Winexpression to Close

I must fly away to another flowerAfter almost 8 years, I have decided that my Wine Blogging journey has come to an end. Thanks to all the readers, PR staff, and fellow wine bloggers that supported me through this journey. I have a few posts to finish up and will explain a bit more, but basically this forum has run it’s course in my life and I am ready to move on. I have valued the feedback I have received and thank you all for your support. Stay tuned for a few more posts with the most valuable wine lessons I’ve learned, tips for wine bloggers, and some final reviews and notes from recent tastings I have attended.



EU Finally Grants Name Recognition to Napa Valley

It started about 2 years ago, when wine makers from the U.S. and Europe signed a declaration to protect the place names associated with their wines. In January of this year, the European Union, responsible for overseeing the wine industry in Europe, recognized the significance of Napa Valley Terrior by granting it name protection,  the first region in the U.S with this status.

“This represents a significant win in the continuing fight to protect the Napa name around the world,” said vintners association board president Peter McCrea.

This is a step in the right direction for the much younger wine industry in the United States who has lept ahead in some areas but  lagged behind in issues like this. Is Sonoma next?

Read []

Russia Bans Wine From Moldova and Georgia

Claiming inferior quality wine, Russia has banned all wine coming from Moldova or Georgia. This follows a ban on Meat and Dairy from Ukraine.

Russia’s chief public health official, Gennady Onishchenko, signed a letter on March 25 asking the head of the customs service not to allow wine from either country into Russia. Hundreds of railcars laden with bottles have been halted at the border, according to Moldovan Economy Minister Valery Lazar.

The officials have stated that the ban is in response to the pesticides that have been used on the grapes from Moldova. Moldova exports about 80% of its wine to Russia.


Help for French Wine Makers

The French make the most wine in the world, but, their market share is sliding fast and they can be bumped out of that top spot sooner than they think, if things don’t change. Many are taking the first steps in remedying the situation by looking to the government for help, but is it because they recognize that the regulations are what’s holding them back and reform is needed in order to implement change?

Protests [NZ] are good and all, and that’s probably the right start in order to change state legislation, but I’ve got a few ideas to help you with your US exports, once you make it over those legislative hurdles.

  1. Humility
    You’ve made great wine for a long time, and have sold the most expensive bottles in the world, but you can’t fall back on that with everything. It takes humility to admit that there is something seriously wrong here, and it’s the first step needed to make the changes necessary to compete in the new global market. We all respect French wine, the industry, the tradition, and the culture, but some things have changed for the better, and we hope you’ll recognize that, embracing some changes.
  2. Branding
    The Australians figured this out a while ago. There aren’t many other products that can be as overwhelming and confusing as French wine labels. Mind you, this can be applied to the price group that is having the biggest drop in sales, probably the under $20 category. We need a little more info, grape varietals used, info about the chateau with website / contact information, maybe some simple notes about the wine and winery on the back (using French is fine, we’ve got Google Translate), and little better name branding. Most of the low end wines all look the same, you might stand out a little more if you went for a unique label. Yes, we understand there are governmental restrictions surrounding this, that’s still a hurdle.
  3. Wine quality
    The more expensive wines are great, the cheap ones I find at Trader Joes aren’t. Most seem watered down and empty, time for an overhaul. Chili and Australia seemed to have figured out the cheap sector, making affordable wines that taste good, so grab your notepads and jot some pointers from those countries down. This does not necessarily mean bowing to a global one-dimensional way of making wine. The French terrior will shine through, the grapes used will remain unique, and the style can be yours still. Just a little more tweaking and quality control should help with the final product’s quality.
  4. Closures
    Screw capped wines are quickly becoming popular, yet I don’t think I’ve seen a bottle from France with a screw cap (although there might be, I just haven’t come across any). It’s a great way to stave of TCA, and shows the rest of the world you’re willing to try something new. In the $20 and under market, switching to screw caps would be a home run. Remember, as the baby boomer generation starts to slow down in wine purchasing, the next large American market segment is in their 20’s and wants to drink quality wine regardless of the closure. If screw caps help you with product quality and image, I don’t see where you lose!

More States Approving Direct Shipping!

Thanks to a ruling by the Supreme Court last year, more states are introducing legislation to allow direct shipping of outside wine to consumers in their state. It was announced that Idaho has been added to the growing list. Wineries from outside the state for $50, will be able to ship up to 24 cases per year for personal consumption to the states residents. Hot diggity! I can finally move to Idaho now (I have family there, but this was holding me back).
Florida is working on a similar proposal. Kudos to the folks at the Wine Institute in San Francisco who have been instrumental in much of these new developments.


