Some random thoughts...
1. Perhaps you've heard of the small, handcrafted winemaking businesses often known as "boutique" wineries? If boutique are small wineries, then we are on our way to advancing the idea of a micro-winery. Yesterday marked a first of many small milestones to come as we advance our ideas into reality and launch our own micro-winery. We received confirmation from the Iowa Secretary of State and are excited to get the process moving in higher gear. Now comes more and more and more paperwork from the myriad of federal and state agencies positioned to stake claim to their share of tax dollars. Concurrently, we'll continue to develop our winemaking skills, purchase expensive equipment, and plan for our first big crush. A little excited, a little nervous, and very ready to make some headway!
2. Sulfur Dioxide Workshop. Last weekend we attended an all day workshop all about SO2 - the sulfite you read about on your bottles. We were hosted by the Mississippi Valley Grape Growers Association and spent Saturday testing all sorts of wine for Free SO2 using three testing procedures: Iodine, Titretes (a brand), and Aeration-Oxidation. Sulfur Dioxide serves a couple of purposes: antimicrobial (inhibits the growth of critters that can damage wine) and antioxidant (helps minimze the damage due to oxygen). Our enology instructor emphasized keeping oxygen at bay through the use of inert gas (i.e., Nitrogen, Argon, and Carbon Dioxide) in the headspace of our tanks rather than relying on SO2 (whose utility in antioxidation is becoming more questionable).
3. Mystery Shoppers. Presented research findings to a small group of very interested MVGGA winery owners last weekend. Our project involved using 31 mystery shoppers who posed as winery visitors and conducted 74 assessments of 15 wineries last summer. We learned some very interesting things about the experiences visitors report wanting/receiving; tasting room experiences; and major influences on purchase behaviors.