On May 21-22, 460+ amateur winemakers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and wine lovers converged at Skamania Lodge on the Columbia Gorge in Stevenson, Washington for two days of educational and hands-on seminars, keynote addresses from industry experts, wine tastings, and story swapping. And winners of the WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition were also announced at the sold-out event, all in grand style and fabulous dinner prepared by the culinary hands at the lodge.
This was the third annual conference hosted by WineMaker magazine. It was held in Sonoma County and Napa Valley in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The site for the 2011 conference will be the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort (http://www.fessparkersantabarbarahotel.com/) in Santa Barbara from May 20-21.
If you have never had a chance to attend this conference, you have been missing out on a great experience. As an avid amateur winemaker and commercial winery operator, I derive tremendous value from the seminars and from meeting and chatting with folks. Nowhere else do I get the opportunity to interact with so many fellow amateur winemakers; the experience is both educational and pure fun, and Washington was no different.
Many brought their own homemade wines to share with other wine enthusiasts and get feedback on their winemaking. What a great way to get free advice, and home winemakers are not shy about giving advice. But it’s all fun and done in the spirit of learning.
Ah! Those bad sulfites; they’re such an easy target. What else can people blame for headaches after drinking red wine? After all, there is even a regulation that requires the mandatory mention contains sulfites on all wine sold in the U.S. So there must be some health concerns with sulfites. But why is that not indicated on other sulfite-containing food and beverages? Why is wine singled out? All are valid, interesting questions.
Recent research has shed some light on this controversy as only a very small segment of the population, approximately one percent, is actually allergic, exhibiting asthmatic reactions, not headaches. In fact, very few people, if any, actually complain of headaches after drinking white wines, which typically contain higher levels of sulfite as these are more prone to spoilage effects and therefore need added protection.
So why are people getting a headache when drinking (in moderation) red wine?...
I get asked this question quite frequently, as of lately, particularly in light of recent studies linking bisphenol-A (BPA)—the plastic used to line beverage containers and tin food cans—to cancer. The latest research from the Université de Sherbrooke in Québec, Canada and published in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology reports that BPA can adversely affect development of the fetus in pregnant women.
Until fairly recently, glass carboys were really the only practical containers for fermenting and storing wine available to home winemakers. However, glass carboys are heavy, slippery when wet, and fragile—much wine has been spilled and many people have been injured as the result of accidental breakage....