Monday, April 30, 2012

The first European Grapevine Moth males of the 2012 season were caught in two traps in the Hagen Rd/Olive Lane area east of the city of Napa. This is close to the Third Avenue area that was heavily infested in 2010. All growers within 500 meters of these finds have been contacted and only two had not yet installed their pheromones for mating disruption. It is very important that all growers in the treatment area install their pheromone dispensers and also spray the first two generations of larvae of EGVM. Pheromones alone will not be effective enough to eradicate this insect. So even if you have not caught moths near your vineyard over the last year you will still need to treat.

The timing for the first spray is at the pre-bloom stage. For very early varieties this will be in 1-2 weeks. For the majority of growers this spray timing is still 2-3 weeks off. Materials of choice for conventional growers are Intrepid or Altacor. Organic growers should use multiple sprays of BT products or Entrust.

From a historical standpoint, in 2010 there were 99,000 moths caught in Napa county in the first flight, In 2011 that number was 96 moths, and so far in 2012 there have only been 3 moths caught. We have come a long way but we still have some work to do if we hope to eliminate this pest.

Martin Mochizuki
Napa County EGVM Grower Liaison
707-252-9218 fax

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Protecting Our New Buds from Frost

Spring is such a wonderful time of year; a time when we all feel a sense of renewal, at least until Daylight Savings comes and then we all just feel tired. As wonderful as it is to feel the warm breeze after some long, cold, (and usually wet) winter months, spring can be a very stressful time around here thanks to the looming threat of frost.
Frost… a word that strikes fear in the heart of every farmer. Without getting too technical (because I went to culinary school therefore I can’t be too technical) the temperature drops causing ice to form in the plant’s cells which causes them to burst, killing the bud. These new born buds are very susceptible to frost damage because they are made up of very young tissue. In fact new vines can also be damaged by heavy frost because they have yet to build their own natural insulation.

There are, however, a few methods farmers (or if you want to use the fancy term, viticulturists) have found useful for protecting our future bottles of wine.

Wind Machines
A very common method in Napa Valley is air mixing with wind machines (they look like airplane propellers mounted on top of sticks, actually some look like old plane engines). One huge drawback is they are very loud, imagine a helicopter landing on your house, but they do a good job. Once the temps drop to just above freezing the fans are turned on (by some very unlucky individual as it happens in the wee hours of the morning) and the cold air is mixed with warmer air raising the temperature and inhibiting the formation of frost. If you have a property that isn’t affected by frost very often you can hire a helicopter to buzz your vineyard all night, it will have the same effect, although I am not totally sure that is kosher in Napa County.
Another method used is overhead sprinkler systems. I know that seems a bit strange, if is cold enough to freeze how is water going to help? Amazingly it does! Think about a glass of ice water. Even though there is ice in there the water never gets colder than 32 degrees. As long as there is a constant flow of water the buds will be okay, but it does take a lot of water, about 50 gallons a minute per acre. A winery needs large water reserves for this method.
Smudge Pots

Although their use was restricted in the 1970s smudge pots were once a very popular method of frost protection. The large iron pots were placed in the vineyard and filled with fuel oil and ignited once the temperature dropped. The heat from the fire would keep frost from forming. They were restricted (not banned) because of air pollution concerns and also fell out of favor as fuel prices increased, but are still used by a few wineries in Napa.
Those are the main active methods of frost prevention, there are also passive methods such as soil management, trellis height, delayed pruning, protective covering, or most importantly picking the correct site for a vineyard. Using a combination of active and passive methods will help those little buds, but no matter what we do frost season will always be a stressful time around here.

Rebecca Martin, Chase Cellars

Earth Day Meditations from Peju Province Winery

Wine is the consummation of human nature-love. People care so passionately about the quality of the fruit produced to make the wine that the care we take of the vines is unsurpassed in its attentiveness and devotion. In wine, the whole concept of terroir communicates how winegrowing encourages humans to be attuned to the Earth, the systems at work and the interconnectedness of it all. How often do you think about how the climactic conditions your banana withstood affected its flavor(s)? We care more now as a collective society than we did in the recent past about where things come from and how they came to be, but we’re probably not quite there yet in terms of thinking holistically about all of our choices. Anyway, terroir is more than just the soil, the microclimate and the location. It is the mark made by all the aspects of the Earth around that vine. Think: the ‘nurture’ influence on humans in the nature/nurture duality. No two wines will ever be the same and what's more fun than discovering the subtle differences with your palate?

