It has been, what feels like, an age since Steve and I first visited, separately, the mighty United States of America. Steve has very fond memories, some potentially ‘naughty’, as a teenage exchange student spending 12 months in Salisbury, Maryland. Whereas I, as an 19 year old ‘angel’, was lucky enough to visit my sister whilst she was stationed (finance) in New York City. Steve can never forget the taste of Eastern shore crabs while I could not get or eat enough pizza by the slice.
During July Steve & I travelled to the USA for 2 reasons. One was to taste as many Pinot & Chardonnays from the many talented winemakers and vineyards based on the West Coast. Starting at Portland, Orlando driving down to Nappa Valley, California. Nappa Valley is located just outside of the, very cool, yet sunny San Fransico. The second purpose of our trip was to meet with potential wine importers, to entice sales of our wine to a wine loving nation.
We were struck by the extravagant beauty of America’s west coast. Flying over the countryside and driving inland south revealed the expanse of agriculture as well as the massive dividing ranges. America is experiencing a significant drought displayed for all to see as we drove past Mount Schaffner dam, which was dry in some places, and we estimated 80% below the waterline.
American people are so friendly, polite and kind, and the wine and food was exceptional. We visited mostly small wine producers with the exception of one large winery called Seghesio Family Vineyards where we tasted mostly Zinfandel.
We discovered many of the small winemakers operate out of factories dotted in amongst city fringe in the light industrial zones. Their wineries being mostly large sheds with a cordoned off area, tastefully decorated, for tastings and sales. Almost all visits to wineries were by appointment only, which we found very frustrating due to our time pressures but understandable given the torrid time Covid has inflicted on America. The cost to visit winemakers was very expensive, in the $100+/per person range, compared to our experience here in Tasmania (some tasting fees were part credited against a puchase).
Vineyards can be large and from what we understood the grapes are sold to a number of winemakers rather than one destination. This may be so that the grower does not have all their eggs in one basket. In 2020 depending on the region many grapes were destroyed due to smoke taint.
Regarding distribution, that is a work in progress. Hopefully we will find our match in the near future. Fingers crossed! Two weeks in America chalked down to a great experience.