April 2018 Issue of Wines & Vines

Start the Winemaking Year Well-armed With Information

by Jim Gordon

THE CHARDONNAY AND VIOGNIER VINES IN MY MICRO VINEYARD in Napa Valley are beginning to break bud as I write this letter on March 15. A week ago the buds hadn't even swelled, and I was starting to wonder if the vines had all given up and died over the winter. But yesterday the buds started to open-and right on time. Over the past 15 years they have almost always broken bud on March 15, drought or no drought, hard freeze or no hard freeze.
     It's miraculous how plants know what to do and when to do it, and no less miraculous that the 2018 growing season has now begun.
     To help you start the winemaking year well-armed with information, this issue contains two in-depth articles on grapegrowing and no less than five articles on winemaking. Within winemaking the main emphases are on crush equipment and oak alternatives. It's early enough in the year to make purchases for your own crush pad. It's also early enough to finish your 2017 and 2016 wines with a little help from the oak products discussed in "The Art of Oak, Revisited" (page 50) and the Product Focus department (page 64).
     A brand-new winemaking facility for the iconic California Cabernet Sauvignon producer, Silver Oak, is featured on the cover because it's a beautiful winery, contemporary in design, spacious, and dedicated to economic and environmental sustainability. I have a feeling most winemakers who read senior editor Andrew Adams' Technical Spotlight story (page 28) on the Alexander Valley winery will be at least a little envious.
     Adams also wrote "Getting Faster, More Efficient on the Crush Pad" (page 38), which summarizes what he learned from winemakers in the past year about the coolest, newest equipment for processing grapes. It seems that more and more winemakers are discovering that machines can do much of the crush work better than humans and are sometimes cheaper, too.
     Writer L. M. Archer is based in Santa Cruz, Calif., but considers the Burgundy region of France and any other place that makes Pinot Noir wine her territory. She researched and wrote "Seeking Perfection in Pinot Noir" (page 42) to compare and contrast the winemaking practices used by Pinot makers in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and Sonoma County of California. This is her third piece for Wines & Vines.
     Gary Pickering contributed an article on "Managing Green Flavors in the Winery" (page 70) that will be particularly useful for winemakers in cool climates. Related to the green flavors topic is a report on "Grape Derived Fruity Volatile Thiols" (page 78) by South African researcher Dr. Carien Coetzee. Volatile thiols are responsible for the potent aromas of Sauvignon Blanc wines and other varietals.
     To wrap up this letter I want to welcome back one of our team members and say goodbye to another. Vineyard View columnist Dr. Cliff Ohmart is back (page 24) after a break of several months and we're glad to have him. Leaving our staff after 10 years is managing editor Kate Lavin. She is moving from wine industry publishing to marijuana industry publishing, and we all wish her the best.

-Jim Gordon

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