Wine Future 2021: Highlights from Days 3 and 4

  • 18 sessions
  • keynotes
  • 90 speakers
  • 1000+ attendees

That was Wine Future 2021 held virtually last week with speakers and attendees joining in from around the globe. While topics were wide ranging, they frequently touched on important issues we face worldwide– inclusivity, sustainability, and climate change– that are important whether you are in the wine industry or not. (Scroll down for a complete list of the session titles).  Find my notes from Wine Future Days 1 and 2 here.

Wine Future 2021 supports three Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) with a silent auction: SOS Cape Town in South Africa, The Porto Protocol in Portugal, and North Bay Jobs with Justice in California. Check out the lots posted here. The auction will close on March 15, 2021 with all proceeds benefiting the NGOs. 

While I didn’t attend all 18 sessions and five keynotes, I attended more than half and took as many notes as I could. I compiled ideas from Days 1 and 2 which I published yesterday, and now I have Days 3 and 4.

While I missed most of two of the most important sessions, “Session 3 – Reviewing and Reversing Discrimination” and “Session 15 – Sustainability Matters,” I’ll have access to this and the other sessions that I missed or that I want to review when they are available online. Sessions will be available to non-attendees in a month or two. 

Possibly the most interesting, inspiring, and influential session for me from the four days of sessions I attended was the Day 3 session on WINE TOURISM: TOWN & COUNTRY with Adrian Bridge (CEO, The Fladgate Partnership), Sylvie Cazes (Director General, Bordeaux Saveurs) and Gonzalo Merino (Wine Tourism & Social Responsibility Coordinator, Bodegas de Argentina) with moderator: Michèle Shah (Export Consultant, Italian Wines / Founder, SpeedTasting) discussing how wine tourism has expanded to become foundational to the financial existence of many wineries both new and old, and grown to be an urban as well as rural phenomenon. I will definitely listen to this session again!

Ask: What can you do that’s unique or different from another winery?

Adrian Bridge said that the average person visits 2.6 wineries.  While the core of the industry is to make money making wine, ancillary activities to tasting including hotels and restaurants are important.

Ask: Who wants to drive the story and the strategy? who is in the best position to do so? 

Wineries are in the best position to drive the stories and the strategy in a wine region.

Gonzalo suggested promoting winery visits as related to culture. Work with neighbors, know neighbors. What’s going on all year round? Every time of the year something’s going on.

Ask: What are new things we can do now with distance and expand further in diversify activities and distancing? 

Sylvie Cazes points out that groups will be smaller with guides will spend more time in the vineyard in the fresh air: “we need to be very original, a vineyard is a vineyard.” Use your imagination — how can you make vineyards come alive when talking with people? We need to connect people to a place, unique and emotional.

People like events– something that happens once a year and they can plan in advance.  Try music or art, events that people can relate to. 

Ask: Do local restaurants know about local wines and terroir? 

Adrian Bridge pointed out that people in restaurants need to know the local wines and terroir: staff training starts at home. If someone travels across world to get to South Africa or NZ when they get there they expect everything and everyone to have a sense of pride of the wine. Wineries should come together to provide that training “that’s what creates the magic.” It reinforces the point that they made the right choice in traveling there.

Ask: Beyond being a member, wonders Gonzalo, is there a way for them to have a relation be a part of it the winery?

Michele: sustainability plays an ever growing important role in travels and choices. 

Sylvie: In Bordeaux, tourists want to visit vineyards to learn about plants and the way plants are treated; “they want to touch the earth, walk in the vineyards.” Offer different activities in the vineyard — take an imaginary boat trip up river to point out the sights and the vineyards.

