It’s Just Not True—Five Wine Myths

Veritas1Very recently I’ve bumped up against a variety of statements and opinions that are presented as facts. Most have been circulating for some time and have recently raised their ugly head in one form or another. Others are relatively recently developed ideas. In every case, these statements and opinions are myths

Consolidation is Putting the Wine Industry in Corporate Hands
This is a huge myth that somehow keeps spreading and is almost always discussed whenever a winery of note changes hands. The fact is the percentage of wine brands that are privately owned, small operations is vastly larger in number than those owned by corporate overlords

Sustainable Grape Growing is Disappearing
I hear this on a regular basis. It was suggested once again in this article. But the fact is more and more growers are cultivating grapes in a sustainable way. See Sonoma County.

You Can Detect The Origin of the Wine From its Taste, Aroma and Texture
No, you can’t. Yes, the terroir of a vineyard or region has obvious impact on the character of the grapes grown there, but if you think you can identify the region it came from then I’ve got some serious cash to bet on your palate. Yes, if you are practiced, you can tell me the varietal (which is many times more discernible from tasting than is region. But tell me the region? One in 100,000 wine drinkers (maybe) have this talent.

Wineries’ Online Wine Sales Are Substantial
No, they aren’t. Winery shipments to consumers are substantial…to the tune of $2 Billion per year. This myth is a result of the misreading of the annual ShipCompliant DTC Shipping report that discloses how much wine is shipped from winery to consumer. Most direct shipped wine results from visits to a winery and wine club shipments, not online purchases.

Winemakers Are Artists
Degas was an artist. Rodin was an artist. Miles Davis was an artist. Francis Ford Coppola is an artist. Winemakers are, at best, craftsmen.




7 Responses

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  2. Colin MacPhail - March 21, 2016

    Wine sellers can be artists.

  3. larry mawby - March 22, 2016

    i do think that winegrowers can be artists, but clearly not all are. and maybe winemakers, too, can be artists, but clearly not all are. some winegrowers and some winemakers are craftspersons, some are drudges. i do agree with you on the other four myths cited.

  4. Charlie Olken - March 22, 2016

    Interesting article.

    A few comments from my perspective:

    –CORPORATE HANDS: With the number of bonded wineries somewhere around 5,000 in CA alone and with hundreds or more negotiant labels also in existence, the number of labels in corporate hands is indeed a fairly small percentage. BUT, the amount of wine in corporate hands is a very different thing altogether. That said, corporations do not necessarily make crappy wines, and there is a long list of brilliant wines coming from the likes of Constellation, Treasury, Foley, Kendall-Jackson. Go buy yourself a Ravenswood Teldeschi Zinfandel or a Siduri Sonaterra Pinot Noir or a Verite claret-styled wine.

    SUSTAINABLE: Even large winery growing practices are getting more and more dependent on sustainable practices. And the number of certified organic and biodynamic vineyards keeps growing.

    DETECTING THE PLACE, VARIETY ETC: Tom, you did not take me up on my offer to prove you wrong with Pinot Noir a couple of years ago, and while you may be right that the average wine-drinking punter cannot tell Westside Road Pinot Noir from Lodi Zinfandel, knowledgeable consumers and wine pros can. My well-heeled neighbors are happy being able to tell good from plonk and Chard from Sv Blc. But that does not deny that other, more finite definitions are entirely possible and that there are people who can do it because it is important to them. To put it another way, my folks would not have known a DeSoto from an Oldsmobile, but I care more about cars and do care about those kinds of differences–in both my wine and my ride.

    ARTISTRY: A tough one, and one on which I side with you most of the time. But, high quality craftmanship does have an artistic component. Wine has elements of artistry that go beyond knowing how to control a fermentation. It seems to me that saying there is no artistry in wine is to deny every bit of the beauty in the product where it exists.

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