The Dangers of Wine? That’s Just Wrong!


If you’re a wine lover, and the latest statistics about the horrible dangers of wine drinking have you concerned, it may take just a glass or two of something wonderful to remind you of all the pleasures and blessings that a well-made bottle can bring.

Just this past week my friend and fellow Substacker Tom Wark posted a notice that the Feds were going to declare that “no amount of alcohol is acceptable for a healthy lifestyle”. Such a sweeping statement as part of the revised Federal Dietary Guidelines would be, as Tom writes, “agenda-driven quackery that bears no resemblance to reality”. And yet the prospect has (rightfully) set off numerous warnings about the growing attempts to install a new type of anti-alcohol Prohibition. Calls to alert your representatives in Congress about the foolishness of such a statement are definitely in order.

The wine business is almost as rumor and fear-driven as the entertainment industry. The sky is not falling and the 11,691 wineries operating in this country (as of February 2023), along with more than 9000 breweries and roughly 2200 distilleries will not disappear. The bars and restaurants whose businesses depend upon these products will not roll over and close without a fight. How many hard-working people and small business owners are being witch-hunted by these moral police? They will fight back, and they will win that fight, however long it takes.

Which is not to say that there are not significant challenges, nor to dismiss the possibility that some shrinkage will occur. Fact is that a small number of cult wineries, rockstar winemakers and 100-point bottles get the lion’s share of media and trade attention; the rest are either embedded in a large corporate entity, or consigned to struggling along as small, family-owned businesses.

It is these last that most interest me, because they are human scale, authentically artistic and creatively adventurous. How are they doing in this current challenging environment? How are they dealing with climate change, market competition, restaurants scaling way back on wine purchases, consumers weighing the options of wine, beer, liquor, cannabis, and anti-alcohol lobbyists shouting that any amount of alcohol is going to damage your health?

The short answer is that each and every one of these small wineries is looking to find their own way to attract more customers and sell wine. And despite all the negativity that is out there at the moment, for many if not most there are plenty of positives. Green initiatives are proliferating, undoing decades of land-poisoning chemicals now being re-purposed to growing grapes. The morality police are being pushed back, at least here in the Pacific Northwest. It was not so long ago that many studies were showing the benefits of wine drinking, based on scientific studies. Were they all entirely wrong? Or maybe the neo-con voices dominating the discourse are simply tweaking their own research to demonize the entire industry?

There is new data appearing that contradicts the contrarians. Writing on Wine Searcher Kathleen Willcox reports that the Wine Market Council has a new study showing that once they reach their 30s, Millennials drink more and pricier wines than the Baby Boomers. The study, she notes, “looked at the average wine consumption rates between generations and found that once they reach their 30s Millennials spend on average $65.80 per bottle, compared to Baby Boomers who spend, on average, $36.67 for wine on special occasions.”

A different study in the U.K. quoted an expert on the country’s drinking guidelines as saying “an hour of TV watching a day, or a bacon sandwich a couple of times a week, is more dangerous to your long-term health than moderate drinking.”

For me it’s important to avoid lumping all drinking into the category ‘alcohol consumption’ whether it’s beer, wine or booze. They are not at all the same, apart from the fact that they contain alcohol. No one in my experience has ever evangelized better for wine drinking than the late Robert Mondavi. A favorite quote: “Wine has been with us since the beginning of civilization. It is the temperate, civilized, sacred, romantic mealtime beverage recommended in the Bible. Wine has been praised for centuries by statesmen, philosophers, poets, and scholars. Wine in moderation is an integral part of our culture, heritage and gracious way of life.”

Now here are some good bottles to lift you out of the doldrums.

