On the {Wine} Road Again: Wine Economist World Tour Update

Here at The Wine Economist we are counting down the days until August 4 when my  new book Money, Taste and Wine: It’s Complicated will be released. You can pre-order on Amazon.com, of course! The early feedback (see below) has been very positive, so I can’t wait for August to see the actual book and hear what you think of it.

In the meantime, the Wine Economist World Tour continues. Sue and I have recently returned from Southern California where I spoke about the “Secrets of the World’s Most Respected Wine Regions” to the winegrower audience at the Ramona Valley California AVA “A Grape Day in the Backountry” Symposium.

Later this week we leave for Italy, with the GPS pointed to the famous Scoula Enologica di Conegliano. I will be giving two lectures on June 9 and 10.  The first seminar is titled “Anatomy of the U.S. Wine Market” and the second “Wines of the Veneto: A SWOT Analysis of the U.S. Market.”  Watch this space for a report.

Closer to home,  at the request of good friends, I’m giving an “Extreme Wine” talk as part of the Senior University program at Franke Tobey Jones on Wednesday June 24 at 6pm. Looking forward to seeing familiar faces in the audience at Senior University and  tasting a few wines with “extreme stories.”

Then it’s north a few degrees of latitude to Osoyoos, British Columbia to speak at the BC Wine Institute’s annual meeting on July 6.  We had a great visit to the BC wine country a couple of years ago and look forward to returning and seeing what’s new.

Back home again, I will be on a panel of local bloggers discussing  the blogosphere and its discontents on July 15 from 7-8 pm at the Tacoma Public Library‘s Olympic Room.

The weather is great here in the Pacific Northwest in July so it is hard to get me to leave, but I couldn’t say no to an invitation to speak at the California Association of Winegrape Growers Summer Conference on July 22-24, 2015 at the Silverado Resort & Spa in Napa, California. I’ll be speaking with Wine Market Council president John Gillispie on“Wine Market Update and Insights” on Thursday, July 23.

And then? Several interesting trips in the planning stage. Who knows, maybe I’ll speak at a wine event near you?


In the spirit of “shameless self-promotion,” here are some of the early comments on Money, Taste and Wine: It’s Complicated. 

Mike has the unique ability to look at wine differently and discover facts beyond the mythology. In this fascinating book, he gives the poor consumer overwhelmed by choice and myth an eye-opening look at wine.
Paul Cluver, Paul Cluver Wines, South Africa

Written in Mike Veseth’s ineffable style, Money, Taste, and Wine goes down as easily as the finest pinot, will make you laugh, and will fatten your wallet. If you’ve ever suspected that wine’s pricing is rigged, fumed at stratospheric restaurant tariffs, or want to be amazed at how the revolution in global trade has affected your favorite drink, then look no further than this book. A must for any consumer of the fruit of the vine.

William Bernstein, author of Birth of Plenty, A Splendid Exchange, and Masters of the World

In Money, Taste, and Wine, preeminent wine economist Mike Veseth teaches us how to be a rational, informed wine consumer by better understanding available wine choices, personal tastes and preferences, and common wine buying mistakes. Along the way, he provides fascinating insights into the workings of the wine industry in a fun and interesting way with his engaging and provocative writing style. A must read for anyone who drinks wine or has an interest in the wine market.
James Thornton, Eastern Michigan University, author of American Wine Economics

A remarkable blend of research, history, and examples straight from the heart of a genuine explorer makes this book a must read. Mike skillfully walks his readers through the multifaceted relationship of money, taste, and wine and leads them to a smart, optimistic, and enjoyable conclusion. A perfect fit for those who thirst for more.
Evy Gozali, CEO of Sababay Winery, Bali, Indonesia

With his usual wit, wisdom, and whimsy, the ebullient Mike Veseth (aka The Wine Economist) unravels the complexities of what he calls the ‘unhealthy love triangle of money, taste, and wine.’ For anyone with taste who is remotely interested in discovering hidden, undervalued vinous treasures and willing to learn a little about themselves along the way, this insightful book is a must read. Having fought the good fight in Wine Wars and tickled the imagination in Extreme Wine, Mike’s insights into the vexed relationship between Money, Taste, and Wine could be subtitled ‘choose your wine and those you share it with carefully.’

