Post Conference Wrap Up: Australia Trade Tasting a Resounding Success.

Australia Trade Tasting Logo

September 7th saw Australian beverage representatives from around the country assemble at the SMC Conference Center in Sydney for the final day of Australia Trade Tasting.  Registering over two hundred attendees and hosting twenty four speakers from the US and Australia, the trade only tasting and educational conference event came to a close after moving from Melbourne over the weekend.

The event started with a traditional trade tasting in Melbourne at Albert Park Lake. Industry buyers tasted wine, beer and spirits exhibited by new and established brands from around the world. Visitors were also given the opportunity to attend Master classes where they had the pleasure of being fully immersed in the teachings of ambassadors from Cider Australia, Vins d’Alsace, and Castilla-La-Mancha.


AuTT visitors at the Australia Conference Day.

The next day, the event hosted industry leading figures from Australia who presented on current conditions of the national market as well as innovative solutions in sales, distribution and marketing.

The speaker line-up was truly one of the most impressive groupings of market makers Australia has seen come together at one event.  Natasha Rastegar (Wine Intelligence), Rose Scott (Woolworths), Glenn Cooper AM (Coopers Brewery), Stuart Gregor (Australian Distillers Association), Giuseppe Minissale (NSW Liquor Stores Association), Andre Eikmeier (Vinomoro), Kathleen Davies (Nip of Courage), Bill Lark (Lark Distillery),Tania Shirgwin (BizEez), award winning mixologist Jenna Hemsworth and award winning author Tyson Stelzer presented on an impressive amount of data and trends and visitors had a chance to network with speakers and peers alike throughout the day.


Wine Australia USA’s Angela Slade reporting on current market conditions for the Australian category in the US

The USA Conference day followed, again at the Park in Melbourne, on September 2, where USA professionals spoke on the current state of the USA industry and gave visitors an intimate look at what it means to develop a successful sales strategy.

Angela Slade (Wine Australia), John Beaudette (MHW, ltd.), Steve Raye (Bevology), Deborah Gray (BlueStone Solutions), Peter McAtamney (Wine Business Solutions), Tim Duval (DW Fox Tucker Lawyers), Patrick Maguire (Sullivans Cove), Ben von Doussa (Wine Australia), David Lipman (Hubspot), and Sid Patel ‘s (Beverage Trade Network) presentations used poignant case studies to drive home insightful looks into the inner workings of the US three tier system.

The Educational Conference ended with closing notes presented by Bonnie Harvey and Michael Houlihan, founders of Barefoot Wines, after their presentation,The Seven Sales, which outlined the various challenges that brand owners will face when securing US import, distribution and retail partners.


AuTT Trade Tasting exhibitors came from across the world.

The final day of the event took place in Sydney, where local and national buyers came to taste what exhibitor’s were showcasing for one last time.  After a week of tastings, events and unofficial gatherings, visitors and organizers alike reveled in the camaraderie that only a great event and even greater people can create.

Australia Trade Tasting and it’s organizers, Beverage Trade Network, would like to thank our sponsors, without whom the event could not have been possible.  Cider Australia, Vins d’Alsace, Wine Communicators of Australia, Wine Australia, Liquor Logistics, Wine Business Solutions, The Shout, EMDG Consulting, Wine Industry Suppliers Australia, Cargo Hound, Castilla La Mancha, Graphic Language Design, MHW, BizEez, Melbourne International Beverage Competition, Business France, Utilacor, Liquid Ideas, National Liquor News and Beer and Brewer – Many thanks to you and yours.  We look forward to working with you as we get ready for the next Australia Trade Tasting.

Australia Trade Tasting in Pictures


Australia Trade Tasting Kicks off with the Grand Tasting at The Park in Melbourne on August 31, 2015.


Andre Eikmeier, co-founder of Vinomofo, on building a healthy customer culture.


Ben von Doussa, from Wine Australia, spoke about “What To Cover In Your First 5 Minutes When Pitching Independent Retailers”


John Beaudette, CEO and President of MHW, gave visitors an-depth overview of the three tier system and the current state of the US market.


Deborah Gray presented on what US Importers want to see from Australian brands.


Tim Duval’s presentation, “Getting Paid and Managing Risk,” explored his top 3 legal tips when developing distribution and retail partners.


BizEez’s Tania Shirgwin enjoying her time at the conference before presenting, “Marketing Wineries via Digital Means.”


Giuseppe Minissale giving pointers about what independent merchants look for in supply partners.


Beverage Trade Network CEO Sid Patel takes a few moments to enjoy presentations on the Australia Conference Day.


