Hiring Lambs as Landscapers

  • Louise Engel admits she and her husband were initially a little nervous about setting the lambs lose in their valuable vineyard. (Photo by Joyce Kryszak)

Wine makers are shaking things up in their vineyards. Some of them use natural and organic methods to control pests and weeds instead of using pesticides. Now, one winery has discovered a unique, natural way to prune their grape vines. Joyce Kryszak visited the winery to get a first hand look:

Transcript

Wine makers are shaking things up in their vineyards. Some of them use natural and organic methods to control pests and weeds instead of using pesticides. Now, one winery has discovered a unique, natural way to prune their grape vines. Joyce Kryszak visited the winery to get a first hand look:

At the Featherstone Winery in Southern Ontario there are 20 acres of perfectly manicured grape vines. They stretch out in neatly groomed rows across rolling green hills.

But no man or machine maintains this vineyard. There are 40 cute, little, wooly lambs on duty pruning the grape vines into tip-top shape.

David Johnson says he knows the idea of using lambs on his vineyard is a bit odd. Johnson thought so too when he first heard the idea. He found out about it visiting wineries in New Zealand.

“I didn’t believe them at the time. I thought they were having fun with a tourist and that this would be a big joke, some Canadian when he went back home, telling a story. So, yeah, I’ve taken a ribbing on the lamb thing, for sure.”

But Johnson ignored the jokes and decided to try it out.

His wife Louise Engel admits they were a little nervous at first setting the lambs lose in their valuable vineyard.

“We watched these lambs like hawks. I mean, all the staff were sitting out there and following them around – ‘did they eat any grapes, did they eat any grapes?’ But they didn’t. They’ve got very nimble little mouths and little teeths and little lips and they just eat around them.”

You see, pruning grape vines is delicate business. Only a targeted area of leaves is removed from the lower part of the vines to help the fruit grow better.

But Engel and Johnson say the lambs are perfectly designed to handle the job. The young, spring lambs aren’t tall enough and their necks can’t stretch up to reach the grapes. And, since they only weigh about 50 pounds, they don’t trample the soil. And, yes, their droppings do make excellent organic fertilizer.

(sound of lambs bleating)

Three years, and three flocks of sheep later, nobody’s laughing. Area vintners even have copied them; and for good reason. It would cost about $300 an acre to hire seasonal workers to come in for seven weeks in the summer to hand prune the vines. The lambs cost a fraction of that. And, when the pruning is done in August, off they go to the butcher.

Johnson says it turns out that free-range lambs fed a diet of grape leaves end up being pretty tasty.

“We sold them off last year to some caterers and some pretty nice restaurants, and they got back to us and said, ‘wow, these lambs are really special.’ They’re different; they’re almost veal-like in color and flavor and very, very lean. And they’re going to do lamb specials all month and pair it with our wines all month.”

But he admits there are some drawbacks.

They had a tough time finding enough lambs to do the job. There are about fifty million of them in New Zealand. But, it turns out, they’re kind of sparse in Ontario.

Johnson says there are some logistical problems, too. Even some organic pesticides are toxic to lambs. And, there’s all that fence building and moving around to limit the lambs’ access, so they don’t over-prune.

Still, they think it’s worth the hassle. Engel says the lambs fit in beautifully with their philosophy of sustainable farming and diversity in the vineyard.

“They’re lovely, tranquil, placid things, and there’s something almost biblical about having lambs roaming the place and wine here. And, it’s just, I don’t know, there’s just some itch that scratches that’s quite fulfilling.”

People visiting the vineyard enjoy watching the lambs too.

Customers enjoy lunch on the veranda as they look out on the pastoral scene. And, of course, they have a little wine. And one of the top selling wines is Black Sheep Reisling.

For The Environment Report, I’m Joyce Kryszak.

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Brave New Warmer World for Vintners

  • Drier areas will find a warmer climate makes things tougher, but other areas might benefit (Photo by Patrick Tregenza, courtesy of the USDA Agricultural Research Service)

Farmers are starting to see signs
of climate change. One crop that’s more
susceptible to change than most is the wine
grape. Lester Graham reports not everybody
thinks that’s bad:

Transcript

Farmers are starting to see signs
of climate change. One crop that’s more
susceptible to change than most is the wine
grape. Lester Graham reports not everybody
thinks that’s bad:

Vineyards are likely to be especially affected by climate change.

