Monday, March 23, 2009

"Madcap" millenials...? Long Live Queen Victoria!

On Saturday last (3/21/09), Peg Melnick of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat wrote an article which was featured high on the front page, just below the name of the paper (dear God - it must be important!) which seemed to imply that many of the recent tourists & wine aficionados were put-off by the large number of miscreant youths who partied through the wineries with apparent abandon. To the credit of the editors of the paper (or perhaps Peg herself), the term "madcap millenials" didn't appear in the print edition of her story - only in the blogged version.

Now, with all due respect to Peg , I don't think anyone in the past 50 years has used the term "madcap"...unless you count the British comedy troupe Monty Python back in the mid 70's when they described themselves as "zany, madcap humor..." (Historically, I believe that was also the last recorded usage of the term "zany" as well...)
Drunken antics of a few aside, this is all -simply put- Victorian Prudishness, and the old guard needs to get over themselves. We read of the "average Midwest Joes", who were offended by this travesty:

Dear GOD! ...have they NO SENSE OF DIGNITY!?
The sheer hubris of dressing up for St.Patrick's Day, and going to a winery instead of a brewery!
OH! The irritation! Why I'm chaffing at the mere thought of having to share a tasting room with these...these......young fashion-challenged-miscreants....?!
Wait a minute....just what is the Ohio definition of "misbehaving"?

BTW, it IS and always HAS BEEN the responsibility of the participating wineries NOT TO SERVE PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY DRUNK - regardless of whether their inebriation occurs from beer, wine or liquor, and regardless of whether they become inebriated on their property or show up in that condition. This responsibility also encompasses the right to refuse service to individuals who are acting inappropriately on their property...
Again from the article:

I believe the correct term is "(they) Tweet" not "twitter" when speaking in the plural. And again, it sounds like this is just the crowd the industry needs to appeal to - think how far your marketing dollars go when the crowd gathers at your winery and HAS A GOOD TIME and then spreads the word via their own circle of friends electronically!

In a recap of her reporting, Peg has an online blog which posed a few questions to people who had experience at the recent Wine Road Barrel Tasting, asking if they, too, had some unfortunate or unpleasant experiences with the "younger generation of wine drinkers" (my quotes on that last phrase, Peg didn't use it). And this is where the generational warfare tone continues from the main article, to wit:

"Who are these brash drinkers? A suspect element within the Millennials, the offspring of the Baby Boomers who range in age from 22 to 31. And these so-called "madcap Millennials" are roaming through Wine Country with some regularity..."

Come on now! With phrases like that it sounds like we're talking about packs of feral dogs attacking pastoral herds of sheep, or the hoards of mindless zombies from Night of the Living Dead showing up on your front porch!!

There is an element of concern when people show up at your establishment and proceed to get "hammered" or "plastered"...or if they show up at your place already in that state...
But lets all address THAT issue, not one where we separate people out because they dress differently, or age, or if they - God Forbid! - are actually having FUN...
Afterall, FUN, respectfully enjoyed, IS what everyone should be seeking...

Labels: ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope Mrs. Marucco goes home and doesn't come back, or at least maybe she'll go to Napa next time, they will probably welcome her stuffy attitude. I, for one, welcome people having fun at wine events. We can't grow and support this industry without embracing youth.


March 23, 2009 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen more drunken misbehaving "adults" in my experiences at these events than younger consumers. While Millenials are still young and want to have fun, I don't think it's fair to blame us for all the inappropriate behavior when some Baby Boomers clearly are not setting a good example.

March 24, 2009 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Napa Valley and can't tell you how many mature adults (especially male) I see every year standing up through the sun roof of their limo, hair blowing wildly as they are driven up highway 29. I think any age group can act stupidly when they drink too much.

March 24, 2009 12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm an actual winery owner who participated in the recent 31st Annual Barrl Tasting Weekend put on through Wine Road. Each year, wineries pay out of our own pockets thousands of dollars to put on this event. Not unlike the years past, the entrance fee for a three day party is $30 bucks.. yep, that's right 30 smackers and the kids get to shuffle their way up and down the Dry Creek and Russian River valley eating (we hope) and drinking with little to no idea what the purpose of the wkend is. Wineries do not receive one red cent in reimbursement costs for this event, in fact we must at our expense collect thousands of $ for folks signing up at our winery, process it through our credit card/bkkping and deposit the money into wine road's account... again at our expense. I'm not happy. This year, I lost my ass and I've finally figured out what I'll do next year.

Get where I'm going? In order to continue offering full service event with catered food, live music and enough staff to start a small army, we'll be charging an additional fee to cover our most basic event costs. period. Complimentary barrel tasting will still come with the 30 dollar tix, but they'll have to pay to play, lounge out and listen to live local music.

IF ths event was charging say $65 and wineries got to see some of the estimated $650,000 this event brings in in gross sales, I think much "irritation" would be soothed over.

March 24, 2009 9:22 PM  
Blogger St. Vini said...

Jason, I agree that people who are too stuck-up shouldn't bother to come to the event in the first place, and if they don't like it they should go back to wherever it is they came from and not participate again. I'm not sure how to reconcile that with people who've paid out good money for a tasting which is then spoiled by a couple of "bad apples". The industry NEEDS to welcome the next generation of consumers or it'll die a slow death like the French wine industry is dying right now...

