Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
 
Jim Gordon
 

Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 
 
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
April 2014
 

West Coast Drought Watch, Episode 3

 

When the week I am writing this began, rain had been in the forecast for five days, due to arrive where I live in Napa, Calif., on Monday morning, March 10.

This would have been great: another nice boost for irrigation ponds and watersheds. We’d already had two rain events in the previous month. A third might mean that the previously declared drought of 2014 was just a scare.

 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
March 2014
 

What the Farm Bill Means for Wine

 

Two events showered long-delayed and much-needed benefits on the wine industry as our staff prepared this issue of Wines & Vines. First, a drenching five-day rainstorm seemed to answer the prayers of thousands of California grapegrowers facing a critical shortage of water for the 2014 growing season. And second, Congress passed a nearly trillion-dollar Farm Bill that addresses the needs of grape and wine producers to a degree never seen before on the federal level.

 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
February 2014
 

Where Has All the Mustard Gone?

 
This is the 10th annual Barrel Issue of Wines & Vines, but the first thing on my mind as I write this column Jan. 20 is California’s drought. Officials declared the past year the driest in the state’s recorded history, and here we sit with virtually no rain in months, during the winter season when we normally see about two-thirds of our annual rainfall.

 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
January 2014
 

Economic Picture Bright for Wineries

 

This issue begins Wines & Vines’ 95th year of publishing. It also marks the 15th year that we’ve produced a special edition for the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, which takes place Jan. 28-30 in Sacramento, Calif. “The Unified” is the biggest and most important conference and trade show for the North American wine industry.

 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
December 2013
 

Tough Love for California Wine  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
High alcohol and heavy oak flavors are not subjects that most California winemakers like to talk about, especially with wine writers. But the subjects are unavoidable with certain writers.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
November 2013
 

Who Will Miss the Market Share?

 
The economic picture for most wineries and grape­growers is very bright right now, as the second consecutive harvest with good quality and large quantity is about to be completed. Grape prices recovered earlier and held nearly steady this year, so vineyard owners are counting their winnings. The retail price of domestic wines rose 4% in off-premise sales, while revenue rose 7%, so wineries and the wine trade are counting their winnings, too.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
October 2013
 

Bottles, Labels and Winemaking

 
As I write this letter in mid-September, harvest and crush activities have slowly ramped up in the North Coast counties of California, where our magazine is based. Trucks and trailers stacked ridiculously high with half-ton bins—most of them still empty—criss-cross the areas I see on a weekly basis in Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties. Rigs of vineyard lighting for night harvesting are making their annual appearances. Spotting a polished Land Rover along with dusty white pickup trucks and worn 1980s sedans among the vines indicates that everyone from cult winery owners to vineyard foremen to seasonal laborers are paying close attention to the ripening grapes.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
September 2013
 

What Napa Farmers Want

 
The Napa County Farm Bureau celebrated its 100th anniversary in August with a wine reception and dinner outdoors at the Robert Mondavi Winery, including remarks by Warren Winiarski, founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson and other dignitaries, and entertainment by a country-rock band flown in from Nashville, Tenn. It was a beautiful evening with civilized touches that contrasted sharply with what the first Farm Bureau gatherings must have looked like in 1913.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
August 2013
 

Will the UC Extension Rebound?

 
If you care about the future of cooperative extension services for wine grape growers, don’t miss Cliff Ohmart’s “Vineyard View” column in this issue. Ohmart has produced a careful explanation of how severely California’s extension system has shrunk in recent years.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
July 2013
 

Sigh of Relief Over 'Serving Facts'

 
The Treasury Department’s ruling May 28 that wine, beer and spirits makers may add “serving facts” to their packaging appears to give all three what they want. Those few producers who want to start posting details related to serving size, calories, protein and fat on their back labels can go ahead, and those who don’t want to don’t have to.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
June 2013
 

Academia and Industry Must Meet  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
The American Society for Enology and Viticulture has been promoting the wine industry’s health by supporting research and education for 64 years. That’s why this is our 64th annual Enology and Viticulture Issue, which coincides with the annual conference of the ASEV (see page 46 for more details about this month’s conference in Monterey, Calif.).
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
May 2013
 

The Leading Edge of Packaging

 
You know the challenge: How do you get your wine brand noticed when 10s of thousands of other brands compete against yours? One way is to create a bold brand or line that combines an attention-getting taste profile with fresh packaging.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
February 2013
 

