Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Oregon Organic Pioneer Alison Sokol Blosser Wins Leadership Award

Alison Sokol Blosser, Co-President and CEO of Sokol Blosser Winery, wins the Outstanding Industry Leadership Award at Oregon Wine Symposium.

Wine Business News

Lindquist's Long Goodbye to Qupé

Source: Wine Searcher 

Less than four months ago, Vintage Wine Estates bought Qupé, one of the best producers of Rhône-style wines in California.

At the time, Vintage CEO Pat Roney told Wine-Searcher about Qupé founder and winemaker Bob Lindquist: "He's got a pretty good lineup of wines. For the forseeable future we anticipate to continue doing what they've been doing."

Corporate America can only see the future as far as the next quarter. Lindquist was unceremoniously ousted by Vintage earlier this month from the winery he founded.

"Losing Qupe is like losing one of your children," Lindquist told Wine-Searcher. "It's something I developed from scratch. Coming up with the name, coming up with the logo. Coming up with everything. It's not an easy thing to walk away from."

Because of an odd purchase agreement, Lindquist will still be selling Qupé wine for some time. Vintage bought the brand and the current release wines, but not the library (or the winery: see below). Lindquist maintains a substantial wine library that he will now sell to restaurant customers, and perhaps through a tasting room.

Continue reading on Wine Searcher

Carlton McCoy Jr., MS, Named President & CEO, Heitz Cellar

St. Helena, Napa Valley, CA, Feb. 19, 2019—Heitz Cellar is pleased to announce that Carlton McCoy, Jr., MS has been appointed President & CEO.

“We’re very excited to welcome Carlton to our team,” said Gaylon Lawrence, Jr., owner of Heitz Cellar. “His reputation throughout the wine industry as one of the most recognized Master Sommeliers will certainly add to the rich history of Heitz Cellar. The quality and integrity our brand possesses are benchmarks that both Napa Valley and our customers have come to expect; Carlton will make an immediate impact building on that tradition.”

“It’s a great honor to be steward of such an iconic, historical brand, known around the world,” McCoy said. McCoy comes to Heitz Cellar from The Little Nell in Aspen, CO, where he joined the team in 2010. Earning his Master Sommelier title in 2013 at the young age of 28, McCoy was promoted to Wine Director in 2013, overseeing a staff of 150 and The Little Nell’s acclaimed 20,000-bottle wine cellar.

A high school culinary arts program led McCoy to a full scholarship at the Culinary Institute of America, where he discovered that wine and service were his true passion. Prior to joining The Little Nell, McCoy honed his skills in revered institutions including Thomas Keller’s Per Se, Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit, Tom Colicchio’s Craft Steak in New York and Eric Zeibold’s CityZen at The Mandarin Oriental in Washington, DC.

To McCoy, Heitz Cellar represents a very particular style of Napa wines: ones that speak to an earlier era in California winemaking. His vision will highlight the winery’s consistent focus on remaining true to its elegant, pure style. “There has to be reverence when it comes to these older brands that create the greatest wines in the country,” he states. “It is fortunate that the Heitz family believed in that style and didn’t change it over the years. It makes the wines the unique experience that they are.”

As a Master Sommelier, McCoy is well versed in the fine wines of the world and is also keenly attuned to recognizing the icons closer to home. “As Americans, we have to look at wines like Heitz as national treasures,” he says. “We go all over the world looking for other wines when we have this incredible legacy right here at home.”

About Heitz Cellar: Founded in 1961, Heitz Cellar is a Napa Valley legend that has helped shape the history of Napa Valley winemaking. Pioneering vintner Joe Heitz ushered in Napa’s modern era with his iconic, globally-celebrated wines, including Napa Valley’s first vineyard-designated Cabernet Sauvignon, the renowned Heitz Cellar Martha’s Vineyard. In 2018, the winery entered an exciting new chapter as the Heitz family passed this rich legacy into the hands of the Lawrence family, whose deep roots in agriculture and commitment to the same core values of fine winemaking made it a perfect match. Made with an unwavering commitment to quality from organically farmed, 100% Napa Valley fruit, Heitz celebrates its agrarian roots and commitment to the stewardship of Napa Valley.

Region: Napa & Sonoma
Job Function: President/Owner/GM

Friday, February 15, 2019

Weedkiller raises risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41%

Source: The Guardian

Study says evidence ‘supports link’ between exposure to glyphosate and increased risk

A broad new scientific analysis of the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate herbicides, the most widely used weedkilling products in the world, has found that people with high exposures to the popular pesticides have a 41% increased risk of developing a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The evidence “supports a compelling link” between exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides and increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), the authors concluded, though they said the specific numerical risk estimates should be interpreted with caution.

The findings by five US scientists contradict the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) assurances of safety over the weed killer and come as regulators in several countries consider limiting the use of glyphosate-based products in farming.

Monsanto and its German owner Bayer AG face more than 9,000 lawsuits in the US brought by people suffering from NHL who blame Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides for their diseases. The first plaintiff to go to trial won a unanimous jury verdict against Monsanto in August, a verdict the company is appealing. The next trial, involving a separate plaintiff, is set to begin on 25 February , and several more trials are set for this year and into 2020.

• Read the rest of the article at The Guardian

French Organic Wine Study Targets U.S. For Growth

Torsten Hartmann, the IWSR: “The United States is a country in growth mode where consumers are willing to accept price increases” - 

Source: Vitisphere

Torsten Hartmann, the IWSR: “The United States is a country in growth mode where consumers are willing to accept price increases” -

The still wine market is expected to grow by a marginal 0.5% over the next 5 years, according to the IWSR, but organic wines will not be affected by sluggish sales. World wine consumption could increase from 56.3 million cases consumed in 2017 to 87.5 million cases in 2022 – when the still wine market is expected to reach 2,426 million cases. This is the IWSR’s forecast in its study carried out for Sudvinbio on the five-year change in organic wine consumption. Four countries currently account for 66% of world consumption in volume terms - Germany, France, Sweden and Great Britain - but which ones offer the best chances in the future?

A 14.5% increase in the USA

The United States appears to be the most promising market in the future, with a consumption growth rate of 14.3% to 8.7 million cases.