I also think the "stuffy attitude" in Napa is more apparent, and hope that even though I see more and more of that in Sonoma County. I just pray it never takes hold like it has in Napa....


March 25, 2009 8:52 AM  
Blogger St. Vini said...

To the second & third comments:

I think that there has until recently been little in the way of the younger age groups out tasting wine. In the past they seem to be more interested in the proverbial "micro-brewery" than in wine tasting. And this may be part of the problem...younger people are drinking more wine these days, and that should be lauded.

You're right, a LOT of adults "act out" when they're on a weekend tasting run - regardless of area they're at or their age. I've noticed for years now the way that groups of young women seem to have a "Young Women Gone Wild" attitude when they get together and go wine tasting, especially if they've got a limo or bus to do the driving for them. This is all fine and dandy, provided they aren't making the day a waste of time for serious wine drinkers...but the serious aficionados do need to make room in their little world for those with a desire to taste wine without the romanticism, pretense and grandeur they themselves apply to the subject.
Wine is made to be enjoyed, period.

Thanks to both for the comments,

March 25, 2009 9:09 AM  
Blogger St. Vini said...

To the winery owner:

I know the pain you describe, as I've participated in this event and similar ones in the past.

I think you're right, you need to partition the event into two groups: 1) tasting - which is already paid for, and 2) everything else, be it music, food, extended tours and library tastings, etc.

Doing so will make it possible to separate the people who aren't really interested in doing anything but getting drunk from those who might be inclined to actually purchase a future or something else from your winery.
I know many wineries that already separate the barrel event physically from their tasting rooms (weather permitting) so that they may more closely control the expected crowds for the barrel events, while still having a tasting room "experience" for tourists who just happen by or serious aficionados who want more attention than just a crowded room can provide.

It sounds like our two experiences are somewhat alike: I look at these events kind of like the grand tastings at Ft.Mason in SF, where the event is really about exposure, not really a venue for large sales, though some wine club sing-ups or futures sales might occur. But I have been very pleasantly surprised in the past by the number of people who've told me when I was out on business & PR market visits of the "great times" they had at tastings I had participated in. The amount of positive PR these people then spread around can be amazing, with some people returning year after year, and bringing more and more friends each time.

I have always tried to justify these events to myself as opportunities to get people who might never have tried my wines to get them into their mouths - even though I'm out 60~120 gallons of wine from different barrels which then need to be topped up or put into smaller containers, etc., or the two dozen cases of wines for a larger formal multi-day tasting. There is quite a bit of liability on the part of the wineries with the hope that something positive in the way of future sales will offset the labor, time and energy spent in making an event like this a good one for all.

Good luck!

March 25, 2009 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Josh said...

Good to have you back Vini! You were missed.

When, oh when, are you going to come out of the closet though and reveal your true identity?! ;-)

The industry needs you!

March 25, 2009 11:56 AM  
Anonymous Shana Ray said...

In response to the Anonymous comment. I was one of those Milenial's, possibly even one who visited your winery. As much as the $30 cost doesn't go towards wineries, it does go towards a lot of advertising for the event and if your winery does it right then you will have many new fans of your wines, including those who join your wine club, buy futures or even just buy bottles of your wine.

I purchased a case from my favorite winery - one that took the idea of Barrel Tasting and used it to their full advantage, along with some futures from other wineries.

I think it is tradition to blame the youth and claim that we are too rowdy for our own good.... But just be happy we are taking such an interest in the wine industry. We are your future.

March 25, 2009 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Shana said...


March 25, 2009 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It does seem to pose a bit of a problem.

$30 to barrel-taste wine for a day is so incredibly cheap, it almost justifies a plane ticket from Ohio :). It's a negligible cost.

It would seem simple enough: Wineries charge $5 or $10 for the tasting. If the tasters then want to buy something, apply the tasting fee toward that purchase.

People of all ages tend to misbehave once enough "social lubricant" has been consumed.

If you want a quaint, peaceful afternoon of wine tasting, that weekend is not for you. There are 51 other weekends on the calendar - choose one of those.

March 25, 2009 12:16 PM  
Anonymous El Jefe said...

It sounds to me like the event was oversold. If you sell too many tickets, the quality of the event suffers and people start looking for scapegoats.

As was noted, it is the responsibility of the winery to deal with problem guests in an appropriate and polite manner - whether they have been overserved or are misbehaving - and regardless of age group or any other characteristic. Your other guests will respect (and often reward) you for it.

How much better would it be to charge say $50 for the event (still sounds like a heck of a bargain) and kick back 40% of the take to the participating wineries? How about getting involved and making next year's event better? Or if it's not worth it, than don't participate!

Big tasting events are a big pain in many ways, but they serve as a great way to welcome old friends and make new ones. That's what it should be all about.

March 25, 2009 4:11 PM  
Blogger St. Vini said...

Jeeeeez, Josh....

I'm not sure I like the sound of "come out of the closet"...what was that episode of South Park again - wasn't it with Tom Cruise?
And what, you're not satisfied with looking at the bottle of White Zin trapped in the iron maiden? ;)

Thanks for the prop!

March 25, 2009 7:32 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home