You Are the Reason We're Here: A Look Back at 2018

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As I’ve been thinking about this last Enolytics 101 post of 2018, on the status of our work in wine + data, something kept itching at the back of my neck.

For a long time I couldn’t figure out what it was. Something incongruous. Something that didn’t match up.

It had to do with big data, and what we’ve learned this year during the day to day operations of our business.

My attention kept lingering on the “big” of big data, and eventually I realized what was bugging me.

Big data is, actually, small.

I mean “small” partly in the sense of micro decisions. Those micro decisions are what we analyze when consumers choose to engage digitally about wine, and create the digital trail that we follow. Yes, they’re micro but micro multiplied by millions of wine drinkers all around the world, one at a time, still adds up to big.

I mean “small” too in the sense of choices that make up the momentum of big data, and this community. The choices you make to open these emails every week, for example; it takes just a minute or two to read but your consistency in opening the emails helps to steer the content.

It’s also the choice to start the conversation one on one when your interest is piqued, or to push our capabilities with a challenge we haven’t grappled with yet.

That’s what happened most of all.

We are grateful for that most of all. To grapple with data in a way that makes sense for our industry. And to channel data, to put it to work so that it makes your business better.

That’s what we’re after: to serve the wine industry with data-based insights.

2018 has been an amazing year for that. We’ve made progress. We’ve taken strides in the right direction, right alongside you.

Thank you for that. Truly. 

You are the reason we're here.

We wish you a peaceful and restful holiday season. See you again, right here, in 2019.

Sincerely,

Cathy

What's Ahead for Spanish Wine + Data: Perspectives on Innovation, from Madrid [Bilingual Edition]

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This week I’ve asked Andrés Bonet Merten, our lead in Madrid for Enolytics Spain, to offer his perspective on the year in wine + data for that international market. Andrés has been working tirelessly to advocate for the use and benefits of data-driven insights, originating both within a wine business’ own operations and “without,” that is, everyday consumer behavior and sentiment around the business’ wines.

An obvious benefit of having a local market presence for Enolytics is being able to communicate our work in the local language. A second benefit is a more nuanced perspective of the market. Yes, wine + data in Spain is still wine + data, but with a Spanish accent.

Here is Andrés’ perspective on how that looks and sounds, now and for the future, summarized in eight concise takeaways.

  1. The transformation of wineries will need multicultural and diverse teams, and their common language will be programming.

  2. Here in Spain new young oenologists are raising expectations of Spanish wine, and the industry is vibrant and growing at high levels. Some very clear minded wineries are starting big data projects in vineyards, and market intelligence consultants are busy signing new clients.

  3. Technology will soon cover 100% of Spain’s vineyards and robots will do most of the field work in the near future. AI will change people’s lives and the wine business of Spain – even if most of the wine industry is still getting used to thinking about data or analytics.

  4. Spain will have a great viticultural future due to traditional Spain’s mix of research and creativity. Just as the former President of Google Spain, Isabel Aguilera, said that “going against automatization or against the new technologies is absurd, this is the way it will go,” the future of Spain’s wineries will also have to go that way too.

  5. Wine in the future is a “hybrid” wine. The experience of drinking wine will be enhanced by a hybridization of wine and data-driven technology designed to enhance the experience.

  6. The good enough wine has to die before an extraordinary wine can be born. The wine industry has to overcome “what is” and adopt “what might be.” Connectivity will deliver disruption in wine tasting and consumers will value not only quality but also sustained growth, environmental assessment, ethical sourcing, production and commerce in a holistic business market.

  7. The “new Spanish wineries” will need to manage the ambiguity of going local and going global at the time, while using logical thinking and emotions at the same time. They will develop and retain talent and customers, and they will cooperate rather than compete, creating a stronger business culture overall.

  8. The leader of the winery will need to transform the company from inside to outside, first creating new departments fueled by innovative technology that afterwards spreads into all the areas of the winery. The challenges of the future are already here.

Thank you, as always, for reading.

* * * * *

Esta semana he preguntado a Andrés Bonet Merten, nuestro contacto en Madrid en Enolytics Spain, si nos podía dar una visión de futuro sobre vino + datos en ese mercado internacional. Andrés ha estado trabajando sin descanso abogando por el uso y beneficio de los análisis realizados con big data de las operaciones propias de bodegas y de los comportamientos y percepciones de los consumidores de vino.

La ventaja clara de poseer esta presencia en el mercado local español, es sin duda poder comunicar nuestro trabajo perfectamente en su lengua local. Una segunda ventaja es una percepción más fina de este mercado. Sí, vino + datos en España siguen siendo vino + datos, pero con acento español.

A continuación muestro la perspectiva que dibuja Andrés sobre cómo pinta y suena ésto, ahora y en el futuro, resumido en ocho breves propuestas.

  1. La transformación de las bodegas necesitará de equipos multiculturales y multidisciplinares; su lenguaje común será la programación.

  2. Jóvenes enólogos españoles crearán grandes expectativas sobre el vino español y la industria del vino seguirá en plena forma y creciendo a ritmo fuerte. Algunas bodegas preclaras más comenzarán con proyectos de recogida de datos en sus viñedos y consultores de inteligencia de mercado seguirán activos desarrollando nuevos clientes.

  3. La tecnología va a cubrir en breve espacio de tiempo los viñedos españoles y robots harán gran parte del trabajo de campo en un futuro no tan lejano. La inteligencia artificial va a cambiar la vida de la gente como también la de las bodegas – incluso aún cuando la mayor parte de la industria del vino aún se está acostumbrando a pensar sobre la existencia de los datos y su análisis.

  4. España va a tener un futuro vitivinícola excepcional gracias a la tradicional conjunción de investigación y desarrollo con su creatividad. Tal y cómo dijo Isabel Aguilera, la ex Directora General de Google España, “ir en contra de la automatización o de las nuevas tecnologías es absurdo… va a ser así”, y en el futuro las bodegas irán por ese mismo camino también.

  5. El vino en el futuro va a ser un “vino híbrido”. La experiencia de beber vino va a ser potenciada y transformada por una hibridación de vino con una tecnología alimentada por datos diseñada a tal efecto.

