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 )

A New Year at The Wine Economist: Looking Back at 2014 and Ahead to 2015

This is the final Wine Economist post of 2014 and a good moment to look back at 2014 and ahead to 2015.

Looking Back at 2014

The year that is just ending was full of interesting experiences, many of which were reported here. I was fortunate to be asked to speak at wine gatherings in five U.S. states (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California and Virginia) and four foreign countries (South Africa, Portugal, Italy and the U.K.).

The largest audience was over 2000 persons at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium’s “State of the Industry” session. The smallest? Well, just a handful of people braved the harsh weather to come out for one local bookstore event earlier in the year, but they made up for small numbers with mighty enthusiasm.

The happiest audience? It would be hard to top the crowd that attended a Seattle World Affairs Council “extreme wine” dinner talk in February. Great food, wine and people and lots of extreme wine stories to tell.  I appreciate everyone who takes the time to come to one of my talks whether the audience is big or small.

Looking Forward to 2015

2015 looks like it will be a busy year, too.  I’ll be returning to the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium next month to contribute to the “State of the Industry” panel. Then I go north to Alaska to do two events in support of global education there. I’ll give a Wine Wars s talk for the Juneau World Affairs Council on February 11, 2015 and then forge on to Anchorage for an Extreme Wine fund-raising dinner event on February 12 for the Alaska World Affairs Council. I’m proud to help support global education through these World Affairs Council events.

One of the things I enjoy the most is speaking to regional wine groups, trying to bring a global perspective to their local discussions  and discourage intellectual “cellar palate.” This year I’m fortunate to be talking to the Idaho Wine Commission annual meeting in Boise on February 17 & 18, 2015 (here is the agenda) before going on the the Winery & Grower Alliance of Ontario “Insight 2015″ conference in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario on March 3, 2015. Both of these regions produce some stunning wines and are seek to attract the recognition they deserve. I’ll try to give them some food for thought.

On the publishing front, a new book is scheduled for 2015. , Money, Taste & Wine: It’s Complicated, will appear in August 2015. Yes, Amazon will let you pre-order that! And there’s a paperback version of Extreme Wine in the wings, too. Looks like a busy year already and it hasn’t even officially started!

Best wishes to Wine Economist readers. I wish you all health, happiness and great wine in the New Year. Cheers!


Here’s a short video of highlights from Wine Vision 2014 that’s just been released. Thought you’d find it interesting.

Wines & Vines: A Global Perspective on Regional Wine Identity

The December 2014 issue of Wine & Vines is out and it features the usual mix of interesting and informative articles. This issue includes a preview of the sessions scheduled for the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento at the end of January, a “Best of 2014” collection, a guide to building an urban winery and much, much more.

Great stuff — the wine industry is lucky to be served by top notch professional publications like Wines & Vines, Wine Business Monthly, Harpers Wine & Spirits, Beveragedaily.com,  Meininger’s Wine Business International, The Drinks Business and  other useful and informative publications.

Wines & Vines has for some time now included content from Practical Winery & Vineyard, which is edited by Don Neel. This month Don chose an article that I wrote for him last year to be featured in the combined publication. It is called “A Global Perspective on Regional Wine Identity: Think Global, Drink Local.”

The article is based on a presentation I made to a gathering of wine makers in Southern Oregon. Some of the remarks are aimed specifically at this under-the-radar region, where some great wines are being made, but I think many of the conclusions I draw are more general. I invite you to click on the link and read the column along with the other Wines & Vines articles.


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