College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Voice of the Vine – Tour, Workshop, Lab Manual – Jan. 24, 2013

Chelan Wine Tour Offers Continuing Education for Grape Growers and Winemakers

“You need a lifetime or more to learn everything about winemaking,” said Judy Phelps, standing among plastic tubs and oak casks containing grapes at various stages of becoming wine. Phelps, winemaker at Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards in Chelan, Washington, was sharing some of her life’s enological experience.

Keith Thurman (left) and viticulture and enology program director Thomas Henick-Kling listen to the winemaker of Tsillan Cellars Winery and Vineyards explain the challenges of selling wine in Washington. Photo by Bob Hoffmann/WSU.
Keith Thurman (left) and viticulture and enology program director Thomas Henick-Kling listen to the winemaker of Tsillan Cellars Winery and Vineyards explain the challenges of selling wine in Washington. Photo by Bob Hoffmann/WSU.

And Lana Getubig, a 2009 graduate of WSU’s online viticulture professional certificate program, was drinking it up. She and other students and alumni of the viticulture and enology certificate programs took a weekend in November to further their education, traversing the wine country around Lake Chelan in north-central Washington. The tour is one of many opportunities offered by WSU for grape growers and winemakers—veteran, novice, and aspirational alike—to network and share knowledge.

Participants were able to ask established professionals about seemingly mundane details that could have significant repercussions. One notable detail at Hard Row to Hoe was the floor of the wine cellar. A thin, shiny epoxy-and-sand mixture coated the slab on which the building sat. “Grape juice and wine eat concrete,” explained Phelps. The special coating provides both protection to the concrete floor and traction for workers.

Judy’s husband, Don, took the group to the vineyard for insights on his area of expertise. “The slopes of our vineyard help cold air pass through without settling,” he said. The leaves of his vines had lost most of their green pigmentation and, although faded to a muted yellow, remained undamaged by the November cold. He pointed, by way of contrast, to a neighbor’s vineyard on a flat spot at the bottom of a slope. That site allowed cold air to pool, and the leaves there were coated with a layer of frost. Poor site selection shortened the neighbor’s growing season and negatively impacted the quality of grapes.

Once a vineyard site is selected, young vines need proper care, Phelps told the students. “We often hear that grape vines need to struggle, but that doesn’t apply to young vines. They need water to become established.”

Julie Pittsinger of Karma Vineyards talks with viticulture certificate student David McKeller about making sparkling wine with the traditional Methode Champenoise. Photo by Bob Hoffmann/WSU.
Julie Pittsinger of Karma Vineyards talks with viticulture certificate student David McKeller about making sparkling wine with the traditional Methode Champenoise. Photo by Bob Hoffmann/WSU.

After visiting the tasting room, the group continued on to visit other wine producers, including Tildio Winery, with its sweeping view of Roses Lake and the North Cascades Wilderness. Katy and Milum Perry purchased the property in 2001. Katy already had considerable experience in winemaking, including stints at Robert Mondavi and Chateau Ste. Michelle.

Their fermentation room, with its stainless steel tanks, was heated to 60 degrees Fahrenheit for the benefit of malolactic fermentation. Tildio was bullish on using co-inoculation with yeast and malolactic bacteria. “I used to stay away from co-inoculation,” said Katy Perry, “but I’m starting to fall in love with it because of the finished product.” When one student asked about the labor-saving benefits of co-inoculation, Perry said that such labor savings weren’t a motivator for the owner/operator of a small winery such as herself. “Labor savings are inconsequential if the final product isn’t good.”

After a full day of touring and wine tasting, program participants gathered at Campbell’s Resort for a buffet dinner featuring wines produced by the students and alumni of the program. This offered an opportunity for group critiques, as well as a gratis evaluation by WSU’s viticulture and enology program director, Thomas Henick-Kling. Henick-Kling enjoyed the Syrah brought by Leala Cramer, winemaker at Marcus Sophia Winery and a 2008 graduate of the enology certificate program. Her winemaking style uses a gentle press of the grapes, creating a smooth, rich mouth feel. “Continue to make batches with the light press,” Henick-Kling advised her, “but also try a separate batch where you press harder for more tannin. This will produce wine with a different style. And don’t worry about too much tannin in Washington State. Washington tannins usually ripen enough to provide a good mouth feel.”

