<b>Prices and plutocracy</b>

EDITOR: "Wines still too rich for many" states the headline on your Friday report on the Wine Industry Expo in Santa Rosa. The experts' commentary cautioned that middle-class wine drinkers are being priced out of everyday wine drinking, leaving the market increasingly oriented to the wealthy. This development mirrors wider economic trends of an emerging plutocracy and two-tier economy: the wealthy who can regularly afford $30, $50, $70 and up for a bottle of wine, and then everyone else.

The portents of this are rather dark for Sonoma County, it seems. As goes wine, so goes housing and everything else that makes room for middle- and lower-class wine drinkers and residents.

Given the region's limited supply, the county's wine and real estate industries can probably sell their goods increasingly into the luxury market, but that will ultimately leave us with an exclusive elite class and an economy in which most workers and wine drinkers have to live somewhere else and drink wine from somewhere else, too.

Is that where we're headed — to Vallejo for homes, Arkansas for retirement and Chile and Argentina for our wines?


Santa Rosa