Bigger, Better and More Practical  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
The merger of Practical Winery & Vineyard into the organization and pages of Wines & Vines, announced in January, is big news for our company and big news for you as a reader. Here is the story behind the announcement.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
December 2012
 

The Top 10 Stories of 2012  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Wines & Vines is committed to professional news reporting. You can tell by the posting of original wine industry news articles written by our own editorial team every business day. We have reported 250 or more headline stories every year since 2007. What follows are what I believe to be the top 10 news stories or themes of 2012 in terms of their overall effect on our readers.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
November 2012
 

Pulling Their Weight in Washington

 
The fire-engine red, four-wheel drive Ford F350 diesel pickup was pulling a trailer loaded with empty MacroBins and drawing unwanted attention on the otherwise quiet streets of Walla Walla, Wash. Unwanted, particularly since we were passing through a school zone guarded by a police officer leaning out the window of his cruiser with a radar gun.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
October 2012
 

Are You Better Off Than in 2008?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Are you better off than you were four years ago? That is a popular question in Mitt Romney’s campaign as the former Massachusetts governor attempts to unseat President Barack Obama in the Nov. 6 election. The Romney team apparently trusts that many people will say they are worse off than four years ago, based on the slowly growing economy and high unemployment rates.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
September 2012
 

The Story Behind the Top 20 Lenders

 
What is more vital to the wine industry economy than finance? Access to capital softens the unique financial tremors that come seasonally, annually and even generationally in the business of growing grapes and making wine. Moreover, capital makes growth possible, and most of our industry today is focused on growth.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
August 2012
 

Make Closures Consumer-Friendly

 
Regular readers of Wines & Vines will recognize headlines like this: Natural Cork TCA Incidence Drops; Synthetic Corks Most Consistent in Oxygen Transfer; Does Glass Make the Ultimate Closure?; Screwcaps Claim Low Carbon Footprint, etc.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
July 2012
 

Software, Hardware and a Digital Edition  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
We’ve pulled together a really solid issue this month. Five articles deal with how to use technology and the latest research results in your cellar or vineyard. It makes good sense because this is the eighth annual Technology Issue. Three of these reports are in the feature “well,” as we call it, and two more are in the columns section nearer the back of the book.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
June 2012
 

The Race Is On for Vintage 2012

 
And they’re off! Is it just me, or are the vines growing faster than normal this year? Where I live in the southern Napa Valley, the vines bolted from the starting gate in mid-March, stumbled briefly during cold and damp weather in early April, then regained their footing and sprinted to the first wire. As I write this column in mid-May, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir shoots in Carneros have galloped to the second wire and begun flowering. (Also, the Kentucky Derby ran for the 138th time last weekend.)
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
May 2012
 

Partisan Packaging and Variation

 
The world of politics makes room for both conservatives and liberals, and so does the world of wine. Since this is the 13th annual Packaging Issue of Wines & Vines, I am talking about conservative and liberal approaches to packaging, of course, not gun rights or gay rights.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
March 2012
 

Who Gets Credit for Riper Wines?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Something is missing from the still-simmering debate about how high-alcohol table wines came to be today’s standard bearers. Who or what is the responsible party? The 100-point scale? International winemaking consultants? Climate change?
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
February 2012
 

DtC Shipments Grow 13% in 2011

 

Now that the data are in for direct-to-consumer sales in 2011, and we can compare them to 2010, it’s time to share the good news coming from Wines & Vines' partnership with ShipCompliant, which makes valuable market research available to our readers.

 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
January 2012
 

The To-Do List for 2012

 
With the new year comes a chance to improve yourself, your winery and your vineyard. Let’s leave the “yourself” part to other magazines like Oprah and Men’s Health, and focus on the other two. I think the wine industry now lives in a world quite different from that of 2007, when the wine business was firing on all eight cylinders. Today’s wine economy has lots of good things going for it, but it’s a leaner, more efficient economy—not a V-8 anymore but a turbocharged 4-cylinder that averages 30 mpg city/highway.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
December 2011
 

Time to Review and Recover

 
As I write this in early November, Oregon winemakers have just harvested the last of the latest-ripening Pinot Noir grapes ever. Pennsylvania winemakers are wondering what to do with newly fermented Vidal that didn’t reach 9% alcohol. Northern California winemakers are hoping that none of the botrytis they saw in their damp vineyards will be smelled in their wines.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
November 2011
 

