It has been said of Italy that the country is one massive vineyard. That’s an exaggeration, of course… but not much of one. You don’t have to venture very far outside any given city before you run into rows of grapevines.
And when we think of Italian wines, with the notable exception of Pinot Grigio, the color that comes to mind is red. In a country that consumes so much pasta with red sauce — in literally dozens of different forms — it takes a lot of red wine to wash it all down.
So it seemed a bit ironic that, a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, the first “Summit on White Wines of Excellence” took place in Italy — specifically, in Collio.
The purpose of the conference was to discuss the challenges and opportunities that exist in selling white wine in the current global marketplace.
Importers and exporters were there. So were winemakers and winemaking consultants. Restaurant operators showed up, and so did journalists. It was an eclectic mix of people with eclectic perspectives.
Among all the speakers, it was Paul Wagner, a respected writer representing Balzac Communications in the Napa Valley, who really put the issue into perspective.
“Making good wine isn’t enough,” Balzac told attendees in a video conference. “It’s about a good story and having a cohesive voice.”
In my ever so humble opinion, Wagner is absolutely right. When you go to a restaurant and pay $2 for a soft drink, all you’re really expecting is a refreshing beverage… and perhaps a refill.
But when you pay $8 or $10 or more for a glass of wine, you probably want to know something about that wine. Where’s it’s from. How it was made. What makes it different. Why it’s worth $8 or $10 or more.
It goes back to what we’ve been saying here at Vinesse from the very beginning: “Every wine has a story. Some are just more interesting than others.”
If the makers of high-quality white wine are finding it challenging to market their product, it’s likely because they aren’t doing a good job of telling the story of their wine.
Good stories create interest, and interest creates sales. It’s Marketing 1-0-1, so I’m not really sure why a conference was needed.
But if the makers and marketers of “white wines of excellence” would simply heed the words of Paul Wagner, they’d find their challenges quickly morphing into opportunities.
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Do you agree with Paul Wagner? Does knowing the story of a wine help you enjoy it more? Tell us what you think in the comments box below.
Tomorrow: We’ll take you to a European wine region that’s renowned for its white wines… and has no trouble selling them.