As regular readers know, I write a free, twice monthly wine column that’s distributed to newspapers across the country.
These columns are hosted by Grape Collective. If you don’t see my column in your local newspaper, please send an email to your paper’s editor and CC me (David – at – Terroirist.com).
In my latest column, I wonder why most consumers, even if they’re the type to obsess about the origins of their food, often don’t care about where their wine comes from or how it was farmed.
Bridging the Whole Foods Gap
“Although modern consumers are far more concerned about the origins of their food than they once were, keenly eyeing the source of that organic spinach, their concern goes out the window when it comes to wine.”
These words appear in a discussion about affordability in The New California Wine, the just-released book from San Francisco Chronicle wine editor Jon Bonné. It’s what he calls the Whole Foods gap.
As he explains, “most consumers, even if they are the type to shop at that particular upscale grocery store and obsess about the origins of their food, simply couldn’t care less about where their wine comes from or how it was farmed.”
The numbers back this up.
Consider organic food sales. They’re soaring. In 2012, according to government data, sales of organic food increased 7.4 percent over the previous year — about double the growth rate for food overall. Since 1990, the amount of U.S. farmland dedicated to organic crops and livestock has increased fourfold.
Organic meat and produce often cost twice as much as their conventional counterparts. But Americans are beginning to take an interest in where their food comes from. So they’re moving away from industrialized calories and toward production that eschews pesticides and values sustainability, even if it means paying more.
With wine, however, Americans still drink cheap, without giving much thought to sourcing or production. The average bottle of wine in the United States sells for just $6.22. Nine in ten bottles sold cost less than $12.
Look at Whole Foods. While shopping for free-range chicken, cage-free eggs, and artisanal cheese, consumers are presented with stacks of wine from Three Wishes. Retailing for $3, it’s produced for Whole Foods by the Wine Group, the nation’s second-largest wine company.
Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!