  6. El vino “suficientemente bueno” va a tener que morir para que nazca el vino “extraordinario”. La industria del vino ha de superar “lo que es” para adoptar “lo que podría ser”. La conectividad nos ofrecerá la disrupción entorno al consumo de vino y los consumidores de vino no solo valorarán la calidad, sino también el desarrollo sostenible, la evaluación medioambiental, el aprovisionamiento, producción y comercialización bajo parámetros éticos en un mercado del vino holístico con múltiples interacciones.

  7. Las “nuevas bodegas españolas” van a tener que gestionar la ambigüedad de desarrollarse localmente como internacionalmente a la vez, la de utilizar la lógica y las emociones conjuntamente. Van a tener que adquirir y retener talento y clientes a la vez, cooperando más que compitiendo y desarrollando una cultura de empresa más sólida adoptada por toda la organización.

  8. El líder de la bodega va a tener que transformar la compañía desde dentro hacia fuera, creando primero nuevos departamentos impulsados por una tecnología innovadora que posteriormente se extenderá a todas las áreas de la bodega. Pero éstos retos para el futuro ya han llegado, y han llegado para quedarse.

Gracias, como siempre, por vuestra lectura.

Enolytics in the Global Press, with Our Gratitude

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The most exciting thing so far about launching Enolytics has been watching people take the idea of “data + wine” and run with it, in a way that makes sense to them.

So far, when I’ve spoken about “the people” taking the idea and running with it, I've been referring to other wine people. Winery owners and CEOs, for example, and brand managers and marketing professionals.

This week, however, I’d like to share another perspective of “the people” who have interpreted “data + wine” for Enolytics, and that’s been members of the press.

Just as the concept of Enolytics means different things to different wine people around the world (as I wrote in Enolytics 101 last time), it also means different things to different journalists around the world.

What do they all have in common?

The interpretations are varied and dynamic and inventive, and they’re driving an incredibly exciting wave of momentum. The “hooks” that the different writers have found meaningful point directly to possibilities on the horizon.

Here are three different examples of that from the past month. One of the examples is based in Germany, and takes a global perspective. One is based in Cape Town, and is focused on South Africa. Add one is local to Enolytics’ home base in Atlanta, by a platform that covers startups and the VC community in the southeastern US.

***

Outlet: Meininger’s Wine Business International

Location: Germany

Hook: Big Data on the Rise, and for Enolytics specifically:

  • Growth and evolution of the business idea

  • Ecosystem of data partners, combined with a wine business’ own data

  • Application by client: Competitive edge of knowing consumer behavior and sentiment, beyond trade information

  • Application by client: Data insights pressures global partners to be more on top of the client’s own business

***

Outlet: Global Africa Network

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Hook: Consumer data analysis to grow wine and food tourism, especially:

  • Meeting consumers where they are

  • Qualitative and quantitative data analyses are complementary to each other

  • Benefits of aggregating multiple sources

  • Consumer experience is about emotion, not function

***

Outlet: Hypepotamus

Location: Atlanta

Hook: Wine + tech in the startup scene, namely:

  • Identifying the market opportunity for Enolytics

  • Expansion of the concept to Enolytics Spain

  • Steady growth of a scalable product that the industry will bear

  • The rationale for turning down offers of investment

This quote from the last example captures it, I think:

“We’re just so excited about how once we put it out there, people all around the world — from South Africa to Chile to Asia to New Zealand to Italy and France — have taken the idea and said, this is how it would be useful to us.”

We are grateful for this media attention, naturally, and we are grateful that there are so many aspects of the business that are of interest. We look forward to more conversations, and more developments, in the nearest future.

Thank you, as always, for reading.

Cathy

The Cultural Code of Data for Wine, All Around the World

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How many frequent flier miles does it take to do data + wine?

That’s a rhetorical question (obviously) but one that’s crossed my mind a few times these past months. I love to travel and recently my journeys have involved speaking with wineries and organizations about their data.

What I’ve noticed is how closely their questions about data reflect the more global questions and concerns that are currently impacting their commercial interests.

It’s an alignment of micro and macro if there ever was one.

This week I’d like to take a moment to share a sampling of the questions we’re hearing from all around the world, along with the bigger-issue "why" concerns that go along with them.

Chile

Data Question: Behavior and sentiment patterns of consumers in Asia

Why: China and Japan have quickly emerged as priority markets for Chilean producers, thanks in no small part to favorable trade agreements negotiated by their government.

South Africa

Data Question: Viticultural, particularly around the terroirs of their older vines

Why: Interest in South African old vines has been surging as awareness of their unique history and value becomes better studied and understood.

California

Data Question: Packaging and visualizing the DTC data that wineries already have

Why: Profit margins are higher when wine is sold DTC.

México

Data Question: County-specific consumption and sentiment patterns, especially of their own wines in relation to foreign wines

Why: Renewed interest in the domestic market, and refreshed pride of ownership of domestic wineries.

Spain and the US

Data Question: Consumption and sentiment patterns around spirits and craft beer, respectively

Why: Data is data, and consumers are consumers. The way we work with wine data is transferrable to the way we work with spirits and beer data as well.

It’s an incredibly exciting moment. As I’ve written before, Enolytics now is not what we thought Enolytics would be, even six months ago. That’s because the conversation keeps evolving, as we continue to build out proofs of concept that demonstrate the value of working with data.

It’s also because this community has IDEAS. Lots of them.

Thank you for that.

Please let me know if something here strikes a chord and you’d like to talk. I’m listening.

— Cathy

PS To everyone in the US who will be celebrating the holiday next week, Happy Thanksgiving! We'll see you back here in two weeks, on Friday, November 30, for the last few posts of 2018.

The Ace Up Our Sleeve, and How We Put It into Play

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The ace up Enolytics’ sleeve is, without a doubt, our team of data scientists.

What makes them so special?

Two things.

First is their professional history of working with data, which amounts to 50+ years of experience.

Second is that this experience happened far from the wine world, in healthcare, in fact, which is significantly farther along the data journey than the wine industry has been so far. It’s a difference of tools and skillset, and mining the data for business intelligence.

Data is data, and analytics are analytics. But how, exactly, does experience in healthcare transfer over to the wine industry?

That was a question we heard this past week, and I thought it would be useful to share the answer, straight from our data team.

Let’s say I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and the doctors choose one of five treatment options.

That has an okay chance of working.

But let’s say we use factors like my genetic makeup and medical history. That will allow the medical team to assign me to a cohort of similar patients who had treatments in the past and therefore can predict which treatments have a higher change of success.

