The Society of Wine Educators

SWE New logo wtext

 

 

The Society of Wine Educators is a membership-based nonprofit organization focused on providing wine and spirits education along with the conferral of several certifications. The Society is internationally recognized, and its programs are highly regarded both for their quality and relevance to the industry. 

The mission of the SWE is to set the standard for quality and responsible wine and spirits education and professional certification. 

Spanish Wine’s Excellent, Terrific, Very, Very Good Week

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Spanish wine must have been on everybody’s minds and lips these past few weeks, as Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture (more specifically, the Ministerio de Agricultura y Pesca, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente—the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and the Environment) approved and published the Pliego de Condiciones for four new Denominación de Origen (DO) wines. Several Vino de la Tierra (VdlT or IGP) and Vino de Calidad con indicación geográfica (VCIG) wine regions were also approved, and some were kicked off the list or promoted. More on the IGP and VCIG wines later. For now, please meet Spain’s four newest DOs!

Valtiendas DO: The Valtiendas DO, located in Castilla y León, is approved for red wines and rosé. Rosé is required to be produced using a minimum of 50% Tempranillo; other allowed varieties for rosé include Albillo Mayor, Garnacha Tinta, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. Red wines are also required to contain a minimum of 50% Tempranillo, and may also contain a portion of Garnacha Tinta, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and/or Syrah. With the promotion of the area to DO, the former Valtiendas VCIG is término (terminated). Click here to download a copy of the Pliego de Condiciones DO Valtiendas (PdC published on September 15, 2017)

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Sierra de Salamaca DO: Located in Castilla y León near the border shared with Portugal, this new DO is located in and around the Sierra de Fracia Mountains, the Las Batuecas National Park, and the Sierras de Béjar Biosphere Reserve. This DO is approved for white, rosé, and red wines.  Approved white grape varieties include Palomino, Viura, and Moscatel de Grano Menudo (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains). Red wines may be produced using the Refute grape variety (known as Tinta Pinheira in Portugal), as well as Garnacha Tinta and Tempranillo. Rosé may be produced using any of these varieties, provided a minimum of 70% of the blend is red grapes. With the promotion of the area to DO, the former Sierra de Salamanca VCIG is terminated. Click here to download a copy of the Pliego de Condiciones DO Sierra de Salamanca (PdC published on September 12, 2017)

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Lebrija DO: The new Lebrija DO is located in Andalucía. The Lebrija DO is approved for several styles of wine. Dry or off-dry white wines may be produced using a minimum of 50% Palomino, with any remainder filled in with Moscatel de Alejandria (Mucat of Alexandria) and/or Sauvignon Blanc. Dry reds may be produced using Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tempranillo, Merlot, or Tintilla de Rota (Graciano). Fortified wines (vino generoso de licor) may be produced using the Palomino grape, and must be aged for a minimum of three years. If aged under flor, fortified wines may be labeled as Flor de Lebrija. There is also a category for Moscatel-based sweet wines (vino dulce naturel) made using uva muy madura o soleada (very mature or sun-dried grapes). With the promotion of the area to DO, the former Lebrija VCIG is terminated. Click here to download a copy of the Pliego de Condiciones DO Lebrija (PdC published on September 13, 2017)

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Granada DO: The new Granada DO is located in Andalucía. Contraviesa-Alpujarra is an official sub-zone. This DO is approved for a range of wines including white, red, and rosé (dry, non-sparkling), as well as sparkling wines and late-harvest wines. Sparkling wines may be white or rosé, and must be produced using the traditional method of sparkling wine production—with a minimum of nine months aging on the lees.  There is a long list of approved white grape varieties, which includes Moscatel de Grano Menudo (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains), Pedro Ximénez, Palomino, Verdejo, Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. Other, rather unique (and indigenous) allowed white grapes include Vijiriego and Baladí.  Approved red varieties include Tempranillo, Garnacha Tinta, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Monastrell (Mourvèdre), Petit Verdot and the indigenous Romé. With the promotion of the area to DO, the former Granada VCIG is terminated. Click here to download a copy of the Pliego de Condiciones DO Granada (PdC published on September 7, 2017)

For references or more information, see the website of Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture.

