In 2014 I had a number of wine brokers arrange wine tasting with me for non- domestic wines. I had the good fortune to taste flights of French, Spanish, Italian, Chilean and Argentinean wines. Most of the brokers were from their respective countries and represented a number of small family-run vineyards and wineries. To me, that was as exciting as tasting the wines. These families have gone together to market their wines in the U.S. as well as other countries. Some of the wineries are very small, sometimes only marketing as little as several hundred cases of a particular wine. I am very familiar with production of this size and the issues you run up against being such a small producer. As I believe I have mentioned in the past, in today’s world if you are not producing more than 10,000 cases a year, the majority of distributors will not even talk with you about handling your wine.
In most cases, I was as much interested in what the brokers were doing to market the wines as I was interested in the wines they were presenting. I did some research on just how big the global wine market really is. The numbers are staggering. MarketLine research estimated that the global wine industry was expected to generate revenue near $292 billion in 2014. That is a lot of cases of wine. As I was doing my research I started thinking about the nice folks who I had tasted wine with and how much fun it would be to be paid to travel the world holding wine tastings. I quickly came back to reality remembering the days I traveled like that. As some of you might remember, in the mid- to late-90s I was working with the United Nations to promote and operate small business incubators in new developing nations. I remember the 36-hour trips to Indonesia…they were grueling.
Perhaps some of you road warriors can relate to this story: I remember one trip in an 8-day period where I traveled from Elkhart to Baltimore for a meeting, then left there and headed to Hong Kong, China. From Hong Kong I went back to Chicago then on to Miami, Florida. The next to last day in Miami I was so exhausted I literally could not remember my hotel room number. I had to go to the front desk and ask them my room number. So traveling at times isn’t as grand as it appears.
In my October 23, 2014, blog post I wrote of my meeting with Italian wine distributor Salvatore Ivan. As I mentioned in that post I met Ivan, as he prefers to be called, through the social media channel LinkedIn. After a year or so of correspondence and phone calls, I finally got to meet Ivan and his cohort, winemaker Lara Elisabetta Belgrado Barzan, and wine importer Jim Lo Duca of Milwaukee. We had a great afternoon tasting an array of Italian wines. It was quite an informative and enjoyable wine tasting. I was able to expand my limited knowledge on Italian wines and learn about Ivan’s marketing techniques.
Over the past months, I have come to appreciate Ivan’s efforts to promote the wines he represents. He currently represents eight Italian wineries and one from Austria. In 2014 he made nine presentations in the U.S., Australia, the United Kingdom and in Hong Kong.
Currently Ivan spends about six months on the road and the balance of time in Italy. He is involved in a Master’s Degree research project entitled “How the European Latin Societies of Italy, France and Spain are losing business because of improper use of the English language.” This is a very interesting topic…more on it in a minute.
One of the creative methods of marketing that Ivan has come up with is the creation of a video character named the “Wine Catcher.” Ivan, along with a couple other folks, has done two videos in English promoting some of the Italian wines he represents. The videos are on YouTube here:
They aren’t long videos so you might like to watch them. Ivan is a firm believer in the use of social media to assist him in building relationships to sell the wines he represents. As you’ll see, these videos were professionally done and, in the case of the recipes one, he is working with the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners (ICIF), a well-thought of organization and partner for the video. Most of the participants speak English. This is his Master’s project. Ivan uses the videos to promote branding and product awareness. He feels that these visual aids help him present his wines and make his tastings and face-to-face presentations more interesting and informative.
I also wanted to share some recipes that Ivan passed on from the ICIF…they look wonderful! Click on the recipe name to get the PDF file with the recipe.
Ivan tells me it is his experience that there is generally a one-year gap between his wine presentations and the customers’ first trial order. Through the use of social media he can continue to promote and present his clients’ wines throughout the one year gap.
These photos (on the top of the blog post and below) show some of the wines that Ivan promotes through his social media channels:
I believe sales is and always will be about relationships and Ivan and others who travel the globe selling wines and other products have to find the most effective and creative ways to build those relationships and serve their clients and customers. Ivan shared his sales philosophy as this: “My effectiveness is found in fluent communications and cultural knowledge skills in global markets. Being able to break down walls of misunderstanding makes sales transactions become more efficient and productive, therefore, getting sellers and buyers together in finalized business contracts. This is what translates investment into profits for all.”
Ivan will be back in the U.S. in February and presenting some of his wines at two Tiedemann on Wines Wine Club dinners on February 11 and 12. The dinner on the 11th will be at Lucchese’s Italian Restaurant in Elkhart and the dinner on the 12th will be in Granger at Uptown Kitchen. We are in the process of picking the wines and menu. Stay tuned for more information on these two events.
As always, I appreciate your support of our wine blog and encourage you to share it with family and friends. If you care to share your comments on this blog post or other topics, please do so in the comments section below.
Until next week,
Wednesday, January 21 – The Tiedemann On Wines Wine Club will hold a small plate dinner at McCarthy’s on the Riverwalk in Elkhart. I will be featuring Twenty Rows wines as well as two of my Glenwood Cellars wines. Call 574-293-2830 for reservations. Call soon as we sold out our seating at our last McCarthy’s dinner.
Wednesday, February 11 – The Tiedemann On Wines Wine Club will host a dinner featuring Italian wines at Lucchese’s Restaurant in Elkhart.
Thursday, February 12 – The Tiedemann On Wines Wine Club will host a dinner featuring Italian wines at Uptown Kitchen. Call 574-387-4897 for reservations.
We are working on wine events for March and will be posting them soon.