Relocation of France’s National Library of Wine Grapes Met with Opposition

Plus other news and notes from the world of wine, spirits and beer.


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Plans to relocate France’s national library of wine grapes—home to 7,000 varieties—have come under fire by protectors worried about the livelihood of the grapes. The Domaine de Vassal collection dates back to 1876, when the University of Agriculture in Montpellier created the research library in response to the Phylloxera crisis sweeping the country. It has been in its current location outside of Montpellier since 1949, with plans to move the vines to the National Institute for Agronomic Research in Gruissan (INRA). Though the current site protects the original rootstocks, it is under threat from rising sea levels, according to the INRA. The new site is 170 hectares compared to the current 27, which will better accommodate the 50 new varieties from more than 40 countries added each year, says the INRA. Regardless, 4,000 people have signed a petition protesting the move of the library, citing the possibility that some of the varieties would not survive the move.

Delaware-based craft brewer Dogfish Head is now offering Namaste Belgian-style witbier year round. Previously only released in 750ml bottles, Namaste will be sold in six packs of 12-ounce bottles starting next year. Beginning in 2014, Dogfish Head will also release its gluten-free Tweason’ale year-round.

UC Davis researchers released a new study which offers evidence that grapes and wine are subject to microbial terroir, itself affected by a region’s climate, geography and vineyard. Published in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the results are from DNA sequencing conducted by the researchers, revealing predictable patterns in the fungal and bacterial communities inhabiting the surfaces of wine grapes. Professor David Mills, a microbiologist in the Department of Viticulture and Enology and Department of Food Science and Technology, note that further studies are needed to determine whether these communities could produce detectable difference in flavor, aroma and other chemically-linked sensory properties of wine.

Last week, Luigi Aquilini’s Aquilini Investment Group, which owns the Canadian National Hockey League team the Vancouver Canucks, purchased 670 acres of Washington state land—518 acres within the Red Mountain AVA. The $8.3 million purchase adds to Aquilini’s existing land interests in Washington, including a 1,100 acre Yakima Valley dairy farm and 2,000 acres of blueberry and cranberry orchards. In an interview with the Web site Great Northwest Wine, Aquilini says he’s looking to plant grapes “as soon as possible.”

The Edrington Group, owner of single-malt brand The Macallan, is set to invest more than $164 million in a new Speyside distillery and visitors center. Construction is slated to begin in autumn 2014 and completed by spring 2017. 

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