R.I.P. Wine X / Meeting the New Challenge

wine-x.jpgThe ever-insightful Tom Wark of Fermentation wrote of Wine X yesterday that they ‘promised to deliver Generation X to wine marketers’ and wrote of Darryl’s “unique method of reviewing wine which profoundly influenced wine reviewers.

Darryl Roberts regularly compared wine to rock stars gone bad, scantily clad women with berries in their bosom and other cheeky but always entertaining ideas.”

And quite rightly, it is noted that many of those to be found on Vinography’s blogroll were inspired by such writing, and have unwittingly come together, everyday writing about the world of wine, in a selfless quest to spread the word.

Hopefully Darryl will start a blog, because his voice undeniably added a new dimension to the industry 8 years ago and there’s no reason it can’t go on now.

Just going through the comments by so many users on so many different blogs today, the frustration is quite tangible. Wine X in theory could have been a great success, but in my opinion this is more of a medium vs. message paradigm. The message was right, but Mr. Roberts’ medium, though correct at the launch time, failed to evolve over the years. Wine X failed because it’s a magazine, and their target market is already decreasing their consumption of magazines. Mr. Roberts’ assertion that the wine industry is stuck in the eighties is rather amusing, considering he himself seems to be deeply entrenched in the nineties. Y2K never happened and whilst we spent our last days in the nineties scared of what would happen when the bios clocks hit 2000, we could never have known how drastically the world would change.

All of us working in the wine industry know how tough it can be with budgets. Just look at the advertising rates for Wine Spectator below…

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The cost for a once off advertisement in full color is the amount of profit that most small wine farms would be lucky to make in a wine market like the US. Unfortunately, when you’re to a million people, you’re going to have to market mass market wines, and so comes the brutal irony of a Wine connoisseur magazine that mostly middle-of-the-road Californian wine can afford to advertise in.

Magazines are an incredibly ineffectual form of marketing, because it’s just not targeted enough. There are so many blogs out there with dedicated wine lovers who write about their passion to spread the word in their spare time. But there are just too many voices to read. And with over 1000 wineries in California alone, the great majority of which produce under 5000 cases a year, and with 98% of them having websites, there are too many outlets to visit.

As a representative of the wine industry who has been hitting the streets of New York City on a daily basis, I can see that what Gary. V at the winelibrary.com has done is sheer genius. Before Gary, many wineries would have had to hire a broker to spend an entire year going from door to door telling people what Gary gets through to thousands of passionate consumers in 5 minutes on a daily basis. Gary V achieves 365 times more than what the best wine salespeople were doing ten years ago, in a single moment. All thanks to the internet.

But that’s just retail, and you can’t find every wine you want. Wine.com tries.

Imagine Amazon.com didn’t exist and to get a book we had to go to the individual publishing houses websites? At current the wine industry is like that, worse even, shattered into a million little pieces. Unfortunately, by and large, the consumer and the small niche-producers are the ones who suffer.

At GrapeThinking, we’ve been working for over a year, researching the wine industry, forming key alliances with distributors and marketers, and we’re in the final stages of developing a system that will not only bring everyone in the wine industry together, but it will revolutionize the way wine is taken to market by allowing wineries to connect with their consumers like never before. Finally the industry will have a cost-effective way of bringing thousands of unique and original wines to the thousands of consumers who haven’t been able to get them. This means that wineries, retailers, wine clubs, restaurants, bloggers and consumers will interact online with each other for the first time, and as the 3 Tier system unravels GrapeThinking will be there to keep everyone connected and smash the bottle-neck that currently exists at distribution level preventing passionate consumers from experiencing so many great long-tail wines. Things are going to happen quite quickly from now, and we’re going to fill the gap that Wine X has left. We’re going to do more than fill it, we’re going to maximize it.

The GrapeThinking Team

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