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Wine and Sexism and Me

August 8, 2018 - 10:15am

The writer of this letter accusing me of exhibiting “toxic masculinity” and sexism did not want to expose herself to comments for reasons she states below. Her accusations are interesting but serve as a conversation starter rather than the conversation stopper she hoped to create. Dear Mr. Wark: I’m writing an email instead of posting a comment because I don’t want to be exposed to sexist comebacks and there is no need to embarrass you yet.  Your recent article on...

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A Change at the Heart of the Wine Trade 100 Years in the Making

July 31, 2018 - 11:18am

A bit of bittersweet news came through the email machine yesterday that has a historical context. The announcement via press release was that Wine Business Monthly and Wines & Vines Magazine will be merging, with Wines & Vines Magazines being folded into Wine Business Monthly. The two most important American wine trade publications have been owned by the same company since 2004. So it’s surprising they had not merged before today. But it’s worth noting that this merger of two...

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Confessions of a Wine Writer

July 30, 2018 - 9:10am

By Alan Goldfarb (This is, I believe, the first time in the 14 years FERMENTATION has been published, that I have given over this blog to another writer. It’s done because Alan is a very good writer, he always has something interesting to say, and he is my friend….Enjoy) I have, over these many years, imposed on myself two rules: Never begin an article with “I”. Off the bat, I’ve violated my first edict. The second decree is that I...

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Anklyosauruses and Riesling on Napa’s Spring Mountain

July 27, 2018 - 2:38pm

Napa is a remarkable place. But I’m pretty sure most people have no idea just how remarkable. Yesterday, for example, myself, Kathy and Henry George took a trip up Spring Mountain…nearly to the top…to spend a nice evening with our friends Stu and Julie Ann. On the way up the treacherous Spring Mountain Road, my son, Henry George, revealed that Spring Mountain should be better understood as the “Forest of the Ankylosaurus”: Henry: Daddy, did you know that this is...

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The Wine is Dry and You’ll Like it, Damn It!

July 27, 2018 - 9:27am

A new survey conducted on behalf of Jordon Winery answered the question, at what age do Americans begin appreciating wine. The answer was 29 years old. The survey doesn’t answer why it takes this long, and that’s disappointing. However, the survey did ask the question what does the average American like about wine: “Americans prefer their wine to be smooth (56 percent), fruity (48 percent), and sweet (47 percent)…” This is interesting but hardly surprising. All you have to do...

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Is Granholm II Coming to the Wine Industry?

July 24, 2018 - 10:48am

In a post at the blog for the National Association of Wine Retailers I layout the importance of a case that has been appealed to the Supreme Court. Tennesee v. Byrd, if granted cert by the Court, will determine if and under what circumstances states may pass laws that discriminate against out-of-state wine retailers shipping into their state.  It’s a short read and there is a link to the petition for the Writ of Certiorari. Given the number of cases...

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New Enemy of Wine Consumers Appointed

July 20, 2018 - 6:10am

The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Association (WSWA), whose values can be succinctly reduced to  “what’s good for the consumers…just doesn’t matter” has a new CEO and president in the wake of former WSWA president Craig Wolf’s resignation and venture into electoral politics. Michelle Korsmo is the new head of the trade association that represents the interests of the wholesalers. It’s good to know that she is already on board with the program: “I am also inspired by the industry’s record of...

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Where to Buy Your Wine-Related Art—Good and Bad

July 19, 2018 - 9:01am

Among the online retailers that have worked to corner the market on particular products, Art.Com certainly needs to be counted among them. You’d be hard-pressed to find another online art retailer that offers up the same kind of massive selection. Founded in 1988 and offering somewhere around 2 million pieces, Art.com is a particularly fertile resource for wine-related art. Do a search for “Wine” at Art.com and you see returned 6,500 items. The results include decorative art, posters, fine art, vintage...

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Scams and Fraud In The Wine Business — Be Watchful

July 18, 2018 - 9:57am

No one likes to admit they’ve been taken in by someone attempting to scam them. In reality, it’s a rare occurrence. Still, it’s embarrassing. But because it does happen from time to time, even in the wine business, it’s important to be on guard against it. Today, most folks are aware of computer-related scams. The IRS has filed a judgment against you and all you have to do is send someone $4,530 via PayPal and you won’t be arrested by...

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Don’t Let Incompetent Wine Wholesalers Kill Cannabis

July 13, 2018 - 9:30am

If there is one thing you can reliably count on in the same way you can count on the sun rising and setting, it is the leadership of America’s wine and spirit wholesalers disregarding what’s good for the marketplace and consumers and landing on a policy that primarily benefits them. A corollary to this fact of life is that this same booze wholesaler leadership will cast their self-serving positions in the guise of societal good. So, it’s no surprise that...

