I am not sure whether the term 'Craft Wine' exists already or not, but based upon the so called 'craft beer revolution' which is certainly happening all over the world in the last decade or so, and the revival of handmade spirits, we do need to start seriously thinking about the future of 'real' wines...
When I say we, I mean people in the wine trade and since I'm officially in this business for a few years now - sometimes I think a bit too long - I can see certain patterns and trends which makes me think, I need to stay a bit longer to see how they form the trade and the consumers.
Some winemakers are going back to ancient methods again and making their wines in amphoras under the ground or leaving them unfiltered and unfined. Sometimes I even feel like orange is the new white, just to mention Vidacycle Tinte for example - a wine which I love by the way! But not just the old methods which drive the 'Craft Wine' scene: wines in cans are appearing just as well as urban wineries are popping up in cities. A great example is Bow & Arrow in Portland creating wines using traditional old world varietals such as Pinot Noir or Gamay in a basement of a town house.
I am personally a big fan of hand crafted wines, small produced boutique stuff from artisan 'one man (or woman) band' wineries and love quirky indigenous varietals made in the most natural ways possible. I definitely don't mind if the wine has sediments or if it is hazy and I'm also happy to pay a bit more for something unusual...
...but let's be honest most wine drinkers aren't me and I don't mean this in a negative way, but they want quaffable whites and reds available straight away for the cheapest price possible. They only trust grape varieties and regions (even if sometimes they don't know which one is which) what they know or heard of. This is how Malbec from Argentina, Merlot from Chile or Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand became brands rather than grapes and regions in most people's mind.
We could try to change this, but I think it would be idealistic rather than realistic. The supermarkets in the UK for example doing a rather good job nowadays when it comes to buying and you can find very drinkable wines in most of them. However if you want to find something exciting you have to visit your local wine merchant (no, not your corner shop, because that's the worst place where you can buy your vino in my opinion) or search the internet... and this is a trend which I can see happening, and it is natural and it is good. Indies has to focus on what the supermarkets cannot do, work with small producers, showcase interesting wines and at the same time offer their hands on knowledge and impeccable customer service.
But, indies also have responsibilities in educating and entertaining their customers not just because that's what keeps them alive, but also because this will be their future...
I believe that the future of real wine / craft wine / boutique wine, however you call it is in the hands of independent merchants and at the same time in the hands of the future generation of wine drinkers. So we have to educate the younger generation and the only way to get them interested in the product on the first place is entertaining them, make it fun and educate them without they noticing it.
Look at the beers! Funky labels, exciting hops, big beards (of the brewers) and everyone loves it. Some people even get a bit nerdy about it - mostly in a good way :) So winemakers shouldn't be afraid of creating exciting wines and putting weird labels on them, because that will make them stand out. At the same time wine shops shouldn't be afraid of putting these on their shelves, because this will make them different from the chains.
My current personal favourites are from the US and unfortunately they not sold in the UK yet (maybe I should give them a call ;) ). One of them is 1849 wines with their catchy urban art labels. The other one because of the real personality and great story behind the product is RedHead Wine.
I'm also very happy with a lot of branding, just please don't put another chateau on the label!!! It is freakin' annoying. Bordeaux has to realise that they need to change, all their wines look exactly the same from an average panther's point of view and they all called Chateau something... It's boooring!!!
Luckily there are some good examples made from well-known grapes but without the annoying 'C' word. For example the Pom'N'Roll - finally without a Chateau, the Garage Wine Co. wines from Chile - no Chateau there. Ovum Off The Grid Riesling - not even a single C in the name, just a great label.
Apart from designing outstanding labels and producing awesome wines we have to find the right tone to speak to these 'youngsters', so they don't feel intimidated when they want to buy their weekend or weekday drinks... We have to talk to them in a way they understand and not in jargons!
This doesn't mean we can't teach them stuff, check out Effi's website, she is doing something pretty well and she always smiles... what more do you want from an educator? :) Or Mr Wine Personality of the Year Joe Fattorini, entertaining and knowledgeable.
So to sum it up very briefly, as you must be pretty bored reading this endless piece now, there is a lot of interesting thing happening in the wine world, just have to remember to be open minded and not snobbish about wine regardless of where it comes from or whether is it clear or hazy in the glass and try it even if it is in a can...