When does handcrafted truly mean handcrafted?
Ahhh, that is the question.
As consumers, most of us try to search for quality, value, and support in every product we purchase. In addition to third-party reviews, when they’re available and depending on the product, we have no choice but to at least partially rely on what the products themselves tell us – and with wine, that means reading the label. One of the quality terms being used (thrown about, maybe?) in the wine industry right now is “handcrafted.”
Recently, as I trolled the depths of the internet, I was amazed at the number of wineries or wine sources using the descriptor “handcrafted.” I even started to question my own use of the term on the Baiocchi label.
The wine producers who were sharing this adjective were not alike; I had always associated the word “handcrafted” with only premium quality wines. Yet, I perceived that many of the labels using this descriptor were marginal at best. Certainly not premium, as I understand that term.
For winery/vineyard owners like me, who have an incredible amount of passion for what they do, the question of how we communicate that to the people who love it, our customers, becomes a top priority. What words do we use to express the emotion and passion put into delivering that final experience, while still accurately portraying the product?
I am equally passionate about the experience created through the relationships I have with my customers. Perhaps this is because I know that wine has an incredible emotional tie to our interaction with family and friends.
In a recent article at wineloverspage.com, John Juergens mentions this in his piece about another murky topic, cult wines:
“…a truly handcrafted wine where only the best quality fruit is used and each grape is selected for consistent ripeness, along with other special handling techniques to produce a superbly complex wine.”
To be clear, Juergens was commenting on price points, and not defining “cult wines” here. However, what I came away with as I stumbled upon this accidental discovery of one man’s idea of the term “handcrafted,” was a fairly agreeable feeling toward it! Not only that, and maybe best of all, it rang true to my own vineyard and winemaking practices.
I guess this means the label stays, and the question becomes, “How do we sift through once meaningful, and now loosely used marketing terms?
For me, the answer is personal. As a producer, the term “handcrafted” truly defines the experience I have as a winemaker. Most importantly, it also satisfies the need to accurately convey to those who purchase my wine, what they can expect.