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The Greatest Return on Investment in Wine Marketing

July 10, 2018 - 9:58am

Why won’t you say “Thank you“? Saying “thank you” when a person of any occupation or circumstance praises or draws positive attention to your work, is the gracious and appropriate and normal thing to do. It’s also the most inexpensive marketing and PR effort you can make that also happens to carry the highest Return on Investment. A friend of mine, a wine writer, related to me that in twenty some odd years of writing at a prominent media outlet...

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Turning the Tide on Corruption in Wine, Beer and Spirit Sales

July 9, 2018 - 10:19am

An amazing thing happened recently in, of all places, Texas. Both the Texas Democratic Party and the Texas Republican Party, at their annual state platform conventions, called for the elimination or complete reform of the Three Tier System of Alcohol distribution in Texas in their individual party platforms. Credit for this rather remarkable political (and popular) victory goes to CraftPac, the political action committee of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, whose members have been denied direct access to the consumer market....

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The Best Wine Books Coming Soon

July 6, 2018 - 10:50am

The well-established wine literary genre is littered with much of the same. Primarily, newly issued wine books are for “dummies”, the easily intimidated, and those who want a shortcut. And that’s fine. Still occasionally—very occasionally—wine books of real interest are published. I regularly look over Amazon’s list of “coming-soon” wine books to see what will soon be released that will be of interest to smart, confident, dedicated wine lovers. Here’s what I’ve found. A GLASS HALF FULL: MY LIFE IN...

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Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee and Wine

July 2, 2018 - 8:23pm

With the recent retirement of Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, all eyes turn to President Trump, Kennedy’s soon-to-be-appointed replacement and the battle that will follow. But it should not be forgotten as that battle begins that it was Justice Kennedy who authored the 2005 Granholm v. Heald Supreme Court decision that ushered in a sea change in the direct shipment of wine. Kennedy wrote the opinion for the 5-4 majority in which the Court held, “that the laws in...

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The Napa Valley Wine Industry Has A Big Problem On Its Hands

June 26, 2018 - 1:25pm

The results of Napa Valley’s recent electoral battle to determine the future of farming here are officially in: Measure C failed and reason prevailed. But not by much. It’s absolutely clear, based on the Measure C campaign and the results, that a good percentage of Napa County residents believe that the wine industry here needs, in some way, to be reined in. The proponents of the failed measure, and surely a number of those who voted for the Measure C,...

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This Wine is Smokin’ Good

June 26, 2018 - 10:19am

As I’ve argued before, there simply is no way to argue that smoke taint in a wine brought on by fires during harvest is not a genuine reflection of terroir. That case will be made by more people once more North Coast wines from the 2017 vintage are released to the public. They will, after all, need to be sold. We have a good example of how this view plays out with the newly released Oregon wines, some of which...

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Wine Retailers Are Out Numbered At The Table

June 15, 2018 - 10:57am

Every state in America has some sort of Commission, Agency, Department or Board that oversees the state’s alcohol production, distribution and sales. What’s notable about this is that alcohol is the most highly regulated industry in America. As a result, the commissioners, agents, department heads and board members almost never garner an “attaboy” from either those they regulate or those that watch them regulate. The primary problem these regulators face is they are tasked with overseeing what is in most...

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The True Significance of Robert Parker, Jr.

June 14, 2018 - 10:26am

The fact that one has a vested interested in an issue in no way diminishes the power of their argument concerning that issue. I wanted to get that fact out of the way as I address one of the most interesting articles of 2018: Lisa Perrotti-Brown’s “The Big Parkerization Lie”. Ms. Perrotti-Brown is a longtime associate of Robert Parker, editor-in-chief of The Wine Advocate and a part owner of this publication at which she has penned a stout pushback against...

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The Primary Source of Oregon Wine History

June 7, 2018 - 9:39am

When I got a Bachelor’s degree in History at Humboldt State University in the late 1980s it was fun work. But at the undergraduate level, you just don’t do much real history. You learn about history and in some cases take a shot at doing history. The Master’s Degree at San Francisco State University was different. This is when you start examining and using primary source documents: diaries, photos, government documents, memoirs, etc. One doesn’t DO history with anything but...

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Leaving Wine Country and the High Cost of Success

June 5, 2018 - 10:45am

Wow…talk about being a victim of success: “Forty-six percent of Bay Area residents surveyed said they are likely to move out of the region in the next few years — up from 40 percent last year and 34 percent in 2016, according to a poll released Sunday by business-backed public policy advocacy group the Bay Area Council. The numbers show a disturbing trend in one of the nation’s most expensive housing markets: Workers desperate for a better quality of life...

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