Leader? We Don’t Need No Stinking Leader

In a recent speech, Gavin Newsome laments the lack of leadership in the California wine industry.  Obviously, something like this has a lot of wine people talking and writing. Below is my response to Steve Heimoff’sAlfonso Bedoya as Gold Hat[5] post.

As excited as I am about bringing my wines to new markets overseas, there is a much more important task for the “faces” of America’s wine industry: create a true wine-drinking culture right here in our own country.

We are aggregately the largest consuming country in the world, but rank only 52nd in the world at just over 9 liters per person, per year (according to Wine Institute). And lest the dander of the neo-prohibitionists rise, the consumption figure is most important in respect to what it implies about a country and its relationship to wine’s best and most moderate use: as a family and social binder and memory creator.

From a marketing standpoint, the cult of personality is a real thing. Is it a valuable thing long-term? All one has to do is look at any TV talk show and supermarket magazine rack to see how short the freshness date is on any new “leader.”

Better than any one face, is the concerted effort of everyone in the business to celebrate and communicate just how wonderfully civilizing, ameliorative, and just damn fun the world of wine can and should be.

What do you think? Does the wine world need a spokesperson? Or is it more important that the industry, as a whole, talk in a unified way about the many benefits of the wine life?

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