September is California Wine Appreciation month, which is the Golden State’s annual self-promotion, courtesy of the wine industry. And since most of the wine consumed in this country comes from California, it’s worth noting a couple of things.
One is that, for all the great wines being made in California, the state doesn’t dominate the values segment of the market the way it could and the way it should.
In the Oct. 31 issue of Wine Spectator, our cover story is on values, and we offer 250 wines that we think are pretty good and sell for $20 or less.
The list of wines from California has some excellent choices. But as a whole, California’s wines aren’t even close to dominating. And I think they should.
You can say critics of California wine are too tough on the wines, which may or may not be true. But I think it has more to do with pricing--that is, too many of California’s wines are overpriced. You can extend that criticism across the entire spectrum of wines and you won’t get much argument from most consumers.
What’s also worth noting is that due to the current exchange rate with the euro, California’s wines enjoy a market advantage because the wines from Europe are much more expensive. This month the euro is at about $1.40, which I’m sure California vintners must appreciate to some extent. Sure, the exchange rate isn’t the only barometer of economic health, but once (or if) the currencies reposition themselves, imported wines will offer greater options and opportunities.
But the real value of value wines is that they bring more people to the party, and if California made better wines at lower prices, it would make a lot of people a lot happier and put the Golden State in the position it should be in: a world leader in values. At least here in the U.S. of A.