Natural wine potential in US ‘huge but untapped’

11th February, 2016 by Arabella Mileham

The potential for natural wine in the USA is “huge”, but there are fears that lack of capacity may make it difficult to secure, the founder of natural wine trade show RAW has warned.

RAW organiser Isabella Legerons MW says the natural wine shows are increasingly attracting an international crowd

RAW trade show organiser Isabella Legeron MW says the natural wine shows are increasingly attracting an international crowd

Speaking to the drinks business, founder of RAW, Isabelle Legeron MW, said the natural wine movement had been gathering pace in the US, with a strong community of importers and sommelier in the trade centred around New York’s restaurants, bars and casual dining scene.

After seeing increasing numbers of US visitors visiting RAW in London and Berlin, Legeron is taking the exhibition to New York this year, announcing last week it would be held in a converted warehouse in Brooklyn’s Bushwick region in November.

“There is huge potential, which is brilliant, even though it is untapped. At the moment it is very much East and West Coast dominant – the growers still say the focus is around New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco – but there are places popping up in Boston and Chicago now,” Legerons said. “We are aiming to attract people from NYC state, and the neighbouring states as well as getting a slice of a wider pie – often growers are well represented in New York itself, but don’t have any representation in any other part of the state, partly because the regulations are quite cumbersome in the USA.”

However, Legeron maintained that as the movement grows in terms of volume, there was a “worrying “ trend that importers and customers were finding it difficult to secure allocations “Allocations are getting smaller from many growers, as growers reached capacity, which is worriyng” she said.

However she noted that at RAW London this year there were around 25 new growers who hadn’t been exported before, who are in their second or third vintage. This influx of young, less experienced growers from areas include Eastern and Central Europe, Languedoc Rousillon, and the Loire, is likely to help fuel growth.

However, although while encouraging, the pressure on cashflow for new natural winemakers was such that many were being tempted to release their wines too early, without allowing them sufficient time to stabilise and matures in the cellar.

“There’s a phenomenon with natural winemaking that if you make it without sulphides, you need to make sure it is stable and matured property , so you need to store the bottles for an extended time in the cellar, a year or two winters. But very often new winemakers don’t’ have the cashflow to hold onto their wines that long, so they are released too early, and it isn’t necessarily stable yet. But that is something that needs to change,” she said, particularly given the amount of work in the vineyard and the winery to improve quality.

RAW first opened in London in 2012 and has since established trade shows in in Vienna in 2014 and Berlin in 2015. The fourth RAW London will be held on May 15-16 at The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane.

No Responses to “Natural wine potential in US ‘huge but untapped’”

  1. Gus Harasty says:

    It is worth noting that in the US, the word “natural” when applied to wine, means only that the alcohol content is between 0.5% and 24%. This movement will need a different name. Besides the already existing law, trying to claim that making wine using natural processes like sulfuring is not natural will be met with powerful opposition by a broad array of market players and the regulators.

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