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CSE, CWE – your blog administrator

And the Lembeck Award goes to…

Bill and Harriet Lembeck with the Lembeck Award

Bill and Harriet Lembeck with the Lembeck Award

Last August, at SWE’s 41st Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon, a new tradition was begun. Barry Wiss CWE, the President of SWE, inaugurated a new annual award—to be known as the Lembeck Award. The Lembeck Award is intended to serve as a lifetime achievement award, presented annually to a person (or persons) for service to the wine and spirits industry and specifically, for outstanding support of the goals and programs of SWE.

It was a wonderful moment, at our conference luncheon on Thursday, August 10, 2017 when Barry presented the Lembeck Award to its first recipients—who after all, are the namesake of the award itself—Bill and Harriet Lembeck. In order to mark this occasion, I asked both Bill and Harriet to share a bit of their thoughts on the award, and to tell us about their involvement with the Society over the years.

Harriet’s journey in the wine and spirits field began with a part-time job at Hammacher-Schlemmer in New York City. One day a new product—a wine thermometer—arrived and she needed to research the proper service temperature of wines to create a list to be packaged with the thermometer. Harriet says, “I remembered that there was a book called ‘Grossman’s Guide to Wines, Beers and Spirits’ that listed wine service temperatures, and I went to the NY Public Library to look them up. By a quirk of fate, I met the late Harold Grossman at the library, and he told me the answers to my question! Then he told me to take his wine course. I did. Then he asked me to work for him. I did. That’s the class that I’ve been teaching for the past 40 years. I also wrote the 6th and 7th editions of ‘Grossman’s Guide to Wines, Beers and Spirits’ after Harold’s death.”

Harriet Lembeck presenting her "Moonshine" session at SWE's 2015 Conference

Harriet Lembeck presenting her “Moonshine” session at SWE’s 2015 Conference

Harriet’s story continues, “One day I got a call from Bob Levine, who had a textbook publishing company, and who ran a school for engineering professionals. He was the Education Director of the American Wine Society. They had been called by the California Wine Institute, saying that the Wine Institute wanted to start a group consisting of wine educators. The AWS contacted Bob, who contacted me, and told me that there was going to be a new group, and that I should write bylaws. I didn’t even know what bylaws were, but I found a sample set in the back of my Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, and I wrote some makeshift bylaws (heavily edited over the years).”

Not long thereafter, Harriet and Bill Lembeck attended the first-ever meeting of the Society of Wine Educators, held at UC Davis, along with 160 other wine educators. Bob Levine was elected as the first President. Harriet describes that first meeting, “I recall looking around the auditorium at our first meeting, and thinking that these were ‘my people’. We all loved wine and we loved explaining it to others. We cared about teaching techniques. Education and Wine—all rolled up together. What could be better? Eventually we included fine spirits, which was a hard sell to some of our members in the beginning, but, fortunately, not anymore.”

At that first meeting, Harriet volunteered for and subsequently served on the inaugural Admissions, Certifications, and Awards Committees for the Society of Wine Educators. In the following years, she held a number of terms on the Board of Directors, presented at numerous conferences, and continues to be a frequent guest contributor to Wine, Wit, and Wisdom—the Society’s blog.

SWE President Barry Wiss presenting the Lembeck Award along with SWE Past Presidents Robin Kelly O'Connor, Sharron McCarthy, and Edward Korry

SWE President Barry Wiss presenting the Lembeck Award along with SWE Past Presidents Robin Kelly O’Connor, Sharron McCarthy, and Edward Korry

In addition to the Society of Wine Educators, Harriet remains active in the wine and spirits industry through the New York Wine and Food Society, Les Dames d’Escoffier, and the American Wine Society (where she earned an Award of Merit). She is also a frequent judge at wine competitions and has served as the Wine & Spirits Director for the New School University, a visiting Wine Lecturer for Florida International University–Chaplin School of Hospitality, and as Chairman of the New York Wine Press, an organization of wine journalists.

Harriet sums up her thoughts on this award by saying, “I like to think that this new Lembeck Award, which honored Bill Lembeck and me firstly by its name—which traditionally goes to the first recipient—but secondly, with the recognition of our demonstrable love of the Society of Wine Educators, which we have always professed.  We think of it as noting our service to the Society, which we hope will inspire others to follow. It goes without saying that we appreciate SWE President Barry Wiss’ idea of a kind of ‘long-term service, love of Society’ award, which he had produced so beautifully. We are totally surprised and honored!”

Bill and Harriet Lembeck and SWE President Barry Wiss along with SWE Past Presidents

Bill and Harriet Lembeck and SWE President Barry Wiss along with SWE Past Presidents

Along with Harriet, Bill Lembeck is quite possibly the only person to have attended every one of SWE’s 41 conferences. Bill has a background in engineering and business (design, finance, and administration), and is a former instructor at New York University Medical Center, specializing in prosthetics and orthotics. His first experience in the world of wine and spirits found him contributing to Harriet’s edition of “Grossman’s Guide.” Through this project, Bill developed an expertise in drawing wine maps, which eventually led to the production of maps and diagrams for wine and spirits areas around the world—which he gifted to the Society of use in SWE Study Guides and Conferences—all at no charge.

Bill describes his involvement with SWE this way, “I have been a member of the Finance Committee from the very beginning of the Society. Eventually, I became the Society’s Treasurer and fulfilled that position for two separate terms. In the early years, the Society was almost always in financial difficulty. While in my second term as Treasurer, SWE’s certification program had been successfully developed and was up and running. Soon thereafter, we were finally in a position of financial well-being after carefully investing the earnings from our programs. After finishing my second term as Treasurer, I was designated a Director Emeritus and have continued to offer my advice, both financially and administratively.

Bill and Harriet Lembeck presenting on Rum at SWE's 2015 Conference

Bill and Harriet Lembeck presenting on Rum at SWE’s 2015 Conference

“One of my favorite accomplishments was the purchase of 8,000 wine glasses for conference use. The reason for the purchase was that it became exceedingly difficult to rent glasses locally, especially in that quantity for the annual conferences. This glass purchase has provided a substantial saving in all our tasting sessions.

“Over the forty years of our Society’s existence, it is the numerous small details, many of which Harriet and I have initiated and performed, that has helped the Society to grow and prosper. We like to think that this service is what inspired President Barry Wiss to create this award, and to make us the first recipients.” Well said, Bill!

Please join me in saying a hearty “Congratulations” to Bill and Harriet Lembeck, the first recipients of SWE’s new annual Lembeck Award. Congratulations, Harriet and Bill!

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CSE, CWE – your blog administrator

SWE’s Online Gin Joint: Save the Date!

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Save the date(s) for our next taste-along webinar: Of all the Gin Joints in all the World…a Taste-along Webinar!

  • Saturday, October 7, 10:00 am central time
  • Wednesday, October 13, 7:00 pm central time

A webinar all about gin! We’ll discuss the production of gin, learn all about the amazing juniper berry, and along the way, taste and discuss five styles of gin: London Dry Gin, Plymouth Gin, Old Tom Gin, Gin de Mahón, and the “modern, international” style of gin (represented by Hendrick’s). Click here for a copy of the grocery list: Of all the Gin Joints – Grocery list and tasting order

We hope you’ll join us and taste along, but this session will be fun and educational even without the gin!

For more information, including login instructions, click here. Please email our Director of Education, Jane A. Nickles, with any questions: jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Guest Post: CWE Boot Camp—Are You Ready to Pass the Exam?

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Today we have a guest post from Elizabeth Yabrudy, CSS, CSW. Elizabeth tells us about her experience at CWE Boot Camp!

CWE Boot Camp: are you ready to pass the exam?

Officially called Preview Seminar, CWE Boot Camp is a special training designed for those people who want to take the Certified Wine Educator exam. One might wonder: “if I feel confident, why should I attend it?” I will answer this question from my personal experience.

I registered for Boot Camp this year, in the context of the Society of wine Educators Annual Conference. I wanted to know how prepared—or not prepared at all—I was to take the exam.

One of the many reasons this experience was important for me is because I wanted to get as much information as I could—particularly as related to the theory/written component. There is not too much time in a one-day workshop to go depth in terms of theory, and that is obviously something you have to study by yourself. However, Jane Nickles, SWE’s Director of Education and Certification and the leader of this seminar as well, gave the attendees not only some study tips but also exam strategies, including logical thinking tools.

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And then there’s the essay. You know the material, you feel ready to be tested, but do you really know how to express your ideas coherently in an essay? During this seminar, you exercise how to schematize your ideas, breaking them in three main parts: introduction, key points and conclusion. Practice, practice, practice!

Tasting is the other component of the exam. Blind tasting is a challenge for most people. As you probably know, during the CWE Exam you have two identification portions: Varietal and Appellation and Faults/Imbalances. As wine professionals, we are tasting wines very often. But what are you tasting and what will show up during the exam? The CWE Preview Exam confers you the opportunity to know the dynamic around the Varietal and Appellation wine identification through an amazing tasting of four flights of six wines each, followed by a two mock exams. By the end of this section, you’ll know exactly whether or not you are ready for the exam.

Going back to the point I am trying to make here: maybe you could feel you are ready, but suddenly you are in front of some wines you have never tasted before… Or you thought you could clearly distinguish between an Oregon Pinot Noir and a red Burgundy, but during Boot Camp you realize you are not that good.

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Something similar can happens to you during the Faults/Imbalances wine identification. If you are not familiar with them (that is, if you have not practiced with the SWE Wine Fault Kit before), you will be surprised. The good news is that, during Boot Camp, the instructor explains how this portion of the exam works and additionally unveils some “tricks” for selecting the correct answer. However, you have to practice and sharpen your senses to do a good job.

Why should you take to CWE Preview Seminar? Two answers: if you—like me—want to get a personal and closer look to the different components of the exam in order to measure how ready or not you are, this is the most valuable chance you will have. On the other hand, if you are confident you are ready, you can pre-test yourself during this event, especially in the Varietal and Appellation and Faults/Imbalances components of the exam. If you do great, take the next step. If you don’t, breathe deeply and continue practicing. You will do better next time.

After my experience, I truly believe that being part of the CWE Preview Seminar gives you a great opportunity to be part of the reduced amount of people who pass the entire CWE Exam in their first-time. Don’t you want to be in that 12%? I do!

Elizabeth Yabrudy, CSS, CSW

Elizabeth Yabrudy, CSS, CSW

Keep studying, continue practicing, taste as much wines as you can, but overall, have fun during the whole experience. And, of course, register yourself for the next CWE Boot Camp.

Cheers!

About the author: Elizabeth Yabrudy is a sommelier and journalist residing in Venezuela. She stays busy teaching and writing about wine and spirits, as well as leading tastings and service training. In addition to her CSS and CSW credentials, Elizabeth has a Master’s Degree in Electronic Publishing from City University in London. You can find her online at ElizabethYabrudy.wordpress.com.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger or a guest SWEbinar presenter for SWE?  Click here for more information!

A new edition of the Hospitality/Beverage Specialist Certificate Program by SWE!

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What’s so special about Arabica coffee beans?

How should I serve sidra de Asuturias?

How do I write a wine tasting note that makes sense?

To learn the answers to these questions…and a lot of other information about coffee, tea, wine, spirits, beer, cider, or sake…check out the new edition of SWE’s Hospitality/Beverage Specialist Certificate Study Guide—hot off the presses!

The Hospitality/Beverage Specialist Certificate (HBSC) is an entry-level, beverage knowledge program designed to fulfill the needs of the hospitality and culinary industries and their employees. The Beverage Specialist Certificate can also be used as an entry-level course for those planning to pursue higher levels of wine, beer, or spirits certification.

The HBSC provides a broad base of knowledge, covering all commercially relevant beverages, not just wine or spirits. The program’s content covers: coffee, tea, beer, sake, cider, perry, wine, and spirits. Details about sensory evaluation, tasting notes, and service standards for each beverage type are included as well as a chapter on the responsible service of beverage alcohol.

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The HBSC may be completed as an online self-paced, self-study program. The registration fee ($99) includes access to the Online HBSC Course and an Online Exam. An accompanying, 188-page paperback study guide is available for individual purchase through Createspace at a separate fee.

Successful completion of the Online HBSC Exam—accessible at the end of the Online Course—will earn candidates the Hospitality/Beverage Specialist Certificate. The exam is 80 multiple-choice questions. Passing the exam requires a score of 75% or higher. Unsuccessful candidates may attempt the exam a second time at no additional cost. The HBSC Certificate may be printed out by the candidate immediately after passing the final exam.

Candidates will have access to the Online Course and Exam for one year from the date of purchase. To sign up, visit our HBSC Course page.

