The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is hosting a conference that will help cornhuskers become grape crushers.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, New Zealand has so many grapes it has no idea what to do with them.
The question is: should New Zealand fear Nebraska? The only reasonable reply to which is: what are you, crazy?
The growth of local wines in places like Nebraska (and, for that matter, Kentucky) can only be seen as a threat to the outside world if you imagine the wine business to be a zero-sum game. In fact, local wineries grow the market by attracting people who’ve never seriously considered wine. The motto of local wineries could well be, “Come for the bluegrass band, stay for the wine.”
The hard work of demystifying wine for the beer-swilling masses is being done at local wineries. Many of those who learn about wine in places like Kearney, Nebraska, will become wine explorers, seeking out wines from far off places that used to seem intimidating. They’ll start ordering wine in restaurants and opening a bottle instead of a sixpack on weekends.
It may not be pretty, and there may be lots of jokes to be made, but the growth of indigenous wine industries in places like Nebraska is excellent news for winemakers all over the world.