From Europe With Love: Spanish Wine Site Gives 14 Keys To US Sales

A little perspective never hurt.


Spanish-language wine site Vinetur released last week a list of 14 tips for selling wine in the United States. The list includes interesting insights into the habits of wine drinkers in the United States from a European perspective.


“Wine is the alcoholic beverage most consumed between adults in the United States with a 44 percent share of the market,” Vinetur reported, quoting a 2013 Wine Market Council study.


The article begins with a brief overview of the US’s production numbers – California produces 87 percent of the country’s wine, the article said, followed by Washington at four percent and New York at three percent.


“Even though the market is dominated by domestic wines, French and Italian wines have been amply introduced in the past four years,” the article said. “Also, the strong growth of imports of Australian, Argentine and Chilean wines in the last few years stands out.”


The article then moved to the aforementioned 14 tips.


“The per-capita consumption of wine in the United States continues to be lower than other countries with older vinicultural tradition,” the article said. “Yet meanwhile the consumption between the countries with older vinicultural traditions is decreasing, while the United States’ consumption continues to increase.”


This presents the opportunity for growth in the United States market for European producers, the article said.


America’s thirst for wine hits its peak in October and November, the article said.

“The best months to enter the U.S. Market are, from better volume to worse volume of sales by North American importers, are October, November, May and June,” the article said.


Quoting the 2013 Wine Market Council study, Vinetur noted that women are the principal consumers of wine in the United States. 


Of the about 100 million wine drinkers in the United States, 60 percent of them are women and 57 percent of them drink wine once a week or more.


Furthermore, the article said, women normally make their wine purchases at grocery stores.


In terms of age, Baby Boomers are the biggest consumers of wines in the US, the article stated. The 49-67 year-old generation represents 40 percent of regular wine drinkers, according to a 2014 Wine Market Council report.


The Vinetur article also noted that American wine drinkers prefer still, non-fortified wines. 


“The preferred wine of American consumers is table wine, which captured 91.68% of consumption in 2012,” the article said.


Within the table wine category, the article said as it quoted a The U.S. Wine Market study, Americans prefer white wines over red wines at a rate of 45.04 percent to 44.28 percent.


Of note is that Americans purchase eight out of 10 wine bottles from grocery stores, Vinetur said.


The article pointed out California is the state which consumes the most wine, while Washington D.C.’s residents consume the most wine per person, the article said.


Original: Snooth – Articles


Chinese Investor Buys Stake in South African Winery

Chinese acquisitions of foreign wineries are nothing new, but businessman William Wu’s recent purchase of Swartland Winery near Cape Town is making news. 


“The market is in China where I have a ready demand for the quality and volume of wine Swartland produces,” Wu was quoted as saying in an article this past month by Bloomberg.


The winery is located in South Africa’s Malmesbury region, “known for its Merlot and Pinotage red wines,” Bloomberg reported.


A story by South Africa’s Business Report said Wu purchased 51 percent of the company after gaining approval from the winery’s 70 shareholders.


Wu heads up China’s biggest security company and has lived in South Africa since the early 1980’s the Report’s article said. 


“Wu said Swartland was a great investment,” the Report noted. “Its infrastructure, including bottling, warehousing and distribution, offered total control of supply and a one-stop shop for exporting to the Far East as well as continuing to service global and local markets.”


Part of the draw of acquiring Swartland was the winery’s plethora of red grapes.


“(Swartland) is one of the few South African wineries of this size where the majority of grapes planted are red varieties – in which the Chinese market is most interested,” Wu told Bloomberg.

According to Bloomberg, the South African winery processes about 25,000 metric tons of grapes per year.


The winery’s website elaborated on the location and history of the winery, which has been around for more than 60 years, Bloomberg noted.


“The vineyards benefit from the constant cool breezes that blow off the Atlantic Ocean, effectively sustaining the many microclimates, while the proximity to mountain ranges adds its own dimension to the physical character of the fruit,” the Swartland website says of its vineyards’ location.


Vineyards were first planted in 1948, and by 1950, the Swartland site says, “the winery was up and running and membership had swelled to 48 farmers, supplying 2,500 tons of grapes int eh first year.”


