Small=Artisan=Good, Right?

In a Feb 2010 article published by Brock University’s CCOI (specifically Maxin Voronov, Ph.D. and Dirk De Clercq, Ph.D.), they stated discussed how Ontario wineries could improve their symbolic value – basically the image of the winery that rises above the quality of the wines they bottle. They make the case that more established wine regions have been able to project this “distinctive imagery” and that wine connoisseurs are expecting this in high-end wine.

They then go on to discuss that there are also economic realities. While the image of the small family winery, with Mom or Dad toiling in the barrel room with various hand-crafted blends is what we’d like to evoke, in the end, the business needs to make money to survive and thrive. Many small wineries in Ontario (and Canada) struggle with this. They have mastered the artisan, hand-crafted part but they aren’t making enough money to expand and succeed on the commercial side.

The report encourages wineries to hide “overtly commercial” operations from the consumer, in an effort to promote the artisan imagery. At the same time, they balance this recommendation, encouraging wineries to establish relationships with “…wine writers, bloggers, restaurateurs…” in an effort to aid the commercial success of these artisan wineries.

There’s lots of other good information in the report for Ontario wineries. The one point I had a hard time digesting was the encouragement to focus on “Old World tradition of winemaking” rather than trying to imitate New World methods. Given the increasing global sales of New World wines over Old World wines, I’d wonder if that advice is going to hurt in the short term…

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