How wineries make decisions about what to make, how to sell it, and how to price it – and it doesn’t have all that much to do with what consumers want
The following conversation is fictitious, but it’s fiction that only someone who has spent the past 35 years working on the sales side of the wine business could write. That’s my old pal John Bratcher; yes, he said over a glass or two, this is exaggerated — but not all that much exaggerated.
Winery marketing genius: The winery needs another label to sell at a higher price. Because premiumization.
Winemaker: Like what?
Marketing genius: I had this dream the other night about a barbershop quartet singing the same song, but each singer was singing in a different language.
Winemaker: Wow, bizarre. Even for you.
Marketing genius: What if you took varietals that really don’t go together and put them in a blend no that other winery has made or has thought of making? Huh? Huh? Huh?
Winemaker: Ah, well, we do have a little riesling we had to buy to get that zinfandel you wanted for your last big idea. I guess I could mix them with some of the barrels we had planned to use for a Bordeaux blend. Weird though, and the alcohol would be a little high.
Marketing genius: High, smigh, throw it together and we’ll come up with a really catchy name. Something like. … “Ship shape.” Charge $25 for it. Say it’s velvety smooth. … a wine made for sweet dreaming. And maybe throw in some chocolate cherry descriptors. Because Apothic.
Winemaker: Shut up, already.
Marketing genius: No, not shut up, but you’re on to something. … Shut Up… Put Up… Shot Put… Ship out… Upset… Set Point… Slipshod! That’s it! Slipshod! I am so unbelievably brilliant!
Winemaker: No, I was telling you to shut up. Why didn’t I go to law school like my mother wanted?