Marketing challenges exist in many spots within the wine industry. Normally, a region wants to get known for a single grape and see what happens from there. But what happens if a region grows an entire suite of grapes well? Santa Barbara is starting to find out now. Marketing the fact that you think everything grows well in your backyard is damn hard!
Hi, guys. Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. I’m joined today by … I’m trying to hold this up so you can get a good look at it. This is a Union Sacre Cabernet Sauvignon. The long and short of this story is, if you’re a member of one of our red wine clubs, you’ll be getting one of these in the coming weeks most likely, but I did want to talk for a moment about something on here on the label. This says, “Star Lane Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley.”
I went to school in Santa Barbara for a while and so I kind of have a pretty fair understanding of how the climate and stuff works on the Central Coast and they have … we’ve talked about marketing challenges here over the last few of these and Santa Barbara has one of the true marketing challenges in the wine industry.
In so many places, it’s easy to get known for one grape. Napa makes Cabernets, Sonoma makes Coastal Pinot, you know, Burgundy Pinot, [inaudible 00:00:59], Bordeaux makes red wine blends but people basically think of it as Cabernet or Merlot, depending on what side of the river they go to. Santa Barbara has this kind of unique feature of geography that it’s the longest stretch of east-west coastline in California and it creates this kind of tunnel, almost, of wind and fog that happens everyday almost during summer at four o’clock or so.
The locals joke that the air conditioning has been turned on and you’ll see folks walking with board shorts from the beach and then you’re able to get up into the snow in the fall in a 15 or 20 minute drive, which is pretty incredible, but also speaks to the different terrain that Santa Barbara really experiences, especially because there are points where the foothills are only five miles away from the ocean and that’s pretty unique, too.
So you have all these kind of unique geographical factors that come together and make it an interesting place to grow wine. As it turns out, as you go through the inland valleys, each valley gets a little bit warmer so right next to the coast, they can grow really great Pinots. The next valley over, they might be growing Merlot; the valley after that, Syrah; the valley after that, Cabernet. It keeps going. It’s almost like this cascade of wine grapes that can be grown, but how the heck do you sell it?
We really as a wine industry and as a region say, “You know, we can grow whatever we want. You just have to know which little pocket that you need to look from to know which ones are going to be the best.” Frankly, consumers have said since the beginning that they’re just not interested in learning that much. That’s too complicated and they want stuff to be simple. Napa grows Cabernet, they grow a great Cabernet, end of story. That’s easy to remember, it’s easy to know and it’s easy to talk about.
Santa Barbara doesn’t have that in terms of one grape and they’re never going to, and so this is really one of the big marketing challenges that the wine industry in the Central Coast has is: how do you tell people about all these different grapes if really you do have all of these different grapes and you can grow them all well?
So, that’s one of the challenges. I think you’ll see we’re going to do a range of Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignons. I also really am interested in what happens with Grenache and Syrah as they move … We talked about different hillsides, but what happens if you move something that’s usually on one of the warmer hillsides and what if you put it into a cooler hillside, then what happens and what’s the end result, or the end point for the wine?
So, we’re going to be exploring that kind of stuff with Wine Club members and I hope you’ll join us. Union Sacre, this is kind of a fun wine and we’ll have more content specific to this winery in the coming days and weeks. I hope everybody’s having a good week so far and we’re halfway through.