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I was intrigued at the above video which chronicles the advent and popularity of plant-based milk products like Almond Milk and at the same time the decline in the consumption of real milk. Milk and wine were both described as a healthy part of a normal diet at one point. So what happened? It’s a little bit of Deja Vu.
What Do Milk and Wine Have in Common?
We’re not talking about alcohol here. We are talking about milk! Apple pie. Americana. Wholesome food.
Today the total volume of all types of milk sold, the price of milk, and the number of dairies are all in decline because of various negative scientific studies. That’s not what I envision or hope for the wine industry.
So how did milk’s star fall over the past 75 years and more recently, how did soy, rice, coconut, almond, and oat milk become such strong and growing substitutes? The CBS program in the lead video notes how the plant-based milk craze started. It all started with our changed view of fat.
Fat, just like alcohol today was at one-time cast as the villain with respect to health outcomes. Was it accurate?
While that view turned out to be flawed inevitably, the account caught on in the press and drove people to consume more lean meats like chicken and fish, eat margarine instead of butter, limit the consumption of cheese, and seek out low and fat-free foods.
The dairy industry adapted. If fat is bad for you, let’s sell more “skim milk” but change the name to “fat-free” milk and emphasize the evolving consumer trend away from fat. That was followed by extensions in low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, ice cream, and cottage cheese.
At the same time, the broader food industry jumped on the consumer trend by creating fat-free cheese and different varieties of processed snacks and convenience foods, using hydrogenated vegetable fat instead of animal fat and using more sugar in the formulas.
And what was the result of all that science that ran down the health impact of eggs, red meat, cereal, wine, and milk? Today we have the highest level of obesity – EVER as noted in nearby chart.
Consider how quickly the impact of positive health information contributed to the consumer changing back to real fatty butter and whole milk.
The New Milk Threat
The combination of sustainability and the lingering questions about the value of red meat in a healthy diet lead many people to make the personal choice to move away from meat and adopt more plant-based diets including plant-based ‘milk.’ That seems to be the current health craze.
Interestingly, as the above video notes, much of the plant-based milk has additives, trace chemicals from processing, sugars, stabilizers, and even hydrogenated fat. It’s processed food and the science isn’t in on the health benefits and risks yet, but the tale that comes through today is plant-based milk is healthy and sales are soaring.
The story of milk’s decline reminds me of wine, which has gone from being part of a healthy lifestyle under USDA guidelines to now being viewed as unhealthy and like red meat, linked to very slight increases in some cancers in studies.
How Did Wine Become Unhealthy?
In much the same way as milk and red meat lost demand with the consumer, wine is losing today in the popular narrative because of negative studies that often start with an agenda to reduce consumption.
At one point in the 90s and early 2000s, science and the public narrative had wine as a HEALTHY component of life, possessing a positive impact on coronary heart disease and stroke.
Left alone, that statement would have found agreement even from alcohol producers. We all recognize the negative effects of alcohol abuse and all want to limit those harmful effects. But reducing harmful effects wasn’t the outcome and perhaps was never the purpose.
After demonization, they then drafted policies such as calling for higher taxes, requiring labels to be placed on wine reflecting the WHO cancer findings, and “enacting and enforcing bans or comprehensive restrictions on exposure to alcohol advertising across multiple types of media, and enacting and enforcing restrictions on the physical availability of retailed alcohol.” (Global Status Report 2018, p 15)
The real goal of the WHO is the reduction in worldwide consumption of alcohol. They don’t distinguish between healthy consumption or unhealthy consumption patterns. They don’t care about the science that shows moderate consumption adds to positive health and life outcomes.
Wine’s Response to the Negative Health Message
How has the wine industry responded to the overt threat that is leading to declining growth rates?
The wine industry is content thus far to talk about hospitality, the user experience, long days and cool nights, and how special our soils are. Maybe that’s enough?
What’s Your Opinion?
- What should the wine industry do about this issue?
- Can we learn anything from what the Milk Industry has done?
Please join this site on the top right-hand side of the page, and offer your thoughts below. I respond to everyone.
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Imagine if all playground disputes were dissolved by group meditation and breath work. What if students could coach themselves and others through the stress of a big test with mindfulness techniques? How many fewer road-rage incidents and hostile Twitter rants would there be if elementary schools gave kids the tools to manage their emotions—to be kinder, wiser, more mindful, well-adjusted people—from the start?
That’s the environment Nicole Cardoza is cultivating through her nonprofit Yoga Foster, bringing yoga into elementary schools by offering teachers the training, lesson plans, and resources they need to practice with their students—many of whom come from low-income families and struggle with grown-up problems like hunger and sleep deprivation. “Yoga is a practice of self-inquiry,” Cardoza says. “And that’s not something that’s often taught to children or in schools.” But hopefully that will change. In just five years, more than 60,000 students in 2,500 classrooms across the United States have benefited from Yoga Foster—improving flexibility, strength, coordination, and concentration, and instilling a sense of calmness and relaxation.
“I love the idea of making yoga equitable and accessible from the get-go,” says the 30-year-old social entrepreneur, “so it isn’t introduced to future generations as something exclusive that comes with privilege—something that only certain people with certain bodies and financial capacities are able to practice.” Kids who take up yoga are much more wellness-conscious as they grow, she says: “They can then continue to advocate to make sure the practice remains as accessible as it was when they were in school and they did it between recess and reading in the afternoon.”