Overall revenue from organic wines could increase to €8.7 billion in 2022, according to the IWSR. “It is a growing market for still wines with consumers always willing to accept to pay more”, said Torsten Hartmann at a conference held on 29 January at Millésime Bio.

He commented that consumers of organic wines are mainly Millennials and women and live primarily in cities. “Major cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and New York should therefore be targeted”, said Hartmann.

The organic wine market is still marginal in the US, with 4.5 million cases consumed in 2017. It is cornered by American wines, which supply 72% of the market, compared to 12% for Italian wines and 6% for French wines. “While American wines will drive consumer growth, there are many opportunities for foreign wines”, said Hartmann.

Pesticides and Herbicides "Not Acceptable," Says New Zealand Organic Vintner Jonathan Hamlet at International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration in Marlborough

Source: The Drinks Business

Speaking at the second International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration in Marlborough, New Zealand, last month, Hamlet told attendees:

“The way we grow grapes today will not be acceptable in the future. We need to respect the land, learn to adapt, and stop using pesticides and herbicides. We live in a world of conscious, value driven consumers who want products that reflect their values. We need to listen to them as they hold the power.”

In order to produce quality fruit with great resilient, Hamlet stressed the need for winemakers in New Zealand to look after their land.


"Organics is profoundly simple – it’s growing without synthetic products. It can be expensive initially but is worth it in the long run,” he said.

There are currently 1,715 hectares of certified organic vineyards in New Zealand, accounting for 4.5% of total vineyard area.

Central Otago leads the way in organic viticulture with 16% of vineyards in the region certified organic. New Zealand exports NZ$46m of organic wine a year.

Read more at The Drinks Business

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Bob Lindquist Out at Qupe. Starts New Label - Lindquist Family Vineyard

From Qupé:

Dear Friends and Wine Club Members,

It is with heavy hearts that we announce Bob is no longer a partner in or the winemaker for Qupé Wine Cellars.

The winery brand and current inventory was sold in November to Vintage Wine Estates (VWE). We had hoped that Bob would continue to be involved in the winemaking, but sadly this is not the case. Starting with the 2018 vintage (which Bob began) the wines will be finished by the VWE corporate wine making team.

With every door that closes another opens. We are pleased to announce that Bob is launching a new Lindquist Family Wines label, going back to Bob’s roots and focusing on cool climate Rhone varietals and Chardonnay from organic and biodynamic vineyards. The label features a linden tree on it.  The name Lindquist is Swedish, and literally translates into linden or lime twig.

The linden tree, with its heart shaped leaves and fragrant flowers has long been valued for it’s healing properties and is considered sacred in some cultures. Indeed, every part of the linden tree has medicinal and healing properties.

We are happy to let you know we will be continuing with our wine club now known as the: “Lindquist Family & Verdad Wine Club”, and will have selections from Lindquist Family Wines, Verdad Wine Cellars and Sawyer Lindquist Wines. Our first shipment will be available for pick up the first week of March.

We have made some slight variations and the club will offer a three, six and twelve-bottle club. For our continuing club members in the four-bottle club you will now be a three-bottle member with the same tasting room privileges as before. As a valued club member; from time to time, you may see a Qupé library wine in the club shipment and hope to continue to offer a selection of Qupé wines in the tasting room.

Louisa and I are fully committed to continue producing delicious and balanced wines using traditional wine making techniques with minimal intervention. Our focus; as always, is to source fruit from some of the greatest vineyards on the Central Coast that farm Biodynamic, Organic and SIPS Certified Sustainable.

If you are interested in joining us on this new adventure and new wine club please reply to Treeva Silva, who will be managing the club at:


Bob & Louisa Lindquist

Editor's Note: The good news is that Bob and Louisa will keep the lease on their estate vineyard - the incredible Sawyer-Lindquist vineyard in Edna Valley.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Taste Mendocino: "Great Wines. Happy Times"

Press Release

February 11, 2019

Join us for a journey through Mendocino’s diverse showcase of fine wines, artisanal foods, enchanting destinations, and unique experiences. Enjoy top-shelf wines, specialty small-batch spirits, ciders, and delicious bites in an intimate setting. “Taste Mendocino” is also a gourmet marketplace where you can purchase items from wineries, specialty food and beverage purveyors, and distilleries.

Take a deep dive into our epic Pinot Noirs, robust reds, crisp whites, and bring-it-on bubbles. Pack home a cache of collectibles at this intimate celebration of the people and products that define the Mendocino difference. Trade and Media session from 11:30am to 1pm, Consumer session 1pm to 4pm, Saturday, April 27 at Fort Mason Center, Gallery 308, San Francisco.

More than 30 Mendocino County wineries will be on hand, joining the region's top chefs and artisanal food producers serving up delicious samples of the county's legendary agricultural bounty. Browse the outdoor mercantile for fresh fish, cheeses, vegetable starts, woolen products, and more.

Hosted by Mendocino Winegrowers, Inc. and Visit Mendocino County, this fun and friendly gourmet marketplace showcases the people and products that make Mendocino County such a special place to visit and to live.

Consumer tickets are $60 per person and available online at

A limited number of trade and media passes will be available. Please contact to request a pass.

Note: About 25% of Mendocino's growers are organic, so expect a number of organically grown wines at this event.

Massive insect decline could have 'catastrophic' environmental impact, study says

Insect populations are declining precipitously worldwide due to pesticide use and other factors, with a potentially "catastrophic" effect on the planet, a study has warned.

Source: CNN

More than 40% of insect species could become extinct in the next few decades, according to the "Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers" report, published in the journal Biological Conservation.

Insect biomass is declining by a staggering 2.5% a year, a rate that indicates widespread extinctions within a century, the report found.

In addition to the 40% at risk of dying out, a third of species are endangered -- numbers that could cause the collapse of the planet's ecosystems with a devastating impact on life on Earth.

The report, co-authored by scientists from the universities of Sydney and Queensland and the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences, looked at dozens of existing reports on insect decline published over the past three decades, and examined the reasons behind the falling numbers to produce the alarming global picture.