Henick-Kling said that wine tours for continuing education are vital not just for newcomers to the trade but for the entire industry. “The established wineries also benefit from hearing new ideas,” he noted. WSU has already hosted other tours within Washington as well as to Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand. An upcoming tour to Italy is sold out, and a summer trip to France is in the planning stages. Henick-Kling also hopes to bring winemakers from abroad to tour Washington, providing yet another opportunity for winemakers to network and trade tips and techniques. Henick-Kling said that these trips are designed for people interested in the inner workings of the wine industry, and are not casual wine-tasting sojourns. “We seek out wineries with staff who can articulate the specifics of their geographical region and the local winemaking techniques, and aren’t just trying to sell a few bottles in the tasting room. With our research, planning, and long-term relationships, we can provide an experience that would be difficult for an individual to arrange.”

Cramer eagerly agreed. “The organized tour gives access to the ‘back room’ of wineries that wouldn’t be available to someone just stopping by the tasting room.”

Michael Burns, who just started the enology certificate program, also valued the experience. “I love hearing the real-life stories. Everyone will have challenges with growing grapes and making wine, so it’s great to hear how others got started and what they did to get where they are.”

Learn more about WSU’s professional certificate programs in viticulture and enology by visiting http://bit.ly/vecert.

-Bob Hoffmann

“Vine to Wine” Workshop Teaches Business, Production Techniques

"Vine to Wine" workshop is slated for April 21-22 in Prosser. Photo by David Wilbanks.
“Vine to Wine” workshop is slated for April 21-22 in Prosser. Photo by David Wilbanks (http://www.fotopedia.com/users/8pcck49cd9o7o)

WSU, in collaboration with wine-industry professionals, is offering a two-day intensive “Vine to Wine” workshop, 20-21 April in Prosser. The workshop is recommended for anyone thinking about starting a vineyard or winery, or for those who have recently entered the Washington wine industry. The goal of the workshop is to educate potential and new growers and winemakers in the essentials of economic and environmentally sustainable high-quality grape and wine production practices.

Starting a vineyard or winery is a big investment requiring extensive financial, marketing, and horticultural planning. On Day One of the workshop, participants learn the ins and outs of vineyard and business establishment and management. The economics of starting a vineyard along with the principles of site selection, establishment, and sustainable grape production will be addressed.

On the second day of the workshop, Washington winemakers and wine educators will address the basics of winery design and equipment, what to look for in grapes, fermentation science, the science of red and white winemaking, and the economics of establishing and running a winery.

The workshop will be held at the Best Western Inn at Horse Heaven Hills in Prosser. Seats are limited and pre-registration is required. The cost is $60 for one day, or $100 for both days. Registration includes snacks, beverage, and catered hot lunches, and a social on Saturday night. Registration also includes a digital copy of presented information.

For more information and to register, please visit http://bit.ly/Vhq6MT.

Updated Lab Manual for Winemakers Now Available

WSU professor of enology, Charles Edwards, and Bruce Watson, retired wine quality manager, have teamed up to rewrite “Basic Microbiological and Chemical Analyses for Wine.”

The newly revised and expanded wine lab manual is for people wishing to conduct general laboratory analyses of grape musts and wines. Determinations of sugar, sulfur dioxide, titratable and volatile acidities, pH, and alcohol content are integral measurements performed by both commercial and home winemakers. While these determinations allow chemical adjustments to musts and wines, they are also critical for compliance with state and federal laws regarding wine composition (that includes alcohol content, volatile acidity, and sulfur dioxide).

One area that the authors have tried to address throughout the manual is the question of quality assurance regarding laboratory results. Wine statistics are notoriously difficult to compare between wineries due to variability in methods and practices between laboratories. In fact, wineries occasionally encounter difficulty in obtaining reproducible results even within the same laboratory. In this manual, the authors have suggested some controls that may help wineries address these issues, while reminding readers that the opportunity exists for more work to be done in this area.

Order your downloadable copy of the new lab manual for winemakers by visiting http://bit.ly/wsu-wine-lab-manual.

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The goal of the Washington State University CAHNRS Office of Research is to promote research beneficial to the citizens of Washington. The Office of Research recognizes its unique land-grant research mission to the people of Washington and their increasing global connections. The CAHNRS Office of Research provides leadership in discovering and applying knowledge through high-quality research that contributes to a safe and abundant food, fiber, and energy supply while enhancing the sustainability of agricultural and natural resource systems.

