163 episodes

A podcast delivering wine perspectives ex-chateau. Insights, analysis, and perspectives on news and trends in the wine industry beyond winemaking, such as marketing, finance, and consumer trends. From noted wine blogger Robert Vernick (@wineterroir) and leading wine business consultant and author of Luxury Wine Marketing Peter Yeung (@winebizguy), this podcast navigates the business of wine with unique perspectives and insights. Get access to library episodes
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XChateau Wine Podcast Robert Vernick, Peter Yeung

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 97 Ratings

A podcast delivering wine perspectives ex-chateau. Insights, analysis, and perspectives on news and trends in the wine industry beyond winemaking, such as marketing, finance, and consumer trends. From noted wine blogger Robert Vernick (@wineterroir) and leading wine business consultant and author of Luxury Wine Marketing Peter Yeung (@winebizguy), this podcast navigates the business of wine with unique perspectives and insights. Get access to library episodes
Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    Building Perennial Brands w/ Nick Ramkowsky, Vine Connections

    Building Perennial Brands w/ Nick Ramkowsky, Vine Connections

    In part 2 of our series with Nick Ramkowsky, Owner of Vine Connections, Nick describes how he builds brands in the US market, striving to turn “annual” brands into “perennial” ones. Partnering with distributors both directly and working independently with consistency helps create a virtuous cycle of long-term relationships. Nick also covers his interest in sake and how it overlaps with sales strategies for wine.  
    Detailed Show Notes: 
    Two types of brands
    Perennials - brands where accounts grow in value each vintage; very few become thisAnnuals - need to sell the same case to a new account each year; everything starts hereThe goal is to build brands into perennials
    Getting to perennials includes having value in the bottle, packaging (VC has three designers on staff), relationships (finding the right spots/customers for brands and supporting the accounts (staff trainings, consumer events)), identifying champions on the distributor sales team, and press
    Creating brand value as an importer - consumers believe in the importer’s book through consistent producers and quality across the portfolio
    Consistency helps develop brands
    Marketing strategies to build distributor demand
    Press (primarily critics)Effective distributor work withs (distributors need confidence importer will support them)Creating credibility in the marketplace (trade events, work withs, samples, incentive/launch programs)Can’t outspend more prominent importers for incentives, need to create unique ones - e.g., one supplier affiliated w/ custom made shirts, created incentive around the shirtsSetting suggested retail price (“SRP”)
    Through tasting, looking at the competitive set, and where the winery wants to be$1 in home country becomes ~$3 at retail in USSales strategies
    VC has ten salespeople across the USDo work withs with distributors, but also on their own to not overwhelm distributor repsPartner with reps, sending recaps for follow-upSake - started in 2002
    He went to Japan to work in a brewery to study the processHad to make more accessible - standardized back label, 1st to put English names on front labelsThey use the same distribution network as winePlace importance on education; VP of Sake Monica Samuels is a great educatorNow, 20% of the Japanese imported sake marketRecommends drinking sake from a wine glass, at cellar temp, or warmed to order for hot sakeKome website is more focused on the style of sake (e.g., fruity/floral vs. round/rustic) vs. grade now46 prefectures brew sake - lots of expression of placeGluten and sulfite-freeWine importing trends - people drinking less, but better (Gen Z - less alcohol, and non-alc drinks, believes they will look at wine more as they age; value premium products that are authentic, smaller, good stewards of land)
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    • 28 min
    Exploring Regions w/ History but Little Recognition w/ Nick Ramkowsky, Vine Connections

    Exploring Regions w/ History but Little Recognition w/ Nick Ramkowsky, Vine Connections

