Sales Trip: Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome

I'm still chuckling. Apparently that last post had quite a few of you fooled! I've never been all that good at telling jokes, so I must admit I'm feeling pretty smug right now.

I'm also still licking my wounds. This is not due to overindulgence or a lack of sleep but rather, the generally depressing sentiment that envelops me after I've been making endless sales presentations and account calls on a business trip. If you work in the industry, you know what I mean.

Because, there is just SO much wine out there, it's mind numbing. Even the tiny 500 case, uber-boutique-y, ultra expensive brands are coming out of the woodwork to sell their products. Brands from all over the world vying for the same few spots on a wine list menu or retail store shelf. Wine salesmen lined up to see the same wine buyer. And that nagging sense of what can I possibly say that will make a difference???  Because, these days, it's not about the product itself. Or about wine quality. Or about how something tastes or matches up with food. It's about who has the most compelling story and the best deal.

This last trip, I tried a new angle. Inspired by my 11 year old's propensity to invent words, I expanded my lexicon to include spiffy new adjectives like "Fumelicious" and "Zintastic." I proudly touted our wine's food friendliness with such delicacies as "slow roasted grasshoppers and wild braised pig's ears."  I even tried embellishing on the terroir angle to drive home my point. "The alluvial soils in the Dry Creek Valley were hand deposited by God himselfÂ…"  

This new sales approach served two purposes: 1. To keep a smile on my face 2. To see if what I said made much of a difference. In other words, does anyone really care??? The results were conclusive. No matter how authentic our story or how good our wines, selling wine today has very little to do with quality, consistency or even scores. It's become a minefield of brands all doing battle for the same elusive sale. A war of wines, if you will.  Personally, I'm bracing myself for a long tough road ahead.

Footnote: Brands keep popping up daily. In Dry Creek Valley, there are 4 new wineries alone in the pre-building planning stages.

| | Comments (5)


mark said:
April 9, 2009 4:45 PM

I appreciate your honest discussion of your efforts to promote your wines. I was wondering what your feelings are about the 3-tier system that dominates the industry especially as distributors continue to consolidate. Is DCV in the toughest spot marketing wise as you are too big to sell locally but not big enough to win the distributor war against the behemoths?

On a positive ending...have a happy Easter.


Kim (aka Wilma) Author Profile Page said:
April 10, 2009 1:05 PM

Good question Mark. Unless a winery is extremely small, say 500-1500 cases, it's pretty hard to by-pass the 3 tier system. This is especially true if you want to have your wines available nationally, and perhaps internationally. For us, the 3 tier system is very important. We have distributors in every state, and in some cases, several. Without them, our wines would never make it to market. Thankfully, because we've been in business so long, we have many longtime relationships with distributors. But they are under extreme pressure from the bigger brands and generally have way to many brands and labels to sell. It's a tough situation on both ends, ours and theirs. That is why it's important to get into the market personally. Without this "facetime," it's very easy for a winery to get lost in the shuffle.

JohnLopresti Author Profile Page said:
April 13, 2009 10:51 AM

When I first became acquainted with DCV vinification the label was dignified but was before the epoch of the schooner which has become so recognizably DCV.

Occasionally there is Dry Creek lore on local websites. I wonder if DCV would consider a series of labels honoring the Dry Creek AVA tradition, like some of the early homesteads and viticulturists' techniques. It could be like the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing develops for series of commemoratives.

Although I loved sailing locally, not the ocean variety, as an experience akin to hiking in wilderness, my ocean travels and shorebird swim and beachSoccer memories are tinged, in modern times, with the changes in patterns of currents, and waves at some of my favorite remote places from college years, e.g., this image of what has occurred now for two years in winter along the coastline of Galicia, Asturias, and Viscaya; 16 meter waves evidently are part of the changing patterns which extend from the North Sea.

I suppose I should be daring and try a DCV.

RealInalm said:
October 27, 2009 2:22 AM

Hi! Depressing klooper hoodwink over with in reinforce of my english jer, buti picky unsettled re reciprocate .

melodyzeg said:
December 25, 2009 11:59 PM

I have a nice joke for you) Did you hear about the farmer who was found guilty of selling rotten fruit? He was judged by his pears!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Kim published on April 9, 2009 2:05 PM.

Life as a Cover Girl was the previous entry in this blog.

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