Tag Archives: celebrity wine

Winebits 527: Gina Gallo, Bon Jovi, airline wine

Gina GalloThis week’s wine news: Gina Gallo speaks (yes, that Gallo), plus more celebrity wine and how to bring wine on an airplane

Keynote speech: Gina Gallo of E&J Gallo, who oversees winemaking at the family company – the largest wine producer in the world – made a rare public speech at a key wine trade show last month. That’s news in itself, reports W. Blake Gray on Wine-searcher.com; what’s more interesting is what she said as she talked about Gallo family values and how it affects the business: “Our vision for Gallo is to continue to grow by following the values learned at the family dinner table: Be compassionate. Work hard. Act as a family.”

No more, please: Is it any wonder that the Wine Curmudgeon is so cynical about celebrity wine? Consider this, from the release announcing rock legend Jon Bon Jovi’s new $25 rose, Diving into Hampton Water: He wanted to “to create a unique rosé, uniting the essence of the relaxed lifestyles of the Hamptons and the South of France.” Who knew that those of us who championed rose all those years ago, when it was pink wine that no one wanted to drink, would have created this monster? I wonder: Is this how Richard Lester feels about music videos?

Do you really want to try this? Gilbert Ott, who writes a travel blog called God Save the Points, says travelers can legally bring their own wine onto airplanes and forgo the plonk that most airlines serve. His reasoning sounds legitimate, but I can’t see myself doing it. I’ve spent too much time in TSA lines to imagine that I could actually get wine through security. And even if I did, I’d still have to deal with airline employees. Can you imagine trying to explain to a flight attendant that it’s OK to pour my wine, and showing them this guy’s blog?

Do we really need more celebrity wine?

celebirty wine

Martha, if you’re going to sell wine, then you should hold the glass by the stem.

We’re suffering through another rollout of celebrity wine

Celebrity wine has been part of the wine business at least as long as I’ve been paying attention, whether golfers, football players, or aging punk stars. But we’ve approached a point where one needs to ask: Do we really need more celebrity wine?

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve gotten releases for wine from Martha Stewart, English chat show host Graham Norton, and the Game of Thrones TV series. Given the spotty success of past celebrity wine efforts, as well as its quality, why do these things keep happening?

Because selling wine continues to be less about quality or value, and more about getting shelf space on that incredibly crowded – and getting even more crowded – Great Wall of Wine. My new favorite statistic? That there are about 125,000 different wine labels on U.S. shelves in any one year, but the high frequency wine drinker buys only about 75 bottles a year.

Hence the need to find a way to stand out. How else to explain $50 for a Game of Thrones cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley?

The thinking, of course, is that the overwhelmed wine drinker will buy these wines because of the celebrity appeal, and even pony up a premium because they’re such big fans. This is an immense advantage, and it doesn’t matter that Martha Stewart isn’t necessarily a wine person. You aren’t buying her wine because she knows wine, but because she’s Martha Stewart. So why not pay $12 for shipping?

The other thing that the wine business likes? It really doesn’t matter if the wines are any good or offer a value, since that’s not why anyone buys them. Yes, everyone says they’re terrific, like this quote from the Game of Thrones winemaker: “But the wines also have great pedigree. We source grapes from premier vineyard sites and use the finest winemaking techniques to create wines of incredible richness and texture.” But for $50, you can buy any number of wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Napa that have even better pedigrees.

Which is why I’ll stick with my $10 wine, made by people who don’t pretend to be selling anything other than what the wines are.

Winebits 304: Celebrity wine, wine critics, 7-Eleven

? Does celebrity wine sell? It all depends, says a study from a group of Canadian researchers. The Wine Curmudgeon mentions this because he banned celebrity wine news from the blog for just this reason, that the idea of celebrity wine is about the celebrity and not the wine, and that’s more or less what the study says. The Brock University report found that “a more prestigious sport like golf received a higher ‘fit’ level than a sport such as wrestling, which is not commonly associated with the product category of wine.” Also, celebrity endorsement meant less to more knowledgeable wine drinkers than to the less well versed. In other words, celebrity endorsement in wine works about the same way it does in most consumer goods.

? Cranky old men: Kyle Schlachter at Colorado Wine Press has written one of the best put-downs ever of wine writing, wine critics, and the Winestream Media. It’s satire taken to the next level, and though it gets a little insider-ish, it’s still pretty damned funny: “This generation, your generation, that reads these blogs and whatnot, really needs to figure out how to learn about wine. If you don’t listen to experts, how will you ever learn what good wine tastes like?” Sadly, I know people exactly like that, and who still don’t understand that wine is about finding what you like, not what others tell you to like.

? Making it more convenient: 7-Eleven made news a couple of years ago with its version of Two-buck Chuck, Yosemite Road, citing the growing demand for wine from its customers. The company took that one step further last week, announcing that it would sell expensive wines in its stores, including $50 bottles from Napa’s Stag’s Leap. This news is not as shocking as it sounds, given the role of the biggest wine companies in the business today. Stag’s Leap is owned by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, a one-half billion dollar company, and 7-Eleven will also sell wines from the $3.2 billion Constellation Brands and the $3.4 billion E&J Gallo. An independent producer, worried that its wine in a convenience store would destroy its reputation, wouldn’t sell it there. But the multi-nationals, given a chance to sell lots of wine to a mammoth retailer, have fewer qualms. They just want to move product, and 7-Eleven, if Ste. Michelle wanted it to, could probably sell all of the 130,000 cases Stag’s Leap makes annually.

Why I don’t do celebrity wine stories

Drew Barrymore is doing a wine. We'll ignore for the moment that she is a recovering addict, and the complications that brings to a wine brand. Or that selling wine requires a different image than selling cosmetics.

But do you want to know the main reason why the Wine Curmudgeon doesn't do items about celebrity wine (save for something like this to remind the world why I don't)? Because celebrity wine is, almost all of the time, little more than vanity.

Barrymore's wine is a pinot grigio. From Italy. Exactly what the world needed, no, another pinot grigio from Italy to join the six or seven trillion others out there?

Sigh. Some people truly do have more money than they know what to do with.