After years working alongside visionaries including Robert Mondavi in Napa, the masterful winemaker continues to innovate and evolve his family’s award-winning winery.
After years working alongside visionaries including Robert Mondavi in Napa, the masterful winemaker continues to innovate and evolve his family’s award-winning winery.
SAN FRANCISCO — Recipients of the second annual California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards were announced and honored at a lunch reception and ceremony April 20 in Sacramento. The California Green Medal, developed to showcase leading wineries and vineyards committed to sustainability, is presented by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, the California Association of Winegrape Growers, Wine Institute, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrowers and The Vineyard Team. Many association partners also helped to promote the awards which were selected by a panel of wine and sustainability experts.
Awardees of the four 2016 Green Medals are:
LEADER AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that excels in all “3 E’s” of Sustainability—Environmentally sound, socially Equitable and Economically viable.
Winner: Jackson Family Wines has been a sustainability innovator and an early adopter of healthy land management practices since the winery’s founding in 1982, with more recent actions guided by a company-wide sustainability strategy and a comprehensive audit of environmental impacts in 2008. Incorporating triple bottom-line sustainability principles across all aspects of their business, the company deployed solar arrays at eight wineries and collaborated with Tesla to reduce energy demand and increase grid reliability, utilized industry-first water conservation technologies, introduced human resource initiatives to improve employees’ well-being, paid a price premium for certified sustainable winegrapes and led voluntary drought initiatives.
ENVIRONMENT AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Environmental Stewardship through maximized environmental benefits from implementing sustainable practices.
Winner: Halter Ranch Vineyard. The environmental stewardship commitment by Halter Ranch Vineyard owner Hansjörg Wyss is demonstrated by the decision to preserve 1,700 acres of the Halter Ranch property with 18% planted to vineyards that work in harmony with the undeveloped acres to provide habitat, wildlife corridors and biodiversity. The winery also works with the Wyss Foundation to help local communities and partners conserve millions of acres. Halter Ranch conserves water, resulting in over a 50% reduction in irrigation; captures rain and winery water bringing over two million gallons back to irrigation ponds; and farms 281 acres of vines without removing oak trees or displacing existing wildlife and plant life.
COMMUNITY AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that is a Good Neighbor & Employer using the most innovative practices that enhance relations with employees, neighbors and/or communities.
Winner: Tablas Creek Vineyard. Since its establishment in 1989, Tablas Creek has been a trendsetter for its wine region, actively involved in the Paso Robles community through the local winery association and by hosting workshops to share sustainability practices. The winery has partnered with organizations such as must! charities, the local animal shelter, arts and youth sports organizations and has donated more than $100,000 to support local youth and arts programs since 2002. Tablas Creek promotes productivity and job satisfaction by compensating employees with fully funded medical, dental and vision benefits, employer-matching 401k plans, educational support, wine shares and annual profit-sharing bonuses to both part-time and full-time employees. Staff are encouraged to continue education.
BUSINESS AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Smart Business through efficiencies, cost savings and innovation from implementing sustainable practices.
Winner: McManis Family Vineyards. With a focus on constant improvement of practices and adoption of the latest farming and winemaking technologies, McManis Family Vineyards’ water use efficiency measures in the vineyard include the use of soil moisture sensors, flow meters and distribution uniformity tests; while their winery recycles water and averages one gallon of water to produce one gallon of wine. Sustainable practices have also decreased energy use, diesel use and tractor work and limited the impact on soil. Making sustainability a core part of their business strategy has not only benefited the environment, surrounding community and employee retention, but has streamlined processes in the vineyard, winery and office, resulting in economic gains that help ensure a thriving business for future generations.
“The awards program provides an exciting opportunity for California growers and vintners to be recognized for their hard work and dedication to sustainability,” said Allison Jordan, CSWA Executive Director. “The challenge was selecting four winners from the stellar applications we received from vineyards and wineries of all sizes from throughout California. The committee and judging panel were impressed by the breadth and depth of sustainable practices being used to conserve water and energy, maintain healthy soil, protect air and water quality, preserve wildlife habitat, and enhance relations with employees and communities, all while improving the economic vitality of vineyards and wineries.”
The second annual California Green Medal was judged by a panel of wine and sustainability experts. They include: Karen Block, Industrial Relations Manager, Viticulture & Enology, UC Davis; Hunter Francis, Director/Founder, Center for Sustainability in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; Allison Jordan, Executive Director, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance; Camron King, President, Lodi Winegrape Commission; Karissa Kruse, President, Sonoma County Winegrowers; Kelli McCune, Senior Project Manager, Sustainable Conservation; Michelle Novi, Industry Relations Manager, Napa Valley Vintners; Cyril Penn, Editor in Chief, Wine Business Monthly; and Beth Vukmanic Lopez, SIP Certification Manager, The Vineyard Team.
