PR Advice,Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Writer

PR gone awry, horribly so

Every now and then, I read PR nightmares on Social Media. Being on both sides of the fence, both writing and experiencing PR, I have very strong opinions, based on experiential learnings. I also see the opportunities for PR 101 lessons. This is one of those teachable moments.

There are three issues in this blog story:

  • R Gone Awry
  • PR Advice
  • Bad Media ~ The other side

PR Gone Awry

A person was asked to try and recruit some wine writers for a press trip. That was done. Transport was arranged, and writers were told they would be reimbursed. There were going to be vineyard visits, which would be followed by a dinner. There would also be tastings and masterclasses on both Sunday and Monday.

Those who accepted the trip were told that there was no room reserved for Monday night, so after a long day tasting, they were told  to make their own way home. For two of the participants, that would be a five hour drive, as well as having to find something to eat along the way. The first evening of the event, they were told at the last minute that there was no dinner, and everyone was free to eat where they wanted, at their own personal expense.

The person asked if this is a growing trend due to economic cutbacks? And, wanted to know if this is acceptable. This person is also anticipating that they will want more invites for more people next year.

In my humble opinion, this was a mess, a terrible PR mess. I’ve been on both sides of this one: both hiring and being educated/entertained. What this marketer did to this group is unconscionable.

As a PR pro, I now have a great PR advice story. No one should get people involved, tell them they’re on their own for ANY part of it, cancel some events and turn you out to pasture, etc. To the marketers, if they can’t do it right, they shouldn’t do it at all.

People are generally under the impression that writers are making tons of money. Today, more than ever, this is NOT the case. Photographers are in the same boat. This past week I saw one editor of a magazine post on Social Media: “help needed ASAP. Need a photo” and said what it had to be. One photographer asked what she was “paying.” Fair question if this is how you make your living, right?  Someone else GAVE her one. Everyone is trying to make a living out here, but editors can now just take advantage of anyone who has access.

Whatever is written about the winery(s) that got this going is going to be karma… even if it’s no story at all.

PR Advice

  • If you don’t want to become a PR nightmare, don’t ever treat any writer like this.
  • Every single aspect of hospitality should be covered, from morning until night. I’ve organized national sales meeting, with brokers and sales people coming in from all over the country.
    • ARRIVAL: Gift baskets were in each room.
    • DINNER: Do it right down to the luxury cigars at the end of the welcome meal.
    • DURING: I hired a bus to haul everyone. I even wore my whistle to herd the cats as we went along.
    • DEPARTURE: A lovely parting gift ties it up with a luxury bow.

This is how it’s done. If you can’t afford to do it this way, just don’t do it.

Bad Media ~ The other side

I’ve only had one embedded writer not write about a very expensive trip we took him on. To this day, I can’t for the life of me figure out why. I got a magazine to approve his story beforehand, for which he would be paid again. We paid him $1,000 in advance (many years ago, it would be more today), to be on a luxury train (cost us $35,000 to hire the train). The trip was from Seattle to Portland, to Los Angeles. (The track went out between Emeryville and LA, so we had to hire a PRIVATE plane to get him to the LA venue.) He didn’t take one note the entire trip, as we stopped at each location for our wine tastings; nor, did he have a note pad for any of the trip. He said to my daughter in Seattle, at the beginning of the trip, “I could easily ruin your mother’s reputation.”

Why he even said this is unknown to me. I can only imagine that had issues with women. Who knows. (I can write about him now, because he’s passed away, and can’t get uppity again.)

At the end of the trip, he wrote nothing. When I asked why, he told me, “There was nothing to write about.” Imagine being on a luxury train, being wined and dined for five straight days. Every detail was taken care of; executive chef on board, porters to shine your shoes each night, winemakers on board with stories to tell (they each paid $6,000 to be on this train to have his attention).

If you’ve accepted an assignment, but really don’t want to go, say so. Let the organizer find someone who would love the trip. For the second part of our trip (Fort Worth to Chicago), we found such a person. He is still talking about it to this day as a highlight of his life’s experiences.

I had to experience the former, just to know that they’re out there…. I’ve heard that sophistication is when you’re not shocked anymore. I hope I don’t ever become more sophisticated than I already am.

Take some pages from this playbook, people; whichever side of the fence you’re on, play nice in the sandbox. Reputations depend on it…



And the wine business brainchild gathers…

As a public service, just in case some of you might have missed this important one…

2015 Wine Industry Technology Symposium


Join 400+ Fellow Wine Industry Executives and Managers at the 11th Annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium

Our 11th Annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium promises to be our biggest, best and most dynamic event to date. In the 11 years since WITS was started, technology has become a crucial component of success in the wine industry.

