Local Wineries Boom as Global Supply Struggles

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A global wine shortage may be looming, but local wineries will have more than enough to go around.

    According to a report released Monday by Morgan Stanley Research, the global supply of wine in 2012 fell short to about 300 million cases. That is the largest global deficit in almost 50 years.

    A decade ago, the industry produced an excess of 600 million cases.

    Global production has been in a decline since it peaked in 2004 while demand in the United States and China has been booming.

    The U.S. consumes about 12 percent of the world's wine but only produces about 8 percent of it. Consumption continues to grow, rising 2 percent last year. China's consumption has quadrupled over the last five years and will soon overtake France as the world's number one buyer.

    Local wineries will probably remain unaffected by the shortage while larger producers may see it as an opportunity to start exporting.

    "It could be a positive thing because if there is a global shortage then it is going to be price increases," Sarah Troxell, wine maker at Galen Glen Vineyard and Winery, Andreas, said Wednesday. "A lot of the local wineries have great quality wine and reasonable prices."

    Troxell said demand has been growing locally, but supply has been able to keep up.

    "Each year we need more, but our vineyard is filling that," she said.

    Galen Glen has a 20-acre vineyard and adds new sections each year, she said. Local producers also control their own prices since they grow just about everything they sell, she said.

    Ralph Heffner and his apprentice, Steven Agosti, had more than enough grapes to press Wednesday afternoon at Jersey Acres Farms in Pine Grove.

    "It's all about quality," Heffner said about the price of wine.

    Heffner is the owner of Stone Mountain Wine Cellars, which he operates on his farm. He only started selling wine about nine years ago and the business remains focused on the local market.

    "I think the state stores would have to raise all their prices before small stores have to increase theirs," Agosti said.

    Production in Europe, which still makes up 60 percent of the global market, fell 10 percent last year. Poor weather this year means production is likely to decrease even further. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania wineries have had a great harvest.

    "We had an excellent crop this year," Troxell said. "All of the tanks in the wine cellar are full of new wine."

    The wine will age, clear and settle before being ready to bottle next year, she said.

    Shade Mountain Vineyards and Winery, Middleburg, is also finishing up a great harvest.

    "We are a little late finishing up because we have so many grapes," Carolyn Zimmerman, who owns the family-operated winery with her husband, said Wednesday.

    Shade Mountain also has stores in Bloomsburg and Millheim. While the global price for wine may go up, most local wineries should be able to control their own prices.

    "We have a good supply," Zimmerman said. "Our winery is a little unique in that we grow all of our own grapes, so we can regulate our own prices. We don't have to depend on other grapes if there is going to be a shortage."

    The news of a looming shortage comes right before when most people buy their wine for the holiday season.

    "Of course, this is the busiest time of year retail wise," Troxell said. "We have a huge local following and it's kind of growing in awareness. There are great local wineries and it's a great thing to add to family traditions. As fall foliage ends, people from all over come around to cut down their Christmas tree and stop at the winery."

    While local wineries see a lot of out-of-state visitors, most are not ready to start exporting.

    "As a small winery, we don't export out of state but I imagine there are some opportunities there, as well," Troxell said. "I'm sure there are big wineries in our county looking into that or they're already doing that and why wouldn't you want to take advantage of that?"

    In fact, there has been a lot of interest to export Pennsylvania wine. Troxell said Galen Glen has been approached to do so by neighboring and other northeastern states and even China.

    "At one point we may look into that, but not right now," she said.

    Regardless of global trends, it is always nice to be able to buy local, Troxell said.

    "This is an economy where every dollar counts and a lot of local wineries offer fair prices or even bargains," Troxell said. "Why not get something in your own neighborhood at a decent price?"