Category Archives: Industry News & Events

It’s Harvest Time Again

It’s that time of year again!  August, September and October are the busiest time for winemakers; it is prime time for the annual grape harvest for most wineries around the world.

Grapes increase in sugar levels the longer they are left on the vine. For this reason, sparkling wine grapes and white wine grapes are harvested first to ensure lower sugar levels.  Red wine grapes take longer to mature, so they are sent to crush next. Finally, ice wine grapes are harvested last and sent to crush.

There are two traditional methods wineries practice when getting grapes ready for crush, hand-harvesting, mechanical harvesting or sometimes a combination of the two.  Hand-harvesting allows more accurate selection and does a better job of protecting the grape’s juice content from eliminating damaged skins, which results in oxidation.

Mechanical harvesting is more efficient, especially for larger vineyards and usually more cost-effective.

The United States, Italy, France and Australia are a few countries among the many different countries that produce wine grapes.  A winter that is cool with good moisture, a moderate spring and a summer with temperate days and cool nights is ideal weather for growing grapes.

Weather has a remarkable impact on how the grapes grow, which greatly affects the quality of the wine. If you would like to learn more about grapes and wine be sure to check out Zin-Zig, our wine tasting trivia game that is a not only a great way to learn, but fun as well!

If you are interested in creating your own backyard winery, check out From Vines to Wines: The Complete Guide to Growing Grapes and Making Your Own Wine.  From breaking ground to savoring the finished product, Jeff Cox’s From Vines to Wines is the most complete and up-to-date guide to growing flawless grapes and making extraordinary wine.

Innovations in the Wine Industry

I stumbled across an article the other day about the implementation of “wine vending machines” in restaurants. At first, this may sound a bit crass. But these state-of-the-art machines allow patrons to enjoy a glass of wine that has been preserved in its original, just-opened condition for up to 30 days.

Restaurant owners and wine drinkers both can rejoice with the implementation of these “vending machines’.  It allows wine lovers to enjoy a glass of a more expensive vintage, as opposed having to purchase the entire bottle. At the same time, restaurants are able to manage the inventories of their high-end wines while reducing waste. Unfortunately, these machines are likely to cost the restaurant upwards of $5,000.

Beer is no longer alone as an option for kegged alcohol as another innovation in wine drinking is evolving out of California restaurants. Wine on tap is not a new concept but it has been both implemented and rejected in the US in the 70s and 80s. However, wine kegs have made a comeback are beginning to open up a new market for wineries and putting a new spin in the wine industry.

Kegged wine has numerous advantages including being more environmentally conscious with the use of less materials, keeping wine tasting the way it was intended to taste, and being a less expensive alternative to bottling. That aside, the question remains is whether or not the average wine drinker can mentally overcome the stigma attached to drinking wine from a keg rather than the bottle.

Personally, whether my glass of chardonnay comes from a “vending machine” or a keg, as long as it’s chilled and tastes fresh, I’m a happy oenophile. Cheers!

New & Saucy Wine Labels Hit the Shelves

Walking through a wine shop or a supermarket’s wine section, the labels and colors jump out at you like a kaleidoscope. From the colorful, to the minimal, to downright questionable taste, wine labels and winery names are the first point of contact between a bottle and a consumer. Amid the thousands of labels out there, how does a winery find a way to have their bottles purchased without the aid of an employee recommendation or a famous brand? The answer: the label.

For centuries, wine labels were simply informative. A name, a location, the contents and possibly a small design was all that was included. In the past 30 years, labels began to grow more bold and assertive. While many wines still stick to a more traditional label, other wines have taken on new names and label designs to try and set themselves apart on the shelves. Check out this article in the New York Times to see how a name change from Scherzinger Estates to Dirty Laundry Vineyards increased traffic to the winery tenfold or how Fat Bastard wines became one of the best selling lines of French wines in the United States.

The article also has a number of wine names that you have to visit the article in order to read.  Whether it’s appealing to a younger demographic or simply trying to catch consumers attention and set their brand apart, “saucy” wine labels have worked their way onto the shelves and into the grocery bags of many. We would love to get your thoughts on these colorful names. Do you or would you stock these labels in your store? Do you think these names are having a positive or negative effect on wine as a whole?

Whether it’s for girl’s night out, a humorous gift, or you were ensnared by the wine label’s character, bold labels have been successful and are probably here to stay. Wine with attitude has also translated over into wine accessories. If you’re looking for the perfect wine accessory to go with “saucy” labeled wine, check out our hand painted wine glasses and our beverage themed t-shirts. The market for these wines as well as the accessories is quite large. Are you doing what you can to optimize your sales and capture this business?

Wine Girl Painted Wine Glass by True Fabrications

Perfect Wine Pairings for Your Holiday Feast: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is celebrated all across the U.S. in a number of ways. From dining with loved ones to watching parades and football, Thanksgiving officially kicks off the holiday season. Although the Thanksgiving meal is often marked by turkey and side dishes that have been passed down from generation to generation, True Fabrications would like to remind you to not forget about the wine this Thanksgiving.

