form writing. Chat GPT, Jasper, and Copymatic advertise well-researched and relevant blogs in seconds, negating any excuse not to deliver new content to your winery followers. Ironically, just as fast as these new AI tools to create AI content pop up, they are followed closely by another stream of tools to identify artificially generated copy (e.g., Content at Scale, etc.). AI writing has a certain “canned” quality, so just pumping out AI-generated content without personalization isn’t recommended. But it is interesting how efficient marketing is becoming. It will be interesting to track the results and see if consumers find AI content as engaging as messages from the heart.

Voice:  Keeping an eye on voice search and voice user interface (VUI) are increasingly essential thanks to the rise of virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, and Google Home. In 2022, InsiderIntelligence estimated that 142.0 million people in the US, or 42.1% of the population, used a voice assistant.

graph for smart speaker shopping activities for US owners

  Why is this significant for marketing? Because people don’t type the way they speak. When people use voice search, they are more likely to use natural language and ask longer, more complex questions. So, when optimizing for voice search, it’s important to use conversational language or long-tail keywords that match how people speak to help content appear in voice search results.

  In addition, if you want your website to appear when people voice search, your website must include the correct schema markup in the code. Schema markup is a type of structured data that helps search engines understand the content of a web page. By including schema markup for voice in your website code, you can make it easier for search engines to understand your content and display it in voice search results.

Influencer or Peer Marketing:  As we witness the shift in values from Boomers to Millennials, the power of persuasion sways away from the press or pundit toward the peer or friend. To people under the age of 40 with foundational experience with the internet, ratings, peer comments, and social media content by others about a product are among the most persuasive reasons to buy. It is no wonder why Forester reported 73% of companies are increasing their social media budget for 2023.

bar graph for social commerce sales

  “Wait,” you say, “social media is hardly a new technology.” True. The focus on the increase in social media budget is significant when paired with the growth of social commerce or selling products directly on social media platforms. This capability is relatively new but expected to grow 30.8% in 2023 to hit $1.3 trillion in sales. Finally, we can show management a direct ROI tied to the social media budget.

  Social commerce is so effective because it happens in a supported peer environment and offers an easy, convenient, and seamless shopping experience for customers, which can lead to increased sales and customer loyalty. It’s an effective sales strategy because it removes friction from online shopping experiences that start on social platforms. Many people discover products they like while browsing social media.

  Influencer marketing, buying something you saw on Instagram and peer review sites like Yelp, are familiar, but we can expect more brands to focus on these partnerships to promote their products and services in the future. This will drive prices up, create clutter, increase the need to pay for views, and heighten the importance of developing engaging content to break through to new customers.

  There are certainly more trends to discuss, as this is only a partial list. The importance of dark mode design, augmented reality, interactive and immersive design, and the new Google Analytics are also at the forefront of our conversations and will be the subject of future posts. What is clear is that technology is evolving our ability to plan and execute marketing far beyond what was done even in the last ten years.

  Susan DeMatei is the founder of WineGlass Marketing, a full-service direct marketing firm working within the wine industry in Napa, California. Now in its 10th year, the agency offers domestic and international clients assistance with strategy and execution. WineGlass Marketing is located in Napa, California at 707-927-3334 or    

New Grapevine Insurance Program

By: Trevor Troyer

Grape crop insurance has been available for many years now.  You can protect an average of your historical tonnage per variety.   But there has not been an insurance program for grape vines.   There are subsidized insurance programs for apple trees, orange trees, avocado trees, mango trees etc. through the USDA Risk Management Agency.  But there has not been anything for vineyards, until now.

  AgriLogic Consulting, LLC is consulting company that develops crop insurance products for the USDA.  They do feasibility studies and evaluations of existing and potential programs.  AgriLogic Consulting, LLC has been working on a Grapevine insurance program.

  Here is what was just released on the AgriLogic website,

  The Grapevine Insurance Program has been approved by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation for implementation in the following states: California, Idaho, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. Insurance industry representatives in key production regions requested a product to protect producers against perils that can destroy vines. The list of perils to be included are freeze, hail, flood, fire, and failure of the irrigation water supply (if caused by an unavoidable naturally occurring event during the insurance period). Claims will be limited to loss due to complete destruction or death of the vine. Losses for partial damage are not included under the program. While both programs are federally subsidized and administered by the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA), the vine replacement program is different and separate from the existing Grape and Table Grape Crop Insurance Programs, which cover losses related to the production of the fruit itself. Producers will be able to purchase the vine insurance program through existing crop insurance agents once the program becomes available.

  I don’t have to tell you that this is a big deal.  I know vineyards that have wanted this for years and nothing has been available.  I have seen vineyards devasted by fire in California and Oregon in recent years. I have seen damage from early freezes in Pennsylvania and New York.  This program will give growers much needed protection for their vines.

  The policy documents are set to be released to the approved insurance providers by no later than August 31, 2023.  The sign-up deadline for the new Grapevine Insurance program will be November 1st, 2023.  Availability maps should be released at the end of August as well.

  At this point we do not have any information than the above.  I look forward to helping vineyards get coverage for their vines.

Lower the pH of Wines Via Easy Acid Trials

man holding a wine glass

By: Tom Payette – Winemaking Consultant  

Often a winemaker is challenged with grapes, juice and wine that may have an imbalance in regards to the pH of a certain wine.  This can be a critical choice for the winemaker in terms of protecting the wine from spoilage.  A wine with a higher pH is much more likely to develop spoilage bacteria/yeast problems.  On the converse just simply adding acid to lower the pH may throw the delicate taste and balance of the wine off.  Much finesse must be used at this time by the winemaker to make the proper decisions using both the wine lab and the wineglass.

Trials in the lab:  The lab is the first place the winemaker should turn to experiment with small batches of wine.  This will give nearly concrete evidence from the lab as well as tasting trials to determine the appropriate amount and kind of acid to add.

When?  The pH of a wine should be addressed as early on in the winemaking process as possible, especially if too high.  Often this decision is predicted just before harvest from previously collected data (from field and grape samples) and made at harvest after chemistry confirmation on the crush pad.

Why and Where?  The reason we do trials is to experiment with refinement and correction of a juice or wine.  Always work in small quantities, in the lab, with a wine so one does not potentially create a larger problem, in the cellar.  Trials can be tested and tasted to see what the results would be or will have been if the addition was made to the actual tank or vessel of juice/wine.  This eliminates guesswork and unnecessarily “shooting from the hip” of which many winemakers can find themselves guilty of during critical times.

testing pH level


•   Scales that measure in grams preferably to a tenth of a gram.

•   3 – 100 milliliter graduated cylinder (plastic preferred).

•   1 – 50 milliliter graduated cylinder (plastic preferred).

•   1 – 10 milliliter pipette (Class A volumetric).

•   2 – 5 milliliter serological pipettes-one tenth mil markings (Plastic preferred).

•   Small glass beakers 250 milliliters plus or minus

  •      Representative sample(s) of each wine to be worked with (800 milliliters).

•   Clean wineglasses

•   Watch glasses to cover each glass.

•   Spit cup

•   Other testing equipment to answer questions at hand: pH meter, TA measuring.

•   Magnetic Stir plate with stir bars and retriever for the stir bars.

•   Sharpie™ pen or pencil for marking beakers.

•   95% ethanol to remove Sharpie™ pen marks off glassware.

How?  Start with something simple where results can be easily determined with the wineglass to give the confidence needed to build upon the procedure.  An example of this may be a tartaric addition trial for pH lowering and/or palate modification.  Let’s go over this process.

1.   Start with an ample quantity of wine to work with in the lab – perhaps an 800-milliliter representative sample from a wine vessel.

2.   Accurately weigh 1.0 gram of tartaric acid and fully dissolve the acid in approximately 85 milliliters of the base wine with which you are working. Use the stir bar and plate for this process.

3.   Once fully dissolved, place the full amount into a 100 milliliter graduated cylinder or as one becomes more experienced you may just make the solution in the 100 milliliter graduated cylinder directly.

4.   Bring the amount of volume in the 100 milliliter graduated cylinder to the 100 milliliter mark with additional base wine.  [One should be clear they have made a solution of 1.0-gram tartaric acid dissolved into 100 milliliters of wine.]

5.   In a clean graduated cylinder, pipette 10 milliliters of the newly prepared acid stock solution into the cylinder.  Bring to the complete 100 milliliters volume mark with the base wine.  This represents a 1.0-gram per liter tartaric acid addition.

6.   Pipette twenty milliliters from the stock acid solution made in step four into another graduated cylinder and bring to volume to the 100-milliliter mark.  This represents the next addition level of 2.0 grams per liter tartaric addition.

