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mixed case: opinion and advice archive

Photo by: Mark Weinberg
Mixed Case
Archives

May 2013

Why Can't Pennsylvania Get a Little Privacy?
Privatized alcohol sales looked like a lock in the Keystone State a few months ago; now opponents appear to have the upper hand
Posted: May 30, 2013 12:45pm ET
By Robert Taylor

The last time you had friends over, you probably made a run to the supermarket for supplies before playing the good host. If you live in Pennsylvania, it wasn't so easy. You drove to the supermarket, you drove to the state beer distributor and you drove to the state wine and spirits store. Pennsylvania is one of the few remaining "control" states, meaning that the state exerts direct control over alcohol sales.

Sound like a wasteful, inconvenient and costly hassle?

Most Pennsylvanians think so. The governor and lieutenant governor think so. Most of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives thinks so. Labor unions do not, however, and their full-throated opposition has stymied a proposal to privatize alcohol sales in the state Senate. Despite all the initial support, the longer the debate drags on, the further Pennsylvania seems to be from privatizing its alcohol distribution and sales. For the consumer, that means limited selection and more hassle.


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Would You Watch a Winemaker Version of The Voice?
That's one reality-TV program I would stay tuned to
Posted: May 23, 2013 4:00pm ET
By Jennifer Fiedler

A disclaimer first: Reality TV is generally not my bag. But I happened to catch some of The Voice recently, and despite not being involved in the worlds of a cappella/musical theater/pop vocals (I can't sing to save my life), I have to admit that I found it super compelling. Then I started wondering what it would look like as a wine show.


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Where Will the Next Generation Take Bordeaux?
The challenges of the Millennial winemaker play out in sharp relief in this most traditional region
Posted: May 21, 2013 12:45pm ET
By Ben O'Donnell

The wine biz has spent several years now wringing its hands over What to Do About Millennials. Not so long ago, it was a received truth of this big, problematic, new generation of wine drinkers that they dismissed Bordeaux as an old man's game. But stop in at any Bordeaux walk-around tasting and it's immediately obvious that both sides of that formulation are wrongheaded today: More and more, what young Americans drink, young Frenchmen (and women) made. I asked a few of these young Bordelais what it's like trying to fit 2,000 years of tradition into our modern wine climate.


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Stop Whining About Bordeaux Futures
Consumers and wine merchants are complaining that château owners are charging too much. The real solution is to drink something else
Posted: May 16, 2013 10:30am ET
By Mitch Frank

Like most wine regions, Bordeaux has an annual rhythm. When the grapes ripen, it's time for harvest, or vendange. After the wine ferments, they pour it into oak barrels for élevage. With February, blending, or assemblage, begins.

May brings another annual Bordeaux ritual. Sadly, I don't know the French word for whining.


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Is That Corn on Top of My Wine Bottle? Wineries Try New Plant-Based Packaging, Part 2
Trinchero rolls out a compostable capsule
Posted: May 14, 2013 11:00am ET
By Dana Nigro

In my last post, I discussed the dilemma that eco-oriented wineries face when it comes to stoppering their bottles: Corks, which are natural and renewable, or screw-caps and synthetics, which can be more reliable? The same potential conflict between sustainability and efficiency crops up with the foil and plastic capsules that top bottles.

Some wineries eschew the capsule altogether, maybe opting for a little foil or wax top over a natural cork, but then miss out on a branding opportunity. Now, however, a wine-industry supplier has brought a new option to the market.


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Goodbye Cork, Hello Sugarcane? Wineries Try New Plant-Based Closure
Allegrini will seal bottles with a new renewable alternative targeted at sustainable, organic and biodynamic wineries
Posted: May 13, 2013 11:30am ET
By Dana Nigro

I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening?

Bioplastics.

If you were remaking The Graduate in wine country this decade, there might be a great future in bioplastics. When organic, biodynamic and sustainable vintners look to bring their low-impact philosophies to their packaging, they often end up torn over what to do about closures.

Cork is the traditional choice, and it is a renewable material, unlike the alternatives: screw caps are made from mined metals, while synthetic corks are typically derived from petrochemicals. On the other hand, if some of your wine ends up flawed because even a small percentage of corks fail, that's outright waste—not exactly a sustainable practice either.


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No Slowing the Winery Direct Shipping Movement
Direct-to-consumer wine sales jumped dramatically again in 2012, to the tune of $1.46 billion
Posted: May 2, 2013 4:45pm ET
By Robert Taylor

The numbers are in and, as expected, 2012 was another banner year for winery direct-to-consumer shipping. American wineries shipped nearly 3.2 million cases of wine directly to consumers’ front doors in 2012, at a value of $1.46 billion.

That’s a 7.7 percent increase in volume and a 10 percent increase in value over 2011. Not only are Americans buying more wine straight from the cellar, we’re buying more expensive wine—at an average price of $38.42 per bottle, up from $37.63 in 2011 and $36.56 in 2010.

$1.46 billion, with a B, is an eye-popping sum. But these numbers, presented in an annual report issued in April by ShipCompliant and Wines & Vines, shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been following the decade-plus-long fight to make winery direct shipping legal across the United States. Today it’s permitted in 39 states, and a look at a few newcomers confirms that wine lovers love having the option to buy straight from the winery, especially smaller wineries that aren’t carried by local wholesalers.

Rep. Theodore Speliotis has introduced House Bill 294, which would allow local and out-of-state wineries, after applying for a $100 state permit, to ship up to 24 cases of wine a year to Massachusetts residents. Sen. Daniel Wolf has co-sponsored the bill, crafted with the assistance of the Wine Institute, a winery advocacy organization.

And now the bill's proponents have a new secret weapon: former Patriots quarterback-turned-Washington vintner Drew Bledsoe.


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