Serendipity is an amazing thing. I had just been thinking about how poorly the wine industry markets to women when friend/superflack Julie Ann Kodmur asked if I wanted to meet Sharon Kazan Harris. A Napa winemaker who had studied in Bordeaux, Harris also runs A Woman’s Palate, a wine education program for executive women. Like golf or fancy watches, wine is useful hobby for Lean-Inners in finance, law, tech and the like. While I wasn’t able to taste her small-production Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignon, we did talk at length about getting women more interested in wine — and getting the industry to notice.
A few highlights:
- 80% of wine under $18 is purchased by women. 80%! That’s a staggering number.
- Even women who are comfortable dropping $900 on a pair of shoes hesitate to buy a bottle of wine with a triple-digit price tag. “I worked with a large group of really successful Silicon Valley women and only one of them had ever bought a wine over $100.”
- She gives women useful tactics to deflect wine mansplaining. Introducing them to winemakers, which she does in her boot camps, provides the ultimate trump card. Nothing shuts up a wine bore holding forth on a bottle you’re drinking quite like interrupting him with “well, when I met the winemaker…”
- On the disconnect between “chick wines” and her reality. “I’m not going to close a deal with a wine named ‘Sassy Bitch.’ Would you?”
My conversation with Harris gave shape to some fuzzy questions that have been taking up way too much of my brain space lately. Is the wine industry so focused on millennials that it takes for granted the customers it already has (i.e., women)? When will marketers figure out that “on the nose” style of marketing to women (pink labels, the word “mommy” thrown around indiscriminately) is really unsophisticated? How do you get more women to buy fine wine? And are we really OK with stuff like this? Or these?