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Snooth User: Nycolab

Hi - I've just joined Snooth - I have a question for y'all!

Posted by Nycolab, Jun 14, 2010.

I come from a wine retail background (owned a boutique wine store in New Zeland), and am now working in Sales and Marketing with my husband's family vineyard and winery in Martinborough. We're very much a family affair - which seems to becoming a rareity in New Zealand in the current economic climate. I write a wine column for a Wellington Lifestyle Magazine, and am most interested to hear people's thoughts and comments on wine media and wine competitions.

Competion awards can have a huge sway on people's buying philosophy, and yet, I am often dissapointed by competion 'winners' - much prefering smaller, boutique produced wines that seem to demonstrate more 'X' factor. In a social media-orientated world, it also appears that word of mouth has more potential than traditional media, competions, awards etc in driving wine sales and then repeart sales ...

Any thoughts on this?


Reply by penguinoid, Jun 14, 2010.

I think you can take the medals given at wine shows with a grain of salt, it isn't always the best wine that wins. I certainly agree with you that it's the smaller producers who are making the best wines at the moment, at least partly because they're prepared to do their own thing and not make wine to a formula (who tastes wine with a pH meter, anyway?).

Reply by dmcker, Jun 14, 2010.

Here's a thread on the value of wine competitions from last autumn.

I think you're on the right track with your attention to social media now, and even more into the future. But that's not going to get you shelf space in liquor stores, supermarkets and even specialty wineshops all that easily. A couple of gold medals can still help getting on those shelfs, and then being noticed, picked up and carried by consumers from there to the cash register.

So how does a two- or even three-pronged approach sound, with more and more attention to social media, and online sales from your winery?

Reply by dmcker, Jun 14, 2010.

Forgot to mention that the right showing at the right event can also help get blogger (not just distributor) attention more quickly....

Reply by Andrew46, Jun 16, 2010.

There is a lot of variation between competitions in terms of who the judges are and how they are selected. I did not have time to look at all the links in the past thread.  Have you all seen this one:

My friend and fellow Humboldt winemaker, Robert Hodgson of Fieldbrook Winery did some great research on judge accuracy and had some interesting findings.  I think his whole study is available online at the wine economics site.  Bottom line, many judges couldn't reproduce results from flight to flight.  Lots of variation from a statistical POV.  Set aside how well we like their taste.

All that said, we still enter competitions from time to time.  Over the years, if we enter one wine we like better than another, most of the time it is ranked higher by the judges.  An example being the Arneis that just got a gold in the Orange County Wine Competition:  I think it is one of the best white wines we have made.  I said so before we entered it.

My stepfather notices that for us at least, white wines with more acid, or more outstanding aroma are more likely to win and mouth balance is not rewarded.  But I think that is just the nature of judging.

So, I would like to offer the idea that while some are probably meaningless, or corrupt, some competitions are actually pretty good for wineries in terms of getting feedback as long as you understand the limits of the type of feedback you can get.

The little ribbons and plaques look good on the wall too.  For some people, it lets them know it is OK to like it.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 16, 2010.

Yeah, Andrew, the earlier thread talks a lot about Hodgson and his research reports. He sounds like an interesting guy....

Reply by Andrew46, Jun 16, 2010.

On further reflection it seems worth while to point out the obvious:  other than one's own experience, there is no one way of evaluatuating which wines a person might like that is without serious limitation.  90+ points?  Single reviewers?  Competitions?  Discussion boards?  Don't each of these have limits and bias?  Lots of the reviewers don't even blind taste.  They are subject deliberate or acidental influence by knowing which major labels advertise in the magaizine.*  The discussion boards seem to reflect to some degree a social order that has influenced what is cool to like and not to like.  Thus, a taster might be less likely to post low reviews of a wine that disagrees with an "expert", fearing ridicule.  So, I agree that fair results should be taken with a grain of salt.  Same grain of salt goes for all they other ways of getting info about wine, short of tasting it.  My 2 cents.

PS.  For Hodgson's next study, I might suggest that he check the correlation between advertising and wine ratings going up or down.  Other suggestions?

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