Winemarketing 101 – how do I begin to sell my wine?

Making great wine often remains the sole focus point for many winery owners and wine makers. Whilst aiming to make the best wine you possibly can definitely is worthwhile and noble goal, I feel at least as much focus should be on where, how and when you are going to sell this wee miracle in a bottle. Awesome wine that doesn’t really make it into a (paying) consumers glass, may be a bit of a waist of time – unless you are a filthy rich filantrope making exclusive wine for your own consumption…

Unfortunately most of the winemakers and winery owners I have ever don’t really fit into that category, which means they are dependent on wine sales to pay the wine making bills… So what is the best way to go about this?

In my opinion, to be a great sales person it’s essential to know and understand your product, your potential customer base and your market. In other words, what are the characteristics of your wines, who is your target audience, and what other similar wines are out there and how are they influencing the way your target audience may perceive your products ?

An example: a small winery in Marlborough makes Sauvignon Blanc, wants to export this wine into the UK.  Marlborough Sauvignon blanc is a fruit driven fresh and zesty wine with great acidity. This acidity and fruitiness is what made this particular style of Sauvignon Blanc popular all over the world. In the UK this wine retails around 4-6 pounds in the supermarket and 6-8 pounds in the independent trade. Our small winery however, in order to make profit, will need to sell the wine at around 4 pounds FOB per bottle, resulting in the wine hitting the shelves between 14-16 pounds. As its pretty difficult for the untrained palate to pick out the subtle nuances in the Marlborough Sauvignon category its going to be hard going to sell this wine next to rest of the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc section.  However this wine could prosper in the on-premise sector, in a trendy restaurant for instance. Consumers know what to expect from a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, they also know they will pay a little more being out in a trendy spot, so the barrier to purchase will be a lot lower than when they see that same wine on the shelf in an independent retailer. The restaurant owner or F & B manager also sees benefits in having a less known wines from a well known regions on his list as it will better mask his mark up. By knowing his product, his customers expectation and the market the small winery owner will aim the on-premise sector when trying to sell his wines in the UK.

My next post will be about direct sales as they still hold the highest ROI for the winery owner – but its pretty hard to export and sell directly at the same time…

About Caroline

Caroline is a certified Sommelier (by the CMS) and WSET diploma student. In order to specialize in the wines of Champagne she moved to the region and currently works as a wine consultant, wine educator and wine writer. She is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers and writes for several international publications including Palate Press, Snooth, Wine-Searcher, Decanter and Vinogusto; further activities include teaching Champagne related courses at Reims Management School and organizing personalized tasting experiences at http://www.tastingswithatwist.wordpress.com as well as being a regular judge at international wine competitions.
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  • http://priscillapolite.livejournal.com/726.html john

    makes me want to drink alchoholic beverages