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Wine Makers Marketing To A Younger Generation

MIAMI (CBS4) – The U.S. wine industry is a multi-billion dollar business and baby boomers are some of its best customers.

Now a new generation of wine drinkers has American vintners taking notice. Chris Hammond, co-founder of Rock N Roll Wines, organizes events to draw in this 21 to 29-year-old crowd.

"The events lack pretension. They don't make you feel intimidated by a lot of adjectives or what you should like, or what a magazine says you should like," said Hammond.

The stakes are high. Vintners are counting on the potential 70 million millennials to keep their $30 billion dollar business growing.

John Gillespie, president of the Wine Market Council, is seeing more wineries going after the younger generation and integrating social media into their marketing.

"To them, wine is the new black. It goes with everything and it travels very well. We should take note of the fact that wine drinkers are in very big numbers on Facebook and on Twitter. There are very high numbers of users of Yelp," said Gillespie.

There are fun new apps to help newbies to decide what to serve with their wine and don't be surprised to see it served in new settings – from concerts to sporting events.

"Wine is being consumed on many more casual everyday occasions than ever before," said Gillespie.

David Halle, a professor of sociology, said accessibility and lower price points, along with a gender neutral appeal, is turning wine into the new party drink of choice among the younger generation.

"Wine is now as beer was amongst young people, a drink that you serve in large quantities where there is an aim at the party to get drunk," said Halle.

Halle said part of the problem lies in the way it is now marketed.

"There is no longer any branding of wine that it's a chic drink that you sip at. That's gone," said Halle.

Halle is quick to add there are plenty of millennials who looking to sample wine and not get inebriated. A point Hammond is quick to agree with.

"I don't think that people come to our events with the intent of getting tipsy. I think they know they will get a nice little buzz, but I think wine is unique in that it breeds this social aspect where everybody becomes friends," said Hammond.

The growing popularity of wine among the younger generation has not gone unnoticed by some celebrities like Fergie and Madonna who now have their own labels. Halle said it is another way for them to tap into their fan base.

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