Once again, we’ll offer familiar favorites like the VIP Dinner and the Technology Showcase, along with a day of brief, insightful keynote speeches and targeted workshops geared to your specific needs.

At The Napa Valley Marriott
The 2015 program will include …

Day 1 – June 25, 2015
► Powerful Keynote Speakers
14 Focused, Inspiring Presentations

► 4 Tracks | 20 Round Table Discussions
For DTC, Sales & Marketing, Human Resources, Operations & Technology

► Networking Opportunities with Industry Leaders
Networking Lunch, Trade Show And VIP Dinner

Day 2 – June 26, 2015
► Focused Workshops
Choose From 4 tracks And 12 presentation

Technology is changing faster than ever — you can’t afford for your business to be left behind. Register now at Early Bird pricing and save up to $100 per person.

Contact us to become a WITS 2015 sponsor:
Phone: 707-666-2525 Email: waunice@winesymposium.com


Sauvignon Blanc,Sonoma,Sonoma County,Wine

Eight Easy Pieces Discovered at Kick Ranch

Dick Keenan’s Kick Ranch Get Together

As I was talking with Rick Baum, Dick Keenan’s designated consumer, I was thinking to myself, “I’m continually amazed at how easily I get along with lawyers.” That’s because, it’s in my DNA… So many forefathers, if only my parents had guided me, seen in me that my questioning of right and wrong all of the time, defending underdogs my whole life, all of the traits of a good trial attorney… And, there was attorney Rick, telling me about his tasting wine in an organized order, but now the bottles have been moved here, there, and everywhere… What to do? And I just got it all… How easily I get along with like minded people. (Don’t we all?)

I met a bevy of like minded people at Dick’s vineyard this past Friday. I was invited to a special Sauvignon Blanc networking event at Kick Ranch, which also had a number of the wine professionals, whom Dick has professionally met through his ownership of Kick Ranch Vineyard. Located in Santa Rosa, Dick has also started two artisan wineries, first Carica and now Overland.

[Dick Keenan paying attention to all details.]

According to Dick Keenan:

One of the strengths of Kick Ranch has been our Sauvignon Blanc grapes, and I have been fortunate to grow for a terrific group of winemakers.

As a result, Kick Ranch hosted an informal California Sauvignon Blanc industry get together on Friday, May 22, to support a newly formed trade group promoting Sauvignon Blanc, called “Summertime in A Glass“. SIAG describes itself as “an advocacy and information group that seeks to promote, educate and entertain wine enthusiasts and the industry itself on the world of Sauvignon Blanc.”

For me, it was another one of those aha moments… As I watched this gathering, I couldn’t help but think of the first formal single grape variety symposium, that Louis Foppiano asked me to create for him. I was his publicist for a few months, and he announced that he’d like a group of Petite Sirah growers and producers to get together. Louis didn’t realize at the time hat organizing people is what I do… from the first club I formed in my neighborhood as a kid. Following the PS one, ZAP gave it a go, Chardonnay is on its way, I also organized an Oregon Pinot Gris Symposium, and now a Sauvignon Blanc Symposium was just successfully held in Livermore. We’ve come a long way, baby.
[Bryan Dias with his wife Sylvia Thompson-Dias]

The Players

Just a few that I connected with for upcoming blog stories:

It all began by SIAG’S Executive Director Bryan Dias inviting winemakers, growers, winery staff, wine media, and others connected to the grape to attend a blind tasting and networking experience. This was a “meet and greet” event, with no formal presentations. Bryan shared some ideas generated at SIAG’s California Sauvignon Blanc Symposium, earlier in the week in Livermore. From there, it just took off, and each person listed above had new stories to tell that caught my immediate attention.

Dick Keenan invited the wineries buying Kick Ranch Sauvignon Blanc to attend (Apsara, Aril, Behrens, Cliff Lede, Delectus, Paul Hobbs, Sanglier and Shared Notes. This event was not exclusively limited, though, to Kick Ranch clients. As a result, a number of the new producer members of SIAG also attended and shared their wines. Dick poured his own Overland SB, of course.

More will follow on each person (listed in the bullet points)… For now, this was a wake-up call everyone how important varietal meetings are, and I miss putting them on. I stopped a few years ago, when we had had our Ninth Annual Petite Sirah Symposium at Concannon Vineyard.

