Keeping Up with the Drip [with VIDEO]

water dripping from a pipe

By: Kirk Williams, Lecturer-Texas Tech University

Drip irrigation systems are a critical part of vineyard infrastructure.  Drip irrigation systems need maintenance to deliver water efficiently and uniformly over a long period of time.   Where drip irrigation systems are used to deliver fertilizers and pesticides distribution uniformity becomes even more critical.  A distribution uniformity target of at least 85% is critical to producing high quality grapes and achieving good water use efficiencies.  Fall and the dormant season is a good time to examine your drip irrigation, measure distribution uniformity and see what maintenance or improvements need to be done. 

  Routine maintenance activities should include flushing drip lines and laterals to clear the system of contaminants.  Flushing of the lateral lines and drip lines is especially critical if you have had to fix large leaks that occur once the water has gone through the filtration system.   Severe leaks need to be fixed immediately but post-harvest time is a great time to fix all of the small leaks that may be occurring in your drip irrigation system. While flushing, pay attention to what kind of debris comes out of the hose ends.  Is it silt, clay, organic or chemical precipitates?    If you are having emitter clogging this debris could be a good tool for understanding what is causing the clogging. 

  Clogged or partially clogged emitters are the most serious problem in drip systems.  Drip emitter output can be measured by placing containers under emitters and measuring the amount of water collected over a known time period.  

  Grape growers spend lots of time calibrating sprayers, fertility sampling, measuring grape ripeness but many spend little time measuring the performance of their drip irrigation system.  One irrigation performance characteristic that can be measured and tracked over the life of an irrigation system is Distribution Uniformity(DU).     Distribution Uniformity is a measure of the uniformity of irrigation water over an area.   Lower Distribution Uniformity in a drip irrigation system can be caused by pressure losses, pressure variations or by partial plugging of emitters by physical, biological or chemical buildup.  Pressure testing of the drip line via a Schrader valve or pitot tube is a good practice to incorporate prior to or during a DU test to understand your irrigation system operating pressures.

  A DU Low Quarter value is calculated by dividing the average output of the lowest one quarter of the emitters sampled by the average output measured of all the emitters sampled.  A DU Low Quarter test can be done by selecting forty drippers across an irrigation block.  Select emitters that best represent an irrigation block and choose emitter locations where you would expect to find high or low pressures.  Collect emitter output for 30 seconds.   While various containers can be used to collect emitter output a 100 ml graduated cylinder will be needed to measure the relatively small amount of output.  63 milliliters per 60 seconds = 1 gallon per hour.  The formula is found below. 

 Convert the value found to a percentage by multiplying by 100. 

  An acceptable DU value is between 85% and 95%.  A DU value between 75% and 85% should be improved and a DU value lower than 75% needs to be improved.   A system with a lower DU value is applying extra water through the emitters that are in the top 75% of output in order to supply the vineyard with water for adequate vine growth for emitters that are in the lowest 25%.   The investment in time of measuring DU over a period of years can alert you to problems of partial clogging of emitters or pressure issues with your irrigation system.  This gives you time to implement management activities before the problem gets worse.  Some management strategies are discussed below. 

  Many areas of the country have issues with poor water quality.  Some ions dissolved in water can lead to chemical clogging of emitters.  Calcium carbonate (Lime or Scale) is one of the most common of these compounds.  Calcium carbonate formation is favored with water pH of greater than 7.5 along with bicarbonate levels of 100 ppm or higher.   Chemical and microbial oxidation or iron and manganese can cause clogging.  Other causes of emitter clogging can be bacterial or algal growth as well as suspended solids.   Testing irrigation water quality every five years is a good practice in understanding what is contained in your irrigation water.

  Acidification may be necessary for irrigation water that tends to form chemical precipitates such as calcium carbonates.  Depending on water quality, acidification can be constant, or it can be done occasionally to prevent chemical clogging of the drip emitters.   Acids that can be used include sulfuric, hydrochloric, phosphoric or urea sulfuric acid.  An alternative to acids are synthetic scale inhibitors which reduce scale formation by preventing precipitation reactions from occurring.  The amount of acid needed to reduce the pH of the water can be calculated by titration using a pH meter.   Analytical labs can also recommend how much acid to use per volume of water.   Target pH levels for different situations are found below. 

Target Irrigation Water pH levels

Continual……………………………………………….5.5-6.5

Moderate Cleaning……………………………………….4.5

Shock Treatments…………………………………………2.5

  If you are doing acid shock treatments check with emitter manufacturers to make sure that emitter parts are able to tolerate these low water pH levels. 

  Always add acid to water; do not add water to acid. Adding water to acid can cause a violent reaction, and may cause the acid to splash on the person pouring the water. Individuals working with acids should wear protective clothing and eyewear. 

  Once the amount of acid needed is determined are determined, you will need to know the volume of water that is being applied per treated irrigation block.  This information can come from a flowmeter or by calculating drip emitters per block.  Actual drip emitter output, which you get when you do a DU test, will be more accurate than what is provided by the drip emitter manufacturer when installed.  

  As a If you are doing infrequent or shock acid applications, inject the amount of acid in a known amount of irrigation water that will fill the drip lines at full operating pressure.  After the acid has been injected and distributed to its furthest point in the irrigation block turn the system off and let the low pH water set for several hours(overnight) to dissolve chemical precipitates.  Turn system back on and flush five to fifteen drip lines at a time. 

  For emitter clogging caused by biological problems such as algae, moss or bacterial slimes chlorination is the preferred treatment.   Depending on how severe the problem is, chlorine can be injected continuously or occasionally. 

  Filter maintenance is critical to prevent physical clogging of drip emitters.  If you do not have automatic back flushing filter systems you will need to monitor for pressure loss across the filter using pressure gauges.  A pressure loss across the filters will alert you to debris clogging the filters. 

  Your irrigation system is a critical piece of vineyard infrastructure that needs to be maintained like all other parts of the vineyard.   Take the time to measure your drip systems performance so it can deliver water efficiently and effectively.  This is especially true if you use your system to deliver fertilizers and pesticides to your vineyard. 

Here are some great videos to assist you:

Acidification to Clean Out a Drip Irrigation System: https://youtu.be/Kty6ykScfwQ

Calculating Acid Amount for Drip Irrigation System: https://youtu.be/eOJCDqC3n0E

Adding Acid to Irrigation System: https://youtu.be/5duPeWDAIns

 Sources

  Schwankl, Larry, Blaine Hanson, and Terry Pritchard.  2008.  Maintaining Microirrigation Systems.  University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources:  Oakland, California.  Publication 21637.

  Zellman, Paul.  2016.  Drip Irrigation System Evaluations: How to Measure & Use Distribution Uniformity Tests.  California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. https://www.sustainablewinegrowing.org/docs/DUArticle.pdf

  Kirk Williams is a lecturer in Viticulture at Texas Tech University and teaches the Texas Tech Viticulture Certificate program.  He is also a commercial grape grower on the Texas High Plains.  He can be contacted at kirk.w.williams@ttu.edu

Malic Acid & Chromatography

box of grapes

By: Tom Payette – Winemaking Consultant 

Malic acid is one of the major acids in grapes used to make wine.  In most cases it is secondary only to tartaric acid in quantity and then followed by succinic, citric, fumaric and other small quantity acids all contributing to a total acid or titratable acidity. 

  Every variety of grapes has a potential difference in the amount of malic acid that may proportionately exist in the grapes at harvest and much of this is predicated by the growing season, amount of rainfall, overall heat summation temperatures and night time temperatures.  Cool climates often have grapes higher in malic acid and warmer climates often have lower quantities of malic acid in the fruit.  Riper fruit generally has less malic than under ripe and so on; yet, winemakers should be cautioned not to try and use a measurement of malic acid as a sole predictor to grape ripeness for winemaking.  Further note fruits other than grapes such as cherries and apples have wide ranges of malic contents.  Cherry’s and apple’s principal acid is malic.

  In some traditional roles of winemaking such as wines made from the Bordeaux varieties, Burgundy varieties and Rhone varieties a decision by the winemaker may need to be made as to whether or not to perform a malo-lactic fermentation on those wines.  In making that decision, many factors come into consideration:  How much malic is present?  What is the pH now?  What will the pH be after alcoholic fermentation?  What is the predicted pH to be after malo-lactic conversion?

Malo-lactic Fermentation

  Unlike what the term indicates, this is not a fermentation done by yeast.  This process of converting the harsher malic acid, the acid dominant in most apples, to lactic acid, the softer acid dominant in most milk and cheeses is done by malo-lactic bacteria. This small bacterium is a Leuconostoc

oenos  and predominantly responsible for the “sterile filtration” standards of 0.45 absolute microns used as a wine industry standard today.  These small bacteria, often rampant in nature, can cause serious issues to any wine in the bottle or cellar that may undesirably undergo a potentially unwanted, uncontrolled wild fermentation.

  Many winemakers today control the malo-lactic fermentation process through cleanliness, pH, sulfur dioxide, temperature and controlled conditions to support or suppress the bacterial growth. Outside of these conditions, winemakers often select a desired malo-lactic bacterium to perform the desired job, giving a wine a desirable flavor and aroma attribute, while eliminating malic acid from the wine, or less likely, the must/juice.

Supporting the Growth

  Malo-lactic bacterial fermentations can be a challenge to any cellar.  Humorously, in some cases a winemaker who wants to suppress a malo-lactic will find one starting spontaneously and one that wants to encourage a malo-lactic will find the microbe to be stubborn.  The author has seen a huge correlation toward the microbes’ growth in relationship to the pH, temperature of the wine at inoculation and the temperature during microbe growth, sulfur dioxide use and timing of encouraging the process.  The pH of wine should be in certain recommended ranges hopefully above 3.10. 

  If below this pH, the microbe may be in serious jeopardy of surviving to do its functions of converting malic acid.  The temperature of the wine for a successful Malo-lactic should be slightly above 70 degrees F if possible.  This temperature (72 degrees F) will allow the microbe to perform rapidly and with success.  T he malo-lactic bacterial fermentation should be complete in twenty days or less on the average.  The sulfur dioxide of most wines must be relatively low from near zero ppm to about 15 or 20 ppm at a maximum.  Levels above 15 or 20 ppm may show signs of no to sluggish or incomplete activity.  The timing of a malo-lcatic is often best just after alcoholic fermentation has taken place.  This often turbid, nutrient and yeast rich solute can be a healthy environment for the microbe to grow and succeed consuming malic acid.

Suppressing Malic Bacteria Growth

  Referencing the above paragraph, many readers can draw their own conclusions on how to suppress the malo-lactic fermentation.  Colder temperatures especially below 50 degrees F will help slow or stop the bacteria, a free sulfur dioxide of 35 parts per million (PPM) or higher may help suppress the microbe and lower pH’s offer a more hostile environment to the microbe.  Most winemakers use temperature and sulfur dioxide adjustments to suppress a spontaneous malo-lactic before resorting toward potentially undesired pH adjustments in a must or wine.

