Last week, I wrote a post about producers needing to be savvy to marketing and input. As it turns out, it cuts both ways. I have recently found myself in a strange set of circumstances, and perhaps ironic given the above mentioned post.
Last week I showed the wines of 2 different producers to a large, but boutique distributor. They are just putting their book together, and it would seem that both of these wineries would have been good fits. They turned both down completely. I got a laundry list of issues about these wineries that they had, but almost none of the comments were directed towards the quality of the product. They had issues with the names of the wines, shapes of the bottles, labels, color scheme, you name it.
This shocked me. For one, I am a pretty good judge of the "whole package" and while I can see that they were not their strongest asset (the packaging), for me, it wasn't really an issue. Second, I felt that from such professionals, that this was a pretty rookie take on the wines. If you are a boutique wine distributor, you should be equipped to sell wine you believe in, regardless of what the packaging looks like. Were they using the packaging as an excuse? Do restaurants even care what the label looks like? Where is your conviction? While I ranted against producers that fail to recognize what is going on out there, I doubly rail against the machine that prioritizes packaging over what's inside. Of the 2 wines, one is such undeniable quality, that it is nearly a cult wine in it's home state, and I'm lucky to have any to sell. I respect contrary opinions, and encourage them. I take major umbrage with the prejudice that this distributor took with these products.
Don't forget, no one has ever accused anyone for having a great eye for labels in the wine business.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Why do we see so many "unprofessional" people in the wine business that have great palates, and so many "professionals" in the wine business with crap palates? Why does being a wine geek and being a business geek need to be mutually exclusive? If you make great wine, is it "selling out" if you are good at selling it? Shouldn't all great wine rise above any sort secondary issues such as: lack of peripheral marketing materials, bad packaging, bad names, no easily retold story? In a perfect world maybe.
In the meantime, you need us on that wall (to paraphrase Aaron Sorkin). The truth is that great wine is irrelevant if no one gets to drink it. Selling wine doesn't have to be selling out. Selling out is selling wine you don't believe in. If that's you, you may as well be selling widgets, please get out of my way. If you believe in your wine, then what you learn about selling is proselytizing to the masses. If you are a wine geek, that is a powerful tool in your wine sales arsenal. It ultimately doesn't mean anything if you can't present though. Doesn't it stand to reason that if you hone your presentation, and strategy, start early, work late, have conviction, you will sell more great wine? Being sloppy, and disorganized will never help you sell wine. Are you telling the world that email is too insincere, and that you don't need to multi-task? Then you need therapy. Get it together, subscribe to Inc. and Fast Company, start reading books about Zingerman's and get your game on. Otherwise the guy with the TJ Maxx tie will kick your wine geek ass all over the street with Little Penguin. Because even if he doesn't know Gruner-Veltliner from Sylvaner, at least he knows how to sell.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Great interview (or least the first part of it), from an interview by Austin Beeman of Dr Dirk Richter, of Weingut Max Ferd Richter of the Mosel. Dirk is one of the truly special individuals in the world of wine, and a great ambassador for Riesling. We are very fortunate to represent such a gentlemen, and his amazing wines.
Austin is a gracious customer, wine, film, and history buff, and friend. He runs the wine department at one of local Toledo Grocers-Walt Churchill's Market.