good grape daily: pomace & lees free run: field notes from a wine life around the wine blogosphere wine: a business doing pleasure good grape wine reviews new world influences red wine wine white wine wine blog news wine bloggers robert parker notes & dusty bottle items wine sediments wine business wine blogs historical wine book excerpts tasting safari: wines you can buy online cluetrain manifesto revisited winecast: a year in collaboration wine spectator wine blogger robert mondavi wine marketing indy food & wine vinography vin de napkin appellation watch: midwest regional review new vine logistics alice feiring wine blogging dr. vino tom wark natural wine gary vaynerchuk wine critics american wine blog awards wine reviews cameron hughes wine books luxury wine a really goode job california wine robert mondavi day robert mondavi winery fermentation blog penner-ash wine research wine ratings fred franzia tyler colman steve heimoff oregon pinot noir wall street journal wine best wine 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blog awards 2010 bottle shock movie sketches of spain eat me kenny shopsin amazon kindle wine politics what is terroir wine purchasing wine nose good wine under 20 the hold steady paste magazine sensory evaluation petite sirah wine points the press-democrat oregon cuisinternship winner blog contests preakness stakes pork tenderloins wine & spirits restaurant poll 2010 e-myth revisited bennett lane winery champagne and business a history of wine words marco capelli music + wine indianapolis patz & hall sonoma coast pinot noir notes on a cellar book wine tycoon video game oak alternatives cabernet bottle shock economy chronicle wines vignoles wine columns mirror wine joe roberts chateau thomas wine parker defamation blackstone wine trefethen fallow obama napa valley auction sonoma county wine french wine marketing vino chapeau wine medal winners petaluma pinot wine industry zap wine jr. san francisco chronicle wine ice wine c.g. di arie radiohead doubleback wine wine snobs wine is the new black expensive wine will hoge wine spies gapingvoid rose summer wine corkd foppoli wines tamari torrontes dirty south wine firestone contest doug frost whuffie factor wine reality show wine label design duane hoff resveratrol woman in wine organic wineries oregon obama wine digital signage wine retail the fifth taste dominus bellagio wine the wine blue book conundrum winery customer service julie and julia texas for dummies wine collection shorttrack ceo vintage of the decade markham mark of distinction sonoma wine company spike your juice celia masyczek jim koch pinot main street winery drvino.com wine direct shipping wine humor altar wine good wine livingston cellars persimmon creek vineyards liberty school cabernet sauvignon german wine oh westside road scott becker randall grahm party of five theme song wine spectator restaurant awards zig ziglar lewis perdue pbs john trefethen elliot essman wine intelligence research steroids in baseball publishing trends wine laws biodynamic wine health research 2007 waters crest "night watch" late harvest wine clif bar wine cheap wines rick mirer indiana miss america guinness beer 2006 brancott pinot noir wine public relations facebook + wine millenials and wine penner ash deb harkness cowboy mouth wine evaluation dark & delicious biod alpana singh dos equis commercials wine and sense of smell tim mondavi rachel alexandra 500 things to eat before it's too late wine & spirits professional culinary institute adobe road the the lost symbol wine stories wine 2.0 schotts micellany hugh johnson alloutwine cooper's hawk winery triple bottom line jim gordon kelly fleming wine mike hengehold traminette wine mobile applications rick mirer wine wine blogging tips amazon wine constellation wine washington wine john hughes '47 cheval blanc bordeaux reconquest santasti kevin zraly paul clary sweet wines zinfandel producers california wine for dummies best wine blog us wine sales dessert wine di arie rose napa cab. napa cabernet thomas pellechia wine spectator top 100 2009 cinderella wine deck wine lindsay ronga batgirl wine top chef hardy wallace firestone wine contest burger wine lonely island where the hell is matt southern gothic wine food revolution french paradox dark side of the rainbow gallo wine tasting rooms viktor frankl chateau petrus barack obama + wine sanford pinot noir rombauer digital marketing obama inauguration michael ruhlman wine spectator wine reviews karadeci the business of wine iphone wine mobile apps winery promotions whole foods wine first blush juice cult cabernet boston beer company trinchero 100 point system vineyard church communion wine mark squires wine and music