I planted a Rose of Sharon bush at the corner of my house a few years ago. I figured it would grow away from the wall and toward the sunlight so I aimed the side with the most foliage toward the house, again thinking it would grow away from it. And it turned out alright. So that's my metaphor du jour for what has happened with the modern wine industry. Let me explain...
Forty years ago wine educators were directing newbies toward European wines in order to show them the classic examples of types that were then being grown in the new world. The idea was to provide a frame of reference for comparison purposes so Americans would know which domestic producers best toed the line with Europe models. It was a good plan...but unrealistic. Again, let me explain...
It's because we're Americans, dammit! We don't want anyone telling us what this stuff is supposed to taste like! Much less some smarty-pants wine geek! Let's get real!
Now if it is a mega-monolithic American wine corporation telling us what it's supposed to taste like, well that's different. But it's a two way street with marketers and what the corporate wineries really want to do is provide what the consumer asks for with his dollars...and that they do very well. But the marketers provide no compass, implicit or explicit, directing consumers to quality. It's just not in their DNA.
Now two final points before moving on: Some wine lovers do use the European frame of reference when purchasing their wines and secondly, our domestic wine industry is not Europe, so we should stop pretending that Napa Cabernet can be Bordeaux and that Oregon Pinot Noir can be Burgundy. Instead we should celebrate the difference!
This rant, by the way, was meant to lead up to an examination of new trends and numbers in domestic sales but we'll make that Part 2 of the screed. Stay tuned.
Tommy Basham of Continental Beverage joins us this Friday with a tasting of new high end Italian red blends and Coto de Hayas Spanish reds and whites. Taylor Moore of Eagle Rock pours Small Vineyards Italians and new California wines on the 27th of June. Please join us for that one too.
...and if you'd care to, it would make my day if you became a follower here.