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05.17.2012

California Grape Shortage - Fact or Fiction?

grape_prices.jpg"Panic! Wine Prices Due to Rise" read a recent headline on TIME Magazine's website. Welcome to the absurd states of America. That TIME Magazine, not generally known for sarcastic titling, would be reporting on the subtleties of the wine grape market is surprise enough, but the suggestion that Americans care enough about wine to panic simply boggles the mind.

According to the statistics released by several sources, including the United States Department of Agriculture as well as The Wine Institute, California (which produces 90% of American wine) indeed faces a grape shortage. These statistics arrive each year in the inboxes of wine writers and members of the trade with all the fanfare their publishers can muster, and are usually met with about as much attention and enthusiasm as an email hawking nutritional supplements.

Nonetheless, this year's statistics on the California grape crop have produced a raft of articles in the popular press, suggesting either that journalists think Americans may be more interested in the workings of the wine industry than ever before, or perhaps that writers can't resist a story that lends itself to a hyperbolic headline.... Continue reading this article on JancisRobinson.Com.

This article is my monthly column at JancisRobinson.Com, Alder on America, and is available only to subscribers of her web site. If you're not familiar with the site, I urge you to give it a try. It's only £6.99 a month or £69 per year ($11/mo or $109 a year for you Americans) and well worth the cost, especially considering you basically get free, searchable access to the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs. Click here to sign up.

Comments (3)

lori wrote:
05.19.12 at 11:54 AM

There is definitely a shortage of reasonably priced good wines. Looks like I will have to steer away from the outrageously priced California wines, and snatch up wines from WA, Chile, Australia, etc. Does anyone else feel the pain?

John Skupny wrote:
05.20.12 at 4:02 PM

The sky is falling, the sky is falling! grape prices and bulk wine prices have been increasing much faster than the front line and wholesale prices of wine. Unless there is a surge of expendable income vintners or growers will like be left holding the wine-bag!

05.24.12 at 7:37 PM

Interesting take. My sense too is that interest in wine is rising. One needs only look as far as the rich conversation happening across social media to see.

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