Wednesday, December 28, 2016

11 Years Wine Blogging - On the Wine Trail in Italy – Quo Vadis?

What started out as a journal, a web-log as we called it at the time, has become a journey, now expanding into its second decade. The idea of time as a construct that stretches and takes forever, well maybe that quite ain’t the way it is. But what I do know, in the last eleven years, is “what a long, strange trip it's been.”

From my perspective, smack dab in the middle and below the belt-line of America, I see only the road ahead, the future. If the last eleven years passed in a blink, imagine what the next two, four, eight could be? For wine, and Italian wine at that, it will be great. But what if it is riddled with uncertainty, sitting on lees of confusion and ambiguity? Fortunately, in times of social change, even in extreme cases involving the ultimate breakdown - war - the earth still gives forth. It still rotates, constantly moving through space at unimaginable speeds. The earth really doesn’t care if we are here or not, does not mourn T-Rex or the dodo. It’s up to us to make the right decisions as to how good of a life we can make it on this pretty little water filled orb. One solution: 85-87% water diluted with a little magic from the fermented grapes, a civilized pause for enjoyment, while here.

So, Italy – Quo Vadis? Where are we going? Where do we want to go? How are we able to go there when we figure out where that is? And how are we going to make those steps with courage and with forceful determination? I see this time, for Italy, and by extension, Italian wine, having a defining moment.

I say this as an observer, but also as a participant in the process. Admittedly it is from one of many points of contact that Italy has in the world. Texas might think they are the center of the world, and America the center of the solar system, but we all know there are many other things in play. The massive shift of populations away from Africa and the Middle East, from Mexico and Central America, towards healthier economies and freer societies. Italy is undergoing a wave of new blood, Sicily and Calabria being the entry points, for those who survive the voyage from Tripoli and Tunis. All of Europe is changing. It’s becoming more like America in its diversity of population. And as well, there is backlash from those settled in who see this as challenging their way of life. The United States has just had a huge pitchfork plunged into it and is undergoing massive change, both what we see and what will come as consequence of the turning. While the world turns, the stuff of this world is being upturned.

And always, the burning question – how do we sell more Chianti, real, well-made Chianti to America? That’s what many of my Italian friends want to know. How do we get people from Pinot Noir or Cabernet to Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, Nero D’Avola and Montepulciano? Isn’t that really why you come here?

Sorry to say, after eleven years, we aren’t too much closer to a formula, an instant winner of an answer for those who are seeking that answer. In fact, in eleven years, that question is probably more complicated now than it was in 2005. There are more wines in the world to choose from. There is more price transparency, thanks to the internet. There are more people from the wine world in the markets, working their products. Competition is, well, more competitive than it was in 2005.

Look, this isn’t a doom and gloom scenario. But going forward there will be a lot of “more blocking and tackling” along with some strategy. And one I will elaborate on in my 2017 New Year’s post next week.

2016 has been a challenging year for many on earth. But those of us who made it this far, well, we have miles to go before we sleep. The last eleven years has been a great ride and I look forward to the next eleven, on the wine trail in Italy. Hope to see you in year XII.

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
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