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Inside Wine (Mar 19th, 2019)

1. A recent presentation by research firm Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates found big brands are struggling in the under-$9 category, which is shifting the market. They confirmed that current buying trends point to premiumization; however, this move towards higher-end wines may be too much, too soon for millennials, causing an overall slowdown in sales. The firm pointed out when boomers were at the millennials' current age - around 30 - they were drinking wine coolers and Lambrusco, not fine wine. Prosecco, an echo of these sweet, fizzy trends, may be their gateway to better bottles down the road. — WINE BUSINESS

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2. Winemakers in Minnesota are fighting to change labeling laws to allow greater use of non-state fruit. Current law says wines must contain 51% of Minnesota grapes, but winemakers want even more leniency. The cold weather often means grapes are highly acidic and need to be balanced with riper fruit from warmer climates. In addition, local fruit is much more expensive. Producers can bypass this requirement by writing the government for permission, but some claim it’s a hassle. — FOX9

Editor’s note: Where Oregon and Texas are fighting for stricter laws to encourage the use of state fruit, this is an interesting contrast.

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3. Winemaker Dave Phinney wants to turn Mare Island, an old naval base in San Francisco Bay, into a “model city.” Phinney, who sold his Orin Swift and The Prisoner Brands for hundreds of millions of dollars, recently established his new Savage & Cooke distillery on the abandoned island. Under what he calls a 50-year plan, he wants to turn the plot into a Napa alternative, complete with driverless cars, a public park, and a fried chicken restaurant. — THE DAILY BEAST

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4. What could possibly be the world’s oldest Cinsault plantings exist in Lodi, California. The French grape was planted in 1886 in the Bechthold Vineyard; France’s plots were most likely destroyed by phylloxera and replanted in the early 20th century. Originally thought to be Black Malvasia, winemakers such as Randall Grahm began buying the grapes to add to their cuvées, thus turning the struggling vineyard into a highly desired source of fruit. — SAN FRANCISO CHRONICLE

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5. Japanese winemakers are trying to find a personality for koshu, the pink-skinned, delicate native varietal. Experiments with concrete, lees aging, and other vinification methods show the grape’s potential. — WINE-SEARCHER

6. Game of Thrones launched a line of wine to coincide with the final season premiere. These bottles join the lineup of other Throne-centric foodstuffs, such as beer and Oreos. — THRILLIST

7. Bon Appetit enlisted two physicists to determine which popular methods of chilling wine actually cools it down the quickest. Wrapping a bottle with a wet towel didn’t prove effective, but pouring wine in to glasses and chilling these solo servings worked best. — BON APPETIT

8. JAM Cellars capitalized on the popular phrase “wine o’clock” for a potential new marketing campaign. The maker of Butter Chardonnay polled 2,000 Americans on what constitutes life’s little pleasures, and drinking wine came out as number one. When further probed, respondents said 6:59 p.m. on a Saturday was the ideal wine time. — NEW YORK POST

9. TEXSOM released its list of award winners from the February International Wine Awards. In total, the competition received 3,294 entries, out of which 2,233 medaled. — TEXSOM

10. The Österreichische Traditionsweingüter (ÖTW) is trying to create a Austrian wine classification system, on par with that of Burgundy or Bordeaux, in an effort to raise the reputation of Austrian wines. — VINEPAIR

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Inside Wine is written and curated by Shana Clarke. Shana is a freelance journalist and regularly contributes to a variety of consumer and trade publications, including Wine Enthusiast, Playboy, HuffPost, USA Today’s Eat Sip Trip, and SevenFifty Daily, among others. Follow her on Instagram at @ShanaSpeaksWine and see more of her work on www.shanaspeakswine.com.

Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside); Susmita Baral (senior editor at Inside, who runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram); and David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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