    After falling in love with wine through a year abroad in Burgundy in high school, Nick Ramkowsky, Owner of Vine Connections, has built a premium national importer of South American wines and sake. Nick discusses the types of wine importers in the US, how he thinks about building a brand portfolio, and the keys to success as an importer in part 1 of this 2-part series.
    Detailed Show Notes: 
    Vine Connections
    A national import and marketing company based in CA and has a retail licenseFocus on regions with winemaking history but not globally recognizedStarted as a broker and distributor (when Nick was 25)Worked with Billington Imports and met Laura Catena, went to Argentina, and fell in love with winesEstablished 1st premium portfolio of Argentine wines (1999-2000) - least expensive wine was $24 retail2002 - imported sake2013 - 1st premium Chilean wine portfolioHas wholesalers in all 50 states, including RNDC (#2 in the US), Breakthru (#3), and other smaller ones30 people today, from 2 originallySplit company in 2 - Kome Collective (Japanese), GeoVino (wines)Types of wine importers
    All importers are also distributors in their stateSales Geography - can be state, regional, or national; Vine Connections is national for control over brands all the way through, exclusive for all 50 states, contracts w/ producers outline the responsibilities of importer and producerPortfolio Focus - world or specialized; Vine Connections is specialized in S America and sakeRole of importer
    Bring wines in, warehouse, sell to distributors, & work with sales teams to sell to various channels (on-premise, off-premise, chains)Work with press, do consumer events, lots of training and educationSourcing wines
    Looks at people first, then property, and consistency in product and pricingNew wines don’t cannibalize the current portfolioComplementary driven by a sense of place and identity, even if the same region, varietal, price pointLooking at expanding to more regions to take advantage of the distribution networkOriginally specialized to have more of an identity as an importerOptimal book size - has ~120 SKUs in portfolio vs. ~900 at some importers and ~10,000 for RNDC as a distributor; optimal size varies by business model (e.g., focused on chains vs. independent stores/restaurants)More in not better - high cost to inventory and more challenging to prioritizePricing wines
    In general, SRP is fixed, but each state is different (based on freight & tax differences, distributor margins (larger tend to work on lower margins), and retailer margins (some take less margin)Selling wines
    Used to self-distribute in CA, now uses wholesalers (couldn’t service all the accounts, wanted to focus on national sales)Distributor salespeople don’t have time to focus on everythingImporter needs to generate interest in brandsKey elements for success
    Find good partners - share the same philosophy (quality, value, consistency), support each otherVine Connections doesn’t add new wineries often (only one new Chilean winery); only one winery left in 20+ years$1M revenue/employee benchmark for successVine Connections differentiation - good communications, both in transfer and transparency (e.g., sales by state), consider Vine Connections an extension of the winery

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    • 33 min
    Expanding the Vine & Cellar w/ Curtis Mann, MW, Albertsons

    Expanding the Vine & Cellar w/ Curtis Mann, MW, Albertsons

    To give their customers the ability to trade up and a broader selection than what’s inside their 1,900+ grocery stores, Albertsons Companies have launched Vine & Cellar. Curtis Mann, MW, Group VP of Alcohol, discusses the greater selection, wine description and storytelling, and flexibility Albertsons has with Vine & Cellar to complement their in-store offerings. 
    Detailed Show Notes: 
    Curtis’ background
    Worked at IRI / Circana (database of retail scan data)Worked in retail wine stores and restaurantsWas head of beverages at Raley’s (grocery) before AlbertsonsAlbertsons Companies
    1,900 stores that sell wineA lot of value wine, some specialty stores (e.g., Pavilions, Hagens) sell fine wineWest Coast - more domestic (~40% import, 60% domestic), East Coast - more importsVine & Cellar (“V&C”) online wine store
    Wine only now, no beer & spirits yetCA only now will expand to others (e.g., WA, IL)Extension on top of the grocery store websiteHas a larger selection of wines (2,300 items vs. average 800-1,000 at typical stores, up to 1,500 at some stores) - e.g., Super 2nd Bordeaux, allocated CA Pinot NoirWines are only available to ship via UPS (vs. in-store pickup or delivery)Can use the same checkout process for groceries and V&CBenefits for consumers of V&C
    Curated wine selections that are representative of their regionsBuy groceries and V&C wines and checkout togetherMore flexibility - can do wine dinners, in-store tastings, wine clubsGoals of V&C
    Let customers continue to explore and trade up on wines and not trade out of AlbertsonsDon’t cannibalize in-store, but more add-on, incremental purchasesCapture a portion of the wine DTC marketOnline vs. in-store buying
    More imported wines onlineBroader selections vs more volume of the same wines in-storeAvg bottle price is $10 higher on V&C than highest in-store~½ V&C customers buying iconic wines (e.g., Silver Oak), ~½ exploring (e.g., Burgundies in the $50-100 range)V&C customer is both existing Albertsons and some new customersYou can put a lot more details/descriptors of wines onlineOnline buys in 6 or 12 packs to economize on shippingMarketing V&C
    QR codes inside storesVinecellar.comSome ads on the website, V&C wines come up during a search for wines if they are not offered in-storeEvents / PRNapa Safeway has V&C featured wines in-storeSome paid search, Wine-SearcherLoyalty programs - now Albertsons customers get promo codes for V&C
    Wine trends - less high-end wines, people focused on value / high QPR
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    • 35 min
    2023 Year-End Wrap Up in Wine

