wine industry issues

Just Sayin’ – thoughts on samples

As I sit here staring at my box of 10 Chilean Sauvignon Blancs that I received for the next Wines of Chile Blogger tasting it got me thinking about a conversation last week at DLW10. I was having lunch with the VA wine mafia and honorary member Lenn, and we were talking about receiving samples. I think Lenn asked about Virginia wine samples and to his surprise I think we all said that we’ve never gotten a wine sample from Virginia. That’s not to say I haven’t gotten a comp bottle here and there, but not to the extent that I receive samples and press kits for wines from other states and countries.

When I sit back and think about it, I do feel it’s weird that wineries in the state that I live in and write about the most don’t reach out to myself or the multitude of bloggers here in the Commonwealth. Not sure why this is the case. Is it lack of production levels so they can’t afford a sample program? Lack of knowledge about social media, and the impact of blogging? I’m not sure about the answer and I guess I’m looking for a response from wineries here.

Please don’t take this post as a request for wines! I get plenty through my day job and am not requesting an onslaught of VA wines at my door. It is more of an observation.

Let me know your thoughts.

Cheers!

Categories: wine industry issues | Tags: , | 5 Comments

More insight into drinking or not drinking local

Since the Drink Local Conference the other day, I have been thinking more about the 3rd session which discussed why many people focus on local food and not local wine.  I think it’s a much larger issue–not one of local vs. local but rather one of quality vs. quality.

Working in a retail wine shop that also sells cheese, wild caught seafood and local free range meat and poultry gives me a good perspective on how people view food and wine.  Throwing the idea of local wine out the door, lets just think of quality products. It amazes me when customers come in and spend a premium on either beef or seafood to buy local or wild caught, but then want me to pick out a wine that is $6. Obviously a disconnect between what they expect from food vs. wine (and what they are willing to spend).  They think, and I agree, that wild caught seafood is better for them and better tasting than farm raised.  They don’t hold the same opinion with wine, however. Paraphrasing this typical customer, “It’s $6, it tastes good and I probably wouldn’t know the difference between this and a $20 wine.”  I’m all about drinking what you like, that is what wine IS about, but why not require high quality for all things you ingest?

I think it comes down to how wine is talked about and again a disconnect. Tasting notes for wines usually never talk about how a wine is produced, and frankly for the 2500 wines we carry it’s hard to remember them all.  If people knew that the cost reflected in their wine was related to hand picked, double sorting, extended maceration and barrels versus wood chips they might think twice.  If consumers equated this the same way they do local, organic, free range, etc. you might see a different situation.  But again maybe not, it’s more than a 2 minute conversation explaining the difference between mass produced and artisinal wines.

As a retailer part of that responsibility is on me, educating people about the product they are buying. At the end of the chain though, a lot of times people are set on a fixed price range for vino and you don’t want to up sell them a whole heck of a lot.

Unfortunately my insight stops there as I don’t have a complete solution for local vs. local or quality vs. quality.  The discussion and education needs to continue through the entire “wine chain” if you will, as I am sure it already is in some situations.

Let me know your thoughts.

Cheers!

Categories: Drink Local Wine Conference, wine industry issues | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Why you should buy wine from independent wine retailers.

Of course I am bias, and there are many reasons you should buy from independent wine merchants (service, selection, they know you by name, etc.) but this one is more to the quality of wine you are getting. In the picture below you can see how a certain grocery store care for their wine.
There it is, the Virginia Governors Cup winning wine leaning up against the rotisserie chicken station. Constant contact with a 125+ degree unit equals not good for wine! (the sign is correct, this IS A HOT PICK) Being next to that much heat for extended periods of time, will ruin the wine, by among other things, drying out the cork and letting air in, as well as literally cooking the wine.
Most independent wine shops are temperature controlled, as well as have the bottles lying on their sides and to my knowledge will never rest the wine against a chicken hot box. “They” care about the product they are selling you and want you to have the best experience possible when you enjoy your vino with family and friends.
Cheers!
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Virginia Wine Council Update

Virginia Wine Council Update – from Matt Conrad (Director, VA Wine Council)

Promotion of Virginia Wine Receives Broad Support at Governor’s Press Conference

Delegates and Senators from both sides of the aisle joined Governor McDonnell at a press conference earlier this week at which he unveiled his “Jobs & Opportunities Agenda.”  According to a press release from his office, this “legislative package consists of 20 pieces of legislation, as well as previously announced budget amendments, all focused on spurring job creation, promoting economic development and creating more opportunities for Virginians.”

