Monday, October 17, 2011

Wine and nobility?

I started working in the wine industry in the mid to late 1980’s and have been involved in the industry in most aspects (Sales Rep, Restaurant Buyer, Retail Buyer, Wine Educator, Chef, Sommelier…more about me), in 1999 I began a company that I intended to be an internet wine business named  This has evolved over the years, but the reason for the name and the concepts I believed in then, are still intact and important today.  These concepts are based around the idea that wine is a passion based, land based product rather than a commodity (heading towards a commodity).
There is a bit of a quiet battle happening between what the wine industry calls ‘terroir’ and commercially produced wines and those that support each.  Oddly enough I do not stand on either side of this battle, I firmly believe that commercially produced wines are important to the expansion of the wine industry and culture.  I do however prefer drinking wines produced with what I call a ‘noble’ sensibility, this might be easier to understand as of a sense of place, aka terroir.  I also believe that it is the ‘noble’ wine producer who needs (and deserves) the most help reaching the right market for their wines. 
The power of the wine critic is still intact, but it is beginning to wane a bit.  That power has caused issues for noble wine producers, they had to make wine making/growing decisions with the critics in mind.  If only the producer could just concentrate on making the best damn wine from their piece of land as possible, wine would be a much purer and more interesting product.  For those producers that have reached that wonderful place, congratulations, to the other 99.9%, let’s find a solution.
As a refugee from the restaurant industry and especially small fine dining kitchens, I was lured into the wine business by the passion, diversity and intimacy that noble wine offers. I view wine as a similar business to restaurants, there are successful restaurants from the hot-dog vendor to the Michelin four-star places that require a second mortgage to dine at plus everything in-between, so both businesses are incredibly diverse.
We categorize restaurants by the type of cuisine (Italian, Asian, Continental, Vegan, Organic, etc) and by the cost of dining there. But any serious foody knows that regardless of category or pricing, the greatest discoveries are the restaurants that are run with passion and intimacy…where the owner is on-hand and committed to the customers experience. It is the wine producers that approach their craft in the same manner that I feel deserve the noble label.
Though these two businesses are related in several ways and serve each other, they have distinct business models and business problems that require different solutions. It is much easier to be artisanal and intimate with your customer when they are coming into your house for a meal.

Just a bit of background, I have posted many things in various forms, blogs, twitter, facebook and even in print publications.  Now I am working on a strategy to combine all my forms of content into a single concept, those dealing with what I term a noble thought, here, wine content and information that don't fit that will be posted to McSnobbelier, my evil alter-ego).  This is the beginning of a consolidation effort.

No comments: