California Cabernet has its roots in Livermore and the Concannon family

John and James Concannon

John and James Concannon

By Kip Davis
(Napa Valley Register – 8/8/14)

John Concannon felt a tinge of pressure as he began his presentation at an elite gathering of top cabernet sauvignon producers from Napa Valley and other California wine regions. The current face of Livermore’s historic Concannon Vineyards was in St. Helena June 18 to give a viticultural genealogy lesson to the International Cabernet Symposium. As the name implies, the three-day conference was an intense, mostly technical forum on the growing and production of cabernet sauvignon. And while no other varietal has brought more prestige, success and recognition to the Napa Valley, Concannon was here to claim cabernet bragging rights for his family and the Livermore Valley AVA. Read more…

Pioneering Carneros vintners started with a slip on a grape

Napa Valley Register photo

Napa Valley Register photo

By Kip Davis
(Napa Valley Register – 5/30/14)

When Jo Ann Truchard slipped on a grape at a Texas supermarket in 1972, little did she know that the fall would soon land her in a vineyard in faraway Napa Valley. Today, Jo Ann and her husband Tony look back on the Texas tumble as the real beginning of Truchard Vineyards, a grape-growing pioneer in the Carneros region now celebrating its 40th year. As Jo Ann puts it, all started with that slippery grape. Read more…

Napa Valley College viticulture program celebrates 30th Anniversary

536c3eb1ddb24.preview-620By Kip Davis
(Napa Valley Register – 5/9/14)

In 1984, a wood-frame shed on the southern boundary of Napa Valley College became the humble headquarters of the school’s new Viticulture and Winery Technology program. That first year just a handful of students signed up for the program’s meager class offerings. The following year a few more students helped plant an on-campus teaching vineyard to the east.

Today, after nearly three decades at the helm of the VWT program, Dr. Stephen Krebs maintains his small office in a converted storage room in the back of that rustic shed that is still used as a teaching lab. A stone’s throw away is the Trefethen Family Viticultural Center built in 1999. Next to that is the modern 3,700 square-foot Napa Valley Vintners Teaching Winery completed in 2002 and an adjacent refrigerated warehouse storing Napa Valley College Estate wines that have been produced commercially since 2008. As program coordinator, Krebs now oversees 1,000 students annually and a full curriculum offering associate degree tracks, certificate programs and dozens of viticulture and winery-related classes. Read more…

St. Helena innovators offer elegant solution to tedious winemaking task

Napa Valley Register photo

Napa Valley Register photo

By Kip Davis
(Napa Valley Register – 2//25/14)

A chance Fourth of July meeting of two like-minded “machine geeks” has yielded an innovation aimed at improving a somewhat tedious but critical step in the winemaking process.

Alex Mitchell and Evan Schneider have developed a new device that they say will speed and enhance the process known as “pumping over,” a cellar procedure required during the fermentation of red wine. Under their company name Vinnovation, the two partners designed the new Lotus pumpover head with the help of several Napa Valley winemakers who were frustrated with previous designs. Read more…

Aerial drone captures Napa Valley images from above

action chopperBy Kip Davis
(Napa Valley Register – 2//25/14)

Keeping their feet firmly on the ground, two Napa Valley filmmakers are using emerging and somewhat controversial technology to capture spectacular aerial footage of vineyards, wineries and other wine country locations.

Adam Krolfifer and Bret Lyman teamed up last year to purchase a custom- made, remote-controlled helicopter – technically called an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) but known popularly as a drone.

“We call it an aerial cinema rig,” Krolfifer said, cringing at the term “drone” and what he says are misplaced negative notions about the technology. “It’s such an awesome tool for us to have as film makers and video production specialists because it gives you that great aspect, that awesome view that you want to see in something epic.” Continue reading