Shipping debates: Today, 42 states allow winery direct-to-consumer shipping, but just 13 states permit retailers to ship to consumers out of state. Until recently, neither states nor shipping companies regularly enforced the laws, but this is changing. Wine Spectator also outlines how retailers are fighting back in court and in state capitols. [Wine Spectator]
Chehalem Winery acquisition: Willamette Valley’s Chehalem Winery has been acquired by Stoller Family Estate, which has been a partner in the brand for 24 years. Founder Harry Peterson-Nedry turned 70 in December and will devote his full attention to managing his 48 acres in Ribbon Ridge and supporting Oregon wine industry initiatives. [Wine Industry Advisor]
Yellow Tail makes the Super Bowl: Anheuser-Busch has exclusive category commercial rights on the Super Bowl, meaning no other alcohol ads should be able to air. Yet Yellow Tail has once again skirted this rule, buying local ads in 80 US markets. Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, the brand’s US importer and marketer, first executed this strategy last year, with 70 markets. [USA Today]
Bordeaux’s frost: Frosts caused a 40% drop in the 2017 Bordeaux harvest; the financial toll is estimated at 1.6 billion euros. Pruning is key and requires more effort in a vintage following a severe frost—all at additional cost. Some producers have announced they will not make any wines from the vintage. Jane Anson reviews what we know thus far. [Decanter]
New cocktail conference: Chicago Style is a new cocktail conference to be hosted this May, following the gala for the James Beard Awards. The convention is set apart by its philosophical mission; the three founders, all women, plan to address issues such as sexism, lack of diversity, and substance abuse in the industry. [NYT]
Alexa as sommelier: Amazon’s Alexa was launched in Canada in December, and The Globe and Mail put the device’s wine-pairing apps, or “skills,” to the test. Alexa’s performance was poor, to say the least. Of course, technology promises to improve from here. [The Globe And Mail]
Our favorite SevenFifty Daily article this week
American craft sake: A small but enthusiastic new group of American craft sake producers hopes to make the category a viable segment of the market. Producers are reaching out to varied audiences and focusing on ingredient quality. California’s Calrose rice is a common base, as it’s similar to the japonica varieties grown in Japan. [SevenFifty Daily]
This week’s discussion question
Where do you see technology finding success in the world of wine today? What do you predict for the future? What might apps and gadgets replace, where will they enhance human interaction and work, and what will stay tech-free?
What else have you been reading this week?
I think we'll continue to see large tech advances on the Ag side of the industry. Ag in general has been slow to adopt things like IoT devices, big data analytics and machine learning, but it's growing. There is value, potentially significant value in using that kind of information, someone just needs to coax it out.
Similarly, I'm hoping to see continued growth in those same technologies for wine advisor apps like Vivino. I'm still waiting to see someone add an augmented reality component. In my perfect world, I want to be able to walk through the liquor store with an app that will, in real-time scan the wine labels (not snap a pic and upload) and display, on the screen, whether or not the app thinks I will like the wine, based on all my previous purchases. This is great for retail where personal service is not usually an expectation. At the same time, I hope that tech doesn't diminish that personal service component that is such a large part of the sommelier role in hospitality.