A couple of posts back I mentioned the entity known as Crushpad to introduce another exciting option wine enthusiasts have for procuring custom made premium quality wine. After reading the following post, it may become an idea that not only sounds advantageous but also an idea whose time has come.

The reason I mention this option again is there is a current debate about the fall of the great Napa region’s reputation and wines, especially since winegrowers and winemakers are no longer the same folks (sort of like Crushpad).

Gary Vaynerchuk, the infamous and animated video wine blogger comments on this subject and other problems in Napa. If you are not familiar with his site,
Wine Library TV, let me introduce you; I suggest you view some of his episodes for the sheer entertainment value not to mention the hilarious yet accurate wine reviews he so adamantly presents.

During a recent “Ahead of the Curve” seminar presented to the Napa Valley Grape Growers at Copia, there were a couple of opposing opinions regarding the stability and branding strength of the Napa name as it compares to wines from other regions as pointed out in Tina Caputo’s article on Wines & Vines, “Tough Love for Napa Growers”.

Glenn Proctor
Glenn Proctor
Photo credit: Wines & Vines
During an overview of the current market for Napa Valley grapes, wine and grape broker Glenn Proctor of the Ciatti Company pointed out, “…both production and pricing for Cabernet Sauvignon are increasing, while Merlot remains stable. Buyers are scouting for grapes earlier in the season than usual, and more of them are seeking long-term grape contracts. Pricing is tightening up at both the low and high ends of the spectrum, and inexpensive grapes are becoming more difficult to come by. Per-ton grape prices for 2008 range from $1,900 to $2,800 for Chardonnay, $2,300 to $4,500 for Cabernet Sauvignon and $1,400 to $2,500 for Merlot”.
However, according to outspoken retailer and video wine blogger Gary Vaynerchuk, the Napa Valley “brand” is heading for a fall. According to Vaynerchuk, “Napa Valley’s consumer relations efforts are “disastrous,” he added, “particularly in relation to younger adults. To them, Napa is viewed at “the big, bad guy,” he said, “While other regions are seen as the “good guys.” Vaynerchuk advised vintners to spend time “in the trenches” to make sure tasting room staff members aren’t being rude or neglectful toward Millennials–otherwise, a scathing commentary might end up on the Internet the next day.”
Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary Vaynerchuk

I hear a lot of comments about treatment of guests while they are at the tasting rooms. I think Gary’s comments on this subject are timely and pertinent. It seems to be a pretty common occurrence that young visitors are often looked down upon, treated with disdain and generally undervalued at winery tasting rooms. Too many wineries are focused on the retail sale that day and not the big picture of marketing a brand for a relationship that continues long after you leave the winery and hopefully every time you are standing in the wine department of your local retailer.

The most enlightening aspect of Tina Caputo’s story was the prices per ton of Napa fruit especially the large margin of separation between Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

My next post you can look forward to a discussion about a couple of great valued Merlots and the reality of $50 a bottle Cabernet becoming almost as certain as a $5 gallon gasoline.

~ Marc Hinton