The mojo question was at the front of our minds because earlier that day the speakers at the State of the Industry session had painted a complicated picture of American wine’s prospects. There are still opportunties in the U.S. market (the rumors of wine’s death are exaggerated, I said in my presentaiton, paraphrasing Mark Twain), but there are undeniable problems, too.
The best guess is that 200,000 tons of wine grapes were left on the vines in California in 2019 for lack of buyers. Perhaps 30,000 acres of wine grapes need to be taken out of production to balance demand and supply. So it is no surprise that our discussion centered on ways to boost demand and therefore lesson the supply-side pain.
The podcast is fast-paced and raises interesting points about the potential for wine exports (my contribution to the discussion), the need for increased attention to e-commerce sales (Bourcard’s point) and Stephen’s analysis of the challenges of building brands for a changing market environment.
Gourmand International has been spotlighting the best food and wine books and writing for 25 years and for this year’s big fair in Paris they are recognizing what they consider the “best of the best” of the last quarter-century.
I am happy to announce that my book Money, Taste, and Wine: It’s Complicated! has been shortlisted for the 25th anniversary best wine writing award (it previously won the 2016 best wine writing prize). Here is a quick summary of the book in case you haven’t read it yet.
As wine economist and best-selling author Mike Veseth peels away layer after layer of the money-taste-wine story he discovers the wine buyer’s biggest mistake (which is to confuse money and taste) and learns how to avoid it, sips and swirls dump bucket wines, Treasure Island wines and toasts anything but Champagne. He bulks up with big bag, big box wines and realizes that sometimes the best wine is really a beer.
Along the way he questions wine’s identity crisis, looks down his nose at wine snobs and cheese bores, follows the money, surveys the restaurant war battleground and imagines wines that even money cannot buy before concluding that money, taste and wine might have a complicated relationship but sometimes they have the power to change the world. Money, Taste & Wine will surprise, inform, inspire and delight anyone with an interest in wine – or complicated relationships!
I admit that it warms my heart to be on a short list with authors like Steven Spurrier (see below). And the nominees in the other categories (full pdf list here) read like Who’s Who of wine wriiting.
Very exciting. Big thanks to Gourmand International and everyone who helped make Money, Taste, and Wine such a success.
This is the time of the year to look back on 2019 and ahead to 2020. Here at Wine Economist world headquarters our contribution to the first part of this exercise involves probing the data provided by WordPress, our internet host, and seeing which weekly columns got the most attention. It’s one way to gauge what’s on readers’ minds.
The most-viewed column by far this year wasOutlaw Wine? 19 Crimes Succeeds by Breaking All the Wine Marketing Rules, which first appeared in 2018. 19 Crimes is a phenomenon and, as I wrote in the column, it breaks convention in many ways and perhaps because of that it appeals to a wine market demographic that is otherwise hard to reach. Are there lessons to be learned from the 19 Crimes success story? Obviously a lot of people want to find out.
The Top Ten list is drawn from columns first published in 2019. Here they are from #1 to #10. Take a look at the titles. Do you think they have anything in common (my answer follows)?
Interesting list, don’t you think? Several of the columns establish a problem — slack demand for wine in many markets and emerging over-supply, especially of Cabernet Sauvignon here in the U.S. What to do?
Most of the rest of the columns look for answers. There are some growing segments and categories even in a stagnant overall market. What’s hot? Who’s buying? What? Why? The columns on Rosé and wine in cans got extra attention because those were two growing markets in 2019.
I wonder what will be hot in 2020?
The Wine Economist will take a break for a couple of weeks and return in the new year with more analysis of global wine market trends. Sue and I wish all our readers health and happiness. See you in 2020!
Here’s how this “Best Wine Book” list was made. BookAuthority uses an algorithm to rate the popularity and influence of hundreds of thousands of books in many categories. According to the website:
Every day, our site scans the web for notable books on various topics.
It then collects dozens of different signals about each book (such as public mentions, recommendations, ratings, sentiment and sales history) and uses a proprietary algorithm to rate each book. Only the very best books are featured in BookAuthority’s lists.
To keep our site objective and unbiased, ratings are calculated based purely on data. We do not accept authors’ requests to feature a book, nor do we charge any money to be featured.
There are thousands of wine books available according to Amazon.com, so I guess it is unusual to get the sort of attention that the algorithm looks for. I’m just happy that people read my books and find them useful. Awards are the icing on the cake.