Michael Hince, HinceOnWine, Australia

I laughed out loud reading Mike Veseth’s Money, Taste, and Wine. He has such a humorous and down-to-earth style when writing about wine, and his new book involves hilarious romps through supermarket aisles, restaurants, and discount stores to find a good deal on wine. It also has its serious points, providing invaluable information for wine lovers in analyzing their own palates and expectations. A definite read for all wine enthusiasts, wine students, and wine newbies.
Liz Thach, Master of Wine, Professor of Wine Business & Management, Sonoma State University

Money, Taste, and Wine is a great read: entertaining, informative, and heartfelt. Like Wine Wars it is packed with economic and historic insights into the world of wine. At times I found myself laughing out loud and also reaching for my notebook to jot down facts and add (wine and non-wine) books to my reading list.
Caro Feely, Feely Wines and French Wine Adventures


World tour? Well, it’s a small world! Enjoy!

The Wine Economist 500

500This is the Wine Economist’s 500th column and a good time to reflect on the wine road that got us here.

The very first post, dated May 29, 2007, reported on “Bottling the 2005 at Fielding Hills Winery,” comparing the hand-bottling process to Adam Smith’s famous pin factory. The division of labor was very efficient, I concluded, and the payment (a picnic lunch overlooking the Columbia River and a bottle of wine signed by all the crew who bottled it with me) quite satisfying.

A lot has changed at Fielding Hills since that day. They remain one of Washington State’s outstanding wineries (and a personal favorite of ours), but 2015 is probably the last year they will bottle using friends, family and wine club volunteers and hand equipment. They’s grown, opening a tasting room facility in nearby Lake Chelan, and are expanding production beyond the level where hand-power makes sense.

Mostly Wrong

The Wine Economist has changed, too. Not many people tuned in for that first column compared with the global reading audience today. Total page views since inception are now more than 1.1 million and rising.

In terms of content, the columns posted here continue to do most things wrong, but a few things right. New columns appear only once or twice a week, which I’m told is too infrequent for a web publication. Gotta constantly post content, people tell me, because readers have short memories and will  wander off unless constantly pulled back.

And the columns are too long, too, averaging between 750 and 1000 words — about the same as a newspaper op-ed piece. Conventional wisdom dictates lots of short, punchy posts because of limited reader attention span. Incredibly, many people seem to read these relatively long  columns all the way through to the end, shattering the myth that no one actually reads anything on the web.

Partly Right

What does the Wine Economist get right? Well, I try to keep the tone positive and I don’t think that’s a bad idea. And I think the style, which is explicitly modeled on The Economist newspaper, is pretty effective, too.

There is also a modest Wine Economist social media presence, which is probably a good thing. You can “like” The Wine Economist on Facebook and follow @MikeVeseth on Twitter (@WineEconomist was already taken) or subscribe to the blog (it’s free!).

There would not be 500 Wine Economist columns were it not for loyal readers and their feedback. Thanks so much for your support. Looking forward to the next milestone. As Buzz Lightyear might say, “To 600 posts — and beyond!”


I was looking for a music video about writing 500 blog posts and the result was an epic fail. But I did find this! Just substitute “write 500 posts” in the appropriate places and sing along. Enjoy!

Celebrating Malbec World Day 2015

April 17, 2015 is Malbec World Day — a great opportunity to pull the cork on a bottle of Malbec wine and to appreciate how quickly this grape variety has come to be an important part of the U.S. and global wine scene.

I have a warm spot in my heart for Malbec because it reminds me of all the nice people and great wines Sue and I encountered during our visit to Argentina a few years ago.  So many interesting experiences learning about old vine Malbec from Roberto De La Mota at Mendel winery, about Malbec -Cabernet blends at Catena and that Argentina is much more than Malbec at a special tasting arranged by Andrés Rosberg.

