Posts Tagged ‘Wineries’

 

Wineries are coming out loud and proud in their support of gay marriage. They’re putting it right on the label.

“Little by little, we’re breaking down the barrier,” says Gary Saperstein of Out in the Vineyard, an events and tour company based in Sonoma wine country that caters to gay travelers.

One of the barrier breakers is Same Sex Meritage, a red blend that sends its message on the bottle and at the cash register: One dollar for every bottle sold is donated to the advocacy group Freedom to Marry.

“It’s the right thing to do,” says Matt Gold, who is based in Chicago and teamed with Josh Stein of Stein Family Wines in California to make the wine, which launched last December. Meritage is a brand name that refers to a Bordeaux-style blend. And, of course, it sounds a lot like marriage.

Gold and Stein see their business partnership as a way to make wine and make a statement. “Everyone should have the right to marry. Everyone should have the same rights as anyone else,” says Gold.

Same Sex Meritage isn’t the only wine reaching out to the LGBT community.

Egalite, a bubbly from the Burgundy region of France, was launched earlier this year with the name French for equality reflecting the wine’s origins as a Burgundy cremant (sparkling wine) and its support for the gay community. Each quarter, a portion of profits is donated to a LGBT nonprofit organization chosen by fans of the wine on Facebook; $15,000 has been donated since the wine’s January launch.

 

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Beverage makers selling wine, beer and spirits using the freewheeling world of social media are being gently reined in by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

In new guidelines, the federal government declared that sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are essentially new forms of advertising. As a result, companies selling adult beverages on those sites are subject to advertising rules, according to regulators.

“Social media just exploded in the last few years, and it seems like every week there’s a new way to get your message out there,” said Sara Mann, attorney with Hinman & Carmichael, a San Francisco law firm specializing in the beverage industry. “I think wineries and other suppliers have been confused and a little unsure about what they can and can’t do.”

 

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Our most popular post from last year is brought current with the 2012 financial information. The question at hand is: “How much do wineries really make?
 
The answer of course is ……(drum roll please ….) Not enough. Finding the facts is almost as hard as chasing unicorns in this business because the wine business is private. Its a family owned industry with even the largest; Gallo a family owned company. But its really quite amazing from the perspective of what is shared between neighbors in the wine business. There isn’t the sense that your neighbor is a rival or competitor. Its more of a club feel in many ways. If you need something, its quite normal to check in with your neighbor. Need a tractor because yours went kerput? No problemo. Need a little welding and custom fabrication on a pump? I’ll be right over with a welding rig.
 
There is a competitive side that abounds in the business too of course. When it comes to sharing financial information and customer lists, good luck! Ask a winemaker neighbor how its going financially, and you’ll get a mixture of liars dice, false bravado, partial truths and ….. well ….. 

 

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Wealthy Chinese now buying so much more than just ...

Wealthy Chinese now buying so much more than just …

 

Christie’s is capitalising on the thirst for wealthy Chinese consumers to buy wineries by opening the world’s first estate agency for would-be vineyard buyers.

Vineyards by Christie’s International Real Estate, billed as the “first global advisory for buyers of vineyard estates”, is to open in Hong Kong.

Run by both wine experts and luxury property specialists, the agency will offer a consultancy service for clients looking to acquire vineyards around the world.

According to David Elswood, Christie’s international director of wine in Europe and Asia, the idea for the agency came after continued demand from clients at the auction house’s wine auctions in Hong Kong for advice on buying vineyard properties overseas.

“We are uniquely positioned to offer this highly specialised vineyard advisory acquisition service and we look forward to this exciting venture,” he said.

In addition to advice on which wineries are on sale around the world, Christie’s will also provide clients with custom travel arrangements and translation services.

“Wineries in sought after locations are often small and discrete, and without guidance, buyers never even know they are on the market.
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Ripe for the picking.

Ripe for the picking.

 

Australian wineries are proving popular with Chinese buyers keen to ensure their supply of wine.

 
WINE PRODUCERS in every corner of the globe have set their sights on China’s vast and increasingly wine-friendly population, but nowhere more so than in Australia.

Australian wineries see themselves as particularly well placed to service the growing Chinese interest in wine; partly because Australia is an English-speaking country that’s geographically within easy reach of the Asian continent, and partly because their softer, rounder styles of wine seem to be suited to the Chinese palate.

However, it’s been well publicised that Australian wineries have been through some challenging times in recent years. With tough market conditions, excess production and falling grape prices, numerous small businesses have been hitting the wall. In many ways, it’s an investor’s dream.

Some Australian wineries have launched an attack, opening export offices and even cellar doors in major Chinese cities. However in recent months the tide has been turning, and the Chinese have been travelling to Australia to ensure their supply of wine in the best possible way: buying wineries.

At any given time, it’s difficult to pinpoint the precise number of Australian wineries that are in negotiations to sell to a Chinese buyer.

In some cases it’s simply that some level of financial backing has been taken on board, but rumours of takeover bids and potential new ownership swirl around companies large and small in every wine region in the country. Many of the buyers approaching Australia already control routes to market in their homeland.

 

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When I worked at Robert Mondavi Winery, I loved all aspects of being there, with one exception. I had a really hard time with the repetition of Wine 101 three to four times a day. I reached the point of feeling like I was channeling Lily Tomlin, doing her Broadway hit of “Searching for Sings of Intelligent Life,” wine country style. I had one lady say to me, “Dear, we can tell that you just love your job.” I smiled and said, “I just love wine country,” keeping it honest. What she didn’t know was that just the day before my husband said to me, after I told him I didn’t know how much longer I could take it, “Your job is to now be a good actress.”

