According to Sam and Jim Commenting on things that irk us off, make us laugh out loud or just seem too weird too believe According to Sam and Jim: State Is Awash In Too Much Vin Extraordinare Paisano!

Monday, July 22, 2013

State Is Awash In Too Much Vin Extraordinare Paisano!

Sam and I can’t help but wonder when the wine industry - at least the wine industry in Washington State - is going to wash out; you know, experience one of those “market corrections” economists are so fond of talking about. Currently, by one count, there are 693 wineries here.

According to Wines Northwest, in recent years, “Washington's wine industry has become the fastest-growing agricultural sector in the state. The number of Washington wineries has increased 400% in the last decade.”

According to Paul Gregutt, writing in the April 2012, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, “The ongoing expansion of wineries, tasting rooms and related amenities throughout Washington State has dramatically upgraded the state’s appeal for adventurous wine tourists. Washington’s 700-plus wineries offer the diversity of California within a more constrained geographic region.”

Of course California has 1,200 wineries or 3,400 or 2,620, depending upon which source we care to quote and depending on bonding. A bonded winery is a commercial enterprise that produces and stores wine under a bond that guarantees payment of the federal excise tax.

The state of Oregon, boasting nearly 500 wineries, ranks third in the U.S. in number of wineries, though only fourth in wine production. That state’s industry, we understand, has been built on small wineries producing wines of impeccable quality.

So, according to Wine Business Monthly, as of November 2005, the number of wineries in the United States had increased to 5,364. That figure included 3,606 bonded grape wineries and 1,758 "virtual," or non-bonded, wineries. The data excluded mead or non-grape wineries. The Wine Business Monthly count included 1,758 virtual wineries. Virtual wineries are wineries that do not hold their own bond. A virtual winery has a physical location (which may be at another winery).

Now, if you do the math, three West Coast states are home to about half the wineries in this country and Washington is #2 behind only California. Sam and I don’t know much wine by volume or how many bottles the West Coast wineries produce, but it’s got to be an ocean’s worth. It's abundantly clear we are being overwhelmed by a grape tsunami. Glug, glug. How to you spell glut, glut?

Currently, the big story among wine makers and retailers is the news that Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) of Australia, which produces more than 80 brands of wine that range from the really cheap stuff carried by Walmart and others, to top shelf fare like Penfolds Grange, was writing off $145 million for the year ending June 30, because it grossly overestimated how much wine it would sell in the U.S. last year.

The other reason Sam and I got to worrying about the possible demise of our state’s wine industry was because of a piece of mail we received from “superstore,” Total Wine of Olympia (a bit of a misnomer because the store sells the hard stuff too). Quoting from the company’s slick multi-page sales magazine, brothers David and Robert Trone, “have received a warm welcome from shoppers,” because of their low prices, but grumbles from their competitors.” Now the brothers want to bless us with their presence in Olympia at the southwest corner of Capitol Mall. This store joins the brother’s 96 other superstores in 15 states.

Our state may have a thousand wineries by the end of the decade at the rate we’re growing and now we’re getting wine superstores? Who needs all that wine? Haven’t we reached the saturation point? Three bags of poop on more wine. So much wine, so little time.

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