Lessons to Learn From Six Sigma

 
This month I want to dip into an issue that was raised for me by a prominent wine industry supplier: Are vineyards and wineries utilizing the same level of quality control and production efficiency practices that their suppliers and buyers are? Large suppliers and retailers frequently use quality-control certifications such as ISO and methodologies like Six Sigma to maximize the quality and consistency of their products and operations. Synthetic closure producer Nomacorc in Zebulon, N.C., is one of them.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
October 2011
 

Alcohol-Health Link Reconfirmed

 
 
CLICK PHOTO TO PLAY VIDEO: Editor Jim Gordon discusses new CDC findings on the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.

The long-known but long-downplayed connection between wine and health has been validated again. This time it was confirmed by no less an authority than the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recently published results of a study that stressed moderate alcohol consumption as one of four low-risk lifestyle behaviors that can have a very positive effect on people’s mortality—in other words, how long they live.

 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
September 2011
 

U.S. Economy vs. Wine Economy

 
 
CLICK PHOTO TO PLAY VIDEO: Editor Jim Gordon discusses the wine economy
I am writing this letter shortly after Congress raised the debt ceiling and Standard & Poors lowered its rating for U.S. government bonds from AAA to AA. As we all know, chaos broke out on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dove one day, rose the next, dove again, and so on for six days. Today, as this issue is going to press, it is rising again. Few expect The Dow to stay up, I suspect, and it’s likely that the stock market will remain unsettled for some time to come.

It all seemed avoidable and unnecessary. Many winery and vineyard owners share the frustration of the U.S. business community in thinking that Congress blew its chance to calm the economic waters as the debt ceiling deadline approached. Instead of handling the challenge well in advance, Congress postured, delayed and bickered until the boat rocked wildly. Now we may all get wet.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
August 2011
 

Weighing Romance vs. Performance in Closures

 
 
CLICK PHOTO TO PLAY VIDEO: Editor Jim Gordon discusses the future of natural corks
In this space one year ago I wrote that there is no single neat answer to the question of what is the best overall wine bottle closure. I still believe that. Corks are not going away any time soon, even though the less expensive alternatives—screwcaps and some types of synthetics—have proven their reliability.

But what if I’m being way too conservative, and what’s really happening is that the transition to a new paradigm is occurring right now? We just don’t recognize it yet. What if screwcaps eventually take over the wine closures market? Then the wineries that stick with corks will be left behind, holding the bag of an outdated technology that consumers and the industry have dropped as they race down the path to the future.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
July 2011
 

High Tech for Low Intervention

 
This is the seventh annual Technology Issue of Wines & Vines. Our team of writers stuffed it full of information about how to apply technology to your work whether you are a winemaker, grapegrower or wine marketer.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
June 2011
 

Speak Out Against the CARE Act

 
The CARE Act is back in Congress this year, and Wines & Vines still doesn’t care for it. Wineries, brewers, distillers, retailers—even beverage importers—are speaking out against the cynically misnamed legislation that would give wholesalers much more influence over alcohol sales in individual states.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
May 2011
 

Doing Something About Balance

 
I can’t remember the last time I saw so many journalists show up for a wine event. The wine media practically drowns in invitations to press conferences and tastings. They have to turn down the majority.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
April 2011
 

What Do Wine Writers Want?

 
When I returned to my routine in late February after the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley, I found myself thinking about what wine writers want.  As a former full-time consumer wine writer and editor, I have a certain understanding of the craft that may help Wines & Vines readers see wine writers in a more accurate light.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
March 2011
 

It's All About the Vines

 
Wine is made in the vineyard, right? Rarely do the fermentation tanks sit between the rows, but the essence of this overused aphorism is true. Even with all their skills and technology, winemakers can’t make great wine from average grapes.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
January 2011
 

DtC Sales Up, Teen Drinking Down  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 

The news in December leading up to press time for this issue carried very positive stories for wineries: An important segment of wine sales is up while teen drinking is down. Is there a connection?

 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
December 2010
 

Top 10 Stories of the Year

 

What news stories were most on the minds of North American winemakers and grapegrowers in 2010? Certainly the economy and the dramatic weather conditions during the growing season were big topics. What else caught our attention and yours during the year that’s now almost finished?