And that may be the crux of Cardoza’s work: She has a few more tricks up her sleeve when it comes to egalitarianism. Dahla, her money-positivity platform for women, offers resources for empowerment and financial freedom through workshops and curated editorial content. “My own relationship with money has caused me a significant amount of stress and anxiety,” she says. “I started practicing yoga when I was broke, living in New York City, and trying to get by as a student. Then I very quickly became the executive director of a nonprofit where my job is to ask people for money all the time! Plenty of factors were making me uncomfortable: not getting paid as much as my peers, my own social identity, and, historically, the way money has played a role in my family. I started interviewing women and I found that no matter how much they were making, they still had a lot of distress around wealth or lack thereof. It wasn’t just me. So Dahla focuses on destigmatizing the shame and guilt around money and offering women opportunities to learn about personal finances.”
And with money comes power and influence, Cardoza says, so she’s doing her best to help elevate diverse new leaders—particularly women and people of color. She recently launched Reclamation Ventures, a fund that will support people like herself who are eager to make it easier to access yoga, mindfulness, and additional wellness practices through products, spaces, and other initiatives. “I definitely think that a redistribution of wealth and capital in the industry can help diversify this practice,” she says. “There’s incredible potential for representing voices and perspectives that deserve to be heard.”
Reclamation Ventures is accepting applications for a $5,000 impact grant designed for what Nicole calls “an underestimated entrepreneur” who is working to close the wellness gap. For more information, to apply, or to make a donation, visit reclamationventures.co.
Practice – Finding Abundance
Try this short meditation when you need a reminder that you are, and have, enough.
I come back to this meditation whenever I feel depleted in some way—from what’s happening in the world or on social media, or if I simply haven’t been able to cultivate the energy I need to get through the day. With this exercise, we remind ourselves of all the things that bring us joy, wonder, and awe. I hope you enjoy it.
First, find a comfortable seated position. Notice how your body feels, connected to the earth, in whichever way you choose, and allow yourself to be here, in this moment, in this breath. How does it feel to be here now? It may feel scary or uncomfortable or just right. Allow it to be without judgment, without shame. Notice how the present feels in your breath. Allow your breaths to be short and shallow, or long and deep. And as you breathe, notice if you have space for a little bit more air with every inhalation, perhaps drawing in and out through your nose. Give yourself permission to take in a little bit more air, and release it. Allow your breath to fill in through your nose, through your lungs, down into your belly, and then out again, exploring all of the space and capacity that you have.
See also Everything You Need to Know About Meditation Posture
Fill yourself with breath and then gently let it go. See if you can give yourself more time, allowing for a few more seconds to slow your inhalation and exhalation, making the most of each magical moment of breath.
Now with each inhalation, allow your body to fill the space around you, drawing up through the crown of your head, breathing into the widest parts of your shoulders. Allow your chest and belly to expand into the room. And with every exhalation, connect more deeply with the earth. Relax your muscles, soften your bones, and let the earth hold you a bit more with each breath out. Take a couple more breaths here. Allow your breath and body to fill the space inside and around you. Let this space help you to expand. If at any point you notice yourself thinking about tomorrow, or yesterday, just come back here, if only for a moment. You deserve every inch of this present space. Take a deep, full breath in and let a long, slow breath out. Again, take a big breath in, fill the space inside and out, and then exhale.
On your next breath in, think of something or someone who makes you feel full, rich, and whole. Imagine this person or thing in your mind, and notice how it makes you feel. Breathe it in. Draw it into every part of your being. Let it fill you from your chest to your belly to the top of your head and the sides of your shoulders. With every exhalation, let it sink in and move through you. If this feels good, take a few more breaths, allowing your body and breath to move with this experience, with the emotions. Let them all move through, savoring every second, right here, right now. Let each breath fill you like golden honey from a cup, your sunshine on a warm day. Draw it in with every breath, allowing it to settle with every exhalation. Take all the time you need here. Let yourself overflow. Notice how it feels to fill every part of you, even spaces that might feel empty or left behind.
At your own pace, slowly begin to move the parts of your body that feel ready. Perhaps wiggle your fingers, your toes, or your shoulders. Notice the sounds you hear. Notice if your body or breath feel different than they did before. Allow yourself to continue in the present moment, full and at ease.
See also 5 Solutions to Common Meditation Excuses + Fears
All proceeds from this issue supports @nicoleacardoza’s fund that invests in underestimated entrepreneurs in wellness. Learn more @reclamationventures.
About our expert
Nicole Cardoza is a nomadic yoga teacher, social entrepreneur, wellness-reclamation pioneer, and nonprofit executive director. She travels the world building platforms that make wellness more accessible. In 2017, she made the Forbes “30 Under 30” list for her work in education. Find more meditations at nicoleacardoza.com.
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A new Miss SA will be crowned on the 9th of August and the entire country is keeping their eyes peeled for updates on the contestants. And rightly so, as this years top 16 is arguably the most diverse group of women we’ve seen in years. Beauty pageants have been around for decades — and so has criticism to it. Whether you identify as a feminist or not, you probably have some thoughts on whether pageants are still (or ever were) relevant.
More Than Just A Beauty Pageant
Without a doubt, we live in a society that has beauty standards, and so much of what we consume reinforces what is considered beautiful. And for decades beauty pageants have helped to enforce those rigid beauty standards — but it’s important to remember that pageants are about so much more than beauty. They give inspirational women a platform to make a positive change in their own lives and that of others.
