Robert Joseph on wine tourism

This post is part of a series of posts about le Vin 2.0 2011 where Robert Joseph presented on the topic of wine tourism and consumer psychology.

Wine Tourism

Oenotourism is the other big subject Robert Joseph tackled. The presentation was similar to the one Vitisphere reported on in October. And it definitely falls in line with some of the wine tourism concepts I wrote about earlier this year. The gist of the presentation is that we have to change a lot of things in the wine tourism business. But really it’s a big sprawling topic so you might want to look through the slides embedded below:

Here are some random observations I’d like to make:

There are people who want to visit vineyards even though they’re not obsessed with wine.  Wine tourism is supposed to be entertainment.  I agree with all of this and talk about it a lot (most recently in the conclusion of my five minute story at the EWBC).  Visiting a winery should not be a task. It should be fun and entertaining.  It can also be educational and informative, but those are all secondary to the entertainment.  And then he does a semantic analysis of trip advisor reviews (again, I’m getting deja vu here as I just did this type of analysis with the O’Vineyards tripadvisor reviews this year)

Although he also argues that wineries should have pools and movie theaters and daycares and all kinds of peripheral activities.  I think this is smart, but it’s also important to note that not every winery will do all of this.  It’s up to each winemaker to figure out how to intelligently expand their tourism offer without overstretching themselves or falling into a job they don’t actually want to do.

Slide 17 is hilarious/tragic… 99% of Napa wine producers find tourism to be financially viable while 60% of Florentines do not find it financially viable even though the average shopping cart size is actually smaller in Napa (according to this study).  Is this because there are far more visitors at a time in Napa?  Or are Italians/Europeans/Mediterraneans just predisposed to being unhappy about our tourism activity? ;D

The question of merchandise is also raised.  Here too I wholeheartedly agree with Robert.  My parents and I really make a lot of sacrifices to create delicious, unique, life-altering wines and we sometimes make pennies per bottle.  On the other hand, I can buy glassware, corkscrews and hoodies with our logo or Carcassonne written on them and sell those at 400% markup.  It’s absurd, but I make more money selling a bar of soap with my logo (ordered online) than on the bottle of wine that I spent three years on.  And this is a point of contention.  Some people say that a winemaker exists to sell wine, not to sell soap.  I’m not sure, but I think a winemaker exists to make wine.  If I have to sell soap to subsidize my wine sales, then I will sell soap.  It’s what I have to do to make wine.  And I don’t want to imagine a world where I’m not making wine.  So sell soap.

Joseph also cites this article about tasting room sales and it’s pretty interesting.

I don’t really have a well organized mailing list (which is terrible of me. it’s one of the things I need to change in 2012) or any wine club (something I might change).  This was a big topic and I am ashamed at the end of it. :-/

Then he also talked about the R&D potential of visitors at the vineyard.  Why not ask your visitors to try new blends and see if they like it.  Test out ideas on your tourists because they are your final market.  This sparked some controversy in the talks afterwards as many winemakers find it unthinkable that you would make a wine to cater to the public (essentially to the lowest common denominator the way record labels pick singles to go on the radio).  At this extreme, you end up with bland, inoffensive wines that nobody hates (and nobody loves) that can appeal to all markets.  But that is an extreme.  If you actually have a steady flow of tourists, you can draw information from them and choose to use it or ignore it the same way you would use an oenologist or winemaking consultant.  Furthermore, I’d argue that my tourists are not the same as a random sample from the  global population.  People who visit my vineyard tend to be a little like me, weird sense of humor, interested in learning, like a large range of different wine styles, and so on.  Taking their opinions into count is not the same as trying to cater to everybody.

Sorry this post is so rambly.  Hard act to follow.

This post is part of a series of posts about le Vin 2.0 2011 where Robert Joseph presented on the topic of wine tourism and consumer psychology.

Robert Joseph at le vin 2.0

Robert Joseph at le vin 2.0

Consumer Psychology

Robert Joseph started with a 2 minute biography of himself and then made a funny point. So far, 2 minutes about him and 0 minutes about wine drinkers. How typical of the wine industry! The rest of his presentation focused on consumers, their habits, and what they want in wine.

