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The State Of America's Wine Industry

Drought in California, earthquake in Napa.  We look at broken bottles and the health of the American wine industry.

Some of the hundreds of earthquake damaged wine barrels cover and toppled a pair of forklifts at the Kieu Hoang Winery, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Napa, Calif. A powerful earthquake that struck the heart of California's wine country caught many people sound asleep, sending dressers, mirrors and pictures crashing down around them and toppling wine bottles in vineyards around the region. (AP)

Some of the hundreds of earthquake damaged wine barrels cover and toppled a pair of forklifts at the Kieu Hoang Winery, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Napa, Calif. A powerful earthquake that struck the heart of California’s wine country caught many people sound asleep, sending dressers, mirrors and pictures crashing down around them and toppling wine bottles in vineyards around the region. (AP)

The headlines out of America’s most famous wine country have been very rough lately.  California, absolutely parched.  In the thick of a frighteningly deep drought.  And Napa – as in Napa Valley, wine heaven – the epicenter of a major earthquake just this last Sunday.  We all saw the piles of broken barrels and the shattered bottles of wine.  Between drought and quake, we wondered what’s up with American wine production.  So we called the top experts.  They’re with us.  To tell us.  And the news is by no means all bad.  This hour On Point:  after drought and quake – American wine.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Jon Bonné, wine editor for the San Francisco Chronicle and author of “The New California Wine.” (@jbonne)

Antonio Galloni, founder and critic at online wine resource Vinous. Former lead critic for the Wine Advocate. (@AntonioGalloni)

Mike Veseth, editor of the online journal the Wine Economist. Author of “Wine Wars” and “Extreme Wine.” (@MikeVeseth)

Drew Bledsoe, former NFL quarterback and owner of Doubleback Winery in Walla Walla, WA. (@DrewBledsoe)

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: A big loser in West Coast quake: Napa Valley wineries — “The country’s well-known wine-making region, Napa Valley, was at the epicenter of the earthquake responsible for dozens of injuries and damages estimated to surpass $1 billion. And wine that bled out on cellar floors will make up a hefty chunk of the lost revenue. The valley’s more than 500 wineries generate some $13 billion a year for the regional economy, according to Napa Valley Vintners, a trade organization.”

Los Angeles Times: How to keep your wine safe in an earthquake — “We’ve seen the photos of Napa wineries after Sunday morning’s magnitude 6.0 quake. Wine bottles that flew off shelves lie in a heap in middle of floor. Broken bottles and crushed boxes. Some wineries lost rare older vintages or special blends that are part of their history. In a violent earthquake where walls collapse, there’s not much anyone could do to protect a wine collection. But there are some basic precautions you can take that will help to keep your wines safe during minor temblors.”

The Atlantic: The Modest Pleasure of Boxed Wine — “Boxed wine seems to be the antithesis of the refined experience we typically associate with wine—the distinctly adult pleasure of uncorking a bottle and carefully pouring the contents into a fluted glass before inspecting its legs and savoring its bouquet. Things are starting to change, though, and winemakers are expanding the range of boxed offerings with entries that taste more dinner party than dorm room. “

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