I can now see some fresh new directions to take.




VIT 101: With a cooling trend after a warm spell (like we’re having right now in Russian River Valley), vineyard activity slows. So, if the season came early (as it did), and grape farmers might have thought that perhaps they’d have an early harvest, things just slowed back down a bit.

This is how each season goes with grape growers. Each day’s weather is an adventure and it’s duly noted. When he was alive, old Lou Foppiano of Foppiano Vineyards had a large desk calendar. I’d pop into his office and he would have marked the day’s weather, first thing in the morning. It was his “annual grape growing diary.”

Louis M Foppiano or Susan Foppiano-Valera have memories of this time, I know? You both watched your dad do this religiously.

The cool weather is slowing down my front door, welcome grapes. I need to cut back some leaves, too. This will allow a bit of sunshine onto these grapes, and get them back on track.

Marty Johnson of Ruby-Magdalena-Vineyards (Co-Owner and Co-Founder), and winemaker/cellar master at Eaton Hill Winery.

Now, now Jo, let Dame Nature keep her own “track”. You may trim leaves for air circulation and phenolic (flavor) maturation, but let’s not try to improve too much on nature’s timetable. She’s been at this a h*ll of long time, and seems to adjust throughout the season. Ride the ship, steer the course, but let the current set the pace. (Just my humble vineyard philosophy.) What variety are your “Welcome” grapes? They look like happy little campers!

Jo Diaz:

Funny, Marty. I have to do some cutting back, because the vines are so long they’re trying to come in the front door. This is a red grape variety, but I have no clue which one. It was planted by a bird, and we’ve just been enjoying the landscaping.

Marty Johnson:

…and here i assumed you would welcome nature into your home. I guess ya gotta draw the line somewhere. Ours is drawn at flying insects. It’s a very wavy line!

Dan Kleck of Silver Stone Wine Gallery

This cluster’s development shows exactly what happens when a cooling trend follows a warm spell at bloom time in a vineyard: poor set, or as the French say, coulure. Many of the potential berries, especially at the bottom of this cluster, will drop off due to the fact that their fertilization was interrupted or incomplete. Grapes need warm, steady weather at bloom to create a full cluster of fruit. This type of problem causes reduced yields, and uneven bloom weather can also cause variations in individual berry ripeness within the cluster. So, some berries will ripen early, while others may be held back, making it very difficult to decide when to harvest; do you wait for all the berries to fully ripen?(which means you’ll have some raisining), or do you pick when most berries are ripe, while some are not (leading to vegetal flavors in the wine). Nice pic, Jo…might be nice to see how this very cluster develops over the course of the season.

Jo Diaz:

Great observations, Dan. I’ll keep showing this one through the season. This is how VIT 101 was born, by sharing this teeny tiny cluster. And, you’re right. It has a lot more going for it when it started.


Dear Jo,Event,Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Business

For National Wine Day I need 366 days in a year

Hello [Jo],

Celebrate National Wine Day on Monday May 25th with ZIOBAFFA! ZIOBAFFA takes pride in authenticity with an attention to detail and quality. It will create an genuine Italian experience, making you feel like a true connoisseur while raising a glass to National Wine Day!

ZIOBAFFA is an organically grown, Italian wine that is handmade by artisans with a focus on traditional and organic production. These wines are made with a Tuscan expertise in concert with a modern eco-friendly ethos. The grapes are organically produced, which makes the wine better for the environment and easier on your system.

Wine is a way of life in Italy. Open a bottle of ZIOBAFFA with close family and friends and enjoy this modern take on an old-world-tradition on National Wine Day!

Please let me know if you are interested in featuring ZIOBAFFA in your roundup’s for National Wine Day! Happy to send you a bottle for tasting.



Hi, Eliza,

They look like they’re having a really great moment. I’m not sure that I’m celebrating National Wine Day.

Eating, sleeping, and drinking the life on a daily basis… my life is already celebrating so much of it, that I need another day in the year just to schedule it in. So, no I won’t be really celebrating any more than I already am. But, I did put your info into a blog post for today.





Chance to win the dramatic and perhaps you’ll meet Jean-Charles Boisset

Is there anyone in wine more dramatic and loved than Jean Charles Boisset, who is in the wine business, today?

