63 episodes

A podcast delivering wine perspectives ex-chateau. Insights, analysis, and perspectives on news and trends in the wine industry beyond winemaking, such as marketing, finance, and consumer trends. From noted wine blogger Robert Vernick (@wineterroir) and leading wine business consultant and author of Luxury Wine Marketing Peter Yeung (@winebizguy), this podcast navigates the business of wine with unique perspectives and insights. Get access to library episodes
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XChateau Wine Podcast Robert Vernick, Peter Yeung

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 90 Ratings

A podcast delivering wine perspectives ex-chateau. Insights, analysis, and perspectives on news and trends in the wine industry beyond winemaking, such as marketing, finance, and consumer trends. From noted wine blogger Robert Vernick (@wineterroir) and leading wine business consultant and author of Luxury Wine Marketing Peter Yeung (@winebizguy), this podcast navigates the business of wine with unique perspectives and insights. Get access to library episodes
Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    Blocking & Tackling of Biodiversity w/ Drew Bledsoe & Josh McDaniels, Bledsoe Wine Estates

    Blocking & Tackling of Biodiversity w/ Drew Bledsoe & Josh McDaniels, Bledsoe Wine Estates

    Sustainability is just good business practice, according to Drew Bledsoe, former New England Patriots Quarterback and now founder and proprietor of Bledsoe Wine Estates, comprising three wineries in Washington and Oregon. Josh McDaniels, CEO, and Drew discuss their biodiversity initiatives in detail, as well as their people and packaging efforts, as part of their sustainability ethos. From improving quality to increasing customer loyalty, they believe taking a long-term view on sustainability proves it is a good investment. 
    Detailed Show Notes: 
    Drew’s background - grew up in Walla Walla, WA; NFL quarterback for 14 years; started Doubleback winery and now has 3
    Josh’s background - also grew up in Walla Walla, worked at Leonetti for 10+ years, and worked with Paul Hobbs in Argentina
    Sustainability is critical for wine because of the long-term, generational nature of the wine business
    Biodiversity initiatives
    Built wildflower perimeter around vineyards - harbors beneficial insects, reducing mite infestations that happened when spring vetch growth diesWorking w/ The Bee Girl Organization in OR to study amount and species of bees for regeneration farmingDesigned specific cover crop seed mix to attract more bees, improve Nitrogen in soil, have longer taproots to improve soil oxygen, and maintain water in the soilMoving to dry farming through the cover crop, no-till, and drought-resistant rootstocksEasier to make investments in estate vineyards vs. contracted ones
    Benefits
    The main goal is to increase wine qualityBuilds emotional connection with consumers - more about customer loyalty/retention vs. new customer acquisitionReduced spray expensesReduced water costsConsumers expect luxury wine to be environmentally responsible
    An early leader of people sustainability - focused on vineyard crew five years ago w/ higher pay, year-round employment, and full benefits, leading to benefits of not having to rehire and retrain crew
    Other sustainability initiatives
    Consolidating shipping across the countryInstalling solar panels at the wineryConscious of Doubleback bottle weightReducing packagingFamily Wine - currently bottled in 1L bottles that were meant for reuse, but issues around sanitization for reuse; now considered bag-in-a-box a la Tablas CreekLooking at sources products, including glass, closer to home vs. glass was from China previouslySustainability for the wine industry - with a long-term view, sustainability is a good investment and good business practice

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    • 42 min
    Bats, Bottles, and Baking Soda: Battling Climate Change w/ Marie-Catherine Dufour, Bordeaux Wine Council

    Bats, Bottles, and Baking Soda: Battling Climate Change w/ Marie-Catherine Dufour, Bordeaux Wine Council

