Your Q & A
By: George Balling
We always like getting your questions, whether you ask them in the shop or if you email it let’s us know you are still reading. After writing this column for 10 years that is a heck of a compliment! Here are some of the recent questions we have received and our answers that we hope illuminate.
Our two columns on San Miguel generated quite a lot of interest. We speculate because San Miguel is not what most folks think of when they dream of Mexico, they rather think of the stunning beach communities of the Yucatan and Baja peninsulas. The one question we got over and over has been, “Is it safe there?” I will tell you Mary and I felt incredibly safe during our stay this time and also when we were there 14 years ago. The city has a large US population, 15% of the 150,000 residents are from here, this combined with a solid middle class in the city and surrounding areas are all contributing factors we sense, to this stable and safe community. We would simply recommend the same awareness and caution you would practice in any city domestic or international.
The other question we received regarding San Miguel is on the wisdom of renting a car and driving yourself. We did not and we would recommend that travelers not rent a car. There are plenty of car services you can prearrange to get you from the area’s airports to the city. Once there cab fares are very inexpensive the equivalent of $8 US dollars to go pretty much anywhere in the city, add in the small, narrow and twisting cobble stone streets and it is well worth it to hire someone else to drive.
Our current heat wave has elicited many questions on the state of, and any potential damage to the grape crop in the western appellations. We are hoping for the best. The canopy of the grape vines is now fully out providing much needed shade to the grapes and while the hot weather will spur on an early verasion at this point the grapes are small and still green. After verasion when the grapes turn to purple is when they are most vulnerable to everything from sunburn and raisining to smoke. Assuming the heat wave breaks in a week or so the heat should not do too much damage.
California is in far better shape on this round of hot weather than we are in the Northwest. During this current spell it is forecasted to be hotter here than the costal grape growing regions up and down California including the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. While there are some fires burning in the west already there are none that have ignited in any of the grape growing areas. It would be a great bonus if all of our grape growing friends could have a fire free year. We are keeping our fingers crossed for all of them.
Many of you are still checking in on the post pandemic supply chain and pricing issues. They continue to worsen. In just the past week we have heard that several producers of bubbly from Europe are unable to bottle the single serve 187ml bottles of sparkling because they have no bottles. The 187ml containers apparently are only made by a small number of manufacturers and right now they have none to sell to the wineries. We have placed orders for several customers and we have been told to not expect any of the small bottles until at least August. Similarly, there are many brewers that are short of aluminum cans and are unable to get beer packaged. As soon as we have any news on when we might see supplies of wine in bottle and beer in can normalize, we will update you here.
Prices are also going up quickly due to the cost of packaging and transportation. Everything from wine and beer to wine glasses, ceramics and linens are going up in price regularly. From our perspective based on actual price increases and notices of coming hikes, inflation is here. Our only hope is that some or all of these are temporary.
Please keep letting us know your questions, when you come in the shop or via email, we will do our best to answer them quickly.