The State of the Wine Industry [INFOGRAPHIC]

Fine wine sales in the United States are forecasted to increase by 7-11% this year, according to Silicon Valley Bank’s Annual State of the Wine Industry Report, released on Tuesday.

Along with increased demand, the report’s author, Rob McMillan, projects increased grape and bulk juice prices, fewer private labels, more variation and acreage in plantings, a decline in wine quality for the price paid, and an increase in market share for imported wines.

The report also addresses the emergence of the “Fifth Column,” a group of “disparate, focused companies” that are challenging how wine is distributed, enabling it to be sold direct to consumers, cutting out the wholesaler. Some of those companies include the likes of ShipCompliant,, Lot18, VinTank and Naked Wines — believe me, that’s only the beginning.

The report was released in conjunction with a nifty infographic (pictured below) that sums up the institution’s findings.

To dig into the report, download it here, or check out this presentation on SlideShare, which is chock-full of graphs and numbers to get your head spinning.

What are your thoughts on the findings? Any you’d add to the mix based on personal observations?

Image by Erica Swallow

What Are ‘Green’ Wines? [INFOGRAPHIC]

As some of you may know, I’m into wine, even to the point of figuring out how I can start my own winery. And I’m continually inspired by winemakers stepping out into and shaping the world of natural winemaking. It just makes sense to let the fruit do the talking, ya know?

As far as my personal journey into winemaking goes, I completed my harvest apprenticeship at the City Winery in New York City in December. I learned about the basic stages of winemaking and launched a beautiful blog for the winery. The experience was priceless.

Since then, I sort of lost track of next steps. After all, I realized that starting a winery is time-consuming and expensive — the costs deadened me in my tracks.

But this week I’m picking back up where I left off. I ordered a number of books that will get me caught up on natural winemaking and even get me started towards making my first batch of wine this year:

Hopefully after reading up, I’ll be on my way to at least a few gallons of Swallow Winery wine — with or without a “winery” per se!

Along the way, I hope I internalize the history, criticisms and defining characteristics of “green” wines. For starters, and for those of you with not enough time to read five books on the topic, I ran across this infographic from, which offers up some introductory thoughts on the space, defining natural, biodynamic, organic and sustainable wines. It’s a good start. Enjoy!

Frank Cornelissen Wines

Frank Cornelisen Munjebel 5 (Rosso and Bianco)

My favorite vineyard represented at the 2010 New York Wine Expo was Frank Cornelissen‘s Sicilian vineyard.

Approaching Cornelissen’s table at the Expo, I immediately felt welcomed by his calm demeanor. Unlike other vintners at the expo, he wasn’t antsy to get on with his sales pitch. Instead, he seemed genuinely interested in each attendees’ comments on his wines. He was a conversationalist with a knack for answering questions. In fact, I learned quite a bit about his wines in just a small chat with him. Cornelissen’s wines are best described as extreme wines produced in a non-interventionalist manner. He prunes away all unripe grapes, ages the wine in terracotta vases buried under volcanic rock and refrains from adding sulfur dioxide. Check out the detailed description of Cornelissen’s method at

My first reaction to his wines was a surprise at the unique colors. The white wines, including the Munjebel 4, were cloudy and dark goldenrod in color. I later learned that the gold color was attributed to the fact that Munjebel was vinified like Cornelissen’s red wines, in full and long skin-contact to extract its territorial identity. On the other hand, the reds at the table were deep in color, leaning towards auburn and brownish-red colors. Truly distinct.

Upon tasting the wines, I first noticed the distinct presence of the terroir, the geographical characteristics of the wine. Cornelissen explained that the vineyards are located on Mount Etna at about 3,000 feet. I now get a sense of why he may have picked the name “Munjebel” — the mountain’s Arabic name is Jebel Utlamat (the Mountain of Fire), being that it is the largest active volcano in Europe. And thus, “Jebel” seems to be a hint as to the choosing of “Munjebel”, but I’m still not sure what “Mun” means. Anyone out there have an answer?

To say the least, Frank Cornelissen’s wine are the most unique and curious set of wines I have tasted. Being excited about their specialness, I purchased a bottle of Munjabel 5 Rosso for a “thank you for hosting me” gift last month. I was happy to find that the wines are available at Crush Wines & Spirits in Midtown, including Cornelissen’s famous Magma red wine. I had the distinct pleasure of enjoying the Magma at the Wine Expo. It was an experience that will not soon escape my memory. If you haven’t already tried it, put it on your bucket list.

Crush Wines & Spirit 153 East 57th Street in New York, NY