How to Get Chinese Consumers to Focus on Your Wine Label

China is not a country with a long tradition of drinking wines, but the Chinese consumers are some of the fastest learners in the world. A design with very traditional Chinese elements, such as deep reds with golden highlights, might have worked a decade ago, but today’s well-educated and growing middle-class has access to more disposable income, are open minded, love modern lifestyle, and normally refuse to buy labels with too much traditional Chinese elements.  Instead, the average modern Chinese consumer tend to lean towards labels that are adapted from a combination of western tradition and Chinese ideals.

Australia Trade Tasting gets insight from Rachel Wang, Professional consultant German Wine Institute China Office and contributing author to WINE magazine, on consumer tendency in China.

After interviewing a few wine lovers, media, and ordinary consumers, here are some clues for you to look at that show what the average Chinese consumer is looking for.

Simple is Best


Pic 1

The Chinese identity responds well to simple symbols of respect, honor, tradition, and reputation, so it is always better to use a single letter or initial (pic 1) or a simple picture (pic 2) that embodies the theology of your brand.  Because not everyone in China has a strong language skill to remember or pronounce foreign languages, most consumers will choose the ones with simple elements that are easy to remember.  It’s easy for them to say to themselves and their friends, “Last night I tried the label with the K (or even Baron K) and it was very good,” but it’s hard for them to remember something like, the Baron zu Knyphausen Riesling from Rheingau.  The communication and education programs between sales teams and consumers is much smoother if symbols are used because the consumer can easily associate the symbols with the wine’s origin and brand story.

Pic 2.

Pic 2.

You also want to keep local tradition if the wines are from the Old World because, for Chinese consumers especially, drinking wine is like experiencing the local culture. The more traditional, the more attractive it is for the Chinese consumer (Pic 3).  Wine lovers in China will always tell you something like, “When I sip wine from Europe, I want to feel the history and the tradition.  The label is a bridge connecting the present and the past. Also, it gives the wine a perceived value. If the wine label is modern in style, such as a painting, I will think the quality is not good.”

Pic 3

Pic 3

In order to really lure the Chinese towards your label, it’s about finding a sweet spot  between representing a story and offering an easily recognizable label that they will remember and relay to other consumers.   If you aren’t an old world winery that can rely on long-standing tradition and heritage, than you need to find fun and exciting ideas that Chinese can associate with (Pic 4).  Using summer themes for white wines and roses seems to resonate well with consumers and elegant and strong branding is a good choice for most new red labels.

Pic 4

Pic 4

Never Short of Quality

In China, quality is still the foundation of any consumer favorite. Even if consumers are attracted by your label and decide to try your wine, its your wine’s quality that will ultimately show them that their purchase represents good value.  The success of any sales team is the pursuit of a growing continued buyer population. In China (besides the extremely rich population of wine collectors who can purchase on reputation for practically any price) the average consumer is a value driven consumer, so offer them a great product in a package they can understand with a story that captures their imagination.

Looking to learn more on beer, spirits or wine sales and distribution? Get involved with Australia Trade Tasting educational conference on 1st and 2nd September in Melbourne.

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GLENN COOPER: Keynote speaker at the Australia Market Educational Conference

AuTT Header DatesWe are very excited to announce Glenn Cooper (Chairman, Cooper Brewery) as the first of our keynote lineup for AuTT Conference 2015!

speaker_GLENN_COOPERGlenn is the current Chairman of Coopers Brewing, Australia’s largest independent brewing company and named in 2011 as the world’s top family business in 2011. He was until June 2014 the Marketing Director of Coopers. He is also the current Chairman of Australian Made and Australian Grown.

Glenn will be talking on Managing and Growing Your Beer Brand: Specialist Brands Against The Global Breweries.

Glenn held the the responsibility of Marketing and oversaw the launch of numerous beers in the Coopers range, including Dark Ale, Extra Strong Vintage Ale, Mild Ale, Premium Lager, and more recently, Coopers Clear. Glenn will be sharing his insight on management and sales at the 2015 AuTT conference in September.


AuTT Conference Tickets


Sneak Peak: AuTT Panelist Angela Slade from Wine Australia


Wine Australia’s North America Director and Australia Trade Tasting Panelist Angela Slade Presents, ‘Australia Today: Our State of Play and Opportunities in the Evolving USA Market.’ (Click Here for her Sneak Peak Webinar).

Angela_SladeJoin Angela as she gives us a sneak peak into the world of Australian Wine in the USA, a subject she will fully explore at the Australia Trade Tasting Conference in Melbourne, on September 2, 2015.

