Thursday, July 9, 2009

You know what they say about loose lips....Part II

I've received some interesting feedback on my previous post detailing a very negative experience I recently had at an Indiana winery. A few people wanted to play the "If I guess the person correctly, will you confirm it?" game (uh, no), but most just wanted to add a few comments. Most of it is off the record, so I won't repeat that here, but I will respond to the comment Tia, co-owner of New Day Meadery, left the in comments on the blog. Since she responded in a public forum, I will do the same.

Tia writes:

Hi Charles, this is Tia Agnew. My husband and I own New Day Meadery and I felt I should comment on your post.

First, I'm sorry that you had that experience at an Indiana Winery. Being what I like to call the "oddball winery" here in Indiana (since we don't use grapes), I have to say that everyone's always been great to us and very supportive of everyone in the industry. Indiana's fortunate to have a wide variety of wineries and styles of wine - there's something for every palate and every pocketbook. We do our very best to talk one another up to everyone that comes into our shops and no one really sees anyone else as a competetor.

I know that once in a while, a customer will come into my shop and comment negatively on another winery or about Indiana wines in general. Our mode of operation is to try and get them to reconsider. Be it to try something else in their line or to think about how different grape varietals have different characteristics, etc. I'm sure that this same scenario takes place at all of Indiana's wineries and that 99.95 of the time they handle it in the same way - positive. I know from experience that many people are skeptical of our wines (the no grape thing really throws a lot of people), but many have come into my shop telling me how they were convinced by the conversation they had with another winery staff person or owner.

Again, I'm really sorry that you had such a negative experience and I don't know if my comments help with any bad taste in your mouth, but I want you to know how much I feel my fellow winery owners support me and the rest of my colleagues. It may sound cliche, but I honestly feel like we're a team rather than competitors.

Thanks for posting your experience so that we all can be certain that we're putting our very best foot forward.

All the Best,


Tia, thanks for your comments. I agree with everything you say.

As for any bad taste in my mouth, there is none. What happened on my visit reflects on the character of the owner of that winery, not on Indiana wine (and, yes, mead), and certainly not on Indiana winemakers who, as I have stated time and time again, are a very collegial bunch. Too many times to count do I see examples of this lack of competition, several of which are posted on the pages of this blog.

What shocks me most is this person was so indiscreet to begin with. As you and your winery knows firsthand, I do not generally identify myself as the writer of this blog, and on the rare occasion I do, it is after I taste the flight and engage the owner/staff in conversation. In fact, I never identified myself at all to this person, and unless they read this post and realized I was talking about them, they still don't know I popped in.

As you may or may not know, I don't generally ask winery owners their opinion on their competition. I have asked questions of a similar sort in an interview, for example, such as asking a winemaker what other Indiana wineries they admire. What I do not do is ambush journalism. I am not out to set someone up. These remarks came about when I was asking what I thought were relatively innocuous questions.

What should be of note is that if this person would be so indiscreet as to say these things to a total stranger as myself, someone who kept asking questions about the wine and did nothing to encourage further discussion along those lines, what are they saying to those they do know? And quite frankly, if the person is so indiscreet, I can't imagine the competition hasn't already heard that this person is badmouthing them. You actually hit on the point of my post (and I did a lot of inner debate as to whether I should post my experience at all) that everyone should be putting their best foot forward. Your winery, and every other Indiana winery I have been into, already does that.

1 comment:

Stacy said...

In agreement with all everyone said!
I've actually been awed by the tightness of the wine community and how supportive everyone is of each other. So Charles, I would be just as shocked as you were at the negative candidness.
It's like in the movie 'Bottle Shock'..."if one succeeds, we all succeed".