To put it mildly, there is a lot going on in our industry right now. Whoever said that wine and food wasn’t political, well, was just wrong. Scroll through these headlines to see what I mean.
A few specific pieces I want to call out—Dorothy Gaiter’s first-person perspective on what it’s like to be a black woman in a predominantly white wine industry; Eric Asimov on why wine is worth exploring and enjoying during the height of these global crises; and Amber LeBeau’s well-written blog post on why may not be the right time for tasting room re-openings, but—if your business is insistent on doing so—what kind of experience is mostly likely to draw us back.
Of course I’ve included the Bon Appétit and AAWE “scandals.” Curious what my fellow wine industry colleagues are thinking/feeling on that latter issue. (Check out what Tom Wark’s economic investigation uncovered.)
I hope you’re all doing well, staying safe and healthy—whether you’re still sipping at home or re-entering the wine world—we’re all in this together. Cheers.
Seven-Fifty Daily: Being Black in the White World of Wine
Dorothy J. Gaiter talks about her experience as a black wine journalist in an industry that has been slow to shed its identity as an exclusive all-white club
I’m angry, exhausted, and hurting.
I became a journalist 47 years ago to write about race and social issues. I wrote for the Miami Herald, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. In 1998, the Journal asked me and my husband, John, to create a wine column for its new weekend section. We had been studying wine since we met in 1973, but this truly immersed me into the world of wine, and I’ve been here ever since, writing “Tastings” for the Journal until 2010 and now as the senior editor for the online wine magazine Grape Collective.
The killing of George Floyd, the resulting protests, and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color have heightened my anger at how little progress we’ve made toward justice and equality—both in our country and in the wine industry. READ MORE…
Eater: Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport Resigns Following Allegations of Racist Culture
A 2013 photo of Rapoport in brownface, which resurfaced on Twitter, is one of multiple incidents of racism surrounding the food publication, sparking a wide call for his resignation
Bon Appetit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport has resigned his position after several Bon Appetit staff members and freelance contributors publicly called for his resignation on Monday, alleging that a racist culture permeated throughout the brand.
Among the allegations from current staffers came from editor Sohla El-Waylly, who posted in her Instagram stories that she has been used in front of the camera “as a display of diversity,” but, unlike white employees, has never been compensated for on-camera appearances. In a statement to Variety, Conde Nast denied that people of color appeared in videos unpaid, but several other BA staffers replied in solidarity, some noting they would refuse to appear in any future videos until BIPOC staffers received equal pay and compensation for video work.
The callouts came after food and drinks writer Tammie Teclemariam unearthed a 2013 Instagram photo, originally posted by Rapoport’s wife Simone Shubuck, that shows the couple seemingly in brownface. The image, which has since been taken down from Shubuck’s Instagram account (but was up as of this morning) featured the caption “me and my papi” and the hashtag “boricua.” READ MORE…
VinePair: Wine Spectator’s Marvin Shanken Tops List of Wine Industry Donors Supporting Trump, Newly Compiled Data Shows
Rounding out the top five contributors were: John Jordan, California-based CEO of Jordan Winery ($75,600); Roger K. Bower, California-based proprietor of Westerly Wines ($55,400); Grace Evenstad, Oregon-based proprietor of Domaine Serene Vineyards & Winery ($50,000); and Sheldon Stein, Texas-based president of Southern Glazers Wine & Spirits ($25,400).
Recent data shared by the New York-based American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) has sparked debate among members of the U.S. wine industry.
