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Now in the US

The world boom in wine tourism will have you believe that this is a surging and innovative field where fortunes are being created daily. However, at least in the US, any resemblance to such scenario is purely coincidental.

A recent article in Businessweek (October 25/31) details the adventures -and struggles- of more than a few smaller wineries and vineyards. The essence of the article seems to be that this activity is being promoted by local governments with the hope that they can create a small niche industry that revolves around tourism. That is, wine tours that supposedly help create -in turn- more jobs, support local farming and eventually also help increase tax receipts.

The unaware visitor would happily walk the trails of these beautiful vineyards without ever suspecting that sustaining such venture is the invisible hand of the government which keeps sweeping under the rug whatever red is found in the wineries/vineyards’ accounting books.

Some quick stats look impressive: all 50 states now have wineries. Alaska 13 of their own and even Hawai has 5. Since 1975 the number of wineries has grown from a mere 574 to 6,500 today. What is even more impressive is that very few make money. Some wineries interviewed for the piece stated they have never seen a profit in over 2 decades or more. Such commitment to the land is hard to explain unless receiving a check from the government as an aid becomes the ultimate experience.

Which brings me to Argentina and Mendoza wineries. There was a time when -on site- you could just ring any winery to see if there was anyone at the local office, jump on your bicycle and ride to the nearest one for a short FREE visit. It is all organized tours now. I would not say “big business” but business nonetheless. Here, I hardly doubt that this segment is in the same disarray as in the US although I am pretty sure that somewhere, somehow local government aid also falls through the corporate cracks.

Or are these government cracks?

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