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By Donn Rutkoff

"Man About Wine"


July 19, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) -- Hello to all wine lovers in the East County and all wine lovers anywhere who are reading East County Magazine.  This is my first column and we hope there will be many more.  I will be bringing you news of what is happening here in the county, news of interest to the local growers and fermenters, and some educational "fluff" to help you enjoy wines.

Here is a preview of this week's wine-worthy topics.  (Hit "read more" and scroll down for the full stories.) 

  • Sparkling wines in an hour?
  • Warm-weather red grapes
  • New tasting rooms - thanks to rezoning underway
  • Wine columnist shares his roots

In local news, re-zoning continues in selected East County parcels to allow more people who own land in the East County rural and agricultural areas to be included in the county's boutique winery ordinance.  

The main goal is to allow small producers to run a retail business tasting room for their wines, made from local grapes, without going through the long expensive process of getting a major land use permit.  In the ordinance, retail is limited by the automatic granting of the usage right, to wines produced with primarily own-grown and San Diego county grown grapes.

A quick bio note from me:  I am a bit of a newcomer to San Diego, having returned here in December of 2008, working for Vons as a Wine Steward.  I brought with me 4 years of education in grapes and wines from Napa Valley College, and 5 years of selling wine for 2 distributors in the San Francisco market.  Previously, I was a financial analyst for Bank of America.  Not a big career jump, if you factor in that mighty B of A was founded by a fruit & veggie pushcart peddler from the Streets of San Francisco, named Amadeo Giannini, in 1904, 110 years ago.  (He has a great-nephew living in Del Mar).

I also teach wine classes at Cuyamaca College and will talk more about that in my next column, for now I include the link to the school's web page on Food & Wine in Continuing Education:

Now for what I like to do, is some news from around the world, that you growers and winemakers might find valuable.

A team of scientists in a small European country have developed a way to get dead yeast cells to drop out for sparkling wines in less than hour, instead of days and weeks.  Per an article in Wine-Searcher May 28 by NZ writer Don Kavanaugh,  "A team at the University of Ljubljana has found a way to attach magnetic nanoparticles to the surface of yeast.(

With the use of magnets, removing the yeast takes just 15-20 minutes, which IChemE says is more than 4,000 times faster than the traditional process. 

 Related stories:

The yeast remains unaffected by being magnetized, even after fermentation, and sensory tests suggest the wine’s aroma, mouthfeel, body, taste, bubble size and overall drinking experience is unaffected by the process."  A few locals make sparkling wines so maybe this will become available for them soon.

And if that isn't enough, a Danish company is introducing a new yeast culture for warm weather red grapes, that they claim reduces or eliminates the need to add sulfites during fermentation, for use in making red and rose wines. (

The work was done with a yeast strain that was isolated from a collection of yeasts in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

So long for now,

Donn Rutkoff, Man About Wine

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