Posted on | April 22, 2014
Written by | Cara McIlwaine
It is usually a special event when one well-known winemaker comes to town, but when six top talents from one portfolio canvas the market for a whole week… that’s more like Halley’s Comet territory. And that was essentially what took place during the week of March 31st, when Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) converged on New York. “Call it ‘Winemakers on Tour,’ ‘Luxury Wine Blitz’… any way you phrase it underestimates what it actually meant to have these great individuals all here in Metro New York,” said James Casey, TWE’s eastern division vice president of sales.
Five winemakers and one brand ambassador—all high-profile industry veterans—flew to New York along with four members of the Napa-based brand development and marketing team. They all worked in tandem with the local TWE team with the goal of selling and growing their presence in New York market.
The Napa talent in town featured winemakers Laurie Hook of Beringer, Jon Priest of Etude, Christophe Paubert of Stags’ Leap Winery, Margo van Staaveren of Chateau St. Jean and Ed Killian of Souverain. They were joined by DLynn Proctor, one of the stars of the movie Somm and wine ambassador for the Penfolds portfolio of Australian wines.
Regional Prestige Manager Michael Meagher observed: “The Treasury winemakers are really personable, and they love getting the opportunity to get out and connect with the people they are making the wines for.”
Divide & Conquer
The action began on March 31st with events split all over Manhattan. One contingent of distributor partners and their customers gathered for a Meet & Sip at The London NYC with Christophe Paubert, Margo van Staaveren and Jon Priest. Meanwhile, over at the St. Regis Hotel, Souverain winemaker Ed Killian orchestrated the launch of a Souverain blend for the Starwood Hotel Group. Some of New York City’s top sommeliers and buyers were invited to Rothmann’s Steakhouse in Midtown for a pairing dinner with Laurie Hook, who discussed Beringer’s history and winemaking practices. DLynn Proctor was the draw at Clement at The Peninsula Hotel for a consumer dinner with six courses matched with top Penfolds wines.
On April 1st, Empire Merchants took full advantage of the TWE Winemakers on Tour, conducting a walkaround tasting and small group sessions with each winemaker. “We were able to have meaningful interaction with almost 100 distributor personnel, gaining hands-on brand education,” noted Casey.
That evening, Laurie Hook hosted a dinner at Burton & Doyle in Great Neck with representatives from Costco, while over at San Marci in Hauppauge, Margo van Staaveren hosted a consumer dinner pairing Chateau St. Jean wines with Italian dishes. In Westchester, key customers enjoyed an intimate sit-down dinner with Christophe Paubert and the wines of Stags’ Leap at Frankie & Johnnie’s. Ed Killian hosted a distributor partner dinner at Tre Dici in Manhattan, emphasizing Souverain’s prime Alexander Valley wines and six decades of accolades. Pinot Noir expert Jon Priest hosted a dinner with Etude wines for consumers and trade at Saxon & Parole, and at Public, DLynn Proctor hosted a meal for trade and consumers matching Australian cuisine with iconic Penfolds wine.
The rest of the week built on the success of the opening events and distributor training, sending the TWE talent into the market to call on accounts. Meagher said, “This is a program no other wine company can do. We have these winemakers in casual settings, sharing what they are passionate about, and wines they are very proud of.”
“These are some of the most highly awarded winemakers, and it was great to engage the trade and consumers in so many ways, rather than just one luncheon or afternoon tasting,” added Casey. “The group was fantastic—out pounding the streets, leading in wine dinners, entertaining customers, all united in the goal of growing our business in Metro New York.”