I can’t help but the world of wine is moving slowly. That’s to some part the nature of wine business where important decisions, such as what grape variety to plant or what quality to aim for, are the basis for many years ahead. The driving force between producers’ adaptive responsiveness in regard to changing consumer wants and needs pushed by a powerful consolidating retail sector (in the major markets) is one of many huge challenges. But as if this ‘natural’ inflexibility wasn’t enough, the wine biz is still pervaded by self-impeding and unconstructive conservatism. And this is not at all limited to the producer level. Also legislative bodies and involved industry organisations who set the regulative and marketing framework for producers are often just a bad reflection of a widespread myopia (see the high fragmentation and dead slow modernisation in the EU). Moreover, the wine industry is a minefield of business’ lead by people who obviously, over the many years of passionate work, lost their sight of what happens outside their company.
Therefore, a cultural change along with changing personal attitudes is essential. Change may involve conflicts. A new, very well-educated generation willing to take over and steer the ship to new horizons is often held back by seemingly wise words such as: “We’ve never done this in the past!”. But developing strategies and sail toward new goals does not necessarily need to go along with castling personnel. So many complain about not having time for things like marketing, obviously because they think producing wine, that they personally like most, should be enough to earn a living. Contrariwise, create capacity to breathe, read, listen, communicate, connect, building relationships and understand what happens outside the box is the name of the game. Yes, tradition may be important and is certainly part of the wine business, but that doesn’t mean that consumers are willing to buy your wine for granted, surely not just for tradition’s sake.
Don’t get me wrong! There are many positive exceptions of successful transitions and fruitful initiatives, and I wish that these will prove the rule over time. Initiatives like ‘Generation Riesling‘ or ‘message in a bottle‘ in Germany set the right impulse for new directions of communicating and organising a forward-looking image of German wine, to give an example.http://www.generation-riesling.de; http://www.message-in-a-bottle.info