Chile, upmarket, downmarket, SF, yellow cards – sipped and spit

cheap red wine SPIT: a move upmarket
The Chilean wine industry attempted a concerted move upmarket a few years ago. But the strong peso and weak global economy have crushed those plans. To wit: exports were up a whopping 17.6% by volume last year but flat by value. [LA Times]

SPIT: California bargains
Mike Steinberger contemplates the puzzle of why so few “superstar” winemakers in California make wines under $20. We discussed the lack of tasty California values last year in relation to Fred Franzia, and heard from wine importer Bobby Kacher and winemaker Patrick Campbell.

SPIT: urban winemaking
Crushpad, the pioneer urban winery in San Francisco, has announced it will move its operations to Napa where its main supplier has space. Of note: two-thirds of their clients are commercial wine brands. [NYT]

SIPPED: innovation
While New York is debating selling wine in grocery stores (and foods in wine stores), Pennsylvania, where the state still owns all the wine stores, gets wine bars in supermarkets! Groc-o-pubs anyone? [Philly.com]

SIPPED: footy!
Unruly winery visitors in the Finger Lakes will get yellow and red cards. [WENY]

SPIT: truth
A shocking piece on Slate.com reveals that during Prohibition, federal officials “ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking.” But instead it accounted for 10,000 fatalities. Unmentioned in the brief story, but maybe people were on to the scheme and that helped account for the rise in home winemaking during Prohibition?

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5 Responses to “Chile, upmarket, downmarket, SF, yellow cards – sipped and spit”


  1. As if PA’s wine laws were not absurd enough….


  2. Lori Tieszen, executive director of Wines of Chile USA writes in. She wants to elaborate on comments that Rene Merino, President of Vinos de Chile, made to the LA Times:

    Rene’s comments were specifically addressing Chilean exports globally, and were not specific to the United States. In fact, Chilean bottled wine exports to the United States were up 8% in terms of volume and 7% in value for 2009 — more than twice that of 2008 (which was +3% and +5% in volume and value, respectively). For purposes of comparison, it should be noted that total bottle wine imports into the U.S., through November 2009 were -2% (via Gomberg-Fredrikson, which monitors wine imports by country). We are justifiably pleased that Chile is one of the few countries to have increased its bottled wines sales in the U.S. in 2009, given the economic picture.


  3. Yes, the current global economy and currency issues pose a challange to Chile, but the potential there is still quite large, and the benefit to the US consumer is still great. Inexpensive Chilean table wines may be harder hit by incremental price increases, but the “Upmarket” Chilean wines are still an extremely good value, as compared to similarly prices wines from Europe and California…and that sector of Chilean wine production is just getting going. Viva Chile!


  4. An enormous earthquake hit Chile today. Its epicenter was 200 miles south of Santiago, but it apparently caused damage in Santiago. A good deal of Chile’s wine production is in the area or near to those area covered. When a much smaller earthquake, but still on of size (7.0 versus today’s 9.5), barrel stacks in affected wineries were tossed around like the way kids toss around Legos. Obviously, the human costs of this quake are the first concern and the destroyed infrastructure the second, but there will almost certainly be tales of wine and wineries that have been very greatly affected.

    One example, when a 5.4 quake hit near wineries in the Livermore Valley, some of the stainless steel tanks were damaged because their support structures twisted. Stay tuned. This story will have specific interest for the wine community.


  5. Chilean quake now said to be 8.8, still very big, and much bigger than the 1989 quake here that destroyed or badly damaged wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains.


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