I would like to start by looking at two very different wine gigs. Savour : had its moments but missed, I think, a lot of opportunities. And the Wine Day Out, held yesterday in Melbourne : a new type of wine gig, because it avoided patting anyone on the back.
Granted, Savour was charged with rewriting the story of Australian wine for a global audience. No small task. And, to my mind, a few misjudgments were made, but overall, there was the projection of pride and style across (most) regions, if not across all pricepoints. See the last post if you wish to catch up.
And Wine Day Out? Well, to me, the event was about freedom. We entered the room, and for the most part managed to leave our brands and our identities at the door. Run by Jess and Dan at Bottleshop Concepts, the event became about people discussing their business, their industry and its issues, not about backslapping or ego. We listened to a person who doesn’t understand wine – or care about it – talk about branding and the core of our identities. We listened to Nick Stock talk about the fragility of our identities, couched in between references to Walter White, Miley, Rihanna, and – gods help me – twerking. We listened to people who understood brands and markets talk about how to work our stories into the reality of brand promotion.
And then. Then, I think, one voice reminded people why we were there. Andrea Frost spoke with a joy I remember from long ago. ‘Wine makes beauty tangible’. Remember that? Those sips of wines when the world changed for the better? When you knew you had something for which to aim? To make something that great, or to find it again. Or something equally blinding. For some it is books. Music. Food. The symmetry of mathematics. An idea made real. Tangible. Beautiful.
Joy, encapsulated in a moment, a location, a situation. And eloquently narrowed down by Ben Edwards to that moment when (if) a sommelier can explain why they bought the wine…
I think that sometimes, the demands of our business – currency markets, client financial issues, distributor finagling, chain pricing pressures, wine gluts – force our focus away from why we might be here in the first place. The joy. Those pure instances of beauty.
Sure. We have dinners. We preach our joy in the industry. We shout about our glory… But we also have daily pressures from our beloved industry. As do many running agricultural businesses. Or those relying on trends, branding, a marketing spend, innovation, retail vagaries. I think, however, the recognition of the beauty which hooked us in is often drowned out by these other factors.
The room paid rapt attention through the discussions. We engaged. And over lunch, I began to see a spark. People pushing thoughts and ideas back to the fore. Innovation bubbled away behind the eyes. Excitement built.
Issues were discussed. Not just derided, but solutions sought. Beer and cider was drunk, and people didn’t discuss the wine, rather the business, the game. And not to whinge, but to explore.
And this was just a start. More of this, please. More open chatter. People not spruiking, but wanting to delve.
I think there is a purity to what we do, and there are so very many factors affecting our presentation of ourselves and our wines which can obscure that vibrancy, that purity. We think we are representing one thing and then we find ourselves bemoaning the duopoly, pricing pressures, the environment, the writers, the buyers… Et al.
The consumer doesn’t care. Really they don’t. The joy? The beauty? That is where it begins. Inspire, then teach the consumer to love. Whether it be ongoing affair with $10 chardonnay, or an enduring search for gruner and meunier. There is no wrong here.
So, let us inspire again. Be inspired ourselves, and share that. Joy is infectious. Beauty is intoxicating.
Share this. Share why there is no choice for us. There is only beauty made tangible.
Apologies to Andrea Frost for appropriating her words. I probably owe her a Campari or two.