Category Archives: Wine Maker’s Corner

Cloning – An Old Art in a New World

My winemaking career began in the year 2000 after my wife Elisheva and I decided to purchase 209 acres of raw land in the Shenandoah Valley AVA in El Dorado County. Within a couple of years, we built a winery and planted 20 acres of vineyards, which were expanded to 45 acres over the years. I consider myself a farmer and a grape grower as much as a winemaker.

One of my most significant achievements as a grape grower has been my success to grow Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in this region. I can attribute this success to two factors: changing the architecture of my trellis system to provide shading of the side of the vineyard facing the afternoon sun, along with the proper clonal selection of the Cabernet vines. I find the concept of clones and clonal selection most fascinating and decided to discuss this subject in this month’s Winemaker’s Corner.

A clone is defined as a genetically uniform group of plants, derived originally from a single plant by asexual propagation, mainly by grafting. All plants derived from one clone are expected to be identical.
On the other hand, when selections of vines of the same variety from different sources and locations are compared, one may find subtle to significant differences. These differences are magnified when a plant is relocated from one environment to another. In the beginning the new environment will seem hostile. In an effort to survive, the plant will try to acclimate, adjust and change. The changes that occur in the plant are known as mutations. Over time, mutations may accumulate creating a potential of affecting the fundamental characteristics of the plant, such as the size of the berries, the shape of the cluster, the color, the flavor profile, disease resistance, harvest time, yield and more. A selection of plants that undergoes this level of changes are known as “clones” of a variety.

A classic example of clone diversity is Zinfandel and Primitivo. They both originated from a Croatian variety known as Crljenak Kastelanski, which migrated to Italy to assume the name Primitivo and separately to America where it was called Zinfandel. These two clones having identical DNA’s, were separated for 200 years growing in very different environments. I grow both clones in my vineyard and can tell you that they are fundamentally different: Zinfandel has big and very tight clusters with large berries, while Primitivo has smaller and looser clusters with small berries. The flavor profile of the two wines is also quite different. Furthermore, Primitivo has a higher level of tannins and denser color than Zinfandel. They definitely don’t look alike.

Going back to our Cabernet project, I attribute our success to the selection of clones that are able to withstand the rigors of our hot weather. Most of the common clones of Cabernet find our weather too harsh, which prevents them from going through the process of normal ripening.

One final note: In addition to cloning, which is asexual, plants can also be created by sexual propagation by either man or Mother Nature. An example of a manmade variety through sexual propagation is Petite Sirah, created by crossing Syrah with an obscure variety called Peloursin. A more famous variety created spontaneously in nature by sexual propagation is Cabernet Sauvignon, a crossing of seeds of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. My question to you is this: Can we duplicate Cabernet Sauvignon by crossing seeds of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc? I think you know the answer. You can duplicate Cabernet Sauvignon sexually, as much as you can duplicate your son Joe. The only way to have Cabernet Sauvignon is by cloning. Get it?

Cheers,
Chaim

Terroir… and AVA’s (American Viticultural Areas) Are they one and the same?

