Posted by: Thomson Vineyards | December 6, 2010

Millennials Would Rather Die

From Farmer Boots Back to Heels

Last Friday several of winebusiness.com’s top stories focused on recent reports that 7-Eleven would begin selling wine. This comes right on the heels of Starbucks positioning itself in July to diversify with a wine by the glass sales program and just today AdAge published a story declaring that Millennials are the Great White Hope for the Wine Industry. I’ve got news for you, if I’m part of the generation that all you wineries are building your hopes and dreams around. Don’t. And if you think we’ll buy wine at 7-Eleven. We’d rather die.

I grew up in what is known among the inner circle of Napa kids as the Slurpee Triangle. Three 7-Elevens positioned within a 1/2 mile radius of my mom’s house; the first on the corner of Silverado Trail and Lincoln Avenue, the second on Lincoln Avenue and Main Street and the third on Jefferson Street and Central Avenue – down the road from Napa High School. Peach was the hot flavor one summer and I drank a Slurpee a day on my way to lifeguarding at Mt. George Estates swimming pool, every day, all summer long.

Those 7-Elevens are now littered with trash, the sites of regular Napa baseball hat wearing police action, the home of Redbox DVD rental kiosks placed outside the store, not inside, because that’s where all the thugs hang out.

The demographic of frequent 7-Eleven customers is hardly the 20 and 30 something crowd en route to a low-key dinner party or the casual couple running out to grab a bottle of wine to share with one another that they recently read about on Twitter or Facebook.

Unless 7-Eleven’s corporate office is going to begin making over their brick and mortar stores and target a new demographic Just In Time (JIT) to start blowing wine off the shelves before us Millennials turn the old age of 40, I’d recommend sticking to the Sparks Drinking Frat Boys and recognize that’s about as close as you’re going to get a Millennial to buy up alcohol off the shelves and out of the cold cases in College Town USA.

I’d like to know if 7-Eleven’s Vice President of Merchandising and Logistics is aware that Millennials are often referred to as the Demand Generation? We aren’t patient. We want instant and blissful gratification. And we want it to be a luxurious high-end experience that we can afford on our less than ideal wages not necessarily in line with the level of education we’ve all achieved. I invite the CMLO of 7-Eleven to respond to me in 140 characters @ThomsonVyrds.

Finally related to AdAge’s declaration of Millennials being the Great White Hope of the Wine Industry, I’d challenge that wineries who convince their WINEMAKER to talk to Millennials rather than hiring 27-year-old young guns like Adam Beaugh, who the article notes, “formerly did web work for Texas Gov. Rick Perry” may stand a chance.

I’m sure Mr. Beaugh is well versed in the way of Facebook and all things Texas, but if you didn’t get the memo this morning  – Facebook is about to face yet another mass exodus with its recent updates to profiles, enabling advertisers to serve up more ads, your employer to review more tagged photos of you getting drunk off 7-Eleven wine, and allow wineries to coordinate more annoying API based Twitter feeds and Facebook wall posts – you’d best hop on Twitter and Facebook and start reading what Millennials are saying.

I’ll be very interested to see just who Mellinier Leah Hennessy confirms for her 2010 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium Panel titled, “What Matters to Millenials.” And no that’s NOT my typo in the Tuesday program. That’s the largest wine and grape conference in the nation, put on by two of the largest wine and grape associations in the nation who can’t even spell the generation they’re desperately trying to target. Sorry to shatter all your hopes and dreams.

Send your comments my way. I’m in San Francisco this week at Dreamforce on the Digital Media Team – taking a hiatus from the vineyard. Wearing heels, not my Farmer boots.

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Responses

  1. my god…that was such an exhilarating read first thing in the morning, i think i need to visit napa again soon and look you up. will be following your commentary more often for some wise perspective. found this while clicking thru winebusiness.com for my daily industry buzz. oh, nice christian louboutin rolando pumps in black patent leather. love to see you racking barrels in those babies.

    good read. all the best from FLA

    • Stephen thanks for reading and taking note of the patent leather, please do look me up when you’re in Napa…and look for the spike marks in the Carneros mud when I travel sans Farmer boots.

  2. [...] morning I was delighted to read a blog, Millennials Would Rather Die, on the Thomson Vineyards website. While the title doesn’t give much clue as to the substance of [...]

    • Hi Kathy, I write like I speak and am happy to note that while the title doesn’t let on much, you clicked, you read and enjoyed the post.

