Wine Innovation: Lessons from Portugal

Innovation is a hot topic in the wine industry these days. While some wine brands can depend upon their traditional markets, messages and products, many producers find themselves under increasing attack from “the crafts” — craft beer, craft cider and craft spirits.

One advantage that these alcoholic alternatives seem to possess is the heightened ability to adapt, evolve and excite — to innovate in various ways that keep customers coming back to see what’s new.

How wine got in this situation is a long story that I will tell another time and whether wine should even enter the innovation wars is something that is hotly debated. Some new wine products have been criticized as “pop wines” that debase and therefore threaten the whole product category — not a view that I endorse, but I can understand the concern behind it.

So I was very interested in looking at innovation during my visit to Portugal and I found it in many different forms. I thought you might be interested in a little of what I discovered.

Port: No Wine Before Its Time

Port, which is arguably Portugal’s signature wine, is an example of a wine category that is both timeless and highly innovative.  Timeless in the sense that Port wines have in many ways remained much the same for several centuries. White Ports, Ruby Ports, Tawny Ports — in fundamental respects these are the same today as they were 100 or 200 years ago. Almost nothing is as traditional as Port, with its stenciled bottles and historic brands.

This is a plus and also a minus. The plus of course is brand recognition — only Champagne was a stronger brand than Port from a name recognition standpoint. But it’s a minus, too, because that brand, like Sherry, is wrongly associated with one-note sweet wines. Like Rodney Dangerfield, they sometimes don’t get the respect they deserve.

And it is a minus because the traditional Port wine styles are exercises in patience in a very impatient world. Tawny Ports must be held by the maker until they are mature in 10, 20 or even 40 years. That’s a lot of time to wait with the investment time clock running. Vintage Ports need time, too, but this time the buyer is expected to patiently wait for the wine to mature.

Time is Port’s friend because of what they do together in terms of the quality of the final product but, from an economic and market standpoint, time is also an inconvenient enemy and seemed to limit Port’s potential in the postwar years.

The answer to the time problem was an innovation that appeared in 1970, when Taylor Fladgate released their  1965 Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port.  LBV has the character of Vintage Port but is ready to drink when released, not 20 years later. It was not quite the Chateau Cash Flow killer app of the wine world, but it certainly breathed new life into the Port market at a moment when this was especially welcome. Some say that LBV saved the Port industry and I think this might be true.

Colorful Port

Red and white are the traditional colors of Port, but recently some makers have innovated to try to get the attention of younger consumers who have as little interest in their notion of grandfather’s Port as they do in their stereotype of granny’s Cream Sherry. Croft Pink Port and Quinta de Noval Black Port are examples of this innovative trend.

Pink Port is made in a Rosé style, with less skin contact and therefore fewer grippy tannins than Ruby Port. The Croft website is fully of cocktail ideas so perhaps this is a Pink Martini killer wine? Richard Hemmings, writing on the JancisRobinson.com website, makes the wine sound like an excellent option for the many Moscato lovers in your life.

97g/l RS, 4.2g/l TA. Raspberry juice, bubblegum, pink apples and fresh strawberries. Sweet and full on the palate, good concentration. Well balanced and smooth, creamy texture with a mouth-watering burst of fruit on the finish. Very good, not massively complex but a worthy product. (RH)

Noval Black is more traditional in style and color, with more of the tannins than the Pink. Less complex than my favorite LBVs, but interesting. I agree with the website’s chocolate pairing suggestions, although I haven’t tried any of the cocktail-type recipes. Here is Hemmings’ take on Noval Black:

Ruby reserve in style, with an average age of 2-3 years old. Aimed at younger consumers, as the flashy website attests! Fruity, jammy, figs and dates. Sweet and supple, with a glacé cherry flavour and a simple, satisfying style. (RH)

Product versus Process Innovation

So far I have focused on product innovation but I haven’t mentioned process innovation and that is a mistake ,as I learned from a winemaker during my stay in Porto.

George Sandeman of the famous Port & Sherry family invited me to taste through the Ferreira line of wines and Ports and of course the Sandeman Ports. How could I resist? Even better, we would be joined by Luis Sottomayor, Porto Ferreira’s award-winning winemaker.

The bottles and glassware filled the big table as we began to taste through the Casa Ferreirinha wines then the Ferreira and Sandeman Ports. The wines were eye-opening. From the most basic wines selling for just a few Euro on up to the super-premium products they were well-balance, distinctive and delicious. Not all the Portuguese wines that make it to the US market have these qualities.

I have a star in my notebook next to the entry for the Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande Red 2010, for example. A blend of classic Portuguese grape varieties from two Douro regions, it spent twelve months in second the third use oak. Easy drinking, soft tannins, nice finish, classy, well-made. Cost? About Euro 10. in the home market or $19.99 in the US.

“Delicious” I wrote next to the note for the Casa Ferreirinha Quita Da Leda Red, which comes from an estate vineyard just 1 kilometer from the Spanish border. It is the product of a small winery located within the company’s larger facility. Spectacular wine, special terroir, I wrote. US price is $64.99 and worth it.

As we tasted through the Ports I started to talk about innovation — Pink, Black and so on. Sottomayor stopped me in my tracks. If you want to really understand innovation in Portugal, he said, you have to look beyond new products to the work that is being done to improve the process in the vineyard and the cellar. This is where the real gains are, as seen in the table wines I had just tasted and the Ports I was about to sample.

Taste this LBV, Sottomayor said. The LBVs we make today are of the same quality as the Vintage Ports we made 15 years ago. And the Vintage Ports are that much better, too.  New products are part of the story of Portuguese wine innovation, but improved winegrowing and winemaking are just as important now and probably more important in the long run. Lesson learned!

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I came away from the tasting described above both richer and poorer. Richer because Sottomayor’s lesson about innovation will save me some money — as much as I enjoy Vintage Port and will continue to buy it, I now have LBV centered on my radar screen and it sells for a good deal less.

And poorer? Well, Sandeman and Sottomayor set up a little experiment for me, first letting me taste their 10-year old Tawny Ports and then the 20-year-olds. We like the 20s, George Sandeman said, because you can taste where they’ve been (the 10-year old wines) and also where they are going  (the 40-year old Tawny that I tasted next). The tension between youth and old age makes the 20-year old Tawny particularly interesting, he said.

And I am sad to say that I could taste exactly what he was describing. Sad? Yes, because 20-year old Tawny costs a good deal more than the 10 and for the rest of my life I am going to be paying that extra sum!

