Help for French Wine Makers

The French make the most wine in the world, but, their market share is sliding fast and they can be bumped out of that top spot sooner than they think, if things don’t change. Many are taking the first steps in remedying the situation by looking to the government for help, but is it because they recognize that the regulations are what’s holding them back and reform is needed in order to implement change?

Protests [NZ Herald.co.nz] are good and all, and that’s probably the right start in order to change state legislation, but I’ve got a few ideas to help you with your US exports, once you make it over those legislative hurdles.

  1. Humility
    You’ve made great wine for a long time, and have sold the most expensive bottles in the world, but you can’t fall back on that with everything. It takes humility to admit that there is something seriously wrong here, and it’s the first step needed to make the changes necessary to compete in the new global market. We all respect French wine, the industry, the tradition, and the culture, but some things have changed for the better, and we hope you’ll recognize that, embracing some changes.
  2. Branding
    The Australians figured this out a while ago. There aren’t many other products that can be as overwhelming and confusing as French wine labels. Mind you, this can be applied to the price group that is having the biggest drop in sales, probably the under $20 category. We need a little more info, grape varietals used, info about the chateau with website / contact information, maybe some simple notes about the wine and winery on the back (using French is fine, we’ve got Google Translate), and little better name branding. Most of the low end wines all look the same, you might stand out a little more if you went for a unique label. Yes, we understand there are governmental restrictions surrounding this, that’s still a hurdle.
  3. Wine quality
    The more expensive wines are great, the cheap ones I find at Trader Joes aren’t. Most seem watered down and empty, time for an overhaul. Chili and Australia seemed to have figured out the cheap sector, making affordable wines that taste good, so grab your notepads and jot some pointers from those countries down. This does not necessarily mean bowing to a global one-dimensional way of making wine. The French terrior will shine through, the grapes used will remain unique, and the style can be yours still. Just a little more tweaking and quality control should help with the final product’s quality.
  4. Closures
    Screw capped wines are quickly becoming popular, yet I don’t think I’ve seen a bottle from France with a screw cap (although there might be, I just haven’t come across any). It’s a great way to stave of TCA, and shows the rest of the world you’re willing to try something new. In the $20 and under market, switching to screw caps would be a home run. Remember, as the baby boomer generation starts to slow down in wine purchasing, the next large American market segment is in their 20’s and wants to drink quality wine regardless of the closure. If screw caps help you with product quality and image, I don’t see where you lose!