When Will New York Wine Qualify as American Wine? (short piece #13)


And the New York wine industry is booming when California wine is not. That should get some blank stares. I think for the most part it fails to have immediate meaning. Wine business has been doing poorly not only in US but worldwide and the fact that NY is doing good is puzzling. What does it mean? It is part of US wine market so if US is doing badly but NY is doing good does it mean that US is now doing good which is not so what does it mean? What is NY wine industry anyway? Media marketing has pushed American wine to be California wine and all the rest don’t count much because they have not been given exposure. How does NY which is not California (which equals American wine) matter in the wine business picture? What does all this mean?

The problem is we have simplified American wine business to what California wine business is by volume and we have a hard time counting other wine regions as part of American wine business. After all, the interests of those with the most money in the wine industry is all that matters. Wine quality and appreciation is mostly talk we have to listen to. If the big boys are doing well, they will be happy and we know about it. If they are not, we shall hear it in the media everyday. They are not happy with how things are. Do they care about wine? Do they care about American wine? Do they care about New York wine as American wine? Do they care about anything but sales of whatever plenty of is in the warehouses they own? No. The answer is no. Wine does not exist in this picture. American wine is just a label for a commodity that is bought and sold so money is made and is not selling any more. Does New York wine business doing good help that this commodity can do better perhaps in the future? Not at this time because the commodity only exists in the media by its image. The image that is manufactured and is marketed is that of something called ‘American wine’ which somehow only California wine qualifies as. Will it not benefit everyone and the wine business to actually acknowledge that California is not the only American wine though volume of 95% may make us believe? I don’t think so. The marketing of wine is not about wine as much as we believe. It is about what we have plenty of to sell and money is made of. Many small producers of California cannot find distributors for the same reason. They don’t mass produce their wines so warehouses can be filled and legions of salespeople can go around marketing whatever quantity can be put on order forms.

Quantity has a great deal to do with what qualifies as legitimate. Quality is a topic that gets in the way. The industry has suffered greatly by the qualify movements. The whole process of manufacturing is not friendly to quality. Producing a product in quantity can easily translate into profits and that is what America is about. California wine equaling American wine means large quantities of American wine available for sale and re-order and next vintage sale. The investment in the marketing of this product pays off great. New York wine has been around forever and has had much great press but is not a quantity business. New York wine cannot fill huge national warehouses so it would make sense to send out armies of salesfolk pitching New York wine as American wine. New York does not make enough wine to qualify for re-orders and next vintage sales. The only thing New York has going for itself is quality, that gets appreciated, and being local which is in the nature of wine.

Wine is agricultural business and locals like to eat and drink their own worldwide for all history. Transportation is a new concept of this past century. Paris used to be home to huge vineyards until railroad brought cheap wines from other parts of France and so is the tale of Paris wine industry. New York booms because the wines are good and the locals who know them drink them. American wine suffers because California wine needs the strong dollar of California spender and that of others but easy money only arrives in prosperous times. If a middle ground existed, quality could actually matter in the functioning of the industry and we could drink good wines in good and bad times. The industry could also accept that what goes up must come down and they would be patient while it is down. However, the marketing dollar was spent on California wine and so California is American wine for now.

*This post belongs to this week’s edition of Wine by Cush Magazine blog and published early in World of Cush also.


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