Wine Australia North America provides a collaborative framework for the Australian wine category to secure maximum trade, press and consumer visibility. A team of industry professionals in US & CAN are dedicated to building confidence and increasing demand for Australian wines through market insights and extensive trade education.

Click to Watch Angela Slade’s Webinar as she outlines the state of the Australian wine market in the USA. 

Australia Trade Tasting Speakers

Join hundreds of fellow winemakers, brew masters, distillers, sales people and marketers at Australia Trade Tasting Conference which is designed to inspire and empower you with sales and marketing ideas—brought to you by Beverage Trade Network Academy.

Australian Craft Beer Market Update June 2015


The overall beer market in Australia continues to be challenged in volume by wine and cider, with craft beer the consistent savior, albeit off a small base and realistically large enough sustainable volumes enjoyed only by those brands with national distribution.

This is the first part of David’s (Australia Trade Tasting MC) update and outlines the general trend of craft beer in Australia for the half of 2015.  Future posts with detailed insight into the industry will be posted regularly leading up to the conference. Please check back regularly.

Australia has traditionally been a beer drinking nation, however current trends are seeing Wine equaling Beer consumption by 2018 and Cider being the overwhelming fastest growing liquor category. The growth categories in beer continue to be Craft Beer, both in off- and on-premise outlets, however the trends appears to be moving towards off-premise with consumption at home on the rise.

Craft Beer continues to see exceptional year on year double digit growth in liquor stores with 24.2% for local craft and 12.1% for imported craft value growth, from premiumisation with more consumers becoming more discerning with their choices and spend on beer. There is a real opportunity for craft brewers to work with liquor stores to drive sales particularly with events and social media. There is some PR currently for excise tax reform being driven by the Spirits Council for one volumetric tax system.

australia-mapAustralian Bureau of Statistics Beer Volume Year ended 30 June 2009-2014

  • Total Beer Volume -6.7%
  • Full-Strength Volume -7.6%
  • Mid-Strength Volume +16.7%
  • Per Capita 92.37 L p.a. -14.5%

Full strength beer remains the most popular type of beer, accounting for around 75% of all beer in 2013-14”. “Over the past decade we have seen the popularity of mid strength beer (19% of total beer consumed) grow at the expense of low strength beer (5% of total beer consumed). Between 2012-13 and 2013-14 the volume of mid strength beer increased 6.8% while full strength beer increased 0.4%. Low strength beer recorded a decrease (down 9.0%).

The volume of pure alcohol available for consumption in the form of beer increased by 1.0% and wine by 0.2% between 2012-13 and 2013-14. The volume of beer available for consumption increased 1.0% The volume of pure alcohol available for consumption in the form of Ready to Drink (pre-mixed beverages) decreased by 4.3% and spirits by 3.6% during this period. “Across all alcoholic beverages, there were 9.7 litres of pure alcohol available for consumption in 2013-14 for every person in Australia aged 15 years and over,” said Louise Gates from the ABS. “This is the lowest level since the early 1960’s.”

According to data on ‘Apparent Consumption of Pure Alcohol, Beverage type as a proportion of all alcohol from 1961 – 2014, Beer is down to 41%, all other liquor is up – Wine continues to converge to equal beer, now at 37.5% and expected to equal beer by 2018.


Get inside insight into the craft beer industry and how to position your company to succeed in the competitive marketplace at the Australia Trade Tasting Conference on Sept 1 and Sept 2, 2015.  Learn more about the AuTT Conference here.


Cash Flow Tips for Australian Wineries Looking to Distribute in the USA


Taking a new Australian wine label to the US means competing against entrenched brands who have worked hard to build their market and earn their shelf space.  It is a highly competitive marketplace that needs constant attention and dedicated sales teams – very expensive tasks for small, international brand owners.

Luckily, Australian wine has had a recent resurgence in popularity across the USA.  Due in part to the strength of the US dollar, the growing distributor, retailer and consumer awareness of Australia’s knack for high quality offerings at affordable price has driven Aussie wine sales to heights not seen in decades.  In order to lend your sales number to the developing picture of Australia’s recent trend, you will want to take advantage of as many innovative cash flow strategies as you can to float yourself while you build your market and get your feet on solid ground.

In the very simplest terms, the goal of properly managing cash flow in a period of expansion is to be capable of covering your need for capital as your costs grow.  Unfortunately, this can be a tricky course to sail for export brands because the more capital you need for shipping, sales reps and support programs the more demand there is on your cash flow and the less profitability there is in the venture.

Understanding your cash flow can help you grow your wine label from a locally distributed commodity to an international label, but chances are you will need to take all of your operating profit and put it back into the company every step of the way.  In other words, you can’t manage cash flow with profit as a priority if you plan on growing distribution. Your money is coming ‘out-of-pocket’ and the amount of money you can raise to invest in your expansion comes right down to the very basics – the difference between your payables and your receivables.

