Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
 

Editor's Letter

 

Where Has All the Mustard Gone?

February 2014
 
by Jim Gordon
 
 
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.

Wild mustard should be blooming in the vineyards, but the only places I have seen it are a few spots around drainage ditches. Mustard and other cover crops would normally be about a foot high between the rows, and the hills would be alive with green wild grasses.

Brown is all we have to look at, however, unless you count the few thin lines of oats and other cover crops that sprouted after light fall rains and then stopped growing. I have never seen it this dry in January since I first moved to Napa Valley in 1979.

How long can it last?
The blue skies and warm daytime temperatures reaching the 70°s return day after day. Each time I look at the National Weather Service’s seven-day forecast it is the same thing: Nighttime lows around 30° F, sunny and clear all day.

The weather is fantastic for outdoor activities, but it’s also eerie. How long can this last? I hope that by writing this in January, it might prompt the rain to make a liar out of me by pouring down before you read this issue in early February.

Concerned grapegrowers will find one excellent water-related article in this issue and should expect more in March, whether or not the rains come. See page 60 in the Practical Winery & Vineyard section for a technical article about “surface-renewal measurements of actual evapotranspiration.”

This piece by Tom Shapland describes a new, less-expensive method of measuring actual water loss from vines, cover vegetation and the soil developed at the University of California, Davis, and commercialized by Tule Technologies.

Seeing the forest and the trees
Journalists who cover wine are used to tromping around in vineyards, but they don’t often explore forests. That’s what staff writer Andrew Adams got to do as part of his research for the barrel report. Adams went to Missouri last fall to see the indigenous hardwood forests that provide white oak for wine barrels. He dodged falling trees in the forest, screaming saws in the mills and flying sparks in the cooperages.

He wrote one good report on the economic and qualitative factors involved in producing fine wine barrels from American oak and a second one about choices that winemakers face when buying oak barrels of any type. Barrel buyers are increasingly focused on consistency as their most desired trait in barrels, he concluded.

Up to speed on red blotch
Beyond drought, the most talked-about issue among viticulturists right now may be red blotch disease in grapevines. Senior correspondent Paul Franson set out to report a story on the supply and demand for nursery stock due to a resurgence in planting, but he soon discovered that the real story was red blotch.

His article describes how the new demand for vines free of the grapevine red blotch-associated virus has created at least a temporary hiccup in the supply of some varieties and scion-rootstock combinations. A shortage of certified clean plants for grafting has prompted some growers to change their game plans. They may plant rootstocks instead of grafted vines, then hope for more certified scion wood to field-graft later. They may choose their own field selections to use for propagation, which makes the scientific and extension community worried.

Franson’s report is highly recommended reading to bring yourself up to speed on the disease, its effects and methods of spreading.

Hybrids to the rescue
While Western grapegrowers worried about water, Eastern and Midwestern vineyard owners anxiously checked their vines after a severe advective freeze hit their regions. Those with Vitis vinifera acreage were rightfully concerned about loss of buds and wood in the below-zero temperatures. Those with native labrusca vines were not concerned, however, nor were most of those with hybrid vines. 

Authors G. Stanley Howell and Paolo Sabbatini explain why hybrids are practical for so many growers around the Great Lakes and central states in the second half of their exhaustive two-part series. They put in perspective the contributions of the French-American crosses that have made wine-grape growing feasible in mid-America.

Here’s hoping that normal rains and moderate temperatures return to North American vineyards soon.

 
SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
 
SEE OTHER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN ï¿½ 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 2015 $622 million
7%
$7,995 million
5%
March 2014 $582 million $7,588 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
March 2015 $252 million
19%
$1,863 million
14%
March 2014 $213 million $1,634 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
March 2015 356
22%
243
16%
March 2014 292 210
     
 
MORE » Released on 04.15.2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2015
 
Download full report »
 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • April 25
     
    Vineyard Mechanization Workshop
     
  • April 25-26
     
    Vineyard to Vintner in Stags Leap
     
  • April 25-27
     
    World Wine Meetings America
     
  • April 26
     
    TAPAS Grand Tasting
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Bedroom Communities Seek Vineyard AVA »
 
Why not just bottle under a vineyard designation? The bond will have a city or...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Is Organic Grape Growing Possible in the East? »
 
FWIW, We make a few wines from a certified Organic vineyard growing cabernet franc, merlot,...
Reader: southoldfc
 
Article: Specialty Tanks Encourage Oak Extraction »
 
According to the manufacturer, the logs are made through compression and not with a binding...
Reader: Andrew Adams
 
Article: Specialty Tanks Encourage Oak Extraction »
 
What is the bonding agent of the Pressed Oak Logs?
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Is Organic Grape Growing Possible in the East? »
 
Some Long Island, NY, vineyard farmers are already using nearly organic methods. They have worked...
Reader: envcat
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2015 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
 Dtc Sales/Marketing Co...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Tasting Room Assistant
 Woodinville, WA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Scheduler / Planner
 Sebastopol, CA
Cellar, Lab and Production
 Fine Art & Design Cons...
 Napa, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Tasting Room Specialis...
 Glen Ellen, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Midwest Regional Manag...
 Chicago, IL
Sales and Marketing
 Senior Accountant
 Saint Helena, CA
Finance
 Assistant Winemaker
 Richland, WA
Cellar, Lab and Production
 Staff Accountant
 Saint Helena, CA
Finance
 Wine Educator
 Healdsburg, 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 © 2001-2015 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.