Of chief importance to our industry are Senator Watkins’ Senate Bill 237 and Delegate Landes’ House Bill 588, both of which will spur rural economic development and tourism through greater promotion of Virginia as a wine destination.  SB237 has already reported out of the Senate’s Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee.  It and HB588 are now before the Senate Finance and House Appropriations committees, respectively. Please take a moment to email your legislators to explain the importance of this legislation to our industry and to Virginia’s overall economic revitalization.

The Virginia Wine Council also made great strides on two other items of our legislative agenda this week: securing the ability to conduct tastings in ABC Stores and restoring the ability of farm wineries to use third-party marketing portals to sell wine via the Internet.

SB26 (Puller) originally granted only spirits manufacturers the ability to offer tastings of their product in the stores; however the VWC worked with the patron and allied industries to extend Virginia farm wineries the same privilege.  That bill reported out of Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services this morning.

In late 2009 Virginia ABC issued a series of circulars that prohibited the use of third-party marketing portal services, such as VinoShipper.  Over weeks of negotiation the VWC has reached a settlement with ABC and the wholesalers to restore some of that ability to the wineries that depended on that model as part of their business plan.  HB630 (Scott, E.T.) and SB483 (Hurt) create an in-state marketing portal license and an approval process for out-of-state marketing portals, provided they are operated by agricultural cooperative associations.

Below I have provided a brief update on other legislation of importance to the Virginia Wine Council this year.  Please feel free to reply to this email with any questions you may have.

Bill Status for the week of January 25 -29

HB 582Landes

SB 347 – Hanger

Agri-tourism Incentives Act; created. Working with patrons and leading industry groups (Agribusiness Council and Farm Bureau) to find mutually agreeable resolution.  It is likely that a study group will result from both this legislation and the Farm Business legislation (below) also sponsored by both Delegate Landes and Senator Hanger.


HB 583Landes

SB348   – Hanger

Farm businesses; local restrictions. The VWC is working with industry groups and the patrons to amend the language of this bill and the Agri-tourism Incentives Act (above).  We have submitted amendments to proposed language that avoids creating a definition of a “farm business,” particularly in any way that excludes farm wineries.  This suggestion has been accepted by the working group that includes the Agribusiness Council and Farm Bureau.


HB 1324 – Loupassi

Consumption of lawfully acquired wine at certain licensed establishments with corking fee. Delegate Loupassi submitted this legislation on January 22nd that would permit consumers to enjoy a bottle of wine brought from their private collection at the restaurant of their choice, provided the restaurateur agrees.  A reasonable fee may be charged.


HB 630Scott, E.T.

SB 483 – Hurt

Alcoholic beverage control; third party shipment of wine and beer. The VWC reached a resolution with all parties (manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers) that will preserve the original intent of the legislation.  This bill will permit wineries to operate fulfillment centers AND contract with 3rd parties to operate web portals.  This legislation will restore a similar service to VinoShipper for Virginia consumers, but will require a portal license from ABC and require that the licensees be organized as an agricultural cooperative association.  The substitute with this new language was reported from the ABC subcommittee of House General Laws on Thursday and was reported from Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services this morning.


HB 952Jones

SB 26 – Puller

Alcoholic beverages; tasting event to be conducted at government stores under certain circumstances. The VWC asked the patrons of the original bills to include Virginia farm wineries among the parties who may conduct tastings of their product in ABC stores.

If passed, farm wineries whose products are sold through Virginia ABC stores will be permitted to conduct tastings of product already for sale. The Senate version reported from Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services this morning with only one vote in opposition.  The House version will be taken up next week by the ABC subcommittee of House General Laws.


SB 237Watkins

HB 588 – Landes

Alcoholic beverages; portion of wine liter tax collected to be deposited in Wine Promotion Fund. The Senate version will not likely be heard in Senate Finance until at least February 10.  The House version has been referred to a subcommittee of House Appropriations and may be heard as early as this coming Tuesday.

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A sign of consumers drinking local?