On June 4, the AAWE posted an infographic to its Twitter account, showing the total donations from U.S. wine industry professionals to the 2020 election campaigns of Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden. “In terms of [dollars], the U.S. wine industry overwhelmingly supports Trump,” the AAWE wrote in the caption to the post. READ MORE…
Eater Portland: Oregon Winery Under Fire for a Substantial Donation to a Trump-Supporting Super PAC
Domaine Serene owner Grace Evenstad donated $50,000 to the Great America PAC, which supported Donald Trump’s run in 2016
Domaine Serene has been a staple in Oregon’s wine scene for 30 years now, with numerous awards to its name for pinot noir and chardonnay. The winery enjoys longstanding popularity in the local market, especially with urban tasting rooms in Lake Oswego and downtown Portland. However, the winery and vineyard recently came under fire on Twitter and in the restaurant’s Instagram comments after the American Association of Wine Economists tweeted an infographic depicting the wine industry’s donations to presidential campaigns — Grace Evenstad, who owns Domaine Serene along with her husband Ken, donated $50,000 to the Great America PAC, which supported Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016. According to the American Association of Wine Economists, it was one of the largest donations from the wine industry.
The Federal Election Commission also shows that Evenstad donated thousands to the National Republican Congressional Committee, former republican senator Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, the campaign of Florida republican congressional hopeful William Figlesthaler (also known as Dr. Fig), and the House Freedom Fund, a republican leadership PAC. READ MORE…
New York Times: Why Wine? Why Burgundy? Why Now?
It is true that wine is often no more than a pleasant triviality, something to take the edge off, to ease pain. Opening a bottle and pouring a glass has always served as a popular mode of self-medication, no more so than in these fearful, lonely times.
But good wine can also inspire thoughtful contemplation and introspection, which perhaps now more than ever is in short supply. And it can lead to caring conversations as well, to listening as well as talking, to shared bonds, to new memories and more humane ways of thinking. READ MORE…
Wine Spectator Exclusive: Bill Foley Expands Empire with Sonoma Jewel Ferrari-Carano
The vintner and hockey team owner adds a brand known for Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, as well as 1,200 acres of vines, to his wine holdings
California-based vintner Bill Foley has agreed to acquire Sonoma County winery Ferrari-Carano in a deal that will add about 1,200 acres of vineyards and nearly a half-million cases in volume to Foley Family Wines, his expanding Golden State empire. The purchase price was not disclosed, but it’s estimated to be in the range of $250 million.
Speaking to Wine Spectator, Foley called Ferrari-Carano a unique opportunity, which bolsters Foley Family Wines’ position in the $15 and over price tier while significantly enhancing its grapegrowing and production capabilities.
“Ferrari-Carano is a well-respected, historic brand, and one of the original wineries in Sonoma County,” Foley said. “The Fumé Blanc, which is about 230,000 cases, is all at $15 or more. Their Chardonnay is $20-plus and it’s another 120,000 cases, so that also fits right in with what we’re up to in terms of premiumization.” READ MORE…
Press Democrat: Sonoma County to allow more breweries, wine tasting room openings this week
Sonoma County will soon resemble Wine Country again under revisions announced Wednesday to the local public health order allowing wineries, breweries and distilleries to offer tastings without the requirement they also serve food.
The new order, which takes effect Friday, mirrors changes in the California roadmap to restarting the economy, which was all but shut down by coronavirus in March.
Loosened restrictions dispense with an earlier ban on stand-alone tastings and requirements that alcoholic beverages only be served with sit-down, dine-in meals. READ MORE…
wine-searcher: Relief All Round as Napa Reopens
Napa Valley wineries are finally allowed to open to the public, joining much of the rest of the state of California as new guidelines were issued last week.
Napa, the crown jewel in the state’s archipelago of wine regions, had been held back by strict county laws that prohibit most wineries from offering food service.
In late May, California Gov. Gavin Newsom – a co-owner of two Napa Valley wineries – allowed wineries around the state to open as long as they provide food service. The move caused a kerfuffle within the Napa Valley Vintners organization, which worked behind the scenes to try to bring parity for its members.
It was especially galling that on the other side of the Mayacamas Mountains, Sonoma County – which has no rules restricting food service in wineries – allowed its wineries to open several weeks earlier, just in time for Memorial Day Weekend. READ MORE…
Blogs Worth a Read
Taken from the list of Blogs I follow regularly, here are just a few posts from this past week I think are worth a read. Shoot me a note if you have suggestions or want your blog included.