7.   Continue to add to the number of samples you care to do the trial on in standard logical increments.

8.   Analysis the pH and titratable acidity, record and have available for the tasting below.


1.   Pour about 70 milliliters or a quantity one desires to smell and taste, of the base wine, into a control glass and place it to the left hand area of the tasting glass orientation.  (One should always taste against a control from left to right)

2.   Pour the trials to be tasted, made in steps 5,6 and 7 above, in increasing increments in each wineglass progressing from left to right.  Mark their contents.

3.   Add to this flight any wines from past vintages you may want to review or any other blind samples from other producers you may care to use as a benchmark.  Only do this step if needed.  Mark their contents.

4.   Taste and smell each wine several times.  Go through the flight and detect what wine/juice may best match or improve the desired style one is trying to achieve.  Review the chemistry data generated in step 8 above while tasting the trials.

5.   Select the best match and leave the room for 1 to 2 hours so your palate may re-calibrate.

6.   Return and re-taste to confirm your previous decision with a fresh palate.

7.   Repeat as often and needed.

  Should chemistries play an important role to reviewing certain additions be certain to run a necessary panel of lab test to ascertain the proper numbers are also achieved.  One may need to balance taste, flavor and chemistry to make some tough choices.  Have all the data necessary and available to make those choices.  

Calculation:  Once the fear of the metric system is overcome and confidence is achieved, the calculations become very simplistic.  Let’s take the above as the example.  If we dissolve 1.0 gram of tartaric acid into 100 milliliters of wine we now have 0.1 gram of tartaric acid in every 10 milliliters of wine.  From this base if we blend 10.0 milliliters (one-tenth gram of tartaric) into 100 milliliters of the same fresh base wine – this represents the equivalent of one gram per liter.  If we were to have used twenty milliliters that would represent two grams per liter in the small 100-milliliter blend.  If we keep track of what we are tasting or testing and select the trial we prefer, one can mathematically calculate how much of the given addition is needed in a tank of a known quantity of juice or wine.  One can also extrapolate this out to larger volumes in the laboratory should it be desired to work beyond a 100-milliliter sample.

Spicing it up!  Once the first set of trials is mastered one may build on to the next step projecting out what one may want to do with the juice or wine.  This could eventually, and perhaps should, build out to treating large enough samples that one could cold and protein stabilize the wine in the lab, filter to the projected desired micron size and taste with a panel.

  If tartaric acid is not giving the desired result – select other approved acids for that wine.  Fruit wines, other than grape, often have other principal acids so one may need to explore using that principal acid first.

Double checking the results:  From experience, one can get so creative in a lab it can be difficult to trace exactly how one arrived at a certain desired concoction.  Copious notes should be taken throughout the complete process in the lab.  Given a tank of juice or wine can often equate to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more it may be prudent to run the selected trial a second time, and compare, to confirm any additions before performing the action in the cellar.  Be confident of what you are about to do.

Action in the cellar:  This is often the simple part.  Using tartaric acid as an example for the addition one will simply calculate the amount of acid needed to match the desired trial.  Weigh the desired amount of tartaric and dissolve in a bucket of warm water or wine from the tank.  Once dissolved add slowly to the tank while mixing.  Continue to mix until fully integrated and then select a sample from the sample valve for tasting, a quick pH and titratable acidity analysis.   This will confirm the task was achieved.

Summary:  Given time and experimentation with this system many pH-lowering trials with additions will become easy and systematic.  Trials will often take less than ten minutes to prepare and one may taste at several points during the day or use extra time to perform lab test to confirm desired objectives.

Other helpful tips:  Keep in mind not to over scrutinize your accuracy in the laboratory.  By this I mean make sure that if we measure something very exactly in the laboratory make sure this action will be able to be duplicated outside the lab.  It is not uncommon, early on, for winemakers to get extremely exact in the lab only to step into the cellar with sloppy control over what they had just experimented with.

  One can use other base solutes should that be desired.  It does not always have to be wine.

  This system can be used for dosage formulation for sparking wines.

  If accurate scales may be an issue the winemaker may always start by weighing larger quantities and dissolving into solution then breaking down that solution.  Example:  If a winemaker wants a 1.0 gram per liter solution and the scales are not accurate enough to weight one gram the winemaker may dissolve 10.0 grams into 100 milliliters and then measure out 10 milliliters of that solution and this should roughly equate to one gram.

  Make sure all solids are dissolved and dispersed equally into any solution.

  One may also be able to blend two trials in 50% to 50% solutions to get an example of a trial in the middle without having to make one up specifically to match the amount desired.

  Always remember your palate may become desensitized while tasting and to step away from tasting for an hour or two and then return to taste ones preference.  You may be shocked you had become used to [Desensitized] certain levels because of tasting such extremes.

Could the Wine Industry Benefit from Virtual Assistants?

what can i help you with
AI Chatbot smart digital customer service application concept. Computer or mobile device application using artificial intelligence chat bot automatic reply online message to help customers instantly.

By: Craig Goodliffe, Founder & CEO — Cyberbacker

Digital innovations within the workplace are nothing new these days. With more and more people working from home, employees are becoming accustomed to relying on technology to help with work-related tasks that used to be completed in person.

  Today, virtual assistants (VAs) are changing the way companies interact with and engage customers, get their name out into the market, and improve overall profits. VAs are part of the digital revolution that has reinvented the landscape of modern work, and business leaders across a wide array of industries are leveraging the skills these professionals offer to help scale their businesses, manage tasks, and free up their time.

  When one thinks about viniculture and the wine industry, it may bring to mind images of vast fields of grapevines, wineries with knowledgeable sommeliers giving in-person recommendations, and an age-old, often family-based company structure. One’s mind typically will not jump to a tech-heavy culture.

  However, according to a recent article in Forbes, many wine companies have not only adapted to changes in technology, but debuted some wine industry-specific innovations. For instance, some companies have outfitted their wine labels with QR codes that give consumers greater insight into the wine’s origins. The company Sparflex has developed a wine foil that allows the consumer to access animations straight from the label, and WineCab is a robotic, AI-powered sommelier; some wineries are even using drones and satellites to collect data on their vineyards.

  Although the viniculture industry may not seem one “ripe for the picking” for help from virtual assistants, the wine industry has a history of adaptation to new technologies and innovations. This could make them the perfect industry to adopt the use of VAs. 

What Value can VAs Bring to Winemakers and Viniculture?

  Virtual assistants are remote workers who can help companies with a number of tasks, and their role has taken on new meaning as remote work has grown in popularity. Once used for mainly administrative tasks, VAs are now heading up social media campaigns, handling the entire accounting or customer service department of companies, and — in some cases — even stepping into C-suite leadership roles.

  Throughout the past several years, the wine industry has faced the same challenges that many other industries have run across, including customer service concerns, supply chain issues, and a focus on employee retention in the wake of the Great Resignation. Virtual assistants can help winemakers navigate these challenges as well as many others.

  One of the biggest benefits a VA can bring to the wine industry is their ability to take on tasks that may not be in the wheelhouse of a business owner, CEO, or other leaders. VAs can also be instrumental in helping leaders better focus on the tasks where they excel. Attempting to scale a business on one’s own is remarkably difficult, especially in an industry as inherently collaborative as viniculture, where different teams are responsible for harvesting the grapes, making, selling, and marketing the final product.

  Studies have shown that taking on a VA can improve productivity overall in one’s business, including the wine industry, where overall productivity could make or break a winery. VAs can also help lower overall operating costs by up to 78%, which could provide crucial savings for a startup in the wine industry.

  Virtual assistants can give an owner more time to focus on what they really want to do: building their businesses. Winemakers may be surprised at how adaptable and multi-faceted VAs are, and what they can do to help a winery, vineyard, or wine store scale.

  Running and managing social media accounts

It can be difficult — if not completely impossible — to run a successful business these days without using social media effectively. Many people may not know how to leverage social media for their wine business, but there are VAs who are highly skilled in areas of social media marketing and engagement that can help one uplevel their business.

  Social media is largely about visuals, and one may wonder how someone who may work halfway around the world can help with the visual marketing of a business that is in, say, Napa Valley. Yet, because so many aspects of the modern workplace have been digitized, it’s extremely easy for a VA to take images or videos from a winery’s events — or even its wine-making process itself — and use those on social media sites to further establish its brand presence.

  VAs can also handle the engagement side of social media, which can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of digital marketing. After all, customers who are interested in your product because they saw some compelling images online will want to engage with your brand by liking, following, and sharing your content on social media.


