Winemakers want you, man!

Wine bottles on display

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: Winemakers have long argued their business is recession-proof. But this downturn has tested that -- people are going out less, and that has cut deeply into wine sales in restaurants. So winemakers say they'll need to find new buyers -- including one market the business had previously written off. From Oregon Public Broadcasting, Ethan Lindsey reports.


ETHAN LINDSEY: Matt Maloney is a 34-year-old landscaper in Bend, Ore. On a warm summer evening, he's sipping a beer on a patio bar.

Matt Maloney: I do like wine, but I drink beer. Wine, I think, has this maybe not stigma, but something attached to it that makes it more formal, instead of social.

Men, on average, say they prefer beer to wine, according to a Gallup poll last year. Industry research shows that women make up 70 percent of wine buyers. Winemakers are trying to change that. Ted Farthing is the executive director of the Oregon Wine Board.

Ted Farthing: We're all fighting for share of stomach.

Now winemakers across the country hope to make wine more... masculine. Chris Justema is the co-owner of another Bend brewery and bar, Cascade Lakes Brewing. He says wine is more a dinner party beverage than something to drink while hanging around with the boys.

Chris Justema: It's cool for guys to sit around and drink a bottle of wine. Let's not get away from it, but most guys I know at least start with a few beers, and then move to a glass of wine at dinner.

Some well-known California winemakers have crafted labels and names specifically for men -- like, Kung Fu Girl, Red Truck, and Maximus. Others are advertising in sports known to attract men. For instance, Sonoma County's Bennett Lane Winery bought a NASCAR racing team - and just sponsored a minor-league NASCAR race.

Just 30 minutes north of Cascade Lakes Brewing, Maragas Winery hosts tasting and jazz shows. Owner Doug Maragas says sports and cars aren't the only ways to appeal to men.

Doug Maragas: Most men are going to like a red wine, or a slightly sweet white wine. That's just what I've seen. I'm not saying I make it thinking 'how can I attract men?'

The secret? Just to make good wine.

In Bend, Ore., I'm Ethan Lindsey for Marketplace.

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