I came across the article “Off-Premise Wine Sales Slightly Decrease in November versus Same Period Last Year” on WineBusiness.com a couple of days ago, mainly just doing some research for my retail wine gig. Within the article it was pointed out that although sales dropped overall, domestic wine sales rose while imports fell. I didn’t think much of it at first – thinking that price could be a factor during these economic times. Imports can tend to be higher priced (there are exceptions) and people are less likely to explore unfamiliar regions/wines/countries when they are strapped for cash. Thinking back on the article today I thought maybe there was another underlying message here, are people starting to buy more local wines?

image source: winebusiness.com

Unfortunately I don’t think so. If you look at the next graph from the article you will notice that most of the rise in domestic sales is driven by wines in the price range of $3 – $5.99 and $9 – $14.99. Unfortunately most local wines, at least here in Virginia, are not in this price range specifically not the $3 – $6 category which saw the largest growth for the year at 9.0%. I have a feeling it is being driven by brands like 2 Buck Chuck, local if you live in California I guess.

image source: winebusiness.com

Not sure if my interpretation is correct – just my two cents.

Cheers!

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Virginia Wine Update from the Virginia Wine Council

Virginia Wine Update from Matt Conrad of the Virginia Wine Council:

“This past Friday a circuit court judge of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit issued an order that could impact the Virginia wine industry far beyond the borders of Fauquier County, the locality in which Kate Marterella operates her family’s farm winery. Although the case centers on the interpretation of the Declaration of Covenants governing the Marterella’s subdivision, the judge held in the order that the on-site retail sale of wine is not an agricultural activity.


In defense of this position, the Court references Webster’s New World Dictionary, 3rd Ed. for the respective definitions of “agriculture” and “retail.” Specifically, the Court holds that “agriculture does not include the on-site retail sale of wine by the glass.” The Court analogizes that “a farmer who sells the cattle he raises on his property is engaged in agriculture, but he could not sell butchered and packaged meats to consumers on his property and still call it agriculture.” We at the VWC believe the beef cattle farmer would disagree and we know our winegrowers do too.


In its order, the Court makes no reference to the July 1, 2009, amendment to Virginia Code Section 15.2-2288.3 that declares “the agricultural nature of … activities and events” relating to the marketing and sale of wine at Virginia farm wineries.This past session of the General Assembly, the Virginia Wine Council fought hard to have that designation made part of Virginia law and it is regrettable that the Circuit Court did not take notice of it.


Take a moment to read the Order, which is linked here.”

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Taste Camp East 2009 – Long Island Impressions

tastecamplogoIn case you hadn’t noticed, Anything Wine was in Long Island this past weekend for the first of hopefully many “Taste Camp East”s (2010 is tentatively planned for the Finger Lakes and 2011 in Virginia). The first annual event was dedicated to Long Island wine country and was spearheaded by New York wine guy Lenn Thompson of LennDevours. In addition to reconnecting with all of my blogger buddies and meeting some new ones, I discovered a “new” wine region, which made some great and surprising first impressions on me.

Megan and I had no idea what to expect as we made our way up the North Fork of Long Island to our hotel in Greenport. We were delightfully surprised by the cuteness of the landscape as we were suddenly surrounded by vineyards and farms. The flat, vine-dotted landscape reminded me of the Niagara Peninsula wine region which I visited a few years back.

Over the next few days I’ll be putting up some posts with individual tasting notes and some videos and pictures from the weekend’s tastings, but this post is intended to summarize my overall impressions of the region.

overheadatwolffer

Camaraderie – Several times as we drove from winery to winery, Megan and I reflected on the obvious camaraderie that we felt and saw between the vintners in the region. Perhaps because of the small size of the region, the relative youth of the wine industry there, and the unique challenges that wineries face in the region, the vintners really seemed to learn from each other and to leverage others’ knowledge and experiences, successes and failures. I think this is a must in a burgeoning wine region and is something I have seen in my explorations here in Virginia as well.

Price – I am sure I will not be the only Taste Camper to mention price after this weekend’s festivities, so I will be brief. As here in Virginia, price is always a point of discussion when it comes to the QPR of LI wines, and this is something I have discussed with Lenn several times. Although I was impressed by the quality of the many of the wines I tasted, it was hard for me to warrant the many $40+ price tags that these wines garnished. That being said, I did buy several bottles, two of which were $50 and $100, and we did taste several fabulous wines that were under the $20 price point.

