By: Denise M. Gardner
While I know this has reached many of you, I would like to announce that my last day with Penn State Extension will be on September 1, 2017. After 6 and half years with Penn State Extension, I have decided to start a new venture and open ‘Denise Gardner Winemaking,’ a wine consulting business for wine producers and consumers.
While I had the opportunity to speak briefly about this decision at the 2017 PWA Annual Conference, I wanted to take some time to reflect upon my time at Penn State and my perspective on what I’ve seen change since I joined the Extension team in 2011.
Most of my interest in wine grapes and enology is affiliated with the mentorship provided by Mark Chien, Penn State’s previous Extension Viticulturist, and Joanne Levengood from Manatawny Creek Winery. The two of them worked a lot with me as a young high school student interested in the wine industry. Eventually, they helped me execute a research project pertaining to red wine color stability, and my success affiliated with that project provided me with an opportunity to work for Lallemand as a student intern in Toulouse, France the summer before I started college. Mark wrote about this story in one of his many newsletters in 2003. However, I will never forget the shock and disbelief I felt when I opened up a letter from Mark with an attached check containing a list of the Pennsylvania wineries that had financially contributed to support my travel costs associated with the internship. This act of kindness and support from so many local wineries that did not know me made an everlasting impression on me, and it had been my goal from that day forward to return to the Pennsylvania wine industry.
I share this story now to remind everyone how impressionable young adults are and the impact we can make on shaping their careers and futures. As I leave Penn State, I recognize that one of the greatest awards affiliated with this position was the opportunity to work alongside so many talented young adults while they were students at the University. Their involvement with Extension not only helped me manage the five year NE-1020 variety trial research project, but it also gave me an opportunity to expose many students to this industry. While many of them may not know their final career destination, I truly believe they have all been worth the grant funds, the introductions, the internships and co-ops, and the time that many of us have allocated towards developing their professional careers. Mentorship will definitely help shape our industry if we take the time to make it a priority, and I am excited to see where these young minds eventually lead us if they continue to integrate back into the wine industry. I hope many of them stay in the field, as I truly believe that in order for the industry to grow, stay competitive and progress, we will need their education, experience and application.
I am also proud of the educational workshops that have been developed since 2011 to address wine production and quality issues. While wine quality starts in the vineyard, its quality ends in the winery, and I am overjoyed to have been a part of the educational process that has assisted several winery operations within the state. The Wine Quality Improvement (WQI) Short Course, originally started by Dr. Stephen Menke and managed in interim by Mario Mazza, has reached almost half of the wineries in Pennsylvania through its attendance. It has always been a pleasure to hear about how this program has influenced those that have participated, and I would like to publically thank all of the previous students, both undergraduate and graduate, that have contributed to the success of the short course, as well as my industry volunteers: Mario Mazza, Jamie Williams, and Virginia Mitchell. Without their contributing time and patience, the success of the WQI would not be where it is today.
Finally, there is undeniably a wonderful team of individuals here at Penn State that works very hard to address industry questions and needs. Dr. Michela Centinari, Dr. Ryan Elias, Bryan Hed, Dr. Helene Hopfer, Dr. Kathy Kelley, Andy Muza, and Jody Timer, as well as Dr. Rob Crassweller, Mike Masiuk, and Dr. Michael Saunders are all committed to the success of making the wine industry and Penn State a lifelong collaboration. It was not an easy decision to leave this stellar group of people. I hope that you, as industry members, will continue to support them as the program should only evolve and grow from here. As the enologist in the group, I was fortunate enough to have a supportive and thought-provoking advisory committee. I hope that many of you will consider supporting the next enologist by serving on their own advisory committee in an effort to keep this growing program a part of Pennsylvania’s industry and academic communities.
Between the growth of our academic team and the involvement of students in industry-related research, Pennsylvania has shown well within the research spectrum. I have been very proud of all of the Penn State students that have taken their research and presented at state-wide, regional, and national conferences. Additionally, the research executed by our faculty is top notch. While the benefits of research may not always be immediately apparent, the caliber of research and outreach associated with students and faculty has helped make Pennsylvania’s industry recognizable at a national scale. Sometimes that recognition is small and other times it is monumental. With the financial support of the PA Wine Marketing and Research Board, I hope that we will continue to see the collaboration between industry and academia continue, as well as witness the growth and seriousness of the state’s industry and academic programs. After all, no great wine region has ever succeeded without the arms of science, education, and research coming together.
