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Posts Tagged: wine

Roof-top gardens on LA skyscrapers connect people with food

UC Cooperative Extension's Rachel Surls said consumer preferences are driving the growth of urban agriculture.
Galvanized horse troughs arranged on the top of a Los Angeles skyscraper have become a productive high-rise herb and vegetable garden, providing ultra-fresh produce to an on-site restaurant, reported Robert Holguin on KABC TV.

"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.

Other news:

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.

Posted on Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Local collaboration is one secret behind excellent Napa Valley wine

Napa Valley has a worldwide reputation for producing superior wines.
One reason the Napa County wine industry is so successful is its commitment to working together, wrote Paul Franson in an op-ed piece that ran in the Napa Valley Register today. Franson credits frequent industry meetings in the area, where a wealth of information on grape growth and wine production are offered.

A recent meeting he cited was a field day last month in which John Roncoroni, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Napa County, took two groups through the Huichica Creek Demonstration Vineyard in Carneros to teach attendees how to identify weeds that commonly occur in vineyards.

Other local organizations that bring together local grape and wine producers are the Napa County Agricultural Commissioner's office, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Napa Sustainable Winegrowing Group and the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology.

"It’s no wonder that Napa Valley growers get the highest prices for their grapes in the state. They learn how to grow the grapes better," Franson wrote.

Posted on Friday, May 3, 2013 at 8:49 AM

A 'spectacular' year for Mendocino County winegrape growers

Glenn McGourty, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Mendocino County, predicted 2012 will be a wonderful vintage in the North Coast wine region, reported the Ukiah Daily Journal.

"We kind of wish every year could be like that. There was enough water, practically no frost protection needed, and no mold, mildew or rot on the fruit," he said. McGourty told reporter Justine Frederickson he usually finds growers to be pessimistic when they begin harvest, but that wasn't the case in 2012. "I even saw one of them break into a smile," he said.

This winter, the grapevines have been enjoying a much-deserved slumber, particularly with the recent cold snap.

"They like it," McGourty said of the frigid temperatures, adding that the prolonged cold weather in the Ukiah Valley the first half of January is not likely to cause damage.

"The vines are pretty tough," McGourty said. "They can take a lot of cold, and they can go underwater for weeks (without problems), unless there's any foliage."

wine for sale
wine for sale

Posted on Friday, January 25, 2013 at 8:37 AM

Searching for zinfandel clonal excellence

The UC Davis Zinfandel Heritage Vineyard at Oakville Station is a vibrant museum of the zinfandel grape.
A quest to find the best zinfandel clones began in the early 1990s, wrote Ann Hanami of the Napa Valley Wine Examiner. UC Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist James Wolpert was getting feedback from winemakers about the poor quality of the four available commercial zinfandel clones from the Central Valley, whose main characteristics were high-yield, large berries and poor varietal character.

Wolpert went on a California “safari” to find old-vine selections that had evolved uniquely over time on their own home turf. With support of Association of Zinfandel Advocates & Producers and the American Vineyard Association, UC Davis created the Zinfandel Heritage Vineyard in 1995, the article said, to record, study and preserve distinctive zinfandel clones which they collected from 50 notable old-vine vineyards in 14 counties throughout California. (The Zinfandel Heritage Vineyard website says the vineyard was established in 1989.)

The heritage vineyard helps the industry find answers to some of the mysteries surrounding zinfandel and preserves the special qualities of the old vines for future generations. The vineyard is of historical and viticultural interest, and represents a resource for future plantings of zinfandel with a broad range of selections.

Posted on Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Wine alcohol content frequently under reported

Wine enthusiasts are taking note of a recent study by UC Davis agricultural economist Julian Alston and his colleagues that said the amount of alcohol in wine isn't always stated accurately on the label.

The San Francisco Chronicle's restaurant blog, "The Inside Scoop SF," reported on the study, which said that nearly 60 percent of wines under reported their alcohol, while just 10 percent reported accurately. Overall, alcohol levels were under reported by a mean 0.13 percentage points across the board.

Writer Jon Bonné contemplates whether winemakers are trying to bridge a divide between consumers who say they want less alcohol, but are buying wines that have more.

"I’m not sure that explains the mislabeling, which has a lot of complex components (cost savings, consumer bias, regulatory leeway) but it’s an increasingly frequent conclusion. It’s what the study’s authors concluded," Bonné wrote.

The U.K. newspaper The Guardian reported that winemakers have deliberately chosen to understate wine alcohol content for marketing purposes.

"The substantial, pervasive, systematic errors in the stated alcohol percentage of wine are consistent with a model in which winemakers perceive that consumers demand wine with a stated alcohol content that is different from the actual alcohol content, and winemakers are willing to err in the direction of providing consumers with what they want," The Guardian quoted the Alston study.

"What remains to be resolved," the study says, "is why consumers choose to pay winemakers to lie to them."

Wine alcohol content is becoming more of an issue.
Wine alcohol content is becoming more of an issue.

Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 5:40 AM

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