Long Island vs. Virginia – I am a big proponent of Virginia wines and have some favorites from the region that I think deserve accolades against some of the top wineries in the country. With that being said, I think the overall quality of what we tasted in LI was slightly higher, on average, than what I taste in Virginia. Obviously that average is slightly skewed because Lenn, I’m sure, had us taste the best of what the region had to offer. An interesting observation was that when I didn’t like a wine that I tasted this weekend, it had similar aromatic and taste faults to those that I sometimes find in Virginia wines. Specifically slightly oxidized notes, chemical/metallic aftertaste and the over use of oak, the last of which isn’t held by Virginia alone.

Passion – WOW! The LI winemakers’ extreme passion and enthusiasm for viticulture and enology was truly palpable. It was really exhilarating, and added an invaluable component to my tasting experience.

Thanks again to all the Long Island Wineries that made us feel at home, poured hundreds of wines for us, and opened my eyes to what this region has to offer. Check back soon to see all of my tasting notes and more pictures and videos from the weekend.

Cheers!

Categories: New York Wines, Taste Camp, wine industry issues | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Virginia Wine Legislative Update

From Matt Konrad at the Virginia Wine Council:


media_logo_color2Governor Kaine has signed into law several pieces of wine related legislation, bringing to a close a successful General Assembly Session for the Virginia Wine Council and for the entire industry. On July 1, 2009, HB2071 and SB1033 will become the law of Virginia. Those two identical bills confirm the agricultural nature of Virginia farm wineries’ marketing and retail activities by amending § 15.2-2288.3 of the Code of Virginia. The Governor has also signed SB1445, which permits wine-of-the-month club operators to solicit memberships at any location for which an ABC license for on-premises consumption has been issued. Please take this opportunity to thank your legislators for their continued support.

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Is Dom Perignon Rose the next Cristal?

dom-p-rose

What started this thought of Dom P Rose taking over for Cristal in the rap world was when a gentlemen came in the shop the other day to ask for a bottle of ’96 Dom Rose. He was actually quite young so if we had it I would have had to card him, but at the time I thought it was strange request. After a little discussion with one of my wine friends and some lyric Googling on the internet, it turns out the bubbly has been mentioned for quite some time, but not yet to the level of the infamous Cristal. As far back as 2006 when Jay-Z declared that he will no longer be drinking Cristal, in which the same press statement said he will now be filling his flute with Dom P Rose it has been mentioned here and there. In the past few years a splattering of rap/hip-hop songs have donned Dom P Rose in their lyrics.

Notorious BIG Would you die for me – “Splurging, Dom P Rose much foreplay that’s my forte”

K’MaroParoles Take You Away – “what if I take you to Paris au champs elysees maybach hit the city by night, with a dom rose
down in st. tropez “

Jermaine Dupri – “She in the corner sippin’ Dom P Rose

Not the usual topic I write about, but thought it would be an interesting idea to float and see if Dom P Rose will explode in the main stream like Cristal did.

Cheers!

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Virginia Wine Legislative Update

From Matt Conrad of Virginia Wine Council –

Now that the General Assembly has adjourned sine die (without a fixed date to return), the Virginia Wine Council is grateful for an extremely successful legislative year. HB2071 (Scott) and SB1033 (Hanger), our bills that address the agricultural nature of farm wineries’ activities, have each passed the House and Senate, unanimously. They will now be sent to the Governor for his review.

SB1445 (Deeds), relating to wine-of-the-month clubs, passed the House on a vote of 93 to 4 and will also be sent to the Governor.

HB2523 (Wright), the legislation relating to ABC licenses that was successfully amended at the VWC’s request, has been approved by both the House and the Senate. Because the Senate had further amended the bill, the amendments had to be voted on by the House a second time. HB2523 now enumerates certain crimes that a licensee must make a reasonable effort to prevent on the premises, including manslaughter, terrorism, abduction, driving under the influence, and disorderly conduct. The amendments to HB2523 were unanimously approved by the House and the bill will also be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

Our success during this legislative Session is directly attributable to the good will the industry has built up over many years with the legislature, the Governor, and his administration.  We also benefited from strong relationships with the Virginia Agribusiness Council and Virginia Farm Bureau, who share our enthusiasm for a strong and growing wine industry in the Commonwealth. I strongly encourage you to become involved with both organizations over the next year.

During the coming months, I hope to visit as many farm wineries and vineyards as possible to better understand the needs of the industry and to gather ideas for next year. In the interim, I hope that you will reach out to your local senator and delegate to better inform them, as well. If you are uncertain who your legislators are, please use this website to find out.