I have learned that research helps us grow and get better as an industry. It can be slow, yes, but it shows us that we do not know it all after all, and it allows us to adapt to changing conditions like new pest integration in the vineyard or high pH winemaking practices. I hope I see many of you at the American Society of Enology and Viticulture – Eastern Section (ASEV-ES) Conference in Pennsylvania next year. This conference is a forum for regional research, but it also creates networking opportunities, highlights the wine quality affiliated with the hosting state, and includes a focused workshop on an industry relevant topic. For the 2018 conference, we believe the focused workshop will be related to high pH in the vineyard and cellar and how to address those problems. For the number of Pennsylvania wineries that contribute financially to support ASEV-ES scholarships, I thank you for supporting so many of our students, especially those at Penn State that I have seen benefit from these awards. No contribution – large or small – goes unnoticed.
For those that are concerned about the nature of the position, Penn State Extension is committed to the position, and the current job opening it is already posted on the Penn State jobs website. Please support the next hire! I know the team will find an amazing individual to fulfill this role, and I’m looking forward to all that they accomplish with the position.
My last day with Penn State Extension will be on September 1, 2017, but I hope I will not lose touch with many of you through the transition. I will continue to run this message through the next few V&E News email distributions, but you can also find the generation of Denise Gardner Winemaking on Facebook (www.facebook.com/GardnerDeniseM/) until the website’s (www.denisegardnerwinemaking.com) launch in September and reach my by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. This new venture will definitely be unique, and I hope many of you will consider exploring it in the coming months ahead as I am staying focused on Eastern, Southern and Midwestern production practices. Despite this transition, I will continue to work out of Pennsylvania and am hopeful that this new venture will be applicable for many of the local and regional wineries.
Again, it has been a pleasure working alongside many of you and I thank you for making me a valuable part of this industry. I wish you all a fruitful growing season and a successful 2017 harvest. I can’t wait to taste the vintage!
By: Jody Timer, Entomology & Lake Erie Regional Grape Research and Extension Center
Over the last ten years there have been an inpouring of newcomers to the insect community of Pennsylvania’s grape vineyards. These pest, combined with the numerous indigenous pest, have created an ever evolving challenge for the area’s grape growers. In this blog, I will briefly review the grape pest which I feel are becoming ever increasingly problematic for grape growers to control.
The Spotted wing drosophila has become a progressively severe problem in blueberries raspberries, and grapes. Recent research has shown that they are attracted to all cultivars of grapes that we tested. Spotted wing Drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, Matsumura (Diptera: Drosophilae) (SWD) is an invasive vinegar fly of East Asian origin, that was recently introduced into the United States. It was first found in California in 2008 and is now found in all major fruit-growing regions of the country including Pennsylvania. It was first discovered in Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie grape growing region in the late fall of 2011. The potential infestation rate of spotted wing Drosophila differs from other vinegar flies because the female possess a serrated ovipositor that cuts into healthy fruit to lay eggs. Consequently, spotted wing Drosophila (SWD) larvae can be found in fruit that is just ripening: https://youtu.be/dPr61VC2gyo
During egg-laying, it is believed that sour rot and fungal disease can also be introduced, further affecting the fruit quality. During peak temperatures, a female can lay more than 100 eggs a day. Such a high reproduction rate indicates the SWDs’ high potential for fruit infestation and their potential for spreading rapidly through a field or a vineyard. Because of this prolificity it has become increasing important to protect wine grapes starting at veraison. A good YouTube video on how to identify SWD damage is: https://youtu.be/DLNDnMMfWfs
In our research we have seen SWD showing up earlier in the spring each season and their numbers increasing yearly. SWD do attack injured grapes before non-injured, they tend to wait till veraison before attacking grapes, and they will reproduce in fallen berries. For this reason it is important to keep your vineyards as clean as possible and to maintain coverage of these wine grapes through harvest. Trapping and forecasting can lead to improvements in grower’s capability to optimally time pest management decisions which should reduce both the direct cost of pesticide treatments and the indirect cost to wineries. Information can also be found at:
The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is currently a very serious pest in tree fruits and vegetables, and can be a nuisance when they overwinter in houses. Although BMSB prefer other fruits and vegetables to grapes, they do feed on grapes. Their damage can cause ugly scars on table grapes and grapes grown for sale at fruit stands. This type of damage is not important to wine grape and juice grape growers, however, the holes open pathways for fungal and bacteria late season infections. This season, in the Lake Erie region, we have begun to see a small number of BMSB damaged grapes. BMSB may also be easily harvest with the grapes. The insects tend to move to the interior of the cluster when disturbed and are hard to see. When they are killed they give off a foul odor – which is how they got their name. Our research has shown that this odor and resulting taste do survive the pasteurization of juice grapes, but disappears after being stored for longer periods of time. There is conflicting research on whether this taint transfers to wine, more research is ongoing. There are traps commercially available to trap these insect, but their efficacy is very low. BMSB have been found in both grape foliage and grape clusters; they seek the moisture, sugar, and warmth on the inside the clusters (especially overnight) and they often migrate to the cluster’s interior close to harvest. This makes the possibility of BMSB inside the cluster very likely when these grapes are mechanically harvested and transported to the processor.
