? The best wine importers: Mike Steinberger at Slate has written one of the best guides ever to understanding wine importers ? the people who bring non-U.S. wines into the country. It gets a bit wine geeky at times and it ?s too long, but, overall, well worth the effort. ?The importance of importers ?the quality of their selections, the care with which they treat their wines ?remains paramount, ? he writes, and includes a cheat sheet you can print, clip and carry with you to consult at a retailer or restaurant. I ?ve touched on this subject briefly; now I don ?t have to do anymore.
? California vineyard price update: It looks like prices for vineyard land in Napa and Sonoma are finally leveling off, especially for the highest-priced land. They still aren ?t falling, reports my old pal Paul Franson, but the go-go days of the middle of this decade seem to be over. However, a prime acre of Napa land still costs $300,000 ($125,000 an acre in Sonoma), so it ?s all relative. Interestingly, writes Franson, few properties seem to be for sale, something that may be helping to hold up prices. What happens at the end of the year, if wineries and growers are forced to sell land, is anyone ?s guess.
? Do you want wine with that? A Pacific Northwest burger chain has started serving wine and beer, which seems like a quite welcome development. The Burgerville chain, with 39 locations in Oregon and Washington, is testing beer and wine at a store in Vancouver. If successful, the chain expects to add the program elsewhere within the next four to six months. It is serving mostly local beer and wine, but prices aren ?t fast-food — $6.50 to $9 for a glass of wine.