From Iron Maiden to Chivas Regal, Illy Jaffar has been at the forefront of developing new marketing and communications strategies for some of the world’s biggest names, be they brands, individuals – or rock stars. He says the impact Covid-19 has had on how we all now live our lives has been so deep rooted we need a fundamental ‘reset’ in how we now think about still making our drinks brands relevant and exciting, but with very different ways of marketing and bringing them to life. Here he shares some of his ideas.
For the final instalment in its current webinar series, trade body New Zealand Winegrowers explored the role that organic, biodynamic, sustainable, and natural wines could play in the future of the industry. While consumers already have a favourable view of New Zealand as a “green” land, panellists acknowledged the progress made by other nations, including Chile and Spain. But some radical ideas were discussed to capitalise on consumers’ growing interest in transparency, as Peter Ranscombe explains.
Hands up who has heard of Patreon? Keep them up if you have a few Patreon subscription accounts? If Patreon is something new to you then think back to when you first heard about Spotfiy and how much of a part of your life it is now. Patreon is essentially the new digital subscription model that an increasing number of businesses and individuals are using to raise money by building up a community of ‘users’ who are happy to pay them a small chunk of money a month for the content or services they are providing. It is also the model that Richard Hemming and Olly Smith are now using for their successful ‘A Glass With’ podcast series. Here Hemming explains why Patreon could be the breakthrough business model of our times.
Last night Anne Krebiehl MW won the prestigious International Wine Book of the Year award for The Wines of Germany at the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers Awards, her definitive and much-needed book on German wine. Here we re-run an interview she did with The Buyer when the book was launched. To buy a copy there is a hot link at the end of the feature.
For the past two decades German wine has been on a roll with the country housing one of Europe’s most vibrant, creative and progressive wine industries. And yet the wines of Germany are some of the most misunderstood on the planet. In an in-depth and wide-ranging interview German wine expert Anne Krebiehl MW explains about the full trajectory of the German wine industry – early success, then doldrums, its current state of health and its direction – and why now is the right time for re-evaluation. She explains why there is currently an unprecedented density of quality production and a new generation of winemakers who are re-defining what German wine can be in the 21st century. Grape varieties have changed as have wine styles – with grace and elegance favoured over power – all the result of a new-found, more self-confident identity that was almost obliterated by two world wars and the disastrous legal framework of the 1970s.
With drinks producers finding a route to market harder following Covid-19, the International Wine and Spirit Competition believes that there is an increasing importance being given to IWSC awards as a way of getting new drinks in front of buyers. But making the global competition actually happen this year was a daunting logistical exercise that faced numerous challenges in overcoming each country’s lockdown restrictions. Panel member David Kermode finds out how it was done and what the changes will mean moving forwards.
Disruptive online wine service Winebuyers was conceived and launched just over two years ago in response to the wine trade’s slow uptake of e-commerce. To say that they were in the right place at the right time during lockdown is an understatement: Sales have increased over 800%, new memberships are up 700% above forecast, average order values are up 38% and the company has onboarded 80 new suppliers who didn’t have a route to market. CEO Ben Revell looks here at what else the changes over the past five months have taught him about the nation’s changing drinking habits and what lessons there are to learn for the rest of the trade.
“Stories are important for us human beings, we’ve been painting them on cave walls ever since we had cave walls, and minimalism says nothing except a colour for the baby’s room.” Kevin Shaw, founder of Stranger & Stranger, is back with this brilliant analysis and take down of what he sees as inspirational drinks design…and, well, whatever the opposite is to that. If you want to know what good design is then read on and let Shaw tell you in his own inimitable way.
The devastating explosion that rocked through the port and streets of Lebanon this week also sent shockwaves around the world. But as the dust settles on this unique, vibrant and historic city, the sheer scale of the damage is only just starting to be assessed. It leaves a city, and a country, already on its knees from months of economic and political turmoil that has wiped out people’s savings as its currency has collapsed. Here leading Lebanese journalist and wine critic, Michael Karam, puts this week’s shocking events into context, with a wine industry already dependent on international sales for its future, now desperate for all the support the international wine community can spare it.
No matter how well your sales are doing in your domestic market, you will never maximise the full potential of your brand unless you find a way to successfully export it into new markets around the world. But that’s a lot easier said than done, says Chris Briers head of export at Southwestern Distillery that has been able to build a strong export strategy for its brands, including Tarquin’s Gin. Here he sets out his do’s and dont’s of how to build an export business for your brand.
