Updates on World Wine Rankings, Japan and Reno

Fotolia_8632182_SLet’s close out this week with a few updates on recent blogs…

On Wednesday, we shared the news that the United States had surpassed France as the No. 1 consumer of wine in the world.

We also shared the speculation that within a few years, there could be yet another new leader: China. It already is in the No. 5 position, and as its middle class grows, chances are its number of wine drinkers also will expand.

Within minutes of that blog going live, I came across semi-related news from Wine Spectator’s website. According to the magazine’s report, the Quixote winery in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley has been sold to a company called Le Melange.

Although the name sounds French, Le Melange actually is a private Chinese-owned firm that paid close to the $29 million asking price for the estate.

According to Wine Spectator, this is just one of several recent winery purchases or start-ups in Napa Valley that involve Asian investors. Others include:

• Sloan

• Dana Estates

• Kenzo Estate

• 4088 (formerly Bialla)

Speaking of Asia, this next update goes back a bit further in time — like, almost seven years. In late 2007, I wrote about the emerging “wine culture” in Japan, and pondered the direction it ultimately would go, and how long it would take to get there.

Well, according to the Japan Times, wine is being taken very seriously in Japan, circa 2014. In fact, according to this report, there is a movement afoot to elevate the status of wines made in Japan to help the country’s vintners compete in the international wine marketplace.

“Yamanashi” was established about a year ago as Japan’s first designation for Japanese wines meeting certain geographic criteria. The designation came from the National Tax Agency; it was not the result of a new law.

Now, such a law is being discussed with the idea of bringing the Japanese wine industry more in line with European Union guidelines.

There’s a sort-of-similar movement afoot in Nevada, where commercial winemaking is not allowed in the state’s two largest counties — Washoe and Clark, home to the cities of Reno and Las Vegas, respectively.

Reno, you may recall, was the subject of this blog last week, which previewed this year’s “Reno Bites” wine-and-food festival.

It turns out that if commercial winemaking were allowed in Washoe County, there are grape growers ready to begin crafting wine in quantity. This report explains how simple it would be for state legislators to transform parts of the Reno area into “wine country.”

If China should emerge as the new leading consumer of wine, we’re going to need new winegrowing regions in order to keep up with worldwide demand.

We all know that it’s a small world. It has become increasingly clear that it’s also a small wine world.

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