I'm an introverted armchair wanna-be historian who cogitates about imaginary "what ifs" and then lets his unrealistic ideas coagulate until he thinks he's arrived at something profound. For instance, I was wondering if the current developmental stage of the California wine industry might correspond to an earlier stage in European oenological history. Then of course I realized how preposterous the whole idea was because of the ridiculously huge situational differences involved.
Among this blog's common threads is my assertion that our American capitalist economy is driven by the mass marketing of stuff to consumers and wine sales are an example of just that. The Gallos, Indelicatos, Sebastianis, and others from the early twentieth century marketed jug wines for a reason: it was decent product in a volume container at a very affordable price. Thirty years ago when the cold war was raging and I was new to the business, it was common knowledge that the Soviet Union couldn't stomp out a good wine no matter which five year plan was in play. We, on the other hand, have always been able to provide decent quality for our people at a very modest price.
Now, with the cultural shift to a more serious wine-appreciating consumer and coorespondingly better quality wines through new world technology, we have wines that are way better than before. But the mass market template is still in force. The large companies don't aspire to create something new, exciting, and individualistic so much as to provide a type of wine that fits the generic product prototype. Just as those Italian-American immigrant winemakers turned out jugs of dago red for an appreciative people a hundred years ago, now the current generation markets Cabernets and other types that fit the basic varietal profile. A successful California Cabernet is one that just tastes like good Cabernet. Pinot Noir, same idea...but lesser results. Sad to say, the elite wines from the industry giants aren't so much sterling examples of type but just better than the regular model.
Oh oh, I'm cogitating again. Okay, so it's a fool's errand to compare cultures across time, but now I'm wondering if those Italian immigrants to America left behind paesanos who were mass marketers at heart and maybe they just didn't have the mass markets in Italy to service.
Maybe everything is situational.
Please join us on Friday October 25th between 5 and 7pm as we explore California reds and whites with Ryan Thayer of Eagle Rock and then Tommy Basham of Continental returns on the 1st of November. Please join us for that one too.