5 Wishes for Wine in 2013

wishesWithout hope, there is no sense in going on. Hope sustains us. Hope motivates us. With hope there is no action. Hope is the seed that grows into a wish.


1. The Natural Wine Movement Reforms Itself
I wish 2013 is the year that those who self-identify with and promote the “Natural Wine” movement finally give credit where credit is due and recognize all the artisan producers everywhere who have for years (decades, really), been doing exactly what the “naturalistas” claim they are promoting anew: creating wines with minimal manipulation in order to accurately portray terroir. The “Natural Wine” movement’s claim of trailblazing in this regard is insulting, fraudulent, bad for the wine industry, and dismissive of history.

2. That Shoppers Everywhere Can Buy Their Groceries and Wine in One Place
Remarkably, a number of states still prohibit the sale of wine in grocery stores. It is a prohibition that can’t be justified by any claim of regulatory necessity or desire to promote temperance, but rather remains in place through protective motivations. It remains a wildly anti-consumer stance that is only justified now merely by regulatory inertia and intense lobbying.

3. That California’s Wine Growing Regions Are Carved Up Further
The idea that certain wine growing regions possess unique climates and terrain that in turn deliver particular characteristics to grapes grown in these regions and into the wines produced from these grapes should not be controversial. Additionally, the more smaller, well-defined appellations that can legally appear on the bottle is better for the consumer. My hope is that there is political will in the wine industry to create more, smaller American Viticultural Areas that provide consumers and the wine industry more opportunity to appreciate and promote the unique growing areas in this state. Certainly, the Russian River Valley ought to be carved up into more “Green Valleys”. And the “Sonoma Coast” ought to be carved up into numerous new and smaller AVAs,

4. That California’s True Old Vine Vineyards Gain Protected and Celebrated Status
Vineyards such as Old Hill Ranch and Pagani Ranch in Sonoma Valley are state treasures though which we come face to face with the state’s history and the history of wine in America. The state of California ought to find some way to recognize the historic nature of these old vineyards in the same way and for the same reasons they recognize buildings and other venues for California Historical Landmark status. This is not necessarily a desire on my part to see the term “old vine” regulated, but merely the hope that great viticultural treasures be recognized for their historic significance.

5. That Wine Makes A Comeback in the American Media
For some years now, coverage of wine in the American mainstream media has dwindled. There was once a wine column in nearly every major newspaper and a large number of smaller newspapers. Many magazines kept a wine column. Not so much anymore. My hope is that these kinds of columns return. It will take media outlets of significance to show the way. The New Yorker Magazine could set an outstanding example were it to finally bring on a regular wine critic published alongside their critics of dance, art, symphonic music and restaurants.

8 Responses

  1. Holly Evans-White (@LeCellarCat) - December 31, 2012

    Thanks Tom for an agreed-with and insightful wish list. I will raise my glass (later!) and will add your wine 2013 wish list to mine. Actually, thanks to your wish list maybe I can just ride on your well-put wishes and apply myself to merriment instead. Like a Day Off. I like it. Thanks! Cheers! Happy New Year!

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  4. Isaac James Baker - January 2, 2013

    Hey Tom,
    Interesting post. I agree especially with your idea that California recognize its historic old vine vineyards. How exactly this would be done is something I’m sure could be worked out, but there are some truly historic vineyards (such as the ones you mentioned) that need to get more name recognition. Happy New Year and cheers!

  5. harvey posert - January 3, 2013

    tom — wishing won’t bring wine back into american media — what will? i’d love to see a column on this subject. our clients still prefer print publicity to bloggers of all varieties and it’s ever harder to obtain. sam folsom, paul wagner and i tried to have the Academy of Wine Communications as a forum for issues like these, but inertia (or business success?) didn’t allow that to happen. thanks for raising the issue, harvey

  6. Tom Wark - January 3, 2013

    I had great hopes for the Academy of Wine Communications. Went to a couple meetings, but that seems like 3 or 4 years ago now. I agree that good things might result from this organization being active.

  7. doug wilder - January 3, 2013

    Agree with #4! As you know Tom, I have written about the old vine vineyards, and the organization that was formed a couple years ago to develop a centralized registry of these sites, the Historic Vineyard Society (HVS), http://www.historicvineyardsociety.org. Some of these vineyards in Sonoma were part of my childhood memories and watching them disappear is a shame. HVS is growing and building consumer awareness. For those interested in tasting some of these legendary wines, there is no better place than the Zinfandel Advocates and Producer tasting the first Saturday of February in San Francisco. Go to http://www.zinfandel.org for more information and tickets.

    It is a logical progression, but much more work needs to be done to figure out how to achieve protected status for old vine vineyards. Creating more demand for what is grown in them will raise the visibility. I have committed a page of my website to Historic Vineyard Society and it includes a video interview I did with one of the founding Directors, Morgan Twain Peterson last year. In it, he underscores the unique characteristics of some of these sites. The quality of the video is a little grainy because of low light, but the audio is fine. Those interested in the importance of old vine vineyards in California can read about them at http://www.purelydomesticwinereport.com/historic-vineyard-society/

  8. Shana - January 3, 2013

    I’m not sure i agree with the last point about media. I think wine writers, critics, etc., have found accessible platforms on which to share their opinions, particularly in social media. In addition, I think that the proliferation of bloggers makes wine more democratic and accessible to consumers.

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