Wine workshop’s focus: Millennials

rrailey@thetribunenews.comMay 10, 2012 

Marketing to the Millennial generation is the focus of a free afternoon workshop Wednesday at Eos Estate Winery in Paso Robles.

The Millennial Wine Marketing Circus is produced by Mutineer Magazine. Based in Los Angeles, the publication focuses on “modern fine beverages”: wine, beer and spirits.

“We see ourselves as stewards of the culture,” said editor and publisher Alan Kropf, 29. “We want to add something to the conversation.”

Last year, The Wine Market Council reported that those ages 21 to 34 numbered 77 million in the U.S. and 1.7 billion worldwide — larger than the baby boomers and nearly three times Generation X.

Nearly one-third of that youngest bracket of drinkers say wine is their preferred fine beverage. More than half serve it once a week or more.

Begun in 2008, Mutineer caters to this group. With distribution through Barnes & Noble, B.Dalton Bookseller, Safeway and Vons, Kropf said it has 75,000 readers nationwide.

The marketing conference series is also being held at wineries in Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara and Calaveras counties. It has sold out areas such as Napa and Sonoma, Ashley Pengilly said. She coordinates social media engagement for Foley Family Wines, which owns Eos and other wineries hosting the conference.

Only 25 people were registered earlier this week for the Paso Robles event, she said, with 75 seats remaining. There’s no cost, but attendees should register online at

The six Millennial wine marketing professionals to speak include Kropf, who has appeared on several under-30 lists in publications such as Forbes and Wine & Spirits.

Though the website and marketing materials tout Twitter hashtags like #Millennial and #WineCircus, Kropf said it isn’t just about social media.

Rather, speakers will discuss notions such as authenticity, affordability, rejecting elitism and “inspiring” consumers.

Wine drinkers are less and less influenced by reviews and high scores from experts, Kropf said. Increasingly they are drawn to events, videos and representations of wine on television and in the movies. He cited the impact of the 2004 film “Sideways” on pinot noir sales for years afterward.

Pengilly added that using social media isn’t just about connecting with young people.

“From what I’ve been seeing, it’s every one of all ages and backgrounds,” she said. “I think it’s a great way to make your wine more than just a beverage — to make it an experience.”

Poly grad is Shale Oak’s winemaker

Shale Oak Winery west of Paso Robles has hired Curtis Hascall as its full-time winemaker. A Cal Poly graduate, Hascall has previously worked with Kevin Riley of KP Riley Consulting, among others.

“I was working with Kevin while he was producing the first Shale Oak wines,” Hascall said, “so I have been familiar with them from the beginning.” Owned by Al Good, Shale Oak completed its new winery on Oakdale Road in October.

Built using Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for conservation and sustainability, it has applied for LEED certification.

If approved, it would become the second winery in the county recognized by that national construction benchmark.

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