Archive for the ‘News and Press articles and information’ Category

Update on Phylloxera in Colorado

Here is a press release from the Colorado Wine Industry Board on the discovered Phylloxera in Colorado’s vineyards…..

April 17, 2017 — Last November, The Colorado Wine Industry became aware of the presence of grape phylloxera (Daktulsphaira vitifoliae) in Colorado’s Grand Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA), which is home to three-quarters of the state’s grape acreage stretching between Palisade and Grand Junction. This insect, capable of damaging Colorado’s wine grape crop by feeding on roots of grape plants and disrupting water and nutrient flow, has been found in many other wine regions including California’s Napa Valley.  After several months of assessing the situation, Colorado State University and Colorado Department of Agriculture scientists have identified about eight isolated vineyard locations infested with grape phylloxera. Those growers are taking the necessary steps to restrict the further spread of the pest, to eradicate the affected vines and remain positive about this year’s wine production.

“The presence of phylloxera to Colorado is not a reason to panic,” explains Warren Winiarski, founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and owner of Arcadia Vineyards in the Napa Valley. “We in California have successfully dealt with phylloxera over a relatively short period of time, but I would expect the movement of the bug between Colorado vineyards would be a relatively slow process, like that experienced by Oregon and Washington according to Mark Chien (Oregon Wine Research Institute). The difference in these states seems to have been the cold winters. The cold winters that sometimes prove problematic to Colorado’s vines should, along with other factors, also help slow the spread of phylloxera.”

One impacted grower, John Behrs of Whitewater Hill Vineyards in Grand Junction, mentions he is following tried and proven techniques to manage their Phylloxera starting with a sampling survey and destroying infected vines. “We have and will continue to frequently sample for this pest to determine the extent of infection.  At this point it is localized to a small area,” explains Behrs.  “Initially, we will destroy all vines that test positive.   We have destroyed 300 vines thus far.   Currently, the infected area has been removed and Phylloxera is no longer detectable in our vineyards. We have over 20,000 vines, so the percentage of infection is small at this point, and impact on overall crop yield is negligible.”

More aggressive options are also available to help curtail the infestation. Behrs describes adding some sprays to slow the pest down, along with more cautious sanitation techniques to reduce spread.  Behrs states, “These techniques are proven to reduce the rate of infection by over 90%.”

“Over time, as the problem spreads (and it spreads slowly) we will have to gradually replace the infected vines with those grafted onto resistant stock, such as those used extensively in California and France,” acknowledges Behrs.  “Since the spread of phylloxera will likely be gradual, it will not impact the quantity or quality of the wines available to our Colorado wine fans.”

Colorado has approximately 150 grape growers tending nearly 1,000 acres of vineyards and more than 140 licensed commercial wineries.  These vintners produced 166,000 cases of wine during the 2016 fiscal year, which equaled more than $33 million in sales.

The latest evaluation of the phylloxera outbreak is a relief for the burgeoning Colorado wine industry which has seen a 40 percent growth over the last five years and hopes to continue on this trajectory. Market share by volume hit an all-time high last year, with nearly one dollar of every twenty dollars spent on wine in Colorado going to the purchase of a wine made here in the state – a notable sign that people are beginning to support the local wine industry with their purchasing decisions.

“While this makes things more complicated for local grape growers, it is unlikely to result in any long-term effects or a reduction in the state’s overall production,” remarked Doug Caskey, executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. “The Colorado wine industry continues to expand its market share in the state, thanks to the tremendous quality of the wines, improved growing conditions and the efforts of so many who are successfully shining a light on this burgeoning industry.”

Today, Colorado’s 140 wineries are recognized nationally for their high quality. A recent story focusing on Colorado’s wineries was featured on renowned wine critic Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate website. Author R.H. Drexel found Colorado’s wines “capture the magic of Colorado’s high-elevation terroir.” Colorado wines are a reflection of the state’s unique and sometimes harrowing growing conditions, producing world-class grapes grown on nearly 1,000 acres of vineyards at the highest elevations in the country. The industry continues to expand and adapt to meet the demands of consumers as well as the unique high-elevation environment. Many of the state’s wineries have been able to increase production over the last two years thanks to extremely productive growing seasons in succession.

“Phylloxera has affected so many regions around the world, yet every one of them has bounced back from this little pest,” said Sally Mohr, Master Sommelier and Boulder resident. “It will take time and, yes dollars spent, to replace vines that are affected and also to replant vineyards with phylloxera-resistant rootstock.”

 

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Phylloxera disease and what it means to Colorado’s vineyards

Adapted from a Bookcliff Vineyard email…..

I thought you may want to know. Many of you asked me about phylloxera in Colorado’s vineyards, as you heard the news on television and on the radio. I thought I give you some more detail so you hear it from the horse’s mouth what phylloxera means for the Colorado grape industry and Bookcliff Vineyards.

