Monday, April 15, 2013


I am so tired of hearing about the ONE GRAPE theory. The theory is that each region needs one grape to help coalesce its message and sell its wines to the marketplace.
Are you freakin kidding me?

California has Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. So what? I’ve had tons of good other grapes from that region as well, Petite Verdot, Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Syrah, Malbec, Pinot Noir, and many more. Give me a break.

Bordeaux doesn’t have one grape. They have five! Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec. And of course there’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnays in Burgundy.
Every region has diversity these days. It’s such a cop out from wine marketers, wine writers, and wine makers. It’s crap.

Is the wine from the region good? When you’re traveling with a group of wine writers and bloggers, that’s all they really care about. If a wine is good, wine writers will whisper to each other, “Did you try THAT ONE? Try it!” A nod, a wink, a raised eyebrow.What the abundance is of one grape is secondary. It’s not necessary. It’s a crutch for people who don’t have a better story to tell.

What’s more important is QUALITY. I think that we should name a grape, “Quality” and sell that!
Imagine what a wine region could sell by saying, “Our number one grape is quality!”

Yes, some bad wines get made in every region. California, France, Italy, and Germany are not immune. I’ve had plenty of skunked, corked, barnyard infected, fizzy, mushroom-y, and cloudy wines. Every region is loaded with them. Sweet wines. So what? Every region makes sweet wine. California makes more than any other region in the world.

I am so tired of it all.

I can tell you the one grape that any blogger, writer, editor, restaurateur, and distributor wants. The one varietal that no one declines. I can tell you the one every salesman wants to sell. I can tell you the one every customer will ask for. That “One Grape” is “Quality.” People who want sophisticated dry wines, what they are looking foris “Quality.”

The great thing about “Quality” is that anyone can do it, if they choose to. It doesn’t require massive irrigation fittings, netting, hedging, or fertilizer. It doesn’t require massive, expensive, or impossible to work new tanks or other machinery.  And it doesn’t matter if it’s estate or someone else’s vineyard.

And the nice thing is, quality can be transferred from one winery to another. Just as easy as easy as transferring bad barrels of wine affected by Bret into another winery’s barrel room or tank room. It’s just as easy as facebook or email. It’s as easy as sitting around the table, walking around the vineyard, or walking through the winery. Talking, teaching, learning, are the hallmarks of quality. Discovering best practices, best techniques, winemakers talking and tasting with other winemakers, establishing good habits….that’s how easy it is.

It’s easy to talk about quality. Admittedly, it’s slightly tougher to do it. But it’s not that hard. It doesn’t take gobs of money. But it does take gobs or effort.

And let me assure you whether it is the media in your tasting room, or restaurateurs, or the general public, if they go to a region, and taste one quality wine after another from tasting room to tasting room, that will become the hottest new region. Writers and consumers pick up quickly. Quality is what will make your mark. Not a slick ad campaign or some hyped up review. In wine, quality is the difference And the abundance of quality is success.

So to all winery owners I say try bottling “Quality”

And to the wine writers, bloggers, marketers, and restaurateurs, I say, hey, you’re right. We only need one grape, and its name is “Quality.”