Reflections on wine marketing in America (and elsewhere)

Wednesday, 21 January, 2004
Darryl Roberts
Part One: Wine-X and Generation-X
Editor’s note: We featured something from Wine-X last week (on how they devise their x-ratings) but here is another, very thought provoking, extract from a piece by Darryl Roberts, founder of Wine-X, about perceptions on who drinks wine, why and when – and the consistent belief in the mantra ‘young people don’t drink wine’. The full article can be read on their website

I had ‘discovered’ wine in my mid-twenties. Until then, never touched the stuff. But a trip to wine country one long weekend in 1986 and I caught the bug. Upon returning home to Los Angeles I wanted to join a tasting group, but the only tasting group around was Les Amis du Vin. To join that group you had to be more than 100 years old, have an ascot permanently attached to your neck, and stare into your glass of wine for an hour as if seeing the Virgin Mary. (Not exactly what I was looking for.) I also wanted a publication to read to further my knowledge. But everything on the newsstand was either trade-related or aimed at my parents. So, I started my own tasting group and a small newsletter to keep my comrades ‘informed.’

Skip forward. After producing television for seven years (and living to tell about it) I decided to escape LA while I was still alive and move north... to Sonoma County. I had this idea that made a lot of sense (to me, at least) and so I decided to research its feasibility. That idea was Wine X.

Yes, I know. Young people don't drink wine. I'll get to that.

It was 1993. Generation X was a hot topic. Douglas Coupland labeled my generation with a scarlet letter. The media was ‘discovering’ 80 million people, which someone aptly described as ‘Like suddenly discovering Europe.’ Marketing machines had shifted from Baby Boomers to this strange, new, disenchanted generation, whose attention span lasted long enough to watch mindless MTV, listen to nihilistic and unharmonious rock and rap music, and disavow solid American values and conventions, like marriage, religion and employment. Well, marketing machines other than the wine industry. They happily remained stuck in the 1980s.

With all of this attention on my generation, I was convinced that a wine magazine targeting young adults was a great idea. However, since I would be funding this little endeavor myself, I really wanted to make sure it would fly. After all, young adults don't drink wine. So, I did some research. A lot of research. And here's what I found.

Here endeth the first extract – but we recommend the rest of it as very interesting reading. For those who want it, we will feature another extract tomorrow.

- Darryl Roberts

To read Darryl’s article in full, please visit

Issued by: Wine-X Magazine