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Editor's Letter

by Jim Gordon
 

A Tale of Two Washington Winemakers, and Technology

 
 

SINCE THIS IS THE ANNUAL TECHNOLOGY ISSUE of Wines & Vines, I’ve been thinking about differences between the hard and soft technologies that wineries use. Hard technology in this case is equipment and machinery mostly made of steel, and soft technology is basically computer software made of code.

Almost every winemaker likes the hard technology. Who wouldn’t want a set of gleaming new stainless steel tanks like those Andrew Adams writes about in the Product Focus featured on page 46? Somewhat different are the more traditional hard technologies such as concrete and oak fermentors. But most of you winemakers out there would buy all of these kinds of technology—if you had the money.

Soft technology is a different story. You don’t necessarily want it—in fact some of you might even pride yourselves on not using it. I remember visiting wineries in Woodinville, Wash., in early 2014 and meeting separately with two guys who used to work together at Chateau Ste. Michelle: Mike Januik of 10,000-case Novelty Hill-Januik Winery, and Bob Betz of 5,000-case Betz Family Winery.

 
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Grounded Grapegrowing

by Glenn McGourty
 

Implications of Drought on California's Water Supply

 
 

The 2014-15 water year may be a turning point in California water policy if present weather trends continue. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration has classified most of the state as being in “extreme drought” or “exceptional drought.” During the past five months, a persistent high-pressure ridge above the North Pacific (known by many in the media as “the blob”) has resulted in extreme record warmth ranging from 2° to 8° F above normal in the west. These conditions have resulted in the lowest snow packs on record for California—only 5% of normal. Much of the Pacific Northwest is experiencing the same conditions. According to a recent survey by the Farm Water Coalition, 41% of farmland in California using surface water will have 80% less of its usual supply this year due to drought impacts. Groundwater, if available, will have to make up the difference if growers want to continue farming their orchards, vineyards and fields this year.

 
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Viewpoint

by Dong Li
 

Which Wines Will China Be Drinking in 10 Years?

 
 

There is a saying that suggests, “You can’t sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo.” Unfortunately, many wine importers find themselves in similar situations in China’s wine market, where there is no historical culture of wine consumption over thousands of years, and 70% of the Chinese population has minimal or no wine knowledge.

Most attempts to decode China’s wine market focus on socioeconomic factors such as GDP and disposable income, given that “price and label” are still the most predominant purchasing triggers. Yet the evolution from “price and label” to “quality and taste” is happening, accelerated by many factors including thriving wine education institutes and the Chinese government’s anti-corruption movement.

 
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Vineyard View

by Cliff Ohmart
 

Is Enough Money Available for Viticulture Research?  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

Are there enough viticulture and enology research dollars available for the U.S. wine industry to remain competitive in the world market? Most viticulture researchers I speak to say “no.” Having been a researcher myself many years ago, it seems part of human nature to feel there is never enough research money available. That said, let’s try and answer this question objectively by taking a look at what is currently available compared to other important specialty crops.

It is probably best to begin by asking the question: Does research provide a return on investment (ROI)? Dr. Julian Alston, a professor of agriculture and resource economics at the University of California, Davis, has devoted considerable time and effort to this topic. While there haven’t been recent studies devoted to the ROI of viticulture or enology research, Alston says significant work has been done to estimate the ROI of agriculture research in general.

 
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Inquiring Winemaker

by Tim Patterson
 

In Search of Grapevines and Terroir  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

WARNING: This column, normally about winemaking topics, is entirely devoted to grapegrowing. Worse, it makes fun of several long-cherished beliefs about grapes and their contribution to wine. But at least I do quote Glenn McGourty, another writer for this magazine and someone who actually does know a lot about grapes, to help with the demolition.

 
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Marketing Matters

by Dixie Lee Huey
 

Managing Direct Consumer Sales  Access to this article requires a subsciption.

 
 

There have been some particularly hot challenge topics in the industry during the past few years—distributor consolidation, price pressure, brand proliferation and, of course, the economy. These trends and the down part of the economic cycle are real, and in an acute way they necessitate a focus on marketing-driven sales strategies. Wishful thinking, status quo and avoidance do not sell wine. Thankfully, proactive measures do, especially when implemented on a consistent basis, measured and improved for maximum efficacy.

 
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Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
June 2015 $602 million
5%
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June 2014 $571 million $7,676 million
     
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June 2015 $92 million
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