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Virginia Wine Legislative Update

From Matt Conrad at the Virginia Wine Council:

This week promises to be very hectic, with a great many bills moving toward ultimate passage or meeting defeat in committee or on the floor. I am happy to report, however, that as of TODAY HB2071 has been passed by the Senate! Our companion legislation that also deals with the agricultural nature of farm wineries’ activities, SB1033, is still before the House of Delegates, but is on the calendar as an uncontested bill on third reading.

SB1445, relating to wine-of-the-month clubs, has been reported out of the House General Laws committee on a vote of 19 to 2, with Delegates Carrico and Hull being the only dissenters. As of today, it was on its second reading on the House floor and will likely be voted on later in the week when the House takes it up with other Senate bills on third reading.

HB2523, the legislation relating to ABC licenses that was successfully amended at the VWC’s request, has been further amended on the Senate floor at the recommendation of Senators Puller and Stolle. The Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute amends the bill by defining the particular crimes that must be committed on the premises of an ABC licensee to establish a violation suitable for suspension or revocation. Those enumerated crimes include manslaughter, terrorism, abduction, driving under the influence, and disorderly conduct, among others. HB2523 passed the Senate with these amendments on a vote of 28 to 10. A conference committee will be formed to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.”

Cheers!

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Virginia Wine Council Legislative Update

Below are some updates from the lastest Virginia Wine Council newsletter on recent legislation going before the House and Senate

VWC Legislation Passes Both the House and Senate

We reported last week that HB2071 and SB1033 were on their third readings and were up for a vote by the full House and Senate. Both bills have passed unanimously! HB2071 has been communicated to the Senate for consideration. Because the bills are in identical form, we expect unanimous passage in House and Senate committees, following Crossover on February 10.  As you are aware, the VWC sought sponsorship of these bills to amend Section 15.2-2288.3 to provide that localities must take into consideration the agricultural nature of farm wineries before attempting to restrict the on-site marketing and sale of wine. Delegate Ed Scott (R-Culpeper) and Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta) sponsored HB2071 and SB1033, respectively.”

VWC Succeeds in Amending Threatening ABC Legislation

Last week we reported that Delegate Tommy Wright (R-Lunenburg) had sponsored legislation that would permit the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to revoke the licenses of any establishment, including farm wineries, for certain enumerated activities. Under the introduced form of the bill, a license could have been suspended or revoked if a licensee operated the licensed premises (e.g., a farm winery) in such a manner so as to adversely affect real property values within the adjacent area.  A license could also have been revoked if a licensee substantially interfered with the usual quietude and tranquility of an adjacent residence or residential area.

If this legislation had been enacted, disgruntled neighbors of Virginia wineries could claimed that the everyday activities of those wineries have had lowered the value of their adjacent property or disrupted their quietude (machinery, events, traffic, etc.). Working with the sponsor of the bill, the Speaker of the House, and Curtis Coleburn of ABC, we amended the bill by striking all of the language relating to property values and usual quietude. This amended language has been reported (passed) by the General Laws Committee ABC/Gaming subcommittee and will be voted on by the full committee next week.”

VWC Defeats Attempt to Further Regulate Farm Wineries

Delegate Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax) submitted HB2606 that would have allowed Virginia counties operating under the urban county form of government to further regulate the operations of farm wineries, despite the existing prohibition contained in Virginia Code Section 15.2-2288.3. Currently, only Fairfax County is organized under urban county governance. The VWC actively opposed this bill, because of the potential of its extension to other counties in future years. Fortunately, the VWC was not alone in its desire to protect the interests of the wine industry in Virginia. The House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee voted to pass the bill by indefinitely on a voice vote Wednesday morning, meaning that the bill was defeated. Delegates Chris Saxman (R-Staunton) and Bobby Orrock (R-Caroline) deserve much credit for leading the charge to defend our industry against this legislation. In committee, Delegate Saxman openly praised farm wineries for their contribution to agriculture and tourism and discouraged any attempt at new regulation by localities.”

Senate Committee Passes Legislation to Save Wine of the Month Club

Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) sponsored legislation on behalf of his constituent, Willis Logan, to clarify that he may continue his present business model of soliciting wine club memberships at wine festivals and events. In recent months, ABC had ruled that such solicitation constituted a sale of alcohol and was therefore not permitted under present law. The bill, known as SB1445 , will permit “wine of the month club” operators to solicit memberships at any location for which a permit to consume alcohol has been issued, including restaurants.