  According to research, 70% of adults use Facebook, many of whom use their connections to brands on social media to make purchase decisions. When a brand actively engages with followers online, it increases the likelihood that the person with whom they are engaged will return to make a purchase.

  In this regard, VAs can also handle the involved job of social media advertising. Running social media ads is highly effective. In fact, that same research shows that 49% of people will be more apt to purchase an item if they see an ad for it on social media. However, running, organizing, and keeping on top of social media ads can be tricky — even for social media-savvy CEOs. Having a person whose top priority is to run and track social media ads can greatly improve a company’s reach and revenue.


  Instagram is where social media users go for imagery, and where a winery’s brand presence could easily entice customers with beautiful pictures and engaging video content. Instagram is all about meeting wine enthusiasts where they are, as these consumers are the ones sharing their own pictures of vineyards, bottles, and glasses of their favorite wines.

  Instagram posts that tend to garner the most engagement are those that highlight the human element of the business behind the screen. A great example is Tank Winery, which has harnessed the power of Instagram with personal, informative, and entertaining stories and posts that grab attention. Virtual assistants that are well-versed in the visual-heavy Instagram approach can help uplevel a business’ presence on the platform by consistently posting engaging content.


  As of September 2022, TikTok is the most downloaded social media app in the US for the third year in a row. Many VAs are also TikTok experts and can help a winery or vineyard get its head around what is likely to “go viral” on the popular platform. TikTok can be a great platform for robust marketing strategies and interesting dives into wine-related content, be they virtual tastings, or informative videos about a particular wine or brand.

  Consistency is key with all social media platform posting. Some studies show that businesses should post 1-4 times a day to have a chance of reaching viral status, but most winemakers simply do not have the time to consistently post on platforms for maximum engagement. This is where hiring a VA can help their business achieve the consistency they need to best leverage social media.

Customer Service

  If there is anything that can make or break a business, it’s customer service. No matter how great a winery’s product may be or how skilled its wine experts are, its entire operation can steadily dry up if its customer service is lacking.

  Customer service needs to be top-notch with not only consumers, but suppliers and the stores that carry one’s product. Even when they are positioned halfway around the world, VAs can field phone calls, respond to emails in a timely manner, manage chatbot functionality on your website, and provide assistance with issues that may arise. If a company is looking to expand on a global scale, having a VA in a different time zone could prove to be a massive asset.

  Additionally, as online shopping has become the norm since the pandemic, it is now even more crucial that the wine industry master omnichannel marketing tactics and remain able to pivot alongside changes in consumers’ purchasing habits. Wineries, vineyards, and other businesses in the industry need their customers to be informed and taken care of during every stop in the engagement and purchasing process. VAs can help cover the omnichannel bases, assisting with social media channels, mobile communication, and customer support online.

  By utilizing VAs on the customer support end, customers will feel heard and vendors will feel secure in knowing someone is on top of their needs. Founders and CEOs cannot possibly be everywhere at once, but allowing a VA to help with some of the ongoing customer service tasks allows them to concentrate more on the crucial aspects of their wine business requiring their attention.

  Establishing and building an online presence

A skilled VA can handle a business’s entire online presence, from website design, to updates, to running its online e-commerce store. They can spearhead the time-consuming tasks such as uploading images and information for each product that you sell, writing blog posts that further engage clients and customers, or stepping in at a moment’s notice if one’s website experiences issues and goes down. VAs experienced in event management can even host online events, such as virtual tastings or wine workshops.

  The last few years have been instrumental in building online sales innovation for the wine industry. One study showed that online wine sales skyrocketed during the pandemic and held steadily above pre-pandemic levels, even as in-person tasting rooms reopened.

  Overall, wineries stepped up their online offerings during the pandemic, with 44% of them offering online tastings and other incentives to engage online shoppers; only 22% of wineries neglected their online presence during the pandemic. The online shopping capabilities of a wine business are important for attracting and retaining loyal customers, as well as maintaining their position amid heavy competition.

  Virtual assistants can help with a number of other tasks outside of those mentioned here. Other tasks that are essential to a business, but that leaders may need a VA’s support with, run the gamut from accounting to HR, to SEO and admin. As the wine industry increasingly adapts digital tools and technologies, virtual assistants will take their place as some of the industry’s most invaluable employees.

  As a leader in your wine business, no one is expecting you to be an expert in everything. But by utilizing virtual assistants, you can outsource the expertise necessary to keep your wine business thriving and growing year after year.

Craig Goodliffe is the Founder and CEO of Cyberbacker, an innovative, mission-driven company that connects small to medium-sized businesses with the top-flight support staff that they need in order to grow. Cyberbacker is the leading provider of world-class administrative support and virtual assistant services from anywhere in the world to anyone in the world.

The Problem with Winery Wastewater & What to Do About It

winery wastewater in a gloomy day

By: Alyssa L. Ochs

You may be familiar with a famous quote about water being the source of all life. However, in the winemaking industry, water can be both the solution to and the cause of many operational issues. Not only do wineries use substantial water in their processes, but they also generate wastewater that must be dealt with to keep costs down and effectively utilize this valuable resource. According to the Watershed Information & Conservation Council in Napa County, California, wineries create an average of six gallons of wastewater for every gallon of wine. At least a quarter of that wastewater is produced during the year’s harvest period.

  Past wastewater concerns primarily focused on the grape-growing phase and water shortages during droughts. However, there is also a need for wastewater sse the right treatment option for your winery.

Understanding Winery Wastewater

  Wineries generate wastewater from many processes, including cleaning, crushing, pressing and rinsing tanks. Wastewater also comes from residual drainage, filter and barrel washing and clean-in-place operations. This wastewater contains the remnants of unused grapes and juices, as well as sugars from the alcohol and any cleansing agents applied to the tanks, barrels and filters.

  The issue with winery wastewater lies in the acidity and organic chemicals it often contains. This used water is often filled with particles from cleaning products too. If not treated properly, it can damage soil around the winery property, attract insects and other animals and produce a noxious odor that negatively affects the visitor experience. Other hazards associated with winery wastewater are linked to high energy consumption, dredging for sludge control and the proximity to nearby homes and businesses.

  Yet anyone experienced with winery work will tell you that winery wastewater treatment is essential for the viability of the business. Making productive use of winery wastewater can alleviate water scarcity concerns while reducing a winery’s overall consumption and environmental impact. Good wastewater treatment strategies depend on vineyard productivity, wine quality and sustainable operations.

Challenges with Wastewater in the Winery

  One of the biggest challenges with winery wastewater is the sludge produced by treatment systems. There are primary, secondary and advanced treatments and discharge fees to work into the winery’s budget.

  For many wineries, the biggest hurdles to overcome lie with having staff to oversee good maintenance and monitoring of the treatment systems. Another issue is the insufficient amount of oxygen required to break down microbes in winery waste, a biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) measurement. Some wineries may use ponds as treatment methods, but sizable bodies of water take up space that could be used to grow grapes. Leach fields with septic tanks to flush water into unground pipes are options but only work with certain types of soil, and the treated water can’t be used for irrigation. Meanwhile, hydrate systems consisting of tanks with filters that remove solids and oxygen pumps to aid microbe breakdown are options when physical space is limited.

  “For small wineries, a big challenge can be finding a cost-effective system to treat the relatively small amount of process wastewater generated at their facility,” said Jennifer Kintzer, business development and process engineer for Specialty Treatment Solutions, LLC (STS) in Benicia, California. STS develops reliable, environmentally sustainable and cost-effective wastewater treatment systems that are fully automated and scalable for wineries, breweries and food industries.

  “A common mistake made by wineries is underestimating the amount of process wastewater they generate at their facility,” Kintzer said. “Depending on their processes a winery can generate anywhere from three to 12 gallons of process wastewater for each gallon of wine produced. Some wineries will estimate a low volume of process wastewater per gallon of wine, and then their wastewater system is not sized properly to treat the amount of flow entering the plant.”

  Yoni Szarvas, the CEO of AquaBella Organic Solutions, LLC in Sebastopol, California, told The Grapevine Magazine that the biggest challenge, especially for smaller wineries, is that they generate a large amount of wastewater in a short time, and it is an enormous cost to build a waste treatment facility to treat it. AquaBella specializes in innovative microbial products using naturally occurring, good bacteria to reduce water pollutants and produce higher crop yields.

  “This is where we come in,” Szarvas said. “It’s an easy application because we just pour the AquaBella BioEnzyme directly into the existing reservoir without having to build additional infrastructure. Wineries run out of space in the reservoir to treat their waste and have to build more reservoirs to treat the excess waste. Using AquaBella BioEnzyme allows a shorter treatment time, and the water can be released from the reservoir so it can be refilled.”

