An interesting question that, to be honest, I have never thought about the California wine industry needing a leader before nor really cared about whether they do or not. After reading this blog post by Tom Wark I found myself pondering the question. You may or may not know me well enough but I often go into devil’s advocate mode when I hear pretty much anything and that’s exactly what I did with this.
First, I strongly encourage you to go read the above blog post by Tom Wark so you understand the context and who it was that posed the question to begin with.
“There is a lack of leadership in the wine industry. Not since Robert Mondavi lead the industry and left us has a new leader emerged.”
Is the California Wine Industry Lacking Leadership?
There were several interesting points in the article but the above quote via one of the panelists was interesting to me. I am quite new to the wine world having started actively drinking wine and learning about it in 2007 so excuse my ignorance but, was Mr. Mondavi the “undisputed leader” of the California wine industry?
If so, and now that he’s gone, has anyone stepped in? Do we even need someone to step in and be the “leader”? What would that look like? Would it even be possible?
Based on a figure via the Wine Institute in 2012 there were 3,754 wineries in California…how do you “lead” that? Could one person do it or would it be many?
I’m just really struggling to think or agree that there is a lack of leadership in the wine industry. People are inventive and creative, from the winemaking process to the tasting room to the marketing; there are a lot of “leaders” out there. In my mind they are not leading an industry though they are simply the rebels and misfits willing to try new, unique, and untested things. That’s where change and innovation come from.
From my point of view we don’t need a leader. Instead what we need are people pushing the boundaries and testing the status quo. If you do those things does it make you a leader? No, not in my mind…it means you’re doing your job.
So what is next for the California wine industry? Will a leader emerge to control and lead or will the industry just thrash about, out of control and lacking vision?