Here are AuTT USA Conference Keynote Speakers Bonnie Harvey and Michael Houlihan’s top tips on managing your cash flow for successful expansion into the USA.

1. Use your buyers as your banker.

One of the first things you will learn is that when buyers buy big they sell big. The reason they are buying big is because they know they can sell your product.  Understanding this can give you the confidence to offer buyers discounts on larger orders they pick up and pay right away.

For example, find partners that have a history of buying a certain volume. Go to them and offer them a deal for 2X the volume at your pay-by-cash discounted rate, but give them a 4 or 5 day period to pay down the account. This way, you can receive the money in a week rather a month or two month period.

This type of deal only works with your largest partners, like direct to big box stores or government controlled monopolies. If you want a distributor to get on board, you’ll have to pre-sell your goods to their largest partners so that they don’t have to take on any additional risk.

2. Use your supplier as your Banker.

You can’t use your supplier as your banker unless your supplier trusts you. Your buyer has to believe that you’re always going to pay his bill. So if you know you can’t pay the bill, then you need to communicate with them. Tell them about the checks that you have coming in that are ear-marked for them and when you plan to bring the account current. Never put them in the uncomfortable position of collecting. The biggest relationship killer is to ‘run-and-hide’ from your unpaid accounts, especially when the people you are doing business with are waiting for your payments to pay their own bills.

You need to meet with the people you are doing business with on a quarterly basis. Tell them what your goals and challenges are and what you are doing to increase your business. They understand that when you increase your business they are also increasing their business, so give them the overall picture and ask them for their help.

If you are planning to expand into a new market then communicate your supply needs. Tell your suppliers that you need to up your orders, but don’t have the cash flow to buy it up front. If you have been developing your business model around the same supplier, then they should see that fronting you the goods will benefit them in the long run. Increasing your credit with your supplier and thereby reducing your needed cash can give you the extra wiggle room you need to successfully expand.

3. Understand Your Costs

If you can’t wrap your head around how to scale your business at the same time as you are trying to run operations, then get somebody who does. Hire a cost accountant. These guys specialize in understanding the relationship between the cost of goods and the cost of sales.

As you expand, your variables can really put a wrench in the works. It can get complicated when you are working in new regions with different retailers using exclusive distributors who all want a different price for your various products and you can develop a big headache trying to maximize the variances in volume, costs, shipping, pricing as well as everything else that comes with doing business in new markets.

You cost accountant will be able to tell you how long it will take in days, months or years to show operating profit. A lot of people think they can go through brokers, but you’ll need to be putting your operating profit to work on your own payroll no matter what. Once you are in the black, invest money into growing your money and looking at further expansion.

4. Expand Slowly

Make sure you cover all your bases when you are expanding. You will need to hire new reps in new territories and understand all costs associated with doing business in the new market. You want your own management and sales force properly installed in each territory before you think about expanding again. It is much better to be a top seller in a niche market then a mediocre seller in a big market because your reputation always proceeds you.

When you go into a new market, you are cash-out-of-pocket for close to a year. The amount of money you need to get sales running smoothly is intimidating because it seems like you aren’t making enough money to justify the kind of expenses you incur. You have to be patient and believe in your plan. That’s why it’s good to get a cost accountant working for you who can clearly delineate a plan that shows you an ultimate intersect between cost and revenue.

When you hire your new regional representative they are going to want a $40k-$60k base salary whether or not they make a sale. It’s a tough pill to swallow when you are trying to minimize your costs in a new market, so be sure to structure your sales rep salaries so they are hungry enough to make another sale. Don’t take the first rep that comes along – take your time and choose somebody who is ready to put in the due diligence and grow with your brand.

5. Outsource as much as possible

If your ultimate goal is to run a profitable and expanding company, then find ways to outsource your supply needs. You don’t need to grow your own hops or own your distillery to have a successful business. There are plenty of vineyards who aren’t selling grapes and there are plenty of vineyards who are underutilized who need your business.

You’ll need to write very clear agreements for the quality of the goods and services you are willing to pay for. If they don’t give you the quality that the promised you, make sure you don’t need to pay top dollar for it.

If you have vetted interest in every aspect of your supply chain then your goods become tied to the operational costs associated with the final product. This means that if you have your bottling line break down or it hails in your vineyards then you are stuck going to market with an expensive, potenially sub-par product. With contracted services, you can really limit your risk and investment by working with in confines of solid contracts.

