Winemaker Wins Award at Indy 500: Steve Somermeyer

It isn't quite the usual award in the wine business that Steve Somermeyer, assistant winemaker at Chateau Thomas Winery near Indianapolis, won last week.  It was a special award related to the Indy 500. 

I've followed Steve's career on various lines related to both winemaking and his love of racing ever since I met him as a judge at the Indy International Wine Competition a few years ago.  (click here to see the June 2009 post).   Steve, in addition to his winemaking career, has a BS in Chemical Engineering and an MBA too; he retired from Eli Lilly and Company after a long career.  Steve is also the Head of Safety, Garages and Pits, Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

His wine industry credentials include Lead Judge, Indy International (35 yr.); judging at Finger Lakes International, Illinois State, and Iowa State competitions.  But his proudest award is perhaps this, and he wrote quite modestly:  " I was surprised and honored Monday evening at the 500 Old Timers banquet to receive their annual Indianapolis 500 Official award. I'm the first safety person to receive this and it is a reflection of my entire group."

This was his footnote to his May 27 Indy 500 preview, which I am sharing with all you race fans.  I'm a Hoosier too, and I was there!  It was a great and exciting race! 

"Sunday will be the 100th anniversary of the first Indianapolis 500 but not the 100th running due to the track being shut down during World War II. There are some new faces in the Speedway Marketing Department including someone hired from Red Bull and they want to try some different activities to appeal to different customer segments. So it wasn't a surprise that the month of May this year has brought many new events to the track:

- Emerging Technology Day was on the first Saturday and there was a ton of activities including races including college electric go-karts hosted by Purdue, solar cars, and formula hybrids. Electric and hybrid cars could take a lap around the track. Fans could take a demo drive in a Chevy Volt and there were many displays and other activities. This was the same day as the Mini Marathon so the entire day was filled with activity. They even had a large yoga event. It drew a decent crowd and since the track was originally conceived as a technology proving ground, I would expect this new event to continue.

- Celebration of Automobiles was held on the second Saturday in conjunction with the normal Opening Day activities. This was a classic car show featuring 250 vehicles more than 50 years old with half of them being brands which competed at the 500. There were also displays of Mormans and Stutz's which were manufactured in Indianapolis years ago. We had a lot of angst largely because we had never done something like this and anticipated dealing with some 'problem' car owners. My group had to park them in the different classes over much of the infield early Saturday morning but it ended up being easier than anticipated and the owners were very easy to deal with. Entered cars were from across the country and several were shipped in from Europe. A significant number of the cars were valued >$1,000,000 and the display was very impressive. I wish that I had had enough time to see all of them. I did get to talk to several car owners and they were very pleased with the show and would gladly come again. A big feature for them was getting to drive their cars around the track the day before.

- World's largest autograph event - On the Saturday before the race 500 drivers will sign autographs. Normally the qualified drivers sign autographs before the public drivers meeting and 500 Festival Parade downtown but this year all living 500 drivers are invited to participate in an autograph session Saturday afternoon. According to historian Donald Davidson, there are 260 living 500 vets and close to 200 are expected to be here.

Rain has played a significant role this month by limiting practice time and impacting both qualifying days. Let's hope that race weekend is dry.

There were 40 or so drivers entered this year which is the largest field in quite a few years. With 25 or 26 fulltime drivers - participating in all the IndyCar races - that meant that at least 15 drivers and crews were depending on the week of practice to get their cars dialed in. Rain eliminated about 1/3 of the available practice hours so few teams felt comfortable and fully prepared for Pole Day.

The way qualifying worked this year is that 24 starting spots were available for qualifying from 11am-4 pm with the fastest 9 competing for the Pole between 4:30 and 6 pm. The first surprise came during the morning practice session when Ryan Briscoe (Penske) lost control and hit the wall in turn 2. That meant that the team that rarely makes a mistake had to put one of their drivers into his back-up which had only been driven a few laps in practice. Ultimately it meant that he wouldn't be able to go fast enough to qualify the first day.

Speaking of accidents, Simona da Salvestro, last year's Rookie of the Year, had a scary one on Thursday when something broke in the right rear suspension and she hit the wall hard and ended upside down with the car on fire. Getting out of the car she had to put her hands on the burning track surface and suffered burns to both hands. Her right hand suffered 2nd degree burns and the track doctors didn't OK her driving Friday but released her Saturday morning. It had to be painful to pull her gloves on and off. After trying to find sufficient speed during the day she finally made the first day field in the 24th and last spot on her 3rd and final try.

