Driving and wining

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I enjoyed Mr. Beard’s column about overpriced Virginia wine [“Workingman’s pour,” The Working Pour, November 18, 2008]. I believe the big problem is that winery owners, having spent most of their capital (or borrowed it) on land, vines, and all the expensive equipment and barrels needed, want to recoup their investments as soon as possible. Old wineries in Europe, California, Australia or Latin America don’t have this problem and can afford to price their wines so they are accessible to all. Peruse the shelves at, for example, Whole Foods and you’ll find countless excellent wines from France, Italy, Spain and Portugal that are less than half the price of Virginia wines (most of which are good but certainly not any better than the European). That’s why no one is buying them from shops. Mr. Tobias didn’t mention that wineries in Virginia sell 90 to 95 percent of their wines through tasting-room visits. It’s become a very chic thing on a Saturday or Sunday to motor ’round in your high-end SUV to two or three Virginia winery tasting rooms to engage in winey lingo (and maybe foody lingo) with the new gentlemen farmers of Southern viticulture. Almost all tasting room visitors purchase at least two bottles, if not a case, before they move on to the next imbibing. These people never worry about the price of gas or maxing out their credit cards. Virginia wine has become quite elitist. At Whole Foods, I did notice one Virginia label, Chateau Morrisette, that was half the price of its compatriots. Might make a good story as to how they do it.
 
Djuna Laws
Charlottesville

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