Long-time 1WD reader and tirelessly inquisitive wine guy Bob Henry recently asked for my thoughts on an article published by wine data maven David Morrison, titled The perilous state of the US wine industry?. Go read it; it’s important.
My first thought about said article is that I love said article; it’s well-written, interesting, and cites actual numbers to back up the conclusions therein. My second thought is basically “Oh, holy sh*tballs!“
The crux of the article’s matter is that the U.S. wine market is potentially in for some very hard times, primarily due to unsustainable trends. Among Morrison’s conclusions, after adjusting wine sales data for inflation:
“If the US population is continuing to grow, then sales of all goods can be expected to grow with it — and the population has been growing at c. 0.65% per year for the past 5 years. The wine industry is currently not keeping pace with the population.”
“…there have been times when the increase in total wine value did not keep pace with inflation.”
“…a healthy industry needs an increase in the actual number of consumers through time; and the current wine industry in the USA does not seem to have this.”
If these dire conclusions about the wine business sound familiar, it’s probably because some of us [raises hand] have been sounding similar warnings for literally almost an entire decade…
Not all of CA wine country is ablaze. Yes, the impacts are horrifically devastating to many, and the situation is extremely fluid and, buy the time this publishes, undoubtedly will have changed again (hopefully, for the better).
Most importantly (in my view), as a wine lover, you should continue to drink and buy wines from the impacted areas (primarily Sonoma County). Not just now, but long after the smoke from these horrendous fires has cleared (and before you ask… harvest is almost totally completed in the impacted areas, so there’s little chance of smoke taint from the current fires making its way into anything that will be bottled with a 2019 vintage on the label). That might be the best way to ensure a speedy recovery for the wine brands that get hit the hardest by the current blazes.
Those of you reading this will most likely have heard the news that Bordeaux is on the cusp of formal approval for allowing several new grape varieties in some of its wines. We break this news down into its salient points over at NVWA, distilling it into the major takeaways.
Not to go into too much spoiler territory, but in summary you should worry less about the impact to your First Growth futures, and focus instead on the messages that Bordeaux is attempting to send with this news, which include poignant points about climate change, practical issues of farming, and a chipping away of the region’s reputation as a staid, intractable wine juggernaut (even by French standards!).
Head on over, have a read, and feel free to heckle me mercilessly!
“Aficionados of “fine wine” may find …affordable, high-volume, big-brand bottlings too bold, too sweet, too simple, or not varietally representative. The wines aren’t made for those people. They’re made for specific, but very large. audiences, are made with intention, and made after considerable research and development by highly-trained people.”
My response today, on the other hand, will be neither level-headed nor even-handed, though hopefully it will be cogent enough for the detractors of industrial-scale wine to understand that they are acting like morons when they lash out against high-volume, low-cost wines as having no place in a modern wine market. The truth is that those high-volume, low-cost wines make up the majority of the fine wine market, and without them the high-end market would likely be in severe economic dire straights…
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