Over the past few years (not many) it has become more and more evident that the wine-loving public (aka your future customers) are thoroughly enjoying and appreciating the opportunity to “meet the producer” on a more personal level. As this trend is rapidly growing in momentum, and seeing the value in it, more producers are finding a way to re-apply their marketing budget and efforts to facilitate more personal engagements with their consumers and fans.
We spoke with one of our Cape Wine Masters, an insightful source to the topic: Kristina Beuthner (CWM), Wine Consultant, CWA former Principal.
Observations around wine…
The economic world of Johannesburg does not revolve around wine (as the majority of people work in companies, mining, banks, insurances etc. which have nothing to do with wine). This does not mean that they don’t enjoy or know something about wine, but it does mean that wine / spirits remain a way of connecting… of bringing friends together or going out for a meal.
People spend money on what they appreciate / need most, right now, although there is a core of people who will watch out for those discounted sales or check for specific sales in the big liquor stores around Gauteng.
Wine clubs tell us, that they are hungry for good stories in wine, not just about the winemaking process and viticulture on the farm, but rather personal stories about the owner, happenings during the years of running the farm, history, people and often their unique or specific focus areas (e.g. Chamonix, Pink Valley wines).
Younger people are still searching the wine shelves for decorative and or attractive labels, good discounts or brands that their friends have talked about. Interesting is the increase in technology, where applications such as QR codes allow you to scan and immediately you are on the website, without having to type in the winery name and variety and vintage – definitely a new age thing! A great example of this is Overhex Mensa “live a great story”!
Some restaurants, especially new ones are allowing you to “BYO” wine (bring your own) – even at no cost and some are even starting to price wines more realistically, such as the Old Ducky restaurant, Johannesburg.
Wine fans are people who want to know more – it’s impressive at parties, and it’s becoming more and more of an admirable thing if you are knowledgeable on wine.
Fortunately, learning about wine is not reserved to sitting in a classroom, and there are plenty of ways out there. Distributors / wineries are doing more free training for restaurant, hotel and other hospitality staff – and this is clearly needed – but the importance is even greater. This knowledge and information does not stop there and filters down to many more people. WOSA offers a free wine course, WSET courses are all accessible online. There are detailed sites like GuildSomm and Winescholarguild.org who speak to specific people wanting to learn more about wine, and they do an excellent job!
Wine estates that engage in regular club or restaurant tastings are slowly seeing the benefits. Firstly, the estate or producer is bound to list a few more wines at the establishment if they’re making the effort to support them with such private tastings, but in addition, the customers who attend such events feel a far greater sense of connection to your brand and wines.
The choice is growing so the competition is intense. Even so, top restaurants and distributors invite the public for private wine events, so as to not only teach and encourage people to eat and drink, but to pair and enjoy, and actually discover the greater experiences of food and wine. This includes excellent foreign wines, e.g. Mosaic Restaurant.
The noble single varieties and Cape Blends, Bordeaux blends and other blends etc. are still there, but many winemakers are producing wines of other grape varieties and introducing and telling a story about wines that not all people are familiar with. This in its own is very exciting to a wine-lover – discovering, learning, experiencing – and let’s not forget, talking about it! (social networks). Some of the less familiar cultivars we’re seeing entering the local market include wines like Albariño, Barbera, Grüner Veltliner, Grenache (blanc and noir), Cinsault, etc. which are slowly now also working their way onto the wine lists…
The Rosé trend has stabilized for the moment, though the Sparkling Rosé is clearly trending still. There is an obvious growth in lighter red wines (to drink with/without food) and a familiar trend back to white wines – since most whites naturally go well with food. In terms of Sparkling, Prosecco and Cava are the number 1 and 2 in sales worldwide, just because they do not cost as much as Champagne… or you can stay with Champagne NV, if you’re happy to buy a 375ml bottle at R400.00?