Gregory Jones is a research climatologist at Southern Oregon University. He says
growing grapes for wine is always a tricky business, and climate change will make it
tricker.

Gregory Jones: “Pinot noir is produced in a cool climate and cabernet sauvignon in
a warm climate, and you cannot produce one in the other without having it affect
style, quality and flavor.”

So, grape growers across the nation are watching things closely. Drier areas will
find it tougher, but other areas actually might benefit.

Bill Hendricks is showing me his vines. Pinot grigio, cabernet franc, cabernet
sauvignon.

Hendricks says grape growers in central Michigan – where he is, Virginia, Missouri, California – they’re all beginning to see changes.

“They see it coming. You know, the record year of ’99—what, 2001 I also think.
Like, last year we were about ten days above norm. This year we’re four days above
norm.”

As the climate changes, some vineyards might have to switch to different varietals –
different kinds of grapes.

(sound of the peninsula)

More than 200 miles northwest of Hendrick’s vineyards, on a peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan, there’s a wine
growing area called Leelanau. It’s known for its white wines. It’s always been a little too
cool for red wine grapes, but things are changing.

Chalie Edson is the vintner at Bel Lago Vineyard and Winery. He says he doesn’t
want to call the warmer seasons global warming.

“Not being a climatologist, I’m going to answer
‘no.’ It’s tempting to say ‘Yes, yes. It’s getting warmer.’ Whether that translates into
overall increase of warmth in expected temperatures in the years to come, I think that’s still
somewhat speculative. But, I sort of hope that it happens.”

Yep, you heard right. Global warming would be beneficial to Edson. You might be
wondering, ‘why?’ Well, because this climate is better suited to white wines, and red wines
sell better.

“People come to northern
Michigan just like they come to any other winemaking region and they ask for reds.
We’ve made some really great progress in the last ten years in making reds as the
winemakers learn better how to utilize the fruit that we have here. And we’ve also
had a string of really warm vintages.”

But right now, Leelanua County is known for its white wines.

Climatologist, Gregory Jones says there’s a real question whether wine
consumers will be able to keep up with the changes.

“If you’re in a historic region that’s always produced pinot noir and all of a sudden
you really can’t do that, you know, because the climate’s changed, then you’re going
to grow merlot and you’re going to do it very well in that same place, but the
consumer has to be retrained.”

And so Burgandy wines might not come from Burgandy in the future, and wine
drinkers will have to try to keep up.

(sound of bottles clinking and price-tag gun clicking)

At Plum Market in Ann Arbor, Michigan, wine buyer Rod Johnson says climate
change has been a good thing for wine – so far.

“So, places like Michigan which traditionally have been too cold is suddenly seeing a
lot of different wines like pinot grigio and riesling, even pinot noir being able to be
grown here. So that’s beneficial. Same thing in Germany. They’ve had great year
after great year after great year in Germany where it used to be they were too cold.
When we get to the point that we’re hurting the wine business, I think there will be a
lot more hurt going elsewhere in the world.”

So if those dry California areas or Mediterranean areas get too warm and too dry for
wine grapes, that’ll probably be the least of their worries.

For The Environment Report, I’m Lester Graham.

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Nature and Ice Wine

  • Vidal blanc grapes used in ice wine. The vines are netted to protect the grapes from high winter winds and animals. (Photo courtesy of Mario Mazza)

When you think about wine you might think about sunny Italy or warm
Napa Valley in California. But one wine is the product of cold
weather. Ann Murray has the story:

Transcript

When you think about wine you might think about sunny Italy or warm
Napa Valley in California. But one wine is the product of cold
weather. Ann Murray has the story:


Today, the weather and the sales are brisk at the Mazza Winery and
Vineyards.


Sales Person: “Did you want these in a bag?”


Mary Ventura: “Yes, this is all going to the same spot.”


Mary Ventura is buying small bottles of wine that she describes as
“liquid candy.” Ventura and the sales clerk chime in when I ask her
what she’s talking about:


“This is ice wine. It’s not something you can find on all the shelves.
And so we came across this little winery and it’s great.”


Mazza’s is one of the few wineries in the United States that sells and
produces ice wine. More and more people are discovering this rare,
super sweet dessert wine:


“We’re going to head out right behind the winery, actually.”