    2023 Year-End Wrap Up in Wine

    2023 wrap-up for the wine business
    Topics we covered in 2023
    Sustainability (8-part series that had Drew Bledsoe to CEO of Silver Oak David Duncan and across the world from the US to Spain to Bordeaux)State of the Wine Collector (LA, Dallas)Leveraging non-gov’t organizations (VDP, Grand Pagos) to promote wineRevenge travel
    Post-Covid move back to in-person / offices -> delivery of wine -> reduced visitors to wine country and people buying wine to stock and drink at homeAmericans Took Record-Setting Vacations In Summer Of ‘Revenge Travel’ - 32.8% of households went on vacation (a record since data kept in 2015)Online retailer issues - Underground Cellar (April 2023), SommSelect (July 2022), Winc (Nov 2022, 1 year after going public) all went bankrupt, others struggling back to 2019 or even lower levels
    More missing bottles w/ Sherry Lehman (~Mar - Aug 2023), Chelsea wine storageInflation / economic slowdown globally and impact on wine market
    Bleak outlook for 2024 as fine wine buyers narrow their focus - Liv-Ex indexes down double digits year to date; “flight to quality” - Bordeaux benefiting, Burgundy, Champagne downInflation is used as the “reason” many wineries increase wine pricesBBC article on wine pricing increasing - glass, labor, fruit - all getting more expensive and wineries increasing price; and burgundy/napa/champagne got very expensive, consumers starting to pull backMany napa wines taking prices up to $300+ (Memento Mori - $225 -> $300)Chinese consumption is as low as 1996 levels, - the peak of 19.6M HL in 2017 to 8.8M HL in 2022 (#8 globally) vs. US in the top slot at 34M HLGlobal health/wellness; Millenial/Gen Z slowing down alcohol consumption
    WHO says no alcohol is good for you (released a statement Jan 2023)Gen Z drink 20% less than Mill, who drink less than prior generations - college-age abstainers went from 20% -> 28% in the last 20 years (to 2020) Better non-alc and low-alc alternatives (kombucha, pot, mushrooms, better no/lo options for alcohol)Is wine part of the good life? 
    Wine, particularly fine wine, is used differently than beer & spirits; it is also better from a health perspective The Wine Access interview re-emphasized - the experiences with wineThe Italian lifestyle / holy trinity of the good life - cheese, wine, & bread Get access to library episodes
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    • 33 min
    Making Wine Accessible w/ Podcasts, Amanda McCrossin & AJ Resnik, Wine Access

    Making Wine Accessible w/ Podcasts, Amanda McCrossin & AJ Resnik, Wine Access

    As the podcast space matures, it becomes a more meaningful channel to market wines to consumers and create new experiences.  3rd time guest Amanda McCrossin, Host of the Wine Access Unfiltered Podcast, and AJ Resnick, CMO of Wine Access, explain their rationale and experiences in launching and building the podcast and associated wine club.  From celebrities crying on the show to creating a 360 experience with their wine club and podcast audio and video, the Unfiltered Podcast continues to build traction, make wine more accessible, and build Wine Access into a loved wine brand. 
    Detailed Show Notes: 
    Wine Access background
    Launched in the late ’90s, it hosted wine retail websites and described wines2004 - offered wines on their platformCurate wines (team includes an MS), tell the story behind every wine, excellent customer service, and technology (powers wine clubs like Michelin Guide, Sunset, Decanter, and Williams Sonoma)Goal - to be a loved wine brandWine Access Unfiltered podcast
    Launched in 2020A wine podcast w/ conversations around wine w/ wine, but not about wineReleased every other week, 45 min - 1 hour show lengthThey have done podcast ad buys and have seen successFormat - Season 1 - talk about wine stories, mostly with celebritiesSeason 2 - off more value add, more thematic (e.g., wine regions), added a wine club to drink the wines w/ the show (full 360 experience)Has IG (>10,000 followers) and YouTube (>300 subscribers) channelsListener base
    They assumed it would be the same as Wine Access customersThey found it to skew younger and less wine-savvy, but very curiousAnother way to connect with membersTraction
    >100,000 cumulative downloadsPast episode performance increases with new listenersHolds people’s attention for an extended period of timeMost podcasts fizzle out after five episodesGetting celebrities on the show
    “Do you want to drink wine with us?” worked during the pandemicThey did a lot of cold calling, worked with a few producersMore prominent celebrities didn’t always have the best performanceBert Kreischer’s episode was very successful; he cried on the show and then mentioned it and FaceTimed Amanda while on 2 Bears, 1 Cave podcastWine Club
    Four wines for four episodes, sent every other month, curated by Amanda10% off all Wine Access purchasesIncludes shipping, can add wines w/ free shipping to shipmentSome wines exclusive to the wine clubQ3 2023 - Unfiltered Wine Club had more new members than any other club that Wine Access runsROI
    The wine club helps cover the costThe goal is more brand awarenessRetention through connecting w/ members in a different wayContent creation (audio, video) that can be reusedPodcasting
    Spotify is bringing new energy to the space with a better listening experience (went from 15% -> 30% of Unfiltered listeners)YouTube has a podcast sectionRepurpose clips for social media is a best practice
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    • 55 min
    Library Release - Telling Stories w/ Jason Wise, SOMM TV