In Rutherford our soil is full of sandy loam. Blocks farther from the Napa River at the back edge of our property produce the most concentrated fruit, as they have to burrow deeper to find a water source.  The little section of vine which grows under the shadow of the Eucalyptus tree behind the winery takes a bit more time to ripen than the rest. The south facing vines ripen more quickly than the north facing vines. There are an infinite variety of observations to make. And again, one discovers these facts through one’s senses. Tasting the grapes and paying attention. Wine is an ode to the human capacity to smell, to taste, to feel, to see, to discover and to enjoy.

I grew up in a society that spends more of childhood in a classroom learning about nature from a book than discovering it at the source itself.  Maybe that’s why being in nature is so precious to me. I experienced its majesty for the first time in early adulthood. It’s been captivating, wondrous and new every time ever since.

I write to you now with my belly in the dirt, splayed out in the middle of the vines, listening to the birds chirp, watching the grasses and the just-sprouted leaves on the vines move in tandem as the wind whispers through them. A spider scurries across my notebook; ants scuttle over tiny clumps of dirt and teeny rocks and miniature sticks along an unknowable but evidently determined path to fulfill their purpose. Contemplating our own ‘purpose’ can feel like an inscrutable burden of our elite human consciousness, but for me, being in nature makes me feel closer to it- whatever it is. The ‘purpose’ of being alive. And it feels almost simple. When the birds sing and perch on the vines and flutter around each other in instinctual patterns, and the wind blows warm, dry air through my hair and across my face, and when as far as the eye can see, plants move like jazz music in the infinite patterns created by the wind. I feel still and at peace. The American conception of what is happiness is a confusing one at times, but nature is always there to remind us of what is real. Perhaps the fact is simply that we exist.

In gratitude, I pledge to be better about using my travel coffee mug (did you know these are called ‘tumblers’?) rather than turning a blind eye to the number of to-go cups I rack up in one week. And I plan to fight against the New Year’s Resolution Syndrome and actually still be in the habit of using said tumbler a few months down the road. Check in with me.

Peju farms certified organically in Rutherford and sustainably elsewhere with CCOF certification on the horizon, has 10,000 square feet of solar panels contributing 36% of our annual energy, composts, recycles, offers incentives to employees to buy hybrid cars, and is generally committed to continually converting our daily practices to always improve on our sustainability. We started using biodegradable flatware when silverware is not a viable option this year. Every little bit really does count. What will you do differently? Starting TODAY!

I'm back at the computer now, but it was nice to take a moment with the Earth to honor her on her  special day. It’s a pretty rich sense of belonging to feel once you tap in to the fact that you are very much a part of this Earth and a part of the whole system and that we are all in this together.

Watched a beautiful movie recently which communicated this visually. ‘Life in a Day.’ Directed by Kevin Macdonald. Produced by Ridley Scott. Distributed by National Geographic Films. Made from 4,500 hours of footage submitted in 80,000 submissions from 192 nations. Watch it.

Thank you, Earth and Nature.
Thank you, Life!

Now go outside and enjoy being alive!

Britt (e-mail me or post a response!) for Peju Province Winery
view this post in its original context here
Bud-break in Rutherford

Friday, April 20, 2012

Elephant-Inspired Spitcups and More on the NVV's Shanghai Success

Our day began as it did just five days ago in Beijing - with three concurrent seminars focused on Napa Valley's diverse terroir, its wide variety of wine grapes, and a demonstration of the age-worthiness of our wine. More than 70 trade and media attended.

As always seems to be the case in China, we had one last minute kerfuffle - no spit cups. So, Cessa from the NVV staff grabbed one of the hotel's bi-lingual bellman (did I mention they wear 1920's-inspired uniforms with little pill-box style hats?) and off they went down the streets of Shanghai looking for small paper cups we could put out at each seminar seat as a spittoon.

They were successful, returning with cups that were probably intended for a child's birthday party - each was decorated with an array of cartoon elephants! Well, one can't be too particular when your program is about to start, so away we went, tasting and spitting Shafer, Cain Five, Silver Oak, Pine Ridge, Swanson, and more into our little elephant cups! One learns to be flexible when traveling in a country like China.

