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Viviendo la vida loca del vino en Indiana

Am I living the crazy wine life in Indiana?  It sure doesn’t seem like it sometimes, especially as I read accounts from fellow bloggers jetting off here and there tasting in barrel and generally having a high time living with the grape.  But, I try to keep in mind that progress can be measured differently by different people. 

As a wine enthusiast of the first order I certainly follow wine and the wine industry to a greater extent than the average Joe.  Actually, I follow the wine industry greater then the ‘Above Average Joe,’ too.  And, generally, when I read reports on wine consumption research I do so with a wary eye because everybody’s research is radically different—not a little bit different, but a lot of bit different.  Outside of the fact that wine consumption is increasing in the states, everybody has a different spin. 

I recently read statistics that say that NFL football fans spent 63% more on wine in 2006 than 2005, but the average household spending on wine that represents that 63% increase is only $94.30 per household for the year.  I try not to snicker.  $94.30 on wine?  In a year?  Puhleeze …  Don’t tell my wife.  If she knew this, she’d cut my wine spending off the 14th of January.

Likewise, Nascar fans supposedly increased their spending on wine 26.4%—from $66.80 to $81.40 from 2005 to 2006.

I think a tank of gas for those RV’s camped out at the Daytona 500 costs more than $81.40, but this increase is newsworthy according to Nielsen Sports.

Other reports, as we also saw this week, offer different perspectives:  not about wine consumption in niche sports segments, but wine consumption by consumers—categorized as core and marginal consumers.

According to research by Wine Market Council, Core drinkers account for 17.4 percent of the total population and marginal drinkers comprise 17 percent.  Core drinkers account for a whopping 92 percent of the volume of all wine consumed—a truly stunning statistic.  More than 92 percent of all wine sold is sold to 17.4 percent of the market.  Even more interesting?  According to the research, more than half of Core drinkers reside in suburbs.

Based on these sorts of statistics, I try to remove myself from any wine piousness and realize that there are a lot of people that have an interest in wine, but are still very much in a growing and learning phase. Exhibit A is our local fishwrap, the Indianapolis Star.  They had the wherewithal to publish an article a couple of days ago highlighting the Wine & Chocolate Lovers Extravaganza in Indianapolis.  In particular, two “wineries” on the Indy Wine Trail are doing promotions around the extravaganza and are featured in the article—both are based in Carmel, In.  Both wineries, it should be noted stretch the boundaries of what a winery is—occupying storefronts in a commerce district in a suburb in a Midwestern market without any grapes of their own. 

Carmel is a suburb north of Indianapolis, IN and is, according to demographics, one of the five wealthiest towns in the country right up there with Palm Springs, Naples, FL, some place in New York and some place in Arizona.  There’s a lot of money in Carmel and, presumably, based on Wine Market Council research, a lot of wine drinkers, too. So, it’s just peculiar to me that the two wineries in this town, associated with a marketing effort for a wine trail—this wealthy community—features a winery that makes wine from kits and a winery that makes wine from just about everything except grapes.  Pina Colada wine, anyone?

Within the confines of decorum, I don’t want to slag on Grape Inspirations or Ferrin’s Fruit Winery, undoubtedly run by decent people trying to have fun and make a buck.

But, living the crazy wine life in Indiana, just to be sure, also means that two wineries are featured in your newspaper—one that makes wine from concentrate from a Canadian company and another that makes chocolate wine.

To wit, the following quotes from the article (left unattributed here to protect the innocent), referencing promotions for the Wine & Chocolate Extravaganza:

“People love to come in, walk up to the chocolate fountain and stick a pretzel or piece of fruit in and let chocolate run over it.

Wine paired with the chocolate will be Old Vine Zinfandel or Razzlot, a raspberry Merlot.”

Or this one …

Wineries provide a wine experience.  When you come here you’re buying the wine experience.  You get an explanation of the wine and get to taste it.”

Living the crazy wine life in Indiana? Or, making my wine life crazy? One of the two, that’s for sure … but, I have chocolate wine and research to comfort me.


Posted in, Good Grape Daily: Pomace & Lees. Permalink | Comments (5) |


On 02/12, Damien Casten wrote:

Last week, one of our producers was in town for a week long roadshow.  Along the way, we were joined by two wine newbies who won a contest and were invited to a terrific six course dinner, each paired with wine.  Along the way, one of the winners decided which two wines were her favorite and… mixed them together to see if she would like it even more. 

One could hear the dishes crashing as service ground to a halt.  Quelle dommage!  In fact, it was a great opportunity to talk about how the wine maker blends and what he looks for from different components.  “Real” wine lovers would never blend two wines at a fancy dinner in front of the winemaker.  I know, because I am one of them.  But we are wrong. 

Curiosity, exploration and learning should always be part of wine.  I guarantee no one at the table who pooh-poohed the blending really knew what would happen.  What does Zin taste like when blended with Cab?  What about Chard and Zin?  Sound disgusting?  How do you know?  What if those wonderful folks in the northern Rhone never blended Syrah and Viognier? My cellar would be sad, that’s for sure. 

Whether its a question of blending your table wine or fermenting strawberries and apricots, I’d say go for it and let the market decide.  Surely grapes, rice, potatoes, and grains are not the only raw materials for delicious fermented beverages.  The only bottles of fermented fruit juice I own come from grapes in the vitis vinifera family.  Does that make me right?  Of course it does, because those bottles make me happy and thats my only goal.  If la vida loca in Indiana involves chocolate wine, then baila, baila. 

PS - The Zin-Chard blend was terrible.

On 02/12, Jeff Lefevere wrote:



I follow a ‘live and let live’ philosophy, for sure.  But, I also find time to play devil’s advocate, as well.  And, I generally don’t out and out throw people under the bus, but I do try and couch thoughts into areas where it might spark debate—chocolate wine being one of them. 

I appreciate you reading, Damien!


On 02/12, Damien Casten wrote:

I understand the devils advocate role, but I guess I am feeling vulnerable at the moment.  I have a history with friends and family of being “the wine guy” (read “wine snob”) and certainly have turned my nose up at any number of fruit wines in the past.  The blending experience was an eye opener though.  I could not be snooty to a customer and needed to see the good in the situation.  As it turned out, there was more good than I expected.

Later that week with the same winemaker, we put some wine in blender to see what would happen.  Again, I would never have thought to do it without provocation (who the heck puts wine in a blender!), but the results were interesting.

The upside of being surrounded with people who know more about wine than I do is, well, increased vulnerability.  The more I learn, the more I have the hard earned impression that I know next to nothing.

On 09/23, Ronaldo wrote:

I have some questions: I guarantee no one at the table who pooh-poohed the blending really knew what would happen.  What does Zin taste like when blended with Cab?  What about Chard and Zin?  Sound disgusting?  How do you know?  What if those wonderful folks in the northern Rhone never blended Syrah and Viognier?
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