Mario Mazza is a third generation grower. He says their vineyard’s
location along the Lake Erie shoreline in Pennsylvania makes ice
wine production possible. For vineyards in this region, the Great Lake
changes the local climate:


“In the spring it keeps the shore a little bit cooler, keeps the grapes
from budding too early, which is a good thing… prevents them from
getting hit from the later spring frost. In the fall, we have the reverse
happen. In September and even in October we have a little bit more
warmth along the lake shore here.”


But the real ticket to producing ice wine is a final burst of cold winter
weather. In December or January, winds off Lake Erie can bring the
temperature to well below freezing. As snowflakes whip around the
vineyards, Mazza stands next to rows of grapes still on the vine. The
rows are netted by hand to protect the vines from high winter winds
and hungry animals:


“These vineyards we’re looking at here are vidal blanc grapes.
They’re a great variety because they have a relatively thick skin and
can hold up to the colder climate, to the colder weather and leaving
them on the vine for an extra two months.”


Natural ice wines require a hard freeze to occur sometime after the
grapes are ripe. If a freeze doesn’t come fast enough, the grapes
might rot and the crop will be lost. If the freeze is too severe, no juice
can be extracted.


(Sound of bottling inside winery)


Back inside the winery, Mazza helps out with bottling. During a break,
he says that catching the right sustained freeze means that workers
must be ready to roll out of bed early to pick the grapes used in ice
wine:


“When we go out there and pick ’em about 5:00 in the morning with
headlights down the rows, you’re actually picking these grapes at
about 18 degrees Fahrenheit so they’re actually frozen, just like a marble.
You get very, very sweet juice when you press that out.”


Ice wines are very sweet because the grapes dehydrate the last two
months on the vine. That concentrates the sugar and the flavor:


“The sugars are twice that we get in a normal harvest date in October. And
the flavors are just so much more intense and concentrated.”


Murray: “So you don’t end up with a lot of juice then?”


Mazza: “Hence the rarity, the sale in a smaller bottle and the price
tags on ice wines. A lot of people look at them and say wow, those are
awfully expensive. When they learn about the extensive effort put into
making these wines, they then understand that it’s well worth it.”


At $40 dollars a half-bottle, ice wine generally is worth the extra work
for growers. It might take months to completely ferment ice wine.
Regular wines take days or weeks. Each year, the Mazzas produce
only about 250 gallons of ice wine — a tiny amount compared to other
wines.


Worker: “There should be about a case down there.”


Upstairs, customers continue to stream in and out of the Mazza wine
shop, some of them eyeing the small bottles of liquid gold that nature
and patience help make possible.


For the Environment Report, this is Ann Murray.

Related Links

Cashing in on Restaurant Food Scraps

  • These loafs of bread were left in a park for wildlife to eat (not recommended by biologists). Most table scraps end up in a landfill. But a program in some cities is using table scraps from restaurants to make rich compost. (Photo by Lester Graham)

As you sit down to a holiday dinner this season…
here’s something wild to think about…some of the produce on
your plate, or even the wine in your glass may have been
produced using food scraps from restaurants. How? The
leftovers are collected and turned into compost, a natural
fertilizer that’s increasingly popular among wine grape
growers and organic farmers. Tamara Keith
reports:

Transcript

As you sit down to a holiday dinner this season… here’s something wild to think about:
some of the produce on your plate, or even the wine in your glass may have been
produced using food scraps from restaurants. How? The leftovers are collected and
turned into compost, a natural fertilizer that’s increasingly popular among wine grape
growers and organic farmers. Tamara Keith reports:


The food goes from plates in upscale restaurants, to green waste bins picked up by a
recycling company. The leftovers are then trucked out a compost facility.


(sound of the big machines)


Here, at Jepson Prairie Organics, the waste is transformed from discernable food
items,
to dark lush humus. Greg Pryor is general manager of the facility in Northern
California.


“If you look closer it’s you’ll find fish, shellfish, there’s a leek right there,
and onion.”


Yard clippings and a little cardboard are mixed in for balance. It’s all ground up,
and
stuffed in large black bags, 200 feet long and 10 feet wide.


“Really about a week into the bag it starts to break down and it really loses its
identity.”


