Ξ February 28th, 2014 | → 0 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Languedoc/Roussillon, Wine News, Winemakers |
Day 3 of Vinisud 2014 has come and gone. But what a day it was. Knowing that by 5 o’clock, the shortened hours of the final day, all visitors – the journalist, buyers, importers, sommeliers, trade representatives – will be heading for the door gives many producers a chance to catch their collective breath. By mid-day a sense of merriment begins to replace the vigilant commercial attitude. Tasting formalities, though still evident, are greatly relaxed as winemakers and their representatives begin to shift to thinking about their families, the vineyard that need tending, their tomorrows. The tight and measured grip on immediate commercial concerns lessens to reveal the tough callouses of the hands of real farmers and winegrowers, the men and women whose steady and loving labors have coaxed from the earth wines they hope we have enjoyed.
I very much like the atmosphere of the last day of trade fairs generally, but Vinisud – this is my second visit – is different owing to the sheer scale of its ambition. The veil between customers and producers is very thin. You are very often looking into the eyes of the grower who has spent hard-earned cash to attend. He or she is doing their very best to maintain appearances, the bright confidence that their wines will be tasted and then purchased. It all comes down to this. No matter how many times you are asked to repeat your story, to explain your winery, your terroir, your recent upgrades and volume capacities, a winegrower must try to make a visitor to their booth feel that they are the very first person who has stepped out from a river of passersby. The commercial vulnerability experienced must truly be extreme, I think. There before us, as visitors, are not just wines but a livelihood. So they must be as tough-minded as are their hands for surely many visitors will suddenly disappear without saying a word.
Of course the larger corporate producer enjoys greater insulation. Their brand is already secure in the marketplace. Customers around the world know their products. They will do well for nothing succeeds like success. But for the smaller producer struggling to stay afloat in a sea of wines, to differentiate themselves with an artful label, a witty slogan, or by the sheer force of their personality, I have the utmost admiration. Here before you, the bottles lined up, are college educations or musical instruction for their children, a new piece of farming equipment, a better bottling line. That neighboring plot of land a winegrower needs for expansion ? That too hangs in the balance.
As for me, I have a number of stories yet to write about the specific content developed as my part at Vinisud 2014, stories about climate change, biodiversity, expanding the consumer palate, how to encourage folks to experiment with wines and flavors far and wide; but those stories are for another day. The occasion of this writing is to simply shake the hands, as it were, of the brave winegrowers I have met these past three days and to offer my best wishes for continued commercial success.
Ken Payton, Admin