With the yearly increase of numbers of BMSB in the Pennsylvania vineyards, it is very important for growers to scout for the adults and the presence of the eggs on the underside of grape leaves. There are one to two generations in Pennsylvania. A compilation of research can be accessed at www.STOPBMSB.org
The newest invasive poised to become a major problem to grape growers, the spotted lanternfly (SLF), Lycorma delicatula, (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) is native to China, India, Japan, and Vietnam and has been detected for the first time in the United States in northeastern Berks County, Pennsylvania. This approximately one inch long insect with piercing-sucking mouthparts has the potential to impact the green industry, grape growers, tree fruit growers, and the forests and wood products industries in Pennsylvania as well as the United States. The host plants of the SLF in its native habitat include grapes, pines, stone fruits, and up to 50 other hosts. Early detection of the SLF is critical for effective control and protection of Pennsylvania’s agriculture and its related businesses. SLF group feeds on grapevines in numbers great enough to cause destruction of the entire grapevine. Grapes are listed as a primary host in its native regions. To date this insect has been confined to areas of Berks and Bucks counties in Pennsylvania. The PDA has issued a general order of quarantine for these areas over the past few years, however this insect is slowly increasing its range.
The following is a link to the PDA’s information on the SLF: www.pda.state.pa.us/spottedlanternfly. You may find a link to a pdf copy of the SLF Order of Quarantine, a PowerPoint on Lycorma Inspection Tips, and the SLF Pest Alert at this website.
What to do if you:
- See eggs: Scrape them off the tree or smooth surface and place the eggs in a tightly sealed container with 70% alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them.
- Collect a specimen: Send the adult/nymph specimen or egg mass to the PDA Entomology Lab for verification. The mailing address for the lab is: PDA, Entomology Room-111, 2301 N. Cameron St., Harrisburg, PA 17110. First, place the sample collected in 70% rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer in a leak proof container. Complete the PDA Entomology Program Sample Submission Form. This sample form can be found in the PDA SLF website www.pda.state.pa.us/spottedlanternfly.
- Report a site: Call the Bad Bug hotline at 1-866-253-7189 with details of the sighting and your contact information.
The most destructive insect pest in the Lake Erie region remains the native Grape Berry Moth (GBM), Paralobesia viteana. This insect is becoming increasingly harder to control as result of shorter residual time of insecticides, resistance to insecticides, and abandoned vineyards. GBM larval burrow into the grape berry soon after hatching, making precise timing of spray applications a critical component of control. This insect has four generations per year. Each generation increases in number exponentially if control measures are not applied to the early generations. Spray timings can be calculated by following the NEWA model recommendations (see earlier posts). Growing seasons with large populations of GBM, will require a second spray in July and/or August to control the populations, and to prevent them from moving farther into the vineyards. Scouting for GBM damage often during the season is a critical component of control, as the pheromone traps capture only the males and are not a good indicator of infestation after the first generation. More information can be found on extension pages and on the LERGP Podcasts on Youtube.
By Dr. Kathy Kelley
I have been fortunate over the past few years to co-lead groups of Penn State undergraduates on a two-week experience in Paris, France, with the goal of comparing U.S. and French agriculture and food systems. The students learn about U.S. systems from Penn State experts during the spring semester and then they learn about the French systems when abroad in mid-May. Grape and wine production happens to be one of the topics they study, and they get an opportunity to not only visit a vineyard and winery in Pennsylvania but a couple of operations in the Champagne region. On my time off I visit wine shops and look for wine-related “things” that may be of interest to you, our blog readers. What follows is a bit of what I have seen so far on my trip.