Congratulations to George and Luis on the great ratings that their 2011 Vintage Ports have received! And thanks to them and to Joana Pais for their help and hospitality.

Can Portugal Win the Wine Wars?

My recent trip to Portugal was eye-opening and will be the subject of Wine Economist columns for the next few weeks. I was invited to speak at a wine industry gathering held in association with a Portuguese wine festival called Essência Do Vinho at the historic Palacio dal Bolsa in Porto.  I will paste the program at the end of this post.

The conference was organized by ACIBEV (Associação dos Comerciantes e Industriais de Bebidas Espirituosas e Vinhos or Portugal’s Association of Traders and Producers of Spirits and Wine) which is an organization intended to help Portuguese producers work together on a wide range of issues of common interest.

Can Portugal Wine the Wine Wars?

The program was called “Pode Portugal Ganhar a Guerra do Vinho?”  or “Can Portugal Win the Wine Wars.”  My job was both easy and hard, Easy because I’ve spoken many times about Wine Wars, my 2011 book on the economic forces shaping the global wine industry.  But also difficult because I didn’t know very much about the Portuguese wine business when I agreed to give the talk and so I had to kick into student exam-cram mode.

I worked very hard to learn all I could before getting on the plane, but I knew that most of my education would be on-the-spot, talking with the people there.  I also needed to consider the rest of the program, particularly the speaker who would go before me,  Susana García Dolla, Vice Secretary General of Spanish Wine Federation (FEV) and a representative of the pan-European group Wine in Moderation. (Susana gave a fantastic talk!)acibev2

So I framed my remarks carefully and tried to leverage my fresh perspective on the wines of Portugal into something of value to the audience. There were a lot of messages, as Paul Symington noted in his commentary following my remarks, and I don’t think I pushed some them far enough in some cases (as he pointedly did because of his mastery of the issues in Portugal).  I thought you might be interested in one piece of the lecture that several people said they especially appreciated.

Wine Wars: Know Which War? Which Opponent?

The wine wars that I talk about in Wine Wars are the three economic forces that I see as shaping global wine: the push forces of globalization (the Curse of the Blue Nun) and the growing power of brands (the Miracle of Two Buck Chuck) and the push-back forces that seek to preserve and protect wine’s special place in life (the Revenge of the Terroirists).

Portugal is part of that war, I told my audience. The Portuguese practically invented globalization and are famous for global wine brands (Port is a powerhouse brand, for example, and Portuguese mass market branded wines such as Lancers and Mateus are famous). I could tell the whole Wine Wars story as a Portuguese story with very little effort. But that’s not the only wine war.

I quickly sketched several other wine wars that are important to understand. If you talk about a wine war to wine producers, they naturally think of the war in terms of the battle for sales and shelf space — the war that pits one winery against another. This seems like the critical battlefield, I think, because it is the most immediate one. But you can win in that arena and still lose the bigger contest if you ignore the other wars.

The Drinks War

Wine is also fighting what you might call the beverage war or the drinks war. In part because of globalization and the rise of branded wines and in part because of other factors (changing demographics prime among them), wine is increasingly seen as part of the “drinks” category of consumer goods that includes beer, cider and spirits.  You can see this as part of the democratization of wine (which is good) or a symptom that wine is losing its special place in the marketplace (not so good).

The fact of the drinks war changes things because now the real opponents are not other wine producers, they are the makers of other alcoholic and even some non-alcoholic beverages.  Your old enemy is now your best potential ally and the strategies that might have worked in wine vs wine battles are of little use. Wine vs beer, wine vs cider, wine vs spirits — those are the fights that matter now.

The new emphasis on innovation in wine (the topic of next week’s column) is driven in part by the drinks war and the need to confront innovative new challengers with new strategies.

The War Against Wine

The war against wine is part of the rising anti-alcohol movement in Europe and elsewhere around the world. We think of wine as the drink of moderation, but alcohol is alcohol to these activists, and so they seek to tax it, regulate it, restrict it, and generally discourage its sale, marketing and consumption.

We are familiar with the war against wine in the US because we lost it so tragically in the last century. The great experiment of Prohibition pretty much destroyed the US wine industry, which has still not fully recovered.

The war against wine is perhaps the most serious battle of them all, which is why Susana’s presentation was so important. She outlined the strategies and tactics that Wine in Moderation is employing in its efforts to present the positive case for wine and to counter anti-alcohol propaganda.

Can Portugal win the wine wars? Portuguese wines are attracting a lot of positive attention these days and I think it is about time that they were recognized. But it is a tough marketplace, with competition from every corner of the wine world. Portuguese producers need to work together (which is why ACIBEV’s efforts and the Wines in Moderation project are so important) in order to complete as individual wineries more effectively.

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Special thanks to George Sandeman, Eduardo Medeiros and Ana Isabel Alves of ACIBEV for their kindness and hospitality and to my discussants Paul Symington and Francisco Sousa Ferreira for their pertinent analysis.

Here is the program for the Porto event.

Can Portugal Win the Wine Wars?

10.00: Opening by Eduardo Medeiros, Administrator and Director of Bacalhôa ACIBEV Group

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10h10: Presentation of Manuel Novaes Cabral, President of the Port Wine Institute

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10.20: “Spain – A Promotion of Moderate Consumption” – Susana García Dolla, Vice Secretary General of Spanish Wine Federation (FEV)

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11h30: “Shifting Center, Rising Tide: Portugal in the Changing Global Wine Market” SPEAKER: Mike Veseth – Editor of The Wine Economist and Professor Emeritus, University of Puget Sound

Commentators: Paul Symington – Symington Family Estates Francisco Sousa Ferreira – Wine Ventures MODERATOR: Eduardo Medeiros – Bacalhôa Group, Director of ACIBEV

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12:45: Speech by George Sandeman, Director of Sogrape and President of ACIBEV

European Wine Economists Meeting Update

The European Association of Wine Economists is meeting this June and they’ve asked me to post details about the sessions, which sound very interesting and worthwhile.

You can find current information about the meetings by clicking on this link. Here is the program for the conference, which I copied from the website. Take a look at what’s on offer this year.

