Snooth.com recently posted a very thought provoking article on the “Shrinking Gap Between Wineries and Consumers.” The article states that over 90% of wine in America is sold by retailers. The writer goes on to make the point that many wine drinkers crave a “connection” with the wines and wineries they enjoy. The fact that we even spend the time to write and produce Bacchus and Beery is clear testament to that observation. But because most of the wine we buy is sold by a retailer or sommelier based on price, availability and convenience; that “winery connection” we crave can be hard to make.
People who are lucky enough to visit wineries often are able to make that connection. The tasting rooms are staffed by friendly knowledgeable people and in some cases the winemaker or owner is available to convey the passion and excitement of the winery itself. We like the wine, we like the people, we like the story and we buy a few bottles. Maybe even join their wine club to ensure we receive wines from our new winery friends. You now have the connection and the winery has a loyal customer. The wine industry now sells over a billion dollars of wine this way. Why? It is just plain fun to connect to the wineries we love.
There are more opportunities than ever to make a connection with your favorite wineries and winemakers, without leaving the comfort of your computer. Wine communities on Facebook and Twitter, winery websites and even wine blogs like Bacchus and Beery bring stories of wine and passion to your computer screen. Interested in a particular winemaker; go to YouTube and look for an interview. Wineries like Jordan along with Caymus and its related wineries Mer Soleil and Belle Glos produce beautiful videos and interviews so we can meet the winemaker, taste the terrior, join in the harvest and share their passion. We get connected and it feels good.
Winemaker dinners are another great way to make a connection. If you haven’t been to one, do yourself a favor and go. They are fun, educational and often a very good value when you consider how much food and wine is served. Plus, you get to spend an evening with the winemaker who creates the art you so enjoy. Intimidated? Don’t be, usually winemaker dinners are filled with people just like you who enjoy the wine. After the first glass of wine, any possible pretense fades with the second pour. Look in your area for restaurants that offer winemaker dinners and ask to be on their mailing list. It’s great fun when wine country comes to your hometown.
On a serious note, H.R. 5034 a.k.a. the C.A.R.E. Bill is still floating around congress. This bill which is promoted by the wine and beer distributor industry seeks to restrict the way we can buy wines directly from wineries to protect their archaic monopoly on wine distribution. H.R. 5034, if passed, will only serve to make the connections we want to have with our favorite wineries more difficult. End of serious stuff.
So, my wine drinking friends go forth and “connect.” If there is a winemaking region near you, go visit a winery and if you like the wine, ask to meet the winemaker. Remember, in most states you can order wine directly from your favorite wineries, giving you the opportunity to enjoy wines not offered locally. Attend a winemaker dinner and strike up an acquaintance with a winemaker or maybe make a wine loving friend. At the very least, check out your favorite winery’s website, join them on Facebook and Twitter, and look for them on youtube.com. Oh yes, I almost forgot…keep reading those wine blogs, too.
The wineries ought to be up in arm about the H.R. 5034 a.k.a. the C.A.R.E. Bill. Aren’t they?
Oh, yes they are! Check out these sites Stop HR 5034 and Free The Grapes
I just started metropolitanwinetasting.com to make connections with locals who offer wine tasting across the cities withing Los Angeles and Orange County. I am learning too that you do not have to head out to the wine country. A lot of times, they will come to us through local venues and events. On another note, I did not know that the Santa Monica Mountains had 50 wineries including Rosenthal, Cielo Farms, Malibu Family Wines, and a bunch of smaller winers. Lots of wine lovers here in greater Los Angeles who share what they know about wines from California and around the world. Look forward to making lots of new friends in this new venture and learning as much as possible. Am studying to take the CSW exam through the Society for Wine Educators. Any study tips?
Visiting wineries has added a new dimension to my enjoyment of wine. Not just meeting the people, and seeing the process, but seeing where the grapes are grown has added a visual dimension to the experience. You get a feel for the passion of the winemakers. The stores that I buy wine at have been very good at suggesting wineries to visit.
@Madwinescene on Twitter
R.D…. Yes, good wine shops can often offer good advise on more than just which bottle to buy.
Thanks for sharing the story & the awesome Blog. I really enjoyed & will share it with others.
Cheers Sammy Sutton
Boy do you have this right!
If if a wine tastes good, it tastes better when you taste it with the winemaker. There is an electrical connection and the next time you open that bottle you can think or say, “When I was tasting this with Tony…”
Visiting wineries is terrific but if you can’t take the time, going to events where the winemakers and owners are present and pouring their wines. A few hints to get the most out of these events. Know who’s at the event and map out a strategy. Try to include some new lesser known wines in your plan, they may turn out to be the stars of tomorrow. Arrive early. Ask for small tastes and make relevant comments or ask questions about the wine, winery, vintage, or appellation to engage the winemaker/owner in a short conversation. Ask for a business card and follow up with an email following the event.
Connect and enjoy!
Enchanting ideas which I agree with 130%. Being an AustinTx-based wine enthusiast, would appreciate any guidance on how to identify and enjoy the best of the central Texas wineries and their most outstanding offerrings. Perhaps to avoid slighting some of them, you could suggest specific wines from each that you have experienced. Any help would be great. DRINK ON IN 2011.
This is a great post and one I wish every wine lover would take to heart. Whether you are a wine ‘newbie’ or an ‘uber-geek’ getting more closely connected to wineries and the people who make/sell wine will only enhance your wine enjoyment. We began visiting wine country in 2004 with 2 other couples. We now average 3 trips/year and have had as many as 45 friends and family join us for a single trip! I follow about 50 wineries on Twitter and communicate with them on a dailyr basis. We get better prices and I am a much smarter wine consumer because of the relationships we have formed over the years. One final comment – dont gloss over “the serious stuff” (i.e. HR5034). I have received Email responses from all of my senators/congressman. I am amazed at their either naivety or BS (depending on your point of view) They claim to believe that this bill is all about state’s rights and can’t see the damage it could do to small businesses in their own state. This needs to be stopped! I’ll get off my soapbox and again commend you on a great post.
Thanks Fred… You can rail against HR 5034 all you want! I’m with you.
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Great Post. I love the fact that we can now connect with our favorite wineries with Facebook & Twitter. I feel more connected with the winemakers and have a stronger appreciation for all the hard work that goes into making the wine.
Thank you for sharing this great story. We at Caymus Vineyards love taking the time to connect with our fans on Facebook and Twitter. Cheers and Happy Holidays.
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Thank you, Grace! Winery folks are great!
Love this post! I’ve been traveling to California regularly for the past four years in order to make my winery connections. Those connections have proven invaluable! Through visiting and having reps, winemakers, winery presidents etc visit my area here in Iowa, I have made friendships that will last a lifetime. That personal connection is so important. Now, I am more apt to go out and purchase a bottle made by someone I know. I hope everyone gets the opportunity to do this. It’s fantastic!