I would like to thank BookAuthority (especially whoever wrote their algorithm) and all the people who made 80 Wines a success. Look for a paperback edition of 80 Wines in a few months and maybe another translated edition, too. Cheers!
(Basketball fans might remember that 22 was Elgin Baylor‘s number — a good omen!)
Cool cover, don’t you think? And everyone knows you really can judge a book by its cover! My Russian publisher’s website has more about the book, including an opportunity to browse through some of the pages, download an excerpt, and purchase either the physical or electronic edition.
Even if, like me, you don’t read Russian I think you will enjoy the clever design of the book with its many maps, wine glass circles, and random drops and splotches. What fun!
I’d like to thank EKSMO Publishing House for doing such a fine job with this book and my colleagues at Rowman & Littlefield for facilitating the project.
Our cat Mooch has been browsing the new book between naps!
Pennsylvania: Sue and I have just returned from a family wedding near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania and we found just enough time to scratch the surface of this surprising wine region. Watch for an upcoming report.
Sardinia: Sue and I are in Porto Cervo, Sardinia this week. I am speaking at the Porto Cervo Wine & Food Festival and we will meet as many winemakers and taste as many wines as we can and report our findings here. This is our first trip to Sardinia and we are excited to learn about the island and its wines.
Collio: We’ll be in Northeast Italy at the end of the month participating in the Enjoy Collio Experience program. I will be part of a roundtable discussion on economic sustainability along with Marco Colognese (The Espresso Guides), Robert Princic (Gradis’ciutta), and Roberto Felluga (Russiz Superiore), moderated by Rosaria Amato (La Repubblica).
What’s further down the road? It looks like British Columbia and Chile this summer. Perhaps our path will cross yours somewhere along the wine road?
The Wine Economist will pause while we are on the road and return very soon. Cheers!
Războaiele Vinului, the Romanian version of my 2011 book Wine Wars, has been short-listed for the 2019 Gourmand International award for best wine book translation. Here are the books up for this prestigious award.
Austria: Georgischer Wein, Anna Saldadze, Claudia Tancsits (Leopold Stocker)
China: Dictionary for wine lovers, Bernard Pivot (East China Normal University) 9787567575172
France: L’anglais commercial du vin, Laetitia Perraut (Cafe Anglais)
Italy: Viaggio in Anfora, Kato Keiko. Masuko Maika, P. Bellomo (Velier)
Macedonia: Xinómavro, Stravroula Kourakou, Translation Alexandra Doumas (Foinikas)
Netherlands: Beer, Tadeáš Hájek, Translation Lander Meeusen (Createspace)
Portugal: Glossário Ilustrado do Vinho, Jorge Böhm (Dinalivro)
Romania: Războaiele vinului, Mike Veseth (Aser – Vinul.ro)
Russia: Madeira o vinho dos czares, Siiri & José Milhazes
Sweden: Cava, Spain’s Premium Sparkling Wine, Anna Wallner (Grenadine)
The bronze, silver, and gold medalist in this category, along with other winners, will be announced on July 4 at the gala Gourmand Awards ceremony in Macao.
Congratulations to the Romanian team who made this volume possible including especially Cătălin Păduraru, Lucian Marcu, and Radu Rizea. Here is a photo of Cătălin, me, and the world’s largest copy of Războaiele vinului taken in Iasi last fall.
And thanks to Gourmand International for this recognition of my Romanian friends’ efforts. I am grateful to Gourmand International for previious awards including Best Wine Blog (for The Wine Economist in 2015) and Best Wine Writing (for Money, Taste, and Wine in 2016).
The Wine Economist will take a break next week. Sue and I will be in Sardinia where I am speaking at the Porto Cervo Wine & Food Festival.
Last week’s column about the Porto conference on Climate Change and Wine struck an optimistic note. Powered in part by the Porto Protocol the big international gathering showed that the wine industry is moving the needle on climate change, both in terms of mitigating the impacts and addressing causes.
Sue and I learned a lot from the experts who spoke on the science and technology aspects of climate change and wine, but of course it was the business side we were most interested in. If you have a little time, for example, I recommend watching the video of the session on “Consumer Expectations and Sensible Marketing” featuring Marks & Spencer’s Paul Willgoss, Antonio Amorim of Amorim Cork, and moderator Richard Halstead.
“Economy & Efficiency: Call to Action” was the title of the final session on the second day, which featured Stephen Rannekleiv of Rabobank, Robert Swaak of PriceWaterhouseCooers, and me as speaker/moderator. I led off the discussion, focusing on the need to rethink the relationship between economics and the environment and issuing a call to action.
