Posted by Tanya
under At Vintners Own
Why is it a good thing to buy a Texas wine over a California or French wine?
The buying local movement has been around for a number of years; people have been encouraging the concept from an economical and environmental standpoint- one reason is not having to pay the cost of transportation [of the wine]. The Texas wine industry has huge benefits for the State; this relatively small industry has a $1.7 billion annual economic impact.
Is it true that 96% of TX wine is consumed by Texans?
There are statistics that say somewhere between 95-98% of wine is sold in Texas. Near as I can tell, this is probably true and the biggest reason for Texas wine being sold in the state has nothing to do with the local movement, it has to do with the fact that there are 24 million people in Texas and it makes a lot more sense to sell it local than ship it out of state.
What can the Texas wine industry do to become more eco-friendly?
One excellent example of what is currently being done is Red Caboose Winery, the first LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) winery in the state. Bending Branch Winery in Comfort, Texas plans to build a LEED certified winery as well.
But, overall the Texas wine industry probably has some constraints right now to widespread conversion to eco-friendly production. We have over 200 wineries, and most are very small. Profitability of small wineries is tough because they are always fighting the economies of scale. A small winery’s material costs for packaging (bottles, labels, corks, etc.) for example is relatively high because they can’t buy in the large quantities that provide significant price discounts. So it’s difficult for a small winery just to compete in the marketplace using standard packaging. They would need completely different packaging equipment to produce bag-in-box or other alternative packaging, further increasing their production costs.
I think Texas vineyards and wineries are as concerned about the environment as any other food industry, but the small size and newness of most wineries is a big enough challenge working with the traditional model. It’s expensive and requires another new learning curve to start looking outside that traditional model. But, those opportunities are there and I expect it will just be a matter of time before more eco-friendly practices becomes commonplace.
Any tips for choosing a good Texas wine?
That’s a loaded question. The High Plains is probably the best region overall, but, that being said there are excellent wines that are being made in other regions as well. I think that when I open a bottle of Texas wine the quality has as much to do with the winemaker as where those grapes are grown.
What is a good book for Texans to read to learn about the Texas wine industry?
The Wine Roads of Texas By Wes Marshall.
Does the Texas wine industry have the potential to compete with say, the California wine?
Absolutely we have the potential! We are pretty new at this game, but we already have wines that have competed with California and done very well. The 2008 Dolcetto from Duchman Family Winery was a double gold medal winner at the San Francisco International Wine Competition last year. At the same competition, a 2008 Tempranillo from Lone Oak Winery in Burleson,Texas received a gold medal. So, it’s already happening, we’re making some really good wine out there and I think for an industry that’s still at a very adolescent stage, this demonstrates the potential that we have is enormous.
Posted by Tanya
under At Vintners Own
The last few months of 2010 were wonderfully busy at the winery. Crush, which took place between the months of August and October was a huge success! Our partner Vineyards in Napa and Sonoma delivered beautiful fruit that hardly needed to be sorted. The addition of NEW 2010 variety's to crush kept the staff on its toes and created new and exciting challenges for our resident winemakers. Alongside crush season, we bottled, corked and labeled wine from 2009, and in between wine profiles and general winemaking for 2010, we had a holiday party for barrel owners. Thanks for the turn out, it was a great way to usher in the new year!
Another accomplishment of 2010 was the creation of the Vintners Own proprietary Syrah. Our own custom blend and label involved a search for distinctiveness, boldness and clarity. As Marty Neumeier says: “The long term survival of a brand depends on staying focused and as positioning expert Jack Trout succinctly puts it, "differentiate or die." As any marketing guru or branding expert will tell you, keeping a brand alive and in focus involves a lot of creativity. Once any company has created a logo, there is always the challenge of communicating its brand to as many consumers as possible.
For businesses, custom branded wine is great for delivering, rejuvenating or changing a brand. It’s also a great way to keep products and services in sharp focus. In 2010 we created custom labeled wine for: Stewart Title, Jackson Cooksey, Wavestream, and the Ferrari Club of America to name a few. During the holiday's, we put together custom wine gift baskets for Greg Reid a principal of RDG Capital, which was acquired by Salient Partners in early December. Custom labeled 'Salient Partners' bottles eased the transition from one solid brand to another.
For restaurants, creating a proprietary wine blend with a custom label is a great way to add additional visibility and cut through market noise. Just the way driving a car gives a sense of the make and model (is it a smooth or bumpy ride? Is the car sleek and racy or safe and reliable?) Creating an in house wine blend can give consumers a test drive of your brand. Whether a Syrah with hints of dark cherry and vanilla or a buttery smooth chardonnay best communicates the personality of your restaurant or business, a proprietary wine adds a little more brand identity.
The smell of buttered popcorn is permeating the winery which can only mean one thing: Malolactic Fermentation. MLF which occurs shortly after primary fermentation is the process where malic acid is converted to a softer lactic acid. The conversion which creates a rounder and fuller mouthfeel in wine is extremely popular in California especially where Chardonnay is concerned. However, commercial MLF has only been a scientific part of winemaking for the last 50 years. Before the 1950's, this second fermentation was not induced it just 'happened' sporadically, if it happened at all. In France it was the mysterious 'thing that took place in the cellar'. Sometimes, to make matters worse, it happened after bottling.
The story of the first induced Malolactic Fermentation involves the beautiful new Hanzel winery in Sonoma County and its Pinot Noir. The resident winemaker Brad Webb had a serious problem initially with Pinot Noir because it refused to undergo malolactic fermentation. Perplexed, he visited John L. Ingraham, assistant professor of enology at UC Davis to seek out help.
"The malolactic fermentation in California had a long, solid reputation for capriciousness and independence. Most winemakers of the era became aware that the fermentation was under way only when tanks of wine began to rumble softly, usually in mid-winter. Winemakers didn’t start it, and they couldn’t stop it; it just happened. But why only then? The malolactic fermentation seemed to have a mind of it own. It occurred where and when it chose."
Ingraham had intently been searching for a bacterium that would induce MLF and made history when he isolated a strain of bacterium which he called ML34. ML34 which he dubbed 'Martini' originated as a sample taken from a tank at Louis M. Martini's winery in Saint Helena. The bacterium which had probably been living there for years proved to be the key to the first successful induced malolactic fermentation.
Read Wines and Vines Article on Hanzel and ML34