On the scale of interesting news this fits somewhere between ‘huh’ and ‘that’s cool, I guess’. As shared by the folks at Eater, the lifestyle behemoth that we know as Food Network is releasing their first series of wine.
Making and releasing wine can definitely be a vanity project. It’s filled with hard work, massive overhead, low margins and more, but when you’re playing at the level that Food Network is, it’s pretty much an opportunity to brand something that already existed. It’s not like they’re having Michael Chiarrello or Tyler Florence lend a hand in the wine-making. For that, the Food Network has relied on the folks at Wente Vineyards in California. They are calling their new wine ‘entwine‘, with a goal to create a wine that pairs well with food. Well, no crap. Most wines match well with food.
Here is what I find interesting. The pricepoint is $13 a bottle. Not bad, some decent stuff can be had at that level. (Though, it is awfully hard for small producers to meet that pricepoint.) But their bottles state ‘California’ as the region designate. What this says to me is that the grapes, and grape juice, used to produce their wine are sourced throughout the entire state and each vintage going forward could likely have different vineyard designates each year. I’m not a geography major, but I recall California being huge. Such vineyard designates can be anywhere from Napa Valley, Central Valley, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara, or the dozens of other California AVAs. Or a combination of said areas.
While it’s possible one could get a good wine with no vineyard designate, it does raise an eyebrow as the yield of jug wines coming from California is staggering. I personally want to drink and buy wine that celebrates its origin, not a chemical process that creates a consistent product. Buying grapes and grape juice on a spot market is a way to make winemaking more accessible, but purposely creating a brand that does not highlight the origins and producers that help to make the brand successful gives me pause. No matter how big of a presence you have, producing a wine like this will always be a community effort.
That’s not to say that entwine doesn’t have potential. I just happen to be skeptical of it. They’re making Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon a part of their suite of varietals. If you want to try these, they’ll be available nationwide soon enough. As for me, I think I’ll keep trying wineries closer to home with more character that aren’t conceived by marketing execs, rather produced by former marketing execs that are following a new passion and appreciating those who have helped educate them along the way to success.