Learning about Wine in High School
One of the stops we took the Penn State students to in the Champagne region was an agricultural high school (Lycée Agroviticole – Crézancy; http://bit.ly/2qyL40l). The school was founded in 1870 and is just one of several schools that teach students about farm management. Some of the students who have an interest in becoming winemakers, along with high school graduates who seek viticulture and enology training, are responsible for the vineyards and grow the three main wine grapes used to make Champagne (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier).
In addition to learning about grape production, the students also learn the multi-step process of making Champagne and are involved in all steps of the process.
Under the direction of a cellar master, the students’ final product is labeled and available for purchase. Selections, with the price in U.S. dollars, include Brut Tradition ($15.00), Brut Blanc de Blanc ($16.30), Brut Rose ($16.75), Demi-Sec Tradition ($15.73), and Euphrasie Millesime 2008 ($21.35) (http://bit.ly/2rljEMQ). A product that is now available, but was not in 2015 when I last visited with a group, is Brut Terroir – their organic option ($19.11).
Champagne can be purchased online as well as from the cellar at the school. A building is currently being converted into a retail space that the students will operate. Students interested in Champagne production also attend conferences, participate in judging events, and co-host events for the industry.
A 20,000 Euro ($22,474.74) Bottle of Wine
I am drawn to retail establishments and really enjoy observing how products are displayed, how the space is used, and the overall “feel” of the store. While Paris has many wine shops and places to buy wine (even a wine shop where no French wine is sold/served (http://soifdailleurs.com), I enjoy visiting La Cava at the Lafayette Gourmet near the Opera Garnier in the 9th Arrondissement (http://bit.ly/2rkwriQ) because it is in the midst of a supermarket in the basement of a department store and it is staged as if it were a museum. It is roomy, security guards are staged at the entrances, and the lighting highlights certain pieces (wines).
There are approximately 2,500 labels, of which almost half are from Bordeaux. Each time I visit I look for the most expensive wine available for purchase. Though I found a few bottles that were priced over 2,000 euro (approx. $2,250 U.S.), I also found a few 750 mL bottles that were just a bit more: a 1945 Chateau Latour (Bordeaux), which Parker awarded a 90/100 and Wine Spectator a 100/100 (http://bit.ly/2rTOKs6), that sells for 12,900 euros (approx. $14,500 U.S.) and an 1899 Chateau d’Yquem (Bordeaux) for 20,000 euros (approx. $22,500), which Wine Spectator awarded a 91/100 (http://bit.ly/2qjseYs). However, if those prices seem a little steep, do not forget that you can request a VAT tax refund when you leave the country, which for the Chateau d’Yquem is 2,400 euros (approx. $26,900 U.S.).
Another shop that I visit when in Paris is Lavinia (located in the 1st Arrondissement, http://bit.ly/2qnVah7). The business was established in 1999, has over 6,500 labels (including selections from the U.S.), and is often referred to as the Europe’s largest wine store.
“La Cave” is in the basement level and houses rare and expensive wines. In order to access the wines in this section, you will need to ask a staff member to open the door with a code, after which they will accompany you while you make your selection, and then they will bring the bottle to the cashier. This is the one section of the store where it is forbidden to take photos of the bottles in an effort to minimize any exposure to excessive light from a camera’s flash.
After walking around both floors you may be interested in having a meal in the restaurant. If you are interested in learning what wines pair with items on the menu you need only look at the display outside the dining room, find the particular food item (e.g., salad, cheese, a specific entrée), and refer to what wines are positioned in the column under the photo. If you would like to taste a particular wine, ask for a card (deposit of 3 euros), load 10 euros or more onto the card, and insert it into one of four machines that will dispense a select number of reds, rose, or white wines, all for 1.10 euro to 9.60 euro per 3 cl (1 fluid ounce).
As you can imagine with a city the size of Paris – the number of options for getting a glass or bottle of wine is immense. If Paris is on your list of places to see, or if it is time for you to visit again, be sure to investigate what bars, restaurants, shops, and tastings you would like to experience. While many establishments are well known and marked there are also a number of speakeasies in the city that deserve a visit, one of which is Lavomatic (https://www.lavomatic.paris).
Lavomatic is a working laundry mat with a secret door hidden behind one of the dryers. After you push the “start” button on the dryer and pull the door to open it- you will find a dark staircase that leads up to a small bar with a few small seating areas including a few swings that hang from the ceiling.