PH Shifts During Malo-lactic

  The shift of a wine’s pH after a successful malo-lactic fermentation is difficult to predict.  Many times a wine pH may go up by 0.1 or even as high as 0.20 pH units or more.  This is dependent on the amount of malic acid content in the wine and how much was converted during the malo-lactic fermentation.  One must recognize at this time also that there are two different configurations of malic acid.  One is consumable by the malo-lactic microbe and one is not.  Therefore, some winemakers that have performed what they believe to be a successful complete malo-lactic fermentation process may, after performing a quantifiable test on the malic acid content, find some malic acid is indeed left of over.  This can be in the range of 22-30 milligrams per liter.  Each winemaker is left to his or her own decision as to what is an acceptable level and risk.

Filtration

  Winemakers that know their wines have come into contact with the malo-lactic bacteria often elect to filter those wines to a pore size of 0.45 microns.  We often show these wines as ML positive on our cellar inventories.  Other winemakers often assume, wisely so, that any wine in their wine cellar with malic acid is considered ML positive to be on the safe side.  With these assumptions, all the wines that have any malic acid in them should be filtered to a 0.45 micron level – just to be certain.

Paper Chromatography

  A non-quantifiable inexpensive process to measure malic content in wine, must and juices is the use of paper chromatography.  Winemakers are urged to use this crude, easy process in their cellars to measure their progress of a malo-lactic fermentation.  After using this “in house” testing technique winemakers are best served to measure the amount of malic acid in their wines in some quantifiable way to get an exact number to understand how much malic is still present in a wine or not.  Well-funded internal winery labs may have the tools in their own lab to measure this acid.  Others may find it cost effective to ship a small sample to an outside lab and have it measured at an external laboratory. 

Process

  The process of paper chromatography is very simple and very affordable.  Acids are carried, by way of a solvent, up the paper a distance related to each acid and or it’s standard.  After the paper dries one may look at the “developed picture” to understand what wine may contain what types of acid.  This is non-quantifiable as previously mentioned.

Tools and Chemicals

•    Chromatography paper

•    Chromatography solvent solution

•    Hematicrit tubes  0.05 (AKA Capillary tubes)

•    Malic acid standard

•    Lactic acid standard (Note I am leaving

      tartaric out)

•    Sharp #2 pencil

•    Straightedge or ruler

•    Paper towels

•    Well ventilated work area

•    Wines to be tested ;   10 milliliters or more.

•    Standard lab safety gear

  Some winemaking supply stores have affordable pre-assembled chromatography kits with instructions.

Procedure

1.   Clear and clean a space in the laboratory to be your workspace.

2.   Make sure the area is well ventilated since the solvent for the paper chromatography is very pungent and possibly harmful over a large period of time.

3.   Wash your hands thoroughly, twice, before handling the paper used with the paper chromatography.  This will remove any grease or dirt that may interfere with the results and action of the chromatography process.

4.   Place several pieces of clean dry paper towel on the countertop area to be the workspace.  This will be another layer of protection.

5.   Retrieve a piece of the chromatography paper from its container being very careful to handle it by the edges only.

6.   Place the chromatography paper on the paper towel work area.  Place the days date at the paper at the top of the paper.

7.   Using the straight edge and pencil, draw a straight line about one inch above the bottom of the chromatography paper.

8.   With the pencil, make small dots about 1.25 – 1.50 inches apart across the page along the freshly drawn straight line at the bottom of the paper.

9.   Under each dot make a code to reference the intended product or standard so one will be able to know what was placed at each dot.  Eg:  M= Malic   L= Lactic   Mer= Merlot   PN= Pinot noir and so on.

10. Retrieve from the cellar representative samples of each wine desired to be tested.  Only small quantities are needed.  Less than 40 milliliters.

11. Line each standard and wine sample up in front of the chromatography paper work space from left to right to equate what was drawn on the paper.

12. Take a hematicrit tube for each wine out of the hematicrit tube storage container for these.  Handle them only by the end that will not be in contact with the chromatography paper.

13. Holding the hematicret tube by the top end, quickly dip the receiving end into the acid standard or wine sample desired to be tested for each mark on the chromatography paper.

14. Once a small amount of the acid standard or wine is inside the hematicrit tube quickly touch the pencil spot made that is labeled for that standard or wine.  Be very careful to keep this organized and that each spot is exactly what it is labeled.  If in doubt – re-sample and start over.

15. Rotate left to right until all of the spots have their corresponding liquid on them.  (Do your best to make these spots very small with hopes they do not grow any larger than the size of a pencil eraser head.  Just a quick touch to the paper is plenty.

16. Wait about 4 minutes for each spot to dry and the reapply with the same appropriate hematicrit at each spot a second small spot of resultant correspondent liquid.

17. Allow these spots try roughly 10-15 minutes.

18. Prepare the solvent holding vessel with about one half to five eighths an inch of chromatography solvent.  (This solvent may remain in this vessel for subsequent uses and it should remain fresh for about 8 months)

19. Gently lower the chromatography paper with the wine and standard sample on it into the solvent.  Make sure the paper is level so the solvent will travel equally, and at the same speed, up the paper.  This takes about three to five hours.

20. Replace the lid on the container and set the apparatus where it will not be disturbed, moved or knocked accidentally.  One may check this container from time to time in order to estimate when to remove the paper.

21. After the solvent has visibly moved 95% of the way up the paper, one may remove the paper from the chromatography solvent vessel.

22. Replace the lid to the chromatography vessel.

23. Hang the freshly solvented paper in a well ventilated area to dry.  Make sure the drying process takes place away from any sulfur dioxide, bleach or other similar chemicals.  This paper should dry 10 hours or more and most winemakers allow it to dry overnight.

24. Read the chart the next day by looking at it.  Resist the temptation to look at it up close.  The author prefers to look at it about 5-7 feet away to get a true picture of what is happening.  The results will not be well defined and often ghostly or blurred.  This is normal.

25. Relate the distance the standards traveled to the distance the acids in the wine spots travel.  Try to ignore any colors from the wine such as potential red stains, etc.

26. Remember while reading this “film” that this is only used to get an idea of whether some malic acid is left in certain wines or not.  Some wines will have a more defined spot and others may be less easy to read. 

Calculation

  There is no real mathematical calculation as one can see.  One should relate where the malic and lactic acid standard spots are on the chromatography after the drying time and look horizontal to see if resulting spots exist in the same horizontal area above the wine spots.  This is an indication there is some of the same acid in the wine.

Mixing and Standardizing Chemicals

  Due to the difficulty of making these chemicals and the reasonable cost of the chemicals, it is recommended to order the chemicals from an outside lab.  Making the solvent is especially cumbersome with separation flasks and other tedious time consuming issues.

Other Helpful Tips

  Plastic gloves and goggles may be worthwhile to use if one finds they cannot handle the paper without getting skin oils and other contaminants on the chromatography paper, etc.

  NOTE: Always perform this test in a well ventilated area – the solvent is odorous and unpleasant.

References

Amerine, M.A., Berg, H.W., Cruess,W.V. 1972. The Technology of Wine Making

Zoecklein, B.W., Fugelsang, K.C., Gump, B.H., and Nury, F.S. 1999. Wine Analysis and Production

Verbal discussion with:  Mr. Jacques Boissenot, Mr. Chris Johnson, Mr. Joachim Hollerith and Mr. Jacques Recht.

Grapevine Leafroll & Red Blotch Virus Disease Management and Control

close-up of grape trees

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

As the fall season approaches, symptoms of virus infection become more pronounced in the vineyards.  Leafroll and red blotch are the most important viral diseases that manifest in late summer and the fall season.  Often, it is difficult to distinguish leafroll from red blotch disease symptoms in the vineyard.  This is especially true on red-fruited grapevine varieties.  In this article I will summarize and update information on the biology, symptoms, transmission, and management of the viruses responsible for these important diseases.  

The Viruses responsible for Leafroll and Red blotch Diseases

  There are four different viral species associated with grapevine leafroll disease.   The viruses belong to the Closteroviridae family and are named Grapevine leafroll associated virus followed by a number (GLRaV-1 to -4).  Except for Grapevine fanleaf and red blotch, Koch’s postulates have not been completed with most of the disease-causing grapevine viruses.   The postulates state that a pathogen must be isolated in pure form from a diseased plant, later the pathogen (virus in this case) is introduced to a healthy plant, and the newly infected plant must show the same symptoms as the original infected one.  Clearly Koch’s postulates are important because they prove the cause and effect of a pathogen causing disease.  Because it has not been possible to complete Koch’s postulates with GLRaVs, the word “associated” is added to the virus name.  As I will describe below, researchers can tweak the definition of Koch’s postulates to prove that a virus causes a specific disease and drop the word “associated” from a particular virus name.   Within the Closteroviridae family, species of GLRaV are classified in three genera, Ampelovirus, Closterovirus, and Velarivirus. Grapevine leafroll associated virus -1, GLRaV-3, and GLRaV-4 belong to the Ampelovirus genus.  Grapevine leafroll associated virus -2 is a Closterovirus and GLRaV-7 is a member of the Velarivirus genus.  Some researchers claim that GLRaV-7 should not be considered a leafroll virus.   Recent research has shown that GLRaV-7 was isolated from a mixed leafroll infected vine and symptoms may have been due to the other leafroll virus present in the vine.  When found in single infections, GLRaV-7 does not appear to show typical leafroll symptoms.

  Grapevine red blotch virus (GRBV) is the second DNA virus species discovered in grapevines (its genetic material is DNA rather than RNA).  Both its molecular and structural characterization has placed GRBV in a new genus (Grablovirus) within the Geminiviridae family.   As stated above, it has been difficult to demonstrate Koch’s postulates, with grapevine-infecting viruses. There are many reasons for this.  Mainly, there are not many alternative hosts that are susceptible to most grapevine infecting viruses.  But most importantly, grapevine viruses cannot be mechanically transmitted onto grapevines.  These viruses need to be introduced to a vine by an insect vector or via grafting (graft-transmission).   Dr. Marc Fuchs team at Cornell University was able to demonstrate that GRBV genetic material is responsible for red blotch foliar symptoms in red fruited grapevine varieties.  The work was done using sophisticated recombinant DNA technology to introduce the virus genetic material into tissue cultured grapevine plants.   Time will tell, after the plants grow, if the infected vines also display the detrimental effect of the virus in organoleptic qualities of the fruit (i.e., reduction of sugar).

  Leafroll and Red Blotch Symptoms are Similar

  Vines infected with leafroll viruses produce smaller grape clusters that ripen unevenly with lower sugar content. Foliar symptoms include downward rolling, reddening, or yellowing of leaves depending on the grapevine variety. Other foliar colors associated with leafroll virus infection include pink, purple, and orange speckles. The leaf veins may remain green or take many other colors (yellow, purple, or red).  

  Grapevine red blotch virus infection displays different leaf discoloration which usually appear spotty or blotchy.  However, these symptoms are indistinguishable from leafroll, especially when rolling of leaves are absent in GLRaV- infected vines.  In red fruited varieties, GRBV infected vines can display red veins, but red veins have also been observed in non-infected vines, and many red-blotch infected vines do not display red veins.   In my opinion, red vein symptoms cannot be used as a diagnostic tool.   In white-fruited varieties red blotch disease displays yellow blotchy discoloration in leaves. While the symptoms of leafroll and red blotch can be confused, these diseases are caused by different viruses. As described above.  Further, visual diagnostics is complicated by the fact that grapevines often carry mixed infections of viruses and other pathogens.  Although, the change in colors of the leaves in the fall is a tale-tell of virus infection, the most important negative effect of both GLRaV and GRBV infection is the reduction of sugar in fruit resulting in lower Brix values and delayed fruit maturity.

  Some GLRaVs and their strains are more aggressive than others.  Researchers have described the Alfie (Australia and New Zealand), BD (Italy), and Red Globe (U.S.A) strains of GLRaV-2. These strains are molecularly similar and have been associated with graft incompatibility, vine decline and death.  Some researchers report that GLRaV-1 and -3 induce more severe symptoms than GLRaV-4.  However, symptoms vary depending on the grape variety, rootstock, and climatic conditions.  Now, two different genetic groups (clades) of GRBV have been reported but no differences in their biology or effect on symptoms in the vineyards have been described.  Just as seen with leafroll, the symptom expression of GRBV infected vines is affected by climatic conditions and the author has noted differences in the effect on sugar reduction in sunnier and warmer areas (i.e., California coastal areas with more fog and lower sunshine yield fruit with lower sugar concentration than the same grape clones grown inland with more sun/heat exposure).

Transmission and Spread of the Viruses

  Ampeloviruses (GLRaV-1, -3 and -4) are transmitted by mealybugs and soft scale insects in a non-specific manner.  This means, different mealybug and soft scale insect species can transmit any leafroll virus in the Ampelovirus genus.  Research has shown that the citrus (Planococcus citri), grape (Pseudococcus maritimus), long-tailed (Pseudococcus longispinus), obscure (Pseudococcus viburni) and vine (Planococcus ficus) mealybugs as well as the soft scale insects Pulvinaria vitis and Ceroplastes rusci are able to transmit GLRaVs. Mealybugs and soft scale insects feed on the vine’s sap by inserting their sucking mouthparts into the plant’s vascular system (phloem). The honeydew excreted during the feeding process attracts ants that nurse and aid mealybugs to be transported to different positions of the vine or a different vine in the row.  Mealybugs may be difficult to observe as they may hide beneath the bark.  However, the presence of sooty mold (a fungus) and ant activity can be a good indication that mealybug are present in the vineyard.  No insects able to transmit GLRaV-2 or GLRaV -7 have been reported to date and the propagation of these viruses is performed by humans who produce, graft, and distribute cuttings from infected vines.  

  Work by researchers at Cornell University and the University of California reported that the three-cornered alfalfa hopper (Spissistilus festinus) can transmit the GRBV in greenhouse and laboratory conditions.  Although, the three-cornered alfalfa hopper has been found in vineyard blocks where red blotch disease has spread, transmission experiments in the field have not been completed to date.   It is interesting that grapevine is not the preferred host for Spissistilus festinus that prefers to feed on legumes, grasses, and shrubs.  Furthermore, the insect is not able to complete its reproductive cycle in grapevines.  While research continues to determine if other vectors are capable of transmitting GRBV it is clear that the rapid expansion of this virus in vineyards was due to propagation and grafting of cuttings from infected vines.  This also explains the arrival of GRBV to many countries in Asia, Europe, and South America where GRBV had not been previously reported.   In summary, both, GLRaVs and GRBV are graft transmissible and predominantly propagated by producing cuttings of infected rootstock and scion material. 

Diagnosis and Disease Management

  The distribution and concentration (titer) of leafroll and red blotch viruses is different in infected plant material.  While leafroll detection appears to be seasonal (best detected late in the growing season), detection of red blotch virus can be performed any time of the year.   Further, work performed in my lab showed that red blotch virus can be detected in high titers in any part of the vine.  The work showed that red blotch virus can be detected in any tissue tested, new or mature leaves, petioles, green or lignified canes, as well as cordons and trunks.  In contrast, leafroll viruses are generally found in low concentrations and are best detected in mature leaves, canes, cordon, and trunk.  If a vine has been infected through cuttings, the older the plant material is, the easier it is to detect GLRaVs. 

  Keeping both leafroll and red blotch viruses out of the productive vineyards relies on clean planting stock programs.  Because both viruses are graft transmitted (and some also have biological vectors) it is important to implement a monitoring and sampling program at the nursery and production vineyards.  Vines that are symptomatic or that test positive must be removed from the vineyard to avoid spread (especially if one of the Ampiloviruses or GRBV are detected and the vector is present in the vineyard.  Depending on the disease incidence (I have developed a statistical sampling formula to calculate and help make decisions), the removal of a few vines or the whole vineyard is recommended. Different chemical and biological control strategies are available for the control of mealybugs that transmit leafroll viruses.  The use of chemical control, although might be used to control GRBV vector is not presently recommended.

Conclusions

  This author has been involved in applied research with the goal to determine the ideal process to protect clean planting grapevine stock and newly planted vineyards from infection of viruses and fungal pathogens.  Presently, information on what is the distance needed at the foundation and nursery blocks to avoid infection from diseased blocks is lacking. The results of the research will develop the best strategy to isolate and monitor clean planting stock.  Until we have this information my recommendation is that nurseries and growers determine the health status of grapevine stock prior to planting to avoid the propagation and/or introduction diseased vines to the vineyard.  Yet, it is imperative to isolate and monitor newly planted vineyards to avoid the introduction of disease via insect vectors.  It is important to remember that lack of symptoms does not always correlate with a healthy diagnostic result (rootstock varieties as well as non-grafted vines are usually asymptomatic), so it is best to test a statistical sample of the nursery propagated material to be sure of its health status.

  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 the vineyard.   Judit (based in California) is fluent in Spanish and is available to consult in all wine grape growing regions of the word.  Please visit juditmonis.com for information or contact juditmonis@yahoo.com to request a consulting session at your vineyard.

Clubs Vs Subs; Which is Better?

3 people holding wine bottles

By: Susan DeMatei, Founder of WineGlass Marketing

Unless you’ve lived in your cellar for the past five years, you’ve noticed we live in a subscription economy. We have subscriptions for food, clothing, pets, razors, socks, movies, sports, makeup, and almost anything. You name it, and there is a box that can be delivered with options on your schedule.

  How sustainable is this trend? Will we forever be ordering small packages in bright boxes with sample sizes, or is this just a fad? And is the decrease in wine clubs part of it?

  Let’s start by defining a wine club. This recurring sales model provides wineries with a direct channel to reach high-value consumers and bypass traditional distribution channels. They are structured to offer repeat customers a winery-curated selection of wines at a small discount delivered to their homes monthly or quarterly. Key prospects for club membership are customers who have purchased multiple times at a winery and have some affection for the wines and brand. Clubs are typically free to join, and the benefits of being a club member include a discount on wines (typically ten to twenty percent), first access to new releases of wines, and invitations to events. Some wineries will have special seating areas or experiences for participants, and members are encouraged to visit the tasting room for complimentary activities.

  In 2022, the Silicon Valley Bank report noted that the average winery gets 24% of its sales from wine clubs. Wineries cling to this model because they can better control their brand messaging, pricing, and customer experience while capturing more sales value. It is also a bankable recurring revenue stream with projectable inventory depilation. Repeat purchases typically offset the discount.

pie chart showing clubs vs subs

  Most clubs have an average membership tenure of over two years, and club members almost always have a higher-than-average lifetime value. Wine clubs are historically the largest part of a winery’s DTC playbook. As such, wineries protect this loyal customer base fiercely.

  Using a dating analogy, wine club relationships are married. This channel buys the most expensive magnums and enjoys the most elaborate experiences. Club members routinely plan vacations around their wineries and even go on extended cruises or world wine trips with clubs. Club members have been known to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars at one winery and have been members for 10+ years. Wineries, in turn, are expected to know the intimate details of these very high-value contacts. Many club managers have club members’ contact information on their cell phones, with preferences, birthdates, children, pets, and personal information. Some are trusted to have the card on file with blanket approval for purchases or arrangements. These trusted face-to-face relationships take years to forge and are rooted in trust and familiarity.

  Wine Clubs have worked perfectly over the past 20 years for Baby Boomers in the loyalty phase of their relationship with wineries and don’t mind handing over their credit card for randomly selected wines shipped to them at a future unknown date. The consistency, VIP status, discount, and comfort of guaranteed access to wines they’ve endorsed, check all their boxes for dependability and responsible accumulation. Wine clubs have been developed around and for Baby Boomer pressure points.

  But to any consumer under 40, this model is frustratingly rigid. Consumers who grew up with the internet are accustomed to variety, transparency, and immediate access with no strings attached. To withhold these basic qualities will not fly with them. Moreover, younger consumers don’t want the same wine delivered periodically. They grew up with the internet and know what it is to have options, so their goal is not to decide on a favorite and stick with it. Instead, they live in a perpetual state of trial.

  The long process of waiting on some allocation lists isn’t appealing to them, either. Baby boomers equate loyalty point tiers based on spending, passwords to hidden website pages, and private access to winery areas as luxurious and aspirational. Millennials see one-click orders, open company values, and delivery within 30 minutes as luxury and desirable.

  So, what will happen to wine clubs? Are wineries doomed to lose 24% of their sales? If done right, the goal should be to evolve them into subscription models. And, no, that isn’t just semantics.

table comparison of wine club model and subscription model

Subscription models are different from Wine Clubs because they place control of the relationship in the customers’ hands. Typically, all interactions are online so that they can be managed anytime and anywhere. Many have apps. The consumer signs up and chooses frequency and dollar amount. The focus is on new brands and products, typically highlighted with in-the-box collateral containing stories about the new items.

  Subscriptions have become popular in the last half-decade, with young urbanites 25-44 years old leading the charge. Skimgroup reports that 48% of Millennials have four or more subscriptions. Why? 80% of those polled said subscription boxes made their lives easier, and 74% said it was because they liked to try new things. 55% replied that they joined so they didn’t need to go out to get the items. Those answers make it easy to see why the current club model of complex offers, repeated products, and on-site visits will soon be extinct.

  Subscription selling is not like selling to a wine club. First of all, it is not face-to-face. A subscription manager will not intimately know the people they are selling to. They will be names on a shipping manifest. The manager will focus on trends, variety, fun collaterals, and packaging that can make each box opening Instagram-worthy. The more exciting and interactive the manager can make each shipment, the longer the customer will stay in the subscription program. Aim for fresh takes on tasting notes and brand information and lean heavily into visuals and stories instead of words and data.

