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California now making the "white space" wines people want to buy says Joel Peterson

Published:  18 March, 2014

California is now making and exporting what leading US winemaker, Joel Peterson of Ravenswood  Wines, calls "white space" wines that are increasingly popular both in America in its key export markets.

By "white space" Peterson means wines that fit nicely in to the mid-price bracket of around £8 to £15.

"California is making more white space wines. There is a market for them both in the US and Canada and clearly overseas," he said. "The big wine companies are going where the people are."

Peterson, known as the "godfather of Zinfandel" in California, was speaking at the inaugural Go West! tasting that brought some of the best wineries, producers and distributors for wines from California, Oregon and Washington.

The combined tasting attracted a large turnout of buyers from across the trade to London's Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre on March 17.

Peterson said he was excited about the growing interest in wines from the US and the fact there were now so many more different routes of market now for US and Californian wineries. "There is just so much more excitement when suppliers are willing to invest in California."

He said it was noticeable how many more smaller distribution companies have been set up in the UK offering a wider route to market for US wineries. Particularly encouraging, stressed Peterson, was that these were not being run by "newbies" to the trade, but experienced buyers and distributors of Californian wines that knew the kind of wines they wanted and were highly skilled in bringing them to key customers in the UK.

"There are now more points of light in the UK which is great and so many more voices in the industry which is a good thing for California," added Peterson.  

But he also warned the UK is still a "complex market" for US wineries to work in and if some can sell all their wines in America then there is not always the attraction to export. "There are a lot of walls to get through in the UK."

Peterson was at the Go West! tasting showing his wide range of Californian wines as part of the Accolade Wines portfolio of American wineries.