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Viticulture briefs

Forestville winemaker Meredith “Merry” Edwards was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame on Monday at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley.

Wine critic Robert M. Parker Jr. and two other influential figures in the wine industry — farm labor organizer Cesar Chavez, who died in 1993, and wine writer Frank Schoonmaker, who died in 1976 — were included in the 2013 class.

Edwards was one of the first women to graduate from UC Davis’ Department of Viticulture and Enology.

“Her thesis on the danger of using lead in wine capsules is credited with helping end the practice (and) her refusal to accept unequal treatment as a woman forced the university to change its job placement program for graduating enologists,” the institute noted.

Edwards worked at Matanzas Creek Winery, Pellegrini Family Vineyards and Liparita Cellars before she founded her own label in 1997. In 2007, Edwards built her own winery outside of Forestville, where she makes vineyard-designated pinot noir and sauvignon blanc.

Concern over red blotch disease

The National Clean Plant Network is encouraging growers to look for grapevine red blotch disease, a new virus detected in California vineyards.

The disease was first seen in a cabernet sauvignon vineyard in Napa Valley in 2008 and an associated virus was identified last year in California and New York.

Red blotch disease can significantly reduce sugar levels in grapes, up to 5 degrees Brix. Once the virus is present in the vineyard there is no known cure.

Vines with red blotch disease show symptoms much like leafroll disease. Like leafroll, leaves turn red in early fall primarily at the base of the shoots. Unlike leafroll, vines with red blotch disease show pink/red veins on the leaf undersides and no rolling.

The virus is transmitted by grafting and researchers are studying whether it can also spread by vectors. For information, visit www.ncpngrapes.org.

SSU to hold industry value seminar

Sonoma State University will hold a two-day seminar on how to how to create value in the wine industry.

The seminar, on March 18 and 19, will cover measuring returns on sales and marketing investment, brand building, personnel management, distribution strategies, financial forecasting and the M&A process.

The seminar will be led by Michael Houlihan, founder of the Barefoot brand, and Martin Jones, former president of Allied Domecq Spirits USA and general manager of Premier Wine & Spirits. They will be joined by Kris Karlson and Eric Bergman, principals with California Winery Brokers, and Quinton Jay, managing director at Bacchus Capital.

For information, contact Dana Swilley at 664-3347 or swilley@sonoma.edu.

Press Democrat staff. Submit items to cathy.bussewitz@pressdemocrat.com.

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