An Up-Close Look At Californian Vineyards Saving Their Crops

It’s more important than ever to keep an ear to the ground. Becoming emotionally detached in this stressful snowball of a year is a helpful short-term reaction, but a devastating long-term one.

This behind-the-scenes peek from Insider News shows the hard — and often desperate — work being put in to protect Californian vineyards from wildfires. Many of these yields aren’t even fully ripe, but it’s either that or risk the entire crop being tainted by smoke and ash. They don’t even need to be on fire to have their flavor changed entirely from all the changes in the air. According to multiple historians, these wildfires could very well be California’s worst in history.

Wine farmers and businessowners are given a rock and a hard place: let the grapes rot and file an insurance claim or try to sell what little they can.

When I visited one of Townshend’s local winetasting events early this year (right before COVID-19 started making waves), I tried some wildfire-tainted wine myself. It’s no minor side-effect: at best it has a smoky tang that drowns out the bottle’s subtle flavor notes. At worst it’s like trying to drink a cigarette. Just one sip and I was coughing. While this was from one experimental barrel surrounded by successful harvests, this video shows just how heartbreaking it is to see months (even years) of love and toil whisked away.

History in the making sounds grand on paper, but it’s usually an exhausting, demoralizing affair. If you’re thinking of buying wine soon, go for the smaller, local businesses. There are some truly stellar brands out there that don’t have grocery wholesale or household names on their side that could use your support.

Ever Tried Making Wine In An Instant Pot?

I recently heard about the Instant Pot coming out with the Instant Pod, meant to compete with Nespresso and Keurig for the instant coffee crowd. Imagine my mingled fascination and disgust at the idea of making wine in one.

Now, I’m not against the idea of quick-and-easy wine inherently. I just won’t get my hopes up for the end result! This was a fun little video to watch: the creator decides to combine the iconic Welch’s grape juice and a little yeast into a (hopefully) wine-like creation, using the instant pot’s varied settings to properly ferment the brew. The results are about what you’d expect, but as far as I’m concerned, this is a great reminder about how much work goes into a wine bottle.

Give this a watch if you’re feeling experimental and want to play around while sheltering in place. Perhaps this could be the next dalgona coffee.

party clinking wine glasses

What Improves Wine Quality? It’s Not Just The Aging Process That Brings Out The Flavor

‘A little goes a long way’ is an age-old adage many of us are familiar with. It stresses the need for appreciating smaller details and how they make up a better whole. It’s why my mother’s chai tea always tastes better than anything I could get in a cafe: there’s nothing quite like a dollop of love.

This mentality stretches far and wide, up to and including the wine industry. Unsurprising, as a mere year difference in the barrel can completely transform flavor notes and aroma. Viticulture, in particular, is rising as a subtle and extremely important touch-up to the winemaking process: it involves tiny changes in how vines interact with their environment, from sunlight exposure to leaf trimming. Even fruit thinning, an idea that can seem odd at a glance in a quantity-focused world, is considered paramount in creating robust, subtle flavors.

If you’re looking for a little more insight into the ever complex winemaking process, give this Forbes piece a look. It’s a little lengthy, but all the better for it. I’m walking away this afternoon with a whole new appreciation for how the little things add up.