A great feel-good story finished the day with Alex Tagliani, racing for Sam Schmidt Racing, winning the Pole and it's $150,000 prize. This is easily the biggest success, IndyCar wise, that this team has achieved. Sam was paralyzed while racing and started his team on a very small shoestring. He's had quite a bit of success with the feeder series, Indy Lights, but has 3 cars in the field. A low-budget team yet a fan favorite is Sarah Fisher Racing which made the fast 9 with Ed Carpenter driving.

Ho-Pin Tung, trying to be the first Chinese driver to made the 500 field crashed during practice Saturday morning and suffered a concussion which ended his chances for this year. KV Racing and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing both got 4 cars into the field which is good performance for them as they don't have nearly the resources as the prominent teams below.

The large budget teams - Penske, Ganassi, and Andretti - did not perform particularly well on Pole Day. Andretti in particular had a really bad day and pretty much for the whole qualifying weekend. The only Andretti car to make the Pole Day 24 starters was the single-race driver, John Andretti. None of the 4 full-time drivers could get enough speed to not only not make the Fast Nine run for the Pole but not even make the fastest 24 for the day. As mentioned previously, the Briscoe accident cost the Penske team a first day starter and only one driver, Will Power, made the Fast Nine and will start in the middle of 2nd row.

Ganassi provided quite a bit of drama, particularly during the runs for the Pole. While the 2nd Ganassi team of Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimble didn't make the top 24 qualifiers, both Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti qualified for the Fast Nine and their runs for the Pole were eventful to say the least. Dario first three laps were in the 227 range and he was contending possibility for the Pole and certainly for the front row when he suddenly slowed down on the back stretch on his 4th lap. Yes, he ran out of fuel! He coasted into the pits, jumped out of the car, and walked back to the garage with his helmet on and with no comments. A bit later Scott was on his run and seemed to be Pole worthy until his 4th lap speed was announced - It was 3-4 mph slower than his first 3 and he ended up starting second. We later learned that he ran out of fuel coming out of the last turn. For one of the teams that is very organized, the mistake on how much ethanol to put into the cars for their 10 mile qualifying runs seems inexcusable.

One note on the Fast Nine qualifying period - It was supposed to last from 4:30-6 pm but rain prevented it from starting until after 5 pm. With the limited time, each of the cars were given one shot at the Pole. This meant that official runs started after the traditional qualification end time of 6 pm. Had this ever happened before? I asked historian Donald Davidson the question and he replied once before in 1968. It was bump day and the field wasn't full. It was nearly dark when the track got dry enough. Chief Stewart Harlan Fengler told the drivers that if they wanted to they could give it a try. Two drivers, Bill Puterbaugh and another whose name I don't remember, went out and came right back in because they couldn't see the turns. They had to qualify to fill the field on Monday that year.

Only 2.5 seconds separate the fastest qualifier, Alex Tagliani, from the slowest, Ana Beatrize so this is the tightest field ever for the 500 in terms of qualifying time and speed. To put this in perspective, after 4 laps or ten miles, Alex would be 843 feet ahead of Ana if they started the run side-by-side. At straightaway speeds of over 230 mph, that seems like a blink of an eye.

Controversy and Ryan Hunter-Reay: With the poor performance of the Andretti team as a whole during qualifying weekend plus what I perceive as a major strategic mistake as the time ran out on Bump Day, owner Michael Andretti had some significant sponsors - DHL and Sundrop - to appease so it wasn't a surprise that a financial arrangement was made with AJ Foyt to have Hunter-Reay replace Bruno Junqueira in the second Foyt car, #41. Ryan has some history with the Foyt team as he filled in for much of a season when Vitor Meira suffered a broken back in a previous 500. Foyt did not have enough sponsorship for the second team car so he financed it out of his own pocket. It was pretty common knowledge that the seat could be purchased. I have to assume Bruno knew of the possibility beforehand and was handsomely paid for his qualifying work.