After lunch it was back up to the 9th floor, this time in the Cathay Room overlooking the Bund, for a wine and food pairing lunch. Abundant dishes of Western and Asian treats were served to go with Napa wines - smoked pork, grilled beef tenderloin, stir-fried tofu, sautéed "fungus" (mushrooms), poached fish, and more. If you walked away hungry or thirsty, it was your own darn fault.

About 400 local trade and media came out for the afternoon trade tasting in the beautiful, historic ballroom. Many attendees commented on how much they enjoyed spending the afternoon at this beautiful, historic hotel.

Tonight we did the "divide an conquer" routine once again with a walk-around tasting for about 100 consumers with Napa Reserve (owned by the Chow family, long-time friends of the Auction and the NVV) and three concurrent vintner dinners at top Shanghai restaurants. I've heard rumor of an after-party at a very exclusive private club, but I'm afraid it's off to bed for me. Tomorrow most of us board a mid-day flight for SFO...back to the place we've been bragging about all week. Back to the place we all love. Back to the place we call home. Back to the Napa Valley...

Patsy McGaughy, CSW
Marketing Director
Napa Valley Vintners

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Nine Heaven and More from the NVV's Shanghai Success

Our day began at 10:30 this morning at Nine Heaven - the perfect name for a little event space on the ninth floor of the Fairmont Peace Hotel, on the Bund. The hotel is an historic property, authentically restored, featuring stunning art-deco styling. Although it is a bit of a maze getting around, it is so beautiful, no one seems to mind.

At our alumni brunch, our guests and vintners were treated to a breathtaking view of the Shanghai skyline and the Huangpu River. Boat traffic on the river was almost as congested as the car traffic on the freeway! Barge after barge, each loaded with materials and cargo, passed by with tourist boats weaving in and out. Vintners and the Shanghai contingent of our Experience Napa Valley: China alumni group caught up on everything new since seeing each other last September.

Experience Napa Valley alum Alvin Gho and vintner Michael Honig at Thursday's brunch

Immediately after brunch, it was time for lunch! Today's guests: representatives from the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), Agricultural Trade Office (ATO), and US Embassy joined the vintners and NVV staff for a tutorial on the Chinese wine market, ways we can work together, and suggestions to enhance our success selling Napa Valley wine in China. There were lots of great questions from vintners, and a promise at the end from both parties to keep in touch and try to do more together to further the position of US wine exports in this dynamic market. My favorite quote of the day: "Things happen very fast in China. What takes 10 years to do in the US, takes one year here."

Keith Schneller, agriculture director of Shanghai office of the ATO

This evening, we partnered again with Chi Fan for Charity for a dinner for about 100 high net-worth consumers at Shook! Restaurant, across the street from our hotel. Private wealth management company Austen Morris Associates co-sponsored the event, which began with a sparkling wine reception on the terrace overlooking the Bund and the evening skyline of Shanghai.

Now we're winding down (or for some, winding up!) with a Nightlife Napa Valley tasting back at Cin Cin Lounge at the Fairmont. There's not a view of the river from here, but the inlaid ceiling, ornate art-deco light fixtures, black marble floors, and plush velvet sofas and chairs make for lovely scenery of their own.

NEWS FLASH: This just in - our logistics crew in Beijing reports that we actually had 500 attendees (not the 300 we originally estimated) at our trade tasting in Beijing on Monday - no wonder vintners ran out of wine! I can't wait to see how many turn out in Shanghai tomorrow.

Patsy McGaughy, CSW
Marketing Director
Napa Valley Vintners

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On to Shanghai: NVV Vintners and Wines On the Road 

Today we traveled from Beijing to Shanghai for the second half of Taste Napa Valley: China. We left behind the heat and smog of Beijing for cooler temperatures and some rain in Shanghai.

This city is, literally, electric. The high-rises are all brightly lighted with neon, flashing lights, and bold and dramatic graphics. I'm trying to figure out how we can get "Drink Napa Valley Wines" projected on the side of one of downtown Shanghai's 50+ story buildings for the whole world (or at least this part of the world) to see!

As today was a travel day we only had one NVV-organized event - a tasting with about 25 wineries organized by Experience Napa Valley: China alum Marcus Ford, director of high-end retailer Pudao Wines. Marcus gathered his neighbors on Ferguson Lane on Wukang Road for an indoor/outdoor walk-around event, including A Cote' Pizza (owned by Franck's Bistro) and Globus Wine. The nearly 200 consumer attendees wandered up and down the quaint alley, wine glasses in hand, seeking their next Napa Valley wine discovery while nibbling on bites provided by Franck and his culinary team.

