Saturday, August 2, 2008

Are We Losing a Generation of Wine Lovers?

Steve Heimoff, a very thoughtful, and talented wine writer with Wine Enthusiast magazine posted a new entry on his blog questioning the interest "millenials" (those folks under 30) have in wine. The conclusions he cites don't make the winemaker's heart sing.

Those cited claim that colorful cocktails have taken the place and the dollar that wine had 5 years ago. Our recent experience at Steven Kent belies this, however.

I have absolutely no evidence for this except for my own, often bleary, anecdotal observations, but I think the number of young people who have visited us in the last year or so has increased dramatically.

And I think the chief reason for this is the same reason that gives me hope that we are building a true, wine-loving culture in California: wine isn't that big a deal any more.

By no big deal, I mean this new group of people ( I hate those generational labels!) is the first that has seen wine as a regular part of their every day experience. Mom and Dad weren't celebrating an anniversary, they were celebrating surviving the day. They knew that the wine they chose would not only ease the cares but also make the food they were eating taste better. A shared bottle of wine was the vehicle for re-connnection, for new-memory making.

In this case, familiarity breeds comfort. As the under-30's (sorry!) find the beginnings of their careers and the income that goes with it, the natural consequence, it seems to me, is that they begin to find their wine legs. The underpinnings have been erected; now they place their own favorites on this framework.

Welcome to wine and to Steven Kent!


Anonymous said...

As one who will be 30 later this year, I could not disagree with Mr. Heimoff more. Perhaps his observations and findings are regional in nature; perhaps my observations are from the like-minded associations I keep?

Regardless, wine as a staple that brings together family and friends, creates memories, enhances dining experiences and is the author of a special occasion every time the foil cut and cork pulled is in fact more than “no big deal”. Indeed the late Robert Mondavi has much do to with this no big deal sentiment that my is generation’s reality: A bottle on the dinner table, a bottle on the patio bar, a bottle near the BBQ and a bottle or three with good friends and family. I could not imagine a holiday, birthday or Tuesday night void of a glass of wine.

Still under 30 I can say that I am beginning my twelfth year in my industry, which allows me some latitude in the lifestyle I choose to live. One such blessing is the ability to have my own pre-established structure at this point. From here I get to paint the house any color I want.

As an avid reader of “Wine Enthusiast” magazine, I give my sentiments and open invitation to Mr. Heimoff to my house and cellar. To the pioneers like Mondavi I give my esteem and may they rest knowing the house they built we occupy with laughter, pleasure and gratitude. To the top producers today, I give my thanks for the steadfastness to quality (among countless other traits to be admired) and extend the people in my sphere of influence the knowledge of the gold mine in Livermore that is known as the Steven Kent Winery.

Steven Mirassou said...


Thank you for your response. I am with yo...each new bottle opened has the potential to infuse the extraordinary into any occasion. And every time I open a bottle the potential for surprise and delight is there. Even my wines, that I know well, are different each time I taste them.

That is only one of the amazing things about wine when compared to other beverages: it is a living, breathing thing with its own personality, idiosyncracies, and the like, that change constantly, from the first sip to the last.

Regarding, Robert Mondavi; no one had a larger and more positive impact on wine (the business and its impact on every day life) than he did. We would probably not being thinking about the potential of Livermore Valley to make world-class wine if it weren't for him. The greatest tribute wine lovers could pay him would be to continue to foster the love of wine and let its magic play out around the family dinner table as often as possible.

Thanks again for your comment and for your very-much-appreciated support.

--Steven Mirassou