 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
November 2010
 

Growing Despite the Economy

 
It’s difficult for vintners and growers to be optimistic about the wine economy today with all the bad news circulating, at least on the West Coast. Yet positive signs are there for the discovering, and we’ve found a few powerful ones for this issue.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
October 2010
 

Where Artistry Meets Technology

 

When planning this first-ever Artisan Winemaking Issue of Wines & Vines, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what “artisan” meant—someone who applies artistry to their craft. We wanted an issue theme to appeal to smaller-sized vineyard and winery operations throughout North America, and particularly those working to produce wines of exceptional quality.

 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
September 2010
 

A Call for Earthquake Preparedness

 
In March of this year I flew to Germany to attend two big international wine shows. During the trip I had the pleasure of getting to know a fellow wine industry journalist, Eduardo Brethauer of Vitis magazine, from Chile.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
August 2010
 

Shaping Wines to Fit Their Closures

 
Until recently in winemaking history there was no debate about how to seal a bottle of high-quality wine. Cork had been the best choice for hundreds of years. Closures only became a hot topic when the suitability of cork was demonstrated to be an issue by the discovery of what causes “corked” bottles—2,4,6-trichloroanisole. Scientists learned how to measure this mold, and packaging companies subsequently rushed to develop alternative closures that were TCA-proof.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
July 2010
 

For Whom the CARE Act Cares

 

Unless you flew to New Zealand for the 2010 harvest and are just now returning, you already know about House Resolution 5034, the so-called CARE act that would take really good care of alcohol wholesalers at the expense of producers. The innocently named bill, introduced by Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), was written on behalf of the National Beer Wholesalers Association. The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America actively support it, too.

 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
June 2010
 

What Winery Buyers Are Thinking

 
Hope isn’t much of a strategy,” said Randy Luginbill, vice president of winery relations for Silverado Premium Properties as he introduced four speakers during May’s Vineyard Economics Seminar. His point was that the recession has hit many winegrape growers hard. Fewer have long-term contracts, many are expecting lower per-ton payments this season, and quite possibly more growers than last year will have no home at all for their grapes—unless they custom crush.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
May 2010
 

What's Behind Our Numbers?

 
Grapes and wine are your products. Information is our product. At Wines & Vines, we labor every day to bring you the most accurate and up-to-date information in our daily web Headlines and the print magazine’s monthly feature stories, columns and other departments. A portion of that information is originally collected and stored as data, which we then use in the Wines & Vines Directory & Buyer’s Guide, in the W&V Online Marketing System and in other diverse ways to serve you as a reader.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
April 2010
 

Time to Renew PD Funding

 
It is time for California grapegrowers to renew their self-assessment to fund the ongoing fight against Pierce’s disease. At the current assessment rate of $1 per $1,000 of crop value, it has to be the world’s best bargain in disease prevention.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
March 2010
 

Benefits of Science and Technology

 
Everybody loves the image of the little old vigneron trudging through his vineyard in the spring, beret on his head and hoe in his hand, sniffing the air for rain, making mental notes on the health of his vines, one by one, as he envisions the rich harvest to come in September.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
February 2010
 

Tasting Blind Is Not Just for Critics

 
Do you as a winemaker hope that wine writers and trade buyers taste your wine blind? Do you want them to base their decisions on what’s in the tasting glass, or do you want them to carry along their prejudices against your AVA, your brand, your price-point or, God forbid, your personality?
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
January 2010
 

Keep the Green Message Simple

 

Could it be that the wine industry’s considerable effort to go green and then to communicate this movement to customers has failed? Even worse than that, could the whole thing be on the verge of backfiring and turning wine drinkers off the whole concept?

 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
December 2009
 

Good News for the Wine Economy

 

At the beginning of this year I wrote perhaps the most pessimistic column of my life. Because of the great recession, enabled by the Bush administration and a debt-loving public, the second half of 2008 saw wine sales revenues plummet. Restaurants emptied, distributors stopped ordering and vintners checked their spreadsheets to see what revenue cuts in the neighborhood of 30% did to their bottom lines.

 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
November 2009
 

Thriving in a Slow Economy, Part 2

 

At this time last year the great recession had just arrived. To address the developing disaster I wrote a piece in this space in the November 2008 issue titled “Thriving in a Slowing Economy,” passing on advice from experienced vintners and marketers.

