WineMaker News Page

Updated June 25, 2020

Winemaking Supply Shop Status During COVID-19

With the quickly evolving situation worldwide due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we thought the best way to serve both hobby winemakers and winemaking retail suppliers was to provide a list of current business status. We will continue to update the information on this page as the situation evolves. Please support your local winemaking supplier through these challenging times for everyone. Click here to find the supplier listing.

Mexico Is Now the Reigning Champ of Cabernet Wines

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

That’s right . . . not Bordeaux, not Napa, not Margaret River . . . the 2020 top accolades at the Concours International des Cabernets (CIDC) went to the winery Viñedos Don Leo, located in the Coahuila province in north-central Mexico. As many readers of this magazine know, Cabernet is the most planted wine grape in the world. The 2020 CIDC judged 200 elite Cabernet wines (both Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc) from 24 different countries to determine the champion. Not only did the grand champion trophy go to Viñedos Don Leo for their 2013 Don Leo Gran Reserva, but they also won a gold medal for their Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah blend as well. This just goes to prove that there are still plenty of undiscovered gems in the wine world. Don’t discount a wine region just because you have never heard of a winery from there before.

Working Together For Everyone

Photo courtesy of Caledonia Spirits

The current COVID-19 crisis can seem overwhelming at times. But despite all the pain and hardships that folks are going through, there are some bright spots that are sometimes not always reported. One such bright spot is the number of wineries, breweries, and distilleries that are mobilizing to craft sanitizer solution and hand sanitizers in order to help meet the growing demands for these products. Across the country, winemakers and brewers are creating the “wash” that the distillers can then concentrate through the distillation process to create an ethanol solution strong enough to kill the virus. It’s heart-warming to know that our friends in the alcohol industry are giving back in the best way they can in these challenging times. We at WineMaker magazine salute all those that are devoting their time and valuable resources towards this magnanimous effort. See page 16 of “Wine Wizard” for directions to make your own sanitizing agents at home.

New Kit Size, Process, and Look for Winexpert Kits

Photo courtesy of Winexpert

Winexpert has invested significantly in their processing facilities and the way in which they package their juices allowing them to create new, smaller kits. The smaller kits require less heat treatment, which means better color and better flavor — which leads to better wine. With the new process, Winexpert has also redesigned their packaging, kit portfolio, and logo. The new smaller-sized kits and packaging will be rolled out to retailers in the coming months. Learn more at

UC-Davis Announces the Release of Five New Grape Varieties

Pierce’s Disease is a bacteria that was introduced to the US over 140 years ago and has been a scourge of grape growers in many warm, humid climates since. Photo courtesy of

For the first time since the 1980s, UC-Davis is releasing several new wine grape varieties to the public. Three of the new grapes are red while the remaining two are white varietals. All of them are highly resistant to Pierce’s Disease, which according to the Robert Mondavi Institute Center for Wine Economics, cost California wine grape growers an estimated $100 million a year. Taste tests from initial plantings have been encouraging. The new varieties are a native New World grapevine species Vitis arizonica, which carries a dominant gene resistance to Pierce’s Disease, that was cross bred with Vitis vinifera over multiple generations. The three red grape varietals are named: Camminare Noir, Paseante Noir, and Errante Noir. The two white grape varietals are named: Ambulo Blanc and Caminante Blanc. While only limited plant material will be released in 2020, a more widespread release is expected in 2021. To learn more visit:

New Products

GOFermentor App

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the GOFermentor system, it is definitely worth a visit to their site. Users of the GOFermentor can take their winemaking experience “virtual” with their new app. The GOFermentor can now be controlled remotely, with the ability to adjust parameters such as fermentation temperature, punch down schedule, initiating a punch down, plus receive notifications about status changes. An LCD control panel is provided if WiFi capabilities are not available in your location. You can find a video on YouTube titled “Go App” or learn more at

Stars in a Glass

Fans of sparkling wine rejoice, a new book by UC-Davis graduate and award-winning winemaker Pedro Vargas outlines the process from start to finish. Stars in a Glass sets its sights on shedding light on the too often shrouded world of méthode champenoise sparkling wine techniques. This is a production manual with step-by-step instructions on making sparkling wine in your house/winery and includes charts to help make the process easier. This book is meant to educate both hobby and professional winemakers. You can find it at better bookstores and on Amazon.

The Everything Label

A new reusable label from Noontime Labels is perfect for home winemakers and brewers. Made of a flexible plastic that won’t rip or tear, you can take it off one bottle and place it on another. The label remains securely attached during long soaks or when cellaring, but peels right off when ready. You can leave the label on the bottle, wash, and sanitize as usual, then reuse the labeled bottle as is. It’s a gloss finish and permanent markers can be removed with rubbing alcohol. Learn more at

Orchard Breezin’ Blush Crush

Orchard Breezin’ Blush Crush is a new entry in this fruit-forward value brand line and is available only for a limited time. This is a rosé-based wine kit, light in alcohol, that features juicy berry flavors of strawberry and raspberry with a hint of grapefruit. This is a twist on a classic sangria wine cocktail perfectly timed for summer and ready to drink in four weeks. To find an RJS Craft Winemaking retailer near you, visit

Upcoming Events

May 20-23, 2021

COVID-19 Update for WineMaker Conference San Luis Obispo – Paso Robles: Our upcoming sold-out 2020 WineMaker Conference has been postponed to 2021. The event will still be in the same exact location in San Luis Obispo, California. Our 2021 program will feature the same great lineup of workshops and seminars planned for late May 2020. We will be posting here the revised schedule of seminars, special events, workshops, and winery tours soon for 2021.