Wastewater Treatment Solutions

  There are physical and chemical processes and mechanically based biological processes that can be pursued to address winery wastewater. The options differ for small and large wineries, yet there are creative ways to recycle, reuse and process wastewater for significant benefits.

  Specialty Treatment Solutions offers three popular operations contract options: full service, basic service and daily remote monitoring only. STS’s winery wastewater treatment systems typically consist of influent screening, equalization facilities, pH adjustment and nutrient addition, a moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR), membrane bioreactor (MBR) and aerobic sludge digestor facilities. These systems can come in various sizes and configurations, such as custom-engineered steel tanks, bolted steel tanks, polyethylene tanks, fiberglass tanks and concrete basins to meet the customer’s individual needs.

  “Some wineries do not have the staff available to attend to their wastewater treatment system, so they have STS provide full operations services. We stop by their sites two to three times per week, in addition to daily monitoring of their system over the computer,” said Kintzer.

  “Others have people available but like to have some assistance at times, so they will select the basic service where we physically stop by the site once or twice a month and daily-monitor their system over the computer,” Kintzer said. “Lastly, there are customers who only ask that we monitor their system over the computer and notify them if we notice something that should be attended to. Many times, the winery will make a decision based upon their staffing and knowledge base. All systems are equipped with remote monitoring and operations technology, so the customer can select the services that meets their needs at the time and can change their service plan as their needs change.”

  Szarvas from AquaBella shared with The Grapevine, “We offer a cost-effective solution for wineries so they don’t have to invest a fortune in a waste treatment facility and, if needed, more reservoirs. In addition to dealing with the BOD, nitrates and phosphates, as a bonus, our aerobic and anaerobic bacteria help to reduce the sludge build-up so they can easily store more water.”

  “Cost depends on the size of the pond and the extent of the problem,” said Szarvas. “The beauty of our product is that it will work with any existing infrastructure they have. Application depends on the severity of the situation, so you might need to apply more than once or twice a year.”

Choosing the Best Solution for Your Operations

  Fortunately, winery wastewater treatment is not a cost-prohibitive endeavor since minimal upfront investment is needed, and the technology to handle it already exists.

  Concerning cost, Kintzer from STS said that this varies considerably based on the size of the system and the level of treatment desired. “We design each system to meet the aesthetic, site needs and treatment objectives of the customer while keeping in mind the economic impact the system will have on the customer,” she said.

  Kintzer shared that STS’s services stand out in the industry because the company can evaluate a customer’s entire process and suggest ways to minimize the amount of processed wastewater entering the treatment system, potentially saving the customer money on freshwater and wastewater sides of the operation.

  Szarvas from AquaBella’s most significant advice to wineries about deciding on the right wastewater solution is to choose the most cost-effective solution that will resolve their issues.

  “We believe that AquaBella BioEnzyme is the most valuable, low-cost solution that will help solve the water quality issues that plague vineyards,” Szarvas said. “In addition, the product is completely natural, so it doesn’t harm the water or land, which means it’s doing its job sustainably. It’s a powerful option with both short-term and long-range benefits. AquaBella BioEnzyme is also proudly OMRI-certified to benefit organic wineries.”

  Looking ahead, it is crucial to have everyone in the winery, from owners and upper management to cellar crew and seasonal field workers, onboard with an agreed-upon wastewater management program for consistency and accountability. Wineries can integrate the concept of minimizing all forms of waste into the business culture with relevant training, reporting and performance measurement. In the overall scheme of things, now is an excellent time to start looking at wastewater as something to be managed and also an opportunity to reduce water consumption throughout the vineyard and winery property for long-term success.

Sandy Road Vineyards

Blends Family, Nostalgia, & Passion into Award-Winning Texas Wines

a wide vineyard

By: Gerald Dlubal

Sometimes stars align in a way that leads you down a particular path. That is certainly the case with the origin of Sandy Road Vineyards, located in the Texas Hill Country near Hye, Texas.

  “It all started when Reagan Sivadon married into the family,” said Bryan Chagoly, one of the owners of Sandy Road Vineyards. “Reagan is a winemaker and had previously worked with his childhood friend, Ron Yates, at Spicewood Vineyards in different capacities within the vineyard and cellars, eventually becoming associate winemaker under head winemaker Todd Crowell. The two are responsible for all wine production at Spicewood Vineyards and Ron Yates Wines. Reagan wanted to take a shot at growing grapes for his own wine brand, and we happened to have available land in the Texas Hill Country, so we decided to put it to use and give grape-growing a try. We’ve never looked back since.”

  Sandy Road Vineyards is a family-run vineyard located on the site of the Dixon Ranch, named after the grandparents of sisters Adrienne and Kristina. Adrienne and Kristina’s family have owned the land for almost 100 years, purchasing it in the early 1900s. Bryan and Reagan married sisters Adrienne and Kristina, respectively, and now all four are actively involved in running and maintaining the family vineyard.

  “The farm was always the gathering place for family dinners and events,” said Chagoly. “It’s where we would all come for get-togethers, and it became a custom to sit on that great farmhouse porch, enjoy a glass of wine and watch the beautiful sunsets that naturally occur in the Texas Hill Country. We absolutely fell in love with the experience and knew this would be an awesome venue to share with others. Visitors will definitely see and experience a piece of our family history while enjoying our new chapter as vineyard owners and winemakers.”

  “The farm literally sits at the end of a sandy road, a name given to the road by the locals that once lived in the small town of Sandy,” said Chagoly. “It’s just how the locals all came to know the road, and it’s still a sandy road to this day. As kids, our wives would turn down “Sandy Road” to go to the farm. Now, driving down the road reignites those special memories and feelings, making this place more than just a family property. So as the old farmhouse comes into view, it’s a feeling of nostalgia, reliving the farm experiences and passing on some of those same great feelings and memories to future generations.”

Location, Location, Location

  Chagoly told The Grapevine Magazine that the old farm property was used for growing cotton in the 1920s until the Great Depression, when people were forced to move west to find work. Sandy Road Vineyard is about four miles from the Pedernales River in the Texas Hill Country and features a unique blend of soils, including chalky limestone, iron-rich clay and primary riverbed sand, allowing the owners to play around and experiment with a variety of terroirs.

  “We took numerous four-to-five-foot depth samples at various places on the farm to determine where a vineyard might perform best,” said Chagoly. “Interestingly enough, we found an eastwardly sloped area that provided excellent drainage and was comprised of three distinct layers of soil, each offering unique properties and growing conditions for different varietals of grapes. Chalky limestone covered the top, over a middle of iron-rich clay laying on riverbed sand. We could plant a variety of grapes in this one area and match the depth of planting to the type of soil that offered each particular varietal the best chance for success.”

  “Our vision, then, was to plant unique varietals across the 16-acre plot,” said Chargoly. “We wanted to feature wine grapes that would thrive in the unique soil makeup and also handle our climate and the hot Texas sun to ultimately produce delicious wines. While researching these variables, we found that our hill country soil and climate closely resembled the southern Mediterranean. So, why not grow grapes that would love these conditions? That led us to choose Spanish, Italian and French red varietals.”

  “Our tempranillo, mencia, and prieto picudo are Spanish-inspired, with a plan to try a traditional Spanish blend in the future,” said Chargoly. “Our French varietals (southern Rhone Region) feature a grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and a marselan, a cross between a cabernet sauvignon and a grenache. Marselan is pretty rare around here and was first attempted as a way to grow cabernet sauvignon grapes in warmer climates due to global warming concerns. So far, it seems to like our Hill Country climate and soil attributes. And our Italian varietal is a great sangiovese. We also offer white wine selections, sourcing Texas high plains fruits for production from our neighbors within the state. Additionally, we just planted reisen varietals for a neighbor, so we’re anxious to see how that goes.”

Unforgettable Sunsets, Tastings, & Food Pairings

  Visitors to Sandy Road Vineyards will be guided by signs pointing them to the vineyard, where they will see the old farmhouse and the vineyards at the back of the property. Chagoly said that once visitors arrive, there is a pavilion on the premises that offers an indoor-outdoor casual area for tasting, hanging out with friends or just relaxing and enjoying the serene experience and views of the farm and vineyard. No reservations are necessary, but they are accepted for those that are planning to visit and want to ensure seating. The shaded pavilion has fans and a cool breeze in the summer and is enclosed with heaters and a fire in the winter to maintain a warm and cozy atmosphere for experiencing the wines, farm and vineyard. A standard wine tasting will last approximately one hour and include a tasting of five of Sandy Road Vineyard’s 100 percent Texas wines. After the tasting, visitors are welcome to stay and enjoy the vineyard for the rest of the day if they choose to do so.