My appreciation of Malbec deepened when I was asked to take part in the award-winning 2011 documentary Boom Varietal: The Rise of Argentine Malbec produced by Kirk Ermish and directed by Sky Pinnick.  The economics of the Malbec story came to play a surprisingly large part in the film and so I had more screen time than I would ever have expected.

Malbec’s story is inevitably associated with Argentina, but it has become a world-wide phenomenon, breathing life into the Malbec industry back home in its native France (where it is often called Côt) and opening doors to wine-growers around the world (perhaps especially here in the Pacific Northwest).

I’ll be toasting the rise of Malbec with a glass of … what else? … Argentinean Malbec on April 17. Please join me. Cheers!

Business Summit Talk: How to Make a $mall Fortune in the Wine Business

Wine Economist readers in the Pacific Northwest are encouraged to come to the Walla Walla Business Summit at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla this Friday, April 10, 2015. I’ll be joining a solid line-up of business speakers in this day-long event (which concludes with a wine reception, of course).

My topic? “How to make a $mall fortune in the wine business (and other lessons for people in and out of the wine game).” I’ll be drawing upon some ideas found in my forthcoming book, Money, Taste and Wine: It’s Complicated!  I hope to make my comments relevant to both wine industry people and the general business community. Interested? I look forward to seeing you in Walla Walla.


Murmurings: What Can Wine Tourism Learn from Food?

murmurResearch tells us that affluent travelers (and many of modest means, too) increasingly choose their destinations with food and wine in mind. I have several friends who are addicted to the Food Network and the Travel Channel, for example, and seek out the places they have seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Bizarre Foods and other shows when they are on the road.

Wine and Food Tourism

Wine tourism and food tourism are increasingly intertwined and, although I didn’t see it coming, I recently found myself caught up in that mix. It started with an email from the editors at Murmur, which is a new website and app that aims to help guide foodies and winos to interesting spots in different cities in the U.S. and around the world. I was asked to write up a profile of my town and it seemed like an interesting challenge, so I jumped in.

Murmur’s focus is really on food and nightlife and most of the city guides available so far are written by food writers, bloggers and experts. But wine is not ignored, with Alder Yarrow’s guide to San Francisco, for example, and Alice Feiring’s take on New York City. Steve Heimoff wrote about Oakland and “terroirist” David White about Washington DC. I thought briefly about writing about the culinary scene in Seattle, since it is such a great food town, but my friend  Jameson Fink had already done a great job there, so I decided to stay true to my roots and profile Tacoma,”The City of Destiny,” a classic “second city” just thirty miles south of the Emerald City (as Seattle is known is known hereabouts).

You can follow this link to my quirky guide to Tacoma. The format called for a brief introduction and then a guide to a “perfect day” in Tacoma followed by specific recommendations in various categories that the Murmur editors provided. I invite you to check out my recommendation and those of the other authors.

Looking for Lessons

Murmur is an interesting concept — very personal and quite different from Yelp, TriipAdvisor and other websites that sort of crowd-source recommendations. I wonder — are there any websites or apps that do for wine tourism what Murmur hopes to do for food?

I know there are plenty of apps and sites out there and lots of information, too. I’m just curious if we are playing in the same league as food tourism of if maybe there’s room to grow? I’d encourage readers to use the Comments section to share particularly effective wine tourism apps and sites and perhaps also to identify spaces that need filling in this regard.

This raises a more general question about what wine can learn from food. I have written before that food is way ahead of wine in terms of media and popular culture profile and there are good reasons for this. We live in the age of celebrity, for example, and while there are many celebrity chefs that  are known outside the food industry, I wonder how many winemakers are well known outside the narrow world of wine?

Maybe we need to try to learn from the success of the food scene since consumer attitudes and expectations about wine are not shaped by wine alone but also by their experiences with other products. Celebrity is one side of this, but certainly not the whole story.

