Wine Wars is Now Well Read


Well Read is a weekly book program on TVW, which is Washington State’s version of C-SPAN. Terry Tazioli is the host and Seattle Times book editor Mary Ann Gwinn is a regular contributor. I was pleased to be invited to tape an interview with Terry last month and the program goes live today both on the cable channel and streaming on the web. Click on the video image above to watch the discussion.

I enjoyed making the program. Terry is a great interviewer and Mary Ann’s suggestions for further reading are on the money. What would I do different if I could do it again? Well, I guess I wouldn’t fumble so much at the end before recommending that the viewers run out and buy Washington wines (d’uh!).

And I wish I’d brought a bottle of wine with  me to share with Terry, Mary Ann and the video crew. I almost did, but for some reason I hesitated at the last minute, uncertain if it would be appropriate.  I should have just done it. What could be better than wine and a wine interview! Maybe you can correct my mistake by pouring yourself a glass to sip while you watch the interview.

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The posts are likely to be a bit shorter on The Wine Economist for the next several weeks. I’m busy working on the first draft of Extreme Wine. Thanks to everyone who sent me suggestions for extreme people, places and wine things. Now it’s up t o me to get it written.

Extreme Wine: A Sideways Analysis of the World of Wine

I’ve started writing my next book which I’m calling Extreme Wine and I’m looking for a little help from Wine Economist readers.

Extreme Wine is a sequel to the best-seller Wine Wars. Where Wine Wars probed the center of the world wine market, Extreme Wines focuses on  edges based on the same theory that wine lovers use when they tilt their glasses “sideways” and analyze the liquid’s rim: the forces of change first make themselves visible at the outer limits.

I’d like to invite you to read about the ideas behind Extreme Wine by clicking here and to scroll down to see the working table of contents. Then please use the Comments section below to tell me what extremes you find the most interesting. What are the most unusual wines? Who are the most extreme wine personalities? What are the most extreme wine films and televisions programs? Where should I go on my “Around the World in 80 Wines” analysis of extreme wine tourism?

You get the idea — let me know your Extreme Wine suggestions and I’ll try to incorporate them in my book!

>>> Working Outline <<<

Searching High and Low for the Best, Worst and Most Unusual in the World of Wine

by Mike Veseth

  1. X-Wines: In Vino Veritas?
  2. Extreme Wine: Best and the Worst
  3. The Fame Game: Most Famous, Most Forgotten and Most Infamous
  4. Sold Out: Rarest, Most Unusual and Most Ubiquitous
  5. Money Wine: Cheapest, Most Expensive and Most Overpriced
  6. Extreme Wine Booms and Busts
  7. Extreme Wine People
  8. Fifteen Minutes: Celebrity Wine
  9. Message in a Bottle
  10. Extreme Wine Tourism
  11. BRIC by BRIC: Going to Global Extremes
  12. Tasting Notes  from the Edge

Wine Economist Milestones

Most Lucky Fellow

“Everybody should be so lucky as Mike Veseth — his lifelong intellectual passion is also his job, ” according to a recently published interview with Seattle Times book editor Mary Ann Gwinn that was highlighted by this front page “teaser” (see above). ” Lit Life” is a reference to Mary Ann’s regular book column — not to my wine consumption as some mischievous friends have suggested.

I can’t really argue with the “lucky” tag. I especially appreciate all of you who have read Wine Wars and follow the Wine Economist — I’m lucky that you’ve decided to come along for the ride!

Milestones Along the Way

The Wine Economist passed a couple of milestones when I wasn’t looking.

  • Number of posts: now more than 300 or roughly the equivalent of three 80,000-word books.
  • Number of visits: now more than a half million in total according to the click counters at WordPress, the company that hosts my blog.
  • Number of subscribers/followers: now more than 900 followers of the blog plus almost 350 more on The Wine Economist’s Facebook page.

New Books in the Pipeline

Finally, I want to mention two new projects. I’m putting the finishing touches on some additional material that will appear in the forthcoming paperback version of Wine Wars, which is set for November 2012 release.

And I’ve started work on the sequel to Wine Wars, which is called Extreme Wines. I’ll provide more information about this soon.

Now back to work!