In 1977, the winery became the first co-op in South Africa to “bottle, sell and market its own brand” and in 1994 the winery made its first exports to Europe, the site says.


Swartland became a public company in 2006.


The winery produces about two million cases of wine per year, sourced from 3,600 hectares of vineyards, the site says.


Origin: Snooth – Articles

Virginia Winemakers Report On Nature’s Vagrants, Mechanical Harvests, Interesting Vintage

Life amid the vines and wines of Old Dominion can be an interesting one, according to the fall edition of the Virginia Vineyard Association’s quarterly newsletter, Grape Press.


Reports from the north, central and southern portions of the state detail prevention measures, vineyard management techniques and prognostications about the quality of the 2014 vintage.


Willowcroft Farm Vineyards’ Dean Triplett submitted a report about the variety of methods his winery has used to protect his its grapes from birds, raccoons and deer. 


Bird netting is on the rise in vineyards, he said, but winemakers say the winged opportunists have found ways to nibble on grapes despite the protective measures. 


“We have, however, seen a problem with netting that touches up directly against clusters,” Triplett wrote. “Birds latch onto the netting where a cluster is present and proceed to peck on the individual berries they can reach.”

Triplett noted he may transition to nets fixed to trellis outriggers.


Among other measures taken to thwart the foraging of forest critters is electric raccoon netting. The netting provides a quick shock to any masked marauder who hopes to steal a midnight snack.


“We’ve had less predation than we had last year,” Triplett said. “While not meant to be permanent, the netting goes up quickly and can be moved from vineyard to vineyard quickly.”


Willowcroft also used artificial deer distress calls to ward off sly members of the cervidae family.


In southern Virginia, new machinery was the world, according to Sans Soucy Vineyards’ Paul Anctil. 

Anctil said he witnessed a harvester at work at Pinehaven Vineyards.


“This machine uses a combination of shaking and vacuum to strip the grapes from the stems, leaving bare stems minus grapes still hanging on the trellis,” he observed.


Part of the draw of using mechanical harvesters is to avoid the headaches of work crews, he said.


We all know the difficulty and frustration of finding adequate workers to bring in the harvest,” Anctil wrote. “Each year it seems to be getting more difficult and more expensive.”


Veritas Vineyard and Winery’s Bill Tonkins reported on the happenings in the central part of the state. 


Lower summer temperatures contributed to what Tonkins said could be a great vintage.


“The cool weather is preventing the acids from disappearing and the fruit is holding up well,” he wrote. “Overall, we are poised in mid-September for a rare and interesting vintage.”


Via: Snooth – Articles

Wine for the Winter

With an output of over 1.2 million litres a year, Canada is by far the world’s largest producer of icewine or “liquid gold” as it is often called. That is a considerable feat, given that icewine originated in Europe a long time ago.


While some people believe icewine dates back to Roman times, it reappeared, quite by accident, in Franconia, Germany, in 1794. After a frost hit unexpectedly, farmers nevertheless used the grapes to make wine. The result was a wonderfully sweet liquid, unlike anything they had tasted, and it came to be known as eiswein. By the early 19th Century sweet wines made from late harvested grapes had clearly taken their place as the most valued German wine style as indicated by the introduction of the Auslese (which literally means “select harvest”) designation. Throughout the 19th century, eiswein harvests were particularly rare because the conditions needed to produce eiswein were seldom attained. 

Along with counterculture, the 1960s brought much innovation. Pneumatic bladder presses, portable generators, and plastic film to cover and protect grapes, all assisted in the viability of the production of icewine.  In 1961, numerous German eiswines were produced and in turn, the wine increased in popularity in the following years. 