What can wine learn from food? A lot, I think, and we need to get with it especially since food has already appropriated some of wine’s mystique by embracing terroir through farm-to-fork, single origin and other characteristics that we once thought of as our own but that are now common culinary currency. The environment is very competitive and, as some of us have said recently, wine is in danger of losing ground if we don’t up our game. Learning from the success of others is a good way to begin.


Thanks to the folks at Murmur for giving me this opportunity. It was a lot of fun to write about food and tourism. But I suspect that this is not my comparative advantage, so I’ll probably stick to wine economics in the future!

North to Alaska: On the [Wine] Road for the World Affairs Council


North to Alaska? No Ice Wine jokes, please!

I’m on the road this week, going north to Alaska to do programs for the World Affairs Council. I will be in Juneau  to talk about the global Wine Wars on February 11, 2015 at 5:00 pm at the KTOO studios. The talk is free and open to the public. I’d love to see all my Juneau friends there. I gave a talk about Globaloney there a few years ago and had a great time. 

Then it is north once more to Anchorage for a program for the Alaska World Affairs Council  It is a wine dinner event on February 12 with great food, interesting wines and some Extreme Wine stories to go with them.

The wine dinner is a fund-raiser for the World Affairs Council with tickets priced at $100 for AWAC members, $125 for non-members and $150 to sit at the VIP table with me.  I did a similar dinner in Seattle last year and it sold out and raised a lot of money for the World Affairs Council, so I have high hopes for Anchorage. I will also visit a high school in Anchorage to talk with the students about globalization and answer questions about global markets, globaloney, global wine and (wearing my professor hat) college studies.

I am a big fan of the work of local World Affairs Councils and have done several programs in the past for the groups in Seattle, Portland, Tacoma and Juneau. World Affairs Councils make that critical global-local connection, bringing global issues home and fostering international understanding. I’m proud to support their work in Alaska and across the country.


Hope you enjoy the trailer from the 1960 film “North to Alaska.” I think my visit will be exciting, but in a different way from the film. Looking for that video I stumbled upon this. What do you think?

Wine Economist Short-Listed for Gourmand Blog Award

Just a quick note to tell you that The Wine Economist has been short-listed for a global blog award. The Gourmand International “Best in the World” awards will be announced on June 8 in Yantai, China.

I’ll copy the short list of blogs, magazines and “books of the year” (one finalist per country) in the “wine and drinks.” category. The Wine Economist is in good company, don’t you think? It’s an honor just to be nominated for this award and a double honor to make the list of finalists!

Thanks to Gourmand International for this recognition (and thanks to whoever nominated The Wine Economist for this award!).

Best Wine and Drinks Blog:

  • France- Cite des Civilisations du Vin
  • Singapore – The Wine Review, Ch’ng Poh Tiong
  • USA- The Wine Economist, Mike Veseth

Best Wine and Drinks Magazine:

  • Brazil- Vinho magazine
  • China- China Wine News
  • Iceland- Vinbladid
  • South Africa- Wine Mag
  • USA- Quarterly Review of Wine

Best Wine and Drinks Book of the Year

  • Australia- Barossa Shiraz, Thomas Girgensohn, ( Wakefield Press )
  • Brazil- Cachaca e Gastronomia 2014, Felipe Januzzi, Gabriela Bareto ( Mapa da Cachaca, Ministerio de Cultura- Destemperados )
  • France – Bordeaux et ses Vins 1814 – 2014 ( Feret)
  • Italy- Accidenti, malatti e parassite della vite ( Edizioni SUV )
  • Mexico – Bebiendo nuestra tierra, el vino mexicano, Pablo M.Aldrete,Maria Palau, Memo Garcia (MG )
  • Sweden- Whiskyns Landscap, Claes Grunsten ( Max Strom )
  • Switzerland- Vins Swiss Wines ( Vinea )
  • USA- The best white wine in the world, the Riesling, Stuart Piggott ( Stewart ,Tabori, Chang )

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