Hey all, I want to call out something super important here. Wine Industry Advisor has just opened up submissions for its Most Inspiring People awards and this is the first time they’ve asked for nominations from the public. So if you know someone who’s made a significant, positive contribution to the US wine industry please nominate them here.

Did you do it? Awesome. Then you may continue on with your perusal of this week’s short list of wine-related news items. I’ve got a few pieces out myself, but some of my favorite articles this week are highlighting the diversity of our wine industry—so great to see these stories amplified in the media.

Enjoy Enjoy Enjoy!


Wine Industry Advisor: Participate in Recognizing Industry’s Most Inspiring People

Wine's Most Inspiring People
Wine’s Most Inspiring People

Wine Industry Advisor (WIA) has opened submissions for its annual Most Inspiring People award and is asking the industry at large to participate by nominating individuals who have made a lasting impact on the North American Wine industry. Nominees can be viewed as inspirational either by their approach to life or their approach to business and have influenced the future of the wine industry in a positive way.

See our 2021 MIP award winners.

In 2018, The Wine Industry Advisor began recognizing ten inspiring people from our industry each year. For the first time, WIA is opening the nominations to its readers, and in so doing, hopes to find those individuals who may be flying under the radar and show the true diversity of talent within our industry. The wine industry is extremely fortunate to have many exceptional people among its ranks, and this recognition is a way to highlight them and encourage and inspire future generations. READ MORE…

Wine Enthusiast: Shopping for Wine? 4 Pro Tips to Find Better Bottles for Less


Whatever your budget, value is important. But it’s not always easy to tell which wines on the shelf offer bang for your buck.

“There’s expensive, and then there’s expensive,” says Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible and editor of Wine Speed.

Even expensive wines have better value alternatives. One trick is to determine what’s enjoyable about a wine and find lesser-known regions or brands that offer it. We talked to the pros about the cost of a bottle, and how to find those value-oriented wines that will match your taste. READ MORE…

Eater Detroit: Breaking Glass Ceilings in the Wine Industry

Metro Detroit woman launches a luxury label in a field dominated by white men

LaToya Thompson’s luxury label consists of a cabernet and a pinot grigio Opulence Wine courtesy photo
LaToya Thompson’s luxury label consists of a cabernet and a pinot grigio Opulence Wine courtesy photo

Starting a wine or spirits label is no easy task, especially for a Black woman with no prior experience or connections in the beverage industry. But Dr. LaToya Thompson tapped into her passion for science to launch Opulence.

Her luxury label consists of a cabernet and a pinot grigio, made from products Thompson handpicked during a journey through Napa Valley for the perfect grape pairings. The new label makes the Rochester sports physical therapist a bit of an anomaly: Although women are 57 percent of wine buyers, they make up just 28 percent of winemakers in the country. Black wineries and brands have scant representation, comprising an estimated one-tenth of 1 percent. Despite those figures, Thompson found the process of concept to completion more difficult than she expected.

“I didn’t realize how much of a process it would be,” says Thompson, a mother of three. Getting a winemaker license from the state took two years. “And it was difficult to secure a distributor, as a new brand. I noticed that when I put my husband’s name on the email, even if I put ‘Dr. Thompson’ on it, I’d get a response. I thought: ‘Is it because I’m female, or a Black female, that I’m having difficulty?’ I think it was.” She found success with Great Lakes Wine and Spirits. READ MORE…

Sonoma Index Tribune: Retelling the Native American story of Sonoma Valley

A memorial for Native Americans at the Mission Solano in the Sonoma Plaza / Robbi Pengelly
A memorial for Native Americans at the Mission Solano in the Sonoma Plaza / Robbi Pengelly

Under the “Sonoma County Historic Overview” on the county’s website, Native American history is relegated to one sentence: “Sonoma County was inhabited by the Pomo, Miwok and Kashaya Indians.”

But no explanation is given for where Native Americans went. Nor why they left. Nor who was responsible for the thousands of Native Americans who died from the colonization of Sonoma Valley.

A dusty plaque on First Street East outside Mission San Francisco Solano has the engraved names of dozens of the Indigenous people. It lists their Christian names — the names forced on them, and recorded by, the Catholic Church.

“And under that paved road at the northeastern corner of the Sonoma Square, that’s where the bodies are buried,” said Charlie Toledo director for the Suscol Intertribal Council. READ MORE…

Wine Enthusiast: The People and Lands of Chile’s Indigenous Wine Movement


Long shut off from land and resources, some Indigenous communities find a path in the wine industry.

Violence erupts in the streets of Santiago, Chile, as protesters march for the rights of the Mapuche population. A lone figure armed with a small Mapuche flag is driven to the ground when the national police—the Carabineros—fire a water cannon.

The disintegrating effects of marginalization have pushed the Mapuche, Chile’s largest Indigenous population, to the brink of despair.

Until now, Chile has been the only South American country to exclude Indigenous people from its constitution. As of press time, Dr. Elisa Loncón, a member of the Mapuche community, is presiding over a constitutional convention to create a plurinational document for all citizens.

For centuries, the disinherited have existed without official recognition, resulting in abject poverty, loss of language, culture, and family for nearly 9% of Chileans— approximately two million people—who self-identify as Indigenous. READ MORE…

Wine Industry Network: Winegrowers Bring in Worms to Manage Waste

Worms at Frey Vineyards
Worms at Frey Vineyards

Wine regions across the world were hit by catastrophic droughts, floods and wildfires this year. For decades, wine-growers have been working toward a more sustainable way to use water in the vineyards and cellar. But in recent months, the need to conserve water has been vaulted to the top of the priority list.

To better manage water, it’s important to understand just how much goes into the making of a bottle of wine. On average, it takes about 120 liters of water (or 31.7 gallons) to make one 125 ml (4.2 ounce) glass of wine, according to the Water Footprint Network, a nonprofit multi-stakeholder network working toward a more sustainable water future. (In comparison, it takes 5,000 liters of water to make 1 kg of cheese, 24,400 liters to make 1 kg of chocolate and 30 liters to make 1 250 ml cup of tea.)

Between high-tech solutions, like remote sensors that track real-time water usage, and low-tech solutions, like dry farming, there are a number of ways to analyze and reduce water use in the vineyard. But a lot of water that goes toward wine production happens in the cellar, with the washing of equipment before and after processing grapes.

One of the simplest and most effective solutions to recycling that water is wriggling right between the vines. READ MORE…

Wine Spectator: U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Major Wine Shipping Case

The country’s highest court will not decide Sarasota Wine Market v. Schmitt, upholding Missouri’s law banning consumer direct-shipping alcohol sales from out-of-state retailers

The U.S. Supreme Court will not address retailer direct shipping this session, disappointing consumer rights advocates. (Rudy Sulgan/Getty Images)
The U.S. Supreme Court will not address retailer direct shipping this session, disappointing consumer rights advocates. (Rudy Sulgan/Getty Images)

Should wine lovers have the right to buy wine from retailers in other states? The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it won’t decide—at least not in this session—declining to hear Sarasota Wine Market v. Schmitt. A Supreme Court decision on the case, which challenged Missouri’s law prohibiting out-of-state wine retailers from shipping orders to consumers in Missouri, could have potentially reshaped the U.S. wine sales landscape.

Sarasota is one of several recent challenges to laws prohibiting out-of-state retailer direct shipping. In this particular case, a Florida wine store, Sarasota Wine Market, and Missouri consumers sought to overturn Missouri’s law as unconstitutional, in violation of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which forbids states from discriminating against or interfering with interstate commerce.

This past February, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled against Sarasota’s plaintiffs, determining that Missouri’s out-of-state direct-shipping ban was protected under the 21st Amendment. (The Supreme Court has held that states’ rights granted by the 21st Amendment can preempt the Commerce Clause, for laws enacted to discourage excessive drinking or create an orderly alcohol market.) READ MORE…

SOVOS / ShipCompliant: Shipping Alcohol DtC—Retailers’ Trials and Tribulations

Retailers engaged in direct-to-consumer (DtC) shipping of beverage alcohol have faced unexpected setbacks in the last few months.

Liquor Store / Kyle Wagner / Unsplash
Liquor Store / Kyle Wagner / Unsplash

Primarily, Idaho and Nevada, separately determined to remove the right of their respective residents to receive DtC shipments of alcohol from out-of-state retailers. These reversals in law come as retailers and advocates continue to fight in court, with limited success, to gain the right for DtC shipping in more states. At the same time, retailers across the country have had to shut down shipping programs at the behest of carriers, who themselves face scrutiny for any and all improper shipments state regulators hear rumors of.

This all adds up to a great deal of uncertainty for the retailer DtC shipping market, only a couple of years since it was predicted that a sea change in beverage alcohol related jurisprudence would open up the highly restricted industry.

