Driving around the enigmatic, fog-shrouded Piedmont region of Italy, I saw steep vineyards that fall away from the winding, mountain roads, and medieval castles looming out of the haze on every other hilltop. I recalled the great Barolo and Barbaresco wines from this region are made from the nebbiolo grape—and nebbia is the Italian word for fog. Why was I wending my way through this misty part of northern Italy? To learn about wine and terroir—and sales, too.
Common wisdom often has it that to make its mark in the wine world, a region has to have a specific wine—often, a specific variety—that will be easily recognizable by average wine drinkers. A wine that provides a signature, a distinctive beacon on the ocean of wine that rolls around the planet. Think California Cabernet, Australian Shiraz, Argentinian Malbec or Alsatian Riesling. That signature grape, it is thought, will act as a locomotive for the rest of the regional or national production. Try telling that to the vignerons of Jura.
Sherry consumption and sales have been on a decline for the last thirty years. Some might believe that the day of Sherry is over, or that it will never return to its previous heights. However, looking at 3,000 years of history in the Sherry region of Spain, known as Jerez locally, gives me faith to exactly the contrary.
In 2002, the year PS I Love You executive director Jo Diaz began keeping records, there were some 60 growers and producers of Petite Sirah (PS) in California. Now, owing in part to her tireless efforts, Ms. Diaz may proudly count in excess of 126 growers and a staggering 723 producers in the state.
Every new Internet development comes with a hyperventilating promise to change the way a winery does business by revolutionizing how it interfaces with its customers by creating a new type of community around the brand. Yet, these innovations rarely become the ubiquitous life changers they are touted to be.
Social media has become one of the most used buzzwords of the last several years—along with Google (as a verb), subprime, death panels, friend, un-friend, tweet, and of course, blog. Wine has its own set of buzzwords, of course, from biodynamic and sustainable to screwcap, critter label, and boxed wine. Put social media and wine together, and you have a possibility to dramatically shift the way we connect with and consume wine.