Don’t be production minded, be sales minded. What happens to the majority of brands that fail is that they are forced into sales because they are producing goods. They feel obligated to bottle their goods, put a label on it and go to market. That is production driven sales and is the wrong way to build a brand in the US.

The way to successfully build a brand is to start with a purchase order and work backwards. In other words, don’t produce goods if you can’t sell them. If you make it and you can’t sell it, then you are going to destroy your cash flow.

This is another reason to start slow if you are selling vintage wine or production goods. It’s better to sell out than to have too much, but neither is desirable. To maximize sales and keep your partners happy, you always want to be able to stock shelves no matter how fast your velocity is. If you are outsourcing contract goods and services, you have a better chance at keeping up with supply demands across multiple markets.

6. Getting a Big Order is a Big Responsibility.

When you have to bottle up for a big order you need to go back to your suppliers and ask them for help. They need to believe that you are going to take them with you as you grow, so give them the opportunity to take on this challenge with you.

Your suppliers generally work with multiple customers, so they may have to take a risk on providing you with the extra supply over giving it to their other existing accounts. If that’s the case, then that supplier might potentially lose a customer while increasing their stock in your success. This again exemplifies the fact that developing longstanding relationships with your suppliers is so important.

7. Be Prepared for the Non-Paying Buyer

Getting the run-around is never fun. The way to minimize the chances at accruing non-paying accounts is to get your accounts receivable department develop working personal relationships with the accounts payable departments of your buyers. This means that your employees know the name of the person who writes the checks and they know when those checks are being written. The more personal the relationship the higher up the check stack you will be.

8. Be Ready for Distributors who Don’t Participate (or Stop Participating) in the Cost of Programming

No matter what market, programming is an essential tool for successful sales. If you are doing all the programming yourself it can be a big financial burden. You need to make a long term agreement with your distributors about what you can expect in terms of support.

Evergreen agreements (which means that you sign 3 year contracts that are renewed every year) are a good way to start. These can drastically reduce the cash flow risks you have in terms of developing successful sales programming in new markets.

These types of agreements are usually account to account. For instance, if your distributor is supplying a large retailer in Florida, then you need to have an agreement with your distributor that clearly states the programming expectations for both you and your distributor in that account. The whole idea of price reduction is that it starts with the producer, but if the distributor doesn’t cooperate then the producer has to pay 100% of the price reduction because they don’t want to risk getting discontinued by the large retailers. In the government control states, the producer has to do all of the programming 100% of the time.

These are the issues with programming that you need to plan for BEFORE they have a devastating effect on your cash flow. Always understand your programming responsibilities and have contingency plans for when these responsibilities are increased due to unforeseen circumstances.

9. Discontinued(s)

Last but not least is the dreaded Discontinued. If a buyer decides to bring in another product and discontinue your brand then you will need to find a way to replace those sales to balance your cash flow. This generally happens about once a year in January and February.

What you can do is to look at the product that is replacing yours and find out where they are coming from or look at the market and see where other brands have been discontinued. Once you have some good targets you can approach the distributor or retailer and offer your product as a superior alternative. Outline your established chain of sales and show them that you are primed for success.

The other way to avoid a DC is to understand the metrics that the buyer uses every year in January and February to cut underperforming products. In October and November you should know if you are ‘on-the-bubble’ or not. You always want to have a representative in the territory so you can see this kind of problem coming. Your rep should know that your numbers are off way before the OND sales period and you should be developing a program, ad or community outreach strategy that focuses on optimizing distributor metrics as well as increasing demand and sales during the holiday sales period.

Looking to learn more on beer, spirits or wine sales and distribution? Get involved with Australia Trade Tasting educational conference on 1st and 2nd September in Melbourne.

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Stuart Gregor To Speak On “How To Make People Fall In Love With Your Brand”

Stuart Gregor, Founder Of Liquid Ideas, Four Pillars Gin and President Of Australian Distillers Association to speak at AuTT Conference 2015!


Responsible for innovative PR, communications, sales, launches, presenting and talking, Stuart is a veteran of 20 years in the drinks business and the world of lifestyle public relations and events. He has launched and promoted dozens of premium brands in wine, spirits and beer and his business ‘Liquid Ideas’ is one of Australia’s leading PR agencies.

We are excited to announce that Stuart Gregor has been added as a keynote speaker at the Australia Trade Tasting and Conference.

Stuart is a regular commentator on marketing and sits on the board of food rescue charity OzHarvest, chairs Australia’s Public Relations Council and follows every sporting code imaginable. He is obsessed by barrel aged gin and Negroni’s with a twist. Stuart is also the president of the Australian Distillers Association and Founder of Four Pillars Gin.

