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March 04, 2005

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I have to strongly disagree. Consolidation in agriculture is an inherently bad thing, prcisely because of the free market system. The same market pressures you speak of also force the overcropping of vineyards, irrigation, chemical additives, material manipulation and the overall industrialization of wine. It is true in all of agriculture, so wine is no exception.

You speak of the average consumer, and it is precisely the average consumer we should be afraid of. Because they do not make their livings from thinking and knowing about wine, it is our responsibility as professionals to be on hand to educate them about the consequences of their purchases and to maintain "politically correct" inventories for them to choose from. Might there be some yummy wines I am missing out on? Yes, but as someone who has chosen to eat only sustainable, locally grown foods whenever possible, I would feel like a hypocrite if the selection of wines I put together for customers did not match that philosophy.

Upon finding out about Gallo's labor violations, I have stopped purchasing from a local distributor owned by gallo.

I will not do business with the Henry wine group.

The store I work for intentionally stocks as many esoteric wines as we can find, choosing to support small farmers maintaining a diverse library of indigenous varieties than wines that would sell simply for their international flavors.

It is important to realize that your position is dangerous, both for its indifference to the farmers that most deserve our support, and for the damage that consolidation does to the diversity of wine styles that makes this business so interesting.

Jassmond

Thanks for your thoughts, Jassmond.

I don't neccessarily disagree with what you are saying, but I think we're talking about different things. Overcropping, irrigation, additives and the "overall industrialization" of wine is a fact of life. There will ALWAYS be wine produced that way and there will always be wine produced in the way that you and I both consider the "right way" too.

Do you think Mondavi wasn't doing any of that stuff BEFORE being purchased by Constellation? I think that would be a silly statement.

Your choices in what you eat and drink are great...and I commend you. However, I think you'll agree that most people aren't like minded. Your personal crusade against large producers is great too...I too prefer to drink "esoteric" wines. However, you and I aren't most people. If people want to drink mass-produced, industrial wine (and they do) that is there right. This is America after all :)

If my column were written for a wine magazine...with readership that included mostly wine geeks...my piece would be a bit different. But, my readers are very very diverse...and audience is something I'm very aware of in anything I write.

Lastly...I'm not indifferent toward farmers at all...and I don't think is fair at all for you to say so. Most of the grape growers I know personally aren't particularly worried about consolidation either. They feel as I do...there will ALWAYS BE THE WINES YOU AND I BOTH APPRECIATE AND LOVE TO DRINK.

Again...thanks for your comments. I like it anytime someone challenges what I write and makes me think. You've done that. Well done.

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