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How to make California exciting

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I wrote yesterday that the California wine industry has been a little less than exciting lately, and let me tell you, a lot of people disagreed with that. Hardy Wallace asked, “Steve- What would excite you?” Brendan, at pinotphiles.com, told me to “use your imagination [to] come up with a ‘wish list’ of sorts.” When I didn’t immediately respond, Charlie Olken weighed in. “Come on, Steve…List a few.”

Well, I’m not sure that any one thing would make California wine as exciting as it used to be, so instead of coming up with my own list, I turned to Facebook and asked my digital friends, “What are some of the most exciting, important things the California wine industry could do this year? Let your imagination soar!” As usual, they didn’t let me down.

I got dozens of responses. Here are some of the more interesting. I’ll comment in italics where I think it’s appropriate.

Pinot Noir is going to be declared ‘balanced’! [John Skupny]

Figure out Nebbiolo [Joe Herrig] Maybe toward the middle of the 21st century, but don’t hold you breath.

Blow up all the AVAs and recreate them based solely on geology/geography and not any political borders. [Joe Herrig] I could go along with this, but it’s not in the realm of reality.

Reduce reduce reduce: oak, m-l, SO2, mega purple, liquid oak, micro-ox, etc. :-) [Beau Carufel]

Overthrow the 3 tier system. [Chris Donatiello] Tom Wark is doing his best.

Open up direct shipping! [Brook Drummond] cf. above.

Define an information system that encompasses farming, production, marketing, sales and compliance and make it freely available (i.e. open source) [Randy Hall] I have no idea what this means, but it sounds good, so I’m in favor!

Turn Lake Michigan into wine and invite everyone in for a party. [Steven Doyle] I don’t know what Steven Doyle is smoking, but I want some.

Lower prices of high end Cabs. Uh, sure. LOL [Jack Bulkin] It’s already happening.

Stop thinking of itself as an “Industry”. I have no interest in wine as a product of an “industry”. ]Ned Hoey]

A little less EGO please…it’s Rutherford not Pauillac. [Pearsons Wine Atlanta]

Move to Ohio! We need the money! [Tom Day] Not until you get rid of that awful John Kasich.

Study and encourage the practice of sustainability at the winery level, [J.C. Milam]

Grenache! Please! [Stefan Blicker] There are some good Grenaches, but good Grenache will not be a game changer for California.

Prohibition is OVER – stop with all the ridiculous legislation and give marketers the ability to actually engage with their customers! [Brigid Joyce Harris]

Celebrate diversity of wine styles, from the austere and elegant to the big and bold and everything in between. [Christopher O’Gorman] I’ll drink to that!

Try to make some quality tempranillo. What I've tasted out there that is done here has been mediocre at best. [Nickolay Todorov] See my reply to the Nebbiolo comment.

For the industry to start taking the millennial wine drinker more seriously. [John Tyler Wines] Memo to Joe Roberts: make this happen. Now.

Convince the average consumer to have fun with their wine purchases and be more adventurous. [Valerie Reichel Moberg]

I have enjoyed how social media has made the wine community stronger..allowing for more support for what others are doing…spreading the word together so to speak. I am hoping more will use social media to interact with their neighboring winemakers and promote this great wine region together..not on an island. [Gloria E. Marckesano Schaefer]

All close their doors for the month of July. I have no idea why or what it would mean, but I’m pretty sure it would create a LOT of excitement. [Duane Bowman] Don’t they already do that in Europe?

Get our crop in without it being frost-damaged!!!! [Larry Schaffer]

Create a plan to go back to dry-farmed vineyards. [Stephanie Trotter-Zacharia]

How about all CA wines sold in carafes only, without labels, to be put onto tables around the country and just consumed . . . NOT over-analyzed . . . (-: [Larry Schaffer, ibid]

Adopt classification/quality certification standards (that have teeth) for reserve and grand reserve that consumers can trust and appreciate. [Rich Reader] I can get behind this one.

Find a spoken of the caliber of Robert Mondavi to speak for the need for qualitity wines. [Calstar Cellars] Robert Mondavis, unfortunately, don’t grow on trees.

[This is Steve again] If all the above happen in the next ten years, California will indeed be an exciting place, probably the most exciting wine district in the world.


They said it on Facebook

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“What should I blog about?” I asked my Facebook friends. Here’s what they said, with my replies.

B. Wing: Wine. oh wait…
Dear B. Wing: Wait for what?

B. Leulliette: White Burgundies from the 2008 vintage…
Dear B. Leuliette: I’ll leave that to my colleague, Roger Voss.

B. Carufel: How about talking more about what you see, not drink or talk about, when you’re driving around California’s various wine growing regions.
Dear B. Carufel: I tend to be a mental, not a visual, person. But you raise a good point. I’m trying to think less and see more clearly.

E. Eden: what to drink after the election results (something celebratory OR something to cheer you up, depending…)
Dear E. Eden: I don’t drink during the day, so coffee is going to be my drink until tonight, when I will definitely need some cheering up.

C. Kassel: The fact that even if Proposal 19 fails we can still grow the shit in our backyards without any trouble?
Dear C. Kassel: Prop 19 did fail. I voted for it. But I don’t intend to grow the stuff.

V. Moberg: How the results will affect the political atmosphere for the wine industry
Dear V. Moberg: I don’t know that election results affect the wine industry. Per capita consumption goes up whether Democrats or Republicans are in office. I guess you could argue that if the economy improves it will be good for the industry. But do you really expect the Tea Party to single-handedly grow the economy and bring back jobs? I don’t.

M. Mendelow: What to do with the three bottles of Manischevitz Concord Grape that are sitting in our liquor cabinet?
Dear M, Mendelow: Not in my cabinet. In fact you won’t find any Manischevitz anywhere in my house. Not that I’m criticizing Manischevitz. Just sayin.

S. Feist: Sierra Foothill wine.
Dear S. Feist: I’m not covering the Foothills anymore. That is Virginie Boone’s new turf, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see some good coverage of that beautiful region from her in 2011.

D. Tudor: Tudor Wines Pinot Noirs score 90+ on every wine since 2006 : )
Dear D. Tudor: You wouldn’t by some bizarre coincidence be related to the owner of Tudor wines, would you?

M. Rodeno: What is Jerry Brown’s favorite wine?
Dear M. Rodeno: I’m working on it. I would hope it’s from California.

P. Gregutt: Wine or Pot?? Which is more fun?
Dear Gregutt: We’ll discuss this in depth next time I’m in Seattle.

R. Piper: Poll about the Giants trying to find a way to get rid of Zito’s salary from their payroll next year so we can sign the good players.
Dear R. Piper: Neukom is just gonna have to suck it up.

R. O’Maoilriain: How about, um, blogging about tomorrow.?
Dear. R. O’Maoilriain: How do you pronounce your last name? Answer me that first.

M. Healy: How about how beautiful the vines look now that they are changing colors?
Dear Margie: I can just imagine, being here in Oakland, how those magical hills above the Russian River look.

L. Narlock: Blog? Go out to the parade! Celebrate our Giants!!!
Dear L. Narlock: I’m outta here!


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