Wednesday June 4, 2014

14:00 Registration
14:30 – 15:00 OPENING
15:00 – 16:30
Keynote 1: Antoine BAILLY - Univ. de Génève, CH
“Wine and Divine: from Bacchanals to Prohibitionism”
Keynote 2: Jon H. HANF – Universität Geisenheim, DE
“Pay what you want – A New Pricing Strategy for Wine Tastings? “ ( joint paper with Oliver GIERING )
16:30 – 17:00 Coffee break with signing of the book “Wine Economics” by the editors
17:00 – 18:30
Keynote 3: Johan SWINNEN – LICOS, KU Leuven, BE
“The Rise and Fall of the World’s Largest Wine Exporter and its Institutional Legacy” 
(joint paper with Giulia MELONI)
Keynote 4: Ricardo SELLERS-RUBIO, Univ. Alicante, SP
“The Economic Efficiency of Wineries of Protected Designations of Origin” (joint paper with Francisco MAS-RUIZ)
18:30 – 19:00 Signing of the book “Wine Economics” by the editors, welcome drink
20:00
Thursday June 5, 2014
8:15 Inscription and coffee
SESSION 1

8:30 – 10:30 WINE as INVESTMENT and INVESTMENT in WINE
chaired by

Foreign Direct Investment in the Wine and Spirits Sector 
J. François OUTREVILLE 
HEC Montréal, CA
A Barrel of Oil or a Bottle of Wine: How do Global Growth Dynamics Affect Commodity Prices? 
Serhan CEVIK , Tahsin SAADI-SEDIK
International Monetary Fund, US
History and Rational Market Values of French Vineyards,
Optimal Financing of the Vineyard in the Major Countries of the Euro Zone. (EN)

Historique des valeurs de marché et raisonnée du vignoble français. Financement optimal du vignoble dans les principaux pays viticoles de la zone euro. (FR)
Alain DALLOT 
Consulting actuary graduate in viticulture-oenology, FR
Long-run Relationships between Prices of Fine Wines and Stock Market Indices 
Jan BENTZEN , Valdemar SMITH
Aarhus Univ., DK
Wine and Gold as Alternative Investments: Which one is the Best? 
Beysül AYTAC , Thi Hong Van HOANG, Cyrille MANDOU
Groupe Sup de Co Montpellier Business School, FR
Wine Funds – An Alternative Turning Sour? 
Philippe MASSET , Jean-Philippe WEISSKOPF
Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, CH
Wine – Investment: A Profitable Alternative Investment or a Simple Long Term Pleasure? 
Marie-Claude PICHERY , Catherine PIVOT
LEDI Univ. de Bourgogne & Centre Magellan, Univ. Jean Moulin – Lyon 3, FR

10:30 – 11:00Break “Mâchon” (typical morning snack in Lyon)

SESSION 2a

11:00 – 13:00

PROSPECTIVES & STRATEGIES
chaired by

Prospect (Perspective) of a Strategic Option of Developing and Boosting the Algerian Vineyard 
Nasser SARAOUI 
Institut technique de l’arboriculture fruitière et de la vigne, DZ
Trade Liberalization in the Presence of Domestic Regulations:
Likely Impacts of the TTIP on Wine Markets
 

Bradley RICKARD , Olivier GERGAUD, Wenjing HU
Cornell Univ., US & KEDGE- Bordeaux Business School, FR
Towards Sustainability in the Wine Industry through Engineering and Management Tools 
Stella Maris UDAQUIOLA , Rosa RODRIGUEZ, Susana ACOSTA, María CASTRO, María Verónica BENAVENTE, Marcelo ECHEGARAY, Ricardo SIERRA
Instituto de Ingeniería Química – Universidad nacional de San Juan, AR
Wine as a Cultural Good: Stakes of a Recognition 
Véronique CHOSSAT , Cyril NOBLOT
Univ. de Reims, FR
How to Improve Wine Quality? The Challenge facing South African Cooperatives 
Joachim EWERT , Jon H. HANF , Erik SCHWEICKERT
Univ. Stellenbosch, ZA & Univ. Geisenheim, DE
Price or Quality Competition? Old World, New World and Rising Stars in Wine Export 
Diego LUBIAN, Angelo ZAGO 
Università degli Studi di Verona, IT
Winners and Losers in the Global Wine Industry 
Geoffrey LEWIS , Tatiana ZALAN, Matthew SCHEBELLA
Melbourne Business School, Torrens Univ. & Univ. South Australia, AU
SESSION 2b

11:00 – 13:00

 

GASTRONOMY, TESTING and HEALTH 
chaired by

Restaurants and BYOB: What Do Consumers Expect and Who Are They? 
Nelson A. BARBER , D. Christopher TAYLOR
Univ. New Hampshire & Univ. Houston, US
The Profiles of Worldwide Gastronomy 
Quentin BONNARD , Christian BARRÈRE, Véronique CHOSSAT
Univ. de Reims, FR
Analysis of Consumers’ Sensory Preferences of Nanche (byrsonima crassifolia) Liquor in the South of the State of Mexico. 
Erandi TENA, Javier J. RAMÍREZ, Jessica AVITIA , Tirzo CASTAÑEDA
Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, MX
Evaluation of the Influence of the Interaction tannin-anthocyanin over the tannin-protein Binding and its Effect on the Perception of Astringency in Red Wines 
Marcela MEDEL , Alvaro PEÑA, Elias OBREQUE, Lopez REMIGIO-LOPEZ
Facultad de Ciencias Agronomicas & Faculta de Medicina, Univ. Chile, CL
Gastronomic Supply and Touristic Clientele 
Christian BARRÈRE , Quentin BONNARD, Elsa GATELIER
Univ. de Reims, FR
Is a Sequential, Profiling Approach useful for Predicting Match Perceptions in Food and Wine? 
Robert HARRINGTON, Lobat SIAHMAKOUN, Nelson A. BARBER 
Univ. Arkansas & Univ. New Hampshire, US

13:00 – 14:00Frugal Lunch

SESSION 3a

14:00 – 16:00

WINE PRODUCTION and MARKETS in the WINE VALUE CHAIN
chaired by

Comparison of Selected Determinants of Chosen European Wine Markets 
Helena CHLÁDKOVÁ, Sylvie FORMÁNKOVÁ , Pavel TOMŠÍK
Mendel Univ. in Brno, CZ
Tournament Mechanism in the Wine-Grape Contracts:
Evidence from a French Wine Cooperative 

