Contradictions in the Wine Business
By the time you read this, I'll be 35,000 miles above ground headed to Minneapolis. This will be the first of 4 cities in 4 days visiting distributors who sell Dry Creek Vineyard wines. I've armed myself with plenty of vitamins, Tylenol PM and sensible shoes to last a trip twice as long. I've learned the hard way, getting stuck on more tarmacs and living through more delayed business trips than I care to remember.
It will be a very different experience than the one I had this past weekend. Before it's a distant memory, I need to say thanks to all who came to our Day in the Loire Valley event. Other than the sweltering heat (temperatures soared to over 100 degrees) it was a delightful gathering of Wine Club members, Loire-inspired wines (including a 1995 Cabernet Franc that was a real eye opener!), delicious foods, musique à la francaise, artists in residence and pétanque under the trees. There were familiar friends and faces, along with a lot of newcomers who quickly became part of our extended winery family. Kevin, I sure hope you and your group from Iowa had a good time!
In chatting with people, I found it fascinating that what our winery direct customers (consumers) tell us is often quite different than what we hear from the marketplace. Consumers want unique wines, wines for special occasions, and wines that appeal to all five senses. As an example, that new Rosé we just released is nearly sold out! But I can just imagine the rolled eyes and frustrated stares if we wanted our distributors to start selling it in their market. The last thing they want is another obscure wine that needs a lot of explaining.
This contradiction between the consumer and wholesale side of the wine business is perplexing. I mean, aren't consumers supposed to drive product development? Aren't end users the ones who determine the softness of tissue, the number of chips in a pint of Ben and Jerry's (which by the way, has gotten rather skimpy as of late!), or the desire for more fuel efficient cars? I'm honestly not sure anymore.
I'd love to hear your thoughts, as a consumer, distributor or member of the trade.
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