I have often written about the new Paul College and its fantastic programs and technology. In this piece I chose to write not about the school, but the man whose name is over the door. It was only after Peter T. Paul gave every graduating business senior a bottle of wine last year that I learned he was in the wine business. Besides people who work in the wine industry, not many people truly understand wine, especially college students. Peter T. Paul put on a town hall like conversation about the wine business, mentioning that many people had questions about it and this was the best way to answer them. He also mentioned a new class that is quickly gaining popularity about wine, which is helping to bridge the gap between business and wine-making. The class (must be 21 or older) includes wine tastings, history of wine, guest speakers and much more… The conversation took place in the auditorium of the Paul College and brought people from all around the seacoast. Mr. Paul was also accompanied by two of his growers Jeff Morgan and Dan Moore, a wine distributor, and the chief operating officer of Perfecta Wine Company David Durhamel. Also on stage was wine researcher and associate Professor of Hospitality Management at UNH Nelson Barbor.
Paul started his talk by saying, “It’s a fun business but it’s a long process.”
He went on by talking about how many years it takes before grapes are finally ready for harvesting and how you have to carefully create a wine so that it will sell. Mr. Paul also talked about how he got his start in the wine business in Northern California, telling story after story of his escapades with various wine. One of his most interesting points was about brand loyalty. In liquor and even beer, people have a favorite that they will always go back to but in wine there is “limited brand loyalty because people like to shop around and try many different wines.”
After Peter T. Paul spoke, Dan and Jeff talked about what it was like to grow grapes and produce wine.
“When I had my winery I spent every dime I had, that was my business school,” Dan starts.
Jeff continues and talks about how he got into business and talks about how the wine industry is a “creative business.” Next, both David and Nelson delved deeper into the marketing of wine and why people buy it. David explained that the only way to survive in the wine industry is to be really big or really small. The middle size companies never survive. If the business is small you can specialize and if you are large you can focus on pushing out quantity. Nelson went on to talk about the way a bottle looks like is the main reason people buy it. He told a story about a couple he met who bought a bottle just because it had a rainbow colored hand print painted onto it. He asked the audience, “What motivates people to buy wine?”
After each member said their part they opened up for questions which ranged from marketing to production and everything in between. What really stuck out to me was what Dan said to close out the panel:
“The wine business, more than any other industry, is a business about passion. Everyone involved has a tremendous passion for what they are doing.”
In the end as everyone was filing out to go next door for the wine tasting, an event that I had to sadly skip only being 19, I was intrigued about what the members had said. I believe that everyone wants to learn about wine because it is a classy drink (watch the video here). This panel was very relevant to me because when I go abroad to do my research project, through the International Affairs program, I plan to study the business of wine cooperatives. Hopefully I will find the same passion when I go abroad because when people are excited about what they are doing I will find it more enjoyable to learn about it. Now if I could only understand French…