Exclusive Media Sponsor, Wine Business Monthly
Platinum Sponsors, Nomacorc
Silver Sponsors, CC Wine Caves, Farm Credit Alliance, Marin Clean Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, SureHarvest
Bronze Sponsors, Ag Unlimited, Preserva Products, Ltd.
Partnering organizations: Bay Area Green Business Program, Fish Friendly Farming, Lake County Winegrape Commission, LandSmart, Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association, Madera Vintners Association, Mendocino WineGrowers, Inc., Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association, Napa Sustainable Winegrowing Group, Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Paso Robles Wine County Alliance. Russian River Valley Winegrowers, San Luis Obispo Vintners and Growers Association, Santa Barbara County Vintners Association, Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association, Santa Rita Hills Vintners and Growers Association, Sonoma County Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrape Commission and Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association.
Visit: www.greenmedal.org for more information.
One of the great things about Sonoma County is its size and diversity. While many people think of Sonoma as being about Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, nothing could be further from the truth. While excellent representations of these varietals do come from the area, Sonoma is also known for great Zinfandels and Rhones.
As Karen and I were heading to the Dry Creek Valley AVA, the first thing that came to my mind was Zinfandel.
First stop, Mazzocco-Sonoma.
As the self-named “Zinfan”, I actually had a pretty big hole in my resume. While I had heard of the incredible Zinfandels being produced by winemaker Antoine Favero, I had never actually tasted them. Well, that was about to be remedied.
We drove to the winery on Lytton Springs Road in the Dry Creek Valley and Antoine met us at the tasting room. We went upstairs to chat.
Antoine’s journey to ultimately become winemaker at Mazzocco is pretty unique. Born in France, he and his family moved to Peru and then when he was 9-years old they moved again to Northern California. Growing up in Nor Cal and experiencing all it had to offer as well as the start of the “farm to fork” movement, it seems pretty natural that Antoine would study enology at UC Davis and become a winemaker, eventually joining Wilson Winery in 2003.
In addition to owning Wilson Winery and Mazzocco (which was founded in 1984 but acquired in 2005 by the Wilsons), Ken and Diane Wilson also own:
Jaxon Keys Winery & Distillery
Soda Rock Winery
St. Anne’s Crossing
Besides being winemaker at Mazzocco, Antoine is winemaker at Soda Rock featuring his Bordeaux varietals as well as being co-winemaker with Diane Wilson at deLorimier Winery in Alexander Valley.
Mazzocco is not a “one trick pony” and makes other outstanding wines besides Zinfandel. Knowing that once we went to the Zin there would be no looking back, Antoine suggested we try a few of the other wines first…
2013 Meola Chardonnay – lightly oaked, bright fruit flavors.
2012 Fascination – blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – yes, Zin can be used as a blending grape too.
2012 Caz – 50/50 blend of Zin and Cab. Really delicious.
All three were tasty, well made wines. But Antoine knew what we were there for and it was time to….drum roll…bring on the Zins!
The Mazzocco website lists 31[!] Zinfandels from the 2012 and 2013 vintages. Obviously, we couldn’t taste them all…well, maybe we could have if we didn’t have other commitments for the day….so Antoine put together a representative tasting of the varietal for which Mazzocco is best known.
2012 Seaton Reserve
2012 West Dry Creek Reserve
In addition, we tasted the 2012 Scholar Zinfandel, proceeds of which help to fund scholarships for children of vineyard workers.
It was easy to tell, after tasting all of these, which barely made dent in the number of Zins produced by Mazzocco, why the winery is so famous for this varietal.
“But wait, there’s more…”
Antoine produces three more very special Zinfandels, affectionately known as “The Three Amigos”. Named “Juan Rodriguez”, “Antoine Philippe”, and “Kenneth Carl” after the vineyard manager, winemaker and owner respectively, these were truly three of the best Zinfandels I have ever tasted. Ranging in price from $100 – $150, these are definitely special-occasion wines, but also definitely worth it.
But all these wines are worth seeking out, and I’m not the only one to think so, as borne out by the number of Gold [and Double Gold] medals received by Mazzocco at the recent 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. That’s nothing new for Antoine, as the Golds and high scores have been coming in since he started with Mazzocco. Well deserved accolades!
TO BE CONTINUED…
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. Michael is also Vice President of Eve Bushman Consulting (fka Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting) http://evebushmanconsulting.com/ and President of MCP Financial. Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
UC Davis plant scientists have identified an enzyme that appears to play a key role in the insect-transmitted bacterial infection of grapevines with Pierce’s disease, which annually costs California’s grape and wine industries more than $100 million.