After 30 days, the compost is removed from the bags, and continues to break down for
another month or so. As bacteria go to work on the food scraps and clippings, they
generate heat, so even on a hot day steam rises up from the rows of compost. Pryor
started in the trash business almost 15 years ago and he says it has come a long way.


“All of this used to go into a landfill and it just wasn’t right. And to me
personally that’s
the biggest benefit is that it’s putting materials back to a beneficial re-use,
there’s just
nothing better.”


The end product is marketed as “four course compost” to vineyards and organic
vegetable farms.


(Mexican music coming from a truck)


Just a few miles away at Eatwell Farm, workers are snipping and tying off bunches of
organic arugula. That peppery green was grown in soil bolstered by four-course
compost. Farmer Nigel Walker says he applies a heavy coat of compost after every
harvest, sometimes as much as three times a year.


“And we just always do that. I don’t even have to. Roberto’s our tractor driver.
I don’t
even say ‘put compost on, Roberto.’ He just knows. We put compost on and then we
cultivate it in.”


In the past, Walker has used compost made from animal manure. It works fine, he says,
but he likes the idea this fertilizer comes from restaurants.


“It’s a great compost, we need a compost and we likes where it comes from, it’s pretty
simple.”


This time of year, the makers of four-course compost make a lot of deliveries to
California wine country, home to some of the nation’s premier wines. Linda Hale is
the
field supervisor for Madrone Vineyard Management in Sonoma County. She and her
employees look after 400 acres of wine grapes for wineries like Ravenswood, Sabastiani
and BR Cohn.


Hale says they use compost between the rows, to prepare the land for winter.


“Right after you harvest, you come in, you prep the ground, you put your compost in,
seed it and let the vines go to sleep for the winter. And that’s just your good night
medicine.”


Hale says the compost improves the vigor of the vines. Healthy soil, makes for
healthy
plants, and healthy plants she says are better able to fend off pests and disease.
And
Hale says, it prices out the same as synthetic liquid fertilizers – the current
industry
standard.


Plus, winemaker Tom Montgomery at the BR Cohn Winery says it’s kind of fun to think
about what might have gone into the compost.


“There’s probably a little filet in there, some veggie dishes, aso bucco…” (laughs)


Montgomery calls it fertilizer with pizzazz.


“I think it makes a difference to us. I’m not so sure that it makes a difference to
the
wine.”


Other cities, even other countries are starting to pick up on the food-to-field
idea. Soon a
group from Toronto will be touring the compost facilities to see if they can
replicate the
program in their city.


For the Environment Report, I’m Tamara Keith.

Related Links

Cut in Farm Subsidies Might Hurt Midwest Vintners

Votes from many of Ohio’s farmers helped President Bush win re-election last year. Now many of them feel betrayed because the President’s 2006 budget proposal calls for federal agriculture spending to be cut by nearly ten-percent. The cuts would drastically reduce farm subsidies… and they would curtail agricultural research efforts. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Kevin Niedermier reports that would be an especially big problem for a fairly new crop in the Midwest… grapes for wine:

Transcript

Votes from many of Ohio’s farmers helped President Bush win re-election last year.
Now many of them feel betrayed because the President’s 2006 budget proposal calls for
federal agriculture spending to be cut by nearly ten-percent. The cuts would drastically
reduce farm subsidies… and they would curtail agricultural research efforts. The Great
Lakes Radio Consortium’s Kevin Niedermier reports that would be an especially big
problem for a fairly new crop in the Midwest…grapes for wine:


President Bush wants to cut agriculture spending by more than eight billion dollars as he
looks for ways to reduce the federal deficit. If Congress approves the proposed cuts,
agricultural research at all of the nation’s land grant universities would suffer. For
example, Ohio State University’s Agriculture Research Center in Wooster, Ohio, would
lose six-million dollars. Director Steven Slack says, when you multiply that reduction by
all the research universities across the region… it could mean a lot of cuts.


“If that budget goes through this October, we would see an impact that would reduce
about 200 faculty positions, about 400 staff positions, and about 550 graduate students
that are supported in the north central region, and these are the states from Ohio to the
east and Iowa to the west.”


One of the newer ag industries that has benefited greatly from federally supported
agricultural research is America’s wine producers. For instance, university research into
“bio-dynamic” farming can help vineyards produce wines that don’t rely on synthetic
fertilizers, pesticides or fungicides. Instead, it uses natural methods. It’s like organic
farming…. only it limits the materials used to grow a crop to the farm on which the crop
grows. It’s a closed system.