A large point he made was that we need to treat like wine like every other beverage.  It’s a tough pill to swallow because everybody in the audience loved wine.  But his point is that the majority of consumers don’t revere wine the way we do.  There are split second decisions that people make to have a glass of wine or a beer or a coke or some water.  The majority of consumers are simply pleasure-seekers and wine should try to deliver that pleasure.

The good news is that wine tastes great!  So all we have to do is market its wonderful tastes.  The bad news is that we are awful at conveying how good wine is.  Instead of reassuring our potential customers that the wine they are thinking of purchasing is delicious, we plague them with esoteric region names, unpronounceable words, and intimidating etchings of our estates.  Instead of promising a good time, many wines fill their potential clients with anxiety and dread.

As a result, many people would rather avoid wine entirely (which Joseph uses to explain the dwindling wine consumption numbers in France).  Other people will simply seek different wines that are marketed more simply.  He picks the example of Cupcake Wines who are inanely simple in their marketing.  Everything is Cupcake Merlot or Cupcake Chardonnay or Cupcake Vodka (because once you launch a successful brand, you might as well run with it!)

On the bright side, it doesn’t have to be quite as simple as Cupcake.  We can still try to deliver actual information to the consumer, but we have to be smart about it.  Joseph cites a study he conducted where they put a QR code on a wine bottleneck.  The QR code could send the shopper to a variety of different presentations.  And then people were asked if that information made them want to get the wine or not.  Here are the different presentations starting with the most popular (the number in parentheses is the percentage of people who said it was good information):

  • how it tastes (47%)
  • grape varieties (44%)
  • food & wine pairings (41%)
  • how can you save money on it (39%)
  • where to buy it (38%)
  • how to serve it (38%)
  • information about where it was made (38%)
  • information about how it was made (28%)
  • information about the producer (18%)
  • video of the winemaker (12%)
  • video of the winery (9%)

People almost don’t care about where the wine is from, who made it, what drives us.  Really, most consumers in this study wanted to know what the wine tasted like.

And the next step is a big ongoing research project called doilikeit that studies the relationship between wine preferences and other food/beverage preferences.  And with that data, one day, we’ll be able to recommend wines based on what sort of food you like or what kind of soda you drink.  Oh you like ginger ale? Try a riesling.  Part of this terrifies me but part of it is also really cool.  Like a for food.  Oh and why stop there?  Why not combine the data with doilikeit data!  People who like Tom Waits Bone Machine era looovve O’Vineyards.  Oh you like Tom Waits?  Try some O’Vineyards O’Syrah.

And then combine rottentomatoes data and all the data on your TESCO shopping card.  And suddenly you can tell potential drinkers that if you like Tom Waits AND bought The Muppet Movie there is an 86% chance you’ll enjoy O’Syrah 2009.  Brave new world.

I attended the second edition of a conference/seminar in Paris called Le Vin 2.0  This post will link to the various pieces written about Le Vin 2.0 2011.

View the story “Le Vin 2.0 2011” on Storify

On the 28th of March, Parisians can taste the products of some of France’s most notorious winemaking bloggers.  Antonin from Vindicateur and Eva from Oenos are organizing this epic wine tasting at l’Hedonist which will include seven properties.


invitation degustation de vin a l'hedoniste

All the details about the seven winemakers (only six on the invitation, but they promise seven in all!) can be found at Oenos by clicking the invitation above.

Here’s the short list:

Most of these are in French (because we’re in France).  Also THREE of these are names you might recognize from my growing list of Languedoc Roussillon winemaker blogs.  Iris, Clos Romain and I are all proud Languedociens.  Two Beaujolais.  A Perigord.  And I have no idea where Olivier B makes his wine.

Anyway, a lot of people read our blogs and think “I’d like to taste that wine one day”… well if you’re in Paris, that day is March 28th.  Go out to l’Hedoniste.  Meet Antonin and Eva.  Drink our wine.  Be merry.

After reading Midi-Vin’s very good post (in French) about Le Vin 2.0, I have realized that my summary left a lot to be desired.  The main shortcoming is that I focused entirely on the speeches and I totally ignored the most important part of every conference: ambiance and audience.

So let me take a short moment to say it was a blast.

The Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature is a grand old building with a huge subterranean portion that kept us warm while Paris was blanketed in snow.  It’s also full of hilarious chandeliers and lustres made of various bones, antlers and minerals.  Awesome place.