Until next time…
By Jennifer Zelinskie and Dr. Kathy Kelley
Did you log into Facebook, send a “snap” via Snapchat, post a photo on Instagram, or send out a tweet on Twitter today?
There is no doubt that social media has a presence in our daily lives. In 2017, 88% of the U.S. population had Internet access and 66% of the population actively used social media (http://bit.ly/2nCUEiC). From January 2016 to January 2017, the number of active social media users increased 21% and active mobile social users (those who use social media on their mobile devices) increased 30% (http://bit.ly/OeHf9K).
It may not surprise you that Facebook is the most widely used social media platform, but did you know that 68% of all U.S. adults use the platform? Additionally, 76% of American users visited the site daily in 2016 (http://pewrsr.ch/2nJd5Oy).
What about some of the other networks? Twenty-eight percent of all U.S. adults used Instagram, the second most “engaging” network after Facebook, and 51% of all Americans visited the site daily. Slightly fewer, 21%, of U.S. adults used Twitter, with 42% of Americans reporting that they visited the site every day (http://pewrsr.ch/2nJd5Oy). It is expected that there will be 66.6 million U.S. Snapchat users in 2017 (http://bit.ly/2nD5yVE). While the audience tends to be a little bit younger, the number of users age 25 and older grew two times faster than users under the age of 25 in 2016 (http://bit.ly/2mDL7TP).
Importance of Social Media for Business Marketing
Social media can be an effective marketing tool and wineries and tasting rooms should consider how they might include select networks into their promotional strategies. Or, if they currently have a presence – what they can do to encourage more engagement with followers. There are several benefits associated with using social media, which include:
- increasing website traffic,
- raising brand awareness,
- creating a brand identity and positive brand association, and
- “improve[ing] communication and interaction with targeted audiences,” (http://bit.ly/19OJ6KN).
Overall, social media is used to engage consumers; however, each network has its own purpose. Some of which, from an article written by Justin Scah (http://huff.to/2buWp8Y), include:
- A Facebook business page can be used to “connect with your prospective customers all around the world” and “allows for the best possible targeting…especially through Facebook Ads.”
- Twitter allows businesses to “post recent news, updates, and articles” and the number of Twitter users reached can increase significantly if others retweet your message.
- Instagram is an excellent tool for sharing photos of events held at a tasting room, your wines, the beautiful setting that surrounds your tasting room, and visitors enjoying their experience as you pour samples. It is common for businesses to host contests on Instagram. Participants post photos, based on specific criteria, and include a specified #hashtag that organizers can use to identify entries.
- YouTube, the second largest search engine, is also owned by Google so “videos are more likely to appear in search results than other websites” with video.
- Yelp allows customers to review your business and can persuade potential customers to either visit your tasting room – or decided to pass you by. This platform is “critical for businesses today” and “asking your customers to review your business prevents any negative reviews from standing out” (http://huff.to/2buWp8Y).
Social Media Use and our Mid-Atlantic Wine Consumer Survey Participants
In a March 2016 Internet survey, we included questions about social media use. We asked our participants (New Jersey, New York, and/or Pennsylvania residents who drank and purchased wine at least once the previous year) if they used social media networks and/or review sites at least once during an average month.
Of the 714 survey participants, 84% responded “yes,” and then these 600 participants were asked to select, from a list of networks and sites, which ones they actively used at least once during an average month. Based on which social media and/or review sites they selected, they were then asked to indicate if they used the particular network(s) and site(s) to engage with and/or learn about wineries and/or tasting rooms (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Percentage of survey participants who used social media and/or review sites at least once a month and, based on the networks and sites they used, the percentage of these participants who used each to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms
An earlier survey, conducted by former graduate student Abby Miller in September 2013, asked wine drinkers and purchasers in the three states to select which social media outlets they “felt were mandatory for wineries and tasting rooms to implement to connect with customers” (Figure 2) (Miller, 2015). Additionally, participants were asked to select which social networks they used to connect with companies. Although the survey did not include as many options as the March 2016 survey, and we most likely had a different pool of consumers participate in each survey, it does provide insight as to which networks survey participants felt were important for wineries and tasting rooms to use to engage with them.
Figure 2. Social media networks that 2013 survey participants: 1) felt were mandatory for wineries and/or tasting rooms to implement and 2) they used to connect with companies
Also, when compared to the 2016 survey data, you will notice that the percentage of participants who used the networks to engage with and/or learn from wineries and tasting rooms was greater than the percentage of the 2013 participants who used the select networks to connect with companies.
