For the past several years when I have shown our wines to distributors, brokers and retailers I have heard the refrain: “Pinot? Sure. Blend? Maybe. But I (we) can’t move any Syrah… especially not at your price point.” It seems to me that many (most?) critic types have piled on, at the very best damning with faint praise many examples of New World Syrah, and parroting the laments of the middle tier.
Not So Fast
Simply put, in my experience these people are out of touch with our consumer demographic.
I admit that I responded to the despair of wholesalers and retailers over Syrah, and cut our production in half from one vintage to the next. Well, surprise—the current vintage sold out last week, months before we had anticipated. We had even imposed a 15% increase to the retail price. Paradoxically, this increased the rate of sales on the wine in our tasting room. Since then we have been selling the previous vintage without pause.
I sort of saw this coming. Back in April we were pouring our Estate Pinot, Rhône blend and Syrah for the SF Vinters Market at Ft. Mason. To our astonishment, visitors to our table asked to taste the Syrah first, by a margin of 3- or 4-to-1. At the time I thought it might be relevant that the crowd seemed to trend younger than usual for these events. Since then I’ve concluded that age is not a factor—my observations suggest one does not have to be a Millennial to appreciate our particular expression of properly-aged, no-new-oak, cool-climate Syrah.
So, hey gatekeepers! It’s past time to give up the tired “Syrah doesn’t sell” meme. Syrah DOES sell. You guys are just a day late and a dollar short to realize it.