M’hand FARES, Luis OROZCO 
INRA Toulouse, UMR AGIR: Univ. de Toulouse, LEREPS, FR
Unperceived Costs: A Dilemma for French Wine-Growers 
Joëlle BROUARD, Benoît LECAT 
School of Wine and Spirits Business & ESC Dijon/Burgundy School of Business, FR
Adaptation to Climate Change in the French Vineyards:
An Innovation System Approach (EN)
Etudier l’adaptation aux changements climatiques des vignobles français:
une analyse par les Systèmes d’Innovation 
(FR)
James BOYER, Jean-Marc TOUZARD 
INRA, UMR Innovation Montpellier, FR
Characterization of Chilean Bottled Wine Market 
Miguel A. FIERRO , Rodrigo ROMO
Universidad del Bío-Bío, CL
Producer Single Commodity Transfer: A Comparison of Policy Intervention Between Wine and Other European Agriculture Products 
Davide GAETA , Paola CORSINOVI
Department of Business Administration, Univ. Verona, IT

 

SESSION 3b

14:15 – 16:00

WINE EDUCATION and WINE PREFERENCES
Chaired by

Are Today’s Consumers Ready to Buy the Wines of Tomorrow? (EN)
Les consommateurs d’aujourd’hui sont-ils prêts à accepter les vins de demain ? (FR) 

Alejandro FUENTES, Eric GIRAUD-HERAUD , Stéphanie PERES,
Alexand re PONS, Sophie TEMPERE, Philippe DARRIET
INRA et GREThA, Bordeaux Sciences Agro & ISVV, Univ. de Bordeaux, FR
The Impact of General Public Wine Education Courses on Consumer Perception 
Richard SAGALA , Paolo LOPES
École In Vino Veritas, Montreal, CA & Kedge Business School, Bordeaux, FR
Contributions of Experimentation in the Study of Reception in Communication Science: The Case of Wine Labels (EN)
Apports de l’expérimentation dans l’étude de la réception en SIC :
le cas des étiquettes de vin (FR)

Mihaela BONESCU , Diana BRATU, Emilie GINON, Angela SUTAN
ESC Dijon Bourgogne, FR
Controlling for Price Endogeneity: A Case Study on Chinese Wine Preferences 
David PALMA , Juan de Dios ORTÚZAR, Gerard CASAUBON, Huiqin MA
Pontificia Univ. Católica de Chile, CL & China Agricultural Univ., CN
Young Urban Adults’ Preference for Wine Information Sources:
An Exploratory Study for Republic of Macedonia
 

Hristo HRISTOV , Aleš KUHAR
Biotechnical Faculty Ljubljana, SI
“In Vino Veritas”—But what, In Truth, Is in the Bottle?
Experience Goods, Fine Wine Ratings, and Wine Knowledge 

Denton MARKS 
Univ. Wisconsin-Whitewater, US
The Need for Information of the Wine Consumer after the Purchase of the Wine (EN) 
Le besoin d’information post achat du consommateur de vin (FR)

Frédéric COURET 
Bordeaux Sciences Agro Univ. de Bordeaux, FR

16:00 – 16:30Coffee break16:30 – 17:30General Assembly VDQS20:00

Friday 6 June, 2014
SESSION 4a

8:30 – 10:30 WINE TOURISM, WINE CONSUMPTION and the HISTORY of WINE
Chaired by

The Douro Region: Wine and Tourism 
João REBELO , Alexandre GUEDES, José CALDAS
Univ. Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro & Turismo do Porto e Norte de Portugal, PT
Traditional Wine Taverns and their Hard Landing in the 21st Century:
The Case of the Viennese Heurigen 

Cornelia CASEAU , Albert STÖCKL and Joëlle BROUARD
Groupe ESC Dijon Bourgogne, FR & Fachhochschule Burgenland, AT
Consumers’ Intentions to Purchase Greek Bottled Wine
Athina DILMPERI , Martin HINGLEY
Lincoln Business School, UK
‘Dry Enough to Wash your Hands in': The English Taste for Champagne, 1860-1914 
Graham HARDING 
Univ. Cambridge, UK
Liastos Oinos Siatistis: Where the Enthusiastic Present Meets the Glorious Past
Georgios MERKOUROPOULOS , E BATIANIS
Center for Research & Technology – HELLAS, Regional Admin. of Western Macedonia, GR
Seatbelt Use Following Stricter Drunk Driving Regulations 
Scott ADAMS, Chad COTTI , Nathan TEFFT
Univ. Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Connecitcut, & Washington, US
Interest of Italian Consumers for a Sustainable Wine 
Chiara CORBO, Martina MACCONI , Giovanni SOGARI
Univ. Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, IT

 

SESSION 4b

8:30 – 10:30

WINE MARKETING, Selected Aspects
Chaired by

Retail Channel Selection on Wine by Households in Argentina 
Gustavo ROSSINI , Rodrigo GARCÍA ARANCIBIA, Edith DEPETRIS
Universidad Nacional del Litoral, AR
Vinsseaux Traditionel: The Branding of Canadian Sparkling Wine 
Doris MICULAN BRADLEY , Donna LEE ROSEN
George Brown College, CA
The Consumer Trail: Applying best-worst Scaling to Classical Wine Attributes 
Fernando NUNES , Teresa MADUREIRA, José Vidal OLIVEIRA
Instituto Politécnico de Viana do Castelo & Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, PT
Presentations of Packaging Quality Wines:
Semiotic Analysis of Bottles of the Top 100 Wines from “Wine Spectator”,2008 – 2012 (EN).

Les présentations packaging des vins de qualité: Analyse sémiotique des bouteilles du top 100 du “Wine Spectator” de 2008 à 2012 (FR)

François BOBRIE 
Maison des Sciences de l’Homme et de la Société-Poitiers; Laboratoire CEREGE, FR
Difference of Representation and Choice of Burgundy Red Wines from the Upstream vs Downstream Actors of the Wine Sector 
Monia SAIDI , Georges GIRAUD
UMR CESAER INRA – AgroSup Dijon, FR
Wine Distribution Channel Systems in Mature and Newly Growing Markets:
Germany versus China
 

Tatiana BOUZDINE-CHAMEEVA, Wenxiao ZHANG , Jon H. HANF
KEDGE Business School, FR & Geisenheim Univ., DE
Attitudes Towards M-Wine Purchasing. A Cross-Country Study 
Jean-Eric PELET, Benoît LECAT , Jashim KHAN, Linda W. LEE, Debbie VIGAR-ELLIS, Marianne MC GARRY WOLF, Sharyn RUNDLE-THIELE, Niki KAVOURA, Vicky KATSONI
Univ. Nantes, ESC Dijon, FR; Auckland, NZ; KTH Royal Institute of Technology, SE; Univ. KwaZulu-Natal, ZA; California Polytechnic State Univ., US; Griffith Univ., AU; Technological Educational Institute of Athens, GR

10:30 – 11:00Break “Mâchon” (typical morning snack in Lyon)

