Posts Tagged: wine
Lindsay Jordan is growing 56 varieties of grapes at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center to see how varietals from other parts of the world flourish or fail, reported Sydney Maki in the Fresno Bee.
The front-page story provided an overview of Jordan's career, research plans and personality.
“My love of wine drives a lot – what can I say,” Jordan said. “I don't know about you, but I want to keep drinking wine until the day I die, so I really want to do my part to ensure the sustainability of drinking California wine.”
As part of the project, Jordan is looking for grapevines that thrive in the valley heat, produce a large crop and develop berries with color, flavor and acidity needed for fine wines.
"I won't declare any winners," Jordan said. "I'll say I have favorites, and I definitely have losers that I would not recommend.
The project was started by James Wolpert, a retired UC Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist, and continued by Matthew Fidelibus, UCCE viticulture specialist based at Kearney. Jordan took over the project a year and a half ago.
Finding the next cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay would be a home run, Fidelibus said. However, the data supplied by the project are also important in providing farmers and wineries the research and background to expand their own vineyards.
“If any of these varieties are going to be useful, it's important that the wineries are interested and comfortable with them,” Fidelibus said. “The grower can't grow varieties without the assurance that a winery is going to use them.”
This time of year, most farmers don't get much sleep. Tomatoes, pears and peaches often ripen in the Sacramento Valley faster than the harvest crews can pick them, even working 12-hour days. But this is also the season that some farmers are happy to show off their farms to visitors, inviting guests to enjoy the delightful flavors and beauty of the harvest in a pause from the bustle. UC Cooperative Extension hosts an online agritourism directory and calendar, www.calagtour.org, to help Californians find farms and ranches to visit. Here are a few upcoming opportunities for summer fun on California farms, pulled from the calendar:
- Good Humus Peach Party (Yolo County) - Every year on the first Saturday in August, Jeff and Annie Main, owners of 20-acre Good Humus Produce, hold a celebration to give thanks for the year's fruit harvest. They invite you all to come out, see the farm, have a refreshment and enjoy all that Good Humus has to offer. This is a pot luck party; guests are asked to bring a dish to share and their own plates, silverware and cups. No cost, but donations are welcomed. The Mains will provide peach pies, peach ice cream, peach salsa, peach pizzas, and more. You are invited to come early and be part of the experience of making all the peachy fun food. Other activities include a treasure hunt, farm tours, stock tank dipping, music and neighborly chat. Saturday August 6, 1 p.m. - 11 p.m. Learn more
- Tomato Sauce Party at Eatwell Farm (Solano County) - It's time to join in on the tradition. Let's get canning! Learn more and buy tickets here
- Grape Days of Summer (Placer County) - Celebrate PlacerGROWN — local wine, local food, local agriculture. Take a self-guided tour of up to 20 wineries, taste foothill wines and enjoy a unique and educational experience at each stop on the Placer County Wine Trail. Saturday & Sunday, August 6 & 7, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. WHERE: Placer County Wine Trail - Auburn, Lincoln, Loomis, Meadow Vista, Newcastle & Rocklin. Activities: Learn About Wine & Wine Making • Live Music at Some Locations • Food at Every Winery • Barrel Tastings • Vineyard Tours • Vertical Tastings • . . . and more! Tickets: Weekend Pass - $45.00, Sunday Only - $25.00/person, Designated Driver - $10.00/person website, more info
- Wine and Produce Passport Weekend (Sacramento River Delta) - Just minutes from Sacramento and Elk Grove, along scenic CA Hwy 160, Delta Farm and Winery Trail members will open their farms and wineries to the public. Farms are open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and wineries from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. During Passport Weekend, enjoy farm tours, local wine tastings, farm equipment www.deltapassport2016.eventbrite.com. Each visitor over 21 will receive a wine glass at their first winery stop. sacriverdeltagrown.org/
- Good Land Organics Coffee Tour (Santa Barbara County) - The tour will be lead by Good Land Organics owner and grower, Jay Ruskey. You will be welcomed with fresh coffee, freshly made juice and seasonal fruit. Jay will give an overview of the coffee research collaboration that has been conducted with the assistance of the University of California Small Farm Program. He will then lead you on a moderate level hike where Ruskey will explain the dynamics of new crop adaptation and integration of organic tree fruit agriculture. The walk will website, reservations
Learn about more farms, ranches and adventurous fun at www.calagtour.org.
In 2008, a disease characterized by red blotches along leaf margins and red veins under the leaf surfaces was seen in red grapes growing in Napa Valley. The symptoms resembled leafroll disease, however laboratory tests did not detect any leafroll and rugose wood viruses in the samples. Since then, red blotch disease has been observed in vineyards throughout North America.
The infected grapevines may produce clusters with reduced sugar content, causing delayed harvests. Poor color development and increased acidity are found in some clusters on diseased vines.