Come and Be Inspired by Stuart as he presents some genuinely honest ideas on “How to make people fall in love with your brand.

Looking to learn more on beer, spirits or wine sales and distribution? Get involved with Australia Trade Tasting educational conference on 1st and 2nd September in Melbourne.

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Top Ten Tips to Take Your Wine Brand National in the USA

After you find an effective import solution to get your wines into the USA, building your wine brand into a national icon means understanding the ins and outs of state compliance and building your brand from the retail shelf back to your winery. A solid understanding of each market, the business practices of your partners and the peculiarities of your customer base are all important aspects of your market entry strategy.

Wine Brand Building in USA

The Wait Wines, A Store Chain Placement

Here are ten tips to get your wine brand ready to expand distribution, develop a resilient sales process and successfully become a national brand in the USA:

1.       Understand what everybody wants at every level of the distribution channel and be prepared to give it to them.

The distributor’s owners always want to have a strategic advantage when they are selecting a new product for their profile. For example, some distributors might want:

  • ·         you to pre-sell a retailer in their territory;
  • ·         the exclusive rights on your product;
  • ·         support program budgets;
  • ·         the chance to do more business with their key retailers.

Before you even go to the distributor find out specifically what is they want to see from new brands in their portfolio because it is essential that you figure out what will make them confident enough to take on your brand.

Retailers have very similar desires to distributors. They want your product to sell and aren’t willing to wait around for a non-performing SKU to gain market traction.  They want you to have a hungry consumer base in their local market that is asking for your product and a clear merchandising/support program that outlines how you are going to increase sales.  Talk to key retailers and mold your sales process to cater to their market specifics.

2.       Start small and don’t spread yourself too thin. Get the reputation of being a hot mover even if it is in a small market area.

There is nothing worse than being labeled a slow mover when you are starting out.  If you spread yourself too thin you won’t be able to take advantage of any new opportunities that come your way. Chances are you won’t be able to service your accounts up to the necessary standards either.

Limit your markets to areas where you can implement immediate changes and have an immediate impact on the success of your brand.  When you start small you learn about all of the different challenges that you are going to face while also giving yourself the ability to limit any setbacks before they create any long lasting negative consequences.  You always want to make sure that your product is moving at a steady velocity and that there is always healthy demand for your offering.

3.       Outsource compliance: Hire a professional company to advise you and file the myriad of forms, documents, and licenses.

Don’t try to do all of this yourself – it is just too complicated.  Every state has their own laws, regulations and business practices.  In some states, you won’t be able to advertise or sell your alcoholic beverage in the same way you have been in previous markets. For instance, in some states you might not be able to offer a retailer any free product when you are dealing with large orders. However, you might be able to offer them the same large order at a price that corresponds to a smaller order.  You have to know all of the nuances of how business is done in each and every territory, so get a pro on your side.  It pays to hire a consultant, it doesn’t cost, because one non-compliance fine can easily be the equivalent of what you pay your consultant over the course of a year.

4.       Hire a brand building consultant with knowledge of the U.S. distribution, compliance, and retail requirements.

Again – Get a Professional!  Hire yourself a proven brand consultant who understands all of the challenges that a wine brand is going to face entering the US market.  A brand building consultant will know who the best distributors are, the relationships that they have with retailers and any compliance issues you might come up against.  These guys will guide you around all of the pot holes and get you moving quickly down the road to national distribution.  They understand who to do business with and who to stay away from and will pay for themselves in very little time.

5.       Get distributors who have an interest in seeing your product get to the shelf and stay there.

If you go with a large distributor that tempts you by saying that they are a multi-state distributor, be sure they are willing to put in the work and get your product on their partners’ shelves.  Often, brand owners find out to late that their distribution partners haven’t lifted a finger towards putting their products on shelves across their network.

When you are starting a brand try to identify little guys who are motivated to be successful and are ready to give every item in their book the attention that it needs.  Smaller distributors need to build their market presence and shelf space, so they are generally more dedicated to keeping your brand on the shelf.  However, you have to be careful with small distributors because they may not have the financial wherewithal to pay their bills on time.  Bigger distributor might not keep you on the shelf, but they are going to stay current with their accounts.

Generally, you can always start with a smaller distributor and build your brand before moving on to a larger distributor, but the opposite isn’t always true.

6.       Be wary of brokers who say “I’ll take care of the merchandising.” If you choose to use brokers make sure they are hands on.

