Could it happen today, between America and Europe, a similar threat? According to a conversation I had this past week with a prestigious family producer from Italy, yes it can. European leaders are suspicious of American leadership. There is a fog of volatility that has rolled in, the likes of which hasn’t been felt since the 1970’s. But the 1970’s didn’t have the global thread of communication of commerce the interconnectedness that we all have today. The interdependence that some leaders cast a blind eye to, but which nonetheless exists. So yes, the Italians are nervous.
From the look of things in 2017, so far, business is good. Things are humming right along. Italian wine still seems to have a good momentum coming off a relatively robust year, 2016. I say this with the knowledge of data that I am privy to, commercial data that even surprised me. As it continues to do.
In a sense I understand this too well. I spend all of my working time around Italian wine, around Italian restaurants and often first, second and third generation Italian immigrants. I’m steeped in the tea of Italianitá. It was then that I felt a deep commitment, once again, tugging at my heartstrings, a little voice inside, from ages past and days not yet born saying “Help them get over to your side, help them to get a place at the table.” No kidding, this is how I think and feel about it. It’s not about selling more wine; it’s not about being in the cool kid’s club. It’s about finding ways, often extremely difficult, given the myriad of laws and regulations in the alcohol beverage industry among the 50 states, to help my Italian cousins in this land of opportunity.
Yes, things are so much better than it was 25, 35, 50 years ago in the world of Italian wine in America. Now we have the luxury of groaning when we see one too many Erbaluce’s on hipster wine lists. But I see a new battle looming on the horizon, one which might be more than just one of have a greater selection. You think it couldn’t happen here? How many jaw dropping events must one witness before one realizes they are not on solid ground but on the deck of the Titanic?
Vigilance, my Italian colleagues. We are in a social and economic climate that is heating up faster than our contentiously debated global climate shift.
written (and photographed ca.1971-72) by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
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