We are now half way through the first batch of #tassiewinestars sessions and what have the students discovered? Mainly that wine is only part of the story for consumers and often they are bringing huge preconceptions about a grape or a style with them when they arrive at a Cellar door or restaurant.
We have talked extensively about tourism, knowledge of mainland and international wine styles, differing requirements of winemakers versus front of house, food matching, geography, selling skills and painting a picture with words. Wine is always the centre of what we talk about but it is such an extensive topic that we often get on to topics that at first do not seem to be a common area for the wine industry.
An analogy I often use is that the wine industry is like a triathlon relay. The viticulturists hand over to the winemakers who hand over to the front line staff who deal direct with the consumers. Each part has an important but very different role to play. Often we focus very strongly on the first two areas and are then surprised when a wine is not received as we expect it to be. Knowledge flows in both directions and often those who work in close contact with the wine buying public are privy to a wealth of information that the winemaker or viticulturist often never comes across.
Recent articles from John Hegarty, Stuart Gregor and Huon Hooke have created some fiery debate within the industry but it shows that we haven’t quite got a handle yet on how to best relate to non-wine folk. It’s a complicated area but if we keep talking, keep tasting, keep discussing and discovering we may well get closer to making wine a more approachable area for those who are not as deeply in love with is as we are.