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Pinot Briefs —Newsletter 8.15

European Grape Moth Quarantine The grapevine moths are native to Mediterranean Europe and presumably showed up in Napa Valley last year by way of smuggled suitcase vine cuttings. One Oakville vineyard was devastated and others were damaged. The moth larvae invade the grapes and infect them with botrytis or bunch rot. Quarantine areas are either being proposed or already instituted in Sonoma, Mendocino, Solano, Merced and Fresno counties. Aggressive action now can lead to eradication of the pest in California.

Surprise At Consumer Wine Awards A wine competition was held in Lodi, California in which more than 90 consumers used a new tasting methodology devised by industry experts to judge 550 wine entries from around the world. The consumer panels awarded more than 200 medals ( to a spectrum of varietals from sweet to dry with the top three wines technically sweet and two having more than 3% residual sugar. The results confirmed that consumer preferences are quite different from professional tasters. There is still plenty of data to review, but a survey conducted in conjunction with the Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi showed consistent preferences for salt and sweetness that correlate to general wine flavor preferences. A separate study in the Consumer Wine Awards showed that expert judges are more consistent with their scores than the consumer wine evaluators. The event was created by Tim Hanni MW, G.M. “Pooch” Pucilowski and Aaron Kidder. The Consumer’s Platinum Medal Winning Pinot Noir was the 2007 Nicholson Ranch Cactus Hill Reserve Estate Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir.

Oregon Wine Industry Symposium Reports Big Harvest in 2009 Data from the Oregon Wine Board and Ciatti Co. indicate that the 2009 crop in Oregon was 23% more than 2008. Oregon’s Pinot Noir crush in 2009 was 28,000 tons compared to 17,500 tons in 2008. Oregon will definitely be facing a surplus of wine for the next several years, especially with lower sales in the current economic milieu. Oregon’s portion of United States wine production was 0.8% in 2009.

Crushpad Winery Moves to Napa ValleyFounded in 2004, Crushpad was a popular urban San Francisco winery for several tiny producers of artisan Pinot Noir. Crushpad’s new location is at the Silverado Trail Wine Studios owned by Premier Pacific Vineyards which supplies much of the grapes for Crushpad’s customers.

1996 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay Released in April 2010 Clos d’Ambonnay is a tiny monopole of under 2 acres located in Montagne de Reims and planted solely to Pinot Noir. The 1996 vintage was legendary for Champagne and the Krug Clos d’Ambonnay reflects this, with a release price of $5,000 per bottle, available only on pre-release in six-bottle lots at $30,000! This is the last wine blended by three generations of the Krug family.

Pinot Noir #5 in Market Share Nielsen reports that through December 12, 2009, the top five wine varieties by market share are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Grigio/Gris and Pinot Noir with growth still evident for Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.

Virgin America and Qantas Take In Flight Wine to New Levels Virgin America is now offering a new wine selection designed by wine expert Gary Vaynerchuk and are rolling out an expanded onboard menu. Vaynerchuck’s Wine Library TV will be shown on the airline’s in-flight entertainment system and in-flight wine tasting with Vaynerchuk in First Class is planned. On another airline front, noted wine expert Dan Berger has judged Qantas to have the finest wine list of 33 airlines.

Sonoma County Label Change Proposal Sonoma County’s wine and grape trade groups have recently thrown in their support for the proposed Sonoma County wine label law that requires wines made from Sonoma County grapes to carry Sonoma County on the label. Similar laws exist for Napa, Paso Robles and Lodi.

Mobile Application for Inebriated Drivers A free mobile application called TaxiMagic has been introduced by California State officials. All registered users have to do is tap on button on their iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Palm smart phones and the application determines where the caller is, contacts the cap company, and dispatches the cab to the caller’s location automatically. The user can automatically pay by credit card. Users can also book a cab with the mobile application, on the web, or with a text message. For more information visit

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