      The Farmer says you can’t make money farming, so in my former life I paid the bills working at UC Davis and Alma Mater Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo doing “market research” on Millennials and just what made them tick. Read: I ran the marketing department staffed by 4 interns, 4 web designers, 4 graphic designers, and a field marketing team of 60…as a Millennial myself. All students between the age of 18-27.

      It was the best insight and education I could get – giving me credentials to speak for Millennials as a Millennial – I encourage any industry, but specifically the wine industry to immerse themselves in the the generation rather than speculate or buy into “analysts and experts” high priced “strategy” – we’ll all be all the more better for it, maybe sell some more wine, and pay The Wine Growers a bit more per ton.

  3. Kudos. Well-written and thought out. You’ve got some stones to be the spokesperson for your fellow Millenials!

    • Millennials are really a moving target. You gotta’ have energy, on point intuition, and leave your preconceived notions with the bouncer at the door. We’ll always do the unexpected. PS David – I get the Cojones from the Thomson men and a long history proving to other people what they say can’t be done.

  4. Go Girl! Tell it like it is.
    I’m of the “older” Gen X crew, and while I’ve been talking to a number of folks about the potential buying and market shaping power of your millenial crowd, I’ve alwys cautioned people not to try and peg the M’s too quickly, or expect a broad brush stroke to cover.
    Actually I don’t know anyone who would be pleased to be targeted as the 7-Eleven demographic, save those that are already loading up on Boone’s farm and Mad Dog 20/20.
    Cheers!

    • Broad brush strokes is an excellent descriptor of what often happens and not just to Millennials, but every generation. Now go out and get yo self some MD 20/20 Todd!

  5. nice heels….

    • I’ll deliver grapes in those heels to the Hess crush pad any day. The Farmer got himself kicked out by Dale Hess for pulling Thomson Chardonnay out of a valley bin with a pitch fork while straddling the crusher/destemmer in the late 90s.

      Having been a lifeguard for 10+ years. I assure you, that I am all about safety first. Thanks for reading Jim…call me!

  6. Maybe Target is paying 7Eleven to start selling wine so that they won’t look so weird for having a wine aisle there too. LOL

    Great opinion post! Also stumbled across this post from Wine Business. Kudos on your blogging style.

    • Thanks for the note Ceci you can’t go wrong with the Target Wine Cube. Check out the small one of Sauv Blanc when you get the chance. I’ll keep one on hand in case of emergency until an Artisan Winemaker adopts the packaging style.

  7. NICE

  8. Excellent!!! Someone needs to go back and review their Marketing 101 text, Marketing is product, place, price and promotion. You can only be an effective marketer if you know your customer.

  9. If it wasn’t brought up, I would never assume that 7-Eleven’s move to “fine wine” was specifically a drive to corral Millennials. 7-Eleven was always the domain of drive-by consumers; i.e. pretty much the bulk of convenience seeking “middle America” (no hoity toity espresso drinkers or connoisseurs of the arts to be found there)

    But as a longtime hoity toity myself, all-night corner liquor stores and 7-Elevens have always been life savers when that sudden urge for an alcoholic beverage came up (especially when your pouty date is demanding one). I may not “hang out: in 7-Eleven, but when the mood strikes, it’s nice to know you might also find a half-decent bottle of wine there, too. For the record, I’m a 50-something with those middle-American needs.

    I have three Millennials for kids (plus and Xer), and I know exactly where they buy wine when they feel the urge: in grocery stores. You see, they were raised to appreciate wine with food, family and friends, not with pals on the hood of a Chevy or dark ends of the park, like we were when we were kids (ah, the Boone’s Farm days). Therefore, I wouldn’t worry your sweet lil’ head about 7-Eleven making an ill fated grasp for Millennials. I’m pretty certain that they’re still counting more on us hoary old farts from the priitive car culture daze for most of their business, not you kids who were still slurping your iced fruit drinks, like, yesterday…

    • Hey-O Randy. I was really just trying to expose Napa to the rest of the world for what it really is, only hoity toity in the “tourist” neighborhoods:) What’s your favorite Slurpee flavor? You can never go wrong with the 50/50 Cherry Coke! Thanks for the comment, raising three Millennials, and remembering what you were like when your were our age.

  10. Your description of the Napa 7-11 stores was spot-on, BTW. It brought back memories of the time I lived in Napa. They sure had a lot of, uh, AMBIENCE! Also…just wondering if were you referring to the Hess Collection Winery crush pad?

