Wine: Part of the Social Tolerance Index
While small relative to other states, Utah’s $168 Million in sales of wine for their fiscal year 2004 is a record. The state compiles these numbers because it’s the state that controls all wine distribution. According to Ken Wynn, Director of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, that $168 Million is a 20% increase over wine sales in 1999.
I honestly don’t know how this rate of growth compares with other states. Though I doubt it far exceeds the growth in wine sales in many states, the point is that it seems to impress Utah.
What’s interesting to this blogger is how they are accounting for the greater wine sales in a state known for its tee-totaling ways. Wynn suggests migration has a great deal to do with more wine jumping off shelves and down people’s throats. People moving to Utah from states where alcohol consumption is less of a stigma seem to be the ones pushing sales.
Wynn also suggests that it’s the quality of wines now being stocked in Utah that is resulting in greater sales: "We have probably one of the finest wine selections anywhere," he said. "We’re able to get ’boutique’ wines from California that aren’t available elsewhere."
I can’t speak to the quality of the wine selection in Utah since I’ve not been there in years. But it makes you wonder: does a better selection of wine lead to more people drinking it, or do more people wanting to drink wine lead to the creation of a better selection?
Either way, if Utah is becoming more of a wine drinking state I think that’s a good thing. Wine is in fact a civilizing beverage. When you come across a region where it is readily accepted you know you are somewhere that hosts people of a broader more tolerant perspective. And that’s a good thing.
According to The Winery Web Site Report database (and TTB data, which we use to assure completeness), Utah even has 8 wineries!
Sadly, Castle Creek Winery (Utah’s largest at a little over 2,500 cases) doesn’t really have a Web site.
Have you sampled any Utah wines, Tom?
well, if only it were true that wine is a civilizing beverage and that where wine is accepted we find people of a broader more tolerant perspective. that’s a nice thought, and obviously widely touted among those who love wine. but the Romans certainly accepted wine as part of their daily lives; they also were greedily imperialistic and used crucifixion as a favorite punishment. the Germans produce some of the world’s greatest wines from that noble grape, the riesling, but we hardly need to repeat what happened in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s or cite the rise of anti-semitism in the country today. and what about France, the world’s greatest wine producing country, the seat of legendary vineyards and regions? from France’s once imperialistic aims in southeast Asia to the torture of Algerians in the 1950s and early 60s to the resurgence of anti-semitism today and the forbidding of Moslem women to wear headcoverings in school, France is scarcely a model of tolerance. No, as much as wine is a PRIVATE civilizing influence, in our homes, with our families and friends, as much as wine brings us pleasure and satisfaction, it cannot be viewed as a civilizing influence in history and culture. if that were the case, France and Italy, Germany and Spain would be utopias, and we know that’s not the case.
Mike: Never tasted a single Utah wine. I’m not sure I’ve even seen one.