Younger generations redefining wine scene

July 19, 2013 8:31:01 PM PDT
The U.S. wine industry is a multi-billion dollar business and baby boomers are some of its best customers. But signs say that's starting to change.

It's not the swirling and sipping of your parent's wine tasting anymore. A new generation of wine drinkers has American vintners taking notice.

There's a new wine scene meant to draw in the 21- to 29-year-old crowd.

"The events lack pretension. They don't make you feel intimidated by a lot of adjectives or what you should like, or what a magazine says you should like," said Chris Hammond with Rock 'N Roll Wine.

Vintners are counting on the potential 70 million millennial to keep their $30 billion business growing.

"We should take note of the fact that wine drinkers are in very big numbers on Facebook, on Twitter. There are very high users of Yelp," said John Gillespie with Wine Market Council.

There are new apps to help newbies decide what to serve with their wine and new settings for wine sales, like concerts and sporting events.

"Wine is being consumed on many more casual everyday occasions than ever before," Gillespie said.

Even the labels are meant to appeal to a younger, hipper crowd. But sociology professor David Halle says turning wine into the new party drink could be dangerous.

"Wine is now as beer was amongst young people, a drink that you serve in large quantities where there is an aim at the party to get drunk," Halle said.

He says part of that is due to new marketing.

"There is no longer any branding of wine as a chic drink that you sip at. That's gone," Halley said.

But Hammond disagrees. He believes the younger wine drinkers are into the activity more than the alcohol.

"I don't think that people come to our events with the intent of getting tipsy. I think they know they will get a nice little buzz going, but I think wine is unique in that it breeds this social aspect, this fun envrionment, where everybody becomes friends," Hammond said.

The growing popularity of wine among a younger crowd is catching on with celebrities like Fergie, Madonna and Brad Pitt, who now have their own labels.

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