Writer: Alison Crowe

Fires in California’s Wine Country

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For one week in October, portions of California’s wine country were up in flames in what has been deemed the state’s most destructive and costly fire. Beyond the toll it took on countless families whose homes were destroyed and lives uprooted, questions also arose regarding the fire’s impact on the 2017 vintage.

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Carbonic Maceration

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Carbonic maceration is a 19th-century technique (which was probably practiced in some amount, or in a hybrid style, much earlier) currently enjoying an en vogue resurgence in some parts of the US

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Submerge Those Oak Chips

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I love your innovation. A “chip sock” can be a real boon to winemakers. In fact, I mention using one in The Winemaker’s Answer Book where I suggest using a nylon stocking

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Using Essential Oils In Wine

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You can certainly experiment with essential oils in your winemaking if you remember the old adage that “oil and water don’t mix.” Essential oils are the natural distilled volatile aroma compounds from

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Reductive Resolutions

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Your question about how to avoid a swampy, reductive odor in your Chardonnay after bottling is an interesting one. For readers who may not be aware, “reductive” is a non-exact sensory term

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Wine Yields From a Vineyard

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As one of my vineyard manager co-workers famously says just about every other day whenever he answers a question like this, “It depends.” However, before I dive into all of the prevarications

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What’s This?

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Thanks so much for sending over the pictures, they are very helpful. Even though it’s impossible for me to diagnose down to the organism just based on images, I’d wager you’ve got

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Wine Flower

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I agree with your local winery supply store employee; it’s most likely a surface yeast or “flor” yeast of some kind, forming a floating plaque on top of your wine. Sometimes referred

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One Step Cleaning

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One Step is a proprietary cleaning (and somewhat sanitizing) solution that is a secret formula; even the Wine Wizard will never know exactly what it’s made out of. From what I can

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Refractometer vs. Hydrometer

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That is a great question. The “simple” answer is that no, hydrometry and refractometry are not interchangeable and that you shouldn’t try to use a refractometer during active fermentation. Refractometry relies on

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Blending Stuck Wine

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That’s too bad that you had some stuck fermentations. It’s probable that your yeast died out due to alcohol toxicity resulting from those high brixes. Next time make sure you’re adding enough

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What To Consider When Selecting A Yeast

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Ah that is a wonderful and complex question. When a winemaker chooses to inoculate for fermentation (which I generally recommend) there are many factors to take into account when making that choice.

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Drinking From Brass

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There certainly is something historically appealing about hoisting an overflowing chalice of one’s own homemade vinous deliciousness. In ancient times metal was a common material from which to fashion drinking cups. From

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Reducing Acidity of Wine

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That’s great that you are already planning ahead for this upcoming harvest. Indeed, a TA of 10.0 g/L is very high and I would certainly plan on de-acidifying for style as well

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Making Acidity Adjustments Post-Fermentation

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You certainly can adjust acidity after fermentation is complete, but many winemakers feel that the acid is better-integrated, as well as less-detectable, the earlier it is added. That being said, by all

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Brown (Instead of Red) Wine

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There’s the old saw about the sow’s ear and the silk purse. It reminds me of my old adage of “never blend a loser,” which admonishes readers against blending bad wine into

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Clearing A 23-Year-Old Concord Wine

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Since 1992 (over 20 years) is quite a long time to store bottled wine. If you go to a supermarket or liquor store, you’ll notice that most red wines currently on the

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Re-Fermentation Issues

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Let me put on my thinking cap. Indeed I think you are facing a re-fermentation and I’d bet that it is due to your 1% residual sugar, but perhaps secondarily to a

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Wild Fermentations

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Well, I would’ve inoculated right off the bat if I didn’t see anything happening within 24 to 48 hours. Contrary to popular belief, yeast cells that can carry out a complete alcoholic

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Understanding “Degree Days”

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The “Winkler Scale” or “UC Davis Heat Summation Scale,” which measures what are dubbed “degree days,” is only a rough guide to which varietals will thrive in which areas and is solely

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Expire Dates

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Of course the best thing you can do is check expiration dates on packages, boxes and vials. If you buy bulk loose powders (like tartaric acid in baggies from a larger sack)

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Japanese Beetles

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Wow, that’s quite something! Though you seem to have been able to identify the insects on sight, your picture definitely shows the tell-tale “lacy” cutout pattern on the leaves that are the

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High Alcohol Wine

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From personal experience I can tell you that red grapes from the warm (sometimes downright hot!) and dry region of Paso Robles always seem to “soak up” to a higher Brix then

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Alternative Sweeteners: Wine Wizard

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  I grow and make Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in southwest Idaho. The season is intense but short. In order to reach decent ripeness (~25 °Brix), I have been growing with a

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Sweetening Wine Without Refermentation

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Unfortunately, there are only so many options for preventing fermentation in sweet wines and they all involve some degree of sacrifice or difficulty. The list of “cons” is long compared with the

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