Custom Crush Host & Guest

Photo of winery building with grape crushing equipment and people using bins to put grapes on crushing equipment

By: Thomas J. Payette, Winemaking Consultant

Having been on both sides of custom crush not only as a winemaker as a host winery but also as a winemaking client in another’s winery I feel especially adapted to help people with custom crush endeavors.  Making sure your grapes and wine get the excellent treatment they deserve is always the top consideration.  You want to make excellent wine, without winemaking flaw, as a bottom line.

Choosing Your Custom Crush Partner

  Make sure to choose a custom crush winemaking facility that is adapted to your size and style.  If you care for the products that winery makes that is a key asset that you can hopefully build on but it is not a given your wines will be as clean and assertive as the winery making your wines.  Research the winery you plan to be involved with and make sure they are the correct fit.  Research their sanitation and explore if brettanomyces could be a long term issue, especially if making reds and moving the bulk wine back to your facility.

Discuss How Far to Go

  Discuss with the winery how much of the process you plan to have done at their facility.  Will they just crush and ship? Will they crush, ferment, press and ship?  Will they crush, ferment, press, age, bottle and ship?  What should the label say?  What should they expect from you?  If you are building a new winery building are there contingencies’ for a construction delay on your end?  There are many ways to configure what your needs are and the winery should have some idea of how long you plan to stay and what their role is in your vision.

Communication

  Now we can see communication is already a huge part of this relationship.  Beyond how long you will stay at the winery leads into division of responsibilities.  Who will decide the yeast, enzyme, nutrient, style, maceration, whole cluster press, crush and press, etc?  Will tanks be available?   Should you bring your own tanks and barrels to the winery to be helpful?  What can the winery supply to you in the way of fermentation capacity and how soon will the wine get into your barrels so the production path is clear for their grapes and wines?  Map out a process with the winemaker and/or GM to make sure a plan is in place.

Priority

  Every harvest comes with new challenges.  Often winemakers are already stressed with their own fruit and winemaking demands only to find owners and GM’s piling more on them with custom crush.  Make sure the winemaking team really wants you there and that they will treat your fruit with the same respect as their own.  Is the winemaker being compensated extra for your presence?  Should they be?  Are they happy you are “on board” or is this process a thorn in their side?  Are you just in their way? This is hugely important to your success as a client in their cellar and what are your buffers or remedies if you find your expectations are not being met?  This happens and you need expertise to know when things are not just right.

Expertise

  Make sure you have expertise on hand to help coax your winemaking process along.  Make sure a detailed plan has been placed, on paper, for the resident winemaker to follow.  Make sure the plan has the flexibility needed to shift to address the potential abnormalities every harvest has.  This ability to make decisions on the fly will be imperative to your overall wine quality success.  Not knowing the ins and outs can lead you subject to agreeing to things you may not have agreed to and having the wines suffer in the process.  Make sure you don’t become “second fiddle” for the cost of a “front row seat”.

Being a Priority

  Keeping yourself in the forefront will be a delicate balance.  Harvest has everyone under stress and that starts to show quickly in the game.  Make sure level heads approach reactionary winemakers with compromise and offering solutions.  It will help the stress level of the onsite winemaker remain low and you will gain respect.  This will typically pay off later when you do need a little something extra from the winemaking team.  They will respectfully step forward and help on the back end.  Show that you understand the shoes they are in and that you are not only present to help them navigate the waters, with them, but ready to look after your wines, too. 

How to get the Best

  Getting the best is by getting along.Communication is the key.  If your fruit is being delayed from the 10:00am delivery slot originally planned – place the quick call to the proper winemaking team person and let them know calmly. 

Chances are something else has shifted that day already and the team easily navigates this new slot.  It always works out well beyond any planning but if the team is veteran – they have seen it all and will refocus their energy to a more immediate task that may have been slated for later that day.  This same approach goes for all during the year.  Plan and communicate.

Flexibility

  The above has certainly addressed the issue of flexibility.  This is farming at crush.  Harvesters break down, picking crews get out of sequence, lug deliveries may have been delayed or any other host of things could happen.  Many situations are out of your control so plan for the worst and accept a good day.  They happen more frequently than this article might suggest.

Good….Great Relationships

  Keep a great relationship, even at your own expense, while having wine made in another’s facility.  That doesn’t mean you need to role over and accept poor treatment of your fruit and wines but rather go the extra mile to have the winemaking crew want to help you.  Help them when possible on a task they are working on if the winery environment allows it.  If you can help them clear a path to work with your fruit – they will respect that.

Doing Work Yourself

  Will you be able to do work yourself on their premise and in their facility?  This can be key from crushing fruit to racking tanks and barrels or filtering wine.  If things are being slow to get done ask if you can come in and do the work yourself provided you have the knowledge and skills.  Some wineries will allow this and in some cases it is the best solution for on site quality control.  Will the custom crush winery assign their top personnel on your lots or will they focus on theirs?  Human nature comes into play here and you need to protect your investment.  If late Friday work orders delivered to a non veteran winemaking staff should become the norm for what needs to be done to your wines – this should sound alarm bells to you.

Lab Testing

  Will the custom crush winery supply lab numbers to you?  Do you trust their lab numbers, expertise and how will you know if the numbers are trust worthy?  The difference in a pH reading of 3.88 and 3.76 could have a huge influence on how you may want to handle that wine.  Make sure to use outside labs to help validate the internal numbers being supplied to you.  It is great insurance for your wines and you soon know how reliable the internal winery numbers are and how often you need to seek outside numbers.

Record Keeping

  How much access will you have in the record keeping?  Will the custom crush winery hold those records close to their chest or is it an open book?  Do they keep as detailed records as you hope to see?  Address this before becoming a client of theirs.  Is it up to them to keep track of blends or yourself?  Perhaps it is best to run the records parallel so you can confirm your confidence in what you receive.  It will help in any case especially in the event of a computer crash or other catastrophic events.

Sanitation

  When courting a winery, as a potential custom crush facility, make sure you are happy with what you see in terms of sanitation.  Don’t expect that the overall sanitation regime will change once you “get married”.  Look at the process and procedures that each winery might have in place to understand how they clean certain segments of the winery.  If you plan to move the wines in bulk to your facility be careful not to contaminate your brand new winery with spoilage microbes that could affect your wine styles for years if not forever.

Summary

  Make sure to look out for number one when looking to do custom crush.  Many honorable facilities exist but be on your toes to make sure you know when things are not headed in the proper direction for your wines.  Make sure you are getting your monies worth and that the wines you intend to craft are indeed shaping up in the proper fashion.

•    Know what your goals are and express them.

•    Explore the winery that will best fit the goals.

•    Make business arrangements to achieve the goals.

•    Communicate throughout all the winemaking process.

•    Have a commanding presence while remaining flexible.

  A big thanks to Rombauer, Laird, Braman, Prince Michel and numerous other wineries for allowing me custom crush access and experience.

B Cellars Embraces AI to Understand the Emotional Connection Between Brand and Consumers

Photo of B Cellars front entrance to their building

In the ever-evolving landscape of the wine industry, innovation is not just about viticulture and winemaking techniques; the new frontier is understanding the emotional bond between brand and customers. B Cellars, a trailblazer in the Napa Valley wine scene, took an early leap into the future by integrating artificial intelligence into its marketing and sales strategies. The results have allowed the company to carve out an enviable niche in the direct-to-consumer channel, which is the focus of their business model.

  In 2018, B Cellars distinguished itself as a pioneer in the winery-meets-AI space by employing Metis, a cutting-edge, AI-powered behavioral research program developed by a San Francisco-based company, Richey International. This move marked

B Cellars as among the first in the wine industry to seek consumer feedback through AI, with a focus on emotional connection to the brand.

  Metis, named for the Greek goddess of wisdom, was designed to delve deeper than traditional market research methods. It analyzes vast amounts of data, including social media and online review sites like TripAdvisor and Google Reviews, to provide insights into the emotional resonance a brand has with its customers and find best practices within specific industry segments. The AI searched for what consumers were saying about their experiences at B Cellars in comparison to a subset of other well-respected Napa Valley wine brands. It went a step further by also analyzing data from select non-winery businesses such as restaurants, hotels, and even retail stores; surprisingly, some of the most valuable insights for B Cellars came from analyzing the customer experience at Filson, the 130+-year-old Seattle-based outdoor clothing company.

  The next step was to invite past B Cellars guests to answer questions in writing. The instructions were clear and were meant to solicit thoughtful responses by noting respondents should “take as much time as you need to develop your response…we are listening carefully.” Participation in the survey was well above industry research norms.

