Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Bears and the Bees

2006 was a good year for Italian wines in America. Looking at the sales report today, some interesting inside industry notes show, in my world, cases are up 11% and dollars are up 15%. The sales are up in dollars because the dollar is weak. The downward spiral of the dollar is good for business? Italian winemakers are readying themselves to meet with many of us in America between now and Vinitaly in April. Already they are looking at raising their prices 10% and also expecting sales increases of 12-20%. We’re not throwing our hat in the air yet. France and Australia still lead, but that might be more a factor of regional differences than the overall picture. This will probably the last of this kind of posting for a while. I hope.

Today, on the Big Island, with a group of young Italians, I realize that they have no idea about what I do and I have little or no connection to them with this Italian wine business, blog and the future of such. Today I walked into a very famous Italian wine store to ask the young clerk a question. They don’t know who I am. Who do I think I am?

What I learned today is that this writing, these thoughts, ideas, hopes and dreams are a fabrication of imaginings I have drawn up from my inner Fantasy Island. I feel pretty irrelevant. Pretty well much back to full circle on this island from 31 years ago.

In a sense, it is liberating. Nothing above me, nothing below me, so I leap off.

A young girl walks into a pizzeria. She is a famous Italian because she had a famous boyfriend and then she poses naked for a calendar. She sits at the table while the chef prepares a meal she won’t enjoy, reads email that she couldn’t care about, laughs with her friend over a picture and a text message that is meaningless, and fails to notice her fashion dog playing with a precious young girl not 2 years old. Fame is so overrated.

Jan 6 and it was 72° F today. The Coney Island Polar Bear Club protested in silence on a Brooklyn beach.The bear wonders if he’ll have time to live out his life in this kind of world.

Bees are also showing some apprehension. Fields planted with GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) are being avoided by them, refusing to pollinate the crops, protesting this brave new world of ours.

And another challenge to look forward to: Terroir, as brought to you by AXA and Saiagricola Insurance companies, US vineyard REIT’s and CalPERS (the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.) This piece by Adam Feil for

For those of you who have read this far, what is in store? If you are in the industry, there will be face-offs coming. Fasten your seat belts. If you are a consumer, it could be good. But if cowboy capitalism captures the wine world, then making something cheaper (it can be similar, it doesn’t have to taste exactly like a Barolo or Bordeaux) will dominate the discussion. The good news, your palate is evolving and you probably wont want to be drinking a “20 Buck Chuck” for the rest of your life. So you have the power. The bad news, few of you will get to Tuscany and even less of you will ever get to Barbaresco or Courmayeur , Gorizia or Bucita. To experience these wonderful places on your own. Managia.

I know this little voice of mine is just that. Year after year of walking the pavilions of Vinitaly have pointed out to me that I am one of many bees in a hive, not the queen bee. That’s who I think I am, and that's ok. And while it sometimes seems it’s all about money, I just hope we can keep on making honey.


Anonymous said...

Cowboy Capitalism in the world of wine, I believe you are right that is just around the bend, but the human consciousness does evolve and that which has been forgotten is learned again.

To you Giovanni Battista del Vino, welcome back from the island!

Tracie P. said...

i guess you could never be the queen bee when i already hold that title. ;)

happy new year, ace!

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