In 1972, an early frost hit British Columbia’s young wine industry. Familiar with the tradition of eiswein production, Walter Hainle (Hainle Vineyards), a German immigrant, and his son Tilman produced 40 litres of icewine from the frozen grapes. Six years later Tilman went on to release Canada’s first commercial icewine. In 1983, Karl Kaiser and Donald Ziraldo of Inniskillin, Ewald Reif of Reif Winery, Walter Strehn of Pelee Island Winery, and Dr. Joseph Pohorly and Peter Gamble of Hillebrand Estates all set aside grapes with the intention of making icewine. Inniskillin and Reif both lost their entire crop to ravenous birds, while Hillebrand and Pelee were able to produce tiny amounts. The following year, Kaiser used nets to protect the grapes and was able to produce Inniskillin’s first icewine from Vidal wine grapes. While icewine quickly grew in domestic popularity, the truly defining moment came in 1991, when Inniskillin’s 1989 Vidal icewine won the world’s most prestigious wine award: the Grand Prix d’Honneur at Vinexpo. By the early 2000s, Canada had established itself as the top producer of one of the rarest wine styles in the world. 


While eiswine continues to be made in Europe, Canada is the only region where the climatic conditions are suitable for the production of icewine every year. Icewine is made by allowing the grapes to remain on the vine until freezing occurs. So in countries where these wines are produced, winemakers ultimately have two harvests: one for table wine and one for icewine. While the health of the berry at table wine harvest is important, it is not indicative of the ultimate quality of the future icewine. While the grapes continue to hang they are susceptible to animals and rot. When conditions are right, the grapes desiccate over the cold fall months and the numerous cycles of freeze and thaw contribute to the overall profile of the final wine. In Canada, icewine cannot be harvested until the temperature drops to  -8 degrees C, the point at which all of the berries will freeze. When this happens the water in the berries separates from the super concentrated sugar juice, also known as must. Because this juice is so high in sugar it is denser than the water, and thus freezes at a lower temperature. This means that when the icewine juice is pressed away from the frozen ice in the berry, the juice is much higher in sugar. Moreover, the freeze/thaw cycles that occur before the critical temperature is achieved allow for the further development of flavours. To ensure that no dilution occurs, the berries are often harvested in the cool of night. At Pilliteri Estates Winery, the winemaker Alexsander Kolundzic goes a step further and ensures that -8 degrees C is maintained for a long enough time to ensure that maximum freezing, flavour development and concentration are achieved. As lab manager, Renee Lefebvre at Pilliteri Estates Winery points out, “While great wine begins in the vineyard, it is essential that we maintain the potential of the grapes by processing them properly. There is no point in investing a great deal of resources just to dilute this liquid gold during processing.” Inniskillin pioneer Donald Ziraldo, who is often credited with the success of icewine, does not harvest his grapes until -10 degrees C to ensure optimal flavours have been achieved. Icewine must not only be picked at a lower temperature than their European counterparts, but the sugar concentration of the grape must, also has to be higher. 


But these rigorous standards alone are not what make Canadian icewine so unique. Where Eiswein is predominantly made from Riesling, icewine can be made from any vitis vinifera variety as well as the hybrid Vidal Blanc. Icewine is currently being made from both red and white varietals. Regardless of the grape variety used, icewine is a sweet, highly concentrated wine, with wonderful acidity to balance its sweetness, making it a perfect aperitif to pair with cheeses or a dessert in itself. Its colour depends on the variety used, but can range from pale yellow to deep gold for the white varietals and a pale amber to a deep garnet for the reds. Depending on both the variety and the climate, the flavours range across the spectrum. For instance, Vidal is famous for honeyed peach and apricot flavours but can also present more tropical flavours such as mango and passion fruit. Cabernet Sauvignon, by contrast, tends to show bright cherry, confectioned raspberries, and strawberry jam notes. Regardless of the varietal, the icewine expression appears to be a concentration of the dominant flavours. 


Canada’s rigorous standards and ideal climatic conditions together underlie this country’s position as the world leader in icewine production. So when you’re thinking of an aperitif or dessert wine to kick off 2015, why not celebrate the wonders of winter with a bottle of Canadian icewine? 


Source: Snooth – Articles

A Wine Investment: BBC Gives 7 Tips

Whether for financial purposes or pure pleasure, wine investing is a hit among those with the resources to procure precious vintages. 


This past week, United Kingdom-based news agency BBC gave seven tips about wine investing, an arena which is, according to reporter Oliver Pickup, “one of the best performing asset classes of the last 20 years.”