  What Metis’ process revealed to B Cellars unlocked the essence of the relationships between B Cellars and their customers. Why did customers like the winery (apart from good wine)? What drove them to maintain a multi-year relationship? How could such a relationship endure when the customer was thousands of miles away?

  The answers became clear as Metis honed in on the core differentiators that consumers perceived about B Cellars: the “soul” of the brand was rooted in craftsmanship, terroir, and the idea of a lifestyle grounded in authenticity (as opposed glamour or floridity), plus appreciation of great quality wine, food, and entertaining in a manner that was elevated yet approachable. Metis found that while these elements were amply apparent to visitors to the B Cellars estate in Oakville, these factors were not highlighted effectively on the company’s website and online user experience. Simplifying and streamlining the website made it more inviting and accessible to potential customers and aligned better with the superior elements of the B Cellars brand. Once executed, the website simplification translated into a refined pre-visit experience between guests and the winery’s concierge team, which gave way to a unique arrival experience for guests.

  The insights B Cellars gained from the AI analysis of its in-person experience were also eye-opening. From Metis’ data analysis, the winery learned that their wine tastings were undervalued. So, they increased prices by an unprecedented 30%; this adjustment aligned the perceived value of their offerings with the high quality of their wines and curated food pairing experiences. The price increase also heighted the perceived luxury of the experience, which led to increased bookings to visit the estate.

  Furthermore, Metis’ insights led to a reimagining of B Society, an offering that encourages ongoing purchases of its wines. Before Metis, B Society wines were predetermined for its subscribers based on previous purchases; however, AI recommended a totally customizable wine purchase approach that allowed consumers more control over choosing selections for each shipment. Metis also challenged the B Cellars approach to Society gatherings. Today, gatherings are designed to encourage deeper connections between the B Cellars team and their clients by having more intimate gatherings and allocating visiting hours exclusively for returning guests. These changes have not only improved customer relationships but also reduced attrition rates, which now sit well below industry norms.

  The results of incorporating AI into the winery’s strategy have been remarkable. B Cellars enjoyed a 7% increase in annual winery visits with in the first year of implementing the Metis findings, plus a notable improvement in customer engagement, loyalty, and referrals. These changes underscore the potential of AI in transforming not just marketing strategies but the very fabric of the customer relationship. The key was deeply analyzing a comparable set of businesses and listening carefully to its customers, just as B Cellars had promised to do. In the final analysis, Metis showed that B Cellars customers wanted to believe in the winery’s ethos of integrity and authenticity. While most wineries market themselves based on what’s in the bottle, their scores, or a continuous stream of marketing campaigns,

B Cellars sought substance, which has translated into a durable emotional connection with its customers.

  The success of the B Cellars story provides a roadmap for other wineries to follow as AI inevitably becomes more integrated into all of our lives. The implications of the winery’s pioneering use of AI extend beyond their own success; it opens up a realm of possibilities for other wineries and vineyards. The wine industry, traditionally reliant on conventional marketing and customer relationship techniques, is already starting to think of AI as a viable tool for enhancing business models, especially in the DTC segment, which has grown significantly during and since the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020.

  Moreover, the adaptability of AI tools like Metis means they can be tailored to different business needs, whether it’s refining product offerings, enhancing customer experiences, or developing more effective marketing strategies.

  The innovative approach of Be Cellars incorporating AI into their marketing and customer relationship strategies sets a new benchmark in the wine industry. As the industry continues to evolve, AI will undoubtedly play a significant role in shaping the future of winery and vineyard operations, not only in the sales and marketing spaces, but also in optimizing elements of the wine business like farming practices, supply chain, and even winemaking techniques. The experience of B Cellars using novel AI tools demonstrates that the fusion of technology and tradition can lead to unparalleled success in the wine world.

Exploring Accommodation Options at Wineries

Picture of front of a winery building entrance connected to 3 metal silos

By: Becky Garrison  

Wineries looking to provide their guests with elevated wine-tasting experiences might want to explore the option of offering accommodations at their winery or vineyard. Kristen Baxter, operations manager for Abbey Road Farm in Carlton, Oregon, said, “Our lodging is integral to our business model, as it allows winery guests and event guests to stay overnight while they are here enjoying wine or celebrating with us.”

  Carrie Bonney, general manager for Youngberg Hill (McMinnville, Oregon), concurs, adding, “Lodging contributes to our reputation for exceptional hospitality and helping to sustain and grow our overall operation.” In addition, their lodging serves as a revenue stream that supports their broader mission and allows them to invest in the enhancement and maintenance of their property.

  In Bonney’s estimations, this is just one piece of the experience they aim to provide our guests, and it complements their primary focus, wine. “By offering a range of comfortable and thoughtfully designed accommodations, we aim to create a welcoming environment where guests can relax, unwind and fully immerse themselves in a unique experience. This, in turn, enhances their overall visit and encourages return visits and positive word-of-mouth referrals,” Bonney adds.

Lodging Options Available at Wineries

  As noted by the following examples, the types of accommodations available at a given winery vary from a rustic cabin cozy for two to a luxury country-style mansion replete with five-star amenities.

  Lumos Wines’ (Philomath, Oregon) vineyard is situated on what was the H Bar H Dude Ranch back in the 1940s and 1950s. The one-bedroom cabin with indoor plumbing was one of the original guest cabins built in 1938 and can accommodate up to two people. They maintain this little cabin to keep the historical feel of the place. In another historical touch, their tasting room is in the old dude ranch’s dance hall barn.

  Colter’s Creek Winery & Vineyards (Moscow, Idaho) began offering lodging at their tasting room because they had an open space that needed remodeling, and they saw a hole in the Moscow lodging market to fulfill. They have four boutique rooms above their tasting room in Moscow available via self-check-in, with bookings that can be made through their website.  Different packages are offered, each room comes with a complimentary wine tasting and with enough planning, guests can visit the vineyard and production facility 45 minutes away in Juliaetta.

  Abbey Road Farm’s (Carlton, Oregon) Silo Suites B&B is housed in three-grain silos. Two of the silos were built in 2003 when the property was a grass seed farm. The third was added to complete the project the winery opened in 2019. The silos boast a grand entry and sitting area with a wet bar. Their five suites feature foam-topped beds, Jacuzzi tubs, luxurious bedding and ambient floor heating. Stays include a bounteous Oregon breakfast prepared by on-site chef/innkeeper Will Preisch.

  Youngberg Hill had already been functioning as an inn since 1989, when they planted their oldest blocks, the Natasha and Jordan blocks. They chose to maintain this inn as a nine-room bed and breakfast offering comfortable rooms and suites, an open-air deck, spectacular views for sunsets and stargazing, and a fireplace beside which to relax with a glass of wine. A two-course breakfast keeps guests fueled up for a day sightseeing around the Willamette Valley.

  In a similar vein, Hummingbird Estate (Central Point, Oregon) converted a historic private home and former orchard into a vineyard and tasting room, event space and inn. Renovating the home’s bedrooms into suites made the most sense for the space. Here, guests can enjoy a glass of chardonnay, syrah or pinot noir while taking in the view of grapevines from their windows. In addition, they have a vineyard cottage available for rent.

  Also, when Grosgrain Vineyards (Walla Walla, Washington) acquired their winery/vineyard property via a bankruptcy auction in 2017, the only structure on the property at the time was a house where the previous owner had made his wine in the garage.  They needed a significantly larger winery space, so they built their current winery and tasting room in an adjacent area. They considered moving into the house themselves but decided that it was better suited to use as a short-term rental, which would be a great way for them to provide a more immersive experience. The house has four bedrooms and four baths, all of which are en-suite, with the house rented as a single unit on a nightly basis.

  So far, the house has been a great way to host new customers who experience their winery for the first time, as well as their wine club members who can book further in advance and at a discounted rate. Also, this house provides a great way for them to host their national distributors and further educate them about their winery. While the revenue it generates has been significant, more importantly, staying at this home helps guests build a deeper connection with the winery.

  The Joy on the Anahata (which translates to the heart chakra in Sanskrit) Vineyard (Salem, Oregon) is a luxury wine country retreat and 6,500-square-foot home with seven bedrooms (four suites, two queen rooms and one twin room in the basement for a nanny or younger children.) This house sits on top of the vineyard at 550 feet with views in every direction, and the gated 30-acre property is fenced in for deer. Other amenities include a chef’s kitchen, living room, dining/family room and outdoor heated swimming pool and hot tub, as well as a basement with a wine cellar and ping pong and pool tables. This property is rented as a “hospitality home” designed for family retreats, work retreats, YPO retreats and, in some cases, smaller than 100-person weddings. As they don’t have a tasting room built yet with their wines poured at Carlton Winemakers Studio, this house provides an opportunity for guests to taste their products as they collect their information.