    With a goal of 46% carbon reduction by 2030 and 6,000 companies to wrangle, Marie-Catherine Dufour, Technical Director of the Bordeaux Wine Council, has a big job to undertake. With an action plan that covers five key climate change strategies, Bordeaux can become carbon neutral by 2050. Some of those strategies include promoting bats to combat grape moths, reducing the weight of bottles, and capturing CO2 from fermentation to make baking soda.  
    Detailed Show Notes: 
    Marie-Catherine’s background - daughter of winegrowers in Bordeaux, studied agronomy
    Mission as Technical Director of Bordeaux Wine Council - think of innovation needs for the sector to be more competitive
    Defines sustainability as the linkage between environmental, social, and economic issues
    Climate has a direct impact on the environment, but it also impacts the health and well-being of people
    Bordeaux Climate Action
    2007 - 1st carbon assessment2019 - 3rd assessment - reduced GHG emissions by 39% from 2007Developed Carbon Strategy for Bordeaux w/ science-based targetsThe goal of 46% GHG reduction by 2030Five key strategies
    Glass and packaging (28% of GHG emissions) - reduce bottle weight by 10%Winemaking practices (22% of GHG emissions) - do less in the vineyard to minimize oil and pesticide usage, balancing environmental goals and yieldFreight - fewer planes, more boats (30% of emissions from planes from only 4% of volume); fewer trucks, more trains (the primary port is now Le Havre in the north, and would like to ship from Bordeaux in the future)Energy efficiency - underground cellars, natural light, gravity flow Carbon sequestration - when they can’t reduce any more; increase area w/ covered grass (+32% of the area), plant trees and hedges (150 km hedges planted / year); can lead to carbon neutrality by 2050Action plan for each strategy developed
    A collective regional strategy helps when working with suppliers to have more influence
    ROI is difficult to define
    European impact of climate change is 1% of GDP w/ 2 heat waves in 2022, production reduced by 20% of normalCost of climate change in 2022 estimated at ~$24k/ha (~$10k/acre)E.g., electric tractors are 30% more expensive but use less fuel; one solution is to amortize the cost over a more extended periodHigh-end wineries can do more
    Reducing bottle weights - the idea of luxury will change and consumers will no longer accept heavy bottles as luxury due to climate impactE.g., Chateau Montrose produces baking soda from CO2 emitted during fermentation, a type of sequestration; need to develop uses (e.g., sales to food companies) for itChateau Brown uses cardboard w/ nice printing over wood now; NY merchants prefer itChateau Lagrange has solar panels on the cellar that cannot be seen by visitors and produces 50% of electric needsDriving action
    Requires communication with members (6,000 companies)Hosts an annual event for environmental issuesDo webinars and offers collective tools to promote actionHas an annual budget of €2M (€1M for scientific studies - e.g., for bats eating grape moths and reducing larvae by 40%; €1M for collective action)Recommendation for wineries - start w/ carbon assessment, as every company is different, then develop a winery-specific plan and leverage tools available on the Bordeaux Wine Council website

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    • 34 min
    Sheep, Ducks, Chickens, & More w/ Dan Fishman, Donum Estate

