As most regular 1WD readers know, I’m not much for classic reporting-style articles.
In fact, to me the choice between writing a “such-and-such took place on Monday and so-and-so was honored with a whozy-whatsit for their work on the whatcha-ma-jigger” piece or a “let me tell you what I think about X…” piece – namely, between writing a USA Today style event report ,or interpreting an event through the prism of my unique but twisted perception – is sort of like having to choose between being brutally murdered or having amazing sex. In other words, there’s really no choice at all, is there?
So, you’ll hopefully understand why I’m having trouble trying to decide how best to bring you news of the Fifth Annual Vintners Hall of Fame event held earlier this week at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena (I was invited as part of the 2011 Pro Wine Writers Symposium, which in turn I’m attending as a speaker but more so as a learner as I gear up my efforts trying to make a living in the wine world). To further complicate the matter, I promised my friend W. Blake Gray (who chairs the VHF Electoral College) that I’d consider writing something about the event, and he’s really a very talented and nice guy so I’m gonna feel really bad about myself if I don’t at least give this the old college try.
See, even that tiny bit of exposition was painful to write. F*ck me, I need a drink already.
Anyway, rather than give you a litany of facts about this year’s thoroughly deserving inductees (you can read all about them at http://www.ciaprochef.com/winestudies/events/vhf_inductees.html), I want to share with you what those inductees – or, rather, the what the speeches that introduced those inductees – tells us about how California wine came of age. And it can be summed up in two words…
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On April 6, I’ll be part of a roundtable wine industry panel discussing “strategies for building wine brand loyalty” among what has to be one of the most fickle (and largest) group of wine consumers ever to swipe credit cards in exchange for vinous experiences: the oft-discussed (and more often misunderstood) Millennials.
The panel is part of a larger symposium for wine industry types being held at the gorgeous Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena. My panel-mates (now there’s a word that has limited contextual usage!) will include moderator Brad Todd of the Richards Group, and Adam Strum (founder of Wine Enthusiast). Gary V is the keynote (for those who’ve yet to experience a Gary V keynote – it alone is worth the trip).
It’s going to be an interesting discussion, because I’m not sure that capturing the loyalty of Millennials can actually be done (at least, not in the way that wine-related business are used to doing it when it comes to Baby Boomers). Still, there is hope, provided that you can continuously entertain those buyers with transparency, compelling stories that relate experiences connected with a brand, and above all continuing to up the quality of your products. And void social-irresponsibility that could result in a brand boycott.
You know, really easy stuff, right? I recommend investing in some Tylenol, because there will definitely be headaches encountered in marketing departments before the dust settles. For more on how the Millennial set views wine, I recommend checking out Millennier.com (because it’s authored by an actual Millennial and not a late-30s guy with Millennial leanings – like me – just talking about Millennials).
I’m calling attention to this gig because it’s a paying gig (WOOT!), and therefore deserves some mention in the Going Pro vein of articles here…
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There are worse places to be than where I’m camped out this week – Portugal (again, and I feel blessed to be back), where this time I’ll get to spend some time in Reguengos de Monsaraz, Lisbon, as well as getting back to the insanely gorgeous Douro and the lovely city of Porto.
The reason I’m back in this diverse winemaking region is that I’m being hired by a (rather large) Portuguese wine producer – well, technically I’m being hired by their PR agency – to pen posts for their U.S. blog. That blog (of course) will have no affiliation with 1WineDude.com apart from the guy writing the articles (me) and is going to be hosted separately. I actually don’t even have a log-in for the site yet, but the Portuguese approach things in a manner that is… well… let’s just a bit more laid back than what we Type-A, anal-retentive, uptight East Coasters are used to seeing.
Since I’ve been totally transparent since day one on this blog, and within the Going Pro series of articles in particular, I wanted to give you all the skinny on this gig of mine.
Let’s start by telling you that for the duration of my contract with said producer, there are two aspects of the contract that I hold as supremely important in governing how this deal is gonna go down:
- I’m not allowed to enter into any similar contracts with any other Portuguese wine producers (makes sense, but let’s just say there isn’t exactly a long line of Portuguese-speaking PR types knocking down my door), and
- The producer has agreed not to be mentioned in any context whatsoever (name, reference to wines, etc.) on 1WineDude.com (or my facebook and twitter accounts) for the duration of the contract.
That last condition was mine, and it serves as the “firewall” between what I’ll be doing specifically for their blog and the independent coverage of wine that I provide here…
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Much has been written on the subject of how Asian markets are affecting the wine world, most of it concentrating on the impact of Hong Kong auctions on the scarce availability and stratospheric prices of high-end Bordeaux (which is to say, making high-end Bordeaux even more scarce with even higher stratospheric prices).
The wine scene in Asia is, of course, a lot deeper, wider and more diverse than the big headlines would lead you to believe – so I invited Terravina founder Jaime Araujo to talk about the Asian wine markets and help demystify what the current trends in Asia will mean for wine producers and wine lovers.
Many of you will recognize Jaime’s last name (her parents own their own scarce and somewhat-stratospherically-priced wine brand in California) but she comes to 1WineDude Radio with her own set of wine industry cred, and has just co-authored an extensive industry report on the Asian wine market with Master of Wine Jeannie Cho Lee.
I’ve categorized this interview under the Going Pro series because it’s probably going to be most interesting to those ITB… BUT… whether or not you’re in the wine biz, if like me, you have been unable to get your head around the craziness of wine’s impact in Asia (and vice-versa), prepare to have your horizons expanded!
1WineDude Radio: Demystifying the Asian Wine Market with Jaime Araujo