Tim Hanni, Sonoma State University master of wine and faculty member, echoed the notion that consumers prefer sweeter wines.

Hanni discussed with the AGG crowd the kinds of changes the grape and wine industries must employ in today’s fast-moving global economy.

Part of Hanni’s philosophy is borne from a quarter-century of exploring wine myths, stories, and legends. His goal is to steer the wine industry into new opportunities by collapsing bad information “that constantly gets us in trouble and keeps our businesses smaller and less profitable.”

For DiBuduo, short-term ideas including locking in long-term contracts and pricing issues are important to Allied’s organizational success. But it is not the only thing on his radar as a blast of intense summer heat in California appears to be pushing harvest ahead of typical schedule.

“The earlier harvest may mean the crop won’t be as big as first thought,” DiBuduo said. “Still, growers appear to have good quality but smaller bunches.”

According to DiBuduo, a current debate within the wine grape industry centers on the idea that there could be too few acres of grapes planted for the marketplace. While growers argue that the industry is at "market equilibrium," meaning prices paid to growers are sufficient to maintain economic sustainability. Buyers argue the industry is too short on grapes.

Such trending is important for growers and AGG, said Jeff Bitter, the organization’s vice-president.

“From a growers’ perspective, we’re trying to maintain an important supply and demand balance,” Bitter said. “We’re also trying, as Tim Hanni pointed out, to address some of the assumptions and myths within the industry.”

One such assumption is that higher yields always lead to lower quality grapes.

“We’re trying to solve this issue too,” Bitter said.

Much of Hanni’s work centers on gathering information from consumers and meeting those demands, versus what Hanni calls the “wine snob approach.” This is simply telling consumers which wines scored well among a collective group of wine experts and pressuring or embarrassing consumers into trying wines they do not like.

Important in this debate is to crush the preconceived notion (Hanni calls this a “collective delusion”) that certain wines must be paired with select food items.

“Wine and food pairing is a collective delusion,” Hanni said. “We’ve lost every sense of hospitality and the notion of ‘how may I serve you’.”

DiBuduo says the millennial generation of Americans, born between 1983-2001, will be the next great marketing opportunity for the wine industry.

Hanni believes this generation will not accept the old “collective delusions” and suggests the wine industry needs to change its tone to gain this population as consumers.

“We must demand that wine professionals speak to consumers on their terms,” Hanni said. “We have no allowance for the arrogance, misinformation, and ignorance that we are perpetuating.”


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