Across the country, new businesses are opening every day with wine-centric themes.
From food, to retail sales, to education… wine is big business and business is booming.
2015 was no exception. Wine is trending, and not just on twitter…
As someone who lives, eats and breathes smack dab in the middle of Wine Country… Following are my Overall Top Ten Wine Trends To Note For 2015.
Currently Trending in My House for 2015:
Big Pours in the glass. (Same as 2014, Go figure.)
1. Early Harvest is the New Normal
It seems that it may be time to re-define normal when it comes to timing of the grape harvest. This also means, to embrace the ‘new norm’, during crush season for the wine-makers. The last few years have been early harvests for most producers, especially those in California. Typically the California harvest starts in August, with recent trends showing most growers pulling grapes as early as early July.
With 2015 being the earliest harvest on record in wine country meccas like Sonoma County, it may be time to start adjusting the books on what are ‘expected’ weather patterns. Vineyards and growers need to be more flexible on picking dates with Mother Nature becoming more and more unpredictable herself. The decision of when to harvest is probably the single most critical decision that a wine-grower makes with the quality of the vintage depending on it. No pressure!
2. Everyone is a Critic
What is it, that separates a professional wine writer from a blogger, many people ask. Most wine-lovers probably can’t answer this question, but they can tell you whose articles, blogs and delectable wine label postings are the ‘best’ in their own mind. Wine Tasting is subjective, so is reading about wine. We like what we like, in books and in wine. While one reader may enjoy a story on wine focusing on the acidity, structure and balance of the wine itself, another reader enjoys reading about the experience of visiting the winery much more.
The emergence of new wine writers has definitely started the conversation among the tenured writers in the industry. Most of these new bloggers, social media influencers and amateur authors are not professional critics, but write because they love drinking wine and sharing in the experiences that wine offers. There is more information made public about each wine bottle than there ever has been before. Does this make it more… or less… confusing for consumers just trying to buy a good bottle or visit a nice tasting room? That is the debate…. ongoing, that is. Any new writers want to comment??
3. Have YOU Coravin-ed Yet?
Drink wine without un-corking the bottle? Surely you jest… And yet, just like all those cool gadgets from the Back To The Future movies, the future is now here. We can even Coravin on our new hover-board, if we so see fit. Although this sounds dangerous and is not recommended by me. Haha. Coravin is actually quite simple and that is the beauty of why such a new company has trended so quickly in 2015. Designed by medical device inventor Greg Lambrecht, the Coravin device operates by allowing one to extract a glass of wine at a time without affecting the rest of the juice in the bottle.
Whether you are a home collector who wants to enjoy a glass of the good stuff after work without wasting the whole bottle, or a restaurant Sommelier who would like to put a more expensive ‘wine by the glass’ on the menu, the Coravin solves these problems simply and efficiently. High end small batch wineries are embracing the new Coravin system. It allows consumers to taste through their library and select the years that are best for them without opening expensive bottles unnecessarily. Coravin can mean not always putting away that fabulous wine bottle for a special day… but enjoying it on MANY special days, glass by glass!!
4. Organic Wine Isn’t Just for Hippies
As consumers grow more concerned about environmental issues and become more educated about the wine they are drinking, the path is paved for organic, bio-dynamic and sustainable vineyards to flourish. Slowly gaining more attention, these eco-friendly wineries are growing in number as more U.S. wine consumers are now looking for an environmental solution to eating and drinking well. There is a growing awareness for these products in general (wine, food, and otherwise).
Consumers are more and more educated about what goes into the wine they choose. Wines with no sulfur are already becoming a big trend. Forward thinking growers are already starting to change farming practices today… to reflect more about what will go into the glass tomorrow. There is a move for winemakers to intervene less with the wines they produce from consumers as well.
5. Social Media Wine-ing Pays Off
Although some consumer industries quickly integrate social media into their marketing plan, many wine businesses remained skeptical at first about this new sales platform. In 2015 however, the industry heard of an increasing number of wineries finding success on social media, helping them increase their brand awareness and revenue.
By engaging wine consumers and professional trade in authentic, two-sided conversations, wineries have noticed sales increase, allowing them to control their company image and create ambassadors for their wines without the big budgets of the past. The wine industry has been one of the slowest industries to adopt internet-based marketing and social media tactics. This new platform has also allowed wineries to more easily partner with complimentary brands. Social media has proliferated all walks of people and locations, all discussing various wine varietals, from both producers and consumers alike.
6. Screw Your Wine… Easy Open!
The cork being pulled from a good bottle is like music to the ears of a wine-lover. But… is the tune flawed? The closure debate is escalating year after year as more wineries join the discussion and face the choice of cork vs screw cap. To cork or not to cork. That is the question. One side may argue that screw caps eliminate the fear of cork taint while others point out that the cap may affect age-ability in bigger, bolder wines. Like most choices made in the winery, the winemaker choosing to do what’s best for their wine is what should be the end result.
In New Zealand, they did the transition from cork to screw cap and now you would find it nearly impossible to find a corkscrew about. Although there is less flourish to the opening of the bottle. It’s not so cut and dried as to say wineries have ditched corks and switched to screw caps, but you are seeing more and more on the shelves these days even on the premium wine shelf.
Also… Of Notable Mention…
7. Consumers are Getting Bubbly
For many years now Bubbles have been on the rise…so to speak…literally even… with sales up more than 7 percent in 2015. There is a tremendous amount of extra work and time involved in making sparkling wine. Cheers to that!
8. Mixing It Up Adds Life to the Party
Although blending wine is not a new practice, wine blends are coming back into popularity. In Jan 2015 a Nielsen’s report stated domestic red-blends account for $900 mil in retail sales annually and is one of the fastest-growing wine sales categories in the country. Not too shabby
9. Sustainable Initiatives Taking Hold Worldwide
Increases for sales opportunities of sustainable, organic, and bio-dynamic wine as consumers grow more concerned about environmental issues are everywhere in 2015. Sustainability has become a way of life for California’s wine community in recent years, with a majority of winegrowers focusing on beneficial farming practices to sustain the long-term vitality of land.
10. Price Doesn’t Determine Quality
With all the information available online at the touch of our fingers, there is no doubt consumers in the U.S. are becoming more knowledgeable and educated about wine and the wine bottles they select. The basic difference from one bottle to another should be in the quality of the fruit and cellar treatment, not the price.