3 Wine Regions With Definite Challenges Despite The Hype

By: Mark Aselstine

One thing I find about the wine industry, there's an awful lot of hype. Too much hype at times. Sometimes the hype far surpasses what those outside of the industry think, or even know about a region.

To that end, here's 3 wine regions that have some challenges, despite the fact that the hype is very real:

Santa Barbara County: What could be better, a world class wine region, sharing a name with a city that is often referred to the as American Riviera? To start, the wine region isn't all that close to downtown Santa Barbara. Which is a negative. After all, we don't equate Napa and San Francisco as being the same place right? Much of Santa Barbara County's wine region is at least that far away. Secondly, Santa Barbara has a challenge in that because it sits on a long stretch of east-west coastline (the longest in California in fact) the sea breeze controls temperatures even more than it does elsewhere. The result? You can grow Pinot and Chardonnay near the coast, then Bordeaux varieties, then Rhone's. Since no wine region has enough marketing capital to market everything, so what should they choose?

Oregon's Willamette Valley: A massive increasing price per ton of Pinot Noir? Check. Expanding production of Pinot Noir? Check. A quickly growing metropolitan city about an hour to the north? Check. So what's not to like? No wine region, has ever staked its claim on a single variety quite like this. No, not even Bordeaux (there's as much Merlot as Cabernet, as American's we just don't notice the Merlot). So what happens if Oregon gets unexpected hail after the traditional early bud break of Pinot Noir? What happens if consumer palate's swing back to the side of more fruit and not less? What happens if global warming makes the Willamette Valley even slightly colder so instead of ripening Pinot Noir fully in 7 out of 7 years (Burgundy is 5 out of 7) Oregon ends up at 3 out of 7? Wine is still an agricultural product and monocultures are bad in agriculture.

New York: So I'm not down on New York State wine. The Finger Lakes have a very real opportunity to produce a series of world class wines. But, they might be centered around varieties like Riesling. Will the wider wine industry notice? Will people outside of NYC notice? Will vintners have the patience to not grow what's easy and instead grow what grows well in their cold climate?


About The Author

Owner and Proprietor of Uncorked Ventures an online wine club and gift basket company, one of the most enjoyable aspects to my job is meeting the people who craft the wines that we all enjoy.

Visit Mark Aselstine's web site