If you have been to any of my “Tasting with the Winemaker” sessions in our tasting room, chances are you heard me saying, “A wine has a sense of place.” What this really means is that a wine acquires some unique characteristics from the geographical place that the grapes are grown which can identify the region. The classical name for a “sense of place” is terroir, derived from the French word terre, which means land.
The concept of terroir (pronounced “terwah”), was created by the French and is the basis for the French wine appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system. The AOC system presumes that the land from which the grapes are grown imparts unique characteristics to the wine that distinguishes it from wine grown in other regions. In old world wine regions, this concept is taken to such an extreme that wines are not identified by their variety but by the region in which the grapes are grown. As an example, in Burgundy, winemakers believe that they are producing a Burgundian wine that happens to be Pinot Noir and not a Pinot Noir from the Burgundy region.
The new world wine producing countries borrowed the concept of terroir from the French but interpreted it in their own way. In the United States we established the American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) which are the designated wine growing regions. According to our rules, a wine has to be identified by the variety of the grape, provided it uses a minimum amount of this grape and the AVA in which the grapes were grown. At this time, we have 107 appellations and sub-appellations in California with the first being Napa Valley which was designated in 1981.
Conceptually, what creates the terroir are natural elements beyond the control of human beings. The major ones are climate and composition and type of the soil. Viticultural practices and winemaking techniques can either increase or decrease the expression of terroir in a wine. In winemaking, excessive use of oak, high alcohol levels in wine or blending for the purpose of modifying some attributes that are a part of the varietal identity are among those that will tend to mask the influences of terroir. On the viticulture side, in order to emphasize the effect of terroir, we need to create conditions in the vineyard that will promote uniformity.
The concept of terroir also carries a perception of exclusivity and quality. It is not a given that every wine made in a specific region will fully utilize the potential of the terroir. Terroir is like a god given talent that requires learning and discipline to achieve its prospects. Sometimes people misunderstand the concept of terroir. Terroir creates diversity as opposed to exclusivity. Just because a wine comes from an AVA that has a reputation of producing some top wines does not mean that any wine made in that region will excel.
Napa Valley, which is considered one of the premier wine regions of the world, got a break in 1976 because of the Paris Wine Tasting, better known as “The Judgement of Paris,”, which resulted in a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay beating several French well-known labels in a blind tasting. This is what put the Napa Valley region on the map. With its 16 sub-appellations, Napa Valley is a very diverse grape growing area. While St. Helena, Rutherford, Oakville, Yountville and Staggs Leap are considered moderately warm, Los Carneros, Mount Veeder and Atlas Peak have cooler climates. The question is why combine these sub-appellations which show distinctive differences in their Terroirs into Napa Valley? I thought that the idea of creating AVA’s was to establish wine regions with specific identities.
I think that I will stop right here. Since this writing is generating more and more questions that I know not their answers. As they say in French “cela suffit , merci” “That’s Enough, Thank you!”
Cheers!
Chaim

The Cork and Wine – A Friend or a Foe

Cork has been the traditional closure for wine bottles. While cloth, leather and clay closures preceded cork, it became the closure of choice in the 1700 after glass blowers were able to manufacture wine bottles of uniform size, shape and design.

Some winemakers and other wine aficionados think that the choice of using cork as a closure for wine bottles brought fine wine into modern age, since it provided the ability of wine to age and evolve in the bottle …….. at least winemakers from the past and some that have strong traditional convictions think this way. Four centuries later, the majority of winemakers that claim to be creating quality wines are still using the cork, even after there is a clear and scientific understanding of the pitfalls of cork.

The proponents of cork list a number of important advantages for using cork. The most important advantage cited is that it allows the wine to be selectively oxidized on a micro level to aid the wine age and develop qualities that are not present when it is young. Other advantages cited are, that it is natural, originating from the bark of a tree, biodegradable, recyclable and created in nature from plants promoting biodiversity.

Some traditionalists say that “cork is a remarkable closure … having elastic and compressible qualities ideally suited for wine.” My response is that cork is the most “ununiform” among closures. There is a significant variation in the hardness of corks. Some are soft and allow more air to penetrate through and after prolonged aging these corks will be soaking in wine. Others will become fragile and break in the bottle while you try to pull them out. This results in an inconsistency in the quality of the wine from one bottle to the next.

The major flaw of cork is that during production it gets contaminated with a chemical known as TCA (Tri-chloro-anisole). TCA is created when the wood is treated with chlorinated phenolic compounds to inhibit the growth of fungi. TCA is responsible for the so called “wine taint,” which gives a very potent, repulsive flavor and aroma to the wine. The smell of wine taint can be detected in parts per billion. Statistically, it has been proven that 7 – 10% of wine is contaminated with TCA, equivalent to a bottle per case. Is there any other industry in the world that will accept a 7% failure rate?

There are many viable options to the cork. I have been using one since my 2007 vintage wines. Called Diam, this is a composite cork, made from cork matter that has been ground and pressed using a natural binding compound. It has uniform density so that it doesn’t allow the wine to penetrate through and soak the cork. The wine does not become tainted since all the TCA has been removed during the process.

While I was doing my reading for this newsletter, I ran across an article describing regulations that were enacted in 2006 in some of Spain’s top wine growing regions outlawing the use of alternative wine closures for wines produced in those regions. Quoting them: “Spanish lawmakers and wine producers are responding for what wine drinkers the world over have been telling us for a long time – cork is a sign of quality for wine.”

I say they got it all wrong! Whoever accepts a bottle per case of tainted wine is not thinking about quality!