The first time I met Jean-Charles Boisset, I immediately felt like his new best friend. This is his charisma… his charming essence. As I continue to see images of him, that look, that flair, that caring hasn’t wavered… by not one blink. He is true to his charismatic self and to those who surround him. The first meeting was during a Wine Country Weekend.

My next meeting was at Raymond Vineyards. It was set like a theatre for the evening, and now makes total sense that they’ve gone dramatic with the Napa Valley Film Festival, as Raymond Vineyards has rolled out the Red Carpet for the Napa Valley Film Festival. Why am I not surprised?

This image to the right is how we were greeted, with the entire winery decked out in theatrical opulence. When Jean-Charles saw me the second evening, he began  introducing me to everyone within earshot, with such energy that I realized this is no ordinary man… Jean-Charles is extraordinary. And, he makes anyone within two feet of him feel the exact same way.

Chance to WIN at the Jean-Charles Boisset Winery

Win the Ultimate Napa Valley Film Festival VIP Experience!

Walk the Red Carpet at the 2015 Napa Valley Film Festival as a true Hollywood insider, with exclusive access to films, filmmakers, celebrities and famous Napa Valley Chefs and Winemakers, I’m betting that this will all happen with Jean-Charles right there soaking in the event’s success.


You and a guest will receive:

  • A four nights stay and round trip flight to Napa Valley
  • Napa Valley Film Festival Patron Passes (The Patron Circle is the ultimate VIP experience. Never wait in line for film screenings.)
  • Meet celebrities and filmmakers at parties and intimate events. And enjoy the best food and wine at exclusive late night lounges, a Vintner Circle Dinner and more.
  • Passes for the Raymond Vineyards Celebrity Tribute Night After Party
  • Private dinner at Raymond Vineyards


You and a guest will receive:

  • A four nights stay and round trip flight to Napa Valley
  • Napa Valley Film Festival Pass Plus Packages Pass
  • Plus offers priority access after Patron Circle pass holders to all film screenings.
  • And there is no shortage of fun, food and wine with access to the Festival Gala, Celebrity Tribute Program, Late Night Parties,
  • Closing Night Awards Ceremony and Wrap Party, Wine Pavilions, Culinary Demonstration Stage, and Film Industry Panels.
  • Passes for the Raymond Vineyards Celebrity Tribute Night After Party



Seeing a value come to fruition ~ Suisun Valley

One of my greatest gifts in the wine business was to have the Suisun Valley Vintners and Grape Growers Association come to my doorstep, in September of 2003. We were told that the group had some government funds for the next seven years, and they wanted help to get Suisun onto the wine maps.

Finding any written history of the area took a great deal of time, because very little of it existed. Also, I even had to ask, “Where are you?” in all innocence. When I looked at a map, though, I had one of the “Aha!” moments. What an easy story to tell. I you look at your left hand, imagine that it’s Napa Valley. Now imagine that the very lower right hand corner is Suisun Valley, with all else being Napa. That one little chunk is separated by a small mountain range that sliced off the connection of anyone in Napa Valley laying claim to that piece. Years passed, the wine industry in Napa was well marketed, and tiny Suisun Valley was left to its own bucolic devices… All the while, the grape growing farmers kept their noses to the grindstone.

What did it for me was being taken to a vineyard that sat on the county lines. The same contiguous vineyard had this circumstance:

  • On the Napa side, the grapes sold for $3,000 a ton.
  • On the Suisun side, the grapes sold for $300 a ton.

Champion of the underdog that I am, I knew that I could improve this situation by simply pointing out the geography and the injustice suffered by this grape grower. Imagine having to argue price every single year that the contract for grapes come up? Well, I couldn’t, so I got to work.

As I went along and learned who was buying those grapes, I realized that Suisun Valley was offering its “neighbors” (yeah, that was who was buying their grapes), a spice rack. Being in Suisun meant that they didn’t have to grow Cabernet to prove their pedigree. They were growing some pretty eclectic varieties, and it was these varieties that winemakers were using to spice up their wines… The Aha moment was the “spice rack” element. That moment came in 2006…

Wine Blog (for full article):

Growers in Suisun Valley are breaking away from historical sustainable demands, due to diminished pricing at this new commodity level. That’s creating non sustainable operations, and thus reconfiguring small on quality, in order to customized their ultra premium ‘spice rack’ demand.

As Suisun Valley growers wonder if this entrepreneurial spirit and far-to-the-left strategy will work, they may be losing precious moments in their ability for future success. A few early adopters, like the Frisbie family of Ledgewood Creek Winery, Roger King, Ron Lanza of Wooden Valley Winery, and Stephen Tenbrink are proving to be fearless leaders. Some growers have already begun to pull up familiar vines, and are planting in this new approach. Others have pulled out vines and have left town.

And there is is… “spice rack…”

Fast forward to April 28, 2015. I received the following Email from our friend Roger King – who was in the beginning and still is to this date – the president with the Suisun Valley Vintners and Grape Growers:

Hi Jo

Years ago you grabbed the “Spice Box for the North Coast” or something to that effect.  It was good strategy and good communication, and it has proven very correct.

In working on a new Associate Membership Appreciation  BBQ (for our such members who only get the annual meeting and dinner as access, invite attached), started to talking with Chad Clark the Allied Grape Growers north coast director.  We realized 42% (250tn of 600tn) of all the North Coast Alternative Variety (Odd Ball) grapes they contract are in Suisun Valley.  A great point of differentiation and proven diversification for the AVA, now we have folks who can do wonderful things with good fruit.  Hopefully more will and then more will plant even more diverse things.  Will be doing a tasting of what he collects from accounts plus what I know, just for fun and experience of the members.

Good call my old friend, it is gratifying to see a project of future be realized when you get there.


I call it like I see it. It’s wonderful to have soomeone acknowledge that I nailed it. Thanks, Roger King of Suisun Valley Vintners and Grape Growers Associaiton!


Education,Napa,Organization,Sonoma County,Wine

Women for WineSense needs you as a lecturer

A new Lecture Series has been introduced by Women for WineSense. This is a new addition to the Napa | Sonoma WWS suite of member benefits.

  • Are you an expert in the wine industry?
  • Do you have unique knowledge?
  • Would you like to teach others something they need to know?

If so, please do the following by reaching out to Women for WineSense at this E-Mail address: Communications@WWSNapaSonoma.com

  • Share your passion
  • Engage your community
  • Inspire others to succeed

Women for WineSense Members

If you’re not a member yet, please consider the group, if you see yourself in any of the profiles below:

  • You have a passion for wine and WWS has great fun-filled wine education programs
  • You connect with others who share your passion for wine and the wine industry
  • You receive member discounts on all Women for WineSense events
  • You receive member discounts from wineries and local merchants
  • You become part of our roots in the wine industry, which run very deep

This is an especially important group for those who have just entered the wine business. It was perhaps the first group that I joined, when I started my wine career in 1993. It was welcoming and some of the initial relationships still exist today for me.

New to wine? What are you waiting for?

A seasoned pro? You have so much to offer, if you can make time for this lecture series.

From Press Release

Chapter President, Christine L. Mueller, explained, “For years we’ve heard presenters speak at our events and thought, ‘If only we could hear about that one topic for another hour or two!’” She continued, “At last we’re able to bring this dream to fruition with this new series of events, allowing our members and guests to showcase their expertise in a highly specific area of the wine world. It could be a career development seminar on leadership, or a tasting and olfactory class, learning to identify specific aromas.” She outlined that the Lecture Series’ topics could range the history and breadth of knowledge among its members and the wine community at large. “We already have one ‘master class’ on Bordeaux scheduled for late summer, given by an expert educator from the region. But most importantly, we’d like to share our members’ and guests’ expertise with the local wine community. I am always amazed at the knowledge and expertise among our members, and to be able to tap into that—and share it with the community—is a part of our mission.”

Professional Development Director, Susan Kornblatt Idell, explained the chapter’s strategy: “The Lecture Series allows members to delve deeply into a single wine-oriented topic. In the past, I’ve heard members say they wished we had the time to go into ‘XYZ’ topic much further, whether or not it’s been at a big event or at one of our 40-plus roundtable meetings throughout the year.” She continued, “Our move in this direction began two years ago when we added our Tasting Series, with each event focused upon a single topic. Our most recent event in that series, ‘Wines of the Loire Valley,’ overflowed with attendees to the point we turned away a few last minute guests. Now we can take it further and showcase member and industry expertise. If you have unique knowledge, from tasting to finance or career development (and much more), you should apply.”

Ms. Mueller mapped out the overall strategy: “Our objective is to make membership in the chapter much more valuable to our members by offering greater participation opportunities, which began with our highly successful Volunteer Corps earlier this year. These activities will strengthen relationships and contribute to achieving the chapter’s goals of providing career development tools and wine education.”




