As the weather begins to warm and the vines begin to come alive again, it’s a good time to talk about what wine drinkers can expect in wine trends and get some insight into what the region’s experts are seeing.
South Coast Winery Master Winemaker Jon McPherson said he sees a lot of positives heading into the spring season, despite the recent dry spell.
“2020 looks to be a good year with respect to the growing season,” he said. “We need another 5-8 inches of rain, March looks to be a wet month (according to NOAA), but we will see. We are coming off a large 2019 harvest, so there is a surplus in some quarters.”
Reporting from the lab at South Coast, McPherson can’t wait to release some wine he’s been aging in barrels.
“The 2019 whites and roses are looking very promising,” he said. “Reds in barrel show good structure with solid character. The 2017 and 2018 reds that are looking to be bottled are very solid. 2017 was a good year.”
McPherson picked out some specific varietals he thinks wine drinkers should look for when they visit South Coast.
“We have a Verdelho and a Reserve Pinot Grigio from 2019 that are stellar,” he said. “Not to mention a Grenache Blanc. The 2017 WHP Cabernet is exceptional. Our 17s are going to be noteworthy for sure.”
He offered some tips on what’s happening in the marketplace.
“Wine drinkers should realize that prices may be dropping, wine quality is soaring,” McPherson said. “There is a statewide surplus, so many appellations will be discounting to empty tanks.”
That’s good news for wine drinkers, for sure.
Cougar Vineyard and Winery owner Jennifer Buffington had some similar takes, especially the quality of the 2017 grapes.
“The 2019 white wines will be superior because of the rains last year,” she said. “Hopefully we get more rains in 2020 so the grapes will also benefit from the leaching of the salts from the soil. The reds we are releasing from 2017 are also wonderful as that was a good year for rain too.”
Buffington said she has noticed some changes in the region.
“I am noticing that more wineries in Temecula are stepping outside the comfort zone and embracing less-known varietals as we do,” she said.
She said wine drinkers should be open to stepping outside their comfort zones.
“Rare varietals are being released,” Buffington said. “They won’t last long, so don’t hesitate to try and buy.”
At Cougar, that’s what they are known for, and she said they have some exciting products coming out this year. She said strong varietals to taste this year include Montepulciano and Negroamaro.
“We’re all about rare varietals at Cougar,” she said. “We will release our first Brachetto in a couple of years soon. Also, we released our Fiano recently. It’s been over five years since we’ve had a Greco di Tufo, we have outside of our local wine country, the industry as a whole is a fascinating one and while some of the recent trends will continue to grow, some pundits believe a return to tradition is on the way.
According to California Wine Advisor, classic wines are coming back.
“While ‘weird’ and esoteric wines have dominated recently, there is now a definitive swing back to exploring classic wines; wine-drinkers are familiarizing or re-familiarizing themselves with the wine regions which have for centuries made benchmark wines of consistent style and quality,” they reported.
Decanter’s Andrew Jefford’s take on the future of wine this decade dealt more with the carbon footprint of the wine industry.
“The existing carbon footprint of wine is unsustainable, assuming you’re not living in a wine-producing area and filling your own jugs from a tank at your local cooperative,” he said. “Glass production and wine transport account for 68% of wine’s carbon footprint: it is in these areas that decarbonization is most urgent. No single action would make more difference in the wine world than the swift adoption of bottles like this for every wine designed to be drunk on purchase (most wine, in other words), assuming strict recycling disciplines are followed.”
And then there is the issue of global warming, which winemakers all over the Temecula Valley are constantly monitoring and making adjustments for.
Also expected to disappear are words like “natural” from the description of wines, mostly because there are no benchmarks for what natural wine is.
“Instead, producers such as Nathan Kendall (Finger Lakes, New York), Ridge Vineyards (Sonoma County), and La Violetta (Great Southern, Western Australia) are increasingly using phrases like ‘minimal-intervention,’ ‘non-invasive,’ and ‘low-fi’ winemaking as these terms offer slightly more specific descriptions of the process,” VinePair said. “Crucially, these terms also distance bottles from the funky, often technically flawed wines that have become associated with the ‘natural’ category.”
The experts also said that rose will continue its rise and begin to be seen as a more serious wine; that people should expect to see more wine in cans, even if nobody can figure out why they are so expensive and hard seltzers aren’t going away anytime soon.
They also mentioned what looks like a rise in the no- and low-alcohol market.
Where’s the fun in that?
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at email@example.com.