In other words, it allows analysts to personalize the treatment much more narrowly, to my individual situation.

Does that make sense?

It’s no longer a one size fits all solution, and my chances of recovery increase significantly.

So what are the parallels to wine?

No consumer is the same, and no vineyard or winery is the same, the way that no patient in a healthcare situation is the same. We all have variables that are individual to us.

It means that the experience and communication – in the hospital, and around wine – can be personalized and customized.

That’s what data does, and that’s what our team knows to do best.

Please let me know if we can help you, and your data.

Thank you, as always, for reading.

When a Millennial Gets the Wine Data Bug AND Has Chutzpah? It's a Win for Wine.

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Millennials.

Everyone in the wine industry is chasing them as consumers. Personally, I’m interested in them as “who’s next” for wine + data.

They’ve got ideas.

They’ve got fresh perspective.

They don’t feel tied — or obliged — to how things have always been done.

Fortunately, through my teaching gigs at universities and MBA students around the world, I get to meet these people and hear those ideas. Even more fortunately, millennials outside those formal programs sometimes reach out directly to talk about wine + data.

That’s when I get to add chutzpah to their list of qualifications.

This week, we’re shining the spotlight onto a millennial-with-chutzpah-who-also-does-wine-and-data. Her name is Gianna DiGiovanni, she’s worked in both Napa and Italy, and she’s in her senior year at the University of Southern California with a dual focus on Business and Applied Analytics.

She’s my kind of millennial. And I’ve invited her to be the second feature in our Derek Jeter-inspired series that puts the storytelling of wine + data into the hands of people who actually live it. (The first one, two weeks ago, was Randy Browne at C. Mondavi & Family.)

Here’s the story, about wine + data + millennials, in Gianna’s own words.

What's interesting to you about data, and about data for the wine industry?

I have always been fascinated with numbers and patterns, so naturally, data and the whole idea of big data in business caught my attention. I was able to act on this passion of mine when I started as a freshman at the University of Southern California in 2015, studying Business Administration. During my sophomore year, I enrolled in my first analytics course. I fell in love immediately. 

My interest in the wine industry is another story that I believe is attributed to my upbringing. My dad is a farmer and my childhood was surrounded by almonds, walnuts, sweet potatoes and peaches. Growing up, the importance of agriculture and knowing where your food came from was inherent. Everyone I knew either was a farmer or had a farmer in their family. It wasn't until coming to college that I learned how rare my situation was. Not everyone understands the importance of the agricultural industry, and most take it for granted. I believe it is my understanding of how much work is put into harvesting a crop, like grapes, that truly makes me appreciate a product like wine. 

What I have learned from my fascination with the wine industry and data is that there is a huge disconnect between the two. Unlike most industries that have already begun to integrate big data into their operations, the wine industry has yet to do so. I have made it my mission to make up for this lag. By marrying the two together, wine and data, the industry can make a tremendous leap into a new age in wine, one where wineries can better understand their consumer and better distribute their product. 

How are you learning the skills you think you'll need for a career in this area?

I am extremely fortunate to be in school, pursuing my minor while the world is making the shift to big data. I have been able to learn from some of the best professors in the field of data analysis and work hands-on with data from actual companies like Yelp and Sams Club. My toolkit of skills has grown with each application and new software that I am taught. 

I have also been able to add skills and experiences to my toolkit outside of school. Over the past two summers I have worked in Italy and the Napa Valley, becoming more knowledgeable about the wine industry and the customers, market, and product that it's comprised of. 

My hope is that by having an understanding of the industry and the skills to manipulate the data, I will graduate with a well-established toolkit that will help me get to where I want to go, professionally. 

What are the biggest challenges you face now, or you will face in the coming years, working with data in wine?

Changing a centuries-old industry to adapt to the modern world is a challenge in itself. This is something that all those interested in analyzing data in wine face. For me, this has meant the job that I hope to one day have doesn't yet exist. I cannot simply learn from those who have paved the road ahead of me, I have to seek people out from all over. 

The challenge to pursue a career path that is oddly specific and that doesn't already exist, keeps things interesting. 

I’ve learned that no matter the industry, making sense of the data available is the key to gaining beneficial insight. I plan to learn from those who are already making sense of their data, so that when the time comes and wineries are ready to make the leap into the world of big data, I will be prepared with the tools necessary to help them succeed.

I Asked for Your Help, and Here’s What Happened: A "Scarily Accurate" Recap from Cape Town, South Africa

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I felt a little bit like a carrier pigeon.

Standing in front of the audience, that is, at the Business of Wine and Food Tourism Conference in South Africa last week, held at Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch. I was honored to deliver the keynote, where I focused on two things: how we can use data to improve tourism in wine and food, and learnings from last year’s California wildfires, particularly in Sonoma.

This community — you — responded with an outpouring of suggestions, so much so that I felt like that carrier pigeon, full of information, flying across hemispheres.

Shout outs here (and there!) to Honore Comfort of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University, Sandra Hess of DTC Wine Workshops, Michael Longerbeam and Sara Rathbun at Dry Creek Vineyard, David Gluzman at the Global Wine Database, and the team at 3x3 Insights in New York.

Thank you.

Mainly I spoke about data, and how our work at Enolytics — bolstered by our ecosystem of data partners — can be useful for increasing business in the areas of wine and food tourism. I’d like to focus this week on one very significant takeaway that I heard in response to the presentation, immediately afterward and in the time since.

“There’s a big gap between data and how to use it.”

We all have data. Actually, we have tons and tons of data. But, as a delegate from the audience admitted, he never looks at it. It’s just spreadsheets that he receives day in and day out. There’s no interpretation or “translation” or application to the work that’s in front of him to do.

That’s the gap, and it’s a big problem when data is just numbers. What does it mean? More importantly, what does it mean for you, and your work, and achieving the goals that you are working toward?

Answering those questions is what we do.

We interpret it in a way that, as another delegate and winemaker tweeted, is “scarily accurate” for the reality of wine.

Could you use some help on this front? Do you have data that you know is valuable in some way, but are having a hard time seeing the forest for the trees?

That’s what we do, and we’re here to help. Drop me a line anytime, at cathy@enolytics.com or +1.702.528.3717.

I look forward to hearing from you, and thank you as always for reading —

Cathy

What Does Derek Jeter Have to Do with Data for Wine? A Lot More Than You’d Think.

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Do you know about The Player’s Tribune?

