WineMaker News Page

Updated October 28, 2019

Cabernet Sauvignon in a Changing Climate

A collaborative effort between UC Cooperative Extension, Beckstroffer Vineyards, and Duarte Nursery has begun to study the effects of various Cabernet Sauvignon clones grafted onto different rootstock. This study matches 10 Cabernet clone types grafted on 10 rootstock types, with a total of 3,600 total vines planted in Lake County, California. The goal of the study is to look at how the interactions between rootstock and clone can handle the changing climate where drought tolerance may be key to a successful harvest and simultaneously producing high-quality Cabernet grapes.

Ample Supply + Lower Demand = Good for Winemakers

The trend has been one that has been several years in the making . . . the 2019 California grape harvest is expected to leave a lot of fruit hanging. A combination of overly aggressive sales forecasts for the past several years combined with a bumper crop year in 2018, has had a synergistic effect that commercial demand for wine grapes in 2019 is much lower than usual. While this is not good news for some grape growers, hobby and small-scale winemakers may be able to find great prices on high-quality grapes.

The Maceration Accelerator

While this piece of news is really more for the bigger commercial winemakers, we thought it interesting enough to share with winemakers of all sizes. A new machine, the Della Toffola Maceration Accelerator or DTMA, reduces maceration time by up to 50% while simultaneously improving the extraction of polyphenols and anthocyanins. The maceration accelerator effectively shreds the skin of the grape while not shredding the seeds. The process known as Accentuated Cut Edge (ACE) maceration has been the focus of Dr. Angela Sparrow’s studies, helping lead to this new technology. For more on her research, you can visit:

Intense European Heat Waves Strike

Europe underwent the most intense heat waves on record during the summer of 2019. New all-time high temperature marks were recorded across the continent including France, Belgium, and Germany. At the time of production of this issue, it was still too early to be sure, but estimates were that the wine grape harvest in France would be down 6–13% according to their agriculture ministry. Along with other mitigating factors, expected harvest forecast predicts France’s grape harvest to be the lowest in at least 5 years, if not more.

Traverse City Wines Score Big

While this story would possibly have been more of interest to our readers and Conference goers one or two issues ago, Wine Enthusiast magazine in their July 2019 issue, rated and reviewed over 100 wines from the Traverse City, Michigan area and an astounding 65 of those wines scored between 87–91 points, on par with regions such as New Zealand, Washington, Oregon, and Spain. Make note to seek out a bottle or mark it on your destination map, because the region won’t be unknown for long. Learn more at

New Products

Winexpert Limited Edition (LE19)

Now in their 30th year of Limited Edition kit production, Winexpert has announced their line up of five limited quantity kits to be released monthly, one per month between December 2019–April 2020, including three reds and two whites. Contact your Winexpert retailer for the latest details.

2020 RJS Restricted Quantities (RQ)

Celebrating their 20th anniversary of the RQ program, RJS Craft Winemaking is releasing five kits, four reds and one rosé. Each 18-L (4.75-gallon) kit comes with its own artistically designed labels and bottle dressings. Contact your RJS Craft Winemaking retailer for the latest details.

Mini FerMonster™

The FerMonster™ family just got bigger and welcomes two new members! The Vintage Shop now has the 1- and 3-gallon (3.8-L and 11.4-L) wide-mouth fermenters. Just like their older brothers, 6- and 7-gallon (23-L and 26.5-L) FerMonsters™, these non-ribbed, PET food-grade material fermenters are easy to clean and use and are perfect for small-batch fermentations or trials. These are nearly impermeable to oxygen penetration and almost impossible to break. Several add-ons are available such as carriers and solid lids. To learn more visit:

Artisanal Small-Batch Brewing

For those looking to explore the world of fermentation outside of the grape world, herbalist Amber Shehan has written a book promoting small-scale wine, cider, mead, and beer brewing. Focusing on recipes and exploration, small-scale batches allow those looking to experiment with these unique alcoholic beverages a great opportunity to begin. The book is split into five groupings: Mead, country and fruit wines, ciders, beer/gruit, and finally other-recipe types. Check with your favorite local or online bookseller for more info.

Upcoming Events

November 8

Entries from all regions for the 46th Annual US Amateur Winemaking Competition will be accepted from October 1 through November 8. Judging will be held November 16. The entry fee is $20 per bottle and payment can be made online. Prizes will be awarded for winners, and all of the score sheets will be mailed to participants. More information is available on the web at

January 10, 2020

Entries for the 21st Annual Kansas City Cellarmasters Wine Classic Competition will be accepted January 2–10 and judging will take place January 24–25. Open to all amateur winemakers, the cost to enter is $10 per entry and a separate label contest with an entry fee of $1 is also being held. There are separate divisions and judging that take place between original source wines and wine kit wines. Learn more at

January 17, 2020

The 43rd annual Newport Seafood and Wine Festival in Newport, Oregon is hosted by the Newport Chamber of Commerce and features an amateur wine competition. The competition entry deadline is on January 17. The cost is $10 per entry. Entries can be mailed or dropped off with the Newport Chamber of Commerce or at one of their many drop-off locations around the state.

February 14, 2020

Tennessee Viticultural and Oenological Society (TVOS) Amateur Wine Competition entry deadline is February 14th, 2020. Rules, fees, and all entry information at American Wine Society judges will be judging the competition and awards are presented at the Annual Conference March 14th.

May 28-31, 2020

In case you haven’t heard yet, WineMaker is pleased to announce the location of our 13th Annual Conference: San Luis Obispo, California. The 2020 WineMaker Conference will be located near the heart of Paso Robles wine country. Early-bird registration to save $100 is now open.