Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Trophy Life - Did you come this far to be somewhere else?

There’s this natty new watering hole with a wood burning oven on Washington Street in Yountville. I’m waiting there to meet a friend and colleague, to have a drink and go over some Italian business. As I am early, and the bar is overflowing with revelers (it is Napa Valley Premiere week), I stand outside and catch up with emails from back home. Two large multi-person vans are parked in front. Black and shiny, with quirky license plates, monikers of someone’s idea of wine country chi-chi. In reality, these vans are peripatetic conveyances for the moneyed set, with their black and shiny boots, and black pressed jeans, and their tall blonde wives with their tight faux leopard stretch jeans, long-legged, with long, shimmering hair. “Come get in this one with us,” one of the older single men yelps to someone else’s wife. As if she was going to get in and on their way to dinner at Press, something was going to happen inside that van? She just gives him a desultory sniff and climbs into a smaller, more intimate vehicle with her curator.
Oh, the trophy life, it ain't no good life,
But it's my life.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

How do you solve a problem like Prosecco?

How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp (L) and Sergio Mionetto (R)
It’s one thing to try and grow a wine category into a monster. It’s another thing to hold onto it once it has grown so big that it’s impossible to wrap one’s hands (or mind) around the giant it has become. Prosecco has become such a monster. And now Prosecco is at a critical crossroads.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Italian Wine and its Truth-Adjacent Death Spiral

I was making my rounds in the wine job circuit. Serving tables. Sommelier. And now (1981) I was managing a wine bar in Dallas. My son was nearing school age. I needed a day job, being a single parent. A wholesale wine manager, sitting at my bar, told me I’d do great in the distribution side and offered me a job. And so I took a leap.

Over the years, it has been a good ride. I took a few years in between, working for an importer. I loved that side of it as well. But it was always distribution that called to me.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Showcasing Italian Wine in the USA – 3 Events to Put Your Best Foot Forward

Slow Wine – Vino 2017 – Gambero Rosso

February has been a busy month for Italian wine in America. The Italian holiday vacations, for the most part, are done with. Vinitaly is a couple of months away. And Italians, as 21st century road warriors, have their engines revved. The race has begun. And not just for the wine business. This week I huddled in a snow-bound hotel in lower Manhattan, during Fashion Week, amidst a gaggle of Italian designers, photographers and models. The spirit of Marco Polo, Amerigo Vespucci and Cristoforo Colombo, is well and alive, in the hearts and constitutions of Italian artists, merchants and craftsmen and women. And Italian wine is right there with them - all new, shiny and pretty.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

What will happen to Italian wine if America enters into a trade war with Europe?

The Italians never thought it would happen. They, led by the French, were marching into a huge new market, China. In that moment, they turned their gaze from America, seeing a new, emerging market filled with hundreds of millions of potential customers for their wines. Every farmer’s daughter was going to Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Taipei, Chengdu and Hong Kong with their Barolo, Brunello, their Prosecco and their Moscato. All along, China was developing cheap solar panels, racing to find a way to fulfill their own country’s need for cheap, clean, sustainable energy. And with that came the temptation to import those solar panels to their trading partners in Europe. But trading with China in the solar sector could cost thousands of jobs in Europe, where the solar energy industry had a foothold and was growing at a rapid pace. The EU threatened a steep tariff on solar panels imported from China. And China threatened to retaliate on wine with a tariff of up to 47%. A trade war loomed. And while this threat was greater to France, and even Spain, Italy also felt the slap from the big hand of China.

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