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May 2021

Wine production

Kampot slows down wine production after nine deaths

A villager receives treatment after being hospitalized with wine poisoning in Kampong Trach district, Kampot province. Facebook

The administration of Kampong Trach district in Kampot province has decided to temporarily ban the production, import, export and distribution of rice wine, while two cellar owners have been arrested on suspicion manufacturing and selling wine containing high levels of a toxic chemical that killed nine villagers.

Kampong Trach District Governor Aun Khon told The Post on May 25 that seven rice wineries and other herbal rice and wine stalls located in Russey Srok Kang Koeut and Kampong Trach townships Kang Koeut had been closed. Wine from other regions is also prohibited.

“To find out the cause of the deaths and illnesses of the villagers in the last three or four days, we need to ban wineries in these two communes,” he said.

According to Khon, nine people died and 37 others fell ill during a gathering to drink wine during a funeral in Thnong village in the township on May 21.

“Officials from the Kampot Provincial Health Department and Kampot Provincial Police suspected it was alcohol poisoning and arrested two cellar owners who were selling wine at the funeral home for questioning and confiscating wine for analysis, ”Khon said.

Chey Chim, 65, the father of the two men held for questioning, told The Post that there was nothing toxic in the wine his son and son-in-law had made. The wine was produced using traditional methods.

“A few days ago, the deceased’s nephew bought my son 30 liters of wine for the funeral guests, but I know my son’s wine was not toxic,” he said.

Chim called on authorities to find out the truth before deciding to charge his relatives and allow his family to open the cellar if they cleaned the wine.

Provincial health department director Nha Bunthorn told The Post that the wine confiscated at the funeral and cellar, including wine sold in the two communes, was sent to the National Health Laboratory for analysis in the morning. May 25.

“We have not determined the methanol content of the samples because the results have not yet been released,” he said.

He added that the corpses had been tested to see if they had Covid-19, but the result came back negative. Of the 37 people hospitalized, 19 recovered and returned home on May 25.

Yun Phally, Kampot provincial coordinator of the rights group Adhoc, supported the action of the district authority.

“What is important now is to ban the production, export, import and distribution of rice and herbal wine in risk areas and find the truth to avoid punishing the innocent. “

Social and political analyst Lao Mong Hay urged the Cabinet of Ministers and the National Assembly to approve the Alcohol Control Bill that the Ministry of Health drafted and submitted to the council for consideration and approval in 2015 .


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Wine production

Napa County Planning Commission Authorizes Huge New Wine Production …

The Napa County Planning Commission recently approved construction of a new 475,000 gallon cellar on Napa Valley soil in Rutherford.

Frank Family Vineyards LLC has offered to build the future Benjamin Ranch Winery on an 81-acre site off Conn Creek Road in order to consolidate its wine production. The Frank family plans to continue operating their winery on Larkmead Lane near Calistoga.

Approximately 5.1 acres of vines will need to be removed for the development of Benjamin Ranch Winery, which involves the construction of an 87,400 square foot cellar / tasting room. An existing barn will be relocated to make room for the production facility.

Owners Leslie and Rich Frank have requested 150 visitors Monday through Wednesday and 300 visitors Thursday through Sunday; nine marketing events per year for up to 150 guests.

Their lawyer, Scott Greenwood-Meinert, said the existing winery on Larkmead Road can only produce 40,000 cases a year and is at maximum. The Frank family, who continue to increase grape production on their vineyards and under long-term contracts, have trod the grapes in a variety of locations including Domaine Carneros, Cuvaison, and Whiskey River Ranch Winery in the valley. by Pope.

On May 19, the Planning Commission approved Benjamin Ranch Winery’s proposal with a 3-2 vote.

Commissioner Dave Whitmer was among the commissioners who supported the proposal initially discussed in September.

Whitmer noted that the new winery would consolidate the Frank family’s winemaking operations.

What we want here is to create the best wine possible and this happens when it is under the control of the winemaker from start to finish of the process and there is an opportunity to control it in a way that this project makes sense to me. “

The chairman of the Planning Commission, Andrew Mazotti, also supported the proposal.

“If you’re going to move somewhere where wineries can be built, you have to expect that some wineries can be built,” he said. “Vineyards are not free landscaping. There is a company behind them.

However, Commissioners Joelle Gallagher and Anne Cottrell voted against the project. Their concerns included the scale of the project.

Cyril Chappellet, President and CEO of Chappellet, was among the proponents of the project who urged the planning commission to approve the winery. “The proposed winery is on a large, flat property with sufficient water, a long way from the few houses in the area and will barely be visible from Rutherford Cross Road,” he wrote.

Darioush Khaledi, owner of Darioush, noted that the four vineyards and the Frankish cellar are certified green. Rich and Leslie Frank have been growing grapes and producing wine in Napa Valley for 27 years, he wrote. “They are great stewards of the land and extremely charitable citizens in our community. “

Another winemaker, Carmen Policy, of Five Vines LLC, said the proposed winery is the type of project supervisors are supporting for the agricultural reserve.

