Artisan Wines in Santa Barbara?

by Eve Resnick on March 17, 2010

in General

You know how much I love Santa Barbara, California and the beautiful wines grown in the area. I raved often enough to bore everybody. But today I’m more skeptical than raving.  I just read a press release by the Santa Barbara Wine Company announcing the launch of their “Artisan Wines”. What a strange concept! What is artisan? In France, an “artisan” is a man who creates quality products in the tradition of his region. Bordeaux has some estates grouped under the name of “crus artisans”, “artisan wines”. To tell you the truth, they never met any success.

What are “artisan wines” in Santa Barbara? How do they fit themselves between the urban wineries like Jaffurs or the high quality wines of  SeaSmoke? I’m not sure the concept of “artisan” will help the branding of their Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. Their label is non descript with a palm tree, the name of the winery and the grape.  Marketing such a wine is certainly difficult, even if the wine is of very good quality.

I make a deal with you, readers. I’ll taste their wines in Santa Barbara this summer and will let you know : 1) if they were easily found and 2) if I liked them.  See you then!


1 Wink Lorch March 17, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Isn’t ‘artisan’ just this era’s marketing speak for the meaningless ’boutique’ word that was used in the ’80s and ’90s? To me it means nothing more than small rather than part of a conglomerate.

2 Evelyne Resnick March 17, 2010 at 7:33 pm

“Artisan” is not quite the same as “boutique” in marketing terms. “Boutique” refers to a small winery, quality oriented and producing in small quantities. “Artisan” refers to the wines. It means they’re supposed to be “hand made” in opposition to mass market wines.

Marketing is not a pejorative term in the wine business. If more European wines tried to get some experience in marketing their wines, they might have less trouble to sell themselves. My point in this post was that “artisan” is not strong enough as a branding strategy but it could be an interesting marketing angle. Am I making more sense?

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