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This Wine Business Has a Millennial Solution: Relax, Don’t Panic

This Wine Business Has a Millennial Solution: Relax, Don’t Panic

Every consumable industry faces generational challenges, and the wine industry is no different.  Legacy wine companies have done a poor job of marketing and communicating to anyone younger than Boomers.  While this must change, it doesn’t actually spell disaster for much of the industry, as Eric Asimov in today’s New York Times would have you think. 

For the last several years, the Silicon Valley Bank’s (SVB) Rob McMillan has highlighted in his annual report the lagging demand for wine from the Millennial generation.  Today’s article by Eric Asimov summarized this report, with both authors foretelling doom and gloom for the wine industry.  

McMillan predicts sales of wine could drop 20% in the next decade if things don’t change while Asimov points toward increased competition from Beer and Spirits drawing Millennial consumers away from wine.  

Each suggests a few strategies for wineries to follow to try and attract more Millennials, from socially conscious brands to novel ingredient lists.  However, both McMillan and Asimov fail to understand the Millennial consumer and as a result, misrepresent both the scale of the problem and its potential solutions.


The entire wine industry does not face the same problem.  Legacy wineries that have depended on the Boomers for much of their revenue very much do face a serious challenge as that generation reaches retirement age and consumption decreases.  

The rest of the industry, however, has a shining opportunity: The American wine industry has a massive and largely untapped (uncorked) potential market: Millennials.

Millennials are doing everything later.  They are getting married significantly later, buying houses later. They are growing up later! Naturally, they are discovering wine at a later age as well.  These changes in social habits have a direct impact on their consumption behavior, but not in the way Asimov suggests.  

The SVB wine report Asimov summarizes is an excellent overview of the industry and has a lot of success predicting trends for future years. However, the focus on a Harris Poll of 2,000 adults asking “what beverage they would bring to a party” is completely irrelevant.  The poll suggests that Boomers and Generation X are much more likely to bring wine to a party, whereas Millennials have a more even distribution across alcoholic categories.

The main problem with this survey is it assumes the phrase “party” means the same thing to people of different ages.  For example, Dinner parties vs. late-night house parties are two different consumption occasions.  At this age, the Millennial generation spends more time single and socializing at larger gatherings than having smaller, more intimate gatherings.

I would venture to guess that no Millennial would even think to bring White Claw to a dinner party.  A house party? Completely different story.

Asimov uses this data point to state that “wine is simply not preferred by younger people.”  This is a massive illogical jump and irresponsible misunderstanding of the core of alcoholic consumption.  What he doesn’t seem to understand is that the consumption occasion dictates what a Millennials will drink, and their preferences will adjust as their occasions adjust with age. 

McMillian makes the same mistake when pointing out that the reopening of restaurants did not lead to a corresponding spike in on premise wine consumption.  This has nothing to do with preference and significantly more to do with availability and perceived value.  Direct-to-Consumer wine has become much more available for the general population, and the wine offering in restaurants is not a unique enough experience to merit the traditional exorbitant mark ups.

As with alcoholic consumption at “parties”, the consumption experience and value proposition in restaurants are different.  A consumer can open a bottle of wine and pour a glass at home, no problem.  That consumer very likely cannot make many of the cocktails they might order at a restaurant, and as a result, the experience is unique and perceived value is higher.  

Once again, the problem is not preference but perceived value for a specific consumption occasion.  As Millennials age, and their consumption occasions evolve, wine will return to previous generations’ consumption levels. 


Wineries need to put their egos aside and talk to people like humans.  The majority have spent the last decades inflating the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the product, and as a result 75% of Americans are still intimidated by the “rules” of wine drinking.  What rules? It’s wine– drink it however you enjoy it and don’t let any company tell you otherwise.  The higher a winery places itself on a pedestal, the further away they are from who they want their new customers to be.

Accessibility starts with not shaming people for drinking out of stemless glasses or putting an ice cube in their wine.  It evolves with relatable people talking about wine in a way that is fun, not pretentious.  This is something Boomer wineries do terribly.

The good news is younger wine companies are picking up the slack and meeting Millennials at their level. A couple examples:

Wade Cellars does an excellent job creating content that allows a celebrity wine drinker to be vulnerable and make mistakes on camera attempting to guess cheap vs expensive wine.

