This week’s wine news: Costco wine’s Annette Alvarez-Peters, often called the most important person in the U.S. wine business, retired quietly at the end of last year. Plus, the California grape glut does in Treasury Wine Estate’s stock and CBS fudges on Capt. Picard’s vineyard
• Costco wine: Annette Alvarez-Peters, who oversaw Costco’s massive success in wine (as well beer and spirits), retired at the end of last year and without any fanfare. Which, given her annual ranking as one of the two or three most important people in the U.S. wine business, is amazing. As one wine marketer told me: “Potentially tectonic news.” Since 2010, Costco’s alcohol revenues almost doubled to $4.4 billion annually. She will be succeeded by Chad Sokol, who had been an assistant general merchandise manager.
• Grape glut: Sinking U.S. wine prices, brought on the the California grape glut, sunk Treasury Wine Estate’s stock price last week. Its share price has fallen 18 percent on its home Australian stock market on news that too much wine in the U.S. forced it to “walk away” from around 500,000 cases of wine in this country. Or, in Wine Curmudgeon-speak, Treasury had to discount heavily to get rid of the wine. The story in the link says Aussie investors want the company to dump its U.S. producers, which include Beringer, BV, and Sterling.
• Where is it? In Star Trek: Next Generation, Jean-Luc Picard’s family winery was in the Franche-Comte region of France, near the Swiss border. It makes high-quality red wine from the trousseau grape. Flash forward to the new Star Trek: Picard, and the winery has moved to the more popular and upscale Burgundy. The story in the link isn’t quite clear how the family winery moved, but as I noted when I wrote about wine and the movies in 2011, accuracy has never been high on the list production requirements.
Mr. Spock’s reaction when told that wine drinkers should drink what they want, that the best wine is wine that they like, and that most of the rest of what passes for wine advice is foolishness: