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.