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Relationship between winemakers and wine "lovers" is like a "bad marriage"

Published:  29 October, 2013

The relationship between winemakers and wine lovers is like a bad marriage with a major disconnect between the two, according to wine consultant Clark Smith.

In a challenging talk at last weekend's  Digital Wine Communications Conference in Logrono, Rioja, Spain, Clark said the "conversation" around wine was often "controlled" by people, including the wine media and bloggers, who don't know enough about winemaking

He said the causes of this "bad marriage" included:

  • increased competition within the wine category which had resulted in winemakers being less open and more secretive about their methods in case they are misrepresented
  • the technological revolution and the fact there were now so many tools in which winemakers can now communicate
  • a paradigm shift in oenology meant it was now harder for winemakers to explain effectively to wine communicators what it is they are doing
  • a social revolution in ethics meant it was now harder for winemakers to manage the expectations of what people might want to know
  • the failure rate in new technological breakthroughs had created a distrust about certain new technologies like bio-technology
  • the fact critical wine review in many cases had become more like a "blood sport" and the fact a number of wine communicators had built their reputation on "knocking" winemakers.

He called for a period of more understanding between winemakers and wine communicators about what it is they are doing with their wine but often winemakers, he argued, felt they could not be completely transparent about the practices they use because they get criticised if they do.

But he also agreed that if the two sides were going to "solve this bad marriage" that it would need "full disclosure" from winemakers.

You can read more about Clark Smith's views in his book Postmodern Winemaking