LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - The U.S. wine industry is a multi-billion dollar business. And It's not the swirling and sipping of your parent's wine tasting anymore!
The Battle is on for young wine drinkers, and Chris Hammond, Co-Founder of Rock N' Roll Wine, is on the front lines, organizing events to draw in this 21-29-year old crowd.
"The events lack pretention," argues Chris. "They don't make you feel intimidated by a lot of adjectives or what you should like, or what a magazine says you should like."
And the stakes couldn't be higher! Vintners are counting on the potential 70-million Millenials to keep their $30-billion business growing. John Gillespie, President of The Wine Market Council, is seeing more wineries going after the younger generation, integrating social media into their marketing menus.
"To them, wine is the new black," Gillespie explains. "It goes with everything and it travels very well. We should take note of the fact that wine drinkers are in very big numbers on Facebook and Twitter. There are very high numbers of users of Yelp."
There are even fun new apps to help newbies decide what to serve with their wine. And don't be surprised to see it served in new settings too: anywhere from concerts to sporting events!
"Wine is being consumed on many more casual everyday occasions than ever before," continues John.
Even the labels, with unusual names, are appealing Sociology Professor, Dr. David Halle. Halle says labels aside, accessibility and lower price points, along with gender neutral appeal, is turning wine into the new "party drink of choice" amongst younger drinkers. But there is also concern to younger wine drinkers.
Dr. Halle says, "Wine is now as beer was amongst young people, a drink that you serve in large quantities where there is an aim at the party to get drunk."
Halle says part of that is due to new marketing.
"There is no longer any branding of wine that it's chic drink that you sip at. That's gone," Halle goes on to say.
Halle points out plenty of people are still looking to sample wine and not get inebriated, a point Chris Hammond reiterates.
"I don't think that people come to our events with the intent of getting tipsy. I think they know they will get a nice little buzz, but I think wine is unique in that it breeds this social aspect where everybody become friends," says Chris.
Dr. Halle sees this trend as another sign of aging, and he's not just talking about the wine.
"This thing has gone on during the history of fashion and the history of food; the younger generation adopting the older generation is inevitable," concludes Halle.
Here's a list of wineries in the Coulee Region for wine enthusiasts. Click on any of the towns for a link to the website of the vineyard or winery: