Often, as you age, you encounter things that tell you life is okay where you are now at and that parts of the contemporary world are now a place for the youthful. Take music. There are comfortable lyrics of old like, "You make me feel so young, you make me feel there are songs to be sung. And every time I see you grin I'm such a happy in...dividual" Or unintelligible rap blabble maybe like, "I may be funky but I'm no junky I get my zip from a different kind of sip you think you know me well that will go see I ain't no stooge and I don't wear rouge so if you cruise by my ports just don't touch my shorts" Whatever.
So, somehow that takes me to the wine business. I just saw some internet blips saying that California now has 4,000 wineries and the US has about 9,500. At a dramatically increasing rate, they are selling their product right to us. Direct sales via the internet. Nearly $2 billion in direct sales in 2015. That's up from being measured in the thousands of dollars only a decade or so ago.
I'd be lost trying to compete with that were I still marketing wine. Oh, I suppose I could tough up and learn the e-commerce thing if I had to. I know I'd hate it. Part of wine's beauty is the social aspect. Give people a glass and they start to socialize. It nearly always happened as I brought a bag of samples to a store or restaurant and tasted with the buyer. We interacted, talked. Even if there was no sale made, a personal communication was made allowing for possible follow up and future hopes.
When I did wine dinners or tastings for groups, typically I would say some welcoming words, the first course would come and I would stand again to talk about that first wine served and comment about what is coming next. It was always the same. The crowd would be in subdued conversation early on, but as that first course was served the volume and animation would rise. Well before anyone was feeling much alcohol buzz. I liked to point that out to folks as that part of the beauty of wine. Wine beats any other form of drink for its power of sociability.
In 1986, only 30 years ago, California had 700 wineries. Now 4,000? After the industry was decimated by prohibition, the US had only climbed back to 260 total wineries by 1960. Now 9,500? Whew. It is good to be retired. I do hope in spite of this saturation that wine keeps people talking, together, not just on the internet.
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