Darden Students Sabering the Wine and Spirits Market

Last Friday I had the opportunity to join the Darden M.B.A. students at a conference organized and offered by the Wine and Cuisine Club. Planting the Seeds of Business presenters were relevant, educational and entertaining.  From the seasoned keynote speaker, Andy Mansinne, President of Aveniu Brands to Jennifer Drapisch of Pernod Ricard, a recent 2010 graduate of Darden, marketing and distribution via the three-tiered system was addressed from all three perspectives.  The three-tier system was set up after the repeal of Prohibition.  The  premise of the system requires  producers to sell only to distributors who then sell to retailers, and then only retailers may sell to consumers.   The wine business seemed to be the most complicated, dealing with regulations changing from state to state.

Incorporating social media (socialnomics) into the sales plan appears to be crucial and now used by 93% of marketers.  You Tube and Facebook lead the way so look for some  fun ads during the Super Bowl.  Jameson 1780 has an excellent program for marketing via Facebook and The Missing Barrel of Jameson.  Fun to play and tag your friends on Facebook. I actually took a break and got hooked by the game, but once I figured out the person who”stole” the barrel, I couldn’t figure out how to enter the answer into the game??  

Barefoot wine has recently gotten the attention of the “millennials” and is taking advantage of the Facebook social phenomenon.  Originally a brand of a couple of nudists, they were bought out by Gallo and retained only a portion of the original name.

We also learned how to “saber” not “savour” a sparkling wine or a Champagne bottle but unfortunately didn’t get a clear photo of it. A great party trick so, in lieu of a photo I have included a You Tube video “How to Saber” so you can impress your friends or your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day.

Notable quotations of the day:

“The way to make a million in the wine business is to start with 5 million.”

“You have to be different…meaningfully different.”
“Wine is very communal.”

“A bottle of wine is intended to be shared-you don’t necessarily share a beer,” (a keg,yes, but not a bottle.)

Good Night Darden and a special thank you to Sara Hester and compadres for an informative, entertaining conference and cocktail party and for inviting me!

Participants included:

Commonwealth Restaurant and Skybar  Richard Averitt, Founder

Devils Backbone Brewing Company

Hayes Humphreys, Chief Operating Officer

E&J Gallo Winery Lee Susen, Marketing Director

General Mills Polly Madsen, Associate Marketing Manager

Pernod Ricard Jennifer Drapisch, Assistant Brand Manager

VinConnect Kevin Sidders, President

Virginia Eagle Distributing Scott Heinz, Chief Operating Officer

2 thoughts on “Darden Students Sabering the Wine and Spirits Market

  1. Sounds like a great conference. Having been in the liquor industry at most levels over the last 25 years I’ll chime in with a couple of thoughts.

    The 3 Tier System with states enacting laws to apply within their boundaries has created a situation where alcoholic beverages (not just wine) are the MOST regulated group of products in our country; they must consider and encounter and follow more regulations, government entities and companies than the gasoline you put in your car or the medicines you put in your body. Even the labels on the bottles can cause issues where one approved for use in state “x” is not legal in state ‘y’ since items not allowed in ‘y’ are requirements in “x”

    Social Media/marketing is the single most effective way for any producer of wine, beer, spirits to interact with their consumers. With distribution systems designed to minimize contact between producer and consumer (and maintain the power of the middle over the flow of products) it is especially important that established producers have access to direct feedback with the increase in new producers entering the market. Distributors make money moving cases from producer to retailer…they don’t HAVE to promote each and every product in their portfolio (nor do they have the time). This is very apparent in the beer industry. Newer breweries are generating interest and sales in their products by keeping in touch with those that drink them where AB-InBev and SABMillerCoors are struggling to maintain market share even though they are introducing many more products each year.

    I politely disagree with the idea that one wouldn’t “necessarily share a beer.” The beer industry is moving dramatically to a more community oriented system of enthusiasts (much like wine is already) and more and more breweries are packaging in larger format bottles. This is in part because it’s cheaper for the brewer but also to allow consumers to share. A brewery in your area, Blue Mountain Brewery, uses 22oz and 750ml bottles in addition to 12oz bottles for 6pks. The larger format bottles are also much stronger and are definitely NOT intended to be consumed by one person.

    Love the blog – keep it going. I’m able to keep in touch with the Virginia wine scene way up here in Wisconsin.

    1. Are you sure you weren’t at the conference 🙂 You sound like you heard the presentations! Blue Mountain Brewery and Devils Backbone Brewing Company are doing a great job (along with Starr Hill) with their growlers and beautiful flights of amber colored ales. You are certainly correct about the transition of the beer industry Starr Hill Growler into a more communal sharing. When we were discussing wine vs. beer it was more in line with opening one bottle compared to opening 750 ml bottle of wine (hopefully not imbibed solo). I have considered covering beer as well as wine, especially with the growth of breweries in Nelson County Va.
      Point of no particular interest: I was with my husband at Starr Hill in Crozet, VA when the 7+ earhthquake hit and we happened to be sampling a strong IPA. The tasting room manager thought that it was the train going by to the rear of the tasting room but after a quick tweet we realized it wasn’t the beer but an earthquake! Thank you for your eloquent and informative input, it is appreciated!

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