How Brexit impacts the wine industry
The Brexit referendum has nothing to do with wine specifically–it simply proposes that the UK will officially withdraw from participation in the European Union. So how exactly does the Brexit vote affect the wine industry? Namely, it impacts exchange rates and wine trading habits. Shortly after the Brexit vote passed, the value of the pound sterling (UK’s currency) began to decline. When this happened, foreign wine investors began buying up as much fine wine as they could from British merchants since their own currencies went further in the UK. Learn more.
Gender disparities in the wine world
Most of the major wine auction houses estimate that 90 percent of their clients are men, even though women buy 2/3 of the wine on the market today. This anomaly doesn’t just apply to collections either; only ten percent of all winemakers in California and Oregon are women. Wine collectors like Martha Welch prove that women can have as much success with wine as men, as long as they are treated as equals and work with the right partners. Learn more.
**Image courtesy of Wines and Vines
How global warming impacts the wine industry
Global warming’s impact on the wine industry could lead to more years of heavy rain and flooding, which will affect both grape growth and wine prices in the future. In California and Mediterranean regions like Tuscany, climate change is already affecting how the vines grow, leading to lower grape yields overall. Climate change has also led to an increase in manual labor at wineries that are trying to control their rapid, unwieldy canopy growth. These two factors could significantly inflate the price of fine wine in the near future, especially in traditionally warm, dry climates. Learn more.
When it comes to spotting fabulous wines before anyone else has ever heard of them, personal taste is everything, and Jack Daniels has made a career of his own exceptional taste and his ability to develop lasting relationships with the world’s top winemakers. Daniels, who is a co-founder of Wilson Daniels, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s exclusive U.S. importer, explains, “Wine tasting is subjective, and we all have our own palate, and our own taste profile. Your taste profile is different from mine. You may like the wines I like or you may prefer something else.” Learn more.
What inheritance tax means for French wine
In the 1930s and 1940s, French winemaking families could easily pay off even the steepest wine inheritance tax within one harvest season. Today, paying off inheritance taxes on vineyards can take ten years or more on family-run estates. Domaine Armand Rousseau’s Eric Rousseau explains, “It’s even more crippling for domaines that have difficulty selling their wines, because they can’t afford to set aside money to pay for future inheritance taxes.” Learn more.
The breakup of iconic French wine monopolies
When today’s sommeliers taste wines, they can often immediately pick out the unique flavors and bouquets associated with bottles from Champagne and Bordeaux. That’s partly because in the late 1800s French land became cheap and plentiful, allowing winemakers to purchase entire regions of their own and to grow the grapes to the same high standards. Now that land in France has become scarce and more expensive, these French monopoles are slowly being replaced by multiple-estate designations. As a result, collectors can expect to see more variety in the flavors of wines grown in France, both for better and for worse. Learn more.
Chinas attempt to avoid a second Bordeaux bubble
Bordeaux has enjoyed a long, prosperous history as France’s great wine region, but after 2011 wine collectors around the world were cautious of investing in the region’s bottles. The reason? In the early 2000s, Chinese wine enthusiasts became obsessed with all things Bordeaux, going from investing in an average of 12,000 hectoliters of wine in 2005 to 538,000 hectoliters in 2012. By 2011, the Chinese wine market had caused 2010 vintages from premium Bordeaux estates to become the most expensive debut bottles ever released, resulting in a significant pricing bubble. Learn more.
Napa's move towards terroir-driven classifications
Napa Valley already has an AVA category for its unique appellations, along with a few basic Cru Classé distinctions. However, no terroir better proves the need for a more precise Cru Classé than the Mount Veeder appellation. Its volcanic soil and the 30-degree slope of its vineyards earned it an AVA categorization and a reputation as one of the finest growers in the Valley, but its fans want to see this stunning terroir become a Cru Classé icon. Learn more.
**Image from from the documentary "Red Obsession." (Film Buff)
**Image courtesy of Mount Vedeer Winery
You might assume that it costs the same for a winery to make wine with high alcohol by volume (ABV) as it does to make wine with low ABV, but this isn’t the case in the United States. The U.S. taxes low ABV wines at $1.07 per gallon and higher ABV wines at 50 cents more per gallon. On the surface this might not seem like much, but that 50 cent difference could mean hundreds or thousands of dollars in lost revenue, especially for wineries that produce a great deal of wine. This tax law has forced many wineries to limit the ABV in their wines in order to avoid paying the higher tax rate. Learn more.
EU wine regulations give producers more freedom
The new EU wine regulation is a win for any new vineyard buyers who are getting into the wine game for the first time, or even established producers looking to expand their terroirs beyond what’s already available on the market. As wine land expands into unregulated territory, the overall vineyard prices will decrease in AOC-regulated areas. Many regions in France, such as Bordeaux, have seen huge price hikes on vineyards in recent years, limiting the number of buyers who can afford to invest in the land. Learn more.
The impact of wine regulations on investors
We can see the best example of what happens in regions without government support when we look to the current situation in Sauternes. Recently, the government proposed a high-speed rail line that would snake along the Ciron River, potentially breaking up the morning fog that has made the region so popular among wine critics. Learn more.
Tension in the Loire
This summer, Sancerre winemaker Jean-Jacques Auchere awoke one morning to find that almost 6,000 of his youngest IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) Sauvignon Blanc vines had been ripped out of the earth at his estate, The Cabarette. The controversy comes from critics who believe that growing IGP grapes near AOC vines will taint the AOC’s reputation. They’re worried that too much under-regulated IGP Sauvignon Blanc in Loire will result in subpar wines, which will ruin Sancerre’s value on the market. Vandals are exercising what they see as vigilante justice when they uproot IGP vines. Learn more.