Adrian: provide context of what we make  

In LEARNING LESSONS FROM OTHER INDUSTRIES, speakers Jessica Baum (Director of Regenerative Development & Sustainability, Fetzer Vineyards), Peter Giuliano (E.D. Coffee Science Fdn. / Chief Research Officer, Specialty Coffee Assoc), Juan Muñoz (CEO, 3D Virtual Tours), and Karli Warner (Co-Founder & CMO, Garden Society) with moderator: Pauline Vicard (Executive Director, Areni Global – FM4FW) consider how other business sectors have “met the adversity of changing markets and customer tastes with clever responses which led to greater market penetration and increased sales.”

Ideas:

  • Jessica: offer an on site garden and learning lab to showcase the difference between biodynamic and conventional farming.
  • Pauline: show how and not just what 
  • Peter: create spaces that are educational not lecturing; a barista is a point of contact that similar to a sommelier. 
  • Juan: 3 D tours  are interactive and people can check out your winery from wherever they are in the world.
  • Jessica: Counter green washing by becoming a B corp and pursuing certifications; Fetzer declared a climate emergency a few months ago.

collaborate across industries…

In SHIFTING CONSUMPTION: TRENDS, DIVERSIFICATION, COSTS & EXPANSION, Philip Gregan (CEO, New Zealand Wine), Aurelio Montes (Chairman, Wines of Chile), and Emilio Restoy (President, Spanish Wine Federation) with moderator Richard Halstead (CEO, Wine Intelligence) asked how can the wine industry “maintain profitability in the face of expansion, unanticipated shifts in customer taste, varying availability and cost of supplies; while maintaining core integrity and seeking the assuredness which may come from a diverse portfolio?”

Ideas:

  • Aurelio Montes: Chile saw a shift to supermarkets and e-commerce an easy way to acquire wines.
  • Philip Gregan: Saw more attention to health and wellness during the pandemic but pointed out that this is a train that’s been impacting wine and other products for a long time.
  • Emilio Restoy: The pandemic accelerated movement to health; the double edged sword of ecommerce.

wine is part of the solution not the problem …
what the industry thinks doesn’t matter — what the consumer thinks matters

  • Philip: Some wineries affected more than others; fewer tourist so less about quantity of people and more about the quality of experience. 
  • Aurelie: Big well established companies have been winners and the small ones have suffered much.

new ways of communicating with social media and e-commerce can be much closer to consumer than before…

While wine is one of the most descriptive labels, it can be used more to show how clean wine be, how careful for the environment. New may varieties hard to sell but they bring light, a spark something very interesting. Consumers can learn from a label there’s a beautiful way to succeed in the future.

In OFF-PREMISE STRATEGIES, speakers Jean-Charles Boisset (President, Boisset Collection), Claudia Masüger (Founder & CEO, Cheers Wines), Sara Norell (Director & VP; Assortment, Purchasing & Supply chain; Systembolaget), and Bernard Filiol de Raimond (Director Global Wine Management METRO AG) with moderator: Annette Alvarez-Peters (Founder, Annette a.p.) considered the rise in at-home consumption of all alcohol beverages and wondered “how long will this trend continue, how has contemporary consumer demand shifted traditional sales platforms, and how has this impacted consumer interest and product accessibility?”

From Bernard Filiol de Raimond: All sparkling has dropped, especially Champagne. Organic wine has demand but fragmented. Bag in box saw consumption grow. White wine trend growth — it’s an accessible wine category.

Claudia Masüger says in China, there’s such a high demand for booze that people are sleeping in their stores to deliver alcohol 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

This made me sad, and I commented about that in the chat where Carlos Caravel Castellanos responded that “it is a fact, a cultural fact, why should anyone be shocked by that?” 

Sara Norell says in Sweden, alcohol consumption changes include that since people are not entertaining others, they’re not buying high end alcohol.

Jean-Charles Boisset said that 2020 was a great year with consumers working closely with trade partners. He held chats with costumers  five times a week and garnered 7 million views on diverse topics including art and food. He said he’s seen growth in many areas and feels closer to his newly expanded base.  

On line, J-C said, there’s plenty of room at the table everyone is welcome. 

