Sustainable wine growing can cover various practices from farming to production techniques, environmental and social policies, and even packaging and waste reduction choices. The challenge for wineries is how to present their sustainable principles and practices to consumers. This webinar will focus on the importance of sustainable certification programs around the world, such as Napa Green, and how they are helping to shape the conversation about what is sustainable in the age of climate change, and how to move the wine industry forward using measurable data and accountability.
A first-generation American, Martin is the first Master of Wine of Mexican descent. With a prolific career as a buyer, importer, educator, speaker, judge, writer, and winemaker, he has held influential roles in many sectors of the industry. Martin’s wine story began with an over-indulgent dinner while studying in Paris as a Stanford undergraduate and, by 2003, he was stocking shelves at K&L Wine Merchants in California. After managing St. Helena Wine Center for several years, Martin was hired as the principal buyer & importer for prominent wine club programs for partners such as The New York Times, Food & Wine Magazine, and Williams-Sonoma. In 2015, he was named one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top Forty under Forty Tastemakers. That same year, he worked the harvest at Salomon Undhof in Austria.
Today, Martin is General Manager for Sonoma-based Peter Paul Wines, works closely with Spottswoode Estate on climate action & sustainability initiatives, and consults across the full wine supply chain. Clients have included Vice Versa Wines, Copa Fina Wine Imports, and Vivino.com. He launched Reyes Selections in 2018, a small portfolio of his favorite producers, singled out from years spent sourcing wines globally for the US market.
An internationally recognized wine professional and speaker, Martin has judged at Texsom International Wine Awards, International Wine Challenge (Panel Chair), Decanter World Wine Awards, USA Wine Ratings, Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, and Taittinger Sommelier d’Or Competition, Mexico; and most recently, the James Beard Foundation, and recently won Best Paper Award at the AAWE Conference, Vienna 2019 for his research in wine purchasing behavior. He is a Speaker/Moderator & Organizer for IBWSS, Porto Protocol, Green Wine Future, and 2022 Napa THRIVES Symposium as well as co-hosts the James-Beard award-winning podcast, The Four Top.
Join vigneron Olivier Humbrecht MW, of famed estate Zind Humbrecht in Alsace, for a deep dive into one of the key building blocks of wine: acidity!
In this webinar, you will learn about:
- The different types of acids found in grapes and wine and their sensory perception
- How to not only quantify but qualify acidity in wine
- The viticultural factors influencing acidity in the grape
- The vinification practices and factors impacting acidity in the final product
- Evolution of wine acids with age
Olivier will also illustrate his talk with some real-life data and text-book examples of acids measured in various types of wine depending on various variables such as grape varieties, vintage, ripeness, with/without malolactic fermentation and terroirs. Sharpen your tasting skills by understanding one of the key parameters that makes up the structure of a wine!
Olivier Humbrecht studied wine together with wine marketing and wine business for five years in Toulouse, and then got the chance to do his ‘military service’ working for Sopexa in London. He learned about and enrolled on the MW course, becoming France’s first ever Master of Wine in 1989. He began to work with his father, and converted the family domaine to biodynamics in the early 1990s. His father had painstakingly built up a unique collection of hill-site vineyards over the decades, notably clearing and replanting a quarter of the great historic Grand Cru of Rangen de Thann with Olivier in his later school years. Olivier has continued to build on this, notably with the recent acquisition of a parcel of Sommerberg to complement the family’s Grand Cru holdings in Brand, Hengst and Goldert, and to complement its other holdings of Rotenberg, Clos Hauserer, Clos Jebsal, Heimbourg, Herrenweg and Clos Windsbuhl.
Olivier’s respectful, non-interventionist winemaking, combined with his and his father’s fastidious viticulture, has given the world vintage after vintage of magnificently differentiated, nuanced bottlings: global white-wine references. He has never stopped experimenting and improving on his work, using biodynamic practices, changed row orientations and re-thought canopies recently to produce a much greater percentage of dry wines than before.
Finally, we have reached the end of the winemaking year.
In the vineyard, soil health is a common topic of discussion now that the vines are dormant. This is a great time to dig soil pits and send samples off to discover more about the composition of the soil layers around the root system of the vines.
Soil pH plays a large part in the health of a vineyard as it controls nutrient uptake. Even if the soil contains plenty of a particular nutrient, if soil pH is wrong, that nutrient might not be available in a form that the plant can use. This can lead to micronutrient deficiencies or toxicities. For this reason, it is very important to manage the soil pH.
Romana Echensperger MW worked for many years as head sommelier in various top restaurants. Among other things, she was responsible for a 1000-item wine list with exclusively German wines at Berlin's Quadriga restaurant. In 2005, she was voted best sommelière in Berlin. In addition, she was head sommelier at the Vendôme restaurant near Cologne, which is awarded with 3 stars in the Michelin Guide. Since 2015 she can call herself a “Master of Wine”. Today she works independently as a consultant, journalist and in education.
