My last post about Australia reminded me how difficult it is for me to recommend wines readily available in grocery stores around the country. After reading a couple of Shanken News Daily editions I could actually put it in numbers. Marvin Shanken runs Wine Spectator, among a number of other publications, and his Shanken News Daily focuses on trade news, generally on the larger, corporate producers/distributors.
Two posts caught my attention.
1) E J Gallo now has long-term contracts covering 90,000 acres of grapes, with 10,000 more coming on board in the next few years. For comparison, Napa Valley's entire planted acreage (according to Napanow.com) is just over 45,000. One winery, albeit an insanely large one, controls twice the amount of vineyards of Napa Valley.
Let's put that size in perspective. Gallo controls 140 square miles(!) of vineyards, and will control 156 once the other 10,000 acres are added. According to Wikipedia, Philadelphia, PA covers 142.7, Raleigh, NC covers 144, Portland, OR covers 142, Las Vegas covers 136 and Denver 154.
2) Another item from Shanken Announced the release of Yellow Tail's Moscato, perhaps the hottest grape around at the moment. The article said the wine "was expected to reach" 800,000 cases which would account for approximately 10% of total brand volume. 10%!?! That means they produce 8,000,000 cases of wine. That's 96,000,000 bottles of wine or about 5 million short of being able to provide a bottle to every single person living in the states of Florida, Texas, New York and California. If we remove underage residents, I'm sure Yellow Tail could cover all those states and then some.
I was talking with some people last night about why I don't eat at fast food restaurants very often and I realized that while they are convenient I just don't like the food very much. It tastes processed and fake and leaves me less healthy and unsatisfied - a terrible combination. Assembly line wines leave me cold as well. Unique does not guarantee enjoyment but I'm bored by generic, safe choices. Give me a random roadside diner any day over predictable branded food.
Can't resist mentioning pink slime too...