For starters, the BBC recommends investing money which you can stand to lose and, BBC said, wine investors should plan on diving into their endeavor with at least $15,000. 


“The same rule for any investment, or indeed gamble, applies: do not use money which is likely to be necessary for your living in the short to medium term,” Pickup wrote. “Only spend what truly won’t be missed. Returns are not guaranteed.”


When making the decision about which wines to select, pick the “very best you can afford”, Pickup noted.


Pickup recommends wines which have a track record of good performance – France’s Burgundy, Rhone, Bordeaux, and Champagne; the Super Tuscans and California’s finest Cabernets were all examples Pickup gave.


“A smaller quantity of the finest wines will serve you better than cheaper cases which will hit you in the pocket when you (total) up the annual insurance and storage charges,” Pickup said.

When you’ve selected the wines you want to buy, shop around, Pickup said.


“When buying for investment it’s vital to shop around and sniff out the best market prices,” he wrote. “Make sure you do your homework.”


Be prepared to hold on to your purchase for at least five years, Pickup recommended. 


“Fine wine investment has almost always produced positive absolute returns in every five-year holding period, ever since the first recorded, back in 1999,” he wrote.


This growth is due to the fact that fine wines are limited; there is not an endless supply, Pickup said. Over time, these wines will “become rarer and more desirable,” he wrote.


Proper storage of your investment is also important.


Pickup (in British-speak) said your wines should be stored in a “bonded, ‘duty-paid’ warehouse such as London City Bond or Octavian vaults.”


Bonded warehouses, he said, are carefully regulated and provide optimal conditions for storing valuable wines. 


Also keep up to date on your wine’s insurance coverage, he said.


Beware of en primeur wines, Pickup noted. Known as “wine futures”, en primeur buys involved acquiring wine which is still in the barrel and has yet to undergo bottling and delivery. 


“Buying en primeur means committing to the wines when they are at their youngest – with all the maturing to do, before the final blend and oak-ageing is complete – and is fraught with risk,” he said.

Pickup’s final piece of advice is to be aware of the tax benefits of wine investment, and to speak with your tax adviser about your acquisitions.


By: Snooth – Articles

Americans Drink More Italian Wines Than Italians

The Old World wines have always been a hit in the New World, and an article released by Reuters earlier this year indicates the love affair between old and new isn’t letting up.


“Although Italy is the world’s largest wine exporter, Italians are drinking less wine as American consumption rises,” Reuters reported. 


The driving force behind the continued popularity of Italian wines in the United States is the country’s adeptness in producing sweet wines, which are, according to a Silicon Valley Bank study quoted in the Reuters piece, the darlings of the Millennial generation. 


“Sales of Moscato imported from Italy were up 26.3 percent by volume for the 52 weeks ending (2013),” Reuters reported. “Imports from Italy of a still version of the grape were up 14.1 percent by volume.”


The popularity of Moscato has led to a sort of sugary treasure hunt for Millennials, whose sweet tooth has led them to bubbly bottles of Prosecco. 


Prosecco has appeared in the headlines this year because, according to a recent story by the Wall Street Journal, the sparkling wine experienced a 32 percent rise in sales in the US. 

These numbers follow a 2012 sales year in which the Italian sparkler reported significant growth as well.


“The consortium that governs the production of Prosecco reported global sales in 2013 topped some 241.6 million bottles, up more than 24 percent from 2012,” Reuters said.


While American desires for Prosecco and Moscato rise, Italian interest in wines from their own country are falling.


Italian university professor Michele Antonio Fino spoke about this Roman decline.


“The large majority of Italians like to drink a glass of wine while having their meal,” Fino told Reuters. “They don’t feel it is as necessary as it was 30 years ago.”


The numbers tell the story, according to Reuters. 


In the 1970’s, Italians drank about 29 gallons of wine per person per year. In 2013, Reuters said, Italians drank 10.6 gallons of wine per year – about 30 percent of what they consumed in the 1970’s. 


Though Italians drink more wine per year than Americans, the United States six-to-one population advantage has led to Americans drinking more Italian wines than Italians. 


Hat Tip To: Snooth – Articles