 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
October 2009
 

WHO's View on Alcohol and Health

 
While grapegrowers and winemakers are laboring through the immediate, urgent challenges of the 2009 crush, their advocates in Washington, D.C., are facing less urgent, but no less important issues. One of those is an effort by the World Health Organization to write a "Global Strategy to Reduce Harmful Use of Alcohol."
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
September 2009
 

Technology to Solve Problems

 
While wine marketers like to cultivate the image of the humble vintner who crafts wine with traditional tools, the people who grow the grapes and process the wine are concentrating on a different type of cultivation. They emphasize a strong and growing trend toward high-tech tools and services that put ever-finer points on grapegrowing and winemaking. This is a good thing for wine quality. Growers and winemakers now use an incredible array of tests and tools they didn't have a decade ago, and more come online every month.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
August 2009
 

Do You Have Uncommitted Fruit?

 
If, as you read this in early August, the 2009 winegrape crop is as big as expected in early July when I was writing this, then potentially a whole lot of growers will be facing tough decisions. Those left with uncommitted fruit will have to do one of three things: 1) Sell cheap. 2) Let it hang. 3) Make wine.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
July 2009
 

Where There's Smoke

 

As I write this in the first week of June, an unusual weather system brought rain showers--including thunder and lightning--to Northern California. Despite the area's need for water, the untimely weather was ominous for winegrape growers for multiple reasons. Varieties in some places hadn't finished bloom; high humidity and temperatures in the 70s increased mildew pressure; and possibly most ominous of all: The lightning suggested that last summer's wildfires were not a once-in-a-lifetime event.

 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
June 2009
 

Enology vs. the Economy

 
What the wine industry needs to remember about the current economic recession is that it won't last forever. It will run its course in due time, with the help of federal stimulus funds and new vintages. Vintners and growers need to be ready when the economic arrows start to point up again. They won't be ready for the recovery, however, if they're too focused on the arrows that still point down.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
May 2009
 

Who Owns Your Label?

 
Wines & Vines  reported online in March that dozens if not hundreds of U.S. wineries could lose their ability to market their products in Europe if they continue to use certain common wine terms on their labels. A deadline set by the European Union years ago arrived, and EU officials now consider U.S. imports illegal if their labels carry such good old English terms as "vintage," "tawny," "ruby," and such widely recognized terms of French origin as "chateau," "clos" "sur lie."
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
April 2009
 

An All-American Appellation

 
This month's column revisits a topic I first addressed here in March 2007. Then just a discussion of truth in labeling, now it has evolved into a concrete proposal that would rectify a very poorly conceived section of the federal rules on wine labeling. An interstate coalition of winegrape grower groups has now petitioned the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB) to revise the rules. We hope that petition will be accepted and opened for industry comments later this year.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
March 2009
 

Huge Tax Increase Appears Dead  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
California grapegrowers and winemakers in the second week of February exhaled with relief upon hearing that no support materialized in the leadership of the state legislature for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's misnamed "Nickel-a-Drink" tax proposal. The state's budget crisis continued, but it was clear that the proposed tax increase of 640% on wine had no legs to stand on--at least for now.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
February 2009
 

The Challenge of Barrel Buying  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
I feel for the unlucky winemakers who have to make barrel-buying decisions now for their 2009 harvests--and that's most of you out there. It's too early in the year to estimate the size of your crop, yet if you wait until late spring or early summer, when the fruit has set and you can make a rough estimate of yields, you may miss getting the barrels you want at reasonable prices.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
January 2009
 

The Outlook for Wine Sales  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
How morbidly appropriate that the wine business was rocked by a sales slump of historic proportions just as our staff prepared this 90th anniversary edition of Wines & Vines. No one in the business that I've spoken to can remember a more depressing period for sales than what happened in the second half of 2008.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
December 2008
 

Arm Yourself With Information

 
I am finishing this column Nov. 5, the day that this issue of Wines & Vines goes to the printer and the day after Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. It remains to be seen what the Obama administration will mean for the wine industry, but it's already clear that 2009 will begin with more clouds over the wine landscape than 2008 did. Three veteran observers of the wine economy share their outlooks in one of four articles in this issue that preview the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium (see Wines & Vines article).
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
November 2008
 

Thriving in a Slowing Economy

 
In the past month, news about the American economy has sunk from bad to worse. At the same time, many wineries confirmed that their sales are softening, if not dropping. As experts in government, banking and the stock market talked about the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, it seemed like a good time to look around for anti-depression measures for the wine industry.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
October 2008
 

Wine Is Thriving, But . . .

