The Wine Experimentation Campaign
I had chance to very briefly chat with Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon the other day. In the midst of a short conversation he explained his belief that we live in a "post-varietal" world.
This would put him in line with Appellation America (a Wark Communications client) publisher Roger Dial who also believes the future of North American wine culture is terroir driven.
This idea that we are moving toward a terroir-driven understanding of wine in America doesn’t necessarily conflict with the results of our most recent survey here at Fermentation. However, it doesn’t necessarily speak to the importance of the producers in the minds of consumers.
Asked which factor among Producer, Varietal, Region and Label Appearance is most important in deciding among wines $30 or more you’ve never tried before, fully 71% of respondents identified the Producer.
I wonder to what extent this overwhelming endorsement of the producer has to do with the amazing proliferation of new labels that have hit the market in recent years. With so much to choose from, many consumers simply return to what they know. This suggests that there is good reason to push consumers to experiment if the goal is to broaden the consumers’ experience, or even if it is to ask them to branch out and try wines from emerging wine regions.
While I agree with both Grahm and Dial that we are at the starting line of a movement that will lead more consumers to investigate new regions and hence new wines and new styles of wines, I’m convinced that the idea of EXPERIMENTATION must be sold to consumer. A "move beyond the ordinary" campaign of some sort, either at a low key or well-structured way, is probably necessary to hasten a movement toward region as the defining concept that motivates wine drinkers, rather than brand or varietal.