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Briefs —Newsletter 12.16

2020 Wine Grape Crush Off 13.9% from 2019 Wildfires and smoke caused the most damage in northern coastal areas, particularly Sonoma and Napa Counties. Allied Grape Growers Jeff Bitter said that an estimated 240,000 to 325,000 tons of wine grapes were not harvested due to smoke. Another factor was low rainfall in early 2020. Sonoma County’s Pinot Noir crush was down 38%. Pinot Noir prices decreased 35.8%. Despite the gloom of California’s 2020 vintage, smoke taint did not affect large areas of California wine county. Promising news for Pinot Noir has come out of areas like Anderson Valley and Santa Barbara County. The job of wineries is to overcome consumer perceptions of the vintage.

Dietary Fats Interact with Grape Tannins to Influence Wine Taste An article appeared March 3, 2021, in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in which researchers concluded that tannins in wine can interact with oil droplets in the mouth, making them less available to bind to saliva proteins and cause astringency. This is why eating cheese along with a tannic wine reduces the astringency of the wine.

Schug Carneros Estate Winery Marks 40th Anniversary In my early years of dalliances with Pinot Noir, I drank many bottles of Schug Pinot Noir. Walter Schug, who passed away in 2015, has left a legacy kept alive by his children and a new, young German-American winemaker. Schug focuses on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from its Carneros estate as well as partner vineyards elsewhere in Carneros and the Sonoma Coast. The new winemaker, Johannes Scheid had his debut with the 2019 vintage at Schug. Axel Schug and his sister Claudia now guide the operations of the 30,000-case winery. The Schug Carneros Estate Winery is open to visitors by appointment Thursday through Sunday for wine tasting and cave tours. Visit for more information.

World of Pinot Noir Silent Auction The auction is now live and will run throughout the month of March 2021. This is primarily a large-format Pinot Noir auction. Register to bid via your desktop or mobile phone at

“Little” Pisoni Pinot Noir The Pisoni family and Master Sommelier Sara Floyd have teamed to produce two new releases under the Luli label, both just 100 case production. The wines were sourced from the 15-acre Monte Linda Vineyard and 26-acre Lemoravo Vineyard, both located in the Santa Lucia Highlands. The two wines, priced at $41.99, are now available at

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