If we look at our former Miss SA’s we can tell that besides being beautiful these women have hearts of gold. Miss SA 2018, Tamaryn Green used her platform to break the stigma around TB and help educate the public on the illness. Liesl Laurie from Eldorado Park in Johannesburg was crowned Miss SA in 2015 and has since inspired countless young women to chase and believe in their dreams regardless of where they come from. Former Miss SA and Miss World Rolene Strauss continued her charity work long after she passed on her crown. Along with her family, Rolene started The Strauss Foundation which aims to be a positive contributor in society through the promotion of Health, Education and Charity.
The Ground-Breaking Top 16
We haven’t even crowned a Miss SA but the top 16 are already doing such a wonderful job of representing and empowering the people of SA. From Sinanalwe Gcilitshala being openly queer to Kgothatso Dithebe showing off her unique birthmark to most of the contestants embracing their natural hair- this year so many women will be able to watch Miss SA and see themselves.
The Top 16 share why they believe pageants are relevant in 2019 and what they’ll bring to the role of Miss SA:
Sibabalwe Gcilitshala (24)
“There’s no denying the long history and associations beauty pageants have had in the past but I take great issue with the monolithal and stereotype that beauty pageants are only about beauty. I find it disappointing that some would consider a competition that celebrates young women’s beauty, intellect, and aspiration as no longer relevant.”
Siba says she hopes to represent a contemporary young South African woman. She goes on to say that she wants to inspire all those young “Siba’s” who have no idea of their greatness and just need someone to remind them to dream. If she was to win, she would also seek to advance Queer women’s rights.
Chuma Matsaluka (21)
“Beauty pageants are still relevant because they help individuals by giving them an opportunity to not only fulfil their ambitions but to assist them to serve their communities. It also helps contestants identify key values, help them gain confidence and teaches discipline, while at the same time foresting their goals.beauty is not what you see on the outside, buts its what is on the inside that matters more.”
Chuma would like to be Miss SA because she believes she has a purpose in life which is to touch people’s lives and make significant changes where she can. She wants to pave way for young people and show them that where you come from should not determine where you are going.
READ MORE: You’ll Want To Steal These Beauty Tips From The Miss SA Semi-Finalists
Eloisëvan der Westhuizen (24)
“Beauty pageants provide a platform for young women who aspire to make a difference, investing time and money in the development and growth of contestants who want to use their reign to make an impact on communities and make a difference.”
Eloisëvan says she’s a confident resilient and driven young woman with a vision to empower youth. If she crowned Miss SA she believes she will be able to use this platform to impact and inspire young girls through upliftment programs focusing on the physical and emotional wellbeing.
Zozibini Tunzi (25)
“The first misconception people have about beauty queens is that they lack depth, which is why they do not find relevance in beauty pageants. This is far from the truth. Beauty pageants in 2019 are more than just outer beauty, they are about what an individual can offer to the world. They are about being impactful, being an empowered woman who can empower other women as well. That can never be irrelevant”
To Zozibini being Miss SA means contributing towards her goal of living a purposeful life. She says she is ready to tap fully into that selfless aspect of herself.” I have seen first hand how a little help can have a huge impact on someones’ life. I want to be able to do that for someone,” she explains.
Daniel Wallace (26)
“I think any platform that provides the opportunity for the upliftment of women is, and forever will be relevant. I think women should always seek to pull each other up rather than knocking each other down. The values and morals represented through the beauty pageant industry are those that encourage its participants, hopefully, and those that follow the journey, to be better people.the institution really speaks to being a better version of yourself .”
“I see myself as entirely unique” and that’s what makes her a proud and strong candidate choice for Miss South Africa says, Daniel. She details how she would bring the role an open-heartedness and love of the diversity of our nation’s cultures, a core passion for the betterment of our country.
Sasha-Lee laurel Olivier (26)
“Pageants contribute meaningfully to society and are key players in social development. Like sport, they bring the country and the world together. Acting as a vehicle that drives awareness to socio-economic issues. A shining example of this would be ‘The Beauty With A Purpose Project” and the introduction of biodegradable sanitary towels that not only keep the girl child in school but are also eco-friendly”
Sasha says she wants to represent the women that broaden the definition of South African beauty by including women and girls who don’t fit the pre-assumed template created by subjective society. She further wishes to continue to script the narrative of beauty in South Africa
Loren Leigh Jennecker (24)
“I think they inspire women to stand firm in their beliefs and help fulfil their passions, hopes, and dreams. It has been a gateway for so many women to realize their potential and meet like-minded highly educated individuals. Beauty pageants challenge us at an emotional, intellectual and spiritual level and anyone that has entered a pageant is extremely brave and determined.”
“I want to convey a message of empowerment and compassion, to show our nation and the world that you can grow outside of the conditions you are born in and create your own beautiful story.” Lorena believes that every single person deserves an amazing life and will do her best to make that a reality for as many people as possible.
Xia Narain (23)
“Personally the beauty pageant gives me a platform to make a positive difference.it also helps women gain confidence, self-esteem, and power that can be used to motivate and inspire others.”
She wants to be Mis South Africa because she wants to do away with tolerance and promote acceptance. She says she will focus on three major aspects, women empowerment, uniting our nation, and motivating youth. Xia says another goal of hers is to eliminate racism by teaching SA citizens to embrace their differences and respect each other’s traditions and cultures.