    Sheep, Ducks, Chickens, & More w/ Dan Fishman, Donum Estate

    Known for its world-class art collection and Pinot Noirs, Donum Estate is also serious about sustainability, investing heavily in integrated pest management and biodiversity. Dan Fishman, the winemaker, discusses the benefits and tradeoffs of moving to organic and regenerative farming with an IPM framework. From sheep, ducks, and chickens to mealybug destroyers, it’s creating a diverse ecosystem that is improving the soil, vines, and wines for Donum.  
    Detailed Show Notes: 
    Dan’s background - Donum winemaker since 2012, took over farming in 2019
    Donum
    Founded in 2001 in Carneros to create the ultimate Pinot NoirAdded Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast vineyardsCCOF (organic) and pursuing ROC regenerative certificationIntegrated pest management (“IPM”) is a critical 1st step for sustainability; it changes philosophy from exploiting resources to maximize cash crops (conventional) to looking at the system holistically and thinking about the entire ecosystem (IPM)
    Not about eliminating pests but managing them and creating resilience in the ecosystemExamples of IPM
    Sheep for weeding in winter - less tractor passes & fuel use, brings compost back to the vineyard, uses contract grazer w/ 500 sheep/herd, need sheep out before bud break, or they will eat green shootsCompost teas (biologically active sprays) - when used on the canopy, introduce microbes that compete w/ others like mildewChickens & ducks eat ground insectsCommitted to organics in 2019
    Stopped using herbicides, which kill weeds but also other fungi in soil; stopping created living soils, insect life returned right awayWithout synthetic nitrogen, we need to get the nitrogen cycle back (e.g., sheep compost helps)Benefits of IPM
    Reduced vigor reduced the need to crop thin and hedge, which was done before to get to target yields, therefore no reduction in overall crop yieldsImproved grape chemistry - 7-8 years ago harvested at 25+ Brix to get phenolic ripeness with 3.7-3.8 pH and 4-5 g/L TA; 2022 - 23-23.5 Brix, 3.5 pH, 5.6-6+ g/L TA -> less work needed in wineryCan ferment with native yeasts (not killed by sprays)Increased vineyard lifespan - vines can live 50-60 years vs. 25-30 typically in Sonoma for Pinot NoirReduced cost of synthetic fertilizersCosts of IPM
    Some upfront investment, e.g., Clemens weed knife for under-vine weed management instead of spraying RoundupMore monitoring of vineyard, e.g., people monitoring for mealy bugs, which are then treated with an organic essential oilEstimates ~5-7% more expensive vs. conventional farmingThe highest impact process was getting rid of herbicides
    Other elements used
    Root Applied Sciences - monitoring stations that check for mildew spores reduce organic sprays by 20%, kill less yeast in the vineyardVineView aerial mapping to identify potential problemsWater probes to monitor vine stress to determine irrigation needsBiodiversity
    Cover crops, every 6th row is a native wildflower encouraging native insectsIntroduce predators - e.g., wasps & mealybug destroyers to reduce mealy bugsEncourage raptors with owl boxes and raptor perches to help control moles & gophersNext for IPM and biodiversity at Donum - more chickens & ducks, may own a small flock of sheep, and set up a truffle grove

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    • 42 min
    Saving Water in the Desert w/ Joan Esteve, Raimat

