Editor's Note: Contributor Jules Van Cruysen has some advice for wine producers: take a page out of the craft beer playbook. Innovation, collaboration, and risk-taking have united the craft beer industry and created a burgeoning market of passionate consumers. Can wine producers mobilize consumers in the same way? –Tom Mansell, Science Editor
Quick—what do a former aerospace engineer, a computer tech industry entrepreneur, and a trained geologist who spent most of his career traversing the globe to find rare earth substances all have in common?
The wine market is crowded. There are thousands of wineries all trying to tell a story about what makes them different. It’s a story that wine buyers and potential customers are getting bored of.
The pipeline has dried up. Five or six years ago, almost any casual wine enthusiast could launch a WordPress or Blogger blog, write a post about each new wine he drank—from the plonk to the good stuff—and wait for wine samples to come pouring in.
The holidays are a crucial time for retailers to meet their year-end budgets, and wineries are no exception. Many turn to marketing strategies ranging from the simple to the complex to help them drive holiday sales. At their core, successful marketing campaigns drive sales by answering the unique needs of the customer.
While the airplane is taxiing, or during take-off and landing, I have to turn off the electronic devices. Sometimes I remember to bring a book, but other times that means I have to look in the seat-pocket for entertainment. If the crossword puzzles and Sodoku are done (dear airline, please change the magazines more often) I end up reaching for the SkyMall catalogue. It is guaranteed to provide entertainment, from Star of David Christmas Tree topper (seriously! I am not making that up) to a genuine Harry Potter Magic Wand.
California hardly conjures up an image of a wine region struggling with an identity crisis. But there are areas of the Golden State that have never fully defined a winemaking niche.