If You Read Anything This Week: Wine News 9.8.2017

Change afoot in the industry: The growth rate in premium wine (priced above $9), says Rob McMillan, has been decelerating since late 2015, signaling that the market is on the verge of shifting significantly. He points to such signs as restaurant wine sales and the growth rate of craft beer declining as well as the grape market slowing. [Silicon Valley Bank on Wine]

Mayacamas ownership shifts: The Schottenstein family of Ohio has assumed full ownership of Mayacamas Vineyards. The family has been among the partners in Mayacamas Vineyards since its purchase from Bob Travers in 2013. The entire current team will remain with the brand. Wine Spectator reports that the money from Charles Banks’ sale of his share in the winery will go toward restitution for Tim Duncan. [PR Newswire, Wine Spectator]

California’s 2017 harvest: The 2017 wine harvest in California looks quite normal thus far despite a hot summer and the lingering effects of the drought, a relief on the heels of the last two difficult vintages. Yet vineyard labor is a more significant challenge than ever. The cost of labor has skyrocketed, but worker shortages persist. [SF Chronicle]

Considering cheap wine: Dave McIntyre asks what the popular mass-market wines in the US offer beyond price and availability. “These are the wines most Americans drink,” he reminds readers. In a blind tasting, Robert Mondavi Chardonnay and Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon stand out, but McIntyre recommends looking above $10 for quality. [Washington Post]

The state of wine writing: Jay McInerney, wine writer and former novelist, says he started writing about wine in part because he thought most wine writing was bad. He still thinks that most dives too deep into either the technical or the horticultural, forgetting that drinking wine is fun. [Eater]

Our favorite SevenFifty Daily article this week

The future of wine closures: Cork has serious competitors these days, including screw caps, synthetic corks, technical corks (such as Diam’s), and reusable glass corks. Yet traditional corks still reign supreme, and Amorim aims to eliminate TCA—the lingering barrier to dominating the market again—in its corks by 2020. The company has invested 2.5 million euro toward this goal in the last year. [SevenFifty Daily]

What do you think?

What do you think is ahead for the wine industry, considering the trends that Rob McMillan points out? Also be sure to read the comments section of the post for a fascinating discussion.

What else have you heard or observed about this vintage in California?

In your opinion, which wines that retail for about $10 or less offer the best quality?

Do you think that wine writing today is lacking? Do you agree with any of McInerney’s comments on the subject? If not, what do you think the state of wine writing is today?

What are you hearing and observing about corks these days? What about TCA?

What else have you been reading this week?

  • I was just in Portland this past week and ash was falling on the city. To anyone living in Oregon, first, my heart goes out to you. Stay safe. Second, have you heard anything about whether this will be a smoke-taint vintage?
  • In reply to Gregory Stokes:

    & were in the Willamette Valley last week, working on an upcoming GuildSomm video. Perhaps one of them can speak to what they heard from growers and winemakers there.
  • To be honest, I think McInerney's style is often annoying. Dude leans on cliches more than Quentin Tarantino. At first, it seems refreshingly irreverent, until it starts to seem like an act.
  • In reply to Stacy Ladenburger:

    I know smoke taint can effect one vineyard and not another even in the same area, so I wouldn't want to make any blanket statements—but I would assume this could be a challenge in Columbia Gorge in particular.
  • In reply to Geoff Kruth:

    I just spoke to Tony Soter who buys fruit from many corners of Oregon. He indicated that the most severe damage was in the southern end of the state. He won't know for sure until all the fruit has been harvested and assessed, however, and picking is really just getting rolling.
  • In reply to Stacy Ladenburger:

    I woke up to a significant amount of ash Saturday morning, but not a lot of direct smoke in the Gorge. I think that it's heavily dependent on the wind direction and as Geoff said, hard to make a blanket statement and a bit early to tell. Most people in the WV didn't seem too concerned.
  • In reply to Christopher Tanghe:

    There was slight ash fall at the eastern edge of Chehalem AVA/Parrett Mountain last Friday. The smoke was not dense enough to be concerning in the northern Willamette Valley - especially in areas closer to the Van Duzer. Smoke taint is definitely more of a concern in the Gorge and per the Chetco fire in the south. The wind shifted to the east over the weekend - and we saw a small diaspora of Hood River residents (aka tourists) to the WV this past weekend. Of course the immediate issue is worker safety - as if the industry has not been sufficiently worker-challenged this year.