There are many aspiring winemakers who truly want to make wine but for many reasons, mostly financial, can’t enter the business. Then there are others who have the money but don’t want to make the committment. And finally there are some with money who want to impress their peers.

Such was the gist of a recent NY Times feature titled: ‘Duke of Juice? They’ll drink to That.‘ First you need a prestigious winery to cooperate and offer its juice to wannabe winemakers. Then you need someone who can connect the two.

Jack Ezon of Ovation Vacations is one such person. He has about 500 clients that are always looking for that unique experience. Jeff Fromm, co-author of “Marketing to Millennials” believes that a growing number of high-end consumers would rather pay big bucks not for conspicuous consumption of objects but for a unique experience. Some have called it a shift from ‘having’ to ‘being.’

Enter the owners of Lynch-Bages, a superb Pauillac winery, who created a business called Viniv which offers just such an experience. It caters to people who have the means to fly to France and spend a weekend blending juice from all areas of Bordeaux. It’s not an

Jean-Michel Cazes of Chateau Lynch-Bages

appellation wine so they don’t have to abide by any traditions. No one in Pomerol would blend cabernet sauvignon in their wine just like a Medoc producer would never bottle a 100% merlot. But Viniv customers can, all under the aegis of the same winemaking team that produces one of the top wines in Bordeaux,

As one of the customers described it, “I’m not just making a wine. I’m making a memory.”

But let’s go back to Jack Ezon. His luxury travel agency can arrange all kinds of unique ‘experiences,’ such as dancing in a rehearsal of the Bolshoi Ballet, having lunch with Salvatore Ferragamo and designing shoes in his studio or having lunch at Chateau Petrus. All at a cost of course.

So if you’re not a member of the 1% club, does that mean you can’t have a similar winemaking experience? I’m sure there are many wineries that would entertain the idea of a blending experience. I personally know that Dry Creek Vineyard in Sonoma offers a Meritage blending seminar which we experienced on one of our tours. So if you’re the kind of person who wants the experience more than the product, there is a way to fit it in your budget.

But if you want to be a big spender, I suggest you read the entire article in the NY Times.

Author Vin Marottoli

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