scheurebe sherry wine tycoon healdsburg terroir wine branding global wine partners wine terroir southern wine and spirits wine lists adam strum tinybottles allocated cabernet the wine line core wine drinkers janet trefethen bruce reizenman luxury wine marketing wall street journal wine columnists "frankenwine" wine authors nbwa old vine zinfandel cluetrain manifesto down under by crane lake unified symposium jackson-triggs vidal ice wine clif winery name your own price mirror wine company indiana gourmet food guinness advertising 2007 stoneleigh pinot noir wine pr wineamerica wine wisdom lewin's equation 1winedude chacha rudolf steiner wine expedition fat tire beer mothervine supplements continuum texas bbq wine pairing prince's hot chicken king estate wine blogging strategies wine certification the traveling vineyard wine and art jason kroman alloutwine.com wine mou hess collection wine social media expensive wine trends wines and vines kelly fleming cabernet the new yorker ted lemon whyte horse winery iphone wine apps. palate press murphy-goode wine trading down dip johnnie walker chateau latour planet bordeaux sherry wine paul clary blog gracianna wine wine cartoons alan goldfarb fusebox wine moms who need wine ted jansen hourglass wine social media topps augmented reality rancho zabaco zinfandel woot wine the new frugality patio wine bryan q. miller argentina wine zephyr adventures barolo santana dvx au revoir to all that formula business ordinance .wine geocaching brigitte armenier rockaway wine red bicyclette a year in wine apple iphone man's search for meaning st. helena catholic church new zealand wine sanford chardonnay lettie teague nba liquor advertising noble pig award of excellence ericca robinson andy warhol quotes fermentation anthony dias blue home winemaking consumer shopping research the best pinot noir food & wine magazine bruliam wine generation y. wine april fool's day wine snooth karen macneil music and wine german riesling secret sherry society cult wines wine video game russian river valley pinot wine appellations reset "old world wine darwinism wine star awards tastingroom.com amazon.com wine california cabernet paso robles wine sales hailey trefethen park avenue catering fine wine marketing wine tasting journal wine competitions national beer wholesalers association clos lachance dr. oz yellow tail wine jon fredrikson wine blogging wednesday climber red priceline.com drew bledsoe wines of chile specialty wine retailers association judd's hill rose wine recession wine wine & spirits daily firestone vineyards wine trivia robert parker's bitch eryn supple the grateful palate heidi barrett john james dufour america eats willamette valley wine umami swanson alexis cabernet disney wine program value wines brand butlers american wine blogs forty-five north winery wine press release hong kong u.s. wine 2006 hess collection monterey chardonnay adler fels wines & vines kelly fleming interview the pour oregon food and wine dan cederquist parks and recreation italian wine merchant dependable wine sutter home videos inexpensive wine jay miller keep walking wines that rock steve perry aussie wine glut clary ranch pinot noir john tyler wine wine economy mary ewing-mulligan non-profits and wine ebob bodeans mitch schwartz hourglass cabernet wine blogosphere ge smart grid augmented reality trefethen family vineyards california zinfandel wineshopper aspirational marketing clark smith wine book publishing russian river valley ani difranco peru wine trip barbaresco michael steinberger value wine jamie oliver paul blart: mall cop phillip armenier red bicyclette pinot noir
November 28 2010
“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” That’s the consumer rights lesson I’ve learned this year, and bar none, the wine-related hot button issue potentially affecting consumers this same year has been HR 5034, a part of the wine niche headlines since April. Yet, a consumer-led backlash AND HR 5034 haven’t exactly been two predicates sharing the same subject. I’ve learned the backlash lesson elsewhere … and it’s a lesson all wine lovers would do well to learn, as well.
HR 5034 is a well-chronicled would-be affront to consumer access to wine, as prepared by the National Beer Wholesalers Association, in a lobbying function, before being introduced into the House of Representatives as a bill for consideration as law.
HR 5034, for all intents and purposes, is an attempted circumnavigation of federal law (including Granholm vs. Heald, the landmark 2005 Supreme Court decision that prohibited out-of-state wine shipping discrimination against wineries while granting them the same consumer access liberties afforded to in-state wineries).
