Millennials love wine so much the industry is changing how it's made

Wine makers say millennials have created a whole new era for the wine industry

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. - Having a glass of wine with dinner is a nightly ritual for many, but it turns out that more millennial couples are coming home and having almost an entire bottle.

It's a trend wine makers are tracking.

Wine makers said social media savvy millennials and their drinking habits have started a whole new era for the wine industry. One less traditional, more market driven, diverse, and led by social media influence, which is challenging wine makers to think outside of the box.

For Sarah and Gabino Lopez. Popping open a bottle of wine daily is the norm. Wine's not just something to sip on, it's an experience to savor and share.

"We drink wine almost every night. Our favorites though, we really love red wine we drink a lot of cabernet and pinot noirs. We realized our pallet has really developed as we've gotten older," Gabino said.

"We love getting together with our friends having a great bottle of wine watching a reality TV show. It's a great way to unwind, it's something we do with our friends," said Sarah.

The Napa County couple said their generation's impact on social media has the wine industry re-thinking it's strategy.

Catchy sayings shared on social media can make "vino go viral."

"They're [millennials] looking for something that's got a nice label. Something that's fun because then they can go to social media, send it out there, then it will be branded. They can get all of their friends to look for it as well," said Vino Grill & Spirits Owner Chuck Van Fleet.

He said social media is creating younger wine aficionados who are drinking at a higher volume with more variety.

"Most millennials will drink three glasses in a sitting verses one or two like prior generations. They're looking for more fruit forward more immediate gratification. Millennials are looking for something that's a very good flavor for the value in-between $10 to $15 dollars. They'll try the trendy but they'll buy something else to see if they can make it trendy. They'll post it so they can show everybody," said Van Fleet.

The tech driven generation is keeping him on his toes and new varieties on the shelves.

"Everybody is drinking more wine so you sell more wine. That's good for the business. It's going to be interesting to see what they'll do the next 15 years," he said.

For wine makers, demand is a catalyst for creativity.

"They don't want to have what their parents have with wine or spirits. They like blends of different varietals," said CRU Wine Company's Wine Maker Ken Post.

Post said millennials are more inquisitive.

"They're effecting marketing and how you market to them. They don't trust. They want to know what's behind the product beyond the substance. Rather than, 'I should have it because everyone has had it,' they don't follow that," he said.

The same trends Fresno State Wine Maker Tom Montgomery sees in consumers and his students.

"It changes the types of wines we are making. We are expanding the varieties we are making," he said.

Meaning sociology and appearance are key when it comes to making a buying decision.

"People buy wines on the appearance of labels more than they have in the past. Brand names. People find out what they like and they continue to buy that brand. They appreciate the science, they appreciate the aesthetic the artistic side of it," said Montgomery.

He said it's popularity will continue with a new era of passionate wine makers.

"They appreciate the science. They appreciate the aesthetic and the artistic side of it. I've had a lot of them work for me over the years. They're driven, they're intelligent just like generations in the past, but they seem to be a little more focused on what they want," said Montgomery.


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