Editor's Letterby Jim Gordon
April is officially the oak alternatives issue, but this one could have also been titled the Grapegrowing Issue or the Yeast Issue. So if you’re not into oak chips like those on the cover—although we know many of you are—read on anyway.
We have four really authoritative viticulture articles in this issue. The first, by Dr. Mark A. Matthews of the University of California, Davis, is the most thought-provoking takedown of conventional wisdom that we have published for many years. Matthews has just published a fascinating book that enthusiastically and carefully takes apart several commonly held misperceptions about grapegrowing and winemaking. It’s called Terroir and Other Myths of Wine Growing (University of California Press).
Grounded Grapegrowingby Glenn McGourty
California’s climate has certainly changed perceptibly in the past decade, as drought and increased temperatures year-round have affected winegrowing in the state. Besides potential stress to grapevines, another serious consequence is the increased risk of forest and brush fires. Climate change is predicted to increase the frequency and intensity of forest and brush fires for the West Coast. This may eventually cause massive changes to our landscape in terms of types of trees and shrubs that grow. The potential for devastating fires is a grave concern to all living things in or near wilderness areas.
Vineyard Viewby Cliff Ohmart
Terroir and Other Myths of Winegrowing, the new book by Dr. Mark A. Matthews, is a must-read for any wine grape grower or winemaker who has ever wrestled with the most important myths of winegrowing or debated them with colleagues—and that would be all of us! It is also a great read for any wine consumer interested in looking at “the man behind the curtain,” so to speak: the myths promoted by wine writers, tasting room staff, sommeliers and other wine gatekeepers.
Viewpointby Mario Zepponi
The stage for 2016 is set: The U.S. economy continues to expand; capital markets are relatively strong; U.S. wine consumption continues to rise, and consumers’ purchase patterns increasingly favor more expensive wines. Wine sales have increased during the past 16 years at an average of 3.4% per year, reaching 375 million cases (or approximately 2.8 gallons per capita) in 2014. As of 2013, the U.S. became the largest wine market in the world, with plenty of room for continued growth in per-capita consumption.
Marketing Mattersby Dixie Lee Huey
There have been some particularly hot challenge topics in the industry during the past few years—distributor consolidation, price pressure, brand proliferation and, of course, the economy. These trends and the down part of the economic cycle are real, and in an acute way they necessitate a focus on marketing-driven sales strategies.