From sample prepping and customer service to picking the right trade partners, successfully selling bulk wine on the spot market is a comprehensive business.
Specializing your services, marketing your product and building a long-standing stales network are all part of your overall business plan, but how can you ensure you get the best deal?
BTN interviews Steve Fredericks, CEO of Turrentine Brokerage, and has identified some best practices for getting the most out of your bulk wine for sale.
These five tips are applicable to companies that specialize in bulk production and sales to companies selling bulk wine on the spot market once every few years.
1. Think Customer Service
Even in the bulk market, the party exchanging cash for a product is a customer. When you are just getting rid of excess inventory, buyers still need to feel they are working with a company that is professional and easy to deal with. This may sound obvious, but few wineries apply marketing principles to wines for sale in bulk. If you treat that bulk buyer like a real customer, pretty soon you’ll have more such customers bidding for your products, producing better prices and faster turnover.
2. Don’t Neglect It; Improve It
Offer the best wine you possibly can. Don’t just grab a sample from the tank. Work with it, adjust the acid, enhance the color, clean it up, make it taste better, make it look better. Try to make lab blends that taste better than the components. Consider sacrificing a little of your better wines in order to upgrade bulk lots. This may be counter-intuitive, but the quality of the wine you offer in bulk will dramatically affect the quantity of dollars you get back. Within this past year, we have sold California appellation Cabernet Sauvignon for as low as $5 per gallon and as high as $10 per gallon. We have sold Napa Valley Cabernet as high as $50 per gallon and as low as $20. It pays to present the best blends possible.
3. Get the Wine Ready First
There are early buyers most years and it is good to get your wines ready quickly for these buyers. Even more importantly, never send out a sample of a wine you would not be willing to purchase yourself. While sellers diminish defects in their own minds, buyers magnify them.
Remember that the winemaker on the other end is – justifiably – suspicious. He does not want to purchase someone else’s problem. If one of his own wines should exhibit a little H2S, for example, he is not concerned. He knows the history of his wine and is confident it will clean up.
But if a bulk sample shows the same amount of H2S, he wonders whether someone else has already tried – and failed to clean up the wine. In fact, that might be the reason the seller is trying to offload what is otherwise a pretty good wine. He may end up purchasing another wine he does not like as well, in other respects, but which seems safer. The bottom line is: make extra efforts to be sure your wine is showing well – even to a suspicious buyer – before you send out that sample.
4. Prepare Samples that Sell
It is a shame to lose a sale just because of a bad sample, but it happens all the time. Some knowledgeable and responsible person must make sure that the sample is properly drawn and accurately represents the wine. The sample should be clearly labeled with all of the relevant information (percentage varietal, vintage and appellation, gallons available, how stored, tank and lot number, asking price, broker information, date sample was drawn, and analysis if available – Alcohol, Total Acid, pH and VA). Samples should be sent quickly when requested. If the sample is going directly to a potential buyer, inform your brokers or any other partners by e-mail or phone as soon as the sample has been sent to facilitate fast, efficient follow-up.
5. Pick the Best Partners
Finally, the most important element of selling wines in bulk is picking the right partners. You must pick the right broker to present your wines, mediate any questions or problems and negotiate and document a sale. If you are offering high-quality wines, you will want to have a broker known for selling high-premium bulk. It’s also important to ensure the partners you choose will be able to help you plan for profit around wine business cycles.