Is Wine One Letter Away From Disaster
I'm a curious guy. That's why I decided to do a quick google search today on "Wine and Swine Flu". Who knows, maybe something interesting will pop up. But right when I finished giving Google instructions on what to find for me the search sentence hit me in the face: "Wine and Swine Flu". Holy Cow. What if it there were no "S". What if it was the "Wine Flu"?
Pork Futures have dropped and there are reports of consumers pulling back considerably on their pork eating and purchases. Now, let's be clear, there is no danger of contracting Swine Flu from fixing up a batch of Baby Back Ribs or grilling up some Pork Tenderloin. Nevertheless, folks appear to be extra cautious, perhaps to the point of over reaction.
But it just goes to show how various things, even ludicrous ideas, can pound an entire industry. And it got me to thinking, what would bring the wine industry to its knees?
Certainly a virus or disease named the "Wine Flu" would cause sales to drop, whether or not the virus was aptly named. But unless a particularly virulent and smelly form of Cork Taint can infect a person and make them smell like trichloranisole, I think the industry is safe.
But if you want to worry about a real potential problem, go visit Highway 29 in Napa at noon in the summer. It's bumper to bumper. What happens when a pedestrian gets plowed over by someone driving to their 7th tasting room? What would be the political reaction? What would be the legal reaction. What restrictions would be put on tasting rooms? How would it effect travel to wine country?
Here's a good one. Remember the Tylenol Scare? What if it were the Wine Scare? What if some sick bastard who's dog died and wife had left him decided to do the syringe-through-the-cork in a few different cities in a few different stores? Im guessing a 65% drop in wine sales within 48 hours of it being reported.
What about scandal? What would be the consumer reaction to reports that a number of wineries that labeled their wines "Cabernet Sauvignon" were not in fact using that grape but a much something else? Or if it were reported that a number of wineries that labeled their wines "Napa Valley" or "Sonoma Coast" were actually using Fresno grapes. There would be a reaction by consumers. I guarantee it.
The point is fragility. Markets and economies and industries are fragile and can be disrupted easily and quickly. The saving grace is that while there are often long last repercussions to market disasters, markets, economies and industries are all capable of recovering quickly. Still, let's tale note that the "S" and the "W" are right next to each other on the keyboard.