Marketing plans

  • Marketing wine is largely common sense – for those who know how the industry works, that is.  I like Jeffrey Grossett’s comment “Marketing is common sense turned into concept.”
  • Marketing plan. Write one, even if it’s only bullet points on a page of A4.
  • Provided you have good quality wine, the single greatest barrier to selling wine is the consolidation and strength of the retail chains, which effectively exclude 95% of wine producers.
  • Take the long-term view, with a plan that will maximise sales to on-premise customers and directly to the public. Direct sales should give you five times the margin than going through the traditional wholesale/retail channel.

Business plans

You need one, as with a marketing plan, even if, again, it’s just a single page. The most critical issue for a wine producer is cash flow, particularly if the company has no other source of income. Lead times in wine production are long. A vineyard doesn’t usually recover funds invested until year 7. A winery making equal quantities of red and white wine needs to fund about 1.6 years of stock, more if you are aiming for the highest price brackets.

Press releases

I write many of these and can help with yours. There are some very simple rules.

You must have a reason. (If you haven’t, find one!)
Most wine writers don’t read a press release until they’ve tasted your wine and found it good or interesting. Press releases without a sample – whether by mail or email – mostly get binned, particularly if they’re proudly announcing another bronze medal at a minor wine show. (They may nevertheless get coverage in the local or wine trade press.)

Keep it short.
Keep the press release to a single A4 page, or it won’t get read. If there’s a need to send more information, put it on a separate information sheet.

Make it interesting
Try to include an unusual feature, event or fact that might help the writer create a catchy story – the bicycle going into the crusher hopper (yes, it really happened), the forgotten block of grapes such as gave rise to Tyrrell’s Lost Block, the grapes being shovelled off the Hume Highway (see link Hatherleigh 03 04 press release).
The same press release won’t serve for the wine writer, the trade publication and the retailer.

  • The writer doesn’t need a detailed wine description. That’s his/her job. But do include any information – the growing season, perhaps – that has an important bearing on the wine.
  • The trade press needs to know why the trade should stock your wine. What makes it unique?
  • The retailer does need a detailed description and tasting note, particularly on-premise, including a wine/food suggestion.

Label the sample bottle with contact details and prices – LUC, retail, cellar door.

Most important – read Max Allen on the subject. How to send wine samples and press releases to the media. Aust. NZ Wine Industry Journal Vol. 18 pp 56-60.


How does your wine stack up against its peers in your region or the market leaders? I’ve performed benchmarking tastings for many individual producers and for vigneron and winemaker organisations. (For vigneron/winemaker associations, see Benchmark tasting plan).

Individual producers find that a small benchmarking tasting immediately before they put a blend together can help focus on what the consumer wants.