Its lead author, Francisco Sanchez-Bayo, of the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney, called the study the first truly global examination of the issue.
While the focus in the past has been on the decline in vertebrate animal biodiversity, this study stressed the importance of insect life on interconnected ecosystems and the food chain. Bugs make up around 70% of all animal species.

'Catastrophic consequences' to nature from insect decline 03:42
The repercussions of insect extinction would be "catastrophic to say the least," according to the report, as insects have been at "the structural and functional base of many of the world's ecosystems since their rise ... almost 400 million years ago."
Key causes of the decline included "habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture and urbanization," pollution, particularly from pesticides and fertilizers, as well as biological factors, such as "pathogens and introduced species" and climate change.
While large numbers of specialist insects, which fill a specific ecological niche, and general insects were declining, a small group of adaptable insects were seeing their numbers rise -- but nowhere near enough to arrest the decline, the report found.
Small creatures that run the world
Don Sands, an entomologist and retired Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization scientist, said he agreed "entirely" that the "bottom-up" effects of insect loss were serious.
"If we don't have insects as moderators of other pest populations, we have insect populations that flare up and ruin crops and make them difficult to grow," he said.
He added that the ecosystem at this level has "to be in balance. That's the bottom layer and unless we address it all our lives could be impacted immeasurably.
"(Insects are) the small creatures that run the world," he said.
Reports of insect decline are not new: researchers have been warning of the phenomenon and its impact for years.
Last year, one study found that flying insect populations in German nature reserves declined by more than 75% over the duration of a 27-year study, meaning that the die-off is happening even beyond areas affected by human activity.
"These are not agricultural areas, these are locations meant to preserve biodiversity, but still we see the insects slipping out of our hands," said that report's co-author, Caspar Hallman.
A tractor sprays pesticide onto a field of potato plants near Aschersleben, Germany, in August 2017.
A tractor sprays pesticide onto a field of potato plants near Aschersleben, Germany, in August 2017.
Birds eating birds
Species that rely on insects as their food source -- and the predators higher up the food chain which eat those species -- were likely to suffer from these declines, according to the scientists. The pollination of both crops and wild plants would also be affected, along with nutrient cycling in the soil.
Indeed, "ecosystem services provided by wild insects have been estimated at $57 billion annually in the USA," according to an earlier study.
Some 80% of wild plants use insects for pollination while 60% of birds rely on insects as a food source, according to the study. Sands said an immediate danger of the insect decline was the loss of insectivorous birds, and the risk of larger birds turning from eating insects to eating each other.
In his native Australia, "birds that are running out of insect food are turning on each other," he said, adding that this is likely a global phenomenon.
Radical action needed
The report's authors called for radical and immediate action.
"Because insects constitute the world's most abundant and (species-diverse) animal group and provide critical services within ecosystems, such events cannot be ignored and should prompt decisive action to avert a catastrophic collapse of nature's ecosystems," they wrote.
They suggested overhauling existing agricultural methods, "in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices."
"The conclusion is clear: unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades," they concluded.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

VinItaly and Veronafiere's Organic and Biodynamic Competition "Wine Without Walls" Offers New Trophies

Robert Kershaw MW is the panel chair for Wines without Walls
The 2019 edition of Wine Without Walls... will be held in Verona on April 3rd 2019 featuring natural, organic, and biodynamic wines from all over the world. Overseeing it are biodynamic wine writer Monty Waldin (also General Chairman of 5StarWines) and the coordination of Master of Wine Richard Kershaw, the new Wine Without Walls Panel Chairman.

5StarWines book features a dedicated Wine Without Walls section

In 2016, Veronafiere and Vinitaly established the Wine Without Walls section of the international tasting 5StarWines, to promote and give recognition to producers whose work focuses entirely on natural, organic and biodynamic, and low sulfite wines.

The Wine Without Walls selection takes place in Verona, Italy, contemporaneously to the 5StarWines blind tasting organized from April 3rd to 5th 2019 right before the world’s most renowned Italian wine fair, Vinitaly. The third edition of Wine Without Walls this year will introduce a revised assessment method and two brand new trophies, both features aiming at giving added value to wineries enrolling in the selection...

Wine Without Walls 2019 will showcase the natural, biodynamic, and low sulfite wines coming from every corner of the world. These wines will be tasted by high-profile international judges that will evaluate them following an improved assessment method.

Wine Without Walls will open its doors to companies producing wines with sulfite levels below 80 mg/lt. By doing that, the organizers are aiming at making the event more accessible and appealing to a larger number of producers.

Monty Waldin, General Chairman of 5StarWines and Scientific Director of Wine Without Walls commented on the new sulfites limit.

“This year, we decided to raise slightly the permitted limit of total sulfites for the entries. Our rationale behind this change was to make Wine Without Walls slightly more inclusive but without going so far as to include in the tasting absolutely every single organic, natural or Biodynamic wine ever made....Our wish is that Wine Without Walls remains inclusive, credible, rigorous, and transparent, whilst also recognising that this field of winemaking is as dynamic, challenging, rewarding and chameleon-like as the wines themselves.”

Another fundamental revamp of the selection will be the numerical score that individual natural wines will be awarded. From now on, the dedicated Wine Without Walls jury will rate biodynamic and organic wines using the same numerical assessment method used for the 5StarWines grand tasting.

The panel of judges will assign scores to each wine presented, and the elements subject to examination include the visual, olfactory, and gustatory components of the wine. Thereafter, an average score will be tallied; this final score will be out of 100.

Wines scoring 90 points out of 100 will be included in the 5StarWines – the Book guide, a promotional tool designed to help wineries gain recognition and increased market share. The improved numerical centesimal assessment makes the final score more tangible and immediate to grasp to an international public and is designed to better help wineries in the promotion of their products.

The selection process will also be enhanced by the assignment of various Wine Without Walls trophies. For the first time, along with a final score and a personalized commendation within the 5StarWines – the Book, participants will also run for the “Best Winery” and “Best Wine Without Walls Wine” trophies.

The “Best Wine Without Walls Winery” trophy will be awarded to the producer who gets the best averaged out results. The final results are those that wineries obtain averaging the scores from at least 3 of their wines that procured awards in at least 2 different categories.