  For an enhanced tasting experience, the vineyard offers a popular “treehouse venue” available only by reservation.

  “We realized that we needed a place for consumers to taste and purchase our wine once we made it, and we wanted to provide that in a creative and fun way,” said Chagoly. “We ended up taking an old mobile home on the farm and stripping it down to its 60-foot metal trailer frame. Then, we transformed it into a fun treehouse venue that overlooks the awesome views of the farm and vineyard.”

  The enhanced experience is a creative adventure based on the belief that everyone deserves to slow down, relax and enjoy a great-tasting glass of wine with their friends. The treehouse overlooks the vineyard and farm and offers a private, seated, outdoor tasting event with the owners of Sandy Road Vineyards. During the tasting, visitors can expect to learn about the owners, the vineyard’s unique terroir, how it benefits the grapes they choose to grow here and the wines they produce.

  “We want to create a deeply meaningful wine-tasting experience that has the potential to become a special lifelong memory,” said Chagoly. “The peaceful scenery, the table overlooking the vineyard and the heartfelt stories from the owners who personally farm and produce their own wine brand are all presented within the unique experience of being outside, in a tree, with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, overlooking the very vineyard that produced the wines that you are tasting. It will leave you wanting to experience more.”

  The treehouse venue tastings feature food and wine pairings presented in an educational format that not only shares insights into Sandy Road Vineyard wines but also teaches the visitors about Texas wines in general. After your wine tasting, visitors are free to stroll through the vineyard to explore the challenging terroir of the rocky hillside to see what it takes to grow award-winning wine in the Texas Hill Country. The wine-tasting experience

at Sandy Road Vineyards is an exclusively outdoor experience within the vineyard. Chagoly says visitors should plan for a fantastic nature-based experience with the sun, wind, dirt, rocks and all the Texas outdoors offers.

Successful Winemaking Is a Blend of Several Businesses

  “It’s truly been a family affair,” said Chagoly. “Both families are involved in running the winery and vineyards from start to finish, and if there’s one piece of advice I can give to aspiring vineyard owners and winemakers, it would be to seek experience regarding any help or needed advice, because you end up running three separate businesses. In our case, we are growing grapes, making wine,and then marketing and selling our wine all from this one location. At its core, winemaking is a manufacturing and production process demanding a perfect blend of scientific principles and art. Selling the wine is crucial, especially for a new winery like ours. We have to be able to effectively market our wines and get folks out here to try and hopefully buy what we’ve produced. And finally, the actual farming, which is the hardest by far, especially trying to figure out what Mother Nature will bring us here in Texas. The farming aspect can be especially challenging.”

Sustainable Practices, Personal Attention & Precision Care Produce Award-Winning Wines

  The owners of Sandy Road Vineyard believe that the best fertilizer is the farmer’s own shadow, and the best wines are produced in small batches in a sustainable environment, with the individual attention and respect of the winemaker. This means being constantly and consistently in the vineyard, working and harvesting the vines and grapes by-hand to create a wine with perfect balance. They will not put that wine on the market until they find that balance. Therefore, everything is hand-grown, hand-pruned and hand-harvested to produce the highest quality Texas wine for their consumers.

  On a related note, Chargoly has started a website to promote the best in Texas wines. Top Texas Wines features inclusive lists and descriptions of the best 100 percent Texas wines, making it easy for visitors to locate the best of the best in Texas winemaking. At a minimum, each wine listed on the site will be Texas designated, produced by a Texas winery and won a gold medal in blind judging at an international wine competition. Entries include the awards won and the prices per bottle, should you decide to purchase the wine online directly from the producing Texas winery. Chargoly says that every Texas wine on his site is exceptional and worth tasting.

  “Our mission is to bring the highest quality farming and winemaking to Texas wines and to continuously raise your expectations for fine Texas wine.”

  For more information about Sandy Road Vineyards, their award-winning wines, other Texas Hill Country wines or to make a reservation contact…

Sandy Road Vineyards

383 Vineyard Row

Johnson City, Texas 78636

Phone: (512) 589-1826


Solutions to Pump Dilemmas

How Tradition and Technology Blend to Fill Winery Needs for Pumps

pumps in a facility

By: Cheryl Gray

Pumps are as essential as grapes when it comes to a functioning winery. Their overall purpose is, of course, to protect the quality of wine, whether it is managing must, treating wastewater or guarding against oxidation. Both traditional pumps and advanced alternatives are on the market, giving wineries a choice when it comes to selecting that all-important piece of equipment for a specific task. In all cases, experts with decades of industry experience help wineries make pump selections designed to improve their operations.

  When Vijay and Meera Singh started their New Jersey winery in 2013, it prompted them to come up with ways, they say, to work smarter. Meera Singh is a winemaker, WSET level 3 and a sommelier. Dr. Vijay Singh has more than 40 years in the biotechnology industry, with some 20 patents to his credit in multiple fields, such as biotechnology, gun sights, hydroponics, mixing and, of course, winemaking.

  Together, the couple founded GOfermentor the namesake of one of their signature products, the GOfermentor®, an eco-friendly, automated wine fermentor. What followed was SmartBarrel®, offering advanced wine storage options. Then came GOblend, an electronic wine blender. All three products are marketed worldwide.

  The company’s latest market entry is GOpump. Dr. Singh explains how the product was created.

“Several years ago, I had made a flow-controlled pump to handle operations in our own winery. A GOfermentor customer asked me in 2022 if I could make something for him. The result of this prototype work is now the commercially available GOpump – the first wine pump with precision flowmeter based batch capability.”

  Transferring wine is routine in winery operations, whether done in racking, blending or filling. And while there are pumps on the market that facilitate these tasks, Dr. Singh says something is missing.

  “What is lacking in the industry are pumps with accurate flow metering and the ability to automatically dispense user-preset amounts of wine. I wanted the ability to set a wine volume, say 110 gallons, start the pump and walk away to do other things. The pump would transfer the 110 gallons and stop. This saves time and allows me to perform other tasks.”

  Market response to GOpump, Singh says, has been good. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive. The typical comment is that it is a marvel of human-machine engineering with all of the functions logically and ergonomically laid out. Users are enthused by the time they can save by not having to monitor the pumping process.

  The portable, lightweight, splash-proof design is well-liked. The fact that it can be operated remotely using a smartphone app is appreciated, as the pump can be switched on or off from high up on the barrel rack if needed.

  Even flow rate and batch volume can be adjusted. User applications are wine racking and blending. The preset batching feature makes these operations efficient and easy.”

  GOpump and the other products developed by Singh are backed by his in-depth knowledge of the device and pump design.

  “I have a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, and have worked with all kinds of pumps and flowmeters for over 40 years with over 20 patents. I have developed hardware and software for controllers used in pharmaceutical and beverage processing. The GOfermentor fermentation controller design and manufacture was done by me in 2016 and has been refined constantly since then. Hundreds of these are in service worldwide. Some of the flowmeter and pumping concepts used in the GOpump originated in the GOblend device I developed in 2020. GOblend is a laboratory machine for quickly generating wine blend samples for evaluation. It pioneered the precision flow totalization techniques used in GOpump.

  The GOpump is shipping now at a list price of $2,200, which includes a sight-glass and strainer, along with a choice of inlet/outlet fitting. Users can select 1 ½-inch triclamp, 2-inch triclamp, HFC12 quick-connect or just bare female ½-inch NPT. The Android Bluetooth app is included.”

  Industry leader Gorman-Rupp Pumps has been manufacturing pumps since 1933. Based in Ohio, the company enjoys a global presence with 20 locations, 11 subsidiaries and sales in 135 countries. Gorman-Rupp is known for pumps used in waste-handling applications for multiple industries, including wineries. It specializes in self-priming centrifugal pumps, which it says are ideal for pumping stems, skins, seeds and other types of waste that wineries have to manage. Jeff Hannan is the product manager for centrifugal pumps at Gorman-Rupp. He uses his 29 years of experience in the pumping industry to help wineries large and small.

  “With pumps ranging in size from 1-inch to 16-inch discharge and flow rates up to 15,000 gallons per minute, Gorman-Rupp can work with almost any size of winery in the market. Our reliability, reputation and service set us apart from the competition. Gorman-Rupp has been manufacturing pumps in the United States since 1933 and has the strongest network of factory trained distributors in the industry. This allows for the local distributor to offer support around the clock right where the pumps are being used.”

  Hannan adds that the company’s range of products is designed to optimize production time, manage costs and enhance wines. He gives some examples of Gorman-Rupp pumps that fill that checklist.

