Is Your Winery Really an Art Studio?

Why is it so difficult for many wineries to consistently sell their wine?  Perhaps, it is because they are behaving more like an artist in an art studio instead of a business selling a product.  What do I mean?  Let's take a look.


One of the fundamental rules of business can be summarized in this way. 

"Find out what people want to buy and make that thing for them."

This is at the core of how capitalism creates value for the world.  Customers speak with their dollars about the products they want to exist and businesses are compensated for creating that product for them.

This is the opposite of what an artist does.  Artists create the thing that they wish to create.   Then they hope and pray that someone can sell it.  The effect here can be startlingly original and insightful works of art.  It can also be why the phrase 'starving artist' is a cliche. 

We live in a time when many independent wineries are suffering slowing sales, shrinking distribution channels, and the pain of deep discount online retailers.  Rarely, do they understand why.

There may have been a time in the American Wine Business when winemakers could make anything their hearts' desired and sell it all.  Those days are passing quickly, if they aren't already gone.

None of this means that we need to sacrifice originally and quality.  That isn't the point here.

If we want the independent wine scene in America to continue, we need a generation of wine entrepreneurs that inject a little more business acumen into their 'art studios.'

Video: The Subregions of Oregon's Willamette Valley. St Innocent Winemaker Mark Vlossak

Similarly to other places that produce high quality Pinot Noir, Oregon's Willamette Valley is divided into many regions and subregions - each producing their own unique flavors and textures.  St. Innocent Winery's Winemaker Mark Vlossak talks in this video about those subregions and how they came to exist.  

This is the 2nd of 5 videos featuring Mark Vlossak that I produced during my 2012 trip to Oregon.  The first video "Understanding Oregon Pinot Noir" can be found here.

I interviewed Mr. Vlossak in the cellars of St. Innocent Winery.

This is episode #48 of Understanding Wine with Austin Beeman.

Video: Chehalem Winery. Wynne Peterson-Nedry Winemaker Interview

In the summer of 2012, I had the opportunity to sit down with Chehalem Winery's Wynne Peterson-Nedry.  It was a rare blast of hot weather in Oregon with temperatures rising into the high 90s.  It was a pleasure to stay in the shade and sip from the many dry white wines that are strongly featured in Chehalem's porfolio.

Chehalem Winery, a family operation, was transitioning from Father to Daughter as well as experiencing a dramatic change in their label design.  I spent about a half hour with Ms. Peterson-Nedry and the highlights of that interview form Episode #46 of Understanding Wine with Austin Beeman.

We spoke about the history of Chehalem Winery, where Oregon fits among world Pinot Noir regions, and why you should think about Riesling when you think Oregon Wines.

For more information about Chehalem Winery - their website is

If in Ohio, you can buy Chehalem wines at Walt Churchill's Market.

Elsewhere, support the podcast by buying Chehalem Wines on Amazon

Video: Anne Amie Vineyards - Winemaker Thomas Houseman

The first winery in Oregon that I visited was Anne Amie Vineyards in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA of Willamette Valley.  I got to the tasting room around closing time to find only the winemaker - Thomas Houseman.  We had a quick interview and talked about the distinctiveness of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, Anne Amie Vineyards, current trends in wine, and the meaning of wine.

Understanding Wine with Austin Beeman. Episode #45

Download the video in HD by clicking here.

The complete podcast is available in iTunes here.