A Year in Review

And, just like that, 2023 is coming to an end.

This year’s events will probably set the tone for the next economic and political cycle, and it is reasonable to expect major global disruptions to continue in the next five years.

Despite this gloomy global context, fine wine has proven its resilience, and we remain inspired by the level of dedication, passion and innovative thinking that we witnessed over the past year. And while we believe that the next three to five years will be tough, we are looking forward to seeing what comes next.

For this last article of the year, we’ve asked the Areni team to review some of their favourite Areni’s conversations and content. We hope they can be a source of inspirations for the months to come.

A Year in Review: Felicity’s Choice

Felicity Carter (center) with Ursula Herlmelink (International Trade Center – Right) and Pauline Vicard (Areni – Left)
at the OIV Vine and Wine World Trade Forum in Dijon, October 2023

Felicity Carter is Areni’s editorial director. All year round, she makes sure that Areni offers high-value content with a consistent level of quality. Here’s her choice:

Choosing to celebrate an article you wrote yourself is like laughing at your own jokes: you shouldn’t do it. Nevertheless, I am going to this year.

My favourite article published by Areni Global this year was How a Hong Kong Conference From Hell Upended the World of Fine Wine. It’s mostly an interview with Greg De’Eb, founder of Crown Cellars in Hong Kong, and tells the story of how the city state went from a wine backwater to playing a pivotal role in the world of fine wine.

The events of 2008 fundamentally altered the course of wine history, and yet they are rarely spoken about or acknowledged, and I thought it was time to change that. What I didn’t expect was how much fun it was to chat to Greg. I rang him on a cold morning in Europe, and his infectious enthusiasm lit up my day.

It’s been several years since I visited Hong Kong, but I can’t wait to get back there and visit Crown Cellars — something I strongly suggest all fine wine lovers do.

A Year in Review: Sarah’s Choice

Sarah Phillips, Miami 2023

Sarah is Areni’s head of membership. She is here to solve every issue related to members, to act on their feedback, and to grow our community. Sarah chose one of our latest podcast episode: Marketing, Pleasure and Responsible Choices: In Conversation with Pierre Chandon. Here’s why: 

Ingredient labelling for wine has arrived. The EU has ruled that, from vintage 2024, wine bottles must offer printed or digital information about ingredients, nutrition, and in some cases, sugar. It argues: “The additional information provided on the labels will enable consumers to make more informed choices.” But will they?

I’ve long thought that the most important number, when it comes to health, is already printed on the label: Alcohol by Volume. Yet this has done very little for sales of Muscadet and German Riesling versus Napa Cabernet — at least in Florida where I live.

Enter marketing professor Pierre Chandon and his behavioural science-led approach. “We tend to have this idea that …if we just were able to educate people about what’s healthy and what’s not, then the problem would solve itself. And I don’t think that’s true,” he says. Nobody needs reminding that ice cream is full of sugar.

Throughout the podcast interview, Chandon makes the case for “epicurean nudging”, which encourages us to promote healthier consumption by emphasising pleasure.

If consumers want ingredient labelling to satisfy their curiosity, that is one thing. But ingredient labelling is unlikely to change things when it comes to health. Chandon’s ideas might — and they represent a win/win for the trade, consumers, and public health. At a time when the anti-alcohol lobby is gaining strength, this is essential listening for those of us in the fine wine trade, which is why I’ve chosen it for the end of year recap.

A Year in Review: Tanisha’s Choice

Tanisha Townsend enjoying a glass of wine, Place des Vosges, Paris

This year, Tanisha took on the responsibilities of our social media platforms, and was also an instrumental pillar to our in-person events. She chose our latest podcast, How to Be Extraordinary: in Conversation with Dr Kiko Thiel, as her source of inspiration for the New Year.

As we wind down 2023 and start to make plans for 2024, I’m assessing what I’ve accomplished this year. What I’ve done right. What I’ve done wrong. What I could’ve done better. With these thoughts in mind, the podcast How to be Extraordinary was very relevant. 

In this conversation, Dr Kiko Thiel started her research with the question “What makes people do [these] extraordinary things?” and defined extraordinary as “deviating from the status quo, going into the unknown and creating a new possibility or new reality.” In what category would I place some of my accomplishments and why? 

The idea of non-conformity was an integral part of this research. How many times have we stopped short of going further because we didn’t know much about something? Intellectual conformity. What if I want to be someone who can push past that initial lack of knowledge, to go deeper? The podcast had many answers.

When I set out to do a task, complete a project, write this article even, I want it to be excellent. But maybe there is something in my future that is actually extraordinary. There isn’t a definitive pathway, but according to Dr Kiel’s research, an open mind and an appetite to deviate from the norms is a great place to start.

A Year in Review: Polly’s Choice

Polly Hammond, founder and CEO of 5Forests

Polly’s role at Areni is twofold. She is the creative mind behind our branding and the magician behind our website. As an advisory board member, she is also a respected voice when it comes to making tough decisions. She chose our members-only piece Areni Live Analysis — Securing the Future of Wine Tourism, a recap of one of our think tank roundtable, written by guest contributor Maryam Ahmed.

2023 was a big year for Areni Global with one of our most productive Areni Live events taking place in Napa and Sonoma, where we were welcomed by icon and cult brands alike. As a wine marketer, I spend my days answering questions about how do we grow our industry, often with a focus on tourism. Where better to explore this topic than in the heart of California wine country? It is this content that stands out to me for its expertise and applicability: “Areni Live Analysis-Securing the Future of Wine Tourism.”

This roundtable provided an in-depth look at the dynamic and evolving landscape of wine tourism, emphasising its crucial role in driving sales, fostering cultural exchange, and communicating sustainable practices. Participants explored how wine tourism has grown from a simple cellar door visit (which it remains for many brands to this day!) to unique, immersive, sometimes very expensive experiences for wine enthusiasts. They emphasized the role of creative storytelling and impeccable hospitality (whatever that might mean to your brand) in crafting loyalty-building experiences. They touched upon the stories, and histories, that we tell and how wine tourism can be a tool for self-reflection. And they asked how digital tools and AI can enhance present and remote wine tourism.

One of the beauties of Areni Global Live events is that each of us bring our strengths and perspectives to sit down and try to solve the big issues that our industry faces or will face in the near future. As a professional who uses Areni Global insights in my day-to-day work, I am able to trust the insights of my peers and colleagues when I advise clients. A roundtable specifically dedicated to issues of Wine Tourism is exactly the kind of content that allows me to do better work, and my clients in turn to benefit from Areni Global collective intelligence.

(I am also especially grateful for the recap because I was busy running another session at the time this one was taking place!)

Join us! To celebrate the upcoming year, you can enjoy 15% discount on our full membership by using the code HNY2024 at checkout, valid until the 31st of December.