  Do not expect a subscription customer to stay as long as a club member. It’s all about trial, right? This is the biggest difference between subscriptions and clubs: Subscriptions are at the other end of the funnel – they are an introductory tool. Expect consumers will want to move on once they’ve tried your wines and figured out your vibe. But churn can be mediated with many opportunities to share their experience and bonus incentives if they sign up friends. Remember, this group likes to share the good news, so give them the tools to spread the word. And that intrinsic curiosity which causes one member to move along will bring two more to sign up.

  There are a few things that will have to happen for the subscription sales channel to become a mainstay in wine marketing:

•    Wineries need to consider subscription models useful in the initial trial phase, not replacing clubs in the loyalty phase. As a salesperson, you would never come out of the gate with a wine club offer as it is now. That would be like walking up to someone you don’t know at a party and asking them to marry you. It’s too much of a commitment. But subscription models are less cemented in routine. If a wine club is a marriage, the subscription model is speed dating. You can try wines for a while and then move on. It is the perfect introduction to a brand. This sounds simple, but the entire sales process is different. Online ads targeted to new customers will be for trial subscriptions. If someone doesn’t want to buy wine, a salesperson could offer them a subscription to try the wines instead. It’s a different way of thinking for most wineries.

•    Technology needs to catch up. If we were selling t-shirts today, there would be a multitude of plug-ins and templates for us to set up a recurring sales model on an e-commerce site. But, because we’re talking about a controlled substance, we must involve compliance, and our websites have limited online subscription choices. Right now, only Commerce7 and Shopify/Drinks offer the customization, but others are in development, and this will not be an issue for long. But as a whole, technology has been slow to respond to this usability shift.

•    Fulfillment needs to step up. Amazon has taught us all that we want 2-day shipping for free on everything. Wine is fragile and heavy and susceptible to heat and cold issues. This is unavoidable, but consumers’ standards are set, and other subscription services have extremely fast turnarounds. Large clubs like Winc are handling the volume, but to the average small winey, the logistics of giving a choice and cadence control over to the customer is a logistical nightmare.

•    Since subscriptions are virtual, the companies that offer them have no brick-and-mortar overhead. They put all their money and attention toward delighting the consumer with bright, cheerful curated boxes and providing excellent, fast, seamless customer service. Most wineries have spent years perfecting their tasting room hospitality service, not their shipping and remote customer service. We pack wine in plain boxes and call UPS and call it a day. These new consumers care about what the box looks like, what surprised are included inside, how well the delivery is managed/ communicated, and how easy it is to return, refund, or change their minds. These are not qualities that the wine industry typically excels.

  To be clear: If you successfully work out the logistics of a subscription, we do not recommend migrating your club over to it. Your Baby Boomer customers have done their research, spent a lot of money, and are perfectly happy being first in line to get all your new releases in their wine clubs. You want to offer a subscription in addition to the wine club. Position the subscription as a virtual sale to states outside of your tasting room or as a gift for tasting room fans to give their family and friends back home. Think through what you can do virtually to connect with these customers, even if only for six months or a year. Subscriptions are a complementary tool to get in front of people not standing at your tasting bar and a platform to communicate all you can about your brand story and wines. 

  Overall, wine clubs in the past have effectively disrupted the DTC wine market by offering consumers a convenient and personalized way to discover and enjoy wines while providing wineries with a direct sales channel and a means to build customer loyalty. As the target audience of wine clubs continues to diminish and technology enables choice, we can expect subscriptions to play an increasingly influential role in shaping the future of the wine industry. It is crucial for wineries to start thinking of these trial subscription models in parallel to clubs so that as the balance of visitors and customers changes, they can keep that 25% of their business healthy.

  Susan DeMatei founded WineGlass Marketing; the largest full-service, award-winning marketing firm focused on the wine industry. She is a certified Sommelier and Specialist in Wine, with degrees in Viticulture and Communications, an instructor at Napa Valley Community College, and is currently collaborating on two textbooks. Now in its 11th year, her agency offers domestic and international wineries assistance with all areas of strategy and execution. WineGlass Marketing is located in Napa, California, and can be reached at 707-927-3334 or wineglassmarketing.com.

What is Grape Crop Insurance & How Does it Work  

harvest knocked down by fence

By: Trevor Troyer – Vice President at Agricultural Risk Management, LLC

Grape crop insurance is a federally subsidized program that is administered by the USDA Risk Management Agency.  Policies are sold by independent agents and agencies throughout the country.  There are thirteen approved insurance providers (insurance companies) that work with the USDA RMA. 

  Grape crop insurance is an Actual Production History (APH) policy.  This means that it uses a vineyard’s historical production to determine how much is covered.  You are covering an average of your tons per acre per variety.  Since crop insurance is partially subsidized, the insurable varieties, prices per ton, premiums are all set by the USDA.  This also means that there is no cost difference from one insurance company to the next.  If anyone represents that they can get you a lower premium for the same coverage, it is false.  It is true that some agents and agencies are more knowledgeable with grape crop insurance. How your policy is set up and with what endorsements you have does make a difference.

  Per the Grape Crop Provisions grape crop insurance covers you for the following:

10. Causes of Loss.

(a) In accordance with the provisions of section 12 of the Basic Provisions, insurance is provided only against the following causes of loss that occur during the insurance period:

      (1) Adverse weather conditions;

      (2) Fire, unless weeds and other forms of undergrowth have not been controlled or pruning debris has not been removed from the vineyard;

      (3) Insects, except as excluded in 10(b)(1), but not damage due to insufficient or improper application of pest control measures;

      (4) Plant disease, but not damage due to insufficient or improper application of disease control measures;

      (5) Wildlife;

      (6) Earthquake;

      (7) Volcanic eruption; or

      (8) Failure of irrigation water supply, if caused by an insured peril that occurs during the insurance period.

(b) In addition to the causes of loss excluded in section 12 (Causes of Loss) of the Basic Provisions, we will not insure against damage or loss of production due to:

      (1) Phylloxera, regardless of cause; or

      (2) Inability to market the grapes for any reason other than actual physical damage from an insurable cause specified in this section. For example, we will not pay you an indemnity if you are unable to market due to quarantine, boycott, or refusal of any person to accept production.

  An agent will work with you to set up individual databases for each of your varieties.  If you have vineyards in different locations, it can sometimes be beneficial to set them up separately.  This can be good when you have a claim.  You might have a loss in one location but not in another.  You don’t want your production from different locations co-mingled, as you might not have enough of a loss to trigger a claim payment.

  The databases can go back 10 years, if your vineyard has been in production that long.  Minimally 4 years is needed to set up an APH policy’s database.  If the vines have just become insurable a Transitional Yield (T-Yield), based on the county and variety, can be used to fill in up to three years.  If you have purchased a vineyard that has been in production, you can transfer the production history.  You must have records or some way to prove the vineyard’s history though.  The database can only be set up as far back as you have production records to prove your tonnage.  Production records are not required at the time you sign up for crop insurance or at production or acreage reporting times.  But they may be required at the time of a claim.  It sometimes comes up that an insurance company may need to do a review and production records are needed.  So, it is good thing to keep them on hand.

  Here’s what the 2024 Crop Insurance Handbook (CIH) from the USDA says grape about production records:

1950 Grapes

A. Supporting Records

Settlement sheets, sales receipts, machine harvest records, certified scale records, pick records and final or year-end statements from a winery, cannery or processor must indicate net paid tons of Grapes delivered by variety. Converting gallons of wine to tons of grapes does not qualify as acceptable records.

  The CIH then goes into more detail about records and what needs to be on them.  Your agent can provide you this information as needed.

  What about insurability of the grapes?  Vines need to be in their 4th growing season for the grapes to be insurable.  A minimum of 4 years is needed to do the average, if the grapes have just become insurable then a T-Yield, as mentioned earlier, is used in place of any missing years.  Usually, the third growing season after being grafted is considered insurable.  The vines must have produced an average of at least 2 tons per acre, in at least one of the preceding three crop years.  There can be exceptions to this rule, though.  Sometimes there are other requirements located in the Special Provisions for a certain county.  In California the USDA Davis Regional Office puts out Informational Memorandums that lay out specific requirements for the State of California.  These differ from other growing regions in the United States.

  Grape crop insurance is available in the following states; Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and Washington.  Grape crop insurance is not available in every county.  For a list of insurable counties, you can look at the RMA’s website at rma.usda.gov or contact your agent. 

 Insurable grape varieties are also different between states and counties.  The varieties are usually set by what has been being grown in that county or the climate of a particular state or county.  Even though there are differences between AVAs in a certain state/county, the insurability, prices, and premiums are all set by county not AVA.  Most of the time if a particular variety is not listed for a county it can be insured.  There are Types/Practices in the actuarial documents for each county that list out specific varieties and also make allowances for others. For example you might look up Hood River County in Washington State.  It lists; Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Grenache, Cabernet Franc and so on.  There is also listed “Other White Varieties” and “Other Red/Pink Varieties”, so if you have a grape variety that is not listed under it’s own name you can insure them under one of these categories.

  You can not cover 100% of your average production per variety.  You can choose coverage levels from 50% to 85% of your average.  Because of this, there is a sort of built in production deductible.  Coverage levels are in 5% increments.  The coverage level is relative to the premium, the lower the coverage level the lower the premium will be.  Obviously with higher coverage levels claims are more likely to be paid out; therefore the premium will be higher. What the correct coverage level for your needs is something your crop insurance agent can help you with.  Risks are different between states and counties. 

  Grape crop insurance is a valuable tool to mitigate risk for a vineyard. 

For More information please contact

Agricultural Risk Management, LLC

Toll Free: (888) 319-1627

Email: ttroyer@agriskmgmt.com

Or visit our website.

www.agriskmgmt.com

Steps for the Long-term Success of Your Brand & Business

man in super cape

By: Lauren A. Galbraith

Family wineries face certain common issues when it comes to succession planning, and there are steps you can take to help ensure the longevity and success of your brand and business.

Step 1 – Develop a Plan

  Benjamin Franklin is thought to have said:  “By failing to plan, you are preparing to fail.” This rings true for family wineries, where planning can substantially increase the odds of the business achieving its full potential over the long term.

  Some forms of planning end up memorialized in legal documents. Thoughtfully drafted governing documents for the business lay essential ground work. For example, a shareholder agreement can establish a framework for the transfer of ownership within the family and restrict the sale of business interests to nonfamily members. The business’s governance and management structure can be tailored when it comes to, for instance, using a management committee or vesting control in single strong executive, setting the voting thresholds for approval of major decisions by owners, or instituting a family advisory board to help set goals and priorities for professional managers or to provide a mechanism for passive owners to have a voice. 