In essence, HR 5034 would significantly restrict (or eliminate) consumer access to wines in their state for anything that wasn’t provided directly through a distributor (a lawyer by day, see Palate Press Publisher David Honig’s, excellent breakdown of the legal context for HR 5034). Temporarily shelved with the recent November elections after initial hearings in late September, it’s expected that the bill (and proposed law) will be re-constituted (no pun intended) in January for additional review by the House Judiciary Committee.
With small ripples of consumer opposition, the net-net of HR 5034 is this:
• Is the will of the people stronger than the will of special interest lobbying group’s intent on protecting and expanding their financial interests?
It’s an interesting question because our rule of land – democracy—is by any theoretical measure, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Does HR 5034 follow this most basic of US principle?
Not so much.
A funny thing learned while observing HR 5034 over the last seven months:
• Its introduction into the US House highlights how ill-prepared consumers are in understanding the nuances of our government and how we can affect change that reflects democracy’s fundamental premise.
• Our media absolutely has to assist in publicly fomenting consumer opposition above and beyond core constituents of an issue.
With HR 5034, aside from the obvious wine-related coverage the story has received, the proposed bill measured just a blip on the national radar. I never got a sense that a real consumer coalition was happening—that credible, legitimate, populace-based mindshare was fomenting. Ditto that lack of mindshare as facilitated by the media.
Not that it wasn’t attempted.
Amongst many people, Tom Wark, Executive Director for the Specialty Wine Retailers Association, did fantastic job leading HR 5034 opposition, including being a pivotal leader in thought-leadership, the first person out of the gate to create both a central hub for consumer information as well as a Facebook Fan Page for interested consumers. This activity led to pockets of media coverage.
Yet, those efforts notwithstanding, Wark also realized the need for a broad line consumer organization. He is developing the American Wine Consumer Coalition to represent the views of wine drinkers across the country. This is good, noble and something I wholeheartedly endorse and will support with my participation and my money. Yet, there is still something missing … something missing related to, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
In a year filled with political cacophony, tea partiers and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) search related headlines, the missing bullet for a successful kill shot on HR 5034 is a publicly-led backlash with enough sensationalism to capture the media’s interest.
Consider: Were it not for loosely organized rallies, costumes, and hand-lettered placards, the Tea Party would not (could not) have achieved the wide recognition they have received, fueled by the media. This is, after all, a movement that is still without central leadership, or ideology.
Consider: Were it not for national media making John Tyner of “If you touch my junk I’m going to have you arrested” fame there would not have been a media fueled “National Opt-Out Day” creating awareness for consumer rights against invasion of privacy at airport security checkpoints.
This all leads me to my central point, underscored by the Japanese proverb, “Knowledge without wisdom is a load of books on the back an ass.”
In practical terms, we have the knowledge that HR 5034 is bad for consumers, but do we have the wisdom to do what is necessary to counteract it?
Do we have the wisdom to organize an event that is sensational in nature that will be picked up by mainstream media to carry the message to greater awareness?
My suggestion is the online wine community dumps all of these friggin’ Zinfandel, Pinot, Cabernet, and Champagne Days on Twitter and does something meaningful.
How about, “National I Want my Wine Shipping Rights Day”
It’s really not that hard to organize and the genius is all wine lovers can participate in willful disobedience.
You see, the real secret here in the wine shipping wars is there is no enforcement—its fear by intimidation by states and the feds based on winery and retailer licensure (and potential seizure).
Yet, there are retailers (plenty of retailers) who ship across the country, door-to-door, and thumb their nose at the TTB and state governing bodies.
To wit, here’s the language on the shipping page from one prominent east coast retailer who places ALL of the shipping risk on the consumer:
”-Company Name Redacted- does not, as a business, ship wine outside of New York State. We are happy, however, to coordinate shipment of your wine, by you, to any location in the U.S. or abroad (for international shipping, see below). By authorizing shipment of your wine, you are allowing -Company Name Redacted- to engage a third party common carrier on your behalf. We provide all shipping coordination as a free service and do not profit from any shipping arrangements we make for you. Insurance (for breakage only) will be added to ALL shipments at an additional charge unless you assume all responsibility for breakage during shipment.”
What a beautiful dodge!
So, a mass coalition of consumers gets together and says, “I’m ordering wine on this day, having it shipped to me and I don’t give a damn what the laws say about it.”
