January 2018 Issue of Wines & Vines

Practical Ways to Improve Wine Production in 2018

by Jim Gordon

The typical theme for a January issue would be something like our cover headline last January: “Equipped for the Future.” As our team put together this issue, which will be distributed before and during the wine industry’s biggest North American trade show and conference, the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium set for Jan. 23-25, we were using a working headline of “Tools for Tomorrow.” However, after staring at that one for a few weeks it began to look too much like a 1950s-newsreel title that would have run over a big-band soundtrack and grainy black-and-white video of jerky robots and computers the size of whole rooms. Plus, on reviewing several of the key articles in this issue, they are really not so futuristic, but instead over realistic, practical solutions for winemakers and grape growers now. Hence the final cover headline, “Tools for Today.”

Probably the best example of this theme is the thorough review of lab analysis equipment for small to medium-size wineries researched and written by Richard Carey, Ph.D.: “Putting Modern Lab Equipment to the Test.” Carey is a long-time winemaker and winemaking consultant who loves using technology to make better wines. Learn all that these counter-top machines can do today in terms of testing must and wine in a matter of seconds in your own lab. 

Two Technical Spotlight articles reveal how wineries in the Carneros district of California and the Walla Walla Valley of Washington are utilizing the latest technology to make high-quality wine more simply and efficiently. The new Carneros winery is Hyde Estate, owned by the family renowned for its vineyard-designate-quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and other varieties. Senior editor Andrew Adams wrote the report. Contributor L. M. Archer wrote the second Technical Spotlight, which focuses on a refurbished Walla Walla winery, The Walls.

Other “Tools for Today” include two reports on what happened in 2017 that will give you a better idea of what to expect in the wine industry in 2018. First, Adams surveyed growers and winemakers around the country to compile the Vintage Report 2017, which covers how the growing season progressed and how well the harvest turned out in 24 regions of North America. Second, Cody Jennings of mergers-and-acquisitions firm Zepponi & Co. projects what types of major transactions are likely today based on his wrap-up of M&A activity in 2017. It’s not a “spoiler” to reveal that premiumization will continue to be a key driver.

In a similar vein, the results of the annual Wine Executive Survey by Sonoma State University reflect what owners and CEOs at wineries and allied businesses were thinking about in 2017 and are now addressing in 2018.

Those are just a few highlights of the extra-large amount of editorial content in this massive 164-page issue. If you want to discuss any of these themes with members of the Wines & Vines team in person, you are more than welcome to visit us Jan. 23-25 during the Unified Symposium at the Sacramento Convention Center. We will be in booths 428, 430 and 441. Best wishes for the rest of 2018!

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