Brilliant wines, homogenous regions, skewed content, and Martha Stewart.
We have just about recuperated from the marathon 2-days that was Vinexpo New York and as expected, it was packed with more than 400 exhibitors and 3,000 wine and spirits professionals walking the floor. While the event was not lacking in activity, we did notice some differences from its inaugural event last year, as well as some trends we’ve picked up.
Last year’s mix of producers seemed, well, more mixed. This year, while there were still producers from a wide range of regions – like Moravia, Czech Republic :-) - it seemed there were fewer regions represented overall. Not surprisingly, regions such as France, Italy, Spain and Austria, who enjoy strong broker and marketing were very well represented. However, the non-mainstream regions were very lightly represented, if they were there at all (we found a whole new appreciation for Greek wines last year). What does this mean? Well my speculation is that it is an indicator of just how difficult the US wine and spirits market is for smaller suppliers or those without a predominant region off of which to draft. Even at an event like Vinexpo which is supposedly designed for buyers to meet great wine makers they otherwise would not normally have access to, it feels like the cards really are stacked against the little guys. Without extensive financial, staffing, and marketing resources, an event like Vinexpo seems prohibitive, and once there it can be a real challenge to drive value from the event.
Which leads to the next observation – the session content was skewed. Sessions were designed to supposedly help foreign and small suppliers successfully enter and navigate the US market. The experts they recruit are most definitely leaders in the industry and highly knowledgeable professionals. However, how relevant really are representatives from big organizations who have had long established market exposure in the US to those who are brand new and finding the best path for them? Likely the path for the small artisan wine maker will not follow those who are now leading big brands and big distributors. Nor will the path be to throw big dollars at big companies to “help them navigate.” Where are the small to medium sized businesses who have had some success who could share their victories and pitfalls for people who are hoping to be like them in a year or two? Another indicator the cards are stacked.
That all said, we really could not have been happier with the conversations and reactions visitors had when they tasted our wines. Our wines killed it. You can’t help but smile when you consistently hear comments like,
“The best Sauvignon Blanc I’ve ever drank”
“This is a real dry Riesling. It’s the best I’ve ever had.”
“I was told I just had to come taste these wines.”
“My favorite wines of the show.”
We validated our model is the right model for our customers and our producers. Our core values of authenticity, energy, commitment, integrity, creativity and flexibility drives our continued success.
As an importer, we are a single point of contact for our winemakers to access the US market. We are growing and approach new markets where and when it makes sense for our brands. We plan and execute the go-to-market strategy – they focus on brilliant wines.
As a supplier partner to our customers, our dedication to marketing and sell-through support extends beyond just sending tasting notes. We believe the first case of wine sold is not the most important – it is the next cases ordered after successful launch with a customer base. We are committed to the success of our brands with our customers.
The only bummer of the event – we missed Martha. Again. Next year!