Taking Wine to the People
One of my favourite movie lines of all times was from Nightshift where they are talking about innovation. They get talking about tuna salad sandwiches and Michael Keaton has an eureka idea and speaks into his tape recorder saying “Call Starkist! – Feed the mayo directly to the tuna”. In my few years in the wine business, I’ve come to realize that market access is THE issue and the game is all about who can get directly involved with consumers. We’ve decided that we will take wine directly to the people through a broad network of wine brokers. That is our “tuna salad innovation”. With incredible proliferation, thousands of products and limited retail access in Canada, maybe Keaton has it more right than wrong for wine too!
Market access – the big buzz word for the Ontario wine industry. So what is the problem? Pls ignore my approximate numbers, but the real problem comes down to lots of wineries, many more products and retail stores that don’t have rubber walls.
The number of Ontario wineries alone grows 6-10 per year on average, each of them aspires to sell at least 10 thousand cases of wine (seems to be the magic number to start making money) and they produce 10-15 different wines they would like to sell. At last count there are approximately 150 Ontario wineries. That’s nearly 2000 different products looking for a home on a retail shelf. Yup – and the walls are not made of rubber.
OK – so where else to sell my wine says the brand new winery owner full of optimism. The LCBO has agreed to take two of my products and that should get me about 1-2 thousand cases if I do a good job in the first year. Restaurants and bars make up about 10% of the total wine sales opportunity, but how do I get to them. Every winery is fighting over those sales and the spending is tough, service level requirements high and profitability low. I still need to be there though somehow as it is a place where people can try my wine. Better hire a few sales reps.
Each winery has the right to have one retail store on site as long as they have 5+ acres of vineyard attached to the winery. These are good sales and profitable because the winery gets more of the profit pool (ie the LCBO does not take their mark up). Average sales at the winery are around 2-3 thousand cases. Only challenge is you need a nice place to sell from and retail staff, tasting stock etc etc. Still – it is real volume
Internet wine sales are pretty tiny for most wineries. A few have really got it figured out. This can be a great way to sell wine, but for most it is a tiny portion of sales.
So yes, the numbers are hard to add up to that magic 10 thousand mark.
Here is where Sideroad Twenty comes in…and sorry for the long pre-amble. Our goal is to create an additional route to market selling wine the old fashioned way – by people to people. We plan to have the largest network of people in Canada selling wine direct from the winery. We’ll have exceptional wines at great value, hard to find wines and library releases and great bargains on wines that haven’t found a loving home yet.
We are looking for wine lovers who want to spend some or all of their time talking about, sipping and selling wine. It’s fun and rewarding. Check us out and ask us questions. We have just started our more active recruitment phase after 8 months testing our wines and selling systems. We’re now ready for more! Bring on the tuna!