Is Relief Near?

When will the madness end? In the latest news, a California liquor distribution company broke the law by shipping wine directly to wine consumers in Arizona, instead of using the states wholesalers. They have agreed to pay the $22,000 fine to the state.
The Supreme Court ruling from last year in New York and Michigan to allow in state shipping to consumers is slowly taking effect, but how much longer will consumers in other states have to wait? For those who are still under the oppressive arm of your states three tiered wine distribution system, I feel for you. There are a lot of people working to ‘free the grapes‘. Progress is slowly being made, and hopefully relief is near for your state.

Read []

Massachusetts wine shipping legislation still in the works

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is standing up for consumers in his state by Vetoing a bill that was still biased for local wholesalers. The bill wouldn’t allow shipping from wineries that produce more than 30,000 cases of wine direct to consumers if they had representation by local wholesalers within the past 6 months. The governor has called this anti-consumer and stated:

“This bill does not give wine lovers the opportunity to purchase the bottlings they want. It creates artificial barriers to protect Massachusetts wholesalers at the expense of a free market.”

Good on ya’ Guvna!

Read []

Chalk another win up for the judicial system

A federal judge in Detroit decreed that out of state wineries can ship directly to customers in Michigan, in line with an earlier ruling by the supreme court stating the same thing. Mike Cox and Michigan wine wholesalers are trying to keep their grip on their 20 year direct shipping monopoly and were asking the judge to temporarily bar shipments until legislation is drawn up that both sides could agree to. It isn’t over yet, but here’s another win for consumers.

Tuesday’s ruling still permits Michigan legislators to alter the shipping law.

The Supreme Court’s revolutionary decision, which led quickly to New York State and Connecticut legislation liberalizing interstate shipping, is reshaping the way wine is bought in America in ways that benefit wine lovers and small producers.

Read []

Wine Origins Website Launched

Mentioned back in September, Wine Origins, a conglomorate financed by the European Union, the Comite Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), the Instituto dos Vinos do
Douroe Porto (IVDP), Fedejerez who represents Sherry producers from Spain, and others, Launched their website today.

From the Website: When it comes to wine, there is no ingredient more important than location. The land, air, water and weather where grapes are grown are what make each wine unique. That’s why great names like Port and Champagne are more than just types of wine; they’re from specific regions in Portugal and France.

And that’s why the Center for Wine Origins was founded – to help Americans remember that location matters when it comes to wine. While excellent wine is produced around the world it is important to know where your wine comes from.

Consider the Center for Wine Origins a one-stop shop for information about the importance of location and details on some of the leading wine regions of the world.

Well thanks for the reminder. Now back to that Califonian Champagne I’m enjoying with lunch.

Seiously though, the argument is fine on the website, but an important detail is missing from the financers of this site’s own labels. The product name.
The site states: Would you buy gulf shrimp from Arkansas? Or wild Alaskan salmon from Nevada? How about Washington apples from Wyoming?

Sounds good, but here’s the problem. Every bottle of Champagne should be labeled: Champagne Sparkling White Wine. Florida Oranges use the product name, Oranges. They don’t call them Florida, that would sound stupid (Welcome to Jim’s Kitchen. Would you like a glass of Florida this morning?). But that’s exactly what European Sparkling White Wine Producers have done (Sounds weird not calling it Champagne doesn’t it). People don’t realize that Champagne is the region and not the product. Sparkling White Wine is the Product. The same reasoning is true for Port and Sherry. Put your product name on the label and maybe California Sparkling White Wine Producers wouldn’t feel like they have to use the word Champagne so that Joe idiot can identify their product.

New Zealand Wineries Required to list Fining Agents

The next time you buy a bottle of wine from New Zealand, check out the label. You might be surprised to find a disclosure like, “fined with milk product”, or, “softened with egg whites”, or perhaps, “clarified with sturgeon bladder” (Although I’m sure they’ll use the less offensive phrase for that, ‘clarified with Isinglass’). Although these fining agents may no longer be present in the wine, by law, New Zealand wineries are now required to list the additives used in their wines. Sulfites, the most commonly known additive, must also be disclosed, but wording may be “Contains Preservative 220″ or something similar. An article to the chronicle last year by Dan Berger dissected some of the additives in wine.