Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
03.30.2011  
 

Washington Wines Seek Identity

Trade members say quality is there, but more value needed to add appeal

 
by Peter Mitham
 
 
taste washington
 
Moderator Chris Stone (at podium) directs a question to Ryan Allison, owner of Cellar 46, Mercer Island, Wash., as Sandy Block, Legal Seafoods, Boston; Peter Dow, owner of Cavatappi Distribuzione, Seattle; Scott Larsen, partner at Maverick Wine Co., Chaicago; Erik Segelbaum, wine director/manager at Daniel’s Broiler, Lake Union, Wash., listen.
Seattle, Wash.—Washington state is moving in the right direction when it comes to delivering good-value wine, but it’s hobbled by lower cost versions of some hot varieties from producers around the world. A panel of distributors, retailers and restaurateurs kicked off Taste Washington! at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center on the Seattle Waterfront this past weekend with a frank conversation about the role of Washington state wines on the national stage.

“Generally speaking, I feel you’re moving in the right direction,” observed Scott Larsen, partner in Chicago’s Maverick Wine Co. But if Pinot Noir has defined Oregon, Larsen said many buyers are unable to name a single grape variety that defines Washington wine.

The diversity of varieties the state can produce is exceptional, but when it comes to selling the state to drinkers, Larsen said this abundance has potential to be a stumbling block. “I don’t know if it helps or hurts, but if I had my choice, I’d say it hurts,” he told the panel and assembled audience of approximately 60 industry and media representatives.

One factor helping to sell Washington wine during the past two years has been the quest for value. But if last fall’s two-month “World-Class Wine in Your Own Backyard” promotion helped raise awareness of what is available in-state (see “Drink Washington Wines, Campaign Suggests”) the battle for awareness further afield has been dogged by the state’s lingering lack of identity.

“Consumers are not really coming looking for Washington wines,” said Sandy Block of Legal Seafoods, a Boston restaurant. “They’re looking for great wine, they don’t really care where it’s from.…It’s what’s in the glass, and does it seem reasonable” in price.

While many wineries in Washington have launched second labels to move juice and capture bargain-hunting buyers, Peter Dow, owner of Seattle’s Cavatappi Distribuzione, doesn’t believe enough wineries are producing wines at the $15 per bottle wholesale price that wineries in parts of France and Italy can hit.

“I can’t get the product from Washington to deliver the quality at that price- point,” he said early in the discussion. He reiterated during the question-and-answer period that followed: “We don’t need another $25, $30 Washington Cab, let alone Chardonnay.”

Perception of value is key

So what will sell high-quality Washington wines to value-oriented consumers with myriad choices before them?

Blunt appeal, if the so-called Millennials who are behind the growth in U.S. wine consumption are any indication.

“The Millennials don’t care,” said Block, who has been selling wine out of kegs to willing buyers. “It’s more of a word-of-mouth thing, a cool thing.” The popularity of Grenache, which was the focus of a seminar at Taste Washington! and will also headline a tasting later this week at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, is one example.

Several panelists noted that the grape—a favorite of many wine journalists (see “Gimme Garnacha Wines”), makes a drinkable wine that suits Millennials, who have been drivers of the grape’s resurgence. They’ve introduced it to friends, who have been seduced by it, too—and are pleased with its pricing.

Can wineries in Washington tap into the enthusiasm? Again, it’s a question of value—a point Dow made at the close of the seminar. “You have to over-deliver for the price; that’s what gets people excited.”

SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
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  
March 2015 $622 million
7%
$7,995 million
5%
March 2014 $582 million $7,588 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
March 2015 $252 million
19%
$1,863 million
14%
March 2014 $213 million $1,634 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
March 2015 356
22%
243
16%
March 2014 292 210
     
 
MORE » Released on 04.15.2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2015
 
Download full report »
 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • April 25-26
     
    Vineyard to Vintner in Stags Leap
     
  • April 25-27
     
    World Wine Meetings America
     
  • April 26
     
    TAPAS Grand Tasting
     
  • April 26
     
    Vintners Hall of Fame
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Bedroom Communities Seek Vineyard AVA »
 
Why not just bottle under a vineyard designation? The bond will have a city or...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Is Organic Grape Growing Possible in the East? »
 
FWIW, We make a few wines from a certified Organic vineyard growing cabernet franc, merlot,...
Reader: southoldfc
 
Article: Specialty Tanks Encourage Oak Extraction »
 
According to the manufacturer, the logs are made through compression and not with a binding...
Reader: Andrew Adams
 
Article: Specialty Tanks Encourage Oak Extraction »
 
What is the bonding agent of the Pressed Oak Logs?
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Is Organic Grape Growing Possible in the East? »
 
Some Long Island, NY, vineyard farmers are already using nearly organic methods. They have worked...
Reader: envcat
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2015 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
 National Sales Manager
 St Helena, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Tasting Room Manager (...
 Sebastopol, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Tasting Room Manager
 Los Gatos, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Tasting Room Cashier/G...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Tasting Room Associate
 St. Helena, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Dtc Sales/Marketing Co...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Tasting Room Assistant
 Woodinville, WA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Scheduler / Planner
 Sebastopol, CA
Cellar, Lab and Production
 Fine Art & Design Cons...
 Napa, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Tasting Room Specialis...
 Glen Ellen, 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 © 2001-2015 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.