Cheers, Chaim

Age-Worthy Wines – 2007 D’Arideaux Rouge – The Best

I am into my 18th year of winemaking. I went through 17 harvests and made about 200 different wines. Since I had been a wine collector for many years before I became a winemaker, it was very normal for me to want to set aside every year a few cases of the wine from my yearly production. Recently, I became curious about the state of my older wines and decided to run an inventory. To my surprise, I discovered that I have 50 different wines that are older than 10 years with at least one case left over. I have 20 wines that are 10 years or older with 20 cases left over.
I became very curious to find out whether these wines had any level of age-worthiness. I must point out that what I am looking in age-worthy wines is not whether the wine is enduring the aging process, but rather is it transforming itself and revealing qualities that were not so apparent when it was young. I decided to make these wines a part of my daily diet and during the last six months, most of the wines that I had with my dinner have been from my collection of Di Arie older wines, made at least 10 years ago. I also included from my collection some old world and California wines that go as far back as the early nineties.
It is common knowledge that the factors that affect the age-worthiness of a wine are the variety, the viticulture practices and the winemaking techniques. I always brought all these factors into consideration in my winemaking protocols hoping that my wines would be age-worthy.
It has been very exciting to open a bottle of wine from the distant past that originally had left a memorable impression on me and to find out that during this aging process it acquired some unusual qualities making the wine more complex and subtle. While most of the wines that I tasted benefited from aging, some reached their peak and started to decline earlier, while others continued their positive transformation all the way to my first vintage of 2001. In general, my Zinfandels showed a shorter life span than all my other wines, starting their decline before their 10th birthday.
I was so excited by this revelation that I decided to create a new category of wines on our website called “Age-Worthy Wines.” I have included three wines in this category: 2005 Sierra Legend, 2005 Southern Exposure Syrah and 2006 Proprietor’s Blend. These wines, which were outstanding to begin with, have transformed to become exceptional wines. I will keep these wines on the website until sold, and then replace them with others of equal quality that are at least 10 years old.
This leads me to tell you about this month’s Gallery Collection Club release. After tasting all these wines from the past, I got a brilliant idea to share with you one of my old gems. This month’s Gallery Collection release will be my 2007 D’Arideaux Rouge. This spectacular wine, which has gone through a positive transformation, is proving to be very age-worthy while not showing its age. In my opinion, this wine is not even close to reaching its peak of quality. While it still possesses a dark and dense red color and strong aromas of dark fruit, it became more complex, acquiring earthy, leathery and savory flavors.
I am very happy that I had the foresight to make enough of this wine so that I can release it to my Gallery Collection club more than 10 years after it was conceived.
Cheers & L’Chaim

2014 SandFire Red

With the release of a wine that I named SandFire Red we are celebrating the third anniversary of the Sand fire, which came very close to devastating our winery and our home in 2014.

On July 25, 2017, a day before my birthday, the pungent smell of smoke woke me up at 5:00 AM.  I rushed outside expecting the property to be engulfed with a fire like the one we had exactly three years ago, on my birthday.  But all I could see was a thick cloud of smoke.  Unlike the fire that started on July 25, 2014 raging a few feet away from our house, this time it was a few miles away on the south hills adjacent to Omo Ranch Road.

On July 26, 2014, I wrote in my diary:

“I refused to believe that the fire that started on Sand Ridge road and HW 49, 5 miles west of the winery, on Friday July 25, a day before my birthday, was going to affect us.  Friday morning we left the winery for a weekend of celebrations for my birthday.   We were hardly a day in the Bay Area when I started receiving text messages from my neighbor Mike that has a house straight west from our house.  At some point he texted me that with the help of “two giant bulldozers, 20 fire trucks and hundreds of firemen the fire was contained around his house and now moving towards ours.”   His next text message came as we were on our way to have dinner at the One Market Restaurant in San Francisco.  It said, “I can’t see your house, it is engulfed with flames that are 200 feet high.”   Needless to say that my birthday dinner was less than joyous.  By the time the dessert arrived his text message read, “We can still see the roof of your house behind the thick smoke.”

We could not wait until the next day.  We cancelled all the events that we had planned and went back to the winery to see the damage with our own eyes.  While both accesses to the winery from D’Agostini and Upton Road were blocked by police we were able to persuade them to allow us in.  When we arrived the fire had been contained about 30%.  We still observed about 100 helicopter sorties dumping water and chemicals on the surrounding areas of the house and the winery.  By this time there were about 190 fire trucks and in excess of 1000 fire fighters fighting this fire.

