wine industry

Image of wine grapes on the vine.
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Two crops common to Southern Oregon, wine grapes and hemp, were the focus of a conference call with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and reporters on Thursday.  

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It's only in the last few decades that a lot of the region's agriculture has shifted from fruit orchards to grape vineyards.  But the region's experience with growing wine grapes is long and deep. 

And Scott Stursa plunges into the stories of the industry with his book Oregon Wine: A Deep-Rooted History.  His previous book was about hard liquor in Oregon; we sense a trend. 

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One of the greatest expenses of making wine is the cost of people. 

Much of the work in maintaining wine grapes, is the cost of doing the work by hand.  Many hands are required.  For now, that is; inventors continue to tweak designs for machines that can prune as well as pick in the vineyards. 

The Viticulture & Enology program at the University of California-Davis is involved in the transition, as is the UC's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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The biggest change in Oregon agriculture in the last ten years involves the explosion in the growth of the wine and cannabis industries.  Both of those--at least the cannabis that gets people high--are under the regulation of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, OLCC. 

OLCC spends a chunk of July and August holding meetings around the state, to take input from the wine and marijuana industries on issues and concerns.  Sessions in our region start Wednesday in Ashland and Medford. 

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Start an argument with a winemaker; bring up the term "smoke taint."  It refers to the effect on wine grapes of being exposed to wildfire smoke for prolonged periods, as many grapes (and people) in our region were last fire season. 

The best minds in the wine business are on the case, including the Viticulture & Enology department at the University of California-Davis.  The Rogue Valley Winegrowers Association is also focused on it.

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Humans have been drinking wine for a very long time.  And we've generally figured out which grapes grow best in certain climates. 

Trouble is, the climates are more variable than they used to be.  That's created a problem for winemakers, and a career for Greg Jones

Dr. Jones is regarded as one of the top wine climatologists in the world, and he left Southern Oregon University for Linfield College last year. 

If you like wine but think "oenophile" is something you use to trim your nails, we've got a book for you. 

Kathleen Bershad helps wine wannabes get their act together in The Wine Lover's Apprentice: Words of Wisdom for Would-Be Oenophiles

It's a chance for people who like wine but don't know much about it to get a grasp on the tools, the tastes, the terroir, and more. 

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You have to give credit to the people among us willing to try anything. 

Because they are probably the kinds of people who first discovered wine.  Would YOU have taken a risk and tried drinking grape juice that appeared to have gone bad?  Somebody did, and look at the fun we've had ever since. 

Journalist Kevin Begos followed some ancient leads and found himself on the trail of a big story: the history of wine.  The tale unfolds in Tasting the Past

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First came the grapes, then came the pot.  Southern Oregon agriculture switched many properties from pears to wine grapes in recent years. 

Now the hot cash crop is cannabis.  And there's already evidence of disgruntlement about marijuana's possible effect on nearby vineyards, concerns about flavors and odors of cannabis creeping into the wine grapes. 

Maureen Battistella built the "Wine of Southern Oregon" collection at Southern Oregon University; Mark Wisnovsky runs Valley View Winery and grows hemp for CBD; Katherine Bryan runs Deer Creek Vineyards and grows cannabis as Bryan Family Farm.

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Even if you never drive past a vineyard, it's easy to spot evidence of a growing wine industry in Oregon. 

Just check out the "Oregon" racks in the wine section of the grocery store. 

The Southern Oregon University Research Center--SOURCE--recently completed a Wine & Vineyard Census, commissioned by the Oregon Wine Board.

Eva Skuratowicz and Rikki Pritzlaff are the researchers.

Loving Wine, For Beginners

Jun 27, 2017
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Marissa Ross is fond of wine, you might learn from the picture. 

There are several iterations of that pose, with different outfits and wines and backdrops.  One thing stays the same: Marissa writes about wine and has few qualifications to do so. 

Think of her as writing wine-for-dummies blogs and books.  One book, anyway, called Wine. All The Time: The Casual Guide to Confident Drinking

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Some of us know wine really well and insist on the best in our bottles... and some of us are content to drink it out of boxes. 

Bianca Bosker started in the latter category, and moved to the former.  Her intense interest in wine and the people who serve it led her to quit her job in journalism and go full-bore into wine. 

The result is the book Cork Dork: A Wine-fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste

The Geology Of Terroir In Wine

Mar 8, 2017
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The explosion of the wine industry in our part of the world has introduced some new terms to everyday language.  "Terroir," for example. 

If you read it quickly, it conjures up images of horror films. 

But it's not "terror," just a term to indicate the way wines from different vineyards taste different, due to soil and other conditions.  Like rocks. 

Geologist Scott Burns, emeritus at Portland State University, is well-versed on what goes on below that affects the grapes above. 

An Unwelcome Ingredient In Wine

Apr 13, 2016
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The herbicide glyphosate is better known by its commercial name, Roundup. 

By any name, it has many critics, including the organization Moms Across America

MAA recently tested ten California wines for evidence of glyphosate, and found it in all ten--even in a wine from an organic vineyard.   The wines came from Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties.

No Whining In The Vineyards: Grape Crop Great

Oct 6, 2014
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It was not a good summer for water availability. 

And it was a terrible year for fires. 

But the drought and heat were not all bad for all living things.  Take wine grapes, for example. 

In fact, take a lot of them, because they appear to be quite abundant this year. 

Southern Oregon University climatologist Gregory Jones joins us. 

Small Wineries Team Up For Big Impact

Feb 28, 2014
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When you're a small winery seeking a big impact, it helps to have friends.  But OTHER wineries?

That's the tale of the collective calling itself Bear Creek Boutique Wineries. 

Counting California's Record Grape Harvest

Feb 25, 2014
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It takes a while to compile the numbers from California's massive wine grape harvest. 

But here goes: 2013 was a record year, even better than 2012.  The crush records recently compiled show 4.23 Million tons of grapes, for a total crop value of more than $3 Billion. 

Wine Industry Grows Quickly In Southern Oregon

Dec 5, 2013
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From former pear orchards, a bounty of wine. 

Many of the same Southern Oregon agricultural plots that were once home to pear orchards are now home to vineyards growing wine grapes. 

In (Scholarly) Pursuit Of Wine

Oct 24, 2013
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First it was fun, then it was business, then it was education… and now it's an exchange program. 

The rapid growth of the wine industry in Southern Oregon led to the creation of the Southern Oregon Wine Institute at Umpqua Community College.