Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2012 This Is the Year of Virginia Wine


No matter what state you come from, there is no getting around it. This is the year of Virginia wine. You will hear more about Virginia wine than any other. And in 2012 Virginia will surpass New York as the eastern most state with the best reputation. The tidal wave about these wines will be a sunami, and here are the reasons why:

A MORE UNIFIED INDUSTRY Big states like California and New York, with multiple regions tend to Balkanize. Napa and Sonoma rule California, diminishing other regions, and they like it that way. The Finger Lakes and Long Island dominate the smaller regions in that state. But in Virginia, at least to the outside world, Virginia represents a unified front. Yes the north has expanded quickly, and yes, the older wineries around Charlottesville are well established, but the Virginia Wine Board does a great job of spreading the ball around evenly (like they say in football or basketball) just enough to keep all their stars happy.

THE STATE HOUSE SUPPORTS THE WINERIES In 2012 just as they did in 2011, Virginia will outspend New York, it's biggest rival on the eastcoast, by almost $3 to $1, or even more. The Governor supports the wine industry, and the First Lady has made it her mission to promote Virginia wine. Neither Gov. Coumo nor Ms. Lee has publicly supported New York wine in any way - by dollars or publicity. And the folks in the statehouses of New Jersey and Pennsylvania haven't stepped up either. The department of agriculture has been a good working partner for the wineries helping to promote the wines and tourism as well as agribussness. Virginia's state goverment gets it!

DAVE McINTYRE AND THE WASHINGTON POST Dave McIntyre is one of five or six most influential newspaper wine columnists in the country. He is a man who knows his Burgundies from his Bordeauxs, his Cambernet Sauvignons from his Chardonnays. And the Washington Post is one of the most influential newspapers in the nation. McIntyre is a tough critic, but he also a fan - a fan of good wine, and a fan of local wine. He has helped promote Virginia wine like no other of those remaining newspaper writers. It's a huge boost for Virginia wine.

BLOGGERS Virginia has a solid cadre of very active wine bloggers all of whom are writing about their favorite wines consistently. Each have favorite wines and regions, but not a week goes by that five to six bloggers aren't extolling the virtues of Virginia's fruit of the vine. That's a lot of hits on the internet. And to cap it off, even the New York Cork Report, the grand salami of New York wine blogs, is hosting it's next bloggers' conference in the state of Washington and Jefferson!

ANNETTE BOYD If The Virginia Wine Board is the Green Bay Packers of east coast wine right now, Annette Boyd is their Aaron Rodgers. She is young, smart, funny, charming and hard working. She has a smart phone surgically attached to her right hand, and is as comfortable with winemakers as she is with politicos as she is with the press. She is as likely to make a blogger feel like a press baron as make a politician feel like the president. And at all times she remains a real and down to earth person. But what's more, she gets the elctronic age of wine promotion better than any other wine promoter out there. In an age where print is in decline, Boyd has hosted several bloggers camps, and gets the Facebook and Tweet world like no other wine promoter in the US right now. She is miles ahead of most other states this way, even California.

BOOKS, MAGAZINES, NEWSPAPERS There are a flock of books out on Virginia wine already. Todd Klineman's book THE WILD VINE (the Norton grape), as well as a slew of books by Walker Elliott Rowe on Virginia wine history. Now, another by Richard Leahy (soon to be published by Sterling Epicure - my imprint, full disclosure) will be coming out in May. There are a plethora of regional newspapers and magazines that are all featuring Virginia wine, like few other states. Without exception, Virginia's newspapers and magazines are much more inclined to promote the local wines than those of New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania.

MOMENTUM Like in anything else, there is a tipping point. The media frenzy will begin in May and slide all the way through the rest of the year. Savuer Editor-in-Chief James Oseland said on the Today Show on NBC on New Year's Day weekend, that local wines other than the big three or four would get more fucus and become more popoular in 2012. Virginia is going to be a huge benefactor of that trend. They will be the New Kid in Town for 2012, and they will score the hottest dance card.

MORE BIG NAMES John Kent Cooke and Donald Trump own wineries in Virginia. Think they they'll grab a few headlines? They are also a sign of the kinds of cash and intensity that is pouring into the region. That creates competition and quality.

GREAT WINE Let's not forget another thing...they make great wine. They are making fantastic red blends, rich, dark and deep; fantastic and aromatic Viogniers; and they have a wonderful and colorful grape in Norton. Also, they are bringing in lots of outside winemakers, especially from Europe, with a solid old world background. The flying winemakers are landing in Virginia much more often days than New York or anywhere else.

Congratulations to Virginia. Great stuff. Great excitement. Great wine!