Wine Wars Update: University of Pinot

The Wine Wars “world tour” is still rolling along; I thought you might like to see the current schedule of events (see list at the end of the post).

More Homework!

I’m particularly pleased to announce that I will be teaching in the “University of Pinot” that is being organized as part of the annual International Pinot Noir Celebration on the campus of Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon at the end of July. The IPNC is the premier event for Pinot Noir lovers, drawing winemakers (and drinkers) from all over the Pinot world. It will be fun to mix and mingle with them and talk about the state of wine on Planet Pinot.

There will be courses on geography, geology, climatology, and applied cultural studies (flying winemakers) taught by a cast of wine experts and celebrities.  Allen “Burghound” Meadows is teaching the “study abroad” course, although I think Burgundy will come to Oregon, not the other way around.

Several courses include wine tastings led by the winemakers themselves. Sounds great, doesn’t it. I expect the students to demand more homework! (No problem: the wine really flows at IPNC.)

I’m honored to be on the UP faculty and to be able to bring a global wine economics perspective to the curriculum. Here’s the catalog description of my course:

GLOBALIZATION 201: THE REVENGE OF THE TERROIRISTS

Globalization cuts both ways. It brings us a world of exciting wine experiences, but it also unleashes market forces that threaten to overwhelm the soul of wine. This dilemma affects all wine but the stakes are highest for real terroir wines such as Pinot noir. Drawing on the lessons of his 2011 book Wine Wars, Mike Veseth will investigate the global forces shaping wine and explain why he has “grape expectations” that Pinot terroirists will prevail.

My only regret is that Benjamin Lewin MW, the author of In Search of Pinot Noir, is not also on the program. But I understand that he will be in Bordeaux in July … in search of Cabernet Sauvignon (for his next book). Happy hunting!

Wine Wars World Tour Update

Here are the upcoming stops on the Wine Wars tour. Click here for the latest updated information.
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April 2012
May 2012
  • Eastside Business Roundtable breakfast talk, Thursday May 3. Overlake Golf and Country Club (private event).
  • University of Puget Sound Olympia area alumni event, Thursday May 3. Details here.
June 2012
  • University of Puget Sound Alumni College. June 8-9. Details here. I’ll be talking about “Robert Mondavi and the ‘Grape Transformation’ of American wine.
July 2012
August 2012
  • American Wine Bloggers Conference, Portland, Oregon. August 17-19, 2012. I’ll be moderating one of the break-out sessions.

Cheers! Wine Wars Reviewed in Decanter

The April 2012 issue of Decanter (the self-proclaimed “World’s Best Wine Magazine”) arrived yesterday and I was surprised and pleased to find Amy Wislocki’s review of Wine Wars on page 109 in an article that also includes reviews of Naked Wine, Authentic Wine and In Search of Pinot Noir. It’s a very positive review and I’m pleased to be included in this group of recent wine books.

Wislocki calls Wine Wars “a breakneck gallop along the wine shelves of the typical store.” Breakneck gallop? I kinda like the sound of that! “Despite his academic background,” she writes, “Veseth has an unpretentious, lively style, if often overdoing the puns. His arguments, though, are serious.”  Good! I wanted Wine Wars to be a lively read, but the questions it confronts are serious indeed.

Wislocki does a great job of capturing my argument in Wine Wars and my optimism about the future of wine. She understands and appreciates both the strengths and limitations of the book. She writes, for example, that “The section on terroir wines feels slightly thin, but it is natural that he would be more at  home talking about wine economics than soil composition.”

The bottom line? “There is much that will be familiar to those in the trade, but any consumer keen to understand how the wine world works — and will develop — will find this a highly readable, comprehensive account.” I can’t argue with that assessment! Thanks Amy Wislocki and Decanter!

Wine Wars: Wine Press NW Interview, Eataly NY & More

[Click here if a video does not appear above.]

I’ve been on the road quite a bit recently, speaking at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento, the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers meetings in Eastern Washington and many other places. Andy Perdue of Wine Press Northwest managed to slow me down long enough to do this interview, which I think captures very well my enthusiasm for the opportunity to speak at these events and work with such great people.

