Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Second half of Clark Smith interview

And there it is, the long awaited conclusion to Appellation America's Clark Smith interview...

Firstly, I find it interesting that the whole article was set at Vinovation HQ in Sebastopol.

If I recall, back in December of last year, the head of Vinovation sales and marketing (Bob Kreisher) was trying to distance the company from Smith, saying he's not involved anymore in day-to-day operations...
In fact I remember the following comments on my post about

On 12/21/06, Bob wrote...

"Clark does not run the company nor is he it's spokesperson. Clark Smith, for better and for worse, speaks for Clark Smith. Not Vinovation. Thank you sincerely for your attention and Happy Holidays."

...then he clarified this on 1/10/07...

"Clark is indeed the founder and co-owner. Clark is also a dear friend who I often disagree with, or take exception to his tone or method. I think you and are on the same page here.
Clark turned over day to day operations to his brother, Brian, six years ago. Last year he turned over Sales & Marketing to me. He remains an executive and the director of R&D...
...Clark makes people mad sometimes. Vinovation however, is 35 people who have built an exciting and vibrant company together, with blood, sweat, and tears sometimes, and Clark is just one of them...
...People often equate Vinovation & Clark. I don't think you did this in any direct or overt manner. But I do think readers might draw that conclusion..."

Hmmmm, I wonder why that is...
I've been watching to see if there are any letters to the editors type of traffic by Bob to clarify that Clark is only speaking for himself, but either Alan Goldfarb omitted that information, or Bob hasn't raised any objection to the appearances that Clark is indeed the force behind Vinovation.
Which is exactly what it looks like when the article is staged at Vinovation headquarters with a few pics of the operations inside.

I've been in that same compound when Conetech was there years ago. Not a very attractive area to house one's business...

I'm kinda sorry for Clark, in a way, because he doesn't seem to have a buffer for his ideas before he spouts them out to the whole world, a
stream of consciousness without any application of consistent thought..
Perhaps that's Bob Kreisher's best function for him.
Take the "There's not a winemaker on earth that ll tell you that s (pumping over) a good idea, but we do it so we can have bigger tanks and less labor. That's an example of how electricity completely screwed up the wine industry. "
Well, I don't know about pumpovers being bad, seems like many wineries have the option of both and elect to pumpover. Worth noting that you can punchdown using electricity as well....

There's been debate over the years re breaking the cap apart or leaving it whole: breaking it up leading to more astringency and bitterness in some peoples minds...while leaving it whole has the possibility of "channeling" through a limited portion of the cap, robbing the winemaker of potential extraction.
Some efforts have been made to engineer punchdown equipment that "submerges" the cap in large portions rather than tears all the cap apart...kind of a best of both worlds solution attempt.
I feel bad about electricity being the fall guy for everything bad that's happened in the wine industry...has anyone alive right now ever tried to pump wine into a tank with 10' (vertical feet above the valve) of wine already in it with a hand pump?
Pretty freaking impossible with those pressures...but the inference is it MUST be bad if it uses electricity...

Not to mention that ALL of what Clark does requires electricity (unless the MIT dropout has some cold-fusion/cosmic energizer hidden in his basement...maybe a cellar located on Gravity Hill would have some luck there)...but somehow, in Clark's hands, electricity has become a good thing.

Then he rails against ~
The other one (enemy) is the Proctor & Gamble-educated wine marketers that have had their taste buds surgically removed and are trying to reverse-engineer consumers preferences and tell winemakers that they have to make wines that we all hate .
But apparently, not all of us hate those wines. These are wines which sell like crazy because young Americans in their 30s and 40s who have just come to wine and are being weaned off of Coca Cola and iced tea, seem to love those fruit bombs because they re sweet and they go down easily."

I don't recall P&G having any school of Enology or Viticulture...
Then the phrase "wines that we all hate" shows up...
My, my, my...those are pretty strong words for the wines which drive the industry forward. Plus, I 'm brought back to my perennial question when I hear that remark: SO, just who are we making wine for?
If you're not making wines that appeal to consumers then you aren't selling...if you're not selling, you're dying as a commercial effort...why are you even putting money into that venture to start with?
It's like saying "I want to put lots of effort into a business which doesn't have any hope of success whatsoever".
There's nothing wrong with wines which are easy to drink...and those commercially viable products aren't all sugar-laden fruit bombs, as he implies either.

Lastly, I find it strange that Clark wants more transparency on his labels to indicate when micro-ox has been applied to his wines by using the code words "Stage 1" (color-stabilized), "Stage 2", "Stage 3", etc.
That verbage means nothing to the consumer.


Anonymous Dino said...

Its been my experience during 30 yrs in the chemical industry that some engineers use "if you can't convince them, confuse them" tactic. Clark seems to be one of them.

April 26, 2007 10:02 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home