    Saving Water in the Desert w/ Joan Esteve, Raimat

    Building an entire ecosystem in the desert requires water at its core. With a 3,000-ha property that includes 2,000ha of vineyards, a winery, and a town to support it, Raimat, part of the Cordorniu Group, has been at the forefront of sustainability, particularly with water efficiency. Joan Esteve, General Manager, explains how >€5M of investment has substantially reduced water usage and made the property more sustainable, which in his mind, is leaving it a better place for future generations. 
    Detailed Show Notes: 
    Raimat overview
    Purchased in 1914, it was a desert 150km west of BarcelonaContinental climate, no Mediterranean influenceClose to the Pyrenees, water from snow melt~3,000 ha (~7,400 acres) property~2,000 acres of vineyards, ~40% (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay) goes to Cordorniu, rest for Raimat’s still wines (~12M bottles/year)Had to build a town to support farmingWinery and town designed by a disciple of Gaudi100% organic, many sustainability certificationsTons of biodiversity - e.g., releasing Turons (i.e., wild ferrets) to control the rabbit populationSustainability definition - “leaving a better world than how we found it”
    Founder of Wineries for Climate Protection in Spain - requires 5% average annual water and energy savings
    Water efficiency projects:
    Built ~€4M water pipe to replace the channel that supplies Raimat water
    1m diameter with natural pressureOriginally a > 50-year payback projectSaves 15% water (no evaporation, losses), ~2,700 MWh/year of energy / equivalent to ~1,400 tons CO2/yearIrrigation optimization
    Developed by Cordorniu Research InstituteDynamically applies water based on differences in soil, grape variety, desired wine style, and vine ageSaves ~10% of waterSpun off company Agropixel to consult other wineries on precision viticulturePartial Root Drying
    It uses two irrigation lines and rotates irrigation every 15-20 daysIt makes the vine believe it’s under water stress when it’s not~40% water savings, slightly lower yields, better qualityConducting on ~300ha~20-25% more expensive (mostly additional irrigation line)Total vineyard water savings of ~30%
    Cellar water optimization
    Measured water consumption in different parts of the wineryFixed leaksUse tools to reduce usage (e.g., hot water vs. cold for cleaning, nozzles for hoses, UV light to disinfect tanks)Total water efficiency investments ~€5.1M (~€4M pipe, ~€1M vineyards, ~€100k cellar)
    Future efficiency - believes Raimat may need to use more water to offset the impacts of global warming
    Water from the Pyrenees is not at risk as the region primarily produces corn and alfalfa, which use significantly more water than grapes (~800mm water/year vs. ~150mm for grapes)
    ROI challenging for sustainability investments
    Owners (now majority owned by The Carlyle Group) usually require 3-Year payback on investmentsWater pipe investment made by the family as a legacy for future generationsQuality was the main rationale behind water efficiency investmentsAdvice for the industry
    It’s good business to be efficientAgriculture is slow, needs longer payback hurdles, and can use quality improvements to justify the investmentThe quality impact is significant; small amounts of compounds can impact the entire production
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    • 39 min
    Designing Allocated Offerings w/ Byron Hoffman & Tyson Caly, Offset

    Designing Allocated Offerings w/ Byron Hoffman & Tyson Caly, Offset

    Focused on the 20% of the wine market doing things differently, Byron Hoffman and Tyson Caly, co-CEOs of Offset, are focused on enabling “Brand Differentiated Commerce.” At the intersection of design and technology for wine, Offset has significant experience operating allocated offerings of wine. These unique event-based sales methods, which limit how much customers can buy, create new challenges and best practices, unlike other sales channels.  
    Detailed Show Notes: 
    Byron & Tyson met while collaborating on Last Bottle, combining e-commerce and design
    Offset - the intersection of design and technology for wine
    Focused on the 20% of the industry doing things differentlyMost clients in Napa & Sonoma, major ones include Kosta Browne, Aubert, Larkmead, Raen, Bedrock, DuMOLDTC business models - open cart / online store, clubs, subscriptions, allocations
    Allocated offerings (“allocations”) definition - the event-based, controlled release of wine
    Geared around exclusivityOffering types - first come, first serve; guaranteed; order requestAllocation types - individual, group-based, wish onlyUse wish requests to prevent undersellingDifferences in doing allocations vs. other models
    A significant effort to decide who gets what, limiting what people can buyTiming of sales important - need to consider things like shipping windowsCheckout experience language is importantBest practices
    “Brand Differentiated Commerce” - how the brand is integrated w/ commerce can be different for every winerySimplify and align customer experience w/ the brandFull allocation button - can simplify the purchaseThe design flow of customer experience (e.g., initial email, graphics at the beginning of offering) is importantInvest in website design - many wineries think a lot about packaging and forget about their website or don’t want to appear to be selling wine, but still need a clear call to actionToo much automation is not always betterExamples of the intersection of design and commerce
    Kosta Browne re-designed how to explain wish requests on their website, reducing phone calls and emails coming inText messaging & magic links (auto-login) enable 20 seconds to purchase, ~98% of texts get read w/in 3 minutes, partners w/ Slick TextCosts of allocated models
    Similar to e-commerce costs, Offset pricing is a transaction based w/ no monthly feeCan have cost efficiencies if wines sell out (e.g., team labor used for other things when not selling, shipping process condensed)Hybrid approaches
    E.g., Larkmead has a tasting room, club, & allocationsE.g., Kermit Lynch has clubs, open cart, and behind-the-scenes allocationsBenefit - providing choices for people w/ different sales models, e.g., clubs for people who want convenience, allocations for VIPs to enable access to special winesCons - a lot more setupPeople want to customize wine club shipments, which is similar technology to allocations and has now been enabledAllocated offering research w/ professors from Kellogg & Peter - creating the data to get more insight and reduce guesswork for the industry

