Experts talk industry in "Business of Winemaking" panel

By Cole Caviston
On January 28, 2014

On Jan. 8, UNH alumnus Peter T. Paul stood center stage in his namesake building to present a panel entitled "The Business of Winemaking." The panel discussed the business technicalities of the wine industry. 

Jeff Morgan and Daniel Moore were two of the experts present. The pair has been making wine for a combined 30 years and currently work for Paul's California-based wine company, Peter Paul Wines. David Duhamel, the chief operating officer of Perfecta Wine Company in New Hampshire and a UNH alumnus, and Nelson Barber, an associate professor of hospitality management at UNH and a wine researcher, were also present. 

The panel audience was full of students and faculty that included President Mark Huddleston and Interim-Dean of Paul College Arnold P. Garron, who presented the event alongside Paul. 

According to Erika Mantz, the executive director of strategic events and programs for UNH who helped organize the event, Paul College regularly hosts panels that allow alumni to talk about their experience in their careers after they have graduated. 

"Paul College has a hospitality management program with a specialization in food and beverage management, so this panel discussion will provide students with firsthand experience on the business of winemaking," Mantz said, prior to the event.

In the opening presentation that kicked off the event, Garron mentioned that a dinner with Paul brought up the idea of presenting a panel on the intricacies of the winemaking business. 

Huddleston then introduced Paul, who graduated from UNH in 1967. He described him as a man with "a propensity for wine, and a propensity for good wines, who turned his passion into a business."

Like Paul, the rest of the panel members had all begun in different career fields before deciding to pursue their love of wine in a business setting.

Moore said that his passion for wine and the lifestyle that accompanies it motivated him to join the business. A native of Michigan with a degree in microbiology, Moore moved to California to learn the craft of winemaking for two years before opening his own wine refinery. 

"It's important to learn your craft and have a mentor," Moore said. "Take the opportunity you can and learn from the best."

Though Moore said he enjoys the creative side of production, sales and the financial aspect are just as important. 

"Numbers never lie," Moore said. "At the end of the day, you still have to sell."

This was an idea that was emphasized throughout the presentation. All of the panel members concurred that despite the cultural appeal of winemaking, the industry is grounded in sales numbers and effective marketing. 

Morgan acknowledged that it is essential for a successful winemaker to be able to sell his product. 

"If you balance the passion, the taste and culture with business, you probably will be successful," Morgan said.

He advised that the best way to sell wine is through marketing and public relations, but also emphasized the importance of educating the media and customers about the wine you are trying to sell. 

"To get your message out, you have to go out onto the streets," Morgan said. "You should write articles, attend meetings such as this and work closely with your distributors."

Duhamel, a graduate of the former Whittemore School of Business and Economics in 1988, had some words of wisdom as well. 

"Marketing your brand at the town and city level is key to what distributors do," Duhamel said. 

Duhamel also mentioned that the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission is actually his largest customer. 

Barber discussed how following trends in wine culture is a way of investigating consumer behavior and finding what motivates people to buy wine. According to Barber, the cultural perception of wine has changed over the years, due in large part to Australian marketing techniques. 

"There's always been an elite image of wine," Barber said, "but what the Australians did was to introduce 'cool' labels that attracted widespread attention. This has helped to bring down social barriers that had surrounded wine." 

For Barber, being able to educate his students about wine in a "nice, casual" environment helps them to articulate why they enjoy the wine.

"It only matters what they, the customers, like," Barber said. "Wine is a personal choice that is dependent upon preference 

After the event concluded, members of the audience who had purchased tickets beforehand attended a private wine-tasting event with members of the panel. 

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