 
The United States government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the weekend before this issue of Wines & Vines went to press. If anyone had been uncertain that a lending crisis was under way before then, the dramatic intervention by the Treasury Department at the two huge private/public lenders put that question to rest.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
September 2008
 

Talking Technology; Looking East

 
Winemakers often take pride in the simplicity of their craft, and they should. How many times have you told your consumers or a journalist that to make the best wine, you simply take the best grapes and try not to screw them up? That's a truism, but you know better than your customers that it's not as simple as it sounds.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
August 2008
 

The Irony of a Corked Bottle

 
It was another party marred by another bottle of corked wine. But it wasn't just any party. It was a reception for the 2008 Merit Award winner of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture. A couple of dozen ASEV members, friends and family members gathered in a hotel suite in Portland, Ore., to celebrate Bob Steinhauer's acceptance of the award, and his memorable address at the ASEV annual meeting (see "Robert Steinhauer Reflects").
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
July 2008
 

One Rationale for Going Organic

 
Those of us old enough to remember the first time organic wines came around need to get over ourselves. Twenty-five years ago the wines were mostly terrible; the vineyards were largely amateur-hour productions, and the public quickly turned away.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
June 2008
 

Wanted: More Local Growers  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Surplus and shortage cycles in the California wine business are well documented in the news media, because California still makes more than 90% of U.S. wine. An oversupply of California grapes and bulk wine has soaked the market since the freak-of-nature 2005 vintage. But the situation in many other states is not the same.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
May 2008
 

Taking the Pulse of the Central Region  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
It had been too long since I visited wine country in the central part of the continent, so I welcomed the opportunity to attend the "License to Steal" wine marketing conference on Lake Erie in early April (see Faces & Forums). We coastal dwellers tend to spend too much time talking among ourselves and not enough time discovering what's happening in between the coasts.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
April 2008
 

Making Money the Hard Way  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
The vitality of the Oregon wine industry struck me while spending a few days in Eugene recently. The No. 4 state in wine production has always hoed its own row, and now gets to enjoy the fruits of that hard labor.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
March 2008
 

A Closer Look at the Elephant  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
California's Grape Crush Report reminds me of the fable about a village in India inhabited by blind men, that has its first visit from an elephant. They perceive the elephant quite differently. You know, one touches the elephant's leg and says an elephant is like a pillar. Another touches the tail and says an elephant is like a rope. A third touches the pachyderm's side and says an elephant is like a giant boulder, and so on.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
February 2008
 

A Close Look at Barrels  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
If you've been to Europe in the last couple of years you know how little respect the dollar gets there. The traveler's rough math is: one euro equals one and a half dollars. So the 50-euro per day rental car is about $75 to you.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
January 2008
 

Do 'AVA Owners' Have Rights?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
The TTB took a little pressure off its proposed AVA regulation overhaul in December when it extended the comment period on two controversial notices until March 20, 2008. This was a good move. But it also extends the period of limbo for proposed AVAs seeking approval, which is not good for the growers and wineries involved. Still, the breathing space should help the industry and the feds to sort this out in a rational way.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
December 2007
 

Heating up the Research Debate  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
In this, the last issue of the year, our cover story is based on an idea I began thinking about seriously while writing my Editor's Letter for our first issue of the year. In "The AVF's Search for Answers" (January 2007) I was just coming to grips with an apparent deficit in scientific data that would help vineyard managers and winemakers do their jobs better--and consequently prosper.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
November 2007
 

Who Wants More Labeling?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Is wine a food? Wine industry members generally believe that it is. Wine should be on the dinner table, sometimes on the lunch table, too. Wine should be a staple, consumed regularly. It's healthy, it tastes good, it even provides some nutrition.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
October 2007
 

Let The Good Times Last  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
These are the good times for the wine industry. I interviewed half a dozen financial and managerial professionals in the industry to confirm it.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
September 2007
 

New Style More Substance  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
As the longest-running success story in wine publishing, Wines & Vines has certain traditions to uphold, namely, covering wine industry issues in a timely and accurate manner and keeping the interests of grapegrowers and vintners as our first priority. But that doesn't mean we're stuck in the past.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
August 2007
 