Many are entering 2021 with a willingness to change and evolve with time.

everyone’s digital efforts is bringing more people to wine; wine motivates, wine is magnetic

Claudia: Make your own meals programs, ordering ingredients to cook and prepare the meal at home is changing it up. Due to income cuts, people are spending less per bottle.

However, those with stable jobs are missing traveling and spending more on luxury lines.

In TRAVEL & HOSPITALITY,  speakers Andy Consuegra (CEO & Founder, WEBB Banks), Ed Eiswirth (Director of Fleet Beverage Operations, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines) and Fraser Wotzke (Manager of Merchandise & Planning; Spirits, Wine & Tobacco; DFS Group) with moderator: Michael Cheng (Dean, FIU – Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management) discussed how the pandemic impactedtravel and hospitality and what they are doing to deal with these challenges. 

ANDY: A positive trend is bag in a box wine which is much better for environment.

ED: Noted trends in beyond beer, hard seltzer, and pointed out that fabled Duckhorn jumped into wine based seltzer. Beyond beer will likely grow to be its own category.

While the trend may be softening, White Claw dominates, and there’s been a retraction to familiar brands in large bottles, leaving behind artisanal expensive spirits.

“pink Prosecco is a no brainer for US market”

think positive, test negative! 

In  Pancho Campo’s KEYNOTE SPEECH on SUSTAINABILITY & THE CLIMATE CRISIS, the Wine Future founder shared his perspective about the climate crisis as applied to the wine industry.

First, Pancho is pro nuclear energy and sees that as a solutions.

Second, wineries have to understand how to adapt their practices to be sustainable. 

What’s the biggest migration so far? Offline to online but greatest ever will be triggered by climate crisis as populations along the coasts and rivers move inland and from impoverished countries to “modern” countries.

Third, there’s a moral obligation to accept these migrants and help them.

 Fourth, quality of wine won’t be a top priority — there will be other more pressing problems related to the climate crisis.

NOTE: American college in Spain offers courses in climate change and wine.

Fifth, to address the problem, four elements have to work together 

  1. rely on science and scientists 
  2. economics; will need resources; invest to be more profitable in long run
  3. social 
  4. political leg  

In the final session, THE FUTURE Speakers included

  • Alicia Towns Franken (US) – Director, Wine Unify
  • Robert Joseph (GB) – Editor, The Wine Thinker
  • Elin McCoy (US) – Wine & Spirits Columnist, Bloomberg News and Decanter
  • David Pearson (US) – Managing Director, The Meadowood Estate
  • Mike Veseth (US) – Editor, The Wine Economist
  • Pauline Vicard (FR) – Executive Director, Areni Global – FM4FW
  • Fabio Piccoli (IT) – Editor in Chief, Wine Meridian
  • Allison Jordan (US) – Executive Director, California Sustainable Wine Growing Alliance
  • Cheryl Durzy (US) – CEO, LibDib
  • Wendy Peterson (ZA) – Transformation Operations Manager, SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit
  • Mel Dick (US) – President, Wine Division and Senior Vice President, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits
  • Liz Thach (US) – Distinguished Professor of Wine & Management, Sonoma State University
  • Rachel Newman (US) – Vice President, Marketing, Fetzer Vineyards
  • Gloria Vallés (ES) – Marketing professor at EAE Business School and Director at Wine Style Travel
  • Moderator: David Furer (US) – Founder, DF Consults / Host & Co-Organizer, Wine Future 2021
  • Co-Moderator: Frederico Falcão (PT) – President, Wines of Portugal

General Notes:

  • virtual tours big part of the future of wine
  • bulk wine being shipped and bottled at location 

David Pearson asks: is bulk wine more responsive to climate change?

Rachel Newman: Fetzer doesn’t ship bulk wine; 2030 commitment to being climate positive.

Gloria Valles: wineries jumped into digital to connect directly with consumer but in the future need to develop a clear strategy on how they are going to interact with customers which requires an understanding of who is your customer. With bulk wine you lose the identity via packaging and bottle. 

