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What’s on the edge of extinction in 2011?


That was the question I asked my Facebook friends. For examples, I suggested Kodachrome cameras and travel agents. (And here is the blog that inspired me.)

As usual, my friends were quick to reply. Here are a few of their predictions of things that are teeter-tottering on the edge of disappearing this year.

book agents
paper newspapers
grassy lawns in desert areas
yellow page phone books
telephone land lines
The Tea Party
fax machines
brand loyalty
glass bottles for wine
Social Security

Those aren’t my predictions, folks, they’re my FB friends. But here are a couple wine industry things I think we’ll be seeing less of in California. Or maybe they’re just things I hope will go away.

-silly, pompous French proprietary names
-impossible to open plastic faux wax bubble seals
-those horrible plastic corks that swell up once you extract them, so you can’t put them back into the bottle
-fancy, useless and expensive paper press kits people like me get sent
-attacks on the 100 point system
-predictions of the end of paper wine magazines
-predictions that Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is dying or dead
-unbalanced, residual sugary wines
-negativity in the blogosphere
-half-assed wine competitions some wannabes are hoping will make them rich
-wine labels that are so hard to read, you don’t know what’s the brand name and what’s the proprietary name
-an absence of technical info provided by the proprietor with samples (case production, grape sourcing, price)
-corked wines

And here are things I hope will happen, or will continue to gain momentum:

-an improvement in regional winery associations, following recognized successful models such as Napa Valley Vintners and the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association
-Paso Robles continues to explore its own unique possibilities, instead of trying to be Napa Light
-the “alternative” white wine movement soars, especially in crisp, acidic and often unoaked varieties
-Sonoma County Cabernet, and particularly from Alexander Valley’s mountains on the west side of the Mayacamas, gains traction as an alternative to Napa Valley
-the 2010 Pinot Noirs are awesome
-our series of cool vintages continues, so vintners can keep on figuring out how to achieve ripeness at lower brix
-this nasty recession ends, but
-consumers don’t forget the lessons of value for money they learned during it
-Rhône varieties get better, red and white
-winery owners who are not yet engaged in social media realize they need to be, but
-people mesmerized by social media realize it’s not as important as they think, especially Twitter
-HR 5034 dies
-Interstate shipping of wine between all 50 States becomes a reality
-Obama does something noteworthy to promote California wine. See the above
-young winemakers continue to come up from the roots, taking advantage of a surplus of grapes and bulk wine
-and finally, my wonderful readers continue to find value in stopping by every day!

  1. “people mesmerized by social media realize it’s not as important as they think, especially Twitter”

    That one tops my list of “things I hope will go away.”

    The problem is not that social media isn’t as important as people think. It’s that it is becoming equally as important as all of the “traditional” stuff that PR/media do but *so many* are behind the times on it and are missing out on opportunities to shape how their brands / images are interpreted and molded – FOR FREE. Yes, it takes some time but nowhere near as much as most people think; the other thing topping my list of sh*t I wish would go away is the lazy approach to SM – “I don’t have time to do that!” 🙂

  2. Good morning, Steve, HNY.

    Nice list. A great way to start the year. One comment, however, struck me as odd and singularly out of “balance”.

    You wish, and I join you in wishing, that we will see an end to “residual sugary, unbalanced” wines. But what is sadly left unsaid in this list is the need to see an end to “pitifully thin, acidic, dry wines”. Unbalance does not happen at only one end of the sugar scale.

  3. Not sure about the wine side (I’ll defer to you on that one, Steve) but on the technology/Life side, my two predictions would be:

    Pay phones
    Internet Explorer 6

    (Your web designer will be breathing a sigh of relief for that last one…)


  4. HNY2U2 Charlie! I would much rather drink a thin, acidic wine than a sugary one! They have their place in the scheme of things esp. if cheap.

  5. joshiemac says:

    Sadly, I think “negativity in the blogosphere” is here to stay.

    See, I fulfilled my own prophecy!

  6. Can you expand on which “alternative” white varieties you might find interesting to see increasing this year? Pinot Gris for instance?

  7. Darek, Albarino, Grenache Blanc, Torrontes, Gruner V, Malvasia Bianca, Vermentino, Arneis, Cortese, Verdelho and of course Chenin, Semillon and Viognier.