The explosion in English wine production over the last decade explosion is well documented, but do we really understand what it is actually happening amongst the vines and in the wineries of producers across the country? Robert Mason both celebrates the enormous strides taken within the English wine industry, but also makes the case for why it is everyone’s responsibility in the trade to get to know the sector better and identify the areas, the styles, and the wines that are right for their business and then do all they can to sell them.
The dearth of quality still wines made in England, compared to sparkling wine, is down to which varieties were planted early on and which clones, argues Lyme Bay Winery’s managing director James Lambert. There are signs that is changing with winemakers looking much closer at clone selection, however, with the cost of making all English wines so expensive, the industry needs to work together to ensure that the end product is priced sustainably and able to offer genuine value in the marketplace.
Wine faults in clear glass bottles are 20 times more prevalent than cork taint, says Nyetimber winemaker Brad Greatrix, and yet producers who fill into clear glass seem to be oblivious to the harms of lightstrike or are purposely putting their head in the sand. The greatest losers are consumers, however, who have no idea about the potential harm of lightstrike when they buy a bottle of sparkling or rosé wine – the categories most affected. In this thorough and hard-hitting opinion piece, Greatrix explains how lightstrike works and what must be done to prevent it, all the way through the supply chain.
If you’ve ventured out into social media this week then there’s really only been one wine story to bother yourself with. No, not how the wine industry is tackling this global pandemic, but rather the Twitter furore there has been over Hollywood A lister Cameron Diaz deciding this is the moment the world needs to know all about her new ‘clean wine’ brand – Avaline. Here Joe Fattorini – in his typically brilliant, biting and witty way – takes the Diaz naysayers to task and makes the case for why Diaz and her ‘clean wine’ is actually marketing genius.
We might not be collectively travelling to many of the world’s most famous cities and eating and dining out in their finest restaurants at the moment, but that does not mean we can’t highlight the great talent that work in the kinds of outlet that allow the best wine producers and their wines to shine. Which is why it’s so timely that Star Wine List is taking its awards around the world to shine the spotlight on the best wine restaurants in key cities around the world. The Buyer is also delighted to be partnering with Star Wine List to establish a new Wine List awards in London. Here Krister Bengtsson, founder of Star Wine List, explains how it is going to work.
As much as the fine wine market was gradually going digital, Covid-19 has made all businesses realise they need to adopt new technology with some urgency if they are to take any advantage of the boom there has been in e-commerce wine sales during lockdown. The pace of change has been so fast that some large wine businesses have been able to implement two year software plans in as little as two months, says Nick Martin, co-founder of Wine Owners, the fine wine sector-specific business software platform. Here he examines what thinking companies should be bringing into their business software investment decision making to improve their back office, business management, and sales.
Anne Burchett did not know Gerard Basset OBE MW MS very well, but as a fellow French citizen who had chosen not just to live in the UK, but the wine trade as a career, she certainly felt an attachment through their shared experiences of being on this side of the Channel. Which is why she was so keen to read his life story that he was able to capture in his book, Tasting Victory, that has been published a few months after his death last year.
When Janet Harrison launched the People’s Choice Wine Awards in 2017 she promised to bring fresh thinking to what was already a cluttered wine awards sector. By getting everyday actual wine drinkers involved in deciding which wines ended up with a medal it has lived up to its billing. Now she wants to do extend the collaborative approach of the awards to the trade with her new TAP – Trade Advisory Panel – initiative that has brought together a wide range of professional talent from all sectors of the industry who are willing to share their expertise by helping others bring new projects to life. Here’s how it is going to work.
One learning from lockdown could be that we think twice about ‘disposable’ international travel when Zoom or a webinar could suffice. But will this extend to visiting a wine region? Jess Lamb was a passenger on the first virtual press trip to the Lebanon and says that, despite being an advocate of physical press trips, her experience led her to think that in many cases this could work well as a substitute, especially with the reduced costs, time, travel commitments and carbon emissions.
“This change has to come from the top. You can’t just talk the talk, you also have to walk the walk. If you keep doing the same things, hiring the same people, using the same methodology, you will continue to get the same outcomes.” Hard but fair words from Kirsten MacLeod who examines the issue of racial diversity and inclusion in the wine industry and says it has a very long way to go and many lessons to learn, and actions to take.
The combination of strong winds coming in off the ocean, with quality soils helps the Wölffer Estate Vineyard produce its signature, balanced, elegant, and age-worthy wines – with a particular focus on making premium rosés. As we continue our series profiling leading New York State wineries we talk to Roman Roth, winemaker at the estate, about being able to make food-friendly, accessible wines that also have the ability to age and improve with time.