Founded by retired Yankee Derek Jeter, The Player’s Tribune delivers daily sports conversation and publishes first-person stories directly from athletes.

Cool, right?

I’m fascinated by this idea. Partly that’s because I’ve been an athlete my whole life and I love “sports talk” and reading stories by athletes who give voice to their own experiences. And partly I love Player’s Trib because the whole model turns journalism on its head, and puts the responsibility of storytelling in the hands of the very people whose story it is to tell.

Straight from the source, so to speak.

This week we’re taking inspiration from Jeter and introducing a new series within Enolytics 101: The stories of data in the wine world, told by the people who actually live it.

The idea is to shine a light on people in roles that often go unrecognized. Too grow awareness of this work. To widen the conversation. To expand understanding that “data” can be valued, “user-friendly” and doable, by people just like you and me.

Today we’ve lined up the first installment of the series, featuring Randy Browne, Business Analytics & Insights Lead at C. Mondavi & Family.

What’s below comes straight from the source. In his own words. By someone just like you and me.

[Emphasis in italics are mine.]

How did you learn about data? How did you get comfortable with it, as something you “do” as part of your everyday job? 

One of my very first careers out of undergrad was working for an advertising research firm. The firm was one of the pioneers of the “science behind advertising” and we did research upon research to help prove out what makes “good” advertising. I spent seven years there and worked with a lot of d\smart, driven, and data-centric people. The culture of the company inspired you to prove out hypotheses, both yours and your clients’, and to ultimately utilize research findings to drive the brand and advertising strategy of our clients’ products and services. If you weren’t comfortable using data to help make recommendations and decisions to clients, you weren’t of much value to the client or the firm. I’ve taken that data-centric mindset with me to every job I’ve had since, and have made a career out of using data, analytics, and consumer research to help drive the growth of the companies I’ve worked for or worked with. 

What value does working with data add to your role on a day-to-day basis?  

Today’s decision-making process across any organization needs to be engrained with data. The “data voice” should have a seat at the table when it comes to all key strategic decisions of the business. At C. Mondavi & Family, my team works with data each day to help our internal clients (Sales, Marketing, National Accounts, Finance, Executives, Supply Chain) understand their business in greater detail. The value that data brings is enormous…but you can also get paralyzed with too much data. Having people and tools that help you and your team focus on the “right” data is key. That takes time to develop, but just like anything else, the more time you spend with data, the more muscle memory is formed, and you and your team learn what to focus on. You become much better trained on the ability to help solve pain points and uncover opportunities for the business

What’s the biggest challenge you face, when it comes to data in the wine world?  

Once you get beyond the four big players in the wine industry, the acceptance, usage, and understanding of data and analytics is hit or miss. The wine industry is behind other Beverage Alcohol industries like Beer and Spirits in their usage of data and analytics, let alone other CPG industries (and well behind Tech, Pharma, Consumer Services, etc.).  If you want to get a true understanding on how data-centric organizations are run, you’ll need to also look outside of the wine industry.

With that being said, there definitely are wine companies that are more forward-thinking in their usage of data and data has become part of their overall DNA.  Whereas, there are other wine companies that haven’t embraced data as much as they should and are still relying on relationships with retailers and distributor partners to guide their business. That doesn’t work anymore. You need to take control of where you want your business to go. Retailers are consolidating the number of SKUs in their stores, especially those SKUs / shelf space that aren’t delivering the ROI needed to keep it on the shelf. Relationships can help you keep your product there for a few extra months, but ultimately, how is your product / brand going to outperform the other 1000+ SKU’s on the shelf or 100+ other wines on the wine list, or even whether your tasting room delivers a superior experience vs the many other choices consumers have? What’s the story you want to tell? How are you different?  What makes you unique and a “must have”? Data can help with this and should be an essential part of the story you tell your retailer / distributor partners, as well as your consumers. Analytic-based data tools and a sales force / support staff / company that understands the need for data and uses it to their advantage will be much farther along the data and analytics ladder than those that don’t. Moving from descriptive analytics (the what) to predictive analytics (the so what and now what) can be a game changer for wine companies. BUT, it takes resources, i.e. $’s to invest in tools and the right type of skill set (people) to bring this type of competitive advantage to the forefront. 

Someone Else Asked the Very Question You Were Wondering. Here’s How to Eavesdrop on the Answer.

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Today, let me offer you a chance to eavesdrop.

It isn’t exactly eavesdropping, I guess, when what I’m inviting you to listen to is a publicly available podcast. But the idea is the same: to listen in, like a fly on the wall, to a conversation happening between other people.

What’s cool is that the people involved in the conversation are just like you: a winemaker (in this case, Sam Coturri of Winery Sixteen 600) and an enthusiastic consumer and participant in the wine industry (in this case, John Myers, co-host of The Wine Makers podcast, based in Sonoma).

They’d invited me as a guest on their podcast a few weeks ago, and I’d like to share the link to it with you here.

Let me tell you, it was FUN and I sincerely hope you enjoy listening to it.

The most relevant reason that I’m sharing it with you here, though, is that the first 25 or 30 minutes of the podcast are devoted to John and Sam asking questions about Enolytics that, I would venture to guess, maybe you’ve also wondered but haven’t yet had a chance to ask directly. Things like…

  • The wine industry is so complicated. How can data help us untangle it?

  • How can we do a better job assessing the data we already have around wine?

  • How can data explain trends, like the popularity of Rhône varietals in Sonoma and packaging alternatives like canned wine? What are the drivers for those trends, and how can we see it in the data?

  • Where did the idea of Enolytics come from?

  • There’s less of an opportunity for data points to be generated when the production of a wine is limited, as ours is. What happens then?

And etc.

Talking with people is one of the things I enjoy most about being the “public face” of Enolytics. I love when someone calls me up. I love when someone asks me to sit down. If there’s wine or food or both between us, all the better.

There was a fair amount of that during this podcast conversation too, because Sam is Sam and we happened to be recording the podcast on the day he was hosting a duck confit taco fest and opening library wines. Which means we laughed a lot and I heard myself asking for more of his wine at least twice, and the conversation expanded to other topics like the one-year anniversary of the wildfires, and wellness in the wine industry and A Balanced Glass and Phil Coturri doing yoga, and the Sonoma County Wine Auction lot to benefit affordable housing, and mutual friends like Nicole Rolet of the Fine Minds 4 Fine Wine project, and the Vinexpo Explorer program, and then my nephew Bavo from Belgium was there, and suddenly the taco truck arrived…

And etc.