Meet the Board: Pamela Kindel Connors

Pam Kindel Connors

Pam Kindel Connors

A few weeks ago, at our annual conference in Portland, the Society of Wine Educators (SWE) welcomed its new Executive Committee and Board of Directors.  Today we’d like to introduce you to Pamela Kindel Connors.

A new member of SWE’s Board of Directors, Pamela Kindel Connors has over 28 years of industry experience in wine and spirits distribution as well as cruise line, casino, and restaurant operations—to include positions in management, training & development, and human resources. For the past 18 years, she worked Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits as a Regional HR Business Partner Director specializing in learning and development, talent management, organizational development, and mentor coaching.

Pam has been a member of SWE since 2003. In recent years she has served the Society in many ways, including volunteering at several conferences and serving as the Conference co-chair in 2008 and arranging for five culinary-based presentations at the 2015 Conference in New Orleans.

In her own words, Pam tells us her plans for the upcoming year: “It is such an honor to be elected to the Board of Directors!  I have thoroughly enjoyed being involved with SWE over the past 16 years and watching the organization’s growth into making a global footprint in wine & spirts educational excellence!  With the opportunity to develop a broad range of industry experience, I hope to add a more diverse approach in the marketing and development of wine & spirits education within the organization.  Thank you and I am looking forward to serving!”

Pam holds is a Certified Specialist of Spirits (CSS) and Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW). In addition, she holds the French Wine Scholar, Bordeaux Wine Educator, Spanish Wine Educator, and WSET III credentials. Welcome to the Board, Pam!

Conference Highlights 2017: Focus on Pinot Noir

We had a wonderful time at the 41st Annual Conference of the Society of Wine Educators, held August 10-12, 2016 at the lovely Red Lion Hotel on the River, located on the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon. Below you will find some pictures, presentations, and handouts provided by our wonderful speakers – the next best thing to being there!

Eric Hemer, CWE, MS. MW

Eric Hemer, CWE, MS. MW

International Pinot Noir Styles, a Comparative Blind Tasting—presented by Eric Hemer, CWE, MS, MW: This session started off with a brief history of Pinot Noir—since its earliest written mention in 1375 by Duc Philippe le Hardi of Burgundy to its current status as the world’s tenth most planted variety (at 290,000 acres worldwide). Next, its physical characteristics were discussed—small, tight, bunches and thin-skinned berries with lower levels of phenolic compounds such as anthocyanins and tannin.

Next, the lesion included a lesson on the primary growing regions of Pinot Noir—France (76,000 acres (32,000 acres in Champagne, 26,000 in Burgundy, 16,000 in Côte d’Or), the United States (74,000 acres (38,000 in California, 14,500 in Willamette Valley), Germany (29,000 acres), New Zealand: (11,000 acres), Italy (10,000 acres), and Australia (8,700 acres).

A blind tasting of paired wines followed. The wines included world-class Pinot Noir from Savoie (France), New York’s Finger Lakes, Alto Adige (Italy), Marlborough (New Zealand), Alsace (France), Santa Maria Valley (California), Gevry-Chambertin (Burgundy, France), and the Dundee Hills or Oregon. For more information on the session and the wines, download Eric’s presentation: International Pinot Noir Styles, a Comparative Blind Tasting—presented by Eric Hemer

John Reilly, CSS, CE

John Reilly, CSS, CE

Oregon Pinot Noir via Burgundy, California, and back again—presented by John Rielly CSW, CSS: On Thursday afternoon, John Reilly offered a blind tasting of Pinot Noir concentrating on wines with a sense of place from Burgundy, California, and Oregon.

Wines from France included Château de Marsannay Gevrey-Chambertin and Château du Marsannay “Grand Vin de Bourgogne” Marsannay. California wines included Rochioli Vineyards Pinot Noir—Russian River Vineyard and Sanford Winery “La Rinconada” Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir. Oregon was represented by Maison Roy & Files “Petite Incline” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and Westrey Reserve Pinot Noir Willamette Valley. For more information on the wines, the wineries, and the growing regions, see John’s presentation: Oregon Pinot Noir via Burgundy, California, and back again—presented by John Rielly

Click here to see more session recaps from SWE’s 2017 Conference. 

