Are You Still in the Fog?



Growing up in the Sacramento Valley I had plenty of opportunity to experience  fog so thick you couldn’t see the house across the street.  In the Napa Valley, we only experience ribbons of  fog that lace a vineyard together or tuck into a hillside.  I captured the picture above on my way to work this week.  It struck me how quickly the fog formed and meandered amongst the vines and trees.  Unlike the tule fog that sticks low to the ground and makes it impossible to see, these floating banks of moisture provided another scenic moment, like those that appear before me each and every day in the Napa Valley.

As I look at the picture closely, beyond the mustard and vines and before mountains, there are  two very distinct images.  The timeless beauty and strength of the oak and the zealous eucalyptus pushing itself above the fog layer.  That sounds familiar.  The optimistic Aussie (i.e. native eucalyptus) always looking for a new way to push through the challenges of the day, to find the bright light beyond the fog.  Here in wine country this has been especially true over the years as I have watched the flood of Australian wines land on the store shelves and wine lists.  Sure they’re a clever bunch when it comes to marketing their wines.  But what happened when the economy slowed? Those cute labels didn’t  fool the US wine  consumer.  Instead our pocketbooks closed and only opened for the long-time, well known, and strong  brands. 

Just like the sturdy oak, our local brands that have proven themselves over decades have not faltered.  Why? Because the consumer knows they can count on these wineries to deliver consistently high quality wines every year.  Now the packaging may not have a cute animal but wine buyers have  learned that you can’t judge a book by its cover. 

What we can learn from our Aussie friends is that their creativity allowed them to gain market share rather quickly in the U.S. 

So what does this have to do with U.S. wineries struggling through this recession?  Well, it might just be time to set aside your ego.  Some serious out-of-the-box thinking needs to take place so that you can capture the opportunities that are just beyond the horizon.  You are not only competing with domestic brands but those from the likes of Chile and Spain that have their sights on the U.S. consumer.  These imports could take serious market share when our  economy improves.

It is never too late to plan.  Get your team together and unleash those creative juices before someone else beats you to the marketplace.

Until next time…when the fog clears will you be headed in the right direction?

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