Under the President’s budget, that kind of research and much more would be cut
at a time when the Midwest wine industry is just getting a good start.


During the last few decades, U.S. wineries have grown from a few hundred, to more than
35, 000 according to the Ohio Wine Producers Association. Most of them are small,
family run operations.


Near the Lake Erie shore just outside Cleveland, Lee Kling-Shern runs the
ten-thousand gallon a year Klingshirn Winery. As wineries in this part of the world go…
his is an old one. His grandfather began growing grapes and making wine on this farm in
1937. Klingshirn says federally funded research made it possible for Midwest vineyards
to grow better varieties of wine grapes…like Viniferas.


“And it’s only been in the last 30 years that technology and research has brought
recommendations to ambitious growers like ourselves to explain how best to handle these
tender varieties and make them work in the field. And thus, today our business is now at
a competitive level with other wine-producing areas of the world as far as the varieties
that we can produce and the quality that we can make. And allows us to be something
worthwhile to come see and do and experience.”


Like Ohio wineries, vintners in states such as New York, Michigan, Illinois, and Missouri
have turned out higher and higher quality wines. Klingshirn is worried that federal cuts
to research spending will make it harder for small vineyards to stay competitive….


“There was finally a research development operation slated to be built at Cornell-New
York which would apply to our style of viticulture here, that as far as I understand has hit
the trash can at this point. So, that’s something we’ve needed for years and years and
years and just as we’re on the cusp of getting it, it’s pulled away.”


Klingshirn and other vintners are also upset that the Bush budget proposes a fifty dollar
fee be paid by winemakers anytime they change the label on a bottle. The money would
be used to pay inspectors who make sure the new labels meet federal standards for health
warnings and other required information.


The vineyard owners and winemakers say the new fees and research cuts are bad timing
for the wine industry in the Midwest, just as many of the vintners were beginning to win
gold medals nationally and internationally.


They’re afraid their progress will be tarnished by the Bush Administration’s proposed
budget.


For the GLRC, I’m Kevin Niedermier.

Related Links

Winemakers Bugged by Asian Beetle

  • The Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle was introduced in 1916 to control aphids. It has since established populations around the country. (Photo courtesy of the USDA)

Many people in North America have already met the multicolored Asian lady beetle. It looks like an ordinary ladybug, but it has some bad habits. It stinks, it bites and it invades homes when the winter approaches and stays there until spring. And not only is it a pest in our houses, it has decided that it likes wine too. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Victoria Fenner has the story:

Transcript

Many people in North America have already met the multicolored Asian lady beetle. It
looks like an ordinary ladybug, but it has some bad habits. It stinks, it bites and it
invades homes when the winter approaches and stays there until spring. And not only is
it a pest in our houses, it has decided that it likes wine too. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Victoria Fenner has the story:


Ann Sperling goes out to the vineyards every day to check for bugs. She’s the vintner
with Malivoire Winery. Malivoire is a small organic winery in the Niagara Peninsula in
Southern Ontario, just north of the New York State border. There’s one kind of bug in
particular that Ann is hoping she doesn’t see – the multicolored Asian lady beetle.


It was introduced to North American in 1916 to control help aphids on plants. In 1988 in
Louisiana, the ladybug population suddenly started to grow. Scientists still don’t know
what happened to make them reproduce so fast at that time. But in only six years, it
spread as far as the northern states and southern Canada.


The spread of the bug has been very bad for the grape and wine industry. Sperling is
nervous about these ladybugs because she was caught by surprise a few years back. She
didn’t know anything about the problems they would cause to her wine at the time.


“Typically there is a certain number of insects including wasps and things like that that
are harvested with the fruit and it doesn’t cause any problems in the processing. And in
2001 there were these Asian lady beetles and they infected, or affected, the flavor of the
wine, so that there were many wines from that vintage throughout the Niagara peninsula
that had the characteristic flavor and were not saleable.”


The big problem is that Asian ladybugs are the skunks of the insect world. Just like
skunks, they give off a bad smell to discourage predators. And they release a sticky
brown substance from the joints in their body when they’re stressed and they make a real
mess.