As part of that solicitation, wine clubs may take applications from consumers that include forms of payment. The VWC worked to amend an earlier version of the legislation that would have allowed any in or out-of-state wine shipper to solicit wine club memberships anywhere at any time in the Commonwealth. Naturally, our concern was that large out of state shippers would be able to set up booths in Costcos or street corners. Although it would have been unconstitutional for the Virginia legislature to favor Virginia wine clubs over out of state ones, by limiting the places where memberships may be solicited to ABC-on establishments and events for both in and out-of-state wine clubs, Virginia wineries retain greater control.”

If you would like to get updates from the Virginia Wine Council click here to subscribe to their newsletter.

Cheers!

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It’s OK Mommies to be, drink up, well only a little!

With Megan and I being surrounded by friends that are having babies, we have been talking more and more about the subject. Along with the usual baby talk comes the talk around the fact that she would have to stop enjoying wine for the 9 months of pregnancy. Megan has insisted that it be only fair that I stop drinking wine as well for those 9 months!  Not being too keen on that idea because so much of my life revolves around the wonderful world of wine, I am somewhat excited I came across this new study, well sort of.

 

A study in the October issue of the Journal of Epidemiology published a study saying that it may be okay for pregnant women to drink one to two glasses of wine per week. The study showed that women who drank “not more than 1–2 drinks per week or per occasion during pregnancy were not at increased risk of clinically relevant behavioral problems or cognitive deficits compared with children whose mothers did not drink.”  In addition, the study showed that children, especially boys, born to women who were light drinkers performed better cognitively compared to children born to women who did not drink at all.

 

alcohol-and-pregnancy

 

Although this study is fairly compelling due to the large sample size, I am still inclined to believe the years of research that condemn alcohol consumption during pregnancy. I am not sure Megan nor I would be comfortable with her drinking while pregnant regardless of the studies that are out there. With the risk of birth defects and fetal alcohol syndrome, it is a scary thing to mess around with.  Hopefully Megan will lighten up when the time comes and let me enjoy wine while she is pregnant, at least so she can live vicariously through me. J

 

Cheers!

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From the Wine Bloggers Conference – My thoughts on crediblity

From Dictionary.com 1. capable of being believed; believable

                                       2. worthy of belief or confidence

 

When I started my blog a few years ago, I never really thought about credibility. I figured I was just writing, putting my thoughts and opinions out there for the world to look at and take for whatever they’re worth.  Isn’t that enough? After attending the Wine Bloggers Conference on credibility headlined by Steve Heimoff and Tracy Rickman I am not so sure anymore. Michael Wangbickler of Cavemanwines.com taped the whole session and can be seen here.

 

I would say that “most” wine bloggers get their start in the blogosphere out of pure hobby, as an outlet for an obvious passion about some topic, in my case wine. Writing daily musings about tastings, local happenings and tasting notes about the bottle of wine they had last night with dinner. At this stage do you need to think about credibility if you are just writing your opinion, in a glorified version of a digital diary? I never thought so!

 

But what about when you start to receive emails from wineries and wine clubs and public relations departments, wanting you to review their wine on your blog. Is this the tipping point? At this moment should you start to consider yourself credible in the wine world? 

 

I don’t really know, as I said I never really thought about the issue. I figured that if a winery wanted to send me wine, they obviously read my blog and think I know or at least I sound like I know what I am talking about. A good portion of the banter in the credibility seminar circled around responsible wine blogging and what defines credibility in the wine world. 

 

If you receive wine for a sample and you review that wine on your blog without a disclaimer that you received it for free, is that irresponsible and dare I say unethical? For myself I always post when I get a bottle of wine as a media sample, and others just explain so in the “about” section of their blog. But what if they do none of the above, is that wrong, or does that take away their credibility?

 

Defining credibility in the emerging wine blogosphere seemed to be a touchy subject as well.  In my day job, credibility is defined by how many letters you have behind your name on your business card. (MS, PhD, etc.)  A few things were thrown out as possible ways to judge credibility for a wine blog, such as readership, number of posts, or logarithms calculating the effect of a post on wine sales.  But no one could really settle on what if any of the above really defined the whole story of blog credibility.

 

The best part and the scary part about a blog, wine or other topic, is that anybody can start one. It is up to the reader, whether it be my mom or a winery owner, to decide if I am the right outlet to talk about their product in the public domain.