It drizzled off and on throughout the evening, and thankfully the real rain held off until moments before the tasting ended. But the wet weather definitely didn't dampen spirits - Marcus thought we'd see 100 or so of his customers tonight, but nearly twice that many dropped by for some Napa Valley wine and tasty bites. Hopefully this is a sign of more good things to come on Thursday and Friday, our final two days of wine events in Shanghai.

Patsy McGaughy, CSW
Marketing Director
Napa Valley Vintners

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Taking China by Storm: The NVV's Day Two in Beijing

Day 2 in Beijing was a contrast to day one. Our interactions today were more intimate, with smaller events and an emphasis on real relationship building. This morning, we hosted alums from last September's Experience Napa Valley program for a lovely brunch at the Fairmont Hotel. In spite of their busy work schedules, these local media and restaurant professionals found time to join about 15 of the traveling vintners and savor their Napa Valley wines. There were smiles, laughs, and a warm sense of renewing relationships started at our first-ever Experience Napa Valley: China program last year.

Lunch saw 40 of Beijing's "movers and shakers" from government, industry, and business break bread and share wine with 9 Napa Valley Vintners. Bruce Cakebread spoke on behalf of the NVV and challenged the group to help us meet a goal: someday, Napa Valley's wines should produce 30% of the economic impact of California wine in China - just like the percentage of Napa Valley's impact of the CA wine industry on the US. A lofty goal, but if there is a group that can help get us there, this is it.

After lunch, three vintners headed to the Beijing Agricultural University to provide a "virtual tour of Napa Valley" through slides, photos, stories, and wine. The group of 30 students was attentive, interested, eager, and inquisitive. They are making their own wine at the university and conducting some interesting research studies on wine production. Look out UC Davis!

Dinners commenced in the evening at five of Beijing's fine dining restaurants, including Mason Boulud, Grange, Temple, Vasco's, and Brasserie Flo. Each was hosted by four vintners and all proceeds went to Chi Fan for Charity, a Chinese children's charity. More than 150 consumers attended the concurrent dinner events, including many ex-patriots who love Napa Valley and our wines and just can't get enough in Beijing!

Our nightcap tonight was a Nightlife Napa Valley "after party" from 9:30-11:30p in the Fairmont Hotel lobby - back where we started 12 hours ago! The 125+ consumer guests included those who attended the dinners and wanted to keep the evening going, hotel guests, Chi Fan volunteers, and a few other friends we'd met along the way. To say it was the perfect end to perfect couple of days in Beijing would be an understatement...

Tomorrow we're off to Shanghai as the Napa Valley Vintners continue to take China by storm!

Patsy McGaughy, CSW
Marketing Director
Napa Valley Vintners

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tales from China

36 Napa Valley Vintners, 1400 bottles of over 150 different Napa Valley wines and 2 NVV staff members:

Beijing "Celebrates Napa Valley"

Our first full day of activities in Beijing is off to a roaring start. The three, concurrent morning seminars were well attended - 80 total trade and media...not bad for first thing on a Monday in the traffic-filled city of Beijing! The seminars focused on three important aspects about the Napa Valley: diversity of terroir (featuring Cabernet Sauvignon from 5 different parts of the Valley); diversity of varieties (Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel); and a presentation of 2001 vintage wines that showcased age-ability. Our vintner panelists were in their element sharing their love of Napa Valley with the eager attendees.

Each seminar started with a Napa Valley Rocks presentation and my favorite part of the day was walking from room to room listening to our vintner presenters passionately telling the Napa Valley story - practically in unison!

The trade and media lunch was so well-attended, the hotel had to move the buffet line to the hallway so we could add more seats - 100 total, including our vintner hosts, who were all smiles afterward.

Then the piece de resistance: the afternoon trade and media walk-around tasting. We opened the doors early because the foyer was so full of attendees waiting to get in. We ran out of our 250 tasting books about 30 minutes in and have seen more than 300 young, exuberant Chinese trade and media, curious about Napa Valley, our vintners, and our wines. Apparently we were the big buzz on Weibo (China's answer to Facebook and Twitter) and we're all feeling a bit sorry for the Portuguese who are hosting a wine tasting across town - I can't imagine that anyone is there because surely they are all here! Fongyee Walker, who aspires to be China's first MW, is heading up our guest registration and is also quite popular with the crowd.

