18 December 2008


Winemaking[1], for most of its best practitioners, is more about passion than it is about money. And a good thing, too, since – as the saying goes – the only way to make a little money in the wine business is to start with a lot of it. Even in good times, many of the most famous names are far, far less wealthy then their fame…or their prices…might lead one to think. And a surprising number of wineries of acknowledged excellence operate under the near-yearly specter of imminent ruin. One ill-timed hailstorm, one misstep in the cellar, and it’s all over.

Unfortunately, we’re in the midst of one hell of a financial hailstorm, and we’re going to see a lot more of this and this in the near future. Good people – whether they make extraordinary wine or not – are going to find that they simply can’t afford another harvest. Dedicated importers and retailers will shut their doors. Wine-savvy restaurants will stack up the tables and chairs one last time, and for good. It’s going to be ugly, probably for a good long while.

I have no words of comfort here. I can try to support those about whom I am most afraid with my purchases, and so can others, but the sad fact is that consumers are hurting as much as anyone, and thus the inevitable reality is that not everyone will be saved. When we come out the other end of this long, dark tunnel, the world of wine is going to look very different, and perhaps rather barren.

[1]And grape-growing.

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