Is this what we’ve come to?

Perusing facebook yesterday, I came across this blog talking about Oregon’s mark on the wine industry and how they are behind California and some other parts of the world in terms of production levels and awareness of the wines. The blog was prompted by the Oregon Wine Board announcing a new director. This new person wants to “grow” the Oregon wine industry to make it become a household name (I kind-of already thought it was a household name for Pinot Noir).

But it got me thinking, I know Oregon for Pinot Noir, but not much of anything else. I’m sure they do other wines great  too. When I think of Napa, I think of Cabernet. When I think of Sonoma I think of, well, I think of a lot of things from Chardonnay to Cabernet to Zinfandel. Then there’s the different regions of France and the different grapes they are known for: Bordeaux for Cabernet, Rhone for Syrah and Burgundy for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, among others. Germany for Riesling. Australia for Shiraz (Syrah). Chile for Merlot. Argentina for Malbec.

Why is it that wine growing regions are only known for one or two varietals? There’s probably lots of reasons, but I believe marketing is at the top of the list.

The producers from one area pick the best (we hope) varietal and then market, market, market it. And in most cases it works. But most areas have more than one or two varietals that they produce. And most produce many different wines very well. I’d hate to think that an area would get over-looked just because it’s known for one thing and not another. But it happens all the time.

So I asked myself, “Is this what we’ve come to?” Have we really come to a wine region wanting to increase production (and marketing) to become (better) known for one or two grapes? I guess so. Maybe I shouldn’t be so shocked, but it just caught me by surprise that’s all. Maybe Oregon should start marketing the great Riesling or Tempranillo that comes for there. They’re already known for Pinot.

I wonder what Sonoma would do to better market itself? It’s already known for so many different grapes from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to Cabernet, Syrah and Zinfandel, depending on the area. Maybe it gets too specific then. And maybe that’s why the marketers stick to just one or two items. Otherwise, the general wine drinking public is overwhelmed, I guess.

So how do we show the depth of grapes that are grown in the different wine areas of the world? Of course, specifically Sonoma too. I’m not sure, but I’ll keep thinking about it and see what happens. Stay tuned.


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