A lot of California wine-drinkers and wine-producers would call them "fightin' words". But the governor of Washington state didn't mince them today when she called California wines "jug wine."
Gov. Chris Gregoire says no other state can compete with the quality of Washington's wine. She underlined the point, recalling a trade mission to Europe in which someone asked her about California wine. Her response was: "They make jug wine. We make fine wine."
The article goes on to quote some winemakers taking exception to this statement but Gregoire has a point: Washington doesn’t compete with wines from California’s Central Valley – it competes with California’s Coastal regions – and it does it extremely well– One could certainly argue that Washington offers more value – i.e. quality for the price. California makes “jug” wines – and Washington doesn’t. You won’t see any Two Buck Chuck coming out of Washington – nope. Compare wines at the $10-$12 price from Washington with equally priced wines from California.
In other news, today, The Washington Wine Commission announced results of its new economic impact study today. This study was conducted by Barbara Insel at Stonebridge Research and it updates a study she did a few years ago. These studies are very useful because they show legislators how important the industry is.
The new study found that the industry supports nearly 30,000 jobs in Washington State and more than 70,000 jobs nationally, with wages of nearly $1.2 billion and more than $2.8 billion, respectively. Each year, Washington State draws more than 2.4 million wine-related tourists who spend nearly $1.1 billion.
Among other things, the report notes what a remarkable role Chateau Ste Michelle has played in training professions, building a skilled labor force, supporting research and in building awareness for the entire industry.
One of the concerns expressed in the study is that Washington will need more grapes to support growth.
The entire report is 53 pages and is posted at the Washington Wine Commission’s Website.