Don’t tread on me; don’t touch my junk and stop messing with my ability to buy the wine that I want to buy from where I want to buy it!
Instead of making this a fight in the halls of government presided over by lobbyist money; let’s make this a fight in the streets based on the will of the people, amplified by media ready to exploit a cause.
Regardless of whether a “national” wine consumer backlash day ever happens for wine shipping, you understand my point – empowered people must assume power. Until wine consumers rise up with broad mindshare, carry a stick, and demand logical action that serves the interests of the majority, we’ll always be subject to the whims of big money lobbyists protecting the few.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way ... because ... I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.
Who is with me?
November 24 2010
I’ve been involved in technology marketing and business development for 15 years and most of that time has been with internet related businesses. In this timeframe, social media is merely the fourth or fifth internet flavor du jour. Understanding this lineage allows me to maintain perspective on practical matters related to technological change versus the hype.
However, anymore, with the convergence of the internet and mobile (a/k/a “smartphones”), it’s becoming difficult to keep up, separating reality from hyperbole, even for a person whose job it is to stay abreast of this stuff … Yet, stay abreast I must, particularly important because the prognosticators are calling for even more rapid change … with more hype …
Given that we’re in a nascent phase of mobile marketing equivalent to where social media was circa 2007, I thought I’d give a very high-level and topical look at the mobile marketing landscape, particularly relevant because wine related activity is on the cutting edge in most sectors of mobile marketing development and will certainly be the next breathless must-do for wineries.
I won’t belabor the details, and my point is to talk quickly about the recent past and present in order to get to the future, where my interest lies, while linking out to sites where more information exists.
According to Mintel, a global consumer research firm, as reported by the Center for Media Research, they suggest the near term future for mobile marketing encompasses the following:
“With smartphones becoming the dominant mobile force, Quick Response and app technology will provide portals into unique experiences and improve our quality of life. In the US, sales of smartphones grew 82% from 2008 to 2010. As consumers are empowered, 2011 will see people take a deeper interest in where they are. Geography and status can be redefined through retail, presenting brands with an opportunity for increased location based services, promotions and solution.”
SMS is essentially texting. The next stage is MMS which is multimedia texting. Ever take a picture on your phone and then send it to somebody from your phone? That’s MMS. After these two building blocks, mobile starts to get wooly.
The Blackberry aside, Apple and the iPhone are duking it out for market share. The Android operating system can run on many different phone handsets from a number of manufacturers, including the Droid from Motorola. Meanwhile, Apple and the iPhone are proprietary.
Amongst the two platforms, there’s a significant amount of competitive jousting going on, and both have a preponderance of applications, including dozens of wine-related applications. Most readers are familiar with this.
Yet, there are a number of technological sub-plots to this Apple versus Android story including the use of Flash versus HTML 5 to deliver motion graphics. Android favors the former and Apple favors the latter. This story will play out over the next year or so.
The long story short, smartphone trends indicate that nearly everyone will have a smartphone in the very near future and the future of computing (and the marketer’s battle for mindshare) won’t occur with your desktop PC or in your laptop bag, it will occur in the palm of your hand with a smart phone or a wireless tablet computer, running a mobile, non-Microsoft operating system.
So, given that as context, what’s next for mobile marketing in a smartphone-enabled, tablet-computing world?
Mintel has it right when they mention “Quick Response” and “Geography.” The next two years (at least) seem to be based on these two specific mobile marketing functions:
Context Sensitive Marketing
Context Sensitive Marketing or CSM for short is a catch-all bucket for a technology capability (that is rapidly being adopted) that allows an application on your phone to read a barcode or a special graphic (Quick Response or QR for short) that is placed on products – like a wine necker, for example.
In so doing, this scan of the bar code or the special graphic will provide you, the scanner of the object, access to web-based information that is specific to that company, or product. Think of it as value-added information on a meta level.
The best analogy that I’ve read to help understand CSM comes from technology web site Mashable. Paraphrased, barcode information or a QR code in the real world is like a real world full of internet links, making our physical surroundings fully contextualized.
For example (also paraphrased from Mashable), you’ve been looking for the perfect lamp for your living room. As a part of the hotel lobby furnishings, you see THE lamp, and it has a QR code at its base. You scan the code and your mobile phone browser takes you to a web site with information on the lamp and the ability to buy it.
