Source: Joe, Napa Tour 2006
August is American Wine Month at Joe's. No particular reason, I just said so. To balance things out, if you will.
The problem I have in Montreal is availability. According to my stats, America is the fourth largest producer of wine, producing 515 million gallons of the stuff every year while consuming much more. From my perspective, I believe the meagre Montreal selection is more a consequence of supply than demand - Americans drink so much more wine than they make that precious little of the stuff leaves their thirsty clutches.
The end result is that the local selection is lacking, stuck in a perpetual "Chicken and Egg" situation - SAQ (the local wine monopoly) doesn't buy enough, so it's expensive, so nobody buys the stuff, so SAQ doesn't buy enough...you can see where that is going.
Fortunately, I get to the U.S. on business frequently enough that I can always tuck away two bottles (the tax-free limit). Last year's Napa adventure also helped stock me up, while this fall's trip to Sonoma should replenish the August carnage.
Attempts at wine date back hundreds of years (encouraged by Thomas Jefferson, a founding father and friend of the vine), but the U.S. wine industry really has its roots in the 1800s. (The Oxford Companion to Wine has a lengthy write up that I don't feel like paraphrasing at his point) Apparently, wine is produced in all 50 states today (someone please explain Alaska), but California is the dominant source, accounting for 90% of U.S. production. Given that stat, my cellar and the local wines on offer demand that this month's adventure stick mainly to California, supplemented by some wines of Oregon and maybe even a Washington State grand finale. For more on other U.S. wine regions, I refer you to Lenn (Long Island) and others.
Speaking of other sites, I can assure you there is no shortage of American wine blogs dedicated to American wine. Perhaps I will address that in a future post. Regardless, I think I will bring a slightly different perspective - that of an importer of American wines, residing halfway between Bordeaux and Napa.
Finally, while I appreciate any wine suggestions, please remember that your "I was in Santa Barbara last week and you really should try ____" suggestion is not very helpful - I cannot find ____ here! However, I will be in Sonoma this October, so winery / resto suggestions will be gratefully accepted (and most likely acted upon).
So, it is only one day into August and I already have two tasting notes ready to go - stay tuned.
PS - A riddle for my American friends: "If Joe is away from the pack, how come he is so knowledgeable about cheese?" (The answer to where Joe really comes from)