The Billy Joel song We Didn’t Start the Fire comes to mind, for those of you who can’t remember the lyrics:
Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe
Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, "The King and I" and "The Catcher in the Rye"
Eisenhower, vaccine, England's got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye
We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
Everyday life in the wine business is like this, and if I had any talent as a songwriter, I would write a song about the wine biz:
Cannabis, Vegan Wines, Old vines, Climate change
New regions, early harvest, black goo, bureaucratic mess…
We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
since the world's been turning
You get the point.
The world actually changes faster than the human mind can absorb - and at times - comprehend. Brexit, climate change, new regions, natural wine and AI will continue to trend upwards in 2019 and beyond.
The wine business does indeed change politics and policy influences business climate. In the 33 years I have been involved in the wine business, climate change is the most significant issue at hand. In Burgundy for example, they are picking three weeks earlier than they did twenty-five to thirty years ago. Additionally they have had significant frost damage resulting in significant reduction in yields and the corresponding lack of supply and price increases. In 2003, in Cornas, they had to call pickers back from holidays to harvest grapes later in August as it was so hot.
This phenom has made some regions winners and some losers. British Columbia has been a winner. Thirty years ago there were six or seven wineries, growing such winter hardy grapes as Chelois, Marechal Foch, and Du Chaunac for reds, Cayuga and Okanagan Riesling for whites. One large commercial winery sold Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from California and Washington State grapes, and Pinot Noir from California. Can’t recall if it said it on the label or not, but I don’t think so. Today we have some 350 wineries growing noble grape varieties
Napa Valley is on pins and needles, I recently read that if their temperature goes up two degrees, they will not be able to grow grapes
A few wineries, like that of the reputable Catena family in Argentina, are planning to plant vineyards at much higher altitudes, given former cool regions aren’t really that cool anymore. Other wineries are going farther north to more marginal climes. You'll see more wines from both locations in 2020.
I had a significant conversation with Steve Robertson when I was in the Rhone Valley. One of his friends was a manager of a Silicon Valley bank in San Francisco and he told Steve that many wineries are losing money. His prognosis was they needed to embrace AI.
I disagreed and explained, at length, how the wine business is a one to one business, and too many Americans want to be BIG versus small and that is what gets them in trouble versus growing organically. Then I read this article, I stand corrected.
What’s Old is New
The rediscovery of old, deserted vineyards and embrace of long forgotten varieties will keep on sustaining our insatiable thirst for tastes beyond the classics and may uncover useful approaches to adapt to climate change.
Chile, for instance, is attempting to protect old vineyards planted by Spanish explorers hundreds of years ago, and to resurrect old winemaking techniques. New native and hybrid grapes, for example, pais, Marquette, petite arvine, and zibibbo are things to look forward to.
With the legalization of pot in California, Canada, and elsewhere in 2018, wine and weed blends are coming. Canadian investment bank Canaccord Genuity LLC said that marijuana infused beverages could turn into a $600 million market in the U.S. in the following four years.
The focus on wellness and health is making veganism one of the fastest growing consumer trends, with sales of plant-only foods rising 20 percent in the U.S. in 2018, to $3.3 billion. This fringe-to-niche development will lead to the production of more vegan-friendly wines.
But wait, how are fermented grapes not vegan, anyway?
Numerous winemakers use fining agents derived from milk, egg whites, or animal and fish proteins to expel heavy tannins from reds and give white wines clarity. Despite the fact that they are removed in the final product, their temporary involvement in the wine makes it non-vegan. Vegan wines replace these products with clay or charcoal-based alternatives.
So before you visit the best wine club in Canada, you should know what to expect. The coming years sure will shape a new wine world for collectors and enthusiasts alike. Standards may not be the standards down the road. If you’re looking to stay on top and drink solid well made wines from around the world, browse our selection of wines from different countries. Marquis Wine Cellars is Vancouver's Premiere Wine Store offering one-of-a-kind wine from the best wineries around the globe.