Coming out of the technology world, I find it somewhat surprising that there are few in the wine trade who offer predictions of the trends at the beginning of the year. In tech it seems everyone with a column, podcast, blog or email address offers their views; some, like John C. Dvorak, have made their careers at this, but I digress. So I’ve thought long and hard about the eight trends that follow and how foolish I might appear this time next year. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained, etc.
Online Wine Communities Go Mainstream – The number and quality of wine blogs increased in 2006 to nearly 500 and pros like the Wine Spectator started blogging. Late in the year, Web 2.0 wine sites came online to both aggregate blogs but also to build communities to share tasting notes and cellar inventories. A few brave wineries also got into the act with blogs and podcasts but this area is still largely an opportunity for new entrants. I expect online wine communities to explode in 2007 with one or two leaders emerging in the Wine 2.0 space by year-end. Wineries not plugged into this new medium will be kicking themselves for not making their move in the first half of 2007.
The Old World Strikes Back - The over extracted, long hang-time New World reds with 15-16% alcohol will be overshadowed by more restrained and balanced Old World wines particularly from Spain and Italy where New World technology has met Old World terroir. While a few high-wire winemakers like Pax Mahle will continue to release fruit monsters to high scores, many more will fall by the wayside as consumers value food compatibility more than brawn. The wines of New York will also benefit from this trend.
Direct To Consumer Sales Soar – More wineries will sell wine directly to consumers via the internet and wine clubs than ever before this year as the effects of the Supreme Court decision and technology investments pay dividends. I expect Inertia Beverage to enable more wineries than anyone else but there will be more than one technology platform for wineries to adopt. There will also be some new entrants like WineQ who will carve out an online niche with enthusiasts.
There Will Be Another Stormhoek – A wine brand will harness the wine blogosphere and social media to become a breakout success like what Stormhoek has done in 2005 and 2006. They might also narrowly target Millennials in their efforts to become the choice of this new generation of wine consumers becoming the “Pepsi of wine.”
Pinots Come Back To Earth – Both Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir have been the hottest varietals for the past couple years but I expect them to level out in popularity this year. The new hot wines will be made from Riesling and Tempranillo with RosÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â© still increasing in popularity from last year. But then again it could be Viognier and MourvÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¨dre
South Africa Emerges – The wines of South Africa have been under the radar of many wine lovers, particularly in North America, but new approaches, such as what Stormhoek has pioneered, will catapult South African wines to center stage in 2007. I also expect Chile and Argentina to continue to grow their share of the market.
Flights Replace Wine By The Glass – One of my personal disappointments in dining out is the selection of wine by the glass. Since my wife doesn’t drink and the normal supply of half bottles is lacking in almost every restaurant, I commonly grab a couple glasses of whatever is available. The places I really like are those with an interesting and well chosen selection so I can try a couple new wines with my meal. The places I love are those who offer flights of 3 or 4 wines in smaller pours. I hope more restaurants follow this trend.
At Least One Wine Blogger ‘Goes Pro’ – One could already argue that some wine bloggers have made the move already with Alder Yarrow speaking at the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers this year and Lenn introducing his own wine club, but I think a wine blogger will be hired by the established wine press in 2007. My money is on the Wine Spectator to be the innovator who will bring on this blogger as a “guest” but they will remain blogging there long-term.
OK, so I’ve side-steped the global warming issue since I think gradual climate changes should be measured in several hundred year increments and to bring forward some of the trends from 2006 is kind of a cop-out (although Millennials will increasingly be a factor in the overall market).
I’m sure there are some other crystal balls in the wine blogosphere; comments are open for more… what do you think?