According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Recession ended in 2009, and we have been in recovery. I believe it to be one of the best kept secrets in the US. I do not think anyone is aware of the ‘recovery’, because millions of people still think they are unemployed, are loosing their homes. With that said, my predictions on wine trends for 2011 are cheap, strong, and most likely shared….

Seriously, the wine market world wide has been in a slump for a few years. I believe these trends will continue for a bit longer.

Before making any predictions for 2011, we need to understand what has happened in 2010. The news is not all bad. The global economy might have still been sluggish, but Bordeaux chateaus were still getting record-breaking prices for their 2009 vintages, rated by many as the best modern vintage to date.

On the down-side, the US Congress introduced some hideous legislation (HR 5034) that would’ve ended direct shipping of wine to consumers, or at least, placed unreasonable restrictions on it. The bill, sponsored by the National Beer Wholesalers Association, was crafted to protect the 3-tiered distribution system. This would have put severe burdens on already stressed growers and wineries, many of whom already have had to sell at large discounts. Wholesalers have spent in excess of 11.5 million dollars in campaign contributions over the last 5 years. Luckily, at the last minute Winery and Grower Associations, along with many outraged wine-loving consumers, rallied and put up a vigorous fight. With the mid-term Lame Duck sessions otherwise occupied with last-minute desperate attempts to pass other legislation, HR 5034 died on the vine. But don’t celebrate just yet. Chances are it will return in 2011.

On a brighter side, California’s excellent 2007 vintage, fantastic for Pinot Noirs, and outstanding for Napa Valley Cabernets, should be available through most of 2011. Savy restaurants and other establishments wisely stocked up on these rare nectars.

There was good news for women from the health sector. A British study found that, contrary to past wisdom, pregnant women can drink one or two glasses of wine per week with absolutely no negative effects on their baby. Before, many women abstained from drinking wine while pregnant due to fears of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Other good news is that a Boston study found that women who drink wine moderately experience less weigh-gain than women who never imbibe, and are less likely to become obese.

Now on to 2011. It is impossible to consider wine trends for 2011, without also considering the economic and social trends for the same period. They are linked hand-in-hand.

In 2011, the Stock Market is going to be the new Wild West. The market will fluctuate wildly on an insane roller coaster ride, with many quick gains, and lots of mini-crashes. There will be dozens of opportunities to make, and lose fortunes, for those who have the stomach for it.

US National Unemployment will remain above 10% for most of the year. The Labor Force will move from traditional employment models to Day Labor for cash jobs, and working at home on the internet, as millions “leave the system”. The ‘Cloud” will become a major labor industry as more and more business outsource their work. All the new day workers will be competing with illegal aliens (excuse me-undocumented workers), causing even more social tension between Hispanics and other groups. This will result in a rise in alcohol consumption over-all, as people attempt to self-medicate their frustrations.

On the International scene, Spain will be the next Sovereign-Debtor victim of the market. This will severely restrict the amount of export of their very nice value table wines to the US market. The really bad news is that Italy will be next on the list. This will be a disaster to the wine industry as a whole, as Italy is a major wine supplier to the world.

The US deficit will rise to 1.4 trillion dollars, and little will be done about it. The US Government will come under heavy criticism from all sides. They are in a no-win position. Unemployment will continue to rise, along with inflation, as the dollar declines. One side will say the government has done too little, and the other side will say they have done too much. Everyone will be fed up with Politics-As-Usual. Alcohol consumption on the Hill will increase.

Brazil will come into its own as a resource rich country with a trade surplus, and very low budget deficits. The real surprise will be Argentina. Rising wheat and soybean prices will boost their economy greatly, and they, along with Brazil, will become major wine exporters.

The US 2009 grape crop was fantastic, but it will lead to a surplus of some wines, resulting in a drop in prices. US grape production for 2011 is predicted to be 6.9 million tons, down from 2010 by 6%. California will continue to lead all other states in grape production by 89%.

Because of the economy, the market for table wines, and Super-Value wines will increase significantly. Premium wines of over $25.00 per bottle will remain stable, but the wines will be greatly discounted. US consumption of wine will increase, as more people switch from distilled beverages. California’s Paso Robles region will continue to dominate the domestic market, with excellent Rhone offerings from Saxum James Berry.

There will be several reds from Portugal and Tuscan, and many whites from France and California, that will make the top 20 list for 2011. Australian Shiraz will come into its own. California pinot Noirs will seriously challenge the king, Cabernet Sauvignon in popularity. There will be great offerings from Patz & Hall, Martinelli, Merry Edwards, and Talley.

There will be some great Cabernets from Beckstoffer To Kalon, and Schraeder Cellars. There will be many great Zinfindels, Roses, Rhines, Chablis and Syrahs offered at less than $30.00 per bottle. Good news for economy-minded connesuers.

The market for fine wines in Asia will rise, while US Consumers will continue to search for good value wines. The market for imported varietals from Argentina, Portugal, Chile, the Rhone area of France, Spain and Australia will increase. There will be an increased demand for local wines.

I predict that 2011 will be a very interesting year for wine aficionados and tyros alike. It will be a good year to experiment with different varieties, or even to start learning about wines from scratch. It will be a great time to experience the wine trends for 2011.

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