Of course, this was no ordinary wine tasting, as the winemaker for Wyndham Estates, Tony Hooper, came to discuss the wine industry, the Canadian wine market, and even some business etiquette. In fact Wyndham was kind enough to leave behind a booklet entitled "The Wydham Estate Executive Guide to Wine: Choosing Wines for Business Meals".
Interesting facts from the corporate presentation:
- New Zealand continues to struggle to meet demand. In fact Tony commented that the really good sites have all been used up and vineyards are now expanding to more marginal sites. Conumers take note...
- The Canadian wine market is nearly 35 million cases, up 8% vs. the prior year. Red wines represent 62% of Canadian wine sales, a substantial departure from other regions (USA and Australia are roughly 50:50)
- Canadian wine accounts for 28% of wine sold in Canada. Having visited Ontario and B.C. (the two main wine producing regions), you can probably double that market share in those provinces.
- Quebec, my home province, leads the country, consuming 37% of all wine sold in Canada, yet Quebec represents just 23% of the Canadian population. While Edward may claim that I am solely responsible for this "outperformance", what this really means is that French wine culture lives in North America!
- The 2007 crush in Australia was a thirty-year low due to drought conditions. The 2008 crush will be worse. On the plus side, quality is going way up!
- The Bin 444 Cabernet doesn't sell in Asia (bad luck) while the Bin 888 Cab/Merlot is a hot seller (lucky number). He joked that they may change all their wines to 888 for Asian markets.
- Alcohol: Tony and I chatted about Tasmania and alcohol, amongst other things. He says some big retailers are now requesting lower alcohol in the wines. So, it is not just a blog topic anymore - retailers are taking notice!
So, the question you might have is: "Why is the winemaker for one of the world's largest wine companies flying to Montreal to do a tasting with students?" Do the math - 37% of 35 million is nearly 13 million cases, and the Quebec government has a monopoly. Tony was here to pitch a big customer.