Yesterday, was another great day at the conference! The organizers did a spectacular job running this conference.
The day started with a real nice breakfast .... fruit, eggs, sausage bacon, crepes ... you name it, much better than the typical continental breakfast spreads. But enough about that ..... Lets get to the wine and grape talks.
The morning started out with a keynote about the Winegrape industry in Iowa. This was followed by parallel sessions dealing with wine or grapes.
Luckily, two folks I knew and were attending the conference, Randy Harrison and Norm Stilson, attended some of the talks that I missed, so I will have to tap them for more info on the talks I did not attend. (Randy is a amateur winemaker and attended some of the winemaking talks. Norm is a grower and also makes wine, so he was splitting his time between the parallel tracks, as was I.)
So here is the quick summary:
Iowa experience (Mike White)
13 Iowa wineries in 1999 ->52+ wineries by Feb 2006
31 acres grapes growing in Iowa in 1999 -> 600+ in 2005
imported a lot of expertise
Evaluating Cold Climate Cultivars (Dr. Paul Domoto)
Late Frosts have huge impacts on many of the cultivars. And organic is a challenge in the Midwest. Site selection has huge impacts.
Wine Faults (Todd Steiner)
Don't skimp on those sulfites!
Lunch (quite the spread again!)
Wine Makers Forum(various)
Sweeter wine sells ... Iowa and Minnesota wines aren't cheap!
Working together as a State Grape and Wine industry (Donniella Winchell)
With good outreach, networking and smart promotion a grape and wine industry can reap huge benifits.
Dinner and a tribute to Bob Wollersheim
A great dinner and a heart tugging tribute to Bob Wollersheim
If I haven't lost you yet ... here are the details. (note this may or may not be the highlights, just my impressions.)
This was presented by Mike White (a very entertaining guy by the way) from Iowa State University Extension.
What they have done in Iowa since 1999 is impressive. Going from ~30 acres of vines to over 600 now. They had 13 wineries in 1999 and 52+ now. This was no accident. It helped that Iowa invested in the industry .... a wine and grape development council was appointed, the Universities hired researchers, extension specialists, and more.
They were also beneficiaries of some unique native winery laws like Native Wineries being exempt from some wine taxes, liberal licensing to sell Native winery wines at businesses that are not typical wine outlets (like flower shops, gift shops, etc) cheap/liberal licensing to allow wine sales by the glass at festivals and events.
This talk made me wonder why ..... WHY ... isn't Wisconsin doing some of the same things?
Evaluating Cold Climate Cultivars
This was presented by Dr. Paul Domoto. Dr. Domoto is a horticulture professor at the Iowa state University. This talk was somewhat Iowa centric, but in some ways was more relevant to my climate than many of the Minnesota oriented talks.
Dr. Domoto talked about two sites growing the same grapes. One site was significantly more frost prone than the other. Three management systems were also evaluated. They were:
In many cases the difference in these approaches were by far insignificant when it came to site factors ... such as frosts and cold injury. However, in general the organic suffered as one may expect.
Some general Notes:
All of the cultivars varied significantly. While there was a variation between cultivars, there was a huge variation between the sites. When there were late spring frosts, it had a huge impact. The cultivars with late bud beak had virtually no damage.
Winter low temperatures between the two sites varied by about 8 degrees -11F at one site -19F at the other. Huge difference were seen due to bud damage from the colder temperatures.
Additional sites and cultivars have been planted and additional information will be coming from those.
A lot of info was presented in this talk ... I don't think I even hit all of the highlights.
This was a talk I really looked forward to. It was presented by Todd Steiner from the University of Ohio. We did not get a handout on this, so I have limited notes.
We evaluated 10 wines, 5 red, and 5 white. One red was a control with no faults and one white was a control with no faults. We first tried the whites:
I was easily able to identify the flaw in both #2 and #3 (since I have had wines that suffered each)
1. White Wine control
2. Oxidized white. Brownish in color sweet nutty sherry aroma and taste .... due to too much oxygen . Too much head space, too much splashing when racking. This is the least offensive to me, since I like sherry. But this is a recognized fault.
3. VA problem i.e. volatile acidity problem i.e. acetic acid i.e. VINEGAR. Distinct vinegar smell. Due to poor sanitation, or insufficient sulfites, too much oxygen or head space.
4. lactic acid spoilage. This one smelled like sauerkraut. May sometimes have a ropey filaments in it, but is less common. Due to insufficient SO2(sulfites). Typically due to a natural malolactic culture.
5. Protein haze. We only got to see this one.
Now the reds.
I recognized 2 out of the 4 flaws. Only once did I have a wine suffer from one (#9).
6. Red control
7. High alcohol and fusel alcohols. I thought this smelled a bit like lighter fluid, rubber (and slightly like rotting flesh!) it had a hot taste. This is often due to certain yeast strains and or high fermentation temperatures.
8. Brett ... I have read about this, but did not know what it smelled like. It smells like a first aid kit or band aids. Brett is caused by a bacteria, so sulfites would help, but it is anaerobic so air is less of a factor. Sometimes found in Bordeaux wines (intentionally?)
9. Film yeast . Wine flowers, ethel acetate. Smelled like fruity nail polish remover. Prevented with adequate sulfites and topping up.
10. Geranium smell due to adding sorbate to a malolactic fermented wine. I have noted this in a couple of wines I've tried ... never my own, since I haven't added sorbate to very many. This example was a commercial wine, and it had an overpowering geranium smell! Simple solution; keep sulfites up so malolactic does not start, or don't add sorbate to a malolactic fermented wine .... be careful with blending .... a malo fermented wine blended with a sorbated wine is just as bad.
Winemaker Round table
I won't go into too much detail here, but this was a fascinating one. We try 10+ different wines with the winemakers of those wines explaining in detail the chemistry and methods for making the wines. Great insights are gained from this. I was shocked at some of the prices that they sell these wines for. I think $12 was the cheapest. Most were between $15 and $20. When we were trying the sweeter wines, one of the wine makers noted that it wasn't his favorite, but by far the sweeter wines were the ones that sell.
Working together as a State Grape and Wine industry
This was the final talk and the keynote. Donniella Winchell gave this presentation .... she is the Executive Director of the Ohio Wine producers association. There was too much information to even touch a little on what was presented in this talk. The bottom line was you really have to get involved and network at every level .... from legislatures to tourism boards to news media. You really need to promote. Great info.
Dinner and tribute to Bob Wollersheim
The conference concluded with a dinner and tribute to Bob Wollersheim. The dinner was served with several bottles of wine from some of the attendee wine makers.
At the end of the dinner Philippe Coquard, who is the son-in-law of Bob Wollersheim and winemaker at the Wollersheim winery, showed a movie that was wonderful picture history of the Wollersheim winery that Bob Wollersheim himself made in 2002. Bob was also posthumously awarded the Elmer Swenson Achievement Award, Philippe and JoAnn Wollersheim accepted the award on Bob's behalf.