July 2018

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!! We finally have our website back up again! It is redesigned and very mobile phone friendly. 

If you are in business, please make routine backups of your website and keep it safe. Hackers can easily corrupt code and destroy your website.

Crop Assessment

It is predicated that we will have a large crop probably approaching 4.25 million tons. If so, it will be a record. This estimate is projected by Allied Grape Growers. However, bunch count and observations in the vineyards show an average crop. The record crop will be due to recently planted vineyards coming in to production especially for Cabernet Sauvignon. The demand by the public for Cabernet Sauvignon wine would appear to be insatiable—there are some cracks starting to show in that appearance. Record prices for Napa and Sonoma Cabs appear to be softening a little but still at outlandish prices.

After visiting most of our vineyards, there is a general opinion that harvest will be later than last year, probably at least one week. This is good because last year we were very early with some varieties. We are currently having a heat wave, but it is cool in the evenings. Technically, it is ideal conditions for good grape quality. Veraison (color change) at this stage is very spotty and varies between vineyards. 

 Sangiovese - Tracy Foothills 07-18-18

Sangiovese - Tracy Foothills 07-18-18

Currently, winery activity for those grapes that have no contract for the upcoming season is almost nonexistent. It probably represents less than 10% of the crop. This of course will change as the harvest approaches. Wineries are currently scrambling to empty tanks to make room for the new crop. 

Transportation Issues

Labor has been one of the biggest variables that affect pricing. It will also be a factor this year but transportation (freight) might be a bigger factor. Last year, shipping costs varied quite a bit during the season. An unofficial freight “no strike” period occurred during the middle of last season. Truckers were unofficially striking in response to the impending Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Federal requirements. This unofficial strike was a serious slowdown and drove freight rates higher than ever, as well as, increased shipping time. This spring refrigerated rates for 2018 were at times 50% higher than 2017. Those rates are now abating and hopefully will return to more acceptable levels. One thing for sure, with the ELDs now being used, deliveries will take longer.

Midwest Visit

My wife and I enjoyed our most recent trip to Illinois, Iowa and Michigan. It is such a pleasure to visit customers and getting a certain amount of pride in the wines they are making from our grapes. I have tasted some excellent wines and am convinced that Eastern winemakers are making better “California” wines than their counterparts in California. We thank everyone for their hospitality that we visited. Hopefully, we would like to do this in the future for different parts of the country. 

Orders

We are in the process of starting to contact wineries to see what their needs may be for the upcoming season.  We thank you, who have already placed their orders.  It makes our job a lot easier to get your orders in as soon as possible, but we know a lot of you have to assess your own crop before making a decision.

June 2018

Currently the California grape crop looks average, with Chardonnay, however, showing a potential for a light crop. One thing for sure, it is not a bumper crop. Where it is appropriate, we are making sure our growers are shoot thinning. We are not seeing any mildew problem that was rampant at this time last year. This season has the potential for a good quality year. 

 

 Shoot thinning of Cabernet Sauvignon in Lodi, CA on June 5, 2018

Shoot thinning of Cabernet Sauvignon in Lodi, CA on June 5, 2018

Rosé

From the Wine Industry Network "ADVISOR", domestic Rosé is gaining market share from the French. For the third year in a row, all Rosé sales are increasing by 50%. According to Nielsen retail outlet data, the Rosé category grew 64% over the last twelve months. We consider Rosé a great potential source for growth for all wineries across the country. We have a wonderful source of "Old Vine Grenache" and other varieties for a basis of your Rosé.

San Diego, CA and Davenport, Iowa

Last weekend we were in San Diego for the annual Wine Maker's Conference. We had a nice time and we always enjoy the Winemaker Tasting & Wine Sharing Party. At this year's event, there were new wineries from the Ramona Valley (east of San Diego) pouring wine. We tasted a lot of great wines from this new area, especially Grenache. Another one was a Falanghina wine made from Falanghina grapes (a white grape from the Campania area of Italy). It has great potential in this particular valley.

On June 19th, we will be in Davenport, Iowa for The GrapevineMidwest Viniculture Expo. We will be in booth 521. We are looking forward to the Captain's Riverboat Cruise on the 20thand other events during the Expo. We hope to see a lot of our customers from the Midwest at this convention. Later in the week, we will be heading to Chicago for a little sightseeing and meeting other customers in the area. The Detroit area will be our last stay where we plan to spend a little time with family and again customers.

New Variety

Last year we successfully shipped Tannat grapes for the first time. This year we may have the ability to get some Teroldego grapes. This variety originates from the Italian red grape grown primarily in the northeastern region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy. The grapes produce deeply pigmented red wines with an intensely fruity character and relatively low tannins for early drinking. 

Weather

In our last Newsletter, we expressed a concern with a potential return of drought conditions and a very early maturing crop. Following that Newsletter, we have had several good rain storms. We escaped drought conditions but we did not get sufficient snow cover in the Sierras and total rain was below average.

After the couple weeks of heat in February, we have had nothing but cool weather. This is delaying the maturity of all crops and the general opinion is we are two weeks later than "normal" with the grape crop.

Market Condition

General activity for those grapes without contractsis slow. There was some early activity for all varieties but that disappeared. The varieties where there is still good demand are Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Petit Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon. As the crop develops, we will hopefully see more activity. I am hearing that Zinfandel sales are starting to improve and we may see some strength in that variety.