Stephen was next up, showing how Rabobank has gone beyond its traditional role as an agricultural lender to creating platforms where innovative solutions can be tested and developoed. He followed up with a program on this subject on the popular Rabobank beverage industry podcast Liquid Assets.
Robert’s powerful talk covered several important points, but was especially effective in developing the notion that climate change introduces or magnifies a number of risks, which wine businesses need explicitly to take into account and act upon.
As I wrote in the run up to the conference, Sue and I were interested in the trade show that took place along side the sessions. We were hoping to see a showing of the products and services that vendors provide to firms that are committed to climate change action. What we found was different from our expectations. The trade show mainly gave conference sponsors (see graphic below) an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the cause.
We were a little disappointed, but I think we harbored unrealistic expectations. Vendors are more likely to put their efforts into meetings that attract thousands, not hundreds, of wine industry actors. The Unified Symposium in the U.S., for example. Or SIMEI in Milan. We will look closely when we are at these and similar events to see to what extent climate change is being integrated into the daily business of wine.
The Wine Economist World tour continues in 2019 and I thought you might be interested in the who/what/when/where because I think my speaking schedule reflects some important issues and concerns in the global wine business. Here’s an annotated itinerary.
Unified Wine and Grape Symposium
The Unified Wine & Grape Symposium is the Big Show, the largest wine industry gathering in the hemisphere. About 14,000 people will come to Sacramento for the sessions, trade show, and networking opportunities. The Wednesday morning State of the Industry session draws a huge standing-room-only audience that will be anxious to hear about this year’s special challenges: slowing economy, plateauing demand, surplus stocks, and useful strategies to deal with these problems.
I will moderate the session and present, too, along with Jeff Bitter, Allied Grape Growers, Danny Brager, The Nielsen Company, Marissa Lange, LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards, and Glenn Proctor, Ciatti Company. This is a fantastic lineup of speakers with much to say about the industry today and in the future. Not to be missed.
I will be busy again on Thursday morning as co-moderator with L. Federico Casassa, California Polytechnic State University, of “Technology Thursday: From Drones to Chatbots; How the Wine Industry is Embracing Digitalization.” The speakers will examine digital technology in the vineyard, cellar, and beyond, revealing what’s already available, what is coming soon, and what the distant future holds. The distant future, by the way, is only ten years away — the pace of technological change is that fast.
There is much to discuss, so there will be about a dozen speakers including Bob Coleman, Treasury Wine Estates, Nick Dokoozlian, E. & J. Gallo Winery, David S. Ebert, Purdue University, Nick Goldschmidt, Goldschmidt Vineyards, Liz Mercer, WISE Academy, Miguel Pedroza, California State University, Fresno. and Will Thomas, Ridge Vineyards, California. . Each speaker will have just ten “Ted Talk” minutes, so hold onto your hats!
Washington Winegrowers Convention
I will be a busy guy at the Washington Winegrowers Convention & Trade Show in Kennewick, Washington, February 11-14, 2019. I’ll begin early on the morning of the 12th moderating and presenting at the State of the Industry session, which will deal with some of the economic challenges facing the region’s wine businesses today.
Joining me will be Wade Wolfe, Thurston Wolfe Winery, Chris Bitter, Vintage Economics, Steve Fredricks, Turrentine Brokerage, and Jim Mortensen, President & CEO, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.
In the afternoon I will be part of a session on “Intentional Rosé.”Rosé is the hottest category in wine and so it is no surprise that it gets a full session here and also at the Unified.
I will talk about the global market dynamic and be joined by Megan Hughes, Barnard Griffin winery, Rob Griffin, founder of Barnard Griffin winery, Lacey Lybeck , Vineyard Manager at Sagemoor Vineyards, and Vincent Garge, Maison Henri Garde, Bordeaux. Fred Dex with lead a tasting of Rosé from around the world.
Porto Climate Change and Wine Conference
Sue and I are looking forward to the discussion at Climate Change: Solutions for the Wine Industry in Porto on March 6-7. The focus will be on action, not just talk, which is much appreciated. Al Gore is giving the closing address and a host of wine industry leaders will speak on their concrete efforts to address the challenge of climate change. Climate change is such an obvious risk to the wine industry. It is great to see so many rise to meet the challenge.
