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Field Notes from a Wine Life – Doin’ Work Edition

Odds and ends from a life lived through the prism of the wine glass …

Doin’ Work

Of all the holidays, every one of them, New Year’s is my favorite.  I love the New Year’s song —Auld Lang Syne—its melancholy exuberance fits my ethos of pragmatic idealism and I love the sense of renewal that New Year’s affords us: Resolving to do better, Setting goals, perhaps falling short of said goals, and trying again; it is all so very American and intrinsically human.

In my mind’s eye, I am still capable of being the person I imagined as a wide-eyed youth.  And, yet, I realize that it’s the sum of our experiences—the journey—that make our triumphs, however small, worthy of rejoice in the moment. 

Still, every year I get a new chance at making 12-year old me in my minds eye proud of 38-year old me.  That is a neat trick even when the 38-year old me is overwhelmingly happy with who and where he is, bank account notwithstanding: 12-year old me fancied a millionaire about eight years ago.


Dime store philosophy aside, a part of my “doin work” bag of goals every year is increasing a knowledge area around wine.  In years past, I’ve made a concerted effort to dive into an area of the wine world that I want to know more about – Italian wine, New Zealand, wine history and others.

This year?  Simply, my instincts tell me that this golden age of wine we are living in is taking a veer that will be recounted by history.  Because of this, my study goal for the New Year is two-fold and much more critically imperative than years past.

HR 5034

First, as highlighted in Wine Spectator as the story of 2010, HR 5034 is likely to rear its ugly head again in 2011, with resolution or consequence.


Over the course of this year, I felt like many wine enthusiasts, myself included, gave lip service focus to HR 5034 without really understanding the underpinnings to the issue, or how to combat it.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we all have really have shoddy knowledge of how our government works, how a bill is introduced, how the trail of money works with lobbyists and how consumers, for whom our government works in a democracy, combats violations against the will of the people.

In the coming year, I want to deepen my level of knowledge about not only how our government operates, but also the insidiousness of the issue that is rife with varying perceptions from those that have decamped for and against it.

Secondarily, I want to be a soldier in the consumer army that Tom Wark is building and doing so capably means having more than a tertiary grasp of the issue.

Speaking of Tom Wark, I would be remiss if I let 2010 end without mentioning his, A Manifesto for Change in the Wine Industry published in March of this year.  It is a remarkable white paper (read online at Tom’s site or download as a PDF here) that should be THE primer for anybody interested in following his or her own path to more knowledge on this issue in the New Year.

Wine Auctions

Pick your sales figure.  Reuters reported that wine auctions exceeded $350M in sales this year and Wine Spectator reported sales in excess of $408M, both wine auction market records.
Regardless of the dollar discrepancy, both articles cite the Asian market as being principally responsible for the huge growth in sales.


If you couple that with the various wine investment funds that buy up classified growth wines as an investment vehicle and Liv-Ex, a merchant and collector exchange for fine wine, predominantly Bordeaux, you realize that mother’s milk, Bordeaux wine, is quickly becoming not just unreachable from a price perspective, but also unreachable from an acquisition perspective.  There’s not enough of it to go around.

The annual spring parlor game of lamenting futures pricing is going to become moot because global supply and demand will make pricing even more inelastic than today’s standard. 

Simply, the wine world’s most precious wines are going to become increasingly precious with China’s burgeoning interest in wine and we are barely at the tip of the spear for how this interest in wine is going to change the dynamics of the global wine world.

Therefore, I’m making it my goal to read up and understand not only about the auction market (this book being one example), but also wine from an investing perspective (this new magazine being an example).

I am doing so not because I am a player in this market, but because I think its influence will ripple enough on the wine Richter scale that it is prudent to understand the dynamics in this rarified arena of the wine world.

What do you resolve to learn more about in the New Year?


Posted in, Free Run: Field Notes From a Wine Life. Permalink | Comments (1) |


On 01/03, 1WineDude wrote:

Here’s a thought for getting a view on the auction market - interview Serena Sutcliffe.  Seriously - it’s about time someone got her views on the blogosphere…


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