An Essential Book on Closures  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Just as the Wines & Vines staff was wrapping up this, the annual Closures Issue of the magazine, an advance review copy of a book on the same topic arrived in the mail. I spent several hours reading portions of it before this issue went to press, and believe that it will be essential reading for winemakers everywhere, and fascinating for anyone in the wine trade, too.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
July 2007
 

Tipping Point for Growers  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
During the last two years, while many American vintners began to celebrate a financial situation rosier than they'd seen since the beginning of the millennium, lots of growers, on the other hand, felt like they'd been turned away at the door to the party. Grape prices lived in the basement, pests seemed to be multiplying in the vineyards, and in the perverse logic of the farming business, the worst threat of all--large harvests of excellent quality--materialized.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
June 2007
 

Sounding the Alarm on Leafroll Disease  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
California's senior viticulture advisor, the man charged with outreach to growers around the state, believes that an infection currently spreading in vineyards is potentially a bigger problem than the phylloxera/rootstock fiasco of the 1990s. The infection is leafroll disease.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
May 2007
 

The Power of the Package  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Among at least a dozen good ideas for articles that I gathered at the UC Davis Wine Executive Program in March, one was particularly relevant to the main theme of this issue, which is packaging. The wine industry so far has been fortunate not to have to fret over packaging to the same extent as many other consumer product industries.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
April 2007
 

Letting Oak Chips Out of the Bag  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
It's time to bring oak alternatives further out in the open. Continuing to hide these very common winemaking tools invites the wine trade and the public to conclude that there is something wrong with barrel staves, oak chips, balls, spirals and sticks. But there is nothing inherently wrong. They're naturally grown, they're not carcinogenic, they're good for the environment and they can taste great, as Tina Caputo points out in her lead story for this issue (page 22).
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
March 2007
 

The Un-American Appellation  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
The issue of whether wines labeled as "American" should be allowed to contain 25% of wine from other countries has been simmering for two years, and now it's starting to boil. Currently, federal regulations include this loophole--which is big enough to sail a tanker full of Australian Shiraz through--and a number of American winegrape growers don't like it.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
February 2007
 

Winemaker, Know Thy Barrels  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
I bought my first wine barrel from Mike Grgich 16 years ago. I had interviewed him for a magazine cover story at about that time, and I was impressed with how neat and clean the Grgich Hills cellar looked, and how meticulous the winery's regimen of tasting, racking, topping and sanitation was. So when I decided to up the ante in my fledgling amateur winemaking career from the 5 gallons I had fermented the previous year to a full barrel, he came to mind as a barrel supplier.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
January 2007
 

The AVF's Search for Answers  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
"It seems to work for us, but we don't really know why. There's not enough science to base it on."

I lost track of how many times I heard this quote from winemakers and vineyard managers last year. The question that prompted it might have been, "What's better about native yeast?" or "Why do you drop so much fruit?" or "How do you know gravity flow is more gentle than pumping?" Too many decisions in the vineyard and the cellar are still based on tradition. The wine industry needs its traditions and folklore, true, but even more we need some answers.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
December 2006
 

Guest Worker Program Needed  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
President Bush in October signed a Republican-backed bill to build a 700-mile fence along the U.S.--Mexican border. It was at best a dose of aspirin to temporarily reduce the fever over illegal immigration. The bill came too late to block the flow of migrant labor to the vineyards for this year's harvest, and because of the mid-term Congressional elections there wasn't enough conviction in Washington, D.C., to address definitively the whole issue of immigration reform. At least, not yet.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
November 2006
 

When Do Appellations Matter?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Negociant Donny Sebastiani of Sonoma, Calif., was explaining to a crowd at the Wine Industry Financial Symposium how his company views the global wine competition. He projected a photo taken at a Mission Viejo, Calif., retailer. A woman shopper beams while holding a bottle of Smoking Loon wine in front of a floor stack of the same. "Smoking Loon is my favorite Australian Merlot," she said.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
October 2006
 

You Reflect Our Relevance  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Founded in 1919, Wines & Vines is the longest-running hit in the wine publishing field. It's not the magazine's age, however, that keeps it vital. I think it's our ability to effectively serve you, the reader, despite constant changes in the wine industry.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
September 2006
 

Talking Up Technology  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Consumers don't buy wine like they do cell phones or digital cameras. They're not looking for the hottest new computer technology to enable them to view podcasts in their Pinot Noir or to obtain five-spot focus in their Fumé Blanc. So the application of high-tech tools and methods in the wine industry has remained largely out of the public's sight.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
August 2006
 