Kgothatso Dithebe (24)
“Because of social media, beauty pageants have gained popularity globally, making them relevant now more than ever. May who joins pageants are not only beautiful but strong, smart and have more substance than we think. Beauty pageant plays a significant role in helping and challenging the contestants to be a greater version of themselves.”
If crowned Miss SA, Kgothatso says that she wants to “bring hope to those who feel mistreated, misplaced or misunderstood”. She wants to offer inspiration to those, who like her, have a birthmark on their face.
Zanele Phakathi (20)
“Beauty pageants will always be relevant.it is through beauty pageants that I found my purpose. As an entrant, you are exposed to so much that puts you under pressure and through that you learn to identify your strengths and weaknesses and how to use these to overcome your challenges.”
Zanele wants to be Miss South Africa because she feels that she is ready to let her story of defying the odds be an inspiration to most of her peers and young girls. She wants to represent our rainbow nation with pride.
Nompumelelo Maduna (24)
“Beauty pageants are still relevant as they are the foundation for many women’s success stories. They open the door to opportunities, build self-confidence and equip women with the necessary skills to lead with compassion and make a significant difference.”
Nompumelelo says she wants to be Miss South Africa because she will be a beacon of hope that will inspire and empower generations to come by motivating them that any goal is attainable through hard work and determination.
Lisa Stoffela (26)
“Beauty pageants are relevant now more than ever because the right people are starting to listen to women who a big title. It is not only about outward beauty, but also about what is going on in the hearts and minds of the candidates, that’s why there are interviews like any job. It is an incredible opportunity for women from all walks of life and career paths to unite and share ideas of how they will each play a meaningful role in society”.
Through her work as Miss South Africa Lisa says she would like to show other young girls and women that they too can achieve their dreams if they start with a goal and work hard to manifest it.
Errin Brits (22)
“South African has a youth unemployment rate of over 55%. Miss South Africa is an opportunity for a South African woman to have one of the most empowering jobs in the nation for a year. To better herself and her community.”
Errin says she has a project in mind that has never been done before and that will empower the people of South Africa with a basic but vital skillset that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Keabetswe Kanyane (25)
“There is a perception that beauty pageants only award women for how they look. My interaction with the contestants has taught me that this perception is the furthest thing from the truth. I have met well rounded, smart, ambitious and caring women through pageantry. The real problem is the stereotype that a woman can only be beautiful or smart. It is problematic that society still believes that women can’t be multifaceted and multitalented.”
Keabetswe says that if she won the title, she would use her platform to share her struggles with uncertainty and mental health. She would do this by creating large scale workshops, that aim to assist in decreasing the anxiety of finding employment and engage students bodies.
Beulah Baduza (23)
“A platform that gives deserving women a voice to inspire, protect and change the world will never be irrelevant,”
Beulah says she wants to inspire girls to be the healthiest, happiest and best version of themselves no matter what social restrictions they’ve been socialized into, that’s the role she’ll play when crowned Miss South Africa. She wants to be Miss SA because she wanted girls and women all over South Africa to see just how far confidence and hard work can take them, despite the standards set by society of what girls should look like and behave.
Noluthando Bennet (24)
“Beauty pageants are still relevant in that they’ve eradicated the stigma that it’s all about beauty and nothing more. Beauty pageants give women a platform to show the world that they are more than just a beautiful face, they are willing to take a risk and implement them to see change.”
Noluthando says what she would like to bring to the role is more than just her face and mind but her skills that would aid in changing the current state of the country where the youth are concerned.
READ MORE ON: Beauty
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Changing the World
by Nicholas Villar | July 16, 2019
“I’m going to change the world,” I told my mom in my early teens. Her response was, “I believe it.” Since then I have grown up, and learned that I probably will never fulfill that promise, but I’m okay with that. I’m not a particularly good-looking man, I don’t have a large stature, and I’m not authoritarian enough to impose my will on others to gain much power, so that dream has since faded. I’ve learned many things since those ignorant and naive years, and none more important than the power of strength training with barbells.
Growing up, I knew I wanted to help people. I didn’t really know how or through what capacity, but I was determined to positively impact those around me and beyond. I had dreams of becoming a chef: bringing people together around the table to enjoy food and facilitate discussion would help everyone. I wanted to become a Physician’s Assistant: help heal people through medicinal practice and guide them toward better lifestyles. A teacher would have been a home run: helping educate the next generation to think critically. I even entertained the idea of becoming a scientist to help discover new and exciting technologies and medicines to improve people’s lives.
All of this sounded wonderful, but I didn’t think it would truly satisfy what I wanted to accomplish. Listening to SSCs Jonathan Sullivan MD and Jordan Stanton talk about their time working as providers in the medical field really cemented the idea that the encounters I would have with the previously discussed professions wouldn’t give me near the contact time with people I would need to impact their lives in a meaningful way. I needed something more.
When I was in the military, I tore my ACL and meniscus doing something stupid. Before my surgery my Physical Therapist told me that I needed to become stronger and continue to work the injured knee so recovery would be quicker. I obliged, and six months after surgery I ran a 5k in 19:36 and was squatting and deadlifting with a barbell even though I didn’t think it was possible. The run time is important because with the barbell training came the confidence that my knee would hold up to the beating. I had been exposed to barbell movements before and did them randomly without any real purpose, but my PT was the person that really introduced me to the importance of progressive overload. She was the one who got me interested in becoming stronger.
