notes and votes

Friday, December 11, 2009

ITEM: Wine & Spirits Daily reports that Washington state senator Tim Sheldon believes the state should privatize liquor stores and save at least $53 million a year. “The taxation would still be collected by the state, the regulation would be made by the state,” said Tim Sheldon on a local radio show. Lawmakers will reportedly consider the proposal when they return to the capital in January. PG: This is very good news if it happens, but the odds of this state abandoning its outmoded and money-wasting liquor control system are pretty slim. Only a massive budget crisis (now underway) is even bringing the option to the table.

ITEM: notes in an exclusive interview with Danny Brager, vice president, client services director with the Beverage Alcohol Team at The Nielsen Company, that Washington wines now account about four percent of table wine sales tracked by The Nielsen Company, and continue to grow faster than the overall category. Brager calls Washington “a great success story, growing well ahead of the category.” (Note to London-based wine book editors – that’s Washington STATE, not Washington DC.)

ITEM: The interview with Brager went on to note that “among the top ten varietals tracked by The Nielsen Company, riesling is growing the fastest, up about 7.5 percent this year, with pinot noir and sauvignon blanc also growing quickly.” Since Washington is the largest riesling producer in the country, it seems clear that this state’s resurgence is closely linked to – indeed driven by – consumer interest in riesling.

ITEM: There have been few casualties of the poor economy (so far) among the myriad start-up wineries in Washington. But I was sorry to learn that Michael Haddox has had to fold up his tent. His energy and inspiration were behind the Winemakers Loft (a Prosser-based winery incubator) and his own Michael Florentino Cellars wines were off to an excellent start. But the Loft was sold, and Haddox’s plans to open a new winery/tasting room in Kennewick fell through, so now the brand has been sold as well. Haddox blames no one but himself, writing “it's easy to blame the ‘economy’ for this and I refuse to do so, I prefer to blame my simplistic view on how easy it was going to be to start my own winery and lack of business sense. Quite simply I grew too quickly and let the winery get away from me. I just want to make wine and touch people through those wines.” Amen, Michael. I wish you the very best moving forward.


Rob from Seia said...

I made my 2007 vintage with Mike, and even after a looonnng day of crushing, he was thoughtful, gregarious and paying attention to the many details of working the crush. I enjoyed working with him and wish him well on his next adventure.

Wawineman said...

Go ahead and delete this commentary since you feel I insult your "buddies" with my previous comments...

what the heck does the State invest in that doesn't involve "outmoded" and "money-wasting"? You did, after all, participate in a study with the Liquor Control Board about something that had to do with marketing. Still waiting for the results of that study. Imho, if anything good came out of it, we would have heard by now. Do you know their conclusions? Was putting up shops at the malls one of them?
Riesling is dirt cheap for quality, so it's no surprise the cheapskates of the nation have finally turned to riesling. But, don't think California will be jumping on board. They have, and in our lifetime, will control the US wine market. That stat of "growing the fastest, up about 7.5% this year" is just sensationalism.
As much as I feel sorry for any failed Washington State winemaker/owner, winemaking is a business. If it were that easy, even you and I would be doing it. A business without a sound business plan is a simple recipe for failure and Michael proved it. Visions of grandeur ultimately lead to a life on Zyprexa.

Real news, please...

PaulG said...

The study referred to had nothing to do with the state putting up shops in malls. To my knowledge, none of the recommendations (which had to do with such things as allowing the sale of wine-related products, eg. corkscrews) were enacted. I do not wish to delete comments to this board, but I expect that comments will 1) reflect in some fashion what was actually written and 2) recognize that this is a very time-consuming, totally free and completely optional blog. No one needs to read it. All I am asking of any commenter is a modicum of civility.

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