  A business leader helps to ensure stability for the business and its stakeholders upon his or her death or in the event of incapacity by having in place certain core estate planning documents such as a revocable trust, will, and power of attorney. Lifetime gifting may be part of a plan to minimize estate tax at the death of the senior owners such that the family has the freedom to continue as family-owned. In California, avoiding or deferring property tax reassessment can be an important objective to minimize future costs to the business. 

  In transferring business interests, some families choose to align controlling ownership with successor management. To the extent one can discuss these matters and the rationale for certain decisions in advance of the decisions taking effect, it can help to preserve family harmony and avoid conflict and resentment among the next generation after a death.

  Identifying talent and cultivating future leaders is an important part of the planning process. This leads to the next topic of taking steps to encourage full and frank communication.

Step 2Open Communication Channels

  An important step of family business succession planning is to examine the desires and expectations of next generation, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Some children readily see the business as their family legacy and relish the opportunity to continue its growth. Others view it as a family legacy that they are honor bound but not excited to inherit. Still, others see it as an asset to be sold as soon as the parents are deceased to provide the capital to pursue the children’s true career objectives. Before moving forward with a family-based succession plan, parents should seek to ensure they are getting an honest answer from their children as it relates to taking over the family winery.

  A coach or consultant may be retained to conduct family interviews and synthesize findings into a plan of action. Coaches can also help family members develop communication skills to improve how they work together, such as effective listening, understanding and responding while not shrinking from difficult conversations. 

  A collaborative and diplomatic style can feel unnatural to a strong, independent leader. But a pivot in approach may be what enables longevity. Sustainable solutions are more likely to be designed in environments in which individual values and aspirations are expressed. Relatedly, a leader must learn to let go and, at some point, allow for transition of real management and decision-making authority such that next generation of leaders can gain confidence and skills, make mistakes, learn, improve, and, perhaps most importantly, know what it feels like to have family members, employees and their families rely on their ability to make wise decisions. Real, sometimes difficult experience tests skill sets and suitability but also enables the family member to make an informed decision as to whether the contemplated role for him or her is the right fit.

Step 3 Plan for Potential Estate Tax

  Some family businesses fail due to overwhelming debts or taxes, in particular the 40 percent estate tax. However, with enough lead time it be possible to eliminate estate tax or at least to minimize and defer the payment of such tax. This can make all the difference in allowing a family business to endure and thrive.

  Under current law, U.S. persons have a combined gift and estate tax exemption of $12.92 million, but decreasing on January 1, 2026, to $5 million, indexed for inflation, absent a change in law. Some family winery owners are choosing to make large gifts in order to “lock in” the record-high exemption before it shrinks. Transferring business assets today has the added benefit of removing future appreciation from the transferor’s estate.

  By transferring a portion of a family business during life, you can ensure that your estate includes less than a 100% interest in those assets at your death, which is advantageous from a valuation perspective, especially if you decrease your position below 50%. When fractional interests in a private company are valued, they are typically eligible for generous discounts for lack of control and lack of marketability.

  Lifetime gifts have the additional advantage of being valued on a per beneficiary basis, rather than based on the grantor’s aggregate ownership. Example: (a) You die owning all 1,000 shares of a business with fair market value of $4 million, passing to your four children (taxable estate includes $4 million) versus (b) you give each of your four children 250 shares in the business (each valued at $750,000, or $3 million total, using a 25% discount).

  Once you transfer assets you can no longer have the income from those assets, but there are methods to address this if a concern.  For example, a person who wishes to maintain cash flow might sell (rather than gift) interests to trusts for their descendants and receive in return a promissory note payable in annual installments.  This essentially converts an asset that would have been part of the transferor’s taxable estate into liquid funds for consumption and at a price that is the fair market value at a fixed point in time, excluding post-sale appreciation. 

  Keep in mind that appreciated assets transferred during life, by gift or sale, do not receive the step-up in basis that is available under current law for assets transferred at death.  The step-up would reduce or eliminate capital gains exposure on a subsequent sale of those assets. This is of less consequence, however, if the transferred assets are not intended to be sold and will instead remain in the family.

  For active family business that make up a significant portion of a person’s estate, estate tax obligations may be deferred and paid in installments over as many as fourteen years under a family-business minded provision of the Internal Revenue Code, Section 6166. If your family will want to take advantage of this deferral, it is prudent to examine whether or how lifetime transfers, debts, etc. might jeopardize eligibility.

  Many families use life insurance to address and pay for estate tax.  Large policies of life insurance should be held in irrevocable trusts, with premiums paid following certain technical procedures, to help ensure the insurance proceeds are not subject to estate tax.

Step 4Pre-Sale Planning

  If the next generation lacks interests or ability to carry the business into the future, sometimes the right choice for a family to continue the legacy of its brand and business is to sell to a third party.  In such case, careful planning can maximize value and minimize tax consequences. 

  In an effort to put the best foot forward, wineries may engage professionals to help them “clean up” their financial statements in the years leading up to a sale.  If individual family members or family trusts that are partial owners of the winery have loaned funds to the winery, those loans may be converted to equity and, if necessary to avoid dilution of other owners, superseding loans may be made between owners to move the debt off the winery’s balance sheet.

  Any transfers of interests in the family winery to trusts for the next generation should be accomplished well in advance of a sale, to potentially achieve favorable valuations that leverage one’s gift tax exemption.

  Those business owners with philanthropic inclination might choose to make gifts of the business interests in kind to charity to reduce the income tax burden of a sale.  To achieve the desired tax benefit, such gifts should be considered and executed prior to negotiations to sell and certainly before entering a contract for sale, so as to avoid application of the step transaction doctrine which would treat (and tax) the individual as seller, rather than the tax-exempt charity.

Conclusion

  Far from morbid, anticipating personal and business life changes provides peace of mind and helps answer the critical question, “Who will take care of this winery or vineyard once I am no longer able?” From an emotional standpoint, planning helps to ensure that the great wine of today continues to be produced and poured well into the future.

  Lauren A. Galbraith is a partner with Farella Braun + Martel LLP in St. Helena, CA. She advises individuals and families on all aspects of estate and tax planning, estate and trust administration, and business succession planning. She can be reached at lgalbraith@fbm.com.

Up The Creek Winery

Award-Winning Kentucky Wines

house surrounding trees

By: Gerald Dlubala 

There are those who believe that award-winning wine couldn’t possibly come from a Kentucky winery. After all, Kentucky is known for bourbon and horses, right? The innovative, welcoming, award-winning gold medal folks at Up The Creek Winery would like to speak with you.

  It started in the early 2000s when Up The Creek co-owner Greg Haddle began looking at property in Oregon to start a vineyard and winery in his retirement years. His brother, David, recommended he look closer to home, where his money would likely get twice the land. So, while looking at an old tobacco farm, Possum Hollow Farms, in Cumberland County, Kentucky, they both knew this was the place for their future vineyard and winery.

  “It was just the feeling we got when we were there,” said Haddle. “It felt right. It felt like a place that takes all the stress away from your life and allows a person to enjoy nature as intended. Those feelings and the fact that the field layout was already somewhat parceled out due to its previous life as a tobacco farm made us believe it would work, so much so that it was the only offer we made on a property. It took about a year before we got a final contract, so the real work began in 2002.”

  The old tobacco farm was tremendously overgrown, with weeds and brush topping out at 10 feet tall, so Haddle said that they first had to buy a tractor and a bush hog and start clearing the land. Gary lives on the second floor of a cabin he and others built on the property, while the lower level houses the winery.

  “We started clearing the overgrown brush and weeds immediately in the fall of 2002 and planted the vineyard in spring 2003,” said Haddle. “It was a quick turnaround that was helped along with the property already being partitioned. When we initially started making wine, we relied on juice purchased from New York until our fields matured. Since then, we’ve used only Kentucky-grown products. Things we don’t grow ourselves, we get from local farms. For example, the blueberries used in our popular blueberry wine options come from a local farm maybe 12 miles from us. They’re certified organic berries, and when I need them, I can call and make an order, and the berries show up at our garage door ready to process. You can’t beat that.”

Delicious, Healthy Wine through Natural, on-the Fruit Fermentation

  “It’s a real slow, healthy ferment,” said Haddle. “After the first two weeks of fermentation, we turn off all temperature controls and let the juices self-regulate, with nature taking over. We do nothing to hinder that process, letting our wine ferment on the fruit for over 90 days. In the case of our blueberries, after that 90-day natural fermentation, those blueberries are completely broken down and absorbed to provide an incredible tasting, healthier wine that is noticeably different from more traditionally fermented wines.”

  “It’s just a noticeably different mouth feel you’ll experience,” said Lisa Thomas, Haddle’s assistant extraordinaire, handling everything from events to tastings through sales and beyond.  “And fermenting our wine this way retains the best flavor and health benefits from the actual fruit.”

  “And it works,” said Haddle. “Except for our blackberry wine, because blackberries tend to be a little less stable, all our fruit wines are fermented this way. We keep the juices intact with the fruit skins and seeds, and this method has won us Best Boutique Wine Gold Medals.”

  “The naturally fermented fruit wines are all popular because they are exploding with flavor and health benefits, but our blueberry collections may be our most popular,” said Haddle. “We ferment in stainless steel tanks using oak chips. And because we are all sensitive to SO2 (sulfur dioxide), we keep its use to a bare minimum within the winery, which we believe makes a big and positive difference in our wines.”

  The sweeter, liquored-up wines are generally the top sellers in Kentucky. Still, we provide wines for the different, more educated palates for the increasing number of tourists and visitors that come and stay for our great outdoor recreational opportunities. Our whites are generally semi-dry, as are our reds, which can lean towards dry. Our fruit-based wines are the sweeter ones.”

  The vineyard has over 1,200 wine grapevines and 700 trellised blackberry and red raspberry bushes. The grape varietals include golden muscat, an American variety and hybrid varieties of chambourcin, seyval blanc, vignoles and marquette. Haddle and his team also produce popular wine grape and fruit blends that are only available on-premise, like their extremely popular Jalapeno Wave. All Up The Creek’s Kentucky wines display a tobacco barn on the label, signifying the winery’s farm and Commonwealth heritage.

History Provides a Bountiful Landscape

  The property sits on a rock bed, so much so that there’s no drilling down available around the landscape. Haddle tells The Grapevine Magazine that the property was home to an ancient sea, entirely underwater and the resulting terroir is 335 acres of well-drained soil with dark slate, quartz-like rock, fossils, sea urchins and other shellfish and limestone. Kids love to walk the creek and discover relics from history, including fossils and geodes. Because of the natural hills and valleys associated with the landscape, Haddle estimates it would be about a seven-mile walk to get around the property navigating the ups and downs.

  The vineyards are sloped to the south or face straight up the valley line for maximum sun exposure. There’s always a battle with the various vineyard pests over the grapes and berries, but it’s part of the job for the Up The Creek core group, including Gary, David, Lisa and Hailey. David manages the operation, including spraying and fertilizing schedules. Everyone pitches in to help with the crop and canopy management, including the extensive pruning, mowing and weeding needed to keep the vineyards manicured. The group manages to stay ahead of the pests by regularly picking the berries before the animals make quick work of them and netting all their grapevines to reduce product loss.