The food was delicious.  Seriously good.  Probably tied with the Grenache Symposium in that respect (although the GS lasted a few days so they probably still sit in first place).  And the wines at the tasting that night were interesting too.

Vinternet got a good group of people together.  It looked like there were a solid 60-70 people there from various parts of the wine business.  A lot of producers, which I liked.

Tragically, the interprofession was not very present and I think that these big picture organizational types are the ones who could have profited the most from the conference.  In other cases, you have folks like the Vignerons du Luberon, cooperateurs in that part of France.  They loved the presentations but when you ask them how these ideas will be implemented at the cave, they smile knowingly.  Their boss will shoot these web ideas down instantly.  Sad that the boss couldn’t be there.  We might have converted him or galvanized him but the point is there would have been an exchange.

But let’s not get all depressed.  There were some folks there with more instrumental organizational roles.  The national level of les Vignerons Indépendants were present and charming.  I liked their style and they were much more receptive than some of the VI folks who I have met on the departmental level here in Aude.

The Languedoc was well-represented.  At various points throughout the day I discovered I was sitting next to somebody from the region.  I finally got to see Olivier Lebaron (from Terre de Vin / Vitisphere) IRL.  And I met the directeur from Anne de Joyeuse who also had a wine involved in the live tasting that night.  And of course, I’ve already mentioned Midi-Vin’s coverage of the conference.

Other posts that touch on vin 2.0:

  • Vindicateur – Is wine criticism turning into stand up comedy?
  • Musigny – I don’t know who this is (maybe Grégoire Japiot?) but it seems they streamed the whole conference on their iPhone!!
  • Wise Queen – something

I’ll be in Paris for Vin 2.0 tomorrow.  It should be a lot of fun.  There’s a big conference during the day and a live tasting at night and we’ve added my O’Syrah to the tasting list.  Feel free to follow along online, tweeting or adding reviews to Naked Wines, CellarTracker, Corkd, VinoGusto, Adegga, or any other social network you belong to. 🙂

The tasting takes place at
December 8th, 2010


facebook page

VinoCamp Paris:séance sur l’oenotourisme. Je reviendrai d’une manière un peu plus éditoriale avec mes opinions sur ce qui a été dit. Mais pour l’instant, je voulais au moins télécharger l’enregistrement inédit de la discussion qui a eu lieu à VinoCamp Paris sur l’oenotourisme et le tourisme à distance / la réalité augmentée.

Partie 1 de “Oenotourisme, l’Internet et la réalite augmentée”:

Partie 2 de “Oenotourisme, l’Internet et la réalite augmentée”:

Merci à tous les participants, et spécialement à ceux qui m’ont aidé à déplacer la camera pendant toute la séance.

More coverage of VinoCamp Paris:

Voilà une des sessions VinoCamp Paris sur les sujets de la cartographie, la géolocalisation, et d’autres moyens de bouger le monde.

Un peu sec, inédit, mais cela peut être intéressant d’entendre exactement ce qui a été dit pour tous ceux qui n’ont pas pu venir.

Il y a une discussion de logiciels comme FourSquare, Gowalla et Haidu qui ont tous un aspect de géolocalisation. Nous observons ensuite certaines innovations dans les logiciels cartographiques. Très cool pour les geeks. Ce ne sont peut-être pas des innovations crées pour la personne non-avertie, mais c’est amusant de voir où le futur de la géo nous amenera.

Dans la vidéo, il y a un grand nombre de personnalités du vin et de la technologie. Veuillez m’excuser si je n’ai pas la liste complète des noms, et je vous invite a ajouter un commentaire pour que je puisse vous identifier sur la vidéo!

Nous avons VinBlog, Yair Haidu, Grégoire, Tag de Vin, Per Karlsson, et d’autres personnes qui sont intervenus.

More coverage of VinoCamp Paris:

Folks watching my facebook updates and tweets of late have been wondering “What is a BarCamp? And what does it have to do with wine?”

What is BarCamp?

A couple people have assumed that it’s like an intensive training camp for barristas or bar patrons.  While I love that assumption, it is slightly off the mark.  BarCamps are a type of conference or symposium.  They are sort of an anarchic un-Conference, organized by all the attendees at the very last minute.  I mean they’re not totally anarchic.  There are rules of BarCamp.  But the rules are written on a wiki that anybody can change.  The whole thing has the spirit of a temporary autonomous zone, and it’s a far cry from traditionally organized, opaque, pre-scheduled industry gabfests that used to dominate the tech space.

An Inaccurate History of BarCamps Based on Conjecture and Speculation

Everything I know about BarCamp I learned by skimming wikipedia and a few articles online.  So take this with a grain of salt.  But my general understanding is that some time way back when (2005), O’Reilly launched an impromptu user-generated conference called FooCamp (a play on the computer term Foobar).  After the success of this event, a bunch of people started running similarly anarchic BarCamps (a play on the second syllable of Foobar).

BarCamps are a backlash against all the super-strict industry events that can dominate technology conferences (and wine conferences for that matter).

Anybody can start a BarCamp by getting a space and posting a wikipedia page on the BarCamp wiki.  And then anybody with the Internet can modify the wiki.  And miraculously, it works.  You get a big group of people who are leading the charge in their industry to convene and exchange ideas.  And it’s very participatory.  No visitors.  You are highly encouraged to talk.

And what is VinoCamp Paris?

VinoCamp is a BarCamp devoted to wine.  Normally, BarCamps are about technology.  VinoCamp will be about wine and technology.  There is a lot of energy being put into bringing wine online.  There are several large-scale social networks devoted to wine.  There are thousands of blogs devoted to everything from tasting notes to wine news to estate visits.  There are thousands of online stores and other web-based wine businesses.  So there’s a lot going on in this space and it makes sense that all of us get together and exchange ideas.

This is not the first VinoCamp.  There were VinoCamps in 2008 and 2009 in Canada.  But this one definitely has a different feel.  I’ll report on this less ambiguously during and after the actual camp. Right here and a bit on Love That Languedoc too, probably.

But what is VinoCamp ACTUALLY

Well it’s hard to answer because the entire event can change at the last minute.  The only thing set in stone is that we’re all meeting at La Cantine in Paris on Saturday, July 10, 2010.  I’ll be there around 10 AM. And after that the sky is the limit.  Topics and presentations will be discussed as we go along.

Obviously, there are some topics that cannot be avoided.  We will obviously address the European Wine Bloggers Conference coming up in October, for example.  With this particular group of people, it would be silly to ignore the Conference.

People keep suggesting that I am exaggerating and that I have a basic idea of what will go on because lots of preliminary ideas have been posted on the VinoCamp Paris wiki.  This is untrue.  While many ideas have been posted on the wiki and several discussions have taken place online and in the real world, nothing is predetermined.

For example, I am actually in a minority of people that believes we should be able to consume wine during the presentations throughout the day.  In the pre-discussions, it generally seems people are against this because it could let the whole event fall into a sort of debaucherous boozefest rather than an important marketplace of ideas.  To that I say, “Too bad.”  This boy is drinking. And if you want to hear what I have to say, you’re going to have to shut your eyes or see me holding a glass of wine!  And the awesome thing about a BarCamp is that it is totally up for discussion.

Although I do have to agree with the general point that we shouldn’t open up the BarCamp Bar until much later in the day.  If you are uninterested in the forum and just want to drink, go to a bar.  No Camp required.

I just had a wonderful and hectic time in Paris, the city where I never sleep.

Vicky Wine and Ryan OConnell, loving that Languedoc

Vicky Wine and Ryan O'Connell, loving that Languedoc

I did a big Languedoc-themed shindig with Vicky Wine at a nice art gallery called l’Oeil du Huit.

We also did a Love That Languedoc episode at the Paris cave de dégustation of before opening up the doors to do a Domaine O’Vineyards tasting.

Here is a little snippet from the crus tasting where one of their dear patrons talks about which of the three Podium wines she liked best:

How to find us

Domaine O’Vineyards, located in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, is just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387

Wine, Dine, Relax at our Boutique Vineyard
Unique thing to do in Carcassonne
Wine Cellar. Winery Visits. Wine Tasting.
Wine & Food Pairing

North Arrondissement of Carcassonne
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910

  1. Best by GPS.
    Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou using the D118. At the end of the last straight part of D118, you will come to a roundabout with the Dyneff gas station.
  2. Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
  3. Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which curves up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire on the left.
  4. At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
  5. After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.