What’s New?

> Wine Market Council research update: every year the WMC carries out a survey of 5000+ Americans representing the population aged 21 years or older. It measures how many people drink wine, beer and spirits, and how they report purchasing by package, price segment, variety and any changes, plus a host of demographic measures.  Think of it as the 30,000 foot view. In the past several years, the gap between high frequency wine drinkers (more than once a week) and others has grown, with the former net increasing purchases and the latter declining. We dissected this trend for a recent members call-in, showing two distinct segments of occasional wine drinkers, headed in different directions. The presentation also included more information on trading up (is $30 the new $20?) and data on wine sales by income group.   Next up is a January webinar on the recent WMC study of direct-to-consumer and web-based sales trends. This research in full detail is available to members; if interested visit: Wine Market Council.

> Conjunctive Labeling heats up. What is Conjunctive Labeling? It’s the labelling of a product to show both region and sub-regions where the product is grown or made; for example Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. Conjunctive labeling may be legally required or voluntary, regulated by government or private organizations. Napa Valley, Paso Robles and Sonoma County have all passed conjunctive labeling regulations. A number of regions are currently wrestling with the issue: Mendocino, Rioja and Willamette Valley just to name three. Quantitative consumer research has shown conjunctive labeling to have a significant effect on quality and pricing perceptions, as well as purchase interest. If you are in a region considering conjunctive labeling, I urge you to do your research before committing to or dismissing it!

> More Thoughts on Wine Region Tourism: It’s a boon to local economies, and the foundation for most winery direct-to-consumer (DtC) sales. Research has shown that the vast majority of wine club membership and website purchases trace back to a visit. But while overall DtC sales continue to grow, more wineries in a variety of regions are reporting slowing or stalled sales. The causes vary somewhat from region to region, but factors include growth differential between visitors and winery tasting rooms, the conversion rate of general tourists to winery visitors, local communications and promotion, and where the winery visitors are coming from. At Full Glass Research we have worked to improve winery visitation with a wide range of clients, from individual wineries up to regional organizations and the Wine Institute. If you are involved in regional planning and promotion, dependent on visitor sales, or interested in the economic or academic aspects of this topic, I’d be happy to answer your questions.

> Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet: I had the pleasure recently of engaging in a tasting and discussion of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, organized by Deborah Parker Wong and including regional association and trade members, plus winemakers from Ridge and Mt. Eden. Cabernets and Cab blends from four wineries, multiple vineyards and several vintages demonstrated high quality and flavor quite different from Paso, Napa, Red Hills or Alexander Valley Cabs.  Distinctive yet consistent flavor profiles are a boon to those trying to establish a lesser known wine region’s place in the market. The wines were mostly middle-weight, intensely flavored but not overripe, with good acidity and often a subtle stony-mineral-clay flavor. Ridgetop exposures and diurnal temperature shifts were credited by the winemakers, but I suspect different palate priorities at work too. An appellation worth checking out!

> Cheese, Grommit! You don’t have to be an Aardman Animation fan to be fascinated by the world of fine cheese. The high end of the cheese business, with its artisanal producers and huge variety of flavor, is very reminiscent of the wine industry. But as we discovered in consumer research for the Oregon Cheese Guild, there are some tricky differences too. The whole issue of how cheese is merchandised at retail has layers of complexity that make the wine aisle seem simple, with interesting trade-offs between visibility, packaging and graphics. Not only that, but there are strange variations in perceived value whether priced by pound or piece. Based on feedback from retailers and producers, there hasn’t been much research in the gourmet cheese category. If you’re out there and curious, or know of someone else doing this, let’s talk!



“Facts don’t come with points of view, facts don’t do what I want them to….”
–David Byrne