When my therapy was over and I left the military full time, I knew I had to stay active. I stumbled across some SSCs making a podcast and I was hooked. From then I purchased the three books: SSBBT, PPST, and the Barbell Prescription. I dabbled in SSNLP a couple times while still attending college classes, thinking something would finally click and I would discover a career path.
Then one day it occurred to me: I could become a strength coach and greatly impact everyone’s life that wants to get stronger. I dove in. I finally came to my senses and hired an SSC, I started studying the books, listening to all the podcast material put out by SSCs, read the newsletters and articles from the website, and tried to spread the word like wildfire. I loved the stories about people like Gus and Sibyl, in their 90s and are functioning independently. The stories about people’s chronic pain disappearing and others regaining their old way of life after discovering the power of strength training are always great to read. I realized that SSCs are not just personal trainers, but life coaches. They’re there every step of the way, helping you build a better self through the basic barbell movements. No other method or means of instruction that I have seen can help create a more robust and resilient human being, both physically and mentally.
Strength training doesn’t just have a physical impact on you – barbell training has given me insight to my own world as well. It has reinforced that whatever I want to accomplish, I must work for it. Every other thing on a day-to-day basis is also easier to handle. Any kind of stress outside training isn’t that bad anymore. The things I thought to be challenging aren’t as intimidating as a heavy set of 5. Physically and mentally I have improved since becoming part of the Starting Strength community, and I am not in a unique situation; this is the case for everyone who does the program correctly and under the watchful eye of an SSC. It has changed my life. For all we know, we get one body and one mind, and we must preserve them both until we leave this rock. The human must be stressed to improve, and barbell training accomplishes just that.
I am pursuing the SSC credential to impact the lives of people I coach. The apprenticeship program through the SS Gyms will provide a place to learn and hone my coaching skills. The SS Coaching Development Course was built to teach the SS method and is a great self-paced course. The instructors provide excellent feedback and create an environment in which to grow into a better coach and critical thinker. Join me in my pursuit to greatly improve the lives of those you interact with. I may not be able to change the world, but I’ll be able to change the world of my trainees.
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California is updating its legal definition of beer to include varieties fermented with fruit, honey, spices or other foods under a bill Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Tuesday.
Tom McCormick, executive director of the California Craft Brewers Association, said the new law won’t change what the average consumer thinks of as beer, which is made from malted grain or a malt substitute. California brewers have already been brewing beers using fruit for flavoring, he said.
Under prior California law, using fruit in the fermentation process required a wine license, but the new law clarifies that beer brewers can use fruit and other ingredients to supplement their products, McCormick said.
The change puts California law in line with federal law, which already allows for fruit and other ingredients to be used during beer fermentation. The new law, AB205 by Assemblyman Tom Daly, will take effect next year.
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Whether due to bureaucratic clutter or anticipation of a sunnier climate—France is changing key wine regulations.
Since 1960, wine bottles up to three liters in volume to be consumed in France have included a colored sticker atop each cork, indicating that excise duties have been paid. Officially known as a capsule représentative des droits (CRD), and unofficially as a ‘Marianne’ (an image of a woman who represents the Republic), these colored labels were not required to be placed on bottles for exportation. As of this June, such stickers—previously required by the Directorate General of Customs—are no longer required. This will ease costs and complications that resulted from producers needing separate bottling lines.
The wine union of Burgundy is apparently somewhat concerned about this modification, according to Vitisphere Avec La Vigne, because it may lead to weakening of controls and open up new opportunities for counterfeiting.
Meanwhile, two sizable Bordeaux appellations—Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur—will likely soon likely be allowed, by the French government, to include non-Bordeaux grapes in their wine. This will take effect for the 2021 vintage, include late-ripening varieties, and is intended to counteract changes to climate.
If the French governing body known as Institut National de L’Origine et de la Qualité (INAO) approves, these accessory grapes will include—for reds—Marselan (a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, now relatively common in the Languedoc-Roussillon region), Touriga Nacional, Castets (a relatively rare grape from the Pyreneen region) and Arinarnoa (a cross between Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon). The whites will include Alvarinho (common in northwest Spain and in Portugal), Petit Manseng (again, rare and used in the Jurançon appellation as well as in the Béarn region) and Liliorila (a cross between Baroque and Chardonnay).
Addition of grapes would be restricted to constituting less than 10% of blends.
Since 1950, average Bordeaux temperatures have risen a few degrees Fahrenheit (and Celsius) according to the meteorological service. Figures from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have indicated that Bordeaux could see increases of 2 to 4 degrees Celsius by mid-century. This could accelerate ripening, force earlier harvests and modify the taste, alcohol levels and potential quality of Bordeaux wines—hence impacting a $2 billion export industry.
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Could the Fourth Industrial Revolution change the wine industry? It already has and will continue to just like it has changed just about every other sector from healthcare to manufacturing to retail. Artificial intelligence touches everything in winemaking from the soil analysis at the vineyards to how consumers select the right vintage to go with dinner. Let’s explore a few of the ways artificial intelligence will alter winemaking.
At the vineyard
Artificial intelligence is already in many vineyards in the form of AI-powered machines and sensors that help assess water needs and soil conditions for the grapes. Automated drones can fly above the vines with thermal infrared cameras to identify precisely what vines need water or suffer from diseases or damage from pests. Additionally, just as tourism companies use drones to make marketing videos, vineyards can use drones to give its customers a bird’s-eye view of the grape-growing process. Ultimately, robots might take over tasks at the vineyards to free up the winemaker to focus on other initiatives.
In Australia, GAIA (Geospatial Artificial Intelligence for Agriculture) uses AI software and a satellite image library to plot every vineyard in the country. The organization feeds the data it collects to its deep neural network to monitor crop conditions, fruit quality, classify vineyards and more.
Just as it has done in other industries, artificial intelligence can help make wine production more streamlined and efficient. By analyzing data from sensors and other data-retrieving tools, AI machines can monitor conditions as well as inventory and suggest action based on the data. As the world’s climate continues to evolve, artificial intelligence can play a critical role in how existing winemakers in various locations adjust to changing climate conditions and help inform new wine-growing regions as they become more hospitable to growing grapes.
Artificial intelligence has already been used as a virtual sommelier to help make wine pairing suggestions (more than 25% of wine drinkers use wine apps to help with purchasing decisions), but we can expect this capability to expand. In one example and partnership, AllRecipes.com and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates joined forces to offer consumers immediate wine pairing suggestions for recipes on the AllRecipes.com site. The AI tool used here takes a consumer’s personal tasting preferences, patterns in the recipes and information about what wine is available at local retailers to recommend wines for dishes. Similar to how Netflix or Spotify recommends movies and songs or artists to you, there are many apps and companies such as Wine Ring and WineStein that used artificial intelligence to create a virtual sommelier that can get to know you so well that it can offer personalized wine suggestions. In fact, more than 25% of wine drinkers use wine apps to help decide what wine to purchase. There’s even a smart wine vault on the market that can track your wine inventory and also gives you wine recommendations.
The AI transformation of wine recommendations can also impact your wine-buying experience. The same technology that can recommend a wine to you from an app can inform your wine-purchasing experience either online or at a retail store. Perhaps in the future, you will interact with a wine sommelier robot who will help you pick out a perfect bottle.
Winemaking might be a work of art to some, but it’s fundamentally very scientific. When artificial intelligence is used to analyze data about the grapes and other properties that ultimately influence the aroma, flavor and taste of wine it can identify patterns and insights that might be undiscovered by humans. The data analysis done by artificial intelligence can help winemakers make decisions about their crop and winemaking methodologies to perfect their system.
Now that artificial intelligence has vision and natural language processing, it isn’t too far fetched to believe that AI will soon have other senses such as taste and smell. With that ability, AI will be able to provide critiques and reviews of wine. In fact, Wine Spectator is an entire publication that is written by software, and it already offers ratings and reviews of wine.
Autonomous vehicles and wine
As the driving experience evolves with self-driving cars, it is expected that our vehicles will turn into entertainment area—when the AI system is keeping an eye on the road and navigating you are free to do whatever you want. In this scenario, drinking and driving is no longer a concern. It’s possible that as our roadways change to accommodate more self-driving vehicles, our collective consumption of alcohol will increase.
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When Aric Schmiling took over as winemaker for Wisconsin’s von Stiehl Winery in 1997, he had a lot to learn. His parents purchased the farm when Schmiling and his brother, Brad, were young, and he’d grown up at the winery. To take on winemaking operations was a big step, but he was ready to make a few changes.
Two years into his new career, Schmiling met with the winery’s longstanding barrel provider, T.W. Boswell. He wanted to experiment with aging his wines in French oak, known for its finer grain and high tannins. The cooper’s suggestion? Use hybrid barrels, made from a blend of two or more species of oak.
Why? Because hybrid barrels offer unique aging benefits—and it’s less expensive.
The influence that wood has on a finished wine or spirit is immense, but to use 100% French oak barrels can be cost prohibitive.
“We thought it would be a good way to experiment with French oak and not have to lay out upwards of $900 for a full French oak barrel,” says Schmiling. “It started out as more of an economic [solution] and seeing how we liked them.”
The hybrid barrel used American oak staves, which are the long, concave pieces of wood that make up the body of the barrel. They were joined by French oak heads, the circular pieces of wood that enclose each end. Schmiling channeled benefits from each type of oak into everything from Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel to Tempranillo and Montepulciano.
“American oak is far softer and gives different components, like vanilla and toffee. French oak gives more spicy and botanical components, and more structure.” —María Barúa, winemaker, Bodegas LAN
“American oak has more lactone than French oak and requires shorter aging,” says Vincent Nadalié, president & VP of Sales for France-based cooperage Nadalié. “A winemaker uses French oak because they’re going to age the wines longer. There are more floral notes from French oak and tannins.”
To combine the two, he says, allows for more detailed spice work.
Though Schmiling has begun to age some of his wines in French oak barrels, about 85% of the barrels currently in use at von Stiehl Winery are American-French hybrids like the ones he began experimenting with 20 years ago.
“I think the elegance of the hybrid barrel allows us to find balance between the oak and the natural flavor of the fruit,” he says. “I really feel like I was getting the good benefit of the French oak in these barrels.”
Broad but limited appeal
María Barúa had a similar experience soon after she became winemaker for Bodegas LAN in 2002. Its cellars, which house about 20,000 casks, contain roughly 60% hybrids made from American staves and French heads. She says the winery pioneered the use of hybrid barrels in Spain.