    • And they still do have AMBIENCE! I am referring to the Hess Collection crush pad where Thomson Vineyards delivered our Chardonnay for a good number of vintages throughout the 1990s. The Farmer doesn’t believe in the winemaker and grape contract stating he has to have harvested and delivered the fruit by a.m. only to let it sit on the crush pad backed up in processing till the p.m. – he was merely trying to deliver and process the best fruit possible. His other claim to fame is that he was the Electrical Contractor on the Hess Collection job site throughout the 90s while the winery was being built…giving me my first taste of “kid wine” (TM) at age 6, fresh pressed juice 1 or 2 days in mixed with Club Soda. Get ‘em started early David and thanks for the note!

  11. Interesting counter-argument to the current trend causing businesses and wineries to invest too much time and money in a generation that, as far as I can tell (having sold wine to folks of this age prior to my office posish at a high-end wine retailer) don’t really spend more than $20/bottle in general. Why put all of this energy toward one group of people? I just don’t get it…in fact, I’d wager that MY generation – late 20’s to early/mid-30’s – spend far more time and money on wine. I also agree that the actual winemaker would be a far better spokesperson for the product than a “hired gun,” though I have met Adam and he’s a smart and kind person. :-)

    What I’m wondering is: why not change the marketing approach *overall* instead of focusing on the Urban Outfitters crew? Just curious…?

    • I’ve got some disturbing news for you Erin, if you’re in your late 20s you too may be considered a “Millennial” – caught a wikileak article notating that 1977 – 1998 is now the designated time span to be included as a Millennial. I say with all this pandemonium going on related to the Millennials the Boomers and Gen Xers must be adopting the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” theory and expanding the range to include themselves.

      Anyhow, you’re on it. The marketing approach overall is at the root of this issue.

      But remember, we are talking about the industry arguing over Sonoma County labeling laws, 21+ vintners and growers organizations spanning 10 geographic miles, etc. while New Zealand bands together under one white fern and kicks every wine generation from California’s A$$.

      • What? I’m a Millennial? I’ve spent my entire life thinking I was Gen X, and now they are saying that birth in 1977 qualifies one as a Millennial. Now I’m going to have to turn in my Nirvana albums and stop referring to Millennials as “those young ‘uns”. My entire identity is in upheaval.

      • Good point on New Zealand…and other such comparisons I’ve heard from others. By default this generation will have more educated palates than those before, simply due to the rise in accessibility of wine, which my Dad couldn’t say was the case during his early 20’s.

        I still think “all eggs + one basket = bad idea,” and have helped folks in my family twice my age learn about wine and buy confidently, whether that’s at Jewel grocery stores or Wine and Cheese by TCC, a small shop in Plainfield, IL (near the majority of my Midwest family’s residences.)

        Being just past 30, I’m surely stumped as to why I’d be tossed in with the Millennials…then again, most in my generation *would* say we feel a little lost in the shuffle (re: my comment earlier.) I took out all of my piercings years ago because I saw someone easily 10 years my junior sporting the same ones…don’t put me with them!! Noooo!
        :-)

  12. Nice rant, but the overwhelming majority of millenials in this country did not grow up in Napa Valley and do not work for a winery, so I’m not sure if you really speak for them.

    • Thanks Blake, the Thomsons like to rant. I try to keep it to a minimum. I don’t speak for all Millennials, that would be painting a broad brush stroke across the generation. But I have been in quite a few 7-Elevens across the midwest, southeast, west coast and the condition of the stores is almost always the same. What’s the first image that pops into your head when you hear “7-Eleven”? Is it the super lotto, the rolling mystery dogs spinning on the counter, or the discarded scratchers cast off in the parking lot gutter? In the effort to maintain 100% journalistic integrity on this blog, it should be noted that I think the Third 7-Eleven of the Slurpee Trifecta is now a Kwiki-Mart on the corner of Jefferson and Central Ave. Can anyone confirm this?

      PS I don’t work for a winery, which is sorta the secondary point to this post. Napa for all intensive purposes is average, turning out average kids, out of average highschools, having little if nothing to do with the “wine industry” in the valley until, if at all, they go to college and get some sort of “wine” degree. And Thomson Vineyards doesn’t produce its own label – I run a 4th generation family farming business. IMHO if more in the industry began talking with Millennials about the supply chain beginning in the vineyard, the difference between sourcing grapes and estate grown, how urban wineries fit into this mix, etc. maybe we’d better connect the next generation with the product enabling them to build a loyalty or relationship with their local winery, brand, etc. and sell more wine. Which is usually all I’m trying to do – support the wineries we work with enabling them to sell more wine, so they pay the grower a better, more reasonable price per ton for delicious Carneros Chardonnay wine grapes. If ranting helps me get there. Then so be it! God, this comment is a rant. I could go on. But I wont. I apologize. I’m fired!

