Posts Tagged ‘Napa Cabernet Sauvignon
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?
Most of the wine-related peeps I read about are dudes. However, many of the wine-related peeps I’ve met, worked with, and knocked back a few glasses/bottles with are women. So please welcome this new STBNY feature, Wine, Women and Blog, wherein I introduce you to some of them.
First up is Colleen Fleming, Assistant Manager of Kelly Fleming Wines. Located in Calistoga, this winery produces less than 1,000 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc each year. Their wines are a great reminder not to throw the baby out with the bathwater: yes, yes, yes, there are way too many overextracted Napa wines out there in circulation, but these are not among them. The Cabernet Sauvignon is lush, no doubt, but there’s elegance at play, too. At $90 a pop, it’s not a bargain, but relatively speaking, it offers good value.
I would compare our Cabernet to a Haruki Murakami novel. On the surface it’s a realistic wine, but has an underlying surrealist, magical quality! It expands and contracts. Alternately, sometimes I try it with a perfect food pairing, roast quail or grilled lamb, and it’s like a Buddy Guy song. It can be a radical moment.
What wine (aside from your own!) could you not live without?
German Rieslings, especially ones with a little age and a heavy dose of petrol.
What wine region are you dying to visit next?
Germany or Champagne.
What’s the oddest food/wine combination you’ve ever tried?
Chocolate with blue cheese and port. It was weird and awesome.
What wine trend are you most excited about?
More and more farmers taking the leap to organic farming, and also dry farming.
What wine trend would you like to see go the way of the dodo bird?
Oaky malolactic Chardonnay. Sorry!
What’s the best part of being in the wine business?
Drinking all the profits. I’m only half-kidding. I honestly love working with my mom and brother, it’s so fulfilling! I also love being a small boutique winery with a small staff. It forces us all to wear many hats and be involved in everything from cleaning fermentation tanks, walking the vineyards, doing the dishes.
What’s the harshest reality about working in the wine business?
It’s a lot messier and harder than most people think. Harvest is all manual labor! It’s a great work-out though.
What person in the wine business do you most admire?
My mom. She was the sole employee for the first 10 years before the winery was built. She’s a rock star. And a great mom too.
It’s not every mother and daughter who could work together, especially in such a demanding, all-consuming field. What’s your secret to making it work?
Patience, honesty, communication and the reassurance that we can always have a nice big glass of wine at the end of the day. Wine cures all.