My Dirty Little Secret

Imagine you're in a conference room with 40 pairs of eyes looking at you. Every one is politely waiting for you to say something fascinating that will motivate them to go out and sell your wines. You have been hyped up as if you are some kind of a bigwig when in fact you are merely a weary businessperson with bills to pay, mouths to feed, and chores awaiting your return home. Welcome to the distributor kick-off meeting, a gathering of salespeople who will soon be selling your wines in a particular region.  I've done hundreds of these presentations before. Yet I still find them a challenge no matter how well I know my stuff. (There's something unsettling knowing that the future of our brand rests in part, on how inspiring I am…)

My secret? Coffee. It's a dirty little secret, and not one I readily admit to my physician, but staying enthusiastic, energetic, and upbeat can be difficult.

There used to be a saying: “It takes a lot of good beer to make great wine.” While this may be true for winemakers, those of us in sales and marketing would probably agree: "It takes a lot of good coffee to sell great wine!"

Coffee really does come into play as I bounce between business trips, trade shows, account calls, wine dinners, distributor sales meetings, and day to day correspondence/communications/management here at the winery. My winery friends all agree and from the look of things, it won't be changing anytime soon.

While there are signs the economy is improving, fine wine sales continue to be sluggish. Even when you're picked as the poster child of a winery making a good cross section of reasonably priced wines (see page 48 of the January 31 issue of Wine Spectator) you still have to hustle and bustle to get the product sold. Gone are the days of wines selling on point scores or reputation. Gone are the days when wine buyers have to have your wines to make their selection compete.  Gone are the days when customer loyalty is cultivated through quality, reliability, and reputation. Wine sales in 2010 have come down to three things: who is working the hardest, how loud they can shout, and how enthusiastically (i.e. aggressively) they can carry their message to market.

That's where coffee plays a role. Unfortunately, it's a necessary evil that seems to be vital to our efforts.

That is why I've modified the 2010 Budget…


  A roundtrip ticket to New York: $600


  A business dinner for ten: $1200


  Designer coffee: Priceless!
| | Comments (4)


Olivia Bevan said:
February 19, 2010 4:14 PM

Hi Wilma,

I was just listening to a podcast by Jay Ehret and he recommended your blog as a great example of how blogs can give great insider information in to a business. So I thought I'd check it out...and it's really inspiring. Thank you so much for taking the time to put it together. I don't know a great deal about wine but I feel like I've got at least a glimpse in to it through your blog.

I've linked through to it on my own blog ( Hopefully spread the word and even more traffic your way.

Keep up the great work!

Kindest wishes, Olivia.

CHUCK JOHNSON Author Profile Page said:
February 20, 2010 8:54 PM

Kim's blogs are great Olivia! I've listened to her blogs for the last year and she really gives fabulous insight about the wine industry & her personal experiences in running a winery.

Kim (aka Wilma) Author Profile Page said:
February 21, 2010 8:32 PM

You are both very kind. I never fancied myself as much of a writer so reading your comments means a lot to me. Mostly I just try to tell it like it is, which for some reason, seems to be lacking in the wine industry.

Olivia, talk about inspiring! I checked out your blog ( and all I can say is wow. I was mesmorized reading about how you got into the sport and I wish you all the best in your big competition in Thailand. I really admire you for taking on something so bold and physical, especially since that isn't your background. I wish I had your courage/determination...lord knows I could use a bit of ass kicking to get my butt into shape! (Alas one of the downfalls of working in the wine biz.....)

JohnLopresti Author Profile Page said:
February 24, 2010 6:20 PM

Some of the graphics at Olivia's women boxing website remind me of a few winery celler worker encounters. Perhaps she has potential as a wine transfers overseer.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Kim published on February 17, 2010 3:58 PM.

SAG Awards Afterglow was the previous entry in this blog.

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