I keep waiting for Apple to come out with a crystal ball -- call it the iBall. Sadly, I'm still waiting. In the meantime, I have to predict the future the old-fashioned way, with Tarot cards, tea leaves, and a lot of wine. After a marathon session of divining and peering ahead through the fog of time (I think that's what the fog was), I've seen four headlines to look for in the vinous universe in 2014.
See also: A Look Back on the World of Wine in 2013
Arizona Wines Score Their Highest Yet from Wine Spectator.
The venerable magazine has initiated a yearly evaluation of Arizona wines following the first one they did in 2013. In 2014, they blind-taste through an even bigger sample, awarding an unprecedented 10 wines scores in the "outstanding" range of 90-94. The national attention causes a rush of investment in the burgeoning Arizona wine industry, and double-digit growth for wine tourism in the state. All in all, 2014 is a banner year for wine in the Grand Canyon State.
The Three-Tier System Begins to Crumble.
The U.S. Supreme Court rules it unconstitutional for states to interfere with wineries selling wine direct to consumers over the internet. A new era for wine consumers begins as the large distributors lose their stranglehold on the industry. Okay, this is more of a pipe dream than a prediction, but with the leviathan Amazon becoming a major player in the wine business, it's only a matter of time before the archaic three-tier system of winery-distributor-retailer begins to break down.
Bravo Network Begins Production on Top Sommelier.
In its search for all things new in the culinary universe, Bravo develops an elimination-type reality show for sommeliers. Contests include blind tasting, preparing wine pairings for large catering functions, a Jeopardy-style quiz game, and other highly entertaining but unrealistic competitive scenarios. The celebrity sommelier is born. Following the unexpected success of the documentary 'Somm' about four candidates preparing for the master sommelier exam, this type of show could be a hit. Plus, I'd be one of the first to apply to be a contestant. On a side note, if you're interested in the wine business, 'Somm' is a great window into the nitty-gritty of what it takes to be a wine pro. I highly recommend watching it.
Wine Sales in the U.S. Soar to New Highs.
Millenials will get all the credit for driving the growth as they earn even more discretionary income, allowing them to buy a lot more wine. Good news for all of us in the biz, as a rising tide lifts all boats. In all seriousness, wine sales in the United States will definitely see double-digit growth. I truly believe we are in a new golden age of wine in this country.
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The legal team here at Vine Geeks would like to remind you that these predictions are utter speculation and should not be taken seriously. They would also like to wish you a fabulous 2014.
When I'm not writing this column or reading vintage charts to my daughter, you can find me pouring wine at FnB.