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Good Wine New, Bad Wine News and Male Hair Buns

February 12, 2019 - 9:01pm

What do you want first? The good news or the bad news? OK. The good news is that Kentucky wine lovers may be on their way to getting their hands on the good stuff. The Kentucky Senate Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee yesterday approved a bill that would allow shipments to Kentucky from out of state wineries. This is legislation that the Wine Institute and Free the Grapes has been working on for a long time. Kentucky is one...

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Dear Supreme Court: Please End All Inter-State Wine Shipping

February 8, 2019 - 2:18pm

It appears that the newish president and CEO of the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America (WSWA) Michelle Korsmo, has read the playbook and ingested the kool-aid. In a recent letter to the editor of the Washington Post, Ms. Korsmo explains that “Sometimes, local residents would like the party selling liquor to have a vested interest in the local community to ensure regulatory oversight and responsible sales. And we believe that a state’s residents have every right, through the legislative...

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Here is the Ultimate Beverage Publication Conflict of Interest

February 6, 2019 - 3:10pm

The sine qua non of publications that review and critique wines such as The Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, Vinous and others is integrity. They must be seen as incorruptible. Readers must believe their reviews are untainted by conflict of interest. So, imagine the following. One day you read that E & J Gallo Winery has purchased, say, The Wine Spectator. In the announcement by Marvin Shanken, who is staying on as publisher, we learn that...

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A Life Described Through Wine and Books

February 4, 2019 - 10:41am

Despite the transition to a digital age, I’ve never left my books go. And there are lots of them. There are many reasons I want books on display in my home. First, I want Henry George surrounded by them. He needs to know that you can go anywhere, be anything, know anybody through books. But on a more personal note, having a home that is filled with books reminds one of where they have been, marks the intellectual paths down...

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The Wine Narrative is Slowly Changing—In a Bad Way

February 1, 2019 - 7:19am

“Narrative” It’s a word that has come to be used more and more over the past decade to describe a given explanation or story concerning one topic or another. Most often you see the term “narrative” used to describe how the media is telling a particular story. For example, “the current narrative is that the Trump team worked with Russian representatives to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.” That’s a narrative. It may or may not be true. I...

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Wine Country Economics — The Part-Time NIMBY Edition

January 25, 2019 - 10:55am

Bill Hocker is a part-time resident of Napa Valley. He recommends my services as a marketer, while at the same time displays a remarkable misunderstanding of economics. Plus, he says, “Good riddance”. Napa wine marketer Tom Wark is joining the exodus to Oregon. After residing in Wine Country for the last 25 years Mr. Wark has decided that he can’t afford to live here anymore.  Of course he bears some responsibility for the high cost of housing. As one of many...

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The Oregon Wine Industry’s Direct Shipping Success Story

January 23, 2019 - 4:42pm

The 2019 SOVOS/Wines & Vines Direct To Consumer Wine Shipping Report was released today and it showed that, once again, Oregon wineries are outpacing other regions in growth of wine shipped direct to the consumers. Overall in 2018, all American wineries increased the volume and value of their DTC shipments by 8.9% and 11.6 percent, respectively. Oregon wineries increased their volume and value of shipments by 19% and 21%. Ladies and gentlemen, can I get a Hoorah! What this means,...

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How to Fix the Problem with Millennials and Wine

January 22, 2019 - 11:52am

The narrative surrounding Millennials and wine has changed. Where previously the focus was on Millennials’ apparent interest in non-traditional wine (read: Not your Baby Boomers’ noble varietals), now the focus appears to be on Millennials’ lack of sufficient interest (read: not buying at sufficient levels) in wine. This new narrative is more worrisome than the former narrative. It appears to presents an existential threat to the American wine industry’s profits. Remember these headlines: How Millennials Are Changing the Wine-Selling Game...

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Booze Wholesalers Selling Cannabis Is Like Letting the Sharks in Pool

January 21, 2019 - 5:07pm

DON’T LET THE SHARKS IN THE POOL Yes, yes, yes. We all know that beer, wine and spirit wholesalers have everyone’s best interests at heart when they advocate that cannabis be distributed in the same manner as alcohol: controlled in every way by middlemen who can charge ridiculous margins by virtue of being able to stop interstate competition. If this is the way things are going to go, then I have a suggestion: in no way whatsoever should the federal...

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My Exit Interview From Napa Valley Wine Country

January 18, 2019 - 12:23pm

Think of this as my exit interview from Napa Valley. My family and I are leaving Napa Valley for a new home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley in a few days. We leave behind too many friends to count. An environment so beautiful it’s sometimes hard to catch your breath. And we leave behind a local wine industry in which we have actively participated and truly love deep in our hearts. Our boy was born here. He’s only four and a...