  13. Bravo. A nice breath of fresh air over my morning read of WBD. I too, was getting a little tired of the 7-eleven story that everybody seemed to glom onto. Much of the problem also lies with the press just sticking to these half-stories and not going and actually researching who and what millennials are and want. It’s simply because a buzz word just like green. Again, an refreshing piece of writing to start my morning.

    • Joel thanks for reading. Keep drinking. Signed, Jennifer

  14. The only alcohol purchased at my 7-Eleven (college campus) is Four Loko. And the occasional 40 ouncer. Great read, thanks.

    • Mmm…malt-based energy drinks. Love ‘em. How do you think I maintain 3:30 a.m. harvest wake-up calls and late night blogging? Four Loko enables me to manage winemakers who only want to pick the even rows, under the 176 axis-titled radiant moon, but throw in row 121 because the flavor development in those particular clusters is AMAYzing!…Zing. Jerry, keep reporting in on the latest and greatest, I appreciate it.

  15. Yet another great piece. Well done! And, I have to agree with my fellow GenXer Todd – I don’t think our generation would be heading to 7Eleven for wine either. My reasoning is very similar to yours: 1) the stores are often dirty outside (trash and/or the building needing a serious powerwash spray from years of dirt collection) 2) more than half the time the staff could care less what you’re attempting to purchase as long as you have the cash to cough up 3) there is quite often an odd vibe you get when visiting a 7Eleven past 4pm (creeepyyy) and 4) will they be putting all store staff through a wine education program to know the basics about wine? I doubt it. 7Eleven has a major image hurdle to jump first.

    I was just listening to a serious of discussions over the last two days via BevNet, and one of the panelists said that C-stores (convenience stores) are copycats. So I can’t say I’m surprised they FINALLY thought about wine. But in my opinion, it’s an awful fit. EXCEPT….they could do a decent job in the box wine sector. Because, let’s face it…if you’re headed to 7Eleven for wine, you’re probably not looking for high quality glass bottled juice. BUT, you might be interested to find some good quality boxed wine (and it DOES exist) to keep the evening rolling. So, there’s still hope, and THAT might be the key to 7Eleven finally getting into the wine business.

    On a separate note, let’s grab a cawfee or glass of something alcohol based soon! I’d love to chat w/ a fellow CP Alumni!

    • Leilani. You are totally a Millennial!

    • I’d love a coffee! Thanks for reading.

  16. Rant ON, Jennifer! In other spots I have commented that 7-Eleven wine and stuff like Sledgehammer are headed for epic #fail but that’s probably a bit of wishful thinking on my part. I will be happy if their brand managers are “forced to reassess their quarterly sales targets downward” on a regular basis. Their marketing message is just so, um… “crafted” – I can’t believe even the non-hoity-toity Millennials in the middle of the country will buy that crap, er… wine. As usual for big corporate efforts they are riding the back of the wave – Don Sebastiani & Sons have been doing the “clever, fun, slightly snarky” message for a while – and am I missing something or isn’t that already sort of over? Anyway, I do expect these wines to find their niche – I just don’t think it is as big as the producers hope, and I don’t expect it will drive too many authentic artisanal producers out of the market. And – be honest now – if these big producers offered long-term contracts for what you were asking for your fruit, you would probably sell to them, right?

    • Thank you for your comment. I’ll keep it short and sweet.

      1. A winemaker commenting in the blogosphere and writing his own blog. Rock on. Get your buddies, talk to your pals wherever you winemakers hang out and tell them to get over it. People do care, they want to hear from you, not your marketing department, just about every single one of you carries an iPhone, it’s not that difficult, and it will sell more wine. That is all.

      2. You read it here first. Thomson Vineyards will not at the moment accept a long-term contract from a mass producer. Even if they do pay me what I’m asking (which is highly unlikely). I’ve been working for two harvests to get our above average Chardonnay into the right programs that are the right fit for our vineyard site, fruit quality, business style, and future development. We’ve been with the mass producers and at the moment I prefer to strategize with the little guys about how we can build a united front in the name of Carneros Legacy. Now you John – I’d sell to you:)

      • Thanks for the kind words. The encouragement to engage online is wasted on some of my peers. Not everybody is cut out for it, one way or another. I value it – it helps organize my thinking, and I want/need to know what people value. To me winemaking is more than grapes and barrels – it is in part about the zeitgeist, and part of that is happening online.

