Sunday, October 28, 2012

Can You Sue A Wine Writer?

I go crazy hearing about all the idiotic lawsuits that get thrown out there. One such suit was Overton vs Anheuser-Bush in which the plaintiff accused Budweiser of false advertising by using suggestive imagery like "scenic tropical settings, beautiful women and men engaged in endless and unrestricted merriment" ... ostensibly because they were drinking Bud Lite beautiful women would just come to life from their imaginations. I know every time I pop a bud open, I get a door knock. Doesn't everyone?

Then I saw [this story] about a critical on-line review of a doctor. Apparently the defendant didn't like the doctors bedside manner amoung other things. The good doctor didn't like the review and wasn't going to take this lying down, so he sued to have it removed. Of course the brilliant doctorended up promoting the review more than the patient ever could have hoped. But the whole things got me to wondering if anyone has ever successfully sued a professional wine writer over a scathing review?

While I'm not an attorney, I believe a suit could be brought for monetary damages if a review like that were proven untrue, the writer knew it wasn't true, and it established a loss in brand or current sales. Of course proving someones own subjective opinion was knowingly wrong isn't easy.

And while we're on the subject, what about all the consumer reviews in Blogs YELP and other on-line consumer sites? Has anyone been sued for saying bad things about a wine in the Wild West of the Web? And a related question: What should you do about those types of reviews?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Best President for the Wine Business is ....

I Lied .........

Think Its a Tight Race?
I admit it. I said last week that SVB on Wine would be going on hiatus until January while we are producing the Annual State of the Industry report. Well .....I guess I lied. Shocking! A banker who lied? I guess that makes me eligible for public office though. ....hmmm....upon further reflection ....nope .... unlike President Clinton who never inhaled but he did lie, I did inhale ... once ... as an aspiring musician but it was a job requirement. Nonetheless, that makes me unfit for public office and as a colorful Senator once said, "If nominated, I shall run to Mexico. If elected, I shall fight extradition." I mean really, who would want to run for public office these days and endure the mud-slinging and digging into the mistakes in your life? We've made office fit only for people who never made a mistake, or were never caught in a mistake.

Moving on to the topic at hand, many people seemed pretty engaged on the piece we wrote last week that discussed Argentina and the negative impact their Government has on the wine business. After watching the feisty Presidential debates this past week, I said to myself .... "Self? Which of the two candidates is best suited to help the wine industry for the next four years?"  'Myself,' predictably didn't answer me, so I've decided to go against my better judgment and toss it out for a discussion topic this week.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Argentina: Why Malbec doesn't Flood the US

There's no substitute for visiting a wine region to get a true sense for the business. Tasting doesn't tell you strategy. Reading won't describe scents in the air. A travelogue gives you no indication of the heart of the people or the quirks in customs. For that you have to visit the region.

A few months ago I was given the opportunity to speak at the VIII Foro Internacional Vitivin√≠cola in Mendoza Argentina. It didn't take long for me to accept the invite. In the U.S. I've tried many of their wines but wasn't that impressed, probably because I've never focused on the region and generally was drinking wines in restaurants that were over priced. But the buzz over quality Argentinean wines has never waned. Some of my clients even have vineyards there. So I saw this as an opportunity to broaden my understanding of the Argentina and get first hand knowledge. What I came away with was inspiring and mind altering.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Part II: Planting Decisions Are Different This Time

Changing Patterns: You're Mad if you Don't React.

The wine industry is made of family owned companies. Family owned companies seldom last past the 3rd generation in part because the family and business conditions that support the start of a business evolve over the years. Watching the clip above from MADMEN, you see the founder ask the question, "Why can't I just build on what I have?" The answer is a reminder that your customers needs and wants evolve, and you have to recognize and predict those pattern changes. 

To survive and adapt, a leader has to get out from behind the day to day world of running the business and ask tough questions about change. Today whether you are first or 4th generation, it's time to review the horizon because while the business continues to rebound, its not and wont continue in the same way it did in past recoveries as we discussed in Part I: The Long Term Future of US Wine Sales last week.

Just what specifically will be different in this recovery for the wine business? Its too long of a topic to discuss on a Blog so much of this I'll reserve for the State of the Industry Report due out in January of 2013. But for now lets just start with one segment: planting .... and maybe a little on pricing because they are related.