  Bianchi Vineyards (East Wenatchee, Washington) chose to rent the two-bedroom house on their property as a short-term Airbnb experience. In addition, they have two RV spots with power and water. Some guests visit the tasting room for their complimentary tasting. Others enjoy hiking, skiing and concerts at the Gorge Amphitheater.

Recommendations for Designing Lodging at a Winery 

  Bonney stresses that offering lodging is not for the faint of heart. “This can be a significant undertaking, but it is also an excellent enhancement to your guest experience and can put your winery on the map as a unique destination. While it can eventually enhance your overall revenue streams, a great deal of investment is involved.”

  Meghann Walk, general manager for Hummingbird Estate, reminds those looking to invest in lodging that while lodging is an extension of their long-standing tradition of hospitality, it is not passive income. She reflects, “The inn is our most stable but also, in many ways, the most constantly demanding aspect of our business. There is no such thing as only answering phone calls during open hours. Make sure you are prepared for this.”

  Before launching a lodging program, Bonney recommends conducting market research for your area, determining lodging demands and assessing the type of accommodations guests will want. Along those lines, familiarize yourself with zoning and permitting regulations for your area before you start any work.

  Also, Baxter notes that conducting market research into other lodging options in your area can enable you to curate a unique experience from competitors to help you stand out. “Consider putting together packages unique to your property and potential discounts for loyal wine club members for additional benefits,” she says.

  In designing the lodging, Bonney recommends ensuring that the overall design provides a comfortable and memorable experience for your guests. Think about room options and various views, private patios and accommodating children or pets, as well as sustainable practices, such as energy-efficient appliances, water conservation, composting and eco-friendly amenities. In addition, consider if you want to offer wine tasting and breakfast as part of the lodging experience or if those will be separate options for purchase.

  Don’t neglect security and safety. Consider outdoor lighting, security cameras and post-emergency exit procedures for guests to see.

  Also, Bonney stresses that wineries need to ensure they have the appropriate trained staff. In addition to scheduling and maintaining guest reservations, they must know local restaurants, tour operators, spa services and other area happenings. “Anyone from the front desk staff to the housekeepers who will be interacting with guests must excel in customer relations,” she said. Baxter offers this cautionary reminder, “Your housekeeper will be your most valuable and least replaceable employee.”

  A CRM (customer relationship management) staff member will be needed to help maintain contact with guests, book rooms and provide an online booking option. Along those lines, online travel agencies like Expedia and Tripadvisor can help expand exposure.

  Finally, Bonney recommends that those seeking to add lodging as a service, embrace it fully. She proclaims, “You and your staff can create a holistic and integrated experience, develop new ambassadors for your brand and most importantly, sell more wine!”

BlueJacket Crossing Winery & Vineyard  

Award-Winning Wines With Memorable Views in a Family Atmosphere

Picture of front of BlueJacket Crossing Vineyard and Winery building with people sitting and standing outside

By: Gerald Dlubala 

Follow the Oregon Trail through Kansas, and you’ll run right through the aptly named BlueJacket Crossing Vineyard and Winery in Eudora, about halfway between Kansas City and Lawrence. “There’s a historic landmark,” said Kandaya “Pep” Selvan, owner, vintner and viticulturist. “On the far side of the Wakarusa River, there was what they called a hotel, but really, it’s just a shelter that the Native Americans had established. That area was originally owned by the Bluejacket family, and where the ferry ran across the river became known as BlueJacket Crossing. So here we are. The watering hole and ruts are there for those interested and spend time researching those things.”

  BlueJacket Vineyard and Winery is part of a family farm. Selvan was originally from Kansas, leaving in the ’70s and working the construction trade in California. His construction experiences included building wineries in St Helena. Thirty-five years later, he returned to Kansas to help his elderly parents run their farm. But to his parents’ surprise, Selvan began planting grapevines instead of soybeans and corn in 2001.

  “From that time on, it was a learning curve,” said Selvan. “Kansas didn’t have any mature wineries at the time. Additionally, the wineries that were here were required to source at least 60 percent of their fruit from the state of Kansas. So, there were maybe seven or eight active wineries in our state. A handful were making a good product, but they were virtually unknown. We took the opportunity to spend five or six years working for these wineries to gain some experience.”

  Selvan planted 4,000 vines, and in 2008, when they matured, BlueJacket Crossing Vineyard and Winery was born. He began with an initial planting of Nortons. In subsequent years, Selvan expanded his Norton line and added St. Vincent, Seyval, Chambourcin, Fredonia, Vignoles and Traminette vines.

  “We methodically built the winery ourselves,” said Selvan. “There was a small tasting room in the winery building. We were comfortable and felt somewhat successful. After my time on the West Coast, my goal was to produce wines with good character and a local identity. In 2012, we expanded the tasting room and doubled our annual capacity, producing 6,000 to 7,000 gallons. That was and continues to be a comfortable level for us, and since then, we’ve been able to produce a modest yet successful product.”

  Selvan mixes the best Midwest winemaking practices with inspiration from his favorite wines from California, Missouri and Italy. BlueJacket Crossing wines include dry, off-dry, semi-sweet and sweet white varietals. Reds include sweet red, blush, dry rose and dry options, with an excellent selection of dessert wines. Many of Selvan’s wines have won awards across the U.S.

  “The labels are also significant to our area,” said Selvan. “I’ve always envisioned a wolf design on our label, but I didn’t want the usual type of image. It was by chance that we met a Native American impressionist painter named Brent Learned at our annual arts and crafts fair. His art reveals the life and culture of the Plains Indians. An original wolf print of his immediately attracted us and was exactly the type of image that I was looking for. We asked his permission to use his design on our labels and are grateful he agreed. We were lucky to run across him at the time. Today, he is  internationally known.”

Bring the Family and Dog to Relax, Unwind and Connect with Nature

  “Our goal from the beginning was for our guests to join us in a comfortable setting with a pleasant connection to nature,” said Selvan. “We aren’t your typical winery with a big venue. We’re about a mile off any main four-lane highways between Kansas City and Lawrence, with a rural setting and memorable landscape vistas. We have both patio and indoor seating to enjoy our remarkable farm vistas. We have included as many windows as possible to keep that connection with nature and the outdoors. Because of our location, we also have air conditioning and fireplaces to counteract the Midwest weather swings. We encourage families and well-behaved dogs to come and enjoy our setting and have good times and fun as a family. We feel that is important. We also occasionally feature live music and food trucks and do all we can to make our vineyard and winery a welcoming space for comfort and family fun.”

  Additionally, Selvan’s original tasting area is now an Airbnb. The original tasting room had an upstairs space that accommodated up to 20 guests and was used for small gatherings or as a business space. After constructing a new 2,000-square-foot tasting room, the old tasting room, now an Airbnb, features a living space and mini kitchen on the lower level with a large master bedroom and outside deck overlooking the farm.

  BlueJacket Vineyard and Winery can accommodate up to 200 people when hosting one of their many fundraisers for Alzheimer’s research, Habitat For Humanity, dog shelters and more. With these types of events, the upper level of the Airbnb, if not being used, can be transformed into VIP seating overlooking the activities. But the typical capacity of BlueJacket Vineyard and Winery is around 100, which Selvan says is a good amount for the solid group of people that come here to escape the exaggerated life we all now live.

Continuous Learning Helps Refine Winemaking Process

  Selvan comes from a non-winery background, having a construction and architectural engineering career. He began with 11 grape varietals. Over the past several years, Selvan has seen what his customers want and what works within his vineyard. He is now refining his wines to reflect those results.

  “What amazes me is that for some reason, Midwest wineries feel the need to have 25 to 30 wines available, whereas other locations seem to focus on consistently producing their best four or five,” said Selvan. “We’re refining our choices and narrowing from 25 wines to hopefully about a dozen. Doing this will help us maintain consistency and quality while remaining true to the qualities and characteristics of the chosen varietals. Our customers can also count on it, knowing that they will always get the same great quality with our wine.”

  Selvan’s barrel room can hold about 50 barrels at any given time. While working with sommeliers, he told The Grapevine Magazine that they found that when they allow the barrels to age for three to five years, they can deliver a noticeably better product while maintaining their production goals.