It was casual. It was fun. It was classic Sonoma. Most of all, it was a conversation over a few glasses of really good wine about things that matter to us in the industry.

Sam and John are in your shoes, and asking the questions you may be wondering. I hope you’ll “eavesdrop” to catch the back-and-forth, and be in touch if something sparks your interest and you’d like to know more.

Call me up. Ask me to sit down. Let’s keep sharing some wine and some ideas.

I look forward to it.

And thank you, as always, for reading.

Peek Under the Hood of Wine + Data

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This week one thing became abundantly clear, and it has to do with what usually goes unseen.

I’m talking about what’s “under the hood” when it comes to how we work with data for the wine industry. I’m talking about the mechanics and the HOW things get done, that normally don’t get much of the attention.

Except they should. Because that’s the engine that’s driving this whole endeavor.

Things like programming in languages like Python, and storing data in cloud-based data lakes, and the automated processing of data (including the use of machine learning), all in service to accuracy and speed.

Here’s another way to say it: The front end of what we do is still very educational and user-friendly, but the engine behind it has been revved up exponentially.

Google, Microsoft and many other companies are pouring billions of dollars into the development of new intelligent technologies, and we’re early adopters of many of their platforms. Which means that our clients can forego the investment internally and leave the data management in the hands of people who do it all day, every day.

That isn’t me, by the way. I’ve written candidly before about how I don’t get things like machine learning, either, and gladly leave it to the pros on my team. But I do get the results of their work, and what those results mean for our clients.

Maybe you’re in the same boat. Or maybe knowing the ins-and-outs of Python and cloud-based data lakes rocks your world. Either way, we all want to know how all of this engineering can help our business. 

Let’s talk about it. Drop me a line, and let’s see what we can do together.

Thank you, as always, for reading and for your feedback.

If We Didn't Collaborate, We Wouldn't Have a Reason to Exist

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Let me start with Thanks.

Last week I asked for your feedback and input on data sources in the areas of wine and food tourism, in advance of the keynote I’m giving in a few weeks in Cape Town. And boy, did you deliver! It’s incredibly exciting to flesh out the presentation with hands-on learnings from fresh sources and efforts in parts of the world that, frankly, were brand new to me.

So thank you, sincerely.

That example sets the stage perfectly for what I’d like to focus on this week, and it has to do with collaboration.

If we didn’t collaborate, we wouldn’t have a reason to exist.

That’s because the true definition of a big data company is to aggregate multiple sources of data across multiple platforms. For us that means building out an ecosystem of data partners who each deliver raw data that’s useful for our clients. In some cases it’s a winery’s own data that’s one of the sources.

As I said, it’s about collaboration.

In practice, and in a very simplified sense, this is how it works.

  1. Listen to the client. Understand intimately the area of research.

  2. Draft a scope of work.

  3. Iterate the scope, from both sides, in order to extract maximum value and to clarify expectations.

  4. Execute the scope of work.

  5. Enolytics delivers the results, via Webinar or in person

  6. Give the client time to process the results, within their own framework for business and at their own pace.

  7. Client asks follow up questions.

  8. Enolytics responds.

  9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 till the area of scoped research is well understood.

Want to see how this looks, from the perspective of our clients? Please have a look at our revised Press page for their opinions in their own words.

Here’s what’s important to understand: Collaboration isn’t a one-time interaction. It’s a partnership, back and forth, over a fairly long period of time with a lot of touchpoints.

Yes, we’ll get to know each other personally. Yes, we’ll explore ideas that will be new on all sides. And yes, both of our businesses will grow in the process.

How can we help you grow? What ideas have been percolating, that you’re ready to move on?

We’re here and ready to respond, collaboratively.

Thank you, again, for your help and thank you, as always, for reading.

Requesting Your Help: Data Sources on Wine, Food and Tourism

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“How can data help us increase wine and food tourism?”

That’s the question I’ve been asked to address in a month’s time, during the keynote address at the Business of Wine and Food Tourism conference in Cape Town, South Africa.  

My first (admittedly selfish) reaction: Cape Town! Cape Town!

[ahem]

My second (significantly more rational) reaction: That’s actually three questions rolled into one.

  1. How can data about wine help?

  2. How can data about food help?

  3. How can data about tourism help?

What I especially love about the “three in one” factor is that it reflects the true definition of a big data company: to aggregate multiple sources of data across multiple platforms.

In other words, pulling together data about wine + food + tourism is what our team of analysts is specifically skilled at doing.

So yes, we’ve got sources about wine consumers that we can pull from, that they’re already used to dealing with. The data has to do with behavior, and location, and sentiment, and frequency.

And yes, thanks to new friends and local partners, we’ve got additional data about things like hotel/occupancy figures, air arrivals and social media reach.

Which is all good, and really exciting.

But we know there’s more, particularly when we think about the second part of the request for the keynote content: What can South Africa learn from California, particularly as it relates to the tourism industry recovering from a natural disaster?

In California, it was last year’s wildfires and the drought before that. In South Africa, it’s their drought also and reports of a water shortage that has crippled tourism efforts and reservations.

Plenty of similarities, and lots of lessons to be learned.

Here’s my question for you, and our request for your help:

What sources of data do you know, who could contribute to our analysis? Where, in California or elsewhere, can we turn for quantifiable “lessons learned” that are helpful and worth sharing?

We’re open to suggestions, and I’d love to feature the knowledge of these sources in my talk.

Here’s my cell phone number and email: +1.702.528.3717 and cathy@enolytics.com, and I’ll actually be in Sonoma this weekend, all the way until Tuesday, in case you’re local and would like to meet up in person to talk.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Wine Data Success = Qualitative + Quantitative Analysis

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“We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.”

I don’t know who said that originally, but it’s been on my mind these past few weeks as I’ve had the chance to see how quantitative data analysis – which is Enolytics’ focus – complements and adds onto qualitative data analysis.

It’s worth taking a moment to pause here, and underscore what this means.

For many decades now, the wine industry has relied on qualitative research, like surveys and focus groups and in-person, face-to-face interviews.

This style of research is incredibly valuable, and it’s grounded in well-established, well-executed social science. There’s a reason why so many research efforts, and so many decisions in our industry have long been based on these methods of analysis.