“We decided that when we play with the staves from American oak and the heads from French oak, we get good balance and structure,” says Barua. “American oak is far softer and gives different components, like vanilla and toffee. French oak gives more spicy and botanical components, and more structure.”
For Barua, cost savings were secondary to her desire to create a unique product. “We wanted a new style of Rioja Crianza that was more fruity,” she says. “[Our cooper] proposed this.”
Two of the winery’s prominent labels are aged in hybrid barrels. The Crianza spends 14 months in barrel to round out and soften sweeter fruit flavors with vanilla and cinnamon, while the Reserva sits at least 16 months to strengthen its aroma concentration and structure.
Other wineries have had great success using hybrid barrels, like Pescatore Vineyard & Winery with its Barbera, with a trial run on Zinfandel coming soon; Messina Hof Winery’s Private Reserve Double Barrel Tempranillo as well as their Fusion Series; LDV Winery’s 2012 Viognier; and Steele’s Cabernet Sauvignon Red Hills 2016.
Room for growth
Though von Stiehl Winery, Bodegas LAN and others have embraced hybrid barrels, it remains a niche market.
Jason Stout, vice president of marketing and business development for Missouri-based Independent Stave Company (ISC), says it’s far more common for winemakers to invest in 100% French or American oak barrels, and later blend wines to incorporate influences from each. ISC has made barrels for distilleries and wineries since 1950s. Since then, the company has acquired several other brands like T.W. Boswell to gain reach and influence worldwide.
“On the wine side, we’ve been selling hybrid barrels since the ’90s,” says Stout. He says that sales of these hybrid barrels have remained fairly static and likely represent less than 5% of the market. “It sort of fit in this niche of different programs, and it has a place in the market.”
The primary incentive for winemakers to use hybrid barrels is still largely economic.
“I think that what hybrid barrels started out as and what they’re becoming are two different things. It was a way to save a little bit of money, and now they’re becoming a much more sophisticated product that is very customized and specific.” —Jason Stout, of marketing and business development, Independent Stave Company
“Last year French oak took a 30% increase [in cost],” says Nadalié, whose cooperage has been in his family for five generations. It launched an outpost in Napa Valley in 1980, the first French cooperage in America. “The price of French oak barrels will increase 4–5% every year now. I see in the future more American oak coming back for this reason. Economically, [hybrid barrels] will be less expensive than the French oak, and more expensive than the American oak.”
What’s next for hybrid barrels?
When it comes to the creation of hybrid barrels with different species of oak, the sky’s the limit.
Nadalié began to sell American-French hybrid barrels in the 1980s, but its offerings, like many other cooperages, have expanded. They now include barrels made with French oak staves and Hungarian oak heads, French oak staves with American oak heads, and a 50/50 blend of American and French oak, among others.
ISC hopes that demand for hybrid barrels grows in a way to allows winemakers and distillers to target specific flavors and create a particular profile.
“I think that what hybrid barrels started out as and what they’re becoming are two different things,” says Stout. “It was a way to save a little bit of money, and now they’re becoming a much more sophisticated product that is very customized and specific. I think that’s great for the industry.”
The company launched a “fusion barrel” program recently through its brand, World Cooperage. It allows clients to build custom barrels with their choice of oak.
“We have some proprietary tech that we use that helps us arrange our staves into barrels, and we can use it to do, for example, 25% American oak staves and 75% French oak staves and European oak heads,” says Stout. He says the company plans to keep certain oak blends proprietary.
“It’s been interesting because not only are you able to build complexity into that barrel because you have different physiology and compounds in the oak itself, but it’s also fitting this niche of bespoke barrels,” he says.
“We reached out [to Radoux cooperage] to bring a full Wisconsin offering. Wisconsin grown, Wisconsin produced, Wisconsin oak through our estate grown wine.” —Aric Schmiling, winemaker, von Stiehl Winery
World Cooperage has conducted chemical analysis of different kinds of oak on wine and spirits alongside taste tests for years. One such study sought to understand how hybrid barrels impact a wine’s acidity, residual sugars, tannins and lactone, among other things.
What they found was surprising.
“Analysis showed that the chemical analysis of the wine was quite different, especially with the hybrid barrels,” says Stout. “The extraction kinetics change. We don’t understand entirely what’s going on there, but we did see something very different in that hybrid barrel than what we saw in the [traditional] barrels.”
Both Bodegas LAN and von Stiehl Winery are exploring the depths of such customization. Barua says that Bodegas LAN has begun to test how Spanish oak influences its wines. Schmiling points to Wisconsin oak as its next frontier.
“Another company we work with is Radoux, and they were offering the Wisconsin oak hybrid,” says Schmiling. He uses Wisconsin hybrids for the winery’s estate-grown reds, like its 2012 Estate Grown Marquette.
“We reached out to them on that to bring a full Wisconsin offering,” he says. “Wisconsin grown, Wisconsin produced, Wisconsin oak through our estate grown wine.”
A collaborative spirit
The desire to innovate has also caught on with distillers in recent years. It’s not hard to track down a whiskey, rum or Tequila aged or finished in anything from Sherry and Port to former wine casks. Stout says that hybrid barrels have started to creep into the fray over the past 15 or so years. Even some breweries, like Against the Grain, have gotten in on the action. Its “One Helluva Lass” brew employs a French-American oak hybrid.