Conference Highlights 2017: Piedmont History and Valpolicella Ripasso  

We had a wonderful time at the 41st Annual Conference of the Society of Wine Educators, held August 10-12, 2016 at the lovely Red Lion Hotel on the River, located on the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon. Below you will find some pictures, presentations, and handouts provided by our wonderful speakers – the next best thing to being there!

Suzanne Hoffman

Suzanne Hoffman

A Taste of History: Piemonte Wines, Families, and the Historic Women behind them—presented by Valerie Caruso, CWE, FWS, and Suzanne Hoffman: This session was based, in part, on the stories and photography of the historic wine making families of Piedmont, as documented by Suzanne Hoffman in her book “Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piedmont.” Throughout the session attendees were delighted to hear Suzanne read some of the stories from her book, accompanied by delicious wines—as well as wine information and commentary from Valerie Caruso.

The families and wine estates discussed included Deltetto (and their Spumante Brut Reserve produced using Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir), Matteo Correggia (and their Roero Arneis), and Marenco (and their 100% Albarossa produced under the Piemonte DOC). For more information on the wines presented click here: Wines and Producers – A Taste of Piedmont History – Suzanne Hoffman and Valerie Caruso

Nora Favelukes

Nora Favelukes

Valpolicella Ripasso: A Fresh Look at this Unique Style—This session, presented by Nora Favelukes on Saturday afternoon, began with an overview of the Valpolicella Region. The area contains three distinct zones: Valpolicella Classico, Valpolicella Valpantena, and Valpolicella Orientali (sometimes referred to simply as “Valpolicella”). The area has 18,770 acres of vineyards and 2,347 grape growers.

The distinct “ripasso” style of Valpolicella is produced using a second fermentation (a “ripasso” or “re-pass”) of a newly-fermented Valpolicella wine on a bed of pomace left over from the fermentation of a Valpolicella wine that will become Recioto or Amarone. This unique style of wine received DOC (PDO) designation in 2010.

Further information on the grapes, terroir, and wine styles of the region was interspersed with tastings of Valpolicella Ripasso, which included such diverse wines as Cesari “Mara” 2015, Corte Figaretto “Acini Ameni” 2015, and Remo Fari “Montecornoa” 2014. For more information, see Nora’s presentation: Valpolicella Ripasso A Fresh Look at this Unique Style – presented by Nora Favelukes

We will be posting many more conference recaps in the days to come, and will create a permanent record of them here.

Conference Highlights 2017: Focus on New York State

Kathy Falbo

Kathy Falbo

We had a wonderful time at the 41st Annual Conference of the Society of Wine Educators, held August 10-12, 2016 at the lovely Red Lion Hotel on the River, located on the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon. Below you will find some pictures, presentations, and handouts provided by our wonderful speakers – the next best thing to being there!

You had me at Merlot—presented by Kathy Falbo, CSW: This session began with an overview of both the Merlot grape variety (its name is French for “little black bird” and it is the most widely planted grape in Bordeaux) and the Long Island Wine Region. Key facts about Long Island include its maritime climate, impressive size (118 miles long by 23 miles wide), diverse soils, and prime location at 43°N latitude.

All of this information was interspersed with comparative tastings the placed Merlot-based wines from Long Island against wines from of the world’s most impressive Merlot, including wines from Saint-Émilion, Columbia Valley, Sonoma County, and Green Valley (Solano County).  For more information, see Kathy’s presentation: You had me at Merlot – presented by Kathy Falbo

Bob Madill

Bob Madill, CS

The Finger Lakes on the Wild Side—presented by Lorraine Hems, CS, CWE, and Bob Madill, CS: On Friday morning, Lorraine and Bob began their session by describing the location, history, and terroir of the Finger Lakes wine region of New York. Many attendees were interested to learn that there are actually 11 Finger Lakes and that they vary quite a bit in depth, topography, and the soils that surround them.

One interesting factor in the climate—particularly around the deeper lakes such as Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake—is the influence of the “lake effect.” The lake effect (which can be “calculated” based on the distance from a Great Lake [Lake Ontario], the distance from a Finger Lake and the rise in elevation) helps moderate the potential extremes of the area’s mostly continent climate.