 

I took a job at Mondavi as a wine educator, so I could get my foot in their PR department’s door. The first interview told me all I need to know, though. After the interview, I was told that I was over qualified… The job being offered was equivalent to what they called “a glorified clipping service.” I was told that I’d “become bored so quickly that we’ll lose you.” Instead of letting me get my foot into that door, they hired an MBA fresh out of college. I planned my escape, and told them what I was doing. Within a very short amount of time, a director of public relations job opened up at Ironstone Vineyards, and off I went to work in the Sierras. Most of it was done through telecommuting and I was back to traveling 60,000 miles a year around the US.

Now, back to this one particular day that offered me great joy and a diversion from what had become so challenging for me to say, “Welcome to Robert Mondavi Winery. My name is Jo, and I’m going to be your wine educator for the next hour.”

I need to preface this, also, with the fact that I love children. So much, in fact, that I spent years as the director of Androscoggin Day Camp for Girl Scouts in Maine. I even created a “Boy” unit in my camp, because the volunteers also had sons. I felt that they shouldn’t have to be left behind, and they created a nice little unit within the camp. I simply adore children. And, I was also a Girl Scout leader for about 10 years, and a Camp Fire leader for another few years.

So, this day delivered a tour with four overly rambunctious boys, whom I quickly called Rumble, Tumble, Fumble, and Bumble in my head.

They were decidedly not happy about being in wine country with their parents; and frankly, if I were a 10-year old boy, I’d be jumping all over my buddies, too, instead of looking at an expertly positioned trellising system with stressed vines.

I began, not with my usual shpeel, but instead with….

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There are easier ways to get to Durbanville Hills Winery than aboard a snorkel-equipped Land Rover, but I don’t think there’s a better way to go.

They brought out the 4×4 vehicles (snorkel-equipped — who knew? — so the engines can breathe even in deep water crossings) so that we could experience and appreciate the hills, the vineyards and the rugged terrain even before we came to the winery itself and the braai lunch that was planned for us there.

 

Surrounding vineyards.

 

My visit to Durbanville Hills Winery started as adventure and became a learning experience about the diverse nature of wine in South Africa. Now it is also Exhibit A in the case against the One Big Tank myth that I wrote about last week.

 

Entrance to Durbanville Hills Cellar at night.

Entrance to Durbanville Hills Cellar at night.

 

The Big Tank theory is that giant wine and drinks companies with dozens of brands in their portfolios offer consumers the illusion of choice, not real choice. It’s as if all the different wines came out of one big tank.  Although there is a grain of truth in this idea, I think it is fundamentally bogus and Durbanville Hills is a case in point.

From Oom Tas to Nederberg Noble

Durbanville Hills Winery is part of the Distell drinks empire. As I wrote last week, Distell is South Africa’s largest wine and spirits producer and is a global power in several beverage categories. They superficially fit the Big Tank stereotype, but within their range of brands you will find choices over a wide range starting with very basic wines such as Oom Tas (described as “an inexpensive, dry, golden, unsophisticated wine of constantly good quality and taste”) and Kellerprinz (” an unpretentious, fun wine, its quality is nevertheless good and consistent, offering value for money”) and moving on up the ladder to the rather special Nederberg Noble Late Harvest wine I wrote about last year.
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Also read:

Social media and online purchasing is significantly influencing wine sales in mainland China, and to a lesser degree in Hong Kong, reports Stephen Quinn.

 

As the wine business matures, its China and Hong Kong players are embracing social media to sell to an increasingly sophisticated audience.

Thomas Jullien, Asia representative for the Bordeaux Wine Council says: “We are seeing a boom in social networking in China.” He adopted a web 2.0 focus last year because of the ability to measure results in a more powerful way than with traditional advertising.

Facebook and Twitter are banned in mainland China, but the country has its local equivalents: Renren and Sina Weibo, respectively.

Jullien set up a Sina Weibo account in the middle of 2011. In six months it had gathered 40,000 followers. “It is a direct channel to talk to people about Bordeaux wine,” he says.

Every year, the Bordeaux Wine Council runs seminars in at least 20 Chinese cities for people in the trade. Jullien uses Sina Weibo to publicise these events: “At the seminars we always check where people found out about them. A very high proportion found out through someone ‘re-tweeting’ Sina Weibo. It is so useful to be able to measure feedback by monitoring social networks.”

According to Jullien, Bordeaux sales in China have doubled every year for the past six years. He attributes recent sales success to engaging with people curious about wine.

WINE’S OWN NETWORKS

David Pedrol is Shanghai and Hong Kong product director for yesmywine.com, the most successful online platform on the mainland with more than 5.2 million members, which sells 15,000 bottles daily.

When people buy wine they see how many bottles have already been sold of that wine. For example, as of mid-June the company has sold 121,066 bottles of La Bastide Laurent red. The internet accounts for 70% of all wine sold in China, according to Pedrol. His is also the only company in China with its own wine-focused social network: i-Cellar. However like the Bordeaux Wine Council, it uses the big Chinese social networks.

Sina Weibo has about 300 million registered users, Renren roughly 100 million users, though accurate data, crucially on the number of active users, can be difficult to extrapolate.

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The hallmarks and handiwork of world-renowned architects make these prolific wine producers stand out.

© Courtesy of Mission Hill Family Estate

© Courtesy of Mission Hill Family Estate

Anthony von Mandl is the inventor of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, which has made him rich. But ask him why he created the company, and his answer is, “The winery.” More than 20 years ago, von Mandl, who grew up in Vancouver, decided to turn a hilltop in central British Columbia—part of a wine-growing region known as the Okanagan Valley—into a winery meant to last generations.

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