  “Super T Series® pumps equipped with the Eradicator™ Solids Management System are the best choice for pumping clog-prone waste. 

  Gorman-Rupp’s Super T Series pumps, equipped with the Eradicator solids management system, are the best pumps for handling waste materials, such as seeds, stems, skins and all other types of stringy solids. With the ability to pass up to 3-inch spherical solids, Super T Series pumps are designed to eliminate clogging and increase uptime. With over 4,000 installations in the toughest applications you can find, these pumps have a proven track record. 

  The Eradicator’s three-part solids management system. The system consists of a new, lightweight inspection cover, an innovative back plate incorporating an obstruction-free flow path and an aggressive, self-cleaning wear plate with integral, laser-cut notches and grooves in combination with a revolutionary ‘tooth’ designed to clear the eye of the impeller constantly and effectively. Upgrade kits are available for existing Super T or Ultra V pumps in the field. The upgrade kits provide everything you need to put the best self-cleaning pump technology in the industry to work for you.”

  When it comes to waste handling pumps, Hannan says the dependability can’t be compromised.

  “When selecting a pump for any waste application, consideration must be given to reliability, low total cost of ownership and overall uptime. It is best to select pumps that are easy to maintain and are designed to prevent clogging. Gorman-Rupp Super T and Ultra V Series pumps, equipped with the Eradicator solids management system, are the best choices for self-priming, solids-handling pumps for any maintenance department. Externally adjustable clearances between the impeller and wear plate, in combination with the new lightweight inspection covers, are just a couple of the features that make routine maintenance on these pumps easier than ever.”

  Hannan describes a recent addition to the Gorman-Rupp Pumps solid handling pumps product line.

  “Eradicator PlusTM, Gorman-Rupp’s most aggressive solids handling pump to date, is specifically designed for installations where nuisance clogging is affecting uptime and costly maintenance. Eradicator Plus’ innovative design is currently available for 3-inch, 4-inch and 6-inch Super T Series® pumps. For those extreme-duty applications where municipal waste, wipes, industrial by-products, agricultural wastes and other organic solids are present, Eradicator Plus cuts and tears the solids, allowing them to pass through the pump.”

  In business for nearly 40 years, Milwaukee Instruments provides clients from multiple industries with instruments to use in their analytical requirements. For wineries, the product line includes T.A mini-Titrators, V.A. Mini-Titrators, Dissolved Oxygen meters, Turbidity Meters and pH meters in portable (field) or bench (lab) applications in the wineries and BRIX meters for field analysis.

  The global company, based in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, works with wineries of all sizes. Its president, Carl Silvaggio, talks about what he believes makes the products offered by Milwaukee Instruments stand out from competitors. 

  “Our Mini-Titrators for T.A. and V.A. are very cost effective, easy-to-use, accurate and repeatable. Our Portable and Bench top meters offer up to five-point pH calibrations with two Custom buffers allowed as well. Our meters have data-logging features up to 1,000 points and are USB downloading, with built-in GLP (Good Lab Practice) features, all at very cost-effective prices. Our technical service and after-market service all have the human element, as we answer phones, emails and chats accurately and quickly. We have no bots.”

  Silvaggio adds that new product launches are already underway.

  “Our MW106 Portable Waterproof  Data Logging MAX pH Meter has up to five points of pH calibration, two custom buffers, 1,000 data logging points, USB download, automatic calibration and temperature compensation.”

  Experts agree that post-sale service should accompany any pump purchase or an ancillary piece of equipment. As Hannan explains, this spotlight on customer service understanding is critical.

  “If something would ever happen to go wrong, and something invariably does, I would want to know that I can trust the pump supplier to work with me to get the situation resolved.”

Grapevine Leafroll Disease Management & Control in Vineyards

close-up of grape trees

By: Judit Monis, Ph.D. – Vineyard and Plant Health Consultant

Transmission and spread of leafroll viruses have been documented in all grape growing areas worldwide.  Specifically, leafroll disease has been reported spread in Australia, Argentina, Europe, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, and other important viticulture areas in the world. Different types of mealybugs and soft scale insects can transmit some species of leafroll virus and Vitiviruses. However, long distance dispersion of viruses (as well as other pathogens) is most effective by producing cuttings and grafting.  If you follow my work, you know that I recommend that you plant healthy vines to prevent virus infection in the vineyard.

Grapevine Leafroll Disease

  The most important effect of leafroll disease is the production of small grape clusters with uneven ripeness.  The grapes have lower sugar content (reduced brix values). Foliar symptoms include downward rolling, reddening or yellowing of leaves and vary depending on the grapevine variety or winegrowing area. The leaf veins may remain green or take many other colors (yellow, purple, red, etc.).   Sadly, some wine and tourist magazines use photos of infected vineyards to promote their wine regions.  Although all leafroll associated viruses belong to the Closteroviridae (Greek, clostero: thread-like) family, the only species known to be transmitted by insects are found in the Ampelovirus genus (Greek, ampelos: grapevine). Ampeloviruses include the majority of Grapevine leafroll associated viruses (GLRaV-1, -3, and -4). So far, no vector has been reported for GLRaV -2 or GLRaV-7 (but as other viruses are propagated by cuttings). Research has shown that leafroll viruses are able to recombine in mixed infections, generating many variants of similar viruses that scientists define as a quasispecies (i.e., almost a species). These genomic changes have serious implications on virus detection as standard methods may miss infection. Transmission by mealybug and soft scale insects has been reported for GLRaV-1, -3, and -4. Different mealibugs such as the grape (Pseudococcus maritimus), citrus (Planococcus citri), long-tailed (Pseudococcus longispinus), obscure (Pseudococcus viburni) and vine (Planococcus ficus) are able to transmit Ampeloviruses and Vitiviruses non-specifically. Furthermore, work in South Africa has shown that a single individual of vine or long-tailed mealybug is capable of starting a GLRaV-3 infection.

Sampling in The Vineyard

  The correct identification of the disease causal agent is critical for devising a control strategy. Regular visual inspections and sampling of grapevines should be performed to monitor the disease status of a vineyard. It might not always be possible to correlate the presence of virus infection with symptoms, especially with new viral infections. Complicating matters, other viruses, fungi, or nutritional deficiencies can cause similar symptoms in grapevines. Furthermore, vines planted on their own roots do not develop typical symptoms. Symptoms may appear two or more years after top-working a vineyard with a new variety. Viruses associated with leafroll move slowly in the vine and may remain undetected by laboratory testing, unless sampling is done correctly. Collection of representative samples will allow the laboratory to detect the presence of viruses associated with leafroll. The season for testing is important and samples should be collected from vines late in the summer throughout dormancy.

Virus Testing

  Two methods can be used for the detection of leafroll-associated viruses: ELISA and RT-PCR.  Each method is designed to detect different portions of the virus. ELISA detects the capsid protein (coat or protective cover), and RT-PCR detects the viral genomic RNA (genetic information).  Therefore, ELISA and RT-PCR complement each other on the detection of virus and virus variants. ELISA stands for enzyme-linked immuno-sorbent assay, and consists of trapping the virus protective protein on a plastic test plate containing specific viral antibodies.  The detection is done through a colorimetric enzymatic reaction (positive samples yield a yellow color). The method is limited to the amount of virus present in the sample (i.e., there is not amplification or danger of laboratory contamination). RT-PCR, is the abbreviation for reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.  The method involves the amplification or multiplication of viral RNA present in the vine. The process is specific, and utilizes a couple of primers to start the amplification process.  Primers are essentially artificial copies of a portion of the viral genome. The amplification is repeated many times, each step or cycle continues to makes more copies of the viral segment. Consequently, RT-PCR is a sensitive technique for the detection of plant viruses. As mentioned above, the sensitivity and specificity of the detection of viruses associated with leafroll is dependent on the method used for diagnostics.  However, detection it is also influenced by the season and part of the vine from which samples were collected as well as the quality of reagents used. While ELISA is known to be less sensitive than RT-PCR, the ELISA has a broader spectrum of detection (i.e., it detects virus variants). On the other hand, RT-PCR (especially Taqman PCR) may be too specific, and could miss the detection of a virus with small changes due to mutation or recombination (e.g., variant species). Lately, fewer quality ELISA reagents are being developed as designing PCR primers is less time consuming. My recommendation is to use ELISA initially (commercial reagents work well for GLRaV-1 to -4) and RT-PCR to confirm infection (or lack of infection).  When mapping infection in a white fruited grape block such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, ELISA may be the only economical way of determining the leafroll disease status of specific vines as many samples must be tested in a yearly basis. 