Bottom line: Except for about 20 acres of forest that burned down on the west side of the house, the house and winery were spared.  We had smoke damage inside the house with minor smoke damage in the winery.  Most of the vineyard blocks  were not touched by the fire.”

Our 2014 SandFire Red is a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Touriga Nacional.  The Zinfandel vineyard, that provided the grapes for this wine, is located far away from the fire, while the Touriga and Syrah are in the close proximity.  I purposely emphasized the smoky flavor and aroma in this wine to make it fit for the occasion.  After all, it represents a fire that burned 4240 acres of land  in our immediate neighborhood.

 

Cheers!

Chaim

Weather, Degree Days & the Quality of Wine

People have been asking me how this year’s wet weather will affect the quality of the 2017 vintage wine. We must have had at least 70 in. of rain, more than double the average yearly rainfall.  The rains kept coming down all the way into the month of June.  While at times, some parts of the vineyards were flooded, I do not see that this will have a lasting effect on the quality of the wine this year.  Erosion has been minimal even on some of the steeper slopes mainly because of the well-maintained cover crop.  Bottom line, the excessive rains had no significant effect on the quality of the crop, so far.  Nevertheless, it is not time to rejoice. We must keep in mind that this is only the beginning of the growing season and a lot can happen between now and harvest time.

In the following paragraphs I will try to give you an insight how the weather, during the growing season, may affect the quality of the wine.  A.J. Winkler, a professor at Davis determined empirically that it takes so many degree-days during the growing season to get the grapes of a specific variety to an adequate level of ripeness to make good quality wine. This is called Growing Degree Days (GDD).  He assumed that the grapes would not ripen at a temperature below 50 degrees.  Therefore, he calculated the GDD by subtracting 50 from the average temperature for the day.  The average temperature for the day is the highest temperature plus the lowest temperature divided by 2.  Thus, the GDD for the day that has a high of 95 degrees and a low of 60 degrees (typical weather in the Sierra Foothills in August)  will be (95+60)/2 – 50 = 37.5. If this weather persisted for 31 days during the month of August, the cumulative GDD for August would be 1,162.5.  Winkler determined the “growing season” to be between April 1 to September 30.  He developed the Winkler Index, which is based on the Growing Degree Days summed up over the “growing season” in different regions.  Based on the average GDD he classified five different growing regions and identified different grape varieties that can be fit to each of these regions. I will only show the data for three of these regions since they are the ones that would apply to the regions in California and the varieties that we grow.

  • Region I: Below 2,500 degree days;

Varietals:  Chardonnay, Pinot Noir; Region: Burgundy

  • Region II: 2,500-3,000 degree days;

Varietals:  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc; Regions: Bordeaux, Napa

  • Region III: 3,000-3,500 degree days;

Varietals:  Zinfandel, Barbera, Tempranillo, Grenache, Syrah; Regions:  Sierra Foothills,    Piedmonte, Barossa Valley

Unfortunately, the Winkler Index is not very accurate or reliable since it does not bring into consideration all the weather factors that play a role in the ripening of grapes.  It does not take into account the effect of the temperature variations between day and night on the ripening.   Hypothetically, a region that would have an identical day and night temperature, say of 77.5 degrees would have the same GDD as one that has a day maximum of 95 and a night minimum of 60 or one that would have a day temperature of 85 and a night of 70. All three would have the same Index and would be classified as the same region. In reality, they would be worlds apart in the way grapes would grow and ripen.

Conclusion – Take it from me!  Don’t use GDD’s for decision-making!  Use them for information only!

Cheers!

Chaim

July 2017

 

“Savoir Vivre” and the French Culture of Wine

In 1998, before Elisheva and I even dreamt about having a winery, we sold our flavor company that we founded 20 years before to a French company from the South of France.  After the acquisition I continued working for them for an additional three years.  While Elisheva and I had travelled extensively in France, it was only after I sold my company that I learned more in depth about the French way of life.  Having negotiated with the French for over a year and then working for them for an additional three years got me embedded in their culture.

There is an expression in French that I learned from my new friends and that will stay with me for the rest of my life. “Savoir Vivre,” which literally means “knowing how to live.”  In practice it is used to mean “ability to live elegantly” or even “the quality of being at ease in life.”

Wine has always been an important part of a Frenchman’s “savoir vivre” culture which is associated with a long list of important aspects of life, such as gastronomy, friendship, tradition, history, geography and the list goes on forever.   For a Frenchman, tasting wine can be a ritual or an art which is taught from generation to generation.  To many, drinking wine gives them a source of pride and a sense of identity which is an essential part of what it means to be French.

