We attended the 4th annual Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Market last Saturday, is Westport, Massachusetts. Sponsored by the Coastal Wine trail and it’s member wineries. The Market is an event we look forward to each June, as some of our favorite wineries participate. However, this year’s event left me wondering, about the health of our local wine industry.
Attendance was down, at least at the 11:00 am session and from what I was told the advance tickets sales for all three sessions were down. In my estimation it was down a good 30% to 40% over 2013 & 2014. So, I started to analyse, sorry it’s just in my nature. I spoke to several winery owners, including Travessia winery’s Marco Montez. They all seemed to feel that even though attendance was down that sales were strong. Mr. Montez commented that; “I think it’s good, we can spend more time with people and actually explain to them what they’re tasting, instead of just pouring.”
So why the poor attendance? Could it be the promotion? It did seem that this year the word wasn’t getting out, at least not early enough and advance information was poor. Even in the Trail’s own marketing material, there’s no mention made that the Trail had expanded to include three more wineries and that they would be at the Market for the first time.
Could it be prices? Well, prices are definitely up. The average price per bottle was over $20.00. As you may know, we really don’t review wines, it’s too subjective. Our goal is to promote local. To educate people about our local wines and wineries. But, I don’t feel it’s unfair to present the facts. of the 14 wineries present Saltwater Farm was the most expensive, with the cost of their average bottle coming in at $27.75. At the other end, Running Brook Vineyards, was the most affordable, with their average bottle priced at a reasonable $13.25.
Maybe my analysis is a little simplistic, I’ll grant you that, But I don’t think price can be totally ignored. I never spend more than $15.00 for a bottle of wine. I just can’t afford it. We love to visit beautiful wineries with manicured lawns and rolling hills. However, when the bottle is at my house and I’m pouring a glass, I can’t see that beautiful scenery. My checking account though, that I can see.
There are some great imported wines available for $10.00 a bottle and I talking about wines produced in Europe, where manufacturing costs are just as high as they are here, maybe higher. I’m hoping that our local wineries are’t pricing themselves out of reach. Shouldn’t local wine be affordable? Priced so that everyone can enjoy the fruits of our local producers. I certain hope so.