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    • 44 min
    Creating a Destination in Texas w/ Eva Horton, Flat Creek Winery

    Creating a Destination in Texas w/ Eva Horton, Flat Creek Winery

    With a California-like atmosphere, Texas wine country enjoys a strong local following. Eva Horton, the owner of Flat Creek Estate, shares how they are creating more than a Texas winery but a destination. With multiple venues, including a full-service restaurant and a disc golf course, Flat Creek is getting visitors to come back and enjoy the estate and wines. 
    Detailed Show Notes: 
    The goal is to be a destination, a real estate development play, not just a Texas winery
    Texas wine country - west of Austin
    TX wine trail - 290 corridor, flatter, mostly European & Spanish varietalsExpanded to Hill Country, NW of Austin3 hrs from Dallas & Houston, 1 hr from San Antonio, 45 min from Austin#3 state in US for # of wineriesVisitors to TX wine country
    The majority from Texas come for a weekendAs Austin becomes more of a definition, it gets more visitorsLooks California likeFlat Creek overview
    In Hill Country, elevated, grows mostly Italian varietals80 acres, ~26 planted, ~18 producing currentlyProduced ~4,500-6,000 cases, capacity for ~10,000Three venues on the property - tasting room, restaurant, pavilionThe consulting winemaker from CA - Jean HolfingerWine pricing - ~$30 whites, ~$40-50 reds, premium to other TX wineries
    Estate destinations
    Tasting room - outdoor areas, fire pits, barrel tastingsEllera - full-service restaurant, only Flat Creek wines and alcoholPavilion - live music, different food18-hole disc golf course, PGA qualifiedWalking trails - like a winery in a parkAverage spend
    $25 for a tasting of 5 winesCan range from ~$50-60 to hundreds for higher-end dinners at Ellera# of visitors - typical weekend - ~400-500/day, special events ~1,000
    Sales channels
    95% sold on site5% onlineNot in distribution yet, but a goal for 2023Hospitality sales & wine clubs
    ~75% of visitors buy wineLoyalty club - get benefits when you buy 12 bottles each year“Being part of a destination/club”Developing unique members-only benefits to drive membership - e.g., food & wine pairings, creating a VIP room (like a cigar lounge) for higher tier members~40-50% of visitors join the loyalty club Capturing non-customer emails - using cards to capture emails, ~50% uptake
    ~20-30% of customers repeat purchases, using personalized communications to target customers

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    • 43 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
90 Ratings

90 Ratings

oliviabaker13 ,

Your new favorite podcast 🍷

If you’re a wine enthusiast, meet your new favorite podcast! Peter and Robert are incredibly knowledgeable and lead engaging conversations with so many interesting people across the world of wine. This is great content, delivered in an easy-to-consume format - highly recommend tuning in!

WineJingJin ,

Amazing content for wine business

The content of this Podcast is unbelievable! There are many latest trends and insightful interviews updated frequently. Robert and Peter are not only excellent listeners, but also brilliant interviewers with meaningful questions! I have learned a lot since I follow them in 2021. Many wine friends from the trade and MW program recommend it too! Highly appreciated!

brandon sparks-gillis ,

Super Insightful

One of the very best wine podcasts, with a range of episodes which will appeal to a wide variety of wine enthusiasts.

The insights into the business side of wine are deep, and are an invaluable tool for wine students as well as those in the business.

Peter and Robert are inquisitive and do a great job selecting guests and topics to analyze.

Keep up the great work!

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