The strategy glitch happened because two Andretti cars were adjacent to each other in the bumping order. That meant that it was probable that one team car could get bumped and then when requalifying fast enough to make the field would bump the teammate out. The team could hope that there would be enough time to requalify that car but that's not what played out. Marco pushed away from the qualifying line just seconds before the 6 pm deadline and got into the field bumping out Hunter-Reay. What they should have done is to pull one of the two cars - Marco or Ryan - out of the field and attempt to requalify at a faster speed (faster than adjacent to the teammate) with plenty of qualifying time remaining. Each car had 2 more attempts left for the day. The downside could be a slower speed and not making it back into the field or even crashing. But Andretti yielded control of at least one of the cars by letting the time tick by. Just making the field means a last place paycheck of over $300,000 and that's probably in the neighborhood of what they had to pay for the 41 ride so we're talking serious financial consequences. The team also fired their Director of Competition this week.

Double file restarts: Prior to this year when the races are resumed after a caution period, the race leader leads the field to the green flag in a single file. To generate more excitement, the league has implemented double-file restarts. This has generated much discussion among the drivers as there have been several accidents during restarts so far this year. The 500 will be the first oval race to give these restarts a try and the 1st turn can get pretty narrow. Watch the caution restarts during the race.

In a related note, the start of the race is supposed to be in the traditional 3-wide rows. In the recent past the field, particularly at the front, has staggered themselves out for more room between the cars. If in fact, the field is in formation for the start, it should be a very exciting start.

Who is going to win the race? Despite the bumps that Ganassi and Penske teams had, one still has to consider them as favorites. Helio and Dario have won the race multiple times and Scott Dixon once. Penske's Will Power is perhaps the quickest driver racing today and has already won 2 races this season and Briscoe runs up front. One would normally include some of the Andretti drivers as Mike Conway has already won a race this year and both Marco Andretti and Danica have run strong in previous 500's. It'd be tremendous publicity if a gal won the Hundredth Anniversary of the 500, especially Danica.

With the limited onboard fuel capacity, cars running the 500 miles will need 8 or so pit stops. Races can be won and lost in the pits, especially during green flag stops, and this favors the fulltime, professional crews. It's not a coincidence that Penske Racing has won the last 3 pit stop competitions. They make pit stops a 'science' and seem to practice more than anyone else. One innovation that hasn't gotten any publicity that I'm aware of is that Penske has an electric motor powered Dallara pit practice car. It's pretty quick and even has a reverse gear. I'll be other teams will copy this soon.

Because of owner Sam Schmidt, it would be great if Alex Tagliani or even one of his other three drivers won. Ed Carpenter has been fast consistently fast here and would also be a feel good story. Other veteran drivers to consider would include Vitor Miera and '05 winner Dan Weldon. Former winner ('04) Buddy Rice is back after several years absence. Rice, Weldon, and Carpenter are all starting in the first 3 rows as is Orel Servia driving for Newman Haas Racing. Newman Haas hasn’t had much success the last several years but appear strong this year with Servia on the front row and rookie James Hinchcliffe starting 13th.

Other drivers who could run up front include Tony Kanaan, Tomas Scheckter, Paul Tracy, and Townsend Bell. The downside of these drivers is that either they are driving a limited schedule, some just this race, or are joining a new team. Simona is a very driver but will her burns be a problem over 500 miles. The odds on favorite for Rookie of the Year has to be JR Hildebrand driving for Panther Racing with National Guard sponsorship. This team/car has finished 2nd the last 3 years so their record is impressive.

These cars are very evenly matched and the overall driver field is impressive talent-wise so it's almost anybody's game. Don't be surprised if someone I haven't mentioned ends up in Victory Circle but..... it's hard to bet against the deepest pockets of Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi.

Let's have a fast AND DRY race Sunday! "  - Steve Somermeyer

If you are a race fan, I suggest you get on his personal email list.  He also sends out notes from his wine judging experiences too.  steve (at)

What's Up in Iowa? How to do a Business Plan for a Winery? Ask Michael White!

I like to read about Michael White's choices of "Neeto-Keeno WWW Stuff."  It is so refreshing!  Because...don't we all just get too darn much email?  Dozens of newsletters, press releases, wine club blitzes, specials, deals, new lots of this, old vintages of that?  Still, the one communication I look forward to every week -- and get this, I live and work in California! -- is the newsletter from Michael White, ag extension agent in Iowa.  I learn something from every issue.  Can't say that about everything that comes to my in-box... What makes Mike's newsletter different is that this guy really LOVES what he does.  And it shows.

