State Profile: Utah Wine Country

Utah is an interesting state in a number of ways, but wine production is not one of them, nor is it a large consuming state given the religious orientation of most residents. To some extent the popular ski areas account for wine’s economic impact, since many skiers often enjoy a glass or two as part of their experience.

In fact, the breakdown of wine’s economic impact in Utah reflects this. In virtually all states, Direct impact (wine production, distribution and sales) dominates the total, with Supplier and Induced impacts playing a smaller, but still significant, role. In Utah, Induced impact benefiting the local community is 42%, Supplier 33%, and Direct only 25%—upside down from most states. It’s a great reminder that wine’s economic impact extends from the vine to the glass, with lots of beneficiaries in between.

A great example is Old Town Cellars on Main St. in Park City, a popular ski resort. OTC has no vineyards or full production facility, but rather sources wines from California before blending and bottling locally. The goal is to offer “superior wines in an authentic mountain town ambiance”, which they do in a playful way. Their website’s wine section is headed with, “We won’t tell the beer you’re thinking of us.” Creatively labeled wines include Perpetual Reservie (Pinot Noir), Elusive (Chardonnay), and Outlaw Reserve (Cabernet Sauvignon).The popular Bar & Lounge serves an international selection of premium wines, beers and spirits along with small bites, and their Bottle Shop is open seven days a week (even Sundays and holidays).

 So…getting back to economic impact, the jobs, wages, and taxes don’t derive directly from a winery, but rather from the ultimate sales outlet, which is a great example of “Induced” impact benefiting the local community.

Great Grapes: Chenin Blanc

Common in France’s Anjou and Loire regions and grown in many other parts of the world, the highly acidic Chenin Blanc grape produces wines that age well and can produce styles from dry to sweet, and are also used as blending partners for wines that need some zing.