Every now and then I stumble across some interesting wine stories that I think even novice wine drinkers might enjoy. And sometimes a post of “odds and ends” offers up tidbits that aren’t enough for a newspaper column or blog entry.

So let’s get to a list of interesting stuff:

Sales Are Up

Despite the economy and all the bad news you read daily Americans still enjoy raising a glass of wine. As a matter of fact, early indications are wine sales increased in 2011 by 14 percent! U.S. wine consumption took off in the early 90s. A surprising number of people credit the 60 Minutes television show and a story they did on French wine consumption and perceived health benefits.

Some of the buzz about Reservatrol has been silenced by recent science. But there remains boosters and believers that red wine in moderation does have health benefits. So keep drinking! My goal, is to live to 100. Ha!

U.S. Biggest Seller

You’ve seen it in your stores and it might not be everyone’s first guess. But Barefoot wines are now the biggest selling brand in U.S. food stores. The brand, owned by E.& J. Gallo. The Barefoot wines were up 23 percent in sales last year. That is remarkable growth. It sells in most groceries for around $7.

Michigan Wine Boom Continues

I was really fascinated with the Michian wine industry when I made a three-day in the summer of 2010. I wrote this piece for Palate Press. The wines will really surprise first time visitors. I’m anixous to get back. The state’s wineries are still getting good press, like this story in the Lansing Journal.

Sassy Bitch, Toads, Frogs & Other Critters

The proliferation of wine and savvy marketers has all sorts of funny, sassy, and risque labels reaching wine shop shelves. I stumbled across this interesting story in California’s Santa Rosa Press-Democrat originally published in the New York Times. It’s fun and educational on all things concerning wine labels.

Coming Soon …

– I hate making promises because they don’t always come true! But here goes anyway. I have several video interviews I conducted last summer in Oregon’s Willamette Valley with some fantastic winemakers. The interviews were originally intended for a Palate Press video story that never came about. So I’m going to clip those down a bit and start posting them within a week or so. There is some really great stuff.

– I’ve been chatting with a number of people who have reached out to me with story ideas, including: A Michigan state professor who’s bringing a new cold-climate grape to the state and a nationally known wine writer about value wine. I’ve made contact with a couple of Hoosiers in recent months for stories as well. If you like wine, you’ve seen the wine art – paintings, melted bottles and nicknacks. I met a woman in Indianapolis doing some nice pieces I hadn’t seen before. And, I’m trying to arrange an interview with Indiana’s top selling wine retailer.

– Now this one is really a tease. I’m waiting on word about a possible trip to one of the most iconic wine producing nations in the world. If this one works out, it will provide a real bounty of story ideas for all the outlets where I write. Stay tuned!

Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com