One such wine-related company that is specializing in this technology is CellarKey with the positioning statement of, “Bringing the experience of a winery to the palm of your hand.”
Now, to be certain, if you choose to really dive in and understand CSM, you’re going to be ahead of the curve for 2011, when this market will really heat up.
For now, the likes of Microsoft and other mobile marketing companies are still jockeying for position and we’re just now starting to see codes in mainstream advertising, including the current edition of Wine Spectator for Korbel.
The “Geography” category is really a catch-all for “geo-location” or “location-based” services. This is the next frontier beyond Twitter.
Established start-ups like FourSquare, Gowalla and SCVNGR, who is partnered with VinTank for application in the wine industry, all bring an application or service to bear, via your smartphone, which allows a user of the application to “check-in” or identify themselves at a location, a retail spot, winery, etc. and begin to accumulate rewards.
Think of this as a loyalty reward card, based on where you shop or visit, combined with an element of fun or gaming that earns you stuff.
With recent announcements that Facebook and Yelp.com are also getting into geo-location services, this market is going to get very fragmented very quickly before it reshapes itself around dominate companies (who have yet to grab dominate position).
The Final Word
Technology innovation comes fast and furious – it’s like the weather in Indiana; if you don’t like it, just wait ½ a day and it will change. So it is for the evolution beyond social media. We’re at the precipice of the next frontier, mobile, and two aspects of mobile marketing that will be the hot topic and “must-do” for wineries a short six months from now.
As for me, a person who prides himself on separating reality from hype? I’d focus on QR codes because of their ability to hit a wide, mass, consumer audience in a relatively short period of time. Geo-location services, as currently constructed, are great, but there will always be a large percentage of the audience that don’t get it and will never get it, ala Twitter.
Choose your investment wisely.
Additional Links for Review
* Layar / Augmented Reality
* Quick Response (QR) definition
* Google Goggles (nearly universal QR reader)
* StickyBits (Bar scan marketing company)
* Steve Jobs hates Flash
* Microsoft mobile tag site
* Mobile Marketing QR / tag company
* SCVNGR wine-related press release
November 20 2010
Odds and ends from a life lived through the prism of the wine glass …
Newsweek magazine named Tina Brown Editor-in-Chief. Brown is a well-respected publishing veteran formerly of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, amongst others.
In Brown’s opening remarks with her new team she said:
“…To have a magazine … of such relevance in today’s spinning vortex of a world that can actually bring sense, bring meaning, bring connection to all the splintered fragments that assail us every day …”
It’s an interesting choice of words and speaks to the value that magazines can bring to consumers in a world of instant headlines and increasing digitization. Context and analysis become the primary value that magazines offer, helping readers make sense of what’s around them.
As if to put a finer point on Brown’s statement, the cover story to the current edition of Newsweek discusses the overwhelming demands on the modern day presidency. The article, titled, “Hail to the Chiefs” with the subtitle, “The presidency has grown, and grown and grown, into the most powerful, most impossible job in the world.” The ensuing article does a good job of elucidating the complex demands on being the Commander in Chief including the amount of information (briefings) that must be read and understood, the President’s own spinning vortex.
I bring this up within the context of wine because it’s hard not to notice the incredible increase in the amount of complexity and fragmentation in the wine world. Practically every day brings to the fore a new wine-producing country; a new service is launched; a new initiative is announced, and a new technology upsets the proverbial apple cart demanding relevance and a place within our mental hierarchy of order.
Frankly, most wine-interested people could use a daily briefing book like the President receives in order to make sense of it all …
Meanwhile, research reports continue to indicate that consumer spending habits have changed, perhaps for the long-term. No longer is it a part of the U.S. psyche to be spendthrift for the sake of the accumulation of material goods.
However, ironically, most of our mainstream wine media is not focused on context at all, nor are they focused on bringing order to the complex wine world, they are interested in wrapping wine in a lifestyle wrapper, a spending choice that is no longer relevant—the equivalent to junk food, enrobing chocolate over empty calories.
