MOG Blog

Did you learn the lessons of the Napa earthquake?
We're starting work on our upcoming July edition that will feature several articles on the use of barrels and oak in winemaking. Several of these reports came out of our third annual oak conference that took place in March in Santa Rosa, Calif. The conference included a session on effective cellar management and one of the panelists was Mike Blom who spoke at length about seismic safety. There wasn't enough room in the magazine for a feature on that session but we did want to report on Blom's unique perspective on the issue. 

Nearly three years since the 2014 South Napa earthquake toppled barrel stacks at several wineries and hit his barrel storage facility particularly hard, Blom says many in the industry don’t seem to have learned from what he and others experienced.


Bucking the $10 and up premiumization trend

In early May, I met up with Marc Mondavi for breakfast in Calistoga. Mondavi is part owner of CK Mondavi and the son of the late Peter Mondavi. He was on a press push because the family’s national brand has undergone a packaging redesign.


Wine in cans, not the next Moscato

Last year the Denver, Colo., based wine company Integrated Beverage Group (IBG) made headlines with its line of Replica wines. The company touts its “cutting edge scientific methodology” to analyze the taste and aroma profiles of popular brands (perhaps gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and tannin/phenolic analysis?) and produce wines that taste similar but cost far less.


Sparkling Tour Wraps in Santa Rosa

The Sparkling Tour of California, a week of winemaking presentations along the length of the state, concluded in Sonoma County at the Shone Farm campus of Santa Rosa Junior College on May 25.


Three Livermore Wineries to Release White Blend
riddle racks

In classic wine industry style, three little wineries in California’s Livermore Valley have joined forces and resources to produce an unusual white wine blend. Winemakers from Page Mill Winery (3,300 cases), 3 Steves Winery (5,300 cases), and 5,000-case Wood Family Vineyards & Winery each contributed some of their 2016 vintage wines to a single, collaborative effort.

After a blending session in mid-April at Page Mill, the final mix is about two-thirds Page Mill’s Pinot Blanc, 15% Viognier from 3 Steves and 15% Chardonnay from Wood Family, according to Dane Stark, owner/winemaker of Page Mill. Stark will do the final processing of the steel-fermented blend to produce roughly 220 cases. The wineries will divide the cases among them and plan to sell them through their respective tasting rooms. The production is so limited, there’s not even enough for the wineries’ wine clubs.

After a public search, the winemakers chose a joint name: Vines Intertwined, with a logo displaying hands joined in friendship. Stark plans to bottle the wine this month, pending COLA approval of the final label. Although the price is not yet settled, it will probably be in the $30 range. “Not our least expensive white,” Stark noted. Alcohol content is 13.8%.

The blending components are not “excess” wines, Stark said. The blend is a natural outcome of the friendships forged during years of weekly lunches. The winemakers believed it would be a fun way to extend and share their creativity. “We’ve had such a good time,” he said.

With the current popularity of red wine blends, it’s refreshing (and timely) for those of us who prefer white wines to have a white wine alternative.

Three days after blending, Stark forwarded a shiner bottle, complete with hand-scrawled label and a screwcap covered with what appeared to be masking tape, to secure the seal. To someone who spends months each year studying wine packages, this one most positively screamed “hand-crafted.” Stark, a screwcap fan who is trying to wean his customers also to prefer that closure, joked that maybe he should use duct-tape on all the bottles.

Even though duct tape is obviously a miracle product suited for many applications, it probably won’t be the final solution in this case. Screwcaps, on the other hand, are definitely the closure this wine demands. Fresh from the shiner sample, it was delightful. A colleague found it crisp. I discovered prominent fruit flavors. First sip revealed pears; second, guava and mango; third, peaches.

With a projected June release, its fresh fruit-forward profile makes it an ideal summer tipple. With the scant case production, supplies probably won’t last long.

To try it, consumers will have to trek to the Livermore Valley and visit one or more of the winery tasting rooms. Thanks to Tami Kelly at the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association for alerting us to this rare blend, a fitting expression of winemaker comradery.