New grower site good, but needs work
I’m glad to see that the California Association of Winegrape Growers, the state’s leading grower trade group, yesterday announced the launch of its new website for consumers. Their old one was a mess, aimed almost exclusively at member-growers, and with very little interest even to a reporter-hound dog like me.
The new site is a good start, but work remains to be done. Here are some suggestions to make it better.
Have a glossary. There are so many words and phrases connected to grapegrowing. How about a thorough list of them, with definitions? The only word I could find on the site that they do define is terroir, and I don’t even agree with their definition: “A French term used to describe how a vineyard’s geography, soil, weather conditions and farming techniques can impart certain characteristics upon the grapes and wine that reflect ‘a sense of the land.’” I never thought that “farming techniques” were part of terroir. If that were true, then the terroir of a site would change every time the grower altered his farming. I think the proper word for when you add terroir + human intervention is cru.
The “Varietals” section is missing Albarino, Marsanne, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Grenache Blanc and Petit Verdot, among many others grown in the state. This is strange, given the website’s source — California’s growers. And while we’re at it, can we please, please get rid of the term “emerging varietals,” which is what the site lumps Viognier, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and several other grapes under? Until we stop thinking of these varieties as oddballs and upstarts, it will be hard for growers and winemakers, not to mention consumers, to get serious about them.
The “Wine Regions” section is a little, well, skewed. They list 5 — Central Coast, North Coast, Sacramento Valley, Sierra Foothills and South Coast — but, let’s get real here, only a state association of grapegrowers would mention the Sacramento Valley and the South Coast (mainly Temecula) in the same breath as the North and Central coasts. Just sayin’…
The “Stewards of the Land” section puzzled me. Under “Meet Our Growers” they list some well-known ones, while others are left out. In the North Coast, the site admirably mentions Andy Beckstoffer and Mike Sangiacomo, but where are (for example) the Duttons? The Central Coast offers info on (for example) Steve McIntyre, but there’s no mention of that region’s biggest winegrower, the Indelicato family, of San Bernabe fame. What’s up with that?
All the above is meant as constructive criticism. It’s great that grapegrowers — not a group that has historically been comfortable with consumers or the media — is finally understanding the importance of reaching out and making new friends, and through the Internet, much less! That’s pretty rad for farmers. But if they really want their new website to succeed, instead of going to that place in Hell where URLs that no one visits die, they should take my advice and make theirs better. Beginning with a glossary!