Here are a few trends in 2013 that we think are going continue into the New Year.
1. Small wineries keep on coming.
Buying vineyard land and building a facility is definitely no longer the norm when folks want to start a winery. In 2013, we saw even more single-man or woman start-ups, with fruit entirely purchased from growers and wine produced in someone else’s winery.
We love the trend. It allows tremendous creativity and individual initiative, and this means, even better wines.
2. More efforts at sustainability and more focus on water use.
California wineries continue to be in the forefront of efforts to reduce their carbon footprints both in the winery and in the vineyards. Water use is coming up more often as a top concern.
3. White wine blends have joined the blending party.
Red blends have been on the upswing for a few years in the Golden State. California winemakers have kicked aside conventions and are mixing French, Italian and Spanish varieties together in some beautiful ways.
4. Pinot Noir dips, but Merlot is on the rise.
We love to see Merlot making a comeback, since it can be such a wonderful red. Growers and winemakers seem to be taking more care with it and allowing it to show its better self. Pinot Noir lovers are dwindling a little, but not to worry: wine growers have dialed-in what’s needed for Pinot on the Sonoma Coast, and others continue to fine-tune this finicky grape in Carneros, Monterey and Santa Barbara.
5. More people are drinking more wine more of the time.
Market surveys clearly show more than a 20% rise in the number of “core” wine drinkers – the ones who buy most of the wine. Their reasons for drinking have multiplied – wine remains celebratory, but sometimes, just making it through a hard day at work is cited as cause enough to uncork a great bottle. Hooray for that!
How about you? What do you see as the big stories behind wine this year?