Recently her comprensive book about biodynamic top winemakers in German-speaking countries was published.
Have you ever tasted a Souvignier Gris, a Solaris or a Bronner? What about Regent, Cabernet Cortis or Rösler? These are just some of the disease-resistant varieties that have been bred over the last few decades from complex crossings of vitis vinifera cultivars with American sub-species such as vitis labrusca, vitis riparia or vitis rupestris.
What started as a crude exercise in creating new plant material in the wake of the turn-of-the-century phylloxera catastrophe has become a cutting-edge niche in wine production. Varieties are being developed that have resistance to cold, drought, or to common vine ailments such as downy mildew and botrytis. This has opened the door to a form of viticulture that requires almost no inputs apart from pruning.
Should we call these varieties hybrids or PIWIs or something else? And how is a hybrid different to a crossing or a “direct producer”? Does laboratory crossing of grape varieties overlap with gene-splicing, CRISPR9 or GMOs? Where are the boundary lines in these techniques and what do they mean for viticulture and wine in general?
We’ll talk about why winemakers from France, Austria, the Netherlands, Italy and beyond are planting hybrids – some are even specialising in them, mainly or even exclusively. Many see them as an essential development in the quest for more sustainable viticulture, and as a potential solution to the dangers posed by climate change.
What do they taste like and why has the wine industry’s reaction to hybrids sometimes been rather disparaging? We’ll take a look at some of the most promising varieties, and some of the winemakers who are achieving the best results.
Hybrids might just be the future in wine. So join me for this session if you want to stay ahead of the curve!
Simon J Woolf is an award-winning English author and wine writer, currently based in The Netherlands.
An acknowledged expect on the developing niche of natural wine, he's written for Decanter magazine, Meininger’s Wine Business International, World of Fine Wine and Noble Rot, and many other publications. Simon is the editor of The Morning Claret, an online wine magazine which specialises in natural, biodynamic, organic and orange wine.
Simon's first book "Amber Revolution - How the world learned to love orange wine" was published in 2018, and won the Roederer Wine book of the year award in 2019. Simon has also won numerous awards for his magazine features and online columns.
Simon travels regularly to countries such as Georgia, Slovenia, Italy and Portugal, where he continues to research the stories and traditions behind artisan winemaking. His second book, Foot Trodden, a collaboration with photographer and wine communicator Ryan Opaz, was published in October 2021. It is described as a journey deep into the soul of Portuguese wine.
Simon is also active as a presenter, editor, wine judge and translator.
At the start of November, areas with long growing seasons are still wrapping up harvest, but most wineries in the northern hemisphere have brought their grapes into the winery. An exception to this rule is any fruit being left out for ice wine production.
Ice Wine Production
Grapes destined for ice wine production must hang on the vine until temperatures reach a consistent 20°F/-7°C or below. Only at this point, can the frozen berries be harvested.
November begins with a lot of activity in the winery and ends with everyone taking a collective sigh of relief. The growing season is at an end and most wine production professionals can take a moment to reconnect with their families and friends and take a well-deserved vacation.
In October, most areas of the northern hemisphere are in harvest and going full out!
Many white varieties finish in early October. Although some reds (particularly early-ripening Pinot Noir) may have started harvest in September, generally, October is the month when most red varieties are picked.
In September’s post, we explored the harvest parameters for white grapes. The factors that a winemaker considers when picking red grapes are similar… flavor, acid, sugar, etc. However, there are two key harvest parameters that are more important (and impactful) for reds than whites: tannin ripeness and anthocyanin accumulation (color).
Thirty years ago, Nicolás Catena pioneered high altitude viticulture in Argentina. While searching for elegance and concentration, the Catena family found a strategy that today can be used for combatting climate change: "go higher". Malbec, Argentina’s leading red varietal was in decline and being pulled out. Today, high altitude Malbec has led to the rebirth of Argentine wine on the world stage. Ungrafted vines and ancient pre-phylloxeric vine selections have something to do with this wine revolution. Join us to learn about how the Catena Institute of Wine uses science to preserve the culture and nature behind wine.
Dr. Laura Catena is a Harvard and Stanford trained biologist and physician, founder of the Catena Institute of Wine in Argentina, and managing director of Bodega Catena Zapata (Est. 1902). Since 1995, the Catena Institute has helped to elevate the Malbec varietal and Argentine wine as a whole. Under Laura’s leadership, Bodega Catena Zapata has earned six 100-point wine ratings and was voted most awarded world winery by VIVINO WINE STYLE AWARDS. Laura is author of three books, “Vino Argentino,” “Gold in the Vineyards” and the upcoming “Malbec mon amour.” She lives with her husband and three children between Mendoza, Argentina, and San Francisco, California, where she volunteers as a street physician with the Department of Public Health.