The Sad Reality of plight of Noblewine Producers

How the hell is such a thing allowed to happen?

Richard & Thelka Sanford out of debt for first time since starting in wine industry!

With all the hype around Sideways and Pinot Noir and Santa Barbara, it is absolutely a tragedy that a wine industry icon has struggled making it in the industry. Dick & Thelka Sanford are part of the authentic 15% part of the wine industry and even planted one of the greatest Californian Pinot Noir vineyards in 1971. The fabled Sanford & Benedict vineyard in what is now Santa Rita Hills and was one of the earliest plantings of Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara County.

Will Prohibition Ever Die?

The Boston Wine Expo has banned Direct to Consumer businesses from exhibiting at this years Expo. The Wholesalers and Distributors have supported the founders of the event so much that they feel it should remain their event. Yet isn’t it consumers that go to the event and actually create all the actual sales and consumption. Don’t they deserve better treatment by the industry?

Another Power Grab by the Big Wine & Spirit Wholesalers

The New York at rest law is such a blatant power and money grab it is almost shocking. Why is there such a massive push for the at rest law, just follow the money. Empire Wine Merchants and Southern Wine & Spirits don’t do business in New Jersey, so no need to have warehousing there. If this legislation goes through it hurts the diversity of wine and spirits available in New York and that helps the biggest wholesale operators as they have the biggest brands. The consumer looses the small winery looses, big business wins.

Here is an example of the direction the wine and spirit distribution channels are heading… it’s not too late to stop this slide. In 1999 the top 10 US wholesalers owned 43% of the market, in 2012 it was 63.9% up from 60.5% in 2011. New York has one of the most diverse wine markets in the world, such legislation is not consumer friendly.

Just in case we don’t know the reasons for pushing this legislation… the NY Post kindly wrote this piece almost a year ago about Jeff Klein’s money grab from Empire Merchants…aka Charmer Industries #3 on Market Share in 2012 for National Distributors.

Heavy Wine Bottles One of my biggest pet peeves

Here is a statement that really illustrates the disconnect between wine quality and wine sales/marketing:

“I was having lunch a while back with one of our distributors. We got to talking about what it takes for a wine brand to be a success. This is how he ranked the most important factors:

1. Marketing budget

2. Packaging

3 (and a distant third at that). The quality of the wine in the bottle.

Closures and bottle style fall under the second, “packaging”, category.

The primary benefit of a screwcap  fits into category three, because it  pretty much eliminates corked wines.”

Wine Tour Operators Expect 21% Increase Worldwide in 2014

Finding customers is the most important issue facing Wine Tour Operators. The best place to find wine customers… restaurants.

When asked to label their customers’ wine knowledge, tour operators say 30% are “oenophiles”, 48% are “wine fans”, and 22% are “novices”.

Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena Interview

Some great quotes in here, several controversial ones like these nuggets by Bo Barrett:

  • “Some of his Napa Valley neighbors are using 200% oak to “sweeten” the wines for Parker Scores
  • “Americans are suckers for sugar and that’s why wood is such a big thing in the US…higher sugar content from the wood offsets the bitterness of high alcohol”

Here’s a very odd headline…

Vendors say affordability, health benefits account for Manhattan’s continued wine sales increase

Just so we all know, they are talking about Manhattan, Kansas where the State University is. But it is interesting to see the observations about the increase in drinkers looking for complexity in wine and comparing that to other beverages. Also the exploration view and the learning ones own palate seems to be a common theme in wine articles these days. All positive moves in the market place. Not great for the Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate though.

Here is another article about palates by Jo Diaz for the wine industry to ponder.

Shall we start looking to New Zealand for Quality Bulk Purchases?

New Zealand suffered with low volumes in 2012, but recovered well in 2013 and look to repeat in 2014. But on the flip side, Chile was hurt by drought conditions like it looks like California will be this year as well.

NY Times Wine Writer laments wine distribution channels

Eric Asimov writes about the difficulty of finding some of the wines he writes about in his weekly wine article. Should he write about the branded boring wines just because they are readily available to his readership?

“Mass-produced wines, for the most part, reflect a vastly different agenda. Their goal is often sameness.”

“Part of the joy is for consumers to take part in this journey and make up their own minds. It hurts when they cannot.”

Some Wine Quotes from Forbes

But the best quote is from LIOCO owner, Matt Licklider #3 here it is in case your lazy:

“I think people are hungry for authenticity, as it pertains to wine or clothing or experience. They want authenticity. I believe in my heart that the natural course of evolution is a movement away from the industrial experience toward something that’s more authentic.” – Matt Licklider, co-owner of LIOCO Winery

Unfortunately big dollars are fighting the “natural course of evolution” and the 85% is still hanging on and getting stronger. The 15% needs to use every tool available to get their share.

Then there is this little wonderful nugget:

“We don’t do ratings because they’re the opposite of empowerment. Ratings say that you can’t trust your own palate.” — Alan Kropf, founder of Mutineer magazine

Wine Industry CPA Presents Survey Results

Copyright © Wines & Vines

“87% of wines sold for less than $100 per case go through distribution, while only 30% above $200 per case do the same.”

Wine Excise Tax Rates in each US State

Kentucky has the highest in the country at $3.56 per gallon and Florida at the second highest at $2.50 per gallon. New York isn’t the lowest but close at $0.30 per gallon.

Sommeliers, Obscure, Grapes, Parker & Skiing terms

Wine should be an adventure, so should skiing. But if you don’t know the mountain well, going off-piste can be very dangerous. With wine if you don’t know the classic grapes and places then the obscure grapes and places might not satisfy your wine brain.

Hugh Johnson Interview w/thoughts on Points & Homogenization of Wine

“…used to be a case of the New World following Europe, now Europe is following the New World and you do see more approachable, fruitier wines in Bordeaux for example. That’s why I’m excited by the natural wine movement.” Hugh Johnson

I guess Hugh doesn’t agree with Robert Parker on Natural Wines  “one of the major scams being foisted on wine consumers.”

This is a quote about when Hugh first saw a Robert Parker Review back in the 1970’s: “I liked the very vivid tasting notes, I thought they jumped off the page, but then I said, ‘What’s this number here?’, and he said, ‘That’s the score.’ I said, ‘That’s not possible.’”