Methinks (and it’s only the 190th time that I’ve brought it up), that the mainstream media that serve the wine-inclined is well-served moving forward by, “Bring(ing) sense, bring(ing) meaning, bring(ing) connection to all the splintered fragments …” while accepting the reality that luxury lifestyle is an anachronism.
Whoever accepts the challenge of providing a monthly wine briefing book wins bonus points.
Enter a new species in the wine world – the “Asian Whale.” Long an inhabitant of the gaming tables of Las Vegas where it has been said that up to 80% of the whales are Asian, they are now migrating to the wine world.
A very good article (here) from the Guardian in the U.K. elaborates on the many facets that Asian interest in wine is bringing to the landscape of wine trade.
For years and years, people have complained about sulfites in wines indicating that they triggered headaches, flush faces, sinus congestion and more.
Justification for naming sulfites has always been that unsulfured wine, normally consumed on vacation in Italy or France, didn’t trigger an allergy attack so wines that were sulfured must be the culprit.
Meanwhile, people vigorously defend sulfites as NOT the source of allergy issues with no clear counter argument for WHAT does cause the reaction in people. It is/was a very confusing issue and because I don’t have allergic reactions to wine I generally ignored the conversation. However, I find it fascinating that an issue that has long been a part of the wine landscape has seemingly been identified.
According to recent research, glycoproteins, a type of protein coated with sugar that develops during the fermentation process might be the allergen culprit –these glycoproteins are very similar to known allergens like ragweed, for example.
Just goes to show that prevailing wisdom sometimes isn’t always that wise.
Speaking of Prevailing Wisdom …
Tim Hanni, and his recent research about taste sensitivities has a piece at Huffington Post. It’s well-done, but the lone comment to the story again frame’s Hanni’s premise within the argument that a democratization of wine perception will create wines that lack distinction.
Folks, that already exists, what Hanni is talking about is changing perceptions. The realities already exist.
As I’ve noted in several recent posts, I like what he is doing.
Increasing your Sense of Smell
On a daily basis I vacillate in between snap reaction and action and more considered thoughtfulness. One of the things I’ve been considering and researching are detox diets as a part of purging my dependency on caffeine while also losing 10 lbs. in the process.
The negatives to a detox diet are the caffeine withdrawal and the short-term hunger pangs. The benefit of a detox diet is the fact that most detox dieter’s report that their sense of smell goes off the charts to what might be considered super-human levels.
Color me convinced.
A detox diet and a zinc supplement, another recommendation to increase sense of smell, and I might turn into a robo-wine taster, which would be okay by me.
Harvard Business Case Study
I don’t know what kind of deal with the devil I’ve made to be on such a good run of luck, but I was recently named best wine blog by a third-party web site, I was asked to write for a Financial Times property and now a blog post that I wrote is going to be a part of a Harvard Business case study.
I like it, particularly the Harvard part, because I went to Ball State University, an average school for people with average grades, where I was barely granted admission before finally figuring out how to leave my wayward studying habits behind while balancing my extracurricular activities.
The post that will be a part of a Harvard case study can be found here.
November 16 2010
Odds and ends from a life lived through the prism of the wine glass …
Prank call, Prank call!
Back in the days of cassette tapes, having a 14th generation bootleg copy of something from a friend of a friend’s cousin was a rare and precious gift, a bit of insider cachet that felt cool and special.
The day I borrowed a Guns N’ Roses tape circa 1989, covertly taped by *somebody* at a concert, the guy I borrowed it from called me that evening to remind me to bring it back to school the next day, so precious were the goods.
Likewise, when I heard The Jerky Boys around that same era, their prank phone calls were the stuff of high school legend, hilarity for kids who weren’t very worldly or well-traveled, pre-internet.
These days, nothing’s a bootleg. Hell, so-called bootlegs are now professionally taped, marketed and sold. And, forget about trying to do a prank call—who answers their phone from an unrecognizable number?
