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by Rachel Nichols | January 28, 2014 | 2:40 PM

It's Unified week! Pick up a copy of the February issue at our booth (#1324) at Unified this week on Wednesday and Thursday. You can also subscribe to the magazine at our booth and get a special show discount. Or just come and say hello. Hope to see you there!

Below, Editor Cyril Penn previews our February issue of WBM in his Month in Review:

A Review of the Industry

February: As this issue goes to press, a huge mass of arctic air from the North Pole has settled over the U.S., making everything really, really cold. Here in California, the weather has been relatively warm but quite dry: in some areas of the North Coast, it’s the driest year ever recorded.

February also marks our “Review of the Industry” issue with our annual review of the WBM 30, an industry outlook and trends section, a report on the number of wineries in the U.S. and Canada and more.

The wine business is so multi-faceted that generalizations don’t always apply, but wineries are generally optimistic this year, and they have reason to be: People are buying more wine and they’re “trading up” again. The number of wineries in the country also continues to grow each year, and the total is now pushing 8,000.

New in the February issue is a list of the 20 largest independent wineries in each of 20 states that aren’t California. It’s a fascinating group, each with a unique story. Did you know there’s a winery in North Carolina that produces more than 350,000 cases, that there’s a winery in Arkansas making about 120,000 cases, and that there’s a 30,000 case winery on Maui? These wineries are mostly pioneers in their regions, located outside of traditional wine regions.

If you’ve followed our “Varietal Focuses” you know they involve getting into the details of what winemakers do to achieve their stylistic goals. The most recent Varietal Focus (Jan. 2014) covered making great Riesling. This month, we follow up with a winemaker roundtable on an issue that is relevant to making any aromatic white wine, Riesling included: dry wine balance and the challenge of balancing residual sugar with acidity. Turns out, that balance is a personal choice made by the winemaker, depending on their preferences.

Mark Greenspan reflects on writing 100 columns in succession for WBM, but also on what the industry has learned about grape yields and wine quality during the past few years. One way the industry has been meeting increasing consumer demand is by increasing grape yields.

Direct-to-consumer sales are becoming more important to all wineries, even to large wineries that sell millions of cases through the three-tier system. One thing we’ve noticed in the past couple of years, though, is that some wineries can be a bit too forceful in selling their wine clubs. Check out Paul Franson’s article about selling your wine club without being unnecessarily aggressive.

—Cyril Penn, editor

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