“Finnnnnnnnnnished! The 2102 harvest has finished fermentation and the pressing of the skins was completed Saturday 3rd of November!
When you grow grapes and make wine, you sometimes wonder whether the months of September and October exist. You start to clean and prepare for harvest in late August and the next thing you know; you are getting ready for Christmas!
During the harvest season, visitors are always amazed at how much happens on a daily basis.
Anyway we are extremely happy with the quality of our 2012 harvest and look forward to tasting with all our visitors!”
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.
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.
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 last.fm for food. Oh and why stop there? Why not combine the last.fm 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.
So YouTube (which is owned by Google) has a tool that lets you make movies out of your Google searches. It’s pretty primitive, but it’s a fun way to spend a few minutes. errrr.. scratch that, 35 minutes. Damn it. Now I have to go back to work.
Oh well, here is the story of a person trying to research cool wine related stuff near Carcassonne. And only getting one result over and over. No, I’m not referring to trip advisor. It’s O’Vineyards. The best indie wine estate to visit near Carcassonne.
Search terms used are:
“wine tasting around carcassonne”
“meet a winemaker near carcassonne”
“visit a winery near carcassonne”
“best wines cite de carcassonne”
“make wine around carcassonne”
“vineyard holiday in carcassonne”
If there’s a message to take away from this video, it’s that people aren’t maximizing SEO about wine tourism yet in the Languedoc. The post that turned up in most of these searches was written last Sunday. Gites and Chambres search engine optimization is locked down, but there are tons of wine keywords that are still up for grabs. Especially in English. And Carcassonne is a good example because it receives millions of anglophone tourists every year. And the word on the street is that some of them drink wine.
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
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.
Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
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.
At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.