Additionally, Selvan has added a traditionally produced sparkling wine to his lineup and a unique and difficult-to-find cabernet franc to their French hybrids.

Today’s Winemakers Need Mentors and Mechanization

  “We had our family farm, but we had to learn the farming element of vineyards, determining which varietals are vigorous and which are, shall we say, moody,” said Selvan. “We eliminated three varietals just because they were fussy, and the amount of work needed for them wasn’t equal to the outcome. It would also be best to consider your geographical location and what those consumers want. We are in the rural Midwest. Here, sweetness sells, and we have developed a reputation for quality red wines in and around Kansas City and Lawrence, with a clientele that appreciates our dedication and commitment.”

  Selvan said that it’s essential for those who want to be in the business to spend time with experienced, successful winemakers to learn the process, amount and type of planning needed.

  “You’ll definitely have a more enjoyable time if your space and production areas are correctly laid out, but you need someone who has gone through it to guide you,” said Selvan. “Through the Missouri Winemakers Association, we met and became friends with the folks at Adam Puchta Winery in Hermann, Missouri. They use the same varietals as we do and have been a terrific resource for us. Having a winery and being a winemaker will be much more pleasing if your planning is good and the building is designed right with optimal access and thoroughly thought-out sanitation systems. We even took all the classes through VESTA, the Viticulture, Enology, Science and Technology Alliance. Still, we weren’t prepared to see how inefficient our awkward equipment and poorly accessible building would be. It wasn’t until we got together with Adam Puchta Winery 10 years into this process that we saw how his experience, organization and analytical skills enhanced and improved every aspect of the business.”

  “It’s all a big learning curve, but I certainly still enjoy it,” said Selvan. “Our education comes from many different areas that we didn’t anticipate. I have a master’s in architectural engineering, but I sure wish I had studied refrigeration, too. It’s easy to throw away tens of thousands of dollars on the wrong cooling systems. You need a real passion for the industry and what you’re doing.”

  Selvan says that the industry has changed over the last 10 years and that mechanization is a must for vineyard owners.

  “We need the equipment to be efficient and to balance continued shortages in the labor market as well as to help replace the people leaving,” said Selvan. “I’ve been lucky to have family involved along with people of our rural community with the passion and determination to work with us. Our daughter manages the tasting room, events and activities, but as a general rule, once kids get a higher education, they seldom want to come back to the farm. They do still support us but in other ways. Mechanization is the only way to keep up with or increase production when labor falls off. Immigration isn’t happening, and those that do immigrate tend to move on quickly to other positions that are more lucrative when possible.”

  Selvan says they are running a 20-acre farm with eight acres improved. He still has another 120 acres that are conventionally farmed and wrap around the winery, providing memorable views and breathtaking vistas.

  BlueJacket Crossing Vineyard and Winery is located four miles east of Lawrence, just south of K10.

To learn more, schedule a visit or book a stay:

BlueJacket Crossing Vineyard & Winery

1969 North 1250th Road

Eudora, KS 66025

785-542-1764

bluejacketcrossing@gmail.com

The Producers’ Blind Spot

The Role of the Municipality and Local Ordinances and the Producers’ Operational Goals

picture entitled zoning ordinance zoning and land use planning

By:  Louis J. Terminello, Esq. and Bradley Berkman, Esq.

Let’s face it, many of us, likely including the writer(s) and readers alike, find the making of wine, beer, and spirits not only to be a labor of love that allows oneself to create artistic expressions in bottles, but we also find the trade and its finished products to be pretty darn exciting. It’s very much a lifestyle industry, that, simply put, is fun.

  Even in the arena that this writer operates in – that is, alcohol beverage law – the romance of the trade is far from lost. There is, however, one especially important regulatory area that is often overlooked by beverage alcohol producers and even legal practitioners in the field: the role of municipal ordinances and zoning regulations and its impact on beverage alcohol sales, service, and for the purposes of this article, production. It is doubtful that many winemakers, distillers, and brewers find this topic engrossing but without proper guidance and planning, a misstep at the local level could lead to disastrous consequences.

  Briefly, most in the trade understand the role of the federal and state governments, particularly those who produce beverages. Licensing schemes, reporting requirements, excise taxing structures, and trade practice issues (as in tied house) are all federal and state concerns. In fact, some local jurisdictions, namely cities and counties, do enforce local alcohol licensure and regulatory schemes that some readers may be aware of, but that is not the focus of this article. The issues that require parsing out in the limited space here are land use concerns and the various local administrative processes and procedures that affect all actors in the alcohol industry. Put another way, package stores, bars, restaurants, wineries, breweries, and distilleries alike must comport themselves and comply with local ordinances and zoning regulations.

Advent of Craft

  And along came the craft producer, and the spider sat down beside her. The rise of craft wineries, distilleries, and breweries has brought about a nuanced set of local challenges, encompassing aspects such as production facilities, warehousing for potential distribution, and the popular tasting room –often referred to as the bar. Not to be overlooked at the craft venue, are food sales in the various forms that they could take, including a restaurant on the premises or the ubiquitous food truck.

Zoning Districts-What are they?

  With the municipal jurisdiction in mind, i.e., a city or county, one must carefully analyze the zoning district within the city or county that is the site of the proposed operation, prior to commencing any real investment in building out the facility. Of course, an essential part of this process is having a detailed business plan that outlines all operational issues of the facility. A full understanding of the contemplated uses is essential. In land use terms, a use can be best described as the economic activity permitted in the zoning district. Sticking to our theme, as applied to a typical craft operation, “uses” may include activities such as “manufacturing” and “retail” operations, as examples.

  With the above in mind, many counties and cities are delineated into zoning districts. A zoning district, in simplified terms, is a local subdivision of a municipality where certain activities or uses are permitted within the subdivision, and by extension, some activities or uses may be precluded. Staying with the craft production analysis, some zoning districts may permit manufacturing uses and not retail, while in others, retail may be permitted but not manufacturing and, in some districts, neither may be permitted at all. By now, the prospective manufacturer should realize that aligning all desired operational uses with the zoning district is essential before build-out. Imagine investing significantly in a wine production facility where the contemplated revenue stream is to come from tasting room sampling and sales, only to discover late in the build-out process that the retail sales of alcohol are not permitted within the zoning district. Someone is about to lose their job!

  Other considerations that the readers are likely familiar with, as applied to alcohol, are distance requirements. Virtually every municipality and the zoning district within has distance separation requirements from alcohol businesses and certain other types of venues such as schools, religious establishments, and other alcohol beverage licensees. Being aware of these requirements is mandatory prior to commencing any construction on a sort of alcohol facility. As stated, lack of knowledge of the foregoing will lead to problems.

Available Remedies to Certain Land Use Problems

  In certain instances, contemplated producer operational uses are not permitted by right. That is to say, and using this as one example, the retail sales of alcohol from a tasting room may not be automatically permitted in a zoning district. However, certain administrative procedures may be available to the producer that will allow for specific uses within the zoning district only after process and approval.

  These exceptions generally take the form of conditional use permits or special exceptions. These administrative remedies may be available depending on local ordinances. These exceptions usually require an extensive application process and public hearings before zoning boards and city commissions where the public generally can attend and offer support, or criticism and objection, to a desired operation. These procedures are quasi-judicial in nature, where arguments are heard and made by the producer and the producer’s counsel to board members and the commission. As noted, the commission may approve the proposed operation and issue a conditional use permit. As the name suggests, these permits come with conditions affixed that must be complied with. If they are not, the holder then risks cancellation of the permit. Negotiating conditions is an integral part of the process between the local government and the producer. Clearly, the goal is to not include conditions that adversely affect operational objectives. It is worth noting that these are quasi-judicial proceedings. Records of the proceedings are established, and should the commission deny the issuance of a permit for a stated and unsubstantiated reason, the applicant has the ability to take the matter to state court and appeal the decision.

  Other remedies to zoning restrictions include perhaps the familiar “variance.” Back to our craft operation… imagine that you’ve located the perfect wine-making facility. All the stainless steel tanks fit nicely in the plant space, the layout allows for the contemplated bottling line, and just by chance, there’s a perfect space that can be the dedicated tasting room. The only problem is that the Church of the Sacred (pick your deity), is within 100 feet of the tasting room and as such, retail sales of alcohol are not ordinarily permitted. Well, if available, a variance could be the solution. In essence, a variance is a request to deviate from the specific zoning requirements within the zoning district. The process generally includes public notice and hearing but is a potential solution to all sorts of distance separation requirements.