Boisterously Seeking Closure  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
I spent my first month as editor of Wines & Vines totally immersed in closures as we prepared this, the magazine's first Closures & Packaging Issue, for press. Six feature articles in these pages delve deeply into the twin topics. While I have reported on the merits of natural corks vs. alternative closures for 20 years, I was still surprised to find how dynamic, vital and highly charged the debate is for winemakers and marketers today.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
July 2006
 

Oak, By Any Other Name  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Want to talk about alternatives to oak barrels? Products like oak chips and tank staves? You may be in the minority. It seems that many winemakers--or more likely, the people in marketing--don't want to talk about oak alternatives. They seem to fear consumers will be put off.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
June 2006
 

Let's Hear It For The ASEV  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
The American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) was established at UC Davis in 1950. The goal was to improve the quality of American wines by beginning in the vineyards and working through to the wine in the bottle. No one can doubt that in the 56 years since then, American wines have improved.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
May 2006
 

It's A Wrap  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
There is a bar on the Plaza Mayor in Madrid that sells wine out of a traditional goatskin bag. Tourists must have taken a million pictures of the wine-filled goatskins in that bar. "Isn't that quaint? Here it is the 21st century and they are still selling wine out of goatskins, just like a thousand years ago."
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
April 2006
 

The Impact Of Vineyard Technology  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
The use of new vineyard technology and related technical advances can make a huge difference to the wine in the bottle, that's common knowledge. But the impact may go beyond that. Some industry observers believe that the mind-boggling grape harvest of 2005 may be traced to technical advances in irrigation technology and trellis applications.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
March 2006
 

Kicking The Dirt  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
It has become a wine public relations cliché that all great wine starts with the grower in the vineyard. But like many other clichés, it is based on solid reality.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
February 2006
 

Keep Those Barrels Rolling  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
The production of barrels has come a long way since wine was shipped in palmwood casks from Armenia to Babylon thousands of years ago, B.C. In the following centuries, wooden barrels were used to transport wines in most areas of the winemaking world.
 
READ MORE »
 

 

Editor's Letter

 
January 2006
 

Getting Started  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
Good grief!
 
READ MORE »
 
 
SUBSCRIBE TO WINES & VINES PRINT EDITION »
CONTACT OUR EDITORIAL STAFF »
 
CURRENT COLUMN ARTICLES »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
March 2013 $546 million
5%
$6,988 million
7%
March 2014 $572 million $7,451 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
March 2013 $177 million
20%
$1,483 million
10%
March 2014 $213 million $1,634 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
March 2013 253
15%
166
27%
March 2014 292 210
     
 
MORE » Released on 04.14.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • April 18
     
    WineFlavor 101B: Nitrogen Management from Vine to Wine
     
  • April 19
     
    Appellation St. Helena food pairing competition
     
  • April 23
     
    Sustainable Vineyard Practices: Strategies for Using Less Water
     
  • April 23-26
     
    CABs of Distinction in Paso Robles
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Starbucks Expands Wine Sales to More Cities »
 
Pretty amazing that the 1st wines chosen are from Argentina, Italy, and New Zealand! I...
Reader: Jacques Brix
 
Article: Starbucks Expands Wine Sales to More Cities »
 
Given Starbucks commitment to sustainability and global responsibility, I expect this move could be a...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: What to Do About Red Blotch »
 
There is NO correlation with planting density. Also FPS is working on the problem. New...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Premiere Wine Auction Nets $5.9 million »
 
Thanks for letting us know Janet, we've updated the story. Cheers
Reader: Andrew Adams
 
Article: Will Barrels Go the Way of Floppy Disks? »
 
Fun piece. Particularly enjoyed the three clearly superior attributes of standard barrels, including looking cool...
Reader: Tom Gable
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2014 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Private Experience Coo...
 Rutherford, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Tasting Room Wine Educ...
 Rutherford, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Tasting Room Sales Ass...
 Saint Helena, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 2014 Harvest Intern
 Santa Rosa, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Harvest Lab Intern
 Clarksburg, CA
Winemaking and Production
 2014 Harvest Internshi...
 Windsor, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Direct Sales Coordinat...
 St. Helena, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Harvest Lab Technician...
 Yountville, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Seasonal Grape Sampler
 Yountville, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Dtc Assistant
 Santa Rosa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.