Posts Tagged ‘wine marketing’

New Zealand Wine Glut

January 6, 2009

On January 1 the Marlborough Express reported there is a surplus of New Zealand wine on the horizon and also concern how some lower quality fruit might compromise the image of New Zealand wine around the world.

I think the panic is very premature and is the natural evolution of the industry. It is not a bad thing to have bulk wine produced for lower price points coming from New Zealand. California has a very robust bulk or cheap wine industry and the boutique wine industry thrives too.

In fact, the boutique wine industry in California is so robust they have their own group called Family Winemakers of California who offer legislative and marketing support for these micro producers.

It may come as a surprise to some in New Zealand, but you all ready have cheap and inexpensive wine in the USA.untitled-22 This ad from 2006 shows some very low price points at a time when press releases were heralding demand was exceeding supply.

You will notice a couple of very inexpensive wines from California too. The fact they exist has not “killed” the wine industry. It is just a different set of customers and expectations.

Someone has to scavenge the bottom to keep the system clean.

Fearing the dark is silly, put this low end wine in a box and move on.

The New Zealand wine story is very much like California with both large global wine companies and the micro producers who excel at crafting fine wine for a small select group of consumers. California does not produce one and only one tier of quality and consumers do not punish the region for doing so.

It might be time to take a page from the California play book and have a similar group representing “the little guys” in New Zealand.  Or at least, for those that believe they are in the fine wine business to stand up and perform a Haka to the world and share their unique and wonderful stories.

This is where New Zealand excels with a rich mosaic of stories to share that are very real, very personal and most of all, evolving on a daily basis. With easy to use and low cost social media tools available today, everyone should be engaged with the global conversation of wine.

Welcome to the newest chapter of the New Zealand wine experience and Web 2.0.

The article mentioned can be read here Marlborough Express.

PS. The word glut was theirs not mine.

The New Zealand Wine Journey

September 10, 2008

Many years ago I saw a ROM exercise machine in a ski shop in Aspen and it seemed like something right out of the movie “Back to the Future”. ROM is a highly specialized, $14,615 retail, Range of Motion exercise machine that will provide a complete workout in four minutes. It has nothing to do with wine, it is the typical steps a ROM purchaser goes thru that is the inspiration for my story.  I recently saw a ROM ad and thought there are similar steps for most people who are learning about New Zealand wines and foods. (the ROM ad is at the end of the post)

Ten Steps Most People Experience in Discovering New Zealand Wine

  1. Aware New Zealand is a country in the Southern Hemisphere.  
  2. Encounters a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, most likely from a high volume producer and enjoys the experience.
  3. Continues to passively explore other and similar offerings.
  4. Plateaus out at this level for some time.
  5. Revealation! New Zealand has so much more to offer, like Napa or Burgundy, has many facets of people and places. Moves beyond ratings and learns from retailers and sommeliers to explore and trust own palate.
  6. Discovery process begins – Sauvignon blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Bubbles  – all handcrafted by individuals.
  7. At this point, learns in the global wine business “family” is used by some of the largest wine companies in the world. Not bad – not good. Just an indicator that change is often taking place and highlights a marketing need to be authentic. The exception of course is when you can visit and look the winemaker in the eye, you know you are in the right place. This is goal – to discover the people and places.
  8. Expands awareness of varietals, people, regions, terrior, foods and travel experiences. This extends the joy.
  9. Now amabassador for “All Things New Zealand” especially food, wine and travel.
  10. New era of enjoyment from sharing these New Zealand stories.

I first saw the ROM about 20 years ago, my New Zealand story began in 1984 when I met my wife Leslie.

I am at step ten. Where are you?

Exceptional handcrafted wines of New Zealand for enthusiasts across the USA. Wines for food, friends and memories.

Here is the ROM ad.







Critically Acclaimed

September 2, 2008

There was a junk mail flyer in the recent Sunday paper for a national chain store with the headline “Critically Acclaimed” wines from $6.99 to $15.99

Time magazine had an article some time ago about Top Trends – one was a return to “Authenticity”. There is even a book titled Authenticity and it is surprising to see how many products have evolved and now need to make a claim to be either “authentic or real”.

What is going on?

It seems we need others to tell or reassure us what is real, authentic or critically acclaimed. Nowhere is this more true than in the world of wine. Other people’s comments, scores and reviews have reduced our ability to say one or the other:

  • – “yes, I like this”
  • – “no, I do not like this”

 Is it we have given up the joy of discovery and learning?

Yet we seem capable of going to the movies before the Academy Awards are announced and deciding if we like the movie. Same for music, Grammy Awards certainly spike sales but we know before the awards if we enjoyed the tune.

Awards and recognition have been with us forever and are everywhere. From ancient times to everyday county fairs, it is only natural they exist as a source of entertainment. For some reason the fear of choosing wine baffles me.

Why is this?

Can someone shed some light why we need experts to tell us what to buy?

Is the language of wine out of balance and in need of something else?