The trophy for the “Best Wine Without Walls Wine”, however, will be instead assigned to the wine that scored the highest score during the Wine Without Walls selection.

Confirmed Wine Without Walls judges this year include: Gill Gordon Smith (Vinitaly International Academy Italian Wine Expert and CEO at Fall from Grace), Regine Lee (Head of Customer Support at Liberty Wines), and Richard Barnes (Founder and Editor at Grape Collective). During the last edition, 24 organic and biodynamic wines made it through the final selection.
Richard Kershaw (center) MW, the 2019 Panel Chairman, Wine Without Wall

At the end of the event, the panel agreed that the wines far exceeded their expectations in terms of quality, complexity, and, most importantly, value. With a combination of old and new strategies, Veronafiere and Vinitaly wishes to see the number and the quality of participants grow exponentially.

To apply, click here.

About: The grand Vinitaly 2019 will be held from April 7th to the 10th. Every year, Vinitaly counts more than 4,000 exhibitors on a 100,000+ square meter area and 130,000 visitors from over 140 different countries with more than 30,000 top international buyers. The premier event to Vinitaly, OperaWine “Finest Italian Wines: 100 Great Producers,” which will be held on the 6th of April, one day prior to Vinitaly will unite international wine professionals in the heart of Verona, offering them the unique opportunity to discover and taste the wines of the 100 Best Italian Producers, as selected by Wine Spectator. Since 1998 Vinitaly International travels to several countries such as Russia, China, USA and Hong Kong thanks to its strategic arm abroad, Vinitaly International. In February 2014 Vinitaly International launched an educational project, the Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) with the aim of divulging and broadcasting the excellence and diversity of Italian wine around the globe. VIA this year launched the seventh edition of its Certification Course and today counts 157 Italian Wine Ambassadors and 13 Italian Wine Experts.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Real Wine Fair Grows 30% to 160 Producers

The Real Wine Fair is set to represent around a third more countries when it returns to London for its sixth year in May, as interest in natural, low-intervention, organic, and biodynamic wines grows.

Source: The Drinks Business

Around 170 artisan and small producers from 23 different countries will represent the sector in London this year – an increase of around a third on 2017’s  show, when 160 producers from 15 countries took part. The 2019 show will include a number of UK producers for the first time, along with producers from Greece, Poland, Slovakia and Serbia.

Organiser Doug Wregg of natural and artisan wine importer Les Caves de Pyrene said there will be around 50 new producers at the 2019 show, including producers from Georgia, Croatia, USA and Australia. Meanwhile France and Italy would remain a strong focus for the show, with growers from 14 different regions of Italy, from Sicily to Piedmont, while Central Europe was also very well represented.

Running alongside the show is Real Wine Month, a month-long celebration throughout May, in which more than 300 bars, bistros, restaurants, and independent retailers and wholesalers across the UK and Ireland will embrace low-intervention, organic, biodynamic and natural wines and promote them to their customers, serving them by the glass or offering discounts on bottles. During the 2017 campaign, there were around 50 additional events, ranging from tastings, wine dinners, masterclasses and grower takeovers alongside the campaign.

Wregg said that although hard data on the increasing popularity of real wine and stats of producer numbers was hard to gather, there was plenty of anecdotal evidence to demonstrate the proliferation of natural wine bars since 2010.

“Virtually, every enquiry we receive is from new customers who are setting up on- or off-trade businesses specialising in organic, biodynamic, low intervention or natural wines,” he told db.

“You see the wines on restaurant lists throughout the land, but the proliferation of natural wine bars since 2010 illustrates the dynamic. Plus there is a new generation of sommeliers and retail buyers.”

Wregg added that contrary to the perception that natural wines did not age well, lees-aged and oxidative whites, or wines with higher acidity, amber/skin contact, and traditionally-made low sulphur reds had the wherewithal to “age beautifully”.

“A lot of these wines are held for years before release,” he said, although he recognised the “subset” of juicy, carbonic drink-me reds that were good to drink sooner than later,

“One thing that the last 10-15 years of drinking has proved is that the wines are a lot less fragile than people might think. And if I look at the line-up at the Real Wine Fair, I would say that some are pushing the boundaries, while others are the reference in their respective regions.”

The Real Wine Fair will take place at Tobacco Dock in Wapping, east London on 12 -13 May, with the Real Wine Fair Ireland, organised by Le Caveau in Kilkenny, taking place in Dublin on 15 May for the second year.

Editor's Note: The U.S. producers attending are:
Beckham Estate Vineyard
Bow & Arrow
Kelley Fox Wines
La Garagista Farm & Winery
Martha Stoumen*••
Minimus Wines*
Ovum Wines
Populis Wine*••
Ruth Lewandowski Wines*••

*Wineries that sometimes use certified organic grapes to make some wines
•• Wineries that all source from Venturi Vineyards in Mendocino

French Wine Estate Explores its Wild Side

One French estate has welcomed all creatures great and small in a bid to restore balance to the vineyards.

By Vicki Denig | Posted Saturday, 02-Feb-2019

In the world of organic viticulture, Bordeaux isn't particularly the frontrunner. However, amongst a slew of grand châteaux working with chemicals, Benoît and Delphine Vinet are pioneering the world of organic Bordelais biodiversity, encouraging not just the implementation of organic farming practices, but also the simultaneous existence of a thriving ecosystem, creating an oasis of wildlife, flora, and fauna, all within eight hectares on the region's Right Bank.

The Vinets founded Domaine Emile Grelier, named after Delphine's wine-loving, constable grandfather, in the early 2000s, situated in the small village of Lapouyade. Benoît, a vigneron for 15-plus years, and Delphine, an employee of the local town library, grew up in the French countryside to land-laboring parents, no strangers to the work of passion-fueled farming. After numerous years of working for other wineries, Benoît set out to pursue his dream: create a holistic,  self-sustaining winery, rich in biodiversity and organic viticulture.

Image result for domaine emile grelier

The Vinets began planting eight hectares of vines, slowly but surely gearing up for a life of sustainability. Though the transition didn't come easy – or cheap. At the beginning, Benoit worked for other wineries to make ends meet, while continuing to plant, prune, and train his own vines. After the first "three leafs", the winery was finally ready to bottle and sell their first wines in 2012, comprised of 100-percent Merlot within the designated Bordeaux Supérieur AOC.