I will be moderating and presenting at a session called “Efficiency & Economics: Call to Action,” which I assure you will be more interesting than it sounds. Joining me on the panel are Stephen Rannekleiv, Executive Director, Food & Agribusiness Research at Rabobank, and Malcom Preston, Global Head of Sustainability Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Chile’s National Wine Fair
Sue and I are looking forward to being at Viña Viñamar, Chile on May 15-16 for the Feira Nacional Vitivinicola. I will be speaking about Chilean wine on the global stage, which is appropriate given that Chile is such an important wine exporting nation. Chile is hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in 2019 and I expect that the National Wine Fair will take full advantage of this opportunity. The U.K. and U.S. have long been Chile’s top export markets, but China became #1 in 2017.
British Columbia Winegrape Council Conference
I’ve been invited to speak about the economics of sustainable winegrowing at the BC Winegrape Council Enology & Viticulture Conference and Tradeshow in Penticton, British Columbia in July Sustainability is on everyone’s lips (see climate change conference above), but the transition from theory to practice or talk to action is a challenge. Looking forward to discussing this issue with my BC friends and colleagues.
Change is the common feature of all these programs. Changing economic conditions, changing market focus (who would have guessed that everyone would be talking about Rosé?), climate change and sustainable practices, and technological change, too. Change is always disruptive and always interesting, too. Hope to see you somewhere along the wine road in 2019.
This week’s Wine Economist looks back at the five columns first published in 2018 that captured the most interest among the wine industry audience that frequents this page.
Sometimes it is difficult to find a common thread among the top columns, but not this year. Readers were concerned about U.S. wine sales and they focused on analysis that they hoped might give them insights into the changing market place and especially how to deal with the changing wine consumer base. Take a look at the Top 5 and see if you agree.
Concerns about wine sales were obviously on readers’ minds when this September 2018 column appeared. The premise of the piece was simple: we are all pretty familiar with the conventional wisdom about the wine market but the conventional wisdom doesn’t always hold in a changing world. Sometimes you need to look more closely at the data (Nielsen data in this case) to see what’s actually going on.
There were plenty of surprises to be found (five of them, as the title indicates), including Zinfandel’s high average price (higher than Pinot or Cab), Cabernet’s move past Chardonnay in total sales, the resurgence of French wine (think pink), Australia’s real sales challenge (price, not quantity), and Washington wine’s unexpected prominence when you shift the frame of reference a bit.
The Silicon Valley Bank‘s annual wine industry report always gets a lot of attention and with good reason. Timely analysis + innovative thinking + clear presentation = required reading. But the complexity of the study is sometimes lost in the rush to report the headline conclusions. So I decided to take a deeper dive and shine a light on some of the aspects that weren’t getting the attention they deserved, especially with respect to the generational transition in the wine market.
This also gave me an opportunity to make a point of my own: sometimes the differences within generational cohorts are as important as the difference between them.
Organic food has moved from a niche to an important market segment. A lot of us have been waiting for wine to catch up. Bronco Wine, the makers of Charles Shaw (a.k.a. Two Buck Chuck), apparently got tired of waiting and, working with Trader Joe’s stores, introduced Shaw Organic, a line of affordable wines made with organic grapes.
Bronco is the largest vineyard owner in the U.S. (40,000 acres at last count) and has quietly become the largest grower of organic grapes as well. Is Shaw Organic the breakout wine — the wine that will create a critical mass of consumers who look for organic wine the same way that Two Buck Chuck democratized the wine market more generally? Too soon to tell, but it is a trend to watch.
Direct-to-consumer wine sales are on everyone’s mind. With costs rising faster than prices in most cases, those full-margin wine club sales have become a very high priority. Some say that many Napa Valley producers couldn’t keep the lights on without their wine club sales.
So who has the largest wine club? Incredibly, it is an Illinois-based restaurant and winery business called Cooper’s Hawk, which counts about 300,000 wine club members who visit their local restaurants once a month to pick up the latest wine. What makes Cooper’s Hawk so successful (and how can wineries reach the market they’ve developed)? And can the lessons of Cooper’s Hawk be applied more generally? Timely questions. No wonder this is the #2 column of the year.
Millennials. They are the wine market of the future and the future is now. But what do they want and how do you get their attention? This May 2018 column, which is top of the list, looks at an incredibly successful Treasury Wine Estates product that was specifically developed to appeal to millennial men.
It is called 19 Crimes, which is kind of a strange name for a wine, and while I am not a big fan of the wine itself (it wasn’t crafted to appeal to me), I am very impressed with the way it has succeeded beyond all reasonable expectations by breaking all the wine marketing rules.
This is the final Wine Economist column of 2018. See you next year!