2014 trial wines are better than control wines in spite of major yield increases.
The commonly held view that increased yield reduces wine quality was turned on its head at a tasting hosted by Scheid Vineyards of its 2014 vintage wines produced using grapes from heat treated and control blocks. On January 21st, noted Master of Wine Philip Goodband together with a Scheid team including Scheid Director of Winemaking Dave Nagengast, Director of Viticulture Shawn Veysey, Winemaker Marta Kraftzeck and an Agrothermal group including CEO Marty Fischer evaluated Syrah, Merlot and Pinot Noir wines made with identical winemaking techniques. According to Goodband “We were very impressed by the consistency shown in all the wines from the Thermaculture blocks. The degree of difference varied but all exhibited more concentration of fruit, enhanced mouth feel and better tannin structure, all in all more complexity with an equal or superior flavour profile and length of finish.”
The wines evaluated were two Pommard clone Pinot Noirs, two Merlots and one Syrah from differing locations in the Salinas Valley of Monterey. Each of the Pinot Noirs had distinct taste advantages over control blocks in spite of yield advantages of 3% and 36%. According to Philip Goodband, “The Pinot Noir characteristics we tasted were very similar to what we have experienced consistently with three years of Pinot Noirs at Adelsheim in Oregon where they average 8% yield advantages using Thermaculture. The two Merlots also had yield differences that are interesting to note at 2% and 29%. The 2% yield increase led to the biggest taste differences of the tasting, but the 29% greater yielding trial block wine was as good or better than the control wine. The Syrah harvest data was not recorded, but it had 46% more berries per bunch and 48% more weight per bunch at mid season.” Goodband continued, “both the control and test Syrah wines were excellent and I gave a slight advantage to the heat treated block in spite of the yield difference.”
According to Shawn Veysey of Scheid “The tasting was very revealing, in fact surprising, as to the ability of Thermaculture to produce both better wines and more wine per acre. We had already made the decision based on yield advantages to buy three more machines and expand our use of Thermaculture to 1000 acres in 2016, but this just proved to us we can get more yield per acre and better wines at the same time. It is a different paradigm from the old beliefs that more yield leads to less quality”.
Marty Fischer, CEO of Agrothermal commented “We have known for some time that the process of heat shocking vines leads to an increase in some of the phenols and antioxidants that make up part of the flavonoids, but have always assumed this advantage would lessen with the degree of yield advantage. I believe this tasting confirmed that at similar yields we get very substantial sensory differences but what amazed us was that the upside yield limit on sensory improvement appear much less limiting than we had assumed. This is indeed great news for anyone growing wine grapes as it relates to the potential for greater profits per acre” continued Fischer “we are particularly grateful to Marta Kraftzeck who did a wonderful job of organizing the event and for the continued expansion of our technology at Scheid Winery.”
Agrothermal Systems has pioneered the use of Thermaculture heat treatments as a means to increase yields, reduce pesticide needs, manage crop damage from inclimate weather events and improve crop qualities. The company holds patents on Thermal Pest Control and has patents pending on Thermal Plant Treatment and Genomic Expression for agricultural crops.