SESSION 5a

11:00 – 13:00

BUILDING PERFORMANCE and EFFICIENCY
Chaired by

The Market Structure-Performance Relationship Applied to the Canadian Wine Industry 
J. François OUTREVILLE 
HEC Montréal, CA
Wineries’ Performance, Response to a Crisis Period 
Juan Sebastian CASTILLO-VALERO , Katrin SIMON-ELORZ, Ma Carmen GARCIA-CORTIJO
Universidad de Castilla la Mancha & Universidad Pública de Navarra, ES
Quality Improvements and International Positioning of Chilean and Argentine Wines 
Fulvia FARINELLI 
UNCTAD, CH
Winegrower or Winemaker? Influence on Business Efficiency in Burgundy 
Georges GIRAUD 
AgroSup Dijon, FR
Institutional Drives of the Success of the New Wine World. Factors Influencing Technical Efficiency of Wine Production and its Relation with Wine Exports Growth 
József TÓTH , Péter GÁL
Univ. Budapest, HU
Creating Jobs from New Investment in the Wine Sector 
Martin PROKEŠ , Pavel TOMŠÍK
Mendel Univ. Brno, CZ
Terroir and Sustainability: The Role of Terroir in Sustainable Wine Standards 
Shana SABBADO FLORES 
Instituto Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, BR

 

SESSION 5b

11:00 – 13:00

WINE CONSUMPTION, Selected Aspects
Chaired by

The Importance of Wine Region and Consumer’s Involvement Level in the Decision Making Process 
Teresa MADUREIRA , Fernando NUNES
Instituto Politécnico de Viana do Castelo, ES
We Should Drink no Wine before its Time 
Leo SIMON , Jeffrey LAFRANCE, Rachael GOODHUE
Univ. California at Berkeley, US; Monash Univ., Victoria, AU & Univ.C. Davis, US
An Analysis of Alcohol Demands in Japan 
Makiko OMURA 
Meiji Gakuin Univ. Tokyo, JP
The Effect of Wine Culture on the Relationship between Price, Consumption and Alcohol-Related Problems 
Damiana RIGAMONTI , Frédéric LAURIN
Aarhus Univ., DK & Univ. Quebec, CA
Segmenting Greek Wine Consumers Using the Best-Worst Scaling Approach: New Results and Comparison across 11 Countries 
Dimitrios ASTERIOU , Costas SIRIOPOULOS
Hellenic Open Univ. & ; Univ. Patras, GR
Wine and Women: A Focus on Feminine Consumption of Wine 
Stefania CHIRONI , Marzia INGRASSIA
Univ. Palermo, Department of Agricultural and Forestry Science, IT
A Comparative Study of Demand for Local and Foreign Wines in Bulgaria 
Petyo BOSHNAKOV , Georgi MARINOV
Univ. Economics Varna, BG

13:00Awards of VDQS13:30 – 14:30Cocktail with snacks14:30

 Saturday June 7, 2014 – Tourism around Lyons

New Directions at Wine Enthusiast and Alquimie

winemag2I am hopelessly old school in some ways — I continue to resist the trend towards electronic publishing in wine, for example.  Although I read the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal on small screen devices, I can’t resist the look and feel of print wine magazines like Wine Spectator and Decanter.

So I am interested when old print publications take new directions (apart from the obvious and perhaps inevitable road to an on-line only existence) and when new print magazines enter the marketplace. Here are a couple of interesting recent developments.

Embracing Lifestyles at Wine Enthusiast

Wine Enthusiast magazine recently announced a major redesign and the change is more than skin deep. Yes, the physical design of the magazine has changed, but what’s new is something that is also really old.  Wine Enthusiast is called by that name because it isn’t just about wine, it is about the world of the enthusiast, the reader, who experiences wine in many ways.

Increasingly the wine enthusiast experience involves food and travel, for example, and the editors at Wine Enthusiast have chosen to embrace the lifestyle elements enthusiastically. Here’s a description taken from a press release that came my way

The newly redesigned Wine Enthusiast Magazine is back this month with even more lifestyle coverage! The April issue covers a variety of epicurean adventures from highlighting the golden age of classic chianti to a breakdown of trending party savers to the “Recipe of the Month: Banh Mi” and even a piece on the salty side of cocktails.  This issue further showcases the publication’s dedication to its FRESH and lifestyle focused revamp.

The new Wine Enthusiast (winemag.com) now delivers the best of epicurean culture through engaging and compelling content that is entertaining and “of the moment.” The new, fresh look better reflects the audience of contemporary wine drinkers while continuing to provide insights readers won’t find anywhere else.

The Buying Guide with ratings and tasting notes (for wine, spirits and beer) is still there, of course, but there is even more content than before relating to destination travel and food, chefs and recipes.  That’s no surprise, I suppose, since so much of our lives now bears the mark of trends and celebrities from Food TV and The Travel Channel and it makes sense that wine magazines would be part of this pattern.

Wine marketers have learned to play the lifestyle card and the Australians are betting heavily on it for their Restaurant Australia wine/food/tourism promotion. Wine magazines are on the band wagon with the rest of the media.

Although wine is my serious focus, I must say that I found the lifestyle aspects of the new Wine Enthusiast engaging and entertaining. Don’t judge me too harshly for this statement. It is easy to criticize the lifestyle marketing trend, but I think that magazines probably need to move this direction to stay relevant. Even Decanter, my favorite monthly wine publication, has its share of lifestyle articles and is in fact part of its publisher’s portfolio of lifestyle magazines in various fields.

Wine Enthusiast has not blazed a completely new trail, since this is where wine publishing has been going for some time, but rather has transformed itself  by more completely committing itself to the journey.winemag3

Alquimie: New Directions Down Under

Alquimie is a quarterly magazine from Australia. Edition Two arrived at my doorstep a couple of weeks ago and it has taken me a little while to really understand and appreciate it.

At first glance Alquimie  appears to be a sort of luxury lifestyle magazine full of beautiful photos and illustrations on rich paper stock (but minus the luxury good ads that you might expect to see). It reminds me a bit of Slow, the magazine of the Slow Food Movement or maybe a wine version of Granta. Both of these publications have a distinctive style and feel and pride themselves on taking their readers in serious new directions.

Alquimie (think alchemy?) is so beautiful and distinctive that at first I just wanted just  to page through it and to enjoy the sensations that the images evoke. It took a week or so before I finally sat down and actually started reading the articles. That’s when I really became a fan. Alquimie says that its goal is “Breathing New Life into Drinks” and I think it succeeds by breathing new energy into drinks publishing.

