Posted by: Thomson Vineyards | November 29, 2010

Vintners This & That

Two wine related products are sitting at various locations related to Thomson Vineyards which have resurrected the word “Vintner” and slapped it on their packaging as if to upgrade the product one tier above “Winemaker” making it in some way more special, complex, or remarkable than the product sitting right next to it.

So You Think You're "Special"?

The first item resides in the shed at the vineyard where we store materials and is a 50 lb bag of “Vintners Mix” cover crop seed, six bags in total. A permanent cover crop option that can be over seeded as needed to maintain; in other words it better establishes itself at the vineyard site and is a good option for no till farming and starting an ongoing cover crop program. It’s a mixture of the following grasses:

Vintner’s Blend      $1.76/#

40%        Creeping Red Fescue

25%        Chewings fescue

25%        Dwarf Per. Ryegrass

8%          Rose Clover

2%          New Zealand White Clover

It was less pricey than the “Vineyard Special” cover crop blend we put out in 2009 at $2.33/lb, but other than a substantial price discount I see no difference except that rather than The Farmer’s time spent discing, my time will be spent mowing in 2011. I’ve already put in a proposal that the radio be fixed in the tractor cab, coffee cup holder installation be moved to the top of the maintenance list, and my BlackBerry be switched out for an HTC Evo so that I can keep myself entertained Tweeting….er, I mean responding to Vintners queries.

It takes 12-16 hours per spray application for the vineyard site in Carneros, and if The Farmer has his way, the same time for mowing. When I throw the rig into high gear I can get it done in half the time, which leaves The Farmer standing mid row shaking his head saying, “Too fast.”

"Vintners" Apostrophe or No Apostrophe?

The second item resides on my kitchen counter in what is known as the Target Wine Cube. A boxed wine far superior to any in the land and my daily drinker called the “Vintner’s Red Blend” a blend of Merlot, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

If you are a Vintner wondering why a Napa Grower is drinking boxed wine rather than supporting her local Winemaker look for case allotment to go up in Thomson Vineyard’s 2011 contracts and put your high-priced glass and cork ideals aside to briefly consider the packaging prowess of the wine cube for your 2011 production. No artisan producer is doing it in the Bay Area yet, you’d be wise to contact your local packaging supplier and do some light investigating. I’d buy your small batch wine cube before Trinchero’s if I could track one down.

There seem to be varying theories in the wine industry about just what sells a wine – the fruit, the wine, the packaging, the person or the price. There also seems to be variance related to what effect particular verbiage or title have on the consumer and purchasing decisions.

I noticed two weekends ago at the San Francisco Vintners Market (a third reference to the word) that Bonny Doon Vineyard is now including a list of ingredients on its back label for the uber-wine-geeks, a San Francisco winery has designated San Francisco Bay on its label, and now Vintners is making a comeback.

As a Millennial, the word “Vintners” conjures up images of the grape stomps at the Napa Town & Country Fair, 50/50 cotton polyester blend polo shirts with a winery name embroidered on the chest pocket, and the general time frame between 1986 and 1992.

Anyone else got an idea about Vintners re-establishing itself in the marketing terminology of the wine industry? These are the things I think about when psyching myself up to mow cover crop week in and week out Spring and Summer of 2011…


  1. Agree to disagree on the Vintner’s Red Blend. But I do like the Target Pinot Grigio quite a lot for cooking (and I’ll knock some back while cooking as well). Those boxes keep wine fresh, and they’re great to dish out whatever quantity one needs for cooking.

    Or, maybe I’m thinking of the Cab/Shiraz blend. I haven’t had the Vintner’s Red. I’ll give it a go.

    As far as the word, “vintner” probably tested in market research as the wine-equivalent to “artisan”. It is meant to give a perception of quality beyond the status quo. But, in the end, it really is (to me) just a marketing term, and it will be cheapened if overused on- say- boxes of wine (if the quality is not good).

    Agree to disagree?

    • The Vintners Red Blend has a low acidity and falls a bit flat, but I guess that’s the reason it’s a 2009 and ready to drink now out of a poly bag. As consumer trends diverge from cellaring and holding onto that one bottle for years and years to drinking it within 12 months of it being harvested off the vine, wineries producing on a massive scale will move wine by producing drinkable wines using packaging intended for daily and ongoing consumption out of the same package.

      While artisan wineries are making “approachable” wines by lowering the alcohol content and using marketing terms like “food friendly” – mass producers are making it “approachable” by appealing to novice palates i.e. Vintners Red Blend.

      Is the goal to move wine through marketing terms or ease novices into moderate daily drinkers (rather than complex wines – often the goal of small batch winemakers looking to make a definitive statement about what they and the fruit can do)?

      Both options may or may not increase the per capita consumption rates. How authentic each scenario is a debate within itself.

      Thanks for your comments Joe. I hope you were wearing an ascot while typing your notes.

      • of course I was wearing an ascot. I am a [thunderous, authoritative voice] WINE EXPERT

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