Las Jaras Winery focuses on light, drinkable wines with fun relaxed art as their labels. Their most popular wine is even titled Sweet Berry Wine with a picture of John C Riley from the Adult Swim Comedy sketch Dr. Steve Brule that the wine is named after.  The wine is excellent, and the brand relaxed.  Both companies make high quality wines but remove their ego to show that most people who produce wine, are not the same as the people who review wine.

Relax, Don’t Panic

If you’re a winery that started in the last decade, keep your blinders on and stay focused on what you are doing.  Very likely you are right on the money.  If you are a Boomer winery, step out of your comfort zone and have some fun.  Run a collaboration with a younger brand! Let them design labels for you, or even market your wine for you.  Find ways to utilize what you do best and supplement your weakness with partners.  As a smaller producer, In Good Taste is constantly getting help and helping our fellow winemakers.  The collaborative sprit is why I got into the industry.  Let your guard down, have some fun, and you’ll be surprised by how quickly the Millennial consumer comes with you.

Rosé of Sangiovese


Sangiovese can be found in both the Chianti and Montalcino regions of Tuscany (it all sounds so romantic, right?) and is known for producing classic medium-bodied wines. Rosé wine is actually made from red grapes, and this is where the Rosé of Sangiovese comes to play. Crisp, fruit-forward, and easy-to-drink, it's everything you want in your bottle of Rosé and more.



Big, bold, and full of flavor—exactly what you’d expect an Italian wine to be! This classic Italian grape produces some of Italy’s most straightforward red wines and is often used as a blending grape. Not here, though. We let Montepulciano do the heavy lifting as a heavy red wine and shine on its own. If you enjoy the smell of leather bound books, nibbling on dried fruit, and complementary notes of bitter, dark chocolate and sweet plums, you will love this Italian wine. No need to pair it with any certain dish—Montepulciano tastes great with all the Italian classics.

Cabernet Sauvignon


If Pinot Noir is the light and juicy queen of reds, Cabernet Sauvignon is her bolder, heavier, meatier sister. Often referred to as just “cab,” it’s the wine of France’s Bordeaux and California’s Napa Valley. There’s nothing subtle about Cabernet Sauvignon—high in alcohol, full-bodied and robust, you can usually find this red served with a ribeye, New York Strip, or filet mignon (re: carnivores love cab). Classic cabs usually offer tasting notes of chocolate, coffee, and darker fruits like prunes and plums. The Unprecedented Cabernet Sauvignon is as classic as they come, and we highly recommend letting the bottle sit and mellow until your next red meat and potatoes dinner!

Pinot Grigio

La Pluma

If you’re looking for more zest in your life, a bottle of Pinot Grigio can provide that. We included a classic Pinot Grigio in the La Pluma collection because we’re all about light and easy here, which is exactly what this grape from Italy is. It has that dry sense of humor that seems so effortless with a punchy acidity to keep you on your toes, all while offering notes of lemon, limes, green apples, and honeysuckle. Long story short; when it’s been a heavy day and your soul is seeking light things only, you’ll be happy to have this bottle on hand.

Pinot Noir


We couldn’t create the In Good Taste Unprecedented collection without the Golden Retriever of wines: Pinot Noir. Pinot is likable, it’s easy, and its natural state of being is simply charming. It’s an incredibly easy red wine to love, which is why so many people do. The grape itself is from the Burgundy region of France, but has made its way to California, Oregon, Australia, Italy, Argentina, and Germany since. Our Pinot Noir has no surprise twists—it’s a classic light red with just the right amount of sweetness to keep you coming back for another glass (or two).

Coteaux Bourguignons


The Burgundy region of France is home to their best Pinot Noirs, but we took the grapes into our own hands to create something extra special with our Coteaux Bourguignons. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, which results in a French red that’s light in body but full in flavor. The ripest blueberries and freshest herbs can be easily detected in this French burgundy blend. May we suggest pairing it with some creamy brie and freshly baked bread? It’s a oui-ning combo.



A little sweet. A little tart. A little salty? You truly get it all with this white Italian wine. If you're into that biting acidity, Verdicchio will probably be high on your list of most-loved wines from our Andiamo collection. Citrus fruits like mandarin, lemon, and grapefruit are at the forefront, but what really sets this Italian wine apart is its distinct notes of almond. While our Verdicchio can start out tasting a bit tart, the more you sip, the smoother it becomes. In fact, we suggest approaching it as an aperitif (Italian for an alcoholic drink sipped before a meal to stimulate the appetite) to experience its full effect.


Côtes du Rhône White


This was one of our first French wines to join the Passport collection and one sip will explain why. Some background on the Rhône Valley in France: While this region is known for its dark, juicy reds, a very small amount of special white wines are made in the Rhône Valley. Our Côtes du Rhône is packed with French-perfected, floral flavor and Old-World charm. Its natural tang paired with the weighty Marsanne grape and aromatic Roussanne grape results in a crisp, savory sip that’ll transport you to a sunbathing chair by the Rhône itself.


Bordeaux Rouge


When you picture medieval folk sitting around a feast with goblets of wine, chances are they were drinking Bordeaux. This wine has been made in France since forever and is arguably the most classic French wine out there. Bordeaux is known for its full body, smoky notes, and rich, oaky taste. If you love cabs, chances are you will adore Bordeaux. For our Passport wines, we had to include this classic French red for you to sip and enjoy to your heart’s content. Best savored over a rich meal like lamb ragu, ratatouille, or BBQ.


Ventoux Rosé


You probably know that the Tour de France is held on Ventoux Mountain in France, but did you know that the same area is known for its high-altitude rosé? This is the kind of quintessential French rosé that you don’t need to spin your wheels over—it’s simply delicious, crisp, and perfect for warm weather. Despite its delicate, pale pink color, each sip is lush with flavor, from tropical passionfruit and zesty citrus to refreshing melon. This has the potential to be your new summer go-to, so we’d suggest stocking up.



Wild Child

Say “¡Hola!” to Spain’s main grape: Tempranillo. This red grape put Rioja wine on the map and is un vino tinto classico. It’s best compared to a classic cab, but with a bit more unique magic that’s hard to put your finger on, which is why it’s a part of our Wild Child line. This medium- to full-bodied wine with its relatively higher tannins usually offers complex notes of cherry, fig, cedar, tobacco, and dill. This is the type of red wine you want to buy and pour for a Latin-infused meal; think carne asada, tacos al carbon, or just perfectly cooked steak fajita meat.


La Pluma

We knew the only red in the La Pluma collection had to be exceptionally good and exceptionally light. That’s why including a Grenache was a no-brainer. If smooth, fruit-forward, light-bodied reds appeal to your tastebuds, this could be your new favorite. The grape itself is tricky; depending on the climate of where its grown, Grenache wines could be light, dense, or somewhere in the middle. La Pluma’s version has all the airiness and flavor notes we wanted in our Grenache, which is how we know you’ll love it. Get the most of this red by pairing it with roasted meats, spice-heavy vegetables, and Mexican-inspired dishes with lots of cumin.




This grape goes by different names in most European countries, but what remains the same is its fruity floral nature. Delicate in every way and extremely quaffable, this wine is as dainty as they come.



We really try not to play favorites at In Good Taste, but there is just something about an Italian Barbera that hits different in the best way. Barberas are the perfect wine for pizza night; they're low in alcohol, and medium-bodied but taste super light, and their berry and plum flavors pair incredibly well with savory tomato sauce and cheese! Another fun thing about Barberas? They actually taste great when chilled, which is not something we're in the habit of suggesting for our red wines. Our Italian Barbera lies somewhere between the body of a cab and a pinot and is the ideal choice for a "ladies who lunch" kind of afternoon.


Wild Child

We couldn't not have a weird white in the mix, right?! The Vermentino grape is native along the coast of Italy on the island of Sardinia (yeah, like the fish). Because of its origin, this grape offers a salty, crisp flavor that's incredibly easy to drink and enjoy. We say it's "weird" only because it's not widely known by name, but chances are you've probably had it before if you've ever ordered white wine in an Italian restaurant. If you love peaches and lemons and get a kick out of anything that reminds you of the sea, our Vermentino is the perfect Italian white to experience on a sunny day outside.



For the Chardonnay lovers who are looking to dig a bit deeper in the world of bold whites, a Viognier (pronounced vee-own-yay) could be your next big adventure. Viogniers tend to have more range; while they can be creamy with hints of vanilla like their Chardonnay counterpart, they also offer lighter, fruitier flavors like tangerine, mango, and honeysuckle. It’s still a more full-bodied white wine, but unlike Chardonnay, it’s softer on acidity and more perfumed. Spend an afternoon with a glass of Viognier amongst the flowers and it’ll all make sense.


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