In addition to those listed above, there are other benefits of drinking wine. Undoubtedly, you have heard about the French Paradox: while the French consume high fat foods, they have a 50% lower incident of heart disease and a remarkably lower rate of obesity than their counterparts in the US.   While this is attributed to their high rate of wine consumption with their meals there are also lifestyle factors that contribute to this phenomenon.

First of all, the French are never in a hurry during their meals which for the most part are shared with their families and friends becoming a time for socialization.  While the French diet is rich in butter, cream, cheeses and pastries, the slow eating decreases the food consumption.  This coupled with relatively smaller portions of food served during the meal significantly decreases their caloric intake.  Other factors are, the levels of fruit and vegetables in their diet, lower consumption of processed and fast foods and most importantly their attitude of “savoir vivre” which is intrinsically connected with the culture and life philosophy of the French people.

Did I sound like a Francophile?  I am!!  Am I immigrating now to France?  Not a chance.  Instead, I am adapting the “savoir vivre” into my daily life.

Cheers!

Chaim

The Myths, Misconceptions & Fake News…About Wine

If you read wine magazines, wine columns in your daily paper or visit wine blogs, does it ever happen that you come across a statement that does not sound quite right to you.  It happens to me all the time.  I find some of these statements to be “myths”, “misconceptions” or plainly “fake news.”

As it applies to wine, a “myth” is a widely held but false belief.  A “misconception” is a view or opinion that is incorrect because it is based on faulty thinking or understanding.  And… “Fake News” is false information published under the guise of being authentic.   Let’s see how these will play in some popular statements that we read in the wine literature:

Red wines with meat, white wines with fish – Myth

These old guidelines for pairing don’t apply.  It is an old myth that only complimentary pairing of the wine and the food works.  Contrasting intensities between the wine and the food may work as well as long as both the wine and the food are in good balance and can maintain their identities without overwhelming each other.

Legs are evidence of high quality wine – Myth

Legs are streaks that run down the glass when you swirl the wine.  It has nothing to do with the quality of the wine, only a result of the surface tension that the wine exerts on the glass and created by the wine components, the major one being the alcohol.

A heavy bottle means a wine should be good – Myth

A heavy glass bottle indicates that it cost good money to acquire but has no bearing on the quality of the wine.

Desserts should be paired only with dessert wines – Myth

Sometimes a sweet dessert is better off being paired with a big red wine rather than a sweet wine.  Never shun away from pairing a dessert with a dry wine.

Screw cap is a sign of low quality wine – Misconception 

Actually, the screw cap enhances the quality of the wine since it does not have the problems associated with cork taint that results from a chemical compound (TCA) transferred from the cork.

Red wine should be served at room temperature – Misconception

Red wine is best served at around 60 degrees.  As the serving temperature increases so is the vapor pressure of the alcohol, which makes the wine, feel more alcoholic and less aromatic.

Napa is the only game in town – Misconception

A wine has a sense of place.  It acquires the identity of where the grapes grow, which depends on the weather and soil conditions.  While a wine made from grapes that grow in the Sierra Foothills may be different from a Napa wine, it need not be inferior.

Wine critics know which wine is best for you – Misconception

Critics’ scores are not the gospel.  At best, they represent their personal opinion in an area that is very subjective.  The 100-point scoring system makes the evaluation incredibly opinionated and not trustworthy.

Organic wines, and wines made with organic grapes have more antioxidants – Fake News

This kind of statement is probably made to advance the interests of organic wine producers without objective, scientific evidence.

I could probably find one hundred more of these “myths” and “misconceptions.”  But I won’t.  Have a great day and enjoy a glass of good wine – Di Arie wine!!!!

Cheers!

Chaim

Questions People Ask Me…

I have been compiling a list of questions that people ask me about wine in general and my farming and winemaking techniques and philosophies.  In this winemaker’s corner I will discuss a few of the topics that interest many of our customers.

To water or not to water, that’s the question?

