There was so much that I didn’t want to like about Sonoma’s storied Williams Selyem.
- The too-cool-for-school exclusivity of their mailing list.
- The imposing fortress-like facade of their “barrel-evoking” tasting room and its “wall of bottles.”
- The fact that they used terms like “barrel-evoking.”
- That current owners John and Kathe Dyson were former mailing list members (how cute!).
- That the label typeface they use was so old that it had to be recreated from scratch when their printing went digital.
- The way that their wines get collectors all google-eyed, shooting prices up on the secondary market.
- The friggin’ goats.
The problem with trying to be a Williams Selyem hater, though, is that when it comes to their affable, knowledgeable staff, and their consistently excellent wines, there’s just not enough bad there to hate…
Read the rest of this stuff »
Pssst! Hey! Wanna vote Naked?
I was recently a judge for a contest that Naked Wines is running, in which winemakers made video pitches describing what fantasy/dream wine they would create if they had an extra $100Gs laying around (for more info. on what Naked Wines is all about, check out the interview we did with founder Rowan Gormley).
In this case, however, one of the winemaker finalists in the contest can actually win the $100Gs to go and make the wine.
I helped whittle down the numerous video entries in order to select the eight finalists. The judges also included Naked Wines Archangel Kent Reynolds, Naked Wines staffers Matt Parish (chief winemaker) and Anne Saunders (US managing director), as well as few notable friends of mine: Jeff Siegel (of WineCurmudgeon), Tom Wark of Fermentation, and #winelover founder and globetrotting-firend-to-just-about-everyone Luiz Alberto.
While some of the video entries certainly made excellent cases for why some people are better suited for making wine than for making videos, for the most part the pitches were excellent, the finalist group diverse and interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing which one of these wines makes it to the birthing stage.
You can go vote for your favorite online (so, theoretically, you could actually vote naked) until July 4th over at https://us.nakedwines.com/winemakerfantasy2016.
How many of you caught the recent diatribes by both Guy Woodward (of Harpers) and Monika Elling (of Foundations Marketing Group in New York City) regarding the under-representation of women in the wine biz?
This quote from Elling summarizes the view pretty succinctly:
“I’ve been in the business some time and experienced it from several angles, and in the US specifically, where women buy over 70% of the total wine sold, the people that are gatekeepers are 99.9% men, so there in itself lies a massive disconnect… The wine industry by and large globally is stuck in another century, and despite a tremendous amount of change on the production side to bring that up to speed, the other elements show an entire sector woefully lacking is communication and marketing side.”
Now, before I go ahead and agree with this – which I will – and offer my own thoughts on what could be done to help even the playing field, I feel compelled to first point out that, to me, the articles linked above are misleading.
I say this not because we all simply like to bitch and moan about stuff in the wine biz (which we do, male and female alike).
I say this because we can’t ignore the fact that three of the most influential consumer-facing wine publications – JancisRobinson.com, The Wine Advocate, and Wine Enthusiast – are all essentially helmed by women. Think about that for a minute, because it’s important.
While women certainly are not, at the time of this writing, represented proportionally to their consumer buying influence in positions of power throughout the wine trade, one could certainly argue that the are already achieving dominance within certain sectors of the wine biz. At least, they are as measured by holding positions of power in media that have considerable influence with both consumers and professional wine purchasers.
Ok, having said that… yeah, I agree that the wine biz, by most other counts, is still a club for white dudes. Usually older ones, at that.
There is, however, one simple way in which women winemakers, women farmers, women importers, and women PR reps can start to take the power back, and thus hopefully begin to tilt the tide of representation more fairly in line with their consumer buying majority…
Read the rest of this stuff »