Vintage 2022

A Look Back at the Events, Trends and Personalities That Shaped the Wine World Last Year

It was an eventful year for wine lovers in Sarasota.

By Bob McGinn January 4, 2023


As in 2021, the most significant events affecting the wine world last year involved natural disasters. While there were almost no wildfires in the West, Europe did not fare as well. Numerous fires followed a terrible spring that included severe frosts and unexpected frigid temperatures. In California, the drought continued and water for irrigation was doled out sparingly. Perhaps recent mountain snowfalls will ease the concern as they melt in spring.

Locally, the Suncoast bore the brunt of Hurricane Ian. Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel and Captiva Islands were decimated, and Englewood received significant damage. One much-loved establishment, Beach Road Wine Bar & Bistro, was devastated, while a sister restaurant, The Waverly, was also damaged, but should be up and running soon.

In other news, it seems there’s never enough wine bars. Sopranos opened in Gulf Gate. Mitch Soffer, a well-respected retailer, devised the concept after watching the gangster series set in New Jersey. The bar is only a few doors down from Soffer's retail store and its future looks promising. In Osprey, meanwhile, two new wine venues opened. Southern Vines is a retail wine store and Deep Lagoon is a full service restaurant, featuring fish, from the owners of Pinchers.

Personalities in the news included Bo Barret and Fred Franzia. Barret made a visit to Sarasota for a special dinner event at Michael’s on East. He is one of the few original participants in the Judgment of Paris tasting in 1976, when California wines trounced their French counterparts. He remains involved in winemaking, but in more of an administrative role.

Franzia, who died last year, was the creator of a line of extremely low-cost wine under the Charles Shaw label. Since the wines were primarily sold by Trader Joe's at $1.99 a bottle, they were soon referred to as “two-buck chuck.” Franzia earned the disdain of many winemakers and wine writers who have argued that expensive bottles are better. However, he showed that many Americans can’t always tell the difference between an inexpensive bottle and a costly one, and after $70 million in sales, he laughed all the way to the bank.

Inflation and “out of stock" notices, meanwhile, plagued the wine consumer. Many good, palatable wines that could be found at $10 or under are now in the $15-$16 range. Favorite labels, especially from Europe, are on back order. However, that could be a blessing, since it forces us to try new wines.

The cost to travel to and in wine country also spiked. Winery tasting room samples that formerly ran for $10 are now $20, and VIP tasting events range from $100 to $400. A local travel agency on St. Armands Circle found reasonable wine packages by traveling to Europe.

And, finally, Marcello Ristorante Italiano received a well-deserved “Best of the Award of Excellence” from Wine Spectator, wrapping up an eventful and fascinating year in wine.

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

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