Managing water in California vineyards

Managing water in California vineyards

The 67th annual meeting of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) highlighted the excellent progress that has been made in vineyard irrigation management since the 1980s, and it hinted at exciting new developments yet to be fully realised. The symposium was recently held in Monterey, CA. Monterey County, like most of California, remains under severe to exceptional drought conditions, so it was fitting that the meeting began with a symposium on water management.

Matamata farm boy heads to Italy on viticulture mission

Ben Richards will be buffing up his schoolboy Italian as he packs his bags for a Romeo Bragato exchange scholarship trip early next year. The former Matamata man, who is a double degree student at EIT in Hawke’s Bay, has travelled to Australia and the US before but never to Europe. So the 21-year-old is very much looking forward to his month in Italy, where he will visit wineries, vineyards and the Scuola di Viticoltura e di Enologica di Conegliano in the country’s northeast.

Bumper harvest helped Foley Family Wines quadruple full-year profit

Foley Family Wines, which operates brands including Vavasour and Martinborough Vineyard has more than quadrupled full-year profit to $6.5 million after a bumper harvest. The NZAX-listed company controlled by American billionaire Bill Foley lifted sales to the UK and Europe by 48 per cent to 71,000 cases. Sales in New Zealand fell by 14 per cent to 101,000 cases, a performance it described as “disappointing”. Sales in Australia were flat, while North American sales rose 15 per cent to 131,000 cases.

Robert Stein Wines turns 40

In 1976… Lindemans was peddling Ben Ean Moselle by the truckload, in amongst Cold Duck and Porphyry Pearl. Penfolds released their 25th vintage of Grange (the first ‘to cross the $20 barrier at release’), Orlando released Jacobs Creek and Petaluma was opened in the Adelaide Hills. In the same year Robert ‘Bob’ Stein, a young Sydney builder come businessman and keen fly fisher was turning his attention to the winegrowing region of Mudgee.

Innovations to drive vineyard production

Innovative approaches to vineyard management will feature at a free National Wine and Grape Industry Centre vine health workshop in Murrumbateman on Wednesday September 14. Darren Fahey, NSW Department of Primary Industries viticultural development officer, said local vignerons will gain insights into the latest technology available to keep their vineyards productive and business on track.

Winegrape growers vote

Winegrape growers in the Murray-Darling and Swan Hill regions have two weeks in which to vote for the grower-managed committee that oversees the collection and spending of statutory levies. The vote has implications for the future of Murray Valley Winegrowers (MVW).

Rosnay Organics at Canowindra uses organic farming principles to produce wine, figs and olives

For the Statham family, organic­ farming is more than just not using chemicals. It’s a philosophy that takes into account the soil, weeds, pests and disease and sustainability. And it is these prin­ciples of organics and sustainable living that have helped owner Sam Statham win Australia’s Organic Wine of the Year this year with his first personally made wine.

Making sense of the myriad new grape varieties

They’re certainly creating plenty of buzz in bars and beyond, but Philip White ponders how curious winefolk can face the mess of new varieties that end in O, among others. South Australia has about 9000ha of Chardonnay. Next come Riesling and Sauvignon blanc, at about 2500ha each. These figures are from Wine Australia’s 2016 Winegrape Crush Survey.
Shiraz leads the reds at 26,500ha, followed by Cabernet sauvignon at 17,000ha and Merlot at 4000ha.
Grenache, the current hotgoss sizzler, is fourth, at a meagre 1700 ha. I’m being parochial here, keeping this discussion local. Even this a bit too general.

Are celebrity winemakers destroying an ancient art?

“California Celebrity Vineyards” raises intriguing questions about how we vino buffs should relate to celebrity-tagged wines. Are any of them actually really good? Do they deliver value for the dollar? How involved with the winemaking should we expect celebrities to be? (Quick answer: Mostly, not very!) If you’re inclined to give the back of your hand to the whole business of celebrity wine, you’ll probably agree with veteran California winemaker Stuart Smith, who says, “my first thought is that celebrities getting into wine is God’s way of telling them that they have too much money”.

Central Otago winery nails Decanter tasting in UK

Central Otago winegrowers Roger and Jean Gibson are elated that a wine from their Lowburn Ferry vineyard has ranked Number One in high profile Decanter magazine in the UK. The in-depth tasting of more than 170 Pinot Noirs from across New Zealand in Decanter’s September 2016 issue was carried out by a panel of three prominent UK industry wine judges. Lowburn Ferry Home Block Pinot Noir 2014 scored 96 points out of a possible 100, giving it ‘outstanding’ status in the tasting.
In the covering feature article reviewing the tasting, New Zealand is described as being “the best Pinot-producing country outside of France”.

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