Newsletters are written as topics arise, not on a regular schedule. They are distributed through an email list, and are also posted below. If you wish to receive newsletters by email, contact Joy at and ask to be added to the list. Generally, newsletters are posted here within a few days of email distribution.


July 2019

Varietal Thiols in Wine: Interventions in the vineyard and winery 

Several WRE experiments in the 2018-2019 season focused on increasing varietal thiols in aromatic white and rosé wines. These volatile compounds contribute to the varietal character of Virginia wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Manseng, and Riesling as well as varieties used to produce red and rosé wines. There are several steps in the winemaking process from vineyard to bottle that affect the production, protection and perception of thiols in the finished wine, and therefore several points of intervention for winemakers to consider if they want to increase the impact of these compounds.

Thiol Image 2.jpg

For some background on thiols, including their chemistry, origins, transformations, and many different ways to increase thiols in your wine, here is a review.

Four experiments were done in the 2018-2019 season exploring the optimization of thiols in aromatic wines:

Virginia Viticulture Association Winter Technical Meeting 2019

The VVA included a great lineup of presentations by Virginia Tech faculty and students as well as invited speakers from Michigan and New Jersey. We were also able to welcome the new Extension Enologist Beth Chang. Several of our WRE participating winemakers served on a panel presenting research results from previous years as well as a tasting of an experiment from 2018. Many thanks to the VVA for the opportunity to share our results, and to the winemakers for serving on the panel. Following are some links to the material presented during the WRE Panel.

WRE panel presentation

Here are some links to the studies featured during this presentation:

Sauvignon Blanc Clonal Investigation (2016), Veritas Vineyards

The Impact of Trellising on Ripening and Quality in Merlot (2017), Rosemont Vineyards

Harvest Decisions Based on Grape Phenolic Development (2017), King Family Vineyards

The Impact Of Soil Conductivity On Petit Verdot Ripeness And Wine Quality In Ballerina Trellising (In Collaboration With Bubba Beasley) (2017), Barren Ridge Vineyards

The Impact Of Soil Conductivity On Petit Verdot Ripeness And Wine Quality In VSP Trellising (In Collaboration With Bubba Beasley) (2017), Barren Ridge Vineyards


Winter 2019: How to Treat High VA Wines

Despite our best efforts in the vineyard and good decision making in the winery, many winemakers still face a few lots from 2018 with higher VA than desired. As we learn the lessons of this vintage, and consider our options going forward, here are a few notes on VA:

  • Volatile Acidity: Definition, legal limits, sensory thresholds

  • Where did it come from: Causes of Volatile Acidity

  • What to do now? Using filtration to remove Volatile Acidity


Post Harvest 2018: Building Body and Structure

Several winemakers have asked about ways to make the most of the wines that came in, protect them during aging and manage elevage to make the best wines possible. Concerns included thin mid-palate, lack of structure, and high VA. This edition of the newsletter includes background information on topics including:

  • Analyses to do now

  • Cellar practices to protect your wines and limit VA accumulation

  • Body, Structure, Weight and Balance

  • The role of mannoproteins in the body of wine and the addition of yeast products 

  • The types of tannin and their addition to wine

There is also a section with specific manufacturer’s recommendations and contact information. 


September 2018: Making Wine with Underripe Fruit

This season has included many challenges in the vineyard that are now translating to the winery. Many of the red grapes being picked are less ripe than desired. 

Overall, a winemaking philosophy of maximizing fruitiness and minimizing astringency may be a good focus when working with underripe grapes. There is no magic bullet to make underripe grapes taste ripe. However, there are a few things to think about when planning your winemaking to respond to this vintage. This newsletter gives some background chemistry and winemaking suggestions for this season’s fruit.


Pre-Harvest 2018

Though this season has been a challenge in the vineyard, the grapes are still ripening and it is time to start picking!  So far people have reported higher than normal pH, lower brix, and watery fruit. Not a surprise given the weather. But today the sun is out and the forecast (at least for a few days) looks pretty good. Lets hope this weather holds.

This newsletter includes sections addressing: Vineyard Sampling, Sample Preparation and testing, Rot Protocols, and High pH

This updated protocol from Scottlabs was added after first publication of the pre-harvest newsletter.