It feels like there are suddenly a ton of wine merchants that specialize in the Languedoc-Roussillon. Obviously I’m pretty happy about that, so I’ve made a list of these wine vendors who are focused on the south of France.
I’ve previously mentioned a few of these Languedoc Roussillon wine merchants on Love That Languedoc. But new ones seem to emerge all the time, and there are also a couple I overlooked in the first rundown.
Interestingly, almost all of them blog.
Thoughts on specialization
I think the Languedoc Roussillon is ready for this sort of specialization. At least the suppliers are. We have sooo many high end, small production wines that need this sort of merchant with a strong regional focus to find the best wines at the greatest value. And the wine-buying public is learning more and more about our region every day. So eventually, these sites might have the same opportunities as sites that specialize in smaller regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy.
I do wonder if the businesses need to distinguish themselves a little bit more. Being regional specialists might not be a unique selling proposition, as evidenced by the emergence of sooo many competitors in such a short time. Maybe this is why so many of them blog. To give them a personality that separates them from the competition. Or to get better search engine referencing. But at the point where they all blog, is that really setting them apart? Or is it just keeping up with the Jones’s? And is it effective at all with sorely out of date blogs like Terroir Languedoc’s (last updated in 2009!! Gemma!! Take that off your front page navigation ;D )
Perhaps Midi Vin is doing it right since they’re not JUST blogging. They’re actively participating in the online and offline wine community. I see Sylvain and his colleagues at wine fairs and conferences and producers all the time (not to mention they’re sponsoring VinoCamp Languedoc).
I guess a lot of these merchants expect their portfolio to set them apart too. They can try to be the person who unearths the best quality and hardest to find wines at the lowest prices. But this is tough. The only way to judge who is best is for an extremely devoted customer to shop at all six places. And the chances are that each of these merchants has a couple coups de coeur tucked into their portfolios.
And a last observation, why don’t any of them carry my wine? I don’t want to pat myself too much on the back, but it seems like it might be a decent idea to contact all the active Languedoc Roussillon winemaker blogs.
But anyway, I’m pleased at their combined enthusiasm. I hope it works wonderfully for all of them. And I encourage these regional pioneers to keep on working the local angle. And innovate new ways to bring our wines to light.
Influence on other businesses
I think it’s safe to say that these businesses are influencing other merchants to adopt more regional focus in their portfolios. Even our own UK importer, Naked Wines, might be influenced by the practices of these more specialized merchants. When the site launched, they had hardly any Languedoc. Now, they now carry a whole range of Languedoc wines and their customer base is becoming more and more familiar with the area. Which in turn generates interest in finding new wines from the area and drinking even more Languedoc. Good stuff!
I’ve been reading about some of the cool stuff going on at Where 2.0, but I’ve got this funny feeling in the back of my head that Where 2.0 might be forgetting the farmers.
That screenshot from Upcoming makes me so freaking sad. “Sorry, there are no popular events in your area!” I even lied about my area and made it the biggest city near here. 🙁 Which brings up another problem. If web services don’t cater to rural areas, countries that are predominantly rural (eg France and Spain) might experience stalled adoption rates, even in moderately sized cities.
For those who have no idea what “where 2.0” is about: the Internet is getting really interested in location location location.
YouTube, Twitter, and the usual suspects all want to know if you’ll please enter geographical data along with every new upload. Sites like Gowalla and Foursquare are putting big money on geographic location-based gadgets. And for a while, sites have been finding ways to get people away from the desktop and into the street to meet up for flashmobs, dance parties and massive group discounts.
But these sites have largely focused on big metropolitan areas. And that’s understandable. These are businesses and they figure the easiest way to get clients is to focus on places with high adoption rates and a big potential consumer base. Not a lot of winemakers prune with their iPhone handy waiting to hear about a discount on designer jeans.
And I’m wondering if California winemakers are going to be reaping the profits of proximity to major tech hubs like San Fran while poor old Languedoc hangs high and dry.
Is it part of our job as winemakers in a rural area to assess the current Internet landscape and retool some of the services out their to serve our needs? I’m working on this idea and I’ll keep coming back to it. For sure, there are ways that social media can sell wine like when Twitter-ers bid on wine at a Toques et Clochers auction in rural France. But we might have to actively study these examples if we want to replicate their success.