Since the late 1990s when I worked for Orlando Wyndham (now Pernod Ricard Winemakers) which owned the Montrose and Craigmoor wineries, and until around 18 months ago, I had hardly tasted any Mudgee wines. As when I left Orlando Wyndham, they simply fell off my radar.
Then 18 months ago, I contacted a winery in Mudgee which makes a wine from the Emerging variety that I was writing about for WBM Magazine (www.wbmonline.com.au) at the time. Rather than just post a sample to me, my contact there referred my request to Define Wine (www.definewine.com.au) that looks after all its marketing. Define sent the sample and started an ongoing dialogue. Since then Define Wine has sent me samples (always asking first) from more than half of the Mudgee and environs (Orange/Cowra/Hilltops) wineries. So my Central NSW tasting/reviewing experience has gone from almost zero to heaps! In fact, it would now be the wine region I have reviewed most wines from outside the Adelaide environs (Barossa, Clare, Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek and McLaren Vale). That’s not out of any bias but simply out of communication. After all there are 2,468 wineries and only one of me.
To date, out of all the wines I have received from Mudgee, there have been only two wines that I have not written about and that was due to style differences rather than quality issues.
Just before Christmas, Define Wine sent me a parcel containing the ten 2017 CCL Mudgee Wine Show trophy winners – what a brilliant marketing exercise! [Full show results available at: www.mudgeewine.com.au]
The parcel contained:-
► 2016 Westcourt Wines Riesling: “Champion Wine of the Show” + “Best White Trophy” and “Best White Wine (not Semillon or Chardonnay) Trophy”.
► 2017 Robert Stein Wines Semillon: “Best Semillon Trophy” (not yet released).
► 2016 Montrose ‘Stony Creek’ Chardonnay: “Best Chardonnay Trophy”.
► 2016 Bunnamagoo Estate Wines Autumn Semillon: “Best Sweet Wine Trophy”.
► 2017 Lazy Oak Vineyard Rosé: “Best Rosé Trophy”.
► 2016 Huntington Estate Cabernet Shiraz: “Best Mudgee Classic Blend Trophy” (just released).
► 2015 Naked Lady Wines Cabernet Sauvignon: “Best Cabernet Sauvignon Trophy”.
► 2015 Petersons ‘Jamie’s Quatro’(a blend of Zinfandel / Chambourcin / Petit Verdot / Durif): “Best Red Wine” (not Shiraz or Cabernet).
► 2014 Huntington Estate Special Reserve Shiraz: “Most Outstanding Red Wine Trophy”.
► 2013 Lowe Wines Zinfandel: “Best Organic/Biodynamic Wine Trophy”.
Needless to say, each and every one of these wines was outstanding and I have reviewed them all on social media.
Think about it! Every winery in Australia produces good, honest, drinkable wines (the bodgey ones have gone/will go broke!!) and a few of these produce sensational, stand-out wines. So with that many wineries in such a small market how can a winery stand out from the crowd and be noticed? One way is to be a bit different, by producing unusual blends or focusing more on the Emerging varieties that have been a success in their homeland. Another way to be noticed is to do some smart marketing, either off one’s own bat (music, food, promotions and/or art) or by using professional wine marketers such as Define Wine, which can maximize exposure for the brand.
Whichever way you look at it, wine can’t ever sell itself if nobody has tried it! So wineries need to come up with a viable Marketing 2.0 Plan in order to survive and prosper these days. What’s yours?
Once you have your plan, please make sure it is actually followed. You would be surprised at how many wineries pass up the opportunity for free publicity by simply not bothering to reply when asked to send a sample bottle for a tasting regarding an article for one of the wine magazines. Or worse still, those that say yes they will send a sample and don’t bother. Here, for the cost of a bottle of wine plus the postage or courier fee is the opportunity to present their wine to somewhere between 50,000 and 110,000 wine drinkers. And yet they forget to send it! How professional is that?
The team at Winestate were telling me that during the recent bout of heat waves, they were receiving bottles of wine via couriers that were appreciably hot. So, the winemaker gives her/his all to make the best wine possible and then through a lack of simple thought/consideration by somebody in the organisation the wine turns up for judging either cooked or certainly worse for wear from the heat. True professional wineries, retailers and auction houses have a firm hot-weather policy that avoids this.
Wine marketing “ain’t rocket science”. It is a case of being clever/innovative, professional and thorough in order to maximise the impact of the small number of opportunities that come along. Make the most of them!!
STOP PRESS: The wonderful people at the ADELAIDE CELLAR DOOR FESTIVAL have kindly donated one double-pass to this event for the first reader of this Blog to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org ** PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED** The winner has been notified by direct email.
Dates: March 2-4, 2018 Venue: Adelaide Convention Centre