Do we need a Wine Merchant Day?
The default solution to draw attention to any worthy cause is to devote a day to it. There are days for everything: Breast Cancer Awareness Day, Malbec World Day, Wine Writer Donation Day - it's a situation that has long been parodied, as witness Matt Walls' 2012 Grape Day Calendar, and The Simpsons back in 1998.
This Saturday heralds the tenth annual Record Store Day, which champions independent music shops across the country. Limited edition vinyl is released, in-store gigs are arranged, there are celebrity endorsements and strong media support from DJs and specialist music channels - most significantly, BBC 6music. It's a concerted effort to boost a retail sector that often struggles to stay afloat, yet which is a crucial part of maintaining the diversity and vivacity of the industry.
Sound familiar? The Record Store Day format is one that independent wine merchants could easily adopt. Wine lovers might be a much smaller subset than music lovers - there's no BBC 7wine on the airwaves - but there are enough similarities between the two to suggest it could work.
By staging special tastings, hosting winemakers, involving celebrities, re-releasing old vintages or large formats and most importantly, making as much noise as possible, Wine Merchant Day would offer a great opportunity to focus attention on a sector that everyone in the trade agrees is the worthiest of causes.
There are already groups within the industry such as The Bunch, which set a good precedent for cooperation - although Wine Merchant Day would need to be on a national scale to be really effective. Funding the project would require some careful planning - it would almost certainly require some kind of buy-in from merchants - though I would like to think that it could be staged for minimal profit, for the good of the sector.
Such a big project isn't to be taken lightly - and it's easy to be enthusiastic about something when you're not faced with the hassle of actually doing it - but I would love to see the trade make something like this happen. One day, maybe.