|This story is so wrong.|
I explained that Napa makes 4% of the wine in California, and only a part of Napa was affected. I estimated that of its 525 wineries, about 5% lost significant amounts of wine. And the wine they lost was from 2013, the largest vintage in California history. I've written all this before.
But the host kept pushing me to say consumers -- some consumers -- would pay more. What about fans of 2013 California wines? What about collectors?
I'm not alone in getting pushed to say that wine prices would rise after the quake. ABC News did a story. Men's Health did a story. The Washington Post did a story. These three got the story mostly correct.
But some didn't.
Prepare to spend a bit more next time you buy a bottle or order a glass of wine, predicting a rise in Houston wine prices of "at least a few bucks." By following #napaquake on Twitter for several days, I saw ignorance like this in many places.
You'd think the media might have learned something after last year's foolishly covered world wine shortage story. That story came from a legitimate study claiming that the world would drink more bulk wine than it produces by the year 2020. This may be the case -- let's not go too deeply back into that meme -- but it's unlikely to affect the overall availability of wine in the first world for reasons that aren't hard to figure out. However, the TV news covered it like wine would soon become caviar, rationed only to the wealthy.
There are two reasons the mainstream media loves to jump to this conclusion, one positive, and one not. The positive one is that people think of wine as an artisanal, limited farm product, even when it's not. When they hear "wine," they don't think of Sutter Home's enormous oil tanker-like vats. They think of Napa farmers (and not immigrants, mind you) picking individual grapes and lovingly carrying them to a pristine crusher the size of a blender. They think their bottle of Wine Sisterhood was handmade by a woman named Joanne -- perhaps she also printed the label, licked the back and carefully applied it to the bottle -- while her cats played beneath her feet.
People just don't have a sense of how enormous and international the wine business is -- that if Napa Valley or Mendoza, Argentina or Barossa Valley, Australia fell into a giant sinkhole tomorrow, we would all be the poorer for it, but overall world wine prices would still not be much affected. Other places would sell us other wines.
That's not the nicest way to put it, and I hope my friends in those regions forgive me. We can all use a little more romance in our lives, and if people want to make Two Buck Chuck romantic, more power to them. But that's not the only reason people have the "prices will go up" reaction.
I don't know who "rottenrollin" is, but the comment he posted on the Breitbart story I showed above speaks for many in the mainstream media: "All those high fallutin elitists can afford it and more. Sock it to 'em." I worked in newspapers. That attitude is pervasive -- anybody who drinks wine is "elitist," and many mainstream media editors would like to see us punished. This was true even before journalism entered its awful downward spiral.
Some people write ignorant "wine prices will go up" posts because wine is precious to them and they fear its price will approach its value.
Other people write ignorant "wine prices will go up" stories because they hate wine lovers and want us to suffer.
To them, I dedicate the delicious glass of Stéphane Aviron Beaujolais-Villages 2012 I have in front of me: fresh and delightful, with great acidity, berry flavors and savoriness. It comes from an area hit by hail, frost, labor unrest, bad marketing, Frenchness and who knows what other natural disasters. And it's still only $13 a bottle. Cheers, haters!