Planning for Unified

Courtesy of unifiedsymposium.org

This week the entire country decends upon Sacramento, CA for the 2018 Unified Wine and Grape Symposium. This is, by far, the largest wine focused trade show in the US. All the suppliers for anything having to do with grapes or wine are in attendance and one can easily just attend the exhibit halls and not see the entire show space. I like to attend the talks though. It starts on Tuesday with the Keynote luncheon. These talks are separate from the show itself which starts Wednesday but it never fails to be inspiring and full of good information. Tomorrow’s speaker is Gina Gallo of the winemaking giant Gallo. Gina is known to have been one of the driving forces behind repositioning the company towards higher end wines so her insight into the industry I’m sure will be interesting. After last year’s luncheon with wine writer Eric Asimov, I walked away with close to 10 pages of notes. To save my hand, I’ve brought my SurfacePro this year and fully anticipate getting some good information again.

Another one of my favorite highlights is the “State of the Industry” talk which kicks off the main part of the symposium on Wednesday morning. Having any one of the speakers present their information to you would cost you well beyond the price of an admission ticket but the panel of people that they assemble for this gives a very detailed look at the state of the industry in California. Although global issues are touched on it is a CA driven talk but there are always good parallels to be gleaned. Since CA makes up 90% of the wine industry in this country, knowing where CA is going gives good insight into where the market is going.

The rest of the day is split into “tracks” with multiple sessions being held at the same time for viticulture, winemaking, and marketing. It never fails that I end up wanting to go to two or three talks the happen at the same time and need to make a game day decision.

Thursday tends to be a lighter talk day with less in depth subjects so that usually ends up being my trade show day. You MUST go to the trade show with a plan. Inevitably, one will run into a bunch of friends and colleagues and it will take three times as long as you expect to cruise down each aisle as you find people to catch up with you haven’t seen in years.

The social aspect of the show cannot be discounted either. Planning one’s dinner and after party schedule is almost as hectic as planning what you want to see at the show itself. The bars at the two main hotels, The Sheraton Grand and the Hyatt Regency, are guaranteed hang out spots for after late night activities. I have often wondered if they prepare for this week like generals preparing for battle. Getting a room at one of these hotels is a feat in itself since they are snapped up within seconds of being released. I felt it was a major accomplishment to have gotten a room at the Hyatt for this year’s show. I’ve never been on top of it enough to have booked one of these rooms before without being a speaker.

However you look at it, Unified is one of the key meeting of the minds of the US wine industry. Regardless of your geographic location, there is a wealth of information here for anyone who wants it.

Photo from UnifiedSymposium.org

China’s Continuing Influence

My time in China continues to influence my life. The most radical aspects have to do with travel. The realization that I could go literally anywhere on the planet and I don’t have to get permission to do so. I can just figure out what it takes to go there, book a flight (after getting visas and shots if needed), and go. There was something that changed in my mindset as I was standing alone on the Great Wall staring a a sight in real life which I had only ever seen before in my text books in school. I could just GO!

The second most dramatic thing that changed was my cooking. I learned so many great techniques and recipes while I was there that I immediately came home and started incorporating them into my life. The most common one is soup. The soup pictured above is my cold busting, sinus opening, warm, good feeling soup. It is loosely based on the breakfast noodles which were a common occurrence during my time in China. It goes something like this.

Several chopped garlic cloves

Two Tbs of diced ginger

Two celery stalks, chopped

Two large carrots, chopped

Half of a large onion, chopped

One shallot, minced

Two diced Thai chili peppers (if you want extra heat)

All of the above goes into a medium to large saucepan with a dash of hot sesame oil (add this before the ingredients to the pan while it warms) and sautéed over medium heat until the onions are translucent.

Add meat. This can be left over roasted chicken which is what I prefer but I’ve also used deli turkey or sliced London broil which is what went into the photo above. You can also use tofu for a veggie version.

After the meat sautés for a couple of minutes pour in enough broth to generously cover the sautéed ingredients. I like to use chicken broth but veggie broth is fine as well.

At this point I usually add rice noodles but this time I added some mushrooms. These are Hen of the Woods and Enokitake mushrooms which add extra nutrients and fiber. The Enokitake mushrooms are thin like noodles and gives the same texture. Simmer until the noodles (or mushrooms) are tender. You can also add a boiled egg a few minutes before to warm it up for a very traditional Chinese pairing. Usually these eggs are boiled in black tea. It I just use regular hard boiled eggs. Top off with some Black Vinegar and some chopped green scallions and you are set.

There you go. A super cold busting mixture that is very tasty and healthy. Not to mention quick to make.

It’s a far cry from the standard take out but oh so delicious.

Harvest Update 2017 – And That’s All Folks

It feels in some ways that this has been a super long harvest and in others it fells so short. We had the rain on and off for the week in early October but since then the weather has been beautiful. Riesling has been very strange this year. There was a large crop and that led to many vineyards stalling out in the mid-teens for Brix and moving very slowly. The best growers as always managed to produce beautiful fruit regardless.


The barrel fermented Blaufrankisch is settled into barrels (for aging this time) and going through ML. It looks very promising. We finally picked our Riesling for 240 Days last week and it is getting ready to go through primary fermentation. The 240 Days Rose looks and smells like pink Sauvignon Blanc which is super interesting and delicious. It just finished fermentation and will get sulfur this week. Also on my list soon is getting the 2016 Cabernet Franc out of barrels and blended.

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I know the snow is coming soon and with it a slow down in my travels but greater focus on what is happening in the winery. The start of the 240 Days of winemaking is upon us!

As a side note, I’m excited to announce my blog has been named one of the top 100 wine blogs on Feedspot, was listed as one of the top 10 wine blogs on 10Greatest.com, and I did a quick interview with the WSET out of London.  Find that full article here.  All in all it’s been a great week!