World Tour Update: Eataly NYC

The Wine Wars World Tour continues next month (see schedule at the end of this post) with trips to New York, Washington DC and Hawai’i. Most of the scheduled events are for University of Puget Sound alumni, but I’m doing a class on March 13 at Eataly in New York City that is open to the public (for a fee, of course, but read on and you’ll understand why).

I’ll be talking about Wine Wars, Dan Amatuzzi (Eataly’s Wine Director) will lead a tasting of five Italian terroirist wines and Patrick Lacey (Executive Chef of Eataly’s La Scuola) will prepare regional food pairings (tasting notes and adapted recipes will be provided). What fun! Here’s a listing of the wines and foods. Wow!  What great choices!

Wines

Monastero Suore Cistercensi “Coenobium Rusticum” 2009, Lazio
Giacomo Borgogno Barolo Riserva 1999, Piemonte
Antinori Brunello di Montalcino “Pian delle Vigne” 2006, Toscana
Argiolas “Turriga” 2006, Sardinia
Tenute Rubino Aleatico Amabile 2007 (500ml), Puglia

Menu
Puntarelle in Salsa
Due Crostini - Piemontese & Toscani
Malloreddus con Salsiccia

Wine Wars at Raymond Vineyards

We did a Puget Sound alumni event at Raymond Vineyards in Napa Valley during our California trip and I thought you might be interested in Sue’s photos of the event, which try to capture the drama of the Raymond experience.  I did a book signing in the absolutely fabulous Red Room and then an alumni luncheon talk in the Crystal Cellar room. It was quite an feeling to have nearly 100 alumni seated at one long mirrored table with candlelight the only illumination, eating a fabulous meal along with great Raymond Vineyards wines.

Setting up for the luncheon

Lowering the lights

Alumni and guests dining by candelight

Book signing in the Red Room

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Thanks to Patrick Egan and his boss, Jean-Charles Boisset, for their hospitality at Raymond Vineyards and to Svetlana Matt for organizing the event. Thanks to Andy Perdue for the great interview. Thanks to Dan and Cristina at Eataly for making the New York event possible. Thanks to Sue for the photos. Thanks to you for reading The Wine Economist!

Here is the Wine Wars World Tour schedule for next month.

March 2012

Book of the Year, Wine Wars Tour & Top Posts of 2011

Happy New Year, everyone! Herewith brief reports on the top Wine Economist posts of 2011, the next stops on the Wine Wars World Tour and an unexpected book of the year award.

Wine Book of the Year

I’m very pleased (and more than a little suprised)  to report that Wine Wars and Benjamin Lewin’s terrific In Search of Pinot Noir have been named wine books of the year 2011 by Paul O’Doherty, the book reviewer at JancisRobinson.com.  He writes that

From the get-go you just don’t want to put this book down, slaloming as it does informatively through economic and social history, the wine industry, the future, and observations setting the scene for the great battle between the market forces redrawing the world wine map and, as Veseth puts it, ‘the terroirists who are trying to stop them’.

O’Doherty makes the fair criticism that, like the college professor that I am, I tend to go off on occasional tangents and not always get to the point as quickly as you might like. But he spins this into a rather charming compliment:

 However, in his defence, there’s a kindly lecturing sweep to his narrative so that, if you were listening to him at the back of his economics class in college, you’d just want him to keep talking forever.

Not sure my students would vote for “forever,” although I suspect it seems like forever to them on some days. He concludes that

This is undoubtedly a fascinating read that will be a treat to most tastes and is, along with Benjamin Lewin’s In Search of Pinot Noir, one of the books of the year.

Thanks for the kind words. I am flattered by the praise and honored to be on any list that includes a book by Benjamin Lewin.

Looking Ahead: Wine Wars Tour Continues

I’m excited to see what 2012 will bring. I know I will meet more interesting people as the Wine Wars World Tour continues to unfold. Here is my current schedule for January and February.

January 2012

February 2012

Looking Back: Top Posts

2011 was a big year for the Wine Economist blog, with about 190,000 hits for an average of about 525 per day. About 1000 people “follow” the Wine Economist either through email updates that are sent out whenever a new post goes live or via the Wine Economist FaceBook page. These are small numbers compared to the most popular wine websites, but they suggest that there is a surprisingly large audience for wine economics analysis.

