A chat with Cathy Huyghe about Enolytics

Who said blogging is useless? My post about Wine and Open Data was read by Cathy Huyghe, so I’ve discovered Enolytics after her comment.

Let’s me briefly introduce you Cathy for those few people who don’t know her. She is a wine writer at Forbes with hundreds of posts, a wine blogger with her one-wine-a-day blog, 365daysofwine, a book writer with her book Hungry for Wine: Seeing the World through the Lens of a Wine Glassan expert journalist for largely known magazines and newspapers like The Atlantic, Wine Enthusiast, Decanter, the Washington Post, the Harvard Business Review network.

There is more than this, you can read her experience in industry of wine in the intro of the book.

So, I’m really happy to have interviewed Cathy for my blog.

I began this journey of wine in order to get to know people better. Which I did, in spades. Now I was shifting gears to get to know people better not just in Boston but everywhere. And I’ve come to extrapolate the lessons I’d learned in Boston to the broader, global context (from Introduction of Hungry for Wine)

She founded a digital media company dedicated to wine business, Red Wine Boston and, in 2016 she founded Enolytics, a company working in harvest and analysis of data about wine and its market.

Cathy’s words

Me: Well, Cathy, you are a famous Forbes wine writer, you have write a book. How Enolytics idea came in your mind?
Cathy: I’ve been writing about wine for about twelve years now, and for the past four years I’ve been writing about the business and politics of the wine industry for Forbes online.

My particular focus was on technology and digital innovations within wine, so it was actually my responsibility to see what has been working well in this area, what has not been working well, and where the possibilities are for improvement.

In my opinion, an opportunity was definitely wine consumer behavior as it’s expressed through the growing number of digital platforms that just were not available to us in the past. That was when Enolytics was born.

We helped a client answer their initial question, which was to identify the competitive set of wines for a particular label, according to price point and location, from the perspective of consumers. We delivered that information and, now that they have it, their obvious next question is, how does this help us sell more wine? (from Enolytics website)

Me: Who the founders are (other than you), and when Enolytics born? Tell me the story.
Cathy: We began with a core team of three data analysts, and it was when they became available to work with wine topics that I really understood that potential of Enolytics.

They are amazing, and it is such a pleasure to watch them work. Among them they have more than 50 years of experience working with data, and they are definitely the “ace up the sleeve” of our business.

Enolytics

Wine making needs data knowledge

Me: Do you think data are an added value for wine merchants?
Cathy: Yes, I do. We can “zoom in” on a particular town or city, and even a particular neighborhood, and study the wines that consumers are telling us they’re interested in.

We can do this because data is digital and, in most cases, geo-located, which means each record comes with a latitude and longitude that enables us to create heat maps of interest.

Me: How data could give more informations to wine makers? They know yet very well their vineyards…
Cathy: Winemakers absolutely know their vineyards, and one of the most exciting topics we’re looking forward to studying is viticultural data. That is, data that growers have been accumulating over time, and that winemakers have been using to make decisions such as harvest dates and yield and even the price that growers have been earning per kilo or ton. We can study those factors for particular producers and, if they belong to a larger trade organizations, we can study them on behalf of the region. It’s helpful to have a historical view, and to identify trends and tendencies.

How Enolytics works

Me: Enolytics get data from Hello Vino. Have you other data sources?
Cathy: Hello Vino was our very first partner, when we studied the “timing” of wine consumer searches, which were different depending on the market. The first project was, of course, incredibly valuable in order to understand how data analysis for wine can work.

Since then we’ve been building our network of data partners, and we’re continually building relationships with platforms that are both consumer-focused and trade-focused. I think of them as our “ecosystem,” and each of them has a unique personality and a unique role to play. If we think of wine consumers as a puzzle, each data source contributes a unique piece of the puzzle. The more pieces we have, the more clear and comprehensive the picture can be.

Me: Who your customers are?
Cathy: We work with individual producers, wine businesses, and trade organizations. It’s a very dynamic customer base, which is both challenging and exciting.

Me: I’ve seen your Sep 2016  Wine O’Clock ‘When’ report, but I haven’t found any other ones. Why?
Cathy: The research we’ve done since the Wine O’Clock report has been for specific clients, so naturally it belongs to them and isn’t something we’d sell the way the first report was sold.
We’ve had interest in doing generalized studies, around a particular varietal for example, and that’s something we look forward to doing in the near future.

The future of Wine Data

Me: In a 1-to- 10 scale, how the interest for data analytics in the Wine World is?
Cathy: At this point, I would say 6 or 7. Certainly not everyone understands it yet, or sees what it means for them. But there is a curiosity, and a willingness to see our proofs of concept. We’re trying to do something different here, so it’s only fair that we need case studies and examples of where our research has been applied successfully. I welcome that.

The more projects we can do, the more progress we can make.

Me: In my interview with Paul Mabray, former founder of VinTank, he told me how difficult is to be focused only in wine data for Tech Industry. Have you experienced the same?
Cathy: Paul has done a tremendous amount of work throughout his entire career, speaking about data and technology for wine.

He has already broken a lot of ground, and we believe there is still more to do, especially given the global nature of data. Certainly we’ve seen quite a lot of interest from producers looking to grow their presence in the U.S., and what’s particularly exciting is that we can execute the same studies in any given country where there are wine consumers.

Many of our data partners have a global footprint – the Vivino app, for example, has been downloaded 24 million times in countries around the world. That’s a lot of data, in a lot of different languages, with a lot of creative possibilities.

Me: I think wine is a sensorial experience, but I'm a romantic Italian Wine Lover. What the future
of Wine Industry?
Cathy: I’m a romantic Italian wine lover too! Wine is absolutely a sensorial experience, and it’s why I started writing about it in the first place.

The future we’d like to contribute to, is for producers and wine businesses to communicate with consumers the way that consumers like being communicated to. If consumers are speaking romantically about particular wines or wines from a particular region, then we can let producers know how that sounds.

We can use the data to listen to that. We can use data to create a better experience for consumers.

That, we sincerely hope, is the future.

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