‘You can get rid of a case of pneumonia!’
Syrah sales have stagnated or dropped in the U.S. in recent years depending on how the research numbers are crunched. But everyone agrees Syrah never lived up to its ‘next-best thing’ potential.
“Our Syrah is our number-one selling red wine. I don’t think people are turned off by Syrah, maybe they’re turned off to cheap Syrah.”
Jason Hass of Tablas Creek Winery put numbers to the perception. “If you look at the planted acreage of Syrah over the course of the 1990s, 1992-2002, Syrah acreage went from just under 900 to more than 15,000 acres in California. Even though sales were growing really fast throughout that period there was just no way the market was going to absorb that much new Syrah.
“I don’t think you should confuse the fact there is extra Syrah on the market with the fact Syrah is not a varietal gaining popularity. It’s just a case of supply growing so fast it was going to overwhelm whatever demand was there any way.”
“I think Syrah does beautifully in Paso Robles,” Eberle said. “But I think Syrah does beautifully in a whole lot of different areas as well. In our tasting rooms we sell 1,000 cases of Syrah a year. There are people in this area making spectacular Syrah.
Then there is former NFL safety turned winemaker Terry Hoage who said Syrah sells when consumers are educated and they taste good Syrah. “I think it is a matter of education because it’s difficult for people to know what they’re getting. The largest hurdle we have to overcome in our industry is not dumbing down for the audience but making the audience feel comfortable that’s its ok to try new things. Push the envelope; just don’t go for a safe Cabernet. That is probably our biggest challenge.”