White Papers

From wine cellar to wine seller

At some point, all retailers play the part of sommelier

April 21, 2013
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+
Stonich Cellars

Many consumers are purchasing wine by the case instead of by the bottle. For example, Chris Stonich, president and chief operating officer of marketing agency Lussier, Hidden Hills, Calif., has his own wine cellar that holds 1,000 bottles.

Sports drinks, sodas, beers, spirits, waters, premixed drinks and the deluge of newly packaged summer offerings that flood marketing channels into the distribution straits and onto retail shelves can all be quite overwhelming — especially leading up to summertime.
As a retailer, staying on top of your inventories is difficult enough. Who has time to delve into what new wine offerings have just become available that may or may not appeal to your customer?

Paul LaRussa of Premier Cru Wine Cellars, Moorpark, Calif., has been in the media recently for addressing the psyche of the wine enthusiast, stating that understanding the wine buyer is simpler than understanding every wine brand’s angle. His advice: Stop trying.

“Critics don’t really seem to get what’s behind a wine enthusiast’s purchasing decision,” he says. “My experience in creating cellars, as well as selling the Premier Cru collection and stemware ancillary lines, is equivalent to what retailers are doing.

“For example, there’s been a lot of news lately about why wine cellars are not necessary because 95 percent of wine is not meant for cellaring,” LaRussa continues. “Yet more people are installing cellars. What the critics and journalists are missing is this: wine cellars are not always about necessity. They’re about ‘a happy place.’ They’re about babying your wines. A wine cellar is a centerpiece of a home or restaurant, a talking point, a showcase for a much-loved pursuit. It’s not just a big, refrigerated box.

“Understand the wine lover, whatever their knowledge level or price point,” he suggests. “Connect with their goals. They want to know more, but they need someone to guide them. We’re all functioning as sommelier really. Retailers know they need to locate the customer’s version of an ideal wine, but I don’t think they always inventory with that mindset.”

Kaj Stromer, general manager at Woodland Hills Wine Co., Woodland Hills, Calif., supports this conviction. “Our communication is a two-way street,” he says.

“We’re quite focused on providing information to our customers via newsletters, social media and wine tastings, but it’s equally essential to have a method of intake of information. What are they saying back to us? And they’re saying ‘Broaden my horizon; show me something I’ll love.’ And it’s important to have your ear there. That’s your guide.”

LaRussa concluded: “We have to stop listening to the buzz. I’m seeing more and more of ‘Sell this, push that’ in this business and less of asking the customer what [he or she is] looking for. If we ask them, you know what? They’ll tell us.”
 

 Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Beverage Industry.  

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

Wine Riot - Chicago

Second Glass hosted Wine Riot in Chicago on May 2 and 3. Wine Riot offered attendees an all-access pass to hundreds of new wines as well as multiple educational sessions about different wine styles and varietals. (Photos by Jennifer Haderspeck)

6/25/14 2:00 pm EDT

Crafting growth: A look into the bourgeoning craft beer market

Learn how the beer segment is performing and where it is heading, what to consider before expanding your markets and innovations that are captivating consumer audiences.

Podcasts

Maintaining beverage dispensing equipment

Iuliana Nita, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics global marketing manager of food and beverage, offers her insights about ensuring sanitary performance of beverage dispensing equipment in foodservice applications. She also will offer some tips about choosing the right kind of tubing to handle acidic beverages.

Beverage Industry Magazine

BI July 2014 cover

2014 July

The July 2014 Beverage Industry includes a cover story on the 2014 State of the Industry, as well as articles about PepsiCo Americas Beverages, Rooibee Red Tea kids line, and more. Check it out today!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Beverage Insider eNewsletter

Are you an Insider? Subscribe to Beverage Industry’s weekly e-newsletter to receive news headlines, new product information and magazine highlights.   

Best Beverage Categories

Which beverage category will perform the best in the second half of 2014?
View Results Poll Archive

THE BEVERAGE INDUSTRY STORE

cleaning-in-place-dairy-foo.gif
Cleaning-in-Place: Dairy, Food and Beverage Operations, 3rd Edition

This book addresses the principles of cleaning operations, water supply issues and the science of detergents and disinfectants.

More Products

Webinars

Beverage Industry Webinars are an easy, effective and convenient way to get educated and informed on the latest industry trends and topics. All Webinars are FREE unless indicated. For more information, check out our Events page!

STAY CONNECTED

facebook40 twitter    youtubelinkedgoogle+ icon 40px