Experiencing Award Winning Kentucky Wine

  Up The Creek has regular open hours on Friday and Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PM, but Haddle says anyone can call and arrange a visit on other days. In many instances, especially with groups or events, that’s preferred so the visitors can get the full attention and unique experience with the staff.

  “The tasting room is a welcoming 1950-style, converted, three-bedroom house,” said Thomas. “It’s small, so big groups are either urged or known to call ahead. We may be outside at the picnic table for a tasting or inside at a table made by Gary. Our vineyards are well-manicured, so visitors can even stop by to go into the vineyard or fruit fields and have a picnic or relaxing break. Visitors are welcome to grab sandwiches at the nearby Amish store or stop in to grab a bottle or two and some snacks and navigate our drivable vineyard to find that perfect spot that speaks to them and have a picnic, relax and leave all of their stresses behind for a bit. We encourage a healthy mental break from our crazy world, and you will forget the world when you get here,” said Thomas. “It’s my happy place, for sure.”

  The personal experience you get at Up The Creek Winery is unmatched. Vineyard and winery tours are available, including self-guided walks when weather permits. And if you should be lucky enough to be there and see a staff member walk around with a mason jar, you need to thank your lucky stars and prepare yourself for a possible first taste of one of their new creations. Yes, it really happens, said Thomas, and as their regular customers can attest to. If you know, you know, and you should be excited.

  Up The Creek Winery is known to be so picturesque and peaceful that the local creative community, including painters and master gardeners, holds classes and outings on the property. You may see some of the paintings displayed throughout the winery and tasting room on consignment from the artists.

  The winery is host to hayrides throughout the vineyard and farm and also offers a beautiful backdrop for events. In addition to her many duties at the winery, Thomas is a private chef for a local farm-to-table restaurant, able to construct memorable dishes and snacks for any parties or events held on the property. And visitors may even be treated to a fish fry should they be lucky enough to visit on a good fishing day for Haddle.

In the Works

  “We are always trying new combinations and blends,” said Haddle. “For example, last year, we harvested our chambourcin grapes and were backlogged, so we were trying to devise a way to use some of the grapes. While brushing my teeth one morning, I thought about gathering the ripest chambourcin grapes with the best red raspberries, then mashing them all together with juice using a potato masher.”

  “The result is a delicious, unique blend, and tastings are a success, so our new Rebel Red will likely be released around Christmas to help folks get their Christmas spirit on,” said Thomas. “But while we experiment, we always remember that it’s all about keeping the health benefits of wine intact. That principle is a main part of our product offerings”.

  “We’re a little guy in Kentucky’s big scheme of horses and bourbon,” said Thomas. “But we did help pass a law that allows small, boutique wineries like ours to be able to deliver our products ourselves without the need for a distributor because, let’s face it, a distributor isn’t willing to waste their time and energy working for a small, craft winery like ours. Additionally, we’ve discussed coming out with a brandy. Southern Kentucky Distillery is on the horizon as a new distillery in our area, and we may partner with them on something, but of course, that could be five years away. At any rate, we’ll keep doing what we do and enjoy the fact that our beautiful little part of Kentucky is starting to get the recognition that we always knew it deserved.”

Final Thoughts

  Success and happiness come in many forms, and by doing what he loves while being surrounded by his family and friends, Haddle is a happy person.

  “Happiness is personal, so I don’t base it solely on the money,” said Haddle. This business can bring self-happiness and self-reward, but at the same time, it takes a special person to stick with it. But no one should give up on their dream. Our vineyards and winery are so beautiful, and I love that we are taking responsibility for the land and property while creating products that make other people happy. Being a vineyard owner means more than just making great award-winning wine. We take care of this beautiful land by being responsible gardeners and respectful stewards of our natural resources while keeping the property, landscape, and entire area a beautiful, happy place. Doing this with family and friends allows for a lot of extra personal attention to detail, providing a hometown feel and experience that simply cannot be matched at the larger commercial wineries.”

For more information or to schedule a visit:

Up The Creek Winery

930 Norris Branch Road

Burkesville, Kentucky 42717

upthecreekwinery@gmail.com

(270) 777-2482

Open Fridays and Saturdays from

10:00 AM until 6:00 PM or by appointment

Exploring Southern Oregon’s Wine Country

wine farm with overseeing mountain

By: Becky Garrison

The Southern Oregon AVA, established in 2005, consists of five distinct regions: Rogue Valley AVA, Applegate Valley AVA, Umpqua Valley AVA, Red Hill Douglas County AVA and Elkton Oregon AVA. Multiple rivers – Umpqua, Applegate, Illinois and Rogue – traverse throughout this region, thus creating a number of small valleys and hillsides and a range of mesoclimates. This region’s latitude, climate and rich terroir with elevations from 350 to 2,000 feet, average precipitation of 19 inches annually and approximately 175 frost-free days afford winemakers with a European-like growing season.

  Even though Hillcrest Vineyard in the Umpqua Valley was the first vineyard to plant pinot noir grapes in Oregon in 1961 commercially, Willamette Valley’s pinot noirs tend to dominate the Oregon wine scene, thus overlooking the 70 different wine varietals produced in Southern Oregon. This includes grapes unique to the Pacific Northwest.

  For example, in 1997, Earl and Hilda Jones of Abacela Winery in Roseburg were the first in the Northwest to grow and vinify the tempranillo grapes commercially. This was followed by Stephen and Gloria Reustle of Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyard in the Umpqua Valley, who planted the first grüner veltliner wine made in North America in 2003 to 2005. Also in the Umpqua Valley, Girardet Vineyards & Winery in Roseburg was the first to plant baco noir grapes in Oregon and produce a baco noir wine in 1971. Other varieties grown in Southern Oregon that are not widely grown elsewhere in the Northwest include albariño, dolcetto, grenache, malbec, and petit verdot.

  According to Nichole Schulte, head winemaker and an owner of Barrel 42, a full-service custom crush winery in Jacksonville, very favorable Oregon laws allow for winemakers to be creative and have a little bit more control over the grapes that come into the winery. These laws allow for more flexibility in blending non-pinot noir wines such as the GSM (grenache syrah mouvedre) blends that originated in the Rhone region of France, as well as other blends that are not as well known.

  “These wines require a bit more storytelling behind them,” Schulte said. “This is where our friendly tasting rooms and winemakers come in because they can explain what they’re doing and the intention behind that particular wine.”

  While most wine regions focus on either warm or cool climate grapes, Southern Oregon can grow both warm (tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon, malbec, syrah) and cool (pinot noir, pinot gris, riesling) climate grape varieties grow very well due to the many and diverse microclimates, vineyard elevations and terroir differences across the region.

  According to Rob Folin of Ryan Rose Wines in Medford, “These cooler nights and hotter days are awesome for the grapes, allowing the grapes to ripen over a longer growing season with greater concentration and balanced acid levels.” He added that they “seldom get spring frosts and only the occasional fall frost.” 

  A key difference between the two regions is that the Umpqua Valley relies on the ocean for its diurnal swings (warm days and cool evenings to help preserve acidity in the grapes), whereas the Rogue Valley relies on elevation for its diurnal swings. Ross Allen, president of the Rogue Valley Vintners and owner and vineyard manager at Padigan Wine in Medford, points to a few examples of how the climate and climate suitability in the Rogue Valley makes them unique as a key factor to the quality of fruit they produce.

  “The Rogue Valley’s precipitation is less than the Willamette Valley and more similar to Napa, making for lower disease pressure and cleaner fruit,” Allen said. “In addition, the Rogue Valley’s growing season temperatures and heat accumulation clearly distinguish us from the Willamette and California. Also, the Rogue Valley has one of the widest diurnal temperature swings of any wine region worldwide, enabling greater potential flavor and aroma development.”

  Family-owned, multigenerational vineyards dominate the landscape, with the winemakers often pouring the wine in their tasting rooms while sharing their vast knowledge of viticulture with visitors. Eric Weisinger, owner and winemaker at Weisinger Family Winery in Ashland, points to the camaraderie within fellow Southern Oregon winemakers that creates a healthy culture.

  “People want each other to succeed,” Weisinger said. “Our region may not be that old but we’ve done a lot in a short period of time.”

  The towns that dot Southern Oregon, such as Ashland, Grants Pass, Jacksonville, Medford and Roseburg, have emerged in recent years as wine destinations with food, art, music and a wide range of lodging options from budget motels to B&Bs nestled within a vineyard estate. Unlike more populated Western wine regions such as the Willamette Valley or Napa Valley, Southern Oregon is far away from major population centers, so one can avoid the touristy crowds that tend to congregate, especially during the weekends and holidays. While this intimacy creates a unique wine experience for the consumer, Ted Gerber of Foris Vineyards in Cave Junction notes how this region’s distance from major populations can make direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales difficult. However, some wineries, like the Weisinger Family Winery, sell almost all of their wine in the tasting room or online.

Rogue Valley AVA

  This AVA is dominated by the Rogue River that flows south into the AVA at the town of Shady Cove, turns west outside of Eagle Point and flows through Gold Hill and out of the AVA northeast of Grants Pass. This region is home to Oregon’s first official winery, founded by Peter Britt in 1873. Currently, the Rogue Valley’s approximately 180 vineyards run along three valleys of this river’s tributaries: the Illinois, Applegate and Bear Creek. While this valley’s heat results in prime growing territory that naturally benefits big Bordeaux and Rhône varieties, winemakers like Jean-Michel Jussiaume of Maison Jussiaume Wines find this climate well-suited for producing sparkling wine. He moved to the United States from France in 2005 with the intent of producing handcrafted sparkling wines. In his estimation, the growing conditions of the Rogue Valley are less challenging than the region of Muscadet, where he grew up.

  The Illinois Valley, the southernmost part of this AVA, receives some marine influence due to its proximity to the coast, thus resulting in a cooler, wetter climate than much of the rest of the appellation. This climate attracts vintners like Ted Gerber, who established the family-owned Foris Vineyards in 1974 with his late wife, Meri. He chose Cave Junction as the location for his winery, as it lies halfway between the pinot noir growing areas of Sonoma and the Willamette Valley. Also, this region has a very large diurnal swing with plenty of ripening for alsatian varieties. In 1977, he had the distinction of being one of six growers to receive a few dozen clones of pinot gris, pinot blanc and gewürztraminer that Oregon State University imported from France, and Floris continues to produce these varieties.