Leafroll Disease Management & Control Strategies

  To manage leafroll disease, it is important to develop a map of virus infected vines. The map will provide information of virus spread and determine the pattern of infection.  A random distribution of symptomatic vines would generally be associated with planting infected vines. While symptomatic vines aggregated or clustered in one area of the vineyard block is an indication of virus spread.  The initial assessment must be done using a testing lab to determine the presence of a virus species capable of being transmitted.  Once the vineyard manager is familiar with symptoms, the mapping could be done by visual observation.  It is much easier to determine the characteristic leaf roll disease symptoms in red fruited varieties.  In white varieties it may be possible to train eyes to determine the presence of infection but likely will rely on the confirmation of the presence of virus by testing vines.

  Effective disease control requires the availability of clean planting stock (i.e., certified disease-free tested). However, to ensure that the vineyard remains disease free, the grower must be aware of the presence of virus infection in neighboring vineyards. It is important to devise procedures to protect a healthy vineyard from potential disease introduction. The presence of insect vectors and ants should be routinely monitored and controlled. Unfortunately, mealybugs are not always easy to observe in the vineyard, however the presence of ants are usually associated with the presence of mealybugs. Special traps (including pheromone traps) are available to monitor the presence of mealybug infestation. The dispersal of mealybugs by birds, wind, field equipment, and/or workers are responsible for long distance spread of virus. Sanitary practices such as fallow periods, sanitation of equipment, and sanitation of field worker’s clothing are recommended to avoid moving disease vectors from one vineyard block to another.  I always recommend to start work in the non-infected blocks and move workers to infected blocks at the later part of the day.

  Controlling the spread of viruses requires strict protocols for handling vines and performing cultural practices in the vineyard and nursery. Hot water treatment of vine cuttings and grafted vines are effective controlling the movement of mealybugs

from one site to another. Other recommended practices include establishing wind traps, planting insecticidal cover or border crops, using site dedicated clothing and/or shoes for workers, and avoiding the use of potentially contaminated equipment in the vineyard.

  Ultimately, the removal of infected vines or entire blocks will be key to reducing the source of infection.  Guidelines call for rouging (removal of individual infected vines) if there is less than 25% disease incidence and entire blocks (greater than 25% disease incidence). A common mistake is the removal of a portion of the infected vineyard block (see photo 2).  This decision is made to avoid production losses at the vineyard. However, in no time, the newly planted vines will become infected by the same virus present in the other portion of the vineyard.

  The control of leafroll spread needs to be based on a concerted effort among growers. In California the development of a network of neighboring growers has allowed open discussion of infection status of blocks and applied control measures. The use of cultural practices (especially sanitation and insect control applications) should be coordinated and scheduled to include area-wide treatments as grapevine viruses and their vectors do not know or respect neighboring borders

  Judit Monis, Ph.D. provides specialized services to help growers, vineyard managers, and nursery personnel avoid the propagation and transmission of disease caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses in their vineyard blocks.   Judit (based in California) is fluent in Spanish and is available to consult in all wine grape growing regions of the word.  Please visit for information or contact to request a consulting session at your vineyard.

Exploring the Diversity of European Grenache Wine  

grenache planted signage

By: Becky Garrison

Grenache has the distinction of being one of the world’s most widely planted wine grapes. Additionally, this versatile wine pairs very effectively with food. Grenache wines have diverse levels of texture and depth with a slight spiciness that work well with a wide range of braised, grilled and stewed meats, as well as the milder styles of Asian cuisine. 

  As part of Feast Portland 2019, a regional food and drink festival with international appeal, Hoke Harden, SWE Certified Spirits Educator, offered an industry presentation into European Grenache wine. He focused on those wines that range in cost from $10 to $20. At this reasonable price point, Harden describes the wines as “not wine you take home and save, but wine you take home and drink.”

  Although lower priced Grenache may not be the sort of wine one ages in a cellar, these wines have a distinguished history that belies their price tag. Carbon dating of seeds and leaves discovered at archeological sites indicate Grenache was planted as early as 153 BCE. Most likely, Grenache originated in the region of Spain now known as Aragon, where it goes by the name Garnacha. However, some have speculated the grape originated in Sardinia, where the grape is called Cannonau.

  As these vines flourish best in hot, sunny and dry conditions, the Mediterranean climate proved to be ideal for growing them. Grenache vines were then planted in Catalonia and then in places outside of Spain that were under the Crown of Aragon, such as France, Corsica, Southern Italy, Sicily, Croatia and Greece.

  The old vines currently growing in the region can be over one hundred years old. They tend to produce a finer and more complex wine than Grenache produced in areas where the vines are much younger.

  The grape comes primarily in three versions: red—Grenache Noir, white—Grenache Blanc, and a version of white known as Grenache Gris. The Grenache Noir is round and smooth with notes of prunes, cherries and other red-pitted fruits. Conversely, Grenache Blanc has a combination of floral, fruity and herbaceous notes and fresh aniseed licorice flavors for a fleshy, mellow wine of medium intensity, a medium to high acidity and high levels of alcohol. The Grenache Gris produces pale rosés and mineral-driven whites with copper hues and citrus notes that are fleshy, round and elegant.

  Additionally, there are two less common Grenache grapes—the Lledoner Pelut (black) and Garnacha Peluda (hairy). The Lledoner Pelut, which is a cousin to the Grenache Noir, is very similar but has more structure and a bluer color. Garnacha Peluda, which gets its name from its hairy leaves, has a lower alcohol content, medium acidity, aromas of red fruits, and rapid oxidation.

  From these varieties of grapes, winemakers can produce a vast array of wines ranging from light- to full-bodied red or white wines, as well as rosé wines, fortified wines, natural wines and sparkling wines. Each of these varieties is highly sensitive to the growing conditions of a particular region. Depending on the soil, climate and elevation, wines produced from these grapes can vary dramatically from one appellation to another. For example, one appellation may yield full-bodied, black-fruited wines, while a nearby region produces a more light-bodied wine made with red fruits. 

  While Grenache can grow in a diverse range of soils, the vines respond best to the schist, limestone and clay soils abundantly found in Northeastern Spain and the Roussillon in southern France. Here the grapes’ tight clusters make it a perfect choice for these hot and dry soils. However, the same tight grape clusters make Grenache prone to downy mildew and bunch rot when grown in humid or rainy locations. Also, as the grapes ripen relatively late, they work best in very warm regions.

  Another positive attribute of these hardy and vigorous Grenache vines is that they use less natural resources than many other vines. In fact, Grenache could be seen as the world’s most eco-friendly and sustainable grape. As this grape adapts to arid weather conditions, it can be grown using environmentally friendly vineyard practices. For instance, these vines are not dependent on rainwater because their roots can delve deep into subterranean water tables. In addition, the plant has a robust wooden frame that is drought and disease resistant. Often Grenache is grown as a free-standing bush with its strong, sturdy trunk able to survive in strong winds. In consideration of all these attributes, in 2011, the World Climate Change and Wine Conference with Kofi Annan in Marbella, Spain recognized Grenache as a product well prepared for climate change.

  Currently, over 90 percent of Grenache grows in Spain and France. The regions have been certified in two European Union quality schemes: PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) and PDO (Protected Designation of Origin). The EU established these schemes in 2012 for agricultural commodities to ensure that the products originated in this particular region. Also, these schemes ensure that the product has been produced in accordance with European agricultural production methods that focus on nutrition and health, food safety, traceability, authenticity and labeling.

  Five PDO vineyards in Spain specialize in the Grenache grape variety: Somontano, Terra Alta, Cariñena, Calatayud, and Campo de Borja. Within these regions exists 5,500 wine growers and 144 wineries, with Grenache repenting about 40% of their vineyards. (Other varieties are Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah). Rosé and White Grenache is grown in the Terra Alta PDO, while Red Grenache is the main variety grown in the other four PDOs.

  Roussillon in France houses 2,200 winemaker families, 25 co-ops and 350 private cellars. The varied topography of this region produces a wide variety of Grenache grapes that can create a range of wine styles, including dry still wines and fortified sweet wines.  

  Most of the reviews about Grenache wines tend to focus on blends such as the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine blend from France’s southern Rhône Valley. French winemakers discovered this variety in their search for a grape that would add alcohol, body and fruity flavors to their existing wines. Other noted blends made using Grenache can be found in Gigondas, and in the Priorat reds produced in the Priorat county, situated in the southwest of Catalonia in the province of Tarragona. Many of these wines tend to carry a significantly higher price tag than the moderately priced wines highlighted by Harden, with select bottles garnering a price as high as $800. 