The researchers hope that the discovery, which runs counter to existing theories, will lead to new diagnostics and potential treatments for Pierce’s disease. Their findings are reported in Scientific Reports, an online journal of the Nature Publishing Group, at http://www.nature.com/articles/srep18598.
“With a bacterial disease — much like cancer — if you understand how the virulent form spreads, you can better control or remove it, ” said Abhaya Dandekar, a professor of plant sciences and senior author on the study.
“We anticipate that this discovery could open new ways to think about dealing with Pierce’s disease and highlight other areas of immune response, in general, that haven’t yet been considered,” he said.
About Pierce’s disease
Pierce’s disease, first identified in the 1890s, is caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa and is characterized by yellowed and browning leaves that eventually drop from the vine. The disease is transmitted from vine to vine by small, winged insects called sharpshooters.
Pierce’s disease is established in Northern California, where it is transmitted by the blue-green sharpshooter, which lives near rivers and streams. The disease became a serious threat to California agriculture in 1996 when the glassywinged sharpshooter — another Pierce’s disease carrier native to the Southwest — was discovered in the Temecula Valley of Southern California.
How infection progresses
It’s been known for a number of years that when Xyllela fastidiosa invades a grapevine, it produces a biofilm or gel in the xylem — the vascular tissue that transports water and some nutrients throughout the vine.
Scientists have theorized that this biofilm damages the vine by clogging up the xylem, preventing the flow of water to the leaves. That theory seemed to explain the yellowing of the leaf edges and eventual death of the leaf tissue.
But not all of the evidence stacked up to fit that theory, Dandekar said. For example a heavy accumulation of Xyllela fastidiosa in grapevine leaves was not always accompanied by severe disease symptoms in leaves. And, in some infected grapevines as well as other host plants, the leaves showed severe symptoms but the xylem had very little blockage.
So Dandekar and colleagues set out to investigate an alternative mechanism by which Xyllela fastidiosa might be wreaking havoc with the vine’s physiology.
Secrets of the “secretome”
The research team began by analyzing the bacteria’s secretome — the entire collection of enzymes and other proteins secreted by a disease-causing agent like Xyllela fastidiosa during the infection process. Such secreted proteins are known to play key roles in triggering many plant diseases.
The resulting data indicated that an enzyme, which the researchers named LesA, was quite abundant during Xyllela fastidiosa infections and shared characteristics with similar enzymes known to be capable of breaking down plant cell walls.
The researchers went on to confirm their suspicions by demonstrating that a mutant strain of Xyllela fastidiosa bacteria — with a specific gene knocked out, or inactivated — lacked the ability to cause infection in grapevines.
“The LesA enzyme has the ability to move through cell membranes, equipping the Xyllela fastidiosa bacteria to invade the grapevine and to live in its xylem tissues, where it feeds on fatlike compounds called lipids,” Dandekar says.
In this way, the LesA enzyme triggers the process that causes the typical Pierce’s disease leaf damage — a process completely unrelated to the xylem blockage and water stress that had previously been thought to cause the symptomatic leaf damage.
The research for the newly published study was conducted by Rafael Nascimiento and Hossein Gouran, both graduate students in Dandekar’s laboratory. Dandekar said that his research team plans to move forward with Pierce’s disease research in hopes of developing ways to counteract the disease.
Funding for the newly published study was provided by the Pierce’s Disease Board of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
* Related: Fused genes tackle deadly Pierce’s disease in grapevines: http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10151
* Related: UC Davis cracks the walnut genome: http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=11410
* Related: Springtime for wheat starts with a gene that ‘sees’ light: http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10965
University of California, Davis – Making wine requires water beyond what it takes to grow grapes. There are bottles to wash, barrels to scrub and floors to clean. But what if the water left over from all that cleaning was treated and reused to irrigate vineyards? It sounds like a promising practice, especially during a drought, but would it hurt the vines, the soil or even the wine?
To find out, scientists at the University of California, Davis, assessed winery wastewater samples monthly over two years at 18 wineries in the Napa and Lodi regions of California. In two recently published studies, they conclude that, under the right conditions, winery wastewater is a viable water source to irrigate vineyards.
The research provides the first data to support the California wine industry’s reuse of treated winery wastewater, and it describes recommended conditions for the practice, with a key focus on salinity issues.
“This is a good baseline data set to look at and say, ‘Now we know what’s in our wastewater and what we can do to deal with it before we put it on the grapes,’” said lead author and UC Davis researcher Maya Buelow. “Vines are a high cash crop, and growers need to proceed with caution and gather site-specific soil and wastewater data, but there are wineries successfully doing this.”
Salt water solution?
The researchers learned that most wineries in the study were already doing a good job of treating their wastewater through a series of retention ponds and other treatment systems. Salts, however, remain a challenge.
Salt concentrations affect how water moves through the soil. Salts are usually introduced into the wastewater by cleaning agents, and they are not removed by treatment systems.
