Today, when Vinitaly 2016 is kicking off, as I write this short blog article, talking about wine communication and marketing of the wine industry in Italy is a “hot” topic. People from all over the world come to Verona to taste Italian wine and meet with Italian wine producers to learn about the latest trends. Communication is thus not only done in Italian but also in other languages, mainly English. Last year, international wine writers and marketers requested a more professional approach to marketing from the Italian wine industry as well as providing content in English or other languages. Communication is important to be able to market yourself. Providing good content is even more essential. I have pinpointed three ideas to why wine communication matters below.
1. Wine is Culture
Wine in Italy is a part of the cultural and historical tradition, it is not only the selling of a beverage but rather of a cultural heritage, a way of living. Furthermore, wine is always considered in relation to the gastronomical tradition. This is what still makes Italy so fascinating, according to me. I believe there is an important “story” to tell here, especially for the smaller and more “artisan” wine producers in Italy. Writing about wine and wine producers is a fantastic opportunity to humanize the Italian wine industry and the wine producers. In my own wine writing, I am always trying to focus on the story behind the winery, on the owner and the people working at the winery, and telling the story as a sort of adventure or exploration of an area or a region.
2. Wine is Education
When there in Italy recently was a petition in the Italian Senate to make Wine History an obligatory subject in elementary school, it becomes clear, as mentioned before, how wine is a part of the cultural heritage. Wine producers could play an important part in helping to teach and educate about the wine making process, all from the vineyard to the bottled wine. Educative storytelling I believe is quite powerful. The wine knowledge in Italy is huge among producers and wine writers and people outside of Italy are often thirsty for knowledge about grape varieties, wine areas, smaller producers, and other facts about Italian wine.
3. Wine is Community
Storytelling about wine is fun, and many might still think that it is just that. That is, that it does not provide any value or give any result other than having a bit of fun. However, it can be a way of connecting with a broader audience and building a powerful wine community. In Italy, I think this could be of value for many smaller wine producers as a way of getting visibility and making connections even if they cannot afford larger PR agencies to do the marketing for them. Marketing, according to me, is also more than just writing a formal press release. In Italy, I believe there is an opportunity to unite “old” and “new”, i.e. to not forsake well-written content as in press releases but rather to combine it with newer communication channels and more informal language in smaller “snack-size” format. Language and format are key issues here, and to realize that if you cannot write good Italian, English, German or any other language yourself, to not be afraid to ask for help from a professional. All this can make engagement and community building easier to manage.
Wine is culture, education, and community building. Storytelling is a great way to convey these messages to the reader. Language is essential to translate the story to a broader audience.
Written by Katarina Andersson.