These are strange days indeed, and the strangeness has not eluded the wine business. According to Nielsen data, wine sales are up a whopping 20% over this time last year, with hard liquor sales at 24%. And why not? We’re basically returning to lockdown due to a global pandemic while our nation goes through childbirth-grade contractions as it struggles to reconcile its identity. Not much left to do except drink, watch Netflix, have sex and sleep. Maybe eat. Breathe, perhaps. Bake, apparently. Voting would be nice, too.
Strange days for a strange business. Some wineries are reaping the benefits of selling chuggable $9.95 grape-flavored Kool Aid-alcohol, and some wineries are feeling no pain as they cater to the 1%, offering $500-per-person tastings in a sanitized vineyard bubble. In between these two are struggling wineries and struggling people: workers, laborers, ordinary people trying to make sense of unordinary circumstances.
On the podcast this week, I take a look at the “State of The Wine Union,” examining the startling developments both in the wine biz and the world at large and how the two affect one another. Friend of The Pod and Master Sommelier Candidate Kat Thomas joins us to give insight to the recent shake-up at the Court of Sommeliers and why it’s important to everything from the wine in your glass to the cause of social justice. But worry not: with a hearty glass of the 2019 Gracianna Winery “Arozza” Russian River Valley Rosé – with its 15.4% alcohol – things can’t possibly get too heavy.