Despite that, if ever there was an opportunity to have some prank call phone fun (of course, I’m too old to engage in such shenanigans, but that wouldn’t stop me from listening to your prank calls. Cough. Cough.) now is the time. Now, of course, again, I’m not advocating that anybody prank call anybody, tape it and subsequently share it online (Skype and Skype Recorder should work just fine) … but please let me know if you do …
Turning Leaf has a wine hot line that will be staffed live on November 20 – 22 from 2:00 – 8:00pm EST. Turning Leaf winemaker Nicole Hitchcock will pick up the phone, amongst others. 1-877-TLWINE-3
I’ve spent a lot of time over the last couple of months studying the philosophical underpinnings to the notion of terroir. A lot of reading, a lot of thinking, a lot of opinion analysis from others, a lot of trying to understand what my own definition of terroir is ... because there isn’t a standard definition.
To me, the word “terroir” is in the same realm of nebulous definition as pop culture phraseology like, “war on terror,” and “weapons of mass destruction” – yeah, the concept is there, but specifically, what the eff does it mean so I’m not a sycophantic mynah bird? This thought is also important because I believe that in order to reconcile thoughts on natural wine and biodynamic wine, two wine trends that are not going away anytime soon, you have to start with an understanding of where you come down on “terroir.” Without having done so, any opinion on BioD and natural wine (pro or con) is like saying the Star Wars prequel trilogy movies suck because you watched Return of the Jedi and thought the Ewoks were lame. A sound opinion has to be made in totality, with full context.
Wine writer Matt Kramer calls terroir a sense of, “somewhereness,” as in it tastes like the place it came from – an amalgamation of soil, region climate, microclimate, the grapes and the winemaker. Where the notion of terroir becomes really murky to me is the relationship terroir has to grapes AFTER soil, macroclimate and microclimate, but before it goes in the bottle.
Simply put, personally speaking and henceforth, I will never speak of a wine as being terroir-driven, or better or different than a wine of perceived lesser quality or mass scale for the simple fact that I hardly ever have enough information to speak with any authority.
Too often, I think wine enthusiasts make the simple-minded mistake of associating terroir with a wine that is evocative of earth, instead of being fruit-driven.
That’s a mistake.
Ask yourself when the last time was that you drank a wine and you knew all of the inputs into that wine that made up so-called “terroir.” Clonal selection, irrigation practices, yeast strains, and the oak program can all be included in the broader definitions of terroir, but I usually haven’t the slightest clue what the clone or yeast strain is—two significant factors that can have as much of an impact on wine as the soil and the climate.
My point in all of this is that terroir is a word that has a million interpretations, but too few people have thought about it deeply enough to form their own opinion, aside from repeating assimilated and subsumed prevailing thought. I would encourage everyone reading this to do a little reading and reflection on the subject to form your own unique point of view because, if nothing else, it will give you a foundation to form educated opinions on Biodynamics and natural wines, two newer peas in the same pod.
November 13 2010
… I settled into my too small aisle airline seat outbound from SFO, a long anticipated weekend in wine country now just a memory; I closed my eyes and let my mind wander.
The movie director in my mind’s eye yelled, “Action” and I loosely guided the narrative in my half-awake half-asleep state of obliviousness …
I entered the small panel-lined room that felt like a cross between church basement and the labored Zen motif of a therapist’s office; a fake tree with dusty leaves adorned the corner. Gunmetal gray folding chairs haphazardly created a semi-circle. My eyes darted as I sized up the strangers who were to become my friends. The dank air filled with nervous perspiration. I chewed my lip as my stomach knitted knots of anticipation. I cleared the knot that had jumped up from my stomach into my throat and said to the other wine lovers assembled, “Hi. My name is Jeff and I’m a would-be wine entrepreneur.”
In an instant, the room settled and tension released like a clock striking 5:01 on a Friday. The group responded, as if channeling a Catholic responsorial psalm, “Hi, Jeff! I’m a would-be wine entrepreneur, too.”
What followed was a therapy session of big ideas waiting to be uncorked from the proverbial bottle ... each of my cohorts living a life of secret dreams and half-baked desires centered on the good grape, certain success assured if only “Temerity” would first get in the ring with “Security” and kick its ass, before dispatching security’s tag team partner, “Risk.”
Abruptly jarred back into consciousness by a fleshy, grinning, chirping faux-friendly flight attendant of a certain age, somewhere in that predominant airline nexus of tenure that is older than “Cougar,” but younger than Grandma, she was using her beverage cart as a blunt force object, bumping my shoulder, knee and foot in one questionably inadvertent thrust. I quickly left my mental respite and imaginary new friends in group wine therapy and wondered when 6’1 and 190 lbs. became outsized for the airlines …
While the above vignette is fictitious, it is emblematic of a shared thought pattern because most wine enthusiasts harbor a deep-seated interest in starting a wine-related business of some sort, aligning their passion with their profession, a thought that eats like yeast on juice sugars.