Doug Shafer has just come over to chat - he's already out of wine 1.5 hours into the tasting. Blake Chambers from Amuse Bouche has joined us as well in the back of the room, also out of wine. I think that will be the theme of the day, but I say it's a good problem to have. Looks like the tasting will end as it began - early.

Tonight vintners will entertain consumers at four concurrent dinners, while a couple of us will be dining with Premiere Napa Valley bidders from Beverage Warehouse in LA, who happen to be in town at the same time we are. Beijing is just that kind of a place...

Patsy McGaughy, CSW
Marketing Director
Napa Valley Vintners
From the Napa Valley Register, Letter to the Editor, Sunday, April 15, 2012

Each year with the arrival of spring we turn our attention to the promise of renewal; in our gardens and our vineyards. While we celebrate Earth Day each April, it is important for all of us in Napa County to look back to April of 1968 when the Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve, the first of its kind in America, was established.

The Agricultural Preserve is the cornerstone of what has nurtured and sustained our rural culture, natural scenic beauty and finds Napa County the last in the Bay Area to count agriculture as its primary industry.
From the original 26,000 acres, today there are more than 38,000 acres of valley floor preserved for agriculture as the highest and best use of this land. Additionally, the urban footprint of each of our communities was defined by the Agricultural Preserve more than four decades ago, thereby curtailing sprawl. This locally-established land use initiative is something in which all county residents can feel pride.
We work diligently to find solutions with stakeholders on a variety of issues year-round that have potential impact on the Agricultural Preserve. Today, our valley faces a new threat to the preserve, unlike any other experienced in its 44-year history — the potential federal restoration of the Mishewal Wappo Indians of Alexander Valley (Sonoma County). The Wappo are seeking sovereign nation status for land in Napa Valley and all the independent rights that brings with it, including not having to conform to agricultural zoning and the development of large scale casino gaming in Napa Valley.
Here at Napa Valley Vintners, the non-profit trade association representing the Napa Valley wine industry, maintaining the integrity of the Ag Preserve has been, and continues to be, a major objective of our association’s strategic plan as we champion the sustainability of our local wine industry, often called the “crown jewel” of American agriculture for obvious reasons. The Ag Preserve set the stage for the hundreds of thousands of acres now zoned Ag Watershed, our stringent hillside farming ordinance, and stream set-backs to ensure riparian stream and river health. Napa County now has the wine industry’s most comprehensive, stringent and leading sustainable farming and wine production certification programs known as Napa Green Certified Land and Napa Green Certified Winery.

Between Ag Preserve and Ag Watershed lands, 91 percent of Napa County is protected for open space and agriculture — and only 9 percent of the county is planted to grapes.
We look forward to bringing all of the Napa County community to the table to defeat this threat to agriculture, rural life, water resources, traffic and air quality and more. I hope you will stay informed and join together to keep premium agriculture, not large scale casino gambling, as Napa Valley’s American legacy.

Hugh Davies lives in Calistoga. He is past board president of the Napa Valley Vintners.

Monday, April 2, 2012

European Grapevine Moth Update

Almost 95% of the growers in the EGVM treatment area in Napa County have picked up their Isomate pheromones and are in the process of deploying them in the field.  These should be placed at 200 per acre above the fruiting area, in an area that will get some shade during the season.  These should be applied immediately as the projected first flight for EGVM has started based on the degree day model, even though no moths have been caught yet in any traps in the county.  These pheromones will last all season so there is no danger of applying them too early. If you have any material left over after your application, please return them to the Agricultural Commissioner's office or let me know and I can pick them up directly from you.  Also, please report this application on your monthly pesticide use report.  The pheromone application should be reported as 1.94 oz/ac or 200 dispensers/a.

If you have not picked up your material yet it is still available at the Ag Supply (Wilbur-Ellis) in St. Helena.  For growers with 2 acres or less you can pick your material up at the Agricultural Commissioners office. 

The first spray applications should not be applied until just prior to bloom.  For most growers this will be sometime in May.  More details on this later. 

Martin Mochizuki
707-252-9218 fax