Finding New Wines

August 26, 2008

As consumers of wine we have no shortage of choices. Decision’s can be challenging, whether we are in the New Zealand, California or French wine sections, our options might include:

  1. Subscribe to the major publications and go shopping with their recommendations
  2. Get to know and trust a retailer or sommelier and follow their lead
  3. Close your eyes and grab

Which method is best is really determined by what we want our wine experiences to be. If we just want something to drink then it probably does not matter what the selection process is. For others the reviews in the big publications will be useful . And for others it will involve a sense places and people.

Here are some ideas for those who want a connection to people and places. If you are of a certain age you will have memories of shopping for records. Albums had creative cover art and detailed liner notes on the back. Because of the physical size of a record album it was possible to have lots of information about the people, recording location and this all became part of the buying process.

As we flipped thru albums and read notes we often learned about guest musicians who sat in for a song or two. Sometimes these were well known musicians or unknown players. Their appearances introduced them as musicians who had something to offer. As we flipped thru and read the notes we would see patterns repeat themselves, session players showing up in different places or even having their own albums. Buying these newly discovered musicians would lead us to new places and created new listening opportunities. It was usually a success and the pattern repeated. More liner notes and more new discoveries.

So it is with wine too.

If you have visited Marlborough New Zealand you may have visited and tasted wines from Domaine Georges Michel. As you read the liner notes you learn Georges is French and had the good fortune to have his New Zealand wine project guided by Guy Brac de la Perriere, a man from one of France’s oldest wine making dynasties. Locally, New Zealander Peter Saunders  was the assistant wine maker working and learning from Georges and Guy. Today, Peter produces his own wine in Waipara.

The patterns continue today with Georges daughter Swan providing the winemaking leadership.  Swan has benefited from working not only with Guy but also with winemakers Patrick Valette in Bordeaux and in Burgundy with Clos des Lambray

Do you see these patterns creating choices for finding new wines? The patterns go both ways and include people and regions.

Or, maybe you visit the Central Coast region in California and you notice Bob Lindquist and Jim Clendenen have family members with their own labels. Verdad and Cold Heaven Cellars. Should be fun and worth finding.

These patterns are everywhere and I believe a great way to find new wines. This path may or may not go thru the big publications or even the better retailers and sommeliers. For some this will make the path more interesting as it is self directed.

To find new wines this way we need to take the time to find out something about the people behind the wine. It circles back to the earlier questions about who grew the grapes, who made the wine and what do you know about them? Good questions guiding us in the treasure hunt for new wines.

Decisions 2008

August 18, 2008

Daily we are bombarded with messages telling us to do something in 2008 to change the world. I wonder if these four year cycles really change the world or just the cycle?

Here is a decision to consider and implement in 2008. Next time you walk into a wine store ask these two questions:

  1. who grew the grapes and who made this wine?
  2. what do you know about them?

The reason I suggest these questions is they will provide you with some insight into what the sales person knows about the wine and introduce you to wines that are made by real people in real places. I believe it will lead you to the wine shops and sommeliers that are really excited and interested in wine. We should also watch for wine writers who make a habit of sharing the people side of wine too.

Before you call this silly, do it at least 5 times with different locations or people. Watch the responses and see who is really connected to the inventory or just capable of pointing to the ratings tag by the wine.

So what, you say again. As we all try and find the reasons for what we buy, I feel wines made by real people are wines with something unique and special about them. The challenge is trying to uncover them and I sense the path runs right thru the better writers, retailers and sommeliers around the world.

These are the people who delight in helping you find special wines to share with friends and food. Wines that make your evenings memorable. Whether it is a wine from California, Italy, New Zealand or wherever, these new friends will help.

Too often the conversation goes either two ways.

  1. at the cash register “did you find everything you need” or
  2. “how much do you want to spend”

Think about this for a moment. In the first situation it means there was most likely no one around to help. If a used car sales person asked question #2 very few of us would spend our money with that individual. For some reason it is OK in the wine shop.

I’ll leave you with my final thought and it seems the language of wine as evolved to a point where it might need a tune up and my two questions might be one way to improve your daily glass of wine.

  1. who grew the grapes and who made this wine?
  2. what do you know about them?

How Big is an Opportunity

June 27, 2008

I came across this quote the other day in the book The New Influencers and wonder if it applies to the world of both wine marketing and wine enjoyment.

“The average Barnes & Noble carries 130K titles. Yet more than half of Amazon’s book sales come from outside its top 130K titles. Consider the implication: If the Amazon statistics are any guide, the market for books that are not even sold in the average bookstore is larger than the market for those that are.  In other words, the potential book market may be twice as big as it appears to be, if only we can get over the econmics of scarcity.”

My wonder is, if the quote holds true for wine, how should the world of wine marketing engage to be part of this?

For the consumer knowing that the selection in their favorite store is only part of the picture, where do they go for information and who do they trust as their adviser’s?

The journey presents an interesting challenge for buyers and sellers. The selection, the quality has never been better. Maybe The North Face  got it right “Never Stop Exploring”