Allegrini 2018

California, land of producers, consumers and wine lovers: the perfect destination for Italian wine?

The Master Sommelier Tim Gaiser told WineNews, “there is great interest, therefore space, for something new, especially for Italian denominations”

California is sophisticated and not at all conventional. It is kind of a State within a State. It is a border territory, the cradle of the Hollywood film industry and innovation in Silicon Valley, the Hippy movement, which influenced the popular culture of an entire generation began there in the 1960s. It is home to the food revolution, organic and local, theorized and supported by Alice Waters, who took the first steps of the movement that has become global, entwined with environmentalism and, of course, wine. In California wine is another economic, historic and cultural pillar. It is no coincidence that almost one-third of the US Master Sommeliers are Californians, who are institutions that over the years have trained thousands of sommeliers and wine lovers across the country, under the guidance of Tim Gaiser as Education Director, from 2003 to 2011, who has a very precise idea, which is quite common in this state, regarding Italian wine. “It is the best in the world, because of its diversity of varieties, microclimates, productive styles, and plus its relationship with food is incomparable. And this is why Italy represents an ongoing challenge”, Gaiser told WineNews, during the Los Angeles stop of the IEM U.S. Tour Simply Italian Great Wines, “because there are new territories and denominations to discover and make known, and our role as wine educators is fundamental. In the long term, the goal is to make a certain wine known and interesting among consumers, so that it reaches the store shelves and the restaurant wine lists”.
The challenge is indeed great, considering that 90% of all American wine is produced in California; that is, 16.77 million hectoliters per year equal to 63% of the entire American consumption, covering a vineyard area of over 194.000 hectares. The strength of the Golden State, as a market and not as a producer, is precisely that it is the homeland of wine; so, knowledge, curiosity and awareness are guaranteed. To these, add incomparable consumption levels, which in 2017 reached 561 million liters, twice as much as Florida and more than double New York. This is why there is still room to grow, even for new names, such as “the wines of Etna and Friuli Venezia Giulia”, the Master Sommelier said, “and those from the Marche, Verdicchio above all, and Trentino Alto Adige and Franciacorta as well. There are so many wines yet to be discovered and they need someone to follow them closely, educating restaurateurs and buyers, as well as consumers, starting from their strong point: they are perfect at the table. It is true that California is by far the leading producer in the country, but it is also the reference market, because there is a lot of curiosity about and desire to discover more new wines, obviously high quality. Certainly,” concluded Tim Gaiser, “the fact that so many people work for and are linked to the wine world make things a little simpler than elsewhere”.

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