Perhaps, more than any other industry aside from technology, the US wine business WAS, and IS an industry built on entrepreneurs starting small business concerns with hopes and dreams for success.
Couple this manifest reality with a sea tide of self-help books encouraging,
nay, excoriating the restless to follow their dreams and you have a tipping point of interest in getting into the wine industry.
Certainly, the economic tide of the last several years has dampened the pace of development of small wineries and small businesses serving the wine industry, but the growth continues unabated.
Yet, you have to ask yourself, “Why?”
The familiar anecdote is that 90% of the wineries in the US battle for 10% of wine consumption by volume. The vast majority of the wine that is guzzled comes from large corporations. If you couple the notion of a “sea of many” wineries fighting for a slim percentage of “mouth share” with Small Business Administration statistics about success rates for new business (over half will fail in the first five years), it paints a picture of extreme risk.
The dream and the pursuit marches on, however.
This post isn’t about daydreaming it’s more about the delta in between dreaming and doing, moving from point A to point B and thinking while you’re doing it.
“And we must study through reading, listening, discussing, observing and thinking. We must not neglect any one of those ways of study. The trouble with most of us is that we fall down on the latter—thinking—because it’s hard work for people to think.”
Here are eight steps and additional resources for “thinking” about your wine venture:
The difference between the two is the Passion to Profit template is for identifying and aligning your strengths around your interests. The mind-mapping template is for brainstorming business ideas if you’re already certain about which direction you’d like to go in a new business venture
2) Once you have a business in mind, use the Business Model Canvas for mapping out your business model and ALL of your revenue streams
The business model canvas comes from a fantastic book called, Business Model Generation. A must read not just for entrepreneurs, but also people that want to look at their job in a paradigm shifting light. The book is partially available as a free ebook here.
3) Once you have your business model identified, do a PEST analysis.
A PEST analysis outwardly examines the Political, Economical, Social and Technological aspects of a particular market, including competitors – important in wine, a highly regulated, highly competitive business.
4) Once you’ve done your PEST analysis, which is largely market facing, do a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis.
There is some overlap with a PEST, but a SWOT is primarily an inward facing exercise designed to examine a strategy and business proposition.
5) Once you have a finite grip on your PEST and SWOT, go through the Porter’s Five Forces of Competitive Position analysis.
If you make it through Porter’s and you haven’t completely thrown yourself into discouraging turmoil, congratulations! You are now a candidate to create a business plan that addresses your desire to create and support a
wine business with projected financials and strategic marketing.
6) Abundant software resources exist for business plan generation, but I’ve always used the templates from the Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE) found here.
Once you’ve done all of this, take a break and mentally separate yourself from the creation process. You’ll revisit all of your planning with fresh eyes and a detached ability to edit in order to create the best plan possible.
Assumingly, you’re going to be able to find funding for your new wine venture and start as a business. The following are fantastic resources for early stage businesses to avoid common pitfalls in poor planning:
I’ve mentioned this eBook before. It is a fantastic and head-nodding affirmation on many of the challenges of small business and the ways to avoid or correct them. The ebook can be accompanied with coaching services. Follow the ebook to avoid pitfalls to your first million and then engage the coaching to super-charge growth.
Everybody thinks they’re a marketer extraordinaire, yet hardly anybody actually “plans their work, and works their plan” instead relying on a grab bag of tactics in a haphazard way. GrowthPanel is an organized program of marketing planning covering the entire landscape of marketing engagement. If it’s not here, chances are you don’t need to do it. A tremendous planning resource. Ebook to get started here.
In sum, good luck on your thinking, planning and development of a wine venture, if I’m not with you in person, know and trust that I am with you spiritually and in my mind’s eye.
Additional Links and downloads
* Credit to Businessballs.com for several of the templates including the Passion to Profit template which I formatted for download
* Porter’s Five Forces of Competitive Position Overview template
Photo Credit: Will Engelmann