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If You Read Anything This Week: Wine News 8.19.2016

New UC Davis Wine Label Program: Maynard Amerine, a professor at UC Davis, traveled around California and Europe during the mid-1900s in hopes of bringing wine knowledge back to California to improve the state's production standards. The US Davis library now has his papers and artifacts, including 5,200 wine labels. The library's new project, Label This, asks the public to help identify the labels. The project seeks to better understand how California became the winemaking powerhouse it is today. [NPR]

Hail in Languedoc: In yet another incident of inclement weather wreaking havoc on vineyards in France, a violent hailstorm on Wednesday damaged crops just before the start of the 2016 harvest. Estimates suggest that the hail damaged up to 60% of the crop in the Pic-St-Loup area. A 92-year-old winemaker in the village of Lauret said he couldn't remember another hailstorm as violent as this one. [Decanter]

Crop-Threatening Moth Eradicated from CA: The European grapevine moth, first discovered in Napa County in 2009, has been eradicated in California. Along with grapevines, the moth threatened table grapes, berries, and some stone fruits. Agriculture officials in Napa estimate that grape growers spent $45 million to address the infestation, with government agencies spending about the same. [LA Times]

Wine Industry Mergers and Acquisitions on the Rise: Forbes comments on the number of major deals in the wine industry in recent months, the reasons behind them, and the effects. Rising consumption in the US, low interest rates, and consolidation of distributors have contributed to the increasing number of mergers, and the larger corporate entities being formed have more resources to invest in equipment and experimentation. [Forbes]

Surprising Impacts of Genetic Mutation: Scientists believe a genetic mutation that causes reckless drunken behavior also lowers the risk of metabolic disorders, including diabetes and obesity. Carriers of the mutation, only identified in Finnish people thus far, tend to have higher insulin sensitivity and lower insulin resistance than average, reducing the risk of diabetes, as well as lower body mass. []

The History of Wine Bottle Design: PUNCH breaks down the history of common wine bottle shapes, including a few quirky outliers on the shelves today. It can be difficult to determine the exact origins of bottle shapes, which usually developed independently in distinct wine regions. Shapes were somewhat streamlined in the 1970s, when the EU standardized the 750mL size, and many bottle choices today have more to do with marketing than history. [PUNCH]

What do you think?

What might UC Davis learn from studying these old wine labels?

Have you heard anything from grape growers about the European grapevine moth?

What do you think about the conclusions in Forbes about the recent wine industry mergers? What do you expect to see in the next few years?

Describe some of the most unique wine bottle shapes you've encountered.

What else have you been reading this week?

  • Regarding M&A activities in the wine industry, it seems to be fueled by cheap debt. I don't think we would see this number of deals if interest rates were higher. It is probably leading to some poor investment decisions that could prove costly once rates start rising and the debt they are taking on now becomes too expensive to service. I wouldn't be surprise if a couple of these brands disappear in a few years.
  • Spending time clicking through "Label, This" was really cool. Lots of fun old labels buried in there.