I respect that. Our team respects that. It’s foundational, and we value the ongoing contributions it makes.

What we also value is that, today, there’s a flip side of the coin, and that’s the quantitative research that is our focus. Big data is possible because of technology, and because millions of consumers around the world are telling us, in an objective way and digitally, what they think and how they feel about wine, every moment of every day.

We respect that too, especially as we continue to grow and explore and are presented with opportunities to see how the quantitative style of analysis can dynamically interact with the qualitative style. How they reflect each other. How they build upon each other. How they differ. Where the breaks are, and what the limitations and advantages are of each side of the break.

Quantitative data, as a first step, could help us to figure out the what: what consumers consider to be your competitive set, for example, and what kind of traction you’re seeing in markets from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles. It helps you to see the problem areas, and also what questions to ask.

Qualitative data, subsequently, could help us to figure out the why: why consumers in Cincinnati are raving about your chardonnay, and why interest in your pinot has dropped in Houston.

Does that make sense?

It’s an exciting intersection of collaboration, and we’re psyched to be part of it. Personally, I’m psyched to share more with you in the coming weeks about the hands-on practicalities of this.

These are opportunities to build bridges between how things have always been done, and how they can be complemented by new layers and common points of engagement.

If you find yourself comfortable in the “how things have always been done” part, we get it. And we aren’t suggesting you abandon it. We are suggesting that there are ways to add on, a step at a time, that can also be within your comfort zone.

Let’s take the first steps. Please be in touch, and let me know what’s on your mind.

Thank you, as always, for reading.

How to Seize the Data Opportunity in Wine, and What It Looks Like When You Do

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"If they zig, you zag."

That was the most important lesson from my favorite professor in Journalism school. What he meant was, if everyone else is already looking at the story over HERE, then your story -- the opportunity to do something different -- is over THERE.

I've been thinking about that over the Labor Day holiday, when two different articles came across my desk. They're both from the academic world, and they both touch the sweet spot of Enolytics' mission to "fill in" the blindspot of wine consumer behavior and sentiment.

These two articles tell us where most people in the wine industry already zig. (Get ready for the zag, below.)

  1. Two weeks ago Neema Kotonya and Emiliano De Cristofaro of University College London and Paolo De Cristofaro of the Tipicamente wine blog published a paper about wine consumers' social experiences through the lens of the Vivino app.
  2. A graduate student named Marie Schu at Erasmus University in Rotterdam wrote her master's thesis on the wine industry's reactions to consumer use of new media ratings platforms.

What's the zig, according to these resources? As Schu puts it, most of her research subjects "appear to be in denial about the value of contemporary consumer rating practices."

Most wine industry people, in other words, are in denial about how impactful increased consumer digital involvement can be, especially since it brings with it the advantage of increased demand in the marketplace.

That's the zig.

Which means that the zag -- your opportunity right here -- is to capitalize on what most others are looking at, and denying, over there. That consumer usage of digital platforms increases every day. That the potential is already here, and available, and waiting to be tapped into.

What has been the response from someone, one of Enolytics' clients, who has zagged?

Giampiero Bertolini, Global Sales and Marketing Director at Marchesi Frescobaldi, put it this way:

Finally consumers are at the center of the strategy. Finally we can base decisions on solid data and not feelings. Finally wine marketers could enjoy a new era where the market needs are clearly identified and proactively managed. Cathy Huyghe and Enolytics has envisioned a new future providing what wine marketers were really missing!

Finally.

Are you ready to seize the opportunity, while others lag behind in denial? Are you ready to zag, while most others zig?

We can help.

Please be in touch, and tell us what you need. And thank you, as always, for reading.

PS We've been updating our Press page with other endorsements and new media mentions. Please have a look.

10 Enolytics Posts that You Liked the Most. They Surprised Us, Too.

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There are a few key moments in every writer’s annual cycle when we pause and take stock.

It varies writer to writer, and certainly we recalibrate on a near-daily basis, depending on current news and developments.

For Enolytics, and the flow of these Enolytics 101 posts, I typically take stock of the "big picture" at three pivot points each year.

  1. At the beginning of December, which is when I look back and reflect
  2. In the middle of January, which is when I look ahead and envision possibilities
  3. At the end of the summer, which is this very sweet spot in between the exhale of vacation and the build up of adrenaline for the busiest season of the year.

Right now, in other words, we’re studying our own analytics around the content that resonated with you the most. We’re getting a read, across all platforms and feedback, on which topics matter to you and where we ought to dig deeper.

Here were the five most popular Enolytics 101 posts so far this year (numbers 1 to 5), along with the five most popular posts from the last four months of last year (numbers 6 to 10). The second half of this list tells us about the seasonality of our content: which topics matter most during our industry’s busiest time of the year.

We’re looking forward to diving back into that season, when we see you back here after Labor Day. As always, thank you for reading.

  1. How to Treat Your Millennial Customers Differently (June 15, 2018)
  2. How to Work with Sales Data from Distributors: A Case Study from Paso Robles (February 16, 2018)
  3. Best Time of Year for Chardonnay? You’d Be Surprised (April 6, 2018)
  4. Four Takeaways from a Standing Room Only Session at Vinexpo (March 8, 2018)
  5. What’s the Next Big Thing for Big Data and Wine? Look Up. Way, Way Up. (July 13, 2018)
  6. SevenFifty Technology + Wine Spectator Scores (September 8, 2017)
  7. Why Wine Data Isn’t More Widely Utilized (and What We’re Doing About It) (November 30, 2017)
  8. Three New Directions for Wine Consumer Data (October 19, 2017)
  9. Millennials: The Holy Grail for Next Gen Wine Consumer Behavior (November 9, 2017)
  10. Enolytics is Not What it Was Supposed to Be (November 2, 2017)

Battling Amazonification: What You Need to Know about Data for Independent Retailers

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One of my favorite things to do in this Enolytics 101 series is shine a spotlight on other business and people who are doing impactful, cool things in the wine + data space.

3x3 Insights, based in New York, is one of them and here’s why: they empower independent retailers and, better yet, they empower them in useful, content-rich ways.

Here’s my Q&A with 3x3 Insights, on their use of effective video (“Depletion reports just won’t cut it…”), beverage data in ethnically diverse communities, and where their data comes from.

* * * * *

Why “3x3 Insights”…?

