There’s an excellent story on Gary Vaynerchuk in Sunday’s NYT business section. Gary left Wine Library and WLTV couple of years ago to start a firm providing social media marketing and–surprise!–he’s bringing his trademark thunder to his new field. Vaynermedia now employs 290 people and has a list of top companies as clients. Congratulations to Gary–it seems he is well on his way to his dream of owning the NY Jets.
We haven’t checked in here with wine and social media for a while, so it’s worth discussing. Wineries seem the most ham-fisted at social media. While some interactions between wineries and consumers seem possible and natural, many more seem forced. If I tweet about a wine I had recently, do I really want the winery giving me virtual high fives? No, that would seem like trolling. Similarly, if a winery simply retweets every tweet mentioning their wines, why should a consumer follow them? Wineries face the crucial problem that while a consumer may be into wine in general, the consumer may not really have an allegiance to one wine/winery, especially on social media. More often than not, it’s the people behind the wineries (such as Jeremy Seysses or Randall Grahm) who have better tweets than an official winery account, which too often seem blatantly commercial and gains little traction.
Wine shop staff can use social media to great effect, as Wine Library TV illustrated. But if all they offer is a stream of tweets or updates relating to prices it can get dull, even if they have a deal of the day, which you will rarely see from a winery. And shops have the ability in many states to hold events in-store, which can mean free tastings. Or shops can offer links to stories about wines they stock or otherwise engage in intelligent conversation. Wine bars and restaurants also seem better suited to the medium than wineries as sommeliers such as Patrick Cappiello or Michael Madrigale have shown.
As the NYT article points out, social media advertising can be self-defeating: if a model proves successful, it will be imitated ad nauseam, which will eventually annoy the hell out of everyone who will leave the platform.
What do you think: is a blend of social media and the wine biz impossible or essential? Who does it best on the whole, wineries, wine shops, or wine bars/restaurants?
Charles Schumer of New York wants the US Postal Service to be able to ship wine and beer. The number three democrat in the Senate made comments this week to roll back a ban on wine and beer shipping that dates to 1909. He calls it a “win win win,” since it would benefit producers (in NY and elsewhere), consumers and the USPS. Schumer argued that the USPS could gain $225 million in revenues from such shipping, largely because it could offer flat rate shipping at lower rates than FedEx and UPS.
Shipping wine by mail is long overdue. In fact, I suggested this for the USPS last year, but since Schumer’s words carry more weight in Washington, I’m glad he’s reached the same conclusion.
However, it doesn’t go far enough. According to The Leader, a paper in Corning, Schumer’s proposal would only permit shipping from wineries (or breweries) to consumers. It makes sense to only give businesses the right to ship since they could put in place the proper age verification mechanisms for recipients. But only allowing wineries makes the mistake of excluding retailers. While we will take what we can get, if Schumer really wants to make this a “win” for consumers and the USPS, his proposals should include the right for wine shops to ship via the mail too. Not only do wine shops offer imported wines, which account for a third of wine sales in the US (and more in NYC, I’d venture to say), but shops often have better pricing than wineries. This, of course, is why Schumer would not want to include retailers. Consumers would obviously rejoice but so would the USPS since their anticipated revenue from wine could swell to $350 million to reflect the share of imported wine in the marketplace.
A final point: if the USPS shipped wine, it would greatly highlight the 39 recalcitrant state governments that still prohibit retailers from out of state to ship. While Schumer is challenging outdated drinks shipping laws, why not put an end to that one too.
Halloween always brings a lot of scaaaaaary stories. But the biggest bogeyman out there in wine news today is the story that the world is running out of wine.
In short, Morgan Stanley’s 78-page report makes the argument that production has fallen through various uprooting schemes in the EU, consumption has risen, and a 600 million case surplus in 2004 has swung to only a 1 million case cushion now.
However, Paul Franson points out that the fear is overblown since Morgan Stanley is the odd one out. It’s worth flagging his account over at Wines & Vines because Franson not only has some good figures but also gets some good quotes. Consider this one from Rabobank’s Stephen Rannekleiv: “It’s worth asking: If the market is so incredibly tight, why are bulk wine prices moving lower in most major regions of the world?” (He has more sanguine analysis about the market and hints at lots of under-the-table activity, adding “buying Spanish bulk wine and selling it as French bottled wine is a great business model.”)
The OIV forecasts an 8% rise in wine production this year. And Silicon Valley Bank’s Rob McMillan told the SF Chronicle that “Morgan Stanley’s report is just wrong,” citing a dearth of tank space for inventorying wine, among other factors.
Two things are happening here. First, there’s a ton of bulk wine in the world, admittedly less than there was a few years ago. But there was so much wine being produced that even AOC wine was being distilled into ethanol. Getting rid of wine that’s being made into a fuel additive is not exactly something for a wine consumer to lose sleep over. What is worrisome are the severe weather in places like Burgundy this summer, which will cause scarcity and drive prices higher. But this has absolutely nothing to do with the “wine lake” and distillation end of the market.
Second, many media outlets have picked up this story and run with the “shortage” angle. I know this is a spooky time of year, but praying on the fears of wine drinkers in this issue is unnecessary and short-sighted.