As such, it is fair to ask why those hoped-for predictions haven’t yet panned out for retailers. How are states, instead, able to extend these discriminatory regulations that restrict the ability of retailers and consumers to enjoy the potential fruits of interstate commerce? READ MORE…

NBC: How NBA players are helping drive diversity in the wine industry

Through ownership and advocacy, “they’re making an industry that hasn’t been that accessible in the past accessible, and that’s really, really important.”

Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum drinks McCollum Heritage on March 20.
Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum drinks McCollum Heritage on March 20.

In his early 20s, when other NBA players were indulging in traditional libations of young professional athletes, Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum was introduced to wine by the woman who would later become his wife.

Lemonade had been his drink of choice, he said. But a tasty glass of vino piqued his interest. Then, a visit to a winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, known for its pinot noir, turned him into a wine enthusiast.

That simple introduction came full circle when he and his wife, Elise, purchased 318 acres of land last month to construct their own winery in Oregon.

“I’m fortunate that basketball brought me to Oregon, just a short drive from one of the top wine regions in the country, taking my existing passion for, and knowledge of, wine to new heights,” McCollum, 30, said. “Playing in Portland has given me the opportunity to immerse myself in the Willamette Valley, and pinot noir has earned a special place in my heart.” READ MORE…

The Seattle Times: Mexico’s Napa Valley protests against unfettered development

Valle de Guadalupe / Courtesy Hotels.com
Valle de Guadalupe / Courtesy Hotels.com

Defenders of Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe wine-producing valley protested Saturday against unfettered development they say threatens the area’s environment and agriculture.

On Saturday, federal authorities announced they shut down a massive land-clearing project that had bulldozed native semi-desert vegetation on a hillside to create a concert venue.

“Acting on complaints from the public, this morning federal authorities inspected and closed a property where they had tried to install a massive concert forum,” the Environment Department said in a press statement.

Protesters from the group For a True Valley gathered nearby to demonstrate under the slogan “More grapevines, less plunder.”

“This devastation of flora and fauna on more than 20 hectares (44 acres) in the Valle de Guadalupe was done by APM Producciones,” a concert promoter, the group said in a statement. “This is a project which shows not the least consideration for the environment.”

APM Producciones said in a statement that the project had all necessary permits and affected only 4.4 hectares (9 acres). It said the final project would include building housing and planting trees and grape vines. READ MORE…

Eater New York: Anne Saxelby, Who Helped Redefine America’s Independent Cheese Industry, Dies at 40

Saxelby Cheesemongers is beloved for specializing in artisan American cheeses

Anne Saxelby passed away at age 40. Christine Han
Anne Saxelby passed away at age 40. / Christine Han

Anne Saxelby, the founder and co-owner of Saxelby Cheesemongers, has passed away at the age of 40. The New York Times first reported that Saxelby died on Saturday, October 9 and had an underlying heart condition.

Saxelby became a leading figure in the industry for championing artisan cheeses made in America — an ethos that set her apart from other shops when she opened in the Essex Street Market’s original location in 2006. At Saxelby Cheesemongers, she gave independent makers like Vermont’s Jasper Hill Farm a platform that helped catapult it to national success. In 2017, Saxelby expanded her Manhattan footprint with an additional location in Chelsea Market. Last year, she published an illustrated book with Ten Speed Press, The New Rules of Cheese: A Freewheelin’ and Informative Guide.

Saxelby had often been a leader for her industry. In 2020, she wrote an op-ed for Eater about the struggles of running a wholesale and retail cheese business without restaurants’ business during the pandemic. Bowery Boogie also reported that Saxelby was an advocate for the Essex Street Market’s fellow vendors. READ MORE…

Blogs Worth a Read

Taken from the list of Blogs and other media outlets 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 of independent media to follow or want your outlet included on that list.

Jancis Robinson: Wine in China—what the dragon is drinking

Richard surveys the latest news from the wine market in China.
Richard surveys the latest news from the wine market in China.

My last review of the wine scene in China, filed in October 2019, predicted, somewhat uselessly, that anything could happen in the next 70 years. Less than 70 days later, a spate of unexplained pneumonia cases were being investigated in a hospital in Wuhan.

The subsequent pandemic became the most significant influence on human activity around the world, not least in China, although ‘normality’ now seems to be returning with fixity. Even Singapore, the most cautious of countries, has finally announced post-pandemic plans, including resumption of international travel – despite restrictions that still limit social gatherings to a maximum of two people.