A virus associated with red blotch disease was identified in 2012. The incidence of the red blotch disease relative to other virus diseases is currently not known, according to the UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines. The guidelines, produced by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' (UC ANR) Statewide Integrated Pest Management Project, offer comprehensive information free online for pest control in more than 50 California crops.
UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist, Deborah Golino, director of Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis, wondered if the virus associated with red blotch disease was new to California. She turned to the UC Davis Herbarium, a repository of 300,000 pressed plant samples, including grapevines dating back to 1940.
Golino and her laboratory staff collected 56 samples and, to prevent contamination, tested them in a lab that only works with lettuce. Of the 56 samples, one, an early burgundy collected in Sonoma County, was positive.
“We have confirmed that red blotch disease is not new,” Golino said. “It's been around at least since 1940.”
The results were published this year by the American Phytopathological Society in the journal Plant Disease.
An initiative to manage endemic and invasive pests and diseases is part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.
"Chefs are using what's produced (in the garden) in their kitchens because they know their customers appreciate fresh, local food," said Rachel Surls, the sustainable food systems advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County.
Surls was part of a recent tour of urban agriculture in downtown Los Angeles, a story that was also covered by the LA Times.
The visitors — who included growers, urban policymakers, consultants, entrepreneurs and representatives of nonprofits — wandered around the vegetable beds and asked questions as they got a taste of the garden. The article said the garden, on the fifth floor of a building at 6th and Figueroa streets, cost about $40,000 to build and yields as much as $150,000 worth of produce every year.
Drought clouds future of California wine industry
W. Blake Gray, Wine-searcher-com
The California drought didn't impact the wine industry in 2014, but a dry forecast for next year has growers worried. One major issue is the buildup of salts in soils, said Mark Battany, UC Cooperative farm advisor in San Luis Obispo County. During a wet winter, these salts are washed away. But California hasn't had a wet winter in three years. Farmers were able to irrigate at the beginning of the drought to make up the difference, but increasingly water supplies are restricted.
Battany says that excess salt buildup in the soil can cause grapevines to lose their leaves. "Without a way to process sunlight, you won't see sugar ripening," he said.
Showdown looms as California eyes pesticides
Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press
Organic farmers are challenging a proposed California pest-management program they say enshrines a pesticide-heavy approach for decades to come, including compulsory spraying of organic crops at the state's discretion.
The farmers are concerned about the California Department of Food and Agriculture's pest-management plan, the article says. The 500-page document lays out its planned responses to the next wave of fruit flies, weevils, beetles, fungus or blight that threatens crops. Many groups challenging the plan complained that it seems to authorize state agriculture officials to launch pesticide treatments without first carrying out the currently standard separate environmental-impact review.
The article reported that the California organic agriculture industry grew by 54 percent between 2009 and 2012. California leads the nation in organic sales, according to statistics tracked by UC Cooperative Extension specialist Karen Klonsky, who says the state is responsible for roughly one-third of a national organic industry./span>
Not until students turn 21 can they taste the wine and beer they make and learn to assess its sensory quality. Learning the characteristics of a wide assortment of good (and not-so-good) wines and beers is an important component of winemaking and brewing. Having to wait until their junior or senior year to learn these skills is a disadvantage for these students.
Legislation (AB 1989) has been proposed by California Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro (D-North Coast) that will allow students, ages 18 to 21, enrolled in winemaking and brewery science programs to taste alcoholic beverages in qualified academic institutions. The students can taste, but not consume — which means they must learn the professional practice of spitting during the tasting process.
“Winemakers taste wine daily during harvest to quickly make critical decisions as the winemaking is underway,” Waterhouse said. “Our students need to start learning this skill here, with our guidance. And, they also have to get over the embarrassment of spitting — after every taste.”
Chik Brenneman, the UC Davis winemaker, said that the bill, if passed, “will allow students to move on to the sensory program a lot sooner, before they've finished most of their winemaking classes. Earlier sensory training will help them when they go to work in the industry.”
NBC Bay Area, “If you don't have the experience of what wine tastes like as it's being made, then you're completely missing a critical skill, which you then have to learn on the job.”
If the legislation passes, it will benefit enology and brewing students at UC Davis, which is the only University of California campus to offer undergraduate degrees in viticulture and enology and in brewing science (an option within the food science major).
While parents of college students may worry that the bill will open the door to widespread drinking, Waterhouse and Brenneman both noted that the focus of the bill is so narrow that its impact will benefit a limited number of students, and that it's unlikely to lead to excessive drinking. They say that the over-21 students routinely spit what they're tasting in a standard industry manner, and that “drinking” in class is not a problem.
With passage of this bill, which is backed by the University of California, the state will join 12 other states that have allowed this educational exemption for students.
- California legislative information on AB 1989
- NBC Bay Area: Reality check: Bill calls for underage tasting on college campuses, Feb. 27, 2014
- Bill by Wes Chesbro would allow underage beverage students to sip; PressDemocrat.com, Feb. 28, 2014