Time for Synthetic Wine?; Robots Taking Over Vineyards; Touch-Button Beer Ordering & More News | Wine Enthusiast
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Time for Synthetic Wine?; Robots Taking Over Vineyards; Touch-Button Beer Ordering & More News

“Has anyone tried to make wine by simply mixing the raw compounds and ingredients together (ie. sugars, alcohol, organic volatiles, and flavonoids)? Would it be possible to make a great tasting wine this way?” These are the words of Ava Winery Co-Founder Mardonn Chua, who tells Business Insider about his company’s progress in creating a synthetic wine. Co-Founder Alec Lee claims Ava Winery is getting closer to its goal of creating a product indistinguishable from wine made the old-fashioned way, stating in most recent trials that only 10% of people can pick out the two artificial wines from a set of five.

Would you give synthetic wine a fair try if its taste was indistinguishable from one made from fermented grapes? Or does the idea of calling something “wine” when it’s not made from grapes seem heretical?

Time to Welcome Our Robotic Overlords to the Vineyards?

Writing in Forbes, Cathy Huyghe reports that due to a labor shortage and an aging workforce, some wineries are turning to aerial drones to check for pests, diseased vines and irrigation leaks. Of course, the labor issue is also about money. Certain vineyards, due to the terrain of where they are located, require hand-tending and harvesting. Wineries are looking to retain their best seasonal employees via higher wages and benefits.

Beer at the Touch of a Button, No Longer a Dream

Ever get home after a long day and reach for a beer only to curse yourself for forgetting to replenish the last six-pack? Beer producer Carling is here to make sure this sort of travesty never happens again with its “beer button.” A company spokesperson tells The Drinks Business, “The Carling Beer Button is the first ‘e-commerce button’ to be directly integrated into the Britain’s top five online grocery retailers, enabling users to select the retailer of their choice before purchase, ensuring shoppers always get the best deal possible,”

Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction

Good news coming out of California wine country: The Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction raised 4.6 million dollars—a record amount for the annual event. Over 50 percent of that money is going to “Fund the Future,” benefiting literacy programs in and around Sonoma Valley. The target=”_blank”>Sonoma Index-Tribune details all the paddle-raising action and special lots.

Book your next wine trip to…Montana?

Al Putnam of Corvallis, Montana, thinks so. He’s a retired professor of horticulture as well as an amateur winemaker. “I see this very much like Michigan 40 years ago, or like Minnesota 20 years ago. It’s in its infancy now. We do have a handful of wineries that have [been] here for some time that are successful, but a lot of them have had to bring in grapes from other places like Washington and California because we just haven’t had the grape production here,” Putnam tells Missoulian.

Label Wars: Double Bill

What do Treasury Wine Estate’s “The Stag” and Stags Leap District have in common? According to Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, very little as far as what’s in the bottle yet too much on the label. In a lawsuit filed by Stag’s Leap and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the winery claims  the similarly named wine “The Stag” cheapens the prestigious Napa Valley wine region by using grapes from lesser sources. “‘The Stag’ misleadingly co-opts the very heart of the Stags Leap name, its winemaker, and its imagery. It even shamelessly adopts the apocryphal legend of the area in an obvious attempt to create an impression in the minds of the consumers that they share a common source,” says the plaintiffs. More detail, including a look at the front and back label of The Stag, is at WineBusiness.com.

Similarly, the company that controls trademarks for Francis Coppola’s wines, is suing Copa di Vino over the latter’s “Winemaker’s Cut,” feeling it bears a strong resemblance to Francis Coppola Claret Diamond Collection. The plaintiffs assert the name mimics the Coppola wines called “Director’s Cut” as well has having a black label with gold netting. Have a look at both labels on The Drinks Business and let us know if you agree or disagree.

In the Trade

Wine Enthusiast Executive Editor Susan Kostrzewa Joins Women of the Vine Advisory Board

Women of the Vine, an organization dedicated to the advancement and support of women’s careers in the alcohol beverage industry, added four new members to its Trade Alliance Advisory Board, including Wine Enthusiast Executive Editor Susan Kostrzewa. The other three to join the board: Victoria MacRae-Samuels (Vice President, Operations, Maker’s Mark Distillery), Brandy Rand (Vice President, U.S. Marketing & Business Development, International Wine & Spirits Research) and Clarice Turner (Chief Executive Officer, Boudin SF).

From Lumber to Grapevines

American billionaire founder of Lumber Liquidators and Cabinets to Go, Thomas Sullivan, has purchased three Bordeaux vineyards, Decanter reports. Château Gaby, Château Moya and Château du Parc are Sullivan’s first foray into winery ownership and while the price of these acquisitions was not revealed, it was estimated to be in the 8 to 12 million euro range.

Mastering Wine

13 studious and dedicated professionals have just earned one of wine’s highest distinctions: Master of Wine. Read about each of the newly minted masters.

Out and About

Contributing Editor Virginie Boone knows sometimes you just need a beer.

We drink #beer here too #sonomawinecountryweekend

A photo posted by Virginie Boone (@virginieboone) on

Burritos and Burgundy? Contributing Editor Matt Kettmann is up for unusual pairings.

Lompoc burritos and #burgundy thanks @ampeloscellars #alexgambal @florianos805

A photo posted by Matt K (@indyemkae) on

While visiting wineries in Germany, Contributing Editor Anna Lee C. Iijima made a new friend.

Portrait of a winemaker’s dog.

A photo posted by Anna Lee Iijima (@annaleeiijima) on

How do kids in Spain learn about wine? Food Editor Nils Bernstein made a colorful discovery.

Schoolkids come to #harvest & learn about #wine @BodegasEmilioMoro in #RiberaDelDuero. #HealthyHabits @riberaruedawine

A photo posted by Nils Bernstein (@nilsbernstein) on