I recently joined WWS and was excited to see some familar faces from last year's Wine Bloggers Conference. Here's some highlights and soundbite from the panel discussion:
First up was Dr. Liz Thach, Professor of Wine Business Management at SSU had these stats for us:
- Women in US buy 76% of the wine
- In restaurants, 72% of women order a glass of wine
- A study of 6,000 wine tastings, showed that women may be more hyper sensitive tasters
One guest sitting next to me (Joanne who works for Union Bank in Sonoma) wanted to see more stats on women owned wineries or vineyards. Something to compile?
I also met, Phyllis - who is head of admin at Domaine Carneros and works under Eileen Crane- Pres. and winemaker. Reiminding me, there's always a smart woman behind the smart woman.
First question posed by moderator: Kathleen Hill (author of the Hill Guides, columnist with the Sonoma Sun, program host at KSVY FM) What's going on with the economy and are there industry jobs?
Crane - President and Founding Winemaker, Domaine Carneros:
She said rough times ahead. There are increased cost per sale this year. Suggested to go to someone who thinks outside the "block. "Down economies can spark new economies. Noted that sparkling wines are a great a typical wine group as they traditionally score higher than French Champagne. She also pointed out the local tourism to their large visitor center as a strong point right now. Focus on the whole experience incl hospitality. Look to different opportunities during this kind of market. Look for creative wineries with unusual products and services. Some stats shared: 65% of DC wine is sold from the winery. Give the people what they want-she doesn't bore her core customer with Pinot Noir when they want sparkling. Her quote of the eveing:" Even if you are on the right track you can still get run over."
Benziger - Partner, Director of Customer Development - Benziger Family Winery
Said she wants to wear her flank jacket and helmet during these tougher times. Sees wine consumption is up overall and feels that its time to focus on the core. Her quote of the evening: "Never seen a business suffer from too much focus." You have less customers but the ones you have you can spend more time with them. get to know them better, develop customer programs to educate. Educate the educators. Benzinger will be Web. 2.0 soon and they have a blog. She also talked about Authenticity and the "site wines" offering a sense of place. Focus on what you do best. Don't lose the "Clonial Ghettos". i.e. don't overplant Djon clones they are too globally similar. Celler Power-Regionalism is needed more in wine making to stand out.
Mia (Constellation Brand mgr) - Icon Estates: Seeing slowdown. But a pick up in off-premises sales as people are eating at home and purchasing wine for home consumption.Said we are in a media revolution. But it's hard to predict it all. She gave a plug to check out Vin Tank for the soon to be published White Paper on social marketing. Key stats: Newspapers going under. But Gourmet.com increased by 200%. Typepad is up. Kim Crawford has a Twitter ID. She hears named sites will be done in 3 years. (The room groaned.) How to get closer to the consumer? Suggested more events. Social networking. Creative use of the platforms. But cautioned that they will change in the future. Today it's Facebook and Twitter but in another couple of years it could be something else. Core message must be adaptable.
Heather Page - viticulturist for Gundlach Bundschu is re-reviewing what they have, things on hold. caution. But she seemed the happiest of the bunch being outside working the dirt. Found her dream job. Although she did bring up concerns about climate change and the groundwater issues.
- Panel noted consumers are bored with "Talking Points"-descriptions like " Handcrafted ", "Estate Grown". CONSUMERS EXPECT AUTHENTICITY. Someone pointed out Twisted Oak Winery blog. AND EXPECT TO SEE MORE Live Blogging wine tastings!
Another key point on the social networking is about reaching the Millenium drinkers:
The 20 somethings and their need for fun and less formality with wine appreciation.