        And I was teasing a bit about selling grapes to mass producers. You guys are doing a good job of getting the message out that TV wants to work with artisanal producers. If I’m lucky someday you and I may be talking contracts.

  17. First of all – THANK YOU for this post. As a millennial, I agree on certain points, but there’s one thing you said that I definitely disagree with.

    Millennials ARE the great white hope of the wine industry. And just because companies don’t understand us, don’t know how to reach out to us, and have failed/are failing in their attempts to do so doesn’t change that. As the next generation of wine consumers, we’re important to the industry anyway. Now take into account that we’re 70 million strong in the USand we’re drinking more wine at an earlier age than any other generation in history – even though we’re not even all drinking age yet… that makes us REALLY important.

    re: 7-11 – as someone originally from upstate ny, I find it hilarious that people can buy wine at a convenience store in the first place. That being said, if I’m working at 7-11’s corporate offices and I’m coming out with a new wine brand, you bet your ass I’m going to target it at millennials. Not because we’ll all buy wine there, but by *attempting* to make it millennial friendly, I’m focusing on a market that the wine industry as a whole is trying to reach. The only difference is that this brand has automatic distribution.

    These 7-11 wines could tank, but I’m glad they’re making such a big deal out of the launch, because it’s creating awareness of the importance of our generation and starting dialogues like this.

    And THANK YOU for pointing out the effing typo on the panel. I wrote the symposium when it went up last week and the website folks never changed it. I sent them your quote yesterday – we’ll see if that does it. I’m glad that they are at least focusing on Millennials at the symposium. And I’m VERY glad to be leading the panel (which will be made up of millennials) – it’s a great opportunity to educate and maybe do a little myth-busting in the process.

    Millennials are the future of the wine industry. And as you mentioned in a comment, the only way companies will be able to effectively reach is by actually getting to know us, getting educated, and LISTENING. A CMO’s “best guess” at reaching us is not going to cut it in the future.

    Thanks again for the post.

    -Leah

    • Great commentary. My question is, isn’t every up and coming generation important to commerce and industry as it approaches the age where it can begin making its own purchase decisions and has the cash to back it up? In this particular industry it’s only extra obvious because of that small little hindrance notated at the base of every winery website “you must be 21 to enter this site.” Giving the wine industry a mile marker by which to gauge or measure how much is about to be spent and at what point on the product. One day we’ll be the “Old Guys” commenting on the posts of the generation yet to come and relying on spell check to catch our typos. In other words, I can’t quite grasp why everyone has flipped into crisis mode over the Millennial generation.

      Hey Boomers, I’ll teach you a trick that may sound familiar: ” I before E, 2 Ls 2 Ns”

      Leah, I appreciate your dialogue and reading. I think the number one guiding principle for social media, whether it is blogging, Twitter or otherwise is don’t put anything out there you wouldn’t engage with someone over a face to face conversation. So, with that, there are two other demographics the largest conference in the nation seems to forget about on its panels 1) Wine Grape Growers and 2) Women.

      I hope CAWG and ASEV are assembling a panel of Millennials that reflects the diversity of the supply chain and doesn’t default to the usual suspects – Millennials, Social Media, Winemakers, Vineyard Managers or otherwise.

      I read an interesting Tweet yesterday that said “Strategy is not the highest paid person in the company’s opinion” Which is good because I work for free, at the moment, in the vineyard.

      Good luck moderating the panel. I hope to have a front row seat where I can Tweet my questions and comments and look the panelists or naysayers in the eye!

  18. GREAT rant! As a Millennial who grew up in Sonoma County, has worked in the wine industry and has done A LOT of research on our generation and wine, I will say that I completely agree with you on buying wine from a 7-11 to take to a friends house – We simply won’t do it. But to play devil’s advocate, we grew up in an amazing area and have had an exposure to wine that the rest of the kids in the US haven’t. Cheaper, sweeter wine is still a staple in many households. (Why do you think Yellowtail and white Zin is still popular?!?)

    I found many people who were new to buying wine would go for the middle of the shelf labels at grocery/liquor stores.. The stuff that is not the cheapest, but not the most expensive… So 7-11 wine would DEF not fit into this.

