The Beginning of the Wine Trek
Monday, December 24, 2007
And so the journey begins…
Well actually, this isn’t the first step in the journey, but my first step at chronicling it. You see, I have been told that I have a straight-forward, no-holds barred writing style that many people have come to enjoy, and since I always feel most comfortable when I am just writing and being myself, I figured that the first thing that this site needed was the sharing of my thoughts on my wine experience. The purpose of putting it there is not only to share my steps in this journey with you, and perhaps somewhat influence yours as well, if not maybe point you to a couple of places to visit on your own journey, but also to let you know the trials and tribulations that I go through in trying to shepherd this site and it’s initiative, which is exposing African Americans to wine [in a very civilized way].
You’ll notice that at the end of the last sentence, you’ll see the phrase in a civilized way. I put that in there to point out the fact that not only is the marketing of wines to African American an almost insignificant entity, but that what it marketed to us tends to be in a very skewed and less than even-keeled intellectual level.
This is to say that there is no arguing with the fact that the African American consumer and the traditional American consumer (read middle-class values white America) are two different markets, with a slew of different products and ways to market them, but that there are also a slew of areas of overlap. And for the most part, it’s far easier, and more respectful to include us in the marketing approaches of various products and services rather than to craft different marketing campaigns targeted towards us that might backfire. One aspect of this could be that the target market views the advertiser as being demeaning to our sensibilities, and one the other side of the coin is that while the campaign might resound with some of the target demographic, it repels the more erudite and particular consumers amongst our ranks.
Saying that a different way, there are those of us that will not be offended by the continual use of certain stereotypical roles and behaviors for African American characters as well as their interactions and interpersonal dynamics. We can see that by the success of shows like Amen, 227, and The House of Payne. Then again, the formulaic situational comedy is basically a nightmare as it usually abases some of the characters involved anyway; the problem for African Americans is that for the most part, these have been the only television shows that have had predominantly African American cast members. This of course means that when others see this, they see only this, and that is what they have come to expect to many of us.
And on the other end of the spectrum, you have those of us that have ascended beyond those caricatures and roles, and who have bridged certain gaps, as well as embraced other things, without putting an ethnic slant on them, i.e. something is “white” or “too white.” For this group, they have shunned the regular fodder that is thrown at them, and have gone beyond the entry-level offerings given. This is the group that has gone way beyond that basic stuff that was thrown at us prior to 1980. and the basic quaffs that have been thrown at us since.
Remember those crappy Mercedes and Alfa Romeo models that were thrown at all of us in the mid to late 80s? Well, on the flip side, you still see the Riunites and what not being sold by the case, and even carried in certain bars and restaurants. The latter is truly a travesty.
Bringing it altogether, many of the producers of wine don’t see the African American consumer – in large part—as an educated consumer when it comes to wine. Why spend the time trying to penetrate their market, when they are simply going to more easily purchase something based on a name, or stay stagnant, continually purchasing the same thing.
During the 80s and 90s, we had a huge consumer buying power, which now has of course been eclipsed by that of Latino Americans, but in that time, we only stuck to certain things en masse. There were always the explorers that tried something new, or because of where their careers, aspirations and achievements took them, were exposed to things that rarely ever penetrated the Black community.
And while I am in know way a major mover and shaker, I do move and shake in some pretty interesting places, as well as meeting some interesting people along the way. And in part of this is my wine journey, which I will share whole-heartedly with you. As I embark on the mission of this site, I can more easily write about the ups and the downs, the meetings of people in the field of wine, and the lack of connection with those that have paid lip service. Oh, I just love it when I meet wine reps who talk to me one day, but never connect with me after that. Black man exposing African Americans to wine on a higher level… sometimes I wonder if they all get together and joke about it.
But this is the wine journey. And it’s something that I expect to succeed in by sheer determination and force, connecting with the right people, and recruiting others into the movement.
Stay tuned for more