- Facebook: In 2013, 55.4% of survey participants felt that Facebook was mandatory for wineries and/or tasting rooms to implement and 26.9% used Facebook to connect with companies.
- In 2016, the majority of participants who used social media (94%) used Facebook at least once a month and 64.5% of these participants used the platform to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms.
- Twitter: 18.7% of participants in 2013 felt Twitter was mandatory for wineries and/or tasting rooms to implement and 12.8% used the network to connect with companies.
- Slightly less than half of 2016 participants, 44.2%, used the network and 35.6% of these participants used the network to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms.
- YouTube: 17.3% felt it was mandatory for wineries and tasting rooms to implement and 10.9% used the site to connect with companies.
- Over half of the 2016 participants, 66.5%, used YouTube and 31.7% of these participants used it to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms.
- Pinterest: in 2013, 12% felt it was mandatory for wineries and tasting rooms to implement a Pinterest account and 6.6% of participants used it to connect with companies.
- In 2016, 39.9% of participants used Pinterest at least once a month and 34.5% of these participants used it to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms.
- Instagram: Only 10.4% of participants in 2013 felt Instagram was mandatory for wineries and tasting rooms to implement and 6.4% used Instagram to connect with companies.
- In 2016, 45.7% of participants used Instagram at least once a month and 41.4% of these participants used it to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms.
Tips for Creating Social Media Networks for Your Winery and/or Tasting Room and How to Increase Engagement
Based on the data presented above, it is evident that our survey participants used certain social media networks and review sites to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms. The number of social networks and review sites can be intimidating, especially when choosing which networks to invest the time and effort needed to successfully engage with followers.
Here are some tips to help you create an engaging social media presence:
- Posts with videos and photos are more engaging than posts with just text (especially for Facebook and Twitter) (http://bit.ly/2iFFBBe).
- The Facebook News Feed algorithm recently changed and text-only status updates will now need to include an embedded link. The link needs to be mobile friendly and of “good” quality, which is based on how long Facebook users remain on the “linked” site. The longer a user spends “reading an article away from Facebook” the “higher” the link quality (http://ly/2mDvjQU).
- Be sure to use social media to engage followers in a “two-way conversation” by commenting on their posts, asking them questions, and answering the questions they post.
- Contests, promotions, and offering prizes and discounts is an effective way to generate interest and engagement – especially if participants have to post an image or comment on a post in order to be considered for a prize. Also, include offers that either need to be redeemed in the tasting room or require consumers to follow to receive offers or gain access to a special event.
- Always add links on your website, business cards, and tasting room displays that lead to your social media accounts.
- Don’t publish the exact same post to each of your accounts. Create unique posts for each social media account to motivate consumers to follow your business on more than one network.
- Follow your competition to learn how they are interacting with wine consumers and how many likes/shares/etc. their posts generate.
- Mention complementary businesses in your posts to build important linkages and increase the number of social media users who see your message and learn about your wines and tasting room experience (http://bit.ly/2nwUhBS).
It is important to remember that social media “is about building trust as well as relationships – and that comes from not selling” (Dave Brookes, Sales and Marketing Department, Teusner Wines, http://bit.ly/2nDgCSm). This is why, no matter which platform(s) you use for your business, your overall goal should be to “connect” with your followers and provide information that will help them enjoy wine.
To determine which social media networks you should have an active presence, ask your customers and tasting room visitors:
- If they use social media and, if yes, which accounts they use,
- which ones they use to follow businesses and which they would prefer to use to connect with your business, and
- what information they would like you to share on via social media (e.g., new wines, promotions, events, pairings, and recipes).
Once you’ve developed your social media presence, analyze each network to learn if your followers find you posts engaging. This can be done through documenting clicks, likes, shares, comments, retweets, coupon use, tasting room visits, etc. A more thorough way of investigating engagement is through network-specific tools such as Facebook Insights, Instagram Insights, and YouTube stats. There are also multiple social media analytics tools, both free and paid, that compile all your platform engagement stats into one report (e.g., Hootsuite, Klout, Simply Measured) (http://bit.ly/2ee4Sg4). These and other tools can be easily found on the Intent by searching for “Social Media Analytics Tools.” We hope you are encouraged to grow your business’s social media presence and engage with your customers. We will continue to share ideas and examples to help you with this important task!
Miller, A.L. Developing Wine Marketing Strategies for the Mid-Atlantic Region. Thesis. The Pennsylvania State University, 2015.
By: Denise M. Gardner
In a previous post, we discussed ways in which nutrient management during primary fermentation can affect hydrogen sulfide formation and the overall “health” of the wine. This week, we’re going to explore how to mediate hydrogen sulfide aromas and flavors in a finished wine.
Sulfur-Containing Off Aromas
In general, many wine sensory scientists and wine experts will agree that is relatively a bad habit to use the term “sulfur” to describe off-odors associated with hydrogen sulfide or “stinky” aromas that are usually described by the term “reduced.” One of the main arguments for avoiding “sulfur” as a description term for an aroma is due to the fact that there are actually several forms of aromatic sulfur-containing compounds found in wine, and they can have very different aromas (smells, odors) associated with that one compound. The most common groups of aromatic sulfur-containing compounds in wine are:
- Sulfur dioxide (SO2)
- Hydrogen sulfide (H2S)
- Mercaptans or Thiols
Additionally, many sensory experts will advise further to avoid using the chemical names as descriptors for describing an aroma found in wine (e.g., using the term “hydrogen sulfide” to describe the hard-boiled or rotten egg aroma). It is typically recommended to use an actual descriptor when describing an aroma (e.g., using the term “rotten eggs” when that smell exists in wine).
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
Sulfur dioxide is an antioxidant and antimicrobial preservative frequently used in wine production. However, it is also produced by yeast during primary fermentation, which is why wines (and other fermented products) cannot be sulfur dioxide-free (commonly referred to as “sulfite free” in the mass media). The aromatic descriptor commonly associated with a high concentration of sulfur dioxide is termed “burned match,” but a high concentration of sulfur dioxide can also cause a nasal irritation that many will describe as nasal burning. For more information on sulfur dioxide and managing its concentration in wine, please refer to this Wine Made Easy Fact Sheet produced by Penn State Extension.
Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S)
Hydrogen sulfide is an aromatic compound that is commonly described as having a “rotten egg” or “hard-boiled egg” aroma. Like many sulfur-containing compounds, hydrogen sulfide has a low sensory threshold (<1 – 1 part per billion, ppb), indicating that about 50% of the population could sense this compound at that concentration without being able to identify it, specifically, as hydrogen sulfide.
As we saw in our previous post, hydrogen sulfide development can result as a component of poor nutrient management during primary fermentation. Residual elemental sulfur from pesticide sprays has also been linked to latent development of hydrogen sulfide in wines. In a 2016 edition of Appellation Cornell, Dr. Gavin Saks’ lab provided a detailed and practical report on how hydrogen sulfide can be a problem for winemakers post-bottling and the potential links to hydrogen sulfide development as a function of residual sulfur from the vineyard (Jastrzembski and Saks, 2016).
Occasionally, winemakers may also experience hydrogen sulfide formation during a sur lie aging period; a time in which the finished wine remains on the lees when lees are stirred in the wine. It is also common for sparkling wines, produced in the traditional method, to exhibit a small perception of hydrogen sulfide when the bottle is first opened.
Mercaptans/Thiols and Disulfides
Finally, mercaptans or thiols, sulfur-containing compounds that contain the functional group –SH, and disulfides, sulfur-containing compounds that contain a S-S bond, can also be problematic for winemakers when found at high concentrations.
The presence of sulfur-containing volatile compounds is not always considered detrimental to wine quality. For some wine grape varieties (e.g., Sauvignon Blanc), these classes of compounds can make up their varietal aroma. In very small concentrations, sulfur-containing compounds can also be aroma enhancers, indicating that their presence can actually make the wine smell fruitier than if they were not present in the wine. However, when at substantial concentrations, volatile sulfur-containing compounds can also produce various “stink” aromas that mask a wine’s fruitiness, freshness, and make the wine generally unappealing. This is phenomena is dependent on the concentration of the sulfur-containing compound and the chemical makeup of the solution (i.e., wine) it is in.
Mercaptans or thiols and disulfides have a variety of descriptors associated with them, and their perception is largely based on concentration. When we’re discussing the negatively-associated descriptors, common terms include: garlic, onion, canned asparagus, canned corn, cooked cabbage, putrefaction, burnt rubber, natural gas, and molasses amongst others.
Are There Sulfur-Containing Off-Aromas in Your Wine?
