California is probably one of the biggest leaders in the wine industry, and it’s not just because Napa Valley just happens to be in our corner. Susan Kostrzewa, editor-in-chief of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, says that our state’s influence is also owed to our willingness to try new things.
“California is leading the charge,” Kostrzewa tells SF Weekly. It’s always willing to experiment. We spoke to Kostrzewa about the trends California — and other regions of winemakers — are setting for 2020.
It feels like it happened overnight: All of a sudden, rosé was everywhere — in our happy hours and in our brunches and in our candy. But Kostrzewa says that the United States — compared to regions like France — is actually a bit behind when it comes to rosé. “We’re just now discovering how great these wines are in the U.S.,” Kostrzewa says.
But Kostrzewa predicts we’ll see more rosés in 2020 from California regions like the Central Coast or Sierra Foothills, in addition to places from around the globe.
“You’re going to see rosés from more wide-reaching parts of the world,” Kostrzewa says. “So probably more rosés from places like Eastern Europe or South America.”
There’s a reason for the sudden rosé boom in the United States.
“Rosé as a category in the U.S. is growing because Americans are getting so much more into food and wine pairing,” Kostrzewa says. “And rosé is a really easy and nice wine to pair with any dish. It bridges flavors.”
Boxed wines, canned wines, wines in Tetra Pak, wines on the go. These kinds of wines have always existed, but Kostrzewa says that in the upcoming year, more premium level wines might take to these alternative forms of packaging. The goal is more lifestyle oriented products — wines that you can throw in a bag and take with you to a picnic, or wines that you can drink on your own without having to worry about sealing again for the next time you plan to open a bottle.
Aside from convenience, Kostrzewa also believes that alternative packaging is motivated in part by a more environmentally conscious industry. “It leaves less of a footprint than some of these big glass bottles and cork closures,” she says.
It’s not much of a surprise that climate change is going to affect the wine industry. But winemakers are preparing for what comes next.
“Lack of water, rising temperatures, all these things are affecting what’s being made in a vineyard,” Kostrzewa says. This is a moment when the industry needs to think about sustainable farming and long-term plans, she says.
This means figuring out ways to leave less of a prominent footprint from trucking wines across the nation or figuring out alternative packaging solutions to glass bottles and cork closures.
Kostrzewa points to wineries like the Kendall-Jackson Family Winery in Sonoma Valley as an example of an environmentally conscious industry leader. The Kendall-Jackson Family uses solar power for almost a third of their winemaking operations, using significantly less water than the industry standard, and leaving half of their lands to grow wild for biodiversity. In Napa, Kostrzewa mentions Spottswoode and Quintessa as examples of other wineries enacting climate-sensitive farming.
Another side effect of climate change are shifting regions — some places that were great for making wine before may not be because of environmental changes.
Alternatively, you’ll also see emerging regions come into the market. “You’re going to see parts of the world that maybe were not considered to be great wine producing regions coming up on the market. England’s one of them.”
Grace Li covers arts, culture, and food for SF Weekly. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.