Barnstorming was the practice of flying planes from barn to barn as a form of entertainment, doing stunts and parachuting out when needed. The remaining flight would crash and burn in some poor guy’s corn field. Barnstorming began in 1920 and was regulated out of existence by 1927 – only 7 years in total.
There are times in place, industry or practice where we get away with things that we shouldn’t. These times are amazing, inappropriate and reckless. They are short-lived and aptly so. There are moments in time when you, in that moment, know that it is a moment, and that you are there.
Now is such an era for the Washington Wine industry. Want to meet a winemaker? Walk into a tasting room. Want to barrel taste? Walk into a barrel room. Want to try an obscure varietal? Buy a bottle.
The US is now the largest wine consuming nation in the world. It has had uninterrupted per capita consumption growth for 21 years. There was a minor and negligible one year dip and then another 4 years of growth before that.
Our country drinks: 34% imports, 57% CA and 9% other. That means that for decades, WA winemakers have had a) an increased interest from the public and b) such a small market share that we could try practically whatever we wanted to make/do/be.
This will change for three major factors (stay tuned to next week’s post) but for now, dwell on this:
21% of wine drank in this country is Chardonnay, 12% is Cabernet. Merlot makes up 9% and Pinot Gris tops it off at 8%, meaning that 50% of the wines you drink are only 4 varietals. Despite there being 10,000 varieties of wine grapes in the world, you people are choosing 4. Shame on you.
As an industry, a region and a set of people, we, the Washington/Oregon Winemakers, have had a heyday- planting crazy sites, insane varieties, macerating and bottling them in ludicrous ways and you are here for it. You are in the moment. Notice it. Go out there and grab some unusual varietals from really creative producers, sites and ventures before they become extinct in their current form.
*This was a modified excerpt from a speech that I gave at the WAC in Seattle this weekend. My apologies for the poor timing of the plane reference with the recent Germanwings crash.