Advancing the nexus of viticulture and technology.

Data Should Set You FREE

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A member of our sales team called me last week to report that another company was trying to scare our prospects by telling them our data “is in Mexico.”

Although I think our clients’ petiole samples might benefit from “living la vida loca” in Mexico, this concern misses the point; your data needs to be available wherever you might be.

We try to offer our clients the convenience (and peace of mind) so that they can take a much-needed break in Mexico... Our client data is located in Chicago, with one of the top hosting providers, Hostway. We perform daily, weekly and monthly backups of all our client data, which are guarded by Hostway's best-in-class security practices.

[Unfortunately we cannot protect you from charlatans who will say anything to close a sale.]


On Demand = NO FUSS

Last week at Unified, I was asked what all the fuss was about with “on-demand” software. Between the hubbub in the convention center (and some great wine the night before), I was able to blurt out a thoughtful and thorough response: “NO FUSS!”

Let me explain: The concept of “renting software over the web” relieves companies of a lot of problems associated with traditional software implementations.

How? Well, you can get started easily; you don’t need internal staff to maintain the software; and you benefit from enhancements as soon as they are available (instead of having to pay for an upgrade).

And the fees are less painful too! You only pay a monthly subscription, and avoid having to pay a lot of dough before you use it (license fee, consulting fees, hardware upgrades, etc). Also, if you don’t like it, you simply stop paying.

So you ask me what all the fuss is about. It’s just that. There is none.


PremiereVision User Group

Thursday, January 18, 2007

We're holding user group meeting on Tuesday, February 20, from 12:00-3:00 PM at our Napa Office.

We will be going over new updates, user feedback, and a whole host of other things. We think it is important to listen to you, and to give you an opportunity to share your experiences with other users.

Thank you and see you soon!


February Newsletter

Take a look at next month's Grow Smarter Newsletter.

As we approach the beginning of the 2007 growing season, we thought of some suggestions regarding monitoring your vineyard's health.

As always, please contact us if you have any suggestions. We will be thrilled to share the good ones with our readers.


Appellation strategies

Underlining the fact that our different points of view influence our interpretation of "market research", here's my take:

I can see a building consensus between Bill Turrentine's article, Glenn Proctor's comment, and Karen Ross' editorial. What's more, strategically speaking, I like the challenge that it implies for non-US wine producers, and, speaking as a consumer, the effects it will have on the wine that I'll have access to in the future.

Of course, a "California Wine" movement would attempt to limit the use of imported wine, which, in many cases, will drive up the price of a bottle (by excluding foreign "juice" that helps keep down the cost) - I don't think (I have no research on hand to support my assertion) that the faster growing segments of the wine consumer market will tolerate this increase in price unless the marketing campaign supporting CA Wine is incredibly effective - a challenge for the CA wine growers and producers. The other option for a 100% CA Wine label to hold current price points is to drive production costs down without affecting quality - this bodes well for wine value all around, even those bottles not labeled with this new appellation.

I also applaud the suggestion that labels should name all the terroirs included in a bottle, as it will give those regions a foothold in the world's fastest-growing wine market, especially those that produce the "rare" Pinot's and Rieslings. Actually, herein lies a slight strategic contradiction: the attempt to limit the use of non-US wines forces those growers and producers to up-the-ante and counter with a campaign of their own. Given the stakes, I don't see more than short-term gains as the marketing efforts of other appellations ramp up. This, in turn, will increase the pressure to achieve and hold the competitive advantage of cost...


CA Growers Unite!

We received a great comment from Glenn Proctor, Ciatti Brokerage Company, encouraging CA growers to take unified action to manage consumer perception.

He reminds us of the efforts by the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) to support a "California Brand." In fact, here's an editorial from CAWG's president, Karen Ross, entitled "Growers Best Response to the Global Market."

Glenn saves his best advice for last: "Get involved."


Grow Smarter Newsletter

We sent out our monthly newsletter containing Vineyard Management Wisdom we collected from some of our clients. My favorite is the reminder to "remember why you got into this business in the first place... ...take time and enjoy the wine."

Maybe that explains why we took a couple extra weeks to publish our newsletter.

Let us know what you think!


Uncommon CA Wine

Friday, January 12, 2007

Imports continue to take market share from California wine; what are we to do?

I agree with Mr. Turrentine’s recommendation urging producers to increase quality and drive down costs (in fact, I can recommend a vineyard management application that excels at both).

I would add that there is a great opportunity to increase the "perceived quality" of the product. If I restate the problem as the commoditization of once-uncommon California wine, the answer is to (a) recapture the mysticism surrounding the place, people, and process that makes the wine; and (b) constantly remind your customers of the uniqueness of your brand.

California growers and wineries must demonstrate their passion for winegrowing, and to establish a strong connection with their customers. This presumes a clear definition of who buys your wine, as well as the taste and experience they expect in enjoying your wine. You’ll also need to devote energy in educating the value chain of "brand ambassadors" you’ll depend on to tell your story.

Not convinced? Check out these uncommon commodities: burger, car, coffee, or mobile phone.


One man's wine, another's vinegar

Friday, January 05, 2007

There's a very insightful article in January 2007 issue of Wine Business Monthly by Bill Turrentine entitled The Competitive World of Wine .

The fact that Bill is the President of Turrentine Brokerage, a company founded in 1973 that sells grapes from independent growers to wineries, wines in bulk between wineries and which also helps export California wines and to import wines from around the world [sic], leads me to believe that he knows something about the subject.

Commenting this issue with Miguel in Napa, it turns out that we have very different reads of the same article. Though both of us find it interesting, he liked it because it speaks to the US winegrowers about globalization, while I enjoyed it because it highlights the opportunities that winegrowers abroad could capitalize.

I thought it would be interesting to contrast these two points of view and have asked Miguel to post his comments - yours are welcome


Survey Says...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The October 2006 survey of senior IT executives by the smart fellas at McKinsey shows a growing interest in service-oriented architecture and lean data center operations. Without getting too technical, the former helps improve communication and integration between IT systems. More importantly, it helps deliver savings of 20 to 40 percent, and frees up resources from maintaining business applications. The idea behind "lean data centers" is to manage equipment and labor costs to reduce waste and improve productivity by as much as 40 percent!

So here is some advice for 2007: Beware of vendors hawking systems that are not web-native, require you to buy hardware, or hire expensive consultants... Survey says the technology industry is moving to greater flexibility and lower costs.

Happy New Year!


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