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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Top Wine Stories of 2012

Some of the biggest stories of 2012 from a California perspective

  • A poor European harvest that will lead to shortages and higher prices. The smallest harvest in half a century will hit consumers in the coming years.
  • Abundant California harvest that may help fill the gap left by the bad harvest in Europe. Meanwhile near perfect weather in CA (after several mediocre years) set up a high-quality and high-quantity harvest. Will California wines fill the gap left by European shortages? This looks like a good thing for CA.
  • Predictions on upcoming grape shortages in California and a vineyard buying spree. A group of wine business people decided there will be a grape shortage in the coming years. Not sure what data this was based on or if it includes the huge supplies of less expensive grapes from the Central Valley as well as premium coastal grapes. It probably means not all wines and all varieties will have shortages, but it has done a couple things. One: grape prices went up immediately meaning higher wine prices are coming. Two: The big boys with the money (such as Kendall-Jackson and Gallo) are going on vineyard buying sprees to be sure they will have grapes in the future.
  • It's getting easier to buy wine as direct shipping to consumers improves. Some states are loosening up their archaic wine shipping laws, like New Jersey. Amazon entered the market with an online wine store.
  • New wine trends: Pinot Grigio, Muscato and Rhone-style blends. Wine style trends come and go. Currently, there's growth in a simpler slightly sweet white for people tired of Chardonnay (Pinot Grigio), for people who want something sweeter (Muscato), and for an easy drinking, but interesting red wine (Syrah and Grenache-based blends).
  • Ben, the bachelor wine maker, picking through the lovely Bachelorettes. Okay, I didn't say they had to be good stories, just ones that everyone is talking about.