Wine Aged with Cottonwood


Vince and Audrey Cilurzo developed one of the first wineries in the Temecula Valley of Southern California.  They recognized that (contrary to the scientific consensus) there were enough cool fogs to grow red wine grapes.  Then they fermented and aged those grapes into great red wines.

But, that is not the key theme of this post.  The key is their wonderful heresy.  The American oak barrels used for aging wine are expensive, and French oak bottles are even more expensive.  As a startup winery, the Cilurzos experimented with a radical change.  They aged their wines in steel tanks … with thin strips of oak lathe floating in the tanks.  They achieved the delicate oaky sub-taste, to which many have grown accustomed over the centuries, at a much lower cost. 

That model could apply to farmers, ranchers, or a local coop entering the wine-making business on a small scale.  Just as micro-breweries returned beer consumption to a more widely distributed local (revenue-producing!) industry, wine can be produced locally to keep the returns of wine buying in the local agricultural communities.   Once again, robotics can reduce the expensive labor in production

Those small-scale wine producers would not necessarily have well-known grape varietals with multi-year pedigrees.  They might not even ferment grapes.  However, they could age wines with local sub-flavors.   What if a Sonora Desert wine (produced in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and north Mexico) had a subtle lingering after taste … of mesquite?  Drifting north to the northern prairies of my upbringing, what if corn wine had a subtle taste of … cottonwood?   

Micro-wineries are a great opportunity for making profits while keeping money at home instead of giving it to “ferriners” in places like France, Australia, and … California.  


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