The magazine is divided into four parts, The Story, The Study, The Palate and The Excess and each contained something of interest in the issue I was sent. Since I’ve visited Australia, South Africa and Portugal in recent months I was naturally intrigued by The Study section, which included an excellent profile of South African Chenin Blanc, a report on the work of viticultural scientists at the University of Melbourne who are developing the Vineyard of the Future (look for more dogs and drones), and an introduction to some of the hundreds of indigenous Portuguese grape varieties.

The tasting notes in The Palate part of the magazine are real works of art and were used artfully in several articles, including one that sought wines to pair with a four-kilogram Wagyu rib eye steak and another that compared a 1990 Madeira wine with another from 1890.

Wine, beer and spirits are all in Aquimie’s domain, but milk? I was surprised and then delighted by an article called “What Ever Happened to Real Milk?”  about micro-dairies that are trying to bring back old school moo juice. I didn’t know that Momofuku had a milk bar — did you! (Karl — you once said that milk was all over — gotta rethink that!)

We also learn about an ultra-natural Tasmanian water so precious that it once sold in Europe for 22 euro per 750 ml bottle. The global financial crisis put and end to that market, but the water is still there and the passionate people behind continue to work to bring it to market.

Is this a lifestyle magazine? It certainly looks it with its high design, rich materials and hefty cover price (AUD 18 per issue).  But it is different and not just because there are no advertisements. It seems to me that it takes the lifestyle intent to engage with consumers at a deeper level than just products and pushes it much deeper and maybe in a some new directions.  A really impressive achievement. I wish them much success!

 

The One Diaper Wine Theory: South African Democracy After 20 Years

Wines of South Africa has released a series of videos celebrating the twentieth anniversary of democracy in South Africa. They call it The Democracy Series. I’ve inserted the first of the eight short films above, but I recommend watching them all.

Wine and Democracy: The Thandi Project

What do freedom, equality and democracy have to do with wine?  I don’t have a general theory yet, but I can tell you that they are very closely linked when it comes to South Africa. The birth of democracy coincided with the end of apartheid’s long years of isolation for the country and its wine industry. To a certain extent, the country and its wine industry were both reborn two decades ago.

As a reader noted in a comment to a previous article in this series, once upon a time not so long ago many people shunned South African wines and investments, etc. because of the lack of equal rights in that country. Things are much different twenty years on and The Democracy Series is a good way to make the point. Now, as I will try to explain below, a person with ethical concerns  might well seek out South African wines rather than boycott them.

Thandi Wines, the subject of the first video in the series, is a good example of how wine and democracy can mix. Thandi, which means nurturing love in the Xhosi language, was started in 1995 on the initiative of Paul Cluver. A partnership that includes more than 250 farm worker families in Elgin, it was the first black economic empowerment project in the agriculture sector and is today one of the most successful of them. In 2003 it became the first Fairtrade certified winery in the world! Thandi’s success has been contagious: South Africa now leads the world in Fairtrade wine.

My South African friends point out  that not all black economic empowerment initiatives in the wine industry have been as successful as Thandi or the other examples shown in the video — much is left to do, they say — and more resources are needed. South Africa’s social and economic problems are very large and I think it is important that wine — one of the country’s most visible global industries — is part of the solution.

The One Diaper Theory of Development

My good friend Aaron, who works on economic and social development projects around the world, once told me that he aimed to change the world one diaper at a time. His point was that while a lot of attention is focused on big money projects, micro-initiatives that change living conditions for even just a few families can have great value when replicated and compounded over time and space. If enough people take small actions and together change enough diapers for a long enough period of time, the theory goes, pretty soon they will have changed the world.

I think of Thandi as a model of the one diaper theory put into practice for wine and when we visited Paul Cluver and his family we saw that there is actually more to it than the winery. We attended a children’s theater performance at the Hope@Paul Cluver outdoor theater, which is set in a eucalyptus grove on the Cluver farm. The profits from the theater’s programs support local efforts to deal with HIV, TB and terminal diseases and to care for the children of the stricken.  This is just one of several local initiatives that Cluver supports. Do you see the one diaper connection? We saw many other examples during our visit.

Moving Up The Ladder

Even though it is the largest South African export brand in the U.S., for example, there is no way that the de Wet family of Excelsior Wine Estate can by themselves solve all the economic and social problems in the Robertson region where they are located. So they take small but important steps: resisting mechanization, for example, to preserve farm jobs in a region with high unemployment and making a serious effort to promote workers into jobs with more responsibility, moving them up the ladder.

We saw this moving up notion at work when we visited Gary and Kathy Jordan at the Jordan Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. Attention to workers and their conditions was a founding principle at Jordan, where worker housing was built before the owners’ own home in the early years.  Jordan has encouraged farm workers to move up by sponsoring education, including advanced WSET classes in some cases. Jancis Robinson recently wrote about another innovative Jordan program to provide “South Africa Women in Wine” internships.

Education is obviously a key element of any one diaper program and we saw winery worker education  initiatives in many places. One of the most striking was at Durbanville Hills, which is a  partnership between drinks giant Distell and a group of local farmers. Social justice has been a goal from the start for this winery, which formally includes workers in the profit structure and on the managing board. Albert and Martin took us to a pre-school that the winery runs to get the children of farm workers off to a strong start. The winery support for education, paying school fees and so forth, continues as far as a child can go in school.

While South Africa’s economic and social (and health and environmental) problems remain daunting, the wine industry it taking a stand, which is symbolized by a seal that you will find on almost all South African wine.

The Democracy Series videos show us what is possible. There is much left to do, of course, and an understandable debate on when, what and how to move forward. Sometimes it seems like common commitment about what needs to be done is forgotten in disagreements about strategy and tactics. What’s important is that  debate does not become too divisive and that inertia continues to build and change takes place.

Because change is what’s important. Even if it comes one diaper at a time.

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Thanks to the De Wet brothers, Gary and Kathy, Albert and Martin, and Annette.  Special thanks to Aaron.

 

 

Groot Expectations: South Africa Confronts the Wine Bottleneck Syndrome

People think that growing quality grapes and making great wine are big challenges — and they are right — but that’s not the whole story. There are a great many obstacles and complications that taken together sometimes make selling wine even more difficult than making it. I call the problem the wine bottleneck syndrome

The bottleneck syndrome is particularly troubling for South Africa just now, which looks to the U.S. to pick up some of the slack left by a stagnant European market. (The South African flag even looks a little like a bottleneck design, don’t you think?)