  The above is merely a basic primer on zoning and land use issues that may affect wine, spirits, and beer production and sales issues. Municipal matters and zoning issues are complex areas of alcohol beverage law that are often overlooked by producers of beverage alcohol. In the contemporary production environment, particularly in the craft area with its complex and mixed-use environment, a producer would be well served by doing their land use homework or working with experienced counsel prior to groundbreaking. After all, the goal is to sell the drink produced, not to drink it to numb the pain of poor land use planning.

Greece: A Wine Odyssey 

Picture of a greek god statue drinking out of a bowl

By: Tod Stewart

It’s hot. I mean, it’s really (expletive) hot. Hades hot. The afternoon sun, with not a cloud to diffuse its merciless heat, beats down on the vines. And on me. I’m not sure if vines sweat, but I’m starting to get just a tad sticky under the collar. Luckily, the vineyard’s elevation, combined with a modest breeze blowing off the Kassandra Gulf, offers a modest respite from my discomfort. The promise that we’d soon be heading back to the cool tasting room of Domaine Porto Carras to sample the fruits of the vine’s labors was also enticing.

  Greece in mid-July is typically hot. This year is record-breaking, as it has been through most of Europe. It might have been a bit uncomfortable at times, but the awesome scenery, fantastic food and, of course, the huge variety of top-quality wines more than made up for any negatives. (At some point, I’ll submit a piece on the pros and cons of being a food/drink/travel journalist…sometimes it’s not as romantic as it sounds.)

  I’m here in the northern part of the country, in Thessaloniki, to be exact, on a junket hosted by Greece and the European Union. My job was to learn more about the protected designation of origin (PDO) Slopes of Meliton and the protected geographical indication (PGI) Sithonia. I was about to get a thorough introduction to one of the area’s most important wineries.

Where I’m at now is in the PDO Slopes of Meliton region, a roughly circular area around Mount Meliton (which is about 120 kilometers southeast, more or less, of Thessaloniki). It’s located on the second finger of a three-fingered peninsula that looks just like the prongs of Poseidon’s trident into the crystalline Aegean. Within its boundaries lie the impressive Porto Carras Grand Resort and the equally impressive Domaine Porto Carras winery. The latter is the place I’m here to check out.

  Concluding my walk through some of the Domaine’s 450 hectares of organic vineyards, I head into the recesses of the winery to taste a range of impressive wines. These include a trio of crisp, fresh, melon/peach/mineral Assyrtikos, two vintages of the ripe, tropical, baking spice and baked apple-tinged Chateau Porto Carras Le Grand Blanc (a blend of Malagousia, Assyrtiko and the red Limnio) and a lemony/cherry/stone fruit Blanc de Noir (100 percent) Limnio.

  Assyerti-what? Malagou-who? You won’t be taken to task if you’re not exactly literate in the vernacular of Greek grape-speak. After all, the land is planted with over 300 indigenous grape varieties, most of which (okay, practically all of which) will be unfamiliar to non-Greek wine consumers (and likely winemakers). Sure, there are non-indigenous varieties, like cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and viognier, that are likely familiar to most (and likely pronounceable). But native varieties like Agiorgitiko, Xinomavro, Monemvasia, Avgoustiatis, and maybe Mavrotragano certainly aren’t (yet) household names in North America and don’t exactly roll off the tongue the way chardonnay and merlot do.

  Of course you’ll likely not be bombarded with several hundred difficult-to-pronounce varietals when you begin your exploration of Greek wines.

  As far as black-skinned varieties go, you’re most likely to encounter Agiorgitiko, Limnio, Xinomavro and possibly Mantilaria.

  For whites, you’ll probably meet Assyrtiko, Robola, Moschofilero, and Roditis (the latter two are technically pink-skinned but typically wind up as white wines. More frequently, you’ll also encounter Malagousia.

  “Malagousia has essentially been taking the place of Moschofilero over the past 20 years or so,” observes Steve Kriaris, president of Kolonaki Group of Companies, one of the leading importers of Greek wines into Ontario. “It’s a bit more well-rounded than Moschofilero and ultimately has a little more to offer the consumer.”

  I’m back in Toronto five months after my sojourn and still itching for a way to recreate the “Greece Experience.” In fact, it was the desire of tourists to relive the memories they had of their time in Greece that, in part, led to the popularity of Greek wines on this side of the pond, according to Kriaris.

  “As the popularity of Greece as a tourist destination grew,” he said, “those returning brought fond memories of the experience back with them…including fond memories of some terrific wines, and they wanted to relive the memories at home.”

  It’s Sunday night, and Kriaris, myself and Joy MacDonald, Kolonaki’s national sales manager of fine wines and spirits, are sipping our way through a selection of some of Kolonaki’s latest offerings, ensconced in the wine cellar of a (surprisingly) jam-packed Mesez restaurant.

  Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing countries in the world, with historical records dating production back some 6,500 years. Historically, wine became an integral part of Greek society, interwoven into its culture as it spread through the Mediterranean world. However, it wasn’t until fairly recently (starting mostly in the ’80s) that the Greek wine “renaissance” firmly took hold, and the world began to discover the quality and variety of Greek wines. Why the delay? Kriaris cites a couple of reasons.

  “The ’80s saw the first influx of younger Greek winemakers who had received their training outside of Greece, typically in Bordeaux and, to a lesser extent, Burgundy,” Kriaris explains. “They were not only exposed to more international styles of wine, but came home with the knowledge of how to make them, and they started crafting some really amazing wines.”

  The other reason we’ve already alluded to: the challenge of dealing with multiple tongue-twisting grape varieties planted throughout multiple regions. “There was so much to learn, and consumers felt overwhelmed,” Kriaris concedes. Things have changed pretty drastically these days, both in terms of Greece as an international player in the wine game and with consumers themselves.

  For the number-lovers out there, here we go:

•   1,617 wineries

•   more than 7,500 brands

•   17th largest producer

•   26th largest exporter

•   wine styles = white, red, rose, sparkling, sweet

(source: O.I.V. (2021) / Greek Wine Federation

  Growing consumer interest has also led to them focusing not just on establishing a comfort level with Greece’s indigenous grapes, but making the connection between specific varieties grown in specific areas. “The regionality of Greek wines has just begun,” Kriaris maintains. “Now it’s not just Assyrtiko or Malagousia, it’s Assyrtiko from this area, or Malagousia from that area.”

  While consumer sophistication and curiosity have fueled an interest in high-quality, modern-style wines, it can’t be ignored that the wine that historically became most closely associated with Greece (for good or bad) was undoubtedly retsina. Essentially a wine made from grapes must be treated with pine resin, often so much resin that one got the feeling that they were drinking pine sap rather than wine. But this, too, is changing.

  “Retsina used to be made without much thought,” Kriaris explains. “The amount of resin legally permitted ranged from 0.5 parts to one part per 35 ounces or so of must. That’s quite a range.” Of course, a good dollop of resin can mask numerous wine flaws, and bulk producers of the style tended to go heavy on the pine and light on the wine, as it were. And unfortunately, it was this style of retsina that ultimately hit the export market. In Kriaris’ words, “The bad juice left the country. Ultimately, what happened is that every major producer had to have a retsina in its portfolio, and the huge increase in volume resulted in an equally huge decline in quality.”

  However, the fate (and reputation) of retsina is changing. As every winemaker reading this knows, wine (any wine) is effectively a “garbage in, garbage out” situation. You can’t craft great wine from substandard fruit. And you can’t make a respectable retsina with lousy juice as the base. Today, serious retsina producers start with high-quality wine, often made from a single varietal, and the resin used (sparingly) comes from a specific strain of pine tree grown in limited areas. I’ve tasted some of these “modern” retsinas and can assure you that they are nothing like what most of us have probably experienced. They are typically floral, fruity and fragrant, with subtle notes of pine being a team player rather than the captain of the flavor profile.

  Domaine Porto Carras’ tagline is “New Era,” and it was explained, over the course of my tasting by CEO Sergei Smirnov, that this stood for a “new approach to everything,” not just a new approach to Greek winemaking. “New Era starts with people,” he noted, adding that the “connection between grapes and people matters.”

  Indeed, the modern Greek wine industry is certainly about connecting grapes to people because it’s still a bit of an undiscovered treasure waiting to be uncovered.

  “What I would say about Greek wine is that, in the wine world where everything seems to be just the same, there’s one country creating a huge new identity, varietal over varietal, region over region,” Kriaris concludes. “And that’s Greece. So if you want to get back to the fun of the wine world, which is what got us all here in the first place, and start exploring again, I’d say that a new journey now starts in the Greek wine world.”

