‘The Millennials are coming!’ It’s a cry heard all over the net. Yet, while ‘millennial’ has become the catch-all term for ‘youngsters these days’, the facts are the last millennial will now have left college and maybe looking to start a family. They’re also thirsty for wine- just not, perhaps, the way the wine industry once thought. US stats tell us that millennials will soon be responsible for the largest overall share of the wine market. For a generation raised in the pioneering days of social media, however, has the industry itself kept fresh and interesting enough to stay relevant in the era of hashtags and viral trends? We at Louisvale Winery know a thing or two about innovation, being the pioneers of Chardonnay in South Africa, so let’s dive deep into this important issue.
No longer just for the golden-oldies
What did we mean by ‘not the way the wine industry thought’? Wine has had a bit of an image crisis in decades past. We were seen as dull and boring, relics if you will. In truth, wine is ever-changing and fresh, one of the most shifting and innovative industries in the world. New regions, styles, and grape cultivars are everywhere. It was time for a reinvention of what wine means, and it was that innovation and broader exposure to the heart of wine the Millennial wine drinker was asking for.
Where the wine industry has adapted, showcasing the best of a new world, it has thrived among the Millennials- and we’re proud to say we were a key part of this innovation in South Africa, bringing the Art of Chardonnay to a wider South African audience they way they wanted it.
Why Millennials and Wine go together so well
What characterizes ‘millennials’ most? It’s a love of variety and appreciation for the rare and unusual. No surprise that that’s what sets their wine tastes apart from the traditional drinker, too. Millennials, we’re told, seek connection and experience above physical goods. They don’t want safe wines from known places. They want to explore the broader depth of what wine really is.
This means that smaller wineries and niche wines can flourish. There’s pride in offering the unusual, the unknown, the innovative, rather than the same dull tried-and-tested lines. Unique labels and bottles lure people to enjoy, not to avoid.
Does this mean the Millennial wine drinker is shifty and unpredictable? Not quite. While tastes change, brand loyalty is at an all-time high. Paired with a willingness to explore and enjoy fresh takes on old classics, it leaves a fertile and rewarding landscape that rewards risk and innovation.
Wine and the Insta-generation
Needless to say, the world has also gone Social. Selling a taste experience digitally is tricky, but it’s also a fascinating new universe to explore for winemakers up to the challenge. Wine labels and tasting rooms can give the world a peek into what makes them tick and why wine excites their passions, no matter where they are. In South Africa specifically, it’s a stellar opportunity for the curious to learn more about local wines, the celebrated Stellenbosch wine route, and so much more- all from the comfort of their couches.
The Millennial wine drinker is radically different from the generations before them, and for a while that had the international wine industry in a spin. It’s meant a reinvention of how wine is marketed, and a solid check-in of the values and approach wineries use. Yet as we know, without exactly this type of real innovation and change, industries fall stagnant. In many ways, this need to adapt has brought the very best out of winemakers globally once again, breathing fresh life into the drink we all love.
The Millennial wine lover, far from being non-existent as once claimed by newspapers hoping to scandalise older audiences, is out there enjoying the best the industry has to offer. Wide ranges and interesting selections can bloom. Winemakers can return to passion projects with love. And the industry has a unique opportunity to rejuvenate itself for the future. A future we at Louisvale Wines are proud to be part of. We’ll see you there- why not stop in for a drink while you’re at it?