Recently I came across an article written in the New York Times of February 26, 1887 entitled “The Wines of California – Among the Vineyards of the Foothill District”.  In this article there is a paragraph that deals with irrigation that I would like to quote since the subject is still relevant in our times.  “Artificial irrigation is not practiced in these vineyards, which accounts to the dryness and exquisite aroma of some of the foothill wines.  It is a beautiful site to see these vineyards perched up on a mountain side several thousand feet above the level of the Sacramento Valley, and which are never watered except from the windows of heaven………”

The same argument still exists 128 years later.  In the Modern Farmer of December 21, 2015 Hanna Wallace wrote about dry-farming in Oregon in order to “create more complex and tasty wines that reflect the soil that they come from.”   In old world wine regions such as France, Italy and Spain, dry farming has been the norm and irrigation is frowned upon while in some regions the practice is entirely forbidden.

While I was very familiar with this argument, in 2000 when I was planning the development of my vineyards, I decided to opt for irrigation.  The factors that influenced my decision were:  Limited rainfall in our region and frequent drought conditions. The availability of technology to determine the quantity and distribution of water needed for irrigation to prevent over-watering that effects the quality of the wine.  The access on our land to well water that comes 600 feet deep down in the ground and not significantly affected by drought conditions.   It seems like we made the right decision based on the many consecutive years of drought condition and the success that we have had in consistently producing high quality wines from our vineyards.

What is this ugly looking sediment at the bottom of the glass?

I would not have a sleepless night thinking about the sediment that I noticed last night in the bottle of a 20-year-old Cabernet that I opened.  This sediment was not there when I bottled the wine. It was created during the bottle aging by a chemical reaction between the potassium and tartaric acid, both abundantly present in wine and resulting in potassium bi-tartrate, which precipitates out.

What should I do with the leftover wine if I don’t drink the entire bottle after opening?

The best advice I can give you is to place the cork back on and put the bottle in the frig.  If it’s a youngish wine, 5 years or less I could keep it in the frig for 1 – 3 days.  If it’s oldish, 10 years or more, don’t leave it in the frig for more than one day.  If you can remember taking it out of the frig an hour or so before dinner, fine.  Otherwise, microwave about 5 oz of wine in a glass for 10 seconds.

 Cheers and more to come,

Chaim

 

Are the Millennials Taking Over the Wine Market?

Our original customer base which consisted of predominantly baby-boomers and Gen-X is aging and getting replaced by younger consumers.  In order for us to continue our presence in the wine market it behooves us to understand the character, habits and life style of the new generation known as the millennials.   Recent statistics show that the millennials last year drank 42% of all wine consumed in the US, more than Gen-X and the baby boomers.  They account for 79 million Americans ages 21 to 38.  In 2015 they drank a total 160 million cases – an average of 2 cases per person per year.  These are very impressive numbers to say the least.  Other data obtained on their drinking habits looks as mind blowing.  30% of the millennials are frequent imbibers who drink wine at least 3 times per week with an average of 3 glasses per sitting.  What is even more striking is that two thirds of these millennials are women under 30.

I always believed that drinking wine is a cultural and a gastronomic experience.  Some people think that it is more prestigious than drinking any other alcoholic beverage.  While wine drinkers for the most part are better educated, some believe that being a wine lover makes them more sophisticated and intellectual.  But above all I am convinced that people drink wine because it gives them pleasure.

I believe that the millennials are not very different.  They bring all these factors into consideration when they think about purchasing or drinking wine even though they may be less complicated and more transparent.  Personally, I always make a point to spend time with my younger customers during Tasting with Winemaker events to understand their wine drinking habits and at the same time try to give them some wine education.  I always feel that they are thirsty for knowledge and very interested in the narratives behind the wines as much as the wines themselves.  I was very surprised recently to find out that the consumption of beer by millennials has declined from 70% a few years ago to 40% in 2015 replacing the beer with wine and cocktails.  In my opinion this is happening because beer has more functionality and wine is more emotionally fulfilling, a factor that the millenials are able to discern in shifting their preference.

The millennials are very experimental and adventurous.  This makes them less loyal to varietals, wine growing regions or brands of wines.  They mistrust the 100 point rating system for wines.  They regard it as a fabrication of their older wine drinking peers.  On the other hand, wine is a popular subject discussed extensively in the social media.  The exchange of information becomes the basis for their decision to purchase the wines they have never tried before.

Looking at my crystal ball, I predict great things will happen to the wine industry in the near future as the millennials start dominating the market.   Small wineries that make quality wines will be sought after replacing over-priced brands that are promoted by self-proclaimed olfactory prodigies that pretend to be neutral judges of wine.  Reasonably priced creative blends that fulfill the adventurous spirit of the millennials will take the center stage.

A toast to the millennials!

Cheers!

Chaim