But varietal Merlot is just the beginning of what the Vinets are seeking to create. At their winery, which operates more as a full farm, the couple has created an entire ecosystem surrounding their home. In addition to grape vines, 54 different types of birds call their estate home, as well as frogs, snakes, insects, and bats; flowers and wild orchids line the perimeter of the property, and fish splash through the manmade ponds dug into the property's soils.
Making bird boxes

The insect hotel
So why introduce such an array of animals, plants, and above all, competition, into a thriving vineyard?

"We've [moved from] a monoculture of the vine and replaced it with an ecosystem," explains Delphine. "At the vineyard, trees help create microclimates, as well has moderate temperature deviations (fighting against late frosts, for example)," she states. "Planted in rows, they become useful 'ecological corridors' for many animals, including birds and bats. In addition, they produce fruit, an interesting addition to a region mainly known for its vines."

Vinet explains that above all, these plants' roots help protect the soil from rain and heat, in addition to aerating the vines. "Additional plants also [naturally] create a high-quality mulch, which boosts the life of the soil, creating mushrooms and bacteria, which re-decompose into the soil." And perhaps the most important life force within the ecosystem? Bats. "Bats are nocturnal mammals, capable of eating up to 3000 insects per night, each," says Delphine, providing an extreme efficiency in fighting against moths, which lay on (and damage) the vines' berries. "Because the bats work on the whole vineyard (they move with a sonar), it's necessary to provide a relief; trees are very useful to them."

During the day, the ecosystem's 54 species of birds relieve the bats, hunting insect predators within the vineyards to feed their young. "The idea isn't to get rid of the insects, but to create an equilibrium," Vinet clarifies.

The domaine proudly boasts 10 'gites a chauves-souris' (bat houses), as well as seven hedgehog 'cabines' and four 'insect hotels'. In addition to the estate's 50 birdhouses, the domaine is also used as an owl refuge, with special owleries installed into the estate's many trees, used to recover and nurse the birds back to health. To nourish all of the animals within the ecosystem, as well as create new plants, the Vinets also constructed six ponds across the farm, which breed dragonflies, amphibians, salamanders, and water plants. However, to protect the bee population, the Vinets are careful not to construct or disrupt activity too close to the vines.

Most interesting of all, is that, contrary to popular belief, the couple claims to have not seen any competition between the vines and other existing flora.

"If we do not cut the plants, they do not compete with the vine," states Delphine. "In fact, when they are cut, they take water and food from the ground to repel because their goal is to sow, which causes stress for the vine. If left alone, they coexist well with the vine."

In terms of vineyard failure, the Vinets deem to not having seen much, with regards to introducing a world of biodiversity to their vines. However, they have found small technique adjustments to better their strategies.

"For example, for trees, we understood that to succeed in planting, it is better to first plant the rootstock and then graft on the rootstock already installed. This helps to develop the root system before developing the tree. This ensures a better success of the transplant."

Image result for domaine emile grelierUnsurprisingly, the Vinets' work has piqued some significant interest in the larger Bordeaux region – including from other wineries, seeking to potentially introduce biodiversity into their own estates.

Château Coutet, located within the Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, is another winery continuing to introduce plants, trees, and animals into the mix, as well as Domaine d'Eriane, located further south within the Languedoc region. Vinet also revealed that they are receiving calls regularly from surrounding neighbors – including a few undisclosed 'bigger name' wineries – calling on the duo for consulting and guidance on this style of farming. As of 2014, Domaine Emile Grelier became the first French winery to become a Refuge LPO, signifying their commitment to preserving and restoring local biodiversity.

As for the future, the Vinets plan to continue developing agroforestry, as well as grow the flora and fauna within the vineyard. Both Delphine and Benoît are interested in the implementation of biodynamics, and above all, hope to continue educating those surrounding wineries on the benefits of 'biodiversity farming.'

"After the war, chemicals were recycled in agriculture; little by little, farmers lost their common sense and cultures adapted to these modern techniques," says Vinet. "It is a mistake! Let us find our common sense, our good agronomic farming logic, and adapt the material to a respectful culture. It's effective! We do not invent what we do. We use old techniques that worked well and made sense."


Estate & Grelier's mile: The trees at the heart of the vineyard

Domaine Émile Grelier: trees in the heart of the vineyard

After having planted nearly 400 trees, Benoît and Delphine Vinet are laureates of the Arbres d'avenir contest. They continue to experiment with alternative practices.

Source: SudOuest 

A wooden house, planted on the edge of a forest. The natural setting corresponds to the spirit of the place. Settled in Lapouyade in the 2000s, winemakers Benoît and Delphine Vinet practice agroforestry. It is not a question of exploiting the trees, rather of reconciling their presence with an agricultural activity. The 400 trees planted in their vineyards led them to change their practices. An approach distinguished by the association Fermes d'avenir as part of its Trees of the Future contest.

"Viticulture, even organic, is a monoculture," says Benoît who had helped plant vines on these lands when he was a farmer at the Tutiac winery. At the head of the estate with Delphine, they wanted to "restore equilibrium and a certain biodiversity. A monoculture will attract insect pests of this crop. Fruit trees attract others and this limits the overdevelopment of the first ... »

Recreate ecosystems

The couple then contacted naturalist associations to recreate a welcoming environment for small animals and others. The first trees are planted in the rows of vines. "These are landmarks for bats when they come out of the woods because they are heading through their sonar. They hunt at night and as most insects have nocturnal activity. Very effective against cluster worms. Also insectivorous, birds that move into small huts planted on the plot take over during the day. "We counted more than fifty species of birds. The estate has even become the first winery to secure refuge status by the Bird Protection League (LPO).

In three or four years, even with young tree seedlings, winemakers are seeing big changes. It must be said that the landscape moves around insect hotels and hedgehog cabins. "The basis of the project is to reintroduce the tree. Fragment plots to recreate micro-climates, recreate relief, dig ponds, stop mowing to promote bridges between forest and vineyards, all that goes with it. We are testing a lot of things here. In addition, it's pretty and effective. The last planting campaign this year has planted 200 trees in the vineyards.