  Like many other winegrowers in the Rogue Valley, Chad Day, owner and manager of RoxyAnn Winery in Medford, came from an agricultural tradition where he describes his winemaking process as farm-to-fork. Currently, Day oversees farming the vineyard and managing the winery while a cousin manages the orchards and field crops, all farmed on the same 250 acres their extended family has owned since the 1890s. While they grow 17 different varietals, their focus is on the Bordeaux and Rhône varieties that grow well in this warm region with their craft claret blend consisting of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc merlot, malbec and petit verdot. At this juncture, climate change has proven beneficial for them as the green cabernet that came from the Rogue Valley 10 to 20 years ago is now more full-bodied.

Applegate Valley Sub-AVA

  Ensconced inside the Rogue Valley AVA is the Applegate Valley Sub-AVA, an area consisting of 19 wineries and a total acreage of 278,190. This valley was formed by the flow of the Little Applegate and Applegate Rivers that wind between the peaks of the Siskiyou Mountains, with Jacksonville in the southeast and Grants Pass in the Northwest. As this region receives rainfall from the surrounding Siskiyou Mountains and cooling marine temperatures from the west, this AVA receives more moderate heat than Illinois Valley, with granitic alluvial gravels as the predominant soil type.

  Despite its overall warmth, this AVA poses a challenge to winemakers, as it has the shortest frost-free period in southern Oregon: 137 days compared to 150 to 165 days in other parts of the Rogue Valley. This is attributed to the higher vineyard elevations and the surrounding mountains that restrict sunlight late in the day. Also, water availability can be challenging due to little rain and moderately high heat. But according to Schulte, they are well-positioned to deal with the ongoing climate challenges.

  “We have a lot of people who are creatively thinking ahead,” Schulte said. “Also we have so many microclimates here that we’re able to grow many different varietals well, so we’re not pigeonholed into any specific sort of style or varietals.”

In response to increasingly warm summers, they are among those wineries replating some of their vineyards with varieties more amenable to hotter and drier climates. As reported in the July/August 2023 issue of The Grapevine Magazine, Schulte is one of the leading experts in researching collaborative approaches to handling smoke in the vineyard and winery.

Umpqua Valley AVA

  The topography of the Umpqua Valley is over 75 percent hills and mountains, which creates an extremely diverse climate and terroir. This area is known as “the land of a hundred valleys,” with three mountain ranges: Klamath, Coast and Cascades converging in the Umpqua Valley. This resulted in numerous ancient faults, folds and outcroppings, as well as 140 soil types, including silt, clay, sediments and alluvial dirt. This makes the valley one of the most diverse growing regions in the world, according to Terry Brandonborg of Brandborg Vineyard and Winery in Elkton.

  Overall, the Umpqua Valley tends to be wetter than the rest of Southern Oregon, with the northern part of the appellation typically receiving the most rain. Within this AVA, one finds the Red Hill Douglas County AVA and Elkton Oregon AVA, both of which are further north with a cooler climate. The Elkton Oregon AVA lies within the northwest corner of the Umpqua Valley and is closer to the ocean. At the same time, the Red Hill Douglas County AVA is comprised of a single vineyard consisting of rich volcanic soil from the ancient, uplifted seafloor that produces pinot noir and pinot gris wines.

  The overall climate is such that they can ripen bigger reds in the warmer areas of the Umpqua Valley, like Bordeaux and Rhône varieties, but still dry farm. Per Scott Kelley from Paul O’Brien Winery, who used to be the director of winemaking for Mondavi in California, “There is not another region in the U.S. that can lay claim to that.”

   Also, a growing number of Umpqua Valley wineries are exploring the sparkling side of wine, including Pet-nats, such as Brandborg Vineyard and Winery in Elkton, which produces alsace-inspired white wines along with pinot noir. After getting his garage bonded as a home occupation in 1986, Brandbog moved to a rented warehouse space in Richmond, California in 1990. After he connected with wine pioneers like Scott Henry of Henry Estate Winery, he and his wife, Sue, began looking for a cooler coastal climate in 2000. After moving here, Brandborg joined the board of the Oregon Winegrowers Association, which later became the Oregon Wine Board, and then served as president of the Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Association.

Marketing Southern Oregon Wines

  In Gerber’s estimation, the cooperation within the Oregon wine industry was extremely helpful to their historically small appellation. He found the marketing door opened for them with an “Oregon” appellation when they began selling in Canada, Japan and over 40 states. Along those lines, Wine Enthusiast named the Rogue Valley as one of five regions selected internationally as the wine region of the year in 2022. In recent years, the Rogue Valley Vintners and the Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Association have served as marketing organizations to bring awareness to the wines produced in Southern Oregon.

How Vineyards Can Protect Their Grapes from Devastating Frosts  

windmills in grape farm

By: Alyssa L. Ochs

Various weather hazards put delicate wine grapes at risk, including hail, high winds, wildfires and droughts. Frost is another major issue in vineyards across the country, especially spring frosts that attack emerging shoots and buds when they are just beginning to form. The riskiest time, which requires strategic planning and advance preparation, is when bud break has occurred, but the frost risk has not yet passed.

  To address these cold-weather concerns and help vineyards protect their grapes from frost damage, industry experts weigh in to share their knowledge and provide guidance for a successful yield.

Types of Frost and the Risks

  Different kinds of frost can harm delicate grapevines depending on where a vineyard is located. Advection frosts occur when temperatures are below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and the wind is greater than 10 miles per hour. This type of frost happens with a weather front moves into an area, and cold, dry air replaces warmer air. Radiation frosts are associated with temperatures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit and calm winds. These frosts occur during clear skies and due to lost heat as radiant energy.

  Both weather patterns are problematic for vineyard operators and influence whether active frost protection methods are effective. Frost is a significant issue for vineyards because of the dangers of uneven ripening, decreased fruit quality and damage to an entire vintage in severe cases. Frosts can happen unexpectedly during the growing season and when grapes are dormant. Meanwhile, some types of grapes are more susceptible to frost damage than others.

Overview of Frost Protection Methods

  Frost protection methods are typically divided into two categories: active and passive. Active methods involve intentionally modifying the energy and climate of grapevines through wind machines, heaters, sprinklers and other measures. Overhead impact sprinklers, water micro-sprayers and cold air drains are other active methods to prevent frost damage.

  In contrast, passive frost protection methods do not require energy input or adjust the climate, instead focusing on strategies like cultivar and site selection, which must be considered before establishing a vineyard. Other passive approaches include looking at soil water content, cover crops and barrier management. A combined strategy with active and passive measures is often most effective in the vineyard, especially alongside good vineyard design, vineyard floor management, sprayable products and late pruning if necessary.

Professional Help with Frost Protection

  Fortunately, equipment manufacturers and specialty companies are available to help vineyards address their frost protection concerns. Since 1967, Orchard-Rite, a family-owned business, has engineered and built wind machines with precision technology. With its headquarters surrounded by vineyards, orchards and farms in Yakima, Washington, Orchard-Rite operates one main manufacturing and assembly plant and has supplied an estimated majority of wind machines and frost fans in operation worldwide.

  Shawn Miller, who leads sales and dealer support for Orchard-Rite, told The Grapevine how wind machines are an effective tool for protecting various crops from the damaging effects of frost and critical temperatures worldwide.

  “During radiation cooling nights, wind machines pull down warmer air and ventilate the growing area to prevent the pooling of cold air,” Miller said. “Most importantly, they provide air movement across the plant surfaces, which prevents them from supercooling. Even with a weak inversion layer or on clear, cold nights, Orchard-Rite machines substantially reduce the chance of supercooling.”

  Orchard-Rite serves customers with wind machines that protect against frost throughout North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Miller said these regions have special seasons that benefit from Orchard-Rite’s wind machines. For example, these machines help protect blooms from critical temperatures and frost in the spring, and they aid in drying the clusters and canopy of excess moisture in the summer. He said they also protect critical autumn temperatures when more time is needed before harvesting and during winter months when temperatures have fallen to the point of damaging or killing the vine.     

  “What makes us unique, is that we manufacture many of our wind machine parts, verses buying off-the-shelf-parts,” Miller said. “This gives growers the confidence in the quality of our equipment. As for the market share, warranty, product support, research and development and dealer support, we are by far the leader in the world market. With over 39,000 Orchard-Rite wind machines sold throughout the world, we have the longest proven track record, providing the best value, highest performing, quality wind machines with a worldwide dealer network to support parts, service and sales.” 

In addition to the products that Orchard-Rite provides, Miller told The Grapevine that other sources for frost protection can be used for supplementary heat, such as irrigation micro-sprinklers and fuel-burning devices.

  “Additionally, when supplementary heating is used with the wind machines, this can improve results of your protection,” he said.

  Another company that helps vineyards get a handle on their frost prevention tactics is Vigneron Toy Store, a Sutherland, Virginia-based business with products and services to assist vineyards with harvesting, spraying, canopy management, floor management, pre-pruning, leaf removal and frost mitigation. Kirk Thibault from Vigneron Toy Store told The Grapevine Magazine about how his company’s AgroFrost frost protection equipment is based on sublimation. He explained that this phase change of the water vapor releases energy into the bud and protects the crop from frost damage. He said these machines could protect with or without a thermal inversion down to 23 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  “AgroFrost machines are now in use throughout the world,” said Thibault. “They started in European orchards and have been protecting grapes, blueberries, apples and pears for many years. The tow-behind Frostbusters and stationary Frostguards are mobile and can adjust to changing conditions or changes to the vineyard. We have several differently sized units that can concentrate on individual blocks or entire fields depending on a growers needs.”

  Thibault told The Grapevine Magazine that something that makes this frost prevention solution unique is the fact that AgroFrost machines will recover your cost in one year’s potential fruit loss. 

  “No matter the weather conditions, our system works,” Thibault said. “Labor and start-up costs are far less than other systems, as one machine and operator can cover 15 to 20 acres and no further infrastructure is needed to operate the machine. At Vigneron Toy Store, we train you on every aspect of the machine and all operating procedures.”

Beyond the offerings at Vigneron Toy Store, Thibault said that promoting the vineyards’ natural environment to prevent frost is a helpful start.

  “Keeping grass short with bare ground under the vines helps return more ground heat to the vines,” he said. “It also allows better flow of warmer air across the vineyard. Wind machines and sprinkler systems also provide frost protection but require much higher infrastructure costs and can damage crops as well.”

  H.F. Hauff Company, Inc., based in Yakima, Washington manufactures the Chinook wind machine, which is popular among vineyards because one machine will cover up to 18 acres in a vineyard – 150 feet more than other competitive units. Dean Hauff from H.F. Hauff Company told The Grapevine Magazine that this product’s exclusive trailing edge wedge increases sector angle coverage to 80 degrees – a full 60 seconds of direction protection in the horizontal plane. He said warmer temperatures pull from higher up in the atmosphere in the vertical plane, raising temperatures more quickly on the vineyard floor. Another benefit he shared about the Chinook wind machine is its one-piece fan blade design, as air movement from the air foil starts 14 inches from the fan hub center with increased air movement directly under the fan. It’s also easy on fuel consumption (13.5 gallons of propane per hour or six gallons of diesel per hour), is competitively priced and comes standard with auto-start capabilities and a stainless-steel engine hood.

