Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Expert Advice: Wine Trends to Watch for in 2017

Dathan Kazsuk & Jennifer Primrose | Feb. 1, 2017
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

With the start of a new year, there are always new trends we as Americans love to follow. We want to be hip and cool to what's going on around us. From the sour beer craze to unfashionable pantsuits, we go by what the experts tell us. And that same mentality applies inside the world of vino. What are some trends we should be looking out for in 2017? 

We recently asked a handful of in-state wine experts what trends they foresee for this year. We talked to a bottle shop owner, wine shop managers, a winemaker, a winery owner and even Angus Barn's  
sommelier Henk Schuitemaker, who says sparkling wines are going to be big this year – by themselves and as mixers.

With all that's being said by our panel of experts below, we expect 2017 to be the year of the grape!

Joey Medaloni, winemaker and owner of Medaloni Cellars in Lewisville.
"In 2017, you will see more nontraditional varietals gain interest. Wine has been around for a very long time and there is more to it than Chardonnay and Cabernet. We have offered more less known varietals in the past few years and people have really loved them. I like to mix it up, keep it fresh, give people something different to experience. One of the varietals I will release for its second vintage is Traminette. It is a French American hybrid. Its more known parent grape is Gewürztraminer, in which it is very similar in flavor profile. Look for it Spring 2017."
– Joey Medaloni
Winemaker, Medaloni Cellars (Lewisville)


Joe O'Keefe is the owner of Wine & Beer 101.
"There will be a greater desire for new wines not named Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot will be making a comeback. Bubbly will continue its growth trend. The year 2016 was the year of mammoth Prosecco growth and it will drag Cava along with it into 2017. Lastly, wine slushies are on the horizon. Most restaurants have been tight lipped about their recipes, but we have and will continue to experiment with concoctions that are Rosé based. Yes, you might see slushy machines popping up in restaurants and bottle shops like ours, and they won't be for kids!"
– Joe O'Keefe
Owner, Wine & Beer 101 (Raleigh, Wake Forest, Wendell)


Sanctuary Vineyards John Wright out in the vineyard in Jarvisburg, N.C.
"I believe the trends for 2017 in overall wine is for consolidation of top brands of wine, where your favorite wines from medium sized producers are purchased by big wine companies. I'm afraid we'll see less variety on the shelves of stores, but, in some good news, I believe that the dollar is strong globally, so we'll see lots of cool imports from South America, Australia/NZ as well as more variety from Europe. Locally, I see NC wine shops and restaurants stepping up and embracing NC wine the same way they have with craft beer.  The quality is there and there's no reason not to have NC wine on the list."
John Wright
Owner, Sanctuary Vineyards  (Jarvisburg)


Eliza Kraft Olander, center, at the 2016 Triangle Wine Experience Gala.

"It seems that while there is some trend in larger companies taking part ownership in wineries, I am hopeful that there is going to be much more collaboration with smaller wineries and growers.  

I also see women taking a larger role in winemaking, growing and ownership - more than ever before. It is my hope that we as consumers are moving to a lower alcohol level in wines and towards an old world style of winemaking. While I may be wrong about this, because a huge amount of wine buyers and drinkers love a fruit forward, higher alcohol wine - I feel we are also primed in many ways to gravitate to more natural, biodynamic and old style in wines while leaning on modern amenities for production.  

I personally have a lot of respect for the wine programs that lean toward that way of production ... but like a lot of small to medium businesses, it is sometimes difficult to balance business practices with the reality of costs associated with that practice - however, the important part to the consumer is how those benefits translate to the shining juice in their bottles. There is a re-dedication of and to natural farming and winemaking across the board. These trends and the revival of practices that renew the Earth remind us to 'walk as if you were kissing the Earth with your feet.'"
Eliza Kraft Olander
Chair, Triangle Wine Experience (Raleigh)



"The wine industry is in state of constant evolution and improvement. The strong dollar makes European wines cheaper and has resulted in a boom for French wines. But technological improvements and better winemaking techniques is improving the quality of wines throughout the world, and global warming is changing where winemaking is possible.

So in the near future, you will see the rise of Sparkling wine from England to rival Champagne, and wines from the Languedoc in France will reach incredible heights to challenge Bordeaux and Burgundy. Elsewhere in the world you will continue to see the rise of New World wines from Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa and a strong rebound for Australian wines. You will also see a trend towards more balance in wine – gone are the days of massive fruit bombs. Instead we are seeing the rise of wine that is more approachable earlier, with lower levels of alcohol and more food friendly.
Ken Place
Director of Operations, Triangle Wine Experience (Raleigh)


Jack Hicks with his current favorite bottle of wine.

"More bubbles from all corners of the world (Tasmania anyone) – in bottles and cans. More esoteric red California blends featuring Valdigue, Gamay, Picpoul and Bobol. More great Rosé choices than ever. Look forward to the 2015 vintage German and Austrian wines that will 'Wow' people, and more love for small producers with integrity!"
– Jack Hicks
Wine Manager, BottleMixx (Raleigh)

 "Here at Tasting Room we offer wines from all over the world. We really focus on getting people out of their comfort zone with drinking different grape varietals and wines from different growing regions. More and more we see people more willing to branch out. I think too, we will see the younger demographics getting interested in wine. We are located right down the road from UNCG and we see many professors, staff and graduate students. The younger generation or 'millennials' are coming of age and are looking for a more 'grown up' experience.''
– Alison Breen
Manager, Partner, Winetender, The Tasting Room (Greensboro)