Hybridization can also go beyond the combination of oaks in a single barrel, as producers experiment with blends from multiple barrels to find the ideal balance. In 2016, Indian distillery Amrut launched its Spectrum Whisky 005, aged in a combination of five different barrels: new American, Spanish and French oak, as well as ex-PX and ex-Oloroso Sherry barrels. The resulting whisky was such a hit that a second soon followed, Amrut Spectrum Whisky 004. Also in 2016, Jefferson’s Bourbon released a selection of Wood Experiments whiskeys that included one aged in a hybrid wine barrel of French and American oak.
The blending trend also shows up in surprising places, like in Absolut Amber. That vodka gets its amber hue from a mix of American and Swedish oak. Tequila producers have also begun to utilize hybrid barrels.
“Tequilerias have been pretty adventurous,” says Stout. “We’ve been doing trials with [Tequila distillers] with different kinds of oak for a good 15 to 20 years.”
Patrón has embraced hybrid aging with great success. Its extra-añejo offering, Gran Patrón Piedra, launched in 2014. It’s aged for up to four years with new French Limousin oak staves and used American oak heads.
“The American wood imparts the caramel and vanilla notes, while the French oak adds more wood, dry fruits and spice flavoring,” says Antonio Rodriguez, production director at Patrón. He says that it was important for the distillery to choose a blend of oak species that would create a unique offering.
This combination, he says, allows for a Tequila that’s sweet, yet rich and complex and combines an herbaceous agave flavor with light vanilla, and fresh mushroom.
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Josie Hutchings speaks to Jason Greenwood about making changes to his practice and the positive effect they had
Change is said to be inevitable, but it is also often hard to embrace or even accept.
This can be particularly true when it comes to running your business and where any change can feel like it comes with an element of risk.
We all know dentistry is an evolving profession that brings a requirement to develop alongside it and avoid being left behind. But this can be easier said than done.
Jason Greenwood from The Stafford Dental Practice is an advocate for change, having embraced it in his own practice, moving from the NHS to private and choosing to implement a membership plan. I asked him about his approach to change and how the ones he embraced have impacted his practice.
Josie Hutchings (JH): How do you feel about change? Can it be a good thing?
Jason Greenwood (JG): It has to be a good thing – if you don’t change, you’ll stagnate. All that happens if you don’t make changes is you end up falling into a hole, be it financial or emotional, without even realising it’s happening because you have your comfort zone around you of things being the way they always have been.
On a personal level, people generally aren’t comfortable with change, but I really believe it’s an essential part of life. If you’re afraid to change, you’re afraid of life. In a personal and professional sense, if you don’t continue to evolve then you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, and if you’re not enjoying yourself then make a change, do something else, try something different.
JH: What change had the biggest impact on your practice?
JG: A long time ago I significantly reduced my NHS commitment. I was just starting out in my practice in the early 1990s, and the circumstances around me changed. The messages being directed at patients from the government and some dental bodies was that NHS practices were full so don’t bother even trying to get an appointment.
I was in a new practice and the phone simply wasn’t ringing. We knew we had to do something, otherwise we would have been in massive trouble.
I decided to move some of my patient list to private and my NHS commitment became a bit of a safety prop – it was my comfort zone. But after some time, I knew I had to reduce my NHS significantly and become almost wholly private. The NHS was sucking me dry and I felt I had to do something else to maintain my standards and give myself the quality of life I wanted both professionally and personally.
It was at this point I became involved with Practice Plan. They gave me the confidence to believe in myself, that I was doing the right thing, and provided the support of having someone there to lean on. They have a proven track record, it’s very difficult to go wrong when you have that kind of support and experience behind you.
JH: How have you used that support over the years?
JG: Obviously, I have the support of you, Josie – you’re always there, always cheerful, always have good advice and the depth of your knowledge really is something special.
We’ve also used the marketing and design team, which is really good value and very effective. Having that kind of service in-house makes everything easier, as we don’t need to shop around different companies and risk getting it wrong because we know everyone at Practice Plan understands us as people and a business. The team listens to what we want, is open to our ideas and the designs we have had are fresh and exactly what we wanted.
Members of the team and I have attended most of the regional events and workshop tours Practice Plan organise, which are really helpful. The subjects are always very pertinent to the profession we’re in, and for us, as an established practice, it’s useful in terms of keeping us fresh, motivated and reinforcing what we do as a business.
Our receptionist Kerrianne is also able to use the online services for instant and up-to-date access to our patient data. If we ever need to call anyone with a query or enquiry, we know we will instantly get an answer.
That’s the nice thing about Practice Plan – even though it’s grown significantly since I joined in 1996, you still know that when you call, you will speak to a real, friendly person and it’s still a very family-orientated feel.
JH: How would you describe Practice Plan to a friend?
JG: Essential. If you’re going to build client loyalty, it’s really important to have a practice membership scheme and Practice Plan make it very easy to do.
I would recommend them without hesitation. I’ve been a member for more than 20 years and I’ve never been let down; the consistency of quality of service and product is unbeatable, and it’s like being a member of a family.
Practice Plan is a leading provider of practice-branded patient membership plans and has helped hundreds of dentists make a successful move to private dentistry.
If you’re looking for more independence or freedom from the NHS and a more fulfilling and rewarding future, call 01691 684165 or visit change.practiceplan.co.uk
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