The Finger Lakes AVA currently has 9,500 acres of vines and more than 130 wineries. Only about 23% of the vines are planted to vinifera grapes—but of those, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir are among the leaders.  The session concluded with a tasting of some of the Finger Lakes finest wines, including a dry rosé from Billsboro Winery, a sparkling wine from Dr. Konstantin Frank, Bellangelo barrel-fermented Bench Riesling, and Red Newt Cellars “Limited Engagement” Gewürztraminer, among others. For more information, see Lorraine and Bob’s presentation: The Finger Lakes on the Wild Side—presented by Lorraine Hems and Bob Madill

We will be posting many more conference recaps in the days to come, and will create a permanent record of them here.

 

 

Conference Highlights: Oregon, South Africa, and Alto-Adige

We had a wonderful time at the 41st Annual Conference of the Society of Wine Educators, held August 10-12, 2016 at the lovely Red Lion Hotel on the River, located on the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon. Below you will find some pictures, presentations, and handouts provided by our wonderful speakers – the next best thing to being there!

Carrie Kalscheur, CWE

Carrie Kalscheur, CWE

What Makes Oregon So Special—presented by Carrie Kalscheuer, CWE: On Saturday morning, Carrie Kalscheur, CWE led a session on the people, places, and things that make Oregon so special. The session began with a discussion of the various wine growing regions located throughout the state, which can be grouped as follows: border regions, north Willamette Valley, south Willamette Valley, Rogue Valley and Umpqua Valley.

This was followed by a discussion of the leading grape varieties of Oregon—Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Syrah. These grapes are well-known in Oregon, but wine students might be surprised to learn that a total of 72 wine grape varieties are grown in Oregon!

The class then moved onto the unique, geological history of Oregon—beginning with the time period when Oregon was still part of the sea, moving through the Missoula floods and a time of active volcanoes. All of these forces contributed to the loess, volcanic, and marine sedimentary soils that dominate the vineyards of Oregon today. For more information, see the session presentation: What Makes Oregon Special-presented by Carrie Kalscheuer

Jim Clarke

Jim Clarke

Chenin Blanc – South Africa’s Flagship Grape?—presented by Jim Clarke: Jim Clarke, Marketing Manager for Wines of South Africa (WOSA) began this fascinating session with a discussion of the role of Chenin Blanc in the wines of South Africa. Chenin Blanc is both a historical grape variety and a leading grape in South Africa’s modern wine industry. South Africa has more plantings of Chenin Blanc than any other country in the world, and it accounts for over 18% of present vineyard plantings in SA.

Next, the class moved to a discussion of the “Wine of Origin” scheme for geographical indications in South Africa, which are designated as regions, districts, wards, estates, and single vineyards. This was followed by the tastings. Selections included Chenin Blanc-based blends such as Mullineux White Blend 2015 (74% Chenin Blanc) and Momento Chenin Blanc-Verdelho 2015. This was followed by a discussion of the Chenin Blanc Association’s six recognized styles of Chenin Blanc: fresh & fruity, rich & ripe (unwooded), rich & ripe (wooded), rich & ripe (slightly sweet), sweet, and sparkling. The session concluded with a tasting of more South African Chenin, including L’Avenir Single block Chenin Blanc 2015, and Raats Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2016. For more information, see Jim’s presentation: Chenin Blanc – South Africa’s Flagship Grape—presented by Jim Clarke

May Matta-Aliah

May Matta-Aliah

The Wines of Alto Adige—a Trifecta of Pure Pinot Perfection—presented by May Matta-Aliah, DWS, CWE: May’s session began with an overview of the Alto Adige/ Südtirol (South Tyrol) region. Many attendees were surprised to learn that the region was once a part of Austria, then it was annexed by Italy, and that in 1939 the inhabitants were given the choice to either become part of Italy or Germany!

Despite the tumultuous history, wine has been produced in the region for thousands of years—by some estimates since 500 BCE. These days, the area boasts over 13,000 acres of vineyards and 5,000 wine growers. The area enjoys 300 sunny days a year, a mix of soils, a large diurnal temperature variance and vineyards planted as high as 3,300 feet above sea level.

The tasting included three wines based on Pinot Bianco, three wines based on Pinot Grigio, and three wines based on Pinot Nero—a true trifecta! For more information, see May’s presentation: Alto Adige-Trifecta of Pure Pinot Perfection-presesnted by May Matta-Aliah

We will be posting many more conference recaps in the days to come, and will create a permanent record of them here.