Sheldon Haynie
January 26, 2012 | Other stuff | Sheldon Haynie


We've just returned from the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium at the Sacremento Convention Center. As with many conferences, its a mix of technical sessions, vendor visits, networking and even some good times. We enjoyed ourselves, and took in quite a bit. 

Technical Sessions:

The main theme was winemaking under challenging conditions; from the vineyard to the cellar, and even to the retail channel. Speakers from New York, Oregon and Washington addressed the issues of rain at harvest, and how to deal with resulting fruit that may not be as pristine as you would prefer, and yet still make great wines. 

The message was simple, plan, react and "cover your ground", get the appropriate spraying, leaf stripping and thinning done while it matters, and then harvest your best fruit first. We were fortunate that our Chardonnay and Pinot growers the Thomson Vineyards of Carneros were keeping an eye on the forecast and were proactive for last years early rains at the end of a cool season.  Jennifer relates in their blog how she was running all over Napa and Sonoma seeking chemicals and field crews and they got the leaves off the Chardonnay and sprayed early before the rain hit, so we saw only a very small amount of Boytritis, which we were able to sort out at the winery. 

In our Santa Clara Valley  Merlot program, the Mazotti Vineyards were faced withcustomers who didn't want the fruit as the Brix was only 22 degrees. We were happy to get the really clean, ripe grapes, and they subsequently asked us to take the rest of the crop before the birds got it, so we now have a few more barrels of their great Merlot, some with Zinfandel and the rest as a pure varietal aging for 2013 release. 

Trade Show Highlights:

While the 20,000 lb 20' tall grape harvesters are always fun to look at, we spent our time talking to more mundane vendors. We're sourcing glass, corks, foils and labels for our upcoming April bottling, and looking at the farming tools that will allow us to better "cover our ground" now that it's expanded to 13.5 acres under management. There are always new "magic" implements to look at and decisions to make on what is worth the investment. We stopped by the booths of several of our current vendors, and got information on their updates, and were pleased that there is an organic fertilizer company who has a warehouse just established about a mile away. There were some interesting developments in trellis hardware that should allow us to retrofit catch wires to the bigger vineyards at modest effort and expense and we got the usual "bags of swag" from all of the booths, it's fun  to go to Safeway with a mix of wine industry bags to carry out. 


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