Highlights from recent tastings

Alloro Vineyard

Alloro 2021 Estate Chardonnay – Success vintage after vintage has shown that Alloro’s Chardonnays clearly belong in the top ranks of Oregon’s finest. They capture the lushness and texture of many sought-after Burgundies, along with the exceptional precision that keeps the palate focused. Stone fruits, banana cream, butterscotch and touches of toast and coconut keep the flavors lively and captivating through a long, fresh, stylish finish. 450 cases; 13.5%; $65 (Laurelwood District) 94/100

Alloro 2022 Estate Chardonnay – This new release brings underlying minerality to a mix of apple, pear and green melon fruits. Its natural acids provide balance, while moderate barrel aging adds a touch of caramel. The consistency of Alloro’s estate Chardonnays from vintage to vintage is impressive. This will benefit from another year or two of bottle age. 450 cases; 13.7%; $65 (Laurelwood District) 93/100

Alloro 2021 Estate Pinot Noir – This is a showcase blend of all the estate’s Pinot Noir clones, yielding a most appealing wine with brambly fruit, bright acids and a host of barrel flavors – pipe tobacco, coffee grounds, baker’s chocolate and clean earth. It doesn’t hide its savory side, which provides a peppery highlight, and has the structure to age gracefully over a decade or longer. 1700 cases; 14.3%; $55 (Laurelwood District) 92/100

Alloro 2021 Estate Riservata Pinot Noir – The reserve wine is a barrel selection from a mix of individual blocks. At this stage of development it’s every bit as good as the regular estate Pinot, though not noticeably bigger. More time may help to differentiate the two. Here flavors of blackberries, black cherries, mocha and clean earth abound. The barrel aging adds highlights of tobacco and toast. It trails out with a suggestion of fresh mushrooms. 760 cases; 14.3%; $70 (Laurelwood District) 92/100

Alloro 2021 Estate Justina Pinot Noir – I am assured that the winery is aware that the plastic ‘wax’ on this wine is almost impenetrable and they are taking steps to address it. No one wants to take a chain saw to a truly great bottle of wine! This is the reserve reserve – a barrel selection that is the result of countless days of tasting over many weeks. It’s a wine with subtle extras – in an all-estate lineup of truly excellent Pinot Noirs the differentiation depends upon close knowledge rather than quick tastings. All these Pinots are delicious. This one adds extra layers and length, detailing the black cherry fruit with streaks of sandalwood, mocha, charred mushrooms, iron filings and espresso grounds. 200 cases; 14.3%; $120 (Laurelwood District) 93/100

Anderson Family Vineyard

Anderson Family 2021 Pinot Gris – This is the first time I’ve had a PG from this winery. It’s done in stainless with native yeasts, six months to finish ferment and another six on the lees. Lush texture, lovely minerality, a core of lemon zest and light citrus fruit. 160 cases; 14.4%; $40 (Dundee Hills) 92/100

Anderson Family 2021 Chardonnay – This is a light, elegant wine, firmly set up with acids and appealing minerality. The fruit tastes of lemons, apples and pears. The finish brings hints of almond paste and lemon meringue. Past vintages have proven that these wines are age worthy and this is probably best cellared for another five years to bring out the full range of flavors. 320 cases; 13.9%; $48 (Dundee Hills) 92/100

Anderson Family 2021 Pinot Noir – A pretty purple/plum color, this aromatic wine has a lovely softness which winemaker Cliff Anderson attributes to a low seed count in the grapes (for reasons unknown). There’s a certain logic to this, and this is quite smooth and accessible for such a young wine. A mix of red and blue berries brings a grippy tartness, while the tannins have a savory side. About 20% of the barrels were new, adding delicate hints of tobacco and sandalwood to the trailing finish. 950 cases; 13.1%; $56 (Dundee Hills) 92/100

Anderson Family 2021 ‘Select’ Pinot Noir – The Select brings ripened flavors of fresh raspberries, the tangy acids underscored with the vineyard’s typical minerality. Presumably a barrel selection, this has a bit more concentration than the other 2021 Pinot, but much the same structure and aging potential. 150 cases; 13.1%; $125 (Dundee Hills) 93/100

