Depending on Score Whores: A Cautionary Tale
A Cautionary Tale
What’s the impact of building a winery marketing strategy that relies on receiving only great scores and ratings from the most important wine critics? Consider this cautionary tale.
A few years ago a very fine winemaker decides it’s time to make their own wines, rather than make someone else’s wine. So the winery is born. Well, actually they lease space at another winery to make about 400 cases of wine. They get fruit from great vineyards and set out to make the kind of wine that gets BIG scores from the critics.
These are big wines. Fat wines. Wines of girth and strength. And the critics…..LOVE THEM.
92 Points! 95 Points. 93 Points. The wines, at a price somewhere north of $60, sell out. Nearly all the wine is sold direct at around $60 a bottle. Do the math. Yep….very nice little business and not a little bit of acclaim to go with it.
In fact after the first vintage sells out to score whores, the next few vintages sell out, again on the strength of very good scores for these behemoths. Production slowly increases. We are now at about 700 cases….mostly sold direct.
The strategy has worked.
Then….one year…something happens. 88 Points. 87 Points. 89 Points. Small changes in scores, but very big meaning. The nicely written and complimentary reviews are irrelevant. The problem is the scores are too low for the score whores to bite.
Now what? Now you’ve got 700 cases of an 88 Point wines that sell for $60 to $70 a bottle.
A number of people on the mailing list still want the wine. But a number of them don’t order. The wine’s not moving that fast. At first the winemaker tries something he’s never really tried before…selling it. He talks to retailers and presents them with an 88 point wine that retails for $65. The retailer walks them over to the aisles and shows them a $20 wine that got 89 Points.
The winemaker gets the same tour at a number of different retail and restaurant establishments. So, the next best thing is undertaken. Find distribution. But they want to know what the scores are too. And they show the winemaker 89 pint wines that sell for $20.
Luckily the winemaker has lots of wine on his hands….because he needs a drink.