Palate Press has selected our top ten stories from 2012 and will publish a 2012 Redux article each weekday until January 4, 2013. These stories highlight our featured columnists, widely recognized contributors, and most popular works published through the year. The Palate Press editorial board hopes you enjoy these highlights as we look forward to bringing you the best stories for your palate in 2013.

[box] Editor’s Note: Contributor Jules Van Cruysen has some advice for wine producers: take a page out of the craft beer playbook. Innovation, collaboration, and risk-taking have united the craft beer industry and created a burgeoning market of passionate consumers. Can wine producers mobilize consumers in the same way? –Tom Mansell, Science Editor[/box]

The wine market is crowded. There are thousands of wineries jumping up and down screaming, ‘ME, ME, ME!!!’, all trying to tell a story about what makes them different. It’s a story that wine buyers and potential customers are getting bored of.

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It is not the top tier of producers we are talking about – those making truly fine wine. While fine wine has problems of its own, there will always be demand for the best of the best, whatever the price. Neither is it the industrial wine producers, for whom style trumps substance, who use cold hard cash to open the right doors and who, largely, cater to the lowest-common-denominator drinker.

The producers I am talking about cover the middle ground – independent, small- to medium-sized producers making good everyday wine.

Who are they competing with for shelf space, for by the glass listings, for column inches? Not fine wine, and not corporate industrial wineries – they’ve already bought that shelf space, those listings and that media attention. In truth they are competing with their neighbors – other independent producers.

Now, take a look at the beer market according to The Brewers Association. Overall beer sales by volume are decreasing every year, yet the market for craft beer is stronger than ever. It has grown by figures between 7 and 12 percent for the past couple of years.  To put it simply, craft beer is making huge gains in a sector that is contracting.

How are craft beer producers doing this? The answer is simple…

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