He's the go-to man
for winebiz in Iowa:
Michael L. White

Last fall I spent a fascinating 10 minutes watching a home-made netting machine move down the vineyard rows and listened to the inventor talk about that.  Okay, I'm a nerd.  I'm also a former ag extension agent myself, so, I enjoy this stuff.  And if you are in the wine business, you probably secretly enjoy it too even though it doesn't make great dinner conversation.  At least, not for every dinner party group. 

I got to be on Mike's list when I went to a seminar in Des Moines a few years ago.  He's smart, no-nonsense and absolutely dedicated to the wine industry.  The newsletter is called Wine Grower News, and it emanates from the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute that's part of the University of Iowa ag extension program.  So I've  cut-and-pasted it below, altho moving it from pdf to blog format is 'way too much work, so read as far as you want and then... quit.   In case you want to subscribe, here's how:  send an email to Mike at     You will not regret it.

AND, I also learned from Mike's efforts that it is possible to do a business plan for a winery without spending a fortune. Here's where you can get " Eleven Free Online Winery Business Plans to Check Out." CLICK

Wine-Grower-News #166 May 13, 2011

Midwest Grape & Wine Industry Institute:

Information in this issue includes:

  • 2011 IWGA Conference Presentations now available Online 4 members|
  • Iowa Wineries Do Well at Tasters Guild International in Michigan
  • IL Legislature Considers Cutting Viticulture, Enology & Tourism Funding
  • 5-21, Effective Vineyard Spraying Workshop – Ames, IA (a few openings left)\
  • 6-(7 & 8), Clark Smith's popular "Fundamentals of Wine Chemistry" at ISU
  • 6-18, Winemaking Tips & Techniques – Carbondale, IL
  • Notable Quotables
  • Marketing Tidbits
  • Show n Tell (Red Dog Vineyards & Nursery)
  • Articles of Interest
  • Videos of Interest
  • Neeto-Keeno WWW Stuff
  • Calendar of Events
2011 IWGA Conference Presentations now available Online 4 members

The conference presentations from the March 18 &19, 2011 Iowa Wine Growers Conference
have now been posted Online at While there, check
out the new web page designs. These presentations are available only to dues paying members.

A username and password will be needed. Please contact the IWGA office at 515.262.8323 or 800.383.1682 if you have any questions.

Iowa Wineries Do Well at Tasters Guild International in Michigan

TASTERS GUILD is a nationwide society of wine and food enthusiasts that was established in 1987. It consists of over 40 active chapters throughout the country that bring together consumers, wine, food and the wine and food service industries.

Tasters Guild conducts an Annual International Wine Judging each spring. The Tasters Guild International wine competition that is held in Grand Rapids, Michigan is considered to be one of the top wine competitions in the Nation. Toward the end of summer they also coordinate our Annual Convention & Consumer Wine Judging for members. The results of both events are reported in the Guild's official publication, the TASTERS GUILD JOURNAL, as well as other national periodicals.

Below shows a list of the Iowa wineries who won awards at this spring’s competition. Several wineries from our neighboring states also won awards at this event: IL - 2, KS – 1, MN – 1, MO – 5, NE – 3, SD – 1 and WI – 4. The full list of results can be found here:

Iowa Wineries at 2011 Tasters Guild International and their awards:

Ackerman Winery Blackberry 2010 Gold

Ackerman Winery Red Raspberry 2010 Gold

Ackerman Winery Cranberry 2010 Silver

Breezy Hills Vineyard Frontenac Rose 2009 Bronze

Breezy Hills Vineyard White St. Croix 2010 Bronze

Breezy Hills Vineyard Sassy Girl 2010 Gold

Breezy Hills Vineyard Cabana Boy 2010 Silver

Breezy Hills Vineyard Edelweiss 2010 Silver

Eagle City Winery Apple 2010 Bronze

Eagle City Winery Black Currant 2010 Bronze

Eagle City Winery Cranberry 2010 Gold

Eagles Landing Winery Blues Fest (Blueberry) 2010 Double Gold

Eagles Landing Winery Oktoberfest (Edelweiss) 2009 Gold

Eagles Landing Winery Summer Crush (Frontenac Gris) 2010 Gold

Eagles Landing Winery Campfire Hootch (Mixed Berry) 2010 Silver

Eagles Landing Winery Serenity (Rapsberry Dessert) 2010 Silver

Eagles Landing Winery Frog Hollow (Marechal Foch) 2009 Bronze

Prairie Moon Winery Blushing Moon 2010 Bronze

Prairie Moon Winery Honeymoon 2010 Silver

Prairie Moon Winery Vidal Blanc I.W. 2007 Silver

Wide River Winery Harvest Hurrah 2010 Bronze

Wide River Winery Ms Behavin 2010 Silver

Wide River Winery Ms D’Meanor White 2010 Silver

IL Legislature Considers Cutting Viticulture, Enology & Tourism Funding

5-13-11 “Dear Members

We could really use your help in contacting legislators in your area to ask them to support the House of Representative’s version (H.B.124) of the Department of Ag and DCEO budgets which include the important funding for our viticulturists and enologist and also marketing and tourism programs that provide jobs and bring in tourism dollars to the state.

The Senate’s current budget proposal has eliminated the funding for our viticulture specialists, enologist, and certain tourism programs. Therefore, we encourage them to support the House budget or reinstate funding for our industry in the Senate’s budget.

For your legislator’s contact information, please visit the State Board of Elections website at and go to legislator lookup by address.

Thanks so much for your continued support!

Megan Pressnall, Illinois Grape Growers & Vintners Association or (217) 726-8518

Save the date for two great upcoming Illinois wine festivals! The Art of Illinois Wine Festival will be held May 21 & 22 in downtown Springfield and the Two Rivers Wine and Jazz Festival is being held in Ottawa on June 4 & 5. For more information, please visit

5-21, Effective Vineyard Spraying Workshop – Ames, IA

(A few openings left!)

When: 9a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, May 21st, 2011

(Registration desk opens at 8:30 a.m.)

Who: Dr. Andrew Landers of Cornell University who directs the Pesticide Application Technology Program at the State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY.  Dr. Landers is the author of “Effective Vineyard Spraying – A Practical Guide for Growers”, 262 pp. Aug. 2010.

Where: ISU Horticulture Research Station, 55519 170th St. Ames IA 50010 (515-232-4786). 3 miles north of Ames on Hwy 69, turn east on 170th St. about 1.5 miles.

Cost: $60 each. (Maximum of 30 participants)

Participants are highly encouraged to bring the book, Effective Vineyard Spraying to this workshop. 
Copies of this book will be available for $44 at the workshop if ordered at pre-registration. This is a20%
discount from the regular price.

Pre-registration and payment required: Limited to the first 30 registration’s received.

Contact: Mike White to register here:    or 515-681-7286 

Learn: New spraying techniques
How to improve spray deposition
How to improve application timeliness
How to reduce off-target drift
How to modernize existing equipment
The latest developments in sprayer design
How one can reduce pesticide use by 30-40%

Sponsored by: ISU – Midwest Grape & Wine Industry Institute

ISU – Pest Management and the Environment

6-(7 & 8), Clark Smith's popular "Fundamentals of Wine Chemistry" at ISU
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday & Wednesday June 7 & 8, 2011 Where: 1951 Food Sciences Building, Iowa State University, Ames, IA Who: Clark Smith, Winemaker, founder of the wine technology firm Vinovation, and adjunct Professor at CSU Fresno, CA. Clark writes “The Postmodern Winemaker," a monthly column for Wines and Vines Magazine and directs the Best-of Appellation panel for "Smith teaches at Napa Valley College, UC Davis Extension, and CSU Fresno. - David Darlington, Wine and Spirits Magazine Cost: $95 per person. Additional registrants from same company $75 per person. Includes  a 450 page comprehensive handout, lunch plus morning and afternoon refreshments at breaks each day. Bonus: Mini workshop on pairing wine with music. Sponsored by: The Midwest Grape & Wine Industry Institute is sponsoring this event to make  it accessible to all wine professionals in the area. The normal cost of this workshop is $350. Online Registration and Details: (Space is limited. Registration by June 3 required.)

6-18, Winemaking Tips & Techniques – Carbondale, IL
When: 10 a.m to 4 p.m., Saturday June 18, 2011
Where: Kite Hill Vineyards, Carbondale, IL
Who: Domenic Carisetti, is a Winemaker and Winemaking Instructor in New York with over thirty years of professional experience.
Cost: $40 per person, $35 for VESTA students, lunch included
Registration Deadline: June 10, 2011

Notable Quotables

1. “almost two thirds of U.S. smartphone owners perceived their phone to be obsolete now or will be

obsolete before their contract runs out.”

