WineMaker News Page

Updated March 10, 2021

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.

Terroir Finally Proven?

At last, scientists may have found chemical proof that the concept of a vineyard’s terroir does actually exist . . . well at least in the Mendoza region of Argentina. Terroir is a concept that says soil and climate will provide particular nuances to wines made from grapes from a specific vineyard year after year. But solid proof of the concept has long eluded researchers. A group from the Catena Institute of Wine, a collaboration between UC-Davis and the Argentinian Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, looked at 23 different vineyards in 12 different geographic indications in Mendoza to see if the chemical composition of the vintages changed year-over-year. By looking at vintages from 2016, 2017, and 2018, they were able to successfully identify a wine’s origins based on its phenolic composition for 11 of the vineyards 100% of the time. The other 12 vineyards, the scientists were able to identify the origins 83% of the time based on the phenolic indicators. Learn more about the study at:

Wine and Cheese Lovers Rejoice

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If you’re a fan of wine and cheese, today is your day to celebrate. A new study put out by a team of scientists out of Iowa State University noted that these two items can improve both cognitive function as well as combat against age-related cognitive degeneration such as Alzheimer’s disease. When the team evaluated a study of nearly 1,800 aging adults and their consumption of a broad range of food and drinks, what they uncovered was that cheese was hands down the best food to enjoy in order to protect against cognitive problems later in life. They also found that moderate daily consumption of alcohol (red wine in particular) improved cognitive function. If this topic peaks your interest, you can learn more at:

What Makes Vitis vinifera So Special?

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Geneticists at UC-Davis have successfully unlocked one of the deeper mysteries surrounding what makes domesticated Vitis vinifera so special in the grape world — the trait that causes vinifera grapes to grow in large and plentiful bunches. Most grape species in the world have male and female plants and their grape bunches can be sparse and irregular. The mystery begins when we learn that male grape vines do have female parts and vice versa. But the female’s pollen will be sterile while male plants have pistils that are reduced and incapable of being fertilized . . . in other words, also sterile. But domesticated wine grapes are hermaphroditic, meaning every vine contains fully functional male and female flower parts. This allows pollination to occur with a very high success rate.

What the scientists found was that it actually required two distinct mutations, in two separate genes, for this transformation to occur. In other words, two mutant wild grapes species must have mated: One a male with unsuppressed female fertilization capacity crossed with a female with unsuppressed male fertilization capacity . . . a recombination event. This “freak” mating event that occurred thousands of years ago gave rise to our fruitful, domesticated grape vine. Why this happened remains a mystery, but how it happened, genetically speaking, can now be explained.

Cider Vocabulary Standardization

Photo by Brenda Collins

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) announced that they have approved a grant of $500,000 to Virginia Tech and Cornell scientists to standardize the vocabulary used for cider. Currently, definitions for criteria such as sweetness levels are set by the individual cider producer. This can mean that one cidery’s “dry” cider may actually contain quite a bit more sugar than another cidery’s. Their goal is not to dictate how different cidermakers make their beverages, but rather to have consumer’s expectations be met. This is similar in a sense to the way many in the wine industry must comply with rules when describing a newly-released wine, such as varietals versus blends.

New Products

New Winexpert Island Mist Kits

Winexpert has announced the three kits being offered in their summer-focused Island Mist lineup. They have brought back the popular Bahama Mama and Iced Tea Lemonade kits for 2021 and are introducing a new flavor in the mix: Sex on the Beach. It is a take on the classic cocktail with orange and peach as its main fruit-forward flavors, rounded out with a hint of tart cranberry to give it more balance. Check with your local Winexpert supplier for availability or learn more at:

Home Winemaking: The Simple Way to Make Delicious Wine

In Home Winemaking: The Simple Way to Make Delicious Wine, well-known home winemaker Jack Keller takes a fun, practical, step-by-step approach to making your own wine. The book details the basic principles, equipment, and instructions to make wine, as well as 65 recipes for wines from grapes, fruits, roots, flowers, spices, and more. Perfect for winemakers of all skill levels. Available at better booksellers on April 6 for $24.95.

RJS Craft Winemaking Orchard Breezin’ Mango Dragon Fruit Lemonade

This new limited release white fruit wine from RJS Craft Winemaking’s Orchard Breezin’ series features the flavors of mango, dragon fruit, coconut, and lemonade. A true summertime porch sipper, bursting with tropical fruit flavors, you can enjoy on its own or to blend in a summer cocktail. The wine is ready in just 4 weeks. Check with your local RJS Craft Winemaking supplier for availability or learn more at:

The Big Book Of Cidermaking

Christopher Shockey and Kirsten K. Shockey turn their expertise to the world of fermented beverages in a guide to home cidermaking. With expert advice and step-by-step instructions, The Big Book of Cidermaking equips readers with the skills they need to make the cider they want: Sweet, dry, fruity, farmhouse-style, hopped, barrel-aged, or fortified. Readers will benefit from the authors’ years of experience cultivating an orchard and their experiments in producing their own ciders. This book is for any cidermaker, whether starting with apples fresh from the tree or working with store-bought juice. Cider recipes range from cornelian cherry to ginger, and styles including New England, Spanish, and late-season ciders. You can purchase a copy at better bookstores or at:

Brewer’s Best® Kombucha Kits

A new series of kombucha recipe kits by Brewer’s Best® allows home winemakers to craft their own flavored kombucha at home. Each kit comes with the ingredients to craft one gallon (3.8 L) of fresh kombucha and is available in four flavors: Blackberry, hemp, passion fruit, and raspberry. Note that these kits do not include a SCOBY for fermentation, which needs to be purchased separately from a supplier. SCOBYs are not included since they can be reused time and again and don’t need to be started fresh each time. First time making kombucha? Each kit comes with its own detailed, step-by-step instructions for a successful batch the first time and every time.

Fermtech’s a’Pour System

Fermtech has released a new wine dispensing system named a’Pour. The reusable container is designed to preserve 8 bottles (6 L/1.6 gal.) of your wine while eliminating bottling, corking, and labeling. The wine will stay fresh for up to 6 months in the oxygen barrier bag. Each a’Pour system includes a dispenser, pre-sanitized oxygen barrier bag, and a novel Pressure FillerTM to further simplify the filling. To view product videos and learn more, visit their website.

The Goode Guide To Wine

Author Jamie Goode is back at it, bringing his observations, lessons, and opinions that have made him a recognized voice within the wine world. In a series of short and blunt chapters, he celebrates what is exciting and interesting about wine, asks how we could do things better, and points out some of the absurdities of wine culture. Jamie Goode has a distinct philosophy when it comes to wine, and he knows you may disagree; if you do, that means it’s working.

Upcoming Events

May 11, 2021

Entry deadline for the 2021 WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition. Entries must be received by May 11. Join in the excitement as the awards dinner will be held July 17 at the WineMaker Magazine Conference in San Luis Obispo, California. For more information about entering your homemade wines, meads, or ciders in the world’s largest amateur competition, visit:

May 20, 2021

Entry Deadline for the 2021 Orange County Fair Home Wine Competition. This competition is only open to amateur winemakers who live in California. The cost is $15 per entry and entries must be received by May 20. For more information about entering your homemade wines, visit:

June 2–5, 2022

COVID-19 Update for WineMaker Conference San Luis Obispo – Paso Robles: Our upcoming sold-out 2020 WineMaker Conference has been postponed to 2022. The event will still be in the same exact location in San Luis Obispo, California. Our 2022 program will feature the same great lineup of workshops and seminars planned for middle July 2020. We will be posting here the revised schedule of seminars, special events, workshops, and winery tours soon for 2022.