The largest wine market is the world is hard to ignore, but when I was in the Cape Winelands two years ago to open the Nederberg Auction I sensed great uncertainty about how to get the job done.  Realistic goals, but few proven strategies when it came to the U.S. market.

A lot has changed in two years and now I sense greater confidence and see concrete plans in place. I’ll use this column to highlight a few of the initiatives we discovered on our recent visit.

International Cellar Door Sales

Last week I talked about the importance of wine tourism and South Africa’s many advantages. If there is a better region anywhere in the world for wine tourism I don’t know what it is. But the Cape is geographically remote from both Europe and the United States. Wine tourists who are used to making purchases and taking them home run into significant logistical problems.

What you need is a bit of “Star Trek” magic where you taste and buy the wine in Stellenbosch or Robertson and it magically appears at your door in London, Paris, Seattle or New York.  This magic now exists in the form of drop shippers in Germany and the U.S. who stock the wines in their warehouses and then quickly and efficiently ship them to Europe and the UK and U.S. addresses respectively in response to South African cellar door orders. A logistical solution to the wine tourist’s problem. Beam up my Sauvignon Blanc, Scotty!

I discovered the program when I spied a special offer notice at the Durbanville Hills winery tasting room. Buy 18 bottles (mixed cases allowed) and get free delivery to your home in Europe within 5 business days. Wow, what a service. Albert Gerber explained that they use a German  firm called Red Simon that specializes in sale and distribution of South African wines and handles remote cellar door sales delivery for a number of wineries.

Adinda Booysen at  the historic Lanzerac Wine Estate alerted me to a similar program here in the U.S. Cape Ardor is associated with Red Simon and operates in much the same way, although with some difference in terms of participating wineries and subject to the peculiar restrictions of U.S. wine shipping regulations. These long-distance cellar door sales programs have the potential to more successfully leverage the wine tourist market and to make sure that follow-up sales can be efficiently managed.

Defining Brand South Africa

Image really isn’t everything (the old Nike ads were wrong), but it matters a lot in the world of wine and South Africa’s wine image is still being defined here in the U.S. and in other markets. I have argued elsewhere that building a regional wine brand is everyone’s business — it is not just the responsibility of Wines of South Africa or Wines of Chile, etc. — and requires a multi-prong strategy. I have praised a group called Australia’s First Families of Wines, for example, for taking the lead in the ultra-premium export sector of that country’s wine industry.

piwosa

We were pleased to discover a similarly focus effort called Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa (PIWOSA). Like the Australian group, these wineries span the most important regions and present many different styles of wines. What they have in common is a set of values and a commitment to quality, which they seek to communicate to define their niche in the  marketplace and that hopefully will help define South Africa’s position, too.

Prominent on their website (and in the shared goals of the producers, I believe) is an ethics charter. Interestingly, the charter includes not just a set of abstract commitments but a statement of what it means in practice. South Africa seeks to identify itself with sustainability and ethical production and this group makes a strong statement.

PIWOSA isn’t the only private group that is taking the initiative to raise the country’s profile on world wine markets. The Cape Winemakers Guild  and the Nederburg Auction have a long history in this regard, for example, and the recent successful AfrAsia Bank Cape Wine Auction used Napa-style flair to raise money for charity and raise awareness of South African and its wines.

Three of the PIWOSA members — Paul Cluver, Jordan (Jardin here in the U.S. because of trademark considerations) and The Winery of Good Hope — have taken the next step by collaborating on import and distribution in the U.S. market, gaining scale and exploiting their shared goals and diverse products lines.

Developing Distribution Channels

We were also impressed with several other positive initiatives to develop Cape Wine distribution in the U.S. market.  Some U.S. importers and distributors have really embraced the potential of South African wine. For example, we found ourselves in frequent conversation with clients of Broadbent Selections, one of the leading importers with an impressive Cape Wine portfolio that includes A.A. Badenhorst, Cape Point Vineyard, De Wetshof, Delaire Graff, Dorrance, Sadie Family Wines, Savage, The Curator, Vilafonté, and Warwick Estate.

Broadbent (and they are not alone in this)  seems to be making a major investment in developing the South African premium wine market here in the U.S. and these wines are a great foundation. Our discussions with Mike Ratcliffe (Warwick and Vilafonté), Danie De Wet (De Wetshof) and Duncan Savage (Cape Point and Savage) revealed both distinctive wines and strong brand identities, both of which are surely necessary when taking aim at the cluttered and competitive U.S. market.

Some ambitious export projects are still in the development stage.  Distell, the South African wine, cider and spirits market leader with a portfolio of brands that includes Nederberg, Durbanville Hills, Two Oceans and Fleur Du Cap, is putting resources into a  focused assault on the U.S. market. I am hopeful that Distell’s initiative when it is fully implemented will be successful for its own select brands and will also help elevate awareness of  South Africa and its wines more generally.

When Size Does Matter

Volume is valuable in the U.S. market if only because the fixed costs of market penetration are high, so we were impressed by multi-tier programs, with higher volume premium wines paired with ultra-premium products. At Stark-Condé, for example, their limited production Stellenbosch and  Jonkershoek Valley Cabernets and Syrahs (which I compare to wines from Napa Valley’s Stags Leap AVA) share a distribution channel their more popularly priced M-A-N Family Wines, which are made from grapes sources from 30 farmers in the Agter-Paarl region. The resulting scale is a market advantage.

The M-A-N wines are both delicious and very good values — the Cabernet, Chenin Blanc and Pinotage have been selling for less than $10 recently in my area. The Pinotage will surprise any Pinotage-haters in your circle. The fruit comes from low-yield bush vines and the easy-drinking wine can give popular Argentinean Malbecs a real run for their money.

Although the market strategy is a bit different, Antonij Rupert‘s Protea brand is another developing success story. Rupert’s fine wines and its very distinct vineyard specific Cape of Good Hope brand are necessarily smaller production propositions. So having Protea with its ever-so-memorable bottle (Sue, who is a fiber artist, really loves the designs)  and wide distribution to lead the way is a plus.

Excelsior Wine Estate is currently the best-selling South African brand in the U.S. market and so they already have that useful volume that the M-A-N and Protea wines are growing into, but that doesn’t mean that they are standing pat. Sue and I recently saw Excelsior Hands Cabernet Sauvignon at a local Total Wine store. It is part of Total Wines’ “WineryDirect”  portfolio of directly sourced wines, which seems to now be a key element of that retailer’s business model.