Associate cultures

"Originally, it is a forest liana," recalls Delphine. "The ancients practiced the joualle, a system of companionship between plants that consisted of climbing the vines on the fruit trees. The Domaine Émile Grelier is not yet at this stage but could develop market gardening.

Some onions and potatoes under a hay bale unrolled between the vines gave a very satisfactory first production. "At the time of co-working or carpooling, why not co-cultures? It would make sense. The happiness factor is often forgotten, but it is priceless. Like picking parsley in the rows of vines and seeing butterflies go by. "

Mini-conference of Delphine Vinet live TEDx Viroflay Friday, March 9  2018 on 
Presentation of the project of the Possiblerie, Thursday, March 15, at the Ecocitoyenne House of Bordeaux. And Wednesday, March 28, evening with the association Agronomists and veterinarians without borders at Zig Zag café, 73, Argonne course in Bordeaux.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

French farmer's herbicide case against Monsanto returns to French court

Source: Reuters

LYON, France (Reuters) - A decade-old lawsuit in which a French farmer with neurological problems accuses Monsanto of not providing adequate safety warnings for a weedkiller returns to court on Wednesday, adding to health claims faced by the Bayer-owned firm.

Paul Francois, who says he fell ill after inhaling vapor from weedkiller Lasso in 2004, won rulings in 2012 and 2015 that found Monsanto liable for the intoxication, before France’s top court overturned those decisions and ordered a new hearing.

An appeal court in the southeastern French city of Lyon will hear arguments on Wednesday before giving its verdict at a later date.

Francois, who says he has suffered memory loss, headaches and stammering, blames Monsanto for not giving sufficient warnings on the product label.

“Maybe we’ll lose against Monsanto but the real victory for me is that I have converted my 200-hectare farm to organic production,” 55-year-old Francois told reporters before the hearing.

“This affair made me open my eyes and move towards a different kind of agriculture.”

Lasso was banned in France in 2007 after the product had already been withdrawn in some other countries.

[Editor's Note: Lasso contains alachlor, an herbicide from the chloroacetanilide family.]

• Read more of this story from Reuters

France 24 coverage of this story

More coverage

ZinQuest Saga Continues: New Ridge Vineyards' Zin Celebrates Three Heritage Clones Connecting Croatia and California

Pribidrag 43.1 planted for the first time commercially in the U.S. (Ridge Vineyards photo)
Source: Seven Fifty Daily

For decades, the origin of Zinfandel, the black-skinned grape that produces full-bodied, jammy red wines and several styles of rosé, was a mystery. Now painstaking work by wine researchers in Croatia and the United States have culminated in a landmark cuvée, to be released later this year, from grapes grown at Ridge Vineyards’ Lytton Springs property in Sonoma, California. For the past five years, Ridge has successfully grown an acre of Crljenak Kaštelanski, and an acre each of two other Pribidrag cuttings (“Pribidrag” is local variant name.). These three clones, discovered in Croatia’s Dalmatia region, were the key to pinpointing Zinfandel’s ancestral home.

• Read more at Seven Fifty Daily

• Related article from Ridge Vineyards web site

Crljenak Kasteljanski clones planed at Lytton Springs
on July 18th, 2015

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Pulling into the Future with Solar Electric Tractors at Ecofarm

Source: Ecofarm Press Release

Many farmers agree that the time has come to power their operations with renewable energy. Long- time farm equipment innovator Steve Heckeroth shared his successes and plans with an eager audience at the 38th EcoFarm Conference, January 24 to 27, 2018, in Pacific Grove, California.

[Link to slides from Heckeroth's presentation is here.]

Solar electric tractors are a good idea for many reasons. Electric motors are very efficient. Their maintenance is simpler than for diesel or gasoline engines. An electric motor drive train requires no clutch or transmission, so there are two less mechanical components to malfunction, wear out, or require maintenance.

Electric vehicles are quiet. They start and stop with the flip of a switch. The tractors are powerful for their size – operating at very high torque at low RPMs, gaining traction easily on hills, and pulling heavy loads.

However, it has been difficult to get electric tractors into commercial production because oil, diesel and gasoline prices fluctuate wildly. When the price of oil is low, it’s hard for farmers to justify the cost of a new, unproved style of tractor. Because oil production is subsidized, its social and environmental costs are not factored into its price. When oil is cheap, farmers are less likely to trade in their petroleum-fueled tractors and equipment.

The first Earth Day in 1970 got architect Steve Heckeroth interested in finding the best ways to cut out fossil fuels. When he learned that transportation vehicles use four times more energy than housing, and that they cause ten times more air pollution, Heckeroth switched gears. He started building electric vehicles, and has been continually tinkering with and improving his designs.
Over the years he converted and built electric golf carts, VW vans, Karmann Ghias, a VW Rabbit, a Porsche Spyder, a RAV4, and others. And he has designed many prototypes and models of electric tractors for himself, for American manufacturers and agricultural colleges, and for companies in Holland, Japan, Brazil, and India.

In Northern California’s Mendocino County, where Heckeroth lives and works, many of his neighbors share his enthusiasm for reducing their use of fossil fuel. Most local farms are small and medium- sized, located away from the cool foggy coast, in zones where summer sunshine is abundant. Such farms can be ideal for tractors that recharge from a solar roof on a central barn.
This inventive builder has also patented thin-film photovoltaic “peel and stick” solar panels to power his tractors and other vehicles. In addition, he holds the patent for quick-change battery packs that make it easier to extend the tractors’ daily work hours.

Recently Steve Heckeroth’s Solectrac Company received a substantial research and development grant from the Small Business Administration’s Innovative Research Program, with the possibility of additional levels of follow-up funding. He comments that this grant “will finally allow me to take the tractor into commercial production.”

Heckeroth presented his ideas and designs at EcoFarm Conference on Thursday, January 25 at 10:30 a.m. The workshop was entitled “Electric Tractors and Equipment: The Age of Adaptive Agriculture.”

