Wine Podcasts a Plenty

Apple released a new version of itunes this week that incorporates Podcasts into the program. Browsing through the categories I stumbled across 8 different podcasts on wine in the food section. Winecast, Grape Radio, Wine Geek, and Screw tops are just a few that I had previously seen or heard. With this addition to Apple’s software, no doubt the folks in Cupertino know that this trend toward Podcasts isn’t going away any time to soon. Time to sit back, listen, and enjoy the Wine Podcasters. (You don’t even need an ipod, just download itunes.

Australia Posts Second Record Year

Australia posted some large numbers today, namely, 1.9 Million Tons of wine produced in 2005. This is an increase over last year by approximately 100,000 tons, or 6%, and was primarily from a boost of white wine production. As this global monolith continues to gain ground in the wine industry, struggling wine nations should be looking to Australia’s example. Great marketing, fair pricing, a varied product line, and fantastic distribution will all continue to aid the rise of this wine power.

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Gene Fords Funeral Held Today

As many come together to recognize Gene Ford today at his Funeral in Seattle Washington, a lot of people don’t realize who he is, but recognize his accomplishments. Gene was a wine writer and educator responsible for publicizing the scientific proven health benefits of wine. His website healthydrinkingscience.com (no longer live) attests to his work. One of his 8 books, The Science of Healthy Drinking , won the international award for best wine literature in 2003 and is available at Amazon for purchase. For the rest on Mr. Fords work, visit the 30 Second Wine Advisor.
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The Science of Healthy Drinking

Franciscan to change name

Constellation Brands announced plans to change the name of it’s Napa conglomerate company Franciscan Estates to Icon Estates, citing a need to change the brand image. After swallowing Robert Mondavi Corp in December, Constellation has been busy making changes to focus the business on it’s new acquisitions fatty parts. Why the name Icon Estates? Because of Simi and To Kalon Vineyards of course, ‘icons’ of California Wine. This move gets a thumb down from me, as I’ve never liked the whole, ‘buy something then change the name’ strategy.

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A Global Revolution

As Screwcap Closures gain in popularity, more and more wineries will adopt them, which in turn means growth for the companies that provide them. Alcan, a global Canadian aluminum company responsible for the Stelvin Closure, announced it’s plans to build a wine packaging plant in Adelaide, Australia to better serve the growing needs of Australia and New Zealand wineries moving to screwcaps. It seems this is becoming a global trend.
I personally enjoy screwcaps, especially for white wine. How many times have you fumbled with a cork to reinsert in a bottle of chilled white wine before placing it back in the cooler? Screwcaps make the task easy.

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United Farm Workers to Boycott Gallo

Beginning tomorrow, the United Farm Workers (UFW) plan on boycotting Gallo until a new contract can be worked out for UFW Gallo of Sonoma employees. The UFW plans on relying heavily on the internet, using email lists from certain political, labor, and environmental groups, as opposed to the old school method of standing in front of local Grocery stores to boycott the wine.

Since last summer, the union has launched e-mail protests against events that featured Gallo wine; solicited letters from national labor leaders; collected thousands of signatures through online petitions; set up an anti-Gallo website designed by cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz; and won a resolution of support from the Los Angeles City Council.

It has become more and more common for wineries to hire seasonal employees by means of a third party Contractor, in turn benefits for these employees come through the Contractor and are limited. The workers at Gallo under the UFW haven’t had a new contract since 2003.

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Napa Impacts California Economy

The report released by MKF Research to the Napa Valley Vintners Association, shows that the Napa county wine industry impacts
the California economy by 9.5 Billion dollars annually and is responsible for over 1/5 of the total economic impact of wine in California. Another interesting stat is that the wine industry provides directly and indirectly for over half the residents in Napa County’s yearly income, with total wages at 1.4 Billion annually. As a result, land values have skyrocketed,

In the last ten years, the value of the winegrape crop in Napa County jumped from $167,682,000 to $379,930,000 – an increase of 127%, while planted vineyard acreage only increased by 19% — or 5,917 acres.

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The Next Burgundy

It’s press releases like this that make you wonder, is California poised to start commanding Burgundy like prices for it’s Pinot Noir? It’s obvious that the movie Sideways has accelerated the sales of this varietal. But the question is, where does it stop. I personally love Pinot Noir. To me, the elegance of the fruit, subtle flavors of the wine, and the refined texture all lend itself to a memorable bottle. But how much will the price go up when something gets popular. $150 a bottle seems a little ridiculous for an “Ultra Premium Napa Valley Pinot Noir”. But time and sales will tell if this price point is sustainable. As for myself? I’ll continue drinking Rhone varietals that I hope don’t gain in popularity anytime to soon, as their price would most likely reflect that.

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Are You Watching?

Robert Parker was remarking on what he thought the trends over the next decade or so would be, and one of the 12 predictions he made was watch out for the California’s Central Coast, which includes Paso Robles. The Chronicle reported today in a small blurb that Tom Lane will be director of winemaking at Bianchi vineyards, a new winery in Paso Robles. Tom was previously at Concannon Vineyard in Livermore before parting ways after it was purchased by The Wine Group. Tom’s vision and style will be a great asset to Bianchi, as I am sure he will move the winery in the right direction.
The question is, are you watching?

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Wine Blog Wednesday #10 – White Pinot

Black Mountain Fat CatWine: Black Mountain
2004 Pinot Grigio
“Harlow Heights”
Price: $4.99 U.S.
Notes: A great wine for the price, light yellow color with aromas of pear and apple, a crisp taste on the palate of lemon grass and apple, good body and balance, and a surprisingly long finish with hints of toasty oak.
89pts – JM

This being my first Wine Blog Wednesday, I was a little excited to post my review. After hearing that the theme was going to be White Pinot, I immediately thought a Pinot Grigio would be great, based on availability and price. I headed home, grabbed my wife and told her we needed to plan a meal around this wine. We hit Trader Joe’s that night grabbed the bottle and a couple Niman Ranch Pork Chops. We got our marinade ready, which included apple juice, soy sauce, mustard, (and some other ingredients I don’t remember), and we were set up to grill the following night. The pairing was fantastic, the Apple flavor of the Pork lent itself well to the Pinot Grigio. I was surprised at the after taste of the wine, as it lasted close to a minute, and all from a bottle under $5! I came to work the next day to report my findings, only to look again at the WBW announcement to find I was about two weeks early. Whoops! Guess I need to read a bit more carefully.

This is a great Pinot Grigio, however, I believe it is only available at Trader Joe’s. That being said, looks like I had my second Wine Blog Wednesday Mishap. I am not opposed to shipping out two bottles of this wine to any that are interested and don’t have a Trader Joe’s close by. Email me if you are interested.