Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
 

Viewpoint

 

Myths Challenge Industry Growth

February 2012
 
by Paul Franson
 
 
Many years ago, California winemakers convinced wine lovers that fine wines come in bottles and use corks. That campaign has come to hamper efforts to reduce costs, widen the market and even arguably improve some wines as increasing evidence demonstrates that inexpensive screwcaps are at least the equal of expensive corks for sealing wines.

Let’s look at some other myths the wine business has inflicted on consumers:

• The industry preached that varietal wines like Cabernet Sauvignon were superior to blends—even though virtually all top Bordeaux wines are blends, many without Cab.

• Wineries implied that red wine was better than white, not due to health claims but because it was inherently superior. They served Cabernet with oysters and goat cheese at wine dinners because they looked down their noses at even dry white wines.

• We were taught that the bitter tannins that made a high-quality wine undrinkable when young were necessary for a wine to age to greatness—and that the only great wines were the ones that aged, not bottles that tasted good when young.

• Wine marketers insisted that vintage-dated wines are better (while claiming that every year is a vintage year in California.)

• Dry wines are “better,” and consumers who don’t like them have unsophisticated palates. That automatically excluded many potential customers, who then turned to sweet cocktails.

• Winemakers reinforced that new oak is better, that low yields are better, that feral yeasts are better, that filtering and fining are bad, that hand-picked grapes are superior and that dehydrated grapes with high sugar levels make better wines.

• Some critics preached that low yields mean better wine, but research has demonstrated that reducing yields artificially doesn’t improve quality, it heightens vegetal flavors, which have to be overcome by letting the grapes overripen.

Serious challenges
Scientifically questionable claims continue, and some of these myths could hamstring the wine business during an era that presents perhaps more serious challenges than we’ve seen for decades.

The wine industry faces a period of increasing competition for water due to environmental concerns and population growth. The world’s climate is changing, and though it may not result in warming throughout all wine-growing regions, it already has in some, and it has certainly changed weather and precipitation patterns.

Xenophobia and upward aspirations of immigrant families threaten our labor supply; energy and materials costs are rising; new pests and diseases appear frequently to threaten our crops, and foreign suppliers increasingly encroach on what once was a mostly private preserve.

With these concerns looming, we need to use all the science and technology available to make better wines, not spend our time knocking enlightened approaches.

Younger consumers see through many of these myths already. The explosion of wine in screw-capped bottles, aseptic cartons, bladders in boxes and faux barrels, plastic bottles and even kegs have found wide acceptance among those who don’t believe wine has to be expensive or come in a heavy, fragile, environmentally suspect bottle sealed with a piece of bark to be desirable.

What consumers want
Wineries should listen to their consumers. The hottest trends in wine today are sweetish aromatic wines like Muscats, Rieslings, white blends and red blends—many off-dry. Rosés are also very popular; yet most wineries not only don’t make those wines, they make fun of people who like them. The wineries that do sell them—primarily large ones—are doing very well in a tough market.

Where I live in Napa Valley, visitors flock to V. Sattui, Castello di Amorosa and Sutter Home, which offer these sweet and aromatic wines (as well as more “conventional” dry wines.) Even at the venerable Robert Mondavi Winery, Muscat is one of the most asked-for wines in the tasting room. Winery hospitality personnel confirm that many people like lighter and sweeter wines, and some won’t even try big reds.

Winemakers have learned to make wonderful Cabernets that can be consumed in a short time. Now skeptics question if they’ll age. Who cares? A miniscule part of the market ages wine. Most should be made for drinking, not storing.

Wineries would be well served to aspire to make better wine and market it better, but not by perpetuating myths that could come to harm them. Wine is a wonderful gift and we should enjoy it, not load it down with outdated baggage.

 
SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
 
SEE OTHER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN ï¿½ CURRENT COLUMN ARTICLES »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 $557 million
5%
$7,577 million
6%
July 2013 $533 million $7,128 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 $61 million
9%
$1,674 million
10%
July 2013 $56 million $1,517 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 312
10%
222
19%
July 2013 283 187
     
 
MORE » Released on 08.15.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • August 29-31
     
    Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
     
  • August 30 - September 1
     
    Columbia Gorge Open House Weekend
     
  • September 5-6
     
    Windy City Wine Festival
     
  • September 11
     
    Women for WineSense "Women in Wine"
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Ledger David names first winemaker »
 
What a joy to have Kiley on the team! A lot of exciting things happening...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Useful Spanish for Wine Harvest »
 
you misspelled "zona" under Loading Area
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Early 2014 Grape Harvest Begins »
 
Thanks for mentioning Temecula and the South Coast appellation in your article. It is great...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
All these arguments could be levied by any industry associated with any gTLD, new or...
Reader: Doug Barnett
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
Do brands get hijacked now? Even though .wine does not yet exist, are there false...
Reader: Larry Chandler
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2014 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Guest Services Club/Ec...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Business Development M...
 Dallas Or Houston, TX
Sales and Marketing
 Business Development M...
 Las Vegas, NV
Sales and Marketing
 Harvest Intern - Cella...
 Walla Walla, WA
Winemaking and Production
 Cellar Worker - Full T...
 Walla Walla, WA
Winemaking and Production
 General Business Manag...
 Northern Virginia, VA
General Administration and
 Seasonal Cellar Worker
 Philo, CA
Winemaking and Production
 National Sales Manager
 Kenwood, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Marketing Coordinator
 Sonoma, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Retail Associate - Par...
 Calistoga, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.