From: Study Finds Consumers Stuck with Obsolete Cell Phones, 4-25-11 - Retrevo Blog

2. “Prior to Prohibition, Missouri was the second-largest wine-producing state in the nation. Now

reclaiming its rightful place as a driving force in viticulture and winemaking, an explosion of

growth is helping advance our quality and recognition. The future of Missouri Wine is very


From: Chris West in “The Smell of Bottling”, 5-8-11 – Winedustry

(Chris & wife Jen own and operate West Winery in Macon, MO)

Marketing Tidbits

1.” Let's start with the statistics that almost seem crazy: barcode scanning grew by a whopping 4549

percent in Q1 of this year, when compared to Q1 of the year before.”

From: QR Codes Gain Critical Mass, 5-13-11 – ClickZ

2. “Long thought of as the Baby Boomer search engine, the yellow pages industry has been

redefining itself in the digital age”……. As the original search engine, the yellow pages have

remained a reliable source for local information, with restaurants, physicians and auto repair

shops comprising 22.3% of all print usage. Although resistant at first, the report finds the industry

is continuing to evolve onto a digital platform, with restaurants, local government offices and food

products embodying 11.2% of all online usage.”……. “it is one of the few segments of the

advertising media market that is not suffering a market share decline, but, despite some ups and

downs over the past decade, actually holding the same share of 7.6% in 2000 and 2011."

From: Yellow Pages Market Forcast 2011, 4-7-11 – Simba Information

Show n Tell (Red Dog Vineyards & Nursery)

On Thursday this week I drove up to Johnston, Iowa (northwest side of Des Moines) to visit Jerry Dietz and his son Alex as they were working in their grape greenhouse. Jerry owns and operates Red Dog Vineyards & Grapevine Nursery. The vineyard and nursery is named after their 11 year old Irish Setter dog. Jerry told me that the dog controls the whole family! They are one of three grapevine nurseries doing business in Iowa. The other two are: Penoach Winery, Vineyard & Nursery owned by Stan & Joanie Olson of Adel, Iowa and Iowa Grape Vines Winery, Juicery & Nursery owned by Jim and Mary Kay Sorensen of Preston, Iowa.

Jerry opened Red Dog Vineyards & Grapevine Nursery in 2009 and the business has been growing. He also has 8 acres located at the intersection of Hwy 30 and Hwy 14 in Marshalltown, Iowa just to the east of McDonald's. This is where they are growing bare root vines of many different varieties that will be trained onto several different trellis systems. Jerry also uses tissue culture propagation methods which he presently does in his basement at home. He would later like to use his tissue culture techniques and sterile growing facilities to provide certified virus free stock to his customers. His near term goal is to move the entire operation into a larger facility on the outskirts of Des Moines, Iowa.

What makes Red Dog Vineyards and Grapevine Nursery somewhat unique to most other grapevine nurseries in the U.S. is not only their emphasis on growing the new cultivars available through Cornell University and the University of Minnesota breeding program, but also growing many unknown cultivars available through the USDA ARS Plant Genetics Research Unit at Geneva, NY. Jerry is looking at these unknown cultivars for both fruit production and their use as grafted rootstock material for cold climate cultivars. Many of these unknown cultivars originated from Russia,

Canada and Eastern Europe.

My first contact with Jerry came back in 2007 when he sent some soil samples into Iowa State University for vineyard fertilizer and lime recommendations. He was just thinking about starting a vineyard at that time. Jerry has come a long way since then. He and his son Alex both seem to have the passion and the plan to grow Red Dog Vineyards and Nursery into a successful and unique operation. I have included some pictures of my visit below:

(Above) Jerry Dietz(L) and son Alex(R) holding a flat of Teleka 5C, a cultivar from Hungary that is often used as a rootstock due to its adaptability to clay and clay loam soils. 5-12-11

(photo) Jerry pointed out the “ONE” Baltica grape plant he received from the USDA ARS Plant Genetics Research Unit at Geneva, NY. He will use tissue culture techniques to propagate this one stick into many. 5-12-11 
(photo) Red Dog Vineyards & Nursery uses cardboard planting containers to grow their rooted grape plants. These containers are produced and sold by Monarch Manufacturing of Salida, CO. The pot and plant can be planted directly into the vineyard. 5-12-11