Liz Thach: customer doesn’t know the difference between bulk and terroir wine; most grocery store wine is under $11. Consumer doesn’t understand that piece; better for winery to tell the story and the sustainability and environmental piece. A silver lining in pandemic is growth of e-commerce from 5% online wine sales 198% increase in online wine sales with 44% of online sales to gen x and millennials. Online is bringing in new and younger consumers

ecommerce here to stay; all wineries need to enhance and expand e-commerce platforms

In chat Michelle Shah said that wine.com is up 500% in sales.

Allison Jordan:  Join forces via associations and help government understand impacts. Sustainability is a great lens to use.

Mike Veseth: Since on premise sales will be slow to recover, wineries should work with restaraunts.

you can’t unring a bell — this game of Hollywood squares we’re playing right here;
our task is to do this better, that reaches out more, that’s more inclusive 

Liz: wine can be scary wall of confusion wine list online the consumer not such a frightening interested in organic can find this eiwnes

David Pearson: climate change politics turn people off; instead consider using the trend of people looking for natural and healthy products, and an increased sensitivity to healthy and sustainability. 

Elin McCoy: one of the things we didn’t talk about– the whole idea of the problems of communication round sustainability and relationship to climate change and climate crisis

are wineries doing a good job communicating what they are doing? Elin thinks doing a poor job

David Pearson: people thought wineries were green, and already were organic so hard to sell that as an added value. 

Pauline Vicard: somms and retailers care how wine is made but consumer cares less 

how to choose wines for a list? better sustainability shapes choice from somms

Liz: need measurements to keep track of how being inclusive 

how can we be inclusive?

Alicia Towns Franken: be strategic and measure ambitious and realistic but a duration; we have to utilize the talents of all

the more diverse, the more profitable; there’s a difference between bring diverse and being inclusive 

Wendy Peterson: inclusivity does not mean color; changing culture

transformation aspect– land in the right hands; who owns what? 

Alicia: money is being donated to Wine Unify but that’s not enough 

Next year Wine Future will be held March 16-19 2022 online and in-person somewhere in the world!

Here’s a snapshot of the sessions from #WineFuture2021:

  • Keynote Speech 1 – Francis Ford Coppola
  • Session 1 – The impacts of COVID-19
  • Session 2 – Economics & Finances in Challenging Times
  • Session 3 – Reviewing and Reversing Discrimination
  • Session 4 – Expecting the Unexpected
  • Keynote Speech 2 – Manuel Butler
  • Session 5 – Practical Approaches to the Climate Crisis
  • Session 6 – Digital Marketing and Social Media
  • Session 7 – Strategizing with Data Research & Analytics
  • Session 8 – Connecting in our New Reality: The Future of Exhibitions & Tastings
  • Session 9 – Multinational Engagements: Trade, Transport, Packaging, Embargoes
  • Keynote Speech 3 – Pau Roca
  • Session 10 – Wine Tourism: Town & Country
  • Session 11 – Learning Lessons from Other Industries
  • Session 12 – Shifting Consumption: Trends, Diversification, Costs & Expansion
  • Session 13 – Off-Premise Strategies
  • Session 14 – On-Premise Challenges
  • Keynote Speech 4 – Irina Bokova: 
  • Session 15 – Sustainability Matters
  • Session 16 – Luxury Adaptations
  • Session 17 – Travel & Hospitality
  • Keynote Speech 5 – Pancho Campo: The Climate Crisis
  • Session 18 – The Future

Videos and slides for will be available for two months to attendees then general release; information on options to purchase access to these sessions for the general public is forthcoming. 

Wine Future 2021 supports three Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) with a silent auction. These NGOs are SOS Cape Town in South Africa, The Porto Protocol in Portugal, and North Bay Jobs with Justice in California. Lots are posted here and will close on March 15, 2021. All proceeds benefit the NGOs.

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