Dusky Goose

Dusky Goose 2021 Chardonnay – This new release is the first vintage made by Hans Van Dale; previously the wines were made by Lynn Penner-Ash. It’s a roughly half and half blend of grapes from the Fennwood and Hopewell (now renamed Coulee) vineyards. One third was aged in new French oak. Juicy, fresh and bright citrus and melon fruits are accented with barrel flavors of caramel and butter and toast. Full-bodied, forward and set against vivid, lively acids, this lush and appealing wine should age well over the rest of the decade and beyond. 356 cases; 13.5%; $75 (Yamhill-Carlton) 94/100

Dusky Goose 2021 Rambouillet Vineyard Pinot Noir – This is a preview of the 2021, which is the first vintage under the supervision of former assistant winemaker Hans Van Dale. Set for release in September, this estate wine is all Pommard clone, forward and spicy with a good mix of brambly fruits and peppery herbs. It’s dense and detailed with fruit flavors of strawberries and cream and a shot of blackberry eau de vie. The mid-palate is clean and the finish lingers gracefully with accents of toast and butter brickle. 247 cases; 14%; $125 (Dundee Hills) 93/100

Events & Tastings Coming Up

The Centennial of Biodynamics

The Demeter Biodynamic Certified wineries of Oregon will share their wines at a pair of events commemorating the centennial of Rudolf Steiner’s Agriculture Lectures, which began a voyage of discovery called Biodynamics. There are two separate wine tasting events in the works – one on June 6th for the trade and media, the other June 8th open to the public. As of this post participating wineries are Analemma, Art + Science, Brick House, Brooks, Cooper Mountain, Cowhorn, Domaine Willamette, Johan, King Estate, Montinore, Soter, Troon, Upper Five and Winderlea.

Vintage Lake Chelan

Celebrating a 15th anniversary for Lake Chelan winemakers, this Grand Tasting takes place on May 30th, with wines from Vin du Lac and other wineries in the AVA. Washington Wine Commission Marketing Director David Flaherty will lead a winemaker panel discussion. Tickets are $45.

 Women in Wine Oregon

Plans for the sixth annual conference have been announced, and tickets for the July 16th event are on sale now. Founded in 2019, Women in Wine Oregon amplifies female voices and promotes female leadership in the wine and beverage industry. This year’s theme is ‘RISE’ and will offer insights from leading female wine professionals, business leaders, journalists, entrepreneurs, and industry trailblazers. Guided by the principles of Regeneration, Investing, Supporting, and Empowering, the conference aims to inspire and empower participants on their personal and professional journeys. Among the speakers are wine writers from leading wine publications including Jancis Robinson and Decanter.

Summertime ¡Salud! E-Auction

The preview lots for the three-day E-Auction (July 16 – 18) have been posted on the link above. Register to bid by June 1 and be entered to win two tickets to IPNC Salmon Bake on July 27. Click the “Get Started” button on the auction site to register. Wineries create one-of-a-kind ¡Salud! Cuvée Pinot Noirs from their very best barrels. Only five cases of each wine is released. ¡Salud! is a benefit for the Hillsboro Medical Center Foundation.

Paul Gregutt
Paul Gregutt
Paul Gregutt has been covering the wines and wineries of the Pacific Northwest since the mid-1980s. From 2002 to 2012 he wrote a weekly wine column for the Seattle Times and authored two critically-acclaimed editions of ‘Washington Wines & Wineries – The Essential Guide’ (UC Berkeley Press). He served as the Northwest editor for Wine Enthusiast magazine from 1998 until 2022. Early on he was an original staff member of both the Seattle Weekly and KZAM-FM. He lives with his wife Karen and his rescue dog Cookie in Waitsburg (pop. 1204), a farm community about 20 miles NE of Walla Walla. When not tasting and writing about wine he writes songs, plays guitar and sings in his band the DavePaul5 ( Follow his writing at PaulG on Wine,, and in the Waitsburg Times.


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