Contact for Steve Heckeroth, Solectrac
30151 Navarro Ridge Rd. Albion, CA 95410 707-456-9571

Monday, February 4, 2019

Predictions: Loire Regional Director says organic becoming prerequisite, Bertrand sees growing green trend

Nicolas Emereau, director, Alliance Loire

Source: The Drinks Business

The Drinks Business, a UK beverage magazine, asked French wine leaders about their predictions for 2019

Nicolas Emereau, director, Alliance Loire: “People are concerned about wine’s environmental impact, and also additives. Organic, Fairtrade and responsible farming trends will increase; not as an end in itself but as a prerequisite. In 2019, we should rediscover the wines from the cool French regions: Burgundy, Alsace, and Loire Valley have their role to play.

“The main thing, in my mind, will be the reds. With the 2018 vintage, we could change the ideas that many people have about reds from northern regions.”

Gerard Bertrand
“Organic wines, rosé wines, and the rediscovery of old varieties may be the main trends for 2019. Consumers are more aware that going green is essential to preserve our planet. As a pioneer in biodynamic farming in France, this is something we have believed in for many years.

“That said, making world-class rosé is an extension of our savoir faire. The category can definitively be sustained. We also believe that white varieties have great potential in the market. This year, we’ll extend our Côte des Roses range with a Chardonnay expression and a new bottle design.”

Australia's wine exports grow, organic leader eyes China, North America and Europe

Bob Franchitto
 Bob Franchitto, Managing director for Salena Estate, Bob Franchitto,
 is concerned about wine grape prices for the upcoming 2019 vintage.

Source: ABC

Editor's Note: Australia's largest organic producer Salena Estate Wines, which makes 150,000 cases of organically grown wines annually, is focusing on exports to China, North America and Europe

The world can barely get enough of Australian wine with 94 million cases of Aussie wine sold around the world last year.

That is an increase of 5 per cent in volume, but consumers are paying more for it with the value of exports up 10 per cent to $2.8 billion.

Red wine, in particular, has continued its red-hot growth now making up 76 per cent of Australia's wine exports.

Wine Australia's chief executive officer, Andreas Clark, said there was increased understanding and awareness around the premium Australian wine product that was going to all major markets around the world.

"We're seeing that in the $10 FOB (free on board) per litre and above category, which is achieving record volume and value, that segment has now overtaken what has historically been the highest segment, which was around $2.50 to $5 per litre," Mr Clark said

"So it's a really strong premium story that is getting traction in our major markets and it's where we need to play in the longer term.

"An interesting figure, which always brings it into a bit of perspective, is that 22 million glasses of Australian wine is consumed by our global customers every day."

China has been the engine room for much of the growth in Australian wine's value in recent years.

"We're in a really strong position in China, in terms of the continuing trade's appreciation for what Australian wine has to offer across all our price points, so we have a really solid platform of what we're taking to market there," Mr Clark said.

There has been growth in most major markets including the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, and Singapore, but the United States continued to decline slightly.

The value of Australian wine exports increased by 10 per cent.

"We're starting to see some signs of recovery [in the US], we all get a little bit impatient and would like it to move a bit quicker. But the last quarter in the US we were up 1 per cent. Still, on a yearly basis, the overall decline was 5 per cent but that last quarter gives some cause for future optimism."

However, despite a price increase for premium wines on export markets, Bob Franchitto, managing director of Salena Estate in Loxton, said they had not seen a huge increase in value for their wines on export markets.

"The prices have gone up a little bit but I don't think we've gone up 10 per cent," Mr Franchitto said.

"A little bit of that depends on what happens with the world market as well, so it's a combination of everything.

"At the moment, Australia is doing very well in China and Asia but other markets have been a bit short on supply in the last couple of years … after the 2018 vintage they had a bigger crop, and things might be coming into balance a bit … it might put a bit more pressure now on prices not being able to increase too much."

Mr Franchitto said their major focus was now set on exporting their organic wines to China, North America, and Europe.

However, he said he was concerned about the recent wine grape price release to the industry in the Riverland for the upcoming 2019 vintage.

"We are probably seeing an increase of 20 to 25 per cent on last year … it's perhaps a bigger increase than what the market can absorb long term, or the Australian industry can absorb in a medium, long-term future … it's a pretty big jump all of a sudden," he said.

"I think it's going to be much tighter margins for us producers, exporters and wineries because there is no way that we can increase our pricing by 20 per cent and hence to remain competitive."

Wine continues to flow into the United Kingdom

Australia's largest wine market by volume is the United Kingdom, which is why exporters were keen to see trade continue without interruption when the UK leaves the EU.

Read more

Sunday, February 3, 2019

France: The 2019 Organic Wine Show attracted 10% more visitors

Image result for millesime-bio 2019Source: Montpellier (Hérault)
Translation by Google

Taking place from 28 to 30 January 2019 at Expo Expo in Montpellier by Sudvinbio, the Organic Wine Salon received 6,200 visitors, an additional 10% last year.

The French professionals were in the majority (78%), the foreign participants being 22%. They were welcomed by 1,200 exhibitors, 72% of whom were French. Italy and Spain were also well represented.

Among the products presented and from 22 different countries, beer and spirits made their first appearance in this show. According to foreign exhibitors (Australia, China, Switzerland ...), the attraction of organic wine is a worldwide phenomenon and is observed especially in the USA and in Asia.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Sheep Evangelists Aren't Sheepish: See the Latest Video from Tablas Creek

Last week at Ecofarm, it was great to hear Nathan from Tablas Creek and Kelly Mulville from Paiscines Ranch speak about their experience with sheep in vineyard settings - year round.

While many wineries use a "rent a sheep" service for sheep grazing before bud break, a few pioneers have figured out how to use sheep to graze year round.

At Tablas Creek, sheep also graze non vineyard areas munching on brush that would otherwise be potential forest fire fuel. But sheep do more aside from the obvious "tillage" and fertilization, they also affect vine root structure, as you'll hear in this video.

  Tablas Creek Sheep Program from Shepherd's Films on Vimeo.

I'll be writing more about the Ecofarm session on

Hartman Group: Modern Beverage Culture in Ameria

The Hartman Group's Modern Beverage Culture in America highlights the growth of beverage sales in the U.S., showing that Millenials are the group most likely to drink beverages and most intereested in trying new beverages.