Neighbors strongly questioned the size of the project, citing traffic and other environmental concerns. They asked the Planning Commission to reconsider or reject the proposal.

Judith Crichton, of Rutherford, urged the Planning Commission to reject the project, saying it is better suited for a “business park”.

“Creating a building the size of Costco, 94 parking spaces and a two-lane trade route in one of the last pristine stretches of vineyards on the (agricultural) reserve is unacceptable,” said Crichton, who cited the scale and traffic problems.

“Napa Valley is oversaturated and being destroyed,” Crichton said.

Michael Honig, chairman of Honig Vineyard and Winery on Rutherford Road, asked the Planning Commission to postpone the hearing for 90 days so that parties can study the project. He cited the need to examine the impact of the project on traffic, water, noise, soil contamination, waste disposal. His lawyer, Amy Minteer, requested a thorough environmental assessment of the proposal – an environmental impact report.

Like Honig, Diane Wilsey, of Rutherford River Ranch, said the Planning Commission should postpone the hearing.

“Considering its size and location, I’m really surprised that there hasn’t been more attention to the implications of the proposal. As currently proposed, the project does not fit Rutherford and the surrounding community that I am a part of, ”Wilsey said.

James and Barbara Fetherston, longtime residents of Conn Creek Road, have also asked for a deadline and an environmental impact report.

They cited their experience with the Caymus Vineyards winery on Conn Creek Road. In 2013, Caymus agreed to pay Napa County $ 1 million, which alleged the wine was in overproduction.

“It took years for the county to make a deal with Caymus. And for years, neighbors suffered the consequences of the unmitigated impacts of a winery that produced too much wine, entertained too many visitors and operated a 24/7 truck stop, year round, ”said writes Barbara Fetherston. “We don’t want this to happen again, so we are vigilant about (Benjamin Ranch Winery) projects.”

Ahead of the vote, Greenwood-Meinert told the Planning Committee that given the recent fires, “any development in our hills in the future will face sharp increases in regulation and spending.”

This will cause, the lawyer said, “a refocus on the agricultural reserve and exacerbate an already existing need for more production capacity in Napa County.”

“Major wineries are already transporting Napa Valley wine in large quantities due to lack of production capacity,” said Greenwood-Meinert.

The project, he said, “frees up the necessary production space for others in already existing facilities”

“Napa Valley was not built on charming wineries and mansions on prime agricultural soils. It just became that place. I do not condemn these vineyards. I do not condemn these mansions. But there is no denying that they are not as effective or as effective as this project is for agriculture, ”said Greenwood-Meinert.

Honig expects last week’s vote to be appealed. “There are a large number of people and groups who oppose this project. I can’t imagine that someone won’t appeal this decision, ”Honig said on Saturday.


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French wine production could drop after record cold weather

  • Negative temperatures and a record freezing frost will hit French wine regions in April.
  • The drop in temperatures could cause losses of up to 50% for this year’s crop, according to CNN.
  • According to Nielsen data, wine sales are down 13.1% from 2020.

A record cold frost hit France last month, leaving 80% of the country’s crops vulnerable to disasters, according to CNN. “This is expected to result in a yield loss ranging from 25% to 50% in some areas,” the European Wine Companies Committee told CNN.

Sub-zero temperatures lasted for three days in early April, according to France 24, as temperatures hit a record low of 23 degrees.

Farmers in parts of the region have been seen lighting candles and small fires in an attempt to save their crops from complete desolation, as reported by CNN.

What made the frost even more devastating for farmers were the unusually high temperatures seen the previous month, which caused crops to bloom early.

“It’s when they start to grow that they are more fragile,” Ann Colombo, president of the AOC Cornas union, which is part of the wine village of Cornas in the Rhône region, told CNN. She added that vineyards have had to increase harvests by nearly a month – from late to early September – over the past two decades due to climate change.

The unusual cold for the season was not the only challenge for the wine industry.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced wineries to close all vineyard tours and wine tastings for the year. The European Wineries Committee has released COVID-19 relief to help wineries bear the brunt of the coronavirus, giving them access to financial assistance and other tools to help rebuild the market. French wine exports were subjected to higher tariffs under former President Donald Trump, proving to be another hurdle for an industry already hard hit.

According to data provided to Insider by Nielsen, wine sales for 2021 are down 13.1% from 2020. Although overall wine sales appear to be low, consumer interest in rosé is booming. boom, with even big box retailer Costco following the trend. .


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In the vineyards of Messina Hof: Weather and wine production

HOUSTON (CW39) – While roaming the fields of Blanc du Bois, I made the trip to Richmond, Texas, to spend a lovely afternoon with Paul Bonarrigo, CEO and Chief Winemaker of the Messina Hof winery.

The grape growing season started in March and early April. The harvest for this location is normally late July or early August.

