Sunday, February 7, 2016

Passion, Cuba, Women & Wine

Duck and Cover

Note to reader: The trip to Cuba for the California Wine Symposium was widely covered in the press last week but since I was there, I wanted to add my own first-hand views to what has been written  but include some video clips And while this post is about wine and business, I had to show a video of an unbelievable Cuban percussion and dance group at the end. That's the passion and women part of the title but please read the business part before skipping to the end.


I remember walking to school shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis. We were practicing ‘duck-and-cover’ drills in our classrooms, and we trained on what to do when we saw the blinding white flash. The propaganda video clip at the top is a great example of the beliefs of the day.

Walking to school in the early 60's, I’d plan where I would hide along the route just in case. One of the neighbors had a bomb shelter but after that, it was refrigerators in garages and fireplaces as the preferred hideouts. It was a discomforting time for the Country. President Kennedy embarrassed in the Bay of Pigs Invasion was staring down Khrushchev, the Premiere of the former USSR in a game of nuclear chicken with continental annihilation hanging in the balance.

Wine and Cuban Hero Che
With that as context, it’s surreal to find myself sitting in a bar in Havana Cuba writing this piece and participating in an official U.S. Trade Mission promoting California Wine. We're not promoting world peace or selling tractors. We're promoting a luxury product to a socialist country. 
In the past 70 years executive orders have made it almost impossible to do anything with Cuba, but on this mission we are able to travel based on carve outs for agricultural products. People in the boomer generation never thought they would see Cuba in person. And while tourism from the US is still illegal, the fact that I’m here is a statement of how far relations between the countries have come.

This is a change that isn’t going to reverse course. While I doubt Cuba will ever return to a free-market economy given the scars and excesses that led to their Revolution, this change to allow greater openness will create large economic opportunities for those participating in rebuilding country, for businesses selling into a growth market, and for foreign investment partners.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Video Replay of the SVB Wine Report & Chat

The first part of the year has turned into a fire hose of new industry information in the wine business. Right after we released the State of the Industry Report, we all ran to Unified to hear more discussion about industry trends. I missed Fred Franzia's lively lunch presentation Tuesday but was there all week and once again moderated the Thursday General Session. I then came home and got on a plane to Miami where I will leave with the Wine Institute and the Napa Vintners for a Trade Mission to Cuba at 4:00 am Sunday morning.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Final Signup: SVB Annual Report Release Thursday


Live Videocast

2016 State of the Wine Industry

Thursday, January 21, 2016
9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m. PT

I expect this will be one of the most interesting reports we've ever authored. I would like to invite you to join us live for a discussion of the report and wine business with our expert panel: Rob McMillan, EVP & founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division, Paul Mabray, Chief Strategy Officer of VinTank, Amy Hoopes, Chief Marketing Officer/EVP Global Sales at Wente Family Estates and Jeff Bitter with Allied Grape Growers.
We will review the findings of the 2016 State of the Wine Industry Report, which is based on SVB’s in-depth survey of wine industry experts and insiders, third-party research and Rob’s unique perspective as a long-time member within the wine industry.
This presentation will include insights on:
  • Changes in the market share of imported bulk and bottled wine
  • Predictions of 2016 sales growth in the fine wine segment
  • Winery financial performance
  • Expected changed in U.S. per capita and total consumption
  • Consumer demand changes
  • Harvest yields and bulk inventories
  • Prediced changes in the opportunities of domestic wine producing regions
  • Bottle price changes  
Please [register] for the videocast and receive a link to the replay and the complete 2016 Wine Industry Report after the live event.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

What if you Discount Wine and Case Sales Drop?

Source: Nielsen Beverage
      Just Slip Out the Back, Jack

It can be a little hard getting revved back up when the year starts. Truth be told, few of us are excited to jump back in full speed. We'd rather slip back to revel in the warmth of the holiday's then start executing on the new plan.

I have a little difficulty finding normal when the year starts because November and December find me researching and writing the Banks Annual State of the Industry Report. Add in Christmas, the New Year, business holiday parties, routine daily business issues and my birthday  - which falls on December 24th, but it's OK if you forgot. You can get me a gift next time. Anyway.... I can't wait to start the new year and find normal again!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

What Does the Wine Business Fear Most?


With the New Year's Resolutions on our minds, one related question someone inevitably brings up is "do-overs." If you had a chance to do anything over, what would that be?

I have more than my fair share but I'll throw out one. It's the story of the young lady who agreed to marry me when I was 21 and she was 18. I thought she was a real keeper and we were in love. She said yes! I was so excited until my brand new fiancé said I had to ask her father and then reality started to set in. What if he said no?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Groundhog Day In Pennsylvania

I've just spent the past 6 weeks researching and writing the 2016 State of the Industry Report. It always sucks the life out of me because its all encompassing 12 hour days without a break, even on weekends. When it's done, I'm ready for something else entirely. I look for re-runs of Friends and I Love Lucy or comedies I've seen a zillion times like Groundhog Day ... which is the segue into an article I saw this morning titled: Pennsylvania: Sweeping liquor Reform bill advances toward full Senate and uncertain future.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Picking A Side In the Napa Winery Fight

No it's not Monday when I normally post. I got inspired midweek from Tom Wark who wrote a piece yesterday in his Fermentation Daily Wine Blog entitled Critics of the Napa Valley Wine Industry are Losing Badly. It's a passionate opinion piece of the goings-on in Napa County politics which are overheated with rhetoric. (Rhetoric | rhet·o·ric \ˈre-tə-rik\: language that is intended to influence people and that may not be honest or reasonable.)