> The Wine Market Council’s research is accelerating. I encourage anyone interested in benchmarking consumer trends, or obtaining insight into hot topics for a minimal fee, to consider membership. Last month I conducted a webinar for members on the WMC research into consumer understanding and purchases of “green” wines (organic, sustainable, etc.) Recent projects include a survey of marginal and occasional wine consumers, measuring how they are adopting or defecting from wine and why. This group does not consume a lot of wine per capita, but they are numerous, hence important to current volume and potentially the future. The webinars, reports and research data are available free to WMC members. Anyone considering joining should ask to attend the annual membership meeting and research review on May 11that COPIA in Napa. For more information on attending or joining: Wine Market Council

> In Memoriam– It is with great sadness that I relate the death of David Stevens, winemaker, academic and consultant. He was my co-instructor of the OIV UC Davis Marketing course, but that was only a small part of Dave’s storied career. As a superb judge and winemaker, deeply knowledgeable teacher of wine chemistry, globe-trotting wine and technology consultant, baseball aficionado, great wit and man of the world, Dave touched many lives: Dave.

>OR Economics:  It’s always nice to show up with good news, and this year’s Oregon Wine Symposium was no exception. Full Glass Research just updated the tri-annual report on the Economic Impact of Oregon Grape & Wine Industry. The growth in Oregon has been remarkable, a synergy of increased investment, increased wine tourism and growth in sales and distribution of Oregon wines that outpaced the industry.

> Is cider at a crossroads? Many big corporate players have entered, just as the market for cheaper concentrate-based ciders seems to be slowing. Anecdotal and some scan evidence on sales for smaller high-end brands is positive, but there’s a wave of craft and micro-producers coming on line. I think one of cider’s priorities should be to agree on a clear nomenclature for flavor, sweetness and production styles – a big help for consumers discovering the category.

>Want to learn how to successfully market your wine in the U.S.? See what the experts are doing at UC Davis Extension’s 2018 OIV Wine Marketing Program. Topics from brand establishment to distribution and sales and everything in between are covered, with an emphasis on practical applications. Check out the UC Davis extension website to learn more: https://extension.ucdavis.edu/subject-areas/oiv-wine-marketing-program

> 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’re discovering 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!

> There was a flurry of angst and speculation in the trade press about Amazon closing up its online beer, wine and spirits business and investing in Whole Foods. (The latter essentially forced the former, for legal reasons.) Is Amazon giving up, and what does it mean for internet commerce? I wouldn’t assume Amazon is really “vacating” this space; perhaps just leaving it for the near term. They can re-occupy it fairly quickly, in a more controlled and significant way, due to their ownership of Whole Foods. Previously, Amazon just provided a convenient platform for wineries to sell DtC. The producers were acquiring the ability to gain potential access to all those zillions of eyeballs traveling through Amazon, in exchange for giving Amazon a cut. But producers had to handle all the fulfillment and legal hurdles for each state; Amazon was not a legal seller of wine or beer. Now, if Amazon fuses their delivery system with Whole Foods wine inventory, they can sell and deliver those wines to the consumers in any state where they have a Whole Foods.

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