    Both Leah and Adam are amazingly talented and knowledgeable people in this industry. Though, we do need to focus on a bigger picture than just Facebook, but from what I hear Adam had must more to say than just that and AdAge ran with that one quote…

    • Hey Shana Ray thanks for the home town insight. I guess I agree to disagree which seems to be a common theme in my life as of late. And no, I’m not disagreeing just because of the put up your dukes fistfight and civil war between Napa and Sonoma Valleys that wages on even today! I just don’t think growing up in the geographic area that just so happens to be one of the great wine capitals of the world put me at any other advantage than any other kid in the USA. I grew up in the country. I ate at Taqueria Rosita, not the Laundry, I drove a Volkswagen, and I run harvest with labor crews just like every other mid western small town USA kid does with their family. The end product just happens to be considered “luxury” after years of barrel aging, expensive packaging, and cult status being obtained usually through critics reviews or auction obscurity – but ultimately it’s an agricultural commodity. To me, the industry seems rather narrowly focused and hung up on one small niche, the Millennials and one big un explored territory – China. Maybe we could focus on conquering regulation and build trade relations rather than the 20somethings? I dunno just an idea!

  19. Amen to all that! Keep it coming.

  20. J,

    I enjoyed the article very much. Even more interesting to me, a Baby Boomer, is the idea that 7-11 seems to be preparing a preemptive strike against the eventual inevitablity: Gas station food marts.

    If the wine industry will still sell to my old #ss, let me help them with where to place wine in terms of convenience. Place high end Napa Valley wines in all of my local gas station mini marts and I might never return to K & L, the Wine Club, or my other favorite wine merchants.

    As all Baby Boomers remember it’s all about the convenience.

    • Dean you’ll be cruising the web as a savvy Boomer, with your feet up waiting for the post man to deliver you most recent shipment ordered online. No need for 7-Eleven. Better yet, you’ll be on your mobile with a winery app that alerts you when your cellar is running low so that you don’t need the c-store. If it hasn’t already been noted: Any idea I put on this blog is automatically trademarked as mine. Thanks for playing fair. That was to everyone, not just Dean! And TY for the comment.

  21. Great blog!
    I posted on FaceBook the other day with my thoughts that Millennials are ‘the great white hope.’ How typically US bubble market focused. Is it an important generation, of course it is. But, Unless you have a specific brand/pricepoint/valueprop that your business plan was pre-written bottoms up on this, get real, and get a grip on the ENTIRE market.

    Planning a Millenial ‘assault’ at the expense of the GenXers and Boomers with lots of disposable income, buying higher margin stuff….be careful. Learning how to market to EVERY segment, is important. And it can’t ALL be social media based. As much as I use/promote Twitter/Facebook if you those are also your next great white hope….RIP. Looking back, calling something the Great White Hope seems it may portend the opposite. But then, American Capitalism, loves the hype approach, herd like follow the masses, land rush mode, only to be followed by a bursting bubble.

    You are one of the few, I’ll bite and say you sound like you really have the experience to understand Millenial marketing – by painting your self as the ‘non expert, expert’, admitting is a moving target, you immediately separate yourself from the pack shouting “LISTEN TO ME, THE MILLENIAL EXPERT’ :p

    Its kinda like last years crops of ‘Social Media experts’. Congrats to those of you who figured out how to Tweet, maybe did a Press Release and a market Survey. Your a newbie getting started, not an ‘expert’. I have 20 years down in sales/field marketing and I’d never label myself as that. I am convinced wisdom and experience teach us an appreciation of how little know, and the benefit of collaboration. People need to not try SO hard to demand credibility, its earned.

    As others said, Adam is a pretty good dude, and savvy. You didn’t really attack him, and your point rang somewhat true with a point Bakas on Social Media staff and making sure you hire the right person, which doesn’t predicate its a Millenial.
    Lets get those wine makers out there. Surprised you two haven’t met, you should. I have to imagine doing Social Media for a massive brand has its own set of challenges and hand cuffs.

    And for the LOVE OF BACCHUS, let’s focus on Millenial education and palate development so we don’t recreate/perpetuate the current mass consumer market of over oaked, bad Bordeaux, Pinot thats really Syrah, or flabby chard cougar juice swilling people. God I wish someone would re-do my first 5-10 years. Lets start anew. I mean if you could get a 21 year old to appreciate a Russian River Brewing IPA instead of rice brewed crappy Budweiser…why wouldn’t you extend the same for wine!

