Why winemakers should play the luxury game!

It’s a tough world out there. With so many products being launched all the time, its really hard to get any traction. Wine is much the same. So much wine out there, how are consumers supposed to choose your brand over others? And now with the emergence of ‘home brands’, where large retailers are placing their own products (often the same wine rebranded for different price points) on their shelves in order to increase profits, how on earth do you compete? Well, unfortunately its very, very difficult.

So, the aim of the game should be to differentiate yourself from from everybody else. It’s hard to be seen in a large pool with lots of fish, so why don’t you place yourself in a smaller pool with less fish? i.e. The luxury wine market!


The luxury wine market in Australia is the section that demands +$100/bottle. But how do I do that you ask? I can’t just slap a price tag on a wine and hope for the best can I? Damn right you can’t. Luxury wines take a lot of thinking, energy and time to create. That’s why there aren’t as many out there. These wines not only challenge the consumers hip pocket, they challenge the norms of winemaking also.

I often hear the word ‘history’ attached to luxury wines, as an attempt by winemakers to justify why they are not in this market. “I just don’t have the history behind my product to justify a price tag like that!” Well I say bollocks to that. Why should this market be the domain of the the establishment?

Yes, the standard for many years has been the brands, or more specifically a wine within a brand’s portfolio, that has a long history. Does this however mean the wine deserves the high price tag? Consumers worldwide now are looking beyond established brands and wines for something new, fresh, exciting and of world class quality. A luxury product that nobody else has found yet, a hidden gem.

What we must be able to do is think outside the box. Imagine having a wine in your portfolio that commands +$100/bottle. What would that product look like? What would it feel like and weigh in your hands? Feel like when it’s being poured? What would label needs to look like and represent? Imagine the sound of the bottle opening, the wine leaving the bottle, and running gently down the sides of the decanter your customer has chosen. The sound of the bottle being placed back down on the table, and what it looks like being the centrepiece of attention at a dinner party. What the wine looks like in the glass. The smell of the wine coming from the glass even before it is smelt directly. Then finally, what it actually smells and tastes like.

There is so much more to a wine that just what it smells and tastes like. Every feeling a person goes through prior to opening that bottle must be considered. Can the customer be proud, in every sense of the word, that your wine was a great choice? Can they be proud of what it represents when they bring it to a friends house to share? Does it justify the +$100 they paid for it?

So why is ask you, if you can nail all of these moments for your customer, aren’t you putting the price on your bottle? A bottle of wine like that should never have a $25 price tag. It won’t get the respect it deserves. I liken it to buying an old, rusty, banged up car, driving it to a party full of affluent friends and expecting them to look at it and praise you for your choice. It just doesn’t happen.

As small wineries, we have the opportunity to create something spectacular, that is unique and rare. So why aren’t we doing it? Well, the answer is usually self-belief. For whatever reason we as winemakers feel that we are just not worthy of creating a wine like that. That the scrutiny on my product will be much greater, and that I will look like a fool if I don’t nail it.

Sure, these are valid feelings to have. I had them, many others have too. But don’t you owe it too yourself to be your best? And to be your very best you must take on the ownership of being the best. Creating something of value in the wine game isn’t just about point scores. Creating a product that is of the highest quality possible, from vineyard, to winemaking, to packaging, is unbelievably rewarding. There can be no compromises along the way, and it takes some thought, careful planning, and execution. But when you create that flagship wine, your $100 bottle, the satisfaction you will feel is immense. It will drive sales of your other wines too, and your bottom line will look so much better!

Contact me at liam@liamanderson.com.au if you need assistance to create a world-class wine.