What I think will happen in 2011:
• Two darlings of recent years, Argentinian malbec and Spanish reds, will tail off a bit in popularity because the wines are being treated as commodities and overproduced. What will replace them? I have no idea -- wines from Chile? Portugal? Grenache? Carignane? -- but we will see more tasty whites from Spain and Argentina.
• Restaurants that refuse to offer several under-$30 bottles and/or smaller "portions" will continue to see wine sales stall.
• Wineries will continue to have a hard time figuring out how to utilize social media.
• With the economy still sputtering, wines retailing for $20 to $40 will remain a tough sell. Welcome to the new normal, or, as Duxoup owner Andy Cutter put it, "Five years ago was abnormal. People are talking about things 'getting back to normal,' when it really would be 'getting back to abnormal.'" As a result, we'll see more "second-label" brands such as Duckhorn's Decoy bottlings.
What I hope will happen in 2011:
• Rather than chasing ever-prevalent "sales" that don't always provide value (if a wine isn't very good, who cares what the price is?), shoppers will develop and nurture ties with more than one local wine-monger.
• More wine bars will open, especially of the Toast/Scusi/Riverview ilk that have a clear passion for interesting wines and make food an equal rather than dominant partner to oft-evolving wine lists. The two downtowns and the suburbs are sorely lacking in such venues.
• Local consumers will make wines with bubbles a bigger part of their lives, with so many fabulous, food-friendly and affordable offerings both domestic (California, Oregon and New Mexico) and imported (Spain, Italy and non-Champagne regions of France).
What I know will happen in 2011:
• Thanks to the efforts of some resourceful local wholesalers (and, yes, the economy), a lot of heretofore unavailable California wines will hit local shelves. Estimable brands such as Saxum, Failla, Peay, Kongsgaard and even Sine Qua Non will be highly allocated. More affordable varietals from Dancing Coyote and others will arrive in the next few months.
• Dancing Coyote's stellar whites include grüner veltliner and albariño, grapes normally associated with Europe, and come out of Clarksburg, where another Old World white varietal, chenin blanc, has found its finest California expression from Dry Creek Vineyards. Look for more wines from there and Paso Robles, maybe fewer from Napa and Sonoma.
• My cellar will get more crowded (sorry, darling).
Bill Ward • firstname.lastname@example.org