(photo) Jerry Dietz shows the bag of PRO-MIX plant medium he uses in his plant containers. PRO-MIX is produced and sold by Premier Tech Horticulture. 5-12-11

(photo) Full length view of the Red Dog grapevine nursery. 5-12-11

(photo) Jerry Dietz holding a tray of rooted Regent grape plants.  5-12-11

Articles of Interest

1. Big Changes Coming to South Dakota‟s Extension. 4-18-11 – Dakota Farmer:

2. Researchers Develop Stink Bug Monitoring Tool, 5-4-11 – Growing Produce:

3. Agrotourism Project Gains National Attention, 5-6-11 - Journal Standard, Freeport, IL

(Learn about “Discover the Flavors of Jo Daviess County” & Massbach Ridge Winery.)

4. Pre-bloom zinc sprays can improve fruit set, 5-6-11 – UC Davis and UC County Extension Viticulture blog

5. The Big Picture: 10 Dynamic Forces Impacting the Consumer Wine World Pt. 1 of 2, 5-7-11 
Forbes Blog by Jeff Lefevere):

6. Petrol smell in Riesling „a mistake‟: Chapoutier, 5-10-11 –

7. Wisconsin distillery aims to reuse liquor bottles, 5-7-11 – Milwaukee & Journal Sentinel:

8. B.C. Winery Ferments Water, 5-12-11 – Wines & Vines Magazine:

Videos of Interest

1. Check out the new WWW site and videos at Tucker’s Walk Vineyard & Winery in Garretson, SD:

Neeto-Keeno WWW Stuff

1. Great Lakes Distilling cocktail database:

2. Corky‟s of Napa Valley Gives Corks New Life, 5-10-11 – Napa Valley Register:

3. 2000 year old wine unearthed in Henan province, 5-10-11 - People’s Dailey Online (English

version) :

Calendar of Events:

5-(20-21), WineMaker Magazine Conference, Fess Parker DoubleTree Resort – Santa Barbara, CA.

Full details and registration:

5-21, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Airblast Sprayer Workshop with Dr. Andrew Landers author of Effective Vineyard Spraying at the ISU Horticulture Research Station, Ames, IA. $60 each & $44 for the book. Max of 30 participants. Contact: Mike White at

6-4, 4-8 p.m., 5th Annual Swine Festival – where cork meets pork – Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Details:

6-(4+5), Kothe Distilling Summer Workshop, Kothe Distilling Technologies, Chicago, IL.

Details: :

6-7, Viticulture Field Day, Missouri Grape Growers Assn. (MGGA) & the Institute for Continental Climate Viticulture & Enology (ICCVE). Details here:

6-(7 & 8), Clark Smith's popular "Fundamentals of Wine Chemistry" short course, 1951 Food Sciences Building, Iowa State University, Ames, 6-3 registration deadline. Details:

6-(9+10), Comprehensive Elderberry Workshop & Farm Tour, American Legion Hall and Eridu Farms in Hartsburg, MO. Details at or call 573-424-9693

6-18, Winemaking Tips & Techniques, Kite Hill Vineyards, Carbondale, IL. VESTA, Rend Lake Community College and Illinois Grape Growers & Vintners Assn. Contact: Rachel Cristaudo, IL VESTA Coordinator Ph: 618) 437-5321 Ext. 1724 or

6-(20-24), American Society for Enology & Viticulture – Portola Hotel & Monterey Conference

Center, Monterey, CA:,

7-(11-14), 36th American Society of Enology & Viticulture - Eastern Section Conference, 1 Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel Baltimore, Maryland. Details:

8-24, Seedless Table Grape & Winegrape Field Day, Univ. of WI – Madison, West Madison Ag Rearch Station, Questions: Please check blog at: for more information e-mail Judy at or Rebecca at

Post your “FREE” classified ads here at „Winedustry”

Past issues archived as html and/or pdf here:


Total Circulation of 1,350+ recipients in AZ, CA, CO, FL, OH, IA, IN, IL, KS, KY, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NV, NY, OK, OR, PA, SD, VA, VT, WA, WA DC, WI, Australia, Canada, Israel, Norway & Turkey

Michael L. White,

ISU Extension Viticulture Specialist

909 East 2nd Ave. Suite E, Indianola, IA 50125-2892

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A little vineyard humor!  (cartoon)

Wines of Portugal

Every once in a while, I attend a tasting in San Francisco that features wines that might not otherwise be front of mind. This is the instance at the recent 5th Annual Grand Tasting of Portuguese Wines. 45 wineries displayed the diversity of this country’s wine, ranging from the dry red of Bairrada to the delicious whites of the Minho, and from the newly-renamed Tejo and Lisbon regions to the progressive offerings from Alentjo and Duoro.