You always have to worry about what is going on in the market. If you do go forward with a broker make sure they are ready to put their feet to the ground and not just playing golf with the buyer.  Find out what other brands your broker represents and how each is performing in your new territory.  Call brand reps and get information from the horse’s mouth. Go into the retail stores and take a look at what shelf space those brands occupy and if there is evidence of strong merchandising.  In other words, do your research!  The reputation of your broker will reflect on your brand, so take this decision seriously.

Often, you are much better off hiring a representative over a broker, but there are many very successful and conscientious brokers who will work hard to build your brand for you.

7.       Have a representative in every territory.

This is the hardest pill for people to swallow: Distributors are not going to do any merchandising with a new brand.

In fact, the distributor is not going to build your brand at all and your representative has to be ready to do all of the heavy lifting. They will have to make all of the sales calls, presentations, follow ups, visits, and stock checks. Make sure you hire hard working representatives that believe in your brand.

Ultimately, you will be able to trust your distributor, but only after you prove to them that your product is moving at a steady velocity.  They need to see blood from the beast before they are going to out there and fight for you.

8.       Choose a label, logo, and catch phrase that is easy to recognize, pronounce, and remember. Don’t get cute!

When consumers go into a wine store or wine section of a chain store in the USA and are looking at all of the different labels on offer, it is easy for them to get overwhelmed.  Most people don’t know how to buy a wine or even what they want.  The best way to keep your brand top-of-mind is to keep it simple.  Stand out by making sure that your label can be seen and read from 4 feet away.

9.       Don’t enter the market with too many SKUs. Keep it down to 2 or 3 until you are established.

A lot of brand owners go into the market with a range of products, but this can actually dilute your chance at brand awareness.  It is hard enough to get any shelf space, so try and keep your range to one or two SKUs because it will be easier for you to argue for two or three faces showing.  If you go in with multiple varietals, you are going to have your brand name on multiple shelves, but you won’t have any ‘brand width’.  The question is, “Is it easier for people to remember your brand if you are known for one or two varietals, or is it easier for people to remember your brand if you are known for five?”

When you get started your ‘brand-width’ is extremely narrow.  Your distributor rep’s mind share, your retailer’s mind share, the clerks mind share, and the consumers mind share is very small – they just don’t know about your brand yet, so don’t confuse them with a wide range of products.

10.   Stand for more than your product. Support groups and their causes that are in the vicinity of the retail stores where you are for sale.

When you take part in your community you are gaining the attention of a much larger group of people who have already given their support to an organization which is a community fundraiser of a non-profit that they believe in.   If you show as a supporter then the members of the organization are going to take note because you have become an integral part of what it is they believe in and can touch them one-on-one.

Fundraisers rarely have the ability or opportunity to get their message out across the market, so offer your brand as an ambassador and support them through your channels as well.  Put shelf talkers or bottle neck hangers in local accounts that advertise the upcoming event and in return ask the event to help support you through podium mentions, referrals and logo placements on emails, websites and invitations.

Supporting groups, fundraisers and non-profits in local markets give your buyers a social reason, not just a mercantile reason, to buy your product.  You will gain much more credibility and your retail and distribution partners will quickly become your advocates in the wine industry as well.

Australia Trade Tasting Conference Interview Bonnie Harvey and Michael Houlihan, founders of the world’s top selling wine brand Barefoot Wines on how producers can take their wine national in the USA.

Looking to learn more on beer, spirits or wine sales and distribution? Get involved with Australia Trade Tasting educational conference on 1st and 2nd September in Melbourne.

new_blog_headerPlease book using the below form now


Learn from Deborah Gray: Inside Insight Into Importing Your Wine into USA

Are you looking to expand distribution to the USA?  Have you been looking for importers that work with Australian wine brands?
deborah_gray_400Learn from long time wine importer Deborah Gray on the challenges that face Australian brands trying to enter the USA in her webinar “An Insider’s Look: The Challenges of the Wine Import Business.

Deborah’s inspirational story of founding an independent, female owned wine import company in the early 90s explores the difficulties of starting an import business, finding the right distribution partners and developing unknown international brands into national staples across the USA.

Deborah is also the author of award winning books that explore successful sales and distribution strategy used within the constraints of the three tier system.  Her book ‘How to Import Wine – An Insider’s Guide’ was awarded Best Professional Wine Book in 2011 and is also recognized as core content for the wine business MBA at Sonoma State as well as at Lorenzo de Medici’s Wine Marketing and Business Program in Florence.

In her webinar, Deborah will be relaying her tools and strategies as she educates attendees on:

  • How to prep your brands for expot;
  • Understanding your importer’s needs;
  • Generating healthy demand for your offerings;
  • The Challenges of the 3-Tier system;
  • And how to effectively scale your business for growth.

