User ID:

Remember me
Lost password?

Monday Manifestos
The Heat Is On In Wine Country

By Charles Olken

No, this is not another article about global warming and its effects on wine growing conditions in these parts. For, while that important topic is always in our thoughts, today we turn our attention to economic “heat”.

Back a few years ago, when wine sales were in the doldrums and there was more than enough fruit to go around, things got pretty quiet on the winery expansion front. But, this is 2013 and just this week, we have learned of several deals that look like they are the precursors of another wine boom.

Wine is, of course, an agricultural commodity at heart. The amount of it being produced is a direct function of the fruit-bearing plantings in wine country. When things get tight, as they might be in a year or two as the world works through seemingly niggardly harvests just as the world economy finally gets its act together, then vineyards get bought and sold, and the supply eventually expands. Since vines are not tomato plants and usually three to five years to come into meaningful production, wine has been subject to boom and bust swings because new supply always lags demand when demand expands.

Such is projected to be the case in the near future. And when consumption begins to outstrip supply, we see the kind of increased vineyard development that has been reported lately in the wine press. None is more interesting from an economic standpoint than the announcement of Kendall-Jackson’s purchase of vineyard land in Oregon. This happens to be already planted land, but when California’s largest holder of vineyard land begins to accumulate hundreds of acres up in Oregon, you know the heat is on.

Another interesting tidbit is the purchase of land in the southern reaches of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. The partnership of Sashi Moorman and Rajat Paar, already working together on a successful Pinot Noir and Chardonnay project called Sandhi, have purchased a parcel in that very cool region, half of which is planted and the other half plantable.

Neither of these developments is cause for alarm, and their impacts are certainly some years away, but they remind us of the wine industry cycle and that we are in the ascending phase of the cycle. For, while it is true that 2012 did not see a wave of new plantings, there is every reason to believe that 2013 will be more enthusiastically greeted by vineyardists.


The CGCW Experience - Take the Tour

Meet the New CGCW

For thirty-five years, Connoisseurs’ Guide has been the authoritative voice of the California wine consumer. With readers in all fifty states and twenty foreign countries, the Guide is valued by wine lovers everywhere for its honesty and for it strong adherence to the principles of transparency, unbiased, hard-hitting opinions. Now, it is becoming the California winelover’s most powerful online voice as well. And, our new features provide an unmatched array of advice and information for aficionados of every stripe.

Leave a comment below, but please limit your comments to 1,200 characters or less. We find it helpful to make a copy of our comments to be sure that they fit. In that way, you can edit them if they run long.

(Please note: your e-mail address will not be visible after posting)



Note: Refresh your browser to see your latest comments.

Having technical problems with the comment system? Click here.