Tuesday, December 23, 2008

THE BEST AND THE WORST OF THE KY WINE BIZ: 2008

There are always things changing for better or worse in this business. And it's really all about perspective too, because one person's calamity might just be another person's miracle. So personally vested in this biz, I find it increasingly impassioning to monitor what happens on a daily basis. So here it is, my Chronicled Top Ten Best Things to Happen to the KY Wine Business this year (in no real particular order)…

1. LD joins forces with the local wine blogging talent. A huge thank you to our blogging brethren – Michelle at My Wine Education, Tim Lemke at Cheap Wine Ratings, Mike Rosenberg at The Naked Vine and Jonathan Seeds at Best Drink Ever for opening the floodgates to a whole new audience.


2. Heidelberg Distributing and their Bordeaux Importing. At long last, Bordeaux wines at great prices WITHOUT having to buy them on futures.


3. Kermit Lynch hooks up with Heidelberg Distributing. Finally, after so many years of this extraordinary French/Italian portfolio being locked up in exclusivity, we now have access to the best, most diverse French book in the U.S.


4. Four Vines Comes to KY. After the past two years of the Cincinnati Wine Festival having been blown away by these wines, I am pleased to at last, sell their terrific wines. However, the single-vineyard Zins have yet to arrive so this should rank higher once that happens.


5. TGIC Imports. We have been championing this importer for years, but at long last, I think we have finally gotten the customers in on the act.


6. Malbec Mania hits the stores. We’ve come across a cornucopia of not only great Argentinean Malbec, but fantastic South American wines, making it the largest growing category here at our stores.


7. Jean-Robert’s Restaurants. With Chalk and Greenup Café joining Jean-Robert’s Downtown restaurants, we are seeing more and more customers looking for wines introduced to them by the crack staff at all his restaurants. A big shout out to Bryant, the sommelier at Chalk! It has ushered in an era of great new restaurants being recognized in Northern KY, including newly relocated NuVo, Mainstrasse’s Otto’s and Bouquet, Fort Thomas staple Vito’s Café and the legends Waterfront, Chart House and Mike Fink’s.


8. Layer Cake Diversifies. With the success of their Shiraz (which is currently out of stock), the additions of the Malbec, Primitivo and Cotes du Rhone have taken off, establishing this brand as a recognizable source of quality and value.


9. Enquirer Ads Take Off. Our owner’s serious marketing blitzkrieg has served in getting the word out that we are the area’s low-price wine leader.


10. Columbia Crest Does it Again. The remarkable Two Vines Vineyard 10 Red (currently on the 2006 vintage) has become one of our top-selling value wines of all time. A stunning blend of Sangiovese, Syrah and Cab, this wine overdelivers on everything.


And the worst things that have happened in KY’s wine world are:


1. Republic National Distributing drops the rising star importer Wines of Spain. Aurelio Cabestrero is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Spanish wine market, yet with the nationalizing of their portfolio, RNDC jettisoned one of the best kept secrets in the biz.


2. Republic National Distributing drops Tangent and Baileyana. California’s rising stars from the Edna Valley, Tangent and Baileyana (Tangent was named one of the top value brands of the year in Wine & Spirits), these wines never really had a chance.


3. The continued battle for/against interstate wine shipments here in KY. With these restrictions, the continued dimished availability of many allocated wines (such as Shafer, Peter Michael, Paloma and others) miffs wine buyers and confounds aficionados all over the world.


4. Southern Wine & Spirits and Glazer’s join forces. Bigger isn’t always better and the move towards a distribution monopoly continues. We retailers are faced with a looming prospect of the most abysmal customer service entity in history – aside from Budweiser. Resembling SkyNet of the spirits industry.


5. Exclusivities in the industry continue to perplex consumers. Outdated business models followed by such companies as Kysela, Ex Cellars, Robert Kacher and many other importers bound themselves up in an exclusive agreement with one retailer (out of over 640 in the state), forcing many to either look elsewhere for their French, Italian, Spanish, etc. or drive up to Ohio where, despite there being more readily available, the prices are much higher.

2 comments:

writegirl said...

Thanks for the shout-out Kevin!

I would agree with you on all of the above. Esp the last one though - I can't tell you how it aggravates me that Bobby Kacher is locked up with one local retailer. I wish I could get those wines from you!

Mike said...

And a happy [insert secular or nonsecular celebration here] to you, K2. It's been an absolute pleasure getting to know you over the past year.

Keep it rolling, man!

All the best...