Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Building a Brand with someone else's Wine??!!

Is it just me or are anyone else also concerned with what is going on in our market regarding the bottling of Wine of Origin wines???
Excuse me Perdeberg for using you as an example, but I cannot understand that you go buy in grapes from Durbanville to improve the perception and profile of your brand? There is really NO logic or common sense in this, but maybe I am wrong. It is like Kia that releases a car BMW actually built? Choosing Riesling as a varietal makes it even more difficult to understand why don’t you do it with a varietal that is performing very well in Perdeberg and source your grapes from there? In their defense, they are not the only one’s doing it and not the only brand that is built on WO Western Cape rather than true Region specific wines. In fact, go and have a look at your favourite brand and see what is the Wine of Origin. If it’s Western Cape, then there’s your answer and similar to Coastal Region…of which Tulbagh is actually also a part of, is my geography that bad?

The consumer doesn’t know what these regulations are and the detail around it, but in South Africa you are not allowed 1% to come from outside of your Wine of Origin to still bottle it like that. For example, if your winery is in Durbanville you cannot bring in wine or grapes and bottle it under WO Durbanville, then it must be Western Cape or Coastal Region depending on where you got the wine or grapes from.

In Napa Valley you can bring in 30% from outside Napa and still call it Napa Valley Wine, anything bigger than that is California Wine (I’m pretty sure this % is correct). Don’t you think we should strive towards more WO specific wines to show our true diversity in South Africa? If variety is in our nature then surely Western Cape is just not going to crack the nod for us because it doesn’t carry weight. Sourcing wine from all over does not make you a good winemaker. Working with what harvest gives you every year takes skill and craftsmanship to turn out consistent quality per vintage! This is what makes Estate Wine unique or at least should because we are not allowed to bring in grapes or wine to blend or bottle under our Estate Label.

Too many brands are being built in the world market on Western Cape rather than Stellenbosch or Elim. Too many times we take the easy way out by blending wines from various regions because we think that makes us different and unique. Well I disagree. If you really want to put unique, different and diversity on your back label then prove it with the wines that YOU actually make. I agree blending is an art, because i know thats what a lot of you think now, BUT blend with what is in your barrels and tanks. South Africa need to compete on quality and NOT volume and if want to tell stories tell it with what happened and happens on your proporty. Not some old ladies farm in the kalahari that still has some old Hanepoot left and you making Late Harvest from it.

Colyn "The Leg" Truter
Twitter:   colyntruter

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Challenging All Wine Media!!

With the announcement of their Top 100 wines by Angela Lloyd on Grape, which wasn’t very surprising or exciting, it urged me to write this blog. The same names whether you published it last year or in two months time was there. Honestly is this how boring our industry has become, no new and exciting producers with Top Quality? No wineries that have shown over many years that they can stand up against any competition without being main stream. Like she says, certain wineries ‘will’ always be included in a Top List or rarely miss out on one…really? So basically another Platter judging on name and label without even tasting the juice. Geesh, I really thought there would be something new after all the years of debacles.
If the Top 100 competition wanted to really make an impact they should’ve just made their whole entry criteria a lot easier and viable for everyone, big and small. That would’ve caused a stir I am sure.

Why, I ask the question? Because no one dares to try something new or search for new exciting wines and actually promote them? Would Eben Sadie have had the profile he has today without all the PR and write-ups? We all know the power of the pen, or these days the keyboard, and the journalists know it too. Especially those writing for big websites or magazines that have a huge amount of followers/readers and who can change perceptions. Yet they all go to the same events, write about the same events and review the same wines.

Last week someone tweeted about the amazing launch of Brampton etc, and I had to reply “anything can be done with money”, because that is what the smaller guys don’t have. Have you ever seen a rich guy without a HOT girl on his arm? In a previous blog I gave a couple of ideas on how a smaller producer can use his budget effectively and they are the people who will benefit most in this regard…so here goes.

Why don’t you stop writing about all the well known brands/wineries and do yourself a favour by searching for hidden gems. Search for Estates/producers who have been around longer than you have been walking, but who can’t afford a launch or tasting at The Mount Nelson or Butcher Shop. What about the new guy who started a boutique brand on his family’s farm or renovated his Great Grandfathers cellar to make his dream come true. This is the wines that I believe the public wants to know about and the kind of information that is newsworthy and interesting don’t you think? How many times must I read about how old Winery X is or how wonderful C Wines are when I can go to the local Supermarket and buy a bottle. These brands are well advertised, promoted and accessible all over the country.

The social calendar of journalists/bloggers/wine writers has probably been filled with events for the ‘big wine brands’ launching new vintages, new wines or a new cellar door sales girl. Just ask Anel Grobler, Spit-or-Swallow fame, how quickly she started to get invited to all kinds of events once Spit-or-Swallow got noticed!! Flying them all over the country to taste and attend events and of course, write about it. Spit or Swallow presents a very good platform to smaller wineries to get noticed and talked about because of their Wineflies. The Wineflies are normal people who just want to travel and have fun with wine while discovering new producers, new wines and not necessarily go to your mainstream places. Visit the website and you might even learn about places.  

Jean Engelbrecht mentioned at the Vinpro Day in January that the local media must be more positive about our industry rather than always looking for problems or negative topics to write about. Maybe this is a good start by really trying to discover more of the unknown, lesser known or even older Family brands who just do not have the money to compete with what goes around. The journalist who starts this will get more followers on twitter, more friends on Facebook and much more pats on the back from the father, son or grandson who has to continue his family’s legacy. The information that you supply to the consumer is invaluable and cannot be measured in Rand and Cent, but definitely by the number of people who suddenly knocks on your cellar door or orders from the farm.

I can imagine that life is tough up there to decide which events you will actually like to attend, after all who will say no to a Freebie of some kind. Next time weigh up your options on where you will actually find something new, exciting, informative and special that will easily make up 3000 words. What about a chat with Oom Johnny Burger about the history of Rietvallei Estate, stories about the days before screwcaps and PET bottles, the industry 30 years ago and funny things that have happened over the years with him, his forefathers and what he thinks of the industry today. This is the kind of stories that keeps glasses full and ‘hits’ on websites increase…try it, you have nothing to lose!!! Or maybe what I will do is launch a wine at R10000 only 100 bottles made and 10 barrels used…bet that will get a S#%t load of attention and LOTS of write-ups J

Colyn Truter
Twitter: colyntruter
Facebook: rietvalleiestate
Twitter:    rietvalleiwines
Facebook: johnbwines
Twitter:    johnbwines