    Nice job responding to the few pundits, more tactful than I am. :)

    Look forward to future insights. Assume we’ll cross paths before, if not I am presenting at DTC as well.

    cheers and keep up the style!

    William
    @sonomawilliam

  22. Nice blog there.. made my morning perk up a bit… especially the comment we vineyard farmers need more $$ per ton… what is it with these wineries not willing to pay for excellent Napa grapes that make their wines shine…. Only marketing I do is getting the best price for my grapes not drinking it…. Thanks for the insight. Bob

    • Bob the one and only reason I blog is to sell wine grapes. I drafted a post on the vast impact blogging and twitter have had on selling wine grapes in just one year for Thomson Vineyards and then 7-Eleven struck. Look for the post soon. Until then keep driving up the price of wine grapes for all of us Farmers, yourself included…you want to slap a luxury price point on that bottle, I hope you’re paying the grower a luxury price for his grapes!

  23. Love the post! I totally agree with the 7-Eleven issue vs. Millenials issue. As a Millenial Winemaker however I must say that more and more of us are taking to twitter and facebook and the like to promote our wines so the thought that winemakers some how don’t like to interface with customers over these platforms is a gross generalization. Otherwise great post!

    • As one of two winemakers who commented on this post I applaud you. Having a voice in this industry in a public forum is important to the future of the wine industry as a whole but on a smaller scale California Wine. Because it’s not about segmentation. In the future if we can’t all get on the same page and roll up to industry events as CAwine we’ll all be drinking South Africa’s Pinotage and New Zealand Savvie…The Farmer of course will be drinking the stickies, only small bottles for him!

  24. Loved the post, as a Millennial (did I spell that correctly?) and someone who grew up in the business, I’m fascinated by the approach that a lot of (or all of) the big companies take towards “us”. Four Loko anyone? Packaging, promotion, PR.

    I wish I could add some mind blowing post but all I can think about (besides wine) is that Millennials need to step up to the plate and help educate each other when it comes to wine and food. That isn’t to say that the collective “we” should ignore acknowledged masters, rather that it’s up to us to build knowledge within our community.

    I believe there are enough very smart non-Millennial marketing types out there that will figure out what works and what doesn’t. In the meantime, watching companies attempt to define us will be entertaining to say the least.

    • You’ve passed the test. Millennial, I before E, 2 Ls 2Ns. And while I didn’t get a personal email, phone call or otherwise from Unified it seems they have also spelled the generation correctly as of EOW. Thanks for your valuable comment, I haven’t chugged a Four Loko as of late, but I plan to get right on it, as soon as I track down a Klean Kanteen of the NPA Shiznit I keep hearing so much about. Bottoms up Beau!

  25. I’m always baffled when someone suggests that the winemaker be the person to communicate w/ millennidogs and to be the whistler in the wind on social meddling. I don’t know of a single winemaker (who actually makes their wine) that really has the time to do so. Also, most aren’t usually the folks that you either want to tell the story, and very few actually want to do it. The product is social, but the making (and sometimes the makers) of it not so much….

    If you do have someone internal communicating for you, they better be waaaayyy into your shi*, love it, know it, own it, and know something about more than their own juice. Dinkin’ around with disco-balls and smoke bombs only captures enough attention until some other winery has their own version of a Dorito-powered smartphone app. pushing some other tired juice.

    Dinosaurs are scrambling– Their core customer bases are getting old and are not being replaced– It is easier to keep your job chasing millenn-eggnoggers than addressing other issues like wine quality and those weirdos down the hall…

    • Hardy, as the landscape of wineries is redefined so is the position of, “winemaker.” Long ago in a far away land, you were lucky if 23 wineries existed in the Napa Valley.

      You know what I’m going to stop right here. I Tweet while driving an effing tractor! If I can blog and Tweet, hold down two or three real paying jobs, and grow something living, requiring water, and attention, and weeding, and cultivation, and leafing, and pruning (not in that order!) and find time to dust each and every premium berry with 24 karat gold, a winemaker can blog while they babysit barrels during the winter months. I don’t buy the “I don’t have time” excuse.

      I do however agree with you that it takes personality, charisma, and a certain depth of knowledge and it’s fantastic if the winemaker has that. That being said, do you know how many consumers are tripping over themselves to get an inside look at what making wine is like? Of course you do! You’re Hardy Wallace.

      I’ll give you one recent example for the hell of it – I was out delivering fruit to a winery in Treasure Island, the most desolate, out of the way, broken down and battered Naval station of three in the Bay Area mostly because it’s built on a landfill and when the big one hits it will sink. Nevertheless, while delivering 2 tons of Cabernet, during the World Series, that I turned down box seats for, because that’s the kind of growers we are not accepting premium seats so we can harvest premium fruit and deliver to our premium winery clients, a tour bus full of people rolled up unannounced and asked what “this” was. The winemaker let them know this was a winery. And by god wouldn’t you know it, those people wanted to know where the fruit came from, why there weren’t any vines, how much was processed there, what that spinning stainless steel machine was at the end of that long table, and why those three men were standing on ladders looking at clusters, and what happens when the clusters are put into that bin thingy over there…on…and…on…

      Had the tasting room girl stumbled her way through answering those questions it would have not been nearly as impressionable of a situation as it turned out the be. Instead, the winemaker, by answering simple every day questions that to us in the industry are mundane, average, status quo, succinctly explained the process he goes through every time a load of fruit comes in and just about every one of them walked away with a bottle of wine.

      Engagement with people face to face is the same kind of engagement in the virtual space. Different medium, same principle. Different medium, same amount of time.

      I’ve seen them standing around the mobile bottling line “supervising” they take pictures of their winery dogs, but they can’t go one step further and upload to Twitter!?!

      I call BS. Furthermore, I’ve also followed them through the vineyard while the mull over if the flavors are juuuusssssst right and then take time out to get a beer down at Moore’s Landing before heading back to the winery. They seem to be able to engage with the waitresses just fine.

      Every single winemaker buying fruit from Thomson Vineyards has a Twitter account. Several of them have blogs. Some copy and paste my material and upload it to their sites without notifying me. Copyright infringement at its best. But who’s counting?

      I think ultimately we’re talking about two different kinds of wineries with different types of winemakers. The kind that work for The Man and the kind who are The Man. Your notes hold water (or wine) related to the kind that work for The Man. I appreciate you reading, commenting, and as always being entertaining. When the next winemaker you come across starts complaining about how little time they have, tell them to try their hand at farming!

  26. I recently learned about 7-11’s wine offerings in Consumer Reports Magazine, which gave its $4 Yosemite Road Chardonnay a high recommendation. I also recently overheard a couple of young women, definitely Millennials, talking about stopping by 7-11 to buy some wine. It was like a commercial: “I’ve got to stop by 7-11 and pick up some wine.” “7-11 sells wine?” “Yeah, it’s only like $4 a bottle and it’s pretty good.” Wow. I actually couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

    To say that “Millennials Would Rather Die” is to paint with a pretty broad brush. “Millennials Who Work and Blog in the Wine Industry Would Rather Die,” and other such specificities might be more accurate. 7-11 certainly has a reputation for trashy storefronts and glossy rotating hot dogs and fried burritos, but they are working hard on an image change. The stores are cleaner, the brand offerings are better, and they are emphasizing charity work with their “Cups for a Cause” campaign. According to financial statements, their proprietary lines of wines are selling very well, both to Millennials and to Boomers.

    I think it’s dangerous to discount 7-11 and places like it selling decent wine at a very reasonable price, for they are very real competition for those of us selling higher quality wines at higher prices. Along the same lines as Trader Joe’s and their “2 Buck Chuck,” or Target and it’s Wine Cube, 7-11’s wine offerings might be incredible and unbelievable now, but in a few years it may well seem perfectly normal.

    Instead of discounting them, I would commend 7-11 for taking massive efforts to clean up and change their image, and move their brand to a new level. In an industry where many of us have relied on Boomers and are soon going to have to make a shift toward Millennials, there are probably lessons to be learned here…

    • Hi Rachel, I’ve mulled your comment over for two weeks, the best I can say is that I sure hope those two Millennial women you overheard end up at your winery, drinking your wine, buying from your tasting room, and signing up for your wine club, because that’s just the point – you’d rather them experience and buy your wine than wine from 7-Eleven right? Maybe not. What do I know…I’m just a Millennial who works in the vineyard and runs a family farming business; I assure you – a far cry from your suggestion that I’m a wine blogger who works in the wine industry. Thanks for your comment. Happy Holidays.

  27. [...] I love this quote from the author of the Thomson Vineyards blog: [...]

  28. [...] Vineyards. She is one of those people who you always know where she stands on an issue. This week she had an amazing post that called out pretty much the entire wine industry for their approach to Millennials. Her post focused on the advent of 7-11 wine, and specifically [...]


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