At harvest time, there’s a lot of commotion in the vineyards. That’s when the bugs get
really upset, and they leak all over the grapes. They also hang on to the grape clusters
and are pressed into the wine along with the fruit. Sperling says they had to dump half of
their 2001 vintage because it had a bitter taste and a bouquet of raw peanuts.


Because of this, the multicolored Asian Ladybug has become a big problem for wineries
in the Great Lakes region and in the Midwest. It’s such a pressing problem for the wine
industry that the Ontario Grape Growers Association has set up a special task force to
figure out what to do. Gerry Walker is heading up the task force. He says the ladybug
isn’t a problem this time of year, but the populations are being monitored to head off
potential problems during the harvest season.


“First of all, the bug usually is outside the vineyard for most of the season. It’s usually
located in soybean fields or forested areas. It has a wide host range in terms of what
aphid species it will feed on. It primarily feeds on aphids during the growing season,
populations build up and at the end of the growing season when cool temperatures occur
it cues the bug to look for hibernating wintering sites and also to fill up on sugars in order
to hibernate. And so they move to the vineyards as the grapes begin to ripen.”


Asian ladybugs are found across most of the southern part of North America –
everywhere that there is an aphid population.


And there is a connection between soybean fields and vineyards. Here’s why – aphids
like to eat soybeans, and the multicolored Asian ladybeetle likes to eat aphids. When the
soybeans are harvested, the beetles look for new food and move to the vineyards.


Mark Sears is an environmental biologist at the University of Guelph. He’s beginning a
study to find out the movement patterns of the ladybug. He says we can’t get rid of them.
All we can do is control them.


“This beetle’s been here long enough that there’s no way we’re going to eliminate it. We
just want to suppress its numbers so that it isn’t a problem, in this case, in the vineyards.
If we do a good job of suppressing aphids – we’re not going to eliminate them either, but
if we keep them at lower numbers then there’s less food available for beetle populations,
there will be fewer of them to move to vineyards. And therefore we should be able to
contain the problem, not the insect itself.”


Ann Sperling is one of many winemakers who’s happy to see that this major study of the
ladybug is being done. But the invasion of 2001 was also a valuable learning experience.
Sperling says they’re ready if it happens again. Malivoire Winery has bought a shaker
table to dislodge the bugs from the bunches of grapes. They’ll also hire more people to
sort the grapes by hand.


Some people in the wine industry don’t like to talk about the multicolored Asian ladybug.
They’re afraid of tainting the reputation of their wines. Ann Sperling agreed to talk about
it because she thinks there wouldn’t have been as much damage to their 2001 vintage if
they had been better prepared. They haven’t had any big problems since then.


If another large invasion happens now, Malvoire Winery is ready. Ann Sperling hopes
other wineries will learn from their experience.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Victoria Fenner.

Related Links

Regional Winemakers Worry About Disease

Some winemakers are battling a disease called "black goo." It’s caused
by a fungus that leaves infected grape vines stunted and weak. As the
Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Wendy Nelson reports, no one’s sure
where the disease is coming from, or where it might turn up:

Transcript

Some winemakers are battling a disease called “black goo.” It’s caused by a fungus that leaves infected grape vines stunted and weak. As teh Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Wendy Nelson reports, no one’s sure where the disease is coming from, or where it might turn up:


Black goo has claimed an estimated nine-thousand acres of vines in California. That’s only about one percent of the state’s vineyards. But so far, there’s no cure; the only thing growers can do is rip up the vines and replant.


Ironically, some think the ever-growing popularity of California wines may be contributing to the problem.


“In other years, some of the weaker vines would have been thrown away.”


Wayne Wilcox is a professor of plant pathology with Cornell University.


“One of the prevailing theories is that this disease – the fungi that are causing it – are preying on some of these weaker vines.”


Wilcox says there have been a couple of isolated reports of black goo outside of California, including one case in New York. But he says Great Lakes winemakers shouldn’t panic. Instead, Wilcox advises them to examine vines carefully and reject any that look weak.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Wendy Nelson.

Natural Cork Makers Unite

For hundreds of years, wine-makers have used natural cork – made
from tree bark – to seal their bottles. But natural corks are… well,
natural.
And sometimes they harbor a mold that can cause wine to go bad. Some
wine-makers are switching to synthetic corks – made of plastic – as a
solution. But right now, they only make up about one-percent of the
market. Nevertheless, natural cork manufacturers are taking action.
The
Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Wendy Nelson reports: