Let’s Stop Talking About the Wine Industry

napa vineyardWine is a commercial product. It takes great resources to make it, and most wine is sold as a commodity like orange juice and milk. But in the right hands, winemaking is also an art. If wine as an art form is to flourish, it’s important that the language we use should reflect that status.

Unless the topics under discussion are sales figures or production goals, wineries who make or aspire to make distinctive wines should not be referring to themselves as the “industry” and neither should the writers who report on their activities. They are part of the wine community or the wine world, their creations agricultural products intrinsically rooted in the land and the shared sensibility of local traditions. Their wines, carefully nurtured with great struggle, care, and attention should command more respect than dish detergent or machine tools.

Do they talk about wine the “wine industry” in Italy or France? I doubt it.

If wine is considered nothing but “product,” it will no longer attract wine lovers whose deep and abiding interest sustains the “industry.”


  1. Totally agree. Even stranger is when sommeliers talk about their industry. In Europe industry makes cars, not wines. OK, the glass industry makes empty wine bottles and cork industry makes corks. That’s it.

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