The Wine Industry Needs To Wake Up, Fast!

Since ever the UK Wine Industry has been an elite club for those “in the know”. For the man in the street, wine has been seen as stuffy and pretentious. The two are closely linked.

The problem with wine is that it is complicated; there’s no getting around it. A subject matter that encompasses geology, geography, agriculture, science and art is bound to make the mind boggle. While knowledge of all of this isn’t necessary to enjoy a great glass of wine, the effort from those in the industry to try and connect with the everyman is quite frankly appalling. As such, wine is losing ground to sexier, more consumer-friendly alcoholic beverages, such as Gin and Craft Beer.

There is an abundance of trade-related media knocking about, telling those who have a keen interest in Wine all about the latest Bordeaux vintage or which Loire Valley rosé came out on top in the latest tasting. But who is producing content for those in this country who famously say, “I don’t know a lot about wine, but I know what I like”?

Today, the Internet is king, and long live the king! It is the great equaliser of our society, providing endless opportunity to learn, discover new ideas, or to be entertained FOR FREE. It is more significant than arguably any other form of media the human race has created. Why then isn’t the wine industry, which is struggling with an image problem and falling consumption, embracing this new technology and taking wine to the people? I am as baffled as you are.

There are a number of wine professionals who have a reasonable presence on Twitter, but the majority of the time is spent tweeting out content that is aimed at others working in the industry. Instagram, the most natural social media site for wine-related content to succeed on, has many accounts that ping out bottle shots, or photos of attractive individuals holding a glass of something while standing in a vineyard, but where is the substance? YouTube and Facebook, great for video content, are full of funny videos that reiterate the stereotype that wine is all a con, and void of any trying to break through that myth. Those who work in the wine industry in this country need to wake up, fast!

There is an enormous gap in the market for someone to come along who is serious about producing high-quality, consumer-led content, that doesn’t shy away from the complexity of the matter, but that informs and educates the man in the street about the world of wine, in a light-hearted way so as not to revert back to the old stereotypes. Whatever your strong point, there’s a content form to suit you: written blogs, video, photo, audio etc. If food-related content can have so much success online, not to mention coffee, gin and craft beer, then wine can certainly work too.

People like wine. Those same people spent vast amounts of time on social media. If you’re a UK wine professional, instead of complaining about price rises or the uncertainty of Brexit, start thinking about how you can produce content for the end-user in a way that matters to them, on the platforms that they spend their time on. Do your bit to generate interest in your business. I promise you, you won’t regret it.

Check out my work and let me know how I do!


Wine For The 21st Century | #EnglishWineWeek

Posted 30/5/18 for

In this post, Sam celebrates the quality of English Wine and argues how #EnglishWineWeek should inspire the wine industry in this country to embrace the 21st Century and propel English Wine to the top table. 

Happy #EnglishWineWeek: the dedicated week of the year where all eyes turn to England’s green and pleasant land and, more specifically, to its wines and winemakers. And with good reason! English wine really is something to celebrate and be held aloft as one of the most exciting emerging wine regions of the world.

Of course, it’s Sparkling Wine that has put England on the oenological map, thanks in large part to the likes of Nyetimber, Ridgeview, Gusbourne and Camel Valley, but the still wines are not to be overlooked either! With some great examples of Bacchus, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir coming out of the vineyards of the South East, we’ve got much to be proud about in this country and the potential to be truly great.

There are, however, some hurdles yet to overcome before English Wine can really claim its seat at the top table.

The most obvious of which is, of course, the issue of climate. In simple terms, we could do with being a tad warmer, and not for the sake of a couple more outings of the string vest and knotted hanky, but in order to achieve greater vintage consistency in our wines. Now, I don’t want to get into a discussion about climate and the science of viticulture, there are many who are much more qualified than I to address this. But, the climate will come! Temperatures are rising, viticulture is shifting northwards and we are well placed to be the beneficiaries of these facts, but only in time. So, hurdle number one: the weather. Not much we can do about it, so let’s put a pin in that for now.

The second obstacle I see down the road, however, is something that is within our power to change: image. Now, I am not saying that English Wine has an image problem, but moving forward it’s essential that we get this right. Within my experience of introducing customers to English Wine, I have found that it is certainly a hard sell, with much of the talk being about how ‘great it is to support our very own wine industry’ and how the quality is ‘actually really good’. This can’t be the case. The wine is good and deserves better than to be bought purely for patriotic purposes.

Although still a relatively young wine producing country, English Wine needs to stand on it’s own two feet, shaped by but not entirely defined by its ‘Englishness’ and certainly not by its relation to other regions ie. ‘It’s just as good as Champagne’. So where to go from here?

From what I can see the English Wine trade has a fantastic opportunity to excel. Take a look online and you’ll see that hardly anyone in this industry, home or abroad, promotes themselves effectively online. Take a look at other industries and you see a wealth of engaging content available to consumers: videos, blogs, podcasts, the lot. Herein lies the opportunity: to make English Wine the wine for the 21stCentury consumer.

I don’t mean to make English Sparkling the stuff of hip and trendy Millennials, in the way craft beer has had so much success, but just to use the tools at our disposal to bring the wine to the people, generate some genuine interest, to inform, educate and entertain the drinking public with all things English Wine.

We have the product, the people, and the potential, to effectively communicate the amazing story of English Wine, forge a true identity as the most innovative region in the world, and lay the foundations of greatness for when the climate does us a favour a few years down the line. Leave ‘tradition’ to the Champenois, and let us embrace the future, let us embrace our modernity, and let us give English Wine the image and the global profile it deserves.