Archive for the ‘The business of wine’ Category

The more things change…

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011


The latest buzz spreading through the on-line wine microcosm is the recent musical chairs over at The Wine Advocate: Robert M Parker Jr. will no longer review and rate current California wine releases (to the joy or consternation of some). Instead, Antonio Galloni will now review… Italy, Champagne, Chablis, Côte d’Or and…….. (deep breath)… California (to the joy, puzzlement or consternation of some)

How can one taster be proficient in all those regions? (more…)

Consumer interactions as opportunities for brand failure and success

Monday, July 19th, 2010


Suisun Valley Wine Cooperative tasting room. From:

Suisun Valley Wine Cooperative tasting room. From:

I spent my 40th birthday in Napa with my wife and friends Jeff Miller and his wife Beryl. Besides making the obligate milk route through Napa Valley tasting rooms (if only to stop and shake our heads at the exercises in architectural pompousness that are replica castles and Zoroastrian temples), we made a quick dash into the Suisun Valley AVA where Jeff grows grapes for his wines.

My visit to the Suisun Valley spawned my article published today on

In my article, I touch on what it takes for an AVA to forge its identity. However, I’d like to touch on another ingredient critical to success. (more…)

Wineries: Don’t insult your club members

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010


Wine shipment. From:

Wine shipment.

A wine club is a way for wine lovers to get current releases from wineries they like and to experience a broad spectrum of wines – regardless where they live. Many look forward to their periodic shipments. They don’t deserve to be disappointed.

Over the course the past six months or so, we’ve received some wine shipments with flawed wines. I suspect that people making these wines knew they were problematic. Yet, they released them and they were sent out to customers. And that is just a bad business decision. (more…)

Deep roots

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010


Roots. Derived from image on:


My recent birthday trip as well as helping edit the article by David Brown currently featured on, have me thinking about roots.

David argues in his article that a truly unique American (as in the U.S. of A) wine identity hinges on fostering a wine culture based on grape varieties indigenous to the lower 48. In fact, his article concludes with an exhortation to cultivation of more of these varieties and the production of wines from these vines. (more…)

What’s good for Riesling is good for Syrah

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010


Consumers find comfort in graphic indicators of style.

Consumers find comfort in graphic indicators of style.

Riesling and Syrah have much in common. Not genetically, of course, but in that they both vary widely in styles. Perhaps Syrah producers should take a cue from the International Riesling Foundation, which introduced the Riesling Taste Profile, as a device to “help consumers predict the taste in a particular bottle of Riesling“.

Not too long ago, I was privately asked for ideas on how to improve Syrah’s image (and, thus, sales). It’s painfully difficult to move Syrah these days. The winemaker who sought out my input attributed this to the variety’s stylistic variation. I’m inclined to agree with him. A broad spectrum of choices can lead to confusion and subsequent reluctance on the consumer’s part. (more…)

Not in the wine trade but want to post my URL!

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010


Spam. From:


How open is the OpenWine Consortium? So open that it is becoming a popular community to post your profile and URLs – regardless how unrelated your business and web site are to wine. I take no pleasure in making this criticism. As one of the first admins of the community, I worked very hard to promote it because I believed in its potential. I believe in the OWC’s potential, but the community needs some TLC to realize that potential.

At the top of the list of what needs to be done, is active elimination of  the “spammy” profiles that increasingly pop up on the OWC. On the morning of February 9th, I reviewed the 63 most recently created OWC profiles (pages: one through three). Eleven are clearly bogus profiles and one is in the grey zone. Numerous others lack a bio, an “about” section or a link to a web site and their creators seem to be inactive.


Is wine advertising limiting American wine culture?

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009


Pretty esoteric stuff.

Pretty esoteric stuff.

The other night, I saw a Samuel Adams Beer commercial in which the brewery’s founder, Jim Koch, talks about the color of the glass used for his beer bottles. If that is not esoteric enough, he then goes on to say clear bottles can allow light to spoil beer and make it “skunky”. Wine buffs know he’s talking about the beer being “lightstruck”, but how many mainstream wine ads get down to this kind of nitty-gritty?

Why is it that Samuel Adams can take this kind of message to prime time audiences and a wine commercial will not dare delve into this kind of stuff? (more…)