Yes, Millennials Will Embrace Napa, Bordeaux and Burgundy Wine

desireAssuming we don’t fall victim to a zombie apocalypse between now and 2045, what are the odds that in that year the likes of Rolex, Aston Martin, Chanel, Cartier, and Four Seasons will have gone belly up? What are the odds that  St. Barts, Aspen, Bora Bora, Ibiza and Monaco will no longer be destinations for the wealthy?

The odds are small. Very small. These are all brands that possess enormous equity that has been earned over time and remained relevant over time. It would be foolish to think that today’s millennials who don’t yet have the coin to frequent these places and brands still won’t when their lot moves into the rich and famous slot down the road. It’s about aspiration.

Why then do some today believe that the wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy and Napa Valley won’t also be the objects of desire for the 4o and 50-year-old Millennials? It’s a refrain and warning I’ve heard from numerous quarters. The line goes that today’s Millennials, now all at drinking age, are eschewing these well-known wines for bottlings from far-flung regions that offer something new and hip and that this doesn’t bode well for the future of today’s luxury wine regions.

What the luxury doomsayers seem not to get is that Bordeaux, Burgundy and Napa Valley, like the brands and places listed above, are as much ideas as they are things and places. They have earned a place in our aspirational dreams. They are icons of success and arrival—in addition to being items of the highest quality and alluring attraction.

The brand masters behind these objects and places understand that. Their marketing confirms this. Rolex isn’t a watch. It’s an heirloom. Channel isn’t a black dress. It’s a well cultivated attitude. Four Seasons isn’t a hotel room. It’s an escape from the mundane. The Napa Valley isn’t just a source of great wine. It’s a state mind; a lifestyle.

Napa Valley, Burgundy, and Bordeaux will have no problem maintaining the very high quality of the wines they currently produce. The economics behind the wines, the support the regions received from the trade, the climate and soils assure this. Nor will they have any problem maintaining their luxury reputations in anticipation of the arrival of the finally-arrived Millennials. Napa will retain its beauty. The worlds greatest chefs will continue to feel the region’s tug. Luxurious beds will remain. And the stewards of Napa’s reputation understand that too much is at stake to take their eye off the ball. More importantly, the wines from these places, reputations maintained, will serve for the more well-off Millennials as symbols and totems of success, power and wealth. They will see them as examples of the best in a category. And they, like today’s well off, will flock to them.

Those who warn that Millennials are leaving the greatest wine regions of the world behind either haven’t studied the nature of desire or have an interest in the semi-great or rising wine regions of the world, or both.

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6 Responses

  1. Damien - May 12, 2016

    Just add the effect of climate change to the zombie apocalypse (especially in Bordeaux and Burgundy). They just might be growing different grape varieties come 2045.

  2. Jason B Carey DWS - May 12, 2016

    Everything that status projection and “lifestyle” stands for makes me sick. The luxury lifestyle is what is destroying this country and the world’s eco system. The millenal generation will reject the status seeking worldview and the so call aspirational worldview.. I believe your worldview will prove wrong as diminishing resources and inequality will bring down the pyramidial power structure.

  3. Tom Wark - May 12, 2016

    Jason, if the Millennial generation’s most successful members reject the draw of sampling the best and most renowned objects on offer, then they would be the first generation in history to do so.

    As for your sickness, well there’s a bucket over in the corner. Knock yourself out.

    • Jason Carey - May 13, 2016

      Well you can live in an outdated paradigm, but if you don’t think that peoples values can change and that worshiping material objects based on status projection may change, well I disagree. If you also don’t think that our social structure based on envy and object collection can change as the world’s resources diminish with environmental based shortages, well you might be burying your head in the sand. I am sure that we as people are diametrically opposed in our values, other than the fact that we like drinking wine, but hey that is what makes the world go around.

  4. Fries - May 13, 2016

    So apparently millennials are not buying these wines since they are too expensive? But when they will grow up and get rich, they will buy them… hmm .. I guess that is the same for Mercedes, Prada, and the Ritz Carlton. Mind Blown.

  5. Millennials Embrace Wine | winetime2016 - May 17, 2016

    […] to Tom Wark, writer of the Fermentation,  finer wine will serve the more well-off millennials as symbols of success, power and wealth. […]


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