“It might be a bit later this year because of the colder weather we’ve had this season,” said Paul.

Messina Hof also owns an estate in the High Plains near Lubbock, which is where most wine grapes are grown in the state of Texas.

“This season will continue until September, or even October,” he adds.

What do these grapes need to thrive?

“This region is very humid, there is a lot of humidity, it helps the vines to grow well. Sunlight is something Texas has a lot of. Sunlight helps the vines to be healthy. The heat is okay up to a point, once you get to around 105 degrees the plant starts to shut down, ”says Paul.

This can affect the ability of the plant to fully ripen the fruit. But humidity can help with that.

Paul says, “It’s not incredibly damaging, but it does play a challenging role.”

June is the rainiest month in Houston. Then we see another peak of precipitation in September and October. Water management is an incredibly complex thing in vineyards. The vines are quite durable when it comes to water. They don’t need as much water as other crops like corn or cotton. You don’t want too much rain during the ripening season.

“You have to make sure they have just enough water to grow well, but not so much that it dilutes the quality of the fruit,” says Paul.

So, about the grapes that grow here …

“Blanc du Bois is a cross between native grape varieties and classic grape varieties such as Muscat,” Paul informs us.

While not as cold hardy as the varieties you see in the northern states, it does have some inherent strength. Fortunately, the trees were dormant during the winter storm in February, which kept impacts to a minimum. Hailstorms, however, are wreaking havoc on crops across the country.

Texas leads the country in hail claims, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. It really has an impact on the agricultural scene.

Paul adds, “Hail is definitely something we are looking for. “

They work these vines entirely by hand.

“This allows us to select the best fruits for winemaking,” he says.

Soon, says Paul, he wants to allow the community to get involved in the picking and crushing of the grapes here.

“It’s really telling about how wine becomes what it is,” says Paul.

By teaching them the entire process from farm to fermentation.

He adds: “It is really reminiscent of the tradition in Italy, where the whole community participated in the picking of the grapes. ”


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French wine production ravaged by devastating frost

PARIS – A sudden frost, the worst in decades, has ravaged a French wine industry already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic and what wine growers are calling the ‘Trump tax’.

Candles and small fires twinkled in vineyards and orchards last week, their lovely twinkle belied disaster, as vintners and farmers tried everything to stave off the life-killing frost of newly formed shoots and buds. A layer of smog from the fires formed over Lyon and the south-eastern regions.

But by the end of the cold snap, destruction had spread to most of France’s wine regions, including the Rhone Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and Loire. Jean-Marie Barillère, at the head of a large wine association, told the French daily Le Figaro that the frost had affected “80 percent of French vineyards”.

The frost followed a period of mild weather, so plunging temperatures took rural France by surprise. Vines were the hardest hit, but almond and fruit trees were also hit, along with other crops including beets and rapeseed.

The emotion was high in the French wine regions, the soul of the country in many ways.

“I heard someone say it was like the loss of a family member,” Eric Pastorino, president of the Côtes de Provence appellation, a legally defined and protected vineyard, told Figaro. “It may sound childish, but it is close to how I feel. Maybe only winegrowers can understand this feeling, but we found ourselves in the vineyards in the morning with tears in our eyes.

Anne Colombo, president of the Cornas appellation, a popular wine region in the Rhône region, said it was the worst frost in more than half a century. “We have had more problems with hail than with frost, but this has been a devastating year,” she said.

Unrolling the names of great Rhône wines – Condrieu, Cornas, Côte Rôtie – she said they were all hit hard. The losses could go up to 80 percent. “It is a terrible blow after the virus which closed restaurants and bars, and therefore reduced demand, and after the Trump tax.”

President Donald J. Trump has imposed tariffs on French wines following various tax disputes and subsidies with France. Import taxes contributed to a 14% drop in world exports of French wines and spirits last year. With the drop in air traffic, sales of tax-free wines have also fallen.

French government ministers rushed to promise emergency aid to stricken winegrowers and farmers. The French attachment to the land is fierce; no politician can afford to ignore this. Jean Castex, the Prime Minister, declared that the ceiling of a fund for agricultural disasters would be lifted and that “exceptional” aid would be granted.

Julien Denormandie, the Minister of Agriculture, declared that the frost was “an episode of extreme violence which caused very significant damage”. He called an emergency meeting on Monday with wine growers as well as fruit, vegetable and grain producers to take stock of the damage.

“The government will help us, but probably not match our losses,” Colombo said. “Right now, they’re spending like there’s no tomorrow. “

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the government of President Emmanuel Macron has decided to do everything possible to compensate people for lost jobs and businesses. The final cost and how the debt will be repaid is unclear. It seemed that a similar approach would be taken in the face of the agricultural disaster.

“It’s incredibly hard, very violent,” David Joulain, an almond grower from the south, told Agence France-Presse. “I have the impression that a knee is on the ground. Every tree I tested died, I’m afraid I lost the whole harvest.


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