 According to Better Homes and Gardens, more wine is consumed with the Thanksgiving meal than any other meal of the year. We would like to suggest a few wines that we think would pair well with this weekend’s meal. Because turkey is a lighter meat, a lighter wine with high acid is perfect for your table. A heavy read like cabernet or Syrah would overpower a meal like this and leave your mouth not being able to appreciate everything on your plate. Instead, if you are a die-hard red drinker, try a Pinot Noir. We recommend visiting your local wine shop and asking for a nice bottle from the Willamette Valley.

Two other wines that are great with Thanksgiving meals are Rieslings and Gewurztraminers. We recommend tracking down a bottle from Germany to enjoy this Thanksgiving. Our final recommendation would be a rose. A happy medium between red and white, Rose as well as the other wines listed are acidic enough to cleanse your pallet without overpowering your meal. From all of us at True Fabrications, have a great Thanksgiving!

Guide to Viticulture & Encology in Washington State

Because True Fabrications is based in Washington State, we thought we would pay tribute to the Washington wine industry. Although the history of Washington wine is relatively young, the state of Washington is the second largest producer of wine when compared state by state. The diverse variety in climate from region to region in Washington allows the state to specialize in a variety of grapes. Grapes featured in Washington include Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, just to name a few.

According to Washingtonwine.org, the wine industry “generates more than $3 billion for the state economy and it employs more than 14,000 people directly and indirectly.” Over the past 50 years, Washington wine has grown with every decade. To support its 11 federally defined American Viticulture Areas, Washington has invested in wine education. Washington State University and Central Washington University both boast very successful and in depth wine programs.  Many of the regional community colleges have picked up two year wine programs as well.

At WSU, the university’s Viticulture and Enology program focuses on the science and business of wine. The V&E courses take students to annual trade shows and meetings, winery and vineyard tours, and even a WSU Cougar Mediterranean Wine Cruise in the summer. Washington State offers undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs for scholars interested in wine-grape growing and winemaking, as well as critical research and development opportunities in the wine industry.

From the warmer areas in the east and the south, to the cooler climates in the west, the diversity across Washington’s landscape allows for a variety of grapes to flourish. For those unfamiliar with the expanding and vibrant Washington Wine Industry, we highly recommend taking the time visit or at least picking up a bottle next you’re at the store. We think you’ll like what you find.

Image Courtesy: Washington State Wine

 

The Harvest: How Climate Change Affects Where Wine Grapes Grow

With climate change constantly in the news, many people often ask about its effects on various wine growing regions around the world. While the extent and cause of the change in the climate is unclear, a shift in average temperatures and seasons has had an impact on areas that have traditionally been regarded as established growing regions. In fact, True Fabrications carries many essential books on the topic.

According to an article in USA Today, average temperatures are expected to be 2 to 4 degrees higher than they were in the 1970s. No matter the cause of such increases, the effects on many wine regions would be drastic. A temperature that is constantly warmer by 2 to 4 degrees would not only impact day to day growth, but also the push harvest to an earlier date. An article from Wired.com featuring the subject says the increase in temperature would “eliminate wine-grape production in many areas of the United States.” In America, areas like California’s famous Napa Valley and centuries-old wine growing regions overseas like those in Southern Europe would be dramatically altered and possibly eliminated.

However, this new change in weather would also open the door for other areas around the world to take up grape growing. Locations that have been too wet and cold in the past may become the new garden states for wine growing. Areas like Southern England, the Willamette Valley, Washington’s Puget Sound and New York’s Finger Lakes area, are a few of the places that have expanded in recent years. While many of these areas have already been established as great grape growing areas, their popularity will only continue to increase should the global climate continue to shift.

Image Courtesy: Washington’s Wine Country Regions, from www.washingtonwine.org/explore

Health Q&A: How Wine Can Prevent Diabetes


If you’re looking for a good excuse to open a bottle of red wine, look no further than its ability to reduce the risk the diabetes. True Fabrication has found that moderate consumption of wine can actually help reduce the risk by up to 40%, according to some studies. While we’re not suggesting you go on a bender in the name of leveling out your blood sugar, studies show that a glass of wine can help balance blood sugar levels that spike after a meal. At the same time, while a glass of wine a day can benefit the body, wine in excess can lead to weight gain and conditions like diabetes when consumed in excess. Moderation is the key to extracting benefits from your wine.

But just how does wine help your body? An article from naturalnews.com tells how grape skins and red grape juice are high in polyphenols. According to the article “These antioxidants have been shown to help the body regulate blood sugar, and may thereby help prevent or control diabetes.” When you eat, there is a spike in your blood sugar. The polyphenols help the body return this spike back to almost even levels. Having a glass of wine after a meal has proven to be equally effective as the diabetes drug avandia.

While there are many great reasons to enjoy a glass of wine with good friends, here’s another reason you can all drink to your health. Cheers!

Image: John Kasawa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Journey from Grape to Glass: Guide to How Wine is Made

As food and drink is made more convenient, we often get further and further away from knowing where our food comes from and how it is made. In a world where salads come ready in bags, meat is deboned and ready to cook, and bread is bagged, pre-sliced and ready to serve, the origins of our food and the processes used to make it can become a mystery to the average consumer. True Fabrications is a company that focuses on wine tools, gift bags and entertaining items so we thought we would go over a little “Wine Making 101” with our fans!

Most wine drinkers know that their wine comes from grapes grown in vineyards. But, what happens to take grapes from the vine to your glass? Knowing the steps that go into making wine is important. The differing processes that go into wine production are often what give a wine its distinguishing characteristics. This will help you identify wine traits that you like. After that, you can use this knowledge to make educated buying decisions for your future wine purchases.

First, as grapes grow in the vineyard, the winemaker keeps close watch on his/her grapes by testing the flavor texture and sugar levels. Once it has been decided that the grapes are ready, they are harvested as quickly as possible. The weather and harvest date ultimately affect the quality and characteristics of the wine. This can often explain variations from vintage to vintage. Grapes are then carted away to either an onsite or off site location where they are crushed. This is where the process changes for white and red wine. The skins and seeds stay with the wine when red wine is made. The skins and seeds are removed for the production of white wine.

Wine Grapes | True Fabrications

Next, the recently crushed grapes are transferred to fermenting tanks (often made of stainless steel). After yeast is added, fermentation begins giving off alcohol as a bi-product. The next step after fermentation is often the transfer back into oak barrels. The amount of time spent in the barrels is up to the winemaker. The time in the barrels, combined with the age of the barrels, will contribute to the distinct characteristics of the wine. Knowing whether or not you enjoy oak flavor in your wine can help guide you towards wine with less, more, or no oak at all. While not all wines are put in oak, the time wine stored and the way it is stored, ultimately affects what arrives in your glass.

Wine Cellar | True Fabrications

Knowing how wine is made is important because it will help you find more wines to enjoy without having to try your way through styles and varieties that you are less fond of. Salud!

Image: xedos4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are Young Wine Connoisseurs an Untapped Market?

Dear Retailer,

Americans in their 20s and early 30s are continuing to consume more wine. The businesses that have recognized the expanding demographic are trying to capitalize on young adults finding their way into the world of wine. By attempting to reshape wine’s image from “your parents beverage”, groups like Wine Riot are attracting large groups of young people by putting on wine tasting events designed for the younger consumer. See this article in the New York Times discussing the success of Wine Riot events in New York.

The younger demographic is an untapped market for wine sales as they are often written off as the beer drinking age group. Consider creating events targeting this age group. Whether it takes live music, free food, or some well placed advertising particularly calling out to your younger customers, consider events designed to grow and solidify your relationships with this customer base.

As a company made up of young people and the young at heart, we like the idea of wine being accessible and fun for everyone (21+ only please). When asked what our company does for wine, I like to say “we make drinking wine better”. Or, “we make wine more fun”, whichever you prefer. A wine event designed for young people is also the perfect time to up-sell wine accessories. As a member of this gadget driven generation, we want a gadget for everything, and we want it to be newer and better than the person sitting next to us. At True Fabrications, we’re always trying to come out with new and different products you can provide for your customers. Check out our New Arrivals section for all of our latest products. Some of them are so new, they aren’t even in our catalog.

Cheers,

True Fabrications

How Electronic Checks Can Make Your Business Greener

As a company who ships all over the country, we’ve taken notice of the large amount of paper, shipping fees and packaging materials that go into making our company work. Recently, we at True Fabrications decided to change certain practices in our business to make our company more environmentally friendly. From changing all of our lights to energy saving bulbs in both the warehouse and office, and switching our shipping filler from plastics to recycled paper, we’re trying to do our part by “going green”.

We now invite and encourage all of our customers to pay for their orders via e-checks. Did you know that for every invoice True Fabrications collects, roughly four pieces of mail have to be sent? (That’s a lot of paper!). That doesn’t even include the postage you send if you wish to pay by normal check. Paying by e-check reduces the amount of paper used in our business by making these transactions digital. Also, the time and resources saved allows us to pass back savings to the most important part of our business, you.

E-check is a completely acceptable and fully operational system for paying your bill. You don’t need to purchase or download any new systems or software. Simply ask your True Fabrications sales rep about e-checks and we will take care of the rest. The ease of e-checking combined with the fact that postage rates just went up again, make e-checks the less expensive (no postage), less time consuming (no trip to the post office) and environmentally friendly (no paper!) option.

E-checks function exactly like a normal check. By corresponding to an individual check number, money is drawn straight from your checking account. But, this is only done once you give permission to our sales staff. This step is to insure your confidence in the safety of our e-check system. E-check is equally safe when compared to traditional payment methods. The only difference in the payment process is the lack of a physical check.

The ease of e-checks and the savings we can send your way should be motivation enough to make the switch. But if that’s not enough, take into consideration the ease of digital checking coupled with your ability to cut down on paper; saving money, and helping us accomplish our company goal of going green while still offering our best price guarantee.