  8. One thing I wish will go away in 2011…

    People not responding to another in a satisfactory period of time. GO AWAY!!!

  9. Just tried some Alexander Valley Cabs in a broad tasting versus Napa. I think there is real value there so I agree whole heartedly.

    On the 2010 Pinot front, don’t worry. Based upon what we have in barrel and what others have said to me it should be phenomenal.

    Happy New Year!

  10. David – one thing I’d like to see go away is the word “vs” when used in connection with a tasting. Why would anyone would want to ruin the enjoyment of wine consumption by comparing it against another wine?

    Why do we make people wrong for their wine choices (even if they are residual sugary) – and then wonder why more people don’t drink wine? Obviously there’s a good market for the stuff that tastes just a little bit sweet… Rombauer is selling a ton of Chardonnay and making a nice living at it. And people love it. Are we saying all those consumers are wrong?

  11. Steve–

    I may have not been clear. My bitch is with unbalanced wines. I have no trouble with a balanced yet noticeably sweet Riesling although I find Pinot Gris to be a harder sell because the fruit is not so pure and engaging and the acidity is often lacking or tastes artificial. Or to put it another way, a balanced wine with sweetness if fine and sweetness is not a disqualifier in and of itself.

    By the same taken, a thin, acidic wine is just fine if it also has fruit and character, but if it is just thin and acidic, it is not pleasant, and that was my point. Unbalanced wines happen at the dry end of the scale just as they do at the too-sweetened end of the scale.

    OK, enough dancing on heads of pins.

    And, btw, I absolutely join you in wishing for a useful set of small-area AVAs in the Paso Robles area. My belief is that the wines are getting shortchanged and so are the consumers under the current labelling regime.

  12. Charlie, agree with everything you said!

  13. As a wine lover from Massachusetts, the statement, “Interstate shipping of wine between all 50 States becomes a reality” sounds great in theory. But do you really think this is realistic in 2011? I’ve heard no forward-thinking news about Mass opening their doors anytime soon.

  14. Kathy, I’m the first agree that in matters of taste, wine is pretty subjective. But I make my living proclaiming my opinions and preferences, so I’m not about to recommend that we kill all the critics! If people like a sugary wine, more power to ’em. I don’t.

  15. Keith, that’s why I’m responding to you in a satisfactory period of time!

  16. Terry L., no I don’t think it’s realistic in 2011. But one can always hope. I do think that by 2015, it will be reality.

  17. Something I’d like to see in 2011, besides more people reading Steve’s blog (of course), is New York getting on the ball with their wine growing regions. The Finger Lakes and Long Island have some of the most beautiful wine county you’ll find, but the wines are so-so. But what’s worse is that they aren’t respected anywhere… not even in New York! In 2011 I hope they recognize that they have something that can be special. They need to forget about growing Cab Sav and dozens of other grape juice varietals and stick to what works. Riesling and Cab Franc is a good place to start. Make NY a world-class growing region for one or two wines and forget the rest.

    Actually, you know what… I don’t care. Do whatever you want NY. Nobody cares.
    [reverse psychology, yo! It’s bound to work on New Yorkers, right?]

  18. I laughed at your “go away” wish list. Mine is practically identical. Boy do I hate those Faux Wax tops. Especially for blind tastings. The wasteful press kits – just e-mail me the info. I want it digitally anyway. Another well thought out and great post. Cheers – Ken

  19. The industrial approach to winemaking and the overuse of invasive techniques are, IMHO, the obvious culprits of the soda-wine/pop-wine (with residual sugar & CO2) trend and the homogenization of wine taste.
    What these techniques have in common is the partial ability to mask low quality, over-cropped grapes, via the output of a predictable, one-dimensional, undifferentiated product.
    Although I do not believe this tendency is going to fade, or go extinct, any time soon, the full disclosure of winemaking techniques and ingredients, even on the winery’s website, would permit that one’s precious time, money and energy would be fully devoted to real wine; that genuinely reflect the grape’s indigenous/innate properties.

  20. Steve,

    Thanks for the laughs and you cobbled together a nice list without sounding curmudgeony.

    p.s. There’s some kids on your lawn over there.


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