As we watch and participate in the transformation currently taking place in the wine industry, it is exciting to watch the doors open wide. Wine in many places in the world has been a daily part of family meals for hundreds of years. It’s very function is about bringing us together to share and nourish ourselves. It’s function is inclusive.
But somewhere along the way wine became exclusive. A language developed and surrounded the product. Wine became a symbol of status instead of a daily ritual of coming together. No longer. Wine evangelists like Brian Duncan (Bin 36, Chicago) changed the way we talk about wine, the way we approach wine and the way we think about wine. Meanwhile Web 2.0 and social media brought user generated content, online communities and interaction to a new level. People are connecting, sharing and building networks that change the way we live and interact both with our computers but also with each other.
Wine is about coming together and so is social media. The wine industry, both trade and consumers are coming together to talk about everything wine related from the root stock to the (online) sales and beyond. People are stepping up to help create the structural network by offering virtual and real space for these wine networks including: The Open Wine Consortium, Wine 2.0, The Wine Bloggers Conference, WineLog, Twitter Taste Live, Inertia Beverage Group, Wine Library TV, and many bloggers contributing regularly to the conversation on wine.
The social media & networking format proliferated by the internet means that participation is open to anyone (as long as you can get to a computer and an internet service). Exclusive is in the process of transforming into inclusive. The Two Buck Chuck phenomenon confirmed wine as a drink for everyman and the demographic for who is buying wine has become as varied and diverse as the thousands of wines available in the US alone.
The opportunity here is for both wine producers and consumers. Access to so many wine lovers gives wineries an opportunity to engage in this community, add value and learn from them. We also hope that means increasing the value of a wine consumers experience with wine, and what they want, how they get it, and so on. For consumers it means a variety of avenues to enjoy, learn about and connect with wine and wine lovers. Whether for entertainment value, for social interaction, or education, consumers have a powerful network of, well, online networks to engage with, participate in, contribute to and enjoy the wine life.
If wineries are smart, they will figure out how to join this online wine community, add value to it and participate genuinely and frequently. I hope they do. Marketing is changing from the billboard, shouting format where the buyer is passive, to an interactive, connecting model where people and brands overlap and engage with producers. And what a perfect marriage wine and social media will be. Two inclusive elements that bring people together to connect and share.