End of History of New California Red Varietal Grapes and Wines

Bordeaux blends, cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel and pinot noir have a higher return on capital than all the other red grapes. The cult-of-the-winemaker cannot change the end-of-history of the Judgement of Paris 1976. It's a lock.

End of History of New California Red Varietal Grapes and Wines
Winning Is Winning Forty Years After the 1976 Paris Tasting for Reds
By Susanne Arrhenius, Leo McCloskey and Doug McKesson

© 2014 Enologix
® Incorporated

September 29, 2014 — Modern Napa Bordeaux blends and cabernet sauvignon economic growth and the diffusion of wine knowledge resulted in ending the inequality wine buyers found between Old California and the great Bordeaux red wines. Consumers find low cost high quality wine online, 2011 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $16.99 (previously $20) at San Francisco’s K & L Wine Merchants; wines which may be better than some wines in the 1976 Paris Tasting.

Our playbook is strategy, structure, culture, and execution of winning. We point to "What Really Works" (2003) based on Harvard Business School case studies. We know the winning strategy, what is next is to change the structure of the California wine industry to protect the winners with the classification of Bordeaux grape appellations and districts.

Our duty was leading wine professionals is to celebrate the massive advancements made by companies that pivot around Bordeaux grapes. Also to warn investors off of the "The New California" barbera, charbono, counoise, grenache, mataro, mourvedre, nebbiolo and sangiovese.

As far as we can tell people are investing in the following California red grapes and wines.

st Bordeaux blends,
nd Cabernet Sauvignon,
rd Zinfandel,
th Pinot Noir
th Syrah.

When one of us entered the business in 1971 at Ridge Vineyards the company was marketing zinfandel. Thankfully we made Ridge Monte Bello 1971 cabernet that was in the 1976 Paris Tasting. We point people to a 1976 department of agriculture report that Ridge’s president Dave Bennion showed us in 1977 to explain that the New California wine was not capitalizing vineyards but used grapes already installed.

California Winegrape Plantings in Bearing Acres, 1976

The Ridge Monte Bello and 1976 Paris Tasting created the notion that chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon are quality benchmarks. Forty years on the agriculture reports show us the end-of-history of all the efforts of thousands of winemakers and tens-of-thousands of wines in the simple terms of grape varieties acres planted by the wine farmers is,

California Winegrape Plantings in Bearing Acres, 1976

The main driver marginalizing all "new" grape varietals—larger returns on capital on chardonnay and cabernet—is now part of wine history.

Installing chardonnay vines stopped the planting of Alsatian and German varietals—gewürztraminer, pinot gris, riesling, scheurebe and silvaner in the 1980s. Rhone grapes—marsanne, picpoul, rousanne, and viognier—never took hold in California soil when the choice was chardonnay prices.

Likewise, Bordeaux grapes inhibited the Italian, Rhone and Spanish varietals—barbera, counoise, grenache, mataro, mourvedre, nebbiolo, sangiovese and syrah.

Price per ton and bearing acreage for California Chardonnay (1976-2012)

Agribusiness overplanted chardonnay—100,000 acres by 2001—and cabernet sauvignon—80,000 acre by 2012. Paradoxically, the 1976 Paris Tasting created the notion of just how popular chardonnay and cabernet are to mass-market retailers thereby lowering the price of Napa Valley luxury wines.

Credit the New California culture and cult-of-the-winemaker for failing to scale taste quality.

After the 1976 Paris Tasting, Robert Mondavi solved the problem of scaling by creating the strategic partnership that is Opus One. Astonishingly Opus scaled quality of a batch of wine to 25,000 cases! Which is almost 2-orders of magnitude higher than some wines in the Paris tasting.

This is the problem that we set out to solve for my friends in the New California wine movement, starting with Chalone, Ridge and a dozen other companies between 1989 and 1993.

Enologix created the new logistics, which is the act of predicting taste quality before conducting the winegrowing or sales. We wrote several theorems including for style, quality, freshness (aging potential) and terroir between 1990 and 1995. We point to our theorem for terroir published in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" printed by the American Chemical Society.

Ecological miodels deep inside Enologix drive algorithms. Taste is created
in vivo, in Vitis vinifera var. cabernet sauvignon, and expressed as a function of the ecosystem surrounding the wine-farm. The end-of-history of an appellation or a farm is embedded in the DNA of the grape the farmer plants. Only this can explain the great European appellations by which we all judge New World wines and the future of California.

Let’s imagine for a moment that there are no political pressures distorting our discussion of New California wine and that we can look at it as a business problem, not a "cause" or the "cult-of-the-winemaker". The way forward is to strengthen the winning wines with goverment protections from agribusiness dominance.

Copyright © 1999-2019. All rights reserved. Enologix© is a trademark, registered ® with the U.S. Patent Office and may not be used under any circumstances without the prior written permission of Enologix. Global Vintage and Global Vintage Quarterly are trademarks with the U.S. Patent Office and the State of California. Consumers, media and retailers are encouraged to use our information as a resource.