To identify if hydrogen sulfide, mercaptans/thiols, or disulfide-based off-odors exist in your wine, it may be best to use a copper screen as a bench trial. While analytical identification of these compounds is possible, it is often expensive and leaves the winemaker guessing on what to do next.
For a quick assessment of a wine’s aroma, winemakers can drop 1-2 pre-1985 copper pennies into a glass of wine to see if the aroma freshens. The freshening aroma is due to the fact that the copper from the penny is reacting with the sulfur-containing compounds in the wine and making them aromatically inactive.
A technical copper screen takes a bit more work and should be conducted in a quiet and aromatically-neutral environment. It is recommended to do this outside of the cellar.
Copper addition, in the form of copper sulfate, is often used to remediate aromas/flavors associated with hydrogen sulfide. One-percent and 10% copper sulfate solutions can be purchased through your local wine supplier. The basic protocol associated with a copper screen is as follows:
- Add 50 milliliters of wine to two glasses.
- Label one glass “control” and the other “copper addition” (see image below).
- Add 1 mL of 1% copper sulfate to the “copper addition” glass.
- Cap both glasses for 15 minutes. Sniff the aroma of each wine.
Sniff (smell only!) both glasses. Most people start with the “control” and smell the treated wine (wine containing copper sulfate) second. If the aroma/flavor of the “copper addition” glass has improved, or the hydrogen sulfide aroma has subsided, then a copper addition trial should follow to determine the exact concentration of hydrogen sulfide needed to clean up the wine in question. Remember that the legal limit for copper allowed in a finished wine is 0.5 ppm. For a full protocol on how to run a copper addition bench trial, please refer to this Penn State Extension Wine Made Easy Fact Sheet.
Treatment of Sulfur-Containing Compound Off-Aromas
Sulfur-containing compounds are quite reactive, which can make dealing with them fairly difficult. Many educators agree that the best way to treat sulfur-containing compounds, especially those that stink, is to prevent their existence as best as possible.
In the Appellation Cornell newsletter that focused on sulfur pesticide residues, Jastrzembski and Saks (2016) recommended that sulfur residue concentrations should not exceed 1 mg/kg at harvest in order to avoid latent hydrogen sulfide or sulfur-containing off-aromas later in processing and storage. Additionally, many experts recommend appropriately treating fermenting musts with nutrient management strategies based on the starting YAN concentration to minimize the incidence of hydrogen sulfide formation during primary fermentation. This topic was covered in a previous blog post.
As described above, winemakers may also opt to treat the wine with copper sulfate to try to reduce the perception of hydrogen sulfide or other sulfur-containing aromas. It should be noted that aromas caused by disulfides cannot be mediated with a copper sulfate addition.
There has been more conversation in the academic community regarding the reemergence of hydrogen sulfide or sulfur-containing off-aromas after a wine has been treated with copper and post-bottling. The theory around this appears to circulate around residual copper initiating reactions in the wine that lead to more sulfur-containing off-odors. This continues to be an ongoing discussion amongst researchers and will likely be a hot topic within with the wine industry. For now, it is important for winemakers to understand that there may be a risk of off-odors reemerging post-copper treatment and post-bottling. This topic will also be discussed to some degree at the 2017 PA Wine Marketing and Research Board Symposium on March 29, 2017 in State College, PA, and winemakers are encouraged to attend.
Some hydrogen sulfide or sulfur-containing off-odors can sometimes be mediated with use of fresh lees stirred in the wine or the addition yeast lees-like products. Winemaking products like Lallemand’s Reduless, yeast hulls, or some cellulose-based products can help reduce or eliminate the intensity of these off-odors. As with any other product additions, it is recommended that wineries always do bench trials first and before adding to the entire volume of wine. Additionally, Enartis USA (Vinquiry) has previously distributed a fact sheet to help winemakers troubleshoot reduced wines and determine how to best treat a problem wine.
The incidence of reduction, sulfur-containing off-odors, or hydrogen sulfide can be a frustrating circumstance for winemakers. However, adequate vineyard care and proper nutrient management during primary fermentation can help minimize the incidence rate of sulfur-containing off-odors from occurring in their wines. Of course, problems with wines do occur, and we hope that the recommendations above will help winemakers solve wine problems pertaining to sulfur-containing off-odors.
Jastrzembski, J. and G. Sacks. 2016. Sulfur Residues and Post-Bottling Formation of Hydrogen Sulfide. Appellation Cornell, 3a.