I thought you might be interested in the most frequently visited Wine Economist posts for the year. Here is the league table as compiled by WordPress, based on which posts on the entire Wine Economist site received the most hits.

Year’s Most Popular Wine Economist Blog Posts 2007-2011

  1. Wine’s Future: It’s in the Bag (in the Box)
  2. Cracking the Chinese Wine Market
  3. Costco and Global Wine
  4. Curse of the Blue Nun
  5. Olive Garden and the Future of American Wine
  6. What’s The Next Big Thing in Wine?
  7. Wine Distribution Bottleneck
  8. The World’s Best Wine Magazine?
  9. Argentinean Wine: A SWOT Analysis
  10. Riesling: How Sweet It Is?

The picture changes a bit when you look at number of hits for posts first published during 2011 (excluding those from previous years).

Year’s Most Popular 2011 Wine Economist posts

  1. What’s The Next Big Thing in Wine?
  2. Argentinean Wine: A SWOT Analysis
  3. It’s Official! The Wine Wars Have Begun
  4. Extreme Wine: O Canada Ice Wine
  5. The Forbes Interview: Wineries that “Get It”
  6. Sizing Up Supermarket Wine
  7. The BRICs: Russian Wine Market Report
  8. The BRICs: Surprising Wines of India
  9. The BRICs: Misunderstanding Brazilian Wine
  10. Liquid Assets: Fine Wine versus Crude Oil

At first glance it is difficult to pick out a common thread from among these posts, since they cover so many individual topics (both a strength and a weakness of this blog, I suppose). But, stepping back a ways, I think I do see a theme: change. Most of these posts examine ways that the wine world is changing, shedding old traditions, embracing new technologies, opening new markets. Certainly economics is a driving force for innovation and change in wine, so perhaps this makes sense.

On that note I wish you a Happy 2012. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

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I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped me with The Wine Economist and Wine Wars in 2011, especially during our fieldwork expeditions in Argentina and Italy. Special thanks to my university students, Patrick (“the wine guy”), research assistants Janice & Scott, Nancy & Michael, Ron & Mary, and of course #1 research assistant Sue.

Wine Wars Update: Wine Spectator Feature & Wine Book Award

Wine Wars is featured in the year-end collection of book reviews in Wine Spectator magazine’s “Top 100″ issue, which will hit newsstands in a few days. You can’t miss it — it’s the first book reviewed and there’s a big color image of the book cover. Thanks for your support, Wine Spectator!

Two of the featured books were also reviewed here at The Wine Economist: Katherine Cole’s Voodoo Vintners and Authentic Wine by Jamie Goode and Sam Harrop. Ian Mount’s history of Argentina wine, The Vineyard at the End of the World is also included in this WS article — look for a review here in early January, just before the book’s official publication date.

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I also want to thank the folks at the Gourmand International Wine Book Awards.  According to the email I received earlier this week they’ve named Wine Wars the best American wine book of 2011 in the history category. It will now enter the competition for the global wine book awards. The full list of winners will be revealed in Paris in March 2012. Merci beaucoup for the honor!

BTW the Wine Wars World Tour is picking up steam. Click here to see the book event schedule.

Wine Wars World Tour Continues

I’m on the road today, headed to Pasco to give the keynote at a Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers meeting. Here’s the Wine Wars World Tour schedule for the next couple of months. Hope to see you at one of these events!

November 2011

December 2011
  • Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce Luncheon. Thursday, December 1, 2011. Noon.
  • Retired Teachers Association of  Tacoma. Saturday, December 3, 2011.
  • World Affairs Council of Oregon. Thursday, December 8, 2011. Portland, Oregon.  Time and place tba.
  • Metropolitan Market wine tasting and book signing. Friday, December 9, 2011 from 4-7 pm.  25th & Proctor Street, Tacoma, WA. (This is the store featured in chapter 3 of Wine Wars). I’ll be chatting and signing books at the kiosk in the deli section.
January 2012
  • Transportation Club of Seattle. Wednesday, January 4, 2012. Details tba.
  • Olympia, Washington Alumni Event, Thursday, January 19, 2012. Details tba.
  • Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, Sacramento, California. Wednesday, January 25, 2012. I will be moderating the “State of the Industry” session and leading an afternoon break-out on global wine supply issues.
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