LCWG breathes life back into Lake County wine industry

CorkscrewLake County, once known as the home of the premier wine producers in the U.S., is beginning to thrive again, Western Farm Press reports.

The region was one of the largest wine producers prior to Prohibition and was home to 28 commercial wineries and 10,000 acres of vineyards. However, Prohibition took its toll on the region, with only 100 acres of commercial grapes remaining in 1965.

In 1992, the Lake County Winegrape Commission began to restore industry interest in the area through several management and promotional tactics.

“The commission has been really important to Lake County wine grape growers and wineries,” David Weiss, owner of a Lake County farm management company, told the source. “Their effort to promote Lake County has been a driving [force] in fostering the growth of our industry.”

More than 32 wineries currently operate out of the region.

Several wineries based out of Seattle are similarly seeing renewed growth due to rising interest in Washington wine culture. Currently, there are more than 600 wineries located in Washington state.

Chinese demand boosts wine prices

WineWhile Chinese citizens have traditionally enjoyed beer and other domestic spirits, they have recently begun indulging in fine wine. Demand for the product in the country has risen as a result, and with more than 1.3 billion people in China, the price for wines has also grown, reports the Telegraph.

Prices in the area have set new records. For example, three bottles of Chateau Lafite 1869 were sold for more than $200,000 a piece recently, shattering the 1985 record of $164,000.

“Fine wine sales to Asia are rocketing,” Gary Boom, the founder of Bordeaux Index, told the Telegraph. “Even by Hong Kong standards [$60,000] for a bottle of red [wine] – albeit a world-class bottle of red – was a remarkable sale. It reflects the incredible current level of interest in fine wines in the region.”

The Telegraph notes that demand is up primarily because the region recently eliminated the duty on wine, encouraging foreign wineries to import the drink.

Seattle wineries are the ones benefiting from increased Chinese demand. The Associated Press recently reported that West Coast wineries were exporting more wine to China, with several even setting up shop in the region to better position their bottles.

Napa Valley wineries tap geosocial applications to reward enthusiasts

SCVNGR, a developer of geosocial services, is teaming up with Napa Valley wineries to launch new applications that would reward wine enthusiasts for taking part in various challenges.

Wine aficionados could win VIP access and winery tours, free tastings, discounts on bottles and reserve barrel tasting. For example, Robert Mondavi Winery is currently offering participants a “Fantasy Napa weekend,” courtesy of the company.

According to SCVNGR CEO Seth Priebatsch, wineries have taken to the idea of using virtual games and challenges to engage customers even further in their brands.

“Our partner businesses got pretty excited and have been bringing it to their colleagues,” Priebatsch told Mashable. “This will help generate a ton of playership in the valley and will help in generating traffic to wineries who are building on SCVNGR.”

Wine makers tend to be pretty active on social platforms, such as SCVNGR or Facebook. Reuters reported last month that 80 and 64 percent of wineries use Facebook and Twitter, respectively, to network with fans and each other.

Researchers discover growth regulator for wine grapes

Growth Regulator for WineGrapes are a key item to the creation of wine, and having the perfectly aged grape will often determine the overall quality of the wine. Now, wineries may have more control over the production of their grapes thanks to a new regulatory agent discovered by CSIRO Plant Industry, reports Physorg.

When grapes ripen, they produce sugar. This sugar is often what determines alcohol content and sweetness in wines. Regulatory agents could help wineries encourage grapes to ripen at the same time, enabling them to make wines that are uniform in taste and optimized for perfection.

“[The plant-growth regulators are] very useful as [they] extend harvest times allowing the timely processing of fruit ripened to the desired stage, alleviating winery bottlenecks,” Physorg quotes CSIRO’s Dr. Christopher Davies as saying. “Such a delay may also ensure ripening occurs under more favorable climatic conditions.”

Such growth inhibitors could benefit local Seattle wineries. The Associated Press recently reported that cold summer months and an early winter may have a negative effect on this year’s wines.

Local wineries prepare for tasting season

Wine Tasting SeasonWith winter on the horizon, many wineries are wrapping up the end of the harvesting season. For fellow wine aficionados, this is a good sign, as many associations will then begin planning special events in November and December.

The Seattle Times recently reported on some key wine tasting events scheduled for the next couple of months. In November, there is Salud, an annual fundraising event; the Tri-Cities Wine Festival, a gathering of more than 100 local wineries and Walla Walla, an unofficial tasting and auction get-together of Walla Walla wineries. Several specific wineries will hold events in December, such as Woodinville and South Seattle Artisan Winery.

As the newspaper notes, most wineries open their doors shortly after Thanksgiving, so expect more events to be announced over the next few weeks. Of course, tasters should always act responsibly at these tastings and go with a designated driver.

With more than 600 local wineries, Washington has a rich culture of vintners and wine tasting. This number is continuing to grow as well – over the past ten years, it has more than doubled.

Seattle Starbucks begins serving wine

Wine FlutesA local Seattle Starbucks has a new item I’m sure fellow spirits enthusiasts will enjoy: wine. The Olive Way Starbucks location that recently reopened is now serving alcohol, reports the Associated Press.

Earlier this year, Starbucks announced some of its locations would begin serving alcohol in an attempt to encourage customers to come back to shops after their morning coffee. The Olive Way location marks the brand’s first shop to offer consumers beer and wine. The store begins selling beer and wine after 4 p.m.

The store closed in July to be outfitted with the appropriate equipment to serve beer and wine. Starbucks also installed a new circular coffee bar to bring customers closer to baristas.

While the new offerings are set to hit locations nationwide, officials declined to comment on when this would take places.

To make the deal even sweeter, the Olive Way Starbucks will be serving fine wines from Washington’s 600 or so wineries. As everyone who knows Naveen Jain can tell you, I am a patron of local spirits, so it’s good to see a national brand supporting regional products.