There are many great Portuguese wines with retail prices in the $10-$20 range. Most importers of these wines are located on the East Coast, so you may have some trouble finding them locally. My advise: if you do see a Portuguese wine on a local wine store shelf, give it a try. If you want to source the ones I mention below, you might have to contact the importer, and so I’ve given their web addresses. A good overall importer who offers many Portuguese wines and will take phone orders is Melanie at or 415 674 6958 in California.

With so many to choose from, the tasting was difficult. I did not taste a wine that I did not like.

Joao Tamagnini Belo,
Sales Director-Valle Pradinhos 
 The wines from Valle Pradinhos come from an historic family-owned 350 hectare estate established in 1913. They produce wines that are blends of grape varieties that are native to the region: Touriga Nacional, Tina Roriz, Tina Amarela and Mavasia Fina, as well as wines from international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewurztraminer and Riesling. I enjoyed the Valle Pradinhos 2009, a white wine from the TrĂ¡s-os-Montes region that is 90% Riesling and the remainder Gewurztraminer and Malvasia Fina. The predominance of Gewurtz makes it a well balanced wine with good acidity that is very food friendly. Tastes of peach and apple, with a bit of rose aroma, and a medium finish. 13.5% alcohol. $22/bottle. Imported by

Carm Reserva 2009 is a white wine from Douro. With a nice bit of minerality, it has intense fruit, elegant oakiness and its bright citiric yellow color from the grapes in the blend: Verdelho, Siria, and Rabigato. $25/bottle. Imported by

Cortes de Cima Family Vineyards is owned by a Danish-American couple who embarked on a sailing trip to find a place to start a winery. They concluded that the Alentejo region of Portugal was just the place, midway between Lisbon, the Algarve, and Seville. It’s been a wine growing area since the time of the Romans. On 130 hectares of vineyards, they produce several delicious wines, and it has been an adventure. Carrie Jorgensen, founder, noted that when they planted Syrah in their vineyards, they were not allowed to call it that, and so it became somewhat of a cult wine in Portugal. Now the wine is well established and the Cortes De Cima Incognito 2008 is a 100% Syrah red that is deep purple in color with ripe blackberry and plum flavors and aroma, a dark chocolate note, oak and herbs, and sweet tannins. 14.5% alcohol, $50/bottle. Imported by

No tasting of Portuguese wines would be complete without a port. The Barros L.B.V. Porto 2005 is my choice. It’s made from traditional grapes from the Duoro: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cao. There is a deep ruby color, a nice mineral touch, and intense fruit flavors with a silky mouthfeel. An aroma that shows its complexity greets your nose, and the finish is superb. 20% alcohol $22/Bottle. Imported by

For an extensive review of Portuguese wines from this Grand tasting, visit the website of fellow taster Richard Jennings at

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© 2011 Barbara Keck

For more information on dining and the wide range of activities around Lake Tahoe, see the online version of The Tahoe Weekly. This article appeared in my column "Wine Adventures" in May 2011.

Book in Process: "Mountain High Wine: The Sierra and Its Foothills".

The Prize: A glass of Sierra Foothill Wine on the Beach at Tahoe

So today I set up a new Twitter account called @SierraFoothill. The intent is to promote the wines of this exciting region that I like to refer to as "the new Napa". I know I'll be blasted about that, but seriously, some darned good winemakers ended up there because Napa land was too expensive and they simply had a passion they couldn't deny: the passion to make good wine.

Now it's time to get serious about these wines and wineries. Just how many wineries are there? If you guess correctly by May 31, I'll personally pour you a glass of wine on a private beach on Lake Tahoe's West Shore. A Sierra Foothill wine. I'll even cook dinner for you, date TBD mutually in June.

Since I did my last count (, I've heard from a few new wineries. Over the next few weeks, I'll be writing about them. Keep track.

There's a great fun time at Tahoe in store for you!