  “We are a conservative, family-owned business and have been in the agricultural manufacturing business for 58 years – 54 years directly involved in wind machines for frost protection,” Hauff said. “We were trained by the originators of the first wind machines and have grown up with the evolution of the wind machine from the ground up. Our quality manufacturing process is based on sound engineering principles and aerodynamics dedicated to our customer needs.”

  In addition to the Chinook wind machine, Hauff said that horticultural practices are an important tool in any overall frost protection strategy.

  “Besides wind machines, low emitter sprinklers work well,” Hauff said. “From grass to dry dirt, you can pick up one to two degrees, from dry dirt to wet dirt another one to two degrees. If possible, planting your vineyard rows with the natural drift will help by giving extended time before the cold air drain begins to back up. Also, planting on the higher ground will aid in delaying the frost. Frost is a lot like water because it flows to the low ground first and then begins to back up to the higher ground, freezing out the crop as it goes.”

Frost Strategy Management and Tips

  Many vineyard owners and managers are turning to high-tech solutions like weather stations, data monitoring and flow meters to manage frost protection in the vineyard. Yet some instances of frost damage are inevitable despite all the latest innovations. Therefore, it is vital to know the steps to manage the damage, including assessing injury to grapes after a frost and deciding whether to remove damaged parts of the plants or allow them to remain intact.

  Miller from Orchard-Rite offered some advice for vineyards looking to improve their frost prevention strategies this year.

  “It is very important not to wait until you are at a critical temperature to start your wind machine,” Miller said. “We recommend that if the forecast conditions are going to reach critical temperatures, farmers should start their wind machines three to four degrees Fahrenheit above the critical temperature for the crop being protected. Additionally, make sure that you have opened areas up that can trap or dam the cold air, such as fence lines full of debris.”

  Thibault from Vigneron Toy Store recommends determining the vineyard’s coldest area or most frost-sensitive variety and placing a Frost Alarm at the fruit level.

  “Our Frost Alarms provide cell phone warnings based on wet temperatures for the temperature you set,” Thibault said. “Frost doesn’t always happen at 32 degrees but can occur at 34 or 35 degrees sometimes. You should start to protect your vineyard slightly before the damage temperature. The most common mistake we see people make with any frost protection system is starting after damage has already happened.”

  Finally, Hauff from H.F. Hauff Company advised that those with no frost protection in place should seriously consider putting in a wind machine.

  “It is less labor-intensive than other options, operating costs are low and unit coverage can be great,” Hauff said. “In addition, a wind machine will keep on protecting your crop year after year.”

  For those with wind machines in place already, he said they should look at improving the efficiency of the systems currently in place. 

  “Upgrading your current wind machine is not out of the ordinary,” Hauff said. “Not all fan props are created equal. Many improvements have been made with regard to technological breakthroughs, aerodynamics, increased horsepower and increased performance. In the 1940’s, six to eight acres was the standard fan coverage. Today, the advanced aerodynamic features of the Chinook fan prop protect a full 15 to 18 acres. Matching your current fan and engine horsepower and replacing it with a properly sized Chinook fan will improve your fan coverage by roughly more two acres.”

A Glass a Day Keeps Stress at Bay

Embracing Wine in the Lives of Everyday People

hand pouring wine to glass

By: Heidi Moore, Host – Wine Crush Podcast

The number of factors bringing stress into our lives has increased exponentially over the past few years. First, there was a global pandemic that brought a wicked mixture of fear, isolation, and uncertainty to our lives. The pandemic was followed quickly by economic instability, in which inflation drove up prices of everything from eggs to oil to airfare. Seeking ways to deal with the economic fallout from inflation, many businesses turned to layoffs, leaving hundreds of thousands of employees suddenly without a paycheck.

  As Americans seek to deal with these and other stressors they face in today’s world, they often turn to activities like hitting the gym, getting out in nature, or talking with a therapist. One of the simplest formulas for keeping stress at bay, however, is taking the time to enjoy a glass of wine.

Sipping the Stress Away

  Wine’s ability to calm us down is founded in science. Specifically, wine contains a compound called resveratrol that has been shown to bring our emotions back into balance.

  Resveratrol is a chemical compound found in grape skins and is often associated with red wines because red grapes typically have thicker skins. However, all grapes are known to produce resveratrol.

  Resveratrol’s stress-reducing properties are related to the effect it has on the body’s stress hormones. In times of stress, the hormone cortisol is released to help the body respond, but when stress is not addressed, an overabundance of cortisol can be released, leading to anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that resveratrol keeps stress hormones from getting out of control, helping our bodies avoid the type of feelings that we typically describe as “stressed out.”

Taking a Break from Stress

  While the presence of resveratrol certainly contributes to the stress relief wine can bring, it is not the only factor at play. Sitting with a glass of wine at the end of the day can help us to embrace a number of other stress-relief strategies.

  For example, stopping our work at “wine-o-clock” is an excellent way to assert boundaries. Stress often flows out of being overloaded, which drives long workdays and restless nights. Sitting with friends and loved ones for a glass of wine is one way to say that our lives are about more than just work.

  Having a glass of wine with friends also creates a space for us to talk about our stress. In many cases, simply talking about the stressful things in our lives can reduce their emotional impact. Sharing our feelings can also lead to finding the support we need to make it through stressful situations.

  Laughter is another common side effect of a glass of wine that can help us with our stress. Laughing releases endorphins that improve our mood and our resiliency. It can also help us reframe our perspectives, taking the power away from temporary situations that trigger stress.

Measuring the Popularity of Wine

  Despite its obvious benefits as a stress-relief tonic, everyday people in the US typically don’t turn to a glass of wine when they want to unwind. Recent stats on alcohol sales show that beer is the drink of choice for most Americans, with beer sales having accounted for 54 percent of all alcohol sales in the US in 2022. Liquor, such as tequila and vodka, were next in line, accounting for 24 percent of retail spending.

  Wine is at the bottom of the list in terms of alcohol sales at just under 23 percent, which represents a decline from sales in 2019. Reports from the wine industry anticipate that sales of wine will continue to go down because millennials don’t appreciate it as much as the baby boomers who came before them.

  The apparent lack of interest in wine in the US doesn’t track with alcohol consumption in the rest of the world. In fact, in terms of per capita wine consumption, the US does not even make the top 10. Portugal is at the top of the list with 67.5 liters per capita, followed by France with 47.4 liters per capita. In comparison, the number for the US is 12.6 liters per capita.

Understanding the Way we See Wine

  To understand why wine is not embraced by more people in the US, one must understand its reputation in US culture. Compared to other alcoholic drinks, wine is more often portrayed and perceived as a drink of the high class and elite. As often portrayed in Hollywood films, wine is typically referenced as a beverage that wealthy people drink on their yachts or order in exclusive restaurants.

  Wine is not seen as a drink for everyday people. When the working class unwinds and cracks open a cold one, they are typically reaching for a beer. Beer is commonly considered the go-to drink for sporting events and family picnics. It is what you’ll find at campus parties, where Americans typically develop their drinking habits.

  If wine is enjoyed by everyday people, it is typically only for a special occasion. A couple will share a bottle of wine on their anniversary, but have a draft on a typical date night. Beer is the “everyman” drink seen as more accessible, more masculine, and — by many — more patriotic.

  This attitude toward wine is not universal, which is clearly shown by the stats on per capita wine consumption. In Italy, for example, drinking wine is considered an everyday custom, not a luxury for special occasions. Similarly, in Argentina, one of the world’s top wine producers, wine is present at virtually every meal, but especially when families gather.

  In France, wine is something that is enjoyed every day, often at lunch and dinner, by a large part of the population. In fact, it is said that parents in the Champagne region of France give their children a taste of their famous wine even before they give them breast milk.

Seeing Wine in a New Way

  To promote the image of wine as an everyday drink for everyday people, the wine industry has launched many new initiatives in recent years. Educating consumers is at the forefront of these initiatives. The belief is that a deeper understanding of wine will lead to more appreciation and greater comfort.

  Enhancing the information available on a wine label’s website is one way to educate consumers. Through online blogs, companies can go beyond product information to share ideas on when, how, and why to drink wine.

  Providing educational information via social media is another promising strategy to increase the public’s appreciation for wine. With social posts, wine companies can target certain demographics or join ongoing conversations. Social media also allows companies to gain a deeper understanding of how their products are perceived by the public, and to address misconceptions.

  Bringing potential wine drinkers into wineries and wine shops is another way to further their education. This can include winery tours, which build an appreciation for the care involved in the wine-making process, and classes or seminars on wine-making. Wineries can also offer tasting room experiences specifically designed for those new to wine.

  Podcasts provide another excellent opportunity to increase the general public’s wine IQ. There are a host of popular podcasts available today on wine that introduce listeners to wine culture, helping them navigate the process of buying, serving, and enjoying wine. Many of the podcasts feature episodes for those who are new to wine. Some podcasts focus exclusively on wine newbies.

Bringing Inclusivity to the Wine Industry

  Boosting inclusivity in the wine industry is another initiative launched in recent years to make wine more accessible to the masses. Several years ago, media reports drew attention to the fact that minority communities were largely underrepresented in the wine industry. The reports argued that wine’s image as an exclusive drink was something that the wine industry perpetuated by failing to promote diversity and inclusivity in its ranks.

  In response, the wine industry has sought to make wine culture more accessible by increasing its inclusivity. In 2020, for example, Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) committed $1 million to efforts to increase diversity in the wine industry. NVV is a trade association that represents more than 500 wineries in the US.

Addressing the Affordability Issue

  Affordability is also a factor that needs to be considered in efforts to inspire everyday people to add wine to their routines. Because wine is viewed as a more exclusive drink, it is also considered a more expensive drink. Helping consumers understand that inexpensive wine is available and enjoyable is an important part of the education process.

  Sharing tips for buying wine on a budget is one way to make it more accessible. By buying directly from the winery, for example, consumers can avoid paying mark-up costs. Consumers may also not be aware that they can get good wine at good prices by shopping for it at grocery stores, discount outlets, and warehouse clubs.

  A variety of factors have led to the perception that wine is not a drink for everyday people. The truth, however, is that everyone can enjoy wine and, more importantly, everyone can benefit from its stress-reducing properties. Now is a perfect time to change the narrative on wine, rewriting the story so that a more diverse group of people can call themselves wine lovers.

  Heidi Moore is an insurance broker by day with a special focus on wine, craft beer, cider, and farming. Ten years ago, she was not a wine drinker, but when the opportunity to learn about wine presented itself, she jumped at the chance to learn something new. She ended up falling in love with the personalities, the process, and the farming surrounding the wine industry. After that, she created the Wine Crush Podcast and felt it was a great opportunity to showcase the personalities in the wine industry, dispel the myths surrounding wine, and encourage those unsure about it to step up and try it!