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Developments on the west coast, or around the world, always has an eventual impact on what’s in your glass in the Midwest.

Amazon has its eye on wine too. Many consumers buy wine online. The trend has exploded in the last decade. A lot of the online wine buying comes through sites like Wines Till Sold Out, Last Bottle Wines, Cinderella Wines, Wine.com, and many others.

grape-sense-logoAmazon got a lot of attention when it purchased Whole Foods signaling a desire to get in the home-delivery grocery business. The mega online retailer has lined up a respected Oregon winery to produce brands specifically for Amazon sales.

King Estate Winery, in Southern Oregon, has created a company within a company called King’s Vintners. King will create five different lines of wine for Amazon. The first line is called Next and its exclusive to Amazon.

The news is a good omen for online sales. If Amazon is to become a major player in retail online wine sales at least their first step is with a respected Oregon winery. They’re not pedaling mass-produced plonk from some obscure region.

Some value wines have a pedigree. While online wine sales continue to explode, some wines have been around awhile that could be better than the average consumer might expect. Costco, the country’s largest wine retailer, features a limited selection of wines and their Kirkland Signature line of wines.

We’ve all bought ‘store brands’ at our local grocery. The soup, soap, or softener cost less and are often made by a major company. It’s no different with wine. Several major names in wine production produce the Kirkland brands. There are winemakers in several states making Kirkland wines for Costco in contract arrangements.

If you’ve tried the Kirkland brand send Grape Sense some thoughts on the wines.

Burgundy going high-tech to protect vines. The home of arguably the world’s best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay has taken a pounding from hail storms and frost the last three years. The unexpected summer hail storms shred the vineyard leaves and batter the developing fruit.

Many wineries have tried netting to protect the region’s historic vines but the use of a chemical weapon is spreading fast and proving effective.

Silver iodide is the weapon of choice in Burgundy. Silver iodide is used for cloud seeding. Vineyard workers can shoot silver iodide into the clouds. As hail forms in the clouds, the water molecules are naturally attracted to the similarly-shaped silver iodide crystals, and so the ice latches onto the silver iodide, rather than other water molecules. The end result is the forming hail comes down pea sized when it could have been golf-ball sized.

The bottom line is the process has been working. The cost of using the machines is relative cheap at $9 an acre. Burgundy leaders have deployed 140 of the chemical canons covering much of the area’s vineyards.