Schildknecht: Oregon is Exhibit A of issues that can arise
with naming regions
Paul Vigna | firstname.lastname@example.org By Paul Vigna | email@example.com
April 17, 2013 at 8:55 PM, updated April 18, 2013 at 7:32 AM
David Schildknecht of The Wine Advocate answered a question
last week about wine regions and when they are established with a long email
that as much addressed developments on the West Coast as in the mid-Atlantic,
which is what I had asked about. His answer likely will find a far more
interested audience among those in the industry than those buying the wines.
Since that group makes up some of my readers, here's a portion of
Schildknecht's response that wasn't published earlier this week:
"Mid-Atlantic" strikes me as pretty broad and
bland for generating excitement or evoking a sense of place. At the other
extreme though, I fear that the A.V.A. system -- while its being essentially an
invitation to name and fill empty vessels has the advantage of flexibility
-- inevitably tends toward fragmentation
and proliferation so that few if any Eastern U.S. A.V.A.s are likely to include
enough wineries such that a critical mass for recognition based on those whose
wines are qualitatively exceptional could be reached.
"In regard both to what regional wine names can
be(come) evocative for Americans and the influence of A.V.A.s, the situations
in Oregon and Washington -- which I have been observing more closely on the
ground over the last 12 months - are quite revealing.
"The overall takeaway then is both clear and important,
even if I regrettably don't know how to express these issues more concisely and
need to rely on examples from parts of the U.S. that are further along in
achieving national or international recognition for their wines: There's no
point trying to decide by fiat what will count as vinous regional identity.
Rather, that will emerge as critical mass of vinous excellence and its glimmers
of recognition emerges, at which point accidents of geography, politics and
nomenclature are going to be the determining factors.
"Eventually, I am convinced, there will be many more
outstanding wines grown in the Eastern U.S. than there are now, and some of
those who already grow outstanding wine will, if they can hold on economically,
receive widespread recognition for the quality of their wines and by
implication the potential quality of their respective regions. But how
inclusive these regions will be, how their lines of demarcation will be drawn,
and what they will be called, it isn't yet possible to say or even sensibly
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