I think we've all had a burst of reality thrown our way recently when we discovered one of our favorite ___ locations has a "closed until further notice" sign displayed in the front door. Yuck. Certainly we're in a period where the cream will rise to the top, but sometimes your local fav isn't every body elses - or else they knew how to dish out a fabulous meal, but they weren't running the numbers properly. You get the idea. At the same time, I can think of 3 new bars/restaurants that have just opened, and which I've heard really good things about (within 3 miles of my digs, no less). Out with the old, in with the new? I hope not. But I'll take a few new places that will help keeps things fresh.
Meanwhile, many young adults are scooping up new homes. They are getting great buys on properties that were completely out of the realm of possibility just a few years ago. Other folks looking to get a new business off the ground may have a new opportunity to do so. Many I know in the trade for example, are now biding their time, waiting to set up their kitchens in prime spaces as they become available.
This week I read a really interesting (and well-written) article about a different kind of real estate, business and demographic phenomenon: California wineries for sale. As many winemakers/owners hit retirement age, they have no succession strategy in place. In some cases offspring want no part of the wine biz; in others there are no offspring to be had (45%!). Whichever the case, owners haven't "groomed" someone else to take over. What happens? Big companies swoop in and snag the property, and often enough, the brand itself. But what about the wine?!
Journalist Beppi Crosariol at Globe and Mail described the implications of this scenario, writing "the shift could usher in a new era of big-business control that will transform an industry known mainly for individualistic, craft wines into an ocean of McCabernets." Yikes! Who wants that?
Apparently not everyone. Another article I stumbled on cheered the little guys; small Santa Clara Valley wineries are starting to hit their stride - recently taking home several national prizes for their efforts and gaining important publicity as a result.
Hopefully there will be some happy balance in the months or years ahead. All in all though, these articles reaffirm my belief that tasting is believing. Some of your old favorites might not have the same juice, if you will, moving forward; and maybe that's ok, if you're willing to keep exploring and find other hidden gems.
Do you think we'll start hearing more about winery properties changing hands in Europe? Or does a deeper history, family tradition or even estate tax law prevent some of this?