Rob Moshein - The Austin Wine Guy

Bad News Might be Good News, Actually...or Not.

June 02, 2011

The Sonoma Press Democrat ran a piece this morning that severe rains are foreccast for June.  Normal June rain is .19 of an inch, however 2 inches PLUS is forecast for this coming month. This is important because heavy rain will damage any vines in bloom, knocking them off or interfering with pollonation.  Areas most affected will be Dry Creek and Napa Valley as these regions will be in full bloom during the rains.

Now, of course, the article quoted growers who are very worried about lower yields bringing less income, naturally. In the short term, this makes sense. In the longer term, it might not be such a bad thing. Why? Well, Gentle Reader, in the opinion of Yr Mst Hmbl & Obdt Svt, Napa is suffering from a glut of wine and collapsing prices, and to some extent, so is Sonoma.  The once high and mighty names are struggling to sell their wines: Silver Oak, Rombauer, Caymus, Sonoma Cutrer and many others are literally on sale in stacks at grocery stores, Walmart and Costco.  Seven years ago I would have laughed at the suggestion that would happen, though I must confess I would have found it well deserved and smiled.  These once cocksure, arrogant folks are now struggling to figure out what wine pairs well with crow and Humble Pie for dessert.  I have no symapthy for them, as a former retailer of their products.

So, this weather may be a blessing in disguise. Lower crops for 2011 will reduce the glut of wine they have on hand from recent years, and will help stabilize prices for the wineries, who will be faced with less to sell.  Now the million dollar question reamains. Will customers still insist prices be driven down? Yes, wine consumption is increasing in the US (Huzzah!), however price point shock remains firmly in place. $10-$20 is the sweet spot, $20-30 sells some. $30 and over....gets dusty on the shelf. $75 and up? fuggedaboutit.

However this sword of Damacles may continue to cut both ways, lower yield and lower prices will not be healthy for smaller, cash strained wineries. Time will tell, but either way, it will be an ugly year for Napa/Sonoma in 2011.  I wish them all, especially my friends there, the best of luck and may G-d's countinance shine upon them.

Rob Moshein
Austin Wine Guy

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Raves, rants, musings, ponderings and wine whines... trends, tasting notes, the Austin Wine Guy Rob Moshein shares his world of wine and thoughts about it with you.

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