Wednesday, January 25, 2006


At the Unified Wine Symposium (Sacramento, Ca) yesterday, we heard a call to action by Nick Dokoozlian of Gallo Winery.

Essentially it boils down to this: Australia, which has made significant growth in the US import market, spends about three times the amount of money on wine research as the US does. That’s not too shabby either, especially if you keep in mind that it’s only one-third of the US industry’s size…

Research is largely responsible for that growth - or so the argument goes...

Now Gallo is one of those companies which has plenty of research constantly going on – and it’s focused on all aspects of the industry – so it’s not really a surprise to hear one of its employees expounding the virtues of research. It’s also not a surprise that almost everything Gallo “discovers” stays within it’s own company.

But what’s interesting is that the Aussies fund half the total research monies via a mandatory $8/ton assessment fee. All producers apparently pay this fee, regardless of size of the operation. The balance of the funds are from government matching of those assessed fees. Nicely done!

In addition to that, the Aussie program supports all their wineries as far as I can tell, regardless of size with that same research…

And that means the small mom-and-pop wineries which wouldn’t ever have the funds needed to spend on research of their own, greatly benefit from the pooled fees by gaining access to information they’d never see otherwise.
Quite a nice return for what amounts to 1¢ per bottle

Obviously, larger wineries are going to be paying more with this plan (Constellation’s 75mil cases/year would be ~$9M annually alone! Gallo would add another ~$7.2M to the yearly kitty…), which seems equitable in that those larger companies would see more returns on that information by their greater number of products sold by using it to increase quality.

Who really benefits?
Consumers! - who get a better product, and possibly even at lower costs in the future as well, due to better research, information gathering and sharing. The American consumer and wine industry as a whole would/could move forward at the same time…

The quote from Australian Robin Day (
AWRI chairman), has me reaching for my wallet already: "Improved awareness of scientific detail reduces the chances of preventably poor wine being made."

I’m all for that…where do I sign up?

Wine executive urges mandatory R&D payments [Sacramento Bee article 1/25/06, registration may be required]


Blogger David Ogilvie said...

I would certainly pay a penny for research. Just a note about Nick Dakoozlian though. He is a great guy and a very intellegent researcher. He used to be a professor at UCD and a researcher at the Kearny Ag center working with vines. I am sure his comments were not being made from the standpoint of a Gallo Employee. He understands the need for INDUSTRY research and I believe will support it more than research soley for Gallo. Plus, Gallo is very good about giving yearly reports on their research at ASEV and the UWS too.

January 26, 2006 8:39 PM  
Blogger St. Vini said...

I guess I wasn't very clear about that...

Yes, I was alluding to the fact that what he's supporting is "collective" public research - not just "company specific" private research. I'm sorry if it sounded as though I thought he was being partisan, quite the opposite, which was the novelty of it.

And it's not that Gallo in particular is miserly with their research, but obviously we see only a fraction of what Gallo does research.
Thanks David for the input!
/St. Vini

January 27, 2006 7:56 AM  

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