Moving Wine in the Cellar

row of wine tanks in winery

By: Tom Payette – Winemaking Consultant 

Transfers are a large part of the day to day operations in the cellar and on the crush pad; yet, few documents exist what should be considered when doing transfers.  Below are some ideas and tips to think of when transferring wine or juice at the winery.  It is assumed the pump, hoses and receiving vessel(s) are all appropriately clean for the endeavor at hand.

Venting

  Always vent both tanks and double check this operation is done.  Often I will not only remove the airlock but I will unlatch the lid and flip the threaded latch inward so the tank top rests on top of the handle.  This is just double assurance the tank I am transferring from and to is completely vented.

Assembling Your Hoses

  Always place the pump as close to the tank you are coming from with as little hose as reasonably needed to get the job done.  Do plan for being able to gently bend or curve the hose into the doorway in the event a racking is being done.  Plan enough hose length for other future transfer needs when feasible.  Also make sure to place the pump away from any water such as wash down areas or leaky faucets etc.  These pump motors are electric and they generally are not made to be soaked with water.

Taste

  Before you start the pump – taste the tank or barrels you are about to transfer or rack.  Confirm it is indeed the wine / product you are interested in moving.  Does it taste clean and what you expect?  If not – contact someone above you on the winemaking ladder to confirm the flavors etc.

Checking the Connections

  Always double check your connection to confirm the hoses run from the tank desired to the receiving vessel selected.  Are the connections secured?  Should you attach to the racking valve of the tank you are transferring from?

  Are the lines secure at the pump?  Is the bypass on the pump, if equipped, open or closed?  Is there enough capacity in the receiving tank and did you look inside both tanks when you were venting them?

Valve at the Pump

  For control I typically prefer to have a valve installed at the pump.  This allows one to turn off the pump and immediately confirm the stop of liquid flow through the pump and lines set up.  (Note: this is not done if transferring must.)

Pump Choice

  The pump choice is often related to the wine and the overall goal of the transfer.  If speed is needed – choose the fastest pump.  If gentleness is desired – use your most gentle pump.  A centrifugal pump can be very gentle but it may not be the best choice for a red wine “pump over”, etc.  Know what limits each pump has and generally how they operate etc.

Staying with Your Transfer

  Never leave your transfer.  This is not the time to walk off into another area and to get distracted.  A racking valve could inadvertently be left open or a door leak could be discovered.  If a phone call, or other distraction, should come in that has you leaving the area – stop the pump and close all valves to the tanks.

Main Goal

  Keep in mind the main goal of the transfer.  If the wine is a delicate wine – use the inert techniques you have at your disposal.  This could include gassing your lines, with carbon dioxide or your inert gas of choice, before pumping liquid.  Gassing your receiving tank, as well, can limit exposure to oxygen.   If the wine needs a touch of air – use techniques that may achieve that goal.  An example may be splashing into a macrobin, or other open vessel, to give some air.  Be careful here.

Oxidation Control (Inert Technique)

  Is oxidation a concern during this transfer?  If so – many winemakers will flush their hoses and receiving tank with an inert gas such as Nitrogen, Carbon dioxide or Argon.  This can be done by simply connecting the hoses to the pump, opening the bypass and flushing the inert gas from the receiving line all the way through until you are comfortable the inert gas has reached the far side of the  transfer connections.  Then attach the hose to the bottom valve of the receiving vessel.   Further protection can be gained by flushing out the tank with an inert gas as well.  [Many wineries now have the ability to make dry ice (carbon dioxide) on site and they will place dry ice in both vessels while the transfer is being done].  These processes can be used on juice transfers also – not just wine!

Air – introduction

  In some cases you may want some air introduced into the wine.  If that is the objective you do this by attaching to the racking valve of the receiving tank at the start of the transfer.  Splashing will occur, in the receiving tank, until the wine reaches that point, of course.  This is a small amount of air especially when working with a “tight red”.   Other more severe forms of air introduction can be achieved with splashing into a bin and transferring out into the receiving tank, splashing into the top of the receiving vessel or starting the transfer and throttling back the valve on the suction side of the hose (positive displacement pump only) while slightly cracking the hose connection to allow air to suck in.  [Please have an experienced winemaker present to justify how or if these processes should be done as described in this section].  One could also assemble a special “T”, with valves, for more precise control on the suction side of the pump.  This process may be hard on the pump and damage it if not done properly.

Sloppy Racking

  This is often a term one will use when the amount of solids that may come over into the receiving vessel is not that large of a concern.  Examples of this may be when racking off a white juice after cold settling.  We want to make sure we retain as much of the saleable volume as possible so we may elect to have small portions of solids come over into the receiving tank.  [This is less of a worry if we have a Lees Filter Press is on site]

  Another example may be when racking off bentonite.  Small amounts of the fluffy bentonite layer may be allowed to transfer over, again, to make sure we retain as much saleable volume as possible but not jeopardizing the heat/protein stability of the final wine in the receiving tank.  Don’t get carried away with this concept but don’t be wasteful either.  It’s a balance.

Listen

  I often relate to new winemakers in a manner that tell them your senses are incredible when working in a winery.  Your eyes are a large part of seeing that the transfer is happening as planned but your ears can also be a huge part of catching problems. 

  Always stay near by the tank and listen for falling liquids, pump noise changes etc.  Once wine or juice has filled past any possible orifices, and no leaks discovered, then one can more freely move around the cellar with periodic checks.  Do not completely leave the area and always “have an ear on the situation”.

Watch

  Many wineries have translucent hoses.  Watch the liquid as it moves through the lines.  Do you see air?  Why?  If the wine lines start to contract or expand – take note as to why.  Did someone close a valve or has some other physical function changes the stature of the hoses.  Hoses typically don’t move, without reason, so be aware visually to this indicator something is happening.

Chasing Your Liquid

  At the end of the liquid transfer you may wonder how to empty your lines.   If you have a bypass you can often hook up an inert gas and push the liquid all the way through.   If you don’t currently have that option you can attempt to “push” the juice or wine with chlorine free water.  Simply place the suction line in water, after the wine or juice has vacated enough internal line, and allow the water to run through the pump.   Look through the hose to understand when the water reaches the receiving tank and then turn the pump off and shut the tank valve.

Never Run Your Pump Dry

  In most cases we all agree not to run your pump dry.  The pump needs liquid in order to make sure heat is not created.  There are variable options to this statement so if unclear …. Never run your pump dry.  That is the safest bet.

Summary

  Transfers are a large part of moving your precious liquids around the winery.  Stay nearby, listen to the equipment while visually looking for leaks.  Also – know what your goals are.  This should not be a mindless transaction in the cellar and the more you think through your goals for each wine the more creative ways you can achieve them even during these everyday tasks.  This is part of the winemaking process.

Other Helpful Tips

  Recall no hoses should leak in the cellar.  The paths for these leaks are areas for bacteria to breed and grow.  Further understand a leaking hose on the discharge side of a transfer wastes wine; but a leaking hose on the suction side of a transfer will mostly introduce air and possibly bacteria.   Oouch.

  When starting a racking I like to attach all the hoses and then open the bypass on the pump (if equipped) without starting the pump.  I then open the valve on the tank to be transferred.  This allows the winemaker to track the liquid, see that all valves are open and working, look for initial leaks and confirm all is performing well before turning the pump on.  It is very gentle and should minimize air, oxygen or gases from being dissolved in the liquid.

  In general, winemakers typically transfer out of the racking valve of the tank being racked from and into the bottom valve of the receiving tank.  There are, or can be, exceptions to this rule.

  Take into consideration the temperature of the juice or wine. As a reminder cold liquids dissolve more gases into them than warmer liquids.  Therefore a colder wine / juice may dissolve more oxygen than a warmer liquid.  

  Always clean the tank you emptied right after it is empty.  It cleans up so much better and actually saves time in the long run. 

  A racking is typically a term used when the transfer is started from the racking valve and then finished while “pulling the liquid” through the side doorway of the tank.  One typically uses a flashlight to discern the solids layer while obtaining the clear liquid.

  A transfer is often a term when going from the bottom valve of one tank to the bottom valve of another.  Still being cognizant of solids at the bottom but understanding the wine / juice is generally “clean”.

  Be sure to record all transfers: recording the tank transferred from (varietal and vintage), the volume(s), the receiving tank, date and gains or losses.

