New Book Rattles Big Corporate Wine Producers

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Grape-a-hol: How Big Business is Subverting Artisan Winemaking and the Future of Fine Wine

One among many of the cartoons that add to the book's bite.

A wakeup call… a must read for Industry and fine wine aficionados alike.

Provocatively titled, Grape-a-hol: How Big Business is Subverting Artisan Winemaking and the Future of Fine Wine, was released today into a growing storm of controversy spreading quickly from New Zealand to the United States. With the publication of this book, the authors, Destiny Bay Vineyards’ founder Michael F. Spratt and Destiny Bay Wine Imports owner, Mark L. Feldman, have raised issues and exposed practices that many in the industry would prefer remain buried and out of public view.

“Some within the large wine companies will not be happy with this book,” said Spratt. “But we feel it is long past time to expose the questionable practices and regulatory myopia that are subverting artisan wine making, altering consumer tastes, and sabotaging the future of fine wine.”

Nearly 30 billion liters of wine are produced every year. But how much is truly fine wine? “Vastly less than what is claimed to be,” said Spratt. “Coining the term ‘Grape-a-hol’ and defining it as an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grape juice and passed off as a substitute for fine wine was the starting point for our argument about how the line between fine wine and bulk wine has become dangerously blurred.”

“Grape variety, vintage, place of origin, and sorting fruit for quality are largely irrelevant when pushing millions of cases of wine into a mass market,” stated Feldman. “Instead, labels, advertising hype, marketing promotions, shelf space, relative pricing, volume and manipulation of the distribution system are paramount. Wine industry economics are being altered and a 6,000-year-old craft is being undermined. “

The book is already earning praise and fostering debate. Expert winemakers like Eric Baugher of California’s celebrated Ridge Vineyards comments that “consumers all over the world need to wake up and become better educated on what’s going on with the global wine industry, and this book raises many of the most important issues.”

David Teece, Tusher Professor in Global Business at the University of California, Haas Business School, calls Grape-a-hol “a wakeup call… a must-read for Industry and fine wine aficionados alike. Candidly written, it’s an unbiased view of the peril facing our (wine) industry and the precarious future of Estate grown, hand-made expressions of terroir, fermentation and good taste. Written with authority and passion, it will make you appreciate and consider what your next pull of the cork should be.”

Highlighting the industry’s differences, Debra Meiburg, a Master of Wine notes Grape-a-hol is "an essential read if you are to understand the tightrope tension between two diametrically opposed segments of the wine industry.”

Finally, Gerard Basset, Master of Wine and holder of the world’s best sommelier title stated, “I really enjoyed reading ‘Grape-A-Hol’ and it is definitely a book I would recommend.” Bassett adds that while he doesn’t agree with everything in the book “many of the protests… are fair, justified and defendable.”

Beginning, today, the book will be available in print and digital formats from Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Apple iBooks and other online booksellers.

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Mark L. Feldman, Ph.D.

Michael F. Spratt
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