An old adage says that there\u2019s strength in numbers, and even in the highly competitive wine industry, winemakers are finding this truer than ever. Whether to promote their wines, improve quality or seek change, winemakers have increasingly begun forming collectives to gain attention and visibility.\r\nWinemaking\r\nPannobile\r\nA similar style may bond winemakers together, but for others, a team mentality offers the opportunity to create something new. Pannobile is\u00a0an alliance of nine winemakers from Burgenland, Austria, mostly all following biodynamic and/or natural practices. The group works together to create \u201cPannobile\u201d wines in addition to their own labels.\r\n\r\nRegulations are strict. Only Zweigelt, Blaufr\u00e4nkisch and St. Laurent that\u2019s sourced from vineyards around Lake Neusiedl can be used. Wines go through a stringent tasting process, and approval must be unanimous.\r\n\r\nAn interesting aspect of Pannobile is the way it relates to the personal styles of its winemakers. Some members like the funky qualities of natural wine, while others abhor it. However, they come together to create a singular style of red.\r\n\r\n\u201cA Pannobile wine is a full-bodied, structured, tannic red wine with great ageability,\u201d and is meant to express the terroir, says Martin Nittnaus, of Weingut Anita & Hans Nittnaus. \u201cIt is never overoaked, super alcoholic or sweet. However, it also does not carry some of the features that can occur in natural red wines such as mousy flavors, heavy Brett, very low alcohol levels or higher residual sugar levels.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe members agree on red wines, but they\u2019re still trying to define what an acceptable Pannobile white constitutes. While only Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Neuburger are allowed, regulations don\u2019t specify what stylistic qualities the wine must follow.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt can be super-traditional, bright and filtered, but also skin fermented and cloudy,\u201d says Nittnaus. Because the guidelines are nebulous, many choose to not make a white.\r\n\r\nAlthough Nittnaus says it is \u201cway harder to find a common thread of style as with the reds,\u201d all agree \u201ca Pannobile white should be enjoyable, and as obscure this description may seem, I find it\u2019s magically working. Most people know exactly what it means.\u201d\r\n\r\nTo stay abreast of their colleagues\u2019 brands outside of the Pannobile label, they taste each other\u2019s new vintages each January.\r\n\r\n\r\nClub Tr\u00e9sor de Champagne\r\nFor Club Tr\u00e9sor de Champagne in France, the goal isn\u2019t to produce a certain style, but to craft the absolute best.\r\n\r\nIn 1971, this alliance of grower-producers came together to promote their small houses and educate people about grower Champagne. Today, it counts 28 members. Only made during optimal vintages, members submit a wine for the \u201cSpecial Club\u201d designation, which shows \u201cthe best of a vintage and each terroir of Champagne,\u201d says Ang\u00e9line Templier of Champagne J. Lassalle.\r\n\r\n\u201cEvery domaine decides 100 percent the way they want to express the wine,\u201d says Templier.\r\n\r\nA panel of experts and members judge a wine via two blind tastings, the first on the still wine and the second after three years of aging, before it can be labeled \u201cSpecial Club.\u201d These premium Champagnes go into a proprietary bottle before landing on shelves worldwide, as well as at the Tr\u00e9sors de Champagne boutique in Reims.\r\n\r\nThe shop sells the entire Special Club line, as well as the full portfolio of each member. Both stylish and informative, the location is a playground of tastings and education. Each week, a different producer is highlighted, and everyone takes turns working the floor.\r\nPromotions\r\nNew Mission Winemakers\r\nNew Mission Winemakers, founded two years ago by winemakers Bryan Harrington (Harrington Wines) and Pietro Buttitta (Prima Materia winery), started as a lark. Harrington used to host tastings at his San Francisco winery after harvest, but he resented the hassle. Buttitta found a space in the city, and the duo invited other comrades-in-wine to showcase bottles to both industry professionals and the public. After a couple of these events, the concept blossomed and the coalition, which now counts about eight winemakers, looks poised to grow.\r\n\r\nWhile most of the players produce wine in and around San Francisco, members are skittish about getting too formal. Harrington, a veteran of the Oakland wine scene, fondly recalls when the city\u2019s winemakers would \u201call sit around, open up each other\u2019s wines and some weird stuff from Europe,\u201d and talk about their craft.\r\n\r\n\u201cBut after a couple of years, all the accountants were coming and none of the actual winemakers were there, so I stopped going,\u201d he says. For now, he wants to promote winemakers, people he thinks \u201care making really great wines but not getting a lot of press,\u201d through the tastings, and let the group evolve organically.\r\n\r\n\r\nZoo Cru\r\nWhile New Mission\u2019s tasting events are laid back, Cape Wine, one of the largest trade shows in the Southern Hemisphere, is an opportunity for South African winemakers to make some noise. However, Duncan Savage, of Savage Wines, knew that to present as a lone brand at the 2015 exhibition would be ineffective and \u201cbloody expensive.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cSo, four of us put our heads together and said, \u2018Let\u2019s go big and do something proper.\u2019 \u201d They enlisted more members and \u201cformed a group of younger, [outgoing], like-minded people doing interesting styles of wine that focused on the vineyards.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe group named itself the Zoo Biscuits, after a popular children\u2019s treat. The name was recently changed to the Zoo Cru, after the group was threatened with a lawsuit by the corporation that makes the cookie.\r\n\r\nMeetings were held at a \u201cdodgy old pub\u201d and plans were made over pints of beers.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe were the only ones to actually build our own stand,\u201d says Savage. \u201cEveryone got these swanky builders to come in, [but] we made ours look really funky and cool. People were blown away.\u201d\r\n\r\nSurprisingly, given how popular the Zoo Cru concept is, the winemakers don\u2019t use the term outside of shows. Rather, they focus on their individual labels.\r\n\r\n\u201cIf something works, people have the habit of flogging it till it\u2019s dead, and you get no future value out of the concept,\u201d says Savage. While the group has grown to 15 winemakers, some of the original members plan to pull out after Cape Wine 2018 to let the new members run with it.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe feel 2018 is going to be epic, and we want to quit while we\u2019re ahead,\u201d he says. \u201cIt\u2019s a platform for people to try to keep things interesting. If they can get it right, fantastic.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\nIndustry Change\r\nCercle Ruster Ausbruch\r\nTo effect political change, it often takes a village.\r\n\r\nAfter the Austrian wine scandal of 1985, where producers were accused of adding diethylene glycol, a component in antifreeze, to sweeten wines, the country\u2019s wine reputation plummeted.\r\n\r\nIn response, Cercle Ruster Ausbruch, comprised of winemakers in the town of Rust, formed in 1991 to regain a global foothold in the sweet wine category and re-establish Ruster Ausbruch as a premium botrytized wine.\r\n\r\nAs founding member Heidi Schr\u00f6ck of her namesake label put it, \u201cThe vision was like King Arthur\u2019s roundtable. We wanted our chair back at the sweet wines table internationally.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe group initially worked to distinguish itself from other sweet wine-producing areas like Tokaji Aszu, and held regular tastings to approve the members\u2019 offerings. Today, efforts focus on marketing and politics.\r\n\r\nSchr\u00f6ck and the other members are vying for Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC) status for Ruster Ausbruch, which they hope to achieve this year. The group believes the designation will solidify its position as a premium wine and help further their message.\r\n\r\nWine is considered a convivial beverage, so it\u2019s only fitting that its producers show a sense of camaraderie that\u2019s rare in other fields. Through collaboration, winemakers can improve both their individual businesses and the overall industry.