Some very smart people in the wine business are saying that the wine world is about to end as we know it. It’s a pretty scary story about how the top .03% of wineries produce almost 50% of American wine. That’s just 3 behemoth companies with dozens and dozens of big brands under their umbrellas.
Thanks to the support of over 90,000 Angels in the USA, we might be the country’s best chance at fighting the era of Big Wine.
The problems with Big Wine
Big Wine brands treat wine like a commodity. Grapes are grapes and more thought goes into marketing, sales, shelf placement, and pricing of a product than the actual quality of the wine.
And if you treat wine as a commodity for long enough, you’ll see a lot of consolidation in producers until all wine is made by the same corporations and pretty much tastes the same.
Naturally, big wine brands like having quality too, but it’s not their primary focus. And I doubt things like diversity of flavors, the expression of terroir, and the sense of a vintage don’t even rank in the top 100 priorities. A lot of these things are actually big no-no’s for marketing directors who wish they had a consistent product on tap like Coca Cola to sell in grocery stores year round.
It’s a mainstream problem
I’m afraid this is a big problem that affects most American wine drinkers. And while life is getting better for a select few, the mainstream wine world is getting worse and worse.
Other smart people point to a proliferation of alternatives, noting that there are more American wineries selling direct to consumer than ever before (often from states you don’t realize make wine). And that’s true, but all those new wineries combined are just a drop in the bucket because the big brands control the vast majority of the market.
Sometimes it seems like we’ll have 98% of the market dominated by a bunch of giant generic corporate brands. And 2% of the market divided amongst thousands of tiny winemakers each struggling to sell their few barrels of wine at outrageously expensive prices to the handful of wine drinkers who can afford to be discerning.
While a few wine drinkers who want to make it a hobby to find these hard to get wines, everybody else is going to have access to more and more generic commoditized wine. That’s because the routes to market are mostly reserved for the giant brands that can do national distribution and supply chains. where it seems completely impossible for the small guy to compete.
The solution is Angel funding
But over 90,000 normal wine drinkers have teamed up to change all that. Our Angels found a way that small winemakers can compete for the mainstream (without giving up on quality!)
If the problem is that a few big brands are taking over the traditional distribution channels and turning wine into a commodity, the solution is that hundreds of winemakers with tiny lots of wine are joining forces to create an alternative way to get their wine to customers without becoming a soulless commodity.
Our winemakers make an average volume of less than 3,000 cases per wine. That’s a small volume per wine (a brand like Cupcake had 1 million cases in 2011), but when you consider how MANY wines and winemakers we have, it builds up very quickly.
How can Angel funding rival Big Brands?
Angel funding provides an alternative to consolidation at the level of production AND distribution.
Every year, Big Wine gets bigger. The big brand producers consolidate and expand their production scale of generic mass-produced wines.
Every year, their distributors tighten their control of the traditional channels. Grocery stores and restaurant lists are more and more controlled by the ever more powerful distributors in each state.
Here’s the thing: Big Wine pushes toward fewer, bigger brands because that’s what they’re very good at selling. If they can reduce wine to Cab or Pinot the same way they can ask you Coke or Pepsi, then they make more money.
As such, the middlemen that buy from wineries and sell to grocery stores would also rather have a few brands available year round than a hundred small lot wines that are constantly running out and being replaced with other wines.
But every time a wine drinker becomes an Angel, it’s one more person saying “I want better wine. And you don’t need to go through the traditional system to get it to me.”
This solution is here for EVERYbody
We want to make it so that ALL wine drinkers can find and buy great wines. The way the world is going, only a few people who devote a lot of time to learning about wine and keeping on top of trends (like anybody reading this blog post!) will be able to get great wine. But we want everybody to have that access.
If we get enough people drinking wine in this new way that supports independent winemakers directly, we’ll be the first company to rival Big Wine without mass-produced brands. There’s over 90,000 of us in the US as I write this post. It’s an exciting time to be a wine drinker!