Last year, I covered a wide variety of wine-related topics. Some were national and global, but most were local. The purpose? To expose readers to the wide world of wines and hopefully introduce them to new varietals and experiences.
Globally, the greatest concern in 2021 was climate change. Yes, the earth is becoming warmer, but it’s more than that. Weather events have become much more severe than in the past. For example, frost nearly destroyed thousands of vines in Champagne last year and some producers made no wine. And devastating floods in Europe not only destroyed vines, but in some cases entire wineries.
The increase in temperatures also made harvesting occur earlier than ever. Grapes that were formerly harvested in September are now bring harvested in August. Droughts in California, meanwhile, exacerbated the wildfires that left many wineries without grapes and even decimated some wineries. The most startling effect of a warmer earth is that optimal growing conditions are moving northward in the northern hemisphere and southward in the southern hemisphere. Wines are now being made in Tasmania, and even sparking wine is being produced in England.
On the local front, here's a recap of what happened in the wine world in 2021:
- Two new wine destinations opened in Sarasota with Vino Bistro and Sarasota Wine Co., showing that Sarasota continues to be a significant wine destination. Two events that were canceled the previous year, Forks & Corks and Florida Winefest and Auction garnered support from the populace and exceeded their goals. Look for them to reappear in the spring.
- As consumers became used to Zoom wine tastings, influencers began to dominate. While some were interested in showing off their homes or themselves, one local woman, Gina Lyons, made a name for herself by promoting Champagne and became a spokesperson for some major Champagne houses.
- It was nice to see three local restaurants receiving the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. The Crow’s Nest, Grove and Sage are now part of this exclusive group.
- Unfortunate news was the sommelier scandal. Top-ranking members of the Court of Master Sommeliers were found guilty of trading test answers for sexual favors. Most of the court was dismissed and a new board formed. Some sommeliers lost their credentials.
- The wine world was saddened by the loss of Steven Spurier. An esteemed member of the British wine world, he arranged the famous Judgment of Paris tasting in 1976, at which California wines bested their French counterparts. The event was made into a book and later a movie titled Bottle Shock.
- A few restaurateurs go beyond the norm in promoting wine. I profiled two local individuals, Marcello Aquino (of Marcello Ristorante Italiano) and Michael Klauber (of Michael’s on East), singling them out for their wine collections and affordable pricing.
Bob McGinn has spent his entire career in the wine industry—forming wine clubs, working in wine sales marketing and engaging in all facets of the winemaking process, including vine management, fermentation and yeast analysis. He has developed wine programs for companies such as Marriott, Sheraton and Smith & Wollensky, and consults with local restaurants. You can read more of McGinn’s work at gulfcoastwinejournal.com.