Not every family has a deep seated fear of the Department of Ecology… and then there’s us.
The DOE is ‘comin to git us’ and appropriately so. Until recently, there were a negligible number of folk making wine in a vast area. Where those crazies once roamed, is now being replaced by an Industry with a capital “I.” The Washington Wine Industry is now over 700 strong and the Deparment of Ecology has noticed. Water and waste disposal regulations will be coming down the pipeline that could cost wineries anywhere from $20,000 – $50,000 depending on where they are and what they currently look like. While this strikes dread in the hearts of many, even we recognize this as totally and completely fair. Come get us.
These are the types of repercussions that occur when “dudes” convert to “Industry.” Costs can lower in some areas (custom crush sites can streamline to lower costs of production) but raise in such macro levels that they can’t be ignored. The goofy Red Mountain carbonically macerated Zinfandel that you made 200 cases of… might not shine as a bright beacon of hope on your excel spreadsheet as you analyze your past to predict your future.
Wealthy dreamers awash in rose colored glasses find themselves glass-less once their vineyard has had frost damage 6 out of 8 years. This vineyard may have made award-winning wines for the two years that it survived, but the numbers start to sing pretty loudly after a while. Those vineyards get pulled and you have a wine in the basement that may be from a vineyard that no longer exists. You have yourself a bottled dinosaur.
New grape clones that once came into this valley willy nilly now find themselves subjected to various stages of quarantines and selecting. Fair enough- but the cost shows. And what once was up for grabs, is now subject to a bidding war among countless winemakers.
All of these changes are both inevitable and necessary. The inadvertent byproduct of a maturing region is that winemakers have to maybe, kind of, sort of, slightly consider making wines that the public wants, not what the winemaker wants. The whimsy, passionate, reckless and poetic abandon that you find when a field is filled with “dudes,” diminishes once the guy with some common sense and a little knowledge of excel spreadsheets shows up to pick a flower.
Take advantage of the now, of the barnstorm-heavy, dude-rich results. After all, how many of us get to own dinosaurs? You do.
Have a great weekend, Ashley