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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The topic is old news now, and while revisiting it runs the risk of sounding a late-to-the-party bell with overtones of “me, too!,” I do think I can offer you something new on the latest (and largest) piece of wine biz news.
I’m speaking of the news last week of uber-wine-critic Robert Parker passing on tasting/reviewing responsibilities for California wine to Antonio Galloni at The Wine Advocate. There have already been several takes on the news in blogosphere, with my faves coming from W. Blake Gray and Jeff Lefevere (both of whom do a stellar job of covering the big and small of the wine industry and provide thoughtful commentary on the potential ripple effects).
When the news broke, I was in Portugal where the Parker news wasn’t even news, presumably because The Wine Advocate doesn’t pay much attention to Portuguese table wines (or so it might be argued by the Portuguese table wine industry, anyway). So I was totally unaware of the announcement from Parker, or the ensuing coverage in the wine media, until I returned at the close of that work week.
Now, what’s to be said about Parker no longer covering CA wines that hasn’t already been said?
Well, as most of you out there will recall, I interviewed Parker not too long ago, and while that hardly qualifies as having a window into his soul, it might be just enough access to have formulated a different – and more cautionary – viewpoint into his recent decision…
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Occasionally in the wine media world one gets asked to contribute to articles, news stories, wine lists and wine picks. I’ve done this several times (recently for Sommelier Journal, for example) because I like to help people out if I can, and when it comes to Going Pro it doesn’t hurt to have your name in the public eye and mind of the wine world (more on the pros/cons of that approach in a future Going Pro article).
Those contributions are almost always uncompensated, as was the case in my latest – a two-page blurb that I gave to London-based sommelier and consultant Tara Devon O’Leary (at her request) for her newly-released book, Every Wine Tells A Story. Well, uncompensated unless you count the copy of the book that she gave to me.
Like another wine book recently reviewed on these virtual pages (A Feast At The Beach), Every Wine Tells A Story is a series of short, vignette-style pieces, though the focus is squarely on wine and the vignettes are supplied by twenty-nine wine personalities that include sommeliers, print journalists, bloggers, winemakers and wine merchants. Each story details something interesting about a particular wine recommendation and why (and how) it touched the author in some way. There are some great moments in this little book, and greater still are the wine recommendations, many of which are readily available (though some, like the 1971 Domaine Romanee-Conti picked by Judgment-of-Paris legend Steven Spurrier, are well beyond the reach of all but the richest among us).
I’m mentioning this book today because my contribution is a love-letter to the same wine that I recommended to Sommelier Journal’s 2010 wine list article (the 2007 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port), and so it seemed appropriate for Valentine’s Day. Plus, having recently returned from Portugal, I’ve got Port on my mind (and, no doubt, a serious amount of cholesterol in my blood from three square meals of insanely tasty meat dishes each day).
Anyway, Every Wine Tells A Story is worth a look, and like A Feast At The Beach offers a nice break from the overly-weighty, serious tomes in the wine book lexicon (it also offers similar “bathroom reading” potential; yes, I did go there… again). Around $13.
- NV Greater Purpose White Label Red (Dry Creek Valley): VG red for a VG charity. On the jammy side but will rock with grilled burgers. $18 B #
- NV Greater Purpose Black Label Red (Dry Creek Valley): A tale of 2 edges, 1 jammy fruit, the other tough tannin. Live by the sword… $18 B- #
- NV Rozes Porto Infanta Isabel 10 Year Tawny Port (Porto): Has the dried fruits, caramel color & nutty aromas, but not the real magic. $25 B- #
- 99 Smith Woodhouse LBV Port (Porto): Trad. & needs decanting, but the peppery spice & blackberry are worth the extra effort involved. $29 B #
- NV Churchill White Port (Porto): Looks like a disaster (cloudy) but tastes like a master (nutty, woody, rich, racy & balanced). $22 B+ #
- 02 Dom Perignon (Champagne): The fruit has taken residence on the border of the tropics, & you will be *very* happy to greet it there $130 A #
- NV Perrier-Jouet Blason Rose (Champagne): Bubbly, sexy, tart & a tad edgy; basically all the things you want in a dinner companion. $50 B+ #