More info here.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

At the Press Conference: Unified's State of the Industry Panel Sees "Continued Growth" of the $1.4 Billion Organic Sector

L to R: Mike Veseth, wine economist; Danny Brager, Nielsen, Melissa Lange, Lange Twins; Jeff Bitter, Allied Grape Growers and Glenn Proctor, Ciatti
While organic vineyard acreage is expected to surge by nearly 6,000 acres this year, it barely got a nod from speakers on the podium at the industry's annual State of the Industry panel session, a popular gathering that is part of Unified Wine Grape Symposium in Sacramento this week, attended by an estimated 14,000 participants.

The organic sector's revenues (2 percent of U.S. off premise sales) are growing at 10 percent annually, according to Nielsen figures (from June 2017 to 2018). Two percent of California's vineyards are certified organic, and if the wine industry overall is valued at $70 billion (according to bw166 estimated from tax receipts data), the organic sector's net worth - at 2 percent of $70 billion - would be $1.4 billion annually (including both domestic and imported wines).

At the press conference after the session, speakers briefly touched on their perceptions of this market.

"We will continue to see growth in that segment," said Danny Brager, SVP of Alcohol Beverages for Nielsen, which collects the bulk of available wine industry scan data on sales revenue and volume. "I don't have the exact numbers, but it's certainly growing."

Looking to softer data culled from social media sources, Brager said, "at the messaging level, I think there's a receptive audience. In social media conversations, younger people - or people when they're talking about health stuff - the other topic that comes up is about the environment and sustainability. Organic pops up pretty heavily in terms of those conversations, which are largely younger people."

Mike Veseth, wine economist, said he was watching Shaw Organic, Bronco's new label, which launched in 2018. "They are making an effort to produce about a four or five dollar wine in Trader Joe's...a Trader Joe's buyer is likely to be interested in the organic designation. I'm keeping an eye on that."

Jeff Bitter of Allied Grape Growers said growth is moderate in terms of grape buying for those already in the organic sector. "We see the same organic buyers in the marketplace and we see moderate growth within those same groups of people. I don't have a lot of experience with new entrants coming into the market to buy a lot of grapes for an organic program."

"I think some of the growth is either the big guys that already exist - the Fetzer's [Bonterra's] of the world, Winery Exchange [WX, whose brand Daily Red, is also sold at Trader Joe's] - people that are kind of have these brands that are already established.

"Franzia is probably going to expand internally, but in terms of new entrants into the market, I don't get a whole lot of buyers call me looking for organic grapes that are not currently in that business."

Currently Bonterra produces about 500,000 cases of "Made with Organic Grapes" wine, making it the top selling wine in that category according to Nielsen data. However Nielsen does not include Costco or Trader Joe's sales nor sales in most natural food stores throughout the country.

While Bonterra dominates U.S. sales in this category, with a 25 percent market share, seven of the top ten bestselling wines in the Made with Organic Grapes category are from foreign producers.

Frey Vineyards sales on revenue growth
Nielsen data shows that "Made with Organic Grape" wines are 80% of the wines sold with organic labeling in the U.S.; the remaining 20 percent is split between the other two categories: "USDA Organic" and "Ingredients: Organic Grapes."

However, no added sulfite wine producers' "USDA Organic" wines are often sold in Costco and natural foods stores not covered by Nielsen's scans.

No added sulfite wine producers at the Organic Growers Summit said sales are increasing more than 10 percent a year. Frey Vineyards' production was 270,000 cases, according to Katrina Frey, who spoke at the December summit in Monterey.

In a followup interview, WX Brands said sales of Our Daily Red, another no added sulfite organic wine, were up 8 percent in 2018.

The Mendocino winery's Frey Vineyards wines are featured in Costco in Nevada and California. Frey says the winery can't keep up with demand and has recently started importing organic grapes from Argentina. "We don't have enough wine to fill all the potential Costco markets, but with our new winery (which is expected to be completed in May 2019), we are looking at approaching a few other regions now."

Argentina's Domaine Bousquet, which makes a line of more than 10 "Made with Organic Grapes" wines also reports that its U.S. sales are also up 10% a year.

For more industry coverage of this market sector, sign up for free Organic Wine News Briefs or subscribe to premium content at Organic Wine Insider.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

France's glyphosate exit to be 80 percent complete by 2021, says minister

 Didier Guillaume, French Minister of Agriculture and Food
PARIS (Reuters) - France expects to have cut the use of weedkiller glyphosate by 80 percent by early 2021, its agriculture minister said on Friday, less than previously anticipated due to the number of farmers who will qualify for an exemption.

In November 2017, President Emmanuel Macron pledged to ban glyphosate in France within three years, rejecting a European Union decision to extend its use for five years after a heated debate over whether the weedkiller, developed by Bayer-owned Monsanto, can cause cancer.

The proposed ban caused outcry among farmers who rely on glyphosate heavily and quickly became a prickly issue for the president. Within months of announcing the ban, Macron recognized that 10 percent of farmers would need an exemption.

Read more

Rosé Revealed: Organic Rosé Winemakers Speak at Unified Wine Grape Symposium Panel

Tuesday's Rosé Revealed session featured a flight of 6 wines, including three that were organically grown.

Panelists presented details about their approach to making rosé.

Organically grown rosés featured included:
• Dianthus from Tablas Creek (left) from Paso Robles
• Quivira Vineyards' rosé (center left) from Dry Creek in Sonoma
• DeLoach Vineyard's Estate rose of Pinot Noir (center right) from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma

Read more

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Super Bowl ad for Michelob Ultra's organic beer will bring a moment of calm to the Big Game

Source: CNBC

Americans are drinking less alcohol, and much of that decline is due to lower beer consumption.

Anheuser-Busch InBev has found its Pure Gold, an organic beer under its Michelob Ultra brand, has been successful in wooing customers from wine and spirits. In an effort to keep the brand's momentum going, the beer will make its Super Bowl debut on Feb. 3 with an ad that features a trendy YouTube sound sensation know for calming listeners.

Read more