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South African winemakers are trying many different approaches to breaking through the wine distribution bottleneck. Not all will be equally successful and some will surely fail, but I think the net result will be very positive, both for South African producers and for U.S. consumers, too. I plan to revisit this topic in the future to see what lessons can be learned.

Groot Expectations: Is South Africa #1 for Wine Tourism?

P1070944Sue and I returned from our visit to South Africa with many strong impressions and great memories.  Maybe the single thing that struck us the most is this: the Cape Winelands are a wonderful wine tourism destination. The best we have ever visited? Perhaps!

And this is important because wine tourism is now widely seen as playing a critical role in the industry. It is not just a way to sell wine at the cellar door (with direct sales margins), although that can be important to the bottom line. And it is not just a way to fill hotel beds and restaurant tables, although that is clearly important from an economic development standpoint.

A Sophisticated Industry

Wine tourists are also wine ambassadors, who carry a positive message back home with them. They sell the place, the people, the food, and of course the wine. That’s why Australia is betting so heavily on wine and food tourism to turn around its image on international markets. My friend Dave Jefferson of Silkbush Mountain Vineyards has recently called for more attention to promoting wine tourism in South Africa and I think he’s on the right track.

The South African wine tourism industry is very sophisticated as you might expect with people like Ken Forrester and Kevin Arnold involved. Forrester has made his restaurant 96 Winery Road a key element in his winery’s business plan and Arnold says that he sees filling hotel beds as a primary objective.  If the hotels are full of wine tourists, he is justifiably confident that his Waterford Winery will get its share of the business. They are two of a growing list of South African wine producers who have invested in the wine tourism strategy.

The variety of wine tourism experiences is striking ranging from vineyard safaris at Waterford to a stately home visit at Antonij Rupert to luxurious spa facilities at Spier. We loved the lush gardens at Van Loveren in Robertson and the warm Klein Karoo feeling at Joubert-Tradauw in Barrydale.  The opportunity to sip Riesling during a children’s theater performance in the forest at the Paul Cluver Estate in Elgin was memorable.  There is always something new around the corner.

Our photo collection from this trip seems to have an equal number of images of beautiful scenery and mouth-watering plates of food. I think wine tourists will be struck both by the physical beauty of the Cape Winelands and by the high quality restaurants that a great many of the wineries feature.Jordan lunch

A  Sticky Experience

The splendid winery restaurant opportunities in South Africa may come as a shock to many Americans who are used to touring at home since in the U.S. the rule seems to be that food and wine should not mix – at least not at wineries. That’s wrong, of course, but the result of America’s archaic alcohol regulations.

I think the restaurant at Domaine Chandon may be the only one of its kind in Napa Valley, for example. And of course in some states including New York wine sales in supermarket settings are forbidden. Wine and food — a dangerous combination!

One key element of the wine tourist business is to create an experience that makes visitors slow down, stop and take a a little time to let the impressions sink in – a “sticky” experience if you know what I mean. Vineyard and winery tours can do this and various sorts of specialized tasting and pairings experiences work, too, but maybe nothing is quite as effective as the opportunity have a great meal  in a fabulous setting along with the wine you have just sampled.

The list of great winery restaurants in South Africa is very long – some of the highlights from our brief visit are Jordan (where Sue enjoyed the beet salad above), Diemersdal,  Stark-Condé, Lanzerac, Glen Carlou, La Motte, Kleine Zalze, Fairview and Durbanville Hills (the view shown in the photo at the top of the page  is of Cape Town and Table Mountain at sunset as seen from the Durbanville Hills restaurant).

So what are the keys to being a wine tourist in South Africa? Well, first you have to get there, of course, and I think many people wish that there were more direct flights to Cape Town. Our SEA-LHR-CPT route on British Airways was long and tedious as you might imagine, but pleasant and efficient by contemporary air travel standards.

Wine Tourist Checklist

Once you are on the ground, will  need a couple of essentials. Here is my short list.

First, a rental car with a GPS unit. You can do a little wine touring without a car, of course, booking one of the many day tours out of Cape Town. The historic Groot Constantia winery is actually on one of the routes of the hop-on hop-off tourist bus that shuttles visitors to all the main scenic location. But renting a car opens many more doors. The roads in the Cape wine region are mainly quite good and and the region itself is fairly compact, so driving is certainly an attractive option.

South Africa drives on the same side of the road as Britain and Australia but the adjustment if you have to make it is relatively easy. You will need the GPS because many of the wineries are a bit off the beaten path and while GPS units all have their quirks, they are extremely useful here.

Second, buy a Platter’s Guide as soon as you hit the ground in Cape Town. You can get a physical copy or a digital subscription, but be sure to get a Platter’s Guide.  Most people will buy this guide for its ratings and recommendations of the current release wines of just about every South African producer, which we found very helpful even if subjective ratings need to be used with care. But the wine ratings are not the whole story.

I especially like Platter’s  for its detailed factual information about each winery, which I see as a necessary prelude to a successful visit — plus the practical contact and visit details, including GPS coordinates. Many wineries are on unnamed roads, so it is necessary to have the latitude and longitude coordinates and Platter’s data is very up to date.

These resources, plus a sense of adventure and a curious nature, are the essential equipment for a successful South African wine tourist trip (common sense helps too — as the sign at Groot Constantia says, don’t feed the baboons!).

If you would like to go beyond the basics, I heartily recommend Tim James’s excellent 2013 book Wines of the New South Africa, which provides more depth and detail concerning the history of South Africa wines, the grape varieties, the regions and many of the wineries. I studied this book before our trip and the effort paid off.

I love maps, but I could not find a wine atlas of South Africa here in the U.S. As we were leaving the Cape area Cobus Joubert gave us a lovely Cape Winelands wall map that he has produced and I wish I knew about it before we came. It is an impressive and beautiful document with a map of the wine regions on one side and basic information about the wineries (including those critical GPS coordinates) on the other. Not essential, I suppose, but very useful and very desirable and it is a great addition to my collection.

What if you can’t travel to South Africa? Then I guess they have to get their wines to you. I’ll talk about the new wave of export plans that will make South African wines more widely available in the U.S. market next week.

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P1070630I am known to love the braai, South Africa’s national feast. Meat grilled over wood coals, salads and veggies, wine and friends. Can’t beat it. Nothing brings South Africans together like a braai.

Special thanks to Albert and Martin at Durbanville Hills, Meyer at Joubert-Tradauw and Johann at Kanonkop for inviting us to join their braais!

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