For a grape grower to hear the word phylloxera is like receiving a death sentence.
What is phylloxera and why is there a deathly fear in the farming community? Phylloxera is a root louse, so tiny that it is only visible under the microscope. This tiny animal feeds on the roots and leaves of the vine, causing deformation of the roots that prevent water and nutrients being taken up by the roots. The progression of the disease is similar to cancer, most of the time the symptoms are detected late, several years after the infection, when the disease has reached stage II or stage III leaving only one alternative to remove and burn all vines. Early symptoms are similar to many other possible issues in the vineyard, such as iron deficiency, high salt content in the soil or lack of water.
Phylloxera is common in almost all grape growing regions in the world. There is no cure and no spray to control phylloxera, except for planting grafted rootstock rather than self-rooted vines. In Colorado we have had the luxury of planting self-rooted vines, meaning that the roots and the trunk are from the same species, for example Merlot. With grafted vines, the root stock is a particular clone of American native grapes and the actual plant is vinifera, such as Chardonnay or Merlot.
There are no nurseries in Colorado that raise vines. The rootstock planted in Colorado comes from nurseries in other grape growing region, that all have phylloxera. One possible source is the rootstock brought in to Colorado, especially rootstock of hybrid grapes raised in nurseries on the East coast of the United States. American hybrid grapes are resistant to phylloxera and can live with the root louse without any damage. With an increase in planting hybrid grapes, that are more frost and freeze resistant, since we experienced high damage in 2013 and 2014 in Colorado vineyards, the probability increases that phylloxera will be brought to Colorado. This root louse also can travel on people’s boots as they walk through the vineyard or get transported on our farming equipment, such as tractors, mowers and sprayers.
What does the arrival of phylloxera in Colorado mean? We all need to be vigilant. When buying rootstock we need to dip the roots in hot water before planting. We need to vet the nursery before buying rootstock. We cannot share equipment among farmers, unless we have a strict protocol of sanitizing the equipment. When walking into a vineyard, we need to sanitize the boots. We need to test the roots randomly for phylloxera and when detecting the presence take actions to remove and burn the plants. And we need to experiment with planting grafted vines. So far there was no need to figure out which rootstock will work in alkaline soil and an arid climate as Colorado. California soil is high in acid, for example.
But there is also the good news. We do not have the winged version of the louse in Colorado, which spreads much faster than the crawling version. The crawlers do not like sandy soil, which we have in Colorado, but prefer clay to crawl in the soil cracks to go from plant to plant. And we have much colder winters than other grape growing regions making it more difficult for the louse to survive the winter. Hopefully this means that the spread of phylloxera is slow and can be controlled in Colorado. Even better news. At Bookcliff we tested randomly roots from 40 different vines in different vineyards and all tested negative for phylloxera. Most of our vineyards have sandy soil except the Hawkridge vineyard. So when we plant some more acreage this spring we decided to plant 50% grafted vines and 50% self-rooted as a measure of insurance.
The arrival of phylloxera in Colorado created some additional challenges for grape growers in Colorado. But, between climate, soil, the research at the Western Research Station and precaution from the farmer we hopefully can keep the problem under control.
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Interview on Experience Pros Radio Show – 12/13/12

On Thursday, December 13 at 10:20 a.m., take a break from your busy work schedule and tune in to Denver’s business radio show.  Experience Pros Radio Show at AM 560 or online at ExperiencePros will be interviewing author Paula Mitchell and discussing her new book Exploring Colorado Wineries-Guidebook & Journal.

The Experience Pros Radio Show, hosted by the popular duo, Eric Reamer and Angel Tuccy, features positive business talk on the radio every single day.Check it out!!

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Newspaper Article – The Villager

The Villager newspaper just printed a wonderful review of my book…check it out!!

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Bottling Wine – The Process

While I was visiting Colorado Cellars Winery, they were bottling their RoadKill Red, so I had the opportunity to learn the bottling process. Below is a basic explanation. Please see corresponding pictures.

  1. The bottles come upside down in cases.
  2. A person turns them upright and sets them on the bottle line.
  3. The machine vacuums out the air and at the same time puts nitrogen into the bottle.
  4. The bottle is filled with wine from the bottom up (wine is actually sprayed to the outside of the bottle). This allows the carbon dioxide to rise to the top, therefore protecting the wine from oxidation.
  5. The bottle is corked.
  6. The cap is put on and then twisted for secure sealing.
  7. The labels are put on.
  8. The bottle exits the bottling machine and is packed in cases by hand.
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My Book on Channel 7 News

I just received a photo taken during the Channel 7 News broadcast on June 6, 2012 with the Gabby Gourmet (aka Pat Miller) and Bertha Lynn.

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My book appears on Channel 7 News

June 6, 2012 was an exciting day for Exploring Colorado Wineries guidebook! The book and three bottles of wine made their own appearance on Channel 7 News. The wines were from Balistreri Vineyards, Boulder Creek Winery and Creekside Cellars.

Pat Miller, aka The Gabby Gourmet, who endorsed my book has a Wednesday segment with Bertha Lynn on Channel 7 News. Gabby, who normally reviews restaurants, featured cookbooks on her June 6 segment and asked if Exploring Colorado Wineries would like to be included….YES!!!

Click here to see the segment.

I took several pictures in the newsroom (see below). If you haven’t been in a TV studio, its very interesting and exciting. Years ago they used to have cameramen, now everything is controlled by the producer. The picture that is mostly green is not my poor picture taking, but the infamous “green screen” that the weather person stands in front of as the producer displays the maps, etc. You can also see me on a teleprompter and the display of the book and wines, and of course there is Mitch Jelniker and Bertha Lynn on the set doing the news.

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Front Page of the Durango Herald!

Arts and Entertainment Editor, Ted Holteen, of the Durango Herald wrote a spectacular article about my new book – Exploring Colorado Wineries – Guidebook & Journal. The article appeared on the front page of the Arts & Entertainment section as I launched my book during the Durango Wine Experience.

Read the article

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