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Wednesday Warblings
Washington State Flexes Its Vinous Muscles--
and Strains a Few in Reaching to Pat Itself on the Back.

By Stephen Eliot

Washington State wines are the best in the United States, so claims Governor Stephanie Gregoire.

That Washington produces some very good wines is no surprise to West Coast wine lovers, and many believe them to be among the world’s finest, but a fascinating new economic impact study from the Washington State Wine Commission is turning heads with its revelatory report of just how much of the stuff the Evergreen State now makes. *

If still well behind that of California in sheer volume and overall dollar worth, the Washington wine industry leads the way among all other American wine-producing states, and its vinous value has more than trebled in the six years since the last economic assessment. And, there are reasons to believe that bigger things lie ahead in the very near future.

The wine press has lately been rife with concern over predicted shortfalls of premium wine grapes as the American economy finds a steadier footing and a new crop of wine drinkers enters the market. Chateau Ste. Michelle President and CEO, Ted Baseler, comments that the current rate of wine consumption in the United States is growing so fast as to predict serious shortages in as few as five years, and some observers worry openly and loudly about the potential for higher prices. While that is certainly likely in any supply-and-demand economy, you can bet that the wine industry will meet increased demand with more supply, and the folks up in Washington clearly believe, as do I, that they have the land and the people to do just that on every quality level.

Now, just a few days ago, the Associated Press reported that Washington’s Governor, Stephanie Gregoire, apparently made the bold claim that no other state can compete with Washington when it comes to quality wines and, during a trade mission to Europe, dismissed California with the pithy observation that “They make jug wine. We make fine wine.”

I have a great deal of respect for Washington wines and count the best of them such those from Eroica, Poet’s Leap, Quilceda Creek and Betz Family, to name but a few, as world-class bottlings in every regard. I also understand that Governor Gregoire’s enthusiastic endorsement, while genuine, is de rigueur for the office and was probably made with a bit of smile.

Still, in the friendly but competitive game of vinous poker, I would say to Ms. Gregoire, I’ll see your Wahluke Slope and Horse Heaven Hills and raise you a Rutherford, a Russian River Valley and a Santa Cruz Mountains. And, oh yes, I am fairly certain that the Pinot Noir producers of Oregon’s Willamette Valley are not about to throw in their cards and quit the game.


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No Subject
by Anonymous
Posted on:4/25/2012 4:14:56 PM

*cristine gregoire (not stephanie)

No Subject
by Anonymous
Posted on:4/25/2012 5:53:40 PM

Christine, not cristine

Ms. Gregoire
by Stephen Eliot
Posted on:4/26/2012 10:58:45 AM

Mea culpa and apologies to Ms. Christine Gregoire. Don't know where the "Stephanie" came from. Maybe from tasting too much "jug wine".

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