Just hitting the wires today from a Vinexpo seminar on breaking into the U.S. market is this Just-Drinks article by Andy Morton on Vinexpo presentation on breaking into the U.S. market.


At the end of the day it’s simply not enough to make a really great wine that sells like something twice its price.  Maybe that was a tenable position 5 years ago, but now, it’s no longer unique, it’s ubiquitous.

In my seminars, lectures and consulting, I stress the point that suppliers have to have a POD that MAD…a Point of Difference that Makes a Difference.  Competitively superior is not a long-term strategy, someone will always be able to up their game to beat you at yours.  So the challenge is to develop a brand that is unique, not “better than…”

I think Mel Dick has made some really good comments in Andy’s piece:

“Nobody makes a bad wine”:  Whenever I ask a producer who’s interested in coming into the U.S. what makes his wine different and special, I always get the same answer- “My wine is really good.”  I agree with Mr. Dick,  in that making good wine is necessary but no longer sufficient.  The world is awash with really great wine.  To distinguish a wine in a store today, suppliers must think about brand first.

“The old story of someone telling me, my wine sells for US$15 and in a blind tasting it tasted better than a $30 wine – that’s not the answer.”  A really great wine that tastes better than its price is no longer a competitive advantage.  It’s expected.

“I think about the name. And quite often I suggest to the supplier how we can tweak it to make it more presentable.”

Remember, this is coming from a distributor not an importer.  Wineries have to expect they’ll get strong and unsolicited recommendations from both levels to change things.  So recognize it’s a collaborative process to balance maintaining the integrity of the brand as the producer developed it, and whatever changes are suggested by your U.S. partners.