Looking to learn more about how to successfully expand into the USA?  Visit the AuTT USA Market Conference Day and learn from Michael Houlihan, Bonnie Harvey, and other (full speaker line up here) leading US wine, beer and spirit trade professionals. Book your Tickets Today

Looking to learn more on beer, spirits or wine sales and distribution? Get involved with Australia Trade Tasting educational conference on 1st and 2nd September in Melbourne.

new_blog_headerPlease book using the below form now


Australia’s First Families of Wine to launch in USA May 2015

Leading family wineries tour to showcase Australian wine heritage and modern diversity.

AFFW_LogoFounded in 2009, Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW) came together to work collectively to raise the profile and provenance of quality Australian wine, at home and around the world, through fine wine and heritage tastings, consumer and trade education and industry leadership.

The group consists of twelve of Australia’s prominent family wineries — Brown Brothers (1885), Campbells (1870), d’Arenberg (1912) , De Bortoli Wines (1928), Henschke (1868), Howard Park (1986), Jim Barry Wines (1959), McWilliam’s Wines (1877), Tahbilk (1860), Taylors (1969), Tyrrell’s Wines (1858) and Yalumba (1849).

Recently AFFW announced the appointment of Robert Hill-Smith from Yalumba as their new chairman. Hill-Smith assumes the chair from Mitchell Taylor of Taylors Wines and is the fourth chairman of the initiative. “Internationally, our mission is to educate, share and celebrate Australia’s fine wine heritage, quality, and diversity with wine enthusiasts around the world and encourage demand for Australian fine wines. Collectively we represent 16 wine regions, 4 states, 48 generations of winemakers and over 1,200 years of experience,” stated Hill-Smith.

Angela Slade, Regional Director Wine Australia North America enthuses, “Australia’s First Families of Wine is a showcase for the multi-generational story of Australian wine, from early days in the 1800s, through to the modern wine story from the 1950s, to the regional and stylistic evolution of today.” Slade continues, “This US launch, led by Robert Hill-Smith, represents both wine heritage and a look at Australia’s long-term sustainability well into the future.”

The tour, coordinated by Wine Australia, will include 13 events over 14 days in 5 cities across the USA and Canada. US launch events are planned for San Francisco (May 18) and New York (May 20) before heading to Canada for Montreal (May 21-22) Toronto (May 25-26) and Vancouver (May 28-30).

Robert Hill-Smith (Yalumba), Ross Brown (Brown Brothers) , Colin Campbell (Campbell’s), Chester Osborn (d’Arenberg), Darren DeBortoli (De Bortoli), Stephen & Prue Henschke (Henschke), Jeff Burch (Howard Park), Peter Barry (Jim Barry Wines), Scott McWilliam (McWilliam’s), Alister Purbrick (Tahbilk), Justin Taylor (Taylors/Wakefield), and Bruce Tyrrell (Tyrrell’s).

FOR TRADE: Speed Dating Trade Event 

Please join AFFW for a fast-paced tasting event to introduce Australia’s First Families of Wine.  11 multi-generational wine families have teamed up to showcase Australia’s rich wine heritage, celebrated wine stories and modern diversity.  In a speed-dating format, and against the clock, 11 winery hosts will each have just 5 minutes to introduce their winery, family and special wine to the group before the bell rings for rotation.  Following the hour long speed dating experience, guests will have the opportunity to mingle with their winery hosts for a walk-around tasting featuring additional wines from each winery.

May 18th, 2015 from 2.30pm – 5.00pm at the Press Club, San Francisco. REGISTER YOUR INTEREST HERE:

May 20th, 2015 from 2.30pm – 5.00pm at The Press Lounge – New York. REGISTER YOUR INTEREST HERE:


Donna White
Donna White Communications 203 558 4262

Angela Slade,Wine Australia Regional Director, North America,

Please visit: and
Join the conversation: Twitter @AFFWine and Facebook

• Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW) initiative was launched in August 2009 at the Sydney Opera House
• AFFW launched in the UK in 2010, Canada in 2011, China in 2013 and runs an Australian program ‘Unlocked’
• The AFFW charter is to engage consumers, retailers, restaurateurs and industry colleagues around the globe to understand the quality of Australian wine, appreciate its character, and the personalities behind the brands
• Strict criteria to establish AFFW include being family controlled, having multiple generations involved in the business, ability to offer a tasting of 20+ vintages of their iconic wine, owner of established 50+ year old vineyard, best environmental practices throughout their businesses, and active involvement in the Australian wine industry bodies and organizations.
• Reference: Heart & Soul Australia’s First Families of Wine by Graeme Lofts with forward by James Halliday