New York Champagne Week kicked off this week with a panel discussion, titled “The Fizz Is Female,” gathering some of the top women winemakers in the Champagne and sparkling wine business to discuss the current state of the industry and where it goes next.
(Apologies in advance for the lesser-quality photos. Forgot my “real” camera at home and had to settle for the iPhone 6S.)
Held at Manhattan’s CorkBuzz wine bar near Union Square on Monday, the panelists discussed the gender gap still plaguing the industry, which is still largely run by men despite studies showing that between 70-80% of sparkling wine bottles sold in the U.S. are bought by women.
And then there’s the knowledge gap. Champagne might still have the inflated reputation of being simply an expensive drink saved for special occasions, but social media might actually be helping to spread the word that champagne can be served any day of the week.
At the same time, many vintners, winemakers, and sommeliers insist education about Champagne and sparkling wines shouldn’t focus just on the wine—but also about who is making and distributing the wine, in order to better expand the market.
“Consumers don’t know a tremendous amount about champagne,” said Jen Pelka, owner of The Riddler, a Champagne bar in San Francisco. Pelka described she’ll hear customers come in and say, “Oh, this Prosecco is my favorite Champagne I’ve ever had.”
Yikes! But that’s just a taste. Here’s more:
But there’s not just a disparity in selling to women but especially to women of color, the panelists agreed. Falkner said when she goes to distributors and selling to restaurants, they don’t even consider how to pitch and market to more demographics.
“They’re completely missing the boat for Hispanic, Asian, and African-American consumers,” Falkner said.
For the complete recap, head over to Fortune.com.