  If racking barrels you should taste each one of them first.  It is not uncommon to find the last barreled filled previously is more “reduced” than the others due to more solids in that barrel.  If this proves to be the case I will either rack that barrel first, with most of the air becoming in contact with that volume, or treat it for the reduction and rack it first.  In any case this may slightly mitigate some of the reduction.  Plus – if one barrel is not what you expect – you want to identify that before you pump it out into a larger blend.

  Have fun and make sure your transfers are successful, with intention and objective and with as little liquid on the ground as possible.  You are “pumping money around I like to say”!

References: 

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

Eagles Landing Winery

Award-Winning Wines In Northeast Iowa

Picture of Eagles Landing Winery from the street with red car in front on street

By: Gerald Dlubala 

Marquette, Iowa, is built for tourism, especially outdoor enthusiasts. The quaint, welcoming town of 429 offers premium hiking, fishing, hunting and camping, along with some of the best fall leaf peeping available. The natural beauty of Marquette’s landscape against a backdrop of the Mississippi River bluffs will put you into a postcard-type setting. And while there, the welcoming residents and hometown feel Iowa is known for will always make itself known. Additionally, nestled in the bluffs of this driftless area of Iowa, the scenic town of Marquette also draws in tourists for their award-winning winery, Eagles Landing Winery.

  Eagles Landing Winery and Vineyard has been serving Iowa and Wisconsin since 2003, with their success driven by a mantra that includes being patient, paying meticulous attention to quality and continuing to focus on their wine’s drinkability and taste.

  Roger and Connie Halvorson launched the winery in 2000 as a retirement hobby. Their son, Jay Halvorson, joined the business in 2003 as the master winemaker. By 2007, Eagles Landing Winery was not only doing well, but they were taking home awards for their wines. Cindy Halvorson joined the company in 2009, and just a few years later, Jay and Cindy Halvorson officially took over the winery from his retiring parents. Since that day, Eagles Landing Winery has received over 400 medals and awards. These coveted awards include the Governor’s Cup and Best of Show at the 2022 Iowa State Fair for their wine, Constance, a clean, crisp and subtle American white wine. In 2022, Jay and Cindy Halvorson also went the route of retirement, selling Eagles Landing winery to current owners Scott and Sharon Patten.

Love at First Sight

  “It was just a wonderful experience and a place that felt familiar and welcoming,” said Sharon. “We literally fell in love with the winery when we visited. The town was so attractive and welcoming, so we knew we had to look into acquiring this place. Scott had experience in winemaking and homebrew brewing, built on a general science background and engineering experience. He was looking to make a change, and we started exploring different businesses available to purchase and came upon Eagles Landing. Scott’s previous background gave him an understanding of the winemaking process and the different production elements, and it all just kind of seemed to click.”

  The Pattens hadn’t previously visited the winery, only making the trip to Marquette a couple of times after seeing that it was available for purchase. They lived in Cedar Rapids at the time, a little less than two hours away.

  “When we visited, it just seemed like a wonderful business, and everyone was super friendly and helpful,” said Sharon. “Jay and Cindy Halvorson were so accommodating and helpful with the transition phase. The winery and the area just became a really good fit.”

  With four children at home and multiple pets to consider, completing the Pattens’ move to Marquette will take some time. In the meantime, there are scheduled days and trips between the two places. Scott runs things at the winery several days a week and comes home on off-days.

  “We are still very much a small family winery,” said Scott. “Everyone pitches in. We include the children on some weekends to help with tasks and gain experience in the different tasks needed around the winery, like different processes, restocking and the never-ending cleanup duties. We’ll produce between 6,000 and 7,000 cases of wine annually, with the main distribution going to Iowa and nearby Wisconsin.”

Wines for Every Palette

  Eagles Landing currently produces 36 wines ranging from dry selections to sweet, dessert-style wines. About two dozen wines are usually available onsite to sample at any given time, including some seasonal blends produced in smaller batches.

  “We source a lot of different kinds of fruit and make a lot of different types of wine,” said Scott. “We offer a little bit of everything in the hopes that our customers will find something they like. Most are what we refer to as Midwestern-type wines. We have a good selection of sweet-style wines because those are typically our best sellers and are always in demand, but when we came on, I wanted to add other types and styles of wines for those who are interested in that as well. And if you’re looking for something seasonal or a unique blend, we do produce those in smaller batches. We’re working on a pear and currant blend that seems to work well. Sometimes, it’s all about trying new things.”

  “And we have to mention our Campfire Hootch,” said Sharon. “It’s a blend of four to seven different berries, grapes and other fruits. The flavor comes through as a sweet, very adult juice that even dry drinkers seem to enjoy. If someone comes in and says they’re not really a fan of wine or a wine drinker, we have them try this, and it usually changes their perception of what a wine can offer. It’s absolutely nontraditional, unlike anything that most people have ever had, so it’s something worth trying when you come in.”

  Grape varieties grown at the nearby vineyard include Edelweiss, Marquette, Marechal Foch, Petite Pearl, Brianna and Frontenac Gris. Patten tells The Grapevine Magazine that the vineyard was not included in the original sale but is contracted to supply grapes to the Eagles Landing. They didn’t want to be overwhelmed with trying to learn the winery plus the farming and agriculture business simultaneously. However, they still use those grapes in their wine production, as well as some coastal grapes for their dry reds and quality Midwest sources for their fruit needs. Patten is hoping to increase the Midwest sources in the future. In addition to its wide-ranging lineup of wines, Eagles Landing Winery offers a large selection of fruit and berry wines and a gold medal-winning honey and blackberry mead.

Come for the Wine, Stay for the Atmosphere, Hospitality and Craft Pizza

  Eagles Landing Winery is a perfect reflection of Marquette, Iowa. The quaint, welcoming surroundings draw you into the small-town hospitality feel of the winery, where samples are always on the menu. Located in downtown Marquette, patrons of Eagles Landing Winery are welcome to sit inside or enjoy themselves outdoors. Visitors can enjoy the outdoor wine garden, complete with an arbor and trellis that supports a network of natural grapevines over the top to make the experience authentic, memorable and relaxing.

  “We wanted a place where people felt relaxed, appreciated and comfortable,” said Patten. “And that attitude includes our drink offerings. We want to offer wines that people like, regardless of their preference. Additionally, we feature live music on the weekends and offer different cheeses and snacks to nibble on while enjoying your time with us. But that’s about to change as well. We’re in the process of installing a pizza kitchen for craft pizzas to enjoy with your wine while hanging out with us. It’ll be a game-changer for us and the total experience we can offer our guests.”

  Patten said that the oven will likely be ready to go when you read this. He projects a November 2023 start date to fire up the pizza oven and make delicious craft pizzas for their patrons to enjoy while drinking Eagles Landing wines.

Eagles Landing Winery Looks to the Future

  “In the short term, we’d like to increase our vendor market,” said Scott. “We currently distribute to Iowa and Wisconsin and have about 200 vendors. We think we can double that in the future. In maybe three to five years, we’d love to have a second location somewhere, but that adds a lot of logistics.”

  Coming from a science, engineering and homebrewing background, you may wonder if another craft beverage endeavor is on the Pattens’ radar as I was.

  “Now that you mention it, we’ve been debating that perhaps we would do something in the future,” said Scott. “We’ll have to see what the market looks like. The future trends and demographics of wine are okay but not entirely sunshine right now, and the numbers for beer aren’t really great right now, but spirits are picking up, so I may be leaning towards adding that.”

Advice to Potential Winery Owners

  Asked for any advice they could provide future winery owners, the Pattens laughed and replied that the experience would be different than they initially expected and planned.

  “Well, Scott and I had a whole strategic plan in place for the first six months,” said Sharon. “But we’ve had to reevaluate that plan simply because knowing things now is much different than going in as first-timers. There are a lot of new things we can bring to the table. It’s important to have a plan, but it’s just as important to be willing to be flexible with that plan. For example, we decided to add the pizza oven, meaning we had to add a previously unplanned physical structure to our site. With this new addition, people will be staying here for longer periods of time, so that has us reevaluating our building’s infrastructure to accommodate those longer stays.”

  “Additionally, everything takes a little longer than we had planned, so I guess if I could go back and change something, I would try to get a jump on some things earlier,” said Scott. “We undertook a rebranding of sorts and wanted to update the look of our product and packaging. It’s the same award-winning wine, but we wanted to freshen up the logos and labeling. That process is taking much longer than a couple of months that we planned for it to take. It’s starting to present some challenges. We could’ve planned that better.”

  “And just knowing how much wine to make for the season will be easier,” said Sharon. “We had to go through the high season of fall, so knowing how much wine to make and when to get it out will be much smoother next season. We had to improvise a bit and update plans on the fly.”

Preserving History

  The Eagles Landing Winery’s offices are located in the historical home of Emma Big Bear. She was the last full-blooded American Indian to live in Clayton County, Iowa. Originally from Wisconsin, Emma Big Bear spent most of her life living by the traditional Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) customs and traditions, known for the handmade woven baskets she made and sold within the McGregor and Marquette regions. She passed away in 1968 at the age of 99, and there is a memorial statue in her honor at the Mississippi River Sculpture Park on St. Feriole Island, Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin.

  For more information on Eagles Landing winery and to plan a trip to Marquette, Iowa, visit:

Eagles Landing Winery

127 North Street

PO Box 472

Marquette, Iowa 52158

(563) 873-1905

info@eagleslandingwinery.com

An Overview of Washington State’s Vineyards & Wineries

Picture of rose of grape vineyards mountain and blue sky

By: Becky Garrison  

Since the first planting of wine grapes in Fort Vancouver, Washington in 1825, Washington State has risen to become the second-largest producer of wine, with an annual production of approximately 17.7 million cases and a total annual in-state economic impact of $8.4 billion. Currently, the state has 1,070 wineries, with over 400 grape growers and over 60,000 acres of grapevines planted, which produce over 80 varieties of grapes. Of these wineries, 90 percent would be classified as boutique wineries, producing less than 5,000 cases annually.        

Tour of Washington State’s AVAs

  Established in 1983, the Yakima Valley AVA is the state’s oldest AVA, with 708,710 total acres, of which 18,580 are planted acres. This area’s diverse growing region, with an annual rainfall of eight inches, allows for a wide range of wine varieties and styles. Approximately a quarter of the grapes grown in this AVA are chardonnay, with riesling, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and syrah among this region’s other most popular grapes.

  The Columbia Valley AVA was founded the following year and consists of 11,308,636 total acres, 8,748,949 of which are in Washington State. Cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, riesling, merlot and syrah represent the most popular varieties planted in this area. This region is home to 99 percent of Washington’s total wine grape acreage, with the vast majority of Washington State’s 20 AVAs located within the Columbia Valley.  

  Four of Washington State’s AVAs are cross-border appellations. Columbia Valley, Columbia Gorge and Walla Walla Valley are shared with Oregon. Lewis-Clark Valley is shared with Idaho. 

  The Columbia Gorge represents the state’s westernmost appellation east of the Cascade Mountains. Founded in 2004, this AVA is noted for the diversity that produces a greater variety of wines than other AVAs. This AVA consists of 186,610 total acres, 66,604 of which are in Washington State, with 381 planted acres in this state. Rachel Horn, winemaker at Aniche Cellars in Underwood, Washington, states how the western end of the Columbia Gorge AVA is similar in many ways to her favorite cooler climate growing regions in Europe, including Alsace and the Wachau. She observes, “I find that many of the white varieties so seldom grown in the U.S. can thrive here.” Unlike most farms in eastern Washington, they can dry-farm, as the slopes and cooler nights on Underwood Mountain provide enough rain that, according to Horn, can make some gorgeous ripeness in phenolics without becoming jammy or too high in alcohol. “We can focus on elegance and finesse without huge extraction and muscle in our wines,” she said.

Growth of Seattle Urban Wineries

  When Tim Bates, Andy Shepherd and Frank Michels of Eight Bells Winery and Lacey and Charlie Lybecker of Cairdeas Winery launched their respective wineries in 2009, they were among the first winemakers to set up shop inside Seattle’s city limits. Bates reflects on how consumers had a hard time understanding how they could have a winery in the city. “Everyone expected you to be surrounded by vineyards. People are pretty amazed when they come in and see a real winery in action, especially during crush.” Lacey adds, “When we first started making wine, the urban wine scene was concentrated in South Park and Georgetown. It’s now in SODO, West Seattle, Ballard, and beyond. It’s great to see the expansion.”

  As part of this expansion, after the Lybeckers moved their winery from West Seattle to Lake Chelan, they established a second tasting room at SODO Urban Works, a collective of ten of Washington’s finest wine and food crafters situated in one communal space. Nine Hats Winery followed a similar model, with a winery based in Walla Walla and a tasting room at SODO Urban Works. According to Ryan Shoup, who oversees this tasting room, having a presence in this bombing-bustling neighborhood enables them to pivot off this urban energy. “This, in turn, results in a more casual and upbeat feel to their tasting room that attracts a younger audience,” he reflects.

Promoting WA State Wines

  The Washington State Wine Commission designated August as Washington Wine Month (WAugust). During this month, consumers can find special deals and events all month long at wineries, tasting rooms, restaurants, grocery stores and backyards across the state. Also, as part of WAugust, the Washington State Wine Commission partnered with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in 2022 to bring on Wine Spectator as a national media partner for an expanded Washington Wine Month campaign.

  In addition, 2023 marked the return of Taste Washington in March, which is the nation’s largest single-region wine and food festival. This week is marked with a dinner series, seminars and parties. A key highlight of this week is the Grand Tasting, which includes selections from over 200 wineries alongside more than 50 regional restaurants. This event will return in March 2024, with the Grand Tasting slated for March 16 and 17, 2024.

  Another series of statewide events that have returned post-COVID are those from the Auction of Washington Wines. This nonprofit organization seeks to raise awareness of Washington wine through a series of events benefiting their community. Events happen throughout the year, including an online holiday bottle auction, Wine Country Celebration dinners, and a trade-focused Private Barrel Auction. The largest events happen in August and include TOAST!, an industry-focused recognition dinner; the Winemaker Picnic & Barrel Auction, a casual event featuring wines, food and a consumer barrel auction. Their largest fundraising event of the year, a formal gala, where unique auction lots are available through a live auction and money is raised for Seattle’s Children’s Hospital, Washington State University Viticulture & Enology Department and various industry grants.

  On a more regional level, Walla Walla Wine on Tour allows 45 member wineries to pour to sold-out crowds in Seattle and Portland, as well as reconnect to the wine trade and media. In 2023, they expanded this tour to include Boise, Idaho. In 2024, they will return to Seattle on January 29, Portland on February 26 and Boise, Idaho on March 3-4. In 2023, 60 percent of ticket purchasers were first-time attendees to the Seattle and Portland events.

  Along those lines, Horn points to events like the Blood Of Gods 2023 Annual Merrymaking event held in Walla Walla that work to create space and voice for alternative people in the wine industry, including queer, punk, BIPOC and female voices. She proclaims, “I like that people like us are finding wine and taking some ownership.”

  Renea Roberts, the director of community engagement for the Lake Chelan Wine Alliance, points to the importance of in-person events as an essential part of any local wine community. As she notes,

“They provide an opportunity for wine enthusiasts to gather and share their passion for wine while also promoting local wineries. Being able to host wine events means that the wine community can come together to celebrate their love for wine, learn from each other and support local businesses. It also allows wineries to showcase their products and connect with potential customers.”

  Currently, Washington’s wines can be found all over the state in some unexpected settings. Onboard Amtrak Cascades trains from Eugene, Oregon to Vancouver, British Columbia, travelers can savor Chateau Ste. Michelles’ chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. Most hotels offer Washington wine to their guests, with the Kimpton Hotels hosting Washington-focused happy hours featuring Washington wines. Other places to find Washington wines include the Seattle Space Needle, Washington State ferries and various performing arts venues, such as the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the Fifth Avenue Theatre.

Recent Washington State Winery Trends 

  After Paul Beveridge of Wilridge Vineyard, Winery and Distillery in Yakima led the lobbying effort to permit wineries to hold a distilling license, a select number of wineries have followed suit. Like Beveridge’s winery, most of these other wineries also distill the must from their grapes and other fruits to produce grappa and fruit brandies though a few produce grain spirits. For example, Browne Family Vineyards in Walla Walla established  Browne Family Spirits in Spokane, focusing on locally sourced, limited-edition bourbon and rye whiskeys by Kentucky-native master distiller Aaron Kleinhelter.

  Another growing trend with Washington wineries is offering lodging options onsite. Presently, nine wineries based in either central or eastern Washington offer lodging ranging from guest cottages to yurts, cabins and more palatial offerings.

Challenges

  Moving forward, the biggest challenge for Washington State vineyards remains wildfire smoke, though the 2023 harvest was not impacted as in the case of some previous years. Also, in August, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates announced to its contracted Washington wine grape growers that it’s not taking nearly half of its contracted fruit this fall. The long-term impact of this decision is not known at this writing.

For updates about Washington wine, visit https://www.washingtonwine.org   

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.