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Boomers And Busts: Sobering News For The U.S. Wine Business in 2013?

Vinted on February 12, 2013 binned in commentary, wine news

Anyone remember back in 2011, when we talked about the fact that Boomers – who by and large account for the vast majority of current wine sales – wouldn’t be around forever, and so the wine biz really needed to get off of its duff and start thinking about how it would court Gen X and Millenial buyers?

Well, I’ve got some bad news for those who’ve been ignoring that advice.

In the 2013 incarnation of Silicon Valley Bank’s annual State Of The Wine Industry Report presentation, a round-table style discussion between author Rob McMillan (from SVB’s wine division), Paul Mabray of VinTank, Tony Correia of The Correia Company and MJ Dale of KLH Consulting, who discussed the results of the report live in mid-January 2013. During the discussion (uber-interesting for wine geeks and insiders, probably not so much for normal people), McMillan (who is a nice and interesting guy, by the way, something I found out when I had dinner with him at Nickel & Nickel) discussed the sobering fact that the exit of Boomers from the wine market will be a potentially enormous blow to wine sales, and that the Millennial generation requires focus to help fill the expected gap.

To ease in the understanding of this, I’ve taken a graph from the SVB report and “enhanced” it so that the implications are more, well… transparent (click to “embiggen”):

In other words, Boomers don’t just exit the wine market “feet first” (though many, hopefully, will continue to love wine and keep on buying it until they shuffle off this mortal coil); they exit it in droves when they retire. The message is this: if you’re a wine producer who hasn’t been courting younger generations as well as Boomers (And as we’ll see in a minute or two, chances are good that you haven’t), you ought to be crapping a brick right about now…

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Are Wine Blogs Killing The Joy Of Drinking?

Vinted on January 8, 2013 binned in commentary, wine blogging

Mashable.com – the über-popular purveys of tech and pop-culture news – recently ran an op-ed style screed by Sandra Garson bemoaning the phenomenon of everyday folks blogging their exploration of food, and in particular, their forays into cooking. In other words, Garson decries the proliferation of food blogs.

Here’s a snippet of Garson’s article, which I think best sums up her anti-food-blog stance:

“The Internet has made the most important kitchen tool no longer the knife, or the rolling pin, but the camera. If you can’t take stunning, high resolution photographs of your work, you don’t count as a cook. They are indeed stunning photographs: the luscious, carefully styled, pornographic kind. Those photos arouse you. They get your blood racing, your stomach pumping. You are excited and want closure, satisfaction… You want to eat that right now.

Bah, humbug. Those of us who can’t make a dish look so perfectly luscious are probably going to feel inadequate and pass on learning to cook… On full display is how hungry we are to be seductive and to be number one; how obsessed we are by excitement. Sadly, what’s harder to see or taste is the way to cook.”

Garson underscores her points that food blogs are 1) scaring people away from cooking, and b) are too commercialized and self-centered, by contrasting food bloggers (largely made up of consumers and everyday citizens) with… Julia Child.

Which is sort of like comparing the holiday soccer games I play with my friends to the World Cup. Or comparing wine blogs to Gerald Asher (you knew this was coming around to wine, right?).

And so in Mashable’s article we see a reflection of nearly every misapplied criticism that has been levied against wine blogging over the past five years, which we might summarize as “wine blogs are killing the joy of drinking!”…

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In Defense Of Natalie MacLean

Vinted on January 2, 2013 binned in commentary

Wait a second…

…you mean to tell me that Canadian wine personality Natalie MacLean’s probable plagiarism (or at the very least, insufficient, obfuscated attribution of others’ work), possible pay-to-play wine reviews / favorable brand mentions, on-line comment “sock-puppeting” (and iTunes app review sock-puppeting, while we’re at it) allegations, along with spam-botting (can I use that as a verb?), multiple accusations of comment censorship and what seems like outright lying isn’t defensible with a simple “oh, whoops, my bad! :-)” letter to her readers?!??

Really??

[ Editor's note: Despite the author's better judgement telling him that he ought to just forget all about this, he's still pissed-off about it, and so has decided to help the cause in a small way by drawing a little bit of extra attention to this scandal and not letting it die on the vine. Look, he's not saying that the average wine-loving person should care what he thinks about these things, but it's his blog so he'll whine, wine, and whittle away the time with this opinion on a scandal here if he wants. Thanks to those of you who will indulge him the time to dip into the wine media's scarred underbelly. ]

Ah, and I forgot about the whole let’s-call-the-entire-wine-media-thing-into-question-because-we-all-look-like-a-bunch-of-douche-bags-for-bestowing-awards-on-these-people debate that gets stirred up every time that something like this transpires (which is way too often right now, by the way).

Oh, well – our bad, right?!?

The primary thing that’s got me riled up about this scandal is that, as the Hosemaster of Wine recently put it, MacLean “dared use dull and virtually interchangeable wine reviews from wine experts on her blog without attribution” (ouch!)….

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Merry Everything (Now, Go Explore The Infinite Expanse Of The Wine World!)

Vinted on December 25, 2012 binned in commentary

“‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!’”
- from How The Grinch Stole Christmas

[ Editor’s note: please substitute the Winter Solstice holiday of your choice for “Christmas” above; I’m not religious so I don’t give a hoot which one you go with, so long as you’re happy, okay? ]

This short blog post is, in part, a please for you to explore (and introduce others to) the near infinite expanse of the wine world. It’s also an excuse to post some 2012 family holiday photos of Mrs. Dudette and the Dudette-lette (more than a few of you have commented over the past year that you want to see more of them… and the dog… sorry I couldn’t get that over-sized mini-moose in there this year, but we did the holiday photos ourselves, and having an intelligence-challenged, 115lb dog on the loose when you’ve got an SLR on a timer and tripod is just a recipe  for having to buy yourself a new SLR for the holidays!). It’s also a sincere wish from me that, whatever Winter Solstice holiday you happen to celebrate, the season is treating you warmly, safely, and well!

The recent tragic events directly impacting the lives of dozens of families in Connecticut have reminded almost all of us – and particularly those of us who are parents – that we all take that warmth, safety and well-being for granted far too often. And so the family photos, psychoanalyzing myself for a second here, are probably my way of saying that I don’t take that for granted (at least not today). I know I’ll get weak eventually, but I can honestly say that I’ll be trying harder from here on out…

On a much lighter note, I also hope that, if there are wine lovers on your  “nice” list, that you’ve treated them (and yourself, for that matter) with the one gift that I urge wine geeks to go with this time of year: namely, wine from “someplace else.” Personally, I can think of no greater gift than potentially introducing a budding wine lover to wine regions that they wouldn’t normally have considered buying on their own.

That’s a true gift, the kind that cannot ever be taken away: the joy of experimentation, the hurts-so-good shock of seeing just how big the wine world is, and the visceral thrill of realizing that no matter how deep you go into the wine geek forest, there will always, always, always be caches left unexplored, exciting lessons to be learned, beauty to be found.

So here’s to you, here’s to family, here’s to the season, and here’s to daring to be different!

Cheers!

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