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A Talented New Voice in Wine Kicks it Into High Gear

January 13, 2019 - 11:05am

One of my favorite topics at FERMENTATION going back to the beginning has been those that uncover or help draw attention to new voices writing on wine. I used to do this far more than I do now primarily because the period of 2006 – 2011 was a time when some very good writers and observers of wine began to jump into the wine writing pool with new blogs. It was a very exciting thing for an observer of the...

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An Oregon Wine Tasting and the Lure of a New Road

January 11, 2019 - 5:19pm

This is the very first wine event I plan to attend upon becoming an official Citizen of Oregon: SIP: McMinnville Food & Wine Classic Seventy-Five Oregon wineries as well as local brewers, distillers, chefs and bakers. What’s not to like. Plus, it’s in McMinnville. I’ve tried a large number of Oregon wines over the years and, like most, am drawn to the diverse collection of Pinot Noirs. But I have a great deal of catching up to do (poor me)....

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The Curmudgeon and the Three Tier System

January 11, 2019 - 10:27am

Few wine writers live up to their moniker better than Jeff Siegel, who has long called himself “The Wine Curmudgeon”. In addition to sussing out the best and worst value wines, Jeff also regularly comments on the business of wine. In his latest article, 2019 Wine Trends, Siegel paints a disturbing picture of wine in the U.S. However, he also speaks to the upcoming Supreme Court case, Blair v Tennessee and warns that we shouldn’t expect the high court to...

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Five Essential Features of Wine Lover’s Home

January 9, 2019 - 10:49am

One of the best things about undergoing a change of venue (we are moving), is it forces you to re-evaluate the set-up or functionality of your living space. As the packing for our move to Oregon commenced, little Henry George and I found ourselves standing in front of and staring at a collection of 250 bottles of wine. This is by no means huge. But it’s significant enough to get you thinking about the process of moving it and where...

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Top Five Reason to Leave Napa Valley

January 6, 2019 - 6:03pm

Moving away from Napa Valley is, for our family, both an economic and lifestyle choice. But it could have been easily justified by much more. Too many who live here in Napa Valley don’t talk about the ugly underbelly of this place. Leaving soon, I have no problem now exposing the many reasons to leave Napa Valley. Here are the top five. The Food After a while, it just gets old. Take Bistro Jeanty, the Yountville institution that can be...

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Saying Goodbye To Napa Valley

January 3, 2019 - 9:00am

I’ve lived in Northern California for 55 years. I’ve lived in the North Coast Wine Country (Sonoma and Napa) for more than two decades. Nearly all of my very best friends are located here in Northern California. The heart of the Industry in which I’ve worked for 25 years is here in Northern California. At the end of January, I’m packing up my family and leaving for Oregon’s Willamette Valley. That we are leaving is largely an economic decision. In...

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Wine and the Mob — Prepare Yourself

January 2, 2019 - 10:46am

For a number of reasons, the very worst and most destructive elements of America’s now prominent Slash & Burn culture hasn’t, yet, impacted the wine industry or individuals in the wine industry. But this post is a warning that those reasons could easily melt away quickly and immediately under certain conditions.  In an age where our chosen political tribes move further and further apart from one another, where debate becomes so polarized that any cross-talk between tribes can’t cross the...

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Wine and the Courts: Key 2018 Wine Trend #3

December 31, 2018 - 8:00am

Among the more notable things about this third of three Key Wine Trends For 2018 that I’ve identified is that, unlike the first two, it does not track with broader cultural themes we witnessed this year. The issues of Gender & Wine and Cannabis & Wine are both downstream impacts of important movements within the American culture. The issue of The Courts and Wine is, instead, a description of a movement indicative of the unique classification of alcohol in American...

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2018 Key Wine Trends #2 – Cannabis and Wine

December 28, 2018 - 6:17am

How did the American wine industry evolve in 2018? It’s a “meta question” that directs us to examine those issues that coursed through all elements of the industry and in the long run have the potential to significantly impact how industry professionals work, how the industry is perceived and how consumers respond to the industry’s offerings. Three issues drove the evolution of the American wine industry in 2018. This is the second of three posts examining those issues. For more...

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A Tale of Mothers and Pinot Noir

December 21, 2018 - 1:03pm

For quite some time I’ve wanted to sample the Pinot Noirs of Oregon’s Evening Lands. I’ve read about these wines and received positive feedback on them from people with tastes similar to mine. I just hadn’t gotten around to buying any. A few weeks back I shared two bottles of 2012 Evening Lands Seven Springs Pinot Noir under some of the most remarkable circumstances of my life. Here’s the story. It’s a good one. It started a few years ago...

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