Although our mission is to ultimately to help the independent alcohol retailer compete by using analytics and engagement tools to provide superior customer experience to keep people shopping at their stores, we have always had all three tiers of the industry in mind. In fact, our name is a nod to the three-tier system, as well as a reference to the “last three feet” (which refers to the customer standing at the shelf where they make the decision) that has always been important.

We are in pilot conversations with numerous suppliers on ways we can help them understand and reach their most valuable customers in the markets where we already have stores. We also have been in talks with major distributors on ways we can help each other succeed by extending the reach of our analytics network while providing them superior data and analytics than the depletion data they currently rely on.

I love that you’re using video (your “Retail Untapped series) to communicate. What drove this decision, and how is it working out so far? What kind of traction are you seeing?

We took a good hard look at how the entire industry develops media and content and realized there was very little innovation in the video sphere. We know that video is a medium that is continuing to grow and can more powerfully capture the attention of independent retailers and the industry as a whole. We wanted to create something well-produced, authentic, and truly informative; something that would actually add value to those who watch. We are focusing on empowering retailers in the independent channel however we can: given the obvious popularity of video and that nobody else was doing it, we developed this bi-weekly video series highlighting important news, trends and insights for the independent alcohol channel.

The response thus far has been outstanding. We have already seen consistent, strong growth across all mediums and distribution channels, including state associations, the ABL, and our own network of influential independent retailers. We’re quickly realizing that the industry needs a strong hub of content focused on news and insights from around the entire independent channel. We’re working hard to make sure we continue to deliver!

One of the reasons I was first attracted to 3x3 Insights was your awareness that diverse ethnic communities were underserved, and not well understood, when it comes to beverage alcohol marketing. How are your efforts going so far?

Demographics and understanding brand performance in diverse segments is important to 3x3 on two dimensions. The first looks at the demographic differences in store and product performance, and consumer buying patterns within neighborhoods in local markets. Our platform algorithmically models the neighborhoods surrounding a store to place it in a particular demographic profile, which allows comparisons between neighborhoods and markets on a demographic basis.

When we launch our consumer engagement and marketing offering to retailers, our data will grow richer in its ability to target demographics at a product and consumer level, which will enable both deeper understanding of the consumer's diversity and engage them appropriately with the brands that resonate.

How do you integrate on-premise and off-premise data?

Today our network consists of off-premise beverage alcohol retailers, but we are moving quickly to incorporate on-premise in fulfillment of 3x3's vision of creating an ecosystem of retailers that help brands put the right products in the right customers' hands through the right experiences. In order to accomplish that vision, our platform needs to be able to understand buying behavior, and move consumers between on- and off-premise buying opportunities.

We utilize several data sources to create a rich understanding of consumer buying behavior. These range from aggregated social media data measuring sentiment for brands, to data that consumers share with us based on their desires to participate in the ecosystem, and the demographic data collected both at the store level and when reported by consumers. We take great care in using consumer data, exceeding the requirements that exist today around consumer privacy. Our aim is to provide a platform that consumers want to benefit from by affiliating with their beloved local, independent retailers and help those retailers battle the effects of Amazonification that come from rampantly personalizing sales and commoditizing products.

* * * * *

So what’s the relationship between 3x3 Insights and Enolytics?

Mutual respect, first of all, for adding value to the industry in our own ways. And, second, deep partnership awareness: each of our inputs is recognized for contributing insights that, when combined, amount to more than what we could contribute alone.

Data + wine is a growth area, and it ramps up more and more each day. None of us – including you – is in this on your own.

How can we help?

I look forward, as always, to your thoughts, and thank you for reading.

Cathy

Wine + Data, and a Letter from Mexico: How to See What’s Possible, and Run With it

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This week I’ve been enjoying my first-ever trip to Mexico (not sure how it’s “first-ever” but that’s probably a story for another time) and I’ve picked up a few things about the wine industry here.

  • There are a heck of a lot of sommeliers in Mexico City. Their popularity and enthusiasm reflect the spiking consumer interest here in wine, and in Mexican wine in particular.
  • A state called Querétaro, in central Mexico and about a two-hour drive from Mexico City, is fostering a rapidly-expanding wine and food tourism sector. Hand-in-hand with that is an influx of significant foreign investment, which helps to build technologically sophisticated wineries and tasting rooms and adjacent restaurants and cafés.
  • 96% of the 2.1 million cases of wine produced here are consumed here.
  • Mexican wine accounts for 40 to 45% of all wine consumed in Mexico, and the market is seeing an annual growth rate of 10 to 11%.

Right.

Tomorrow, as part of the México Selection program organized by Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, I’ve been asked to introduce Enolytics and what data analysis can mean in the context of those bullet points, above.

I honestly cannot wait, partly to share some of the insights that have already risen to the surface about wine consumers in Mexico (indirectly even, in the course of other projects) and partly to hear how the audience here receives these insights.

Once we show what’s possible, how do they take the ball and run with it?

If we can locate digital consumer sentiment within the neighborhood of specific restaurants (and we can), how does that help that young, savvy cadre of sommeliers, in Mexico City and elsewhere?

If we can segment consumer sentiment around Spanish wine, relative to French wine, relative to Mexican wine, and then track the trends of that sentiment over time (which is all possible), how does this empower the emerging Mexican wine industry?

If we can take data that’s specific to wine consumers, and then overlay that with data from the tourism sector, how does that help direct valuable resources and communications so that eno- and gastro-tourism continues to thrive?

We dunno. Yet.

But boy are they – are we – hungry to find out.

Let me toss the question to you.

Once you see what’s possible, how will you take the ball and run with it?

I’d love to hear.

Thank you for reading and thank you, as always, for sharing this journey with me.

Cathy

3 Common Questions about Wine + Data, and What They Mean for Your Business

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Questions.

Sometimes we have them but we don’t get to ask them, and sometimes we don’t know which ones to ask.

Which is why, for this week’s post, I want to address three wine data-related questions that we’ve been hearing repeatedly these past few months. If they’re on the minds of people we actually get to speak to, we think the chances are pretty good that they might be on your mind too.

So let’s get to it.

***

Question: I understand that you work with a winery’s own data, and that you work with third party data from your network of partners. Do the two kinds of data ever overlap, and work together?

Our Answer: We love this question, and the answer is yes. We can work with both sets of data and, actually, it’s one way to extract maximum benefit out of a project.