However, the study found that levels of salts at the wineries were usually below thresholds for most wine grape rootstocks and soil salinity hazards.
There’s also a trend within the wine industry to switch from sodium-based to potassium-based cleaners. The study examined the risks and benefits of such a shift for specific soil types. The scientists emphasize that further research is needed to develop best management guidelines, but their results indicate that:
* Soils dominated by montmorillonite, a clay mineral, could benefit from shifting to potassium-based cleaners.
* Both types of cleaners may negatively affect soils dominated by vermiculite.
* Neither type of cleaner reduced infiltration rates in soils with kaolinite, also a clay mineral.
Not just grapes
“This is very applicable to nearly every agricultural system out there,” Buelow said. Many other segments of the food industry produce significant amounts of wastewater, such as dairy, pig, poultry and food processing operations. “There are opportunities for them to reuse wastewater, as well,” she said.
The winery wastewater survey was published in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture and funded by the Kearney Foundation of Soil Science. Co-authors include Kerri Steenwerth, Lucas Silva and Sanjai J. Parikh of UC Davis.
The salinity and soil study was published in the journal Agriculture Water Management. It was funded by the Kearney Foundation, as well as the Henry A. Jastro-Shields Scholarship, and co-authored by Steenwerth and Parikh.
What do 3 winemaking couples in Simi Valley have in common with 2 winemaking couples in Santa Clarita besides, of course, wine?
Both have websites, belong to their local vintner’s association, a tasting room – or one very soon- and have met at the same crush pad in Paso Robles.
Thousand Oaks via Paso
Gary Stewart, one proprietor of Four Brix Wine, gave me a splash of things to come in their new dedicated tasting room open Sundays at WineYard in Thousand Oaks. The wine, soon-to-be in the SCV I hope, and the WineYard tasting room, were both new to me. Today I introduce them to you.
The WineYard, the only wine bar/store in Thousand Oaks, is about a 45-minute drive from Santa Clarita. But instead of driving through a dessert to get there, I was rewarded by rolling grassy hills that could’ve easily been dotted with vines.
Once arriving I saw that guests could either sit outside and enjoy the weather with their wine, or choose from either the long indoor bar or tables close to the outdoors via large windows. There was more than enough wine between the cold unit, wine racks, and even more retail space behind the bar. Guests came in and made themselves comfortable and I settled in for the afternoon.
Now, onto our winemakers.
The Stewarts, Simonsgaards and Noonans, a mighty band of Rotarians, are making 5 California blended wines in old world styles from 11 single varietals, 9 vineyards and 6 appellations.
Born from their worldwide travels, wine tasting became a focused passion for the three couples. They hooked up with 20 other Simi Valley families, forming the Indian Meadows Vintners Association; the name based on the housing development they all lived in back in 2001.
Stewart is mostly self-taught, adding classes from UC Davis, and was mentored by winemaker Ryan Horn at the Vintner’s Vault in Paso; the other couples offered years of palate experience. I then offered up my own palate to try the swanky labels he had for Deductive (Zinfandel and Petite Syrah), Rhondevous (Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache) and my personal favorite, Scosso (Sangiovese, Cabernet, Merlot).
We chatted it up about getting Four Brix together with our local Pulchella for a wine tasting in the Santa Clarita Valley…and maybe the entire Ventura County Wine Trail will soon be brought to a wine bar near you…
Newhall via Paso
Much like Gary at Four Brix winery, Nate and I both have followed the path to commercial winery mostly from self-taught knowledge. We both starting making wine over ten years ago in our homes. Buying juice kits and learning the rules to making wine. Graduating to purchasing fruit from vineyards in small lots and fermenting in small bins.
For years as we learned the “rules” we started to notice that if you respected the “rules” but started to break them, the wine changed for the better. As we started to break the “rules”, the wine developed into something that was truly unique and complex.
It was around this time that friends and family started to comment on the quality of the wines and pushed us to start thinking of offering the wines for sale because they were standing up against some of the best commercial wines available. A hobby had officially turned into an infatuation at this point and we know there was no turning back. Our passion for making wine could not be overlooked and in 2007 we decided to file the permits and licenses to become a commercial winery.
Our philosophy was to produce very high concentrated and elegant wines in small lots to ensure we could continue to focus on quality and not let the quantity affect the final product. We are committed to only producing wines in lots of fewer than 100 cases each.
Our winemaking style is not driven by attending UC Davis classes on how to make wine, it’s driven by our past experiences, knowledge and respect for the process and continued passion to make the wines better every year.
Our tasting room will be opening soon in old town Newhall on Main Street and we hope you will come and support our passion.
Co owner / Winemaker
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a guest judge for the L.A. International Wine Competition. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com