SpitBucket: Re-opening Winery Tasting Rooms — What would bring me back?
I’m certainly in the highly engaged and passionate wine lover category. I adore traveling with some of the hardest parts of this pandemic for me being the cancellations of wine trips and events that I had planned for the year. Yes, I fully realize that this is a position of immense privilege. I know that many others have suffered and lost so much more than just missing out on wine tastings.
But my point is is that I should be part of that group that can’t wait for tasting rooms to reopen. Yet looking at Haas’ question, my instinct was to click “Not for a while.”
My reasoning parallels my sentiments about shopping for wine. For me, wine is a source of joy and pleasure, so I want all my experiences with wine to reflect that. But while I love wine, I don’t need it.
Likewise, while I love visiting wineries and wine country, it’s never something that I absolutely need to do. Especially if the thought of doing so right now makes me wince. READ MORE…
Fermentation: Data Shows Economists Are Wrong—Wine Industry Doesn’t Support Trump
Quite recently the American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) made headlines by publishing a dataset highlighting presidential campaign contributions originating from individuals in the wine industry. It created a bit of a stir, particularly the AAWE’s conclusion that “The U.S. Wine Industry overwhelmingly supports President Trump”. Some thought this conclusion misrepresented the data and reality.
It does. On a number of levels. In fact, the AAWE’s data and calculations have serious flaws—in its dataset, its research and analysis. READ MORE…
Grape Collective: Chad Melville—Honest Wines and Fair Prices for Difficult Times
Let’s pretend that life right now is a virtual Grateful Dead show where helping others with food, water or just a hand is commonplace.”
This might not be something you’d expect to hear from a vintner while his family winery was taking a quarter-million-dollar revenue hit every month during the pandemic. But winemakers do tend to be an interesting bunch and Chad Melville is no exception.
Chad is the head winegrower at Melville Winery, which his father, Ron, founded in the choice Sta. Rita Hills region of Santa Barbara. The principles on which the Melville family built the winery ultimately are what allowed them to battle the pandemic, the economic downturn and the current political-racial tensions. How they have survived involves old wines and new technology and might offer some lessons for all kinds of businesses long after this crisis ebbs. READ MORE…
Vinous: Argentina’s White Wine Revolution
In the spiritual homeland of Malbec, many of the most innovative new wines being produced today are white. One might be forgiven for thinking that winemakers are being deliberately contrary; however, over the past decade and a half, underneath wave after wave of reds, a revolution has been simmering away quietly. Chardonnays and Sémillons are now being produced that are every bit as good as some of the best Malbecs in the country. READ MORE…
bw166: Beer, Spirits, & Wine – Packaged Imports Grow +3.00% By Value Over Last Twelve Months through April 2020, Packaged Exports Grow +0.400%
- Imported packaged wine for the last twelve months grew +6.60% by volume and grew +2.00% by value. Over the last three months volumes grew +4.30% and declined -8.10% by value.
- Imported bulk wine for the last twelve months grew +15.5% by volume and grew +4.30% by value. Over the last three months volumes grew +1.50% and grew +6.60% by value.
- 33.6% of all imported packaged wine by value arrived from Italy while 26.7% of all imported bulk wine by value arrived from New Zealand.
- Exported packaged wine for the last twelve months declined -4.10% by volume and declined -4.00% by value. Over the last three months volumes declined -8.40% and declined -7.40% by value.
- Exported bulk wine for the last twelve months declined -4.70% by volume and declined -5.10% by value. Over the last three months volumes declined -4.00% and declined -12.9% by value.
- 37.1% of all exported packaged wine by value is destined for Canada while 53.9% of all exported bulk wine by value is destined for United Kingdom.
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**Please note: all reviews and opinions are my own and are not associated with any of my places of business. I will always state when a wine has been sent as a sample for review. Sending samples for review on my personal website in no way guarantees coverage in any other media outlet I may be currently associated with.**