  Harden noted throughout his talk that while winemakers continue to blend Grenache with other grapes, some producers have begun to make wines with 100% Grenache. Of the 10 wines Harden selected for his presentation, six wines were made with 100% Grenache. These wines ranged from light- to full-bodied reds.

  On its own, Grenache has historically tended to be a light red with very light tannins, fruity aromas, medium body, a low to medium acidity and high alcohol. But Harden spoke about a generation of winemakers who have begun a new approach to growing Grenache grapes. About twenty years ago, these winemakers discovered that by cultivating the older gnarled vines, limiting yields and seeking out the right terroir, they could grow Grenache grapes that possess a fuller, more robust flavor.

  Along those lines, some growers find that when they experiment with growing these older vines at higher elevations in colder climates, they can produce wines that are more complex, elegant and concentrated. These wines often benefit from bottle aging. When these vintages mature, winemakers will be able to compare the properties of the wines with those grown in hotter, drier climates where Grenache grapes have grown for centuries.

  Moving forward, some wineries are experimenting with growing organic and biodynamic Grenache wines, which favor the environment by limiting the use of chemicals. In a similar vein, some producers are experimenting with making Grenache wines without sulfites. All these developments appear to be creating a wine that is sustainable from both an environmental and an economic standpoint while also producing a wine that remains in line with EU quality standards.

  From an industry standpoint, Grenache wines—the single-varietal styles in particular—remain unknown to most U.S. consumers. Hence, many of these wines stay at an affordable price point even as the quality rises.

Women in Wine: Fermenting Change in Oregon

people inside a winery

By: Becky Garrison

The genesis for Women in Wine Oregon began in 2015 after Susan Sokol Blosser, founder and garden advisor for Sokol Blosser Winery, participated in a U.S.-based wine conference attended by 500 men and women. While serving on a conference panel, she spoke about the Oregon wine culture through the lens of a family business and generational planning.

  During the informal conversation that ensued following her comments, Blosser and others realized that even though the Oregon community hosted many collaborative events, these gatherings did not highlight women winemakers. Given Oregon’s history in forging new paths, such as putting wine in a can, becoming a leader in biodynamic farming practices and the farm-to-table movement, they felt the timing was right to launch an organization devoted to highlighting the contributions of women in this industry.

  As per the Women in Wine Oregon website, the organization’s mission is to “provide a platform of inclusion for the advancement of female leadership in the wine and beverage industry.” Its mission statement continues with, “We provide opportunities for personal and professional development through an annual conference, community engagement events and a mentorship program. As a membership-based nonprofit, we catalyze ‘fermenting change’ through empowerment, engagement, diversity and accountability.”    

Launching Women in Wine 

  The year 2019 marked the launch of Women in Wine: Fermenting Change, which was Oregon’s first event dedicated to empowering and advancing women in the wine industry. While this sold-out event had to be held virtually in 2020 and 2021 due to the ongoing global pandemic, it returned for a hybrid conference on July 19, 2022. By allowing people to participate virtually or in person, they could attract those who could not travel to Willamette Valley Vineyards in Turner, Oregon, where the conference was held.

  This hybrid conference attracted 240 in-person and 85 virtual participants for a day of educational programming led by 18 leaders within the wine industry, along with networking opportunities. Those gathered ranged from industry veterans who have been working in the wine industry since the 1970s to women looking to enter this industry. 

The Challenges of Diversity Within the Wine Industry

  A virtual session with the McBride Sisters highlighted the association’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, which they describe on their website as recognizing the rich diversity of voices in the region’s wine community, with a focus on opening doors for the many individuals who have been historically underrepresented or excluded.

  Raised among the vines of Marlborough, New Zealand and Monterey, California, respectively, Robin McBride and Andréa McBride never knew each other until they connected later in life. They discovered how their mutual familial love of wine stretched across two continents. In 2005, they found themselves in California, where they decided to shake up the industry with their unique blend of new-world finesse and old-world elegance. Thus, the McBride Sisters Wine Company was born in Oakland, California.

  Since then, this sisterly enterprise has grown into the largest Black-owned wine company in the United States and is one of the most inclusive, accessible, socially aware and sustainable U.S.-based wineries. Also, through their SHE CAN Professional Development Fund, they invest in the professional advancement and career growth of high-potential, professional women, with a particular focus on women of color working in leadership positions in the wine and spirits, hospitality and finance industries.

  Among their biggest challenges was the mistaken assumption that Black women don’t drink wine or they only drink certain types of wine. According to Robin, they addressed this bias by focusing on the aforementioned vision they’ve maintained from the beginning. “Our tenacity and our unrealistic optimism help because we see them as bumps in the road and not big game changers,” she notes.

  In a panel titled Connecting through Generations, Tiquette Bramlett, CEO of Our Legacy Harvested (Newberg, OR), and Ximena Orrego, Co-Owner and Winemaker of Atticus Wine (Yamhill, OR), spoke to how the power of community in enabling women of color to enter and succeed in the wine industry. For example, Bramblett founded Our Legacy Harvested with Diana Riggs in 2020 to educate, advance and empower the BIPOC community in the wine industry. In their exploration of how to keep people safe during the pandemic while also amplifying BIPOC businesses, they hosted a block party in McMinnville, Oregon. They knew they were on to something when a woman in her eighties came to them and said she had been waiting for an event like her entire life. “It just broke us to pieces,” Bramlett reflected.

  Since that inaugural event, Our Legacy Harvest launched an intern program in 2022 intending to help BIPOC people make connections within the Oregon wine community. Also, they created Diversity & Inclusion Training (DEI) via a partnership with Assemblage, which is an Oregon-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization aimed at addressing disparities within the global wine industry. A winery needs to have completed this DEI training to apply to host one of their interns.

  Along those lines, Orrego cited how connecting with Carla Rodriguez, Founder of Beacon Hill Winery & Vineyard (Gaston, Oregon), led to the launch of Celebrating Hispanic Roots. This small group of Oregon winery owners and winemakers who share a Hispanic background came together to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15). After hosting this event virtually in 2020 and 2021, they hosted their first in-person event in 2022.

  Jeri Andrews, founding partner of XOBC Cellars (Seattle, Washington), spoke to this winery’s unique role as one of the few LGBT wineries in the United States. The idea was never about money when this winery was founded in 2019. Instead, founders multi-Grammy-winning artist Brandi Carlile, her wife Catherine and their friends, Jeri and Amy Andrews, wanted to make epic wines out of Washington and Oregon that were representative of the terroir and to connect people who historically haven’t been welcomed at the table. “We want to bring other people to the table who maybe felt unwelcome. We’ve got this group of misfits that are part of our community of collectors, and we love it.”

  They weave activism into their winery with an organization called The Looking Out Foundation, founded in 2008 by Carlile, along with Tim and Phil Hanseroth. This organization seeks to amplify the impact of music by empowering those without a voice. From neighborhood to nation, they help fund causes and organizations that often go unnoticed.

  In Andrews’ estimation, if you want to create change, all you need is a small group operating on the same wavelength. “You’ve got to go where the players are and know how to bring people to the table.” As one example of bringing people together through wine, Andrews cites Brandi Carlile’s Seattle house parties, where music and wine connect people.

Moving from Talking about Diversity to Taking Action

  Maryam Ahmed, the owner of Maryam + Company and co-founder of the Diversity in Wine Leadership Forum, spoke about the practicalities of implementing diversity in the wineries. She stresses how it’s a privilege to talk about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging rather than experiencing why these conversations are necessary. “We cannot aim to improve our professional environments without also improving the personal environment within which we live, including our bodies and minds,” she notes.

  According to Ahmed, what this privilege means from a hospitality perspective is the need to fight this notion that we have to check our stuff at the door. She opines, “As we serve other people, how could we possibly not bring our personhood into the service that we offer?” At a minimum, she feels when we make these changes, we open the door for more creativity, growth and innovation. That leads to higher retention, innovation and a better bottom line.

  She summarized her work to help create more diversity with the ACT (Accountability, Communication, Transparency) framework. The first step is accountability, which means taking ownership of our thoughts, beliefs and actions. We acknowledge there’s an issue and seek out how to fix it.

  The answers can be found in communication that can help us align our words with our actions, as well as welcoming the needs of others and sharing our needs with those around us. In our communication, we need to strive for transparency, which puts us in a place of honesty. In this place, we can be positioned to be effective and get the resources we need.

  In Ahmed’s experience, this ACT framework functions as a cycle, not a checklist. “This work is an ongoing, lifelong journey and commitment,” she says.

  This conversation will continue at Women in Wine Oregon’s fifth annual Fermenting for Change Conference, which will be held on July 18, 2023, at Stoller Family Estates in Dayton, Oregon. More information can be found on their website at…