    Library Release - Telling Stories w/ Jason Wise, SOMM TV

    From an outsider's perspective, Jason Wise, director of the SOMM movies and founder of SOMM TV, has been able to find stories in the world of wine that interest a broad audience. To control more of the content pipeline and how the shows are distributed, Jason founded SOMM TV. Using "Somm" as more of a curator, SOMM TV has wine at its core and covers food, travel, and other alcohol, making it appealing to a broad (and younger) audience. Learn more about the business of wine films in this episode of XChateau! 
    Detailed Show Notes: 
    SOMM movie (2012) - Genesis of the movie
    Made when he was fresh out of film school (where he didn't focus on documentaries)Met Brian McClintic, who asked him to watch their tasting practiceJason found the practice similar to a sporting eventMet Ian Cauble and found his determination to become a Master SommelierThe success of the film
    The obsessive personalities made the filmBuilds to an actual event (the MS exam)The wine industry was ready for something like the movieNot a "wine film," a different way of looking at wineIntroduced a new group of people who can tell you what to drink (vs magazines)Documentaries became popular with NetflixNot made by wine people, the outsider perspective made it enjoyable for outsidersMedia business model
    Movies usually have a distributorTheaters are a big marketing arena for wineiTunes - make a % of revenueNetflix - pays the distributor a fixed fee; if put on the 1st page, it can reach millions of people. It often pays based on what it costs to make. They can own rights outright or rent the filmAmazon - get paid 6+ months after it's up, get a tiny cut of incremental revenueYouTube - don't make any money onCreated SommTV to control more steps in the business model - more control of content pipeline, partnerships, and a place to premiere new films (e.g., SOMM 4)Before Covid - events were a big part of the businessMedia platforms
    Hulu - Jason's favorite, takes the biggest swings in contentStars - has the best moviesNetflix - very careful; content is very similar to each other; often licenses something then makes their version if it works (e.g., Uncorked is a similar series to Somm)Cost of making films
    Big range - SOMM 2 ~$100k vs ~$850k for another wine film made by someone elseDocumentaries - can be millions, when there's real music, at least $500kDo not pay people to be in the filmSommTV business model
    Employees on salary, which is unusual in film90% original contentIt started with originals and, now, trying to license other contentFocused on wine, food, and alcohol; food is going to be a big partIt started the streaming service because it's an underserved audience, and wanted to super-serve themContent pipeline - they would ideally love to have new content every dayHundreds of thousands of subscribers (as of Jan 2022) - believes the potential audience is in the millions"Somm" is defined by Jason as someone who curates - wine at the center, but food, travel, etc…surrounding itPricing - $6/month, $50/yearLower cost doesn't necessarily mean more subscribersTechnology - a mix of own-developed and 3rd party apps; the goal is to bring the technology in-houseSommTV subscribers
    Younger, usually 24-37 years old (~70%), middle classScreenings/events - more varied audience52% male, 48% female - women growing fastKey markets - US largest by far, UK, Brazil, Nordic countries (not allowed in Iran or China)
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    • 56 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
97 Ratings

97 Ratings

Terence Jack ,

Highly recommend!!!

Overall, I highly recommend this wine podcast to anyone who is interested in learning more about wine or just enjoys a good glass of vino. The hosts are engaging, the topics are interesting, and the information is both educational and entertaining. Cheers to a great podcast!

cmlyogi ,

Best Sustainable Wine Podcast Series to Date…

Peter and Robert recently delivered a content rich series of podcasts focused on sustainability and the business impacts driving this momentum. This series was skillfully organization around Anna Britton’s seven sustainability pillars with the and the XChateau team bringing in leading wine industry guests whom delivered one of the best in-depth explorations of this powerful topic. Recommend listening and forwarding these episodes to anyone in your sustainable business circles.

oliviabaker13 ,

Your new favorite podcast 🍷

If you’re a wine enthusiast, meet your new favorite podcast! Peter and Robert are incredibly knowledgeable and lead engaging conversations with so many interesting people across the world of wine. This is great content, delivered in an easy-to-consume format - highly recommend tuning in!

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