Yet COVID-19 was only one of several developments that have recently rocked the wine market in China. READ MORE…

The Wine Economist: Wine Business Bottlenecks

These days we are all coping with logistical bottlenecks.
These days we are all coping with logistical bottlenecks.

Everyone in the wine business knows about the problem of bottlenecks — and I am not just talking about the kind you see in this photo. Bottlenecks or choke-points are found throughout the wine product chain and any one of them can make life difficult.

Wine’s Many Bottlenecks

Growing grapes can sometimes be a bottleneck since winegrowers get just one crop a year (apart from tropical viticulture, where multiple harvests are possible), so bad weather, smoke exposure, or labor supply problems can really mess things up. Wine production has its bottlenecks, too. Tank capacity is limited in the short run, for example, and after a couple of abundant harvests in a row there can be problems making new wine because there’s no place to put it.

Distribution is another bottleneck of the classic kind you see on the highway. Thousands of wine producers channel their products through a much smaller number of distributors — it’s like losing three lanes on a busy freeway! In my experience every industry tends to organize itself around its most severe bottleneck or inefficiency and here in the US distribution and the three tier system shapes much of the rest of the industry to a certain extent. READ MORE…

The Wine Gourd: Does more vineyard area mean more grape varieties?

Each dot represents one wine-making country, located with the number of reported grape varieties shown vertically. The horizontal axis represents the recorded vineyard area (in hectares) — note that the scale is logarithmic.
Each dot represents one wine-making country, located with the number of reported grape varieties shown vertically. The horizontal axis represents the recorded vineyard area (in hectares) — note that the scale is logarithmic.

Answer: yes — and no. The wine industry always has complexities.

Back in Ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder wrote (in his Naturalis Historia):

Democritus, who has declared that he was acquainted with every variety of the grape known in Greece, is the only person who has been of opinion that every kind could be enumerated; but, on the other hand, the rest of the authors have stated that they are quite innumerable and of infinite extent, an assertion the truth of which will be more evident, if we only consider the vast number of wines. I shall not attempt, then, to speak of every kind of vine, but only of those that are the most remarkable, seeing that the varieties are very nearly as numberless as the districts in which they grow.*

Ancient Greece was the origin of grapes cultivated to make wine, as far as the Romans were concerned. So, Pliny was suggesting, in part, that the number of grape varieties is associated with the lengthy time over which they have been cultivated.

However, he is suggesting something else, as well. It is also possible that the number of grape varieties is associated with the amount of land that is used for that cultivation. That is, the more area available, and thus the more micro-climates, then the more likely it is that different varieties will be grown (and thus different wines made). Pliny is thus considered to be the originator of the idea of terroir in wine-making.

I thought that I might look at these two things, together. As a source of data, I have used the Organisation Internationale de la vigne et du vin, which lists countries with vineyards larger than 50,000 hectares in 2020 (with 2016 as the latest available data for smaller areas). Since my question is about wine-making not grape-eating, I have excluded (in decreasing order of grape-growing area): China, Turkey, Iran, India, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkmenistan. I have used all other countries, except that the data for the number of varieties are missing from South Africa. READ MORE…

Young Gun of Wine: Secrets of Winegrowing at Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone

The Hill of Grace vineyard was planted 160 years ago.
The Hill of Grace vineyard was planted 160 years ago.

When you’re responsible for some of the oldest vines in the world, it demands a particular thoughtfulness for each decision made – one wrong pruning cut could be very telling for the following year’s fruit. With a deep understanding of her family’s vineyard – and the wider realms of agriculture – Prue Henschke has been elevating the Henschke wines for over three decades. It has been a journey defined by experimentation and consideration. Her touch is partnered with unique sites that translate to an expression that is unequivocally and individually Henschke. READ MORE…

Press Releases

These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!


Wine Industry Network: Register for the 2021 WIN Expo

WIN Expo’s educational conference is designed to address the latest research and innovations available to wine industry professionals.
WIN Expo’s educational conference is designed to address the latest research and innovations available to wine industry professionals.

Wine Industry Network opened registration for the 9th annual North Coast Wine Industry Trade Show & Conference (WIN Expo), scheduled for Thursday, December 2nd, 2021, at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and Event Center in Santa Rosa, CA. WIN Expo is both a buying show and educational conference. READ MORE…

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Educational posts are in no way intended as official WSET study materials. I am not an official WSET educator nor do I work for a WSET Approved Program Provider. Study at your own risk. Read the full disclaimer.
**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.**

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