Featured Research

By Sylvia Kantor, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

A new study by researchers at Washington State University shows that mechanical harvesting of cider apples can provide labor and cost savings without affecting fruit, juice, or cider quality.
The study, published in the journal HortTechnology in October, is one of several studies focused on cider apple production in Washington State. It was conducted in response to growing demand for hard cider apples in the state and the nation…MORE

SubsurfaceIrrigationWSU wins national award for water-saving research

By Sylvia Kantor, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

Water scarcity – one of the toughest challenges predicted for the 21st century – is being addressed by Washington State University. As part of a multistate research program, WSU is among 19 land-grant universities honored recently for their efforts to help farmers irrigate their land more efficiently, especially during droughts and water shortages.
“A safe, reliable supply of water is inextricably linked to food security,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture…MORE

Apples-USDA-ARS-350An apple a day could keep obesity away

By Sylvia Kantor, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

PULLMAN, Wash. – Scientists at Washington State University have concluded that nondigestible compounds in apples – specifically, Granny Smith apples – may help prevent disorders associated with obesity. The study, thought to be the first to assess these compounds in apple cultivars grown in the Pacific Northwest, appears in October’s print edition of the journal Food Chemistry. “We know that, in general, apples are a good source of these nondigestible compounds but there are differences in varieties,” said food scientist Giuliana Noratto, the study’s lead researcher. “Results from this study will help consumers to discriminate between apple varieties that can aid in the fight against obesity.” MORE

Cooper-500New “magnifying glass” helps spot delinquency risks

By Rebecca E. Phillips, University Communications

PULLMAN, Wash. – Drug abuse, acts of rampage – what’s really the matter with kids today? While there are many places to lay blame – family, attitude, peers, school, community – a new study shows that those risks vary in intensity from kid to kid and can be identified.

Scientists at Washington State University and Pennsylvania State University have found a way to spot the adolescents most susceptible to specific risk factors for delinquency MORE

Beef-cattle-from-iStock-photos-500Food labels can reduce environmental impacts of livestock production

 “It’s important to know that small changes on the consumer side can help, and in fact may be necessary, to achieve big results in a production system,” said Robin White, lead researcher of a Washington State University study appearing in the journal Food Policy. MORE





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MudflatImpact: Burrowing Shrimp and Invasive Eelgrass

Shellfish production in Washington is a $60 million a year industry. Several major pests plague this industry, resulting in major crop loss. One of the most important pests is subterranean burrowing shrimp. These shrimp bioturbate (stir up) the sediment, causing the oysters to sink and die. For the past 60 years the industry has been using the insecticide Sevin to control this pest, but due to lawsuits its use was phased out in 2012. Without alternative control for shrimp, tens of millions of dollars in annual crop revenue will be lost and the industry will quickly lose its economic viability in southwestern Washington.

PoultryFarmImpact: The National Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center

The Environmental Protection Agency has identified agriculture as the leading contributor of pollutants to the nation’s rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs. These reports often do not separate animal agriculture from other agricultural enterprises, but they do note that pathogens, nutrients, and oxygen-depleting substances associated with manure are three of the top five pollutants. Some emerging issues related to manure management include: endocrine disruptors (hormones), pharmaceuticals (antimicrobials), and antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Adopting farm practices that minimize the environmental impact is important for food safety.

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Biosolids are the solids produced during municipal wastewater treatment. Composts are made from a variety of organic materials, including both urban and agriculture sources such as yard trimmings, biosolids, storm debris, food waste or manure, and food processing residues. While these materials have traditionally been viewed as waste, they can play a valuable role as soil amendments in urban and agricultural settings. They provide nutrients and organic matter and they sequester carbon, thereby conserving resources, restoring soils, and combating climate change.

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The WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) Office of Alumni & Friends is a service unit dedicated to promoting philanthropic support for the college’s research, teaching, and extension programs.

CAHNRS seeks $190 million through the Campaign for WSU. This unprecedented fundraising goal is managed through the CAHNRS Office of Alumni and Friends. If you would like to learn more about the CAHNRS’s fundraising priorities, please explore our website or meet the team.

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Through the Campaign for Washington State University, CAHNRS and WSU Extension will play a major role in defining answers to complex issues through truly big ideas—feeding the world, powering the planet, and ensuring the health and well-being of children, families, and communities. See below to learn more about how we are addressing these issues in our strategic and on-going  initiatives and development of world-class students.

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