 

Just my rambling 2 cents!

Cheers!

Categories: wine bloggers conference, wine industry issues | Tags: , , | 17 Comments

Virginia Wine Making Headway on The National Scale

There is a great article on the Virginia Business Magazine’s website today detailing the growing presence on Virginia Wine on the national scale.  What a great way to kick off the 20th Anniversary of VA Wine Month!

 

Here are a few of the highlights – (my comments to each are in blue) Click the article link above to read it in its entirety.

“At restaurant Tru in Chicago husband and wife chefs Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand preside over one of the nation’s most innovative kitchens. The wine list alone tempts patrons with 1,700 labels from venerable producers throughout the world. So why would Chad Ellegood, the restaurant’s wine director, be striding through the dining room clutching a bottle of Barboursville Vineyards 2006 Reserve Viognier from upstart Virginia?

Tru has been offering a 10-course dining experience called the “Sommelier Collection” at the prix fixe of $350 per person, including tax and tip. One of the lineups featured in this special program begins with the Barboursville Viognier. It’s served with a grape gelee topped with a crab and cucumber salad. The meal moves on to nine other courses anchored by ultrapremium wines such as a French Meursault, Italian Brunello and German Traminer Trockenbeerenauslese”

This is great to see Virginia wines being offered on restaurant wine lists outside of the state, especially at James Beard Award winning restaurant in a dining mecca like Chicago.  Barboursville is quite large on the VA wine scale as far as case production goes so I hope to see some of the smaller wineries reaching out across state lines in the future. I realize that this is not in the best interest for in the short term though as it reduces profit margins for the smaller wineries, but in the long term, it will bring more business and recognition to the state.

“These days, insiders describe the industry as “distinctive” and “understated.” Yet the label some people yearn for is “blockbuster.” To get there, they say Virginia and its winemakers need more production, marketing and distribution. Plus, they need to make the price point more accessible. Not everyone is willing to pay the going rate of $20 to $45 for one of the better bottles of Virginia wine.” 

The price-point is where I feel a lot of Virginia wineries get hurt. Production costs are higher due to the small production of most of the wineries and without established reputation it hard to stomach the usually doubled or tripled price points of similar quality wines from around the world.  This is not to say that a good percentage of wineries are charging what I feel is proper pricing for their wines, but a lot of wineries get away with over pricing their product to customers willing to pay for locally produced goods.

“Many of Virginia’s longtime winemakers agree. “We are a provincial, regional industry and always have been, but now there are some big players and people are focused on competition, global competition,” says Jim Law, the owner-winemaker of Linden Vineyards in Northern Virginia’s Fauquier County. “So far, it’s been easy to sell Virginia wine to Virginians, but we will soon saturate that local, patriotic market, and we won’t be able to sell wines just because they are from Virginia. We’ll sell wines because they are of high quality.””

Well said!

“Reports about Virginia wines in influential publications have been kinder recently, after some rocky decades. The watershed tribute to Virginia winemaking that appeared in the New York Times in 2000 — written by the late Times staffer and gourmand R.W. “Johnny” Apple Jr. — reflected the critical skepticism of the 1980s and ‘90s.  The headline read, “Jefferson Gets His Wish: At Last, a Decent Bottle of Virginia Wine.”

Then came Virginia’s anointment last year by Travel & Leisure magazine. Wine and spirits editor Bruce Schoenfeld gave the state’s industry a big boost by including it, along with regions in Italy, Spain, Chile and New Zealand, as one of the world’s up-and-coming wine destinations. “Until recently,” he wrote, “I’d felt that [Virginia] had been trading on the grape-growing reputation of noted wine lover Thomas Jefferson for 200 years without producing anything worthy of mention. Then a single bottle convinced me that Virginia was ready for consideration.” That bottle was a Barboursville 1999 Nebbiolo. Schoenfeld later in the article also praised the Linden 1999 Hardscrabble Chardonnay.”

In the short 5 years that I have been drinking Virginia, I have seen a dramatic improvement in the quality across the board. So I can only imagine, what kind of changes people are realizing that have been following the Virginia wine industry for 15-20 years.  

So in the spirit of VA Wine Month, get out and experience Virginia wines, find you favorites and buy it up! For out of state folks, a good percentage of the Virginia wineries now ship out of state so there are no excuses. That is unless you are in one of those states that cannot be shipped too. L

Cheers!

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