Looking for a little romance ~ Try Rosé Rendezvous at Simi Winery

UPDATE: Rose Rendezvous has been rescheduled for AUGUST 1, 2015, at SIMI Winery

My friend Bob Ecker has found his groove, and it has to do with Rosé. Bob is a wine writer, an aerial photographer, a wine judge, and now a wine event organizer.

If you’re a lover of Rosé, and you’re going to be in the Sonoma County area, this event of delicate rosé wines is for you…

Rosé Rendezvous

at Simi Winery

On Saturday, May 30th, from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m., in Healdsburg, CA, you should join fellow rosé lovers for their sumptuous Rosé Rendezvous. The group will be celebrating the Gold Medal winning wines from the Rosé Wine Competition.

Taking place on May 30, from 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 PM, this will be an afternoon of fun, food, and delicious Gold Medal winning Rosé wines.  Guests can enjoy bottomless Gold Medal winning Rose wines, meet some winemakers and celebrate all things Rosé on the glorious Simi Winery patio.  Simi’s Executive Chef  Kolin Vazzoler will be cooking up tasty noshes, while music will be provided by the eclectic band Full Chizel.

It’s $35.00 per person, which includes all sips and bites, plus a custom souvenir Rosé glass to take home.

To register, the link is roserendezvous.bpt.me

Simi is located at 16275 Healdsburg Avenue, a few miles north of downtown Healdsburg.


VIT 101,Viticulture,Wine

VIT 101 ~ 7 Cover Crops

WARNING: If you’re in the wine business, this is only VIT 101. This blog story has been created for people just learning about vineyards. Please judge accordingly.

VIT 101: Cover Crops in a Vineyard

Cover crops benefit a vineyard in a few ways. They begin by repelling harmful pests. By having a cover crop of wild flowers, for instance, beneficial insects follow. Along with blooming flowers, honey bees to ladybugs, butterflies, lacewings, ground beetles and other insects all feed on the pests found in these vineyards.

By planting flowers, it’s making that vineyard more sustainable, while also having the ability to eliminate the many poisons that non-sustainable vineyards use to kill those pests that exist locally. Rather than simply repelling these pests and keeping the vineyard more in balance with nature, these harmful chemicals don’t serve the planet’s health in beneficial ways.

Once these plants are tilled back into the soil, they return important nitrogen to Mother Earth, decomposition happens, and that nitrogen is delivered to the surrounding grape vines.

Besides wild flowers, these plants may also include legumes and bell beans, rye grasses, oats, and/or clover, which are all rich in nitrogen. All of these plants create the all-important symbiotic relationship for nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

This picture was taken at the Floodgate Vineyard in Russian River Valley.

Cheers to the Vignerons Who Weigh In

Marty Johnson of Ruby-Magdalena-Vineyards (Co-Owner and Co-Founder), and winemaker/cellar master at Eaton Hill Winery.

Just cut my cover crop down low and left it on the surface (as opposed to tilling it in, which I normally do). We are in a drought situation here as well [situated just North of Zillah WA], and the cover crop clippings should act as a mulch to help prevent evaporation of precious moisture.

Dan Kleck of Silver Stone Wine Gallery

Note this is “every other row” cover cropped. Many vineyards will alternate these each year, to spread the effects.

Jo Diaz question of Dan Kleck:

Another great point, Dan. I always wondered why it was every other row. So, too much nitrogen would give the vines more vigor, and you’d have to be cutting them back more?

Dan Kleck answer:

Too much cover crop (every row) on these hillside vineyards would compete too much with the vines’ water needs and growth, as hillside soils are thin. Hence, every other row is usually a good compromise, and these are often alternated every few years, or so, to equalize the effects.

Dennis R. Grimes of Eagles Nest Winery:

We use Olde English Southdown Baby Doll Sheep for vineyard and estate weeding and just avoid the whole issue of herbicides/chemicals.

We also use organics like stylet oil (AKA mineral oil) and aqueous sulfur for White Powdery Mildew – the bane of roses and wine grapes. These break down quickly in the environment which is the whole point, and require reapplication which makes organic method ops more costly and labor intensive but overall it’s better for the environment, the vineyards, and the wine. We don’t use pesticides either. We avoid protein/mineral fining agents and use (gravity) racking only which is positive from the vegan and no-arsenic/ pesticide residue (think France) standpoint. Wife Julie got some Muscovy ducks to help with insect control. Two new lambs arrived last weekend. You know (human) mom’s use mineral oil on baby’s bottoms to prevent diaper rash.