We love this question because it’s a creative way to merge two styles of data. On one hand you have specific information about your own customers, like their geographic distribution and buying patterns over time. On the other hand you have more general information about wine consumers’ geographic distribution and buying patterns over time. Overlay those two kinds of information, add additional fields like varietal and price point, and you start to see possibilities, such as greater or lesser concentrations of interest for the style of wines you’re selling, and the historical trends for that interest over time.

***

Question: Do you also advise on implementing the results of your analysis?
Our Answer: We are equipped to do this, yes.

Candidly, however, it is very much a collaborative effort. When we deliver our findings to a client they appreciate the unbiased and quantified analysis and point of view, but they also see (with some clarity and imagination, I might add) exactly what they need to do with those findings. In fact, they’ve envisioned how to put the findings to work in ways we ourselves hadn’t imagined, simply by virtue of their knowing their business better than anyone else.

That’s the incredibly cool part of opening a new window onto insights that are mostly, until now, unseen.

***

Question: Can you interface with the CRM we already use?

Our Answer: Yes. In most cases we can interface to them out of the box. We have connectors to all Salesforce-based CRMs. We also realize that there are many ways that wineries manage information about their customers. How about those we haven’t yet interfaced with? In most cases, the common denominator is that we’d need the appropriate rights and access to connect. Our engineers are experts at writing the appropriate scripts and implement automation, so that ultimately this becomes a non-issue.

***

Those are a few of the most common questions we’ve heard lately. How about you? What are your questions, and how can we help?

Drop us a line and let us know. Sometimes it’s easiest to schedule a webinar and show some visuals, and we’re game for that too.

Looking forward to your ideas and questions and thank you, as always, for reading –

Cathy

I Don’t Get Machine Learning Either. But I Do Get the Results, and Here’s What It Means for Wine.

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Can we talk about machine learning for a minute?

It’s a major topic around the office these days but, like most of you, I’m not a “data person” and concepts like this are new territory. To get my head around it, I need to have it explained in relation to something that I do know and understand.

Like social media.

Most of us use it most days, right? If we’re also using it at work, particularly to manage the online presence of a wine brand, we’re also likely accessing the analytics dashboards, which tell us things like performance, reach and popularity of each post.

Those analytics, in turn, help us to refine and craft the content of our future posts. Analytics, in other words, enables us to be responsive to our audience.

Makes sense so far.

But what if we could do more than respond to our audience?

What if we could understand that audience so well that we could forecast the kind of content that they’re most likely to “like”?

What if we could put that information to work, and start to steer the audience in favor of our brands?

This is where machine learning comes in.

We could start with this question: How does consumer behavior on social media change over time? How does it change when it comes to wine, and in relation to our brand?

Wouldn’t that be a cool thing to know?

We could, technically, dedicate massive amounts of time and human resources to studying exactly that.

Or we could set the tools of machine learning to work and direct their energy toward analyzing, without our interference or interpretation, a very high volume of data around parameters and filters that we set.

It’s exponentially faster.

It’s more accurate.

It isn’t impacted by subjective interpretation.

It’s a strategic, efficient use of resources.

And you end up with concrete, quantifiable information to work with.

Do I understand the methods?

Nope. As I said above, concepts like machine learning are new territory for me and I’m not about to claim understanding of them in any operational kind of way.

But I’ll tell you what I do understand, is what to do with the results and information that come out the other side.

I bet you would, too.

What can machine learning tell us about your brand?

Let us demonstrate. Just drop me a line and we’ll get the conversation started.

Thank you, as always, for reading –

Cathy

“Accurate Data, Controlled by Producers”: A Case Study of the Global Wine Database

 Image Courtesy of Global Wine Database

Image Courtesy of Global Wine Database

Look, everybody knows it’s a crazy idea.

To document every single wine made, all around the world, and warehouse the information in one central location.

(My first reaction: “Wait. What?” Second reaction: “Herculean.” Third reaction: “Sisyphean,” as in, desirable, super labor-intensive, and just out of reach.)

I mean, who does that? And, more importantly, why?

The “who” is David Gluzman and his team at Calgary-based Global Wine Database. GWDB started out, almost as a beta test and along with the help of the Canadian Vintners Association, to successfully execute their vision to document every single wine in their home country of Canada.

They proved it’s possible. More than that, they proved it’s beneficial to the entire Canadian wine industry. You can see the results for yourself here. Prior to the launch of this website, Gluzman said, “the world didn’t truly know all that much about the landscape of Canadian viticulture, like the fact that the country produces more than 130 different grape varieties. Today every winery has access to store and share the facts of what they produce, to the entire world, for free.”

Which brings us to the “why” of this idea.

GWDB’s tagline says it all: “Accurate data, controlled by producers.”

That’s a pretty big clue to what this is all about.

To enable wineries to control the facts that are “out there” about their wines, including vintage-to-vintage variation, updated tech sheets, label shots, and reviews.

You upload the information once, basic details like location, logos and tasting notes. The beauty of the platform is what happens next, and automatically.

  • Corporate websites that the winery owns are updated, such as the public-facing website and the ecommerce store.
  • Trade and media websites are updated, which means retailers can go directly to GWDB for the latest technical notes.
  • Any third-party apps that are integrated with GWDB are updated, which makes it that much easier to stay on top of the information consumers see when they pull up your wine in apps like Vivino and Delectable.
  • The cycle repeats itself whenever new information, like the next vintage, is uploaded.

Data people can geek out, pretty far, about the technology that enables all of this to happen. Because it’s impressive.

The takeaway for everyone else is that bit about wineries themselves presenting, accurately, the information that’s circulating about their wines.

Think about what happens when you search for a movie on Google. You can find out almost everything about it, like who produced it, the actors, the writers and so much more. When you do the same for wine, however, the data is incredibly fragmented or non-existent.

“We’re providing a platform to allow third parties to integrate into accurate wine data,” Gluzman said. “Future technology – from Augmented Reality to Artificial Intelligence to Blockchain – all depend on data. The wineries have it, but they don’t have a place to put it for the world to access. That’s us.”

Word.

Not sure about you, but learning about GWDB has set my mind racing. Most of all, like last week’s post on Saturnalia’s vineyard satellite data, I’m totally psyched that these initiatives are live and solid and fertile ground for much more creative thinking about how data can help improve our industry.

Please drop a line and let me know what’s on your mind too.

Thank you,

Cathy